DISCLAIMER: This trip account is woefully late due to an enormously busy Winter thanks to my work and personal life (a healthy blend of amazingly good and ever annoying). I know you were waiting on pins and needles for this one, my dear readers.
All Work and No Play…
2015 began with a new job at a new company (which I’ve since left to start work at another new job…make what you will of that, but proposal work has been a bumpy world since 2008) that quickly steamrolled into a lot of work. As a proposal specialist, my career generally involves herding cats pointing a gun other peoples’ heads working with other professionals to build proposals. Why do this? It’s for the big bucks blissfully challenging and rewarding sense of accomplishment ripping-my-fucking-hair-out detail-oriented and pain-staking process of developing various documents for potential clients to evaluate and award contract work for.(1) Normally, I’m coercing the so-called “experts” into writing technical content and then it’s up for me to completely rewrite edit and revise “polish up the bullshit” (figuratively if not literally…with all due respect to Mythbusters). And in case you’re wondering, yes there is from time to time, an inverse relationship between being an expert and being able or willing to write about that expertise.
However, that company needed me to do A LOT of proposal writing – not always easy considering my lack of technical expertise in…uhm…anything (which is second only to my Liberal Arts degree aptitude for asking “Do you want fries with that?”). Proposal work tends to be “feast or famine” work. Either you’re so busy that the passage of time is tracked by when leftovers in the fridge gain sentience or the DVR warns that it’s memory is full. By contrast, you can be so soul-crushingly desperate for something to do bored that counting holes in ceiling tiles becomes your raison d’etre.(2) The bottom line is you work your ass off because you know there’s eventual downtime, and that job and company definitely put that to the test.
Needless to say, when my now former boss (i.e., my boss is no longer there because they fired him – a first for me since I’ve never had a manager or supervisor let go) said his intention was to “keep me constantly writing”…and with that he established my new measuring rod for understatement. From May through November, I was writing, coordinating, tracking the progress of and/or building one proposal after another, frequently requiring others to help deal with less dire proposal efforts while I tackled the more critical ones. The wear and tear took its toll, too – burn out was becoming a serious problem and those six long months became an extended repeat of the grueling four months I went through in 2014. Something I hoped never to repeat (…and if wishes were horses…). I don’t mind working hard, but I was overwhelmed to the point of being the only one in the office who did not get to take a vacation.(3) On the plus side, I developed a lot of new and/or improved proposal material, upgraded the quality of their proposals and scored a few points with the management (for whatever that was worth now that I’ve moved on to bigger and better things).
But the reality is I needed a break. I really…REALLY needed a break.
A City So Nice They Named it Twice
As my previous blog entries evidenced, my adventures have usually been absent of participation with a significant other. Some of this is due to timing (i.e., I happen to not be involved with anyone at the time), or more attributed to my serious ineptitude lack of success in the dating arena.(4) However, as luck may have it, I was just passing the one year mark with Misha (my girlfriend) when I finally got a break in the workload, and we took advantage of the long Honoring the European Scourge on Native Americans Columbus Day weekend and head up to the City That Never Sleeps. We had kicked around ideas for taking various trips throughout the year, but my workload encroaching on my free time (even weekends) made vacation planning at best a problematic exercise.
I’ve visited NYC multiple times – in college to experience the art museums, seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my Mom’s side of the family, and touring Times Square enough to last me a lifetime (as well as spotting it from above while flying to Iceland …yes, it really is that hard to miss). Despite those previous trips, I hadn’t seen nearly enough of it – especially lower Manhattan and Brooklyn – and this was a golden opportunity to see those otherwise parts unknown. I’ve always wanted to step foot in Brooklyn given it’s my Mom’s original stomping grounds (born and lived there for her first few years) and there was plenty in Manhattan I’ve never seen in person. Misha spent a large part of her youth in NYC for work as a dancer,(5) so there were former haunts she wanted to see, as well. The big plus was we stayed with a couple who are friends of hers (the wife is former dancer, too), sparing us the expense of a hotel while in the city. And if you’ve ever paid for a hotel room in NYC, you’ll appreciate what huge bonus that is.
Nevertheless, the warm-but-not-hot-as-Hell weather of a waning summer and a long holiday weekend provided an opportune break in the rigmarole to visit out the Big Apple…and check off a few more items on my travel bucket list.
(1) The old joke is there are two things people don’t want to know how they’re made – laws and sausages. I humbly submit that most don’t want to know about the nature of government contracting either. Personally, I believe that if more people knew how government contracting worked, they might hate contractors more than Congress…if that’s even possible.
(2) A former coworker and I were so bored that we really did have a ceiling tile hole counting contest. At another job, a coworker best defined as an egomaniacal Millennial bitch from Hell with a mad hate-on for me (a long story for another time and place, it’s enough to say that we all hoped the door slammed her in the ass when she quit and left for another job) spent a conspicuous and suspicious amount of down time planning and implementing various “practical jokes” at my expense in a fruitless endeavor to piss me off. Her attempts included partially disassembling my office chair and hiding and/or suggestively abusing personal items (which actually amused me a few times – I appreciate a good imagination…and I’m pretty hard to offend). Despite some mediocre-rather-than-herculean efforts on her part, I never gave her the satisfaction (In fact, to this day, I’m still not sure why she hated me so much…given my personality, I’m sure I said or did something, but what that was honestly eludes me.).
(3) It’s hard to maintain a SEG (or “Shit-Eating-Grin”) when coworkers go on (…and on…) about the wonderful week they spent at [NAME YOUR FAVORITE BEACH HERE] The good news is things got very quiet after Halloween – a respite I was very grateful for.
(4) Those who know me can consider themselves politely asked to shut the fuck up please keep their comments to themselves on this subject. The rest of you out there on the Intertubes may draw your own conclusions, which may require my following up with a defiant “Go stick your head in a pig” (with all due respect to Douglas Adams).
(5) By “dancer” I mean “ballerina” and NOT “exotic.” I’m making this distinction because my friends reading this blog would go there…but that’s also why they’re my friends (don’t judge us).