Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How To: Make New Friends

Since I moved here (a whole 3 weeks ago) I've been wondering how in the world I am going to meet new people. Everyone I knew back home I met through school and had pretty much grown up with. Well, school is over now and I am in a completely new place. I left all my old friends in MS. I had even briefly considered taking some random class at Vanderbilt just to meet people. But that would mean I'd have to do extra work, and I think it's safe to say that y'all know I don't volunteer (let alone pay) for extra work.

So, maybe the third best discovery I've made in Nashville so far has been meetup.com. It is a social networking site, similar to Facebook, that allows people to meet new people with the same interests. I found out about it one day last week while talking with my insurance agent, of all people. You find groups that cater to your interests and join them. For instance, I joined a hiking group and a group just called Nashville Girls in their 20s because it sounded like me. Then the group organizers plan Meetups where anyone who wants to gets together and does something fun. The hiking group gets together and goes on hikes. Nashville Girls in their 20s gets together for bar crawls or 5Ks or whatever girls in their 20s are up for doing.

Now, let me be clear: This is not a dating site. There is minimal risk of creepers lurking behind their computer screens waiting to make their move to do... whatever it is they do...

Most people I've seen on the site are new to town and looking to meet new people and make new friends. It's pretty legit.

How do I know? Because I went to a Bar Crawl Meetup on Friday. About eight girls met at the Hard Rock for dinner and pre game. Dinner was a good idea because it gave us all a chance to talk and get to know each other before heading out to the loud bars and gettin' our dance/drink on. It was a pretty cool experience. Almost like an instant group of friends because, for the most part, we all got along and seemed compatible.

I clicked with one of the girls pretty well and we went out again Saturday night. Despite it being miserably hot, we had a good time.

Then about 5 of us met up at one girl's apartment pool and hung out there most of Sunday before going to dinner and exploring the bars around hipster town. AKA East Nashville.

So far, we can kind of tell who out of the original group will be friends because we have been the ones going to all the little get-togethers, which is totally fine with me because they seem to be the really outgoing ones that I tend to get along with better anyway. We do have another Meetup tonight to talk about our group doing the Color Run later this year and some of them were out of town this weekend and couldn't make the hang outs, so I'm hoping we can add a couple more fun girls to the regular group!

Meetup.com. Use it. Love it. Thank me later.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

House Painting... Situation

My personality is basically summed up like this: Unending curiosity coupled with an inability to tell people "no." Years ago, I never would have qualified myself as a "spontaneous person," but lately I've found that certain personality traits (mentioned above) require a great deal of spontaneity, which tend to land me in strange (sometimes sticky) situations.

One such situation happened during my second week in Nashville. One of my ex boyfriends from high school just so happens to live outside of Nashville in Springhill, TN. Right before I moved here, we began messaging each other over Facebook and basically just catching up and seeing how each other were doing. I was job-hunting and he was living in Tennessee with his wife, Sharayah. Life had been good to both of us.

Sharayah and John (I knew him back when he was JJ) are both from Vicksburg. I vaguely remember playing soccer either with or against Sharayah way back when. We were maybe 12. Not sure. JJ (I'm not calling him John, that's awkward to me) I dated in the ninth grade. Ten years ago. Wow. Hadn't done the math til just now. Ugh. I'm old.

Anyway, JJ sees my Facebook updates and realizes I've moved to Nashville. We exchange phone numbers so that we can communicate faster than Facebook messaging. That was a little weird for me because I literally hadn't talked to this guy in about 10 years. But I knew he was the kind of guy that has no problems having friends that are girls, so I figured Sharayah would be fine with it.

Then he asked me if I wanted to come hang out one night that week and paint his house.

Um... Paint your house? No thanks.

Actually, I passive-aggressively told him I'd "get back to him on that." We all know I had no intentions of doing that. However, he and I both knew I had absolutely nothing to do when I got home because I was pretty verbal about not knowing anyone here and all my friends being in MS and all that. So, it didn't take much to talk me into it, since I can't tell people no. Another one of those sketchy personality traits that I really need to work on: Lying.

I was able to put it off a day because I didn't have clothes with me that day (he first asked if I could come that night). Geez. I needed time to wrap my head around hanging out with my ex and his pregnant wife. Oh, I didn't mention that before? Yeah, she's pregnant.

As the time got closer for me to go over there, my mind starting freaking me out. I had no idea what he'd told her about me. What in the world did she think of me? Does she know we dated? Does she care? Should I even mention any of that? What if I get to their house before JJ does and it's just me and Sharayah? What the hell are we gonna talk about?

So, I get to their house and, of course, JJ isn't there yet. So, I'm freaking out but ring the doorbell anyway. Too late to turn back now! Sweet little Sharayah answers the door and is so freaking nice I immediately feel better about this whole thing. In fact, if JJ had never shown up I think we would've had a great time either way.

We found plenty of things to talk about. Namely, his mother. I learned what a gem she is and how much I lucked missed out on. I met one of their friends who was there painting as well. She was super nice and also hated Bama, so we got along just fine. I ended up staying a couple hours and painting a little bit. Though I didn't feel like I really helped that much.

All in all, it was a successful venture! I'd love to hang out with them again and babysit their little girl when she joins us.

Needless to say, it was awkward telling my friend what I'd been doing when she called me later that night, and my mom even thought it sounded strange when I told her. (Everyone needs to know what I'm doing with my time since they all know I have no friends here and there's only so much a non-talking, stressed out rabbit named Poe can do for entertainment.) I probably got a gray hair over this whole thing for nothing. I really need to quit stressing over things so much.

New Blog Topic

Ever since Mama's (and Shana's) little bird got a job and flew the coup, I've been racking my brain over what to blog about next. I've pretty much covered my most meaningful job-hunting experiences and I've completed my goal of actually finding a job (yay me!). So what could I write about that's interesting enough to keep not only my attention but yours as well?!

Then it hit me... I will blog about my adventures making new friends in Nashville! With a little exploration thrown in for good measure. (You can't meet new people without seeing new places.)

And I already have a story to share. Post to follow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Working for Nothing

Something I got particularly tired of during my job search was being asked to create some kind of artwork for the company to which I was applying. Yes, that actually happened. And it really irked me. I mean, why did I spend 5 years creating a portfolio if every job I apply to is going to make me create something for them?! But beggars can't be choosers, right? So I did the work. Most of the time.

The first place to ask that of me was a fireworks place down in New Orleans. They had me drive down there for an initial interview (which I later learned could've easily been done over the phone), and then told me they wanted me to create not one, but three versions of fireworks packaging for them. In three days. Now, normally I wouldn't complain about the deadline, and I really didn't at the time because I needed a job and I was kind of excited about getting to design packaging, but this was three days on top of my regular job/life. I came up with three pieces by the deadline and went back down to New Orleans for my second interview (keep in mind that I had to take off work for these little trips). This interview was basically a waste of time because all I did was show them my pieces, which easily could have been done over email/phone. Needless to say, despite all my work and driving and money spent, I did not get the job.

Another place that asked me to come up with designs for them was a place in D'Iberville on the coast of MS. It was a place that mainly advertised for law firms. This place actually paid for my hotel, which was very nice and unexpected. However, I had to sit at their PC-based computer for 4 hours and create an ad and a webpage for them. Not only did I not get paid for this work, but I also had to leave my files on their computer, which I was not comfortable with. Who knows what happened to them!

These are just two examples of many companies that asked me to create work for them. There was also a company that asked me to design three t-shirt designs for them, one asked for some online ads, another asked for a mix tape design, an invitation, a CD cover, and something else (I did not do that one) and one asked me to design some online buttons for their website. That one was particularly hard because their website looked like they'd plugged some information into a template they got for free somewhere. That job even promised to pay me, but I, of course, never heard from them again.

I didn't complain about having to do these things at the time because I was desperate for a job and it seemed to be a normal thing - despite Shana telling me otherwise (she thought it was ridiculous from the start). However, a year later combined with what I know now, I feel like I have the right to complain about it. So I'm going to. If I can show you my portfolio and explain my thinking processes about each piece to you, then you should have a feel for how I work. There is no need for me to do extra work (without pay) for a company that may or may not use my design without my knowledge if they don't end up hiring me! It was ridiculous! And, once again, Shana was right!

Fireworks Packaging

Ugly Website Button

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Craigslist Creepers

Much of my job search was done online. Craigslist was my go-to source for quite a while because it was so easy to send my resume in pdf form to the email address listed in the ads. Since you've seen my resume, I won't go into detail about how great it looks in pdf form vs a Word document, which is what quite a few employers asked for. (That surprised me because they were hiring graphic designers and only giving the option of submitting Word documents for resumes! And unless I was feeling especially desperate, I did not even bother applying for those.)

One particular Craigslist ad stands out in my mind because of the creepy guy that responded to my resume application. This was for a job in Cumming, GA for a place that made plaques and trophies and such.

He began by responding almost immediately to my submission. He sent an application for employment (standard procedure) that I emailed back as soon as possible. I tried to be accommodating because I knew potential employers were usually in a hurry to hire someone, but I was used to having to wait a day or two in between emails/hearing back from them. So it caught be by surprise when this guy, let's call him Dave, acted like my almost immediate responses weren't quick enough for him. That was my first clue that something was off about this place, but I let it go.

The second clue was when he led me to their website. It was horrible, but I let that go as well. Maybe that's why they were hiring a designer. They desperately needed an updated version of that mess!

Third and fourth clues came on our Facetime Interview. Dave was maybe in his mid thirties and I could tell he was single. He spent much of the conversation bragging about his father owning the company and how they had just merged with the company Dave was managing. Ok, that's cool, Dave, but what will I be doing?

Working mostly with Dave. He'd be training me. Day in and day out. Until I got the gist of things.

Well then he asked me when it'd be convenient for me to come to Cumming, GA for a face to face interview. I told him Thursday (it was Monday). He said, "How about tomorrow?" Um...

It was a 7 hour drive from Vicksburg, MS to Cumming, GA. No respect for my time or my current job, but okay, maybe I could make tomorrow work. He was, after all, going to pay for my hotel room and gas to get there and back. I'd have to leave work in two hours to get there at a decent time that night for the interview tomorrow.

The second to last straw came at the end of the conversation when he said if I got there before 8pm, he'd take me out for a drink. Um... just you? No thanks, Dave. But what could I say? There was no possible way I was going to make it there before 8pm, so that was immediately off the table.

Then he told me he'd pick me up from my hotel room tomorrow morning, take me out to breakfast, and then we'd go into the office for the interview. Um... just you? No thanks, Dave. Why did I feel like I was being asked on a date? This was a job interview! I felt like he was being very unprofessional.

After we got off the phone I wasn't feeling as great about this prospect as I'd started out feeling. Then came the countless emails he sent confirming our interview, confirming my hotel reservation, continuing to email me back to responses that clearly indicated the conversation was over. I had all the info I needed, so why was he still emailing me?! Then came the last and final straw. The email that said, "Hey, I can't wait to meet you. J" J? Apparently that's some kind of creepy smiley face (well, creepy when he used it).

Geez, I wasn't about to drive 7 hours for this creep to show up at my hotel room in the middle of the night. I was a single girl, about to be alone in a place a good 7 hours from any relative or any person I knew. Time to call this off. If he's creeping me out this bad on the phone, there's no telling how it will be in person!

He did not make it easy, that's for sure. I emailed him and made up some excuse about my car needing an oil change before I made the drive. That was just passive-aggressive stalling on my part because I was too weak professional to tell him to F off. After I emailed him, he emailed me back (immediately) telling me to call him. I didn't. He called me. I figured he wouldn't go quietly, and I was right.

I finally got him to leave me alone, and I never once regretted it. To this day I'm glad I did not waste my time on that job. Especially considering the amazing one I've found in Nashville!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Moral: Use Crest PRO HEALTH!

I would like to take this time to let you all (349 of you!!) know that I am aware that I have not posted anything recently, which I'm sure is absolutely killing you. If you missed the last post, I got a job! This post is more of a commercial break. I will resume regularly scheduled blogging (hopefully) next week.

Anyway, I'm super overwhelmed with stuff to do right now. I've found an apartment (which is so much easier than finding a job, by the way) and am moving in this Saturday. As in Cinco de Mayo. And I will stay there next week and try to get settled in before I go to my cousin's graduation in Starkville next weekend.

My place is in The Grove. It's a pretty big one bedroom apartment with a sun room that can act as a second bedroom/office/Poe's room/whatever, and the best part is that it is in downtown Nashville. It's the perfect starting place! A little expensive, but I'm in the neighborhood I want to be in with all the folks that are my age, so I'm okay with the price for now!

I spent some of yesterday making phone calls to get renter's insurance (required by my apartment), gas, electricity and internet turned on. I feel so grown up!

However, before I did all that I had a dentist appointment. Just a simple teeth-cleaning was all it was supposed to be. Well, I am Emily and nothing is ever simple. I have a...something (some stopped up gland or something) in my mouth that has to be numbed and cut out, and I also had a freaking cavity! Seriously? I'm 24 years old. Haven't we out-grown cavities by now?! The dentist said it was tiny and wasn't a big deal, but I know exactly why I got one. It's because I've been using just plain ole Crest toothpaste instead of Crest Pro Health. For years I'd been getting compliments on my teeth and hardly any of that scraping and scratching involved with tons of plaque removal (and I never floss). For years I'd been using Crest Pro Health. Until one day when Walmart didn't have the cinnamon flavor I loved. I figured, what the heck, plain ole Crest in cinnamon flavor is probably the same thing... Nope.

It gives you cavities and bleeding gums from scratching and scraping of plaque. FML.

At least I have an amazing new job and apartment to help me get through Thursday when they cut that thing out of my mouth (which has to be biopsied, but I know it's not cancer because I don't smoke!) and fill my stupid cavity.