Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on Mr. Frankie Manning

Today, even before I attained consciousness, Frankie Manning died at age 94. Just yesterday, I had been discussing attending his upcoming 95th birthday celebration in his "home" state of New York. I'd only met him once; during his widespread world travels teaching lindy hop, he had come to Michigan, where I was living at the time. Even at his advanced age, he was still lively and powerful: doing what you love to do is a potent tonic. I'm not entirely sure where my sadness at his passing comes from, whether the loss of a living font of style and knowledge, the knowledge that there is a limited amount of literally extraordinary people in the world and one of them is gone, perhaps simply the loss of a personal hero. To be honest, I am surprised at the amount I am affected.

I feel I'm now looking at the room of an older brother who's gone away to college; it's big, it's empty. I worry about stepping into it and committing sacrilege, or at the very least, breaking something precious. Then, more urgently, I worry nobody will step in it again, that it'll become gray and forgotten. I console myself with the thought now that when I listen to jazz and begin to move, I am entering that room, dusting off an old trinket, and holding it close to my heart.

Frankie, wherever you may have graduated to, we are now and forever looking up to you.

Rule: Celebrate a personal hero.

Frankie Manning: May 26, 1914 - April 27, 2009
Photo: Ryan Swift

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just one simple rule for today.

Rule: Say the word "crepuscular."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

And we're back

4.) Working for [adult swim]/a marketing company. I was hired by adult swim to be an event planner, basically. My job was to work with a partner (who I found to be utterly unhelpful, and thus ended up costing my school's campus to have it's adult swim college rep program to shut down in its first year) to create awareness of adult swim programming. We chalked sidewalks, we threw parties, we had trivia nights, pub crawls, etc. Met a lot of people. It was a lot of fun. Things I learned: independent store/restaurant owners are actually more willing to help you out than you think. Managers on duty forget a lot of things. Organizing events is a lot of fun, and large groups ultimately want the event to succeed and people enjoy helping. Monte Cristo sandwiches are so delicious. I like event planning, but only one event at a time. Never count on a partner you don't trust. Just go ahead and do everything. If you have a partner that you trust, examine your trust with unbiased, excruciating detail, because that partner might not be so helpful either. School buildings have a lot of chalkboards. If you spray hairspray (non aerosol, that will just blow the chalk away) on sidewalk chalk, it will stay days longer than everybody else's. BWAHAHA. There are a lot of people who don't care if someone is married, they will try to sleep with that person.

5.) I was an intern-type at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor for a while through work-study. It was excellent. I transcribed things, learned a bit of Peak DV (audio software), edited grammar, sent radio programs to the broadcasting station, designed marketing material, found related links and news stories to the ones being produced by us. Things I learned: being inside a recording studio is terrifying. There are so many buttons and things that could potentially go wrong. I am bad at staying focused on a job. I really like designing things. I learned lots of stuff about the environment and water (totally awesome). I learned where a really awesome market used to be but it closed down not too long after I left Michigan (very sad).

6.) Account manager. I worked for a company that helped reconcile financial records of health insurance companies and hospitals. It was the most boring job of my life, but they paid for a lot of training, and shipped me to Nashville, where I had a wonderful time. But seriously, poke-your-eye-out boring. The on-the-job training gave me a false impression of how well I'd do in my assigned region because their filing system was more advanced technologically. Things I learned: I never want to do this again. Do not settle for a job just because you are getting desperate. Only settle if you really truly are desperate. Hospitals and health insurance companies keep terrible records and they don't talk to each other. Hospitals don't seem to receive a lot of money from any source. Some really nice people work in administrative positions. cube farms are terrifying, but they have the best snacks available/for sale. Nashville is a fun city. Having a personal bodyguard who is also your friend is pretty much the most fun a person can have while going out. Don't be afraid of spending money on spur-of-the-moment things; it's ok to indulge sometimes, especially if it enriches your life. If you start dancing, other people will start dancing too. Coyote Ugly is a silly place, and any modicum of dancing skill is cheered like a masterpiece. Also, if you are a girl of a certain build, they basically don't give you the option of not going on the bar.

7.) Marketing coordinator. (Everybody by now has basically seen my cv) Handled the marketing initiatives of a tech company. Designed promotional material, website aesthetics, rebranded, worked on SEO, monitored advertising, did interior decorating. Things I learned: I am very slow at designing. I do not like douchebags at all. I do really like tech guys. I do not like being in a position with all responsibility and no control. Some people have no imagination and I don't really know how to communicate with them. When my personal life changes radically, I have a hard time keeping it out of my professional life. This was also the first time I have ever cried in front of an employer (also not the last). People who read a lot of advice-type books can have a strange outlook on life, and tend to believe in them fiercely. I do not know if these books work. I don't mind having things explained to me, but if someone is condescending, I absolutely will not listen. People have hidden talents. Employers rarely believe in listening to problems despite professing it. They will listen to solutions though, so sometimes you can disguise problems as such.

Today: I work as an executive assistant. Things I have learned so far: how to book flights last minute. How to check to see if seats are good on those flights. How to negotiate. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is a terrible organization that does not wish to help anybody. Learned a bit about how to be in a managerial position. The Lebanese know how to party. Only rarely can you get 100% attendance at a meeting. Where all the good inexpensive restaurants are in Dupont Circle. Where some of the best Caribbean food is in DC. How to apply for visas and several other government-related forms. How to slow down. How to force people to give you information. How to buy a motorcycle. What are good questions for an interview. I'm sure there's more, but that's it for now.

I feel like I've learned a lot. You can learn just as much working at one job vs. a million, but it's quite a bit faster this way, and I highly recommend it. The bad economy currently gives people an excuse to hop around now, and when questioned about it later, they have a wonderful scapegoat to blame it on! Furthermore, now I know what types of people I'd like to work with, how I would like to see a business run, and what makes it valuable. So when I finally figure out what I want to do permanently, I'll know what to look for. Any ideas as to what I should do permanently?