winter 2021, brought to you by fraud

Good grief is the universe testing me right now. Exhibit A:

That is the total cost of fraudulent Uber charges on my Chase since the end of October. Which I have just discovered, right now, late this evening. I knew my credit card balance was creeping up due to not working, but holy shit, when I saw what it was I couldn't breathe. 

Chase is handling it, all the charges will be reversed without issue. It very clearly shows from Uber's end that my last trip was going to the airport to see Cameron. The two reps I spoke two had the most satisfyingly grave tone ever. They clearly don't see a cool $4k in grift every day. Or maybe they do. But they were very sympathetic sounding. The one who ended the call with me told me gently to "get some rest" LOL.

Unreal. $4k! 

In happier news, today I paid move-in costs on my new place, set up internet and electric there (and scheduled the disconnects here), and found out what's been holding up my unemployment claim. It was--wait for it - a fraudulent claim filed in my name last year. No idea. Absolutely no idea how or who or why. No idea if I'm being targeted, or if it's just random evilness in the world, of which there is much. God knows I get my share of people trying to mess with me. 

In even happier news, I've reconnected with a couple of friends who'd faded a bit from my day to day: Costa and Brent. Super happy about that, was great to have nice long calls with them over the past few days and catch up. Costa has deep and extant Chicago roots; I'll think I'll be able to wheedle him into a visit very soon. I've also secured soft commitments from six or so people to try and come out for St. Patrick's Day, which is basically a holy day to me, it is so special. 

Heading to bed feeling the strength of my tiny army of friends behind me, another day of weirdness put to bed without too terribly much trouble. 

11 days

Ooof, today

Woke up and had to chase the moving company down to schedule an exact date, since the rep I was dealing with dipped early for Thanksgiving break last week and didn't roll back into the office until noon. Meanwhile I'm stressing because my new place needs a firm date from me, as does my new work. 

Found out my moving boxes aren't coming until Friday, so I won't have this week to pack, and will need to get it all done next week after I get back from San Diego (going down for a few days to hang with Steve and have a send-off weekend).

My kitchen sink backed up and held me hostage for an hour while I waited on maintenance, since I was too scared to go shower while the dishwasher was going, lest I return to a flooded floor.

My phone battery finally went kaput, and I had to make three trips to the Apple store. One to go book a Genius Bar appointment, one to actually go to the appointment, and one to go pick up my repaired phone. 

Went to my new work to get onboarded, but they don't like the look of my birth certificate, because despite it being the original copy with a seal and everything, I'm so ancient it comes from a time before Social Security numbers were printed on them. 

But since I don't have a Social Security card anymore, I need to get a replacement in order to fulfill my I9 requirements. Naturally, all the offices are closed to visits, and when I tried to do it online I was sent in unproductive circles.

Tried to sign my apartment lease digitally, since I finally confirmed movers and booked my flight, but the interface the apartment building uses is a mess, and I couldn't navigate through all the pages.

All of the above was eventually resolved, but goddamn was today a mission. 

So now I'm all set. Just need to pack. But everything is confirmed and paid for, and I am absolutely not dreaming. I can exhale because I really am getting the fuck out of California. 

It was a glorious 78 degrees today, by which I mean it was absolutely horrific and I hated every minute of it. I was sweating in just the lightest hoodie. But it was perfect, because it's just going to make getting out of this heat that much more incredible. I'm looking at a 40 degree drop in temp. FORTY DEGREES. Ask me how hard that makes me smile. I am so ready. Today I hit Uniqlo for some of their awesome HeatTech tops and leggings, which I used to wear at the market in winter (which was essentially like working outside).

New job in a 

New industry in a

New city with an endless number of 

New possibilities.

11 days til liftoff.

three thirds (part two)

(continued from here)

Back to the festival! But remember: we're going to be skipping around in time and context, and even switching POV at times. Seatbelts on.

Ilan Bluestone is playing and our little crew is deep in the feels. Everyone around us is, too, and it's one of the most positively charged and engaged crowds I've ever been in. Every stranger's eye you catch, you're instantly just two friends smiling at one another, emotional twins for a moment. Go to an EDM festival at least once in your life, if you can. It's like nothing else for the sense of community. 

When Ilan finishes, there's some confusion on my part, because while I thought Andrew Rayel was up next, turns out it's Andrew Bayer. That's what I get for being blind and not paying close enough attention when the lineup was released (honestly, I saw Estiva and Matt Fax and that's all I needed to see). But while I like Andrew Rayel just fine, Andrew Bayer is one of my top five. So when everyone around me is talking about Bayer coming on in a minute, I'm like, "No no you guys, it's Rayel." And they are like, "No dumbass, it's Bayer."

And I lose my mind. Because I fucking love Andrew Bayer.  He is one of the reigning kings of the Anjuna label. But no one I'm with really knows him, so I'm babbling at them, telling them how amazing he is, guaranteeing that they're gonna love him, and that they have no idea what they're in for. I tell Amit that after Deadmau5, he's one my favorites. That starts Amit and I off on the subject of Deadmau5 again, and this time we talk long enough, laugh enough, connect enough--that something clicks. There's that split second of a moment lasting juuuust longer than it needs to. You know that moment. Chemistry doing its thing. 

Matt is slightly behind me, to my right. Amit is slightly in front of me, to my left. I'm not really thinking much about the boy-girl-boy dynamics happening, if subtly, because the idea of getting together with anyone is totally not on my radar. One time--one time--at my first Coachella, I ended up in the arms of a stranger, because we were both freezing cold, high as fuck, and laughing while we watched some electronic set. But that's it. That is the sum and total of my romantic solo experiences at festivals. 

I'm not really thinking about the dynamic, but on some level I am aware it is there. No matter which of these men I smile at and dance with in any given 30-second moment, I can feel their affection and their attraction. 

---

Later, when I'm safe in a car and heading home to LA, I check in with Matt via DM. Amit is DMing me, too. He and I are both still intoxicated by the events of the previous few hours. We knew we were going to say goodbye, keep it short and sweet and simple. But it doesn't make it any easier. I can still feel the warmth of his skin against mine, feel the way he held the back of my head tight when he kissed me. Hear the echoes of the things we shared, that we hadn't shared with anyone. 

But I need to check in with Matt, who disappeared on us halfway through Chris Connolly. I know why he did, I totally get it. Just want to reach out gently and make sure he is safe. 

And he is. He says he was trying to find me afterward, offer me a ride home. I let him know I'm good, barreling down the freeway in a warm backseat as we speak.

You should blog about tonight, he says. I stare at my phone.

You know about my blog?? I answer. Haha, the jig is up! I'm not sure if there isn't the teeniest bit of malice, of bitterness in his suggestion. But we go a few more lines and I realize there isn't. I realize that he'd dipped into my blog after meeting me the first night, out of curiosity. But that he'd kept that to himself all through Saturday, while he what? Gauged who I was? Observed me from a place of deeper context, knowing I was likely observing him?

It instantly enriched his character, in my eyes. Still waters and such. 

---

Let me tell you a little bit about my last relationship. Let me give you an idea of just how absent and unavailable my partner was. How detached and disaffected. How little real connection there was. I fell in love with someone who did not give one single fuck about me. Not only did he not treat me with respect; often he treated me downright contemptuously. I think my willingness to accept his shitty behavior kind of fascinated him. I think on some level, he wanted to see just how much he could get away with, and I would tolerate.

Kenny shattered my self-esteem. He made fun of me. He walked out on me. He ignored me. He punished me. In the end, he didn't even treat me like a fellow human, much less someone to be cherished. He never complimented me. He never prioritized me. He never took a single photo of me or introduced me to his friends, or acknowledged my existence in his life anywhere, to anyone. We never just...talked. About who we were, or what we saw in the other. I tried to see him. I tried so hard. But he wouldn't let himself be seen. Not the real him, deep way down under his pain. And he had absolutely no interest in trying to see me.

---

Not sure how much you're interested in talking to me and I'm not sure how much I'm interested in talking to you, but I will say I'm fascinated by the things that happen in the single world.

What's interesting to me is how my thoughts on dating and relationships have changed in the 2 years since I divorced. I met a gorgeous young amazing woman a year ago. We hit it off well and as we discussed our budding relationship she said to me that she's polyamorous, meaning that she already has a boyfriend and a girlfriend, but she wants a relationship with me if I'm ok with it her maintaining other relationships.

I decided to be open minded, to be fascinated by what's developing and what I'm willing to learn, experience and try something very different and very challenging emotionally. Skip forward a year and we are still in touch, have a loving relationship in which we see each other part time, like twice a month.

I'd summarize the experience basically as that I had to learn to shed feelings of possessiveness and jealousy and in fact learn the skill of compersion. Compersion is feeling happy for a partner when your partner is being satisfied by another person. So although I was very much enjoying your company Saturday, I could see how much Amit was making you glow in delight. I didn't want you to lose the self esteem boost he was giving you. I didn't want you to stop being pleasured by him so I didn't interfere or "mate guard". I took the selfless route and went to another tent, where I very much enjoyed dancing to other great sets.

Anyways I'm wishing you all the best for your interview tomorrow. Fucking kill it Ellie!

- Matt to me, DM 

---

Bayer finishes his set. Our group powwows, deciding the next move. Everyone defers to Becca. We're all just happy to be out, to be together, to be moving through this evening as a unit. If Becca wants to see Chris Connolly, then to Chris Connolly we shall go. But some of us have to pee. Some of us want to hit our locker. And some of us want to just sit down for a minute. 

We head to one of the lounge structures, trooping out of the crowd in a single file line. I follow Matt. Amit follows me. As soon as we're clear of the tent, I drop back to walk next to Amit. I've just found out that he actually came to the festival alone from San Jose tonight. And that he came to the last festival, over Halloween, alone too. Solo ravers are my people. Tell me you have the curiosity, openness, and confidence to go a festival by yourself and I know all I need to know about you to instantly like you. 

Away from the noise and the crush, we're free to talk as much as we want. I don't have to wait long to solve the mystery of his accent. He's Israeli, and moving back to Israel with his family in just a couple of weeks. When he says he's going "home", I understand the clarification between his homeland and San Jose, where he's been working as a computer programmer.

And when he finds out I've been to Israel, we have instantly have an infinite supply of converation material. By now we're all sitting together in a circle, chatting and laughing and resting. I'm doing my best to stay engaged with the group but second by second Amit and I are peeling off, exploring our own connection. It just happens.

After a few minutes, we all rally and head to Chris Connolly. I tell the group I'll meet them there; I want to hit my locker and throw some stuff onto my IG story. I dawdle at my locker, hesitant to ditch my phone in case I want to take pictures of my new friends. But I don't want to lose it, and others will have their phones. I slam my locker shut, head towards the meeting spot, and almost immediately run into Matt on the way.

It's then that I become aware of the developing social subtleties of the night. Because after I hit the bathroom and come back out to meet Matt, it's Amit I run into instead. And I can feel the rush of pleasure that comes with seeing him again, even though it's only been five minutes apart--and seeing his delight at running back into me, too. Matt finds his way back to us and the three of us head into the one enclosed stage of the venue. We're about to walk in through the VIP entrance when Amit calls out to me from behind. He doesn't have a VIP wristband like the rest of us. He'll have to go another way around, and hope to find us, get close to us across the low barrier dividing the two sections inside.

Matt is already disappearing inside, and I know the others are in VIP too, so I turn to Amit and give him very clear directions on how to enter through the GA space and reach the rest of us. I know exactly where he can approach from that we'll all be able to get back together, and I make sure he understands. The way he listens and nods seriously as he says, "Okay, see you in one minute", then smiles at me, tells me we're both on the same page. We both absolutely very much want to make sure to find one another. 

---

Hi.

I have lots to say back to this. I've had an extremely emotional day (very good emotions) on the heels of last night, and this really just is the cherry on top of the incredibly meaningful experience that last night was to me.

I suspected very quickly that your waters run deep, and your telling me that you read my blog confirmed it. 

What you've just said is truly beautiful, and not just the part that pertains to me. And I will respond to it, along with writing about last night, which I was already planning on doing.

I will probably write first, which will organize my thoughts, and you'll find a sort of response in that. And we'll go from there maybe? 

You're tentatively welcome in my life, if you want a place there. 

There's a thing I want to make you understand, about why what you just said affects me so much. I am literally sitting against a building crying with the ice cream I just bought melting in my bag because I'm so moved and happy. I'll explain when I can get my thoughts down clearly.

-Me to Matt, DM

---

Boundaries are a funny thing. Once you start putting one or two in place, you can't stop. You start to see just how porous the perimeter of your self-care is, and it feels so good to finally shore those holes up. It's downright satisfying to watch the way others who once violated those boundaries very quickly lose space and relevance in your life.

So much of my life's pain--so much of my wasted time--has come from not having good boundaries with men. In some cases it has been my fault. Expecting others to fix me, or take care of me. Putting the responsibility for my happiness in their hands. 

But in many cases, I have allowed men to commodify me. To value or devalue me according to what they want in that moment. I've allowed this with romantic partners, and I've even allowed it with male friends. I've allowed it online, in my social media. Letting absolute strangers leave flirtatious comment after flirtatious comment on my posts, pissing a circle around me that made me cringe, lest a man I was actually interested in see those comments, and assume those followers had some real connection to me--some real standing in my life.

When I cried from happiness with my back against the tree in the park, I felt so relieved to no longer be the person who subjected herself to that nonsense. I wondered what it cost her, that she didn't even know. 

---

The reason what you messaged me above affected me so much has to do with how poor my boundaries have been -- all my life -- and how as a consequence of that, most men I know (including my own friends) would have been very disrespectful, possessive, and/or just shitty when in a complicated social situation like last night.

So the way you handled it, along with your forthright explanation and honesty above, made an impact on me at a time when I'm going through a lot of growth emotionally.

It's a reminder of the standard of behavior I should expect from people I allow around me, at a time I'm already making a lot of changes to how I take care of myself.

So thank you.

And also, I'm sorry if at any point in any of this, I did or said anything that hurts your feelings. I barely know you, we had very little time around one another, but a setting like that amplifies excitement, emotion, drama, everything.

I respect the way you navigated the kind of wild, kind of weird night we all had together, and you should know my decision to write about it is inspired 90% by you. You nudging me in the first place, you acting the way you did, and you writing the above.

Your character is the interesting takeaway in all of this, Matt. Not that I made out with a 23 year old. My readers are used to that nonsense from me.

- Me to Matt, DM

---

Stopping there for now. There's a part 3, which will include the rest of the story of Amit and I, plus the blog post Matt wrote, which tells his version of events.

But right now I have to go get ready. Because Matt and I are going to the Dreamstate recovery party together tonight, because why not.

To be continued!

got the apartment in south loop!

Wanna see it?

These are from the 3D view, but this is the actual unit, so you can see what I mean about the floors being warm-toned. It's tinytown, so I need to decide if I want to hang on to some of the things that probably won't fit there, save them for the next, bigger place--or if I just want to unload them now and make my life easier. 

It would kill me to get rid of my Knoll Jamaica barstools. In fact I almost went with another place that had a built in counter, just so they'd have a home. But that other place had fugly beige quartz countertops and oak cabinets.

So IDK. I don't think there's room here for a tall table, or even an extension from the wall. But I have wanted those damn barstools since 2000something when I saw them in a Lucky Magazine. They're a symbol to me that I've "made it" and I hate the idea of letting them go. 























oh to wear their lenses

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! Tonight I'm going out to dinner with Kenny and Alfie, and we're getting celebratory drinks afterward. I might sneak in one more visit with Kenny before I go, but this will most likely be the last time I see Alfie.

Kenny and Alfie are my last real LA friends. Everyone else still here is an occasional, or a part-timer. And they have been making sure I don't ever spend a major holiday alone for about eight years now. So tonight will hurt. 

Erin sent me a tweet recently, something about how adulthood means you have three friends, they all live out of state, and you basically just send one another dog photos all the time. Pure facts. 

This Thanksgiving, per usual, I don't even think about the fact that I have no blood family left. I have all the family I need, brothers and a sister whose love and support of me has saved me again and again. One of these days this whole big mess of a blog will be compiled into a book, so I'm dropping these screenshots here to make sure they get recorded.









five awesome moments from today

Awesome moment #1: my salary counteroffer was accepted. Steve laughed me off for being amazed, but what can I say. People pleaser with self-worth issues gonna people please. 

Awesome moment #2: the regional manager from Company 2 called me, from her personal phone. When she told me who it was I braced myself to be chewed out. I figured she was calling to say thanks a lot for wasting her time, having received my email last night saying I'd accepted an offer from another company. 

But no. She was calling because she was extremely disappointed, wanted me to know how much they loved me, and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to get me to reconsider. In fact, she wanted to know if I would change my mind, if they hired me in for a higher position right off the bat. 

!!!

Mind you, they had not yet made me an offer. I had just assumed that we were about to reach that point, which was why I reached out to her--to save her the trouble. She is a spectacularly cool person that I would have loved to call my boss. It was not an easy email to write precisely because of how much I like her. And she was clearly so bummed. She said she'd wanted to hire me immediately after the first interview, and it seems like maybe she had to put me through a longer vetting process than she would have wanted, had it been her call. 

So I explained about Chicago, and that since I have been seriously wanting to leave California for a couple of years now, I have to take advantage of the opportunity. I touched on my need for seasons and hatred of the heat, and told her how I've been aching to get back to my Midwest roots for most of my life. She was lovely and gracious and told me if anything changes, if the move or the position falls through, to please reach back out and I'll have a job waiting. And talking to her for those few minutes was like talking to a friend. It felt personal, not professional. In fact the call ended with her advising me on coats and footwear, because she lived in Chicago for a while herself. 

And what's crazy is I've been her. A few times in my years managing restaurants, I've had a candidate (always a really skilled line cook) on the line that I knew would slip out of my fingers if I didn't act fast and decisively. I've lost great candidates because we moved too slow on hiring, or because we couldn't pay them what they wanted. And I know that bummer feeling of Goddamnit. 

So that's it. We are done with imposter syndrome around here. We are packing that shit up forever, goodbye, do not need you, you do not serve us. BUHBYE.

Steve gave me hell for not at least entertaining the offer, and I got a lecture about "this is why we sit on offers, in case other offers come in that we can use to negotiate" but I am 100% good with how everything went down. Even though they are the same role in the same field, my responsibilities in Chicago are going to be unique in that I'll have one sole client to attend to. (They have no idea how much they're gonna love me.) So it's really apples to oranges. 

Awesome moment #3: I found an apartment, and it's way, way nicer (and closer!) than what I thought I'd be able to afford. I spent all morning and most of the afternoon trying to find the perfect place to live. I narrowed it down to four places:

A super cute older building in Goldcoast with a view of Lake Michigan and a cool, retro layout/look. Eliminated because it's a full 45 minute walk from my work and has terrible recent reviews.

A fairly modern and clean spot very close to my work (11 minute walk). Eliminated for very bad recent reviews (and lame responses from management) and kinda meh finishes (floors and cabinetry are a bit too 2005).

A nicely renovated very close spot (15 minute walk) with really cool looking, nicely finished units. Eliminated for horrific reviews from tenants still there. Ongoing construction, loud neighbors, no-smoking rule not being enforced, unresponsive management. And it's a massive place. Sounds very understaffed for the issues they're dealing with.  

And the winner is....a small but sparkling clean, ultra modern studio in South Loop. Won due to price, immaculate look of the unit and building, amenities, and excellent reviews backed up by how incredibly responsive, friendly, and communicative the leasing team was today. From the second they got my inquiry, it was RENTAL AGENTS ASSEMBLE. They were FaceTiming me with open units inside of ten minutes.

The building is two years old, very modern and chic, and has everything I could possibly want. Gym, pool, spa, massage room, pet run, pet lounge (!), human lounge, outside game area. In-unit washer dryer, dishwasher, heat/AC, microwave, bluetooth temperature control (which I'm hoping means I won't have to get out of bed to make it warmer/colder). And the clincher, for me: glossy white and grey cabinets, pretty white backsplash, and wood floors. Most of the units have a greyish floor, but mine looks to be more of a honey color that I think will make for an interesting contrast to all the cool colors of the finishes. (Either way it's gonna be rug city, because I know the floors will be freezing otherwise.) 

It's super clean and per Cam, super me. And it's a 15 minute walk from my work. I am stunned, truly, that I can get a place within walking distance at all. I figured I'd have to get something on the fringes of the city, in order to even afford living there. 

It's small, but it's a divided studio. So I have options for layout. And I think having a partially walled-off inner bedroom might be nice for the sake of darkness and better warmth? The entire outside wall is windows, so that would be cold to sleep beside. But we'll see. 

I haven't signed the lease because I barely got them the last thing they needed for approval right before close. But my credit is solid and between my recent pay stubs and letterhead job offer, there shouldn't be a problem. But I'll wait to show you photos juuuust in case.

Awesome moment #4: I put a soft lock on movers, and the quote came in at the lower end of what I was expecting. My company is reimbursing me, and though I know they'll do so immediately, it's nice to not have to lay out quite as much as I thought I might have to. 

Awesome moment #5: Matt, of Dreamstate fame, sent me his own blog post about what happened. (He doesn't have a blog. He just wanted to "speak in my language".) Don't worry, you're gonna get to read it. I've been in touch with both him and to a lesser extent, Amit since the weekend, reflecting on how epic it was and doing mini post-mortems. And Matt decided he wanted to tell his version of events, and wrote up an awesome piece of his own--and he gave me permission to share it with you.

The story shall be told, I promise! Life changing interruptions will not thwart me for long!

chicago (very big dreams)

Woke up this morning tired AF, since it took me all night to fall asleep, overloaded as my head was with a billion thoughts. Heavy thoughts, hopeful thoughts, happy thoughts, all kinds of thoughts. Woke up so, so tired, but I pulled myself together for the trial day at Company 2.

Left around 8:30am, to make sure I was in Culver City by 10am. Not super crazy about a commute that long, but as I mentioned before, I strongly suspected Company 2 was going to want me to quickly take over their soon-to-open DTLA location, so okay, no problem. 

Around 9am, I started checking my email. A lot. Wondering if I was going to hear from Company 3 at all, much less before Thanksgiving. Trying to tell myself to chill. Trying to prepare for not hearing anything for at least a week. Trying to prepare for the very real possibility they'd just hire locally and spare themselves the expense of relocating me.

Arrived on time to Company 2 and sat down for a really great, hour long talk with the regional manager and founder. Smart, passionate people. We got along great. They stayed professional in their language, following the whole "if you were to join us" rules of conversation, but it was clear they wanted me, and had me in mind for bigger things than the role they need filled right now. I knew that if Company 3 passed on me, I would be very, very happy and lucky to work with this team sitting in front of me. They have an awesome thing going, and it would be an amazing crew to grow with. 

But still. Wanted desperately to check my phone. 

Spent another 45 minutes observing one of their crew working through some admin tasks, very light overview of what I'd be learning. Just a couple of minutes before the predetermined time limit of 2 hours was up, the employee I was with stepped away to get something. I made a mad grab for my phone out of my bag. 

I had a missed call from Company 3. 

The 2 hour mark hit and I was asked for my PayPal or Venmo handle, so I could receive payment for my time today. I made some excuse about not remembering it, said my goodbyes, and bolted out to the sidewalk to listen to my voicemail.

"Hi Ellie, this is ___ from [Company 3]. Give me a call when you can."

Are you ready? I know you are. I know you've already guessed. You know me well enough to know I wouldn't write the post this way if it was bad news.

And so it is not bad news. It is not.

I got the job. It's in Chicago. I got the job in Chicago, which means I'm getting relocated. To work right smack in downtown Chicago. The East Loop. Literally the heart of the city. I'd show you a picture of the building, but to be safe I really shouldn't. But it's a high rise built in the 1920s. It's incredible. 

In Chicago. Where I am moving to. Because I got a job there. And they are relocating me. To Chicago. 

I know a lot of you already know this. It took me an hour and a half to respond to the over 30 (holy shit now it's up to almost 50) DMs I got on IG, when I announced it in my story. I cannot even come close to expressing how much that wave of encouragement and celebration and positivity has meant to me. 

And I have loads more to tell you, loads more to say about this and what it means to me. But right now I need to sleep. I'm so exhausted. I cried virtually nonstop from when I received the job offer until about an hour ago when I finished replying to my IG messages. That's not an exaggeration. When I got home I honestly lay down on my bathroom floor and cried harder and longer than I ever have, ever -- other than when Chaucer died.

But from happiness. 

So right now, sleep to rest my amazed, dazed brain. Sleep and very big dreams.

third interview recap

Quick update on job search things, then I will return to my extremely dramatic story about Dreamstate (I swear, sometimes when I wake up the next day and reread what I've written, it's like Jesus Christ Ellie, chill). 

I just had my third interview with Company 3, this time with the VP. And though I may be delusional, I don't think it could have gone any better than it did. I was totally at ease, and when I answered her questions I spoke at length and on point. She agreed with things I said, smiled a lot, and I made her laugh. There's no doubt she liked me. 

And after the call, I looked up the client I would be supporting. It just so happens that I have a random, very coincidental connection to their product line, thanks to a job I had years ago. Really just a bizarre happenstance, but there's a very good possibility that this client would know people I know, from when I was in this position. At the very least, I'd be shocked if they didn't know of the company I spent many months hanging out at, in support of my boss at the time. 

Since I mentioned that job briefly during this interview, I reached back out to the VP to follow up, say thanks, and let her know about this connection--which could only further recommend me for the role.

I think I need to be prepared for the possibility that they will go with someone already local, already in the city in question, rather than spend the money to relocate me.

But at this point I know I have shown myself to be more than qualified, and I'm just really proud of how well I've done in the interview process. I know I've done my absolute best, and it's in their hands to decide whether I'm worth the extra cost of a relocation. 

Letting go now, and shifting focus to my onsite trial day with Company 2, tomorrow. 

three thirds (part one)

If I do it justice, this will be one of the best stories I've told here. But I don't want to leave anything out, so you're going to have to come with me as we cover a lot of ground, weaving back and forth across time and context. It'll be long but it'll be worth it, I promise. It's a good story. It's about what's possible when people are their best selves: their kindest, most honest, vulnerable, respectful, giving, and loving selves.

But first, a request. I'm going to use real names, because pseudonyms are silly when no one has done anything that merits disguising their identity. But please don't be weird and go digging through social media to try and find out more about the people in this story. That's happened once or twice in the past, and I neither understand nor condone it. This story is only one third mine. So please stay here, in the realm of my third. Here you are welcome.

---

Today at about 3:30pm, I found myself sitting under a tree, my back against the trunk, crying almost uncontrollably--from happiness. Here is the tree, which I took a photo of because I wanted to document the emotional magnitude of the moment:

I sat up against this tree with my arms wrapped around my knees and my sweatshirt hood up, just holding myself, for probably half an hour. Waves of thought and feeling kept breaking over me, bringing fresh and deeply cathartic tears with every new realization.

So what was I crying about? Well, at first I didn't know. At first I just knew I was feeling overcome with gratitude: for how good things are going with my job search/career track change, for the strides I've been making on my mental wellness, and for the amazing time I had last night at Dreamstate. So I let myself get swept up in those emotions and just cry from sheer happiness. It's not the first time I've done it, and I sure hope it's not the last. I've said it before and I'll say it again: emotional dysregulation is a killer when it's working against you. But when it's sending you up, it is a drug like no other. 

But as the episode went on, I started to examine my thoughts. I started to piece them together, and to see the connections. And I saw all at once, in what I can only call an epiphany (even though it is a super dramatic word, I know), that I am quite clearly, demonstrably, and undeniably not the same person I was a month ago. I'm not even the same person I was yesterday. Last night drove the nails into the coffin, wherein lies the body of the person formerly known as Ellie. RIP; may the overlords running her simulation have mercy on her soul.

---

As I said, this story is only one third mine. So let's shift gears and I'll introduce you to Matt. Matt owns a third of this, too. 

I've only known Matt a few days longer than you, because it wasn't until Friday night at about 10pm, on Day 1 of Dreamstate, that I made his acquaintance. Matt and I were watching the same set, hanging out in the same area--separately, not together--when we found ourselves getting pulled into a three person mini dance-off by an exuberant young woman named Becca.

Becca was bouncing around the section we were in off to the side, where there's much more room to play and flow and mingle and spread out. She was making friends with everyone in the area, jumping in to dance with them if they were dancing, asking to try their light toys if they had light toys, or just introducing herself cheerfully to those standing about. She's the kind of delightful presence any festival is lucky to have, boosting the positivity with her infectious energy. It's not important that she's also absolutely beautiful, in an unassuming, wholesome, girl-next-door way (which is to say that being twenty-one she still has no idea how beautiful she is), but for the record: she is. 

Becca, Matt, and myself fell into a vibe. As we danced and cavorted around, we introduced ourselves, comparing notes about who we'd come to see, whose sets so far had been lit (sorry, I'll put a dollar in the generation violation slang jar), and whose we were still looking forward to. Becca and I discovered that we love all the same artists; she even follows the same record labels I do. But despite being super knowledgeable about EDM, it was only her second festival ever. And it was Matt's first; and he'd come alone, like me.

When he said that, I looked at him in surprise. I couldn't put a precise age on him, but I knew he was definitely closer to my graduating class than Becca's. He understood my look and opened up without hesitation, explaining that he was somewhat recently divorced, and just now starting to explore own interests. I smiled and nodded and tried to express something along the lines of Fuck yeah. Good for you. Dreamstate always has far and away the largest contingent of older attendees, and when at some point he disclosed that he's in his forties, I was delighted to have someone close to my age to run with.

And run we did, because young Becca, who had come to the festival with only one other friend, someone she'd met just once prior at her first festival, decided to adopt us. I don't know why. She could have adopted anyone. But at that moment, in the mindset she was in, we were the ones. "I love you guys!" she exclaimed, inviting us in for another group hug and making plans for us to meet up again the next day. I'll give myself some of the credit. After all, we were music twins. In fact at one point an acquaintance of mine from the electronic scene in LA happened by, and when I introduced everyone, I characterized Becca as me twenty years ago. "And I'm her in twenty years." Everyone laughed (quite possibly at my expense).

Also, Becca said something out of the blue while we were dancing that first night that I will never forget. She said, "I feel so safe with you." And I don't know if it was because I'm a veteran, or if she sensed my sobriety, or if she picked up on the deep and genuine affection I have for kids at festivals--or all three. Whatever it was, I didn't let on how much it moved me. I just nodded vigorously. "Good," I said. "You should." And I smiled at my new young friend. 

I didn't learn a lot about Matt that first night. I learned he has a daughter, because when we exchanged IGs, at first glance of my page he mistook one of my selfies for a baby picture. "No kids," I shook my head emphatically, making the universal nope sign with my hand. When I did that, he responded almost in a clap back: "I have a six year old girl." It registered with me as a thing that he wanted to say, wanted known--and I respected and appreciated that. In a world where people keep all kinds of huge things about themselves secret and hidden for whatever strange reasons, Matt was doing the opposite. He was asserting two key aspects of his identity--dad and divorcee--in an authentic and unabashed way. And it was kind of beguiling.

It wasn't until today that I connected some dots and realized who Matt reminds me of, both in his physicality and the way he carries himself: Deadmau5 concert hookup guy from this summer. Gabriel. In fact in the one tiny video clip I have of Gabriel, the face he makes is dead-on the same expression Matt wore. It's a warm, friendly smile that looks like it could burst into laughter, possibly at your expense, possibly at his own. But Matt's smile has something else in it: years of experience and hard-won wisdom. 

Like I said, I was glad to have someone my age around. Similar music taste is easy enough to bond over. But the hard-won wisdom of many years is a rarely seen badge at music festivals. 

---

But now let's skip across time, across the glowing, giddy grounds of the festival to a different stage on a different night, so you can meet the final third of this story. Because the other third is not Becca. Becca, charming addition to the weekend that she was, is an auxiliary character to the story I am telling. 

The final third of this experience belongs to Amit. 

Day 2, 9pm. I have resurfaced from floating around solo for a few hours, to reconnect with Matt and Becca at the massive main stage where all the artists I've come to see are lined up to play out the night. Amit is in the small group that constitutes our crew. There's Matt and Becca, Becca's friend Nick, and two other guys that I'm not really sure are with us or not. They're dancing with us, hanging out under Nick's totem--but I have no idea their connection to the group, if any. 

Amit is one of these guys. 

I don't pay a lot of attention to Amit at first, frankly and simply because he's very young and very hot. He's one of the thousands of super ripped, shirtless male ravers. They, like the thousands of scantily clad, super fit women, are a fixture at any music festival. Everyone is exceptionally friendly at EDM shows. It's what makes EDM, EDM. But while yes, I do get hit on, let's be real: it's rare that one of these creatures invests any energy in the likes of me. As far as I'm concerned, they are just neutral scenery; I don't really register them much other than to enjoy the sight of them in a general, detached way. At some point, he introduces himself to me, though I immediately forget his name. He's extremely polite in his tone and demeanor. And I pick up on an accent, which intrigues me. But we're in the middle of a rave. Now's not the time for chit chat. 

Besides, he's just scenery. 

But then somehow we do end up talking. And suddenly, we are in a moment, because he's just told me that his favorite EDM artist is Deadmau5 and now I am looking at him with fresh and newly interested eyes. 

Two things:

1. If you're thinking, Big deal. Everyone loves Deadmau5, no, they actually do not. At this point, Deadmau5 is pretty old school. Despite how much time I spend in the scene, I never meet anyone who even mentions him anymore, much less obsesses about him the way I do.

2. If you know nothing about me yet, know that I am obsessed with Deadmau5. I think he's a fucking genius, utterly alone in his class--and his music has saved my life. Don't care if that makes you laugh. I can't hear you laughing OVER THE DEADMAU5 TRACK I AM BLASTING.

Ilan Bluestone is on: Becca's favorite. She knows every word of every song, and she's having the time of her life. She's drifting around, dancing and talking and playing. Members of our group ebb and flow, falling in and out of mini moments and chats--like Amit and I, when we compare notes on Deadmau5 for a minute--but Matt and I are pretty solidly knit. He doesn't know any of the artists specifically, just knows he loves the music, and he's totally in the zone. And I am in it with him. 

Running underneath everything that's happening is an awareness, at least on my part, of the fact that Matt and I have an obvious and unique connection here, in this space. We are both older than nearly everyone around us. We've been messaging one another all night, as we bounce around the festival, keeping track of each other so we can meet back up with young Becca and be our fun little fam of three. We had met up right at the start of the second night, though we quickly split to go catch different sets. And now here I am again, finally, having gotten my crazy dance wiggles out in the trance room all by myself. I'm content to just be in the mix here, much closer than I ever would want to if I were alone. But there is an awareness, at least on my part, that a connection exists. And that it could probably be pursued. It could probably be escalated, if we wanted it to be. 

---

But now I'm going to grab your hand and pull you out of the crowd. We have to go; I need you to come with me back to the park. I need you to sit with me while I'm crying, bursting with happiness, bursting because a sort of shell is breaking off of me. It's a shell I no longer need. Can you guess what it's made of? 

It's made of the past, in a word. It's made of all kinds of things I don't need anymore. Things I have been discarding, slowly, over the past several months--then faster, as things have sped up in the past few weeks.

As I've gained powerful new tools to get a strong handle on my anxiety and depression, so much so that people in my life have noticed, and commented. I can let go of my need to have other people fix me, or take care of me. I'm all I need, ever. 

As I've looked hard and deep at destructive patterns in my life around relationships, around a lack of self-care, self-interest, and self-love. As I've let go of those patterns and built, brick by brick, a sense of self-esteem I never knew that I never really had. I can let go of the sad, scared person I once was--the person who, if she was honest with herself, saw the world as a threat, and as a scary place to survive in...but not thrive in. Never thrive. Not her. 

As I've lost my job and come to the realization that I can chart a new course, in that area of my life. That I don't have to be afraid of the unknown, because I've spent the past five years working and sacrificing any semblance of a life in balance--and now it's paying off, in a real way. And I will be okay. I can let my imposter syndrome fall to the ground. It's an illusion. I am accomplished and capable, and valued for what I know and can do. 

As I set a boundary after regrettably seeing an ex, sending him an email to say Actually, don't message me next time you are back in the US. Our story ends here. I can let go of the fear, every time a man leaves my life, that he will be the last one to love me. I am someone amazing to be admired and desired and respected; I was reminded of that last night.

And as these things have fallen away, I have filled the void they left with big, beautiful boundaries. Boundaries I never had before. Boundaries that allow for zero tolerance for all kinds of shit I have always put up with. Boundaries related to friendships. Boundaries related to conflict. Boundaries related to my time and energy. Boundaries related to what I will accept as communication--or a lack therof.

All in a flash, as I sat there crying with joy for the person I know I am becoming, I saw suddenly and clear as day, just how much toxic behavior I have allowed, both in real life and virtual life. Yep, that's right. Today at the park, sitting under that tree, I realized how much utterly gross, passive aggressive, patronizing, condescending, creepy, controlling, manipulating, negging behavior I have tolerated on my goddamn social media. Social media! Of all fucking places! You'd think me if anyone would know better. I am the original hater of social media. But it has gone on. And I have allowed it, because in the cases in question, it was rolled out so slowly, and with such calculating cynicism, that I didn't see it for what it was until a few days ago when one offender tipped his hand twice in two days. And I saw him, instantly, for what he is, and what he has been trying to do. 

I saw him.

But I'm getting off track, and on a subject I'm going to return to anyway, because it's important. I just needed you to understand why I cried today:

I cried because I buried an outdated version of myself. And because I am so happy about who she's been upgraded with.

But we should get back to the festival. There are two incredible, amazing, beautiful people there, waiting for us to return so they can show us all the ways in which they are those things.

---

(to be continued)

let's fly

I'm supposed to be asleep right now. That was the plan. The plan was to fit a nice long nap in between the interview I just had and the festival I'm going to in a few hours. 

That plan flew out the window about two thirds of the way through the interview, when I realized there's a very real possibility that my entire life is about to turn upside down, in the best possible way. 

Let's back up.

Of the now 25-ish applications I've sent out (11 of which are for actual open positions), I received three callbacks.

Company 1 wanted to interview me for exactly the position I've been hunting for. But since this particular company is extremely famous, and very well funded with high-profile clientele, taking the job would be the equivalent of jumping up about five steps due to how much I'd have to learn on the fly to keep up. It would be a TON of high stress, fast-paced work doing a lot of things I've never really done (LOTS of event planning) but if I survived, I could pretty much write my own ticket after a year there and go anywhere I wanted.

I was mildly terrified but nevertheless totally down, until in my research I found out this company has some ongoing PR and legal issues, to put it mildly. Terrible Glassdoor reviews. And considering that I just got out of a company with some problems, I really don't want to go that route. So I canceled the interview.

Company 2, which is small-scale and very chill, appears by all accounts to be awesome. I met most of the team on a group Zoom and would be happy to work with all of them. They're looking to hire for their Culver City spot, but they're about to launch the DTLA location any minute. The position would be a low level role in Culver City, but I have a suspicion they want to pull me in and train me up quickly, so I could take over DTLA when it opens. We were set to have a second interview when they said, "Actually, do you wanna just come in and meet the founder and hang out for a day and see if we all fall in love?" 

So that is happening next week.

Company 3 meanwhile, snuck in while all of the above was developing. Company 3 has ~20 locations in the US, is fairly corporate, well funded, lots of opportunity for growth, and with a great Glassdoor profile. They invited me to interview for a low-ish level role in West Hollywood, but I did let them know I'd be interested in relocating to another city, should that be a possibility. After my first interview, they said, definitely expect to hear back from us, but probably not until after Thanksgiving. But then an hour later, they said "Actually, the Director of Operations wants to talk to you Friday."

So that is the second interview I just had. 

Funny thing, real quick. Right before the Zoom, my former former boss, the last Director of Operations I reported to, just happened to reach out and check in. And after we spoke, I did a quick search on the Director of Ops I was about to interview with. And I swear to god, it was like the Handing Off of the Ellie. Both are East Coast guys with very similar career trajectories. Both have the same superficially intimidating exterior, very professional, but solid, down to earth East Coast personalities underneath.  

Anyway, I prepped hard for this interview. I mean, I am really proud of myself for how well I prepared. I boiled all of my work experience down to a handful of key anecdotes (successful/meaningful guest interactions, problems solved, solutions enacted, stuff like that) that showcase the qualities I know the company is looking for, and how my actions in those instances reflected what they want in an employee. And when asked, I was able to easily draw on these anecdotes and talk about them. 

I also learned everything I could about the company, and had awesome questions ready to go. And I made it a point to illustrate I'd looked two or three steps down the road, and had already been thinking of ideas on how to fulfill the responsibilities of the position another two rungs up the ladder. 

It all paid off. The Director of Operations more or less pivoted midway through the Zoom and started interviewing me for a different role altogether - a higher up position, in another city. Specifically, the city that I have been trying to get to, and that I thought I was gonna make a run for when my company closed (but then I was like, this is dumb, I don't have a job, that's too many unknowns to take on at once). This position is at a location they are opening in a matter of days. It's brand new, it's gorgeous, and it needs a manager, like, yesterday. 

Sooooo, I am now in the running for that, and the next step is for me to interview with the company VP next week. What. The. Fuck. 

To review: after deciding three weeks ago to leave the food industry and see if I could break into an entirely different sector, and after realizing I was most likely going to have to start at entry level or near that due to my inexperience, I am now a contender for the role I so optimistically struck out for in the first place...in the city I want to move to. All of a sudden, what seemed like a "someday' quite possibly could be a "now".

It's one hour at a time around here. I still have to convince the VP and then probably the CEO that I'm their girl...but how many candidates can they possibly have with zero commitments keeping them from starting to pack tomorrow? No kids, no partner, no mortgage, no lease (I've been month to month with no penalty, presumably because my building is just happy to have anyone paying rent). I can't imagine they have anyone else with my immediate, unqualified availability. 

So that's what's happening. There is a real possibility that I'm about to escape both restaurants and California in one fell swoop.

Two birds, one job. Let's fly. 

when love locks you out

Would you like to hear a story about how I brutalized myself emotionally yesterday? Come, do not be fooled by happy Instastories, bend your ear to my cautionary tale and be warned by another's tale of woe. 

A few months ago, I received an email from the ex who (this is going back a couple of years now) broke up with me out of the absolute cold blue when he suddenly realized he wanted to go home to Germany and not, in fact, continue to build a life with me. I don't know how much I talked about it then. I think a lot? I don't remember. I don't really want to go back and look. But the long and short of it was, after breaking up with me, he gave me about five minutes to process, ask questions, try to understand, or come to terms with it in any way - before blocking my phone number and all of my socials, that last part making me feel deeply wounded and ashamed, as if I was some kind of stalker for trying to make sense of how he'd blindsided me. 

This was after two and a half years of dating, toward the end of which he sat me on his couch and quite solemnly told me that I needed to go to Germany to meet his family, since he'd come to realize he was going to forsake them by staying in America, with me. Forsake is my word, but tbh, that was the vibe and tone. It was intense and much sadder than such a decision should have called for, which was a major red flag I missed.

So this email was a longish apology, I guess sort of for breaking up with me, but mostly for the way he coldly shut me out afterward? To be honest I'm not totally sure. I read it once and very quickly, answered "All good, take care", and moved on. I was still very much in the throes of trying to get over the next ex-boyfriend, lol.

Anyway, on Saturday, he sent me another email, saying he was in LA, and asking would I be interested in meeting up. I got this message and just stared at it uncomprehendingly for about two minutes. Why on earth would he want to see me? He'd already apologized. What was there left to say? I screenshot it and fired it off to my friends. 

And truly, does anything rally one's friends like a message from a villainous ex? Hoo boy. I was ordered in no uncertain terms and quite unladylike language to absolutely not, under any circumstances, give that #&@*er the time of day. 

I ignored my friends' advice. Why did I do that? Because I'd come to the harebrained conclusion that this must be a play to get me back. It had to be. He'd already apologized. What other reason could there be for showing back up in my life AGAIN? And I wanted to hear the pitch! I wanted to hear this kid shoot his shot. I was curious. 

So I answered him saying Okay, but it has to be tonight. 

And he wrote back and said Ah, damn, plans tonight. 

And that's when I realized, Oh. He doesn't want me. He just wants to have a feel good moment of face to face forgiveness, to feel better about himself. That's all this is. 

And I was so mad. Because fuck that. So I wrote back, Ah, okay. Unfortunate timing. Enjoy your stay, and that was supposed to be the last of it. That's exactly where I should have left it, because it felt really good and right to leave it there.

But then on Monday, literally seconds after I landed another job interview, I received his disappointed reply, and because I was so elated about how things were coming in my job search, I caved. I answered him and said, Okay, change of heart. I'll meet up with you tonight. 

So. That's what I did. Last night I went and met up with an ex who had been horrifically terrible to me, as a fellow human being person, because I felt so positive and optimistic about my future and just sort of wanted to share that feeling with someone I knew. That positivity and optimism made me feel generous in spirit, kindhearted enough to give this man who didn't deserve it what he wanted so badly: a chance to mend things enough between us that he wouldn't feel like a monster anymore.

You can guess what happened.

I had one drink. He had two. We talked without stopping for two and a half hours, catching up and having a wholly pleasant conversation. He saw the ways in which I've grown, emotionally and psychologically and professionally, since we were together. And he honored them in a very sincere way, and it felt good. 

And because the whole evening was so superficially lovely, I barely noticed the bad feeling creeping up on me. It came on so slowly and so imperceptibly that I didn't notice it until it was too late. It was one feeling that morphed into another that turned into yet another by the time we said goodbye. 

It started out as a feeling of inadequacy, a whisper of This is all fine and good, Ellie. Just don't forget. You weren't good enough then, and you aren't good enough now. 

And then it turned to embarrassment and shame. Like, Look at you. Why are you here? What were you expecting? Did you think he was going to see you and be so utterly charmed that he'd reroute his entire life AGAIN?

And finally, in the absolutely horrifyingly awkward moment that was our goodbye, rejection. Rejection, all over again. God. Look at his face. Look how all the laughter and joy has drained out of it, now that it's time to go. No love left for you there. And is that...relief? 

I went home and sobbed. Absolutely just tore a perfectly healed hole in my heart right the fuck back open last night. Did it to myself, no one else to blame.  

And to be clear: I don't want this man. I don't. And not just because of the character he showed in how he treated me. I don't want him for other reasons. I truly do not. But I am a human person who is sensitive to reliving rejection, which is essentially what I put myself through last night. 

So don't do it, friends. Learn from my mistake and don't ever, ever, ever, ever say yes, if you are hit with such a proposal someday. Forgive them in the silence and peace of your heart, on your terms and on your time, and then move on. When love locks you out, that's it. Don't answer, if it comes slinking back round, begging for a pat on the head. 

And always listen to your fiercely protective, potty-mouthed friends. Potty-mouthed friends know best.  

in between times

Hi hello!

Toggling the lights back on, because after trawling the web to see how easy it is to find my personal blog based on the info in my resume/LinkedIn, I only found one leak, which has been sealed up. You can reverse navigate here by way of my online portfolio, but that would take some creativity and effort on the part of the searcher, and I'm not such a high value hire that I think anyone would bother. 

Also, at the end of the day, there really isn't anything all that scandalous here. Just an imperfect human, talking about her imperfect life and occasionally imperfect choices. 

I spent all week 100% focused on the job search, with minimal anxiety cluttering things up. The anxiety only comes from the fact that I feel like a lost an extra week to various adventures I really didn't need to undertake. All in, I'm looking at it like I took three weeks off. Two would have been ideal, but it's three, and I am accepting that.

Working in my favor is that I am extremely targeted in my search; there is a very specific sector I want to move into, so my applications don't require a ton of individualizing. Once I really locked down what it is I want to sell about myself, I felt about a thousand percent more confident launching my attack. I made a spreadsheet with two tabs; one logging open positions I'd applied to, and one logging cold inquiries I sent to companies with no public job postings I could find. 

Altogether I've got 22 applications out - but 9 of them just went out today, because it wasn't until two days ago that Steve suggested the cold inquiry approach. It took me a day to nail down the shorter cover letter for cold inquiries, because that gave me some anxiety until I realized that literally every time I myself received a cold inquiry from a job seeker, I was mad impressed and definitely made it a point to reach out and connect with them.

I got two immediate replies, and have two phone screens next week, both of which I'm super excited about for different reasons. I'd be delighted to work at either of these spots. 

So now that I'm at the point where every single currently open position has had my hat thrown into its ring, and every other company in the city has received my humble hello, I'm shifting my focus to education, education, education. There are tons of great resources related to this field, so I'm learning everything I can about every aspect. My skill set maps cleanly onto this type of work, but there will also be plenty of ways for me to grow and challenge myself. Slightly scary stuff, if I'm being honest, but comfort zones are for naps, not for living in.

My small-but-amazing network of people continues to be an incredible source of support. A woman I worked in tandem with on various marketing campaigns for one of my locations has deep ties to this industry, and set me up with a literal database of listings to work from. And my former boss called me up, unsolicited, at the beginning of the week after an informative meeting with his recruiter. "I got tons of useful feedback from this guy how to beef up my CV with concrete, quantifiable data. So I was thinking, let's do the same for yours." (Which is funny, because I'd spent the previous couple of days watching Jeff Su's YouTube channel suggesting the same approach.) So he called me up and, I shit you not, while on speakerphone with his equally badass wife, they helped me tweak my resume to be fitter, happier, beefier.

I got a lil weepy about all this kindness and he was like, "Look, I told you before. We are all in this together, and we're all gonna help one another get to the next thing. As far as I'm concerned, working with you I made a friend for life."

That didn't make me even weepier at all or anything.

I am also considering, just for funsies, penning a couple of articles for my LinkedIn. After a daily check for new job postings, I really don't have much else to do anyway. Who knows. Something I knock together could get passed around and end up under the eyes of the right person. I have been known to string a strong sentence or two together, in my day.

Not much else to report on. Had a lovely Little Tokyo dinner with Kenny and Alfie, IG story'd the fuck out of it. Next weekend is Dreamstate, which is my super duper duper big festival of the year. Not as in size, it's actually kind of smallish in terms of attendance, but in importance. Literally dozens of my favorites (it's an all trance festival, nicknamed Trancegiving since it's always held in late November) and always the highlight of my year. For actual Thanksgiving, I'll probably have dinner with Kenny and Alfie. 

And that's, lovelies. Happy Saturday, I'm off to West Hollywood for errands!

get your damning screenshots in now

 Hi bbs, 

Just a very quick note to say that I will be setting my blog to private for a few weeks while I apply for jobs, because duh.

I don't know whether current subscribers will receive posts I publish if it's private, but I'll try it out.

Also gonna lock up the ol' IG temporarily too. Feel free to request a follow - all are welcome!

In happy news, I am having an absolute blast applying for jobs that I am genuinely excited about. It might take a minute, but I have found a path that feels good and right and fitting, and I can't wait to see where I land. 

- E

what ya girl is worth

Right then, I'm back from my little sojourn to see Cameron in Houston. Let's get to the bad-but-actually-good very big news.

I was laid off two weeks ago yesterday. My company closed all of its restaurants - the entire operation. There may be some element of the farm that stays alive in one form or another. But I'm not sure and I don't really care. For all intents and purposes, the company is donezo. It was sudden and unexpected, but also not, because there's been some shenanigans. But that's a whole huge story that I'm not going to tell because it doesn't matter. The point is, that chapter of my life is now closed. 

Everyone in the entire company - hourly, salaried, from the farm workers to the managers to the dishwashers - was paid out extremely well. We all received 60 days of pay on top of our paychecks for the current pay period we were halfway through, as well as compensation for all of our unused vacation time. Benefits will also remain in place until the end of the year. The credit for this generosity belongs solely to the one person who fought for it, who was my boss's boss, who is a fucking king.

I was one of two people clued in the night before the big announcement, which deeply gratifies my need to be teacher's pet. It would have been three, but the third person had her suspicions about what was happening and wanted to wait and learn along with everyone else at the company-wide zoom call the next morning. 

The zoom was painful, but over quickly enough. And everyone who found themselves without a job has that joblessness cushioned by the equivalent of five paychecks. On top of that, the head of the restaurant division is doing everything he can to make connections and introductions, and get his former employees into new positions asap. They don't come more well-connected than him. He has worked at the top levels of the industry, like, everywhere. 

It's been an emotional roller coaster. It isn't rare for me to cry from gratitude, because hashtag emotional dysregulation. But holy shit, this past two weeks I have received such an incredible amount of love and support from the small but amazing network of people I can call My People, both socially and professionally. I barely had a chance to hit the ground before half a dozen hands were pulling me back up.

I considered using my payout to leave California until I realized the timing isn't right (more on that later). But for a few days when that was my very chaotic and loosely-formed plan, all three of my close friends turned into fucking Ellie's Avengers and assembled, armed and ready to help me get where I wanted to go, geographically and professionally. 

When the moving quotes came in at $4k, Cameron started investigating cheaper options. He offered to buy an 18 foot trailer at an auction in Texas, drive it to me in LA, help me load it up, drive us across country to my new place, then drive himself back to Texas where he would then sell the trailer. "You're insane," I told him. "How are you my best friend?" 

"It would be an adventure!" he insisted. "We could go to the Grand Canyon or whatever!"

Yep.

My buddy Steve meanwhile played sounding board / devil's advocate. I told him the two cities I was considering (one small, one very large) and he, Aries that he is, attacked my choices and offered alternatives until it was clear from my coherent and clear defenses that I do in fact know what I want. He also pushed back on my inclination to leave restaurants, asking if maybe I don't want to aim for even higher levels (operations etc) where the stress, he presumed, is less. (I do not; it is not.) His blessing is important to me, because he's really the only career professional that I am close to. He knows how to make the big decisions in life, the ones you can't easily backtrack on. 

Erin was just straight cheerleader, telling me how proud she was of me for considering making such a huge change with nothing but fearlessness and a deep drive to leave Los Angeles. I floated various schemes to her and every one got a "Yes! Do it!", making me feel invincible and way more brave than I really am. 

And then there's been the support from my former boss, my former former boss, and my boss's boss, all of whom have been checking in and weighing in and listening and encouraging and basically making it clear that they believe I can do pretty much anything I want. And that is the real (and only) tragedy of this situation: that I won't get to work for these men anymore, because they are fucking badasses.  

So here's the thing, and why the timing is not right: I am still exploring my options and nothing is finalized until, I guess, I sign a new work contract - but I am looking to get out of restaurants and food service management altogether. 

I can't do 12-hour days anymore. 10 hours are expected - but all in, with everything that needs to get done and everything that inevitably comes up - 12 was more the norm, several days a week. 

I can't do weekend nights anymore. Fuck that. Fuck that forever. 

I can't do callouts anymore. I had no idea how much latent resentment I had, for the kids I had true affection for, when I was their boss. For the dozens and dozens of times they called out last minute, with absolutely no compunction, resulting in my having to work open to close again. Having to cancel whatever plans I had again. Having to miss another couple of hours sleep again. Having to sacrifice even more of my free time again. It didn't matter how many scheduling acrobatics I performed for them, or how many extra hours I worked myself, to grant their requests. Zero fucks given. If they didn't want to work, they wouldn't. Not putting myself into anything even remotely resembling that situation ever again. And while I still hold affection for them - oh man. Oh man am I glad to not be their work mommy anymore. Buh BYE.

I can't do endless equipment emergencies anymore. You don't know what stress is until a walk-in freezer containing $$$$$ worth of product goes down at 8pm on a Sunday night, on your watch, when your budget is already razor thin and you're desperately trying to turn a profit so maybe one day you could hit a bonus???? Yeah NOPE. 

I can't do rich, entitled customers anymore. I cannot grit my teeth and fake my way through one more obsequious Yelp response, because some asshole with anger management issues didn't get his slice of avocado.

I can't do egomaniacal chefs anymore. Or just plain stupid ones. Or apathetic, lazy ones. I don't want to work in a setting where I am partnered with someone who doesn't put in the time, effort, or care that I do. I don't want to carry my de facto co-manager anymore, which is precisely what I did for most of the past year+. I am smarter than that. I am better than that. I deserve to work with professionals who give a shit and are expected to perform at a professional level. 

I can't do no real days off anymore. When you manage a restaurant, you are always on call. Always the go-to. There is rarely any real rest from responsibility. And it is exhausting. 

Anyway, here I am with all of this management experience, looking to transfer it into another realm. I ran two locations with very little turnover (i.e., my employees liked me) and became an absolute wizard at organization, time management, administrative work, crisis handling, and to lesser extents, budgeting and sales building. I have no doubt that I could manage, like, a lot of different settings - and crush at it. I just have to find the right one. 

I have ideas. I have probably more confidence than is merited - but let's count that a good thing. And now that I'm home from playtime with Cam, I have the time to get laser-focused on my next steps.

My plan is to work a year or maybe two in a new field, then leave California, when I can continue on in this new field, but elsewhere. 

When the former head of restaurants from my company found out I want to leave, he more or less said "Tell me where you want to go and I will help make it happen." And I can't tell you the feeling that gives me. It makes me want to cry all over again - because I know it's true. He's connected me to one of the VPs for a very, very, very large international hospitality company, with whom I've had a really nice couple of emails with. This executive is aware of my hesitations around staying in the industry, and asked that I at least have a phone conversation with someone at his company (which offers an interesting offshoot of food service that may constitute enough of a change to keep me onboard). 

This executive asked this solely because the former head of restaurants reached out to him to say, basically, "I got someone. Her name is Ellie. She's amazing. Connect with her." I am paraphrasing, but the exact compliments came back to me and are gratifying and encouraging enough that I am going to have the conversation - and see what's up.

So that's where things stand. Ya girl be having no job at the moment. But ya girl is not really worried. Ya girl knows what ya girl is worth.