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Today I visited the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. I enjoyed a warm welcome from former coworkers and it was wonderful to be back in their company. But after an hour, the tenor of the reunion changed: I became desperately sad, missing it all so much, then overcome with the knowledge that the library and all the lives it contains exist separately from my memories of working there. The two are not the same. It’s easy to pretend they are from a distance.
After descending the magnificent central staircase so that I could snap today’s photo, I crossed the street and ducked into the Civic Center transit station. Two women on the Muni platform were singing “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”:
I don’t like you, but I love you
Seems that I’m always thinkin’ of you
Though you treat me badly, I love you madly
You’ve really got a hold on me
Writing from: a nostalgic room in Marin. Listening to: The Bobs’ cover of “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”.
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Today I spent sneezing, coughing, and working on job applications. One in particular was due today, and I am so relieved that it is finally finished. For as much as I love job interviews — yes, really — I do not love job applications.
In other incredibly exciting news today, Zen met Jack. Jack was not bothered, but Zen sang and sang. At least she didn’t box his ears.
Writing from: Zen’s room in Marin. Listening to: Zen chugging water.
One of the most difficult yet valuable experiences I had over the past four years was working as an expat. My job search was fraught with disappointment but at the end of it I was hired for a more-than-half-time position in a local university’s information services department.
This was where I came face-to-face with being American in a work context. It was a humbling moment when I realised that despite speaking the same language as my colleagues I wasn’t always communicating well with them. I gained a new appreciation for what it meant to be an outsider, culturally-speaking, and I learned how to listen, really listen, to what people were saying … and to what they weren’t.
But it wasn’t all challenging: I met and worked with some astounding people with whom I never had to modulate my communication style. I looked forward to days shared with these coworkers because together we’d get our tasks done and have fun doing them. They were supportive, loyal, and generous to a fault, always up for a laugh and always cheering each other up during darker days.
Two of these wonderful people are the subject of today’s Project 365 photo, which I snapped (hastily, and somewhat poorly) over lunch. I’ll miss them tremendously, but they’ve given me such excellent memories to take with me that I can’t be too sad. And I know I’ll see them again soon.
Working with people I like and respect is never work.