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Learning to walk with the Lwa (the job edition, Part 2)

Posted in Legba, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 29, 2017 by cheshirecatman
Golden Key

© Yanik Chauvin | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Back in February I wrote about a new job that I was very excited about. It was at a young, up-and-coming tech company with great benefits and a friendly work environment. Things were going well and I was happy. Then the rug got pulled out from under me.

In early March, the company unexpectedly lost one of its main clients, and they laid off about a third of their staff. Being a newbie, I was in the group that got let go. It was sudden: we came into work on Monday, got called to an impromptu meeting, and got the news. Some people were angry; I was hugely disappointed. I also realized that I was fortunate in that I did not have a large amount of time invested in the company–one guy I talked to had been there for 3 years.

In such situations it can be tempting, from a magickal point of view, to ask what you did wrong to earn the wrath of your gods. Honestly, in this case I don’t think I did anything. Call it bad luck or bad timing on my part. I did, after all, ask Legba to help me get the job, and he did. No one at the company expected this to happen.

I do think that the Lwa don’t always lead you on a straight path, and sometimes due to various timing issues this is necessary.

I filed for unemployment and began the tedious task of updating resumes, scanning job boards, contacting employers and filing unemployment claims every week. There were a lot of jobs out there, but apparently there were also a lot of applicants. Even though one of my laid off coworkers found a new position quickly, about two months went by for me and nothing. No queries, not a peep.

Then, on a Thursday in early May, I got two text messages from two separate former co-workers who both worked for a Tacoma company I used to work for. They told me that one of their clients was looking for a graphics person. Note here that I sort of suck at networking, and in my entire professional life I can only remember getting a job via networking one time, and that was only for a 1-day temp position. So this was something new for me.

I called the company immediately and spoke with the owner, then sent him my resume. Over the next 24 hours, we e-mailed each other back and forth, and on Friday he invited me to go for an interview the following Monday. As I looked over their website I was amused that 1) the name was very similar to another company I’d worked at for nearly 10 years and 2) the logo design reminded me of the Tacoma company. Were these signs? Again, I asked Legba for assistance, but this time added the conditions that I only ask for this job if it’s stable and good for me.

The weekend came and went. On Monday, I dressed conservatively (for me) and headed out to the interview. Upon entering the building, I immediately noticed a good amount of diversity (as I would find out later, this company is about 50% people of color, 50% female, and diverse in age, compared to the tech company that was mainly young and maybe 25% female and 25% people of color). The owner was a person of color and the manager who sat in on the interview was a biker-looking dude with tattoos all over his arms. I thought to myself, “This could work.”

The interview was casual with no silly HR questions, no “where do you see yourself in 5 years” kinds of stuff. They told me they would let me know no later than Friday.

Two days later they e-mailed me back and asked if I could start on Friday! I was over the moon.

While this does not have the new technology type of excitement of the tech job, this company fits me well, like a favorite pair of shoes. And I am hoping now for a period of calm and stability on the workfront so I can fully focus on other areas of life.

Also, on an unrelated note, a couple of weeks ago I met a member of Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman’s sosyete, a New Orleans native who is living in Seattle. We’d been corresponding for a while on Facebook and he was every bit as kind in person as he is online. Honor to him and to his mambo and his sosyete.

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Learning to walk with the Lwa (the job edition)

Posted in Dreams, Legba, Life Lessons, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 19, 2017 by cheshirecatman
job_key

© Skypixel | Dreamstime.com – Career and Job Opportunities

If you are a regular reader, you may be familiar with my recurring shoe dreams. Some people have nude-in-public dreams; I have walking-around-with-no-shoes dreams.

I had another one recently in which I was walking around in a truck stop rural area with the girlfriend. I look down and I am stocking-footed. It finally dawned on me that these dreams are largely about stability (and the lack thereof). I don’t know why I did not figure this out sooner. I have weak ankles, so good shoes are paramount to my physical stability. So it’s not too surprising that my recent bout with job instability would trigger a shoe dream.

Just over a year ago, I was laid off from a job of nearly a decade and transitioned smoothly into another job. The new company seemed like a good fit, the job was interesting, and things went well for a while. And then things started going bad. The mundane reason: a long commute (Seattle to Tacoma) meant I was often tired and started falling asleep at work and having job performance issues. My confidence in my work skills took a hard blow. The other reason: a long commute meant little time for much else, including service to the Lwa.

They weren’t happy with me and this became clearer and clearer over time. Whenever my thoughts turned to finding a new job closer to home, things would go better at work. But if I thought, “Well, maybe this will work out fine and I’ll stay for a while,” then I’d start having problems again. When they speak and you don’t listen, things go awry. Eventually enough was enough. So near the end of last year, I started sending out resumes and quickly got a call from a staffing agency, who placed me in a temp-to-hire position with a company that processes legal papers.

The paper-pushing job was super-convenient (a one-bus commute to downtown Seattle), but also a little depressing. Aside from handling legal documents all day long, I was very much a production drone who wasn’t utilizing many of his skills. I really don’t like looking for work and was hoping that this job would work out long-term, but after a brief couple of weeks I could no longer ignore the push to look for something better. And then a playfully written ad on craigslist caught my eye. It was for a graphics-related job in the tech sector.

I was hoping for but did not expect a response, but they responded within a few days and requested a phone screening. Now, I hate the telephone and knew I needed Legba’s help on this one. I lit a candle and asked for his help. And he came through. The interview ended up feeling more like a casual conversation over coffee, and the following Wednesday I found myself over on the Eastside for a group interview.

Legba came through again–I aced it. So much so that my interviewers had no additional questions for me at the end because I’d already answered them. Now, I am a very inconsistent interviewee–whether I interview well or not depends a lot on my mood that day and the demeanor of the people interviewing me. So this was no small feat. I liked the feel of the company–it was energetic, forward-thinking and seemed to value its employees. My interviewers were considerate and followed through whenever they said they would do something. Legba’s hand was evident during our interactions and when I wrote an inspired cover letter and the follow-up correspondence.

The tech company told me they’d make a decision no later than the following Monday. I tried not to become too anxious, but this was a job I cared about, and I knew I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t hired. However, they made me the offer the next day.

That day, prior to the offer, I was returning from my lunch break at the temp job. I stopped in the restroom and set my phone and the book I was reading on the back of the tank. I turned to latch the stall door when I heard a splash. My book and my phone had fallen into the john. I am not really sure how; I thought I’d placed them firmly on the tank.

I immediately snatched them out. I was very glad the phone still worked but the book was damaged. It probably was salvageable, but you can’t really wash a book, so I decided to trash it even though I was in the middle of reading it. It was a Christmas gift. Oh well, I’d replace it at some point.

Shortly after that (like, within an hour), I received the job offer. That made me wonder if the book was claimed by Legba as payment for the job. Later I would call Mambo and ask her opinion, and she said that sometimes happens if you don’t negotiate your deal well. And I realized I hadn’t been specific enough when I petitioned Legba. I liked the book, but I wasn’t too upset. It was a small price to pay, and if the phone had been damaged then I might not have gotten the call in a timely manner, and the job might have been lost. So Legba took the book. I just recently replaced it, but felt it would be a good idea to remember this lesson. So instead of buying an identical new paperback copy, I purchased an older used hardback edition. In this way I don’t feel like I am erasing that event.

After a slightly stressful ten days (mostly due to confidence issues left over from the Tacoma job), I am starting to feel stable again. Also, from a numbers standpoint, this is the 3rd position I’ve had since leaving my last long-term job. Three is my met tet’s number. So I am optimistic I will be here for a while.

My 2016 so far

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by cheshirecatman

So yes, this site is still active and no, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I just got really really busy. And not in a bad way.

What happened was that I returned to work right after the holidays. The big muckety-muck from back east who is president of Company A that owned the west coast company I worked for was visiting. He called a company meeting and told us with exaggerated regret that the company and all our jobs would cease to be by the end of the month. I will say that at least Company A had the decency to wait until after the holidays and to give us severance packages.

My company’s closure wasn’t exactly a shock. Business had been drying up over the past few years, accelerated by the departure of the president of our west coast company, a woman who was not intimidated by the east coast big wigs and was not afraid to advocate for us. After her departure, we went through a series of general managers hired by the dudes back east who did not have the same backbone that she did. Anyhoos, enough of that. I realized I had less than a month to either find another job or live off of the extra money, which I preferred to keep in savings.

I was weirdly non-panicky. Usually I would be neck-deep in anxiety, running all the worst-case scenarios through my mind in an endless stress loop. But no, this time I was calm, even rather lazy when I began my job search. In two weeks, I think I sent out maybe three resumes. And then, for the hell of it, I decided to send off an email to one of our competitors, a company in a neighboring town. It would be a lengthier commute, but I really didn’t even know if they would respond, so didn’t think too much about it.

Well, the GM at the other company responded within a day. And was interested. And, as I found out during the subsequent interview that felt more like a conversation between friends than an interview, someone in their company had recently left and they were in need of someone with  skills similar to mine. And I got offered the job before I even left the building. I think that has happened to me maybe two other times in my life, not counting really crappy production or food service jobs. And each of those times, I ended up staying at the job for a while.

So, all these smooth connections and my lack of worry about any of it has Legba stamped all over it. I went from my last day at old job to first day of new job seamlessly (although in retrospect I probably should have taken a few days off).

The great thing is I love my new job. The not-so-great thing is the longer commute cuts into my time a lot. Hence, my neglect of this blog among other things. I am still trying to figure out how to balance it all.

A couple of other things worth noting:

I had a very nice “dream” recently about visiting with my beloved late cat Puck. We were in an ultra modern house with mostly white decor. My mother was also there, somewhere. I didn’t see her but her presence was very much felt.

Also, my travel plans for the summer got nixed, for reasons beyond anyone’s control. I’d been feeling kind of bummed about that. Then,  one night I had popped over to the psychic John Edward’s website, wondering why I hadn’t received one of his newsletters recently. Yes, I am a fan of his, and he is part of the reason (along with other research and my own experiences) why I am certain that life continues after the death of the body. On a whim, I checked out his tour schedule. He is scheduled for Seattle in the fall.

And I thought about the unspent travel budget, and…voila. Bought two tickets, one for me and one for an as-yet-undecided companion. I don’t usually buy expensive tickets and haven’t been to a concert in years. But I felt okay about spending the money. And then….

Literally about two days later I get a very nice check for some sold artwork for an amount that nearly covered the price of the tickets. I’d say, weird huh? But enough of these things have happened that I just accept them and thank the forces that be. I am not necessarily expecting to get a reading at the show, I just have enjoyed watching him on TV over the years and think it will be interesting to go. And so my journey continues….

 

 

 

Ayiti Foto Konbit

Posted in Haiti, Uncategorized with tags , on November 23, 2015 by cheshirecatman

Invisible Mirrors/Miwa Yo Envizib

I was made aware of this project to create a refreshingly positive collection of images of Haiti made by young Haitians via a recent article by Alexandra Fuller on the National Geographic website:  ‘Showing Haiti on its Own Terms‘. The article itself gives a very clear “nutshell” overview Haitian history that is unusually free of outrage, sentimentalism or sensationalism. And many of the images are great too!

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Levoy Exil – Saint Soleil’s Vodou Mystic

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2015 by cheshirecatman

Ran across this article on Haitian artist Levoy Exil:

Cameron Karsten's Imaginarium

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Levoy Exil is an artist. He’s from Haiti. He lives in Haiti. He is a visionary with deep roots into the mysticism of Haitian vodou. “I have revelations when I’m asleep. In black and white. The black is the body, the white is the spirit. I sing the song of creation to Damballah. I offer him blue, white and mauve. There are lines of dots all around the shapes, in relief. There are dots of light. The red is part of the body. It’s also a symbol of goodness, and it’s good for healing too. Damballah is a snake, made up of all colors.”

Levoy is an original member of the famous Haitian artistic movement called Saint Soleil, which began in 1972. Inspired by vodou religion and the cosmological energies called loa, or vodou spirits, St Soleil (Holy Sun) grew from the peasant mountainsides outside of Port-au-Prince into an…

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Some items of interest, Spring 2015 edition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2015 by cheshirecatman

*Dusts off blog.* So here I am again after an unintentional hiatus that lasted a few months. My  mind has been elsewhere, but now the writing bug has bitten me again. This particular post has been on the backburner since earlier this year. I was originally going to title it “Mini Reviews” and then realized that I am not really reviewing these. It’s more of a “look at this!” type of thing, so thus the current title. Enjoy 🙂

Schiffer Books releases The Egyptian Lenormand Deck

Commercial-deckOriginally self-published, this beautiful deck has been given a high quality makeover by its creator Nefer Khepri and Schiffer Books. I have the self-published deck, yet couldn’t resist buying a copy of this incarnation, which includes a sturdy keepsake box and a 175-page full color instruction book. Priced at a modest $21.59 on Amazon, with signed and activated copies available from Nefer for $40.
Read more at egyptianlenormand.com

Vodou Brooklyn: Five Ceremonies with Mambo Marie Carmel by Stephanie Keith

vodou brooklynA good friend of mine surprised me with this for my birthday. It’s softbound, 137 pages. I haven’t read through it yet, but it’s packed cover to cover with vibrant images taken during ceremony. Some of the information provided by the author in the introduction doesn’t seem exactly accurate, but I don’t think she is a Vodouisant (I could be wrong though). She does state that “almost all of the descriptive text about the ceremonies and Spirits come from doing interviews with Marie Carmel and other members of the Vodou community,” so it may be that I am misreading the context or some concepts are being lost in translation. Either way, I am happy to have this book for the photos alone.

Ayiti (and other books) by Roxane Gay ayitiThe first book I read by the hugely talented Roxane Gay was “An Untamed State,” an intense novel about a woman who is kidnapped and held for ransom. However, I thought her short story collection “Ayiti” would be a better recommendation for readers of this blog, since it provides one with a variety of Haitian characters in different situations. I plan to read more of this woman’s work in the near future.

The description on Amazon.com reads: “The debut collection from the vibrant voice of Roxane Gay is a unique blend of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, all interwoven to represent the Haitian diaspora experience.”

The Comedians

comediansThis is an old movie (1967) recommended to me by someone in my house because of the historical backdrop (Haiti during the Papa Doc years). I was not crazy about this film, mainly because the central characters are all white folks and the Haitian characters of any importance (all played by American actors) receive relatively little screen time. There are some interesting scenes involving the Ton Ton Macoute (again, not enough screen time) and a Vodou ceremony. Adding to the unevenness was the fact that they could not shoot this film in Haiti and so went to Benin. During the ceremony scene, the crowd was actually African, although the Houngan was Haitian.

One Amazon review reads: “Set in the Haiti of “Papa Doc” Duvalier, The Comedians tells the story of a sardonic white hotel owner and his encroaching fatalism as he watches Haiti sink into barbarism. Complications include a friendship with a rebel leader, politically “charged” hotel guests, an affair with the wife of a European ambassador, and the manipulations of a conniving British arms dealer.”

If you rent the film and opt to watch the “making of” feature, be forewarned that it’s dated and annoying, referring to the Hollywood actors as “glamorous” and the people of Benin as “primitive.”

I understand the book is better, so I may read that sometime.

Mother of George

mother of georgeThis movie is a visual feast. The cinematography is simply gorgeous. I admit that one of the reasons I watched it was for the talented and stunning Danai Gurira, whom horror fans will know as Michonne in “The Walking Dead.” The description on IMDB reads. “Adenike and Ayodele, a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn, are having trouble conceiving a child – a problem that defies cultural expectations and leads Adenike to make a shocking decision that could either save or destroy her family.”

The movie includes some glimpses of Yoruba practices, including a wedding and the (graphic) sacrifice of a goat.

The film isn’t perfect in its storytelling, but very much worth checking out for the visual richness and performances.

Well, that’s it for this post, but I’ll be back soon.

Drew Mourns Dr. Karen McCarthy Brown

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 15, 2015 by cheshirecatman

Dr. Karen McCarthy Brown, theologian and author of “Mama Lola,” departs this world for Ginea on March 4. Link to the full memorial below.

Professor Emerita of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion passed away earlier this month.

By J. Terry Todd, Associate Professor, Drew Theological School