Exiting the subway, I fish out my umbrella to fend off the oddly warm drizzle. Bryant park looks festive, nonetheless, with a Christmas tree, shopping stalls, a skating rink tent and a small but ornate merry-go-round. I'm rarely in this part of town, so I wish I'd left myself more time to wander and brought my camera, but instead I silently hail Patience and Fortitude, the NY public library lions, over my shoulder as I cross the street.
Some kind of meeting is taking place as I enter the agency, and my interviewing rep asks me to wait outside for a moment. I take off my coat, pat my hair, and check to see if my laces are tied. I should be wearing my good brown shoes, but I couldn't find them, so I ended up in the fraying ones with the recalcitrant laces. They're tied, but I realize just then that these work pants that I haven't worn for weeks sometimes unzip themselves, and my hand flies to my lower belly. Wide open! I sneakily yank it up, but a woman rounds the corner as I finish, and I wonder if she saw me with my hand around my crotch. I turn to examine a nearby print on the wall of a Scottish castle and pretend I was searching my pockets, but I'm sure I'm sporting a giveaway blush.
When I'm taken in for the interview, the rep seems very nice. I'm encouraged, also, that this is a small agency that caters specifically to creative techie types, which is exactly what I've been for the last eleven years. I'm beginning to have a little hope that I won't have to start begging the regular agencies for corporate receptionist work, when she cautions me that while my resume looks good, clients usually look to hire people for a solid week of day hours, an option which my two mornings of classes will not allow. I try to remain upbeat and tell her that I am absolutely open for late night hours, weekends and one-day gigs, if they get them. In my mind, I am already rehearsing the call I intend to make to a local veterinarian, in hopes he has an opening in his office, instead, as a part time assistant or just to update his mess of a website.
Back out into the drizzle. I call my girlfriend and she's feeling so sick she doesn't want me to go to TKTS to look for show tickets, after all. She just wants me to pick up some vegetarian soup. I decide, since I am in the neighborhood, to swing by Grand Central Terminal to see if the holiday light show is still in swing. It is, and I perch on a balcony overlooking the throng in the glorious, historic main concourse waiting for it to begin. While waiting, I people-watch. Mostly I see what looks to be groups of tourists, clutching cameras. I begin a game of spot-the-gays and realize it's almost impossible to pick out gay people in Grand Central, at least today. Is my gaydar damaged? Where are they? I briefly imagine my voice ringing against the marble as I shout out "where my gays at?" à la Kathy Griffin. Fortunately, the light show begins first.
The show is pretty, mainly kaleidoscopic light effects with music, but I find myself disappointed that there are no lasers. What's a light show without lasers? The setting is lovely though, with dancing stars projected over the famous constellation mural on the ceiling. It is even more fun, however, to watch the children who are watching the show; eyes bright, laughing, dancing.
Better get home to continue sending out resumes. I treat myself to a piece of chocolate and a book at Hudson News. It's usually when I'm at my most desperately broke that I find myself compelled to buy fiction I can't afford, just to have some escape. The book is about a young man in veterinary school during the depression, who ends up caring for animals in a traveling circus. It's almost as if it were written for me. I almost wish for a life like that, except I know it would be incredibly hard, especially as a woman. I glance up and see a poster for a new cartoon movie about "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." On second thought, that sounds more like my ideal lifestyle.
My mood is strange as I exit the subway and head out for soup. It's been a week of grey weather, and I've been alternately bored, wracked with fear and depression over job hunting, and filled with holiday spirit just by looking at our tree or outside decorations. It's almost a miracle I got all A grades my first semester, but I'm finding it hard to be proud of myself while I don't know what kind of work I'll find when, and everything is constantly in flux. As I head up the block I glance at the mini-yard in front of the house where the local evangelist lives. I usually think of the neighbor as a bit of a nut, as he has a giant, bloody cross on the front of his brownstone year-round. This time of year he also breaks out the lighted nativity scene, though, and I observe Joseph, Mary, the wise men and angels standing solemnly in the mist, grubby but steadfast. Suddenly, my pace falters as my eyes flick down at the manger. It holds just some straw and a sign: "please return the baby Jesus."
I know just how he feels.