Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The complexities of really wanting something.

First, my job quandary. Secondly, some incidents at synagogue from Friday.

I don't dislike my job, but I don't love it. It's something I use to pay the bills, pay off those credit cards, and hopefully can use to pay some tuition for graduate school next fall if I get my butt in gear and do some things and, you know, apply places. But amid this all, there was the chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Italy on my boss's behalf to speak on early childhood education and the technology of skill formation. I'm more than happy to do this, of course. It's probably the most awesome experience I'll have for a while.

But then there were the job postings at the Jewish United Fund. Office Manager for the Hillel at Northwestern. Operations Manager for the University of Chicago Hillel. Then came the big wammy from my friend Michael: a job at Jewish World Digest, a newspaper housed right here in my very own Chicago. Jewish and journalism? Isn't that what I was looking for when I first moved here? Yes, yes it was. And now, it's there under my nose, among the other stellar opportunities and I can't budge on them.

Last week at synagogue there was this nifty open house for prospective members thing, and I was one of the folks who got to tout the blue name tag that meant "I pay this place dues galore!" I ended up meeting some really stellar people and hopefully some new synagogue friends who happen to be my own age. In the process, I also caught up with the membership coordinator and some others. I happened to mention my predicament to a few people and they all lamented the situation with me, but hands-down agreed that sticking with the job for the Italy adventure is worth the hassle, the commute, and the drama. I agree, but nu? Will such jobs be around when I find that the timer has popped?

On the fun service note, I have to share a bit of the night. I found myself meeting some of the nice temple community, which was good, considering I hate going and feeling like I'm sitting in the back of the classroom in the cardboard box where "loquacious" students end up (this is an allusion to kindergarten at Stapleton Elementary in Joplin, MO where I grew up). I met a nice older couple who happened to ask where I lived. I explained that Ian and I live way the hell away from anything pertinent to either of our lives (work, school, temple, friends), but that we were hoping to move up near Wrigleyville, and I added that we were eying the building next door to the synagogue. The nice couple (whose names escape me) then informed me that my synagogue, my very own shul, owns the apartment complex! They then informed me that chances are sometime in 5 or 10 odd years that building will make way for a temple expansion once the money is there, but they quickly added that by then, "you and your boyfriend will be ready to move to the suburbs anyway!" Right. But either way, talk about STELLAR news for us! Maybe this will grant us an in? Here's to hopin' anyway :)

I also have to share about the fellow there at the special service who said he stopped in because he often walks by but had never been. His name was Lawrence and he was constantly smiling, this almost devilish grin, the kind you see on a little boy before he pushes his sister into the fountain she is so quietly leaning over by to eye the quarters 'neath. Like he had something he wasn't telling, a secret or plan or something. It made me nervous. But I was friendly. The gal who I met that night, Natalie, and I sat near him and struck up conversation. We sort of assumed that perhaps he was interested in Judaism. He was curious, yes, but then said that he thought it was the "second best religion." We didn't continue with that line of conversation. No way, no how. Natalie turned to me and we started talking about my conversion (which happened to come up in the commons hall during the wine and cheese reception). Of course this got Lawrence going and he started questioning how I got to Judaism. I couldn't give him the whole spiel of how at home I grew up being able to believe what I wanted but that in public and with friends I was more or less cornered into Christianity out of a want to belong. So he concluded, "So you went from nothing to Judaism ...?" with that grin. That "oh I know your kind" grin. I wanted to slap him. He left me mumbling and unable to finish my thoughts. Then the service started.

He made me uncomfortable, and it wasn't because I had the walls up. The moment I saw him I felt there was something unsettling about him. His Judaism as the "second best religion" question just pushed me a little over. I knew there was something uncomfortable. I'm really sure why he was really there or what he wanted out of it. He got shmoozy with some people, but that grin. It's the kind you see on pop-up clown boxes. Creepy carnival rides. The kind you have nightmares about. I'll be happy if I don't have to see him again. If I do? I'll tuck away the unease and be welcoming. After all, he hasn't done anything to garner my disrespect or fear. At least, I don't think he has.