There and back again.

Posted: June 24, 2007 in Journal, Maine, photography, work

(This isn’t the first entry on which I’ve used this title.)

So, I’m back! For those of you who want the short version, then I’ll just say that everything went well and I should hear back from them with a yea or nay by the second week of July.

For those of you who want the slightly longer version, with pictures, here you go.

I flew out of Arizona at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. It’s a three-hour leg to Chicago, then a two-hour leg to Maine. On the first leg, I sat next to a lady that was laughing HYSTERICALLY, way out loud, over the book she was reading. On the second leg, I sat next to a little nine-year-old boy who was travelling by himself to a lacrosse camp in Maine. On the layover in Chicago in between, I sat at the Fox Sports Bar and had myself a beer and a crab cake. During both entire legs of the flight I studied my brains out, going over all of the Factiva information that I printed out about this company, its parent entity, and the industry. I took copious notes. Very copious. Also, I like to say “copious”.

I landed in Maine just before 5:00 p.m., grabbed my rental car and swung by the hotel just long enough to shower and change. My hotel was right next to the airport, but could have been in the middle of the wilderness, there was so much greenery around. Plus, there’s like three flights a day out of Portland (I exaggerate, but it’s no O’Hare), so I could leave my window open all night long and not be disturbed by 737’s flying overhead. Here is the view from my hotel window:

The view from my hotel window.

I then departed again, and followed the directions from the hotel to the company I would be interviewing with the next day. That discovered (after only a slight mix up and turn-around), I high-tailed it to the nearest Amato’s for Mecca Moment #2 of 2007 (see here for Mecca Moment #1).

Mecca achieved, again.

Then, not wanting to just take my sandwich back to my hotel room to eat, I decided to explore “down the road a piece” and see if I could find a place to sit by the ocean. Well, down the road a piece took me to Prouts Neck. I gawked at the OH MY GOD houses, then pulled into Ferris Beach, took off my flip flops, grabbed my camera, cell phone, and crack (italian and Humpty Dumpty “All Dressed” potato chips), and walked down to the sandy beach. I sat a few feet from the surf, scarfed my food, and called Calvin to describe to him where I was and what I was doing (and how it was totally surreal that I was back in Maine again, but without him this time).

Despite the fact that I was missing Calvin, I was HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY to be there at that moment in time. I can’t even begin to describe it, but I think the other patrons of the beach were wondering why I had a constant and wacky grin on my face.

I walked up and down the beach for an hour or so, taking pictures and sucking in the wonderfully cool salt air (it was 116 in Phoenix that day, 68 in Maine at dusk, and I was trying very womanfully to NOT rub it in with Calvin).

Sea Grass at Prouts Neck

Prouts Neck Maine

Prouts Neck Maine

More sea grass and beach, Prouts Neck

Some guys fishing off of Prouts Neck. Notice how they're up to their waists so close to shore.

Prouts Neck at dusk

Prouts Neck

obligatory feet in sand shot

I REALLY didn’t want to pull myself away from the beach, but I knew I had a couple of hours more study time to put in before my interview in the morning. So I meandered back to the hotel, got into my jammies, put some TV on in the background, ironed my suit, and wrote notes until my hand cramped. Then I called Calvin and went over the information I’d found and the questions that I’d listed to ask, just to make sure I didn’t sound like a dumbass.

The alarm went off at 7:00 the next morning, and I got ready to go, had two cups of coffee, drove to the business, and had about a half-hour to spare before my 9:00 appointment. So I sat and fretted and listened to the radio until about ten ’til. I signed myself in and got a stinkin’ badge, then cooled my heels for another few minutes before the administrator came to get me.

She sat me down in a conference room and had me perform a timed logic test. The type were there are a series of letters and/or numbers that form a pattern that may or may not be obvious, and I have to produce what the next letter or number of the pattern would be. For instance, if “aabbcc” was the pattern provided, the next letter would be “d”. Believe me, they started out that simple but didn’t stay that way for long. After a while I was scratching my head and muttering, “What the fuck?” I was relieved when the administrator reappeared to say my time was up.

At 10:00 I met with the man that would be my boss. We ran through my resume and I described to him my work history. He described what the position would entail and a bit about the company, and at half past the hour he was wrapped up with his questions, and asked me if I had any of my own.

Heh. So! I opened up my portfolio, set aside the stack of papers I’d researched, flipped through my PAGES of notes, and asked him a WHOLE BUNCH of questions. I kept him going on those for another half an hour. I think a couple of times he was surprised at what I knew and what I’d gleaned about the company from the reading that I did.

At 11:00 I met with one of the VP’s of the company, and right off the bat he told me the first gent would be the one to make the decision, and his role was just to see if I would be a good fit, personality-wise, for the company. He said he could see that I was obviously “well qualified”, so I was chuffed at that. We really just chit-chatted about the group, the person who’d previously held the role that I was interviewing for, his own tenure of over 25 years, family stuff, AcronymCo’s industry versus the one they are in, and just basically tangented a lot. He asked me why I wanted to move back to Maine, and totally understood when I described to him how I just wanted to come home again.

At noon the first gent picked me up in front of the lobby, and we met two other folks from the company for lunch. They talked a lot about common acquaintances and common experiences, so I just basically nodded and smiled a lot. Then the gent and I went to take a tour of one of their facilities and inspect a project that was going on there. Finally at about 2:30 in the afternoon he dropped me back off at the lobby, and I was finally done.

I went back to the hotel and got out of my suit (and pantyhose, ugh), and called Calvin to tell him how it went. Then I called my sister and left her a message letting her know I was in town, and called my uncle’s house to talk to his girlfriend (he was out of town).

I showered and dressed in jeans (thank GOD), and drove over by the mall to kill some time. I browsed through Borders Books and Music, and called my cousin to see if she and her husband wanted to get together with me that evening. We agreed to meet at LL Bean in Freeport at 9:00 that night, so I grabbed a quick beer at Uno’s and went back to the hotel for a nap.

I got up at about 5:45 and was away again by 6:00. My plan was just to meander my way up to Freeport from Portland, taking the back roads and maybe stopping at one or two beaches along the way. Driving the roads in Maine is just so beautiful, even when you’re not going anywhere in particular. It’s wonderfully enjoyable to poke around the curvy, twisty roads, looking at all of the trees and beautiful farms and houses, with glimpses of the ocean beyond the foliage.

I got lost on purpose. I’m one of those people who HAS to know where a road leads. So I’d find a likely turn, wander down that road until another one caught my fancy, then steer down that one. I actually talked to myself, “My lordy, I am so lost. I don’t even know what town I’m in anymore. Hey, I wonder where this road goes? It’s got to come out somewhere. It’s fun being lost…”

“La la la.”

When I purposefully tried to get myself back to where I needed to be, I ended up taking a road that dumped me right in the middle of Freeport directly across the street from LL Bean. I am that good, people.

It was barely after 7:00 when I arrived at “Bean’s”, so I spent a leisurely hour shopping for clothes. I got myself a pair of light, white cotton pants, a baby blue camisole, a slightly darker blue knit button-up sweater, and a pair of Bean’s signature slides. It was durn chilly by the time I was done, so I put the sweater on immediately, and wandered around talking with Calvin on the cell and looking for a way to kill another hour before my cousin and her husband showed up.

I went to Jameson Tavern and had a beer while enjoying the live guitarist, and left again at 8:30 to stroll back towards Beans. Calvin kept me company on the phone until they arrived.

My cousin and I used to spend a lot of time together when we were children. She is the only daughter of my mother’s oldest brother. We spent entire summers together, a few weeks at her house, a few weeks at my house with Grandma, every holiday, and many weekends. She’s a little over three years younger than me – we played hard, fought harder, then would catch each other’s eye in the middle of a knock-down-drag-out wrestling match, and laugh hysterically.

Since we’ve grown up, and of course since I moved away from Maine, we’ve hardly seen one another at all. So I was very excited and really appreciated that they’d take the 45 minute drive, when they had to work the next morning, to come down to Freeport from where they live in Augusta, just to have dinner with little ol’ me.

We went back to Jamesons and took a table in the restaurant side. We gabbed AND gabbed AND gabbed, about absolutely everything, trying to pack years of catching up into a couple of hours. My cousin and I are scarily alike, a fact that her husband commented on several times.

We paused to take a breath and look around, and realized it was almost 11:00 and we were the only ones left in the place. Which closed at 10:00.


We went outside and sat at the little bistro tables they had set up on the front porch of the restaurant (a house built in 1791 and renovated), and talked for ANOTHER hour. We finally wrapped it up a little after midnight, since they had to work in the morning.

I took one more beeline through LL Bean to use their bathroom before getting in the car to drive back to Portland. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even Christmas. You’d be surprised how many people were there shopping at 12:15 on a Friday night/Saturday morning.

I forgot how dark it gets in Maine at night. There aren’t many street lights around, so I practiced my high beam skills. Hit the high beams, watch for cars coming toward you going in the other direction, hit the low beams, wait for them to pass by, hit the high beams, watch for cars… hit the low beams… wait for them to pass… hit the high beams…

I got back to the hotel at a little after 1:00, called Calvin to let him know I was safe, and hit the sack.

I slept in until 9:00 the next morning. My flight didn’t leave until 1:30, so I took my time getting ready and packing. I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant while reading a book, and checked in at the airport at 11:30.

During the leg from Portland to Chicago I got to have a row of seats to myself. But the guy behind me was such an obnoxious conversationalist that I put my iPod on in self-defense. I mean, he was going on and ON about how he would only hang out with people with “old money”, never with “new money”. WHAT ever.

Chicago O’Hare was an absolute ZOO. My gate information wasn’t on the board when I arrived, so I checked in with customer service, then sat at the bar at Chili’s for a beer and southwestern egg rolls. It turned out that my flight, that was originally supposed to leave at 5:10, didn’t actually get off the ground until nearly 7:00. If I had known I was going to be that delayed, I would have called Heather and asked her to hang out with me. I paced, I read, I got Starbucks, I pee’d about fifty times, I read some more. Then when I finally boarded the plane, I got seated next to this guy that smelled of cigarettes and bad breath, and he wouldn’t stop getting into my personal bubble space. He annoyed the hell out of the other person in our row, the flight attendant (he pushed the call button, like, ten times to ask her why the fasten seatbelt sign was on… EVERY TIME it came on), and even the people in the row across from us. And he was in the MIDDLE seat, so you know that he had to lean across the other lady (I was in the window seat) to annoy the others.

Feh. By the time we landed in Phoenix I couldn’t get off that plane fast enough. I called Calvin, who was circling the area, when I got my luggage, and he pulled up in front so I could just hop in and go. We stopped at home long enough for me to change and freshen up, and then got dinner at the Elephant Bar.

So there you go. A whirlwind, 6000-mile round trip from (almost) coast to coast, in about 60 hours. Peppered with good food, good conversation, a nerve-wracking interview process, and many many calls home.

I’ll let you guys know as soon as I hear anything about the job. Thanks again for all of your well-wishing and support!


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