Monday, August 02, 2010
Music Video Monday: Natasha Bedingfield
On this day four years ago, I arrived in Portland after a four day journey from Atlanta on Amtrak. Because of the way our rail lines are, my journey on Amtrak took me from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. I had enough time to shop the stores of Union Station and eat lunch in the food court. As I ate my lunch, the memories of my time as an intern six years earlier came flooding back. I had lunch in the food court of Union Station quite a few times with my fellow BYU interns in 2000. As I ate lunch, though, I thought about how I was finally on my way to Portland after six years of dreaming about it. If I had known all that would transpire in the following four years, though, I probably would have ended my journey in D.C. and sought out temp jobs and a place to live, as I spent my free time pursuing the coveted government job I have been wanting for so many years. Such a decision would likely have spared me the grief of being stuck in the worst job of my life, enduring the longest job search of my life.
Instead, I boarded the train to Chicago, then caught the special double decker train to Portland, which went through some beautiful scenery in northern Montana (through Glacier National Park). If you've never taken a journey by Amtrak, I highly recommend it. Especially one of the longer ones, such as Chicago to Portland or Seattle, Chicago to San Francisco, Chicago to Los Angeles, or Los Angeles to Seattle. You'll be on a double-decker train, have constantly evolving scenery to admire outside your window, your seats offer more legroom than on an airplane, you don't have to go through a strip search to board, you can have up to five bags of luggage without paying extra, you can walk around whenever you want, and you have excellent meals available in the dining car (or a snack bar if you're on a budget).
The first new song I heard during my first week in Portland was Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten", which I loved on first listen. Even now, four years after the fact, each time I hear the song, I'm transported back to those optimistic days when I was new in Portland and excited to hit the job search after a four month hiatus from work. I knew that I would find a job quickly, but the biggest lesson I've learned is that perhaps I should not take the first job offer I received, especially when it wasn't exactly what I wanted and paid even less than the starting salary of my previous job. I was moving backwards!
Ironically, one of the biggest reasons why I was willing to accept such a low wage was because the apartment I wanted to move into had income restrictions to secure a "below market value" rental price on a studio apartment. Once you qualify and move in, the income restriction is raised by $10,000 so you can stay in the apartment if you find a better paying job. That was my hope. I was certain that I would have found a new job by December 2007. Had I known that I would still be working at that office after January 2008, I NEVER would have accepted the job offer. NEVER!
Since I failed to meet my goals of landing a new job by July 31st, so I could renew the lease on my apartment, I have decided to leave this apartment that I love so much at the end of my lease in August. I'm hoping that by doing so, I will "unlock" whatever karmic holding pattern I've been stuck in, thus releasing me from the organization that has done nothing but made my life a living hell (as a teenager, in Atlanta, and in Portland). Since my accepting a crappy job at a low wage enabled me to move into a rent-controlled apartment, it is my hope that giving up the apartment I love will result in an easier ability to attract job offers that will allow me to stay in Portland.
If not, then there's another option I await the outcome of: the election of a certain candidate for Congress in Tampa Bay, Florida, who is good friends with the Yeoman Chief Petty Officer I worked for in La Maddalena. My former supervisor has said that he would write me an awesome letter of recommendation to his friend to hire me for a position in his D.C. office. I'm willing to start at the bottom, as a correspondence clerk. I don't know if I would get hired without a face to face interview, but by vacating my apartment and moving into a month-to-month leasing agreement, I am freeing myself from another year's commitment to Portland.
I'll write more on my new living arrangements in another post this week. Getting back to my music video selection this week, "Unwritten" will forever be known as the song I associate with my arrival in Portland, at my most optimistic. In many places I've lived, usually the first new song that I hear tends to become associated with my feelings regarding my arrival and exploration of the new location.
In 2000, the first new song I heard in Washington, D.C. was Keb Mo's "A Better Man", which I heard while shopping for political souvenirs in Union Station. I probably annoyed my roommates for the number of times I listened to this song at the apartment!
In 1997, the first new song I heard at BYU was Sugar Ray's "Fly." That song is always guaranteed to transport me back to my college years. I still love it after all these years.
In 1991, the first new song I heard upon arrival at the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome, Italy was "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" by PM Dawn. It took me several months to find out who made this song. Part of the difficulty was that I thought the song was called "You Send Me" and no one on board my ship had heard that song before. Ah, the ignorance we lived in before the Internet and Google! I loved how PM Dawn sampled a classic melody (Spandau Ballet's "True") and created a melodious rap song out of it. Pure brilliance!
In 1988, the first new song I heard when my family moved to Atlanta, Georgia after a three year tour in Germany was George Michael's "Love is in Need of Love Today." I've moved away from and returned to Atlanta several times in the years since, but this beautiful ballad by George Michael always manages to send me back to what I was feeling at the time when I was new to Atlanta (the metro area only had 1.5 million people, compared to the more than 5 million today), which was the largest city I had lived in at the time.
Finally, in 1985, the first new song I heard when my family moved to Germany was "Take on Me" by a-ha, which celebrates a quarter century this year! It was the perfect song to introduce me to the difference of Europe from America. If you've ever seen the excellent music video, you can see that the band and the lady have a slightly different look than Americans. You can tell that they are European. This was one of several music videos (Bananarama and other European bands) that probably spoiled me towards finding European women more attractive than American women. They have that certain "je ne sais quoi" quality that I have not been able to find in most American women (Jenet and Christine, the exceptions).
I love how songs make the perfect time capsules for the emotions you are feeling at the time when you first hear a song that captures your interest. This is a big reason why I'm such a huge fan of pop music. I know its not classical music, but when you hear a great song, it captures the memories forever, like a photograph, with emotions attached.