Literally Leah

sharing is caring, so I obviously care a lot.

She’s a Career Woman October 5, 2010

Filed under: Jobs — The Under-Analyst @ 5:25 pm
Tags: , , ,

It was the spring of 2000.  I had barely survived my sophomore year of high school.  In less than a month I’d be free to sleep in, watch afternoon soaps and enjoy long days on the lake’s shore with friends.  There was one element missing.  I needed a way to support my ice cream truck indulgences, matinee viewings and frequent trips to Claire’s at Rosedale Mall.  My friend Carrie was bragging at lunch about her new job.  She was working at A&W for her second summer in a row.  Apparently the owners were old friends or maybe her grandparents, I’ve always been bad with details. 

Erin got her license that next week.  She had failed the first two times.  Her parents let her drive their old gray mini-van to school.  Five of us girls jumped in after school to go see Carrie at A&W.  We pulled up along side of the orange retro intercoms.  The place had a 10 vehicle capacity.  We were one of 3 cars. We ordered fries and water because all we could come up with was $5.  Carrie came out in an adorable orange and white trucker hat, black shorts, an A&W t-shirt, high socks and an apron.  She had Melissa roll the front passenger side window down so she could hook the tray over the edge.  “Carhop” she proudly said.  I’m a “carhop!”  And just then I knew that the one thing I wanted more than anything in life was to be an A&W carhop.  I closed my hands and asked the Baby Jesus to please, please, pretty please let me get a job there.  I promised him I’d study harder, gossip less and leave poor Scott Mitchell alone (even though he NEEDED to fall in love with me, sigh).  I casually asked Carrie how she had obtained her prestigious career.  She jumped up and down and told me she’d grab me an application and “wouldn’t it be soooo cool if we worked together!  Besties at work!”  To be honest, I had zero interest in nurturing our infantile friendship and if I had to end our social relationship to climb the carhop ladder I’d do it.   That evening I neglected my math and Spanish homework and instead spent two hours carefully completing my application; 

Leah Marie Josephson,  Experience: Provided exceptional childcare for neighboring toddlers including the preparation and delivery of nutritious food.  Also have experience in balancing trays from years of cafeteria lunch dining.  Interests: Carhopping, following directions and taking on responsibility.  References: Carrie (your present Carhop) who can undoubtedly vouch for my superior character, Christine (my mom). 

I received a call three days later.  I had an interview!  I went after school.  I wore shorts, tall socks and a button down shirt to try and add some professionalism.  The old lady who may or may not have been Carrie’s grandma asked me a few questions, which I easily answered, and then told me I could start Monday.  I hid my excitement with a polite smile and violent twitching of my right leg.  She handed me my apron, a t-shirt and a hat. 

That night, in my room (walls covered with N’Sync posters and Abercrombie advertisements), I put on my new uniform and asked my mirror, “would you like our signature Rootbeer float with that?”  I was a natural. God, I looked good!  I’d found my dream job, I was so fortunate.  A lot of people had to spend years finding their calling.  I wouldn’t even have to go to college!  I barely slept that night.  I was going to be rich.  $4.15 an hour PLUS tips! 

I spent my first shift training with Sarah, a small brunette with an annoying mousey voice.  She showed me how to re-fill the straws, put napkins on the tray next to all orders and wipe down the tables in the dining area. She finally let me carry out my first tray to a new blue Camry.  I balanced the orange platter perfectly on the open window sill and flashed them my practiced, “Don’t be cheap” smile.  All was going well until the boss told me that all workers pool their tips.  Pool?  What does that mean?  No, no, no, no!  I’m fine with sharing in general, but not when it comes to my hard earned money.  Surely mousey voiced Sarah wasn’t going to contribute as much tips into our pool!  I reasoned in my head that after Carrie’s Grandma died I’d obviously take over and change that rule immediately. 

Throughout the following weeks I became better and better at my job.  The other carhops proved to be lazy idiots.  I’d assign them straw duty and make sure I was the only one conversing with paying patrons.  I let the overweight carhop bring out a couple of shakes to car-slot #3 on a busy Saturday only for her to dump the entire tray into the car and all over the woman inside.  My diet consisted of fries, hotdogs and Rootbeer floats.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this is what stunted my breasts from fully developing.

I was happy as a carhop, but the hours were sometimes long and my feet would inevitably tire from running to and from vehicles.  Three months after my life-long commitment to A&W I visited my friend Bri at our local tanning salon.  I needed a good, deep, convincing orange tan before school started in a month.  She had started working there a few weeks before and told me she could let me tan cheaper than normal.  I saw her sitting behind that desk, golden under the florescent lighting.  The intoxicating aroma of burnt skin and tanning lotion filled my nostrils.  How lucky that Bri got to sit all day at work AND tan for free! This was surely the best job in the whole world.  This was supposed to be my career! 

When I gave my notice at A&W, I thanked Grandma for helping me discover my true passion in life,  sitting while helping people… not running.  

I was very tan my junior year of high school.

 

Letter of Complaint August 2, 2010

Filed under: Fail,Jobs — The Under-Analyst @ 1:38 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Dear Craig,

I pride myself in being a woman of the community thus my deep affection for your website, Craigslist.org.  As evidence of my good character, please note that I can provide 828 personal references (see facebook profile).  I was extremely excited to contribute an opportunity of a lifetime on your website last week.  You can imagine my horror when not once but twice my posting was flagged and consequently removed only minutes after publishing.  One would assume I had posted pornographic material or something equally as offensive but I assure you my ad was indeed tasteful if not charitable. It is not often that people, in this faltering society, offer up free professional guidance and experience.  I was doing this.  In return I was met with hostility and dismissal.  By removing my post you are only hurting those seeking a better life and better resume.  I will not give up, Craig.  I owe it to my community.  Please stop flagging and removing the following ad:

Personal Assistant Opportunity of a Lifetime!!! (Westside, Brentwood, Santa Monica)


Date: 2010-07-30, 8:49AM PDT
Reply to: gigs-r5ssk-1871558390@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


 

Looking for someone who has ZERO experience as a personal assistant. I am a non-professional who is here to help mold you and give you purpose in life. This will be EXCELLENT work experience on your resume for future employment. Must have car to run errands for me because I don’t trust you with mine, obviously. Also, must have phone so I can text you and call you at ALL hours of the day (you’re kind of like a doctor). You don’t have to speak English or even be a legal citizen (hablo espanol). Creative types wanted, especially if you can draw caricatures of me and my friends.  

Duties include (but are not limited to):

-Trips to Mc. Donald’s to get me a mid-day work snack or maybe a mid-night post bar snack (I will provide you with an item from the dollar menu).
-Frequent visits to the grocery/liquor store.
-Bar/Restaurant drop off and pick-ups, including my friends.
-Searching alleys for free furniture and fine art.
-Brushing the tangles from my hair.
-Following me with a clipboard in front of my friends so I look important.

This could be considered an internship, so if you’re a student I can give you credit.

You don’t need a resume. Just a picture and your horoscope sign.

*will consider providing gas money

Sincerely,

Leah

 

Recession Woes and a Puppet Killer December 14, 2009

Filed under: Fail,Jobs,Magic,Recreational Activity — The Under-Analyst @ 4:48 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Shortly after moving to the Santa Monica area I was pleased to discover a local paper, “The Santa Monica Daily Press.” Aha!  Here was the perfect vehicle to introduce my candid reporting to all the uninformed neighbors!  The paper’s articles were dull and lacked a much-needed edge (thoughts of Des Moines’ “Juice” came to mind).  On a Friday, a few weeks later, I was meandering home from the grocery store when a cartoon-like character, peeping from a window, caught my attention.  I turned to my right and gaped, open-mouthed, at the gem in front of me.  A quaint building displayed the words, “Santa Monica Puppetry Center,” which casted a shadow over the narrow sidewalk.  I peered closer at the strange images in the windows.  Photos of puppets and what I presumed to be the puppet master filled the two large  panes.  The door read, “Puppetolio, LA’s Longest Running Puppet Show.”

This would be the story that would make my name known in the circulating small paper world! What would my angle be?  “Puppets, Santa Monica’s Silent Neighbors… A Real Boy, the Local Pinocchio… Puppet Masters Vs. Hollywood…I’ve Got An Arm Up My Ass, I Must Be a Puppet…”  I needed to see a performance of this Puppetolio and if I was lucky maybe get a behind the scenes tour. It was then that I noticed a Saturday matinee performance posted on the entrance. I skipped home with visions of puppets and journalism awards dancing in my cerebellum. 

The next day, the BIG day, I woke early and began my in-depth research via Google.  The center’s webpage, www.puppetmagic.com , introduced me to Steve Meltzer, Puppet Master, maker, owner and friend.  Normally open-minded, I had to focus on my un-biased data collection (fighting off labels such as; pervert, weirdass, loser, puppet-lover).  I invited a few girlfriends to join me but they all graciously declined (their loss!).  This was probably for the best since I was on a job, after all.

I walked the sunny four blocks and was surprised to see a line of people outside the door.  For some reason I had assumed I might be the only patron or that there’d be no more than three or four of us.  The line had at least 8 people: a few grandparents with their grandchildren, a mom and dad with an unfortunate looking child, and a girl who appeared to be around my age.  What the hell was a twenty-something doing by herself at a puppet show on a Saturday day (we were so close to the beach)?   Maybe she was on assignment as well… competition, bring it skank.  The door opened and the excitement I experienced was nothing short of a Christmas morning.  Tickets were only seven dollars to my surprise.  Steve, the puppet master (whom I recognized from the photos and website) stood behind the ticket counter and asked me if I was meeting a friend.  Nope, just taking in a mid-day puppet show solo, but thanks.  I looked around and was overwhelmed with puppet décor.  Framed photos of puppets and puppet masters lined the walls.  Puppets in un-opened packages were mounted next to antique characters on strings.  The room to the right was packed with puppet paraphernalia and I was slightly frightened.  Where was I?  What did I just willingly pay money to see?  He opened a velvet curtain and we were all ushered in the theatre. The stadium seating was impressive and it appeared that maximum capacity was twenty or so.  I took a seat in the back row and took out my yellow legal pad and pen.  I began jotting down detailed descriptions of my surroundings.  I looked to the right and saw that a middle-aged woman had joined the young twenty-something.  I suddenly felt alone.  Some of the other audience members peered up at me scribbling on my paper.  I ignored them and sat upright with journalistic pride.

The puppet master introduced himself and made a small political joke, which impressed us adults.  The main puppet, used ventriloquist style, was Freddy Mingo.  He led the group on a few songs.  The music in the show was previously recorded and featured the voice of Steve Meltzer, puppet master.  After Freddy, Steve danced a few string puppets on the stage to the delight of the children.  I found myself singing along to “On Top of Spaghetti,” with vigor.  I loved puppets!  I was reminded of my childhood days watching “LambChops.” My only real criticism was the husky voice used for the girl puppets giving the audience the impression these “ladies” on strings had smoked most of their lives and quite possibly had a hormonal imbalance. The show ended after about forty-five minutes, which was perfect for the small attention span of children.  Post-show he unveiled the “workshop” (a small corner of the theatre with puppet body parts strewn about…slightly disturbing) and a giant animatronics puppet that he turned on and made sing for us all.

I heard an elderly couple tell their grandchild that they’d come back in a few weeks.  I held my notepad and continued to take notes.  Steve watched me with curiosity.  I felt powerful.  Finally everyone began to clear out.  Steve turned to me and asked, “I hope you’re not auditing me.”  Haha, oh Steve…

“Heeheeheee Who me? No, just writing a little piece on your setup here,” I replied.

“Oh really?  What are you writing it for?  What publication?”  He asked, smiling. 

This is when I lied.  “The Santa Monica Daily Press.” Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie because I had every intention of getting my story published in there. 

“Oh fantastic, you guys have always been so good to me. Please come have a seat.”

I couldn’t believe this!  I, Leah Josephson, was going to have a one on one interview with the puppet master himself! 

“Let me give you your money back, I never make press pay.”

“No, no, I want to contribute,” I said guiltily.  I began to ask him questions pre-rehearsed from earlier in the day.  We discussed his beginnings, the love he immediately felt for puppetry, his struggle to make a living from it, all of the festivals he had appeared in and the current recession setbacks.  He told me of old puppet legends he had met and worked with (including LampChop’s lady).  He told me, off the record, about just how hard the economy was on the show (which I won’t get into in order to respect his off the record wishes).  The shows were still drawing a crowd but his main source of income was school performances and this year all of the schools cut out their entertainment funds.  He told me to make sure to include this in my article so everyone could be aware of just how critical school funding is. 

Before I left he gifted me a DVD of the show and asked when the article was set to appear.  I told him it was completely up to the editor (liar, liar pants on fire). 

I was filled with adrenaline from my puppet journalism experience and called my nana to tell her that I was the next Barbara Walters (minus the lisp). 

The next week I kept trying to write the article.  I would start and then get stuck.  I sat there at my office and in between clients I’d write a sentence or two, only to read it back and delete it.  I sent the DVD to my nephew.  I began to panic.  Who was I kidding?  I couldn’t write a full feature article that would be good enough to be published, especially by the Santa Monica Daily Press.  And poor Steve! I had duped him.  He’d be waiting and waiting, picking up the paper and searching desperately for our in-depth interview.  Maybe he’d call the paper and ask for Leah and they would say, “I’m sorry we have no such writer here.”  Maybe he would cry.  Maybe he would slam his fist down and lament all his woes to his puppets.  I felt terrible but it was done, I couldn’t write it, I was a puppet journalist failure.

A month later I walked past the puppet center and read the notice on the door, “Puppetolio CLOSED.”  I crept away from the door, shaking my head.  Closed?  It wasn’t possible.  I immediately checked their website after I got home and there it was, “PUPPETOLIO IS CLOSED.  We thank all of our friends for their support over the years.  Unfortunately the economy and other factors has made it necessary to close the Santa Monica Puppetry Center and Museum.” 

“Other factors?”  Like lying, fake journalists!?  I had ruined the puppet center! I had ruined Steve’s life!  I wanted to write a large check out to him and give him back his life and dreams… but I had no money. 

I kill puppets.  So, now I carry this burden on my back.  Like a camel with humps I traverse this desolate world secretly crying out, “I’m sorry Steve, please forgive me.”  A scarlet letter burns on my chest.  And so this blog now serves as a sort of repentance.

Puppetolio lives on! here in my blog, and here in my heart.  

Final Show *(image from official website)

 

7 weeks and counting… November 18, 2009

Filed under: Identity,Jobs,Travel — The Under-Analyst @ 1:36 pm
Tags: , ,

I tried, I really did. But this whole back to school Masters thing is just going to have to a) be put on hold or b) enter the discard pile. It was a responsible and logical step at the time but after hours of studying, cold Minnesota nights in my basement room and that little glitch of a break up, I have redirected my near future to be a tad more me-friendly.  

Monkeys, big trees, poverty stricken children and equator-like climate?  Maybe I’ll like these things?  I guess I’ll find out in seven weeks.  I’m moving to Costa Rica in January.  I will be “working” (for free room and board) at the Sarapiqui Conserve Learning Center in the lowlands of the Rainforest. The six surrounding communities have elementary schools with poor english education and no high schools.  Most of them do not attend school past the sixth grade.  Because tourism is a very large working sector for the Ticos, (as they affectionately refer to themselves) English curriculum is important for their future career opportunities.  I will be leading classes for both students and the parents of students along with creating curriculum to be used for other teachers.  

the center is in the La Selva region.

 

 

While helping children is definitely a plus I am more excited to learn about the booming industry of eco-tourism. The Center hosts groups and individuals that come through to learn about the culture (through dance, cooking classes, story telling…) and then help with a community project (planting trees, restoring churches, making sidewalks…).  I am thinking I want to branch into that industry, but I will have to find out if I like it first!

It feels good to have travel on the life itinerary again.  Now it is simply time to save up as much money as I can until take off. My nana came over today with a stack of books from the library with titles such as, “Exploring Costa Rica,” and “Living Abroad in Costa Rica.”  Finally something to study that won’t bore me to tears. 

 

 

A lesson in humility… September 19, 2009

Filed under: Identity,Jobs — The Under-Analyst @ 9:09 pm

 

 

As I boarded the plane I looked down at 17E, a middle seat, on a fully booked flight and sighed with dismay.  To the left of me sat a seemingly mute Native American, at first I guessed Navajo but later decided he was obviously from Mayan decent thus his flight to Phoenix.  I thought about that class I took sophomore year, Native American Literature.  Was there anything interesting I could somehow recall to impress this man?  No.  Surely he would know I was a friend to the Indians after I pulled out my National Geographic.  Instead I opted for the US Weekly so I could see what was happening in the world of Brangelina. 

On my right sat a Mexican mother with her little daughter (my guess 1 and a half) who was propped on her lap.  Shortly after take off the baby became livelier.  She began to tug at my magazine.  After some back and forth I finally gave it to her and smiled as she ripped Fergie in half and tossed her to the floor, yikes.  I then decided that if the plane were to crash I would raise this young baby as my own.  She was cute enough and we obviously had a connection. What would I name her?  Leah Jr?  Her mother smiled at me and I nodded back feeling sorry that she would not survive the crash nor raise Leah Jr. whom she clearly adored. 

The duration of the flight was short and soon we began to descend from the sky.  It was right about this time that the baby took what I can only assume was the largest diaper filler of the century.  The gagging smell accosted my nostrils and I think I saw the mute Native American wince.  I looked pleadingly at the mother who only continued to bounce the now crying baby on her lap.  It was obvious that her mother was not going to get up and change the girl’s diaper but she did nothing to quiet the distressed thing.  It was at this time that I decided I would not rescue and raise this child if the plane were to crash.  It would be up to old Squanto to do the honors. 

 I left that plane and wandered the Phoenix airport with nostalgic memories of my original flight to LA.  I sat at that very stool, chatting with strangers excitedly about palm trees and ocean. LA was wonderful, wasn’t it?  And to think I was leaving it all behind… How did I come to this decision so quickly?  Was it the horror of real life working?  Surely not, after all I had worked forty to fifty hour weeks in Spain.  I had tried to be creative, hadn’t I?  What could I do that would allow me some meager financial stability, keep me out of corporate land and give me ridiculous amounts of vacation time to travel?  Yes, yes, a travel writing job would be marvelous… but financial stability did not live within said occupation.   Am I crazy to be going back to school?  Will I make a good teacher?  Where will I go after?  Isn’t life wonderful! Change.

Humility lives in my mother’s basement, where consequently I now call home.

 

Caged Bird… May 21, 2009

Filed under: game shows,Identity,Jobs,Uncategorized — The Under-Analyst @ 11:03 am
Tags: , ,
 E-mail to a friend…
 
Sorry about the static as I entered my large parking structure for the Flynt buildings’ working slaves. Yes, true, I work in the Larry Flynt building in Beverly Hills where apparently his office on the tenth floor is made of gold…right. Aaaahhhhh how drastically my life has changed now that I have responsibility. Once, I was carefree, free to roam the calles of LA, free to audition for ridiculous game shows, free to spend hours blogging.  Now I am glued to a reception desk with flourescent lighting ruining my blessed
complexion as I longingly look out our large windows onto the beautiful streets of 90120 (Dillon, Brandon Kelly, is that you?).  I spend my hours using a falsetto voice, appeasing patients and acting excited to see 
strangers with weight problems. I find joy in a label maker and choosing which highlighter color to use on a patient’s chart. 
Oh give me freedom, give me the sea, give me cutoff shorts and the mediterranean.  My creative juices drown in agony. I must stay positive, clutch my label maker and know that soon my dream career will materialize in the flesh. 
 
Of course the Singing Bee calls me now.  Taunting me with casting calls, laughing at my caged existence. I tell them I cannot make it and I watch as my lifelong dream of singing incorrect lyrics in front of millions vanishes into the abyss of unlived glories.  Instead I lend my voice to the waiting room, casually singing to the soft arias of classic light rock.
 
Someone once asked me, “Leah, why does the caged bird sing?” 
 
Because someday that bird will be freed and go on the Singing Bee game show with Joey Fatone, and when that day comes, this little bird will be ready!
 

My job title, My identity… crap. April 23, 2009

Filed under: Identity,Jobs — The Under-Analyst @ 4:36 pm

Something I have become increasingly aware of during my search for employment is how much “titles” really matter. I am drawn to exotic sounding positions such as “Creative Consultant.”  What the hell is that?  I don’t know but I’m definitely going to find out and would most definitely be happy with that title on my business card.  I just can’t bear the idea of telling people I’m an “Administrative Assistant” or “Receptionist”  or “Office Assistant” or “Front Desk Representative.”  I didn’t got to college for four, ahem, five years to have some boring, average, unimpressive job title.  I mean I was “Director of Operations” in Barcelona, Spain all last year!  How can I go from that to “JR. Clerical Representative.”   Who is in charge of creating these blase status defining names anyways?  

Example: I am a “blogger.”  

No Way Jose… I’m not some ordinary fool on the computer whose dear diary entries waste internet space.

I am a “Pro-Bono Word Artist.”  

When I used to collect old paintings, weavings and other decoratives from thrift stores, alleys and garage sales, I thought the “work” that I was doing deserved a fresh title. 

Leah Josephson, “Odd Art Enthusiast.”

Nice, huh?

The point is, do I really want to work for a company who stifles my creative growth by applying a lousy, uninspired identity?  Well, at this point, yes because I need a job.  But as soon as this recession is over, I will regain my principles and answer, NO.

As I skim the Craigslist postings one more time I am desperately searching for that perfect job title to jump out at me.  Nope, not “Kennel Attendant.”  

Leah Josephson, “Hopelessly Unimpressed.”

 

p.s. the singing bee people e-mailed me to inform me I have been chosen for the final round, they’ll be presenting my folder to the producers… oh dear.