Talk about a one-two punch! I was out in Cincinnati yesterday for my job and, as I’m heading into my first meeting, I get a text message from Salomé that India didn’t make it into the NEST program.
I wasn’t completely surprised, though I’d been holding on to the slimmest of hopes that maybe she’d snag their final spot in a last-second decision by the board to push the boundaries of the program by accepting a less-than-perfect applicant, spurred on by an impassioned speech by the social worker who was initially convinced she was a shoo-in. (Too much Boston Public for me, I think.) No such luck, and that knowledge sat in the back of my head the rest of the day, quarantined in that sometimes unnerving habit I have that sometimes makes me think I’m schizophrenic. (Too much Set This House in Order for me, I think.)
Fast forward through an impressively productive and high-spirited afternoon of meetings followed by a great rib dinner at The Montgomery Inn with the editorial team, and I’m heading back to the office with my Group Publisher (and current immediate boss) and we’re talking about a variety of things, including the still open position of Advertising Sales Director that’s been empty since about a month after I came onboard. That position is supposed to be my direct boss, but since it’s been empty, I’ve been working very closely with my GP and he’s loved everything I’ve done so far. The new job really couldn’t have worked out any more swimmingly than it has, and I haven’t been this jazzed about my 9-to-5 since I first started at Poets & Writers back in 1997.
Honestly, the only thing better would be if I was able to maneuver my way into the open Director position, thereby fast-forwarding my master plan by at least three years. So of course, as we’re discussing the position, and the candidates who haven’t worked out so far, and how important chemistry is to him, and how affordable Cincinnati is, he asks me if I know anyone who might be interested.
I laugh. “Maybe in the general position itself,” I say, “but the subject of moving to Cincinnati doesn’t come up often in conversation, so I don’t really know.”
He repeats his brief pitch for Cincinnati, concluding with, “It’s a great place to raise a family. And, of course, if you’re interested in it yourself…”
Because I’m really not as egotistical as it may seem, my first instinct is that he’s being polite; that he’s heard me say a couple of times that I’m a die-hard NYer and that there’s no way I could see my wife moving off the East Coast. But as I’m making unnecessary excuses for him, he’s elaborating, repeating a lot of the compliments he’s paid me throughout the day, in front of others, and the chemistry thing clicks: “He likes me! He really likes me!”
My getting along so well with editorial is something that’s particularly impressed him from the beginning, and of course, I’ve never been shy about having ideas and throwing them out there. More recently, I’ve worked well with their new media people, a stark contrast to the last job, partly because they seem to have a legitimate mandate to move the company forward as opposed to a lot of lip service about “cubes” and other corporate double-talk and back-stabbing. Not saying the new place is a faultless paradise, but there’s just a very different vibe there that I like a lot, and he seems like he’d be a good boss to work for, someone I can learn a lot from.
So yeah, I think he was making a sincere gesture and actually believes I might be a good candidate for the job, and I have to admit that the idea is tempting. Except…
There’s no way it could work right now, mainly because Salomé’s not done with her NYCTF program and that takes priority, but also partly because, while I firmly believe I can live happily outside of NYC as long as a decent, well-paying job is involved, you don’t really know such things until you’re there, in the moment, and that would be in the back of my mind for at least the first year.
If this were next summer, though, with Salomé able to move on and me, presumably, back into the flow of writing regularly again, it would be a really tempting possibility.
PS: Cincinnati is an odd place. While discussing things for me to do after dinner, the consensus was that I should head south across the river to Newport, Kentucky, where there were more interesting things to do. Sort of like NYers suggesting Jersey City to a first-time visitor. Newport has a Seaport-style mall with some restaurants, stores and a multiplex, with an aquarium next door, and might have been fun with a group of people. By myself, not so much, so I walked the Purple People Bridge both ways, circled the mall once, and headed back towards my hotel where I found a divey sports bar called “Willie’s”, watched the Home Run Derby while doing some writing and drinking, and then was in bed by 11:30pm. I didn’t really get to see Cincinnati at all, so I’m having trouble adding it to my “places been” list. I’m sure that will be rectified before the end of the year as I’ll likely have to make at least one more trip out there.