I remember when you used to stare at me…
The way mothers stare at sleeping babies.
You saw me through a magic lens…
That airbrushed all my imperfections.
God…I was beautiful then
Because you loved me.
~ Merritt Malloy
This afternoon, while scouring the recesses of my laptop to try and find clues and dates that might help me piece together the order of my peripatetic work history for an upcoming background check, I came across this poem written by a former lover. In the email that contained it she’d said: “Here’s a poem I smashed out while thinking of you during a walk with &*%^e.” (dog’s name redacted to protect the innocent) I’ve always thought it was great, melting Boston creams, forks on tongues, and worried oven dials. It has a certain languid heat. As far as I know, I’ve never shared it with anyone. I was asked not to because she wasn’t sure it was finished. Nearly a decade on I can’t recall most of what happened, but I think the statute of limitations has passed.
The Female Orgasm
What’s new anymore when every article in Cosmo is on the female orgasm? I’m tired of reading about something so simple, such a conspicuous event:
Just touch me the way you’d shine a fork on your tongue after the last bite of Black Forest cake or cherry pie.
Today, I walked my dog down 9th Avenue in spring heat and imagined myself pacing the insides of your thighs.
I glimpsed myself in the window of a pie shop and saw me shining like a woman lying beneath you in the darkness, your body telling mine to go there, and there, and there again.
But I don’t know what any part of you really tastes like.
Lies pock every line in a poem like this one.
I’d like to apologize, but the genre doesn’t allow backpedaling.
So here’s where I’ll call this thing between us passion — please skip ahead if you’re indifferent to fruitless declarations:
I’d like to discover more of what you could do to my body, then take you or leave you or burn you into an anthill of crumbs and send your body into the wind over the Hudson.
But I can’t get honest in a poem where love is as wrong as beating a dog, love the switch I flog myself with, the hide I call my heart callused and retracing its steps.
Don’t you recognize me? I’m the girl who’s drenched in the window of the pie shop, soaking the Boston creams, worrying the oven dials but they won’t go hotter, the girl who will break herself for you six times a night, the fork in your mouth, give or take, give or take.
From 1919-1990 80% of the world’s vermiculite came from a single mine in Libby, Montana. Unfortunately that mine was contaminated with asbestos. http://www.epa.gov/libby/background.html
Vermiculite, as I’m sure all the architects in the room know, is used in all kinds of products like insulation and fireproofing. So my PS340 school project, being built inside the lower 6 floors of the New York Foundling Hospital in Manhattan, which was built in 1987, is full of vermiculite fireproofing. About a year ago, the NY State Department of Health issued a clarification to how vermiculite products are to be classified. http://www.wadsworth.org/labcert/elapcert/forms/Vermiculite%20Guidance_Rev062212.pdf Basically it says that if there is a higher than 10% vermiculite concentration in a product, it is considered to be ACM (asbestos containing material). Unfortunately, this clarification was issued 2 years AFTER the School Construction Authority’s IEH Division (the environmental health people who ensure the safety of children and keep the city from being sued) tested all the materials in the building and gave it a clean bill of health, but for some mastic in a few places and cheap caulk from China that contained asbestos, which we had already removed prior to construction.
Well, guess what? Lab tests of the fireproofing in my building just came back and the vermiculite concentration is well about 10% so ALL of it is now considered ACM and must be abated before any more construction work can take place…Decon rooms, booties, hazmat suits, respirators, the whole 9 yards…Can’t really put 508 preK-5 kids from Chelsea there now , even though if left undisturbed, the risk is to humans is miniscule.
Yours truly will soon be out of a job since there will be no construction for a year or so and there will be no need for a Technical Field Rep. something something butterfly flaps its wings something something unemployed…
The following is an attempt to perform a file dump on the past few hours in advance of what I hope will be a stellar date this evening…Shake it off…put it down…let it be.
Heard from my recruiter today that I had been rejected by the NYC SCA for the Field Rep role on the new Skidmore Owings and Merrill school in Corona, Queens. Now mind you, this is the exact same job I currently do and it is the exact same job I performed on the construction of PS48 in S. Jamaica, Queens when I went to work for HOK in 2008. I also was told that all 3 candidates were rejected. SOM is a global firm and this is a $68M project. It’s not like they are going to present candidates who are unqualified.
So I worked on and completed one $58M school, which went extremely well. I thought and still think that I have a good relationship with the folks who work on the construction management (CM) side of the SCA. Recently i had an interview with a giant firm who does school work and I called the two Project Officers (POs) with whom I’d worked and they were both more than willing to provide great recommendations. Additionally, the Chief Project Officer (CPO) who is responsible for all of the school work in Queens had gone out of his way to keep me on the job when my own employer wanted to lay me off and replace me with someone else. I had, at the time, a bit of a smarmy project manager, who was looking to protect her favorites as the economy was tanking.
So I started making inquiries, which may or may not be smart, but I want to know. If it’s a qualifications based rejection that’s one thing. If it’s a personalities based one, that’s fine as well, but if I’ve pissed somebody off enough to cause this, then I’d certainly like to know. I called the CPO of Manhattan and asked if he had been contacted by anyone re: my possibly moving to a job in Queens. He said he knew nothing about it and “They didn’t ax me.” I asked him if there was a prohibition on moving someone from one project to another. His response was, “Only if they’re bad.” I didn’t follow up on that because the tenor of the conversation wasn’t that he was implying anything about me, he was just being flippant. I also called one of the 2nd in command on the A&E side of the SCA to ask if he knew anything or had prevented me from moving from where I am now to a new job. I could hear a certain disbelief in his voice. “Rejected? We wouldn’t do that. It didn’t come from us. CM will have to give you a reason.” I told him I had an email into the CPO for Queens. This is the same CPO who previously protected me on one of his jobs because he liked the job I was doing, now suddenly I’m rejected without even being given an interview. I’m still waiting to hear.
Something is fishy…What sometimes happens with these jobs, since they are still scarce out there, is that the POs themselves have their own ideas for who they want to work with, either someone they’ve worked with in the past or someone they’d like to see hired. So, I would not be surprised if one or more of the POs working on the project turn around and “suggest” to SOM that they hire X. Because NYC SCA is such the 800lb gorilla and they have a $9Billion annual budget to build and renovate schools, no one really wants to piss them off. So if they suggest you hire so and so for a certain job, chances are you will. It could also be that because they knew I was currently working on a job in Manhattan, and the borough-centric organization creates little fiefdoms, someone may have wanted to avoid any sort of internecine conflict.
More will be revealed. I still have a job. Summer’s coming and I’ll be spending my first weekend at the beach house in 14 days. No complaints really, but certainly an odd twist to something I thought would go very differently.
…but maybe not the school I thought I was going to make.
So, the interview that fell out of the blue with SOM went well. You’ve heard of them, right? Probably not unless you’re in architecture. They’ve done about 10,000 projects around the world since they were founded in 1936. A couple notable ones being the Sear’s Tower in Chicago and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is currently the world’s tallest. I’d guess they’re 3rd or 4th largest firm in the world with around 1600 people in 9 offices. I was recommended to them by the same recruiter who got me the same job at HOK in 2005. Their office is at 14 Wall St. though and that whole area feels inhuman with the bollards ringing every building, wedge barricades preventing cars from entering, streets subject to random shutdowns and cops & security everywhere. It’s kind of obscene what we have allowed to happen to our daily lives because of a couple nutjobs with planes.
SOM is certainly much more the kind of global firm that I’d like to work for as part of a hopefully a long-term career move. Of course, I thought the same thing about HOK when I joined them, but they laid me off only 7 months after the school I was hired to work on was completed. This could be the same kind of deal. Only time will tell. I was told there is a niche in their practice for people who do what I do.
SOM wants to decide by Friday on 2 candidates to present to the SCA. They always have the final say, but seeing how I already worked on one $52M school project that had a mere $300,000 in change orders and the top 2 dudes on the A&E side of the agency like me and have gone out of their way to garner interviews for me when I was unemployed and were the ones who presented me to my current employer and suggested he hire me, I’d say I’ll be in the top 2. Then I’ll have to meet with the people I’ll be working with on-site on the project management side and again with the same A&E people I already know. Assuming they make me an offer, then it’s just a question of money and giving notice, etc. Also, I looked damn good. It may be crass to say, but I do believe in the value of $1000 suits.
I still don’t have the exact address of the project, but I know it’s on the site of the former Tiffany Glassworks building in Corona, Queens. Scroll down some… http://forgotten-ny.com/2005/12/corona-crown-of-queens Looks to be that giant red brick warehouse building. SOM told me that they’ve made provisions to incorporate any of the glass shards they find into the new design. That’s nice, but I was more concerned with the ground contamination from lead and arsenic used to make leaded glass and other chemicals that may still be there or have leached into the soil. I’d like to avoid all blood cancers if possible. Of course this is why every school built today has a Sub-Slab Depressurization System that sucks all the air out of the ground and vents it away from the building to prevent anything harmful from entering the building and affecting the kids. So many formerly hazardous industrial sites like tanneries and dye works that were abandoned long before the EPA existed that are now residential areas that it pays just to spend a few million to depressurize the slab.
The project is good size for a school. It’s 130,000sf as opposed to my current one in Manhattan, which is 97,000sf, or my last school that was 96,000sf. Seems the NYC DOE has decided that having more grades together makes for a more nuturing environment and that if the same teachers are in kids’ lives from the time they are wee ones, they can call them out and have influence over them if they start to go off the rails in middle school. So this is to be a Pre-K through 8.
Practically speaking taking the job is a no-brainer. 4 weeks vacation plus sick days/personal days as well as medical/dental, flexible spending plan, life insurance, ARE exam fees paid, 401k w/ matching contribution. I took a $10,000 pay cut from my last job to my present one and I lost dental insurance, flexible spending plan, 401k match, life insurance and any exam reimbursement. So really it was like a 35% decrease. From a “I’m in my 40′s and shit starts breaking down on you and benefits matter” perspective, taking the job would be worth it even if I can’t get the salary number back up where it was in the past.
I’d have to give up my cushy 18 minute subway ride in the a.m. from 110th to Union Sq. Instead it looks like it’s an hour commute door to door w/ a 10-15 minute walk on the end of it, which is kind of sucky in Winter. But it is what it is. It would also be more difficult to get to the beach house this Summer. Right now, I’m 5 minutes from Penn Station and could be on Fire Island by 5pm every other Friday. Some would say my priorities are skewed. I would say I’ve been working since I was 14 and like work/play balance.
I’m rather excited about the prospect. Of course in my mind, they’ve already offered me the job and I’ve given my notice and am trying to figure out how I can afford to finagle a couple of weeks off in between the two jobs.