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31 Days Not According to PlanThanks for giving me some room to breathe in this 31 days of blogging. I turned in the grant proposal and am getting ready to attack more of the house. I was thinking of you all though and wanted to share more before disappearing into the abyss of cardboard boxes.

So where was I? Ah, yes…nesting and jobs. We were living with our friends, their dog, and their baby paraphernalia when an editor unexpectedly offered me freelance work. Praise the Lord! We had a roof, a community, and some income.

Meanwhile, a man at church offered Ben temporary work as a handyman assistant. The hours, pay, experience, and boss were far more appealing than any retail job. So Ben started building decks and repairing holes while I researched footnote content.

The editing would result in only two or three projects a year, so I continued looking for work.

A friend at church suggested connecting with the executive director of a nonprofit who also attends our church (starting to see a theme here?). The nonprofit, Acts4Youth, provides mentoring for at-risk boys in Baltimore City and was looking for a part-time grant writer.

I’m a writer – check. I used to work for a nonprofit – check. I care deeply about at-risk kids – check.

So I applied. I was thrilled when I got the job. I couldn’t have asked for a more humble, approachable boss or a better job situation.

Eight hours a week still didn’t provide health insurance though, so I continued looking for additional work. One interview after another led to both disappointment and relief (I was terrified of ending up at another dysfunctional organization).


When Trader Joe’s offered me 30 hours a week and health insurance after four months, I said aloha to a stack of Hawaiian shirts. I was surprised by how many friends were excited to hear I was working there – I think it was because of the shirt and the bell ringing.

Every other week, I came home with a tub of miniature chocolate chip cookies for my friend and a box of bon bons for myself.

I wasn’t thrilled about getting up at 4:00 am or getting home at midnight, but once again, it seemed like God was up to something. I connected with coworkers more quickly than expected and some were interested to hear I’d recently moved from Portland. Come to think of it, Trader Joe’s was a micro version of Portland – tattoos, piercings, skinny jeans, and alternative lifestyles abounded.

My coworker friend who’d cut her hair so it stuck out every which way in fantastic punk rock fashion was preparing to move to Portland. A chipper contrast to her aloofness, I was far more excited to make the connection than she was. That is, until my typically reserved coworker unabashedly whipped out a business card for me.

“Your painting reminds me of one of my friend’s works,” I remarked.

“Who’s your friend?” she asked.

“Stephanie Buer.”

“You know Stephanie Buer?!”

Apparently my friend is famous among artists across the nation. Suddenly my skinny jeans clad coworker and I had lots to talk about.

I connected her to my renowned (be sure to read that with a snooty British accent) Portland friend and shared tips on where to live and explore. I loved getting to know this coworker and reminisce about Portland with her.

Other Trader Joe’s favorites were my bread stocking friend; the “jingle wizard” whose approach you knew because of his bell-lined clothes and tall, purple hat; the coworker who impeded a transvestite from leaving the parking lot because he’d lined his clothes with hundreds of dollars of stolen meat; and unloading groceries from the carts of friends past and present.


Trader Joe’s has the best bon bons ever because of that little layer of cake (and they only paid me a month-and-a-half to say that).