Saturday, November 21, 2009

I like it

A few months ago I posted my hate list (mostly food-related). Well, this week I was inspired by one of my sister's many blog-stalkable friends to compose a like list. Like me, she's in her early 30s and looking to make a change. In her blog a few days ago she said maybe instead of asking what we wanted to "be" when we grew up, we should have been asking "what kind of life do I want to have when I grow up?"

Her question got me thinking. Maybe I should brush aside all of the "I don't likes" and try to decide what I do like instead. If I had a career or lifestyle that I truly enjoyed then I would probably be willing to tolerate a lot of those negatives anyway. So I'm going to start listing things I like, no matter how frivolous they might seem. Hopefully this exercise will help me decide what I want to do next.

I like climbing trees
I like dancing
I like playing sports
I like riding my bike
I like sitting by rivers
I like standing on top of mountains
I like swimming
I like raising kittens
I like snuggling with my cat
I like watching nature shows
I like burgundy & purple
I like sleeping in
I like taking long, hot baths
I like wearing comfy clothes
I like playing with my nephews
I like talking to my siblings
I like eating seafood
I like eating sushi
I like orange juice
I like spicy foods
I like British comedy
I like joking
I like quoting movies
I like playing fantasy games
I like reading Sci Fi
I like watching Sci Fi shows & films
I like Broadway music
I like knowing all the lyrics
I like rock music
I like techno music
I like discovering & sharing new things
I like finding more efficient ways to do things
I like finding new ways home
I like playing puzzle games
I like playing strategy games
I like solving problems
I like watching my money grow
I like reading & discussing news stories
I like reading news articles about science & space
I like reading Wikipedia articles
I like the smell of old books
I like creating PowerPoint presentations
I like drawing pictures in Microsoft Paint
I like formatting documents
I like organizing spreadsheets

Just to let you know how serious I am about the last item, this entire list was composed and arranged in Excel. As I come up with more things I like I will add them to my spreadsheet. It's getting late though so I think I'll stop here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Totally screwed

The clock is ticking on my severance pay. I have dutifully applied for 3 jobs every week since being laid off, mainly so I can tick the little "yes" box next to "Have you sought employment as directed...?" on the unemployment claims questionnaire. Today I applied for a job as a tier 3 collections agent because it's Wednesday and I'm getting nervous that I won't find any other token jobs to apply for this week. That was a low moment. What if it's the one job I'm called in to interview for? Shudder.

My problem is what it has always been: fear, apathy, uncertainty... I don't want to go back to the kind of job I left. Sure, it had its high points but it was often dull and repetitive and I want to make a lot more money. On top of that I'm afraid of interviewing for another job. I don't like setting myself up for rejection and self-ridicule - it's one of the reasons I don't date!

As I played one of several Facebook games yesterday, I thought "Wouldn't it be great if I could get paid for doing this?" So I started researching video game design and development jobs. Pretty soon I had psyched myself out. I'm nowhere near as passionate about gaming as those guys! One of them mentioned using a lot of geometry and trigonometry in his design job. I've never taken trig. I was great at geometry but terrible at calculus - terrible meaning I got a "B" the second time I took it in college.

So I'm back where I started. This afternoon I called and then emailed the alumni career services office at my undergraduate university. They have resources for alumni but a lot of them are on campus and I'm too far away to use them. I sent off this message to a career counselor:

I'm an alumnus living in the Kansas City area. I was recently laid off from my job as an accounts payable analyst. I'm interested in changing careers and possibly returning to school for a degree in computers or engineering. Do you have any resources to help me? I would like to take a career aptitude test if one is available and I'm open to anything else you might suggest. I'm not able to come into the office, so is it possible to take the test online or by email?

I hope I get a better response to this email than I got to the last one (which was "all information about our program is available online"). What do I think I'm going to achieve here? When I took an aptitude test 8 years ago my results were inconclusive. I was equally disinterested in every career - mostly because I was focusing on the negatives. Now that I have a little more life experience maybe I'll answer differently. Or maybe all of this is a big stall so I don't have to hunt for jobs.

Sometimes I hate the way I'm always second-guessing myself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More of the same

With all of my free time I haven't taken any to update the blog lately. That should tell you how lazy I've become since getting laid off. Also somewhat depressed. I should get out of the house more but I can't be bothered to put on pants.

This week I sat around, shredded some files, watched a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica, played games on Facebook, half-heartedly applied for jobs online... You know, the usual. I still haven't decided what my motivation is for going back to school. I want to be clear on the cost and my expectations. I don't want to just dive into it thinking that it will bring me a higher income if it won't. That's kind of what I did with my MBA and look where that got me. At this point I'm not committing to anything, which for me is, again, the usual.

I did manage to accomplish 2 small things this week. After my success with the light switch in my bedroom I decided to tackle the switch in the guest room. That light has been operated by pull chain since I moved in 2 1/2 years ago. It didn't even matter if the switch was on or off, both the light and the fan would only work if you pulled the chain. I found another jumble of wires and nuts but with the help of my brother Five I sorted it out. Turns out the light and the switch were on different wires. As long as I was mucking around in there I also changed out the switch and plate. The old ones were spattered with lavender and cream colored paints. Ew. Sorry, no pictures. Just take my word for it.

Earlier this year I attacked my trees with loppers. In the process of clearing out overhanging branches I hacked off half a tree limb by the mailbox. I've never been happy with how it looked. Last Sunday I decided to finish the job and went after it with a hack saw. For the benefit of my incredulous brother Three, I took a picture of the stub and hack saw. Here you go:

Right after I finished I saw a neighbor kid heading my way. He offered to rake my leaves and help out with the tree for $20. I told him I was finished with the tree and didn't have any money to pay him with. I recall telling that kid the same sob story a few months ago the last time I mowed the lawn. He said he had a yard care business. I said I was losing my job and needed to save my money. Besides, I once allowed a neighbor kid to mow my lawn and the result was a disaster! Click on the picture below to expand it, then check out those wavy lines. I don't think I'll be paying another amateur to mow!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Monster kitty

I can't believe another week is gone. I didn't do much. I took a cat to the vet for vaccinations on Thursday. She spiked a fever and spent most of Friday sleeping. She made the most heart-wrenching little meows when I tried to pet or move her. It kind of made me want to keep doing it just to hear that little "eh - ooow" again, but I refrained. Other than checking her temperature I left her alone - mostly. This morning her appetite came back so I knew she'd be fine.

Over the last few days I've been shredding junk mail and organizing files. The other night as thoughts of fire and mayhem danced through my head (you know, the typical paranoid drifting-off fare) I thought it might be a good idea to put my most important papers into a portable filing box. You know, in case of emergency. I have 13 years of taxes and social security statements, 5 years of medical bills, 6 years of insurance papers, 2 years of mortgage documents, etc. My next step will be to tackle some of the larger files and see if they should be split up.

While I was at it I put all of the cats' medical records into a 3 ring binder and organized them chronologically. Going over the vet reports made me kind of nostalgic. My youngest cat had surgery 3 years ago to correct a funnel chest. I took him to the University of Missouri veterinary hospital in Columbia. All of the doctors and students loved him! Reading over his discharge papers again, I came across this little nugget, "Thank you for bringing Monster Kitty to the University of Missouri veterinary teaching hospital. He is a very cute boy."

I have to admit, I got a little misty. He IS a cute boy! I'm so glad I decided to do the surgery. It cost me $1,000 and many, many hours of driving but he is doing amazingly well now. He's an incredibly affectionate little kitty who purrs all the time and provides loads of entertainment. He also chews on my shoes, jumps on the counters and scratches up my furniture but we won't go into that.

Incidentally, the clingy cat lady had another kitten the following year with the same problem. She saw how well my cat tolerated the surgery and took her kitten to the same hospital. Both cats were written about in a medical journal in 2008. I might send an email to the hospital with pictures of my little monster to show how well he's doing. I bet they'd enjoy that.

Well, like I said, I haven't done much. Unemployment isn't so bad once you get used to it. Still, it's not for everyone. Best leave it to the professionals ;)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Goin' sparkin'

This morning I came home from a delicious chicken minis breakfast to find a light switch on the fritz. When I turned on the light in my bedroom, one bulb popped and the other two flickered like fireflies on meth. I replaced the bulb but the flickering didn't stop. I heard an odd tapping sound in the light switch at the same tempo as the flicker and I figured that was where I would find the problem.

After several frantic texts and phone calls to my savvy brothers I decided to attempt fixing it. I turned off the circuit and pried the plate off the wall. Threeofadozen told me to next turn the circuit back on and look for sparks. I never got around to that part. As I wrestled the plate off I decided I might as well just replace the light switch. It's a flat dimmer switch that works by tapping or holding your finger on it. I've always hated it because I could never tell when the lights were at their brightest. It seemed as good a time as any to ditch the bitch, so to speak.

I dashed over to Lowe's and got a cheap switch and wall plate, stopping briefly to stare at a woman in 6 inch stiletto peep toes. Seriously? Stiletto peep toes at a hardware store? In October?? I could just imagine her stubbing her dainty little toes or dropping a 2x4 on them. It actually made me smile a little inside. Then I scooted back home and got to work.

Can I just interject here that my handy dandy how-to manual from Home Depot said this particular chore would take 2 minutes for an expert, 7 for a novice? Yeah right. They should have said "add 15 additional minutes for a female novice." It took me between 20 and 30 minutes. To be fair, there were a lot more wires than what were illustrated. See below:

I struggled and swore and called Fiveofadozen twice (Where the eff is that grounding wire? Does it need a grounding wire?! Oh damn, I broke the hooked part off. Will it still work?). In the end I got everything together and screwed it back into the wall. I turned the circuit back on. No flickering, no tapping and definitely no sparking. Ta da!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thinking it over

A few days ago I sent this message to a few universities/local colleges:

I'm an adult who's looking to make a career change. I already have a Master's degree in Business Administration from Devoutly Religious University and a Bachelor's degree in Human Development from More Christian than Christians University. I'd like to study computer science. Is there an accelerated or evening program that I could attend? Either way, please send me information on your program, including tuition, course requirements and prerequisites. I'd also welcome a phone call from one of your entrance counselors if possible.

Before I jump head or feet first into another academic program, I think I need to decide why I'm doing it and what I hope to gain. I don't want to just follow in my parents' footsteps by going back to school because I've heard people can make a lot of money in a certain field, without considering whether I have the skills or inclination to be successful at it. If I'm going to pile on even more student loan debt then I need to be certain I can use my degree to pay it all off.

Do I have an interest in computer science? I'm not sure. I don't think I know enough about it. I know you can make lots of money and meet lots of men. I know sometimes you can set your own hours and wear jeans & sandals to work. I know it involves doing smart-mass things and feeling superior to non-techy people. I also know it involves taking a lot of math and physics classes, which scares me a little bit since I might actually have to work to pass them - but I did manage to pull off a 4.0 in my MBA program so maybe I can handle it.

Is going back to school really just a way for me to avoid job searches and interviews? Is that why thinking about it gives me a sense of relief? Or do I feel relieved because I feel trapped and unstimulated by the jobs I can do with my current skill set? Is this about more than just finding a career? Is it because I can't stand the thought that one of my siblings is more successful than I am, so I want to get the same degree and prove that I'm better than him? These are all things to mull over before committing myself to a course of action.

Please feel free to weigh in. Let me know if there's something else I'm missing, if my interest in the field seems frivolous, if you think I'm better suited for a life of crime... whatever. I could use a sounding board or two.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sick kitty

My cat started sniffling yesterday morning. By the afternoon she was sneezing repeatedly and by evening she was making little snorting/choking sounds from all the congestion. Her sneezing woke me up at 2 this morning. She sat on the pillow by my head, half meowing and half gagging. I got up and made some warm saline, which I sympathetically squirted up her nose to clear out the sinuses. She didn't appreciate that very much but I could tell she really felt bad because she let me carry her back to bed and she immediately laid down again by my pillow. Normally if I mess with her at all she's out of there.

When a second kitty started sneezing this morning I decided to call the vet for a consult. He asked me to bring both of them in. He looked them over. The second cat had mysteriously stopped exhibiting symptoms, but he said it looked like either allergies or a reaction to their vaccines from the week before. He prescribed a half dose of Children's Benadryl and told me to bring them back if they started getting more of a discharge from their eyes or noses. No charge for the visit and the medicine only cost me $2 at Target. I love my vet.

Doesn't she look sad? Yes, this is the same fat kitty that the vet thinks should lose 1 1/2 pounds. On the bright side, she has no appetite today! But I don't think starvation was what he had in mind.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One down

This week has been pretty dull. I only have 7 more weeks of pay and benefits. I'm really afraid I won't find anything. On Tuesday I applied for a job that I saw listed on Monster - that's 1 job in 7 days that I've felt qualified for. This is not a good sign! I haven't heard anything about last week's interview so I'm pretty sure I bombed it.

My master's degree isn't paying off the way I hoped it would. Sure, it allows me to go after jobs where a graduate degree is required, but most of the jobs I feel qualified for are asking for an associate's degree. I don't have enough experience for something better and I'm overqualified for the jobs I can do.

I'm debating whether I should try to go back to school. I feel like I wasted my undergrad years. I got a lot of advice that I now realize was bad and I left school with no job skills. Looking back, I wish I'd considered that it would cost me just as much tuition to study something lucrative as it did to study something easy. I also wish I wasn't so afraid of failure. I dropped out of a calculus class because I thought I was failing it, only to later realize that everyone was failing and a 50% on the midterm equaled a B in the course. I was too intimidated to try a computer or engineering class and I was too negative about myself to learn anything from aptitude tests.

I don't know if I can go back to school and pay the mortgage at the same time, and I'm not very optimistic about selling this house. My neighbor listed his house last summer for $15k less than what I currently owe on mine. He couldn't get anyone to look at it, let alone make an offer. Even if I could find a buyer then I would probably need to bring $20k to closing when you factor in commissions and fees. I don't have that kind of money!

I guess I should stop assuming the worst and really look into my options. Maybe I could go back to school while working part time and take out more student loans to cover the difference. Maybe I could find a roommate to help with the mortgage and utilities. If I really want it bad enough then I'll find a way to make it happen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bad friend

A former college roommate is getting married next month. Good for her, never giving up hope and finally snagging someone who is either a) blind, b) mentally deficient, or c) both! Whoops. Did I forget to delete that? How unkind of me.

We were pretty good friends for several years after college. When I came here she was the only person I knew and I consequently did a lot of things with her. Eventually I got tired of her negativity (ironic, I know) and I decided to back away from the friendship. Kind of like what I did to the cat lady, only without blocking her emails. Oh, did I mention that I blocked the cat lady's emails? It's been great. No more guilt-inducing letters. I love it!

Anyway, the former friend's bridal shower is tomorrow night. I'm not sure why I feel obligated to go, considering I first heard that she was engaged via mass text message. She asked for my address in a Facebook mesage 3 separate times and lost it twice, then made it seem like my fault that she couldn't keep track of these things. Irritating. Where was I? Oh, yes. The bridal shower.

After ignoring the shower invitation for nearly 2 weeks, I was struck with guilt this evening and finally RSVP'ed. The guilt came upon me while dusting when I saw a knick knack that she brought back from Costa Rica for me. I know she hasn't given me a birthday or Christmas gift in years and she will probably never have the opportunity to give me a wedding gift because a) I'm not likely to get married and b) I wouldn't invite her if I did, but I remembered what the friendship used to be and I thought maybe I should celebrate with her for old times' sake.

So I'm dragging my fat ass to a bridal shower tomorrow night where I'll be surrounded by people I haven't seen in years and may never see again. I've been kindly informed that the bride is registered with Pampered Chef and Target. Classy. Don't even get me started on unsolicited gift registration notices! I think I'll get her something useless & tacky from the local hussy store. I know she's desperate for a baby so perhaps flavored condoms? There I go, being mean again...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Being boring

I'm very bored. I'm playing Roller Coaster Kingdom and Happy Aquarium on Facebook. Every few hours I check in to see if guests have arrived or my fish are hungry. That's all I have going on.

I've been reading one of the "Dune" prequels - "Dune: The Butlerian Jihad". I can't get more than a chapter into it before falling asleep. This is not boding well for the rest of the series! I've watched all of my TV shows (except for the aforementioned Stargate: Atlantis & Ninja Warrior reruns). I guess I could have a Firefly or Battlestar Galactica marathon but I'm tired of sitting on the couch.

The animal shelter emailed their volunteers to beg us to come walk their dogs. They've had a lot of staff out sick. With all the talk about H1N1 lately I'm afraid I'll show up there and catch the swine flu. Eeek! I'll probably be okay, though. The shelter is extremely vigilant about being clean. They have hand sanitizer everywhere you look and they wash everything in bleach. I guess I'll stop in a few times this week. It'll give me something to do. I just haven't felt very motivated to comb my hair and put on pants!

The post title is from another Pet Shop Boys song; one of my favorites, actually. I would post the music video but it's a bit on the sleazy side. I think it was directed by the same guy who did the Abercrombie & Fitch advertising campaigns. Anyway, if you want to hear/see it look for "Being Boring" on YouTube. I think there are versions with just the music. Or you can follow my carnal link. I promise I won't judge you. I've watched it twice while typing this!

Post Edit: paragraphs were looking weird when I posted this, so I went back in. Yay for GoogleReader always tattling when I post the same thing twice!

Friday, October 16, 2009

So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen

Today was the day. I'm officially laid off. I went into the office this morning to turn in my badge and computer. I gave and received hugs, said my goodbyes, and posed for pictures. The entire department has been laid off and I think 60 people left today. We've had a few Happy Hours over the last 2 weeks and we all exchanged contact information. Dealing with the new company has been difficult and I think most of us were ready to go, but it's still hard to say goodbye to friends.

As rough as this is, my mind has been elsewhere for the last week. A few days ago I mentioned an upcoming job interview and what it could mean for my severance benefits. My HR rep had to talk to several other people (including the legal department) before he could answer my question. He finally let me know Wednesday afternoon that this was indeed a comparable position, but advised me to go forward with the interview anyway. It was too late to reschedule so I charged ahead.

The interview was awkward, but interviews always are for me. Somehow I segued from "Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your manager" to "I'm a fan of Stargate!" I just want to groan when I think about that. Luckily the interviewer is also a huge science fiction buff so I'm hoping that will count positively. At least he knows he'd enjoy working with me, right?

As bad as that was, I think I made it worse today by showing up in a pair of exercise pants and an oversized sweater with the old company logo. I had debated putting on khakis but then apathy won out and I wore the pants I had been sleeping in. I didn't bother styling my hair today, I just put a little anti frizz serum in it and let it air dry. Well, around 9:45 a.m. I went down to the cafeteria to return some silverware and bumped into my interviewer getting a late breakfast. Doh! I was friendly and I tried to pretend it wasn't at all awkward to be caught wearing grubbies when he had seen me the day before wearing a business suit. He commented on the sweater but not the pants. Wow. I am a major dork. There's no other way to put it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let it go

If there's one thing I'm good at, it's anger. I've held onto grudges for decades. Most of them are against my mother. For example, when I was 5 my sister threw up. She received sympathy and a glass of 7-Up. Half an hour later I threw up. I received a roll of paper towels and an order to clean up the mess. My mom said I did it deliberately because I wanted 7-Up, too. I was FIVE! Come on! For those of you doing the math that was 26 years ago and yes, I'm still peeved.

I could go on for days about all of the ways my mom was a bad parent. She manipulated, abused and betrayed me. She blamed others for her actions, often making a church leader or my dad the scapegoat. When her lies unravel she is never capable of apologizing. She's always "sorry you feel that way", never sorry for hurting you.

So yes, I have a lot of anger. It burns inside me and seeps out like a poison. I grind my teeth at night. I get tension headaches. I fight with people and scream profanities in my dreams. I go months without speaking to people who've offended me. I suppose I'm punishing them with my disdain. But I'm getting tired of being angry. I think the fire might be dying.

I wish I could release it all. I don't know how to do that. Part of me wants to hold onto my feelings. I have been wronged! It deserves to be acknowledged. But the 2 people that I need to hear an apology from will never admit their mistakes. Whether it's 10 or 30 years down the road, they will go to their graves smug in their moral superiority. And what will I do then? Do I really want to hang onto my anger for another 30 years? It seems small and petty, somehow.

I don't think I can actively forgive - the forgiveness that was drilled in me at church just seems so cheesy - but I might be able to forget. Maybe I can stop thinking about all of the negative experiences and try thinking of something else instead. Rainbows and unicorns and that kind of crap. I just don't want to care anymore.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On my mind

I've had a few things rolling around in my head this weekend. I thought I'd just spew them out here in list form, with comments as needed.

1) I will be laid off in 5 days. You'd think this would be the most worrying thing on the list, but it isn't because...

2) I have a job interview on Thursday. I'm interviewing for a position at my current company but in another department. Getting the job and hanging on until April means I will be "vested" in the company, thus qualifying for a pension and being able to keep the company match in my 401k. Sounds great, right? Well, there's a catch.

3) My severance package is contingent upon me not being offered a comparable position before the date of my layoff. If I am offered a comparable job before next Monday and I decide I don't want to take it, then I will forfeit my severance.

4) I've emailed my HR representative to ask whether or not this position is considered "comparable". If he decides that it is, then I think I'm going to try to move the interview to next week. But will doing that give the interviewer a bad impression? And if I'm laid off but rehired, will the company bridge my years of service or will they restart the clock with my new hiring date? If the latter then I won't be vested after all and I might as well start over somewhere else.

5) How did it get so cold, so fast? I've been shivering all weekend. Brrrrr!

6) My back is KILLING me! I thought the whole point of having breast reduction surgery was to fix my back pain. It's worse than ever. The right side is very tight. I can't take a deep breath. Last night I tried in vain to make myself yawn. I couldn't do it. My lungs would not expand far enough. Maybe I should ask my regular doctor for help but I think he'll just give me muscle relaxers, which in my opinion is treating the symptoms instead of the cause.

7) Three and Five are on a cruise to celebrate their birthdays. Three is 29 today and Five will be 25 the day after they get back. Two and her husband are also taking a cruise at the end of this month. I'm so jealous! I can hardly stand it. I've never been on a cruise. Maybe after all of this employment drama settles down I'll take one.

8) The Pet Shop Boys are really great, aren't they? Everything sounds better with 2 poofs and a synthesizer :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wannabe Sphynx

Over the last few weeks I've noticed a bald patch on my cat's front leg. I wasn't sure what it was. I thought maybe she had been scratched there and the hair fell out while it was healing. The bald patch seems to be growing though and a few days ago I noticed that she's getting a second bald patch in the same place on the other leg. I also noticed that the hair on her belly is quite short and fine compared to the other 2 kitties.

Late Tuesday night I had a thought that shot me straight up out of bed: mange. Remember this tragic pup? He had been abused and neglected by his owners and had very itchy skin with patches of missing fur. I covered the back seat of my car with a blanket when I took him out for a ride. That blanket has been sitting on a rocking chair by the laundry room, waiting for me to get around to washing it. I'm pretty sure the cat was sleeping on it in the afternoons. What if the dog's missing fur wasn't caused by pressure sores and malnutrition? What if it was caused by mange? I immediately threw that blanket in the wash with hot water and lots of bleach. The next morning I called the vet and made an appointment for Monday (the first available).

Yesterday I did a little online research. After reading up on the condition I'm feeling a little better. Typically the mites are so itchy that cats will get secondary infections from constant scratching. I haven't noticed her doing any scratching. The areas are clean and dry with no obvious irritation or infection. I also read that mange usually starts around the ears and head. Her head looks fine and furry; the bald spots are only on her legs and belly. I'm still planning to take her to the vet on Monday but I don't think he'll find any mites.

If it isn't mange then what is causing her to go bald? My mind is running through a list of problems from cancer to mental illness. Maybe she isn't happy as a Bengal. Maybe in her mind she has always felt that she should have been born a Sphynx. If so, who am I to judge her? Maybe I should get out the clippers and help her transformation along. Ha! Hopefully the vet will have an answer for me. She isn't my favorite cat but I'm still attached to her and I don't want to see her suffering.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Free fallin

I switched over from AC to heat yesterday. It's officially Fall. Right on cue I got a head cold. I've spent the day cradling a box of tissues and breathing through my mouth. Sexy.

Somehow I've watched nearly all of my recorded TV shows. I'm left with 25 reruns of Stargate: Atlantis and 18 episodes of Ninja Warrior. The DVR bundles each series into 1 listing so right now it only looks like I have 2 available shows to watch. Kind of weird. I'm not really in the mood to watch either right now - well, maybe I could watch Atlantis. I just watched the series premiere of Stargate: Universe so I'm sort of in that mindset. But I think I'm going to read a book instead.

Twoofadozen told me about a series she read earlier this year. The first book is called "All Creatures Great and Small". It's about an English vet in the 1930s. At first I was skeptical. The title is from a hymn so I thought it would be a churchy book. It's not at all. It's hilarious. It follows the vet in his first two years of practice, working in the Yorkshire countryside. I finished it a few days ago and I started on the sequel ("All Things Bright & Beautiful") last night. If you're looking for a few good books to read then I definitely recommend this series!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sad fish

My local Hy-Vee probably thinks I'm a major whiner because I complained about 3 different things on my bill tonight and I was refunded for 2 of them - to the tune of nearly $20.

It started with the peaches. I bought roughly 3 pounds of California white peaches on sale for $1.58. The checker asked me what they were and I told her. She must have misheard me because she rang them up as California ripe peaches instead, which were $2.48 per pound. I caught the error just as she finished charging my credit card. She sent me over to Customer Service, who refunded the entire price and let me have the peaches for free. Cool! Customer happiness = restored.

Then I came home and unloaded my groceries. My milk had leaked all over the bag. The cap wasn't on tightly. I thought if milk could get out then bacteria could probably get in. Ew! Still, I recalled the free peaches and decided not to complain about the milk. It was only a half gallon and it was on sale for 99 cents. I wasn't out that much.

Next I unwrapped the fresh salmon. I noticed it seemed a bit slimy and smelled strange. Eh, probably just normal fishy moisture. I seasoned it and threw it in a pan, but as it cooked I became more and more paranoid - for good reason. Cooking only made the smell worse. I tasted a little bit. Blech! Bad fish! I thought again about the free peaches. No, $7 in peaches could not make up for $11 in disappointing fish.

I bundled it up in the butcher paper and went back to the store. As long as I was going back anyway I decided to exchange the milk too. The look on that poor Customer Service guy's face was priceless. He actually unwrapped the fish and took a whiff. Why?! Did you not believe me when I said it was bad? I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing at him. I got my money back! Customer confidence = shaken but happiness = mostly restored. I'll just have to be careful about inspecting my salmon in the future.

Incidentally, I had a similar experience once when I bought crab legs at Price Chopper which led to the creation of my shellfish cardinal rule: Always ask the butcher to get the frozen stock from the back. I tell him I'm going to go home and freeze it again - and that's not a lie, I usually do throw it in the freezer - but the real reason is because I don't know how long their thawed crab legs have been sitting in the display case.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sleep on it

I didn't sleep very well last night. I was anxious about a last-minute project at work. I thought it was finished when I left yesterday but several hours later I realized we had forgotten a piece. I emailed my manager about it at 11 p.m. and offered to come in today (Saturday) to work on it if needed. Then I went to bed and fretted.

At 12:30 I was half-awake when I heard a loud thud downstairs. My imagination went a little wild and I listened for footsteps. I tried to tell myself that no one would bother breaking into my house but I was starting to panic. I imagined ominous shadows creeping towards me and I shined the light of my cell phone into the hallway. Nothing was there. I decided if someone really had broken in that the 2 cats on my bed wouldn't be sleeping as soundly as they were. I relaxed and started drifting off.

At 1:30 my 3rd cat trotted in. He dropped something on the ground and meowed proudly. Immediately one of the other cats jumped off the bed to investigate. The two of them started fishing for something behind the bedroom door. Then they moved to fish for something under the nightstand. Then they moved to fish for something between the nightstand and the bed. I turned on the cell phone display to have a look, just in time to see a battered spider escape under my bed. GYAAAAH!

I hate spiders. I hate them more than mice, more than almost anything except cockroaches. There was no way in hell that I could fall asleep knowing a spider was under my bed. I got up and shined the cell phone under the bedskirt. I couldn't see anything so I went for a bigger flashlight. After at least 40 minutes of searching I finally located the spider. I had to move a nightstand and shove the cats out of the way but I managed to get close enough to kill it. Crunch. Then, not convinced that it wouldn't rise again like some kind of Lazarus zombie spider, I scooted the carcass onto a piece of paper and flushed it.

By now it was 2:30 and I was back to panicking about the project. I fell asleep sometime between 2:30 and 3, only to wake up at 7:15 as my cats warmed up for their morning races. I got up and fed them and tried in vain to go back to sleep. I sort of slept until 11. The cats woke me up every half hour or so and I didn't get much rest. Now I'm staggering around with a blinding headache and I'm tempted to down the leftover vicodin pills from my surgery. Oy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Under advisement

Last week I signed on with a temp agency that specializes in finance/accounting jobs. I figured it wouldn't hurt to have an income while I'm pounding the pavement. I met with one of their account reps and we went over my resume. She only had one change to make; she told me to lump all three of my positions at my current company into one heading so it will be easier to see how long I've worked there (5 1/2 years). Everything else looked fine to her.

Last week I also sent my resume to the director of career services at a business college. This afternoon he sent some templates that have been proven to generate interviews for his graduates. He wants me to dramatically change my resume. The trouble is, I really don't like what he's suggesting and his advice is completely different from the temp agency's.

Whose advice do I take? I think the real issue here is insecurity. The business college approach includes bold statements and lists of accomplishments. I don't know if I have enough material to fill a page. I don't like to brag about myself. I'm afraid if I put out such an assertive resume that I won't measure up in person.

I really should consider my end goals. Do I want to be a temp? No. Then maybe I should try it his way. And now that I think about it, I have 4 years of performance reviews from 3 supervisors singing my praises. This just might be doable. If it will improve my chances of being interviewed then it's worth a shot. Another bonus is that this format will force me to think about my strengths, which will help a lot with those horrid interview questions.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I went to the animal shelter last Friday. I walked a particularly eager dog. Actually, she walked me. For twenty minutes she yanked me up a hill and down a walking trail, stopping only briefly to roll in the grass. My shins were killing me! I had planned to walk several dogs that evening but needed a rest after that one, so I wandered from room to room and brushed a few kitties.

Then I bumped into a shady looking guy. He was skinny with shaggy gray hair, ripped up jeans and a faded shirt that said "Staff". He was mopping the floor with a kind of manic energy. First impression: is he homeless? Second impression: he must be doing court-ordered community service.

I tried to avoid him but he talked to me anyway. He asked if I was open to suggestion. I said, "Not really, no." That stopped him for a second. I don't think that was what I was supposed to say. Then he told me that if I wanted something to do I could fill up water bowls. I told him I was just about to leave. And then I left.

I don't know why I reacted that way. Maybe he reminded me of the felon on work release who used to rub my shoulders when I worked at Sizzler. I don't need to be hit on by another sketchy older man! Still, asking me to fill a water bowl was harmless. His shirt said "Staff", maybe he really is staff. You don't exactly wear your best clothes when you're cleaning up after a hundred animals. He was just too friendly and I don't like talking to strangers.

I'm a little depressed about it though. It occurs to me that I spend most of my time alone. Even at work I'm usually alone. People don't visit my cubicle very often. At lunchtime I bring something up to my desk and eat alone. I walk around grocery stores trying to avoid eye contact. The phrase "Secure in my anonymity" comes to mind. I hope not to be noticed.

It occurs to me that I'm working against myself here - because I'm lonely. Every future friend starts out as a stranger. I need to get over this reticence, especially now that I have to interview for another job. I do plan on going back to the shelter, and I suppose I should try talking to people while I'm there. It's silly, really. I'm only pretending to be shy. In reality I'm slightly snobbish because I think I'm smarter than everyone else.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I love to hate you

I had a Philly cheesesteak for lunch yesterday. I picked it up in the cafeteria downstairs and as I turned toward the cashier the grill cook hollered "don't forget your horsey sauce!" Um, gross. I hate horseradish. I also hate Cheez Whiz, but I can tolerate it on a Philly - although if he had given me a chance I would have requested provolone.

Anyway, as I grumbled my way back upstairs I got to thinking about how it's easier for me to list the things I hate than it is to come up with something I like. So here's my hate list in no particular order. Please feel free to comment with a list of your own!

Sharp cheese
Processed cheese
Bell peppers
Raw/undercooked onions
Soggy cereal
Soggy crackers in my soup
Soggy ladyfingers in tiramisu
Dumplings (aka soggy biscuits)
Raisins in cookies, bread or bagels
Pepperoni that hasn't been cooked til crispy
Summer sausage
Black licorice
Red vines
Malted milk balls
Cottage cheese with fruit
Christian music
Country music

Okay, I realize the last two don't really fit with all the food items, but I really don't like them! Ask me about my Hierarchy of Music one day. If you dare.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lunch date

This week I started volunteering at a local no-kill animal shelter. I thought it would be a good way to spend my time while I'm unemployed and it might boost my resume a little. I've heard companies like their employees to be involved in the community. It can't hurt.

So far I'm really enjoying it. They're very laid back with the volunteers. I can show up whenever I want to and help wherever I feel like helping. I've walked dogs, petted cats, changed water. It's nice. The environment is nothing like I expected. Most of the cats are allowed to free roam in a large common area. The dogs have roomy kennels. Some are housed together, most are separated.

One of the kennels has a sign that says "I need car rides! Love, Noah". I decided to take Noah out over my lunch break. The staff said he would love to run free for a while so I brought him home and let him loose in the backyard. I gave him a playground ball to play with and he mutilated it in no time at all. Whoops! I think I got it away from him before he could swallow any pieces.

After a half hour of romping I had to take him back. He really seemed to enjoy the car ride. He sat right up front and stared out the window. He didn't want to go back in his kennel, which was kind of sad. I will probably take him out again when I get the chance.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Drag racers

I can't stay up past 11 anymore. I blame my cats. You see, on a typical weekday morning I stagger out of bed between 7 and 7:15. I take my thyroid medication, feed the cats and get ready for work. On a typical weekend I sleep in as long as I want to and get up when I'm feeling rested. In theory.

Cats don't distinguish between a weekday and a weekend. To them, breakfast time is 7:15 - which means calisthenics time begins at 7:30. Their preferred exercise is wind sprints; i.e., chasing each other in circles. It begins downstairs in the family room. They race upstairs, do a loop in the living room, then through the hall into my bedroom where they make a tight turn around the bed and launch themselves over me (sometimes off me) to land back in the hallway. Then they tear down the stairs and repeat the cycle.

Side note: did you just hear Jeremy Clarkson narrating the action? I did. I ought to name their route after the Top Gear test track. "Now they're around Hammerhead straight into the Follow Through, coming up on the Second to Last Corner they're into Gambon, around and through the Finish! Yes!" But I digress...

I've tried closing the bedroom door. The noise of 12 paws bounding across hardwood doesn't lend itself to sleeping. I've tried covering my head with a pillow. I get too hot. It doesn't seem to matter if I feed them on time or not. The point of this exercise (pun! ha ha!) isn't to wake me up. They genuinely like being frisky in the morning. Now, 3 hours later, they're all passed out for the first of many naps on their schedule. I'd like to take a nap too but alas, now that I'm up I feel like I'm required to stay up.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The "L" is for Quality

A strangely industrious mood struck me this morning so I tore myself away from the Dirty Jobs marathon and tackled some yard work. I am very tired!

First I cleared the saplings and vines around the fence. Then I set to work trimming the low branches on my trees. When I was finished (about 2 1/2 hours later) I had two big brush piles. I'm half tempted to list them on CraigsList as bonfire fuel - along with my saggy, baggy couch - but I think I'll just call the garbage company and tell them I have a bulk pickup.

Here are the freshly trimmed trees. If I'd thought of taking some "before" shots you'd see how badly the first tree was overhanging the community mailbox. Both trees have been smacking me in the face when I mow the lawn.

I took pictures of the brush piles too. Please note how beautifully my grass seed grew in. It's almost a seamless transition between the old and new grass. Thank you Nine for the fantastic daily watering job!

I'm trying to tidy up here and there in case I need to list the house for sale when I lose my job, although I still have no idea if I want to find a job in Kansas or somewhere else. I'm also thinking about going back to school for a degree in computers - not that I know anything about computers, the money just sounds fantastic.

I know trimming the trees won't sell the house but I'm hoping it will improve the curb appeal. Either way, I'm sure the neighbors will appreciate not getting caressed by branches when they pick up their mail. Or maybe they'll miss the feel of soft leaves brushing their hair? It's Kansas. You never know.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Musical bipolarism

My poor little Pandora station is a little on the bipolar side. In the space of a few hours I will listen to Sarah McLachlan, Genesis, Oingo Boingo, Pet Shop Boys, The Police, Skid Row, Nirvana, Metallica, Disturbed, Soundgarden, Live, Foo Fighters, Gin Blossoms, Lifehouse, REM, Sting, Bryan Adams... quite an eclectic range. I need to start untangling the different genres. It can be quite weird to go from "Fields of Gold" to "Enter Sandman" within a few minutes.

So far the station has been pretty good about finding appropriate segues. It's a little like playing "7 Degrees of Kevin Bacon" with music. I think the link below will take you to my tunes. Check me out sometime:

Monday, August 31, 2009

The one that got away

Every now and then I think about a guy I knew in college, a guy that I almost hooked up with but, thanks to an untimely runny nose and general awkwardness we never quite connected.

I Google him from time to time. All I've ever found is a paper he coauthored for his zoology program. I even looked him up on Facebook but didn't find anything. I'm sure he got married years ago, but maybe, just maybe, he's still out there and also thinking about me.

He lived down the street from me in an atrocious slate gray box of a house. I spent a lot of time over there. I had a huge crush on his roommate and I spent hours waiting for his roommate to get home. Yes, I was THAT girl.

The roommate was so dreamy. He looked like a slightly squashed Richard Gere; let's just call him Richard. The other guy (the almost hookup guy) resembled Patrick Swayze who, face it, was only ever hot in Dirty Dancing - and that was more about the character than it was about him. Anyway, we'll call him Patrick.

There I was every afternoon, pining after Richard who was almost never home. He probably knew I was there waiting for him. Meanwhile, Patrick was almost always home and didn't mind hanging out with me. He was sort of dating another girl and he knew I liked Richard, so there wasn't any pressure to impress him. I could be as goofy and relaxed as I wanted to be.

I was going through a teasing phase, I guess. I had just taken the infamous Marriage Prep class where I learned a little about how to flirt and show interest in guys. So I was showing interest in every guy I met, just to see how they reacted to it. Most didn't react well, sadly.

Except for Patrick. Day after day I waited for Richard in their living room and passed the time cuddling with Patrick, playing with his hair, kissing him on the cheek, just joking around. Man, this is embarrassing! He kissed me once or twice but it was never a serious smooch. I thought he was joking. He had a sort of girlfriend and he knew I liked Richard.

Then the weirdest thing happened. Patrick dumped the girl he was dating. The same week, Richard took her out on what I thought was a sympathy date. Until they showed up at a party together and then came to church and sat together (both of which are serious declarations of being an Item). I was inconsolable.

Patrick called and listened to me sob about Richard every day for two weeks. He came over to see how I was doing, since I wasn't going over there anymore. It all seems so obvious now, but I really thought he was just being a friend. He casually mentioned other girls he might be interested in. I didn't catch on that I might be one of them.

One night he dragged me out of the house and we walked around town for a couple of hours. By this time I was tired of all the drama around the now-engaged Richard but that was all Patrick would talk about. Meanwhile he was holding my hand and wrapping his arms around me. I was confused. There were very mixed signals here!

Then came the Moment. We stopped under a streetlight, facing each other. He had his arms around me, I had mine around his waist. I thought he was going to kiss me. I couldn't be sure. I waited. I waited. I WAITED! Still nothing. And it was cold outside. My nose was about to drip. I turned away to wipe it. He must have taken that as a rejection or something because he dropped his arms and we walked back.

That was it. My almost love story. I kick myself when I think about it. Damn runny nose! So every now and then I think about him and wonder what he's up to. Mostly I wish I could have a do-over.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's alive! It's ALIVE!

I was talking to Three the other day and apparently he and Five are immensely proud of their influence on me. Bit by bit they've suggested things to watch or read, then stood back to see their creation take shape. He told me that over the last year I have blossomed into a nerd.

It was funny that he brought that up, because in the last few weeks I've been wondering a little nervously if they were turning me into a guy. I don't know any other girls who like this kind of stuff - except my aunts and sisters. To be honest, it's a little bit of a relief to be labeled a nerd!

I reminded Three that the seeds have always been there. I've been reading science fiction/fantasy books since I was 8 and I played an online RPG for nearly 2 years in my 20s. Still, they deserve some credit for the transformation. I don't think I've ever been this immersed in nerd culture before.

I mentioned in a previous post that a lot of my favorite things were introduced by one or both of them. That doesn't bother me like it did. It's really great to have seen the same shows, listened to the same songs and read the same books. Something you may or may not know about us Dozen is that we often communicate through quotes. Maybe we all share the same hangups when it comes to expressing our feelings - I don't know - but good or bad it's somehow easier to use someone else's words to say what's on our mind. And responding with the next line of a song or movie is kind of like saying I understand what you really mean - plus I think you're really clever for saying it that way.

Knowing more of their lingo makes me feel closer to my brothers than I have in a long time. It's really nice. And before you go thinking that maybe I was right before and I only watch/read/listen to this stuff because I want them to like me, let me say that I have a lot of my own interests, too. I don't like *everything* they suggest, but I don't feel a need to tear it apart either.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tears for fears

I've had "Head Over Heels" in my head for a few days, but this post isn't really about that.

I don't know what it is about me and guys. They fascinate and terrify me. It's like I never evolved beyond grade school, where someone finding out you had a crush was mortifying. I can hardly look at guys I don't know. I'm so afraid they'll see me and - well, I'm not sure what exactly scares me but I always look away if I ever make eye contact.

I don't just look away, I practically run away, like tonight in the grocery store when one of the managers said "hi" to me. I scuttled off sideways like a crab. As I did, I noticed that he wasn't wearing a wedding ring and appeared to be in his mid-30s. Single, appropriate age, friendly... what's the problem?

I think I've built up a wall over the years that I don't know how to break down. I was teased and rejected a lot as a child and teenager. In my mind I am wrong, I am strange, I am not liked. I approach friendships apologetically and I'm extremely sensitive to any cue that I've overstayed my welcome.

In a scenario where a guy speaks first, shouldn't I be a little more at ease? Maybe I'm afraid of ultimate rejection and I'm trying to beat them to the punch. Maybe I'm afraid I'll misread friendliness as flirting and make an idiot of myself. I don't know. I hoped he would think I was shy rather than unfriendly, but as I rounded the corner it occurred to me that I was frowning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nothing's right, I'm torn

I was lying in bed the other night, mulling over my options. I'm facing a sort of crossroads. I found out that I am definitely going to be laid off in October. I have a little money saved and I will receive a severance package. If I want to leave Kansas then I feel like this is my opportunity. But where should I go?

Part of the problem with coming from a nomadic family is that there isn't any place you identify as "home". My siblings are scattered across the western US. I'm very close to most of them and can't go a day without talking to at least 2 siblings. I hardly ever see them because they live so far from me and from each other.

Who do I choose? Who is most likely not to leave me if I move nearby? When I came here after college I wanted to be closer to the - then - 8 siblings remaining at home. But my parents moved and I was left on my own. Ironically, they moved to within an hour of where I had gone to college. I decided not to follow them because I couldn't trust them to stay put. And they didn't stay put; they moved three more times and are now back to within 2 hours of me.

I've become a bit wary about moving for another person but I'm feeling pulled. I could move west near Two and her boys. I have several aunts, uncles and cousins in the area and I have always felt guilty for not knowing them better. I have my best friend from high school there and now Nine is making plans to move there.

I could move south near Three and Five. I'm not crazy about the weather but I miss those boys! They are so much fun, they're always introducing me to new interests and part of me thinks if I'm ever going to have a chance at marriage then it wouldn't hurt to be around them and their guy friends. I get the feeling they don't like it where they are and I don't know if I can trust them not to leave if I move for them.

I could stay here. There are still 4 kids at home that I'd like to see more of. I have a frosty relationship with my parents so I don't visit very often. I'm getting less bang for my buck if I stay, but the other siblings do cycle through a few times a year so at least I have a chance of seeing everyone.

I could walk away and stop being so codependent. I could sell the house, give away the cats, backpack around Europe, meet a real British guy or two instead of the airbrushed hotties I see on BBC America and finally get over my obsession. I could change my life completely, or at least have a few adventures. I could even go back to school and learn something useful this time. I don't know! These decisions are so hard.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Record breaking

Sometimes I think the competitive spirit has gotten out of hand. It seems we have a record for everything and there's a palpable excitement when a record is about to be broken.

I get really annoyed each year when United Way pledge time comes around. There's intense pressure to exceed the previous year's donation. It's especially annoying when the drive comes after a round of layoffs. Not only do they want the employees to top the previous record, but they want us to do it with fewer people. God forgive us if we fall short by a thousand dollars! We can't feel good about giving unless we give more than we ever have before.

This summer the temperature in Seattle soared into the 100's. Everyone was hot and miserable but they could take some comfort in the knowledge that they broke a record. A few years ago Florida and the Gulf Coast were being hammered with hurricanes. Property was damaged, lives were lost - but wait, there is a silver lining! We broke a record for the most hurricanes/deadliest hurricane/most-creatively-named hurricane ever! I think the worst example came during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as people breathlessly waited to hear how high the body count would go. It's as if we can't classify something as a disaster until we've ranked how it compares to similar events.

I guess I'm feeling a little burned out on all the record breaking. I do feel it's important to keep records, I just don't think we should be so hung up on setting new ones. I especially find it distasteful when it comes to natural disasters. People who lost their homes don't care if the earthquake was less intense than an earthquake fifty years ago. There comes a point where bad is bad and we shouldn't have to quantify it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tight tight tighty tight

The title comes from one of my favorite Real Men of Genius commercials: Mr Tiny Thong Bikini Wearer. Hilarious!

My battle of the bulge continues. Can you still call it a battle if one side gives up and lets the fat tanks roll over them? Hmm. I felt slightly vindicated today when I observed that an acquaintance who had the same thyroid surgery several months after I did is also gaining weight. I shouldn't feel too smug about it. Having a go-to excuse for being a fat fatty doesn't change the fact that I am a fat fatty.

I've tossed around the idea of joining a gym and paying extra for a personal trainer. I haven't done it for a few reasons; I'm not sure I can afford to do that while my job is up in the air, I don't want to be laughed at by all the pretty people, I don't think it will really make a difference. Then there's the biggest reason: it's easier to do nothing.

Still, I need to do something. I'm physically uncomfortable being this big. I squeeze into chairs, I can't put my shoes on without losing my breath. Some of my PCOS symptoms are coming back, which is not a good sign. I'm embarrassed by the weight gain and I haven't been back to my regular doctors because I'm afraid they'll scold me. God help me if I get sick! So I'm going to start walking again. The beautiful New Balance shoes that I bought in March ended up being a bad choice because my feet cramp in them, but I think they'll be okay for low-intensity walking. Maybe.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pretty pathetic

It's hard to see, but this tragic kitty is licking an empty food bowl.

Don't let her fool you. I give her Eukanuba twice a day and the vet says she's borderline overweight. I don't know what to do! Maybe I should switch to a cheaper food that will make her feel full but give her fewer calories?

Anyway, I thought this would illustrate how serious she is about eating every scrap she can find. I ask you, is this the belly of an underfed kitty?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Facing up to it

Well, this week I did two things I swore I would never do: I phoned in my vote for a TV show and I joined Facebook. I've been afraid to sign up for a social networking site because I thought it might hurt me professionally, but then it occurred to me that maybe a lack of information would be more damaging than the PG-rated life I lead. So I created a profile and I'm building up my Facebook page. Incidentally, that same fear is one of the reasons I wanted to be anonymous on this blog. I'm trying to be honest and uncensored here. I don't want to be fired for my opinions and quirky admissions!

Now, about that voting... I've watched every episode of the current season of So You Think You Can Dance. Three of my favorite dancers made it to the final four this week. Usually I'm just a passive observer. Not this time! I don't know what came over me, but I became very concerned that my least favorite dancer seemed to be the front-runner to win it. So I called. And called. And called. And called. I think I ended up casting 20 votes for Jeanine and 10 for Evan (because he's so darn cute and I'd rather see him win than Brandon). Now I can't use "voted for a contestant on a TV show" in the "I've Never" game, but it was worth it to see Jeanine win the competition last night. Well deserved!

Here's a video of Jeanine's solo from the last night of competition. Skip to 2:25 if you don't want to watch the interview:

Although I thought Jeanine did better overall, my favorite routine of the season was performed by another finalist, Kayla. Here's a video of Kayla and Kupono dancing a Mia Michaels routine about addiction:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Boys don't make passes

Let's expound on my laziness. I took out my 30-day contact lenses two weeks ago when I rubbed an eye too hard and one of them fell out. My hands were dirty but I plopped them in saline solution and told myself I would clean them that evening. Only I didn't clean them. They were near the end of their 30 days and I could have thrown them out. I'm not sure why I didn't, maybe I was feeling frugal?

Fast forward two weeks and I still haven't cleaned them, mainly because the idea of them sitting dirty for so long is disgusting and I don't want to put them in my eyes. I could throw them out and get a new pair but I don't have another case and the idea of reusing the case I have is almost as disgusting as reusing the lenses. I could buy a new case (and I probably will, eventually) but I keep forgetting to swing by the pharmacy on my twice-weekly run to Target.

I've been wearing my 4 year old glasses instead. They aren't terrible but they aren't all that cute either. What they are is a great disguise for my sans-makeup face in the morning. At least, that's what I tell myself as I scurry to my desk, head down at 8:10.

You see, my laziness extends far beyond the dirty contact lenses. I won't drag myself out of bed before 7:15, despite a clock radio that plays 10 second bursts of Jack's Big Breakfast every 9 minutes beginning at 6:30. I have so little time to get ready that I end up choosing between hair and makeup. I usually go with hair because makeup can be done anywhere. Nowhere in that decision-making process do I ever consider taking a minute to put in new contacts.

And so the cycle continues. I keep wearing these old glasses, feeling a little bit homely but not taking the time to change. Hey, maybe my laziness will pay off and the glasses will attract a nerd or two! Then again, maybe the glasses will attract the wrong kind of nerd - the nongenius kind. Eek.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Maybe I should lay off the scifi

I have spent the last 11 months soaking up scifi like a slice of dry alien bread. Last August I signed up for a DVR and Internet package that included the SciFi (now SyFy) and BBC America channels, which I haven't had in years. Since then I've watched every one of the following shows from beginning to end: Firefly, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate: SG1, Stargate: Atlantis, Primeval, Moonlight, and Enterprise. I'm also keenly interested in the upcoming 2nd seasons of Fringe, Sanctuary and Dollhouse, and after just one episode I am riveted by Being Human.

I'm starting to notice a problem and I think it's directly related to the scifi saturation. Regular life bores me. I'm becoming depressed that I'm not an astrophysicist like Samantha Carter or a plucky policewoman like Gwen Cooper. Why? Because if there was a secret space alien program I wouldn't stand a chance of being selected for it. I mean, really, my only shot is a one-in-a-million chance of being in the right place (London) at the right time (when the Daleks are attacking) and bumping into a Time Lord with a blue policebox who just happens to be looking for an ordinary gal to tag along and see the galaxy. Not very likely, is it?

I've also read a lot of scifi and fantasy books over the last year. I come out of them feeling lost because I've never seen giant sandworms in the desert, I don't know where any dragon eggs are hatching so I can bond with a newborn dragon, if I do have a daemon it's invisible, and I'm pretty sure the Three Laws of Robotics have not been programmed into my vacuum cleaner. Oh, and automated cars on tracks would solve a ton of traffic problems so why don't we have them?

I totally believe there's life Out There. The universe is too big for us to be the only ones. I'm impatient. I want adventure! And then I'm back to being depressed because I know I am in no way qualified to be part of something like that. So pass the Cheetos and I guess I'll start watching Eureka.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My last name is control

I tend to be more than a little controlling. I'm trying to work on that; trying to stop telling people what to do, trying to relax when my pre-scripted scenarios don't go according to plan. I think owning cats has helped in a way because you just can't control a cat. Not that it's stopped me from trying.

The cats and I have power struggles over a few things, most of them food-related. One of them eats all of the food while the other two sit by passively - then come whining to me that they're hungry. I've tried chasing the cow away after she's had her turn but she always sneaks back in to gobble whatever she can get.

One of the cats has a birth defect that prevents him from eating a lot at once. I hide extra food for him on top of the medicine cabinet. The third cat caught on to this scheme and started jumping up there from the vanity, so I put a huge bottle of hand soap in her way. Now the only way up is to jump from the toilet seat to the top of the shower door and step over to the cabinet, which she's too short to do. It doesn't matter. She tries anyway.

Saturday morning I woke up to a clattering sound and something like a quick hailstorm, closely followed by a rip and a bang. A split-second later I saw her streaking out of the bathroom. When I walked in I found the overhead fan had been torn out of the ceiling. I think she tried to jump around the soap bottle and missed, then in desperation grabbed for the fan and tore it loose. Somewhere in that mix she knocked over the bowl of cat food and sent it all over the bathroom. Never fear, the opportunistic gobbler was standing by to clean up the spilled food while I pondered what to do about the fan.

I read this article recently about cats controlling their owners. I scoffed at it. My cats don't control ME! No way. I am the Master, not the servant. But then I started noticing things. When I come home from work I immediately put my shoes in the closet and hang up my purse because my male cat will tear them apart if I don't. I'm constantly tripping over the large pet bed I put on the floor in my room to stop them from pulling out the 12 inch tall fence that I put around the frame to keep them from going under the bed and inside the box springs. I taped down every vent in my house to keep them from pulling them up and crawling inside the ducts (which they have done twice). Everything in my house is arranged around the cats and their activities. Who's in charge, again?

I finally admitted defeat the other night at 11:30 when I was trying to fall asleep. A few minutes before I went to bed the boy jumped up to his food stash for a late night snack. No big deal, he can find his way down - or can he? Here's the conversation:







I staggered out of bed, stomped into the bathroom and lifted him off the medicine cabinet in the dark, just to make a point that everything was in exactly the same place it had been 10 minutes ago when the lights were on. I put him down and he bounded off into the darkness. Cats have extraordinary night vision, after all.

I'm so their servant.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mama's fallen angels

I took Eightofadozen and Tenofadozen to the Cheap Trick/ Poison/ Def Leppard concert last Tuesday. When I bought the tickets in April I was planning on a girls' night out with Eight and Nine, but Nine is still staying with Four so I took Ten instead. He just turned 16 and he was very excited to go to a concert, even though he and Eight weren't too familiar with any of the bands. They seemed shocked and relieved to find out we had actual seats on a balcony and we wouldn't be subjected to crowd-surfing or mosh pits. I'm so glad they came! We had a great time.

Cheap Trick was up first. We got inside the arena right at 7 and we were scurrying to our seats when they were being introduced; "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the best f***ing band you will ever hear live!" After an introduction like that they had to be good. They were fabulous. Before March of this year I only knew a couple of their songs, although "I Want You to Want Me" is, in my opinion, one of the best damn rock songs out there. They sang "Southern Girls", "Surrender", "The Flame", "Dream Police" and a few others. I figured out during their last song that if you plugged your ears the music sounded much better and you could actually hear the words, so I feel like I missed out a little. I definitely will be buying their greatest hits album!

Up next was Poison and I have to say that after seeing Poison live I can understand why girls would follow them around. Bret Michaels puts on a hell of a show! They had a lot of pyrotechnics in their set, which was exciting. They rocked the crowd with classics like "Unskinny Bop", "Nothin' But a Good Time", "Talk Dirty to Me", "Your Mama Don't Dance" and of course "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". Every now and then I typed out the words to the chorus in a text message and showed it to Eight and Ten so they could sing along. At one point Bret thanked the crowd for tuning into Rock of Love to watch the "drunken debauchery and ridiculousness that is my dating life." Hilarious. During the last song his pre-teen daughter joined him on stage, which was adorable.

Def Leppard was phenomenal. Those guys know how to rock! They used the stage really well and they had fantastic video effects accompanying the music. They all performed instrumental solos, including Rick Allen who was just amazing on the drums. I heard tons of my old favorites like "Photograph", "Rock of Ages", "Armageddon It", "Animal" and "Love Bites". Some of the moments that stood out were the crowd singing the chorus to "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" and going crazy for "Pour Some Sugar on Me". Eight and Ten got up out of their seats and danced for that one! After 5 or 10 minutes of cheering the boys came back out and did an encore number with "Let's Get Rocked". What an awesome show!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nephews, nephews, everywhere

I forgot to post about the most exciting event of the year: my nephews were here! Twoofadozen, her husband and their boys came to visit a few days before Independence Day. M will be 4 this month and B is 1 1/2. They are a blast. I had so much fun chasing them around at the playground and pushing M on the kiddie zipline.

On their first day here I gave M a 5 gallon bucket and turned on the hose. He was so excited to spray things outside - including his brother, who didn't share in M's enthusiasm. Here he is taking a "sippy" break:

I very much enjoyed being treated to delicious barbecue from three local restaurants; Oklahoma Joe's, Brobeck's and Arthur Bryant's. My brother in law is a barbecue connoisseur and I was eager to redeem myself after taking them to KC Masterpiece on their last visit.

We stopped for lunch at another local legend, Grinders, where I took this picture of our delicious pizza pie:

That evening we went to a Royals game and I took a panoramic shot of the stadium. It's my first panoramic picture; I didn't know my camera could do that!

The boys made it through 3 hours of baseball and were rewarded with a fireworks display at the end of it. M was thrilled! B was tired.

I'm so glad they came! It was wonderful to see everyone. I gave the boys big hugs and kisses when they left. I wish I could see them more often. If I lose my job here I will definitely apply for something closer to them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Unexpected Day Off

My car died at a stop light on the way to work. Boo. I called AAA and waited over an hour and a half for a tow truck to drag me 5 miles up the road to my mechanic. Now I'm home with nothing to do. I tried to arrange a ride into work but no one was available to take me home again. Ah well. At least I have vacation days.

Now, what should I do with my free time? I'm thinking Super Mario Galaxy. I beat that game months ago and I'm trying to unlock a new galaxy. I have to collect 13 more stars to do it. I've been hammering away at the same level for 8 hours. I have to collect 100 purple coins to finish the level and collect a star but Mario? He no jumpy so good. Two areas are driving me batshit (crazy). On one I have to do a complicated crouch jump + spin on top of a very narrow rock in the middle of icy water. If I fall in the water I have about 3 seconds to get the heck out before dying. Nice. I have managed to grab the coin 3 times out of 100. The other area is another crouch jump + spin onto a ledge where a spinning star is waiting to shoot me towards the final 20 coins. There's a lot less danger involved but it takes a lot more work to get to that point and so far I have made the jump... never. Grrr.

Here's a video of someone else beating the same level. It looks like he's using a different technique. Hmm, I must try this....

Okay, I could also work on my resume since my job is at risk, but I prefer to ignore the things that scare me and hope they'll go away. There's a small chance I'll be kept on in the new company. I'm clinging to that hope. Besides, it allows me to pursue my purple coins guilt free. Almost.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Total eclipse of the heart - literal version

Wow. I am cracking up. It's easier to embed the video here than it is to call/email everyone I know and tell them to watch it on YouTube. Watch this video! You will thank me :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Too much recovery information

If what I write below qualifies as too much information, I apologize. I went back on the happy pills because the doc said I need to keep taking them to combat the inflammation. At least, I think it was the doc who said that. It may have been the pink elephants. Anyway, my judgment has probably been compromised. Enjoy!

If you're interested, I'm doing all right. I saw my surgeon for a post-op visit on Monday. I'm taking two more weeks off from work while I heal. I was concerned that there might be an infection because things were looking pretty oozy/scabby. The surgeon prescribed an antibiotic as a precaution. I'm also supposed to rub Neosporin on the scabby bits several times a day, which is leaving vulgar oily patterns on my t-shirts. I'm actually really glad I can stay home and I don't have to walk around the office with oily nipples. That might raise a few questions! Oh, I'm supposed to let air get to the area so my stitches can break down, in case you wondered why I haven't just covered up the oily bits with gauze. I also have to rub Vaseline on the healed incisions to reduce scar tissue formation, so the oily areas are a bit more extensive than what I could cover with a BandAid.

All of this lubricating is impeding my bra shopping. Who wants to try on bras with flaking scabs and Neosporin soaked t-shirts? Not I! Since I still don't know what my new bra size is I'm getting by with a tank top that has a built-in shelf bra. Being double-layered it has the added bonus of soaking up most of the grease so people don't stare when I venture out. I haven't done much venturing since I saw the surgeon on Monday. The Hot Pocket supply is getting low and I ran out of most of my edible foods a few days ago so I'll probably have to slink out to the grocery store very soon. Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

While I was sleeping

In a humbling reminder that I am NOT the center of the universe, life went on around me while I recovered from surgery. Several of my siblings experienced some pretty major changes. I was doped up on lortab but I managed to absorb some of the news. Please let me know if I missed anything.

Twoofadozen will be primarily producing instead of reporting (boo) but she did manage to score an exciting move from AM to FM audiences with the little bit of reporting she still does (yea!). I'm excited for her. I think the experience in FM radio will be a huge asset to her resume. Who knows, maybe she'll make the switch to radio DJ or traffic helicopter next?

Threeofadozen and Fiveofadozen moved 8 hours southwest of me, which is a big improvement over where they used to be (18 hours due west). Three has a promising new job at a resort and Five was able to transfer into the same position and pay at the same company. On the downside, they are now 22 hours southeast of Two and family. On the upside, they are now 22 hours away from Religion Central, smack-dab in the middle of Cowpie Central. Yee-ha!

Fourofadozen's wife went into labor 8 weeks early and delivered a baby boy a few days ago. I hear he's off the respirator and out of the incubator but they still expect to keep him in the hospital for a while. I'm glad he's doing so well and I'm really glad Four has a stable job with benefits. I've seen how high my hospital bills would be without insurance - and all of my visits have been outpatient. I can't imagine how high the bills would be for a baby in NICU.

Nineofadozen was very helpful while I recovered from surgery. She watered the grass every day, mowed the lawn, took out the trash, washed the dishes, drove me around and did all the heavy lifting. I had to take her home last night because she's helping out with church camp next week. I kind of miss her, although it is nice to walk around in my underpants again. Nine might fly out to help Four and family while the baby is in the hospital. I'm not so sure that's a good idea but no one asked for my opinion.

My surgery went pretty well. Three asked how many stitches I have. I estimate around 150 per side. They're all internal stitches that are supposed to dissolve by themselves so it's difficult to count. I'm really sore and things are bruised and ugly at the moment. It's hard to say if I'm glad I did it but I think once the pain and swelling go down I'll be happy with it.

I had a little drama during surgery. I was supposed to go home afterward but I didn't come out of anesthesia very quickly. Instead they checked me into the hospital overnight for observation. I was worried about Nine driving too and from the hospital in a strange city but she did quite well on her own. If she got lost/went for a joyride in Gardner/picked up a few boys and brought them back to my place I never heard a word about it and I guess I don't need to know.

I took myself off the drugs on Thursday, which was fortunate because I'm not allowed to drive while medicated and I didn't know Nine had to go home so soon. I'll see the surgeon for a post-op checkup on Monday. I should be back to work part-time on Tuesday. I'm really glad I get another two weeks part-time because I don't think I can cope without napping every day!