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!