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 ;)