February 29 - December 30, 2012

February 29, 2012
» what to expect when you're job hunting

Since I'm in my third round of unemployment in a period of about five years, I'm starting to feel like an old hand at being unemployed. So, for those who are new to the gig, I thought I'd let you guys know what to expect.

* News reports will say silly things like, "Unemployment claims are down. The job market is improving!" And you'll find yourself thinking, "If that's true, why is it that all of the people that I know without jobs -- including myself -- are still without jobs?"

* Other people will say silly things like, "You haven't been out of work long enough to get depressed." When those people (invariably) add, "I know someone who's been out of work more than a year!" politely ask, "Okay, so *now* may I be depressed?"

* Everyone will tell you that applying on-line is a waste of time and that networking is the way to go. Yet many times people that you ask for job leads will say they'll check, and then not follow through.

* Jobs that you apply to will frequently be re-listed, even though the company never talked to you. This has become a red flag to me that the company isn't really hiring. See the next point.

* Many of the positions that appear in the job listings are not currently available. The company is simply "building a talent pool" which may or may not ever be used.

* Similarly, positions that show up as being posted "a few hours ago" have frequently been around for much longer. Employers know that many searches start with the Most Recent, so they re-save their old ads to make them seem current.

* Few employers will acknowledge that just about anyone can be trained to do just about any position that their company has available. Instead, they demand 27.853 years of experience of the one who will answer the phone.

* Many job listings misrepresent the position by using phrases such as "developing contacts" to mean "telemarketing." On the bright side, such listings become fairly obvious fairly early on in your job hunt.

* A frustratingly large number of potential employers will dismiss you from consideration if you admit that you have previously been fired. To put this in perspective, the same employers claim that they will not hold it against you if you've been convicted(!) of a felony(!!), but they make no such claim about being fired, as if a single termination somehow proves that you are completely unredeemable. Isn't it true that something like half of all American workers have been fired at some point? And isn't it true that sometimes it's solely because of a personality clash with someone in management? And isn't it also true that even if it was for cause, the fact that you got fired could very well be the wake-up call that makes you try harder next time?

* A frustratingly large number of on-line applications require completion of a so-called assessment test, with 100 worthless and often tricky questions such as, "Do you think it's wrong to steal too much at your job?" The sole purpose of these tests is to reduce the number of people this employer must interview. A very common side effect is that they leave the applicant -- and those of us who help them -- with a bad impression of the company. (I'm lookin' at you Kmart, Pizza Hut, Hardee's, Lowe's... pretty much everyone with continuous ads at SnagAJob) .

* People will secretly think that you're not finding a job because you're just not looking hard enough. Or maybe even not so secretly.

March 11, 2012
» If my words fall in the forest, do they make a sound?

Twice recently, people I know have offered their general assessments of me, and both times the word they chose to sum me up is quiet. Believe it or not, this never fails to surprise me. I like to think that others would describe me as nice, or sincere, or smart, because let's face it "quiet" is not generally seen as a compliment. But I don't think either of these people meant it as an insult; they were just calling it as they see it.

So, with this Quiet label now hanging onto me, I've also realized why I'm so quiet: it's very important to me that when I do talk, I feel heard. Far too often, when I do venture to speak out in a group setting, even if I manage not to stutter over the words, I won't be halfway through my thought before someone interrupts me. I know, I'm probably just being too sensitive, but when that happens -- especially when they don't bother to acknowledge it with an "Oh, I'm sorry, but you were saying...?" -- my instinctive reaction is to clam up. As Rod Stewart sings, "There ain't no point in talkin' when there's nobody listenin'..."

In said group settings, sometimes I'll notice more than one person talking at a time. Apparently they don't care whether anyone listens or not. (Side note: I'm not sure that's preferable to quietness.) Not me. I need for at least one person to show me that I've made a connection. Look at me. Maybe nod a little. Don't interrupt. And when I'm finished, please make at least some small acknowledgement of what I've said before changing the subject.

Again, I can admit that maybe I'm being too sensitive to expect such perfect conditions in every group setting. But what about in my personal relationships? Am I being unreasonable to want to feel heard -- "validated" if you will -- when I talk to the people who are supposed to care about me?

I mention this because yesterday I got together with my so-called boyfriend. He'd had to work the previous three weekends, so it'd been about a month since our last date. And I was really looking forward to going out and catching up, even making a mental list of some of the things that had been going on so I could share them. So he arrives and we head off. He talked about work, and I listened. When that topic seemed to be done, I ventured to mention some of what I'd been up to... and just a few minutes into it, he interrupts to comment on some people holding signs by the road. Okay, Anne, I thought. Don't be so sensitive. Just carry on. So I resumed my story... and he interrupts *again* to comment on the signs people have for some political candidate. And does he acknowledge the interruption and come back to my story? Well, if he had, would I have been reduced to writing an angry blog about it?

This has been one of my biggest complaints about him for the longest now, and not only because such interruptions are flamingly rude. No, to me, the upsetting part about this pattern of him not listening is that it reflects inescapably the truth that he simply isn't interested in what I have to say, in how I think... in who I am. "Oh, Anne," you might respond. "You're not being fair, complaining about it here but not letting him know." But see, that's perhaps the most upsetting part of all. I *have* let him know. Repeatedly. Generally and specifically. But from what I've seen, he's either not interested in or not capable of behaving any other way.

I go back and forth in my feelings of whether Jeff and I are meant to be together for the long haul. Then something like this happens and makes it clear that we definitely are not. I refuse to spend the rest of my life begging someone to be interested in me. In fact, now I'm seriously wondering just how many more of my Saturdays I should spend that way. I've already decided that I'm not going to be free next weekend... and very likely not the one after that, either.

FYI, my initial response to the interruptions mentioned above was to clam up. Instead I dropped my subject altogether and commented that woo hoo, finally something good (Mission Impossible 4) was playing at the dollar theatre; I added pointedly that was good because we'd be spared the burden of further conversation.

See, that's what happens when Quiet Girl's attempts to talk are not well-received. She morphs into her evil twin: Stony Silence.

June 13, 2012
» not just the facts, please

This morning, the radio morning show team was discussing noticing details, as in, men noticing little details like women want them to. One guy said that he knows to comment to ladies, "Did you get a haircut?" The other guy DJ replied that when people say that to him, he's thinking, "Obviously, I did," so he'd prefer they not say it. The first guy insisted that women like that, though.

I feel compelled to weigh in on this critical matter. I don't claim to speak for all women, but personally, I *don't* want to hear some generic statement of fact such as, "Oh, you got a haircut." (I compare it to pointlessness of telling someone, "Oh, you're wearing a blue shirt.") Simply stating the fact that a haircut has occurred is what you say when you know they know that you know they got a cut and are looking for approval -- but you don't approve.

What I would prefer is, if you notice a change and like it, please say something along the lines of, "New haircut? I like it!" If you don't approve, just don't say anything... and try not to stare in horror at the 'do for too long.

July 3, 2012
» the long hot days before summer

The last month or so has been a veritable roller-coaster ride of emotion. To start with, about a month ago, the pain that my mom's had in her side for about a year finally got to the point where she couldn't keep any food down. She went to the Emergency Room; they put her in the hospital for dehydration, and then kept her there for eight days... and still didn't find the source of her pain! At least some one good thing came out of it: one of the doctors who was checking on her volunteered to be her family doctor, which she didn't have. She's still following up with him about the pain in her side.

I've had some health issues of my own since late last year, but a new one cropped up in April. So I went to the doctor and, what a surprise, he doesn't know what it is. At least it's mild and seems to be improving... I hope. I also got the doctor to look at a funky mole, and he declared that it was not cancer. :sigh of relief:

About the time mom went into the hospital, we discovered that our girl cat had three kittens hidden in our shop -- and then that girl cat disappeared. Thank goodness the kittens were big enough to eat what we offer! I've been feeding them for several weeks, and in the mornings they creep ever closer. :) Unfortunately, about a week after I started feeding them, the neighbor's dog paid a visit, and now we only have two. And I was outside when it happened. :*( Since then, I've been more diligent in watching for that puppeh. If she even looks at the shop, I go outside and yell at her to "GET!" To my great surprise, she actually hurries away from the shop!

A week ago today, the fam and I were bustling along, minding our own business when some loud chick arrived at our door with two random products in hand. "I'm with Blad Di Blah Marketing, and we're out getting feedback on some products..." As my former math teacher would've said, "a blind monkey with a lobotomy and three bananas" would've known that despite the chick's claim to the contrary, her sole purpose for being there was to sell something. But I, clearly suffering from some head trauma for not having recognized such, was all, "Okay, as long as you're not selling anything, we can give you some feedback..." Before I can utter another syllable, two more people are out of their van and in our house, unpacking boxes and assembling some vacuum cleaner. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER, the chick and her assistant are STILL THERE. We don't even have carpet, but she's vacuumed every surface available to show us just how filthy our home is, and explained that the Suckmaster 2000 is the key to true cleanliness and also to happiness and the meaning of life. Having literally told her twenty times that we weren't interested, we finally had to let just a glimpse of our ever-mounting frustration show. She at last found a clue, packed up the Peanut Gallery and departed, leaving us to pity the next unfortunate salesperson that shows up at our door.

In *much* better news, two weeks ago today, I had my first job interview of this (six-month!) stretch of unemployment. The job was one of the few I have applied to that I *really* thought was a good fit with my experience, and the interview only confirmed that it was indeed right in line with what I had done and was looking for. This in itself was encouraging, since one of my nagging fears was that my previous job, while a great opportunity, was such a specific type of work that I'd be hard-pressed to get any other job to accept it as proof I could do their work. Reflecting on the interview, I thought it went well: my two interviewers were nice (very good, since they're who I would be working with), and again, it seemed that just about every point of the job duties they mentioned, I could truly say that I had done similar tasks. Apparently my interviewers agreed because TODAY I GOT THE JOB OFFER!!! And accepted of course. :D

Thank you, Lord, that there are highs mixed in with the lows. :)

August 25, 2012
» winning, losing, and lessons learned

Our fourth grade spelling bee had begun, and I was excited because, while I was awkward in many areas, I considered myself an above average speller. Finally, here was an activity where I could shine.

My first turn came, and the teacher announced my word, including it in a sentence for clarity. "Its. As in, 'The car dropped its transmission.'"

Alright, an easy one! I thought. I spelled the word with confidence. "I-T-apostrophe-S." Without another look at me, the teacher turned to the next person on the other team and repeated the word, indicating that I was incorrect.

Eliminated from that round, I took my seat, stunned to discover that I was wrong and embarrassed at having missed such a seemingly simple word.

That loss made such an impression on me that to this day I remember *clearly* that its, when possessive, does NOT have an apostrophe. (I've come to think of it as part of the possessive "series:" his, hers, its.)

Hmm. Do you think that's the point of spelling bees? That you (hopefully) retain some of the words?

Needless to say, I can recall other mistakes in my past -- much more serious than an incorrect answer -- where I made a bad choice, and messy consequences followed. Disappointment. Shame. Loss.

However, I've come to the place where I don't regret those experiences as much. Oh, sure, it would've been better to have done the right thing in the first place, but sometimes -- apparently! -- nothing short of a fiasco will get my attention. Sometimes I have to get it wrong before I know how to get it right. And I can either mourn the mistake for the rest of my life, or I can consider that, if I've truly learned a lesson, maybe it was worth it.

Just like that spelling bee. "I-T-apostrophe-S" one fall that undeniably left its mark.

September 30, 2012
» Grandma Doris, no more

From my recent letter to Michele:

Well, I need to be wrapping this up (I know, it's another Epic, lol) but I did want to respond to your comment about turning 39. I feel the same as you, that I truly do not feel like I'm pushing 40. I just can't believe it's really almost here! A while back, while watching Remington Steele, the Doris Roberts character was insulted that some bad guys grabbed her because they were looking for some grandmother. Doris was offended and explained, "I'm only 42!" (I think the joke was that she was *clearly* shaving off a few years, because one guy was like, "What?" and Doris' look was one of, "That's my story -- and you'd BEST not argue!") Still, just hearing her say that number grabbed my attention because it's not too far away. I was like, "Is THAT what people think early 40s looks like?!" Shoot, I would've thought she was a grandma, too! I thought that *surely* no one would mistake me for that. I mean, I wear jeans and like superhero movies! THEN I briefly fretted, "Should I be more mature...?" Since then, I've realized happily that show was over 20 years ago. As you said, now "Forty is the new twenty." If anyone doesn't believe that, they can look at the way 40-somethings are presented on TV. Then: Grandma Doris. Now: Cougar Courteney Cox. We've come a long way. What a great time to be forty!

And a quote I found last year at brigidday.com:

I am on the precipice of turning the big 4-oh. I am celebrating turning 40 and will wear it like a badge of honor. I will not turn 40 in boy shorts. Instead I will turn 40 with wisdom I didn't have when I was 20 and confidence I didn't have when I was 30. To 40, I say, bring it."

November 25, 2012
» lesson learned from misadventures with a mystery ailment

I penned these earlier this year after several hospital/doctor visits. (You know me: always trying to help as either a good example or, failing that, a horrible warning. ;)

- It is creepy as all get out when your nurse wears black scrubs.

- You never want to hear a trainee nurse say, "Uh oh" when she's trying to insert an IV.

- If you want to be ignored, summarize your problem to your doctor as "it feels funny."

- Don't be afraid to ask a hospital staff member to repeat him or her self.

- When you receive your bills -- and there will be more than one -- sit down before you open them. It might be a good idea to have a paper bag on hand to breathe into.

December 30, 2012
» a year in review - 2012

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Visited Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, received a security deposit back from an apartment, added cinnamon while brewing a pot of coffee, ate at Cheddar's and Zaxby's, saw a film 4 times in the theatre (3 at non-dollar shows), saw a film at the theatre while I had the DVD of it at home, walked laps on a rubber(?)-coated track, attended an outdoor wedding, changed the flapper on a toilet, and fed kittens who lost their momma. :(
Health firsts: was diagnosed with mild Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, took a fake ("PE") sudafed, got an EKG, had an IV, took Tums, then took Tums regularly, and had a strange "aura" headache in which my right eye was filled with light for about 15 minutes.
Food firsts: made - from scratch! - vegetable soup, chicken salad, chicken broth, and salmon loaf.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2012, I planned to work at not being so sensitive and to try to stay positive while looking for a new job. I'd say that overall, I succeeded at both.
For 2013, I want to make more nutritious food choices and walk more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No - thankfully!

5. Where did you travel?
I took an overnight trip to the east side of Mississippi.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2013, that would be awesome. (It seems like I write that every year, and the lack of progress on it is starting to get depressing...)

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 21st, because of all the hype and hysteria

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I started early moving things out of my apartment, which gave me ample time to work them in to the stuff already at mom's, in a reasonably organized way.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Twice I did nothing when I should've done something, and I will regret both for a very long time.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Both! The mystery ailment that started last year continued, though it finally showed signs of improving. Plus, in March I had the worst broken nail I've ever had; no details, but it was bad.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I found one shirt that I really like, and it was on clearance. Woo hoo!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The people who hired me and my sister!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The so-called medical professionals who repeatedly failed to diagnose both me and my mother

14. Where did most of your money go?
A new roof, with medical bills second

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Avengers movie

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Maybe Train's "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" because one of my first real-person crushes in a long time ended badly.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Content
Older or wiser? Wiser
Thinner or fatter? Thinner. I changed my diet because of my "mystery ailment," and I'm down to the smallest weight of my adult life.
Richer or poorer? Poorer, because I was unemployed for half of the year

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Avoid fatty food and sweets, because my "mystery ailment" seems to calm down when I do

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Been affected by others' rampant negativity

20. Did your heart break?
Nearly every time I watched the news :(

21. How did you spend Christmas?
First, Mom and I watched our 2010 Christmas videotape while I recorded it to DVD. Then I set up our two video cameras - one old, one new, both really cheap - to capture the opening of the presents. Alas, the new cameras batteries died after 10 minutes, and the old camera was being temperamental, doing that thing it does where it records video with no sound. Anyway, we had a delicious lunch that included Yum Yum Muffins made with a banana supreme cake mix. I computered a bit and visited some blogs that I hadn't been to in a long while. In the evening, we watched the cheesy classic Babes in Toyland, the 1986 version.

22. How will you spend New Year's Eve?
I have to work, but it'll be pretty slow because nearly everyone else is taking vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch some DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Thanks to hulu and DVDs, I enjoyed getting reacquainted with Gilligan's Island, Hunter, Designing Women, My Two Dads and The Greatest American Hero.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Vegetable tacos from a local Mexican restaurant. Fish tacos at Ruby Tuesday. Aloo Mutter from the Indian restaurant. Chocolate cheesecake with chocolate cookie crust from a certain grocery store.

25. What was the best book you read?
"Be Anxious For Nothing" by Joyce Meyer. I can't say enough good things about that book!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The first time I heard "Drive By" by Train, I was pretty much obsessed with it. I couldn't get enough of it. I'd replay the vid over and over at YouTube. My "fever" finally calmed down... but I still like it. A lot.

27. What did you want and get?
Jobs for me and my sister!

28. What did you want and not get?
For my sister's job to be as fantastic a fit as mine is for me

29. What was your favorite film of the year?
Films Seen This Year and Really, Really Liked: The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,
Films Seen This Year and Liked: The Dark Knight Rises, Men in Black 3
Films Seen This Year That Weren't Quite What I Expected: Puss in Boots, Madagascar 3

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I got up very early and headed off to work in the rain. For lunch, I went to Cracker Barrel and treated myself to two helpings of their yummy macaroni and cheese. I ate supper with the fam. Since I knew work would take up most of the day, I opted to skip my usual b-day shopping trip. Instead, I started shopping weeks earlier, casually looking for things. As I found them, I tucked them away in my closet and then "opened" them after supper, to show the fam.
FYI, I made a slide show to commemorate the day; the first picture (in a series of nine) is here:

31. What would have made your year more satisfying?
If our mini-garden had produced more vegetables. After months of watering, weeding, mulching, etc. I don't think we got ten tomatoes - and we only had one green pepper the whole year.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
For the first time since way back when I was a student-trainee person, I'm able to wear jeans regularly at work. So I get to be comfortable while wearing what I think is most flattering on me. Yay!

33. What kept you sane?
"Be Anxious For Nothing" by Joyce Meyer was SUCH a help!

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
A movie character: Loki, from The Avengers

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election... reminded me why I diligently avoid talking/thinking/caring about political matters.

36. Who did you miss?
Caren, from my old job

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Having started a new job, I met a lot of people, and really, they're all a great bunch of guys. (I'm very diplomatically avoiding picking any one as the best, in case they ever read this. ;)

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
My job, and so far it's change for the better. I can't recall a job before that's been such a great fit with both what I can do and what I like to do.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Whatever problems you're facing, a negative, fast-forwarding-to-the-bitter-end attitude only makes it worse. Try to find some perspective.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"It takes a little time, sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground. It takes a little time, sometimes, to turn the Titanic around." ~ Takes a Little Time, Amy Grant


< Previous Entries

List of Entries Journal Index

Next Entries >

F O O T · N O T E D