Working Girl

“You can bend the rules plenty once you get upstairs, but not when you’re trying to get there, and if you’re someone like me, you can’t get there without bending the rules.” ~Melanie Griffith in the movie Working Girl.

I love this movie.  It has all the ingredients for the perfect movie.  Good triumphing over evil, corporate deception, a budding romance, Harrison Ford’s subtle humor and a really skinny Alec Baldwin.  Okay, the last part really has no bearing on the perfect movie, but I thought I’d mention it just the same.

I’ve always admired how Melanie Griffith’s character, Tess, perseveres against a lying, demanding, bony-assed boss in Sigourney Weaver and works her way up the corporate ladder to the job of her dreams.  All this with little education.

I’m at a crossroads in my life.  I’m trying to transition out of my part-time massage job to what some would call, a real job.  You know, one with health benefits, 401K’s and pension plans.  Does anybody offer pension plans anymore?

The trouble is, I can’t seem to get my foot in the door of a real job.  I don’t know why, but they seem to think my 11 years of massage experience and 1 year as a quarter-vending machine owner isn’t the stuff real employee’s are made of.  My 1979 degree from Oregon State University in Speech Communications doesn’t seem to be impressing anyone and might as well be made into a paper airplane, nor my office skills dating back to the same time sans computers.

I don’t even seem to qualify for an “Entry Level” position.  How can someone not qualify for an entry-level position?  Take a recent job application I came across for a “Records Officer” for the Sheriff’s department.  After filling out the usual “Education” and “Work Experience” fields, I was asked to describe, in detail, my experience with multi-tasking, customer service, creative problem solving and my dedication to service.  And, not to forget, I must list all my employers, dates of employment and positions held.  Okay, so work with me here… if something is labeled “Entry Level”, wouldn’t that infer “no prior experience necessary?” 

Try completing these questions when you’ve been self-employed in the massage field or out of the job market for over two decades riding the Homemaker Train.  Hmm, how about, “On September 12, 2003, I simultaneously changed the music in my CD player, blended my essential oils and  explained stretching techniques for the biceps brachii to an elderly client.  Or, on October 31, 1990, I successfully went grocery shopping, changed the oil in my car and  went to the dentist with my 5-year old son and 2-year old twin girls.  How’s that for multi-tasking?  And don’t even try to tell me that doesn’t qualify for the “dedication to service” part.

Like Tess in “Working Girl,” I feel I need to bend the rules a bit to get noticed among a sea of young, ambitious and overly qualified professionals.  Perhaps I could wow them with my personal accomplishments.  They say not to put this kinda thing on a resume, buy hey, I’m bending the rules here.  1975 Alaska State Highschool Volleyball Champion?  On-line Poetry Contest Winner? Budding Blogger?  I definitely think these shining achievements might get my foot in the door of a Fortune 500 company. 

Until then, I will work hard at my massage gig, shine up those canary-yellow vending machines and ready myself for that one interview that will land me my dream job.

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But, I might need it some day….

Hello!

It’s been weeks since I’ve written anything and I’m pleased to say that a few of you have noticed.  I had written an earlier post about writer’s block.  Some of you responded with ideas to help me through this.  I appreciated them all, but there was one definite suggestion that popped up from all those responding, and that was to just WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.  I’m sorry to announce that I didn’t take that advice.  Not that I didn’t appreciate it, or think it was valid information because it definitely was.  Now, are you ready?  Here comes the excuse….

I’ve been busy tearing myself away from one life and trying to create another.  I recently moved from a house I’d lived in for close to 20 years, a marriage of a half a dozen more and memories that were tucked away in every nook and cranny of that part of the brain they are tucked away in.

Oh, the memories.  The good, the bad, the blurred and the forgotten.  I’ve always known I was a pack-rat, but I never quite realized how many attachments I have to just “stuff.”  I moved from a nearly 2300 sq. ft. home to barely a thumbprint of space.  968 sq. ft.  Now, if you are one of those minimalistic people I so admire, 968 sq. ft. might seem like a mansion.  To me, it feels like a mouse-hole.  A very nice, cozy mouse-hole with a two car garage and a tiny landscaped fenced in backyard any adoring house pet would love to hang out in.

The problem is, and any good, or even not-so-good, mathematician can tell you, that 2300 sq. ft. of pack-rattedness does not fit into 968 sq. ft of even semi-organized space.  Bottom line:  I had to get rid of my “stuff.”  I needed to weed through it and decide what I could live without and what I definitely could not part with under any circumstance.  Guess what?  I decided that I couldn’t live without ANY of my things.  Everything held a memory, which had a story associated with it, which meant it must be important.

Are your grown children’s childhood building blocks important?  Apparently I think so.  How about an exercise video I’ve only used once?  Yup.  Or every report card your child has ever received?  Definitely yes.  My daughter was throwing them away and I nearly had a panic attack.  “No, you CAN’T get rid of those!”  Because as we know, some day she will have children of her own and it will be fun for her to go through all her old school records to see what an exceptional student she was.   Well, that’s what I did and if for no other reason than it was hilarious to see what my teachers wrote about me.  For example, 1st grade:  “Sharon is a very shy child and keeps to herself.”  2nd grade:  “Sharon has a tendency to talk too much and disrupt the classroom.”  Those are things from my past that I would’ve never remembered if my mom hadn’t saved all my report cards.

Well, the moving fairies would not let me keep everything.  I had to painstakingly go through all my knick knacks, all my books, all my clothes, all my memories, and toss, donate, box-up and sell them. (Note to self: craigslist and garage sales will be a good future blog post.)

This process included trying on probably hundreds of clothing items and deciding which ones stayed and which ones met a different fate.  Does it fit?  Is it in style?  Is it clean?  I found it amazing the things I decided to keep (marble race game) and the things I donated to charity (rocking chair used for all three children).  Or the sheer numbers of things I saved.  Three orange peelers?  Well, I might lose one.  Or one might break.  Or one might be dirty and I’ll have to toss it….  Ha, seriously, I have a mold fetish and when cleaning out the fridge I threw away entire containers if they had fuzzy green stuff growing in them.

Well, I think you get the point.  I have attachment issues.  But, as a parting exercise in writing, I’m going to take my fellow bloggers’ advice and have a speed round writing some things I had to keep and some things I had to let go of.  

Keepers:  A third of my clothes, two-thirds of my book collection, six towels, a box full of stuffed animals, 78 old love letters, every photo of family I ever laid eyes on, a box full of yarn, camping gear, grandma’s cedar chest, my dining room set that now has to sit in my garage, one cat, one dog, 23 dish towels and one packed to the rafters memory bank.

Tossers:  Two-thirds of my clothes, one-third of my books, a rocking chair, two couches, a patio set, a California king-size bed, roughly 75 albums and 300 CD’s, bunk beds and matching night stand, one fondue pot, a radial arm saw sold for 5 bucks and one remodeled 42 year-old house.

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Hmm…How did that happen?

Not that anyone is following my blog that closely, but I haven’t made a new post in 3 weeks.  I’m suffering from writer’s block.  And I stress about it which makes it worse.  Zero ideas to write about.  Zero enthusiasm.  Zero motivation to work through it.  I was going to write about my new red shoes and relate it to the myriad of songs out there about red shoes.  I had notes.  I had pictures.  I had shoes.  I had no peanut butter.  You know, the stuff in a story that can bind things together and make it cohesive.  I suppose there is an argument in there for super glue but I’m hungry and I like the idea of peanut butter better.  Okay, so save this brilliant idea for another day….

So tonight I’m opening the refrigerator for at least the twelfth time, because remember, I’m hungry and what do I find in there?  Allergy pills.  Pink allergy pills.  A generic version of Benadryl.  Earlier in the day, I gave my dog half a pink allergy pill.  Did you know you can do that?  Don’t quote me on this, but there are people things you can give dogs to make them better.  A little investigative time spent on the internet and poof! Fewer vet bills. 

Anyway… getting back to my story, why were the pills in the refrigerator?  Brain fart.  That’s the only explanation.  Has this ever happened to you?  I’m sure it has, whether you want to admit it or not is not my call, but I rather like my brain fart moments, those times when you say, “What the heck, how did that happen?”  I remember the time I was looking for my purse and I found it in the dryer.  Or the time when I drove all the way down to my office only to realize where I really wanted to go was the store.  Once in a moment of sheer absent-mindedness, I stored a head of lettuce in the dishwasher.

I think it’s fascinating and a bit scary how our mind works sometimes.  One minute we can be recounting every teacher we had since kindergarten and the next we are trying to remember what we had for lunch.  Yesterday, I received a message where someone left me their phone number.  I didn’t bother to write it down since I was sure I could remember it from the short time in which I listened to the message, hung up the phone and began to dial… 541-555-4873…   555-4873… 555-487 uh 3?  555-4783?  Less than one minute later I dialed the wrong number.  Damn!  This is stupid.  This is frustrating.  This is aging.

I don’t want to admit it, but I’m A-G-I-N-G.  Bleh.  I’m trying not to.  I lost weight and I watch my diet and I do logic puzzles and crosswords but there is no denying it.  The old lightbulb just isn’t burning as bright as it once was.  It’s a fact.  I’m fifty-two trying to be thirty-two with a mind that frequently makes me feel like I’m eighty-two.

What else can I do about it?  I guess I could stretch my mind and take more community college classes, or stock up on the herbal remedies that are good for memory loss like ginko biloba.  Perhaps I could volunteer to be a guinea pig in the next ground breaking scientific study on memory loss and aging. 

What I really want to do is eat something.  I’m still hungry.  I think I’ll go raid my dishwasher and make myself a salad.

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Techno Stupid Part Deux

When last we met, I was waxing unpoetical about being techno stupid when it comes to fixing anything electronic in my life.  After upgrading to the new OS4 for my ipod touch, all hell broke loose with my ipod email folder, which I use to check my email all the time.  I soon found out that I had over 3,683 emails stored on my ipod.  Delete you say?  Well, I thought I had deleted some.  I mean, why bother when I have like thousands of gigabytes of storage.  Now obviously, I don’t have thousands.  In fact, I don’t know how much I have, I don’t even know exactly what a gigabyte is, that’s part of being techno stupid, you don’t understand these things.  All I know is it was ALOT of storage. 

I’ve upgraded my ipod touch once before and nothing super dramatic happened.  I got some better stuff is all.  I don’t even remember what it was, it just kinda showed up on my ipod effortlessly.  No big meltdowns, no snafus, just Apple intelligence at its best.

With this latest upgrade, however, the pristine, shiny Apple product turned into a rotten, worm infested product.  Okay, that’s a bit harsh but the frustration I’ve had over the last two days has warranted it.  Sure, there’s some new features like iBooks which is kinda cool.  It’s like a mini Kindle in your pocket, but then who wants to read a book on a 2×3 inch screen.

Instead, after I upgraded, it messed with other things like my calendar app, because as soon as I launched it, all my appointments were gone.  For someone who uses her calendar as a lifeline to business appointments, this was devastating.  But, being somewhat paranoid and impatient, I’d jumped the gun. For some reason, the new version has a two to three-second delay before displaying my little blue appointment dots on the monthly calendar screen.  I don’t know why it does this but it gets my heart a racin’ every time I launch it and it’s blank.

As I mentioned earlier, the real issue was with my emails.  Apparently, and this is coming from my really smart brother who programs computers for a living, the server changed with the upgrade.  Huh?  I thought a server was a waiter or in my world, the person starting the game in a tennis match.  Checking in Dictionary.com, (greatest app ever) it has six definitions.  One being, and I quote, “A computer that makes services, as access to data files, programs, and peripheral devices, available to workstations on a network.”  So, if I’m to understand this right, (do not place any bets on this) my old mail server changed to a new “POP” mail server, whatever that is, and thought that my 3000+ old emails were reborn and new again.  So that’s how many were delivered to me.  And I couldn’t do anything about it, they just kept coming.  I’d delete, and I’d get more, I’d delete and more emails still.  Finally, my ipod overloaded and froze.  When it thawed out, the emails were all back again.  Literally, history repeating itself.  I felt like I was in a bad version of the movie, “Groundhog Day.”

Lucky for me, I have two smart computer geek brothers.  My other brother explained to me that even though I had read my emails and deleted some, they were all still hanging around in my server and trash bin.  I needed to go into my PC, bulk delete all of my emails, not only in my mailbox, but also in my trash bin.  Then, go back to my ipod and delete my email account, add it back, sync and Voila! problem solved. 

Now, I’m sure all you techno-saavy computer geeks reading this are rolling your eyes and thinking, this chick has no idea what she’s talking about.  But after two days of ipod email hell, I felt like I’d climbed cyber Everest when I’d finally solved my problem with a little help from brotherly love.

So, in my book, I’m now techno-somewhat stupid, or taking the more positive road, techno-slightly saavy!

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Techno Stupid

Okay, I’ll admit I’m not the smartest tool in the shed, and I’m a bit late with gettin’ on the information highway.  I can email and do a minimal amount on a word processor and now that I have a blog, I know how to write and make a post, edit it, possibly add a photo or two but it takes me about an hour just to remember how to do it.  Oh, and I can text like a pro, but haven’t bothered with twitter.  Seriously, who would want to follow me?  I spend waaayyy too much time trying to figure out the rest of my life, I don’t need anymore distractions with others’.

My issue lies with fixing snafus, glitches, blunders, problems with all the electronic crap in my life.  If it’s not the TV, it’s the computer, or the Wii, or my phone or just recently, my ipod touch.  Which I used to love, until it screwed me, or I screwed it or it just plain f*#ked up.

Everything was working great until my son reminded me of the new upgrade for iphones and ipod touches to the new iOS4 (doesn’t that make me look like I know what I’m talkin’ about?  The OS4 stands for Operating System 4) which according to everything you read is infinitely better than the 3.2, 3.1, 3.0 version.  INFINITELY.  Yea, right.  I had all my ducks in a row with my current 3.1 version.  I could access email, it was my personal and business calendar,  I had a bunch of really important apps like Angry Birds, Paper Toss, Itranslate, Sports Tap, you know, things you really can’t do without on a daily basis.  Oh, and I guess it was pretty good for music too, but, for me, that didn’t hold a candle to the 3D games.  I live in a world where I play the same CD over and over and over until I know the words by heart and the neighbors say, “Hey, either close the windows or change the damn CD!”

Back to the upgrade.  I plugged it in, clicked yes on what I thought was the box for upgrading my ipod only to find nothing happened.  In reality, all I managed to do was upgrade itunes, which I guess needed to be done too.  Plugged it in again, because if in doubt unplug and re-plug as many times as you need to until it works.  That’s in a manual somewhere, don’t cha know.  Finally, after the third plugging incident, I get a box that says, “Upgrade to the new 4.0 version?”  Yes, please.  “It might take up to an hour, is that okay?”  Yes, please.  “It will wipe out all your apps, is that okay?”  Yes please.  “And screw with your calendar, is that okay?”  Yes, please.  “Oh and it will do funky things to your emails, is that okay?  Yes, please.

I’m so conditioned to click “Yes” on all 37 boxes that pop up when doing anything on my computer that it’s not only annoying it sometimes gets me into trouble.  Big trouble.  Whoever said, “Go ahead, play around you can’t hurt anything,” should be shot.  It’s people like me that keep “Rent a Nerd” in business.

I’ve come to believe that some people are just gifted when it comes to figuring out technology.  I’m gifted at crosswords and training my dog to do stupid tricks or writing backwards.  Yes, I can write backwards, in cursive, so you have to put it up to a mirror to read it.  So was my mom, it must be a genetic thing.  But, I want to be the techno-saavy gifted person.  Yes, I know what you are thinking, I should enroll in a computer class, read some “do it yourself” books, spend countless more hours trying on my own to “fix” my screw ups. 

But, you know what?  At the end of the day, I’m still going to call my son, my brother, my ex-husband, my daughter’s boyfriend or the 10-year old neighbor kid to do it for me.  I will be too busy trying to make my dog run through a tunnel, walk a 4 inch plank and jump over a 3 foot moat.

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I miss my Dad today.

 
    

(This is edited and reprinted from a Facebook note I wrote in April, 2009)        

Today’s not his birthday, but it is Father’s Day and it’s another day without my Dad.  He’s been gone 954 days now and everywhere I look, I find him.         

I see him in his sweat stained golf hat, walking his daily two miles on the sidewalk.  I see him at the gas station filling up his tank, or at the library where he leans on his favorite diamond willow cane for support.  What a topic of conversation that cane was.  Wherever we went, someone always stopped him to ask about it.  He’d love to tell about how his son from Alaska bought it for him.         

Dad was a survivor.  He took what life dealt him and he tried to make the best of it.  He never complained much, even though his last few years I knew he wasn’t very happy.  Life in Eugene was lonely for him.  We moved him from his California home because safety was an issue, we worried he might fall or hurt himself living alone.  I wonder, is it better to leave an elderly person in their comfort zone where they might have good friends to call on, or move them to an unknown city where they have family?  In retrospect, I’m not sure we should’ve moved him. I think he was more alone in Eugene.         

Once Dad moved, he never really ventured out to make new friends.  I was his sole companion.  I took him shopping and to his doctor’s appointments.  We’d buy mochas, which he absolutely loved.  I just know Dad would’ve been a Starbucks junkie if they were around in his heyday.  My father was great at teaching me things when I was younger.  He taught me how to ride my two-wheeler, how to play tennis and ski, and one of my favorite pastimes, chess.             

When he lived in California, we’d play chess by email.  We had played for years this way, and even though after the move to Oregon, he lived only 3 blocks away, we still continued our online games.  It gave him something to look forward to.  He’d call me twice a day with, “Have you made a move yet?”  It would take us about two weeks to finish a game.  We played an average of 25 games a year, and we kept a tally of wins and losses.  We were both very competitive.  He’d crush me when we first started, I was lucky to win 5 games in a year’s time, but as he aged, his mind just couldn’t quite keep up.  I was winning nearly all the games by the time we decided to quit.  He was so upset, thinking he was “slipping.”  I would try to make him feel better, telling him that he’d taught me well, and that I was just improving, which was in part true, but he was slipping.  Near the end, I would even try to let him win, and if you know anything about me, this was against every cutthroat bone in my body.  I think I wanted him to beat me as much as he wanted to, just so I didn’t have to face the fact that his brain wasn’t working as well as it used to.         

Golf was another one of his passions. When he moved to Eugene, I decided to take up the game.  Again, he was teaching me.  He bought me my first set of clubs.  I think he was really excited to share this sport with me.  He was very patient as I flailed away usually landing in the sand trap.  He would just smile and say, “You loved to play in the sand as a little girl, and you still like to play in it.”  His golf game really suffered too, as he aged.  We’d play the short par 3 course and he would use his driver, wondering why he couldn’t hit the ball very far.  I knew it was time he thought about quitting the game when he struggled to hold his balance.  He’d teeter back and forth when getting ready to address the ball, I was worried he’d fall down.        

Dad

I can honestly say, playing golf with my Dad provided many good memories and also a few chuckles.  I’ll never forget the day we set out to play and a nice gentleman stopped me and said, “You might want to check your Dad’s shoes… he’s has two different pair on and they’re both on the wrong foot.”  Oh Dad. When I pointed this out, he just said, “Oh nuts! How’d I do that?” He was 88, and although he still had the desire, his body and mind just couldn’t keep up.  That’s how he did that.  I loved him for his effort and for all he taught me.        

Happy Father’s Day Dad.  I miss you.  I think I’ll go hit a bucket of balls.         

 

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Designer Dogs: Cuteness on four legs.

I’m a sucker for a cute dog.  Who isn’t?  And if you admit that cute dogs don’t float your boat, you’re probably lying or you’re a grinch.  Bah Humbug.  And even the famous Grinch, you know, the one that stole Christmas, had a cute dog, the ever-loving Max.

If I’m out and about and see an adorable four-legged canine, I just have to ask the owner what kind of breed it is.  Nine times outta ten it’s a designer dog.  Two AKC dog breeds mated to become one cute dog.  Well, there are probably other reasons why they create designer dogs, like disposition, personality, shedabilty. (Is that a word?)  But mainly, designer dogs are just adorably cute.  Hmm.  I’m seeing a pattern with the word, cute.  I will try to refrain from using that adjective so much.  No guarantees.

When researching this blog post, I wanted to mention only the designer dogs that I could find pictures of.  Thanks to flickr/creative commons, this is what I came up with.

Dorkie

The Dorkie.  Contrary to what you might think, it’s not a dweeby, middle school girl.  (Dork being the guy, dorkie, the female version) In reality, it’s a combination Dachshund and Yorkshire Terrier.  A furry little wiener dog of sorts.

Beabull and a Puggle

Our next designer dog is the Beabull.  You can probably guess this is a mixture of Beagle and Bulldog.  Or, as I like to think of it, Snoopy and Ugga.  I’m sure Snoopy needs no introduction.  If you ever lived anywhere close to Georgia, you’d know Ugga is the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot. These two on the left definitely look like they have the stockiness of a bulldog, but the sweet face of a beagle.

Buggs

Moving on, we have Buggs.  And I’m not talking about the rabbit or those pesky little annoying critters that run around and make you say, “Ewww.”  It’s the combination Boston Terrier/Pug blend that might want you to say, “Awww,” instead.  This little guy looks like he sees a real bug.  And the look in his eyes, say, “You’re toast little creature, I’m having you for lunch!”

Now, I want to talk about the “doodle” dogs.  Seems the classic AKC Poodle is a favorite mix for designer dogs.   And why wouldn’t it be?  Poodles are smart, they don’t shed, and that curly hair will make any dog desirable.  Two that I couldn’t resist writing about, were the Schnoodle and the Labradoodle.  The first one sounds like it could be a dish ordered up in Bavaria, “I’ll have a schnoodle and a pint please!”  And the name, Labradoodle, reminds me of the children’s toy my kids loved, magnadoodle.  The first one is actually a mix of Schnauzer and Poodle and the second is a combination of Labrador and Poodle.

Labradoodle
Schnoodle

Both of these dogs look like they are loads of fun and camera-ready with smiles plastered all over their faces.  And oh what I’d do for that wash ‘n wear hair!

And finally, this blog post would not be complete without mentioning the perfect blend of dog.  She’s not an official designer dog, she’s the incomparable, Pom Poo Terrier.  The sublime mix of Pomeranian, Poodle and Jack Russell Terrier.  Miss Grace,  Gracie Lou Who, or GracieFacie, whatever you call her, she’s the perfect dog.  Oh, and incase you haven’t guessed by now, she’s mine.  She’s a dog that will surrender for your love, fetch like a prized retriever and has the longest tongue in the world.

Gracie

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