Sunday, October 31, 2010

Feeling a Little Too Much Like Bridget Jones

It's Halloween day and it's about as beautiful out there as it ever could be at the end of October on an Autumn day.

I have my trick or treat candy ready to go. I'm hoping I have enough. If not, my porch light will just have to go off early and I'll close up shop. I had planned on being festive and lighting my three carved Jack o' Lanterns but it's been rather warm and like most carved pumpkins in the neighbourhood, mine have a case of the rot. They have that saggy, caved-in look. I'm still going to attempt to light them but I think they might be slightly more horrific than I intended.

My weekend has been sufficiently Halloween-y/Autumnal. It began in a nice way too. My boss decided we were all leaving at 4 p.m. on Friday for a happy hour in celebration of my first job placement. It was nice and unexpected. It's just another reason why I like my job. At this company, there's no debate about whether it's fair to leave early because some people would have to take paid time off. There's no doubt that people can't make it...everyone shows up and everyone has fun. It was nice to get to know my coworkers/boss a little more and it was far more laid back than any awkward event at my old job.

Saturday was nice too. I took the pups for a long nature hike over the woods. I was very impressed at their stamina. We went up hills, down hills, on bridges, on gravel, on woodland pathways and they didn't stop once. Rory had a bit of a problem with some of the bridges because the wooden slats were far enough apart that her little paws got a bit stuck in them but she kept up. My goal was to wear the two of them out so I could be gone for a Halloween party most of the evening without feeling too guilty.

I took them for another walk not long before I left for the party. It did occur to me at this time that in the process of wearing the puppies out, I was also making myself quite tired. Sometimes my grand plans aren't quite so well thought out.

The party itself was a great party. The hostess- my friend and former coworker- goes all out and doesn't miss a single detail. The only problem was that as great as the party, the food and the drinks were, what it came down to was that I was the only single person at the whole party. When I say single, I mean in the Bridget Jones sense, not in the sense that I was the only person at the whole party.

There's a scene in Bridget Jones' Diary where Bridget goes to a dinner party thrown by her married friends. The dinner party is nothing but married couples, "smug marrieds" as Bridget calls them. Well, I felt very much like Bridget at my friends' party on Saturday night. It wasn't her fault- she did a great job of checking on me. It's just hard to socialize with people who you don't know and obviously all know one another. I attempted conversations but I couldn't ever break in. Since my friend/the hostess had invited every one from my old office, I thought a few of my old coworkers might show up but, alas, there wasn't anyone there I knew.

In the end, I left slightly earlier than planned because in the absence of distraction, I began to worry about leaving the puppies alone. It had already been over six hours. I got home feeling slightly too-spinsterish and feeling a little blue. I discovered that the puppies, particularly Sookie, were furious with me for leaving them and they wouldn't come near me. When you come home feeling slightly Flump-ish , the last thing you need is your dogs to be angry with you. What you want is for them to come sit with you and let you know you're loved. Instead, it took them almost an hour to decide I was forgiven.

I woke up today still feeling a little blue so I've spent the day doing things that make me feeling in the Halloween spirit. I made butternut squash soup which I'm going to have for dinner tonight served in a mini pumpkin. I made a pumpkin simple syrup to make into a cocktail later tonight. In short, I'm having my own little Halloween party after trick or treating is over. I did think about dressing the puppies up but given that they don't even like their winter coats much, I was afraid they'd chew each other's costumes to pieces.

All that's left now is to light the pumpkins, mouldy as they are, run the vacuum around and make sure my candy is by the front door. I also have to gate the puppies in the kitchen since I know they'll go a little nuts if the doorbell rings. Other than that, we're ready for Halloween!

As long as I don't run out of candy.

Happy Monday and I hope you had a good Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Being a Writer is a Nuisance

Why being a writer is a bit of a nuisance, by Captain Monkeypants

1. Because it’s hard. Even when you want to write you
a. Don’t have time for it.
b. Have time for it but suddenly feeling like watching those episodes of “Parenthood” that you have on your DVR.
c. Have puppies who don’t understand why their ‘mother’ is sitting at a weird contraption hitting buttons when they want to play.
d. Discover that Microsoft Word is going to freeze up on you and even if it’s done an auto-save, it’s not auto-saved the fabulous paragraphs you just wrote and you’ll never remember.

If you do actually write, there’s the inevitable question of “Why am I writing.” In my earlier writing days, the rush and thrill of creating something, of creating worlds on paper was enough. Now, as I’m nine books in, I’d love to say I still get that rush but I’ve been out there in the real world and it’s just not as easy to stay wide-eyed and bushy tailed in hopes that the first time you submit it, you’re going to get published because it’s fabulous.

Here’s the thing. It may be fabulous. It may be well written. It may just land on the desk of the editor or agent or publisher at the wrong moment. They may just have read a book that they liked or seen a movie and suddenly, that’s what they’re in the mood for at that moment. So when they read your query letter, they’re just not in the mood for that particular kind of book/story and so they send you back a rejection.

To them, it’s just a casual response. To the writer, no matter how often rejections happen, they still sting.

It’s interesting. My new job as an IT recruiter means that I’m constantly trying to help people find jobs and, at the same time, fill positions we currently need to fill. Sometimes they match up. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, I get calls from people who are desperate and out of work and really need a job but when you look at their resume, they haven’t done very much, if anything, in IT at all. They may have used a computer in their life or they may have been able to replace the keyboard on their dad’s computer but it doesn’t mean they’re qualified to work at a help desk.

It’s hard when you get a candidate like that. I want to help them but, really, they’ve called the wrong office. We help Information Technology professionals find jobs, hence the “IT” in “IT recruiter”. I’d love to find everyone a job but it’s just not possible. Also, if they’re been doing something like Help Desk/Technical support and they suddenly want a job as a database programmer, it’s just not possible if they haven’t actually done any database programming.

The point of this is that this type of thing happens to me several times a day, in between juggling candidates who are qualified for jobs and people running into my office needing me to change my direction and start trying to find candidates for a completely new job we just had open up. Yet, each time, when I get a call from an unqualified candidate, I do my best to put aside my frustration and really hear them out. Each one of them is a human who just wants a job. Sure, there may be times when I’d rather work on getting actual qualified candidates into jobs because that’s how I earn my money but it doesn’t hurt to talk to people for even a few minutes just to see if maybe, just maybe their resume is just bad and they actually are qualified.

I’m not comparing this to an agent/editor/publisher, exactly. Unlike my 4-5 calls a day from unqualified candidates, they deal with hundreds, even thousands of submissions a day from unpublished writers. They can’t talk to each one individually. They just don’t have time. They have time to scan the query letter, decide if it suits them and move forward or, more likely, send a rejection.

On the opposite side of the fence to this is the writer, in this case, me, who has sent my novel/short story to them in the hopes that they’ll stop and read it and think, “oh, this sounds promising.” Instead, what usually happens is that they skim the letter, think, “Oh, well, this isn’t what’s selling,” and send the rejection.

It’s sad but true. Sure, vampires are selling now but five years ago, it was dragons and wizards. What is hot now will not necessarily be hot in five years.

I suppose what I’m saying is that sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. I have so many rejections, there are times that I wonder why I write. I’ve mentioned that before. It’s disheartening. I know the optimist in me always hears, “You can do it! You just have to keep trying!” but sometimes that optimist drowns underneath a sea of rejections.

And I know it’s not because I’m a lousy writer. For a while, I let my self-doubt believe that. I know I can write. It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. Like a singer who can sing or a dancer who can dance, I’m a writer who can write. Being a writer and submitting something is like going to an American Idol audition, I imagine. There are thousands upon thousands of other hopefuls. The wackiest ones make it to the judges so that their ridiculousness can be mocked on national TV. The pretty ones make it because even though they may not be the best singers, they’re decent and they look good. Some of the power-house singers make it because they’re that good. Yet for the thousands you see lining up to audition, we, as a TV audience, see, maybe less than 10% of those and that 10% includes the worst of the worst.

So you can’t tell me in that other 90%, there aren’t some really, really good singers who got missed because they weren’t boisterous enough or they didn’t have a sad story like a mother who has cancer. I’m not knocking or mocking those that have sad stories it just seems like those are the ones we always see on TV because they make the best drama and, let’s face it, people like drama. In that 90%, how many of them are good but they’re not TV worthy?

What happens to the 90%? Some of them re-audition the next year. Some of them give up. Some of them realize that maybe they’re not a TV singer and find somewhere else to sing. Yet if their dream is of becoming a recognized music artist, chances are they’re going to have to get on TV at some point and thus begins the downward spiral of them trying to figure out what they did wrong.

It might be that they simply aren’t good enough. That would take away a huge portion of the leftovers. Yet maybe they are and then what? I suppose my point is that, as a writer, the biggest nuisance is trying to stay positive, to not let the rejections sink you because if you’re good enough, you know it. There’s only so many times you can submit something, get rejected and still think that the agent/publisher/editor just wasn’t in the mood.

Of course, when you submit anyway, chances are, they’re just reading a query letter and they judge you on that. Just like on American Idol, you get just by a couple of moments of singing. It’s not enough. In the end, you end up with seven+ seasons of a show where the only winner who succeeded was from the very first season. Everyone else who has done well on that show didn’t actually win; the winners turn into Top 40 radio standbys but without any real presence. It’s not about the singing, it’s who can make the money. I think the writing world is the same way. There are plenty of writers who can’t actually, um, write but they can sell books. It’s writers like that who make it hard for writers like me. I self-published. It’s freakishly hard work to get yourself out there. Still, I’m trying.

It’s just a huge nuisance. Ah well, at heart, I do it because I love it and that's the important thing.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Almost Halloween

I can't believe it's almost Halloween. I mean, I know I've been waxing poetical about Autumn for some time now but it still seems that it's not time for Halloween yet. After that, it means Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and then...Christmas.

I love Christmas. I'm just not ready for it yet. I know the stores would like it if I was because they're already trying to entice me to look at the white, red, green and gold aisles of decorations and trimmings. I know Christmas seems to arrive in stores earlier each year but I don't really recall Halloween being bumped for Christmas decorations. And yet if you go into any shop that has season decor and items, it seems like the Halloween aisles have shrunk dramatically and Christmas has crept into the empty space.

I think it would be nice to have Halloween first. If they must, stores could put out the Christmas stuff afterwards. I mean, sure there are a few Thanksgiving decorations but after you get past turkeys, pilgrims and pumpkin-y stuff, there's not much to it.

Ah well. I refuse to surrender to the commercial call of Christmas until after Halloween. I'm a big fan of Halloween anyway. I love the dark allure of the holiday. I like carving my jack-o-lanterns. I like that the weather gets crisp and when it's windy, you can almost picture the creatures that Halloween surrenders creeping about in the shadows.

This year, Halloween is on a Sunday. I was sort of hoping my neighbourhood would have its trick or treating hours on Saturday instead as some other neighbourhoods are doing. As mean as it sounds, that means I wouldn't be home since I've been invited to a "reduce, reuse, recycle" Halloween party. I plan on reusing/recycling all of my old Halloween costumes so I will be a renaissance maid with dark angel wings, a pirate hat and '80's accessories. As far as the 'reduce' part of the party, given my love of food and eating, I think my clothes will be reduced in size when I put them on.

Still, I don't mind giving out candy to trick or treaters. It's just that last year, I spent $11 and ran out of candy in an hour. This year, I spent $22 and hope it lasts two hours. I'm not a chocolate-giver-outer. Bags of chocolate not only melt and get yucky but you also get a loss less pieces in one of those. I got one of those all-purpose Wonka candy bags- 6 lbs- with over 150 pieces. I also got a box of 100 Tootsie Roll pops but I'm giving those out gingerly because I'd rather like some of those left over. I've become a fan- particularly the blue raspberry ones. I'm actually a bit cross that if you want just the blue raspberry ones, you have to mail order them on line and it's super expensive. Why don't they sell bags of individual flavours? Does anyone really like grape?

I'm also a bit worried about the puppies on Halloween. Sookie has a yippy tendency to bark at strangers. I'm going to gate her and Rory off so they can't yip too closely at the trick or treaters but I have a feeling that they're not going to be happy. Also, I made the rather silly mistake of having fun with them and the doorbell one day. I was outside and I rang the doorbell and hid and then knocked on the window. The pups got excited. Now everytime they hear a doorbell ring- particularly on TV- they get rather excited and sit up, waiting for someone to knock on the window. Silly Captain Monkeypants!

Nevertheless, giving out candy is quite fun. I'm hoping that at least some of the kids have good costumes. Last year, there were lots of masks but no real costumes. I like a good effort. I think I'll reward the good efforts with two pieces of candy.

Unless, of course, I run out. Again.

Here's hoping 250 pieces does it!

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Deceived by the Weatherman!

When I woke up this morning and turned on my TV, I was expecting Frank Marzullo and the Fox 19 Stormtracker weather. Instead, I got Pat Berry, Frank's substitute. I really didn't mind because I've found that Pat tends to be far more accurate about the weather. Also, he's not so smarmy.

Pat was telling me how we were to expect some severe weather. We were under a tornado watch. For all you non-tornado-state folk, a watch means the conditions are right for a tornado. When it turns into a warning, well, then that's worrysome.

Pat told us that we were going to be getting some major storms from the west with major winds and strong rain. Essentially, we were to batten down the hatches because we were in for a bumpy ride.

I admit. I was excited. We've had a very mild weather time lately. We've had a few storms but nothing for quite some time. We've had breezes but no wind. So, when I went to work, it was with anticipation and a slightly naughty hope that something would happen weather wise.

All morning, the skies darkened. I waited. I sporadically peeked outside to see how the clouds were looking. They grew greyer as the morning progressed rain.

Finally, by lunch time, I went home to let the pups out and it was raining sporadically. When I pulled into my driveway, it was raining enough that I ran so I wouldn't get soaked.

By the time I let the pups out, the wind had crept up. There was a tornado of leaves. The rain started to pour and so there was this massive cloud of rain. The sounds of the wind was intense- the trees were creaking, the leaves were scattered and there was no way to catch your breath. Needless to say, the puppies ran in pretty quickly. stopped. It lasted less than five minutes. It was enough to make the yard look windblown but that was it. By the time I went back to work, it looked as though we'd just had a quick Autumn downpour. Ironically, the tornado sirens were blaring as if there was danger but, by this time, the skies were clearing, the wind had dropped and there was little to worry about.

All afternoon, the skies continued to darken but the most we got was a few heavy downpours and a little wind.

I have to admit, I was disappointed. It's my own fault. I allowed myself to fall for the drama of the weather. Normally, I can resist it. Normally, any time the weather reporters work themselves into a gleeful frenzy and tell us what terrible, awful weather is headed our way, I know to wait patiently and see what really happens.

Today, unfortunately, I fell for their frenzy and I hoped we would have some major weather. I blame the fact that it's been so dry and calm of late that I was ready for a little Mother Nature.

In the end, while we did have a little wind, we didn't get the drama I expected. I'm a little sad by that. I'm also a little sad that at work, our network and software is maintained by our Chicago branch. They had power issues today and so our software was affected. However, my network and software stayed mostly up while my co-worker's didn't. She went home early. My boss was supposed to fly to Chicago but he got stranded at the airport so he went home early.

In the end, I was the lone employee in the office, listening to the slight wind outside and sporadically checking to see if it was raining hard.

Since I like my new job and I still have a lot to learn, I didn't mind holding down the fort. I just hoped that it would be against something more dramatic than the odd thunderclap and gust of wind.

Ah well, what I learned today is that you should never, ever give in to the frenzied energy of the weather reporter, no matter how sincere he sounds. Just because he's got a report that something weather-wise is going to happen doesn't mean it will happen.

Still, I suppose in the end, it's better that there was nothing than something bad...right?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Indecisive Autumn

We are having a very peculiar Autumn so far. It's usual to have an Indian Summer during the earlier part of the season. It gets cold and then, suddenly, it gets warm for a while. In our case, we're having our Indian Summer all over the place. A few nights ago, it was frosty outside. The days were chilly enough that a jacket was necessary for going out in the morning. Even during the day, it was nice to have an extra layer. When it's like this, it's too cold to sleep with the windows open and the body heat of two little puppies is rather nice to have at night.

Then it gets warm. It's done this a few times now. Yesterday, it was a warm, almost hot day. The night temperature got down to 63 degrees. For us, this is considered rather hot for a night in October. It means you wake up at 2 a.m. sweating because you've put the thicker comforter on the bed and the puppies are still burrowing under it, adding more heat to the situation.

We also haven't had any rain. When I say no rain, I mean literally no rain. We're almost 8 inches short for the year. We were supposed to get some rain today. Alas, no rain. Tomorrow, we're supposed to have heavy rain. I'm hoping this is true.

The thing is, while it's nice to have a variety of temperatures, it makes it a little hard to plan things like Autumn meals. For example, silly me listened to Frank Marzullo and the Fox 19 Storm Tracker Weather and I believed him when he said it was supposed to be cold and rainy on the Sunday of this past weekend. It ended up being almost 80 degrees and partly sunny. I had planned a nice warm Autumn meal- my mother's 'mincemeat' recipe with noodles and lettuce salad. I still made it. It was still tasty. Yet it wasn't the warm, comfort food of a chilly, rainy Autumn night. It was the rather overly heavy meal on a balmy Indian Summer night.

Tonight, we're trying for something a little less comfort food and a little more fun. Gorganzola mashed potatoes, grilled steaks with red wine-braised mushrooms and haricot vert beans with herbs. It sounds fancy but I'm just using up things I have on hand. The nice thing is that now I've mostly learned to cook, I can make a pretty good meal out of a few ingredients. It's all rather fun.
The other thing about this peculiar Autumn is walking the dogs. Some evenings, I need a jacket. Some evenings, I don't. It's hard to tell sometimes. Tonight, there was a slight breeze but not enough to require a jacket. It was enough to scatter the carefully raked piles of leaves that are sitting in heaps by the curb. I don't have enough leaves to do much raking. That's the nice thing about not having my own trees. The puppies would probably like some leaf piles but considering the mess they make with the few leaves we have in the garden, I think I'm ok with them having a nose in the leaf piles we pass as we walk.

Tonight, there were lots of people out raking. Larry the Potential Serial Killer was one. We haven't seen him since he stalked us in his car and I had this horrible feeling I was going to get trapped. Fortunately, Mike (he of the very large backyard and also the recipient of my unwanted pampas grass) saved us by being out for a stroll and stopping to chat to Larry not long before the puppies and I had no choice but to pass by. Thus, Larry was preoccupied and couldn't stop for one of his up-close-and-personal chats without being rude to Mike. He did, however, make an overly enthusiastic suggestion that I join him for a bonfire in his garden sometime soon.

We'll see about that. Given that I call Larry a potential serial killer, it's probably not likely to happen. He does make me a little uncomfortable. Maybe he can invite Mike instead. They both seem quite lonely. They're both unmarried men in their mid-to-late forties. They could have a famous time together!

Still, he's not the only one contemplating leaf fires. Someone had just started one as the pups and I continued our sojourn. While the smell of leaf fires is appealing, this particular one was a little smokier than the normal fire and the smoke was a little much. It was bad enough for us as we passed by. I can't imagine being the one standing over the fire.

Nevertheless, the fire made the air smell Autumnal. It would have been just a little nicer had it been crisper in temperature but it was still nice. I'm hoping it's not the last leaf fire we see/smell this year.

Although I think I'll pass on Larry's.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Squirrel in a Bucket....

This has been one of those weekends that has gone by quickly because it's just been busy. It's the kind of busy that's good though- where I get things done but still get to relax. Not all of it has been planned busyness. Sometimes that just...happens.

Saturday, for example, I decided that I'd have a relaxing morning with the puppies. I had been woken up early by Wife of Dog Whisperer yelling at her dog. I'm talking 5 a.m.-early. When we got up around 8 a.m., I let the puppies out. Then I saw Wife of Dog Whisperer running around outside in her pink pajamas. Her very pink, large pajamas. It was a cold morning and I couldn't figure out why she was running around with no shoes and coat on. I ended up getting dressed and investigating but I couldn't figure it out. It was peculiar.

I read for a while. I've been plodding through A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book. I didn't like it very much when I started but it's one of those books you feel compelled to finish to see if anything would happen. Well, it took forever and I can safely say that not much really happened at all. Instead, there were pages and pages of minute detail about everything. There were politics. There was social commentary. Yet...not much happened. I was hoping I'd start to care about the characters but what ended up happening is I couldn't remember who was who and all the children just blurred together. Still, I was determined to finish it.

I didn't finish it on Saturday. Instead, I decided to go and see "Paranormal Activity 2" since the first one had inspired The Reluctant Demon and I thought I might get some more ideas. It wasn't a bad movie, if you liked the first one. It was clever how it tied in with the original. However, it was a lot less scary because it was sloppy. For example, most of the initial 'spookiness' is captured through views from individual cameras all over the house. It was very distracting that, night after night, the kitchen camera managed to capture the exact same view- that of the kitchen island with a cup on it and a bowl of apples. Some days, there were bananas in the apple bowl. Other days, there weren't any apples. Yet, every night, there were apples, no bananas and the same cup. I think they were reusing the same image. It may not seem like much but when you're watching a film that is hoping to shock you with sudden, unpredictable things, small details like that mug are distracting. Also, when one of the characters is dragged away by the demon, she's bitten by it too. I'm sorry but even though I'm sure it's terrifying to have a demon in your house that's dragging you down the stairs, for a demon, that was a pretty wimpy bite. I mean, come on- can't the demon have pointy teeth that ripped through flesh or something instead of a human-like bite mark?

I'm overthinking this. This is why I make up silly paranormal romantic comedies about demons rather than try to be scary because it's easy to overthink things and then the scariness vanishes.

Anyway, I digress. So I came home from the movie and let the puppies out. Then they puppies began to bark. Then they began to whine. It's the type of whining they do when there's a bunny or squirrel almost within reach and they can just about taste it. I went out to investigate. I looked around and saw nothing. Then I realized that it wasn't in the yard next door but there was a squirrel laying under Possibly-Joe's fence and it was only two feet away from the pups. Fortunately, there was a fence between it and my puppies but they wanted it and they wanted it bad. They wanted it so badly that Rory literally attempted to chew through the chainlink fence to get to it. I'm just happy she has normal teeth and not super-strong steel teeth or something.

Then, as I was contemplating whether the squirrel was stuck or it was just sitting there, Wife of Dog Whisperer came out to inform me that the squirrel had fallen from a tree and her dogs had almost got it so she had put it on a rake and put it over the fence. Unfortunately, it had attempted to crawl back into the yard. The result was it being stuck under Possibly-Joe's fence within smelling range of two dachshunds. Wife of Dog Whisperer shrugged and said there wasn't much we could do. I, however, disagreed. I mean, the poor rodent was clearly dying. I did not want a dying squirrel anywhere close to the puppies because it was torture for them. They REALLY want a squirrel. I also didn't fancy a dead squirrel there either because...well....ew!

So, I took it upon myself to solve the problem. I shut the pups indoors and went about using a shovel, a bucket and a rake handle. This was no easy feet. The chain link fence is four-feet high. The squirrel was on the other side of it. I managed to get it out from where it seemed to be trapped but getting it onto the shovel was no easy feat. Fortunately, the squirrel still seemed to have a will to live and it helped me out by using it's claws to cling to the shovel. Thus, I hefted it and the shovel over the fence and gently attempted to drop the squirrel in the bucket. The squirrels will to live remained and it would NOT let go of the shovel. I literally had to ply its claws off to let it go.

Thus I had a squirrel in a bucket. It was still alive. I didn't know what to do with it. Finally, I decided that since I was taking the puppies over to the woods for a walk anyway, taking a squirrel in a bucket would be a good idea. Thus, I ended up depositing the poor squirrel- which was still alive- in the woods on a pile of leaves. I have no doubt it was going to die but at least it could die somewhere comfortable.

The rest of Saturday was not quite so exciting though I got my pumpkin carved. Sunday was also pretty quiet although I got a nice phone call from an old friend inviting me to an 'old timer's reunion' at one of my old workplaces.

Am I an old-timer??? I shudder at the thought. Still, she's a good friend and it might be fun to see some of my old coworkers since it was a job at a hospital that I actually liked.

The only other unplanned excitement was that the doorbell rang this evening. This may not seem exciting but my doorbell only rings when I hit the button. The puppies went nuts. Turns out it was Dog Whisperer himself accompanied by Son of Dog Whisperer. He's a boy scout now. Son of Dog Whisperer, I mean...not Dog Whisperer. Dog Whisperer is too old to be a boy scout. Anyway, he's selling popcorn. I bought some because I'm one of those people who is horribly crippled by guilt if I'm directly asked by a child selling cookies, magazines, popcorn or wrapping paper and I say no. So I don't say no. I didn't say no this time. Now I'm going to have an enourmous tub of popping corn that cost me $10. It's a good cause. I just don't eat that much popcorn. I may have to share.

So, that's been our rather odd weekend. It hasn't been bad. The only thing I feel bad about really is that I've been promising Sookie and Rory that one day, they'd have their very own squirrel. I even went looking for trees to plant last weekend so they could have their very own squirrel tree. Then, when I had the opportunity to give them one, I didn't. Instead, I put it in a bucket and let it go in the woods. I know they knew what i was doing and they were not happy with me.

Oh well. I'm sure there'll be other squirrels. Just not in a bucket...I hope.

Happy Monday

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Awesomeness of Autumn

Well, I had in mind a long winded post that waxed poetical about my new job, Autumn and the like.

Unfortunately, the site on which my blog is hosted is down and so my attempts to blog this evening have been thwarted. I’mblogging, instead, using the old fashioned method of typing it up in Microsoft Word in hopes that the site revives itself soon.

The nice thing is that I can type the words “Microsoft Word” and not feel this strong desire to duck. Having been surrounded by computer geeks/snobs for a while, I’ve been shamed into the zombie mentality of Microsoft=Great Evil. However, as I’ve always felt, whether or not Microsoft is truly evil, I’m a fan. Without Microsoft, most of us wouldn’t know our Start Menus from our Control Panels and so, for the mere fact that Microsoft treats everyone in an equally simplistic fashion, I’m a fan.

I use Microsoft every day in my job and…so does everyone else. Gone are the days when I have to sit through meeting after meeting in which I constantly hear about the inferior ‘double click’ of Microsoft Windows vs. the “superior” single click of the Apple.

In my new office, NO ONE has a Mac. It’s lovely. As the newbie, I’m the guinea pig for Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010. The other staff are a little nervous. While I think this go-around meant Microsoft was trying a wee bit hard to emulate the Mac computer, it’s still the same basic software and so I’m happy to double-click my heart out.

I digress. What I’m really saying is that it’s now been almost a weeks since I walked out the old office. I left with apprehension and a slight case of fear of the unknown. I left unhappy because my ex-boss had been nothing but rude and insensitive to me. I left sad because after two years, leaving a building without any real sense of loss was just…sad.

Now, a week later, I’m already feeling embedded in my new office. I go in a little early now. The day flies by. I always have something to work on. Each day, I’m learning more. Each day, I achieve a little more success. Each day, I feel…appreciated. My boss told me tonight that, “I know it’s only been four days and I’ve thrown you in the deep end but I want you to know you’re doing great.”

I don’t think he knows how much that means. It’s not just me. I know I escaped from a somewhat unhappy situation and, thus, praise is foreign. However, there are many people out there who are not completely miserable in their jobs and yet they never, ever hear a word of praise from their supervisor.

Let me say…it feels good. It’s nice to know that even though I feel like I’m flailing around, a little disorganized and completely overwhelmed by all the potential work I should be doing, that I’m still doing pretty decently.

If all goes well tomorrow, I should have placed my first candidate. I should be feeling like I’ve done something right.

It’s a nice way to end a week. It’s been a good week. It’s going to be a good weekend too. This weekend, I plan to celebrate the Awesomeness of Autumn. I had originally planned on heading up to my parents. As much as I’d love to see them and let the puppies go fishing in my parents’ ponds, after this week, my brain and body is a little too tired to think about the 2.5 hour trip each way. Thus, I think I’m going to use the weekend to both recharge and celebrate Autumn.

As I said last year, each Autumn, I celebrate Halloween in my own way by carving a pumpkin while watching a “Harry Potter” movie and drinking pumpkin beer. Well, this year, I already have the pumpkin, the movie and the beer. All I need is the carving.

I plan on eating baked sweet potatoes, roasting pumpkin seeds and enjoying the fact that we’re due for our very first frost this weekend. Autumn is finally, truly upon us and I , for one, welcome the season.

Most of all, I love the fact that, as a transitional season, Autumn has brought change into my life. I’m no longer trapped in the job that sucked away pieces of my soul. Instead, I’m in a job that, slowly but surely, is making me feel like a human again.

It’s a lovely feeling….and it’s only been a week. But what a week it’s been!

Happy Friday…and thanks for reading.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time Flies When You Like Your Job!

I can't believe this week is going by so fast. It's unusual to say that. Usually the weeks drag by while the weekends fly.

I don't know if it's because my job is new or if it's always going to be busy but it seems like I barely look at the clock during the day. I find this to be a very good thing. In my former job, clockwatching was my main event. On days when I didn't have very much to do at all, clockwatching was an obsession.

The thing is, now I look back, I always got my work done. I never missed a deadline. Granted, I probably could have got more done on my backburner projects which were really busy work but I don't recall ever failing to get my job done.

Which may not seem like a huge thing but, well, if I told you how little work I did some days, particularly when there wasn't much to be done, you might be shocked. Let's just say that if they ever took a look at my internet logs, my former workplace might notice I had a bit of a web-surfing addiction.

I web-surfed while I was working on other projects. You might wonder what I could constantly find to surf the web about. Well, here's an example of a fairly normal unbusy day at work and the sort of things I would read on the internet.

1) Recaps of my TV shows on Entertainment
2) Facebook. Yes, my office did block but there are these things called proxy servers and if you use one, you can bypass firewall blocks. Hey, they paid me to do web security. You learn a thing or two.
3) I would see these brightly coloured cookie things online or on magazine covers so I'd go on a quest to find out what they were. Turns out they're called French meringues. Who knew? The Internet did!
4) I'd want to know how to stop my puppy from barking at strangers when we walked so I'd look to see what tips I could find.
5) I wanted to see if a cookbook I borrowed from my mother was available in the US since she got it in England and I fancied my won copies.
6) I'd read recaps from They have a huge library of recaps. It's good for hours of endless reading. Unless Jacob wrote the recaps in which case regardless of how much I like the telly program, I simply cannot read his awful waffling.
7) I'd check my Hotmail account
8) I'd check to see if I had any email in my author email account
9) I'd see if my book had any new reviews
10) I'd email my friends, particularly my two librarian friends.
11) I'd read another recap on
12) I'd try to find out what the berries on the tree outside my house were because Rory keeps trying to eat them and I want to make sure they're not poisonous.
13) I'd find out about woolly worms because I remembered seeing tons of them at my parents' house and, at the time, I didn't realize they were woolly worms. I thought they were having some bizarre caterpillar invasion.
14) I'd google "Bad Bosses" to see how my boss compared.
15) I'd go to to see what else was out there. This is how I found my lovely new job.

Sadly, this is probably less than two hours of surfing time.

I have a problem. I know. However, in my defence, it's only when I'm bored. In my current job, I don't have time to get bored. It's rather fabulous, actually. I'm working all the time and enjoying it. I'm getting stuff done.

I promise in a couple of days, I'll stop blogging about how wonderful my new job is compared with my old. I'm suffering from post traumatic job disorder. Once it passes, I promise to move on to other subjects.

In the meantime, I'll continue to be amazed at how quickly my days are going and how much I'm enjoying learning about what my job will be. Today, I managed to find a candidate for an immediate job placement and if he does well on his interview tomorrow. If he gets it, it will be my first placement. I'll earn a commission but, honestly, it's not about the money. It's about knowing that I've found someone who's out of work, has a six year old son and who really needs a job and helped him find one.

That's a nice feeling. It beats surfing the internet any day.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 2: The Polar Opposite of My Last "Day 2"

Today was Day 2 of my new job. If life were like a video game or, even an episode of a TV show, I'd have had that fact depicted over my head in the form of a chyron that said "DAY 2."

It's interesting. My last "Day 2" was the second day after I'd turned in my resignation. It was horrible. My boss was in his stage of our 'breakup' that was a cross between depression and anger. It was a horrible day. It was the day where I finally cried because my boss had been so mean and the fallout of my decision to leave my last job was intense.

This "Day 2" was about as opposite as you can imagine. For one thing, I didn't feel a sense of depression and gloom as I went about getting ready to go into the office. When I did get to the office, there was a pleasant atmosphere. I wasn't being called into impromptu meetings in which I was forced to explain my decision.

Instead, as a pleasant diversion, I was, instead, treated to a good day in which I felt that my decision was explained for me by the powers of the universe. For one, I received more training. This, in itself, is different from my last job. My new boss is nice. He's not just the type of nice you get when you're new. I think he's just...nice. When we finished our training session, he assigned me some tasks but told me no pressure. I thought I had an idea of what to do so...I did it.

Truth be told, actually doing stuff at a new job is nervewracking. I tend to like my hand to be held until the very last minute. As a child, I was painfully shy. As an adult, I'm much less so but the recumbant gene of youth makes me feel shy and nervous when confronted with the idea that I have to talk to strangers. Fortunately, with adulthood comes maturity and while my instinct is to shy away from making phonecalls, the reality is that that once I've dialed a few numbers, it's quite easy to babble to strangers.

As a result, I had a rather successful day. What iIdidn't realize is that my boss didn't actually expect anything. This is not to say he's treating me like I'm in the type of special that rides a special bus and that he didn't expect anything because he knew I would be able to do it. It's just that he's normal and he knows I'm new. Thus, he didn't expect me to do very much.

Nevertheless, I gave it a go and it turned out to be quite fun. I had a productive day. I'm already getting the hang of the job. I already love it or, at least, the idea of it. It's a lovely feeling to know that the people I'm calling to interview for a potential job may not not have a job at all and that they may be glad of my phone call. It's nice to know that even though I'm having to interrupt people's days, it's for a good cause.

Most of all, it's nice to have results. It's nice to see that the work I'm doing is yielding something.

This may sound dramatic. Yet, when you've been in a job for two years where the yield of your work is measured in the fact that you don't get fired, it's ok to be dramatic.

What's more dramatic is when your boss leaves for the day and makes a point of coming by your office and actually saying, "You did a great job today," that for a split second, you suddenly want to a) either hug him in gratitude, b) have a brief cry because you're simply not used to any type of feedback and even the small stuff is overwhelming at this point in time or, more likely c) where your mouth falls open with shock for a split second because you're simply not used to praise. Yes, this is dramatic for a job. I get that. It shouldn't be dramatic, that's the point. Instead, this is how a good company/manager/boss operates. You should always know when you do well.

For me, today, it was a start. More than that, it was an affirmation that, if there was any doubt at all that leaving the familiar cocoon of my last job, regardless of the problems, that doubt is assuaged and I have, in fact, done the right thing in leaving.

I'm hoping that as time passes and my job suddenly feels familiar rather than slightly foreign as it does currently, none of these positive things will strike me as odd. Instead, I'll get comfortable with the fact that they are, actually, quite normal.

At the very least, I'm hoping my job becomes normal in that it becomes the way I earn money and that I do it well but it's not the focal point of my life. While I know my job supports my writing, my writing has been there to define me and who I am. Lately, with my past job, I felt like my writing fell short because my soul was being sucked dry. Slowly, but surely, my soul will come back to me. I can feel that now and it's nice to have hope again.

It's also nice to have a little bit of praise and feedback because, sometimes, that's all it takes in jobs, in life and in everything else.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Playing "Office"...

When I was a child, one of my favourite games to play was "Office." My dad had this old, old computer from work. It was before the days of quick loading computer software, USB's and flash drives. It didn't have a mouse. It was an all in one machine that didn't have an operating system. What it had was its own special language and nothing but green text on the screen. I was too young to know what it really did but I did manage to make up games on it. I'd sit and turn it on, typing away as if I was actually doing something. Nothing every happened except I made it beep. Yet, I had a fine old time typing and pretending I was in my very own office.

Other times, I'd sit at my desk in my room and pretend I was sitting in an office, my pens ready to go. I had a child's typewriter and I would type Very Important Things on it. It was one of the old school typewriters, no correction tape and an old ribbon that would dry up if you didn't ink it.

Office was one of my favourite games to play by myself. I think I attempted to solicit other players but it was hard to get anyone interested in writing letters and things.

You might wonder why I'm telling you about yet more of my rather odd childhood games. The reason is that, today, at my new job, I managed to finally accomplish that which I'd only pretended to have as a child: I have my own office.

It really isn't the first office I've had. When I was a legal secretary, I had an office but it wasn't really mine. It was a room they stuck me in and I was across the hall from our grumpy office manager who could watch my every move. When I was in my international market research job, I had an office but, again, this was just a room they put me in and we had to swap constantly. It wasn't really mine.

The office today is mine. I'm finally in a job where I don't have to be administrative support as I have in the past. I don't have to type memos for anyone. I'm in my very own office doing my very own job. I have my own supplies and even have the freedom to order more supplies if I'm lacking anything. I have a new computer with the newest versions of Windows and Microsoft Office on it. I can close my door. I can decorate my office.

It's an exciting thing. I think if I hadn't been so...deprived in my last job, it probably wouldn't seem like such a big thing. However, when you used to have to take whatever office supplies were available or bring in your own and you didn't get new software, even when you needed's the small things that make a new job all the better.

Better yet, I'm getting training.

(Private aside to one of my readers, known as Raindancer...YES, Raindancer, there IS such thing as training in a job! It is not a myth! It exists. I am living proof that it is possible!)

This, again, may not seem that unusual actually is compared to my last couple of jobs. There was no training in those except to possible read a handbook. In this job, I'm sitting down with my boss and learning things.

It's exciting. I won't lie and say it was a perfect day. First days are always awkward. It's a strain to have to keep taking in the new information and to get to know the coworkers who have been working together for years. Yet, they all seem so nice. I'm a bit alarmed by that. It's a bit like the first time I went to Chick-Fil-A. That is the first fast restaurant where everyone in there was happy, genuinely friendly and seemed to like their job. I thought it was creepy at first, being used to the typical fast food experience of having someone take your order without making eye contact and being as slow and unfriendly as possible. Then I realized that it was a good thing. I like going to Chick-Fil-A.

My office is a bit like Chick-Fil-A. My coworkers have been there for years. They like their jobs, the office and one another. They're willing to share knowledge without trying to steal credit for each other's work. They don't gather in each others' offices, close the door and whisper.

It's a change and a welcome one. While my first day was exhausting, I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it a lot.

If you've ever seen the movie, "Working Girl," there's a scene at the end of the movie where Melanie Griffith's character gets a promotion. She goes in and sits down at the secretary's desk only to discover that it's not her desk, she actually has earned an office.

Today, I felt like that. I felt the inner child in me rejoice at the actual realization of what used to be my imagination.

And, this time, I didn't just randomly hit buttons on a computer and pretend to do something. I actually hit real keys and did something. Also, I have a mouse and the screen isn't just green text.

I've come a long way, baby.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Feeling Like It's the First Day of School Tomorrow...

I'm hoping I'm blogging this on the evening of the beginning of something wonderful. Tomorrow, I start my new job. I'm going to move from being in the exciting world of software testing and documentation (sarcasm intended) to being an IT recruiter. This means I'll be working at actually helping people find jobs and doing a little career counseling. I'm excited. I've long been frustrated in my old job because I stared at a computer screen and only got to interact with other employees. Now I get to work with real live people and do something that feels like it will be a little more fulfilling.

I'm nervous, I must admit. Just like the first day of school, the first day at a new job is nervewracking. I'm going to be the new kid on the block. I don't yet even know where the bathroom is. To me, that's one of the vital things about any new location. Whenever I've dealt with new employees or coworkers, the very first thing I do is show them where the bathroom is. Not only is this a vital need to human beings but it also gives them a place to run to if they get so stressed out they need a moment alone. This is not to say I expect that to happen tomorrow but, on the off chance it does, it's rather nice to know where I can run to when I need to decompress for a few minutes.

Still, I'm sure I'll find out when I get there. At least I know where my own office is going to be. I already have my clothes picked out. I need to pack my bag. There are a few vital office supplies I need. I put all my office stuff from my old job in a reusable grocery tote but I think I'll give it a couple of days in the new office before I completely move in. I have a lot of toys and silly stuff. It's not that I don't think I'll be staying but I like to at least feel like I know how the office works before I bring out my Green Day International Superhero action figures. However, my Harry Potter calendar, collection pencils- currently Halloween themed- and my box of tissues are musts for my desk. These are what I consider to be vital. Yes...I'm odd. Yet it's the items like these that can make even a cubicle feel like my own.

It was strange packing up the last of my stuff from my old job on Friday. I have to say, it was the oddest last day at a job I've had. When I left my job in California, I was taken out to lunch three seperate times by different groups. I recieved goodbye and good luck cards. When I left the job prior to that one, I even got flowers from my coworkers. I didn't expect any of that stuff but I expected...something. Instead, I got a free lunch at IHOP because my coworker had a buy-one-get-one-free coupon. I know- it's the thought that counts. It was just...pretty unsurprising.

I ended up having to do two exit interviews. One with our HR manager and one with the HR manager of the company with whom we've merged. Surprisingly, our HR lady was very good. Originally, upon resigning, I had planned to say very little other than the fact I was leaving for a new opportunity. However, given how painful the past two weeks have been, primarily due to the fact that my boss has acted like a jilted ex, I decided to be pretty honest. It was pretty therapeutic. I didn't hang my boss out to dry but I was blunt as to many of the reasons I felt he was a poor manager. Our HR manager actually ended up using our interview as a way to vent her own frustrations and it turned out, they were the same as mine. Since she's in the position to do something about it, being a manager, I'm hoping she gets to stand firm and try to make a change.

The other exit interview was decent. It was much more structuralized than the other one. There were questions that had to be answered. Since I was completely honest, I'm sure I sounded like a whiny brat but I said what I really thought. I don't think I burned any bridges in doing so but even if I did, nothing I said hasn't been whispered loudly between my other coworkers as they, too, have had the same frustrations in their own ways.

When I left, it was...anticlimactic. My boss politely shook my hand and that was it. I didn't expect anything else but I wanted something more. I wanted some kind of appreciation for the fact that while I did resign, I gave that job some solid effort and did a lot in my two years. I didn't get it and when I left the building for the final time, it was far more bitterness and regret than I meant to have.

I did, however, sing "Born Free," loudly and off key as I drove home, per my good friend Ms. P. down in Texas. She was kind enough to provide me with the lyrics earlier in the week and I took the liberty of printing them to remind myself that I was glad to be out of there.

It was harder than I thought though. It meant change and change is never easy. Change means new and unfamiliar things and I, being the creature of habit I am, prefer not to have much change.

Still, tomorrow will bring change. It will bring new hours, new coworkers, new challenges and new experiences. I am both nervous and excited. I'm just glad I don't have to ride the schoolbus with a bunch of unfamiliar kids as I would have to do if it was the first day of school. I will, however, be clutching my new pencils, using them as my safety blanket.

I'm sure it will be fine.
As long as I can find the bathroom.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Final Countdown...

In honour of tomorrow being my last day at my current job and, hopefully, an end to my work whining for a while, I've decided to make this blog entry into a handy dandy list:

Things I will not miss about my job:

1. My job. I'm tired of knowing the nuances of software applications and still feeling like I know nothing. No software should be so complex that after two years, a person can still feel like an idiot for not knowing very much about it.

2. My boss. Nothing is more exhausting than constantly having to tell your boss things you want to do, things you are doing and things you should be doing.

3. My cupboard under the stairs (aka, my cubicle). It has a broken keyboard tray, an old computer, one less file cabinet than everyone else and a chair that once was glued but was sent away and is fixed but still hurts my back. Also, everyone else has shiny new Macs and I have an old PC with Windows XP. Almost everyone else in the office got upgraded to Windows 7.

4. Wearing a shirt that happens to be the same colour as one of our logos and being told, "Hey, you're wearing [software name] blue!"

5. Dressing nicely for work and being asked why I'm dressed so nicely.

6. Going into the bathroom to hide from my cubicle and being assaulted by optimism.

7. Being Instant Messaged by my coworker every five minutes even though she sits across the aisle from me, less than ten feet away.

8. Trying to train the same coworker in #7 and constantly having to remind her to focus because she's too busy giving me her regular State of the Company Address According to [Captain Monkeypants' Coworker]

9. Having to debate how sick I really am when I'm actually sick in order to decide if I can afford to use valuable PTO.

10. Having my boss perch awkwardly on my desk and try to carry on a conversation. Even when I try to talk sports, he gets a panicked look in his eye, knocks over something on my desk and scrambles away.

11. Wondering if we'll actually get our annual Christmas bonus of a miniature candy cane in our mailbox or not. Last year, we didn't.

12. Wondering why we spent several thousand dollars on a "Smartboard" when we only use it as a projection screen when the money could have been spent on something more useful.

13. Making coffee in the mornings only to discover that whoever was nice enough to rinse the pots the night before was not nice enough to empty out the old, soggy coffee grounds. I hate soggy coffee grounds.

14. Being asked daily if I've changed my mind about my resignation. Then, on a happy hour the night before I'm due to leave, going to a coworker-arranged happy hour, only to find out that the boss who has not really spoke to you in a week AND the president of the company show up and proceed to baffle you by the fact that they're friendly and nice about you're leaving. Have we FINALLY reached acceptance?

15. Feeling horrible because I resigned and my boss couldn't even be bothered to take me out for lunch the way he has for EVERY OTHER EMPLOYEE WHO HAS LEFT IN THE PAST TWO YEARS.

16. My boss. Yes, I know I said that in #2 but given the fact that he's acted like I broke his heart by leaving and thus is acting slightly like a vindictive Ex, I'm allowed to say I won't miss him again. Also, he made me cry and that still irks me.

17. Making a drinking game up based on the amount of times my coworker vanishes down the hallway to chat to her friend/coworker and then comes back and whines that she doesn't have enough time to get her work done.

18. Wondering why the walls of my cubicle are the exact same colour as baby poo or chocolate that melted and then went hard again. Neither one is pleasant.

19. Having emergency staff meetings fairly regularly that tell us that some further turmoil is befalling our company. After having been sold, merged, moved and re-presidented, it's been a rough two years.

20. Awkward Bagel Days.

Things I will miss about my job

1. The coworkers I actually like.

2. Getting to work at 7 a.m. and having no one be there yet.

3. Having meetings where I imagine I set a demon on everyone.

I think that much says it all. Hopefully with the new job comes a new series of blogs. Stay tuned and have a great weekend!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Close Encounters of the Larry Kind...

We're finally having a dark and stormy night here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Last night, we had the dark part and the storm rumbled in the distance but it never arrived. Tonight it arrived in full force. At one point, I thought there was a tornado in the back garden. The wind was blowing so hard and there were so many leaves blowing down from the trees that it was a little alarming.

Naturally, the puppies were in the midst of it, frolicking amongst the cascading leaves. They aren't afraid of storms at all and quite enjoy running out to see what all the fuss is about any time there's a clap of thunder.

I like storms a lot though sometimes, when they're loud and ominous, it's nice to have the puppies to keep me company. As a child, I was terrified of storms. I would cower near my parents any time there was so much as a clap. If it was night and I was in bed when a storm arrived, I'd immediately scamper to my parents' room and climb into their bed for safety.

As I got older, I began to be less afraid of storms. This is due to a rather harsh lesson in which my dad, tired of my childish fear, made me go out and stand in a storm and see that it wouldn't hurt me. It was slightly traumatizing at the time but it did work.

My younger brother and sister took my place in being afraid of them and when it was a stormy night, they would climb into my bed and we'd cuddle together until either the storm passed or, more likely, morning because they had fallen asleep and I hadn't the heart to wake them.

Nowadays, I love to lie in bed and hear the rumble of a storm. They're cleansing and therapeutic. They come after the tension in the atmosphere has built up to an almost unmanageable level, darkening the skies with a threatening gloom and only, finally, arriving to unleash the storm on the waiting world.

Tonight's storm has brought some much needed rain. The world outside my window is finally shiny with wetness under the streetlamps. The cars are kicking up the water as they drive by. It's been far too long since we had rain like this and it's nice to look out and enjoy it.

Of course, the rain meant the puppies and I couldn't take our evening walk around the neighbourhood. That's become a regular thing. I love it, especially on the cooler nights. We still see some of our neighbours though Larry the Potential Serial Killer hasn't been around much. However, alarmingly, last night, as we walked, he pulled up beside us in his car and said, "Hey Gorgeous! Haven't seen you in a while." I was ok until I realized by the "gorgeous" part, he was talking to me and not to my puppies. For one thing, I don't really feel gorgeous when I'm walking the pups and, secondly, well, it was Larry the Potential Serial Killer. Since when has he called me gorgeous? I was polite, though I made a mental note to make sure the puppies and I continued to avoid him. He wants to 'catch up.' As he got ready to drive up, he shouted out the window, "we have to plan when we can catch up."

Oh dear. By planning a 'catch up' session, this clearly means that Larry The Potential Serial Killer means more than a casual close encounter outside his house. If you've read my blog, you'll know I mean 'close encounter' literally. Larry is, as I've said, an 'up close and personal' talker without that lovely concept of "this is my space, this is your space."

I made an even stronger mental note to avoid Larry and his 'catch up' session. I was quite relieved when he drove off. I seriously hope he didn't think I meant I wanted to get together with him. I have this horrible habit of not realizing when I've innocently said I'd do something with a male friend only to find out he thinks it's a date. Fortunately, I have no intention of getting into that confusion with Larry the Potential Serial Killer. It does, however, alarm me that there might be the rather disconcerting possibility that, uh, Larry likes me. Damn me and my friendly ways.

Ah well, I suppose it should be good for my ego. Besides, it was a brief, if unsettling encounter. The pups and I managed to make it home where Rory, in her tendency to find ways to be slightly naughty even when she's trying to be good, managed to dislodge one of my large plastic flowerpots from its place on my plant rack on my patio. The pot fell to the ground and the dried up wedge of potting soil that had previously been the bed for a rather thriving basil plant bounced out. Rory promptly claimed her prize and grabbed the flowerpot which turned out to be bigger than she was. She scurried off down the garden with it. Seeing no harm, I left her to her own devices. Better a flowerpot than a baby bunny.

Of course, later that night, she decided she wanted to bring her new favourite thing into the house and arrived in the living room, her little mouth firmly gripping the rim of the flowerpot as she triumphantly managed to bring it inside. That's no small feat for a pup when the flowerpot is bigger than she is. I was going to take it away but she seemed so enamoured with it, I decided it was fine. It wasn't making a mess and she was having such a lovely time. She ended up laying on the floor, her head and half her body in the flowerpot for most of the evening. Meanwhile, Sookie just sat there and watched. I imagine, if Sookie were a human, she would spend much of her time, observing her sister, shaking her head and saying, "That Rory!"

This evening, Rory has abandoned her flowerpot. She has, instead, discovered the towel that I use to drape over their crate. She is currently lying on the towel, having a good old chomp while Sookie lays, watching intently, just a few feet away.

Still, given how wet it is outside, playing with a towel is actually a rather smart thing to do, even if that wasn't Rory's intention. It means I can use the towel to try off the girls' feet as they scamper in from being outside, lured by the call of the storm.

I love Autumn.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy 500th Blogday to Me!

This is an important blog for me. It's the 500th one I've written.

I can't believe I've been blogging this long and I've managed to accumulate 500 of them. I remember when I was just dithering about whether to start a blog at all. I finally stopped dithering and started blogging. Here I am, 500 blogs later. My very first blog was written on October 14, 2008. That's two days shy of exactly two years ago.

It's been a fun experience, blogging. If you haven't noticed, my blog wavers from being an outlet for issues in my personal life- most notably my miserable job- to being a commentary on the randomness of life. Since I've had the puppies, it's also been a narrative on the trials and tribulations of being a pet parent.
I find it fitting that exactly 500 blogs later and who knows how many whines, revelations and snarky comments about my job, I'm leaving the job in three days. I finally grew tired of my own bitterness and frustration and decided to do something about it.

I've noticed that 'doing things' is a pattern in my life. It's a good pattern. While I tend to be self-deprecating and lack a fair amount of esteem on most days, I do think one of my fundamental good points is that I'm a 'do-er'. I might be a slight procrastinator on the doing but I do it.

I look back in my life and I realize that, for the most part, I've always been in charge of it. I've always managed to do what I want, in some way or another. I decide I want to blog...I start a blog. Then I keep blogging and don't shut up so that eventually, I'm reaching my 500th blogday (that's what Captain Monkeypants is calling momentous days in blogging. Blogdays. Sort of like birthdays but not really).
I got bored of living in the Midwest. I wanted to be a screenwriter. I moved to L.A. I wrote screenplays. Then I decided I'd rather write novels but, nevertheless, I decided to do something and I did it. When I decided to write a novel, I did. Then I wrote 8 more. I'm writing number 10, as we speak. Well, not at this exact moment but I'm writing it at work due to the fact that my boss is still acting like I broke his professional heart and has cut me out of each and every meeting I really should attend in my attempts to make my departure smooth. Since he's now officially acting like I'm already gone, I've decided to also act like I've already gone. I'm still doing the work that gets assigned to me but when I have downtime, I'm enjoying pecking away on Emmy Goes to Hell. If he finds out and decides to let me go early, I shall skip down the hallway with joy. Seriously. If I didn't honour the fact I said I was giving two weeks' notice, I'd have left last Friday.

Anyway, after I wrote some of my novels and had been living in L.A. for almost 8 years, I realized that coming back to the Midwest to see my family were the happiest times in my life. It began to feel like I was leaving pieces of my heart/soul behind every time I got back on the plane to go home. I knew it was time to move back. So I did. I managed to snag a job at my current company who, at the time, were shielded by the finances of the university to which they used to belong, and moved back. Granted, my job has never fit me that well but it helped me move back and helped me find some friends here in southwestern Ohio.

After I was settled, I then decided I wanted to buy a house. So...I bought a house. I wanted a I got two. My most recent 'do-ing' escapade was realizing I'd not only bored my blog readers to death with the frustration and annoyance I felt with my job but also, my family was starting to get that glassy eyed look every time I had a little whine and a moan about it. I also realized I was boring myself with my frustration. So...I got another job.

This isn't my attempts to pat myself on the back and say, 'look at me, I'm bloody brilliant!'. It's just an attempt for me to show myself that despite the fact that I haven't been able to snag that lucrative yet elusive publishing contract or even so much as get a magazine story published, I've done some things in my life that aren't too shabby. My dream is to be a successful writer. My reality is that I'm a writer who needs to do something else to make money. My dream is to find a man with whom I click completely and can share my life. My reality is I have two little puppies and the hope that he's out there...somewhere. My dream is to have a house near the ocean someday so I can smell the sea as I write. My reality is a little house in the suburbs and a pumpkin spice candle.

What it comes down to is that even if I have a mental picture of my perfect life, the reality of what I really have isn't so bad. I look back over my 500 blogs and I see the good as well as the wallowing, depressed badness. Like any human, I have my ups and downs. My choice here, what I chose to do is to publish them online.

When I look at what I have blogged about, it's eclectic. If you scroll down on this page, to the right, near the bottom, you'll see a word cloud. This includes everything from my Stephanie Meyer rants to blogging about deer and Dexter to ladybugs, avocados, Mario Batali and fire extinguishers. It was originally supposed to be about my writing and the trials and tribulations of being a writer. In a way, it is. It's the portrait of someone who is a writer but that's not all she is. It's also the portrait of someone who clearly has had a beef with her job but hopefully that'll change over the next 500 blogs.

I'm going to keep blogging. I hope you'll keep reading. It's nice to know that there are people out there, reading my random musings. To each one of you, I thank you for reading along. It's been a fun 500. Hopefully the next 500 will be more fun. My new motto...less whining....more writing.

Although I don't necessarily mean that literally. If you haven't noticed, I'm horribly prolific. I'm a babbler. Perhaps I should make my motto, less whining, more concise writing.

But that wouldn't really be me, would it?

Thanks so much for reading. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bittersweet Mondays and Insane Bosses

It was strange going into the office this morning knowing that it was my last Monday ever there. It was a bittersweet feeling: While I'm glad to escaping that job, I've given it two years of my life and that's two years I'll never get back.

I don't know what I really expected this morning. I suppose I secretly hoped my boss had come to his professional senses over the weekend and realized that he had been acting...rather childish. I hoped that my last week would begin with him having accepted the fact I was leaving and that even though it was going to be a nuisance for him, he wished me well.

Alas, once again, I was, for the most part, the Invisible Woman. He spoke to me when necessary but in the obligatory tone you use when you've fought with someone and don't want to speak to them any longer than you have to. I don't think I'm imagining it either.

What I find amusing is that I've had quite a few jobs in my life. On my quest to discover who I was and what I wanted, I used jobs to help me find the way. I've had jobs I've disliked a lot but even when I worked for a crazy woman who would show her anger by taking off her shoe and using it to make a rather large hole in the wall, my resignation was accepted with some diplomacy and grace. That job with the shoe-hammering boss was one of my least favourite; I worked for an international market research company that really only had one office in Fort Wayne, Indiana but we paid other market research firms from around the world to do our job and our boss would then pretend they were our 'satellite' offices. She was a crazy woman. In a way, she saw herself much like Meryl Streep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada." In reality, she had been married three times and had two children she spoiled rotten in an attempt to make up for the fact that she was never home. She was, I believe, also certifiably mad at times.

Nevertheless, she liked me and appreciated my work. When I quit that job because I was afraid that someday the shoe's stiletto heel would wind up my forehead, she tried to persuade me to stay with a generous counteroffer. When I declined, she told me how sad she was to lose me but she understood that market research wasn't for me and she wished me well.

My other bad boss was when I worked for a law school in California. That boss was supposed to be temporary, filling in for my much cooler and saner boss while she was on maternity leave. Alas, my real boss decided she wanted to be a full time mother and we got stuck with the temp. While she was a temp, she made mine and most of the staff's lives miserable by spending absolutely no time understanding the job but, instead, spending all day on the phone with contractors while her house was remodeled. She was only hired because she was best friends with a 'higher-up' at the law school. She was completely unqualified and absolutely terrible with the students. Nevertheless, she snagged the full-time job and we were stuck with her. She still spent most of the day on the phone with contractors. She befriended the students of rich parents who had a little power. She was rude to the other students who weren't in the top of the class. Generally, she was awful. She was the only boss I ever had who actually told me off for doing too much work. I'm not joking.

She was a terrible boss because she didn't bother to learn the job but, instead, decided to do it however she wanted. It was not a good method and before long, I was job seeking.

When I got another job and handed in my two-weeks notice, she wasn't surprised. She was, however, nice. I think we both knew that it was for the best that I was leaving. Sometimes, there are people that you simply cannot get along with, not matter how hard you try. She was one of the few in my life for whom I knew there was never going to be a good working relationship. We just rubbed each other the wrong way.

Nevertheless, when I left that office, she wished me well and I think she might actually have meant it.

Those are the two worst bosses I've ever had. Both of them were slightly sanity-challenged at times but they still appreciated the work I did and were decent in the end.

My current boss is not un-sane. He's a very logical man who is a very good computer programmer. He is also, unfortunately, a male. Worse than that, he's a bit of a stereotype. When things get tough, he starts talking sports. He talks to the men in the office about sports for hours. This, like so many other communication-challenged men, is his language of safety.

His language of safety does not include communicating with employees who have decided to jump ship when he can't see a logical reason for their impending departure.

Thus, he has stopped communicating with me unless forced.

I find this sad. Mostly because if my two former bosses who were slightly mental were able to be decent about my leaving, I'd expect this sane, Company Vice President to be able to suck it up and wish me well. In the past, he's always taking departing employees to lunch. I expect no lunch. At best, he'll show up to the happy hour my coworkers have planned for me this week and sit awkwardly in the corner out of obligation and he'll end up talking sports to whoever can speak the language of the Cincinnati Reds or the Bengals.

In a way, this bothers me. Those two years I've worked for this company may have been a little bitter for me at times because of the constant upheaval of being sold, being moved, being merged, etc. Yet I still have done my job and I think I've done it pretty well. In the end, I've learned that this means very little to my boss because, as he said to me in a meeting, he "doesn't want to have to go through the bother of hiring someone new because it's so much work."

I think that pretty much sums up how he feels about my departure. It's an inconvenience. I get that. I understand that. Yet, surely, he can't expect people to want to stay forever in a job just because it's going to cause him some bother.

Ah well, in the long run, maybe I'm doing him a favour. Maybe he'll find someone to replace me who a) doesn't mind having a crappy computer, b) doesn't mind blatant favourism of a coworker who has the same job title but does half the work you do because she's always gossiping in someone else's office, c) is a male and so my boss's sexism won't be an issue for him, d) likes sports a lot more than I do and, finally, e) likes his job so much he never, ever dares write a letter of resignation and stands by it.

No matter. I only have four days left until I move on to greener pastures. What's a little silent treatment when it leads to freedom?

Perhaps I ought to take my boss into the Most Optimistic Bathroom in the World and show him that he should "Live for Today because [his] Life is NOW!"

Then again, taking an already moody boss into a ladies bathroom might not be the best idea in the world, not matter how good the intention.

After all, I may need a reference some day.

Ah well, it was a nice visual if nothing else and on a bittersweet Monday, those funny visuals make everything better.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hunting Geese on an Autumn Day

I'm on my last Sunday evening before I start my new job. This is the last Sunday I'll have, I hope, where I remember that I have to go to work the next day and I feel that a grey cloud is settling over me.

I've had bad jobs before where I've been unhappy. This job is unusual in that I didn't realize how unhappy I've been until I decided to leave. It shouldn't have been hard to figure out. If I go back and read my blogs from the past two years, it's pretty obvious that I've felt trapped and discontented. It's just that it wasn't until I decided to make a change that I realized I've been unhappy with the way things have been.

I have no idea if my new job will make me happy but I have an inkling that it might. I'm excited to start the job. Ever since I decided to take it, I've felt a metaphorical weight being shifted off my shoulders.

It's made life fun again. It's made things seem more real, like I'm not stuck in my rut anymore. It's making me appreciate the world I have around me. This weekend, for example, it's been beautiful outside. I'm not sure if it's too early or not to declare it but it seems as though we're having an indian summer. The temperatures have been in the high 80's during the day but dropping down to a delicious crisp low at night.

I decided that the best way to appreciate such a gorgeous day was to take the pups for a long walk. We actually ended up having two of them. As is my habit on weekends, I've taken to letting the puppies play outside when they wake up at 7:30 a.m. and I go back to bed and doze until they've had enough frolicking outside and come inside to find me. This morning, however, I was awoken by a furious yipping from the girls. Last time one of them yipped like that, it turned out Sookie had escaped the yard and was squirrel hunting in the street. Thus, I got up with a start to see what the barking was about.

Well, it turned out that one of the pups' "friends" had come to visit. Our neighbourhood is full of dogs. As we go for our evening walks, there are several dogs who always come to their fence to exchange a friendly bark with the puppies. I call these the girls' "friends." This particular 'friend' was a large, yellow mutt from down the street. I'm not sure if he'd escaped or his owner was walking him without a leash but by the time I was outside and dressed, the dog had gone. I was a little worried that he'd escaped and, putting myself in his owner's shoes, thought it might be a worry. So, I put the girls' harnesses and leashes on and we went for a walk in the neighbourhood.

We never did see the dog again but it was a nice day for an 8 a.m. walk. That time of day is interesting. There isn't much traffic on the roads, the squirrels are out in full force and the smell of bacon drifts out from a few houses.

Even though we had a walk first thing in the morning, I decided that we'd still go over to the woods for what is becoming a semi-regular Sunday walk. This week, I hoped that we wouldn't stumble upon a sponsored walk. All I have to do now is say, "Walk?" to the puppies and they go and sit by the front door, their tails wagging in anticipation. So, we headed to the park.

We got there by around 10 a.m. and it was still pretty quiet. There were quite a few joggers. There were one pair who were a little perplexing. They appeared to be communicating through bluetooth, even though they were not that far apart. When we pulled into the parking lot, they were walking haphazardly around the picnic benches in the parking area. Then, as we began to walk along the trail, they crossed our path again. This time, they were about 20 feet apart, still communicating via bluetooth and walking the opposite direction from us. I know they were communicating with each other because it was like they were having a conversation...only they were 20 feet apart. It was peculiar. What was more annoying is that the male was making really unpleasant comments about "The amount of damn dogs on the trail," and, as he passed us, he gave the puppies a rather threatening look. This, obviously, did not make me happy. The trail is about ten feet wide. My dogs are small and they were happily trotting side by side far away from the man. While I can understand being annoyed at dogs if they're either not supposed to be there or they are actually bothering you by getting in your way, I didn't understand his animosity.

Still, we shrugged it off and kept going. It was an amazing day for a walk. Autumn is fully here now and the sheer grandeur of the colours of the leaves is seriously breathtaking. There are bright golds, reds, oranges and greens all blended together. It's just stunning to take them all in at once. We stopped a few times so that the pups could have a drink and rest for a minute. Then we got to our favourite area of our walk- it's the area where we go 'off trail' and run around in the leaves while the puppies get to sniff out their prey.

Today's prey didn't need to be sniffed out, it was pretty visible. There, where we normally spend some time while the puppies have some leisurely sniffing time was a flock of Canadian geese.

This may not seem like anything unusual but for Sookie, this was a dream come true. She's fascinated by the things. They often fly over our house, honking loudly. No matter what Sookie is doing, as soon as she hears that honk, she's looking upwards, trying to find it's source. For many months, I believe she has longed for her very own Canadian goose.

Thus, today, her dreams were almost realized. She and Rory, upon seeing the flock, got very excited and pulled their leashes taut, trying to move towards them. Knowing that geese can be mean, I held back for a while but then decided that it wouldn't hurt to let them go closer. If the geese pecked them, well, then, maybe they'd be less enthusiastic in the future.

We moved among the flock. Sookie was beside herself with excitement. She got close to one and flew away and landed gracefully in the small lake nearby. She got close to another and that one flew away. Each time she got close, the silly geese flew away.

Still, she didn't seem discouraged. Rory was very enthusiastic also. She'll jump into the thick of anything without a moment's hesitation. She joined her sister in attempted to herd the geese into a corner so that they could pounce. Unfortunately, neither pup can fly and so after a while, they were discouraged.

I finally pulled them away and distracted them by leading them to a large pile of leaves. They promptly dove into the leaves and happily forgot the geese. We walked on. We came to the area where we can either go home or loop back around the lake again. I wasn't sure how tired the pups were so I let them lead me where they wanted to go which turned out to be looping around the lake.

This of course put us right back into the thicket of geese. It was once more into the breach, we went. Once more into the breach.

Sookie joyfully tried once more to catch herself a goose. Rory also gave it her best effort. Neither pup had yet learned to fly and they were thusly thwarted in their attempts to catch a goose.

I pulled them away. We moved beyond the geese back to the grass that would lead to the car. Sookie and Rory promptly sat down, clearly exhausted. My attempts to tire them out so they would sleep had worked. They were just working a little too soon.

I ended up plopping down on the ground so they could rest for ten minutes. At the distank honk from the geese, Sookie had an energy burst but as soon as I attempted to use that burst to my advantage and walk them to the car, she promptly laid down again.

Finally, they had the energy to walk and we made it back to the car. Their energy burst returned as soon as we got home and they spent much of the afternoon running around the garden. This means that they'll probably climb up on the couch this evening and won't move until bedtime and they won't stir again until morning.

It was a beautiful day for a walk/geese chasing. I feel like I got to appreciate nature with a fresh pair of eyes. With my freedom from my current job approaching and the hope of fresh possibility at my new job looming brightly, I think I'm finally shaking off the cobwebs of frustration. It's a beautiful world of autumn out there and it's nice to it share with with two puppies, a flock of geese and the other intrepid walkers we passed on our morning jaunt.

I'm just glad they didn't catch their goose.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Invisible Monkeypants

Ever since I handed in my resignation on Monday, I feel like when I walk in the office, first thing in the morning, there's an invisible sign over the doorway that marks the day. For example, today would have been "DAY 4".

Day four of my resignation was the day on which I became completely invisible to my boss. I knew this was likely to happen. There was no eye contact, no chit-chat...nothing. The only time he spoke to me was in a meeting I had with him and two other people in which he sarcastly commented on the fact that I was eating my second lollipop of the day. I'm glad he's keeping track for me. It's quite useful.

Aside from that comment, my existence was not acknowledge. I find this rather a welcome reprieve after three days of moody behaviour.

In contrast, he made sure to spend a lot of time with my coworker, chatting with her and joking with her. Meanwhile, she milked him for sympathy about how busy she's suddenly become and how much work she's going to have. I'd feel sorry for her but since she's always telling me how very bored she is, I think I'm actually doing her a favour.

This may seem like I'm being a little assumptive in my opinions of how things are at my company. I mean, it could just as easily be that my boss didn't get a chance to talk to me or he didn't have anything to say and he did have something to say to my coworker. My coworker might even have a point about how busy she is.

The thing is, I've worked at my company for a while. Based on Days 1, 2 and 3 of this week, I'm pretty certain I'm not projecting the way I expect them to behave on the way they're actually behaving.

Still, it makes for a nice quiet day for me. I'm finding since my motivation isn't as high as it usually is when I leave a job, it's quite relaxing at work. Usually, when I quit, I want to be spoken highly of and I work until the last hour, trying to make sure I don't leave too much for my fill-in to do. In this case, I'm pretty certain that the minute I leave, I'm going to become the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. I've seen how it is when other employees leave. Also, I've already heard a few somewhat disparaging comments. Since they're coming from one of the lifers who would lay down in front of a train if it meant proving she was the best and brightest, I don't care too much. I do care that no matter how well I've done in my job, it's going to be forgotten because, by leaving, I've betrayed the company in some way.

It makes me even happier to leave. Tonight, I had to go fill out my new hire paperwork and my future job. Let me tell you, my new boss was nicer to me in ten minutes that my current boss has been in six months and that's not an exaggeration. He was so excited that I'd accepted and he seemed genuine. He raved about how great I'd do and how easily I'd fit in. It made me feel so good about starting my job there.

Also, they let me choose my office.

Yes, you read that right. I, Ms. Cubicle Dweller with the broken desk, mended chair and nasty keyboard is actually going to get an office. Not only that but I go to choose my office.

There were three to choose from. Two were small cosy inner offices with no windows. The third was a large office with a big window. Even though the idea of the window appealed to me, I know that I tend to be a bit of a wimp when it gets cold. I get cold easily. So I asked how it was in the winter. The office manager was honest and said, 'freezing'.

I chose one of the cosier offices. It might be smaller but it's an office and it's going to be mine. They're giving me a new PC with a new Windows 7 installation and Microsoft Office 2010.

I asked for Windows 7 and my current job and I was told there weren't enough licenses.

Needless to say, I think I'm more excited than ever to start my new job. Everyone there always seems so happy. I don't think it's even one of those illusions because I've been there four times and there's this strange aura of calm productivity that I haven't experienced in quite a while.

I think with the knowledge that I'm moving on to greener pastures in which I'm allowed to have new software, an office and work from 8:30 to 5 p.m. on a normal day, I can deal with whatever my boss throws at me.

Of course, to throw something at me would mean he has to acknowledge me.

Ah well. Day 5 is tomorrow and then it's the weekend. I think with it being Friday, it should be a better day. If not, I'll just keep smiling, secure in the knowledge that I'm getting out and escaping. I'll just keep that cosy little office in my head.

Maybe my boss will have moved on to his acceptance stage of being dumped tomorrow. I'll let you know.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Happy Friday!