Thursday, February 14, 2013

9 Debunkings

  1. If he knew my secrets, he would find me too complex.
So I tell him some secrets, and he keeps calling, keeps finding me attractive, keeps asking me out.

  1. If only one person is interested, that means I'm settling for the only thing I'm being offered.
I’m only interested in one person.

  1. Similar education, politics, and religion are indicators of compatibility. (Extra bonus example of fallaciousness: Whether these things are similar or different is unknown.)
We do have more similarities here, but also a lot of divergence. And maybe I can watch a football game once in a while, provided sufficient incentive.

  1. Once something is started, it can't be stopped without bitterness apparent for all to see.
Well. It could be a little awkward, but I haven’t seen him much at the studio since I haven’t really been there as much myself.

  1. Having a large group of strange-quaintances know about my personal life is bad.
I was excited to show him off to that group! I even rather wondered why the professor didn’t ask a dozen nosy questions, until I realized he was respecting the fact that I told him, years ago, that I’m a private person. Maybe I’m not as private as I thought. Maybe I want to show off a bit.

  1. My friends will think he's not good enough.
Maybe they would pick or look for warning signs, but doesn’t that say more about them than me? So maybe a little coyness is good until they see that I’m happy.

  1. He won't be able to relate to my friends.
Oh, but he will.

  1. He won't be able to relate to me.
Oh, but he does.

  1. Letting someone care gives him the power to destroy me.
I am strong.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Not Poor

This is a concept I am having a little trouble getting used to.

It's not that I was ever poor. I grew up in an upper-middle class household with a stay-at-home mother. My father worked in the defense industry in the 80s. There was plenty of money. But he never acted like it. Money was held tightly. My mother shopped the sales and used coupons, had a huge file of them, used double coupons whenever she could. As a child I was told I had to choose ballet lessons or flute; I couldn't have both. I quit ballet because my parents wouldn't pay for two lessons a week, which was essential to advance and go en pointe. When I made the dance/drill team in high school my father asked how I was going to pay for the uniforms. Eventually he relented and these were paid for, though I don't know at what cost.

But we weren't poor. We lived in a nice house (that suffered from having been decorated in the late 70s and was never really redecorated even when it was being sold in the mid-90s) and went on vacations a few times (really I feel like I can count them on my hand, and we drove a lot, even if it was a two-day drive, and only flew once to visit family on the other side of the country) and went to the zoo and Sea World and Disneyland. But there was always this sense that money had to be closely regulated.

And I get that; I get that you can't just spend spend spend and let the credit card bills rack up. I pay my credit card bill in full every month and I carefully consider major purchases. I don't like being in debt; the only debt I carry is my house and that only because a house is such a massive thing that you have to owe on it unless you have major reserves of cash.

The problem, though, the really problem has always been not the pounds but the pennies. Not the major purchases but the little things. The decision to get a regular cup of coffee instead of the hazelnut latte I really want. To shop the clearance rack before the main rack, and almost never shop at department stores (which I find overwhelming anyway). I didn't really haggle for my house or truck, but I'll worry about those little purchases and whether I can really afford to get the dinner I want when I'm out because it's a dollar or two more than something else.

There is very little of my life that I have been earning what I would consider an adequate amount for someone of my age and education. The first "real job" I had with benefits and a livable salary was teaching, and I was 27. I've lived a lot of my life without health benefits or a retirement plan or even sick days.

Now suddenly I have a salary and am making 30% more than I was making at the job that let me go. I look at my budget -- because I've actually kept a budget for the last year and a half, something have never ever done (which is not to say that I've kept to my budget, just that I have looked at what I was spending) -- and there is a decent amount of extra money. I'm not rich, oh no. But I can breathe. I can want something and purchase it. And all that is taking a little getting used to.

There is some kind of balance that has to take place between buying the things I need and needing the things I buy. I'm not sure where that balance is quite yet. Are Halloween decorations frivolous? Do I just spring for a new TV stand or seal and paint the old one (and why do I even have a TV that I don't really even watch)? On one hand there is not consuming things I don't really need, recognizing that old things can be made new and often are more interesting than new things out of the box (particularly in the furniture department). On the other there is, I'm not poor. It's okay for me to have this. And I still have to convince myself a bit, because there were so many things that, for some mysterious reason, it wasn't okay for me to have. I get a little bewildered sometimes when I know that I'm going to be able to afford things just fine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

D all the Ys: Recovering a Lampshade

Like any sensible person, one of my first thoughts on hearing that I could actually have a job was "Crap! Now I have to finish all my projects." I have actually been really good about doing projects and spending time with friends and doing lots of yoga. (Not so good at applying for jobs, but as you can see, laziness and patience paid off.)

But there are nevertheless several projects that are hanging about in an intermediate state that I would like to complete.

Here's the first one.

Time required: 15 minutes to complete project, 2 hours to wander around fabric store and choose fabric
Materials required: lamp without a shade, new shade, spray adhesive, fabric, newspaper, scissors, blue tape
Project ease rating: 0 swears

I know, 0 swears seems like madness! But this really was super-easy. I tend to be a little obsessive about finding the tutorial that perfectly matches my situation. And then I was like, fuggedaboutit. Let's start with the offending shade - just a plain old white lampshade from the as-is area, because I guess someone decided they didn't really want their lamp to have a shade.

For the record, my lamp once did have a shade. It was really cute, too, but it was thin and papery and after 3 or 4 moves I finally punched a hole in it. So the lamp base sat in the basement for two years and then I got the floors done and was like OMG I need to have all new nifty things but wait I have a lamp sort of!

I looked at a bunch of tutorials online and found them kind of lacking. Obviously not so lacking that I wasn't able to make the project, but I was left with some questions and there were some that were just outright giving bad advice.

So, first make a pattern. This is accomplished by wrapping up your lampshade in newspaper or other pattern-making material. If all you have is small half-sized advertising flyers because who buys the newspaper these days? then you will need some tape to make them bigger. You're probably too lazy to find the transparent tape and don't own any masking tape, so you just kind of tack it together with the blue tape you've got on the workbench.

Trim your pattern using the edge of the lampshade as a guide. It does not have to be exact. Really. It really doesn't. Lay that puppy down on your fabric. You can use your washing machine for a cutting table if your workbench is dirty, which it is, because you hammer and paint stuff directly on there and when the guys came to finish the floors, some of the finish glopped through.

Now, here is the part that you have to pay attention. Notice all the blue tape? That is because you cannot be bothered to pin the pattern to the fabric like a normal person. The tape is right there, while the pins are all the way up on the second floor. It does not need to be exact, because you aren't going to cut on the lines anyway. Your fabric needs to be about an inch larger than your pattern on all sides, because you are going to make a seam and fold the edges over the edges of the lampshade. So cutting exactly on the lines is going to cause swearing when you go to put it on your lampshade unless you have some really cute ric-rac to glue over the edge. Which is an option. But maybe you don't have ric-rac. You may have chosen only to have awesome things such as grommet tape and snap tape and death bunny shoelaces. You can use those if you want, but maybe not if your lamp is going in your grown-up living room.

So yeah. Cut out the fabric, but make it an inch bigger on all sides. Use fabric-cutting scissors for this or you will start swearing.

Okay, now it's time to bust out the spray adhesive. Some of the tutorials recommend hot glue. Here is a comparison of the two:

Spray adhesive: Comes in a can. Probably has toxic propellants and probably should be used in a well-ventilated area. Sticks to everything. Makes your hands really sticky. Takes a while to dry. If you don't position stuff right you can unstick it and reposition it before it dries.

Hot glue: Comes in sticks. Can use it in any room with an outlet. Makes your hands all burny when you touch it. Glops and forms bumps. Dries really fast. If you don't position stuff right you can throw your project away and start over.

Right, so spray your spray adhesive on the fabric and the lampshade. Two sticky things with extra stick!!!

Position your fabric.

Try to roll the fabric on. The fabric will probably end up sticking to itself, but you can just unstick it because you used spray adhesive.

When you've got it on there, pull and tug to smooth out any wrinkles. Yet another selling point for the spray adhesive.

Fold over the seam and spray it some more so it stays down.


Then turn your shade so you are looking at the inside. There's your extra. Now, if you're picky and want to fold over the same amount all the way around (because you're going to be wearing your lampshade, I assume, since I don't know when else you'd be looking at the inside), you can trim the edge and make it even. I did.

MORE spray adhesive for the edge and inside of the lampshade. You want that mess to stick.

Fold the edge inside all the way around. Cut slits every few inches. This is a sewing trick that allows the fabric to go around curves. That way you won't have it folding on itself. It'll just overlap itself neatly.

Some of the tutorials recommended using binder clips to hold the edges secure while they dried. You may choose to skip this if the binder clips are up on the second floor with the pins or if you are likely to end up with binder clips glued to the lampshade.

And here you are: a finished lampshade!

Final step: Go wash the dishes. This will not only provide you with clean dishes, but also remove the spray adhesive from your hands.

Here's the feline-approved final product, in situ!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Yes and No

Now, I already stated in my last post that that post was really written a couple weeks ago. Translation: I've been sitting on my butt, doing very little, and not blogging about it.

I have not heard anyone say how much they enjoy searching for and applying for jobs. If I am wrong and this is something enjoyable, please let me know the procedure for enjoying it so that I may try that.

I did pick up some part-time editing work that doesn't really look to be that lucrative. They're all happy that I'm really good at it. In a way I even like it better than what I was doing, because it's all different stuff, and it's about stuff I don't know.

However. One of the things that I used to justify the lack of luster in my job search was the knowledge that the boss at my last job was overworked and fed up. Another thing was the knowledge that they would be starting a new production cycle and probably need to staff up again.

Today I got the "are you interested in this job?" call. Which is not an offer, but it is perhaps leading up to an offer. Most likely leading up to an offer.

There's not really any question as to whether I will take this job if it is indeed offered to me. I need a steady, reliable income. It's way more than I was making at the School That Shall Not Be Named. There are vacation days and sick days and health benefits.

It's so boring.

There's so much work to be done.

It's like a never-ending waterfall of work.

But it doesn't have to be the last stop. It's just a stop. It's just a means to an end -- a chance to save some money, to get things fixed around the house (gutters are the first thing that springs to mind), to regroup and make a plan and feel safe.

I can't let it take over my life. I can't do what she did and stay up all night and work weekends and stress out and not take holidays and vacation days.

Wow. I was feeling relieved and saying yes and all of a sudden. All of a sudden I feel the drudgery upon me.

Maybe Not an Office

Note: I wrote this post like, weeks ago. Something else is probably going to happen very soon. But, there's nothing ostensibly wrong with the post or the thoughts in it, and the only reason I didn't post it was because I wanted to put a picture of my cat at the end and then failed to do that. 

So part of my job searching for the past couple days has been in the category of "things I don't have to leave my house to do." Not because I am unable or unwilling to leave my house, but simply because I spent 8 1/2 months sitting in a chair in an office when I could have done the exact same work at home. Really, people in that office preferred to instant message people rather than look up and talk to them. Sometimes this was great because it allowed for private snarky conversations, but sometimes I just wanted to get out of my chair and walk over and talk to someone. Which I realize is so 20th century of me.

But really. Gas is nearly $4/gallon people. And office pants are expensive, and I keep needing to buy new ones because I keep changing sizes. And I don't even like office pants.

And people are outsourcing. At The School That Shall Not Be Named, we outsourced our essay-grading. Really. So I can grade essays. The trick is to find out how to get a job grading that stuff.

I've got nothing to do all day but poke around the Internet.

So here's the idea, going back to where I was last summer, collecting lots of little jobs. Editing, grading, and hopefully I'll be learning to write grants soon. And then if I am in charge of my own schedule, there won't be any reason I can't pick up a few yoga classes to teach, the ones that occur at inconvenient times like midday.

This does mean I have to be an independent contractor, which means no paid days off, no health insurance, no retirement plan. But it also means home office deduction, which really helped a lot last year in keeping my taxes down.

And then there is also working from the office with the lattes.

And the office with the lapwarmers, who really love office work.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Search for Jobs

  1. Create accounts on job search sites and have them e-mail you with outdated jobs that don't match your current job search because you've forgotten how to log in and change your job search preferences.

  2. Look at craigslist. Wonder how many of them are scams. Flag teaching "jobs" that are really people posting wanting others to hire them. Bookmark jobs to not apply to later.

  3. Pull out all weeds in front yard. Other acceptable activities include painting baseboards and putting fake fingernails on your cats.

  4. Work from the office with the lattes. Discover that there is no cake, and that the music selection is highly varied. Try to block the glare from the lamp with the laptop lid.

  5. Get distracted by an offer of a free shake for your birthday if you sign up for e-mail club thing. Proceed on exhaustive internet search for all free birthday food. 
I'm really looking forward to my birthday this year.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Interviews Suck

I had an interview Tuesday. All I can say is that the job doesn't sound too bad. It's little more than a glorified administrative assistant. If people ask me what I do for a living, I do not want to say "I am an administrative assistant" (or whatever the job title is, which is probably several bullshit words strung together). This is totally my problem of being an elitist with a snotty private school education and a bucket of degrees and "living up to my potential."

But the reason they suck, primarily, is that they are not accurate tools to determine whether someone can do a job.

Like, for example, interviewing to be a teacher. You can talk to me about curriculum and throw hypotheticals at me all day long and ask what the "parts" of a lesson are (and that varies, and even if I can't remember them off the top of my head, that doesn't mean I can't use them, because I have a lesson plan template I use to plan lessons because I work smarter not harder and memorization is an outdated skill). None of my answers matter if I get in front of the class without a clear and engaging lesson plan that addresses multiple learning styles and a commanding, enthusiastic presence that convinces the students to stop making spitballs and do what they're asked to do. Interviews for teaching are bullshit. Just do a teaching demo. I hate doing teaching demos, but they are the only way to see if someone can teach.

So sure, I answered a few questions (really not even that many) at this interview yesterday and have no idea if I did well or poorly because, like I said, not that many questions were really asked of me. Basically to talk about my background (and she interrupted me because it was on my resume, not that I assume my resume speaks for me, but it does include my background and the jobs I've done before because that is what a resume has on it) and find out if I would rather just edit documents all day because that was what I did in my last job (and no, I would not; that was really draining. This was the correct answer). And the obligatory "do you have any questions?" which I did have some prepared, because I never have any questions, so I asked about the corporate culture and made sure that my assessment of the position and the company were on.

Does any of this indicate that I can do the job? Hell to the no.

Another unemployed person I know was rejected from a job and told that she gave a good interview. How does that help her land a job? It doesn't explain why they didn't hire her. I guess the job just wanted to be friends.

The reason I got the last position was because T didn't interview me. She tested me. She told me straight up what the job was, asked me questions about grammar, and gave me two documents to edit and send back to her. Her goal was not to talk to me about the job but to see if I could do the job. And that's what I excel at -- actually doing the job.

I wish interviews were more like exams. Screw it. Just bring me in for an hour and see if I can do what you need me to do. That would be way more worth my time.
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