Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I know that I shouldn't be so surprised, given the economy. Even when we're not in a recession, I know that there are always people trying to find office work (all too often, I'm one of those people), but at my last two jobs, whenever we looked for new people, we'd get 10, maybe 15 resumes at best. Now, neither of my last two companies were as high-profile as the one that just called me, but 400?!?
In light of this reminder that I will have to go back to work sometime soon, I present you with a few blogs I stumbled on today.
The first is a rather inspiring blog written by a homeless woman - The Girls Guide to Homelessness. Should I ever get depressed about my job and money situation (hasn't happened yet, but you never know), or even for an interesting read, I'll come to this blog for the kick in the pants I need.
The second blog is sort of a mish-mash of all things assistant-related - save the assistants. I especially enjoyed this entry, for those who think that sexism is dead in the workplace.
I have an interview story, similar but not quite as bad. The guy didn't hit on me or outright say that I had to be willing to be harassed, but he did ask me if I was married, if I had children (having children apparently always means that you can never work late), if I was OK working with mostly men, because usually women are too sensitive to work in a male-dominated atmosphere. This guy went on and on in the same vein, that it would be my job to fit into the boys' club and my fault if I didn't, that I'd better not get too "female" at work.
I was so desperate for a job that I sped to a company half an hour away as fast as was legally possible - this guy gave me next to no notice for this interview. By the end of the interview, I could barely conceal my disgust. What really got me was, while this throwback of a guy went on and on about how I shouldn't expect to act female if I got hired, a woman (his assistant?) sat next to him, so prim, so quiet.
One of the few jobs I was happy to NOT get.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Though I'm not the greatest artiste ever, I can draw a little. I've never really tried painting. The problem isn't that I believe I'm untalented, because I do believe that I have some talent. The problem is a lack of motivation and inspiration. But lately I have felt like both writing and drawing. My ideas for writing have been various and unrelated, but lately I keep thinking about drawing vaguely abstract night-driving scenes, based on photos I take, like the one above. (I promise, I take the photos without looking the camera, with my eyes on the road, with no flash, not when other cars are close, and only on straightaways, for the most part.)
I'm thinking that the drawings should be even more abstract than the photos, on larger paper than I'm used to, with oil pastels. My adolescent medium of choice. I have the pastels, but I need the paper... luckily, I live next door to an arts supply store, and HEY! I have time on my hands!
Speaking of projects, tonight I finished a new journal for myself. Long ago, my mother had found a rather ugly journal at a dollar store, which she bought for me. She figured that I could do something with it, and so did I, but I just wasn't sure what I'd do. Several years later, I found a beautiful but rather out-of-date mesh shirt in my closet, purple flowers and green leaves on a white background. I decided to cut up the shirt and cover the journal with it, and today I did two simple drawings for the front and the back.
I wouldn't say that it's the most beautiful journal ever, but it is definitely me, and it made me happy to make it. I especially enjoyed the glossiness of spray fixatif over the oil pastel, made even more shiny by the fact that it was all on stiff, rather slick paper.
I have been walking more lately, and yesterday I was caught in another Buffalo monsoon. It made me so happy to get so drenched, even though my camera did get wet, and my feet did get a few blisters from my sneakers, and my clothes were completely plastered to me. Even though people kept looking at me like I was crazy. I haven't gotten caught out in such a hard, warm rain for a really long time, and so what if I looked slightly crazed?
You know what makes me really crazy? Whenever I'm more poor than usual, I want to buy everything in the world. Today I went to the mall with my friend Ami, and I had enough money to buy one small thing at Sephora - I got OPI for Sephora nail polish in Metro Chic, which is a lavender-grey, just gorgeous.
Ami wanted to go into a few other stores, and I was happy to oblige. The only stores that really made me feel my lack of funds were the shoe stores, and I was specifically in love with all of the ankle boots I saw. These were my favorite.
Well, I'm sure someday I'll have a job again.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Well, I'm still uninformed on a few points - not surprising, considering that the health care plan put forth by Obama seems to change daily. So this is all going to be pretty general.
But I do not understand people who don't think that universal health care is a good idea.
By and large, the people I've seen oppose the plan are Republicans (a few are hardcore Libertarians). One such Republican, a distant family member, popped up on my mother's Facebook page to say that Obama has failed us as a country - only 7 months into his first term, no less. And one of the things that scared her the most was the universal health care plan.
Of course I had to argue with her. I said (rather politely, I think) that it was kind of ridiculous to expect Obama to do EVERYTHING that he promised to do in only 7 months, and that it's obvious that we need health care reform in a big way. Having something like 60 million Americans without health care in this day and age seems unconscionable to me.
This family member on my mom's Facebook page - I will call her Beth, although that's not her name - said that she was a firm believer that America is a country of hard workers, and if you work hard, you earn your way. I said that I knew or had heard of far too many people who had full-time jobs but couldn't afford even basic medical procedures, and that is a problem. Beth countered by saying that she knew "a lot" of people who can afford decent health care coverage, but instead choose to spend their money on frivolous things.
Beth also said that "Big Government" should not be involved with health care. I asked if she felt the same about public schools, public libraries, the police force, firefighters, taking care of the roads, etc., etc. She didn't answer me. She did say that Christians, churches and charities were around to help those who need and deserve it (apparently, according to her earlier comments, this help should only be offered to those who work hard, so forget about the mentally ill, people too sick to work, etc. - they get too many handouts anyway!). When I responded that churches and charities aren't about to pay people's health insurance premiums, Beth countered that DUH, she didn't mean that!
Beth did say that the health care industry does need some reforms, but OMIGOD, NOT A COMPLETE OVERHAUL. At the time, I was shaking my head with amazement that someone could be so willfully blind about how bad the health care industry is. But what I should have brought up was Descartes. And this is where I turn into a snooty liberal intellectual.
Descartes was talking about God and our very existence, but his apples in a barrel analogy works for so many things, like this here health care overhaul. The analogy is this - if you have a barrel of apples, and you know that some of those apples are rotten, do you stick your hand into the top of the barrel and try to find the rotten apples that way? Of course not! Well, not if you have any sense. Instead, what you do is you upend the entire barrel, pick out all of the rotten apples, and return all of the sound apples to the barrel.
And yes, I do think that the health care industry in the U.S. has enough problems to warrant a complete overhaul.
Last week, I was in a car with two friends, and health insurance came up. Both friends work for different companies and had different insurances. Insurance premiums have gone up so sharply in the last couple of years that both friends' companies were constantly changing their insurances, to try and find lower prices, better services. Both of my friends were unsure what exactly was covered in their current policies because they'd switched insurance companies so often. That's a problem.
And then there's the fact that your insurance company can kick you off of their plan if you use your insurance too much, or if you have a pre-existing condition (and not just cancer - things like asthma, which is pretty common, can cause an insurance company to deny your claims or benefits).
People like Beth are going on and on about how we're going to pay for universal health care. I say that we should all expect to pay in, just like we do for the aforementioned public schools, public libraries, police, firefighters, roads, etc. England and France are good examples of how this could work and be beneficial for everyone, not just for people who can afford it. Besides, I think it's pretty clear that, if the health care industry continues the way it has, no one will be able to afford it.
One of Beth's comments was this - "Don't mean to offend, just politics." Right, because politics don't affect people's lives or anything.
I asked my mom one thing. I asked her whether Beth knew about her situation. She replied that yes, they had had a long talk about it.
My mother needs both of her hips replaced. She was laid off right around Thanksgiving. She found out that she had rare hip cysts, and that both hips would need to be replaced, two days before her health insurance ran out. Right now, she's making too much in unemployment and from her 401K to get on Medicare, and she can barely afford food, rent, car maintenance and other costs of living, let alone massively expensive operations that will take months to recover from.
My mother has always been a hard worker, and she is the perfect personal example for me of how the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality of fiscal conservatives is not working. My mother, who is going to be 59 at the end of the month, can't walk without a cane, has trouble with stairs, has trouble getting into the tub or into a car. My mother has a great sense of humor, and I don't think she's depressed, but obviously her quality of life would be better if she could walk without pain.
So yes. I AM offended that Beth decided to come onto my mother's page, knowing about my mother's situation, and spew all of this nonsensical opposition to a health care plan that would help out people like my mother (as well as the millions and millions of people who can't afford health insurance) immensely.
I would like to tell Beth and people of her ilk that there are more important things than money.
If you want to learn up about the health care plan, check this out: here
I'll be studying up as well.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Floyd has not given me any space or peace since I've been unemployed. He needs to be near me when I'm eating, when I'm reading, when I'm watching TV, when I'm sleeping... even, sometimes, when I need to use the bathroom. He's like a little kid sometimes, "Mom! Mom! Hey mom! Mom, look down here! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!"
This is just as cute and annoying as it sounds. And Floyd really reminds me of a kid, with his long, long legs and his big, big eyes, and his big, big ears. And the fact that he randomly attacks chair legs, table legs, tablecloths, the bottom of the stairs, my feet... OW, HE'S DOING IT RIGHT NOW!
Sometimes he goes bounding off into the dark, chasing things that I can't see. Sometimes he chases flies and bugs around the house.
It saddens me slightly to think that he might have been doing all of these adorably cute things when no one was around to see it, but it also saddens me if the opposite is true, if he's doing these adorably cute things because someone is around all day to pay attention now. Poor Floydie, with so much wasted unbearable cuteness.
Anyway, I'm around to see all of his kittenish antics, at least for a while, and he is deliriously happy about it. And, even though he can get on my nerves (say, when it's 80+ degrees inside, and I'm sweating to death doing nothing, and Floyd decides that he needs to be on top of me, shedding as much fur onto my sweaty, sticky skin as he POSSIBLY can), he is still my little boy.
But sometimes I see Floyd looking at me, all saucy, and I swear I can hear the Barry White playing in his head.
Look at that face and tell me that he's not thinking of smooching me!
And I always wonder when it comes to pets, cats especially - what are we to them? Mother? Master? Girlfriend? What do THEY think is going on between us? Why does it seem like, sometimes, cats are so avidly watching you while you undress?
Well, I guess it doesn't really matter. Kitty psychology can wait for another day - for now, yes, I'm happy to spend more time with Floyd. As long as he doesn't try to slip me some tongue.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
It was SO NICE to be pleasantly drunk. I wasn't thinking too much about everything, I wasn't living in my own head to my usual extent. Instead, I enjoyed my gin and tonics and laughed with my friends and talked and thought about nothing terribly deep. Then I had some beers with Kelly, and I just enjoyed the people-watching. I don't know why I decided that the bartender needed to see my tattoo, which was already in plain sight anyway, but it doesn't matter! It also doesn't matter that I was terribly lethargic yesterday, with a strong need for anything dairy. I had fun!
Yesterday it drizzled quite beautifully, and today around noon it was so dark outside that it looked like dusk. I have been enjoying the weather that everyone else in Buffalo seems to abhor. The trees and greenery and flowers have been unbelievably gorgeous, especially against a gray sky.
Now the sun is out, and I am having a lazy Sunday afternoon, with my pot of jasmine green tea, and a book and some magazines. Once my laundry is done, I plan on sitting down with some John Hughes movies (R.I.P.).
And then, you know, tomorrow I'll figure out what to do with my life.
Friday, August 7, 2009
But I feel like I have to share my last day with the internet.
As you may recall, I was commanded to attend a lunch the day before my last day.
So the last day dawned, and I went to work and did a bunch of very small tasks, and then it was lunchtime. We drove and drove along Lake Erie. One restaurant didn't have enough outdoor seating, so we drove to another. And we were there for three hours. THREE HOURS. I feel like I need to emphasize that – on my last day, instead of doing my work, I had to sit with people who didn't want me working with them, for three hours. THREE HOURS. Actually, it was less unpleasant than I thought it would be. The food was good (I had a delicious ham club with fries), I didn't pay for it, and I got Chow Chocolates from the woman who was taking over the organization.
Then, finally, back to the office for my last hour of work. I got no filing done. When it was close to time to go, my boss, the woman who fired me, came into the office and said, “Don't you just walk out when you're done. You come and get me so I can say a proper goodbye!”
OK... in my last week of work, I had my octopus necklace fixed by my boss (she makes jewelry, so she brought her tools to fix my necklace, which needed a new connector between the chain and the pendant. When she couldn't fix it at work, she took it home and brought it back the next day). I got a painting and a photograph from my boss's office, because she didn't want them anymore. I got two huge sacks of all-natural kitty litter that she had left over from when her cat died. Imagine how weird my last week was, my boss suddenly so considerate, so eager to please me, so full of gifts and help all of a sudden.
Imagine how weird it was to clean everything up, turn off my computer the last time, and then have to go to a conference room so that your boss can say “a proper goodbye.” (The conference room is on the way out of the office. There was no escape.)
Then I put up with a few minutes of compliments from my boss and the woman taking over – I'm such a great worker, I have such an attention to detail, the best personality, the driest sense of humor, everybody liked me so much, I was a joy to have in the office.
Remember, everyone, I got fired. Rather, I was “let go,” because apparently New York State makes a serious distinction between the two. Here is a hint – one of them gives you unemployment benefits, and the other does not.
Anyway, after about as much of the compliment fuckery as I could take, I breezed the rest of the way out of the building and was done with that place. Well, I had to ask for the Fed ID number the next day, so that I could file my unemployment claim, and it was quickly given to me.
I have to say that my last day was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. But it was so unbelievably bizarre! I got presents! I got complimented up and down before I had to cut them off! When I told my mom and sister about it later that night, they were as perplexed as I was.
And now here I sit, at my favorite coffeehouse.
I spent a week at my mom's, helping her with all of the kids, having fun, having naps, sleeping in. We drove up on Tuesday to see Chris Isaak play at ArtPark for free – oh, he's so good, so beautiful, his voice is so luscious, and I'm in love, and he's old enough to be my dad. Both Ami and I were panting by the end, though Ami was much more obvious about it. Seriously, though, I defy you to see him in his mirrored suit, and hear that voice, and NOT fall in love.
I returned to Buffalo on Wednesday night, and I watched “Coraline” with Julia and Kelly. Good movie, rather disturbing and beautiful. I hear the book is better.
I've been so excited about all of the things I want to do that I seem to have developed a sort of situational ADD (for instance – this morning I was getting dressed, but I got distracted, and spent quite some time running around my room topless, until Alex came over and I had to put a shirt on. Sorry I wasn't wearing a bra, Alex).
I've been reading, and watching movies, and spending a ton of time on the internet. I've been thinking of paint colors for my room - at this moment, I'm leaning toward a deep plum, though of course I'll have to ask Shon if he minds. I've been thinking about what to do with my life, again, always, and I've been reading O Magazine, which doesn't bother me nearly as much now as it used to. I like Oprah a lot better when I don't have to watch her show or hear her voice.
And this morning, as I mentioned earlier, Alex came over. She gave me a copy of “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coehlo, and she says that it might help me during this “figuring out what I want” time of life.
Also, I just reread this, and wow, I use a lot of commas. And I love the word “fuckery.” Fuckery, fuckery, fuckery, fuckery, fuckery, fuckery, fuckery.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
After years and years and years of having these dreams, I had some sort of subconscious breakthrough. Suddenly I knew the combination, and the lock, a portable one, opened and fell into my hands. Victory! And I've never had a "can't open my locker" dream since.
A few years ago, I had health insurance that paid for most of my yearly gym membership. Since I lost that insurance, the health insurance I've had has been bare-bones, no perks and barely any bones. I've had a purple portable lock since the beginning of my long-defunct gym membership.
I've forgotten the combination.
If this had happened while I was having the above-mentioned dream, I imagine that I wouldn't have taken it well. I imagine that I would have become quite anxious about it. I don't know what unopenable locks signify in dreams, but I do know that it would have freaked me out just as much if I were awake. Now... not so much. In fact, no anxiety at all, no wish to scour my room for the little slip of paper with the combination on it, which I know I must have saved somewhere.
Apparently I worked through some deep-seated anxiety in my sleep. Isn't that wonderfully strange?