Monday, August 30, 2010


Okay, I wore a size nine shoe for something like twenty years, and about a year ago I found I could no longer wear them. Thanks to, I can only assume, vanity shoe sizing, I was down to an eight and a half. Hadn't worn eight and a halfs since high school.

Now, apparently, I'm down to an eight. (In the inexplicably vanity-sized Guess brand, this has bene the case for a while.) This is ridiculous.

A Good One for People With Facebook Pages

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.

--Will Rogers

It's almost scary how foreign a concept this is becoming.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Extra Special

The project beginning last week turned into an approved document this week, and Monday and Tuesday saw feverish construction. Tuesday was an interesting day. Having worked until 7:30 on Monday (in and online by 7:49, and skipping over lunch completely), Tuesday was drop-dead, and I looked forward to having the work done and printed by noon.

Naturally, everyone knows there was more to it than this. Production hit a snag when I discovered that, in our entire facility, there wasn't a binding machine. Three-ringers was a reluctant substitute, and even then finding something remotely executive was just impossible. I had received my purchasing card and printer on Friday, and had training on the former on Monday morning, and so offered to hit Office Max and find something suitable - and to get myself some lunch as well.

It's at this point, like the day itself, I'll indulge in a tangent.

The strangeness and synchronicity of Tuesday had begun early, when I saw my across-the-street-next-door neighbor, who had himself worked with my employer many years ago before he retired. He's always a pleasure, and seeing him is exceptional enough these days - he spends much of his time with children, grandkids, and great-grandchildren - it was a nice way to start the day, getting surprised, pleased congratulations from someone who knows how fortunate my job is.

But it was at lunch that timing began in earnest to be precision-tight, and surprising and amazing.

I chose not to turn at the street, into the strip mall - but at the second entrance instead. It turned out that the first entrance was under construction, and I'd have been rerouted to the tune of a minute or two in delay, if I'd taken that turn. So the fact that I arbitrarily chose the other way led me into the arms of a lovely twist of fate.

I saw the young family vaguely, turning in to the Subway for a parking spot, but didn't look at them.

When I got out of my car, I sort of noticed, "That father looks like my best friend's husband. Huh." I found myself looking at the wife for distracted confirmation that I could shake my head and keep walking, but instead of that I found the opposite effect. My goodness, that woman looked like my best friend.

Come to think of it, the little boys with them ... those were my best friend's adorable little boys.

Quick look back at the woman. At the man.

"Oh my G-d."

"TEO ... !??"

She turned around, and - yep - that was The Elfin One, without any question. TEO, who lives in another state, and had no idea I work at the location I do.

We spent the most delightful, if hurried, bite of lunch together, and it was amazing. They were stopping in town to see her dad, on the way to go somewhere else with the family, and had happened off the road here for something to eat first.

The minor miracle, and blessing of timing.

Of course, timing is not always a blessing, at least for everyone. But more on that part toward the end of the day's tale. We've miles to go before we get that far.

First we go to Office Max, where I'm a living sitcom of "there aren't enough in the size I want" and dropping things on the floor and laughing at myself no harder than the poor clerk must have himself, later on in his own day. *Sigh*

I get back to the office in decent time, and am happily printing off my three beautiful documents at my printer at my desk, and enjoying the ease and luxury of having all the resources I need ...

... when I notice the document doesn't have page numbers.

Quick IM to the manager. She agrees - pagination.

Okay, so I'll print three new copies. No problem.


You all must know, of course, how many problems we encounter at this point in the day - yes? The printer will NOT feed paper. I try and try again, and suddenly midafternoon has given way to late afternoon, and all I have to show for myself are three sets of printed tabs, the covers in situ, and otherwise empty binders. Gah.

Help Desk. Ticket to ride - or to call someone up there.

No response, it's over an hour. It's getting near four. I call another admin, and she is almost on her way out the door to go show a house which has a looker - and, in this market, I am not keeping her from her real estate. She prints a copy of the presentation on the big color multi-function device downstairs, and tells me where it is in the printer directory.

"Under stress" is of course the hardest way to concentrate on finding a dadgum printer in a dadgum directory. I cannot for the life of me find the thing.

I physically go to the machine, knowing that, as an MFD, I should at least be able to take the single copy Other Admin had time to print before logging out, and copy it; right? I cannot find the copy. Someone has WALKED AWAY with my print job.

I am beside myself at this point.

I call Help Desk once again, and try to be nice as I explain that "I really don't want to be the 'you have to come now Girl', but if I don't get someone on my printer toot-sweet, my dog is NOT going to deserve what I do to her when I go home."

They bump the ticket, of course.

Minutes pass.

In those minutes, I find the d*mned color MFD in my directories. I print my copies, my own printer be hanged. As I'm walking out the door to the elevators to go pick up my documents - it's five o'clock almost - I see the tech, and I apologize to her: I will be RIGHT back!

I am, and she's inspecting the patient, more than understanding. She works for twenty minutes, and I'm constructing my presentations. They end up looking really good, actually. I put away the electronic three-hole-punch I've stolen from the work room, and begin to work with her on diagnosis. It's impossible to figure out.

She points out a fact I've known since my father advised me as a young woman: appliances attempting to be more than one appliance in one often have lots of problems. This printer is a printer, scanner, copier, and fax.

All by itself, the printer function is causing the nightmares, of course. The roller will not feed the paper. Period.

She manages time and again to get perfectly good service from the printer's own console. It prints several pristine and beautiful test pages. But the computer is unable to convince the mechanics to step up. INEXPLICABLE. Inexcusable, frankly. I joke about the fact that what I am printing offends the printer itself (a joke not precisely based in fantasy), and at last she suggests a solution. Reboot my computer.

Infuriatingly: this works. I print spines for the binders; it's the last thing. They are completed.

I am floored, exhausted. It's after five, and I have to go downtown to deliver these docs. The book I wish I could also be delivering, ordered last WEEK, has never been received from Amazon - as confirmed by the mail room - but I must do what I can, and so I shut down and go out ...

... and get in the car and discover the flat.

Thank heaven for the generosity of people; before I had the toy jack more than five twists into hoisting my car up, a security guard had come over, and then one of the Facilities guys, a man I've never seen not smiling - even as he completely took over and did the whole rest of the job. Bless him.

It must be after six, and we've determined the donut needs air. I call my mom and ask about the air pump she's told me she and my stepfather have, and go over to their house.

The little pump is slow, but it works a treat, and does itself proud on its maiden usage. Me, I'm eaten alive by mosquitoes, complete with a welt down my neck. I just do not care. I still have to go downtown. I still have so much yet to do.

I skip sharing any more pizza (that's what we had for lunch; and, in any case, I couldn't be less hungry), and get back on the road.

Downtown is pretty in the evening; extremely peaceful and quiet. The lights are just beginning to seem bright against incipient twilight, and it is the good kind of warm and still outside. A breeze, but a quiet one. The sky a gentle grey.

I get upstairs in the quiet behemoth of our central office, I put the books where they will be waiting. I leave. At last - success. I'm smiling as I walk out. I'm feeling the still cement and asphalt. I look toward my old employers; one a block east, one actually standing in two directions. I look at the employer I thought I most wanted to work for - the one whose Communications department turned me down, even with my references. I look at the vastness and weight and height of my new one; the one which isn't trying to "grow" - the one which belongs to, and serves, my nation - and am so overwhelmed.

I get in my car, and pull out.

And witness the accident.

The horrible, yet unbloody accident.

I see the couple, the young man get out of the black car. I see the silver van, hermetically sealed. I approach them; the woman hysterical, the man wishing I wouldn't engage, waving me off with assurances. I approach the van's window. It never opens. The door never does. He never gets off his cell. I wait ten minutes, maybe fifteen. I'm unsure, with all the phones clearly in use, anyone has called the police. I'm talking to the Homeless Patrol, the two guys who didn't see, but came when they heard. I know I had no idea, thirty seconds after it happened, who did what or what I even saw.

I stay, and I am not needed. I don't believe the police have been summoned.

I drive home.


The epilogue is boring; the next morning, it took three and a half hours for my tire to be patched. Because I live two blocks from the station, I go home and wait there. I rest. I am frustrated not to be at work. I call and it is ready at ten-thirty.

It costs twenty-five dollars.

For a patch, this seems high. But I am grateful to have a twenty-five dollar repair job. I am glad I can pay it. So I do. And I go.

On Wednesday, this day, I'm only at work until five-thirty. One would hardly complain.

Thursday and today were ludicrously normal. Busy, and challenging, but nothing like the top of the week.

I've forged a connection with that manager; she likes me. She said good things about me to my boss, which was wonderful of her to do. She likes to find good people, and she likes to reward them, too. To one, she brings diet Coke. To another, M&Ms. She asked me last week what my "thing" is. I told her Advil.

Praise to my manager is even better. More than once, she has made my day.

It is six-forty-five now. I should be mowing the grass.

It is thick, my grass. It'll take a lot of mowing; overlapping swipes, taking the same rows twice-over, half-width by half-width, over and over.

I wish I knew a kid I could write a check to, to do the job. But I need the exercise.

I miss E.

I am tired. But what a week.

I mean this in the best possible way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Special Project

Today I got called onto my first priority project for the boss. He asked me to work with one of the managers, who recruited another one from one of the other regions, and she set us to work compiling a massive store of emails and documents into a central, coherent piece.

In truth, it was tedious work best not charged to people whose time, you know, costs significantly more than mine does. But I was glad of the opportunity to demonstrate both alacrity and ability (tedium doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention, kids; that's an important secret of any job, not just secretarial work), and also to work with this manager. She's the first person who gave me a resource, before I had a computer, and she's also the first person who asked me to DO anything for her, also before I had a computer. I was grateful for that, too, because even if it was "just making labels" it was work, and there was no sense in these people having me around if I was only memorizing the supply catalogue. Give me labels, it's not something I feel a need to get snobby about, given the lack of resources!

Thing is, since getting said computer, my continued issues with certain access have led me to disappoint this manager a couple times, and it is frustrating. She doesn't get snippy about it, but it's definitely no more irksome to me to be unable to do my job than it is to her to be unable to depend on someone for things they ought to be empowered to do. Any (lack of) complaint about my onboarding aside, again - it's not as if this woman has overstepped some sort of bounds. She's asked for room reservations (it took me two days to manage) and stuff like that. You'd better believe it felt GOOD to have her ask me to step up on a deadline, and to deliver for her. Even if what I delivered was 241 pages of cutting-and-pasting. I was cutting and pasting on the way to a document my own boss is going to need. The manager wanted us to put together the makings of a rock star presentation.

Give me a the chance to be part of that, and dadgum skippy I will be your tedious cut-and-paster. Of COURSE I will. And demonstrably grateful for the opportunity.

I actually finished the collection of pieces before 3:00 this afternoon, which amazed me, because before the midpoint of the pile I had to go through it was looking like overtime. I expected to bring my laptop home tonight and work off network on this for much of the evening. So finishing at midafternoon felt pretty d*mned good. I was partying, and by the time she asked me for a cover with timelines to illustrate deliverables, that was just FUN - and steps two (culling/deleting/streamlining) and three (cosmetics/formatting) are the easier ones, too. Step one is often the worst of the lot, with special projects, particularly deadlined ones. I know my best way to work, I lit into this pile, and I managed to get THROUGH it. It felt simply amazing.


I said to E last night, the truth is, I really don't know how I could have gotten this job. He asked me if I had prayed, given myself to whatever would be the best thing for me. And of course I did do that. But whatever it was in my resume - in my AWKWARD interview on the phone, or the blase' one I gave in person, having come to the conclusion there was no way I was getting this gig, period - that got me in this gig, I sincerely cannot imagine. It is beyond me to understand what I could have ever done to deserve this fortune.

Mind you, I know my strengths, and they're formidable.

But this market ... I seriously do not know what made this happen. The possible "connection" I thought I had swears he wouldn't even have been in a position to say anything even if he had had the time to. The couple-hundred resumes I know must have joined mine in consideration absolutely contained some strong contenders; this town isn't big enough I don't LITERALLY know my own competition - and it's fierce. I was a dink on the telephone, and short of breath in person. I didn't come off idiotically, nor smell bad, but I was NOT stellar in my presentation nor even my person, and I know that very clearly.

So I'm feeling the need to make up for whatever my LUCK has been, and to do it justice.


I have been fortunate and blessed to have some unbelievably good jobs. My last position in insurance, I worked for one of the greatest bosses I've ever had - and I've had a number of good ones, lucky stinker that I am. My last position in the mainstream financial services industry - people HATED me, because I had the best boss. He'd walk out of the office at 2:00 on a Friday, look at me bewildered, and say, "what are you still doing here?" And he wasn't any pushover - he expected only the best. But he gave his team all he could, and "collegial" wasn't just some sort of cute corporate conceit coming from his mouth. He was one of the finest people I've ever worked with, and watching others around me, at all levels, coming to realize that too was incredibly gratifying, as he became a known quantity at that firm.

He also gave the most elegant, generous gifts. Just today I wore my Movado glass locket with the #1 in it he gave me as a parting present. As always happens, someone complimented it in the elevator. I have seen well to do women eyeing that and peering at me over it. I love that gift probably more for its giver even than its refinement and style. It is the very emblem of generosity.


So. Yeah. I've had some good jobs in my day. I've had high caliber, highly visible positions; my references are likely more powerful than my resume itself ... SVPs, CROs, Directors, Vice Presidents who worked with me in above-and-beyond capacities. I'm extremely fortunate in the people who somehow have found reason to give me their humbling, much esteemed respect. Apparently, I have a gift in my total lack of fear to network - even though I'm "just a secretary". I know my assets - ambition, confidence, and creativity in communication - and I use the devil out of them.

But this job ... It's either been so long since I felt so fully challenged, or I really am on a wholly different level in this place than I've ever been before (not stratospherically executive per se - but the nature of my employer is so absolutely unlike the mainstream profit-and-growth financial sector I spent so many years supporting) that my commitment is engaged in a whole new way.

Yes, that is it.

I forge very real commitments to, and loyalties to, my employers, if I possibly can. I find ways and reasons to invest myself in my living.

But ... this new employer ...

I am part of something literally bigger and more important than I have ever been part of before. I may be "just a secretary" - but I'm one whale of just a secretary when I want to be ... and, fella babies.

I want to be.

I am wowed by my own opportunity here - and I mean "here" - in my very own job. Not the opportunity to grow out of it, not the "possibility for advancement" - I work in a project, in a place, the like of which I've never been part of. And I have the chance to offer a level of support either satisfyingly adequate and charming, or genuinely value-added.

Guess which of those I find myself urging to go for.

I want to wow these people.

I want to give them the BEST, and accustom them completely to seamless support. I want them, actually, to become almost unaware of my work, because it is done unfailingly.

I'm reaching the point where my access is approaching the level I require to be able to do this. I've worked very hard not to whinge about what has gone slowly, and to fill in the gaps as much as I can where I still require others' help.

I've bought chocolate, and greased all the wheels I could with very real gratitude for all the help I have gotten.

I've begun to build the network of relationships I'll need to manage my work.

And even a person who may have some reason herself not to appreciate my presence says I am a fast learner, and doing very well.

Learning, interestingly, has been the very smallest part of my transition so far. (This was not the case at my previous position ...) I find my concentration at peak levels, because I am so fully ENGAGED, and I care so much about this job. This work.

Today, I had my first special project.

I'll sleep knowing I gave it a hell of a good go.

And hoping that this is how it looks to those who needed to put me on it.

The Eagles

"Life In the Fast Lane" is a vicious, teriffic song, man. I'd claim I had forgotten this, but the probable fact is it was so much a part of the furniture, I'd bet I never knew.

Genuinely excellent song, and not merely for the acutely wicked guitar hooks.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I remember talking with somoneone, once, about someone horribly, ridiculously intolerant, who asked about something or other in his house, and sneered that "that was made by the Chin Comms" ... the Chinese communists.

I remember, too, when China's communism began to burgeon into astounding capitalism, and how exciting that seemed at the time really.

There is a segment of my liberal thinking which subscribes to the idea that I shouldn't really care "who made it" - and certainly not show financial bias by refusing to buy "made in China" or the like.

There's a much bigger segment of my liberality which believes, and always has, in "spending locally" - eating locally, nurturing my neighbors with whatever money I might have to spend. I believe in accepting higher costs, sometimes, for higher quality - or at least for the worthwhile goal of SEEING the effect my money has in my world. Visiting my family in the Pacific Northwest was wonderful, for the abundance of locality on offer. Local fare, local craft - even indigenous teas, I believe they have now. Heh. It can be a powerful thing, and one can see the movement even in this most republican of towns. The desire for local economic benefit is wider spread as the economy goes on.


I also believe in staying out of the Big Boxes, and malls, and in silly clothing one won't find locally, and in eBay, and in shopping, when I'm not in Carytown or a farmer's market or restaurant, online rather than in giant retail.

I've been an eBayer for certainly over a decade now. Most of my clothing and jewelry, and an increasing proportion of even my shoes come from online shopping. I do Christmas (apart from Carytown!) without leaving my house to deal with crowded parking lots; have for a number of years - since before "the morning shows" discovered people could do this. Increasingly, with loved ones far away, it really is the only way to shop which makes sense. And most people who know me know I am the eBay queen.

Which is why it has for some time now grown increasingly depressing to see, even on eBay, actual human sellers - and even actual human (yes, American, frankly) eBay power sellers - increasingly displaced by Asian markets. Over the past year, and almost stunningly in the past six months, the pace to which Asian sellers are taking over auction markets is almost unbelievable.

To be sure, it's certainly easy to tell who's who - and, if you don't want to buy from Asia, to skip over, after you've clicked on the first few pictures in a list, and figured out which stock shots are being used by whom. It's even pretty easy to discern American sellers (and Australian ones; they're huge in this market now) whose stock is clearly originating from the same places.

More and more, too, it's certainly no guarantee that "Asian" equals cr*p ratings. Quite a few of these major marketers are increasing their service and quality quotients enough to make purchasing highly worthwhile. You find yourself marveling at detailed photos, saying, Okay, this one is obviously not some fly-by-night operation sucking down my money without any return for me in it. Some of these sellers really work hard, and you can't find yourself faulting them. I recently bought from an Oregon seller, and the item came - "Designed in the Pacific Northwest; made in China" - an interesting point to delineate. "Some of your money isn't going to Asia!"

And you know what, that's a point that matters to me. The advantage of Asian-manufacture prices, and some advantage, too, for the domestic economy.

But there are sellers out there, with the photos of models who look as if they are half starved, and some of them possibly plucked out of soap lands - with prices custom made to win the bids of people more dependent on price (below all) than I am at the moment - with Engrish in their headlines and descriptions, enough to make you wonder how good their service really is - whose auctions make me think twice. Hand-beaded wedding gowns for $130 ... ? You can get a little queasy, if you think about this stuff much. Even if only about those poor young models, tricked out in ludicrous fashions for the foreign market, and smiling self-consciously ... for how many dollars a week ... ?

I find myself more and more leery of these sellers. And, yes, I know it's not only the Chinese. But they do dominate the stripe. Hugely.

I find myself lighting on amateurish photos, clearly non-stock ones, with very real excitement now, when I peruse a list of search returns of much length, on eBay. "Wow, a seller who might have better than a 98% feedback rating - who might be from Peoria, rather than Pyongyang" ...

It's sad. It's dispiriting.

I look around me, and see how many people are still out of work (while I complained about THREE lousy MONTHS) ... and I think about the connection between my buying habits, and thousands of others' - and the facts of my country's economy.

I'm not pretending sophisticated analysis here. I'm making an emotional post, about my mixed feelings - about my mixed *experiences*, even this very month or so; with one dress a disappointment, and another a great success ... and both, I know, bought from somewhere in Guongdang or the neighborhood.

Yes, I can think, too, about whether my influence is any good in those neighborhoods. Or terrible.

I can stew myself silly over things like this. I'm a woman - and my mother's daughter. Fretting to no dessert is all too easy for me.

And then I want to serve some nice dessert to those terribly thin young women modeling clothes for my prosperous, yet stingy, American consumption.


There was surely a point to this. But I have chosen to sink under the weight of self-indulgence in my response to these things. My apologies, kids. I'll try to write a better post next time.


I could have lived my life happy never learning that Captain Kirk's career includes starring opposite Lindsay Lohan as her leading man.

Holy ...

See, now?

There are advantages to being a pop-culturally backward middle-aged white broad. AND to not being *quite* geek enough to read up on The Good Movies before they come out.

(In happier news? Pine's dad has, apart from his significant slice of CHiPs history, a bit of a Trek track record. Aw.)


If you can show me a meal better than taziki, hummus, tabouli, peppers and lettuce in soft tortilla wraps, I will declare you have shown me a very miracle.

Ohh, dinner was so delicious tonight.

Okay, Okay - So - Mel Gibson

I try not to bore y'all with my take on pop culture, because - let's face it - I'm a forty-some year old suburban white woman, and cherish my right to extreme unhipness just as much as everyone with any trace of fad-and-fashion savvy chereishes their right to dismiss me as a hopeless fossil ...

But Mel Gibson and these tapes of disgusting voicemails he left for his chippie.

Am I the ONLY person who's been hearing these things who can hear the extreme level of bad acting going on?

The longer this foolishness goes on, the more absolutely astounded I am to hear NOBODY whatsoever commenting on the extraordinarily bad line readings on both parties' parts. I mean, unbelievably bad acting. Bend-at-the-waist, high-school first-timer, one-act-festival-at-the-community center bad acting. So. Hideously. Bad.

People have mentioned many times how interestingly strange the sound recording is.

But not once, not yet, have I heard even the most casual observation of this execrably poor quality of performance.


Friday, August 13, 2010

GET Into the Groove! Boy, I've Got to PROVE--

Finishing out four weeks at the new job, I'm beginning to get a sense of the rhythms and realize urgencies. When you're new in a group, it can be easy to get ahead of your duties (note to employment candidates: it is always better to get ahead of your job when you're new than to let it get ahead of you), but this actually can be a disservice to yourself. Yesterday, I relished tearing into my accounts payable inbox, processing something like fifteen or so invoices for payment. The week's been busy, I've gotten enormous amounts of work done - even with a day off in the middle of it - and on top of priority matters, I've polished off a lot of new employee stuff as well. I finally enrolled in my health benefits etc. yesterday. I completed several training courses online. I gained directory access, and made important progress. One of my coworkers and I set plans to go over her job duties on Monday, pending some vacation time coming for her.

Today, I came in and found myself alone in our quadrant of the floor. Two others did show, but the white noise was the great companion of the day.

It did give me good time for MORE new employee stuff; but had I saved some of that training, rather than worrying about the email nasty-grams "reminding" me gently to get to it, the courses and modules would have taken much less time, and I certainly could have concentrated on them carefully. They would have been good occupation, too, for a quiet day. As it was, I put in a few messages on outstanding materials I seem not to have received; looked at Code of Conduct information, read the employee manual. This is the sort of thing I would have done anyway; I'm a reader of manuals, a follower of directions. I don't even mind these things. For me, reading even copy writing has certain points of interest. And it does beat slogging through twelve hundred lines in Excel, a sort of job I have had in the past and could never stand to acclimate myself to much. I like the quiet. And it's not like my first few days - memorizing that supply catalogue, in order to fend off sleep while I had no computer, and not enough work to keep me occupied (or useful).

It's something of a pleasure, a quiet Friday when you can survey your progress, and realize the rhythms which will work best.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


So I've mentioned the writing work. Now to mention the paycheck-inclusive work. The new job I haven't chosen to speak of much to this point; it seems premature to have opinions about a place this soon, and I've learned better over time. Still, it isn't reasonable not to think and compare at all.

It was three months, two days from layoff to new offer. I am ludicrously fortunate, and extremely aware of this. I pray in gratitude every day. Once I started in, came the usual confusion of what-is-what ... how-to-get-to-what ... and the beginnings of in-job networking. I have an acute capacity for finding resources, and the motivation here is impelling.

The motivation here is illuminating, too.

My last position - my last company ... I can't find much reason to whinge and badmouth them. But I have discovered my suspicion in-the-moment was exactly correct ... and I am vindicated in certain ideas. I felt I had taken a pay cut and a demotion - both indisputably true, if you watch the resume - but that the choice had been a strategy. I went to a company legendary for its security, and decided that losing bonuses and three grand in base income was necessary, and would pay off.

We've seen how this panned out. But I stand by my decision; in the end, it has still left me intact and undeterred.

The problem was that, while I believed in that security - and even if it had been genuine - the security was in exactly the job I had. There would be nowhere to go from where I sat. And, over time, and with some advantage of being able to see: I learned that, even if I could have "risen" to an executive admin position ... at this employer, I wouldn't have *wanted* one.

That was the sobering realization. That even if my original hope for advancement had become possible - what was available wasn't appealing to me.

I started looking for a job in the middle of the holidays. I had an interview in January. I applied heavily, and networked extensively. My contacts are peerless (literally - they're not secretaries, my references), and I've never had any fear of using them.

For the Communications job, I stepped up and called up my old buddy the SVP of Communications. I tugged on the sleeves of the VP at the charity I'd worked campaigns with for several years. She took me to lunch, and spoke with me several times. I called recruiter friends-of-friends, and pipes up with my last boss in an executive position. I have ambition, and I'm not afraid to use it.

No WONDER I never fit in with my last employer. This company was unable to comprehend that intelligence and administrative work could be compatible; and never knew what to do with me. I was bored out of my mind. I was not merely left unchallenged: I was forbidden to even try to rise above minimum clerical expectations. Over time, I was left out of staff meetings, told essentially pointblank I talked too much for a (mere) admin. Seriously! That actually got said to me - that I contributed TOO MUCH to group meetings and discussions, and that I wouldn't need to come to staff meetings anymore.

*Please insert stunned, semi-appalled silence here*


Okay. So, the new employer is pushing me already. And I am energized to have a job about which I find myself CARING so very much. I'd almost forgotten how that feels.

Not *quite* ... not really, not forgotten. But I had assimilated myself to the situation I had, and for survival ... and contentment ... I somewhat had to smother my ambition. Even my intelligence.

It's a shame for that company - but I was never more fortunate than the day they laid me off. That's the secret of my "attitude", thought to be so amazing, thought to be so good. It was simple math. What I had "lost" was no loss to me.

What I have now ... I am so very thankful for.

Time soon to go say prayers in gratitude. But I had to at least post about work once, early in my tenure ...


One of the most frustrating things about writing in my genre is that, when it comes time to shop and query, many of the authors whose agents I'd do best with, in terms of "matching" their catalogue, are located in Europe. I know I should just query; the world is growing smaller every day, electronically. It shouldn't be an obstacle.

But something in me protests, good grief - I should be able to do this domestically.

I think to myself, intrinsically, that doesn't necessarily have any meaning. If I get an agent in the U. K. - it's still getting myself an agent, isn't it? But I do fear the translation of a contract over borders, even if not across the miles themselves. (I'm long accustomed to having miles between myself and some object of interest ... but not actual international borders. Bless the US for being such gigantic country.)

I need to be *doing* - so, if I must yoo-hoo across the pond, that is still DOING, which is what counts. And so, on we go.

Even as I mentally try to compose my sweet note to the lovely Susann Cokal, asking her whether she thinks it might be worth quering her agent, too. Given my differences from Susann, I would imagine I'd not be a hot property. But it ought to be a question worth posing ... another DO for the list.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

House Beautiful

Home is a peaceful place today, sweet-scented and relaxed. I got three loads of laundry washed last night; the last went into the dryer this morning, and sorting and putting-away has begun. I am the strange sort who actually likes folding laundry, so this being a Sunday pastime doesn't bother me. (Hate *vacuuming*, though - and Swiffing the hardwood, too. Ah, well.)

I've also done some small detail work around the house. Removing a few vestigial pieces of the old security system - probably state-of-the-art/1986, but after nine years' residence here, obviously never to be re-upped. Finalizing the homes for the plants. Taking down the new light fixture, which doesn't suit, and putting it back in its box to be returned, with its shade, so I can then turn around and buy something on the order of 25 new switch- and electrical plates, a nice big (bottom-heavy) urn for my biggest plant, and several other miscellaneous things. This doesn't even include a necessary grocery trip; but at least the stores are next to one another.

My energy's good, but motivation is lacking. I wish I could stay in the house, and just read and stay quiet. Or, I wish I could enlist some company for the trip. Unfortunately, mom's cell is off (!!!), and the next-door neighbor is deep in yard work.

It's nice to start a week with things in such good order, though. I suppose that should be motivation in itself, but of course I'm the type to find that motivation to stillness, not movement. There ya go.

I suspect I will get moving shortly, even if I can't find company. *Sigh*

But in the meantime, this is a very pleasant place to be ...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Still A Good Day

Well, with the good offices of my mom and stepfather, the drain seems to be cleared. The broken-off bit of the snake we never removed; because the plastic pipes are sealant goo'ed up to the point of irremoveability (without breaking them basically), BUT I have to say I was rather astounded with the power of the compressed air can mom brought to clear the blockage. D held a plunger over one drain while she took the can to the other one, and dang if that stuff's not rocket powered. D thinks it blew the snake to kingdom come too - but if nothing else, the water's draining. We cleaned out the sink, and called it a night. No nightmares, no frustrations (no removal of the snake; which does worry me a bit). But for now, there's laundry to be done.

The shopping list grows longer, with drain-strainers and a nice big urn I want for one of my big indoor tree plants, but tomorrow should be pleasant; return two things, and buy a couple dozen small ones in return. Heh.

Time to finish CLEANING the house now - so I can finally clean my rather nasty self.


Six plants repotted, and a seventh probably on tap as well. I've gotten an inventory started for a trip tomorrow, to return the kitchen light fixture and shade I bought which really aren't suitable, and measured a pot I want to get a decorative urn for as well.

It isn't much, really. But I'm enjoying a *slowly* productive Saturday afternoon. It'll all go on into the evening - finishing with that plumbing; and finally of course also getting to housecleaning - but at the end, I'll have some small, nicely refurbished new details to enjoy in my pretty and quiet, relaxed, clean house ...

A good day. Even with its stupid frustrations. Even knowing I can likely expect more, once it's time to take apart bits of the basement!


What do you do when the snake BREAKS OFF in the laundry sink which has been backed up for a few days, preventing fresh influxes of clean socks (and you're on your second-to-last pair), and providing habitat for cave crickets to sickeningly drown themselves, forming lint-and-gross-bug stew ... ?

You go upstairs, knowing perfectly well where the plumber's wrenches are, and you pick another project until the point in the day where you feel like becoming even more disgusting than you already are by dismantling the pipes beneath the sink to pull out the segment of steel coil you've broken for your stepfather.

You plant plants, and give dirt to others. You find homes for flotsamming artifacts in the office. And you turn on the Star Trek DS9 DVDs in the background, for company.

You also work fairly conscientiously not to think about the fact that the person who really ought to be sharing your frustrations is uncomfortably ensconsed four thousand miles, no doubt spreading alternative frustrations far too far across the globe.



Nothing. NOTHING. Is ever straightforward or efficiently do-able.

Nine years I've been a homeowner (last month). It really is worth the spitting and cussing. Isn't it?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It happened today - tonight - just now ... the reason I needed to get to a post I've been thinking about lately. It won't be particularly good writing. It won't be deep nor inspiring. I'm not interested in thrilling you. This one is for me. Just a note to self.

Not long ago, I was PMS'ing - that thing women do, some of us, every four weeks.

I don't know what it was made me misty this time. Nothing important. But I chose, in the moment the hormones gave rise to a swell, to ride a wave of tender emotion.

We can choose that - especially those of us paying attention. Many milk their own volatility without realizing it; needing chocolate and a chick flick, or turning up the music when it's the right - or wrong - song at the right moment. I do it intentionally sometimes. I feel the rise begin, and decide to let it go - or actively squelch myself. Or perhaps I indulge. I reach for the thickness of my own feelings, and pull it around me, sink in - marinate.


I feel sorry for men, is the thing here. For all that word above - volatility - comes up: I know the truth of feminine emotion for what it is. Even the choices we're not conscious of ... are still choices, with us. And we can indulge or refine or minimize, which men cannot.

To be sure - some men know how to indulge emotions.

Unfortunately, though, you guys aren't that good at it - and often choose anger to indulge. To cede your control to.

Yeah, women do too. But oftentimes, at least, we control the option. We do it on purpose. (Yes, we are maddning. None would have us otherwise. Even those full of hatred.)

You guys, though - are subject to feelings, abused by them. Very melodramatically so, sometimes, if you'll pardon the observation. My stars, a man who's been hurt: he's the first person ever to've been so. He will ... Never Trust Again. He's amazing in his wilful blindness, and in the weakness in the face of pain. Ready to be mastered.

Women ... many capitulate, but that too is a decision. Often one trained into us by passive-aggressive gender roles. My the opera.

Women let the proportions go haywire.

But women have luxury men really can't understand.

I know men feel.

I know men endure powerful sadness.

But women ... have a menu. And a supersize button, in our hormonal cycles.


I cried recently. Don't remember why it was.

But I remember the tears in my eyes.

That's the point of crying.


Six years. One day.

Today, the heat inspired the insects to loud, low speechmaking in the quiet woods where my office is.

I remember the cicada sound - from back then. Sounded like a beach at the ocean. A train. Nature cycling.

Nothing has changed inside, except for the pain.

Much has changed outside. But I can fool most people. Few of them really see (few people see other human beings anyway).

August 4. And another anniversary, soon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


My cousin came down here with her daughter and boyfriend a few years back, and the guy bonded with my dog in between family movements. I liked that guy, but one thing he said actually became kind of oddly special to me.

He was commenting on the striking personality of Siddy, and scritching and being nice on her, and she was loving it. He looked at me and he said, "her head still smells like a puppy."

Sid was probably eight or so by then, if not more - and she is twelve now, bless her totally-ignorant-of-chronology bones. And her head still has the sweet-ish smell of a little baby dog.

I often say my dog's got good stink; and I do actually have an affection for the warm, grassy smell of her paws in summertime (well, some summertimes; this year has been too dry for her to pick up scents in her fur), the mellow musk around her neck. But her head is remarkable. Definitely sweet. She smells like a puppy to this day.

Lolly is not my first baby-scented beastie. Ex and my first cat, Gert, had chinchilla-soft fur and a pleasant fragrance. Our big old orange boy, Byshe, smelled inexplicably of baby powder all his life. He never got into my perfumes; as far as I could tell, the whiff was somehow innate to himself - little Smike didn't share it, though they were all but littermates. I don't even smell like baby powder, not like he did.

But Lol is a special case, not least because dogs are supposed to smell like dogs, for one - and because she does have a doggy smell about her ... but her cranium's pure sweet.

She's not allowed to kiss my face, but I'm often to be found up next to hers. The little patches where she used to have a mask, stretching up from her eyes to her ears. That flat, velvety spot where she's so warm, where the muscles stretched across her skull make a little square expanse on top of her head just made for scritching and resting your face quietly next to. (She has another muscular spot, between her front legs, the front of her chest, which is one of our favorite places for me to pet her - where the fur meets in four quarters to a tiny twist in the middle of her fur. This spot is the warmest, most reassuring place in the world to put your hand. And she likes it too.)

To go along with her puppy smell, Siddy has a best friend of only three or four years old; our esteemed next-dog neighbor, Scout. Scout often reminds me of my little canine niece, the middle/furry child, the one who was replicated a few years ago, blown up a little bit, and put in the house next door. Scout and the Lolly play like rambunctious three year olds together, rampaging like fuzzy little maniacs and then flatly (quite harmoniously) ignoring each other to death. They get along perfectly, and love each other to death.

Scout keeps Lolly running, and playing - more by far tha I ever could do for her - and as a result, the tiny little creaks she was developing before regular play dates have almost entirely disappeared. She had been on punitively expensive supplements she didn't like (but was so good about eating for me, bless her), but I haven't given her one in so long I can't even remember now. She'd tripped on the steps a time or two, and showed signs of not seeing well. Now she's every bit the thumping galumpher she ever was - and though she might not spy all the cats, she sees her breakfast in the morning -and Scout - and that's what counts. We're lucky in our neighbors, and overtly grateful.


My dog will be thirteen in six months to the very week now.

And her head still smells like a sweet little puppy dog. Seems only fitting. That's what she'll always be.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Again

From the moment I received an offer, I was impressed at the amount of time I had to devote to getting into my new job. The stack of forms I'd completed and printed for HR before I even commenced work was about a quarter of an inch thick, and of course there is always more to do once in the door. Security has been a large part of the time commitment; the usual drug screening was the least of it. I went in for fingerprinting, and contributed a lot of info for the credit and background checking.

The first week was deadly, without a computer - but last week, once my laptop had been deployed, went frantically well, and I'm climbing on top of a big ball I'm going to have to stay on.

One of the results of all this activity is that a MONTH has gone by (!!) with no further querying. It's not that I'm "exhausted" when I come home, but I am concentrating so much on my job (and that is good stuff; I'm absorbing things remarkably well, even for me - I think!), when I come home I want to stop concentrating for a while.

Even with shorter workdays (I'm not on a flex schedule anymore - so I won't be working 7:30-5:30 ... but I also won't have Fridays off every other week!), the evenings are short enough they're going by with less thought to my OTHER career.

Today has been devoted to getting back on that ball. I've been rewriting the query, and reading a lot trying to regain some direction. As some may recall, when last we broached the subject, I'd completed my list of e-queries from Writers Market, and was about to begin the independent search. I can admit, some of the reluctance to "concentrate" comes from being a bit daunted. But not enough to quit.

My last rejections were from the agency for Sharon Kay Penman (a woman I will meet at the Conference this year; and who was very personal and gracious in her letdown), and the partial request I'd received early on. There are still a number of queries unresponded-to, but one must assume there's no iron on the fire, and commence to collecting more irons to try heating up.

Today has been good. Writing feels good - and by "writing" I have to include all the work that has nothing to do with composition. As with my day job, I find the business of my work interesting stuff. This is more personal; but I'm blessed and grateful to be able to say that each career is compelling.

Several more hours' work on this side. And now, time to get off this computer, relax for an hour or so, and get ready for tomorrow.

A good past month or so. I am a fortunate woman.


My former husband just called me a little while ago. Sometimes we talk every week or two, sometimes we go a month or two without chatting but still email each other. Often he calls when he is (a) commuting home from work, (b) driving to or from a race (he drives NASCAR with his father), or (c) heading to or from the store on errands.

Tonight's special: socks and underwear from Target.

As he got off the phone, he said, "I've just been using you to entertain me while I drove. You're just conversation meat."

It's always good when exes can maintain amicability by clearly communicating their functions for each other.