Monday, April 29, 2013

The Awesomeness Of Unemployment

Sometimes I love not having a job. I just hate not getting paid. I hate the perceived resentment of others on whom I must rely when I can’t support myself. I hate feeling that someone else needs to make sacrifices because of my inabilities.
Trying to find a job while stuck in this mindset is a challenge. And yet, it’s far less miserable than the sheer torture of a job that you truly hate. And I’ve had a lot of those. I’m grateful that I’m no longer waking up in a cold sweat every morning, praying for some severe physical malady to strike me just so that I won’t have to face another workday. Because a stroke would be so much more fun.
So today, (hyperbole warning), since there are CLEARLY no more jobs on the internet anywhere in the world (/hyperbole), I’ll bake some more bread and reflect on some of the well-meant but annoying advice I’ve received in the past.
“Don’t like your job? Find one you do like!” From someone with a wealthy spouse who supported her. Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so simple. I’ll just go out and pick one from the thousands of fun, rewarding, lucrative careers that are going unclaimed. I think I’ll just go to the “Ideal Job Rescue Shelter” and adopt a lonely, unwanted career that desperately needs a loving home.
If you don’t love what you’re doing, then you are in the wrong job.” I very nearly laughed out loud at this one. Because what I love doing is lying on the couch watching Castle reruns. Too bad that job was already taken. Anyone with a job is lucky to have it, whether they love it or not. We can’t all be astronauts and ballerinas. The world needs sewer workers and DMV clerks too. Don’t insult me by suggesting that if I don’t love being bullied, belittled, and humiliated in my current workplace that I’m wrong.
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten fired.” This wasn’t said out loud, but was certainly implied.
“You can sew – you should sew clothes for ladies” A charming, but outdated notion, as nobody really employs seamstresses anymore. And I certainly can’t compete with the industrial revolution. I could make the same blouse in eight hours that Target sells for ten dollars. I did the math, and it wasn’t pretty. I do have an Etsy site. If I could make and sell 25 hats a day without my fingers rotting off I could make a nice living.
Luckily for all of us, that’s all I can think up at the moment.
So instead of advice, what assistance can one provide to a job-hunter like myself?  I submit the following: pray. I could certainly use all the help I can get. And not because God isn’t listening to me. Or better yet, hiding under his desk, hissing at his secretary, “Tell her I’m not here! Tell her I’m in a meeting. Tell her I’m golfing!” Wouldn’t that be awesome. I'd like to see pictures of that.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

When Life Gives You... Oranges?

Patience is a virtue, or something. I’m still waiting for snark and cellulite to make the list, because then I’d be really amazing.
Last weekend I made a gallon of delicious marmalade. Well, I made something that in theory will become a gallon of delicious marmalade. Perhaps next time I’ll use a smaller recipe. Perhaps next time it won’t eat up seven hours of my Sunday. Right now, let's just say I am building character.

Here is how my endeavor played out.
First I had to remove the outer peel from eight oranges and three lemons. One hour.

Then I had to peel the spongy white membrane off of eight oranges and three lemons. One hour, five minutes.

Then I had to seed, chop, and boil eight oranges and three lemons. One hour, thirty minutes.

Some pectin, sugar, and a good rolling boil later, I had a delicious citrusy soup. The recipe warned that it could take up to two weeks for the marmalade to set. Certainly, after the success of the blueberry jam from last week, this disclaimer did not apply to me. I confidently processed the nine jars of syrup. Since my pot only held four jars at a time, I had to repeat this three times. Three hours, ten minutes.

That was four days ago. I have ten more days to go before I have either marmalade or a meltdown. So far, the syrup has not responded to tears, logic, or threats of violence. Therefore, I have decided to stop obsessing over it, because that’s what an adult would do. If you need me, I’ll be in the yard, waiting for the lavender to bloom.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Flora and Fauna and Fertilizer

Saturday I decided to do something about the lack of plant life in my flower beds. I’d planted two tomato seedlings in January in a fit of optimism, but they stubbornly refused to flourish and died out of spite. The only hint of life to be found in the yard were the sorely neglected potted mint plants that even I could not kill. A miracle!
I spent some time swooning over the beautiful photos on Pinterest. I had fallen in love with the idea of a steel baker’s rack laden with planters; a vertical herb garden. The short walls in my yard, however, necessitated a shorter option. I was able to procure this bad boy at the local Goodwill for $10.

A quick stop at the Home Depot provided several new plants, two long planter boxes, and a giant bag of poo. Granted, the packaging says potting soil but trust me: the nose don’t lie. I lugged my haul out into the backyard all by my lonesome. Thank God for the hand truck in the garage because I was NOT gonna drag fifty pounds of scat around to the gate or worse, through the house.
Giant bag of poo!
I donned my gardening gloves, grabbed the shovel, and tore into the planters flanking the patio. The sun was brutal. Although I was clever enough to remember the sunblock, I was not LIMBER enough to completely cover my back. I now look like a pink giraffe.

After much digging, grunting and sweating, I was able to incorporate the manure and half a bag of leftover potting soil into the appropriate receptacles.

I was now ready to drop in the greenery. Gently, to be sure, as I could tell they were terrified of me.
“Shhh,” I murmured, “I mean you no harm”. I should probably stop saying that. Last time I said it was to a rather brave little lizard, happily sunning himself on the wall. He eyed me skeptically. I moved about slowly, so as not to disturb or startle him, and assured him, “I mean you no harm”. Then my dog ate him.
But reptilian tragedies aside, I managed to find comfortable homes for my new tomatoes, peppers and squash in the ground, and the herbs in their makeshift bunk beds. I tossed all the trash, cleaned the tools, and gave the whole backyard a good soak.

One hot shower and one glass of wine later, I stood at the back door and admired my handiwork. My back muscles were killing me, but it was all worth it. The previously parched backyard once again looks like a fresh garden. Too bad it smells like a fresh diaper.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sunny, With A Chance Of Whoops.

This weather is perfect for outsidedness. Big Al, our tail-less resident lizard, agrees.

Today’s adventures started out in the backyard. The recent winds left the air and the ground extremely dry, and the lush brown foliage was clearly unhappy.  I unrolled the garden hose and with a fair amount of struggle and some colorful vocabulary, attached the spray nozzle. Or so I thought. I turned on the faucet and shot myself square in the face. Praise God for clean sinuses. The hose connector had been dropped on the patio one too many times and was now bent, or jammed.
One dozen Kleenex later, I reapplied my face, dried my hair, and headed out for Home Depot for a replacement. I found the connector I needed and also picked up a new spray nozzle, because the old one could have instigated the whole fiasco in the first place. I wasn’t taking any chances.
I’m happy to report that the second attempt at watering was a success. I confess that before I turned on the sprinkler (which you’ll be happy to know attached without incident), I was sorely tempted to go skipping barefoot through the grass. Alas, the wind we discussed earlier had left the entire lawn littered with pointy seed pods and crunchy brown leaves from the trees across the fence. Leaves which are the organic equivalent of Legos. Seeing as how I’d expended my daily allotment of four-letter words, I refrained from the frivolity and instead, let our thirsty grass have a good long drink.
The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful, that is, until the phone rang. Caller ID declared that the number was unavailable, and normally I let such calls go to voicemail, but job-seeker that I am, I answered. It was a charity, looking for donations.

I politely declined the caller’s request for a pledge of $50, then $35, then $20. There was a long pause, then a snippy “All right - have a good one-CLICK”. I don’t even remember what it was for. Some organization collecting funds for, I don’t know, underprivileged, orphaned barn owls with diabetes, addicted to meth. Doesn’t matter. Don’t call me asking for money then act like a jerk when I tell you I don’t have any.
I won’t let it spoil my afternoon, though. Right now, I believe I’ll pour a glass of cheap girlie-wine and hang out lawnside with my buddy, Big Al.

Unless he’s collecting money for a new tail. Then Big Al can pound sand.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

High Heels And High Winds

Ah, job interviews. I'd forgotten how much fun they were. Granted, I am grateful beyond measure that I got one. Astounded, actually, that I got a hit on my resume within 24 hours. (I don't need to tell anyone how unlikely that is in this economy.) Nevertheless, they all have their moments of well, swellness.

My resume was current, because I'd been in the habit of pulling it out and polishing it up every time I was mad at my coworkers. Consequently, I have several versions from which to choose. My cover letter, thanks to Google, was easy to draft and customize from the many, many, many templates available on the internet. The trick was to make it sound original without being offensive. And for me, that's trickier than it sounds.

So, with my paperwork in order, I was now free to freak out about the impending interview process. Which I did, quickly and quietly, kneeling, with my eyes closed and my hands clasped.

The morning of my interview started out well enough, until I opened my closet. The last ten years of my life was spent working in a "business casual" environment. I can't remember the last time I donned a skirt and heels, but it must have been a few years, at least. As I slid into the straight skirt I'd had in mind, I realized that this might be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The skirt, no doubt, was wondering what I'd done with its previous owner. I was wondering the same thing myself. Although I was able to zip myself in without injury to myself OR the skirt, my common sense asserted that this look could result in the wrong type of offer.

Determined, I instead chose a more forgiving option that was a bit longer and considerably looser. I gave myself a quick once over and once satisfied, confidently stepped out the door, straight into the windiest morning in the history of mornings. I remembered at that point why I was partial to slacks. I recalled the last time I wore this skirt in this kind of wind. Years ago, as I was leaving work, a gust of wind caught me off guard in the parking lot and basically shucked me like an ear of corn. Nobody was from work was around, but the construction workers across the street seemed to appreciate it. Oh well, at least there's that.

I made it to my appointment and through the interview without any incident. I was relieved to get home and change my clothes. I swear, if these skirts had eyes the would be rolling them at me in disgust right now. So, I predict there is an appointment with the stationary bike this afternoon. That is, unless the jar of homemade gumdrops in the kitchen has anything to say about it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sugar Rush

Unemployment has its perks. At the moment, at least. This unexpected bit of free time has resulted in an abundance of high calorie deliciousness. And, much to my sister’s chagrin, two more items to add to my “I can MAKE that” list.

Last week, I pulled out the beautiful pressure cooker that my husband bought me, and pounded out 4 ½ pints of blueberry jam.  Recipe here. Luckily, there was just enough left over for testing. Extensive testing, conducted by Hapnueby and myself. Four out of the five jars are reserved for gifts, so if we want any more, (and I have declared that we WILL), I’ll have to repeat this project. Probably more than once, you know, just to be sure.

As if that wasn’t enough, the next day I was compelled to make gumdrops. I hold Pinterest entirely responsible for that. I found the recipe on this site. Sort of messy, definitely delicious. If you are inclined to try, I highly recommend using the cheap 3x4 foil bread pans from the grocery store, sprayed liberally with cooking spray. Your life will be so much easier.
This burst of productivity has spilled over into this week, in which I plan to refine my newly-found recipe for English Muffin Bread. Or perhaps I might crochet hats instead. Turns out, I’m running a little low on sugar.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Complaining Like Moses

I recently perused some of my old journal entries that I posted during the last decade and came to the following conclusion: I complained a lot. Not the lighthearted “thus and such happened and here’s what I learned from it” type of anecdote. Rather, the flat out whining, foot stomping, electronic temper tantrums. With no comedic value whatsoever. What a waste.

Rewind a bit farther to earlier this year, when I was led to revisit the book of Exodus. After a long hiatus, I was able to read it with a fresh perspective. I realized, to my great surprise and amusement, that Moses was a big. Fat. WHINER.

Not to be disrespectful, but Moses was not the dignified, flawless giant that I’d imagined in my youth. Not Charlton Heston. No, this Moses was imperfect and insecure. Constantly making excuses for why he couldn’t or shouldn’t do what was asked of him. And the more I read, the more irritating he became.

Yet in spite his shortcomings, he was chosen by God for a task that would change the world. And every disaster that befell him ultimately placed him exactly where he needed to be. I’m sure it never crossed his mind that he would ultimately go down in history as a hero. In fact, imagine if Moses had Facebook. What would his status updates look like?

“Oh noes – killed an Egyptian today. NOW WHAT?”

“Burning bush in the middle of nowhere. For reals. Of all days to forget my iphone!”

“Argh. Back to the old hood. Gotta deliver bad news – they’ll never believe me!”

“No clue at all what I’m going to say. Better bring Aaron – he never shuts up…”


Moses would have been blocked from my feed in very short order. Which makes me wonder: What purpose do MY words serve? Most of it’s nonsense, granted, but what is my goal when spouting the occasional malcontented rant?  Popularity? Pity? Attention? There’s certainly no value in any of those.  I may not have a lot to say, but the least I can do is be wiser in my verbal contributions. And unless there’s any wisdom to be gleaned, or comedy gold to be shared, complaining online is pretty much useless.
And odds are, if I don’t scale it back a bit, Big Fat Whiner might very well be my epitaph.