The Interview Chronicles: Day One

Today, I'm headed to the Ladies Retreat I've been telling you about. It's a five hour drive down, two night stay, and a five hour drive back (funny how that works out the same for both ends of the trip). At some point this weekend, I will be dressed like a pirate. Just sayin'.

I'll be completely offline until Sunday (okay, I'll have my phone, but somehow, I don't see myself live-tweeting a spiritual retreat). This really won't be that different to any of you because I'm not so great on the consistency thing. Anyway, I thought I would tell you a quick (heh...) story about an interview I had yesterday. In case you missed my purposefully hidden announcement, I resigned from my job on Monday. I was hoping to hand my boss my resignation and make him so angry (he is easily angered and I figured that removing his opportunity to fire me and/or make my life more miserable was enough of a trigger) that he would kick me out then and there. But he said that he was fine with me finishing out my notice period. So my joy must be put on hold until October 15th.

In the meantime, Lazy Coworker is plumbing the depths of her Passive-Aggressive superpowers (she's pissed that she'll be alone and her unwillingness to work will be much more obvious) and has made up a list of things that must be accomplished before I leave. Including things that fall squarely within her job description and duties. She actually said to me today, "Well, I just need you to do it. Because I don't want to have to do it later." So that's how that's going. Luckily, The Jerk is out of town until after the 15th, which means that I only have to deal with her and really? What's the worst that can happen? They ask me to leave earlier? They can't actually FIRE me, since I already quit. It's rather liberating, actually...

Strangely (not that strangely, considering I'm pretty sure that the Lord was guiding me to leave this job), I got a all on Tuesday for a job interview. It was a position I applied for about a month ago (somewhere only slightly tangentially related to either my current field or my field of study) and had completely written off because? If they don't call after a month, they usually aren't going to call. Then, out of the blue, they call and must.have.me.come.in.as!soon!as!possible! So we scheduled it for 4:00 pm yesterday. I thought it was strange that they would wait so long and then be so urgent. The reason was pretty obvious once I got in the interview, though.

I show up fifteen minutes early, because I think that makes for a good first impression. The nice young woman at the front desk says it would be a few minutes and then my interviewer would be out. I sit gingerly on the edge of a very uncomfortable chair, trying not to be nervous or look anything other than COMPETENT and EMPLOYABLE. I am unsure what either of those things translate to when only judged in posture, so I'm pretty sure I fail at this interview before I have met anyone other than the receptionist. Then the door opens and out walks... A fashion tragedy. Now, any of you who have been reading for any length of time have probably realized that my fashion sense falls squarely in the covered-in-all-the-right-places-clean-and-mostly-matching-comfortable crowd. But this man. Oh. My. Word.

He was a 62-year-old (he told me later, when he said he quit drinking 12 years ago and bars stopped being that fun) white guy, wearing high-water tapered-leg acid-wash jeans. His baggy short-sleeved button-down was loudly orange and red, with some kind of knock-off African tribal pattern (although it could have been Native American designs... I tried not to look too closely at it for fear of losing my retinas). His hair was grey and curly. In a low pony-tail (how many HYPHENS will I have to use?!) ending somewhere below his shoulder blades. OH! And! Loafers with dingy white gym socks, the ones with the colored bands at the ankle.

Color me impressed.

Did I mention that this was a professional office, in the public sector, and that this man was a lawyer? A lawyer that occasionally has to go into COURT? Before a JUDGE? TO REPRESENT SOMEONE ELSE'S INTERESTS? And that he's the head of this entire office? GAH!

Anyway, we head into his office, which is incredibly cluttered and all of the walls are jammed with a strange assortment of personal photos, framed papers that DO NOT look like degrees, and abstract paintings. I perch on the edge of his giant pink floral patterned couch. I position myself to be directly in front of his desk chair when he inevitably spins it around to face me. HA! He cannot be PREDICTED!!! He chooses one of the side chairs next to the couch so that I have to swivel and perch parallel with the edge of the cushions, one butt cheek on, one butt cheek off. He sits on the edge of the chair, but then leans all the way back until his shoulders are against the back of the chair and his head hits the wall (and I do mean "hits" as in shook all of his ridiculously framed "art"). Slouching as if he could not POSSIBLY care less about anything, ever, he rests an ankle on one knee and begins to ask me questions.

Questions that he seems more intent on answering himself, instead of hearing about me. I get interrupted almost immediately. And then again. And we're off on a tangent! I try to swing us back around to the original question. He's not having it. I figure it's his interview to conduct how he wants, so I wait patiently for him to stop talking and very politely agree with whatever he's been saying (to show I was listening), then answer the original question anyway. We get through a few more questions, with him telling ME more about what my current (soon to be PAST!) employment is like than I am actually telling him. And he's partially right, but also frequently wrong. I try to gently correct, so as to avoid leaving an impression about my abilities that I cannot live up to and/or an impression about my experience that would disqualify me for the position when my experiences are ACTUALLY QUITE DIFFERENT THANK YOU and make me an excellent candidate for this job. At some point, I wonder if I'm really needed at this interview at all.

We're probably about five minutes in when he drops the first swear word. The F-Bomb, too. No easing in, no preparation. Just BAM! There it is. And not like a test, to see if I'm a) professional enough to discourage this kind of behavior OR b) professional enough to pretend it didn't happen. Nope. He's just talking all casually, so laid back and chill that I would not be surprised if he pulled out a joint and asked if I wanted to toke with him. He's often not looking at me at all. HE occasionally plays with his sock or his pony-tail.

Ten minutes later, my thighs and back are starting to ache from holding my body at such an odd angle, but it's weird to move NOW, because it would probably require some awkward half-standing shuffle to flop my rear end firmly in the center of the cushion and also I would then have to put my feet out straight in front of me on the couch and lean my back against the arm rest and I JUST DON'T THINK THAT IS APPROPRIATE INTERVIEW BEHAVIOR. So I endure, nodding and smiling at his strange stories that are somewhat related to the question he just asked, but not exactly and SHOULDN'T I BE THE ONE TALKING? He delves into a character analysis of a nerdy woman on 24, which he's recently started watching on DVD, since he hasn't watched television in "many, many years."

This is about the time he drops another swear word, one that spends a lot of its time with the word "bull," although it wasn't keeping its company that day. By the end of the HOUR, I have talked very little, but I am ALL TOO AWARE of the unfairness of the budget he has been working with SINCE NINETEEN NINETY-THREE. And also of how awesome he thinks he is, but doesn't say out loud. His self-satisfaction just seems to ooze out of his very skin with every sleepy-eyed nod and casual shoulder shrug.

He tells me that he hopes to finish the interviews by the end of this week and make his recommendation sometime next week. Because he's leaving for a three-week vacation at the end of next week. "So, yeah... If, uh, I haven't, uh, made my decision by then, we'll probably just, uh, put it off until the end of, uh, October. So, yeah... Don't worry if you haven't, uh, heard from us by then..."

I'm pretty sure (not COMPLETELY SURE, but like 90% sure) that I will not be taking that job if they, uh, offer it to me at the end of, uh, October. It's just this feeling I have.


A Ridiculously Long Post With a Prize Inside

Well, I have to say, you guys are awesome! The comments on my Sunday Meet and Greet post were entertaining, thought-provoking, and plentiful. I love my readers! Also, you guys asked some really great questions. But before I get to answering all of them (and adding all kinds of information you didn't ask for, which is kind of like a bonus), I have a bone to pick with you. All of you. Or maybe just the universe.

We need to revisit question number ten:

10. When you fold your hands, which thumb is closest to you, left or right?

See, this was a fifty-fifty kind of thing. Only two possible answers. One answer was the right thumb. The other answer was the wrong thumb. I had no idea how many of you would did this wrong. It's obvious that the right thumb goes on top. It's weird and uncomfortable and obnoxious otherwise.

What do you mean other people do things differently? What do you MEAN I phrased the question in regard to your personal thumbs? I don't care if you thought it was about YOUR thumbs, there is still a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to do this hand folding/clasping thing. What do you MEAN I am not the center of the universe? That's just crazy talk.

Okay, so to make sure I'm not erroneously placing myself in the center of the universe (which is where I BELONG, people!), I looked into this issue. According to some very strenuous scientific research (i.e. Google), it seems that either the population is split 50-50 on this or that the left thumb is more common (somewhere within 40-70% of the population). Which is also crazy talk. But according to the comments on this blog, 70% of you go with the left thumb (Linnea, I'm not counting your husband, because he didn't comment for himself and also 8 out of 11 is a more difficult number to turn into a percentage than 7 out of 10).


Ahem. Moving on. Since you all showed up in a big way to answer all my question and ask me some pretty awesome ones, too, I thought it was only fair that I have to answer all of them--the ones you asked me AND the ones I asked you. If you've been reading for a while, you know a lot of my answers to these questions, but for the sake of the newbies, I'll do it anyway. But I won't number them. Because I will not be constrained by your rules. Wait, what's that you say? They were my rules to begin with? FINE! I will not be constrained by MY rules. Better? Here goes:

I am single, but I would like to be married. Like yesterday. Married yesterday would be nice. And I don't mean single in the "this government form has three boxes: single, married, or separated and even thought I'm with someone, I'm not married to them yet, so I'm technically single" kind of way. I mean single in the "I may die alone surrounded by a lot of cats and not be found until my neighbors cannot abide the stench any longer" kind of way. Just so we're clear.

I do not have any biological or legally adopted children. But I have taken it upon myself to "adopt" any of my friends' children in so far as I take them for whole days at a time for fun with Auntie Elise, but give them back at bedtime. And I have a niece and a godson. But the above answer should be enough to explain why I am currently childless.

My favorite day of the week is probably Saturday. But that may be skewed by the current situation at my job and the fact that Saturday is my escape. So I'll come back to this one when my soul isn't being crushed by the oppressive weight of a tyrannical and incompetent workplace. I'm thinking it will still be Saturdays, though.

Something weird about me? I think the archives of this blog probably have enough evidence of me wackiness. But I HAVE TO answer the questions. So. Hmm... Here's one I don't think I've mentioned: I think I have a strange form of dyslexia in which I can identify and read letters no matter their orientation (upside-down or mirror image) or position (scrambled among other letters or jumping around the page). I also have to work pretty hard mentally to figure out my right from my left (I know I'm 24 years old and should be able to do this by now, but I swear it's a brain problem, not a lack of teaching or practice). Combine these two and that whole "make an L with your thumb and forefinger to help you remember which is left" thing absolutely.doesn't.help. This may be why I get lost on the way to parties all the time--the directions are both hard to read and hard to follow.

A small change I would make in the world would probably go something along the lines of "The only calories that count are the ones our bodies need to survive and the rest are just for our taste buds." Because it's lame that chocolate cake costs me calories from my daily budget, but celery does not.

I don't think I can effectively answer the favorite blogger question without offending someone. But if you look to your... right? Yes, on the right side portion of the screen is my blogroll, so those are the ones I'm reading all the time. And if you really pressured me, I would probably say Temerity Jane or The Pioneer Woman. But I don't want to diminish my love for all the other ones I REALLY DO LOVE. So forget that last sentence and assume I love them all equally.

I don't know if I can pick out just one favorite childhood memory. The ones that are coming to mind most are the bedtime routine memories, where I'm safe and loved and untroubled. Snuggling up with Papa to read books in my PJs. Laying in bed in the glow of the nightlight with Mom singing over me. Papa telling his Eric the Aardvark stories (remind me to tell you about these someday). All of us kids piled on one of the beds listening raptly as Papa told us about Eric and his animal buddies on a camping trip drinking hot plaid root beer (seriously, I need to tell this story eventually). Those are probably some of the best.

The earliest memory is a diaper change. Mom cloth diapered all of us kids (before they were the adorable, easy-to-use things they are now). When I was about 22 months old, I was Almost Potty Trained. My parents were moving us from the Midwest to Far North, so Mom gave away or got rid of most of the cloth diapering things, thinking she wouldn't really need them in Far North. She figured she'd use disposables for the road trip and the last weeks before I was completely done potty training. But I apparently didn't like the idea of moving and reverted back to Not Potty Trained At All until I was past three (I sure showed her!). One night, we ran out of disposables, so Mom found an old cloth diaper and put it on me with a large safety pin with a plastic yellow ducky for a cap. I remember the pin and laying on the floor near our fireplace. And I remember being VERY uncomfortable in the giant rubber pants. I'm glad those are gone now.

The tweeting question is kind of silly when posed to me, so I'll just say this: If you're interested in my incessant ramblings in 140 characters or less (a big change from this ridiculously long post), click on the little birdy on the top right.

The thing I value most is my family. I should probably give you some churchy answer about how I value Jesus Christ the most (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE that guy) or how my faith is the most important thing to me, but I really think I would not have the faith that I have or the love and reverence for Jesus that I have if it weren't for my family. Both in raising me in the truth and for holding me accountable to it now that I am grown. Plus, they're kind of awesome and they love me. And who doesn't want to be around people who love them?

I'm pretty sure we don't need to go over the whole thumb thing again. But in case you somehow missed it, I PUT MY RIGHT THUMB ON TOP. Just FYI.

Now, some of you have asked for more Satan's Cat stories. Here's a quick one: Our refrigerator has a ice and water dispenser on the outside, but the water has been incredibly slow lately--we think there might be a blockage in the line. A month or so ago, I tried just leaving my cup there (strategically weighed down with ice and propped to keep the water flowing) and coming back in a moment or two because it was taking so long. It worked! So I did it again. And completely overestimated how long I had before I needed to come back to the cup. So I flooded the whole front of the fridge. It was a mess to clean up and water kept running down the front in little droplets, which Satan's Cat tried to chase. A few days later, somehow thinking I had obtained new timing skills, I tried this method again and. Well... I think you know what happened. Apparently twice is enough to train this cat, because now if anyone so much as walks past the fridge, Satan's Cat perches right in front of the door and waits for the drips that will never come. It's gotten to the point where she looks like the Diet Minion Here to Judge Your Food Choices. You have to whack her with the fridge door to get her to move so that you can USE the fridge. My question is, why isn't twice enough to train her not to EAT MY FACE??? Twelve times has not been enough...

Someone else asked what my favorite smell is. That one has me stumped. I think I may have to just say "food in general." Here are a few, though. Freshly ground coffee beans. Baking bread. Baking cookies. Fresh laundry. That tiny spot behind a baby's ear. Apple-cinnamon-caramel-brown-sugar-nutmeg-and-allspice-Thanksgivingy goodness. Cucumber-melon bath products. The mixture of Irish Spring soap and Old Spice aftershave. Freshly mown grass. Newly churned soil after a heavy rain. Gosh, I could go on and on.

Mom: I want a car for Christmas. I know you cannot buy me a car. I know that would not be fair to the other kids, even if you could afford it. But I need a new car. And a new bed. But both are pretty expensive and kind of lame as gifts (because necessities make sad gifts). So maybe an iPad? I don't know. I'll start my list soon, I promise. Probably books, a few CDs, and a movie or two. Oh, and maybe a guest post from you. Because my readers seem to want it. And I think it would be AMAZING! So that, too.

And one of you clever people asked about my favorite holiday. Two days ago, I would have said Christmas--lots of food, the family together, people give me stuff, I get to make people smile by giving them stuff, ALL of the baby Jesus stuff, twinkle lights and decorations, ALL THAT IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD. But then. Yesterday, I invented a holiday. And it's definitely my new favorite. It's called All Quitter's Day (also known as My Day Of Jubilee). Every year on September 26th, anyone who hates their jobs and wants to quit but cannot work up the courage or feels obligated to stay for very silly and only half-valid reasons is allowed to QUIT THEIR JOBS GUILT-FREE. Like I did. Yesterday. And every year, on September 25th (henceforth known as All Quitter's Eve), we will all partake in gratuitous sleeping pill use to calm the crazies in our bellies and the racing in our chests and to work up the courage necessary for the next day. I think this will catch on, don't you?

Someone else asked about my dream job and whether that was against the rules. Yes and no. My dream job in a career/vocational sense is kind of off limits, because it directly relates to what I'm doing right now. But, in general terms, I would like a job that utilizes my talents and pushes me to grow without throwing me in the deep end sans support or guidance and then ridicules me when I fail. And I would like to work for a nice, smart boss who is in the office more that he is not and coworkers who are supportive and friendly without being all up in my personal business. And I would like to be able to leave work at work when I go home. But really? At the end of the day? My dream job is to be a wife and mother. I like working (theoretically, if I could get a good boss) and will do it if I need to after I have kids. But I would love to stay home a keep house and raise decent human beings and spend my day with the people I love and care about. That's the dream.

This same person also posed the ice cream question. I will eat almost any kind of ice cream (please no chunks of frozen fruit), but my hands-down favorite right now is Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino ice cream. YUM!

Finally, one of you asked about how I express myself when I'm passionate about my topic. I will tell you: VERY LOUDLY and with lots.of.hand.gestures. I have a volume modulation problem most days. I have a voice that projects and some good lungs in my chest, so I have worked all of my life to use my indoor voice. It's actually rather embarrassing, because I often don't realize it and sometimes can't help it. And when I get passionate? All my hard work goes out the window. And also? I'm an incredibly passionate person. It's kind of exhausting, but I have this innate drive to debate and discover and discuss and interact. And I also usually have strong opinions. So my passion bubbles up a lot and so does my volume. The last time I got into a passionate conversation was either regarding how my boss treats me (badly, and I'm indignant) or the direction of our church's Youth Group (because I love those kids and want the best for them). I would rather it be about politics or religion or philosophy or something, because those are fun and also a little less "immediately personal."

So those are my answers. And a lot of extra information. And a prize of sorts. If you found it and it was the kind of thing that you would call a prize. I mean, I did. But maybe you all don't care. And I have no barometer of my sneakiness, so maybe it was obvious. Or maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. But I'm leaving it as is and we'll figure it out later. And I would apologize for how long this post is, but all this information is CRUCIAL (heh...) and also it's not that much longer than my normal blathering, so... You know. Not sorry.


Sunday Meet and Greet

Happy Sunday! I've been really awful at posting on the weekends, so I wrote this Friday afternoon and scheduled it for Sunday, which is today, I guess. When you're reading it. But it's actually two days from now, when I'm writing it. This is freaking me out. Can I tell the future now? Anyway, I'm not sure I trust this whole scheduling thing and I thought this might be a post to test it out on. Wow. Ending a sentence on two prepositions. I'm going to glide on over to the next paragraph and pretend I didn't just do that.

I know I did this a while back, but I feel like I have a whole different set of readers (but a very grateful shout out to those who have been here forever!). So today, I'm going to ask you some questions to get to know you all. Then you get to ask me questions in return. It's as simple as that. Ready? Set? Go.

1. Are you married or single? Or even trying to be married or trying to be single?

2. Do you have children? If not, are you planning to? If yes, how many do you have and do you ever want to give one or more of them away? (I may or may not be in the market)

3. What is your favorite day of the week?

4. Tell me one obscure thing about you--something that makes you unique or special or different or weird.

5. If you could change one small thing abut the world, what is it and why? Not like "world peace" or anything. More like "I wish every body always brushed their teeth" or "I would eliminate all dryer lint."

6. Who is your favorite blogger? (I'm not fishing for compliments here, I'm looking for new material and/or getting to know your taste) Also, do you blog and am I reading you? Because I should be.

7. Tell me your BEST childhood memory. OR? Tell me your EARLIEST childhood memory. Or both.

8. Do you tweet? Do I follow you? Do you follow me?

9. What do you value most? This is vague on purpose.

10. When you fold your hands, which thumb is closest to you, left or right?

So answer as many (all, none (except not none because that's not fun at all!), some, one) as you feel like answering. Then ask whatever you feel like asking (just remember my rules). Have you always wondered what shampoo I use? That would be a little weird, but I'd tell you (Dove). Do you want to know more about Satan's Cat? I've got stories, let me tell you. Are you interested in my views on pharmaceutical companies? I don't really have any, but I'd make some up for you!

So go answer! Then ask!


Large Metal Objects That Have the Ability to Maim Human Flesh

Dear Drivers of Other Cars,

Listen. It's time we had a talk. I've been avoiding this confrontation for years now, using passive-aggressive hand motions and only yelling at you from the safety of the interior of my vehicle. But all of that has to stop now. I've reached my limit. So here goes:

Please learn to drive. No, I'm not trying to insult you (it's just a happy side-effect). I'm actually telling you to do what you need to do to learn how to drive. Hire an instructor. Take a class. Whip out that little booklet produced free of charge by the DMV. Because if you do? I really think you'll realize quite a few of the things you do in your normal course of driving are actually EGREGIOUS errors and may even be illegal. If they aren't, they're still just plain obnoxious. Here are a few:
  • Turn signals are standard issue in every vehicle for a reason. USE THEM.
  • You ARE allowed to turn right at a red light. You ARE NOT allowed to do so without stopping and checking traffic first!
  • When pulling from a turn lane onto a two lane street, it's not just customary or advisable to pull even with the closest lane. It's MANDATED. BY LAW. Stop trying to side swipe me.
  • Smoking, texting, and dealing with your children all at the same time may constitute distracted driving and may get you a ticket. Or kill someone. NAMELY ME! And probably your children, if those pesky rumors about second-hand smoke are to be believed...
  • Brake lights are not optional. I'm talking to you, Dude With The Tricked Out Truck With Heavily Tinted Windows and a Modified Tailgate--you can't just remove your brake lights and replace them with metal. It's not okay!
  • Four way stops. Just review them. Or avoid them. But stop doing it wrong.
  • On a clear day in the middle of the summer on a straight paved road, it is not reasonable to go fifteen miles an hour under the speed limit. Just sayin'.
  • Turning left from the far right portion of the lane (or vice versa) will not win you friends or influence people. Unless you would like me to influence the paint right off of your car. 
  • Pulling out in front of me, switching lanes with no warning, or passing me AND THEN going slower than I am is just. Well... Not only do I now want to hit your car out of spite, but I would also mark you down as someone who does not play well with others.
  • If a cop is going under the speed limit on the highway, it's okay to pass him as long as you don't go over the speed limit. That's why it's called a limit. They can't getcha unless you pass the limit. Maybe you should take an English class after you finish your driving class.
  • Stopping in the middle of the neighborhood road (and I do mean the exact middle) to chat with people or talk on your cell phone or do your make up or whatever the heck it is you are doing when you block my path out of the neighborhood and then pretend I'm not waiting patiently behind you makes you a jerk. FYI.
If any of you Drivers of Other Cars feel that any of these suggestions or, you know, THE LAWS OF THE ROAD are too difficult to master, please visit your local DMV office and hand in your license and take a cab home. Because seriously? It's not that hard.

And before I sign off, I would like to say one more thing. I hate to just to conclusions or stereotype anyone, but I have a strong suspicion that you Drivers of Other Cars who struggle with the concepts above are the same people whose children do not have THE FEAR. You know, THE FEAR? I think I can see the root of our problem already. THE FEAR is what well-parented children have of punishment, danger, or death.

So just in case these are your kids, after you've handed over your license or have recommitted yourself to decent citizenship, please instruct your children in the correct way to behave around these large metal objects that have the ability to maim human flesh that we call cars.
  • When they are riding their bikes or playing in the neighborhood, advise them to GET OUT OF THE EVER-LOVING WAY of any approaching vehicle. 
  • It would also be helpful and appreciated if you would prevent them from building ROCK TOWERS OR WALLS across the road, since they would probably rather go to college than pay for my repair bills. 
  • If they are using dirt bikes, ATVs, or other motorized recreational equipment, instruct them to keep to the proper trails and to AVOID POPPING UP FROM NOWHERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY CAR.
Because I'm pretty sure you love them and want them to see their eighteenth birthday. Or you don't really love them, but you can't wait until they reach their eighteenth birthday because then they aren't your problem. Either way, just trust me and do yourself a solid. I promise you'll thank me later, either because you have live children or because you're not in jail.

All my love and both my middle fingers (I'm just kidding, MOM!),



Okay guys, I only have a half hour before I can go home from work and so I need to write this post all fast because I am trying to post more often but my evening is excessively full on Thursdays what with the pretending to sing and being good at computers and in case you are wondering why there is a lack of commas in this post it's not because I am a grammatical rebel (because come on please have you met me?) but actually to give you the impression of how fast I am really talking/typing and that THERE IS NO TIME FOR COMMAS because commas mean pauses and you know I don't have a lot of time because I JUST said so at the start of the sentence/paragraph/grammatical travesty that I'm not going to change NOW but oh my God I think I'm actually ashamed of myself and so I'm going to stop once you've fully understood that I have NO TIME. *gasp* *gasp* Ahem. Sorry about that. Like I said, time crunch.

So today, I'm going to rant about people who give advice. Cutting edge, right? No one has EVER complained on the Internet about other people giving unsolicited/unhelpful advice. Or maybe you only read the blogs where they manufacture sunshine and rainbows and butterflies. I don't know. All I know is that, even though I've read it and commented on it a thousand times, it never gets old to hear people talk about the advice people gave them that was completely unwarranted and unasked for and obnoxious!

And for those of you who don't follow me on twitter (WHY NOT?), typing the word "obnoxious" just reminded me that I made up a new word recently and you can feel free to use it: obnoxion. It's the noun form of obnoxious (which is really obnoxiousness but I find that cumbersome and, oh heck I'll just say it, OBNOXIOUS). So when you're trying to describe a situation that requires the noun form instead of the adjective, go ahead and use it. Need an example? I just happen to have one ready:

Once I have made up my mind about a difficult and/or personal decision, telling me how I should do it differently is not only a waste of time, it is an obnoxion.

Do you see how I somehow made my tangent loop back to the original topic? It's called organization dumb luck. So, unwanted advice. Many people complain about this in reference to weddings and marriage or pregnancy and parenting, because apparently when you do those things, you paint a giant sign on your forehead that says, "I am no longer an adult or sentient being with working neurons and now require YOU to run my life from here on out." Or something. So I've heard.

Anyway, since I have never attempted a wedding, a marriage, a pregnancy, and/or parenting, I have yet to experience this onslaught of advice giving. Or wait! Yes I have! Apparently, once you turn eighteen and strike out on your own and start to make big! life! decisions! on your own, you get a sign of your own: "I may have parents who are upstanding citizens and decent human beigns who are completely okay with my choices and I have used even better resources than you or your children had available to you fifteen years ago, but because I am under the age of 35, my brain is made of MUSH and I require YOU, perfect stranger/person who has only known me for six months, to tell me everything I'm doing wrong!"

Now, yes. I'm sure that not every eighteen year old makes the best choices. In fact, having recently been a teen, having hung out with a lot of teens, and now working in ministry with teens, I can tell you that many of them are IN FACT making bad choices. But since I am neither the parent to nor school counselor/therapist of said teens, I BUTT THE HECK OUT. Plus? When I was eighteen, I was working full-time in the summer and headed to college in the fall on a partial scholarship to getting two degrees at the same time. I'm not saying this to say I'M BETTER THAN ALL OTHER EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLDS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DIDN'T GO TO COLLEGE AND GET TWO DEGREES. I'm saying this to say that I was prety driven and thoughtful at eighteen.

And I have two parents who were incredibly engaged in my life, both educationally and otherwise, so I wasn't going without advice or direction. And now that I'm 24 and have said degrees and have held fairly responsible positions in the offices that I have worked in and have survived occupational hell and possibly undiagnosed PTSD, not to mention the fact that my parents and siblings are still heavily involved in my day-to-day life, I think I am qualified to make my own decisions. My decisions about my own life and my own financial/romantic/spiritual/dietary/recreational future.

So when the Advice Givers (who are not my family and/or particularly close friends and/or my spiritual leaders) put on their Advice Giving Hats, I don't see this as philanthropy. I don't see it as generous and helpful and genuine. I see it as rude and selfish and UNDERMINING my adulthood.

Because when I came to you, coworker/distant friend/annoying old lady at church/virtual stranger and confided in you (or answered your pestery questions) about the choice I made and the absolutely legitimate reasons I made that choice (and you even admit they are good reasons), your "yeah, but"s or your "have you thought about"s or even your (seemingly well-meaning) "I'm concerned for you because of"s tell me that you don't trust me to make the best decision FOR ME and you would like to make a better one ON MY BEHALF.

When you say those things, I DON'T hear, "I care about you."

When you say those things, I hear "You're making a bad decision." When you say those things, I hear "You're too young to know any better." When you say those things, I hear "You're stupid."

So, Advice Givers. Before you put on your Advice Giving Hats, put yourself in my situation. How do YOU normally make decisions? Do you usually think long and hard about them (maybe even pray long and hard about them) before you finally decide? Assume I have, too (since I TOLD YOU I DID). How would YOU hear that kind of advice if you were in my situation? How helpful is it really? If you're thinking of it, I probably thought of it, too. And then, PLEASE! Think about whether your advice is meant to help ME or make YOUR life easier. Because my decision? Not about you. And if it somehow affects you, but is ultimately my decision to make? Then it's still not about you.

And now that I am past my allotted time, I will end this rant and ask that you all submit comments in the form of THINGS THAT ARE NOT ADVICE (I'm thinking of a blog title change here people, that's how serious I am), but that are THINGS THAT ARE STORIES ABOUT UNWANTED ADVICE. Because as much as I hate it happening to me? Reading other people's misery always makes me feel better. Does that make me a bad person? Don't answer that.


Pirates Totally Do Yoga

I bought new yoga pants yesterday. They were on clearance at Target and I needed them for a costume I'm putting together. Except that I ended up going in a completely different direction that cost less than these clearance yoga pants, so I really should return them. They are black gaucho capri yoga pants that are one size too large that were more than I usually pay for anything on clearance (although that photo makes them look even worse than I think they look). They are, in a word, ridiculous. I should definitely return them.

Actually, let's back up and I'll tell you all about my costume adventure. Do you remember me mentioning that I'm going to a Christian ladies conference at the end of the month? Sister-In-Law is leading worship? And Sister is singing? And I suck at singing but I do media so I play on the computer while I pretend to sing but I'm actually seething with jealousy and you guys are remembering this, right? It's not like I've posted that much in the intervening time, so it should be pretty fresh--as fresh as anything I say to you is, because I'm sure you have other things like CHILDREN and HUSBANDS and WHOLE LIVES vying for your attention so you forget everything you read here as soon as you click away, but I don't blame you because if I had any of those things, I'd totally ignore you, too. Anyway: I'm going to a retreat a few hours away. That might have been the easier thing to write rather than the rest of the above paragraph, but I'm leaving it because it's my blog, so ha!

Can we just start over? Okay. So I'm going to a retreat thing. It's a three-day/two-night kind of deal with sessions and workshops and fellowship. On the second night, we always have a themed banquet where everybody dresses up. But not in fancy formal wear. Nope. In costumes! The dressing up has a lot to do with the theme of the weekend and also the event right after the banquet, so don't go thinking we're all crazy or anything. Anyway. Lots of the ladies go all out, but some don't dress up at all--it's pretty laid back and fun. I think my crew landed firmly in the "go all out" camp last year.

The theme was Superheroes. We all did costumes in varying assortments of black and pinks (mostly hot pink). Sister had fairy wings and a giant tutu she made herself. Sister-In-Law had a short black mini skirt, a cape, and "hoochie" boots (as she likes to call them). I wore all black clothing (yoga pants, baby!), with black cat ears and a black feather boa for a tail, but with a hot pink sequined mask and feather boa around my neck. It was AWESOME! (And if you're asking how any of those costumes tell people we have superpowers, you really don't understand us at all and it's your loss.) But last year set the standard pretty high for this year.

You see, this year, the theme is pirates. That's a much more narrow set of criteria. You can't reinterpret that to mean a variety of things like superheroes. Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes because their superpowers come in all forms. But a pirate? Is pretty much just... a pirate. You kind of have two options: Jack Sparrow or Slutty Wench. And this is a Christian Women's conference, so you can see my conflict.

So how do you get creative and have fun without looking like everyone else there or like someone you don't want to be? You turn to Sister-In-Law, who may ACTUALLY BE a superhero. She's pretty awesome and has already sewn herself a simple corset (no boning, but still AMAZING) that she will put over a white tunic-y blouse. She has also made a raggedy skirt and a sash. She'll wear last year's hoochie boots, a fake sword, and a bandanna on her head. The outfit looks spectacular! But if I have to sit with her, and I DO because I LIKE her, then the standard is even higher!

So the logical conclusion is to force her to help me create a look of my own. Because she's OBVIOUSLY more creative than I am. Off we went to Target to shop the clearance sales. I bought a black and tan striped shirt, the aforementioned yoga pants (with the goal to cinch them in at the calves to make them into kind of bloomer things), and a scarf to tie around my waist. But together, that was about $30. Which is okay, because I can wear each of those things (separately) again, but I wasn't entirely sold on it.

Then we busted out the big guns: Value Village. Now, I know they do ready-made costumes, but a)I'm looking for something more original; b) those things are EXPENSIVE; and c) I probably wouldn't fit into most of them. But the thrift shop part of the store? A veritable treasure trove (pun intended) of pirate booty (again, intended; how did you not see this one coming?).

I found some black crinkly linen capris that were $3, so I won't feel too guilty chopping them to make them look ragged. I also found a red skirt in the same material that was $5, so I'll chop that, too, and put it over the pants to create a water-waif effect. I kept saying, "It's a whole character! I have to look like I've been living ON A BOAT!" This, of course, led to several mental renditions of SNL's I'm on a Boat, but that's a different story for a different day (and if you look that up, beware of the swearing--for those of you who avoid the swearing).

And then, right before we were overwhelmed by the need to WASH ALL THE CREEPINESS OF USED CLOTHING OFF OUR BODIES WITH A BRILLO PAD AND BLEACH, I found a black and white striped shirt that gathered at the sleeves and had shrunk to almost a belly shirt, which means I can wear it a little jaunty with a black camisole under it--hopefully looking more "ruffian" than "Britney Spears." Because that's a much better look for me. And all of us, really. It turned out the shirt was 50% off, so I think it ended up being $2 or something relatively insignificant (in relation to the Target prices, or actually? clothing prices in general), so WIN!

In the midst of this, there were many comments along the lines of "They're really more of guidelines, anyway" and "Swash swash, buckle buckle." There was also a significant amount of snarkery about the non-pirateworthy clothing there. Sister and I found a matching set of green and brown floral skirts that ended up looking more like camo skirts than anything else. We decided that, if we were ever inclined to go hunting, they would be the centerpiece of our wardrobes. And for a while, we gathered a collection of Ugly Christmas Sweaters, but they reached a height of such epic hideousness that we gave up, fearing for our retinas. We thought about buying some really cute boots, but we couldn't get over the idea that SOMEONE ELSE'S FEET HAD BEEN IN THERE.

By the end of the trip, I had one and a half costumes and Sister was done--she found a stripey shirt and an ACTUAL corset, which was enough to complete what she's already got going on at home. Sister-In-Law, being both more creative and more organized than us, didn't need anything else piratey and instead bought two sports jerseys for the next time our worship pastor decided to do a Sports Sunday (in which the band and singers wear jeans and jerseys instead of the normal church clothing). Because that happens more than you would think.

I decided to keep the thrift store purchases and the scarf from Target ($7.50). But I'm returning the Target shirt ($13). And I'm totally gong to return the yoga pants ($11), too. Except. Well, the tags just fell off. Yes, they just FELL off as the yoga pants leapt from the bag and put themselves on my lower-half without my permission(I'm not sure how they removed the pants I was wearing at the time, but they DID). And their magic would not wear off by bedtime, so I HAD to sleep in them. And this morning, they looked so lonely that I almost ended up wearing them under my dress pants to keep them company. I didn't, because my butt already looks enormous in these dress pants. But I'm pretty sure Target won't take the yoga pants back now. Plus, I would totally cut them if they tried.

And that's the story of how I got new yoga pants.

What have you bought lately?

[In case the lack of ads on this blog and the zero product review posts I have done haven't clued you in, this blog is not monetized. So I wasn't paid to link those things to Target's website or anything. I'm just really into visuals. So full disclosure: no money changed hands in the making of this post. Except for the money I paid to Target for the privilege of owning these items. FYI.]


A Brief Attempt at Non-Negativity

Here in the Far North (or “Deep North” as my bloggy-friend Alyssa likes to say), we have fully entered fall. I imagine that it will all be over by next week. Which is very sad, but pretty typical. You see, here in Far North, we don’t really have “autumn.” We have about two or three weeks of leaves dying and falling, followed by a month or two of sparse, frosty brownness, and then we have snow FOR FOREVER. So fall doesn’t mean anything but that winter is coming. That’s a bright image, isn’t it?

Well, I’ve been ignoring it—I’m still wearing flip-flops. I’ve been refusing to acknowledge that the weather has turned colder, that the leaves are golden (which is really just media spin for “dead and brown”), and that the light is fading earlier and earlier every day. However, this morning on my drive to the brewing mental health issue that is my job, I happened to glance up at the mountains. And what did I see? Not a “premonition,” not a “hint,” not even a “dusting,” but a full-on LAYER of snow.

For a moment, I just stared. And then I did what any sane person alone in her car on the highway would do: I chuckled, gave a serious head nod to the mountains, and then said, “Well played, Far North. You win. Congratulations.”

So now it’s fall. Because I’ve said so. And even though summer is my favorite season—warmth, sunshine, and driving on clean roads: what’s not to love?—I will say that I am looking forward to making soup, readying for the holidays, and breaking out the sweaters and Uggs. Don’t judge me, they’re comfy. And I NEVER tuck my pants into them or wear them in anything other than a casual setting. Plus, they were hand-me-downs, so it’s not like I paid any money for the hideous comfort footwear.  Besides, I shouldn’t have to defend myself! I wear YOGA PANTS more often than any other pair of pants, so we all know where “fashion” lands on my priority list.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s move on, mmmkay? Where were we? Oh yes, fall. Like I said, I’m not really looking forward to the cooler weather, the icy roads, or the darkness. But there’s something so beautiful about a world blanketed in snow with the stars twinkling overhead, bundled up in front of a fire with a good book. I’m going to hold on to this idyllic picture when the blanket of snow creeps its way into my shoes and down the neck of my coat, the stars are twinkling at FIVE-THIRTY in the evening, and there is not time to read before the fire because driving from Point A to Point B will now take THREE TIMES AS LONG.

I’ve decided to think only like Norman Rockwell would think. Wait, do I have the right artist? I’m thinking of the guy who painted all the pastoral landscapey type paintings that make you feel nostalgic for any time period that is not this one. See, THIS is why I should have majored in Art History. I knew I would regret that someday. Anyways, I’m going to think like that guy, whoever he was. Because I think you have to be a pretty positive person to see the world that way and to paint that stuff. And I need to be more positive (I was totally going to write something like “I cannot be not positive anymore” just to make it negative, but I wasn’t sure how obvious that joke would be, so never mind).

So I’m thinking positively. I’m imagining Thomas Kincaid cottages bathed in glowing light. I’m holding on to the idea that snow is magical and beautiful and not a curse from the underworld. I’m believing that my car will magically stay on the road at all times, moving in the intended direction and no other. I’m loving the crisp, clean air entering my lun—HOLY MOSES, it’s cold out there! Am I going to have to scrape ice off my car windows this week?!

Crap. I guess that phase is over.

How about you guys? How is your fall going? What are you looking forward to doing? What are you dreading about the changing season?


Physics, Inevitable Physics

I broke my bed this weekend.

And before you all start in on the fat jokes or the sexual innuendos, just listen to the story. The story in which 1. I am fat and 2. I hate physics and 3. No sex takes place (so if that’s the kind of story you’re looking for, you know, don’t waste your time).

Last Saturday night, Sister and I stayed up really late at Sister-In-Law’s house. Sister-In-Law has been asked to play piano and lead worship at an upcoming Christian ladies retreat. Sister-In-Law is nervous about this because she’s only been playing piano for a little over a year, so Sister went over to help figure out all the musical nuances and harmonies and compositions and all those other musical things that I pretend to understand, but really I’m just glad if I’m in the right key for more than 50% of the song. So. Sister helped musically and I helped. Not at all. But eventually, we realized that USUALLY when they sing, I get on a computer and put together a media presentation. It’s how I compensate for my faulty vocal cords. So Sister-In-Law handed me a computer and I went to town.

We were having fun singing. Oh, I was singing alright. Not well, but I was still singing. And then Brother came home. Now, Brother is an executive for a store that closes at 11:00 pm. So, if Brother is home after all of the closing duties and whatnot, it’s verrrrrrry late. By the time we got home, it was way past my bedtime. This is all pretty pointless setup to tell you that when I woke up on Sunday for church, I was tired. Like: could-barely-force-myself-to-roll-out-of-my-bed-this-“getting-up”-concept-is-not-even-an-option kind of tired. But I did. Because rolling out of bed would have caused some pretty severe bodily harm. I managed to open my eyes long enough to find some clothes that didn't clash too badly.

And I went to church. We even got there a few minutes before rehearsal. Sister and I high-fived. If you have met us, you understand what a triumph this can be. I spent the next five hours working, running around, and being “alert” which is something I would rather not be and so I put it in quotes.

After a rehearsal, two services, and endless socializing, Sister and I headed home, since no one really wanted to go to lunch with us. We’re pariahs or something. Okay, no. Not really. Brother and Sister-In-Law went to her parents’ house. Mom and Dad had food in a crockpot that was not enough for four. We don’t really have any other friends. Crap, we’re back to being pariahs. Anyway, moving on.

[By this point, you’re wondering why I’m telling you all of this and how the heck this relates to my broken bed and my fatness and physics and why I’ve been gone for over a week with no posts and barely a tweet and why this is the thing I’ve waited all this time to tell you and I really have no answers except for this next part, so listen up or you will have read almost five hundred words for nothing and that would be a shame.]

We got home and determined that the TIRED completely outweighed the HUNGRY. We decided to have a nap for lunch. Mmmm… yummy. I wandered around the hallway between the bathroom and my bedroom, taking off my jewelry and chatting at Sister, who had already made it into her bed because she is a napping expert. There was a lull in the conversation and I was ready for my nap, so I caled out, “Okay, well… I’m crashing!” to let Sister know that I would be in my room with the door closed in case she felt like continuing the conversation and talked and I wasn’t there, which would result in her feeling silly and/or frustrated with my lack of answer and nobody likes to feel that way, so I warned her.

Remember I yelled out “I’m crashing?” as in a colloquialism for “laying down in my bed and going to sleep”? Well, Sister and I are very literal people. So she yelled back, “3! 2! 1! CRASH!!!!” Hearing the countdown and knowing intuitively where she was going with it, I timed my steps to my bed to correspond and when she yelled “CRASH!!!!” I did. And so did my bed.

I thought it would be more of a flop. I’ve flopped into this bed before with no negative results. But I guess I was feeling exuberant that day. Or more likely, my recent weight-gain combined with the angle of my shoulder and also, you know, PHYSICS. 

Long story (and I am aware of how needlessly looooooong this story truly is) still pretty long, at least one, if not two slats, in my box spring are busted. So now the mattress sags in the center of the one end.

Right after it happened, I tried laying there for a moment, praying I hadn't jsut broken it and also knowign that my head was lower than my feet. So, you know. That prayer was answered pretty quickly and with a resounding, "DUH!" I knew I would never be able to sleep like that and that it might even mess up my back. BUT I NEEDED MY NAP! So I got up, pulled the mattress off and spun the box spring around so that the brokenness could live at the foot of the bed. I reassembled my bed, got back in, and eventually napped.

So, I’m currently sleeping on a saggy kind of slope. Which is bringing back all kinds of memories of when I lived with Crazy Boss Lady in a rented furnished home owned by an octogenarian couple with heart issues—the master bed was permanently propped at a 30 degree angle to help their blood flow or something. I have no idea. I just know that, for about 90 nights last year, I fell asleep in the normal sleeping position and woke up and the foot of the bed and had to crawl my way back to my pillows at least three times a night.

This is not a great headspace to be in, let me tell you, what with all the RAGE about my current boss and Crazy Boss Lady working down the hall from me. I’m pretty much already LIVING on Memory Lane. Apprently now, I’m having a block party.

Since the broken bed is the same one I slept on in high school and was given to me when I moved out of my parents’ home and OH YEAH IT’S A TWIN SIZE, I’ve been thinking of replacing it for a while now. But mattresses are expensive and I would really like to own my own car before I buy a nicer version (read: queen size) of something that I already have. AND? I bought agiant purple couch this summer. So there is no room in my bedroom for anything other than a twin bed (unless I don’t mind living without bookshelves and a dresser and I DO MIND). So why would I spend my money to replace something I already have but don’t like WITH THE EXACT SAME THING?

Except that I am fat and physics sucks and I will probably buy a new bed next week. The end.


Umm... Duh, Right?

This weekend, I finally cleaned the kitchen. There were a lot of dishes and no counter space and the trash needed to go out and the fridge had some spoiled food in it and it was. just. time. I don't mind cleaning, I guess, but I have to be in the right mood. It's hard to get up the motivation--I come home from "working"* all day and I just want to lay around. I haven't been feeling very motivated about anything in the last few weeks. But it was kind of getting out of hand. And when I finally do work up the will to clean, it's usually in a day-long frenzy of the dirt-blasting, dish-washing, laundry-doing, floor-scrubbing, life-organizing sort.

In completely unrelated news, I now have a clean bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and living room, along with clean sheets, towels, clothes, and dishes.

I have known since early high school that I work better in an orderly environment. I know it sounds kind of strange. But sometimes, when my room would become a pigsty, I had terrible trouble concentrating on my homework. I would have to clean up before I could really get down to it. I also realized that I got out of bed faster and in a better mood if I didn't have to climb through piles of clothes and shoes and junk to get to the doorway. Who would have thought?

Since I have recently been feeling like my life is out of control and that I'm surviving in a strange limbo land, it only makes sense that this would be a step toward living again. I can't believe it took me this long to realize this might help me feel a little more focused and in control.

So I scrubbed. And I vacuumed. And I sorted. And I tossed. And I laundered. And I folded. And I cleaned. You get the picture by now, right? Okay, good. I thought so.

The list of things to do dwindled, but the frenzy was still running strong. I stood in the kitchen and stared at the gleaming counter tops. And decided to bake bread. Two kinds of bread, actually. Whole wheat bread and herbed focaccia.

Just as I need an orderly environment to thrive, I also need a physical outlet for my stress. I should totally join a kick-boxing class. Then I would have a lower stress level and a lower weight level. But I'm cheap and lazy. So instead, I bake break.

That sounded weird, right? Let me explain. Making bread requires kneading dough. Kneading dough takes your whole body. It's not just in the hands. It's in the arms and shoulders, too. You put your weight into it. It's kind of like having a punching bag. A punching bag that turns into starchy, carby comfort food when your aggression is gone. So it's a win-win situation.

The funny thing is, I know this. I know that I use bread as a stress release. I've even told people about my need to bake when I'm angry. I kind of can't believe I haven't made bread to combat the RAGE. I think I might need my brain checked. It's been moving very slowly lately.

So I used this weekend to get back the control. I cleaned. I made bread. I relaxed. I deliberately ignored my job. It was so good.

And this morning, I forced myself to get up a half-hour early and have breakfast and make my lunch. Because I have been stopping for a latte and a muffin every morning on my way to work and then picking up some kind of fast food for lunch so that I have an excuse to escape my office for an hour. But who do I think I am, Rockefeller? A month of eating out for two (or all three) meals a day is hard on a budget. And it's not like my job pays that great. Plus, calories, people! No wonder I look like a blimp. I am SO SLOW in the thinking department. This was like a Weekend of Clarity for me.

I ate cereal and sipped freshly brewed coffee while I made a cheddar, ham, and turkey sandwich on HOMEMADE wheat bread. Then I added a whole ton of other lunch-like things to my pretty polka dot cooler bag, since Sister is awesome and went grocery shopping while I cleaned. YOU GUYS! Our house now has food and a place to cook it AND dishes to cook it on. These are like Nobel Prize worthy accomplishments, people!

So even though today was a weird day in which my boss came into the office and chatted about nothing for several hours, left at lunch and came BACK (almost unprecedented) and chatted for several MORE hours. This was incredibly helpful; I accomplished a grand total of zero things. So... Not really unlike any of my other days.* Anyway, I think I was in the middle of a sentence up there and totally left it dangling. SO, even though today was weird and uncomfortable, I was still in control! I ate breakfast before I left, brought my own coffee in a travel mug, and left the office for an hour and ate my packed lunch at the park in my car (Because WINDY! Ohmygod guys, it's FALL!), all without spending extra money or calories on crappy food I receive through a window.

Today was a good day. Not great. Not good good like last Thursday. But still decent. I was in control. I was not a RAGE machine. I was able to let go of my work stuff before I walked in the door, into a clean and happy kitchen. All in all, an improvement over many of my days this summer. SUCCESS!

Now you tell me one (or all) of the following things:
  1. Have you recently had a "duh" moment in which you realized a simple fix to a seemingly unfixable problem?
  2. Do you like bread?
  3. How do you deal with stress? 
  4. How do you maintain/regain focus and control?
  5. Have you baked my herbed focaccia yet?
  6. Have you accomplished small things recently that you are completely proud of and want Internet recognition for?
  7. What did you have for lunch today?

*Let's not pretend that what I do all day is actual work. Because it's not. It's a combination of  butt kissing, conflict avoiding, and secret blogging. Which is exhausting and kind of like working, but it doesn't result in any kind of marketable product. So, you know, "working."


Elise's Day Off Extravaganza

Before you get all judgy about the fact that I promised to post everyday and then went and...didn't post yesterday...I have to tell you something important. I didn't post yesterday, because I WAS BUSY HAVING A LIFE! No. Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not trying to imply you don't have a life. What I'm trying to imply is that I don't usually have a life, but that yesterday I DID!

Okay, so here's what happened. On Tuesday afternoon, I finally worked up the courage to ask my jerk-of-a-boss for a day off. I have not have one since the end of May. I've needed one since approximately the first week of June, when he got all buttmuncherish. So, I girded my lions (or something less... vaguely dirty) and asked for Thursday off to go to the State Fair with Sister because it will be $2 Thursday, but only if you get there between 12:00 and 2:00 pm (usual price is $11). Here's how the conversation went:

Me: (hesitantly poking the beast) "Hey, Boss? I have a quick question for you."
Boss: "Quick? I have time; it doesn't have to be quick..."
Me: (incredulous at this display of magnanimity)  "Well, the question itself is short, but the time it takes really depends on how long your answer is. So... May I have Thursday off to go the Fair with my sister?"
Boss: "Is [Coworker] going to be here?"
Coworker: "I'll be here."
Boss: "Then yes."
Me: (effervescent with joy, but trying to play it cool) "Wow! Thanks! I really appreciate that!" So cool, right?
Boss: (suddenly shifting into nit-picky voice, but still wearing his magnanimous face) "That was a quick question. I think we need another one. Give me a longer question."
Me: (knowing I will instantly regret this) "Well... I would like to take two days off at the end of September to go to a church retreat. I went last year. Umm... Right after you hired me?"
Boss: (remembering the world revolves around him) "Well, what am I doing at the end of September? Am I even in town?"
Me: (checking his calendar and hoping I don't need to worry about making observations) "You'll be at Big Conference In The Next Town Over."
Boss: "You should go to Big Conference In The Next Town Over, too."
Me: (feeling the conversation slipping from my fingertips)"Umm... I wasn't invited... I don't think anyone in my staff classification is allowed to go..." Seriously? Are you kidding me with this?
Coworker: (supremely unhelpful) Actually, we were invited, but we have to pay for it ourselves. Unless we volunteer to help register people or something... They haven't asked for volunteers yet, though. Thaaaaaanks....
Boss: "Well, then you should volunteer to register people or something... Hey, [Coworker], have we talked about Completely Inane and Entirely Off-Topic Subject yet? Because I think we should." Mouth gaping, I am left at a loss as to whether I get the time off or not as they move onto other things.

So... You know. I got Thursday off, but I may or may not be attending Big Conference In The Next Town Over that has nothing to do with my job and may come out of my paycheck instead of the church conference I'm trying to go to. So... Yeah. That.

Anyway. I still got Thursday off. So Sister and I made all kinds of plans. Wednesday night, after Youth Group (aka Hooligans Anonymous), we were going to go see Crazy Stupid Love at the local movie theater with our free movie passes that we've been trying to use for weeks. We went to the grocery store right before to stock up on cheaper-than-the-movie-theater snacks and smuggle them in with Sister's large bag (yes, we do this often). The grocery store took longer than we thought it would, but we still got there about three minutes before the start time listed on the theater's website. And found out they'd removed the movie the day before and forgot to change the listings, because... Who the hell knows why? The three seventeen-year-old "experts" running the place had no answers.

Angry, we decided to take our enormous amounts of candy and go home to watch something on our own TV. We stopped by Taco Bell on the way home, because... Who the hell knows why? We were hungry, decided candy wasn't enough, and Taco Bell is good angry food, I guess. We pay at the first window. We pull up to the second. The guy leans out the window. Like ridiculously OUT OF THE WINDOW. And then says, "We just ran out of beef. It'll be like.. a half hour or so..." Sister says, "Seriously? Are you kidding me?" The guys shrugs and says, "Sorry." Sister (at that point fed up with ALL customer service in general) grabs her credit card and says, "Then can I a refu---" Dude interrupts her and says, "Nah. Just kidding! Your food'll be out in a sec." Sister gives him what for, because. Well, we all know why, right? Because he's an idiot and could have said "yes" to her "are you kidding me?" but didn't, and also HE GOT BETWEEN US AND OUR TACO BELL. I didn't have to explain this, right?

Properly chastened ("Uhhh... Sorry. That's just something we... do. Like as a joke? Sorry?"), the dude hands us our tacos and we go home, where we proceed to watch several episodes of Grey's Anatomy, stuff ourselves with junk food, and try not to fume about our ruined plans. We stay up until at least one in the morning, since I don't have to work the next day (yay!). I sleep in, which is amazing. We take our time getting ready for the Fair, alternating getting ready activities with episodes of Law & Order SVU and eating leftover candy for breakfast. Best morning ever!

We head to the Fair around noon. I have a free parking pass, but I'm not sure if it's valid. It is! Success! We get to the gate. It is not $2 Thursday. Failure! Apparently that was only last week. The newspaper's website had it wrong. We're beginning to doubt the truth in anything we read online (Which? About time, am I right?). We pay full price, which is not that bad, but still. We shrug it off and head into the Fair.

I love the Fair. We've been going since we moved to this town before I was two years old. I used to love the rides. And the rigged games that lure you in with awesome prizes and flashing lights. Then it was the shops with all the cheap crap that seems cool at the Fair, but what do you do with a four-foot-tall inflatable Scooby-Doo once you get it home? As I grew up, I realized the best part of the Fair is the food.

We pretty much eat our way up and down the paths. Sure, we look at the animals and the farm produce, the crafts and photography. We peruse the artsy shops and watch the street performers. But we really go for the food. Once we've eaten all the favorites (aka made ourselves sick on carbs, grease, and sugar), it's time to go home. This year, that took abut four hours. By the way, we had this whole plan to photograph all the things we ate for me to post and blog about. But we kept forgetting and eating them and then remembering and none of you want to see photos of sad empty paper plates and smudged napkins, right? The first time we forgot, we actually went up to someone who had just ordered what we had already eaten and asked if we could photograph it. They thought we were crazy, but agreed. Then we forgot to photograph anything else, so you get this post instead...

At 5:00 pm, our friend's band was playing a set at one of the venues, so we stopped to see them. They rocked, as usual. We were sitting at one of the sticky, beer-stained picnic tables and Sister pulled out her iPhone, you know, as you do. And noticed that the last Harry Potter was playing at 6:25 pm at a theater about 45 minutes away. That was enough to send us racing to the parking lot to continue ELISE'S DAY OFF EXTRAVAGANZA!

This time, the movie was ACTUALLY playing. We go there with about five minutes to spare. Sister still had a little bit of her candy in her giant bag, which she graciously shared with me. Neither of us needed the extra calories (Fair food smorgasbord, remember?), but we sure enjoyed it! And we enjoyed the movie, too! We're kind of book purists, so I wasn't sure it would ever live up to our imaginations, but it was worth the drive and $10, so take that as you will. I won't say anything else, for those of you waiting to rent it.

After the movie, we realized we were only about 20 minutes form the airport. No, we didn't hop a plane to an exotic location (I wish!). I only had ONE DAY off, remember? But the airport is the only place within 100 miles of our house that serves good frozen yogurt. It's not one of the name brands, but it's kind of like Pinkberry or Cherry on Top. And it's my favorite EVER! So Sister used more of her precious gas to drive us over there, completely the opposite direction from home. Because SHE'S THE BEST SISTER EVER! And we ate our weight in frozen yogurt. Which is exactly what we needed. Because we were starving.*

As if this was not already the perfect day (just to recap: no Jerk Boss or Vindictive Coworker, Sister all to myself, sleeping in, the Fair, lots of food, great band, Harry Potter, candy, and frozen yogurt), Sister detoured on the way home and stopped at BARNES & NOBLE! That's like my favorite store ever. A store full of brand new books and squashy armchairs? Where's bad? I bought two new books with a coupon from Sister and we finally headed home. It was the best end to Elise's Day Off Extravaganza.

You guys, I had no idea how badly I needed a good day. I mean, I've known for two months that I hate my job, that I'm bored and miserable and abused, that I need a change, and that I'm running out of steam. But until I combined all my favorite things on one day, I had no IDEA how long it had been since I had had a good day. Not a non-bad day, where nothing sucky happened. But an actual Good Day, defined by good things happening instead of by an absence of bad things happening. They were all pretty simple things. Okay, so kind of expensive by the end of the day, but still simple. But they reminded me how good my days CAN BE.

So, let's get down to business: the participation portion of this post (I try to pull you guys in when I can. Have you noticed?). I partly wrote this post to tell you all about my awesome day. Not to make you jealous or anything... Of course not... You know, to SHARE my JOY. Gosh. You doubt my motives? Anyway, I also wrote it to encourage you all to take a day for yourself every once in a while. Even if you're not in a bad situation like I am. Even if you think you're already having good days. Sometimes, being intentional about joy, about relationships, about goodness? Sometimes, it's good for the soul. And you doubted my motives... This was all for you! Well, most of it. Okay. A tiny bit of it... But still.

So tell me all about what makes you happy. What is a perfect day? Describe it to me. Have you had one recently? Tell me all about it. Need one as badly as I did? Dream some dreams in the comments. Make plans. Then go do it. You'll thank me later.

Just beware that taking a Thursday off before a three day weekend makes it REALLY hard to come back to work on Friday morning. Also, that much food may make you sick... Just a Fair warning (heh...).

*Please see this as the sarcasm intended and don't tell me about how the average American does not EVEN KNOW what "starvation" is, because... Hello? I was 300 lbs once. I understand that we/I have issues with food and that there are ACTUAL STARVING CHILDREN in the world. We're all clear on that, so don't go on a Social Justice rant in my comments. Mmmkay? Thanks.