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Archive for the ‘My Life’ Category

Yup, it’s been over a month since I’ve posted.  My attention has been diverted by other things (like the job hunt, my daughter graduating from college, and preparations for a soon to be niece or nephew).

It feels as though I’ve been juggling like crazy, trying desperately to keep dozens of little life-balls in the air.  Yesterday I came to the realization, not only have I been doing it for a couple of weeks, I’ve also picked up one or two previously dropped balls, wiped them off, and thrown them into the mix. For one thing, I’m starting research on a possible NaNoWriMo novel for this year.  We’ll see how that goes.

So, yeah.  Busy.  Productive even.  I’m torn between wanting to congratulate myself and being afraid that everything is going to come crashing down all at once.  Fingers crossed, I’ll add more regular posting here into the mix.

Wish me luck.

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Calling it

Still Not Dead

Once again, there has been a spell of not posting that stretched to months (after I told myself I’d post once or twice a week).  My apologies to anyone who was concerned about my health and well being.  This was simply a case of ‘life gets in the way’.

Changes Have Come

My part time gone has evaporated.  The company I worked for (Cosi) has decided to close the location I worked in.  This is a serious disappointment.

My Mother-in-Law and I have really stopped working on the Etsy store.  This is a bit sad but really not a surprise.  We had very different ideas about what we wanted to do with the store, and how to manage being in business together.  It pretty much withered away from neglect.

Changes in the Future

So right now I’m looking for another job.  I’d accept another part time and/or retail gig as long as it was very close (preferably within walking distance), but I really need a full time position which pays a ‘grown up’ salary.  I’m concentrating in administration and customer service positions, but if anyone knows of a job in the Baltimore-Washington corridor which might be hiring and which I might be qualified for, please let me know.

I’ve also been thinking about why the Etsy shop didn’t work.  I was concerned about potential problems from the beginning, and I didn’t fully commit.  If I had the right partner (or partners), it would be easier to get behind it.  At least someone who has the organizational skills I am weak in and who sees the value in a written agreement.

So that’s what I’m musing about.  Next post should come soon, and will be more in the ‘what I’ve been knitting’ line.  There’s some good stuff.

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How Comet Came Home

In my last post, where I described Comet’s little excursion,   I mentioned that he had probably not been raised as an indoor cat.  This is the story of how Comet came to live with us in the first place.

It started very late in the evening of January 1, 2009.  Steve and Abby had been visiting Steve’s sister, who lived in Baltimore.  I was at home, doing something or other online.  Dottie was asleep.  I got a call from Steve, about a stray cat…

Apparently he had stopped to get gas, and as he got out to start pumping a cat jumped onto the hood of the car.  He went to shoo it off, but it had already jumped into Abby’s lap (we found out later that he had had a little help), and curled up there.  It was a really cold night, and what could they do…?

So Steve called me and said he was bringing a stray home.  I told him no, that wasn’t about to happen.  For lots of reasons, one of them being that years before  we had brought a stray in who had FeLV.  Our vet had eventually given the ‘all clear’ for bringing a new cat in, but I didn’t want to go through that again.  So while he was driving I did some frantic web and phone searching, and got hold of animal control  services (this was about 11:30 at night, mind you)  I was told that we could drop the cat off at BARCS.  So I gave Steve the address and made him drive across town.  Then he couldn’t find the place, so I pulled up Google maps and navigated for him.

Of course, there is no 24 hour animal shelter in Baltimore.  He brought the cat home.  By this time Abby had named him ‘Comet’, I should have known then that the story was done.  We did our best to keep him quarantined in the girls’ room (poor Captain really wanted to say ‘hi’).  He ate a lot, drank a lot, and slept a lot.

In the morning Abby and I drove back up to BARCS.  there is a perfectly good shelter nearer to us, but I figured that this cat was so friendly and socialized to people, someone must be looking for him.  I made a point of telling the woman at the desk that if his family didn’t find him he had a home with us (by this time Abby was thoroughly bonded, of course).  She told me that in three days he would be ‘up for adoption’, and that we would be at the top of the list.  As we left, I heard her telling the complaining cat that ‘it’s OK, they’ll be back’.

So three days later I called to see if his family had shown up.  I was told in no uncertain terms that I “should come in now“.  So Abby and I did.  It turned out that the card on the cage which said ‘adopted’ had fallen off, and someone else had gotten in ahead of us to take the cat home.  The woman I spoke to on the phone was the same woman who had signed Comet in, so she just made the executive decision that we were the official ‘first takers’.

So there you have it.  The cat pretty much adopted us.

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Comet’s Big Adventure

We’re not sure how Comet got out of the house. We know it must have been sometime Saturday night.  Steve and I each opened the door once, and each is convinced that Comet didn’t slip past.  There’s no telling.

comet-croppedI was in a funk of anxiety and guilt, plagued by memories of Ginger (who got out on my watch years ago and never came home).  Mad at myself for getting so upset about a cat who actually was an outdoor cat (we believe) in a previous life (but that’s a story for another day). Basically, it just wasn’t fun.

Yesterday morning I got a FB message back instructing me to call, which I did.  I gave the very nice woman on the line all of Comet’s particulars, and told her that I’d put a photo in the FB pages messages.  She didn’t have access, so she suggested I email the picture, which I did.  I got a nice email back with some useful information about finding a lost pet.

Last night, feeling headachy (still again and yet) and bad I opted not to go to our weekly pub trivia competition.  I stayed home and played computer games, and occasionally got up and called for the cat.  At about 9:00 I thought I heard a reply, but it was almost drowned out by the crickets.  I grabbed my keys and flashlight, and went out into the chirpy evening to see if I could hunt him down.  I saw a neighbor sitting outside, and asked if he had heard a meow, but he thought it was just crickets.  I was still hopeful, and kept calling.  I was certain that I was hearing a response – I high, thin, chirpy mew off in the distance.

I’m terrible at finding things by sound.  I often don’t get to my phone in time to catch the call, just knowing it’s ‘over here somewhere’, but I was pretty quickly able to hunt down the sound.  Soon I spotted him.

He was stuck in a tree, just across the parking lot from out townhouse.  I had searched that area the day before, but I hadn’t looked up.  Not that I think he was stuck in the tree the day before, but he had to have been somewhere close by.

comet-adventure-2

He was clearly glad to see me.  His meow changed timbre, he was kneading and rubbing against the tree, but he wouldn’t climb down.

There was no way I could possibly get to him, and, try as I may I couldn’t coax him down.  I thought about going back to the house and getting the step ladder, but it seemed too cruel to make him watch me walk away.  So I called Steve (trivia was over, we came in second) and told him to come home and help me retrieve the cat.

While I waited there was nothing to do but talk to the him, and try to calm him down.

I referred to Steve as Comet’s ‘daddy’. It’s official, the girls are right, I am the crazy cat lady.

Save

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As I’ve mentioned before, I deal with depression. I’m currently doing it without professional assistance, but I do have a support network, and I take St. John’s Wort and try to use the skills I got from REBT in my daily life.

One of the things I keep remembering is the story of the Two Wolves. It’s a really positive image. More, it’s a great bit of imagery, and it serves as a reminder that every time you follow a thought chain you are building a path in your brain. For me, this doesn’t so much mean that I never follow my mind into dark places, or forbid myself negative feelings (yeah, you can really hurt yourself that way too) but I do make a conscious effort to keep most of my mental trips grounded, and I make sure to indulge in wishful thinking every now and then. Try to use all those different emotional muscles, so they don’t atrophy.

Still, because I’m perverse, and because I reject the idea that a wolf could be evil, now and then I allow that story to morph a bit. The ‘bad wolf’ is more like a wendigo. You think you are feeding it ‘the enemy’ by villifying those who have wronged you. You even get some energy back in the form of renewed anger. Do it long enough, though, and you’ll be feeding it all the time, and that ‘righteous’ anger you get back is all that sustains you. Do it long enough, and one day you’ll realize that the flesh you’ve been feeding it is your own…It’s a powerful image, and I’m fond of it, but I think the two wolves image is more suitable for everyday use.

The upshot is, this has really changed the way I approach serious emotional conflicts. I try to stay away from judging the other person, and I take a long, hard look at my own actions and motivations. I also figure out what reconciliation would take, and whether or not the relationship is worth it (not whether the person is worth it – that never works well).

The upshot is  I am (I’ve been told) the least satisfactory person to come to when you need to vent about how terrible your conflict with someone is, especially if that someone is central to your life.   Which is fine with me, because I’m completely unsatisfied to be put in the middle of other people’s conflicts.  I’m as prone as the next person to feed the drama llama from time to time, but I do my best to make sure that llama is grounded in fiction (literature, video, or role playing games) or distant from my life.  I find it’s just better all around.

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Poetic Spam

The following appeared in my Akismet spam queue.  I was tempted to let it go through, because it’s so gosh-darned poetic it’s almost cute.

What is a defense test and do? As it’s, The category is hellbent on facilitating crimes that barefoot running has metamorphosed ideas to begin making users on the other hand together with the pitch almost dependent. They can undertake big; They can not discuss cheap. That they are unable to decant even about the qb

Then again… no.  Friggin’ spammers.

The Job Hunt

So far in August I’ve applied for 13 jobs and had 4 interviews (for three jobs).  This is a lot better than July’s totals, and I have to say that the Maryland Workforce Exchange really showed me how (and why) to target resumes to a job.

One interview (face to face) was with an employment agency, for general Admin work.  The jobs I’m in line for are all very local,they know I want temp to perm,  and they have my resume and vitals on file.  It went well, but I haven’t had a call back.

Two interviews were for a Regulatory Affairs Assistant position.  I expect that it sounds dreadfully dull to 90% of my readers.  Regulations are nobody’s favorite thing, but…  BUT…  it’s research regulation.  These particular dotted i’s and crossed t’s are all about advancing science without allowing the next Tuskeegee experiment (or MKUltra, or some outbreak of GM E coli).  The people were all very nice, from the receptionist on up, and I think I would like working there.  Actually, I am ridiculously excited about the possibility of getting this job.  Not at all excited about the commute, though.

The final interview was for a help desk position for employees of  a company which provides video content.  It was a video interview.  I found it an interesting experience, but not as satisfying as an interview with back and forth.  Fortunately, they’ve asked me to come in for a face-to-face interview on Tuesday.  I’ve read up on their website, and I think I could become ridiculously excited about this one, too (I’ll know more once I’ve actually spoken to employees).  I’m already excited about the commute.  I could take the bus in and walk home, if the weather is nice (depending on the hours I might be willing to walk both ways…  I might do a test walk this weekend and see how it goes).  Maybe I could even get the bike fixed up and cycle in to work.

Obligatory Bragging About the Girls

I know I should shut up and let them toot their own horns, but they’re both doing so amazingly well.  Abby sounds like she’s thoroughly integrated into her village (though she’s very modest about it).  Dottie has been specifically invited to apply to a prestigious paid internship after she graduates.  Exciting stuff.

They’ve also both coming to the conclusion that feminism is ‘a thing’ after all, and not just some hippie nostalgia Mom hangs on to.  It’s a bit disconcerting that there are parallels between the norms and expectations for women and marriage in rural Senegal and rural Ohio.

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Random Stuff About My Life

The Post Which Never Was

Back in March I began to write a very long and detailed post about volunteering to be in an NIH study.  It was good, and I was going to finish it and post the whole thing today, but I realized that my memory of the study (which took place in January) is now pretty vague.  So instead of giving you a detailed description, I’m going to have to summarize.

NIH is a cool place to visit
As in oddly scary security screening (although everyone was friendly and polite) giant fishtanks, gorgeous displays, and everyone willing and interested in explaining the science.
They like me there
They appreciate interested and engaged volunteers. I absolutely felt like the favorite volunteer ever!
They like knitting there
There was a lot of waiting around. I figured out how to knit with a tube stuck in me, and a number of people watched. One of the doctors was a knitter, so she kept me thinking about ‘name the famous male knit designers’ instead of the invasive sample she was taking.
There was not fun stuff too
Invasive samples are not fun. Being intubated and having blood taken every few hours is not fun. Fasting and being pumped full of sucrose is not fun. No matter how polite everyone is, and how interested you are in the process, there are going to be not fun parts in human experimentation.

The particular study I was in had to do with the effects of antiinflammatories on metabolic syndrome.  In particular, how antiinflammatory medicine affects the calcium ion channels reaction to insulin in fatty tissue in patients with metabolic syndrome.  I ended up as a healthy control, so they just took one fat biopsy.  Thanks to this study I now know that I don’t have metabolic syndrome, and a little bit more about how my body works.

I may well volunteer for another study, because it was cool.

Looking for Work

Over the past three weeks I’ve put in ten job applications and had four interviews at three different places.  Two phone interviews, one in person interview and one video interview over a phone app.  I’ve got a spreadsheet to track (because I’m that kind of geek).  I have one good interview suit (which I’ve used) and a number of less good but still acceptable options to wear for second interviews.

The three positions I’ve interviewed for are (in chronological order):

  1. Administrative/front office (interview with placement agency)
  2. Regulatory Affairs Assistant
  3. Help Desk

I never thought I’d be interested in any sort of regulatory work, but, honestly, this job would be really exciting.  I wouldn’t be enthused about that commute, though.  Of course, if Steve gets a job near there (and it’s possible) that makes it all come together nicely.

The help desk position is the one which had the video interview.  I’d be providing applications support, and I know that I can handle the job.    It was an odd experience, but it makes sense for this particular company (they produce video content) and it’s only round one.  I hope I make it to round two, because I’d prefer a more interactive interview.

So that’s it, almost.  Except that I do have a literal fridge cleaning recipe.  I made this on Friday, when I realized that there was a cup of home made chicken broth which I had better use up or throw out.  Here’s what I threw together:

Fridge Cleaning Soup Recipe

1 cup homemade broth

1 cob corn

2 baby carrots

2 T quinoa (this is what I used, it was way too much.  2t probably better).

Heat broth over medium heat.  While it’s warming, put the carrot cob in the microwave (husk and all) for one minute. Remove from microwave.  Cut off stem end and squeeze cob out (corn is cooked and cob is shucked all at once).  Cut kernels from cob and discard cob.  Chop up baby carrots.  Add corn, quinoa and carrots to broth and simmer for five minutes.  Remove from stove and eat.

Clean Fridge soup

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