Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fragments - Electric Avenue

Time for Friday Fragments again – the brilliant idea of Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who organizes this revelry every week (in fact, she’s the HEAD reveler, which I think makes her in charge of beverages AND entertainment). Go check out who else is feeling random; you’ll be glad you did.

* In this very rural part of Maine that I live in, the addresses used to be things like RR 1, Box 280 or whatever. A number of years ago Maine decided to get on board with 911 systems, and everybody was assigned a number and street. A lot of streets were previously unnamed. Since many of the streets only have one or two houses on them, the towns allowed those people to choose the name of their street. This led to streets named after the folks who lived there (Simoneau Rd., Greta Ave., Record St.) or the landscape (Shady Lane, Pine Tops Blvd., Pleasant View). Sometimes they get creative (Hardscrabble Rd., Catmousam Rd., Nonesuch Place) or just plain weird (Seboomook Dam Rd., Umbazookas Ln.). Unfortunately for me, I live on Main Street, and thus did not get the opportunity to name my address. Too bad, because if I did, I would have snatched up Abbey Road before the people down the street got it. I always wonder if they’re big Beatles fans or if they have a child named Abbey. Maybe I’ll stop in someday and ask.

* I dropped Alex off at the high school yesterday, and was amazed anew at the outfits the girls were wearing. I’m lucky, I guess, because my boys were pretty easy to deal with on the clothing front: T-shirts and jeans, pretty much every day of their lives. They tend toward black t-shirts, but never got into goth or that odd too-big pants phase, with jeans hanging off their butts and their boxers showing. Some of the girls at the high school, however, seem to get most of their clothing from the Rural Hookers of Maine store. My mother would NEVER have let me out of the house in ultra-short skirts or shorts and low-cut tops. I wonder when it became popular to look like a prostitute? Even if I like the look, I think it becomes a sanitation issue – if they’re wearing thongs under there, when they sit down, what exactly is between them and the chair that 25 other people sat in today? Just wondering.

* I’ll be glad when the freshman parents get the clue about how to drive through the parking lot at school. It’s scary enough dodging the kids who just got their license and clearly do not know how to drive, let alone park, without dealing with parents who can’t comprehend one-lane roads or basic drop-off procedure. Rule number one: do not stop in the drop-off lane and proceed to have a 10 minute conversation with your child about what time you’re going to pick them up, what they had for breakfast, or why you don’t like rap music. Drop off your kid and keep moving; we have stuff to do.

* Within 6 miles of my house there are 4 Dunkin Donuts (for you city folks, this might not be a big deal, but in my rural area, it’s a lot). There is also one Tim Horton’s. Mr. Horton was a fairly recent addition to the landscape, and I welcomed him with open arms. His pastries look amazing, and there are a lot more lunch choices there. However, I don’t visit him any more, and I’ll tell you why: They don’t make decaf coffee after noon. I drink decaf only, and I’ve been this way for about 10 years. I used to have a big problem with migraines, and getting off caffeine was a big part of the mostly-successful solution. I like to swing through the drive-thru and pick up a decaf to help sustain me through Lacrosse games or track meets, because it gets cold on those bleachers. If you go through TH at 4:30 or 7:00 PM and order decaf, they say “We don’t make decaf at this time of day; you’ll have to wait while we brew some.” It takes 4 minutes to brew decaf, plus the time it takes them to prepare your coffee (and probably bitch to each other about how irritated they are that somebody asked for decaf). FOUR MINUTES is a long time in the drive-thru with some moron in a Volvo behind you, drumming on the steering wheel and staring daggers at you. Isn’t evening the time people SHOULD be drinking decaf? Tim Horton, you disappoint me.

* I'm off to prepare for my job interview. I can't tell you how much all the good wishes mean to me. I'm nervous, but it's a hopeful kind of nervous. I feel like I'm as prepared as I can be, and I got a pretty good night's sleep last night, so my mind is as sharp as it gets. I've practiced my interview questions and my confident, charming smile. I've done everything I can do. Feel free to send a little prayer or positive thought my way at 1:00 Maine time. I appreciate your support more than you know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Missing You

No time for a real post, but I wanted to say hello. Hopefully somebody noticed I haven't been around much the last several days (I have this recurring fear that I'll be kidnapped or something and nobody will notice until there aren't any clean dishes or clothes.) I am dealing with a bit of family drama, the return to my household of my youngest son (hurray!) and the start of school tomorrow. I am again woefully behind in blog-reading, and I'm missing my online friends. Tomorrow, after everybody leaves, I'm going to sit down with a cup of coffee and catch up with you all.

Have you ever noticed that, often, the person who suffers most from family drama is NOT the person who caused it? More evidence that life is not fair, I guess (as if we needed any!) but this, too shall pass.

I got a call for a job interview on Friday. It's a job I think I would really like, so I'm wavering between panic and excitement. I took a drive down to the building where the interview will be, so I will know where I'm going on Friday. Then I came home and tried on every single piece of clothing that I own. Then I balanced my checkbook to see if I could possibly afford to buy something new to wear. Then I tried on every piece of clothing I own again. Then I checked my roots to make sure the gray isn't showing, because who wants to hire an old hag? Then I went to Wal-Mart and picked up some hair color. Then I printed out my list of possible interview questions and answered them - out loud - to myself. Then I made a list of all the things I have to do, in order, before the interview (hair, nails, exfoliate, clean jewelry, lint removal - my clothes, not my belly button, in case you're wondering, although I may do both.)

Obsessive? I prefer to think of it as prepared - you know, like a Boy Scout.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This just gets stranger every week - Friday Fragments

Welcome to Friday Fragments, the place to say all those things you’ve been thinking all week. Mrs. 4444 from Half Past Kissin' Time is the Big Thinker who hosts this party, and her thoughts are some of the best around. She has links to all the FF posters – go check them out and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

* I have company staying at my house this week, and it’s not the casual kind of company that hangs around your house, reading and such. It’s the kind of company that requires MY company every single minute. Talk about finding it difficult to blog – it’s more like finding it difficult to complete a thought. I have to sneak off with my laptop to steal even a few minutes to read a blog or two! This may just be the shortest Friday Fragments in history.

* Mrs. 4444 awarded me the Favorite Fragmenter prize from last week, which is funny because last week, her FF post had me laughing for days. She linked this video, called Stuck in the Middle With You, which got me thinking about the subject of things that, well, get stuck inside people. Many years ago, I attended a conference with a woman from another non-profit agency whose agency provided family planning and women’s health care. She once told me (after several margaritas) that she had removed an amazing array of objects from women’s bodies. Objects that were not the normal things one might find in there. Objects that they would have obviously attempted to remove themselves first, before suffering the embarrassment of asking for help. The list amazed, impressed and disgusted me, all at once.

* She also told me that the most interesting and unique items, once retrieved, were placed in their ‘hall of fame’ (which was a shelf in their back room) for them to enjoy for years to come. Of course, I had to stop by her agency a couple of months later for a meeting, so I asked to see it. Let me tell you, it was EVERY BIT AS IMPRESSIVE AS SHE HAD DESCRIBED. The most interesting item was a plastic gargoyle, which she described as a “neon green, hard plastic, angry-looking gargoyle” and, in my opinion, was WAY too big to be even considered for insertion. You gotta wonder how bored a person has to be…I mean, how does that even begin? “Gee, honey, I’m feeling a little adventurous tonight. What say we take that green plastic gargoyle that your sister gave the kids, and see if it fits in your…”

* Earlier in the week, I did a good deed at Wal-Mart. I’m not going to tell you all about it, because the specifics don’t really matter. What I will do, though, is encourage everyone to be friendly, and patient, with elderly people when you encounter them at stores or restaurants. It will make your day – and theirs, too – and you might just make a terrific new friend. I think it is absolutely criminal how some people treat others, just because they’re slowing down a bit as they get older. God willing, we’re all going to get there sooner or later - let’s show a little love and compassion, shall we?

* That’s all I got today. I will try to keep better track of my random thoughts next week. Have a terrific weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Secret Hideaway

I sometimes dream of a getaway - the chance to get away from my problems, from bills and job-hunting, from the stresses of everyday life. My ideal getaway location? Someplace hot, with swimming and my choice of adult beverages. Someplace nobody would bother me, where I can choose to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Someplace where I only need a bathing suit, a sarong, a hair clip and my sunglasses. Paradise.

Of course, because of my current situation, I couldn't possibly manage a trip to Paradise. However, I did just manage a couple of days at a spot just north of there. You may have read that I was house-and-dog sitting for friends of mine for the weekend. They have a really nice pool, and in exchange for 45 minutes of dog care twice a day (plus a couple of minutes of egg-collecting - who knew that I was scared of chickens?) I got to hang out poolside for the whole weekend. AND miracles of miracles - the weather cooperated. Yup. Here in Maine, we're having a heat wave (sing with me "a tropical heat wave...") and it's been 90 degrees and sunny every day for almost a week now!

Anyway, I had a great time, and took some pictures of my gorgeous locale.

This is the view from the upper deck. I took this picture around 9 in the morning, and that thermometer on the side of the tiki bar reads 80! And all this time I thought Mother Nature hated me.

A view of the tiki bar. This is where I ate breakfast and lunch and changed stations on the radio as my mood changed from classic rock (morning) to country (afternoon) to jazz (evening).

Here's a better view of the bar - home to many fabulous concoctions. I stayed mostly with Mike's Hard Lemonade, but I know the blender could have told stories of margaritas past.

In addition to their sled dogs, my friends had these adorable poodle puppies. They had six, but three of them have been sold so far. They're ten weeks old and apricot colored- aren't they cute?

One of them was forever jumping straight up in the air. I think they should call him Pogo. I had to take all the photos from outside their enclosure because when I was in there, they were all over me. Their fur is so incredibly soft, and I love how they don't have the long skinny noses yet.

Don't you just want to scoop this baby up and cuddle her??
Anyway, here I am, back to reality. Everything here is exactly the same - same miserable problems that were here before I left - but I feel a little bit refreshed. Sunburnt, and with some sore muscles (I guess I don't use my swimming muscles enough) but refreshed nonetheless. Now if only I could get them to go away for a whole week...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fragments - The Mojito Edition

Time for Friday Fragments, the place to share all those odd thoughts - you know the ones - that are just too random to be a post of their own. Summer is the perfect time to be random, so if you'd like to learn from the master, check out Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. She is the one who started this fiesta, and she's still hosting us fragmenters every week. She picked my friend Andrew from A Long Patience as Favorite Fragmenter this week - yeah! And then she picked my friend Hallie from Wonderful World of Wieners for honorable mention. I'm so happy, I hardly noticed that she didn't pick me for anything... Oh well, go check them all out. Very funny stuff.
* This past week or two has been bad for cell phones in our neighborhood. First, I dropped my cell phone into a steaming hot, very full cup of coffee. Decaf. With cream, no sugar. I grabbed it out, but coffee had permeated every orifice. I took it apart, cleaned it, and air-dried it. And waited. After 24 hours, I put it back together, charged it, crossed my fingers and called someone. The good news? I could hear people fine. The bad news? They couldn’t hear me at all. I repeated the cleaning/drying process, and to my delight, it’s working fine now. There’s a bit of a murkiness around one edge of the screen (the cream, I’m guessing) but I can live with that. The day after I got mine fixed, the meter reader for the power company ran over his cell phone in my driveway. Ooops. And then, a couple of days after that, a friend of mine who was visiting dropped her cell in the lake. I think it’s Mother Nature telling us to drop the technology and enjoy what little summer we get.

* I must be getting old. For a bunch of reasons, and not just because I’m beginning the transition from tampons to bladder-control pads, either. When I was at the movies, watching the Ugly Truth and thinking murderous thoughts about the teenagers and their mid-movie texting, I kept wondering if some of them were old enough to be hearing some of the R-rated dialogue. Which is ridiculous, since I know my kids learned more on the bus in third grade than I knew when I graduated from high school. (“Mommy, what kind of a job is a blowjob?”)

* I am sick to death of not having a working oven in this house. I don’t bake a lot in the summer, but it’s nice to have the option. I have to bring all the snacks to my stamping club meeting tonight, and trying to come up with something good that doesn’t require baking is not that easy. Especially since the other women keep trying to outdo each other in fancy-ness. I can’t just show up with chips, dip and a bag of cookies from the store. Any ideas? Quick, because I have to be there at 6:30.

* Am I the only one who thinks the television talks to me directly? I swear, since I became really, really panicked about not having enough money to pay essential bills, and since I started thinking I might not ever have a job, I think all the tv shows are talking to me. “If you lose your job, we’ll make your payments. Too bad you weren’t smart enough to buy one of our cars before you got laid off.” “A recent study shows that people who are still unemployed after one year have the same chance of finding a job as getting hit by lightning. In a related story, large numbers of unemployed people are reportedly standing out during a lightning storm holding a nine iron.”

* Starting this afternoon, and until Sunday afternoon, I am housesitting/dogsitting for a friend of mine. They have sled dogs, like us, but only 10 or 12, plus a couple of house dogs, so it should be pretty easy. Food and water a couple of times a day, and let the house dogs out to potty every so often. Other than that, I think I’m free to sit by (or in) their gorgeous inground pool with the Tiki bar, outdoor fireplace and cool torch lighting. The weather is supposed to be hot and FABULOUS the whole time. I wish you could all come, too. I’d make you a kick-ass mojito.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wouldn't It Be Nice

Time for another edition of STUFF THAT BUGS THE CRAP OUT OF ME. I know I’m going to sound cranky, but I don’t care. Things are not going well, and I think a little ranting will make me feel better. I need to complain a bit, and this is where I’m choosing to do it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll put up a list of things that make me smile. Or not. Either way, here are some things that are currently bugging the crap out of me.

Scary commercials. I don’t go to see scary movies. I don’t like them. My life is scary enough without monsters and demons and crazed chainsaw murderers. I don’t mind hearing about scary stuff, I just don’t want to FEEL it, with the scary music and the graphic violence and everything. WHY, then, must there be a commercial for a terrifying horror movie on TV every 5 minutes? If I was watching a scary TV movie, I might expect a scary commercial or two, but when I’m watching Burn Notice? I even saw ads for Drag Me To Hell during a Lifetime movie. Really, marketing people? Your research really shows that people who watch Love’s Enduring Whatever also enjoy a terrifyingly bloody horror movie? Who knew? I guess I’ve outgrown my demographic.

People using cell phones during a movie. I went to a movie recently, and I was really looking forward to it. Since I’m pinching pennies, I don’t go to the movies much and I was planning to have a fabulous time. I arrived just as the lights went down, and for a moment I couldn’t see where I was walking. I needn’t have worried, however, since 75% of the teenagers in the room were texting, and the combined light from their cell phones lit up the room plenty. Once the movie started, I expected it to stop, but it never really did. And every single time, my eye was drawn to the sudden bright light. SO annoying. Who are they texting? Each other? I wanted to shriek at them that I managed to get all the way through my teens and half my adulthood without a cell phone - maybe they could take a break for an hour and a half.

Online applications that take hours. A lot of jobs require online applications these days. Sometimes they’re pretty basic: name, address, phone, attach your resume and cover letter. Sometimes they require you to fill out an online resume form, in which you have to basically retype everything, including job history, which is a pain, but whatever. SOME of them, however, want to ask you questions. LOTS and LOTS of questions. I actually had one that required 150 questions. I’m not kidding, either. The first 60 of them were variations on the ‘how much do you agree/disagree with this statement’ thing, with statements like ‘I often struggle with my work’ or ‘I like to be in constant contact with my supervisor.’ Then there was a long section with word problems: “What is the next number in this sequence: 100, 52, 28, 16, 10” or “Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice went to dinner with Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy and Doc; the women can’t sit next to each other; Doc sits by Bob, Sleepy sits on a corner next to Carol, and Ted and Dopey sit across from each other. Which chair does Alice have?” Then they finished up with a personality test where I had to rate myself on levels of energy, honesty, intelligence and general going-postal-ness. TWO and a HALF HOURS. Really? REALLY? To work at your lousy chain store? I don’t care if I was applying for a management job. This should NOT be the initial screening tool.

Inconsiderate people everywhere. People who don’t care about anyone other than themselves. Who randomly stand in your way at grocery stores without checking to see if they’re blocking someone, Who pull out in front of you in traffic and then go super slowly. Who drop things and leave them there. Who make comments like, ‘you must not be trying that hard’ when you tell them you’re still unemployed. Or they say ‘are you still harping on that?’ when they hear that you are continuing to hope to hear from your birth mother. Please, God, however depressed or cranky I get, never let me become one of those people. Please make sure I always care about the other people on this planet, whether I know them or not. And, God, while you’re at it? Please keep me from running them over in my car, even when they bug the crap out of me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fragments - It's all I got

Time for Friday Fragments - the place to release all your pent-up thoughts, no matter how silly - or crazy - and set them free out into the blogosphere. Our resident Princess of Liberated Thoughts is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. She keeps track of all of us random types, so go visit her and see what tidbits of brilliance you're missing.

* For the first time ever (at least since I started this blog) I went an entire week without blogging. Not only did I not blog, I did not READ any blogs. I went cold turkey on the whole blog thing. It was weird. I kept wondering how this person or that person they were dealing with a certain challenge they're facing, how they were enjoying their vacation, their staycation, their break from kids. I realize how much I like my blog friends, and how much I miss them when I don't 'see' them.

* I didn't blog (or read blogs) for a couple of reasons. I started to think that I needed to spend even more time looking for a job. I already was spending 4-6 hours a day looking for job openings - on the internet, in newspapers, in employment periodicals, etc., but I'm not having much luck, as you all know. I decided that I needed to put all my effort into it, without distractions. So I did just that. I looked everywhere possible on the internet. I brainstormed a list of all the large companies within 50 miles of my house and checked their websites. I signed up with every possible employment agency, temp agency and recruiter that would talk to me. I visited the Career Center. I developed 5 new versions of my resume after two different experts advised me to 'dumb-down' my resume so that people would interview me. (Evidently my skills and experience might be working against me. Ha! Who knew? I thought it was just my age!) I read everything I could find on: resume writing, finding openings, better cover letters, how to walk the fine line between following up and harrassing potential employers. I even drove around the industrial park and wrote down the names of all the businesses. One week later? I'm still unemployed, but boy, could I give a seminar on how to go job hunting.

* The other reason I haven't blogged is that I don't want this to become a "poor-me, I'm still unemployed'' blog. Who wants to read that? I certainly don't. And I don't want to write that, either. Damn it, I WILL find something something to say that - if not interesting or funny - is at least not DEPRESSING AS HELL. Unfortunately, that was my reality this week, so I chose not to blog. Hopefully next week will be a better one.

* I have added a new thing to my list of THINGS I REALLY APPRECIATE. The new addition is: public restrooms that incorporate a long, winding hallway entrance, thus eliminating the need for me to touch a door handle that most certainly has more germs on it than the decomposing trash barges of New Jersey. If you add in good lighting, door latches that work, seats that aren't peed on, and sinks that work? I'm in heaven. I've become such a simple person, really. It doesn't take much to please me.

* I've been dog-sitting a bit lately. If only I could make a career out of it! I've made friends with several really sweet dogs, but I never think to bring my camera with me to their houses. This time, it was a one year old Golden Retriever (Ralphie) that was visiting me for a couple of days so I had my camera handy. We played a lot outside - he loves to play keep-away with a ball - but he was bored by my computer-job-hunting-frenzy. This is what he was doing while I was surfing:

Sometimes he switched couches:

* I was treated to another surprise, last-minute, 20-hour visit from Alex (and his girlfriend Tiana). Three weeks from now, he'll be back home - for the school year, anyway - and I can't wait. I've really missed him this summer. Here's a picture of the happy couple. Oh, to be 16 again!

* I've missed all my blog friends, and I want to say thank you for all the encouragement and advice you've offered. I can't wait to read about all you've been up to since last Friday. It will probably take a while, especially since the weather is supposed to be gorgeous for the next couple of days, but I'll get caught up with everyone. I hope you all have a glorious weekend.