Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FINALLY!

This weekend we went to visit my in-laws in DC before they evacuate the east coast and head toward the Midwest and a better job for my father-in-law.  Which meant Nick and I made the drive up I 95 again.  Which also meant that for, like, the umpteenth million time in my life we passed this.  

I can't tell you why but I have always had a love for roadside attractions and the like.  (Need me to talk more on that?  Check out this OLD post from way back in the fetal days of this blog....I promise it is worth your time.  Or you can ask anyone on my college speech team that was with me when I coerced our coach to take us to the "World's Largest Frying Pan.")  So naturally every one of those umpteen times Nick and I have passed "South of the Border"  I have begged to go.  No dice.  

I don't know what was different about this time.  Maybe Nick felt like since his parents were moving we may not make this same trip again soon.  Maybe it was because we was rewarding me like a 3 year old for getting up in the morning and actually leaving the apartment before 8 AM.  Maybe he just thought I looked super cute while sleeping with my mouth hanging open in the car (as per usual).  All I know is after a nice snooze I was roused by the sensation that we were pulling off 95 and onto an exit, and I opened my eyes to pure joy.  

I honestly can't tell you the last time I have been so giddy.  Nick said I looked like a kid on Christmas morning which I totally believe.  Rubbed my eyes, grinning ear to ear, bouncing up and down in my seat and talking about 2 octaves higher than normal, "Oh my gosh really, really?  You aren't joking?  Are we really going?"  So without further ado, some pictures from "South of the Border":

That's me standing between that mariachi's legs.
Look how excited I am!



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How did it get to be 1:30 AM.....I need to learn to sleep like a normal person.

In case you all were wondering....pending some paper work etc. I should be employed and working by the end of next week.  Woo Hoo!  And to add to the perks and excitement of this past week I was given the prolific blogger award by Patrick Tillett.  He appears to be quite the trouble maker (in the best way possible) and most certainly a great writer....always a good combination.  

Here are the rules:

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Include links to their blogs.

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she received the award. (That would be me.)

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add the links of those they awarded, so that we can get to know the other winners.

And here are the winners!

1.  TattyTiara - Always an interesting read.  She is a very clever writer.

2.  I blog your profile/I Read your blogs - Written by father/daughter team Aion and Nicole.  Probably some of the kindest and most supportive people out there AND their blogs are all about blogging, so if you are looking for more to read they are the people to go to.

3.  Lady of 'the Arts' - Lady Ren posts some really great stuff relating to 'The Arts' as a whole, which means there is always something different.

4.  Not Worth Mentioning - Copyboy consistently makes me laugh, or cringe, or laugh and cringe every time I stop by, and really, what more could you ask for?

5.  Sadie - I don't know where this girl gets her energy but she has her hand in so many cookie jars I don't know how she always manages to always have a new post on her blog.  She also has some fun themes for her posts, like touring her home or the menu for her evening meal.

6.  Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing - I am pretty sure this girl and I had the same sort of childhood.  And that really should speak less to our similarities and more to her ability to tell a great story and make you go, "Oh, something just like that happened to me!"

7.  Non-Review - I am pretty sure I have rewarded TS before for some random thing or other, but he totally deserves it.  His posts are smart, funny, AND 100% children of his own mind and I greatly respect that.

Enjoy the links!

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is longer and more profane than usual, but believe me, it is both justified and worth it.

Those of you who know me personally may already know this story, but it is a story that bares repeating.

When we first moved to Seattle back in December of 2006 I was desperate to leave the retail job I transferred with and find a job "within my field" (whatever the hell that actually means for a person who studied communications).  Now it should also be noted that as a military spouse the cards are sort of stacked against me.  First, I am dropped into cities where I don't know anyone or anything about the local economy and hence have no leads.  Second, my resume reads like that of a fugitive....3 months here, 6 months here, cross the country, cross back.  (Since July of 2005 I have worked on both coasts and in 3 different states, lived in 4 different states, and had 5 different addresses.)  

So when I landed an interview with a "marketing" company in March after the holidays had slowed and I had started searching in earnest, I was thrilled.  I went online and studied their website.  It was a little vague, but claimed they worked primarily in print-based marketing and boasted some heavy hitting clients including the local sports teams like the Seattle Mariners.  So it had to be legit, right?  

At this point my husband and I only had one car.  Being as his commute involved crossing the Puget Sound in a trip totaling about an hour and half, he got the car and I relied on public transit, which was great for downtown.  However, this place was in an industrial park south of the city.  So off I went on a bus with two transfers and a total transit time of about an hour to walk a few commercial blocks, trudging across parking lots and past several storage units until I finally reached this "marketing firm."  I sat down in the waiting room of a shockingly small office that hadn't been updated since about 1977.  But I was here for an interview, along with these other people wearing suits, so it was okay.  

My entire interview with the office manager, from beginning to end, went something like this:

Manager:  Do you see yourself as a self starter or someone that requires micro management?
Me:  Self Starter
Manager:  Do you see yourself working in an environment that is casual or competitive?
Me:  I can be competitive, but I also work very well with others.
Manager:  Would you prefer working for a small company or a larger one? 
Me: A smaller environment would be preferable.
Manager:  Do you see your self working best in an office, with people, or with computers?
Me:  All three together.

Fade to black.  End Scene.

I was invited back for an observation day.  Which, despite my confusion about the four question interview, I decided to accept.  I hadn't seen any reason NOT to go, no one at the office was wielding an axe or wearing pedophile glasses.  Plus, it would be a full day away from my current retail gig peddling lingerie and looking at the breasts of middle aged women.  
I showed up on time at 8 AM and was assigned to the account manager I would be shadowing.  For the sake of this story we will call him DB (as in douche bag).  DB was also training another account manager at the time who also joined us that day.  We will call him FM (as in freaking moron).  So DB and FM chat me up about how much they love their jobs and how we were going out "in the field" today and so on.  However, it was only after I was safely strapped into DB's totally shit-tastic Mitsubishi Eclipse (circa 1993) that it is explained to me that we are driving to Auburn (another industrial region south of Seattle) to sell coupons for a local garage.  Say what?!?  Isn't this something that should have been explained to me before I was driven away from the office in the personal automobile of an employee?  Being as we were already on the road, I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or how to find a bus back home, I figured I was in for the long haul.  

So before getting this totally stellar "marketing" job FM had been a used car salesman (and apparently a really crappy one at that).  And being as DB was itching to upgrade from the lady killer that was his dented up Eclipse, EVERY time we passed an auto dealership the conversation went something like this:

"Dude, bro!  Check it out! That's my car man, that's totally my ride, tell me about it!"

And then FM would respond by sauntering up to the car in question, reading the specs of the sticker in the car window and finishing with, "Now how about you and I go inside and work out the details."

And trust me, friends, there are a lot of mother 'effen car lots in Auburn, Washington.   

Once we ran out of businesses to hustle we started approaching apartment complexes and single family homes.  DB would douche his way through a pitch, then at the next house FM would stutter his way through the pitch.  Then DB thought he would try and put me in my place and let me pitch, which I did flawlessly.  So much for him trying to intimidate me by giving me the reigns...jackass.  

As it started to get dark we approached this darling little cookie cutter neighborhood and as I was getting sad that we were going to interrupt the dinners of so many innocent families, DB was getting frustrated that no one had purchased any booklets.  (Seriously, who buys a booklet of oil change coupons for like $100 at some random local garage no one has ever heard of?)  After several no thank yous, and a few unopened doors we hit two very special houses.

At the first house a woman tells us her husband handles all the money and he wasn't available. So DB explains to me, as if explaining a scientific fact like the process of photosynthesis, that she was a total COWS...for those of you wondering what that is, that would be "Can't Operate Without Spouse." This, in contrast to the man we ran into a few doors down who said his wife handled the money.  As we left DB says regretably "Man, I wish I had the balls Spence had (the boss and leader of this not so pyramid scheme), he would have said 'Bro, don't tell me you let your wife handle the money! You gonna let her tell you what to do?!'" A part of me died.  Perhaps I wasn't "held against my will" but there was certainly some coercion and deception on their part, and now I had to put up with this chauvinistic bullshit because these two bumblef*cks were my ride home!  REALLY?

Thankfully, this was also the last straw for DB.  We piled back into his car and started to make our way back to the office.  DB turned on the CD that was already in the player.  He and FM start jammin' out to the generic sound of boys and guitars.  Then FM pipes up from the back seat.  "Hey, guess who this is."  I name the first one-hit wonder, current top 40, guy band I could think of.  "No, not them, guess again."  I name someone else.  "No not them either, think really hard, they should sound familiar.  You should totally get this."  I gave up and stopped playing at this point.  FM gets all butt hurt I stopped guessing and blurts out "It's DB!"  Apparently, DB was in a band at some point during his recent history, according to him they got some "air play out east" and clearly he thought they were good enough to jam out to in his own damn car.  Who does that?

We finally rolled into the office park again at about 9:30 in the evening.  My husband was already waiting to pick me up.  They offered me the job on the spot and I turned it down as politely as I could, although I don't think I could totally hide the bitchy and triumphant edge in my voice that said, "Shit no, Morons.  Even my godless retail gig is better than this!"

On the way home I told Nick all about my day and couldn't decide if I should laugh because it was the most ridiculous day ever, or cry to mourn the 8 hours I would never get back.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am ok with my choices, but I still hate checking the box that says "homemaker" cause it sounds condescending.

The latter part of last week was weird.  Well, maybe not weird, but distracting.  Hence the lack of a weekending blogpost.  There was just too many things that made me drop everything and go, "Oh something shiny."  Then wander off like a toddler running after a puppy.

First, I got a new smartphone.  Upon the high recommendation of Ian @ Daily Dose of Reality, I ended up getting a droid.  There was a lot of time dedicated to figuring out how to use it.  Then, that morphed into like 3 days and counting of stuff like, "OMG, Nick, look at this awesome new application I downloaded.  It makes my screen steamy and I can wipe away the steam and then when you blow on the phone it comes back...like real steam!"  If my husband were a lesser man I would probably be lying in a pool of my own blood right now.

Then, Nick had two days off AND we got our tax return at the same time which meant a fair amount of eating out and running around town to start tackling our tax return wish list.

But the biggest distraction, by far, was the job interview that sprung up out of no where.  There were lots of mini freak outs and proofreading my resume and updating said resume and then proofreading again.  Here's what you may not know.  I have been unemployed since June.  I wasn't laid off.  I quit my job because I was moving and my job made me an awful person.  (I worked retail full-time, a job I never intended to have after college.)  It made me so exhausted I frequently came home to our apartment, walked the 6 feet to our living space, and face-planted in the couch still in my coat and holding my purse, and passed out for 3 or 4 hours.  Some of you may know how inclined I am to use hyperbole.  I assure you this is not the case in this situation.  My husband can vouch because, on occasion, I would still be passed out on the couch when he got home.  In addition to the exhaustion it brought me to a place where I hated meeting people and automatically assumed the worst of everyone I was forced to become acquainted with.  So we move to California for three months and I had the first work-free summer vacation I have had since 1997.

Then, we moved to Charleston.  Charleston, whose economy runs damn near solely on restaurants, hospitality and retail.  Aw, hell no!  Suffice it to say, after much personal struggling and grief, I resigned myself to the idea that I would not be working, in a traditional sense, while we lived here.  (I feel I should note that I harbor a stupid amount of personal baggage on the subject of employment and this was as much of a nutshell I could force it into.)  So last week was when that resignation really settled in.  I even busted out my journal and wrote about how I was finally "ok" with the fact that I wasn't working and that I finally accepted the lack of employment as my choice and that I was in control of it and that it wasn't in control of me or my self worth.  So naturally what happens?  The very next day I get some email about a job opening that isn't retail management, has nothing to do with financial planning or selling insurance cause that is just how shit happens to me.

But really, that is all besides the point.  The whole ordeal has made me reflect on all the job hunting I did in the past, and I have had some really awkward/downright appalling things said to me during interviews.  Is that normal?  Is there so much information on how to prepare for interviews floating around that employers feel the need to try throw you off your game by saying ridiculous things to you?

I have been told, "I can't really turn you down for a second interview because you are really what we are looking for, but, by looking at your resume, this doesn't seem like the job you want."  (Admittedly he was right, but still, WTF?  It's like the professional equivalent of "It's not you, it's me.")

I have also had an interviewer straight up say to me, "Oh man, you are going to have a hard time finding a job here.  This town still runs on a Good Ole Boy system, so if you don't know anyone here to pulls strings you are pretty much screwed."  (Really?  Is there really a reason to use this sort of intimidation?)

I have also sat politely while an interviewer informed me about how dedicated he was to the Latter Day Saints church and while it didn't matter what religion I practiced, I should know that was the kind of corporate culture they adhered to (way to sidestep all those laws about asking about religious affiliation in the interview there, buddy).  He then proceeded to let me know that they also "play hard" and he firmly believed in rewarding yourself for good work.  "That aquarium is my reward.  Every time I make my quarter, I buy I new exotic fish to put in it.  Right now I have about $10,000 wrapped up in that aquarium."  (Gag.  And my mom would have labeled such discussion as "tacky.")

I had also interviewed with a newly expanding recruiting firm.  The small staff consisted of all men and one woman, all of whom were under the age of 37.  So I guess when the interviewer asked, "How would you feel about working on a team full of men?  If you were hired you would be the second woman on our staff," it was a legitimate question, sort of.  But it probably would have been more straight to the point if he'd have asked, "So, your boobs will be stared at, your ass will be grabbed, someone will call you a bitch, and someone will ask if you are on your period should you ever be cranky, but you're not gonna make a big deal about that, will you?"

But all of these pale in comparison to the interview in which I was kidnapped.  That, my friends, is a story that deserves it's own post, so check back later this week!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If I had only known about Cirque du Soleil when I was 5, I could have been a wealthy gal by now.

I have started taking a Yoga class on Sunday evening and I love it.  I even have a small girl crush on my instructor.  Really, I am just terribly envious of her.  She is super petite, but not in the obnoxious go eat a burger sort of way.  She is just very graceful and nymph like; and while I have had many adjectives thrown my way, "graceful" has never been one of them.  She also has the mass of super curly hair (as a kid I always wanted curly hair).  And we are talking like the semi-crazy, natural curls.  Think Sigourney Weaver, back lit and levitating in the movie Ghostbusters.  Best of all, and I think this is why I like the class so much, she seems like a real person.  She doesn't come across as too zened out to go grab some damn coffee.

It is a Yin Yoga class so the practice is all about releasing tension and opening up connective tissue etc. etc. which is great cause it is a nice balance from all the running I do (or more likely find excuses not to do) during the week.  AND (here's the best part) this is like the only physical activity I am naturally inclined to excel at.  I have always been flexible.  Had I been born in a different era my parents may have made a good profit off selling me to some greasy man with a handle bar mustache running a circus on Coney Island.  Sadly, while being able to throw my both feet behind my head may have made me the talk of my 4th grade class for like 15 minutes, as a grown ass women I feel that it might be slightly inappropriate to throw that talent out in order to make friends and impress people.

That being said, a few times I have, perhaps, over done it in class.  For example, a couple weeks ago we worked our way into a modified pigeon.  Pigeon looks like this:

In this modified pose the left leg, for example, is extended behind while your torso leans forward and is supported by your forearms.  The right foot then is parallel and just outside of the right forearm.  And in my case the instructor comes around and makes note that I am really flexible in my hips so I should just let my right leg fall open to the floor.  So then, my right shin is now perpendicular and outside my right forearm.  I am sure this is hard to just imagine so go ahead and step away from your computer and give it a try.  It's cool.  I'll wait.....

Yeah, it's a little hard but it feels kinda good, right?  Ok, well I stayed like that, with some minor adjustments and twitches for about 3 minutes straight.  You know, cause "I'm a total badass" and "going easy is for whooses."  Then our instructor, in her uber calm spa voice, lets us know we should make our way into the next pose and for a brief moment I am stuck.  Seriously stuck.  Muscles all stretched out like a sweater left on a hanger to dry, in a position that doesn't provide any leverage or ability to gain momentum to roll out of the pose.  I start imagining the pain I might experience the next day.  I start to panic and have images of the class trying to move me but my body is totally frozen like Hans Solo in carbonite.  At this point my nerves kick in and send out just enough adrenaline that I am actually able to move.  It was the longest two seconds I have experienced in a while.  Serves me right for showing off, especially in a class where people keep their eyes closed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A little self disclosure.....

I have a confession.  Television is my crack.  I am not proud of it.  But in my defense, I do not watch just any crap on TV.   Ok, maybe some of it is total shit, but not all of it.  And because there are few things I enjoy more than learning random facts about people and trying to determine personality from those little things, (that's right, kids, I profile stalk you all) I thought I would put myself on the line and tell you what will keep me on the couch for the next few months.  Let the judging begin!

Monday 
Hoarders on A&E - I am fairly certain this (although well checked) runs in my family.  Watching this show is my way of rubbing my nose in it so hopefully, when I have kids, I won't start keeping their fingernail clippings.
No Reservations on The Travel Channel - My husband and I both have huge crushes on Anthony Bourdain.  The places, people, and food the show features are always awesome and very interesting.  But more than anything the man can write.  His narration is always the perfect blend of truly jaded but still hopeful and a little sentimental.  I would highly recommend anyone read his book "The Nasty Bits" which is a collection of his essays both before his series started and during taping of earlier seasons.
Pawn Stars on The History Channel - It's like antique roadshow for young people.
How I Met Your Mother on CBS - Legen....wait for it.....dary.

Tuesday
LOST on ABC - I am a sucker for stories that are actually puzzles and make you try figure out what the hell is going on.  

Wednesday
Criminal Minds on CBS - Gruesome murders and psycho analysis?  Sold.
Glee on Fox (New episodes in April) - As a former theater and speech dork I love this show with every ounce of my soul

Thursday 
CSI on CBS - Yes, I realize this show has probably long since jumped the shark but I have watched it for too long.  I am past the point of no return.
The Office on NBC -  This show is just funny and I am in love with Jim.

Friday
Ghost Adventures on The Travel Channel - Nick and I actually call this show "Douchebags on Parade" cause the hosts of the show are just such fantastic tools.  They know they are running a TV show and as such, are great showmen.  Terribly entertaining to watch.  Also I LOVE old buildings and the history behind them.  This show actually does a decent job of discussing and telling anecdotes about the locations they visit.

Finally, should I ever end up channel surfing on the weekend the TV will inevitably end up on one of the following:  CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, History Channel, or A&E.  And if anyone should ever find out who I need to petition, shank, or sleep with in order to get the show Pushing Daisies back on the air, let me know.

Have a great weekend everyone!  And hopefully the weather will be in support of my finishing my rocking chair this week. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey! Did you guys know that there is a soapbox in here?

I meant to get this post up yesterday, however, my day ended up revolving around cleaning up dog vomit and an impromptu trip to the vet.  Thankfully, Bennet is on the mend so here we go - 

I went to Brewvival this weekend!  But in order to understand what a big deal that is you must first understand a little bit about the area in which I live.  Charleston's nick name is the "Holy City" because of the number of church steeples that dominate the downtown skyline.  It is an area that is steeped in history and tradition.  As such the liquor laws here are a little antiquated.  

In 2003 Charleston approved the 24 hour sale of wine and beer in grocery stores.  So when Nick and I moved here for the first time, in 2005, we were excited about that.  Then two weeks later when we wanted to get some rum.  We realized that we hadn't seen a liquor store anywhere.  As it turned out there was one right next to our grocery store.  However, since it was referred to as the ABC Package store (as liquor stores in SC are state run) we thought it was a package store, like a Mailboxes etc. sort of thing.

When we moved back in Oct of 2009 we were surprised to see some changes.  While I don't know all the specifics I can tell you there seem to be more "red dot" stores (the required logo for liquor stores) as well as limited Sunday hours for those stores.  In 2007 the ABV limit for beer increased allowing the sale of some higher octane imports and microbrews.  The most notable change, though, was the ability for bars to serve liquor from actual bottles, a great leap forward that happened shortly before we moved in late summer of '06.  Currently, there is a bill waiting approval to allow on-site beer tasting

But why is all of this important?  As Americans are beginning to pay more attention to what they eat as a matter health and/or politics people are relearning how to appreciate food.  If you want proof of this just look at the success of films like SuperSize Me, or Food Inc, and shows like Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen.  Need more evidence?  Check out this article from Business Week.  With this new appreciation for the meal, naturally follows a piqued interest in the drinks that pair well.  

Beer happens to the be "it" child of the moment.  I can only speculate as to why.  I imagine it is because there are no rules or rituals to tasting beer the same way there is to tasting wine.  I suspect it also has to do with the fact that beer is easier and cheaper to make and doesn't involve super finicky grape vines.  I would also not be surprised to find that it stems from some good old American vindication after Budweiser was sold to a Belgian company.  

Now for locals, at least, Charleston has always been a pretty food-centric city.  The only thing that rivals the number of churches downtown is the number of restaurants.  Brewvival was another wonderful indicator of the forward momentum and continual evolution of food in Charleston.  For example, still lots of great fried chicken and soul food but now (more than ever before) also lots of french, fusion, and even more sushi.  In addition to being such a win for food lovers in the area it is a great win for the local economy as the city has always heavily relied upon it's restaurants and it's tourists (many of which make the pilgrimage here for the food i.e. the Food and Wine Festival in March).   Brewvival was another great showcasing opportunity for one of the greatest activities this city has to offer, eating.  

And now if you will allow me to step down from the soapbox on which I didn't intend to stand I would like to share with you a few of my favorite pics from the festival.

First taste of the day
 
The crowd
Checking stuff off the list
 
These guys totally beat my husband at a game of cornhole
 
 
Lip Balm from New Belgium Brewing
 
In case you thought I was crazy for making bacon cupcakes....this, my friends, is a bacon brownie, and it was DAMN good.
Lunch in the form of a BBQ sandwich from Ted's
 
So none of us generally drink stout beer but there was plenty of it to be had, and it was good, this one even tasted like coffee.  So stout beer, I apologize, I take back all the bad things I ever said about you.