Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Which Roseanne Roseannadanna's Words Haunt Me

"You're overqualified. You're under qualified. Don't call us. We'll call you. A woman's place is in the home. It's a jungle out there. Drop dead. Have a nice day. Goodbye!"
She goes on to say, "But I didn't give up!" and then goes into a hilarious description of being interviewed by Walter Cronkite while he was eating a bologna sandwich.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Careful Out There!

Since I'd mentioned my unemployment in my last post, I thought I'd write a post about it here. I've been holding off writing about it for fear that potential employers would find it whiny or angry or at least find something they didn't like about it. But not blogging hasn't helped me find a job, so I'm just going to go for it.

It's not easy, you've probably already imagined.  It's tough on the psyche. Susannah Breslin is blogging and tweeting about it for a Forbes blog called Pink Slipped, but I think she's skipping a lot of important detail.

Looking for work in the 21st Century, at least from my perspective--an introvert with few connections--is a cold, impersonal daily exercise in what I can so far call futility.

I check Monster.com, Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, Dallasjobsite.com, WorkinTexas.com. and Craigslist. In the search fields I put "writer editor," and in the location field I write "Dallas" or "Irving".  I average about five to nine applications a week, and it's snagged me interviews with three companies, the first of which, I completely flubbed.

The second company made me suspicious that they were on the up-and-up. They claimed to be a 501c3 but I found no evidence of that. I had a pretty strong interview at the third company but it could have been stronger. It was a panel interview with three editors who were so eager to get someone new that they overwhelmed me with every publication they cranked out the previous year. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights, which was how I felt. Also, the position was a tiny bit farther than I want to travel every day. But now I'm six months looking for a job and still without one, so I wish I'd expressed more eagerness to jump right in.

Anyway, job searching is an online wilderness, thick with traps to fall into and hucksters to fall prey to. After you sign up for job search sites, your e-mail address is sent to all kinds of folks not interested in hiring you but interested in "helping you get a job." They "help" you get a job by luring you to their site with an position that looks appealing. You click "Apply." The next page has you fill in your personal information--name, address, phone numbers, etc.* You finish that and click "Next." The next page has you fill in your work history. You finish and click "Next."

About three more pages follow asking you to fill in your education, references and whatnot and then you get to a screen that says something like, "Only one more step to go. Click here."

For only $89 a month, they'll send you open positions in your field that closely match your resume, blah, blah, blah. Got that? You just spent an hour or so for a huckster. It's bad enough to be unemployed, but job agencies that trick you like that -- bah! It's salt in the wounds.

Speaking of salt in the wounds, I got an e-mail from one "job counselor" telling me my resume was all wrong. This is after I had it professionally done by a recruiting company my former company hired to help me find a new job when they laid me off.

That e-mail was just mean. (Note, I'm using AP Style for "e-mail." Is that killing you? It's killing me! Who gives a hoot about an AP hyphen?)

This guy says

The official unemployment rate may have fallen, slightly, but the real unemployment rate — the number of working-age Americans who aren’t working — rose from about 12% before the 2008 crisis, to about 23%, and hasn’t come down. 
(Via Instapundit.) Huh. I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse. But I do think the way people live and are going to live is changing. I like working. No, I LOVE working, so I hope I find something suitable soon. If I don't find a professional job, my kids want me to work at the local ice cream shop. Now you know that will be hell on my waistline.

*This site and some others that don't even require subscription has just sold your phone number to a college that will "help" you get a job by furthering your education.  As soon as you click "Submit"on your job application, your phone will ring.I told the person who called me that I was still paying off my graduate school loan. So. No thank you.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Somewhat finished cabin

Honestly, I feel a little weird going public with our cabin adventures. It's what's in my thoughts and heart and mind lately, so I'm dying to write about it. I think I have some form of capitalist's survivor's guilt. But when I feel that way, I think about my difficulty finding a job, which I need, and somehow the survivor's guilt is diminished. If you think I'm throwing my family's fortune (good or bad, time will tell) in your face, remember I lost my job in May, started looking in August and haven't found a professional home yet. If we can rent this baby out, that will fill in a lot of holes my lack of income is creating.

We will always have work to do on the cabin, but we were able to achieve a finished look (if you don't look too closely!) while up there during the Christmas break. Our mission was to finish furnishing it and install a used washer and dryer in the basement.

We hauled up some inherited furniture (cedar armoire, cedar chest, small dresser and table) from Oklahoma and put it in a borrowed 5' x 8' trailer. Gene and his stepdad covered it with "Flappy the Tarp."

(Flappy was not unflappable and we stopped several times to strap him down.)

We arrived in the dark and unloaded the trailer using a hand truck. Then we realized we couldn't get the trailer back up our 280-foot snow-covered driveway. Worry, worry, worry. So Gene shoveled snow (in the dark) off the whole 280-feet, detached the trailer and confirmed that our VW Passat station wagon was able to get back to the road. Hurray!

Tuesday morning, Gene tried every way he could think of to get the trailer back up the hill, even with me behind the wheel and him pushing, but the trailer would only go as far as 270 feet, ten feet short of the road. Dang it!

New set of plans. Instead of going into the Springs to purchase a used washer/dryer set, we'd go to Wal-Mart to buy snow chains and other needed supplies. We'd eaten up half the day on that trailer and it was too late go into the city to rent a truck.

Wednesday, Gene and the kids had reservations for skiing. I was resting my knee (which re-injured while I was sitting in the ski lodge!) so I hung out in the lodge with a book and some coffee. And then a beer. And then a snack. And then another coffee.

Success! The kids had fun!

Thursday morning the muddy divots our tires had left from Tuesday were dry and the trailer went up the hill without a hitch, that is to say, easily. We hit the Springs for our washer/dryer and some used furniture. Now. How to get the washer/dryer into the basement ...

(I'm the president of Gene's fan club.)

Friday we went back to the Springs to finish furniture shopping, oh--and to take our umpteenth trip to Lowe's Depot. We were keeping our car and trailer parked on the road just in case we couldn't get it back up our driveway again. On the walk up there, I took a few pictures:

Pretty in the snow, huh? Here's a different view from the road:

Anyway, we found a few nice pieces to fill in the holes inside the cabin. Here are some pictures. Click to enlarge:

You can barely see it in the above picture, but there's a 30-year-old donated butcher-block dining table that Gene sanded and re-finished. (See below.)

Below is the master:

I give you the guest room:

Where you put the kids:

Gene fell for that chair (below) at a used furniture shop. The cedar chest is inherited and the side table was part of a used set we bought. It goes with the coffee and end tables downstairs. They wouldn't let us buy two pieces; we had to buy the three.

We were supposed to leave Saturday, but we were behind schedule, so instead, we stayed to clean out the basement and load up all the remaining refuse from the furniture packaging and whatnot so that Gene could install the washer/dryer. Our dryer had a plug with three prongs; we had an outlet for a four-pronged plug.

It's always. Something.

We left the mountain at about 1:45 and arrived at the dump 11 minutes after it had closed. On a Saturday. On a Saturday that was New Year's Eve. (See above paragraph.)

So at Emma's suggestion, we decided to haul the whole trailer full of trash back to Texas.

And as we'd promised the kids we took them to Manitou Springs to stop at the Wizard Shop for some wand-browsing. (First we stopped by a local hardware store for a new plug for our old dryer.) We hauled the trash there as well, eventually parking in front of the swanky 125-year-old Cliff House Hotel, where they seated us in the music room because the dining room was not yet open. We had a very nice waitress who asked us what our plans were for the holiday weekend.

Oh, we're just going to haul our trailer trash up to Wal-Mart and then back up to our cabin and then haul it back to Texas tomorrow.

And that's exactly what we did.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Cabin becomes homey

I am just returned from Colorado where I spent five nights and four days. With the help of a good friend, who is an absolute pro at shopping and organizing, here's what we accomplished:
Received refrigerator. Bought and hung kitchen curtains from Wal-Mart.
Sorry, husband. I want a TV for movie-watching. Bought one a Wal-Mart. Found this stand at American Furniture Warehouse. On clearance. Because we found so many other clearance items, it had to be taken out of its box to fit in the car. All furniture had to be assembled.

Hung coat hooks from Lowe's and wall clock from Target.

Received "leather" couch from American Furniture Warehouse. The dimensions are a bit over-sized for the space. (My bad.) But it's comfortable. Found ottoman (with storage!) at AFW, as well as that wicked cool shelf next to the couch. Tray from Target.

Received two twin beds from AFW, (Did I mention I love men? The delivery guys just brought n our stuff and put it where it needed to be!), found night stands and lamps on clearance while in the store. The bedding was a last-minute find from Target.

The upstairs loft. Plan is to buy more blinds and bring them up on my next visit.

The bathroom needed that shelf from Bed Bath and Beyond. Also, hung curtains (just out of picture view but visible in the mirror) from Wal-Mart.
Facing west. You see the aspens in their full yellow glory.

Received bed from AFW. Found bedding at ... Ross? BB&B? Can't remember. Two sets of lamps for bedrooms on clearance from BB&B. That little nightstand also a real find.

Studied window treatments at Lowe's and found perfect roller blinds. Then found out Lowe's no longer stocks privacy liners for the roller blinds so switched to wood blinds, brought them back and hung them. Bedding from ... Bed Bath & Beyond? At this point, four days of shopping is all a blur.

Facing west. You see the aspens in their full yellow glory.

Facing north.
East facing.

South facing, overlooks a little valley (not seen here) where twice we saw deer grazing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cabin, outdoor shots


I've never had a basement before

But here it is in its vast glory:

The stairs look kind of rickety. They're solid though.

I've never had a cistern before either:

The contractor said he'll clean all the junk up.


Moments of zen

Let's remember why we did this:

Our neighbors say big horn sheep use our front yard as a place to eat in the fall.

Fall was just making its impending presence known when we were there two weeks ago.


What have I been doing with my time away?

Greetings friends and family of Bystander!

Whoa! Blogger's changed since I've last been here. Here are some updated photos of our cabin. A good friend of mine is going to help me furnish it.  Below is Gene trying to do what the stove guy couldn't, that is, attach a pipe to the wood-burning stove.

We have a railing!

 This is the living room before we got the hardwood down.

This is the kitchen. By now we have a stove/oven in it, plus a real laminate coutertop.

Le water closet:

As you can see, it needs a curtain in the window.

Below are two pictures of our floors. The carpet is in the loft. The hardwood is all over the living space on the main floors. I cut the planks to size and Gene hammered them in. More pictures to come ...