Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When You Want It...

... nothing else will do.

That's kind of how I feel at the moment.   I had a job interview last week.  And honestly, I put no expectations on it at all.  When I applied, I didn't know what I was actually applying to.  I didn't know where it was or what it was all about.  My sister posted the job listing to my Facebook wall, a listing she saw on a friends wall and, knowing I've been looking she thought why not post it to me.  So, sure, what the heck.  I'll apply.   And wouldn't you know, they emailed me for an interview.

When I got that email I almost immediately turned down the interview because it was then that I saw where the company was located, and it was pretty far from where I live.  Probably at least an hour drive each way.  I even wrote the reply turning down the interview, but something stopped me from sending it.  I deleted it and rewrote the reply telling them when I was available to interview that week.  We set it up for last Thursday.  And I kind of dreaded it a little.  The drive, that drive!   It kind of haunted me.

For once, I wasn't really nervous about going to an interview.  My mindset was that this was merely for the experience of interviewing.  There is no way I'm going to take a job with such a long commute.  I'll just go, have another interview under my belt and that's that.  So off I go with my little GPS program for the Iphone.  And a funny thing happened.  It wasn't over an hour, it was about 43 minutes.  Hmmm, I'm stunned by this, but suddenly it doesn't seem as daunting.  The drive was very easy, all highway, and felt very fast.  This is actually doable.  But still, I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Considering I gave myself an hour and 15 minutes to get there, just to be safe, I'm SUPER early for the interview.  I sat in my car for a few minutes, but then just said fuck it, and went in.  It was small, with a little sitting area with a leather sofa, a huge dry erase board in front of it, a funky swag light, a bookshelf and a very large portrait on the wall.   On the other side there were three cubicles, one of which was pictured in the job listing when I applied.  And no people.  No one was there.  One of the cubicles had a nice computer set up that was running, and well, the door was open so I knew someone was around.   So I sat on the sofa and waited, looking around.   What I noticed immediately was that the computer set up was Mac.  Ahhh Mac!  I'm a Mac girl through and through and part of the problem I'm having with my job search is that I don't have much Windows/Office experience and that is what most everyone wants.

After I'm there for a few minutes, a guy comes out of the back and is a little surprised to see me.  I tell him that yes, I'm super early because I didn't know how long it would take me to find the place.  He  has long hair, is wearing jeans, and the pièce de résistance, he's wearing a Radiohead t-shirt!  I immediately feel at ease and like I have really stumbled upon the right place.  And so the interview commences and it's amazing.  The place is a start up, but it's gaining speed and things are moving fast.  They need someone soon and it's all clicking into place.  This is where I want to be.  This is where I belong.  This job was made for me.

Alas, I have to meet with the other partner who is not there that day so we immediately set up a second interview.   That was this past Monday.  A second interview?  What do I do?  I have a standard interview uniform that I wear, but now that I have a second interview I can't exactly wear it again.  So I must find something else.  I settle on black pants, a black tank top and a zebra striped cardigan over it. And as I'm getting dressed I realize that my tits have a mind of their own and refuse to be contained in the tank top.  I'm standing in front of the mirror and all I see is cleavage.   This just will not do.  I cannot go to an interview with a CEO of a company looking like Busty McGee!  I'm slightly panicked because I don't have a huge wardrobe and I don't know what I'm going to wear now.  I tried, really tried to pull the tank top up so it wasn't overly revealing but it just didn't work.  I finally settle on a different zebra sweater, one that buttons to just below the neck with no chance of a wardrobe malfunction.

And I'm off.  Once again I'm stunned by the shorter amount of time it has taken me to get there.  Again it was about 43 minutes, give or take.  This time when I walked in, only a few minutes early, both guys were there, working at their desks.  Yes this is a small office.  It would be the two guys and me.  That's all.  That is my kind of work environment!  What I mean is small... no politics, no bitchy back stabbing.    That was how my last job was, just me and the director and it was great.  I worked there 10 years and loved it.  I have everything they need.  I have all the qualifications, experience and I'm ready to just start.  But for whatever reason, the second interview has made me feel self conscious and a little uneasy.  The person I met with this time wasn't as laid back as the first and I didn't have that immediate feeling of relax, even though the first thing he said was that they were informal and I should not feel uptight about the interview.  And so we talked, and it was nice and he was nice but I didn't have the same feeling.   I guess it's because this guy kept talking about my commute and how far I live and he said even though that in and of itself is not a deal breaker, it is a concern.

I left there unsure of myself, unsure that I would be able to land this job.  They plan to make a decision soon, so now it's just a waiting game.  My hope is that they do not find someone with the experience I have who is closer to the office.  In my thank you letter for the interview I made it very clear that I want this job, and if you're so inclined you can again steal my line, "I really hope you'll give me a chance to prove to you what an asset I would be to your organization. "  I liked it.  It's not vague and conveys my desire to work there.  That should count for something shouldn't it?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And Now, Some Levity

As some of you may (or may not know), every Wednesday I go to my parents house and take my mom out to do her weekly shopping and whatever else needs to be done.  A few weeks ago she wanted to return a top she bought at Macy's because she didn't try it on first and it didn't fit.  So we did that and then headed over to the shoe department.  Alas, like most woman, my mom and I are shoe fanatics and Macy's had some shoes on a 75% off clearance rack.  Mom found a pair she liked and so did I.  She headed up to the counter to pay and I said, "did you try them on?"  She said no.  So I became the mom and said, "try them on because if I come over next week and you say you need to return your shoes because they don't fit, I'm going to be really pissed!"  So like the dutiful faux daughter she is, she tried them on.  And she bought them.

Sure enough, when I got there this week she says, very sheepishly I might add, "I have to take the shoes back to Macy's."  I'm perplexed, she tried them on.  I saw her do it.  But they don't fit.  They fit when she tried them on sitting down, but she didn't walk around and her toe was right at the tip and thus, too small.  Oy.  And then she tosses in, "by the way, the new Clinique gift is in at Dillard's so I want to get that too."  Terrific.  Now I'm not just going to Macy's, I'm going to the mall, something I hate to do.

The shoe return goes by easily and uneventfully.  Then we head to the other side of the mall to Dillard's.  The Clinique counter is jumpin!  Jumpin with a bunch of old ladies just like my mom who are chomping at the bit to get their free gift.  The free gift that, by the way, my mom complained about on the way there. "blah blah blah, it's always a make up bag!   Why can't they give us something other than a make up bag??"  To which I say, "um mom, they sell make up."  Anyway, the line is comprised of a bunch of old bitties who want their freebie.  So we wait.  And I take a spritz of Happy (which I love), and wait.  And wait.  While we wait, mom decides to get out her Dillard's card so she's prepared.  What's this?  She can't find it.  In her large menagerie of credit cards, of which she has a separate wallet for, she cannot find Dillard's.  She's got everything else under the sun, but Dillard's isn't there.  It's not really any big deal, they can look it up, but it's the principle of the thing.  She used the card to buy something online several weeks ago and the card is most likely sitting on her desk by the computer.  She decides she'll just use her Visa.  OK.  Whatever.

We wait.

Finally it's our turn and mom hands the salesgirl the bottle of the make up she wants.  Because you do realize of course that you have to spend $25 to get the free gift (worth about $10 no matter how much they seem to want you to think it's worth).  She gets mom her make up and now the fun starts to happen.  I swipe mom's Visa for her, because mom quite often refuses to put on her glasses and therefore cannot see well enough to work the little machine where you swipe your credit cards.  All the while I'm playing mom and she's playing daughter as I bitch at her for not putting on her glasses and say, "just give it me!" and I do it myself.  The salesgirl is amused by the scene in front of her.  The Visa doesn't go through.   Why?  Because it's expired.  So then we tell the salesgirl that she does not have her Dillard's card with her.  Not a problem, she tells us.  She can just look it up and tells mom that there will be a series of questions on the little screen on the credit card machine.  Oy.  She still didn't put on her glasses.  So she struggles to see the questions until, of course, I get annoyed enough to say, "just let me do it!"  Of course I realize this is her ploy all along.  I just keep falling for it!  And salesgirl continues to chuckle.

Something is still amiss.  The machine keeps asking the same questions over and over, going back to the beginning.  Salesgirl doesn't know what is happening so she decides to call direct.  Luckily we were last in line so we aren't holding anyone up because this is taking awhile.  Salesgirl gets an automated call and tries to input the information mom has given her.  But it is doing the same thing as the machine was, and going back to the beginning instead of giving her the card number.  What the fuck is going on?  No one knows.

Salesgirl comes up with a new idea.  She will go about the process of opening a new account for my mom and when the system realizes she already has one, it will give them the account number.  OK, have at it.  So as mom is giving salesgirl more information, another one pulls me aside and says, "Some dude (actually she knew his name, I don't remember it because I don't know jackshit about the Browns) from the Cleveland Browns was in this week and he bought $4,000 worth of merchandise and his transaction didn't take this long!"  We laughed, although I think I cried a little on the inside.

They are finally done and viola!  A new account is opened in my mom's name.  This is not what the salesgirl told us would happen.  At this point though, it doesn't matter.  I want to get the hell out of there, mom wants her fucking free stuff and the salespeople probably hate our guts.  The transaction is mercifully over and we leave.  As we are walking, and mind you, we aren't even out of the Clinique area yet, mom turns to me and says, "Oh... the Dillard's card is in your father's name."

Deep breath.  I swear I cannot make this shit up!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This. Is. Crazy.

Dear Lalia 12 years ago,

I know you just left a job you loved, and not by choice but by circumstance of the branch being closed down.  It is what it is.  But girl, you have mad skills!  You are in demand so don't take too much time off.  Get back on that horse and find the next job of your dreams.

Love, you

Dear Me,

But, but, but....  You know as well as I do that I probably never would have left my job voluntarily.  So now that it's been taken from me, it's my chance to do something completely different, completely out of the box.  I love to cook, what if I try starting my own catering business.  I can work out of my house and it'll be great!  That's what I'm going to do.

Thanks, love you.... Lalia

It was great.  For a short time.  Until the economy took a nosedive.  Until I realized I couldn't cater jobs by myself.  Until I didn't have enough room in my house to store large trays of food or to cook large trays of food.  Until it wasn't great anymore.  So where does that leave me?   It's 12 years later and the economy is still in the shitter.  Money is tight and I need to work.  So I decide to go back to what I know, office work.  Well that's what I thought I'd be doing anyway.  There are jobs to be had, but the pay scale is so awful it's hard to wrap my hairdo around what is going on.

I had a job interview this week.  It sounded really good, interesting, different and even fun.  And the best part, they use Mac computers.  I'm a Mac girl through and through.  I love all things Apple.  I cried when Steve Jobs died.  I want to change my name to iLalia.  And Mac jobs are few and far between.  They pretty much don't exist unless you are in some kind of graphic design field.  This job is not exactly graphic design but along those lines.  It was pretty exciting to be called for an interview on this one.  So I went and all was well.  The job was nothing like anything I had done before but they seemed interested in me.  They seemed thrilled with all my Mac experience.   So I am liking how this is going.  Until they told me the salary.  $10 and hour.  Seriously.  $20K a year.  Do you know anyone who could live on that?  Me either.

OK yes, I've been out of work for a long time and I realize I have to start over.  But that is less than I was making 12 years ago.  Cost of living has changed.  Gas prices have changed.  Everything has changed.  I never thought I'd be making less than I was making back then.  Maybe the same, but most likely I expected a bit more because of cost of living changes.  So not the case.  

So what does one do, other than brood and cry and lament the fact that by trying to establish my own business I have in essence ruined my life.  Maybe that's not true, but it feels true.  There are so many things I want to do.  So many things out of my reach because I cannot find a job that will pay me enough to make those changes happen.  Do I change course and try a whole different line of work again?  Go with what you know seems logical.  But how can you go with what you know when everyone is struggling so much that companies can't pay better salaries?

When I'm in an interview and am asked the question, "What are you looking for?" My standard answer, with pauses at the appropriate times so it looks like I'm just making this up on the fly (ha!), is "Well... I'd like to be in a place where I like the people I'm working with.   Where I don't dread going everyday and where I'm doing work I can be proud of."  In both interviews I've had, I've used this line (it actually was on the fly in the first interview and went over so well I decided to use it again in the next one).  Both interviewers loved it, so feel free to use it if you find yourself in a similar position and are asked that question.  The thing is, it's not bullshit.   I do want to be around people I like, doing work I can be proud of, in a place I won't dread going to.  I'm 46 years old, on a fast track to 47.  I don't want to be one of those people on Facebook who posts some whiney ass graphic every Monday morning that declares how much Monday's suck.  I just want to be able to make ends meet.  It's not really a lot to ask.  But at the moment it feels completely unattainable.

PS... sorry all my posts are so angsty lately.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Missing Natasha

I wrote this 8 years ago, after losing my girl Natasha.

I know a lot of people were wondering where I was last week, and to everyone who sent emails asking if I was ok, I thank you. The fact, is, no I'm not ok. Last Saturday, September 4, I lost my sweet kitty Natasha. I know in a time of such horrors as war, car bombings, kidnappings and death and whatever else plagues this world, some people may not think having to put a cat to sleep is such a big deal. But I'm here to tell you, it is a very big deal and this is our story.

Sixteen years ago this month, I was single and living in an apartment with a roommate, Tom. We decided we wanted a pet and into our lives came Hobbes. Hobbes was an adorable gray tiger striped kitten who was just as sweet as can be. She was by my side constantly and unfortunately this is what caused us to eventually give her to the humane society. One day, while Hobbes was still a kitten, she was trying to get on my lap as I was sitting at the kitchen table. She missed, and instead hit her head on the underside of the table. She suffered a concussion and was really never the same kitten again. She became mean and prone to fits. She was more than two working people who aren't home days could handle so we opted to give her to the humane society in hopes that she can find a home where she could be cared for. That same day, I had heard about a woman nearby who's cat had kittens that she wanted to give away. My friend and I went to go see them and I instantly fell in love, with both! One was a gorgeous little black and white tuxedo kitty, hanging from one paw from a bookcase. The other was the most unusual looking and beautiful kitten I had ever seen, what I learned then was a tortoise shell kitty. I took them both, in hopes that the companionship would be better for them, since we are out all day.

Fast forward to sixteen years later, and they have been with me all this time. When I married N almost 11 years ago and moved out of the apartment with T, they came with me. Boris and Natasha have always been my babies. They have enhanced my life more than I can ever ever express in words. Boris, the mild mannered tuxedo kitty who has nothing but love to give and wants nothing more than to be held and loved back (and an occasional treat of canned cat food). Natasha, the ornery little troublemaker who can make you laugh so hard, you can't believe you were ever mad at her in the first place. She loved to give kisses (we call it a kiss... you pucker your lips for her and she will head butt them) How did these two incredibly different personalities come from the same litter? It's amazing.

About a year ago, Boris became ill. He went from 14 lbs down to 9 lbs at such a rate, we thought we were going to lose him. He was diagnosed with diabetes and it became a daily routine to give him 2 shots of insulin a day. Just as we began to marvel at how far he has come and rallied, putting back on just about all the weight he lost, it was Natasha who became thin.

On Thursday, September 2, we noticed the weight loss. But she wasn't acting any differently. Natasha is the kind of cat who, even at this age was still like a kitten. She played, she ran, she chased Boris. She never seemed to slow down until that day. On Friday morning, September 3, I called our vet, Dr. B, who has cared for them both since I got them, and made an appointment to come in. I was told right then that he was leaving the country to see his ailing father and I had to come immediately. His office is an hour from where we now live, so I headed right out the door with Natasha in her carrier. When I arrived, Dr. B saw me holding Natasha from another room and asked, "What happened to her?" He could tell something was very wrong from a seeing her in my arms a room away. I told him we didn't know, she's been fine until the day before. He drew blood and noticed that she was very pale. He took her temperature and it was very very low. I had told him she didn't want to eat that morning, but he gave her some special food and she ate it right up. We had hope based on this. He said the results would be in the next day, and that his sub would be able to read them and diagnose what was going on, so we went home.

About 2 hours later, I called N at work and told him he had to come home. Natasha was getting worse by the minute. He left work immediately and was home within half an hour. By that time, Natasha could hardly walk as her back legs kept giving out on her. I called Dr. B's office and told them I would be bringing her back. Panic is setting in and this is when the tears started to flow. When we brought her back, the sub vet, Dr. L, said that she could be in liver or kidney failure because she couldn't keep her back legs up and that was a classic sign. This is getting worse by the minute. We decided to leave her in their hands because they wanted to make sure she would be hydrated. She was placed on an IV for the night, and I was told by Dr. B's wonderful assistant C that I could call her at 8:30 am when she arrived to see how Natasha did overnight. Dr. L would be in at 9:30 am and would call me with the results.

As you can probably imagine, I didn't sleep much that night. Asleep by 3 am, awake by 6 am... I updated my message board readers on what was happening and waited the painful hours until 8:30 when I could call and see how she was. C informed me that Natasha had knocked out her IV overnight... how typical of my feisty little girl... but she was standing. She wouldn't eat, but she did take a drink of water. Now I had to wait another hour for the test results call. C assured me she would make it a priority for Dr. L to call as soon as she arrived. She called about 9:45 with the horrible news that my baby was in almost full kidney failure. She had only 15% use of her kidneys left and there is no recovery for this condition. N and I are absolutely devastated by this news and we headed straight to the vets office.

Once we arrived, Dr. L and C tried their very best to keep us calm and told us that we had a chance of getting her stable so she could live up to a year. If she stayed hydrated and ate, it was possible for her to rally some. They taught us how to use an IV, prescribed a pill that would stimulate her appetite, and told us to give her absolutely anything at all that she would eat. They also loaned us a heating pad for her to lay on because her temperature was still so low. We were scared and upset but had to give it a try so, armed with Dr. L's home number, and a promise from C that we could reach her too, we took Natasha home. We tried, unsuccessfully throughout the day to get her to eat. She looked like she was going to eat the cat food she ate at the vets office, but she just sniffed it. I made her an egg, soft, so she could just lick it... but she wouldn't touch it. I gave her milk and she did take some, but only a few sips. She couldn't lie still for very long, I think her discomfort was getting to her. She kept getting up and moving, even though she could only go a few steps. She went to her water bowl and wanted to drink so bad, you could see it. But she couldn't do it. Amazingly, she went to the basement to pee, at least once. We figured we would take turns taking her downstairs in case she had to, but she did it on her own. We did carry her up when we realized where she had gone.

The realization of what was going to happen hit when we tried to give her one of the appetite stimulant pills and she threw it up 5 minutes later. She was so weak and throwing up took so much out of her. She wasn't going to eat, no matter what we tried. She wasn't going to drink. Around 10:30 pm on Saturday night, through a mass of tears, we decided she'd had enough and we couldn't let her go on this way. With our vets office closed until Tuesday, we had no other choice but to take her to a 24 hour emergency animal clinic. I called ahead and told them what we would be coming in for and they said they would be on the lookout for us.

When we arrived, they put us in an examining room, took Natasha from us to insert an IV cath, and then brought her back. They told us then that we could have as much time with her as we wanted. Nick and I cried and cried and told her how much we love her. I kissed her about 10,000 times and just wanted to hold her forever and never let her go. When we realized we could stay there all night holding her, we called in the the vet. They ask you if you're ready... but how can we ever be ready to let our baby go? We told him we were though, and he explained what he would be doing and how the injection would be instant. We stayed, and pet her and kissed her and told her how much we love her. And in a moment, her head dropped and she was gone. It was the most gut wrenching experience of my life and as I sit here telling you through my tears, I can see her little head drop and hear that awful sound. But even so, I wouldn't have it any other way. I would never have left her alone at that moment. The people at the clinic, people who had never met us before that night, were so kind and so compassionate. They hugged us, and made sure we were ok. And a few days later we received a lovely condolence card from them. I felt awful that the vet who took care of her since the beginning of her life, wasn't there at the end of her life, but they were wonderful to us.

I returned to Dr. B's office on Tuesday, to return the supplies and thank them for all they had done. While I waited for Mrs. B and C to be available to talk to me, a woman I had never met before saw the flowers with Natasha's photo and said how pretty she is. I burst into tears and she immediately realized I had lost her and came to sit with me, hold me around the shoulders and telling me how sorry she was. In fact, as I went to buy the flowers I walked into the store and asked for help. Crying, I told the woman what they were for and she began to cry and tell me how she lost her dog only two weeks before. Animals have such a deep bond with us. It's amazing what happens when you tell people you lost your beloved cat.

Mrs. B (the doctors wife) said she would be talking to her husband that evening and knows he will be upset and want to see us when he arrives back on the 16th. Of course I would like to see him too. She told me that she had come to take him to the airport that Friday morning when I brought Natasha in the first time and he had refused to leave until he saw us. He's such a wonderful man. I gave them the flowers with the photo of our little Natasha, and we looked at other photos that I had brought and I cried and cried, while their compassion and love of all animals helped me heal some. I told C to take as many photos as she wanted, and she said she would really like to have one of Boris too, so she took one of him, and then one of Boris and Natasha together.

I want to thank everyone who already knew, who followed our progress on the PVB Message board, once again for your kindness, your cards, ecards, flowers, emails and poems. Special thanks to D and to CT. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your care and concern, for your kindness and your compassion. N, Boris and I will never forget it. And please know, we are keeping Boris close and watching to make sure he doesn't go into depression without his sister. Thanks again xo