Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tribute

First things first - my apologies for leaving those hideous pictures up at the top of my blog for so darn long! Eek!


So....where were we?


Since you last heard from me, I started my new job, got pushed into a slightly different job, celebrated an anniversary, started school, and lost a grandparent. And that's just the big stuff.


I want to talk about my grandfather a little.


That's my grandpa. I love this picture because I really feel it captures his personality. Music, teaching, volunteering, and his family were his life. He always had a joke for you and a funny story. He experienced a lot in his life, he was a WWII vet, a high school teacher for years, raised 7 kids, and volunteered his time to those less fortunate pretty much up to the day he passed away.


Read this article to get a little insight into the incredible man I was lucky to have in my life. His story is a love story. He married my grandmother 62 years ago and they were still as in love on the day he died as they were the day they married. As an extremely intelligent and highly educated man, one of his passions was reading. Due to failing eyesight, it became almost impossible for him to read toward the end, so my grandmother read to him every single day. They did the crossword puzzle together every day without fail, even though he had the disadvantage of not being able to see. He was also able to do the Jumble in his head. Intelligent? No. Genius. Until the day he died, my grandma took care of him without question. After 62 years of marriage, they still held hands and danced at parties. They still said “I love you” every day to each other. Their marriage is the kind that gives me hope that love really can last forever.



He was my step-mother’s father, and I met him when I was about eight (?) years old. For a long time, every time we went to their house, I would run at him full speed and he’d kneel down and catch me and swing me up in the air. I worshipped him and I was his oldest/first grandchild. We shared a passion for reading, and one of the first times I was taken to their house, he took me down to the basement where is “office” was and we looked at his hundreds of books. Then he took me into his bedroom where hundreds more books resided. Earlier this week, after the funeral, I asked my grandma if I could have a book. I didn’t care which one – I just wanted one of his books. I took Major Crises in American History, Volumes I and II, published in 1962. Grandpa had a passion for history and I knew it would make him happy that someone had those books.

He spoke fluent Italian, among several other languages. He volunteered almost every day of his life and was always giving back to the community. He worked with thousands of students to instill a love of learning and with hundreds of immigrants who were trying to fulfill their dream of being an American citizen. He was a musical genius. He could pick up an instrument and just play it. He always had a story for you, and most of them were hilarious. His jokes were legendary. His favorite place in the world was his back deck. I sat out on his deck a few times when I was home for the funeral - tears running down my face, and remembering.


He had surgery almost a year ago for cancer. Through all of that, he kept his sense of humor and optimism intact. On July 21, he was out shopping with my grandma and fell. (As a side note, grandma and grandpa decided they wanted to get some new t-shirts and matching pajama pants. They were out shopping and not only did they find some matching pajama pants, but they were on sale AND grandma had a rebate! Well, I like to say grandpa was so excited, he couldn’t even stand up.) He hit his head and suffered a brain injury. He was in the hospital for five weeks, and home for a week before passing away. He died just the way he wanted to, at home, surrounded by his wife and children.

His funeral was beautiful. I told Tim when I got home that it was the first time I’ve ever sat in church, hoping the service wouldn’t come to an end. One of my cousins sang, another read, and my sister also read. My aunt did the eulogy and it was beautiful – it made us laugh and cry, which is what we were doing all week. There were hundreds of people at both the wake and the funeral. So many people whose lives he touched – former students, former classmates, fellow volunteers with the Lions Club or the Legion. He is buried at the Fort Snelling cemetery. He is missed by everyone who knew him.

Our hearts are broken but he would want us to go on. So we are working on it – slowly. It’s been hard being in Arizona while the rest of my family is in Minnesota. I got back into town a couple of days ago, but all I want to do is get on a plane, go to my grandma’s house and crawl into bed with her. I am eternally grateful I was able to go up for the funeral and say my goodbyes.

If you are the type who prays, please include my family in them – especially my grandmother, as she recovers from the loss of the love of her life. As for me, I have my memories of this amazing man, and I know he lives on in all of us. One of these days, I hope to get the point where I can go more than a couple of hours without crying. He taught us all a lot about what it means to live a full life, and how to help others.

Arrivederci, grandpa.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is It Just Me....

.....or have I seen this haircut before?



I don't watch Jon & Kate Plus Eight, but I can't help but see her picture everywhere.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some News and a Funny Story

The news: I got a job. As of next Monday, I will be right in the middle of the mortgage industry again. Scary? Yes, just a little. It's an industry I had hoped to wait out a few years, but they offered me a job and that's hard to come by these days!

Company X is a big company, so the interview process was quite rigorous. Not as bad as some people have had, though, like my frend C, who had to write an essay about why she wanted to work at the company she was applying to. It was pretty involved, though, and it seemed to take forever.

Luckily, though, they offered me the job. I will be woefully underpaid for what I will have to do, but given that this company isn't likely to go out of business anytime soon, and there will be lots of advancement opportunities and great benefits, it's not as bad as it sounds.


So, the story. This gets filed under "What The F--K???!!!"

One of the things I had to do in order to start work is fill out a bunch of paperwork, of course. Your typical I-9 (yes, I'm a citizen), and fingerprinting (no, I don't think I'm wanted by theFBI). I set up a time to go to one of their local offices and complete these two items. I was sent an email with directions to the office and instructions on what to do. So I arrive and their electronic fingerprinting system is down, so they're a little behind. No problem - what else did I have to do that day? So I'm waiting, along with five or six other people. Then she walks in - she's wearing denim shorts that would make Daisy Duke blush and a glittery, sequined, spaghetti-strap top. She walks over to the security guard and says "I'm here for my first day, can you tell me where the call center is located?" He asks her name and she tells him and he consults his list and says "I'm sorry, I don't have you on my list." She says, "Well, I was told to come down here today." So the security tells her he will have one of the recruiters come out and figure out what's going on.

So she takes a seat in the lobby with the rest of us and a recruiter comes out and says "How can I help you?" So the lady repeats her story, that it's her first day, and she was told to come here. The recruiter says "Who told you to come down here?" and she says "I don't know. I filled out my application online yesterday and someone told me to come down here to start my first day. I can't remember her name. But I was the top collector at Company Z." The recruiter says "okay, so you filled out an application online, but no one has contacted you?" and the lady says yes, but then adds that she's not sure if she filled it out right. She then mentioned that she went to the local branch of Company X and the teller told her that the call center was located down here. I'm guessing she asked the teller at Company X where the call center was, she told her, and in her head, that meant she was supposed to show up there asking for a job.

Seriously? The woman was probably in her late 40s or early 50s. Had she never been through a job interview process before? She said she worked for Company Z, which is also another large bank - did she not have to interview there, or at least wait for a phone call? Hmmmmm.....

People are weird.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Waiting Game

I have to apologize in advance if this post wanders a little bit, but I'm very tired and my brain is a bit muddled.

However, thanks to the insomnia that has plagued me for years, I've been mostly awake the past few weeks. I'm exhausted, but unable to sleep, which is rather irritating.

When I got laid off at the end of March, I knew it wasn't my fault. I didn't do anything wrong - the company was and probably still is going under, and I was almost grateful that I wasn't the last rat off the ship. And yet, it's nearly two months later, I am still unemployed, and I can't help but feel like a failure. A loser. It's compounded by the fact that this is the second time in a year that I've been out of a job. I've always kind of defined myself by my job. I take a lot of pride in the work I do and the knowledge that I'm good at what I do and I work hard. I know I'm not a failure and I am very well aware that I'm not a loser. It feels that way, though, you know?

There's also some guilt. The last few months I was there, I was pretty unhappy. There had been ~15 people laid off by that time and it was a scary, sad place to be. It was crazy quiet when it used to be filled with the sounds of people typing, laughing, and working. Everyone was scared they were next and when the big boss call them into their office, there was a definite "dead man walking" feel. It was draining to work there. I remember saying to one of my remaining co-workers "I almost hope I get laid off - at least then I'll know and I can move on." I'm sure I'm not the first person in the world to complain about their job and then want it back when the worst does happen. So with the feelings of guilt also comes the niggling fear/guilt that I brought it on myself.

I am also waiting to hear about a job and I'm nervous for a few reasons. A friend of mine contacted me about a job opening she heard about and encouraged me to send my resume. I sent my resume, along with my letters of recommendation. I talked to the hiring manager and had an interview. I basically had the job at that point if I wanted it. However, because it's a big company, there was a pretty long and involved process and it would take a while. No problem - we were heading to Hatteras for vacation, anyway (thank goodness it was paid for before I got laid off). When I got back, I had a second interview with the hiring manager's boss. I was then contacted by a recruiter and given instructions to go online and complete some information for a background check. I had to put down 10 years worth of residence addresses and 10 years worth of job information, including manager's contact information.

The job part was easy - I have my resume that has accurate dates, and I remembered my manager's names on all but one job. Some companies don't exist anymore and very few of my managers are still at the companies where I worked, but that part was relatively easy.

The residence information was tougher. I moved to Arizona in August, 2002, and the house where I'm living now is my TENTH address. I stayed at some places only a matter of months, but who can remember which months? The list turned out to be 14 addresses long. The dates are very blurry, though. Some of the ones in Minnesota, I could remember dates because I knew if it was hot or cold or if it was around my birthday, around when I started a new job, etc. Because of some things that happened when I moved to Arizona, I moved a LOT the first two years I was here and really have very little memory of what months. I know it's been hot every time I've moved, but it's Phoenix - it's always hot!

At any rate, one of the reasons I'm nervous is because you have a 30-day grace period for the dates, but anything more than 30 days, you not only don't get the job you applied for, but you're not allowed to apply again for a certain period of time. Scary.

The other reason I'm nervous is because when I mentioned to her what I made at my old job, she said "well, I know this won't pay even close to that," but she didn't have a salary range, and the recruiter won't give me the range until they get the background check results. So what do you do in that case? Will I make more than I'm making on unemployment? Yeah, I will. Will it pay the bills? No, it won't. And this job, I can already tell, is going to be another 60-hour a week job - nights, weekends, etc. I'm not sure if I can do that for a LOT less money, especially since I'm enrolled in school to get my accounting degree.

The background check was to take 3-5 business days. Today (Friday) marked the 10th day and I haven't heard anything. That's better than a rejection, but still scary.

So this is something that has had me in knots for two weeks. And it's not like anyone else wants to hire me right now - I've sent out about a million resumes and only gotten one call, and that was a resume sent by a friend. I need more friends, I guess.

It has been nearly seven weeks since I was laid off, and I have yet to receive a penny of unemployment. The unemployment office is so backlogged with applications that it takes forever to get anything. While I'm grateful that I qualify this time, I'm getting frustrated. I just want to keep my car and my place to live and be able to pay the air conditioning because it's getting HOT here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh, and One More Thing...

* I don't care what you say - carbs are delicious.


That's all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vacay!




*Repost - damn Blogger didn't like my slideshow the first time!

We are home from vacation and I can't even tell you how wonderful it was! It was a week of laying on the beach, swimming in the pool and spending time with family. It was amazing.

Instead of rambling on and on about what we did, I will instead give you a list of observations:

* Amberjack is the name of a fish and it's delicious
* The sound of crashing waves is incredibly soothing
* Jet lag sucks
* Dry heat kicks humidity's ass
* Jacob is the cutest baby on earth
* Getting in a cold pool quickly is easier than doing it slowly
* I'm still not a fan of tuna
* Having a baby fall asleep in your arms is one of the greatest feelings in the world
* Excavation projects are fun
* Stairs are not my friend when carrying a 50 lb. suitcase
* Our nephews are the greatest
* I still don't want kids, though. WAY too much work! (Their mom is my hero!)
* I suck at miniature golf
* Sunburned mosquito bites hurt like a beeyotch when you scratch them
* Cabo Wabo and Don Julio are better than the cheap Jose Cuervo
* But 4 (or was it 5?) shots is still too many
* Watching fish being gutted and filleted isn't as much fun as you'd think. But just as disgusting.
* No matter how great vacation is, it's always nice to come home too

Saturday, April 4, 2009

They're Back!

Last year when I lost my job, I found myself with a nasty case of insomnia and when I did manage to sleep, I had some seriously strange dreams. Well, it seems they've started again. Last night's dream was very interesting....

It started out innocently enough with me taking college classes, which I will be doing shortly. I had my laptop bag on my shoulder and I was walking around the campus technology center, which was L-shaped and looking for a place to sit. All the seats were taken and for some reason, the only way for my laptop would work was to plug it into one of the desktop computers that were there. As I was walking up and down the rows looking for someplace, I noticed that there were two plasma televisions on the walls that belonged to my old boss at the mortgage company.

As I noticed this, the boss at my last job walked down the aisle and asked me to go and get her some fat-free frozen yogurt, and she handed me $10. So I walked down to the frozen yogurt place and stood in line for ages. When I finally got up to the front of the line, I asked if they had anything fat-free and the guy said no. I was very upset and next thing I know, Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear and Taye Diggs came up and gave me a hug to try and comfort me.

Suddenly, I found myself in my high school. I was walking toward the front doors when I noticed that they had added metal detectors to the entrance. Considering where I went to high school, that's highly unlikely. My hometown is extremely safe. At any rate, I noticed a guy who was dressed in scrubs like a doctor and he got to skip the metal detectors. Then when he got in the door, he grabbed this big rolling cart of bread dough and started pushing it down the hall. I had a really bad feeling about it so I turned left down one of the hallways. I passed my English professor from college and I made a gesture to her to look at the guy dressed as a doctor. She ran over to him to see who he was and he killed her.

And, obviously, that is when I woke up. So yeah, unemployment is no good for my subconscious, apparently.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We Interrupt This Hiatus....

I've become a statistic for the second time in a year and will once again be joining the ranks of the unemployed. Unfortunately, the job market is even more bleak than it was last year when I suddenly found myself out of a job. I guess a good thing is that I qualify for unemployment this time and the managers at my company are going to write me letters of recommendation. So, I'm grateful for that. My company has gone through a lot in the past four months - I think I mentioned earlier that I went from having 26 co-workers to having eight. And now they have seven, and soon, they will have five. I found out today two more people are on their way out.


Earlier this week, we arrived at the office to find the doors chained and notes saying "pay your rent". I knew it wasn't a good sign. My division was the one that was going to save the whole company, but some stuff happened this week that made them have to shut it down. The company is going to stick around, but with about 6 employees.

It's not the best timing - I just enrolled in classes to get an accounting degree, so that may have to go on hold. Although, now that I'm not working, maybe I actually qualify for some more financial aid. I still have to pay the bills - rent, car payments, you know, food. And speaking of timing, we're leaving on a week-long vacation in less than a month. At least I know I'll have the time off work.

Last time, I had a lot of good, healthy rage. This time - just sad. I loved my job there and the people I worked with. I'm just very, very sorry I won't be a part of whatever direction they'll be headed next.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Been Suspiciously Quiet Around Here....

Um, yeah.....I haven't been around much. Well, I'm not here to make excuses, but rather to let you know it may be a while before I'm on a regular posting schedule - whatever "regular" is.

Things have sure been in an upheaval around here. We moved at the end of January/beginning of February. It seemed like my sister just arrived and then she had to go. We had great fun while she was here, though. My brother came and left even more quickly. And then there's work. I'm not going to say much here, but there has been a lot of stuff going on, and it's had an effect on me.

The new house is okay - but when you compare it to the old house on, say, a 25-point list, it's just a tiny little bit "not as good" as the old house. In all 25 ways. And I'm fairly certain the house doesn't like us, either. The first or second week here, I was sitting on the couch and Tim was taking a nap. The kitchen light behind me was on and all of a sudden, I heard a crash. One of the light bulbs in the kitchen had shattered. "Um, Tim? Can you come out here? I'm scared..." Yup. Scary. Every time I'm in the kitchen cooking now, I'm worried I'm going to end up with the face full of glass. And the ceiling fan/light in the living room is controlled by remote because the ceilings are so high. But the remote doesnt work. So you have to hit the wall switch and that makes the light go on, but also puts the fan on high, and that's its only setting. So it's either "off" or "hurricane". We usually opt for off. Then there's the noise the refrigerator makes. We're fairly certain it's going to walk across the house and kill us in our bed.

The weather in Phoenix has been freakishly warm for this time of year. It's supposed to get to 90 this week. I'm not quite ready for the heat yet, but it's been a strange season weather-wise. Damn global warming. On the other end of the spectrum, I'll be in Minnesota this weekend. So yeah, I'll be experiencing about an 80 degree temperature difference from takeoff to landing. I've been in Arizona for almost seven years and I've lost my ability to deal with the cold weather. This should be interesting. My sister sent me an email last week reminding me to bring my sweaters. Excellent advice, if, in fact, I still owned sweaters. I own t-shirts, shorts, open-toed sandals and sundresses. This should be fun.

Next month we will be traveling to the eastern portion of the country to visit with Tim's family. They have rented a beach house on Cape Hatteras and we're sooooo ready to see them, have some downtime, and finally meet our newest nephew!

So with everything going on at work, upcoming trips, and just an overall "BLAH" feeling, it may be a while before I am back here even semi-regularly. I still read everyone else's blogs and keep up with Facebook, but for right now, this blog is a bit too much pressure and I'm taking a short break. So I'll be back - but no promises on the timeframe. :)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Got Sucked In

How this works: Once you've been tagged, write a note with 25 random things (facts, thoughts, etc) about yourself. 25?! Yeah, I thought so too, but you'd be surprised. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. Remember to tag the person who tagged you

I've decided not to tag anyone because everyone in the world has already done this. If you haven't and you feel like baring your soul, consider yourself tagged.

1. After a bit of a rocky start, my sister and I have managed to develop such a wonderful bond and I now consider her among my best friends. I’ve been so blessed to have her visiting for the past few weeks and I’ll really miss her when she goes home.

2. Moving to Arizona almost seven years was the best choice I’ve ever made. The reasons for the move don’t apply anymore and I will admit to some serious homesickness at first, but I really feel that I’ve grown so much since I’ve been here. I love my life here, and I know if I had stayed in Minnesota, I probably would have stayed in the rut I was in. I don't think you could pay me to move back.

3. No, Tim and I are not getting married. He doesn’t believe in marriage and yes, I’m mostly okay with that.

4. I get pneumonia a minimum of once a year, sometimes twice. This started about 10 years ago.

5. I tend to be a grammar, spelling and punctuation Nazi. Improper English is a huge pet peeve. (I almost hesitate in publishing this one because I really don't want you to scrutinize everything I type from now on - I know typos happen!)

6. It took being tagged twice before I actually figured out what I was supposed to do and to actually sit down and think of 25 things.

7. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I know WHO I want to be (in general), but not what. In my life, I’ve tried a couple different job paths, and I’m still not sure what is right for me.

8. I’ve moved 17 times since I graduated from high school – 10 of them in the past 6.5 years.

9. I think kids are great fun for about a half hour, but then I get sick of them and want them to leave. Therefore, I will remain child-free.

10. Don’t try to talk me out of it – my tubes are tied and I won’t feel differently when it’s my own. Trust me.

11. I always thought of myself as a “foodie”, but in a lot of ways, I’m still learning a lot about it.

12. I still enjoy the occasional macaroni & cheese from the blue box, though.

13. I think about going back to school all the time. See #7 as to why that hasn’t happened yet.

14. I took eight years of piano lessons and 7 years of flute lessons, but it’s been so long since I’ve played, I’m not sure I even know how to read music anymore.

15. That’s a shame, because music is something that was once so important to me.

16. I don’t have a natural talent for music – I had to work at it.

17. I try very hard not to have regrets. I have learned to realize that at that moment in time, given the information I had at the time, I made what I thought was the best decision.

18. I eat my breakfast cereal dry. I can’t stand milk on cereal. It’s not just because I’m lactose intolerant – I just have no stomach for soggy foods that were once un-soggy. For that same reason, I don’t dip my bread in sauce/gravy etc…

19. Crispy, salty snacks are my favorites. I like sweets on occasion and in moderation, but I have a serious weakness for crispy salty.

20. I love my current job for the first time in probably ten years. I’ve enjoyed the work at other places, but not the people, or vice versa. I love my position and the people I work with.

21. I love reading more than just about anything in the world and there is simply not enough time for me to get to all the books I want to read.

22. I love that I grew up so close to my cousins. My aunt was our daycare provider, and we all grew up like sisters. Not everyone is that lucky.

23. I have a mild form of OCD called Trichotillomania, which causes me to pull my hair out by the root, one strand at a time, usually without my even noticing it. As a result, I usually have at least two or three bald patches on my head, but they’re not noticeable. You can usually tell when I’m stressed about something because there will be a small pile of hair on the floor next to me. (This totally freaks Leslie out and if I do it in front of her, she gets mad). :)

24. Bacon is my favorite food in the whole wide world.

25. I don’t know what actual day I was born. I was abandoned and found somewhere in Korea sometime in December and they think I was born in November, but there is no official date. They chose November 17 for me at some point.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Why I Love Costco


I filled my tank for less than $20!