Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One Third of My Lovely Lady Lumps

Disclaimer: Dudes will probably not want to read this as this post leans a little yonic. If you are of the male persuasion, I can't guarantee this'll resonate. It may even make you feel a little icky afterward. Consider yourself forewarned.

Yesterday was D-Day: the annual trip to the OB/GYN to make sure everything south of the border is working properly. You'd think that I'd be a wee less apprehensive about the exam after 10 years of annual visits. Not to mention that I was a little, um, exposed to about 15 strangers during the whole childbirth experience. Basically, I've made peace with the fact that it's just one of those things I have to do as a responsible adult woman, like paying bills on time and popping calcium supplements.

My doctor is a tiny woman. A teeny tiny woman. Every time I go to visit her, she tells me that I need to lose weight. One time she said, "You should not try to gain any more weight." Um, I wasn't exactly trying to gain the poundage that I have. It's just that living a sedentary lifestyle has resulted in my hourglass figure transforming into a different kind of glass figure...say, a beer stein.

Like a ninny, I scheduled this appointment three weeks after the holidays. So I know I'm packing an extra pound or five in addition to the extras I've already been lugging around. To compensate, I dressed "light." I actually held my clothes before getting dressed to determine which outfit weighed less. Obviously I was gonna kick off my shoes before climbing onto the scale, but they don't request you to strip. And since the scale's in the hallway leading to the exam rooms, it wouldn't exactly be appropriate.

The breezy outfit didn't help, though. I stepped onto the scale, and the physician's assistant moved the blocky metal weights up the bar. Ka-thunk. Ka-thunk. Ka-thunk. Oh, yuck. Not a good number. I am hovering at a pregancy weight number. This is not what I am supposed to weigh when all I'm carrying around is me.

After the weigh-in, I stripped off the appropriate articles of clothing, draped myself with a gigantic purple paper towel thingamajig, and climbed on the table. The doctor entered, we exchanged some pleasantries, she performed the exam, and told me to meet her in her office after I've dressed. Gulp. As I zipped, buckled, and buttoned up, I thought I might be off the hook vis-a-vis a weight lecture. Why? Well, part of my exam chit-chat was telling Dr. Tiny that I've begun an exercise regime (which is true), and she applauded me.

I go into her office, and she asked me how tall I am. I gave her the number, tacking on an extra half an inch for good measure. She scratched a couple of numbers onto a pad of paper, looked up at me and said, "Someone your height should weigh X. So you should really lose about 40 or 50 pounds." Good Lord, 50 POUNDS! She might as well have told me to grow another foot.

And then she sent me on my way without so much as a leaflet as to how I'm supposed to shed nearly a third of my mass. And I know I'm being coy about my actual weight, but the mathletes among you can figure out what I weigh based on all the algebraic clues I've given you.

Truth be told, I'm all good with losing weight. Post-New Year's, I've cut out a whole lotta dairy, sugar, and refined flour. And I've been movin' and shakin' a lot more. So I'm on my way. Maybe not to me minus 50 pounds, but I'm on my way.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Questions a Man Should Never Ask a Woman

One of my fellow DC bloggers, A Circle Has Too Much Symmetry, recently posted questions a woman should never ask a man. Yep, I've been guilty of many of those. Don't know what the compulsion is to seek verbal reassurance about my bee-yoo-tee, but I've capitulated a time or two. Or twenty.


In the spirit of equality, I thought I'd throw out a coupla questions men should never ask a woman:

1) How much do you weigh?
I don't care if you're filling out medical paperwork or are just trying to outguess the carnie at the State Fair. Unless you want to walk away from that question with a blackened eye, don't ask it.

2) How many boyfriends have you had?
Why? Am I dating them now? No? Just you? Then what does it matter?

3) What color is this?
If you can't tell what color your suit is, you shouldn't have bought a navy one and a black one. Go for crazy different colors or pin notes to the inside collar. Don't rely on me to be your personal spectrometer.

4) Does this match?
Coordinating men's clothes is not difficult. Here's a key:

- Khaki matches everything.
- Jeans match everything.
- Black matches everthing.

Pair something that falls in this category with something that falls in that "confusing" category. Don't go for broke and pair two "confusing" things together. You will be wrong, and I will need to dissociate at the party.

5) You're just like your Mom.
Okay, technically, this is not a question. But I like men, and would like to save them from involuntarily becoming a eunuch, so I thought I'd go ahead and include it. Look, women all KNOW that they will, in some ways, become their mother. Thing is, the tussle between Oedipus and his Papa was a minor misunderstanding compared to the slow burning push and pull that exists between mothers and daughters. The struggle's all based in love, sure, but for a dude to offer unrequested commentary on it will only result in pain. HIS pain.

6) Are these dirty?
Hmmm...let me whip out my chemistry set and test the dishes/clothes/whatever for ickiness. Sheesh. It's a basic human skill to be able to discern whether or not a plate is hosting a bacteria buffet.

7) Does this fit?
This is the male equivalent of "Do I look fat in this?" Per Circle, if you have to ask, you probably won't like the answer. So, no, the jeans that you wore in college that you just found in an old footlocker do NOT fit.

8) How much did that cost?
We know that when you ask this, you are actually saying, "I don't think that was a necessary purchase, and unless it was free, it was a waste." If you don't think I'm capable of making intelligent decisions as a consumer, then take away my ability to pay for stuff, 'cause that's the honest way to deal with this situation. And, for the record, clothes are not a waste. Clothes help boost self-esteem. And a woman with a decent sense of self-esteem is much more pleasant to be around.

9) Why do we need to clean?
I know that you nick-named the orange film that grew in your shower in your bachelor-pad, but I'm not interested in becoming an eyewitness to the potential evolution of a sentient being. Just trust me on this, pull on the rubber gloves, and pick up a johnny brush. It's a brave new world.

10) Why should I go to the doctor/dentist?
'Cause I don't want you to fall apart at 35. Women have it beaten into their heads that they need to have their lady parts checked out at least once a year, and since said lady parts seem to be in decent working order, it seems like it's a good practice for other parts, too. And what's good for the goose is good for the gander, mister. And can you imagine the unholy wrath I will unleash upon you if you develop a condition that was completely preventable? So ask yourself...do you feel lucky? Do ya, punk?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Residential Townhome Parking Lot Etiquette

The people who SHOULD read this post, of course, won't ever see it. But I'll feel better for having written it. Deep breath...

I live in a townhouse community that is, for the most part, quite lovely. Quiet, wooded, yet accessible to all of the modern conveniences of an urban setting. The location of my home couldn't be better for me and the boys.

Some of the neighbors' manners, however, leave a little to be desired. Today's post will focus on parking etiquette.

#1: Don't park more than 2 of your cars in the spaces close to the houses.
We have 2 parking lots -- an upper one, which is close to houses, and a lower one, which is located somewhere in the vicinity of Siberia. There are enough spaces in the upper lot for each house to park 2 or 3 cars regularly. The spaces in my development are unassigned, which I love, 'cause guests don't have to park in Siberia or run the risk of being towed when they visit chez Vaughan. But one of our neighbors mucks the whole thing up by parking no fewer than 5 cars in the upper lot. There are two commercial vehicles (he's a plumber by trade, I think), a minivan, a sporty sedan, and a junker driven by one of the teenage children. The end result is that I often need to carry my tyke from Siberia to my house so that Mr. Plumber's hulking van can rest close to his abode.

#2: Park in a space, not in back of my car!
So, I outlined how we occasionally enjoy a parking crunch. But some jokers have taken to double-parking rather than hoof it from Siberia. Even if someone's in the car with the motor running, I still think it's silly rude to block in other people when there are available spots about 40 feet away (Okay, some hyperbole was involved when I called the lower parking lot 'Siberia.')

#3: For the love of God, stop BEEPING for people.
It's winter. It's chilly. I get it. But when you blast your horn to get the attention of someone inside one of the thirty homes in my neighborhood, well, it's just rude. You might think it's no biggie. But you don't know if people work nights and sleep during the day, or if children or napping, or if there are dogs that are sensitive to noise. I can almost let the teenagers who do this slide and don't know any better. But Mr. Plumber, you're an adult! What are you teaching your children if you just keep beeping for them to come out to the car?

#4: Please teach your children to get out of the way of cars if they are playing catch, or football, or roller hockey in the parking lot.
Um, I don't think that this one needs any explanation.

Phew. I feel better. Silly complaints in the grand scheme of things, but when I'm paying a hefty homeowner's association fee, I feel like I oughta live in a gripe-free zone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Going Commercial

Well, not so much commercial as "Ad Sense." My six fans will note that I've gone the shameful route of installing ad links to m'blog. Apparently, you can net some serious dollars doing this. Like, almost ten bucks a month. It's a cash cow, I tells ya!

Thing is, if you've been reading about my travails of late, you know that I am UNEMPLOYED, and that I am looking for creative solutions to the cash crunch. Certainly, this won't close the gap (cripes, if it did, why would I be going on another follow-up interview today?), but why not earn a little pool of cash for lattes?

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Rule #2

Mr. Mail Carrier delivered my monthly BMG envelope o'junk. I'm not totally sure why they are the "Bertelsmann Music Group" if you can order miscellanea like t-shirts, shot glasses, and calendars. Offering these items would make sense if these items were exclusively emblazoned with a pantheon of rock gods. Last time I checked, Brooke Burke had zip to do with music.

But I digress.

The offer this month is buy one CD, get three free. Since I'm a sucker for freebies, I popped open the catalog to see whether or not there were four CDs I wanted to add to my collection.

Perusing my options, I was surprised by the number of artists shilling a greatest hits/best of album. Thus New Rule #2 was born: a music artist must have at least five top 10 hits to warrant a greatest hits album, or they should be sued for false advertising. I'm lookin' at you, Ace of Base (they think they made the cut with 5 hits, but they listed "Beautiful Life" TWICE). You too, Animotion. And don't think I didn't see your ouevre purporting to be a greatest hits album, Rick Astley.

Did you notice something, Gentle Reader? The artists I've listed above are all listed under "A." Yep, I didn't have the stomach to work my way through the remaining 25 letters of the alphabet.

Good grief. I clearly need to get a job.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Don't Call Me Lloyd; Call Me Elise Keaton

(image courtesy of TV Show Central)
During my current job search, I've decided not to limit myself to a new incarnation of positions I've already had. In other words, I'd like to flex my brain muscle a bit, to stretch and to grow on the job. And I'm smart enough to know that I'm no career expert. So, when I logged into my Monster.com account yesterday, I decided to plunk down a couple of dollars to purchase the "Right Job Report" from Tickle. I answered about 20 questions about my preferences, my decision-making styles, etc. My expectation was that the report would provide me with a bare bones analysis of the kinds of environments I'd thrive in, and then provide some job titles that would fit neatly within those environments.

Well, the report did do that...sort of. Here are the jobs the report suggested:

1) Architect
2) Psychologist
3) Chemist
4) Airplane Pilot
5) Flight Engineer
6) Veterinarian

Cripes! All of those occupations look fabulous, but I'm looking for a job to commence in the next 2 weeks, people! I don't have oh, I don't know, 4 - 8 years of education to invest in my next career move. This report just left me feeling like I'm a dummy for not having done an evaluation like this when I was sixteen.
Phew. Just needed to get that off my burgeoning Flight Engineer's chest.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On the Front Page of the WashingtonPost.com?

Listen, I'm not saying that my curiosity wasn't piqued. And obviously I clicked on the link. But on the front page of WaPo.com? Where are the standards, people!?! This shouldn't be front page news. Well, maybe it should if you're the National Enquirer, or Perez Hilton. But not the Washington Post.

Ahem. That is all.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Call Me Lloyd

My 14-year-old self should have paid more attention to the ethos of the inimitable Lloyd Dobler:

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Everyone Who Has a Job after Christmas Take One Step Forward...Not So Fast, MCV

Yep, I got the old pink slip. Not the frothy confection you see above. I just included that 'cause I thought it was funny. Nope, after four months of glorious work at a fun company, I'm now part of the proud 5% of unemployed Americans. Huzzah.

There had been rumblings since the beginning of December. But the official word finally came down on December 16th, and December 23rd was my last day. I wasn't the only one who got the boot. The company I worked for pretty much cut everyone loose. Everyone, that is, except for a skeletal operations crew. There's no ill will toward the owners of the company or anything, but I do wish there'd been some kind of severance so that I had some kind of cushion. Eating into savings and credit card limits makes me feel icky.

I think I'm doing all of the right things, though none of them are particularly pleasant. I filed for unemployment on Christmas Day (ah, the delicious irony of that), but because of some bureaucratic blah blah blah, my benefit will be delayed a little bit. It's a pittance compared to what I earned, but at least it's something.

Since we returned from a wonderful family Christmas visit in the 'burbs of Cleveland, my job has been finding a job. Through networking and other traditional means, I've applied to about six different positions and have already gone on one interview. It wasn't a particularly thrilling one, and it's firmly ensconced in the world of administration. Which brings to mind the whole question of what direction I want my career to take...creative production or administration? I'd prefer the former, but I'm really good at the latter. I don't want to make any decisions in a vacuum, but if it's between paying my utility bills and feeling creatively challenged, I'm going to have to go with whatever keeps the lights on.

The above couple of paragraphs have been a regurgitation of factoids and timelines. It's not like I have a lot of distance since I'm still mired in this whole joblessness thing, but I'm kind of surprised at the emotional impact this whole experience has had on me. I got my lay-off letter (which was not, in fact, pink) the same say that me and Hubby and the Boy flew outta Dodge for the holidays. So, my absorption of this info was placed on pause, in effect.

But after New Year's, and after Hubby wended his way to the office for the first time in 2006, I was left home to scour the 'net for job opportunities. And it's a little bit crushing. There are no immediately appealing jobs posted on Monster.com, Sunspot.net, WashingtonPost.com, CareerBuilder.com, USAjobs.gov, Craigslist.com, or any of the sundry companies' websites I've checked out. I keep telling myself that it's just the beginning of January, and that most companies don't look to hire right now because key decision-makers are still celebrating Hogmanay in some remote corner of the country. I'm trying to leverage my network of gainfully employed people, but that gets weird. I'm sure these folks would be willing to help me, but I don't want them to feel like I'm using them. And I wonder, too, if I wouldn't feel a little slimy for having gained entrance to an interview through a backdoor.

I guess I wanted to find jobs that I want to do, instead of those that I simply could do. I wanted employers, mere minutes after I sent in my resume, to call me and bend over backwards to bring me in for an interview. I have an ego, people. I'll admit it. In all of my jobs, I've been told what a wonderful addition I am, that I can handle any problem that's lobbed my way, that I am, to quote a co-worker, "the best argument for human cloning." Suffice it to say, I am pretty confident in the value I would bring to any conference table.

But I'd have to prove that all over again. It wouldn't be taken as given. Of course, I'm willing to roll up my sleeves and do that. But not for a job that doesn't stoke my passions and interest.

Not only that, but my resume does not look like a neat, logical staircase of experience. I was in marketing, veered off into admin, then jumped back to sales and marketing. These are not job fields that can be married easily in someone's imagination. Anyone who takes a look will see that I can do a little bit of everything, but may need some guidance in translating it to his job opening.

The other thing that's rankling me is the advice of friends and family. I absolutely, completely, 100% understand that it's coming from a vasty deep pocket of love. But that doesn't make it any less, ehrm, frustrating.

More than a few people have asked me, "Didn't your company know they were in trouble?" How am I supposed to answer that? If they did know they were in trouble when they hired me, then they are dishonest. If they didn't know they were in trouble, then they are stupid. And I chose to work for people who are dishonest or stupid, or possibly both. Why on EARTH would I want to participate in that conversation?

One of my sisters has worked for the same place for 20+ years. Yes, she's made hiring decisions for a lot of people. And yes, she's applied for loads of internal jobs. But when you come down to it, she hasn't had to do the kind of job search I'm currently fumbling through. Yet I get questions like, "Have you looked at Monster.com?" That's the 21st century equivalent of asking me if I've looked at the "Help Wanted Section." Of course I have!

And a friend of mine, God love her, has been sending me Admin Assistant jobs. Obviously, I know that my job experience isn't easily classified. And I'm not ungrateful, or looking down upon Admin Assistants. But I need and want something more. It's like sending an unemployed doctor a vacancy announcement for a medical records clerk. It's in the same arena, but it's not the best use of my particular skills. When I gently, kindly indicate that I'm not interested in this job or that company for fairly valid reasons, I get a very distinct, "Beggars can't be choosers" vibe.

Ooh, and the inevitable, "You could just temp for a while." Um, no I couldn't. There's no stability in temping. There's loads of travel in temping. And there's not a lot of pay in temping. The max I've seen is $15 an hour for temps who aren't in highly specialized (i.e, IT, biotech, etc.) areas. That comes to about $600 a week gross. My unemployment benefit will be a little more than half that. And will allow me to continue searching for a job that I want, instead of one that just meets our collective family financial need. Why not strive for both?

I'll admit, I'm being overly sensitive about this one. Like I said, I know it's all coming out of love and my friends and family are just looking out for me, wanting to make sure that I've examined every possibility. But having unasked for advice unloaded on me makes me feel like my job hunting efforts are being perceived as, ahem, lacking.

Sidenote: If I don't have seriously interesting job offer by the end of next week, I'm going to post my resume here. Maybe it'll turn into one of those cyberspace phenomena, like SaveKaryn.com or something?

Blah. Back to looking for a job that's close to home, pays $25+ per hour, doesn't demand night and weekends or loads of travel, and is accomodating to people with small children. Ooh, and also involves left and right brain activity. If you've got one of those in your hiring roster, lemme know.