Monday, October 31, 2005

How to make truffles.

The interview didn't go too badly. They didn't ask me any questions that required knowing how to do statistics, just wanted to know what sort of tests I'd done. I think I came off as a little too research-oriented, since the position's more focused on analysis and service, but I answered all the questions and they were nice to me. There were five of them, so it was a good thing they were nice to me. I couldn't remember any of their names and only a few of their affiliations, though.

Also? After my performance review I felt much less guilty about using sick time to cover the interview.

I made truffles Thursday to bring to a couple we were visiting Friday night. This is M's reconstituted recipe, as tested by me over three days:

1 bar (500 g) Trader Joe's Pound Plus chocolate (I used dark instead of bittersweet or's good.)
½ pint whipping cream
Mint flavoring (and then a little vanilla because I used peppermint oil, not extract, and I thought it tasted funny)

Day 1. Slowly warm the whipping cream and flavoring on the stove to just boiling. Remove from heat, add chocolate in chunks, and stir until melted. Put back on the stove over very low heat if it just won't melt any farther and stir continuously. Place in the fridge to cool.

Day 2. Realize the chocolate is far too hard to do anything with. Let bowl sit on counter until it reaches room temperature. Chip chunks of truffle out of the bowl and attempt to roll with clean hands. After the first perfectly-rolled truffle, realize truffle does not really roll. Decide that irregular chunks look better anyhow. Drop in cocoa powder to coat. Place in lovely box cleverly lined with aluminum foil and put in back seat of car in cool garage so as not to forget it the next day.

Day 3. Drive to Toledo. Leave truffles in boyfriend's kitchen while interviewing for a job. Afterwards, present test piece to boyfriend. When boyfriend says cocoa powder is too bitter, argue briefly, then consent to add powdered sugar. Remove truffles from box and place in plastic container with powdered sugar. Place lid on container and shake gently. Replace truffles in box while contemplating the interesting pattern of white powder on brown powder. Consider things one could do with chocolate-flavored powdered sugar. Throw out chocolate-flavored powdered sugar anyway. Decide to coat with evenly mixed cocoa powder and powdered sugar next time. Present test piece to boyfriend. When boyfriend says it's perfect, present test piece to boyfriend's mother. When boyfriend's mother says it's too bitter, ignore her.

They seemed to be a success.

Friday, October 28, 2005

My performance review

TB caught me in the hall today and asked me to step into his office. (Actually he said "Do you have a minute?" and when I said yes he turned around and strode down the hall toward his office. But anyway.) There, he said that Bob and Allen were the ones who had decided not to do my performance review. "You weren't looking at much of a raise anyway," he said. "And it would have been over a period of six weeks. So Bob said to give you these instead." He handed me two laminated tickets, each reading "Dinner for Two - This certificate is good for dinner at a fine restaurant of choice - Not to exceed $50."

"You get a receipt from the restaurant," TB said, "and turn it into our admin person for reimbursal."

"Oh," I said. "And how am I supposed to do that when I'm moving three hours away?"

"Well, you don't. I think you're supposed to use them before you go."

Then he asked if I still wanted to do the performance review, and when I said no told me that I haven't come out of my shell, that when he goes into my office he gets the impression he's interrupting my work, and that I should have been looking actively for work from, you know, the people who didn't want me on their projects.

It's six days until my last day. It so happens we were planning to go to a fine restaurant of choice this Saturday, so I guess I'll get to use one. The other I'll just hang onto, I guess, or maybe mail to Leisha or Marie when I'm gone. How often do you get your raise in a lump sump like this?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Panic: the prospect of wearing the slacks and business jackets your mother keeps sending you.

So I'm still wanting to go buy an advanced statistics book and memorize it, but of course I can't do that and it would be foolish. I have to remember: I can always walk out of this interview if it gets too embarrassing. They're the ones who read my cover letter and resume in which I did not say I had taken advanced statistics (basic, yes, but I don't even mention that except for "analyzing data using SPSS and Excel"). The position isn't even mostly statistics, it's more about the whole survey process, but I'm focused on it because they said graduate study was a requirement and also it's a failing of mine--one I wish I didn't have, as I actually rather like statistics when I'm not being told "Run every test you can think of and we'll use whatever makes us look best."

I think they're just interviewing me so they'll look good to whoever is monitoring their candidate-seeking activity. Also it really is a they, according to the lady who scheduled this with me; she said, "The Committee." Also I'm convinced that I'll be late and disgruntled and they'll start right off with questions I can't answer and I'll look terrible and nobody will ever hire me, ever. What's my worst quality? (I don't emote. Or, alternately, I SUCK.) How would you find out how many students only came here as a second choice? (Ask them.) What's the Mann-Whitney value for these two sets of data? Yeah. I need to remember that this isn't my ideal job anyway, just one I think I could do and maybe even enjoy. And if I turn out to look like a total idiot, they won't hire me anyway so I'll never see them again so what's the big deal? Borders is always hiring.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Scene from This Transitional Phase, part nine.

Cross that one off the list. The apartment office person called me. "Hi there! I just got your check, and I'm looking at your application. Do you have a job yet?"

"Not yet," I said.

"Then how are you going to pay the rent?"

So this really fucking irritates me. People keep asking me some variant of this. Do they think I plan never to work again because, I don't know, I think I can get away with it even though nobody else can? Do they think I don't understand that in order to pay rent X I must bring in at least X dollars? Do they--meaning the apartment people now--think I don't understand what a contract is? Yeah, I know they probably get that sort of thing all the time. It still annoyed me. "I'm going to get a job," I said, trying to be polite. "And I have savings."

"Oh. Because of course we have to check your finances, and you gave me the information from your current job, and if you don't have one up here...well, I just wanted to check with you before I talked to Corporate."

I gritted my teeth. It was probably uncalled for. "I can pay the entire six months now, if you need me to."

"Oh. So you can pay the entire sum up front? Okay, they'll be happy to hear that, I think. Well, I'll give them a call and get back to you. Thanks!"

So that's nice. The lesson here: never go anywhere without a job. I have a job interview this Friday. Did I mention I have a job interview? It's a position that would run surveys and statistics and I'm convinced they're going to get me into the interview room and ask me to calculate all sorts of complicated statistics by hand with trick questions and boundary violations, but I'm anxious to get this job just so people will quit asking me--not that they are, but it feels this way--

--No, forget it, I'm just making myself upset. Back to work. I'm actually busier now than I was before I handed in notice. Figures.

Calls. Conferences. Vegetarianism. Snow. Coworkers. And more calls.

I just got a phone call on my cell phone from (937) 000-0000. I didn't pick up. I've also gotten a couple of missed calls from Mississippi. I have this terrible feeling that the latter is going to be a scammer pretending to have been devastated from the hurricanes and won't I send money? Anyway, if it's important they'll leave a message. They haven't.

The CASW New Horizons briefing was very interesting. It was, as I should have realized, primarily a networking thing, not so much an educational briefing--though they had some great scientific presentations and I did learn a lot. And talked to some friendly people, one of whom was a gray-haired gentleman who said if I figured out how to freelance I should let him know, because he was thinking of trying it once the time was right. And ate some good food. And realized that I'm completely unused to city driving anymore, because the 361(?)/279 interchange in downtown Pittsburgh rattled me into cursing even though I was only going to the hotel for the evening. I think I was also on edge because I'm just not a networking sort of person. And I've decided that I'm not going to pretend I think that's a bad thing. It's just not me. So I'm not going to make myself do it.

Also on Monday evening there was a reception at the History Museum, very swanky, with black-vested attendants circulating with trays of hors d'oeuvres and fake ice decorating the tables while the river (what river is it?) gleamed blackly through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Lawrence Krauss gave a talk on his new book, Hiding in the Mirror. Think Billy Crystal with a physics Ph.D. and a crusade against stupid people. I was horribly disappointed he didn't have the book for sale right there, but I suppose it wouldn't have been classy. I was also horribly disappointed when the talk ended, even though I'd been sitting sideways in a chair for an hour and was feeling slightly not-goodish due to my unbalanced meal.

(Upon entering the museum I got in one of two lines, and the lady taking care of this line asked, "Did anyone order a vegetarian meal?" I said I'd like one, and she said, "Did you ask for one?" I said no, I hadn't seen that as an option anywhere, and she said doubtfully, "You'll have to check upstairs." Upstairs were only the swanky hors d'oeuvres bearers, though, and it turned out that the other line had had vegetarian meal tickets. I ended up with a couple of onion tartlets and a tiny cup of butternut squash soup from the trays, plus salad, three rolls--my seat partner insisted on giving me one of hers when I told her why I was just staring at my plate of chicken and crab cake--and an apple-filled phyllo pastry for dessert.)

I drove back Tuesday morning; I'd originally planned to stay for that morning's sessions but they were all at CMU and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get back, plus I was tired and a bit discouraged, so I left. Driving through the snow. It was so pleasant to be back in a land of topography, though. (Eight more weeks until we fly to Seattle. Eight more weeks of Christmas shopping. Oh Lord.)

When I got to work in the afternoon, I found that TB had canceled my performance review. "It's not necessary now," he wrote. Wuss. I've requested that we do it anyway. Not only do I not want to let him off the hook (though this will surely come back to bite me when he enthuses for an hour on the theme of "Nobody likes you and it's a good thing you're leaving"), but the performance review is hooked to a retroactive-to-October-1 salary increase and while it's not much, it's still supposed to be mine. I had lunch with Marcia today and she recommended I do that. She was also satisfyingly aghast when I told her the things he had said to me.

I also found a message from The Agent. The appraisal came back $2000 under the selling price. He had told the buyers, "That's easy, we'll just reduce the price $2000 and give you $2000 less in closing costs," but the buyers said, "No...we don't think so" so we're reducing the price $2000 and only giving $1000 less in closing costs. I think this is okay. It still doesn't cut into the money I myself put into the house (unless you count the money for new carpet and disposal and sump pump that may have increased its value) and I really need to sell it now.

So there I am. For the rest of the week, I need to:
  • Call the apartment office to see if they're going to give me an address. Unfortunately I don't have their number here, so I'll be doing it tomorrow. An address would be a very good thing.

  • Scrounge moving help.

  • Pack. We got the books packed last weekend and that honestly seems to be the biggest single thing, but I've still got a mantel full of knickknacks and a room full of craft and office supplies and way too many Christmas decorations and a garage I haven't even thought about yet, plus bookcases and tables to dismantle. I used to like moving, you know.

  • Make Phoebe's voodoo doll. I must remember. I promised it would be in her office by the time she gets back Friday.

  • Make John brownies for giving me boxes and moving blankets.
It's definitely time for me to be out of here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


This? This is awesome. Yay for Google ads.

HR Guy said all I had to do was submit an "I hereby quit this company on this day" letter to TB. So I did that. He was quite cheerful about it, and made hopeful noises about "Maybe now I don't have to do your performance review!" Then I went around telling some people, and now I've just sent a company-wide e-mail--so that the people I don't particularly care about can also know. (That's not quite true. There are people I like just fine but am not close enough to to justify a private conference.) Some people are glad I'm going, some are sorry, and some are just looking forward to the party that they'll inevitably throw for me. I bet they get me a gift certificate to Joann or Michael's. Now that it's done and irreversible, I'm scared but relieved. I'm still glad to be going.

No severance pay for me.

TB postponed my performance review by a week. That's okay. It takes the pressure off him to try to be tactful (not that he ever felt much pressure to be so, I'm sure) and gives me a little more dignity going out--saying "I'd rather move to a different city without a job than work here" rather than "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms." I sent an e-mail to HR Guy, who is now really ex-HR Guy but is still the best person I can think of for this purpose, to ask about the exact procedure for giving notice. The employee handbook says something about a Termination Checklist but doesn't actuallly provide it. So we'll see if he gets back to me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

To ponder.

Hmm. TB has just scheduled my performance review for next Wednesday at 10:30. I feel sure this will be an unfavorable review. That's also the day I was planning to give notice (so that I could take a day to get official documents in or whatever and still be two weeks out). I don't want it to look like I'm quitting because TB told me I was subpar. But that's a little silly. When people ask my plans and learn that I sold my house weeks ago they'll realize this wasn't a decision made in a moment of pique. If I give notice earlier will there be any point to the review? Or what if I give it during the review? As in:

TB: You haven't been giving as much of yourself as you need to in order to succeed here, Jenny. I'm disappointed you haven't taken my advice, blah superior blah. If you really want to stay in this job you're going to need to apply yourself--talk more, ask questions, get involved in projects, find something you can be an early adopter of. Blah blah, pedantic blah.

Me: Actually, I don't want to stay in this job. I'm leaving in two weeks. Thanks though. Have you seen Ken? I need to ask him what the exact procedure is for giving notice. Are we done here?

Not only that, he's just sent out a "work projection" table to fill out for October, November, and December. I cannot in good conscience fill it out past the first week of November. Perhaps my conscience will have to take a quick nap for me then. Hmm...


We saw seven houses yesterday. The one I liked best was the one we saw a couple of Sundays ago at an open house. I would have made an offer on it last night, except: the second story of the house slopes. Noticeably. As in, the closet doors had been cut to accommodate the parallelogram frames. That suggests it's not a recent structural problem, just an extreme demonstration of the house settling, and of course the inspector would determine that (or send somebody who could). But I'm not sure I could live with it anyway. This annoys me greatly since I love the rest of the house and none of the others I saw really struck me as something I wanted to buy.

China says interest rates are climbing and sooner would be better if I can. The Wells-Fargo person says my credit is excellent and I shouldn't have a problem closing because they won't need to check my employment. I think that's what she said. Anyway she was enthusiastic about getting me both in a house (well, a loan) and out of my job. So I could buy the house, and not have to stay down here an extra couple of weeks, if I wanted to. Do I want to? I shouldn't do it just to have a house or an interest rate. I could get an apartment. I don't really want to, but if I don't buy this house I'd better since I do in fact need someplace to live, and I already warned China that I might give up until the spring if I get a lease. (Or not. I started househunting in April last time and found something in July and moved in August.)

And I have to reply to the guy who sent me info on that education-relevant job I applied to and then asked me to let him know if I was still interested. The schedule doesn't thrill me--the prospect of sometimes getting up at 5 AM in particular--but it won't hurt to learn more.

Oh, and the lawn guy mowed my lawn. I gave him a tip. Of my list for this week, I didn't get a hotel in Pittsburgh (the one the conference is at is $180 per night, and I'm thinking of staying at the Ramada two blocks away and just walking over), make the voodoo doll, finish the binding, do anything with Petra, or set up the IRA. If I get some time today I'll do some when I go home, but I'm probably going to take a nap instead, as I drove down from Toledo this morning in time to get to work at nine. I give notice in a week. Despite having no house and no income, this still thrills me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rant. Oh, and grass.

My heart hurts. I can't decide if it's silly to let myself be affected by all this or if it would be wrong not to. I can't get a loan without a job unless I have a cosigner who qualifies. Or I could just not quit the job until after closing. I'm thinking about this latter option. I hate to, but I'm thinking about it. I could stay with a coworker or two (or possibly Kathleen), or in a hotel--they give cheaper rates if you rent by the week, yes? Heck, if I were desperate I could sleep in my car and shower in the office shower. I don't think I'm that desperate. I just don't like these options. It would be so much better if I had a job. I applied for a couple today, some from Adecco and one from that my education actually--get this--qualifies me for but that I feel I won't have the energy to do well in. Or maybe it's just that I don't have the energy now.

I'm starting to feel like I'm never going to get a worthwhile job again, maybe never a decently-paying job again, and certainly I'll never be able do anything with writing. I know that's not true, of course, and I haven't been so eager to find a job for that terribly long and it took me a year the last time I did it. I'm paying too much attention to my mother. And then my parents think I'm giving up everything because I'm a silly girl with a crush. I think that's the part that's really getting me. If they were supportive, or at least quiet, I'd be mostly okay. But I haven't been able to convince them that I'm not quitting my job and selling my house because of Eric, and because I told Mom about the possibility of school in the first place now that I've told her I'm not going immediately she thinks I'm giving up everything forever. And they're important to me. It's very stupid, even to me writing this out, that this should bother me so. I guess I'm still used to being the good daughter, and if I hadn't done everything exactly right up until about a year ago at least I wasn't doing anything particularly wrong.

This shouldn't bug me so much as it does, it really shouldn't. But I don't want to be contentious and contrary and bad. I don't want to keep having conversations with the phrases "I can't shield you from your mistakes" and "You never do what I say anyway" and "I don't want you to give up all your dreams" in them. For Christ's sake, it's an improvement that I actually have dreams at this point. But they don't know that because I didn't tell them quite what a rough time I was having last year because their worrying would only have made me feel worse, as it's making me feel worse this year. I'm just trying to do something I want to do that I don't think is hurting anyone else. Neither of us should be making this big a deal out of it.

(Incidentally, I'm really sick of having my parents in two separate locations. I know they must be even more sick of it, but I get twice the worried, reproachful conversations this way. And then I tell Mom something and she calls Dad and then Dad e-mails me to tell me that he told Mom to call me and say this and if I don't understand why he suggested that I can call him and we can discuss it.)

It would be easier to just do what they say. At least up to the point where I was so dead from doing what they said that I couldn't do even the easy thing anymore. I wonder if that's why the Asian and Mideastern models of family and community are so successful.

Anyway. Rant over and I'll be talking to the Wells-Fargo person tonight (she was much more helpful than the US Bank person, but I noticed a sign at my bank that said something about rate discounts; maybe I'll stop by on my way up tomorrow) and looking at houses tomorrow. At this rate I'm feeling like tomorrow is the decisive point: either I get a house tomorrow, putting the closing date as soon after November 4 as I can (within a week if possible; the Wells-Fargo person said something about a seven-day guarantee and I don't want to trespass on anybody's hospitality longer than I have to), or I give up until spring and apply for an apartment with the employment history I have now.

Oh, and here's what I hope is the end of the grass saga: The Agent recommended a guy, the guy said he would charge $35-40 for a half-acre, I said it was pretty tall, and he said he'd go look at it. He just called back and said he'd have to go over it two or three times so the price would be $100, and I said fine, do it. Because with the money I've saved by not paying Shawnscape in the last several weeks it's well within my budget. So when I get home the lawn should be cut and I will put the $100 check in the mail with thanks and then I will make sure that the next house I buy has a very tiny yard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Look what I got!

Marcia at work said to me when I came in the door, "I left you a present." I gave an unenthusiastic "okay" and, when I got to my desk, looked for the stack of papers she had undoubtedly left me to proof. Instead, I found this box of needles. She had gone to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago with her boyfriend. Nobody had bid on this box and they were going to throw it away, so she said "Can I take it?" and brought it to me. It made my day. Look! I got needles in every size from 1 to 13 except 4 and 12, and I got sock dpns (double-pointed needles) and tiny straight needles and ancient plastic needles with wooden ends. I also had two pairs of size 8 needles, but I gave a pair each to Marie and Peggy, both of whom crochet and were interested in learning to knit when I offered a free pair. I have to admit I was hoping to keep one of the pairs, as they're metal and more slippery than my pair of oak ones at home, but 8 is a good size for a beginner and they both picked that size when I offered a choice (with recommendations) and after all I had gotten them for free.

This is what I'm giving Marcia tomorrow as a thank-you:

It's from here, and took me maybe an hour. The yarn is Zara, which is pure wool and so soft and wonderful I want more, more, more. The scarf is chenille, a single chain of crochet, about the most I can do as far as crochet is concerned. I hope she likes it. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 10, 2005

By the numbers

This week, I need to:
  1. Look at houses
  2. Call US Bank about rates
  3. Call this other guy to mow my lawn
  4. Send a check for the New Horizons dinner
  5. Get a hotel for New Horizons
  6. Apply to jobs from the Sunday classifieds
  7. Do laundry
  8. Make Phoebe (and possibly other people) a voodoo doll
  9. Make the TST binding
  10. Create the Petra outline
  11. Set up a personal IRA
I looked at an apartment in Toledo on Friday. It looked a bit iffy on the outside, but the inside was perfectly nice, clean and structurally sound, and cheap. Cheap is good. I also met with my Toledo realtor, whom I believe I shall call China for reasons best known to my convoluted brain, who listened to my criteria and gave me 43 listings to consider and drove me around Toledo. As a result, I now have the spindly beginnings of a mental map of Toledo. As a mental map is essential to my psychological well-being--I discovered in Baltimore that I'm not comfortable without an idea of where I am in the city and how roads connect--it was worth the time. I will still probably invest in a Toledo roadmap. Over the weekend Eric and I narrowed the list to nine "can't find anything wrong with them" choices and several "not very much wrong with them" choices. We're going to see the nine on Thursday.

I have to call US Bank about mortgage rates and terms. Also China's company (which, she told me, is the largest independent company in Toledo, or some such statistic--400 agents alone) is affiliated with Wells Fargo and she suggested it wouldn't hurt for me to talk with their local finance person while I'm up there, so I should give them a call too.

I have given up harassing Shawnscape, mostly because it's too much effort when I know it will get me nothing but lost time, but The Agent called today and said, "Your buyers are really anxious to get into your house. They keep driving by. But they're concerned about how long the grass is getting." I told him about the problem with Shawnscape and said that I'd be calling someone else this week--I intended to anyway, but now I've got an obligation. After all, my buyers didn't ask for anything else to be done. The Agent suggested a name, so I'll try them and if that doesn't work I'll pick someone from the phone book.

I brought the Sunday Blade classifieds home with me, though I didn't look at them until very late last night because after leaving Toledo I went to Jen's Pampered Chef party. I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out that the PC consultant (consultant?) made a (very, very yummy) dish using various PC implements, distributed door prizes (I got one for coming from Toledo and one for having my name pulled out of a family-sized professional pot that the consultant had placed ice in to show us how quickly it melted), and took orders. I contemplated getting things but eventually tamed my inner spendthrift. I wouldn't want to spend money so much if I hadn't told myself I wouldn't.

Phoebe (and possibly other people) gets a voodoo doll because before I left Thursday night, I sent an e-mail to some project leaders asking for information for a project I'm on. And, since I knew that only one or two would actually answer me, I offered a prize: homemade cookies or a handmade voodoo doll to everyone who replied before the end of Tuesday. So far Phoebe's been the only one.

I finally finished the quilting and signing and re-bordering of TST. Now it needs binding made and sewn in, and I will--after more than a year--be finished with it. Good grief. I also want to make a baby quilt for my cousin's baby (expected in May) by Christmas so that I can bring it when I fly there for the holidays, but at this rate I may not get to it. Next year I'm making one for my Korean grandma to take with me in April and WUALF (if I don't for Jaime's baby) and a Penrose tile and maybe one other, depending.

The Petra outline is still in card form, but they've been cut and strewn across my living room rug and arranged some, but they need more arranging and then transcribing onto the computer before I back up my files before the move. I suppose I also need to reserve a U-Haul van, but I think this is probably enough for one week.

And since I'm moving, I shall need a place to put my 401k money. I was pleased to find that I have a decent amount--I mean, not a lot for retirement generally, but I'm twenty-five and I've only been on the 401k plan for a little over two years, so considering that it's not bad, I think. My company's new 401k matching program is less generous than the old--1% matching rather than 3% regardless--and I asked for my old money to wait to be designated, so I need a personal IRA for that anyway. I just have no idea how to do it. Vanguard has an online sign-up, but I'm a little afraid of it, so I think I'd better go the phone route, even though I hate talking to people I don't know on the phone.

All in all, a busy week. The next four weeks will be. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Work, of the non-work variety.

I'm signed up for the CASW New Horizons briefing--at least, I think I am. I sent the registration in, anyway. It'll be fun. I'll use up my floating holiday for that Monday and use sick time for Tuesday, and skip Wednesday. Tomorrow, I'll also be sick, as I must be in Toledo to look at an apartment at 1 and meet with a realtor at 2. Then the opera sometime in the evening, for which I will at last wear the little black dress Mom bought me in 1999 because she thought when I went to grad school interviews they might have parties I'd have to dress up for. Saturday, I'll be either helping the rest of the household at the Toledo Zoo for National Chemistry Week (they're making bouncy balls with borax, cornstarch, and glue, I believe) (oh, and hand lotion) or looking at houses, depending on whether the realtor can stand me and whether she can get anything together that quickly. I want to go back to one we saw at an open house last week. I've been fantasizing about what I could do with it all week, even though I was unsure when I saw it (though that might have been the nervous, pestiferous agent there--do real estate companies make all the newbies staff the open houses?). Possibly it's just I Don't Want To Live In An Apartment With No Architecture Again syndrome, but maybe it really does have potential. Then Sunday I go to Jen's Pampered Chef party, at which I will be looking at rice cookers. It'll be a full weekend.

Yesterday was very productive. Work-wise, not so much, but I'm well used to that now. I registered for New Horizons and I called the apartment and I called the realtor and I called two moving places. Continental was out to lunch, but Two Men and a Truck charges $80 an hour, $99 on Fridays and Saturdays, plus a flat fee based on mileage. A 17' U-Haul van (2-3 bedrooms, they say--do they mean to also include the living room and dining room and kitchen?) costs $169, which includes 207 miles and two days in which to use it. And I called Bev and (between her son's play-screams) she told me that I should just do what I want to do and everything will be fine. Everyone should have a Bev. And I'm pleased to be getting things done. Today I respond to any job ads I can find, do the laundry, pack for the weekend (hello, garment bag--oh, and box of yarn), and make apple bread and maybe cookies. Or maybe I'll wait and see if Pampered Chef carries cooling racks first. (Whatever happened to my no-buying-anything-until-I've-moved idea?)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Aw, man. We just got a memo. Our three floating holidays? Only one is actually floating. Management decided the others will be the day after Thanksgiving and the day before Independence Day. I won't be around for those times. I wanted the free time off, damn it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

My kind of crazy

We went househunting on Sunday, a spur-of-the-moment thing after going to the Cracker Barrel for brunch. I'd never eaten at a Cracker Barrel. I remember visiting one on my way from Baltimore to Seattle in 2001, though. We got Mom some old-fashioned candy for her Christmas stocking. (I think we're finally stopping the Christmas stocking tradition this year. Mom and Dad are trying--Mom sort of half-heartedly--to move towards a "Each person give only one present to each other person" model of gift giving. This throws me into a bit of a conundrum with Dad's present, but we'll see how it goes.) It was a good time. Househunting was fun, too; we went to a couple of open houses and saw some truly dreadful wallpaper and collected a lot of fliers. One, for a perfectly innocuous (if unappealing) house in a back street, had the realtor's name and picture on the bottom. Ravi Ramachandran, let's say, though that wasn't his name. It was Indian, and the picture was of an Indian man wearing a turban. "Ravi Ramachandran," Eric said, pronouncing it in mocking fake-Indian accents, and complained about the layout of the flier. "He probably hardly speaks English."

Edith said, "He'd have to, to get his realtor's license," and I said, looking at him like he was crazy, "Why, because he has a foreign name?" so he subsided. Later he did the name-accent thing again and I took the paper away from him and said, "I can't buy the house if you're going to make fun of the realtor all the time." Probably at this point he remembered that my mother has a foreign name and he's going to be dependent on her hospitality for a week during the holidays. (I talked to her on Friday and she got an A- on her latest ESL test, even though she got into the class late and is struggling with all the grammar rules. I think that's fantastic.) Or maybe he just likes speaking with an Indian accent and I'm overly sensitive.

When we got home we saw the neighbors just coming out to look at their van, which had had its rear window broken with a rock. The neighbors are Russian, I think--no certainty there because the only way to tell was the mother's accent and I'm bad at placing accents. We walked over and commiserated and recommended they call the police, and on the way inside Eric said, "I'm just hoping it wasn't race-related." I looked at him like he was crazy. His mother said later that she was sure it was. I guess I'm the crazy one, because I just don't think of these things.

I like my kind of crazy, but it does seem to get me in trouble, or at least in the minority. Like another thing that came up on Sunday, which is my tendency not to be effusive about things. I think I discussed this about last year's Cedar Point trip. (Cedar Point was a lot of fun, but I should remember to pack some fruit to eat next year. We decided to get breakfast on the way and then didn't stop until the fast food places had stopped serving breakfast, so my total consumption for Saturday was: 1 veggie burger, 1 medium fry, 1 dish nachos, a few other fries, about 20 oz. soda, and 2.5 oz. Dippin' Dots. Dippin' Dots are tasty, but I don't think the novelty was worth the cost, especially since all the little dots froze on my tongue and burned it.) I thought about it on the way home. The reason people thought I wouldn't do well as a grad student, and the reason people don't like me here, is that I don't show enthusiasm over things. I don't get gushy and chipper and smile and talk all the time. I don't do it because it's not my nature; I'm not comfortable with it and I'd be acting a part if I started. That's why I'm leaving my job. It's not that I can't do the work; it's that I can't be what they want me to be.

But I decided, also on the way home, that I don't believe I'm a failure because of what I am. I just need to find jobs and people who want me the way I am, who think I can do good work even if I don't grin at their every little joke, don't say, "Sounds great!" when told to do something tiresome and pointless, don't laugh when they belittle other people in front of me. Admittedly I suspect this means finding a job where I'm mostly alone, but at least I'm doing okay on finding the people.


From here: "We do not aspire to infringe copyrights, and we embolden you to purchase the artist's album and official song book."

(I'm looking for the Ballad of Serenity. We saw Serenity on Friday. It's good but not happy. I'm inclined to agree with this assessment of it, at least on first reading. Anyway, bold or not, there is no song book to be purchased.)