Monday, July 30, 2012

Congratulations Are In Order. Kinda.

While I was in GA visiting Mom, I saw on my iPhone that I had a message from a recruiter who'd seen my profile on a social networking job site.  At my last job, I used two main programs for the majority of the decade I spent in the Call Center Operations department, and apparently they were looking for someone with experience in both.

I emailed back, they didn't answer.  A couple of days after I returned to Orlando I figured why not search for the job and apply?  I was clearly qualified.  Even though it was not at all the kind of job I was hoping to find.  I applied online and sent my resume early afternoon on Wednesday, and they called me and did a phone interview about an hour later.

Good grief, someone really does look at those applications/resumes, apparently.

They asked me to come in for an interview the next day.  Well, okay, I said, thinking it would be good practice.  I'd been applying for writing/editing jobs, but hadn't had any interviews.

It was a nice building, and I know it's a good, profitable company.  But it took me around 40 minutes to get there, and that was with paying $6 in tolls.  No thanks.  At that point I was positive that I really, really didn't want the job.

The recruiter called me 10 minutes after I left the interview to ask me to come in on Friday for a second interview.  Well, okay, I said again.  Who knows what'll happen, might as well go ahead.

Friday I interviewed separately with five different people, I was there for more than two and a half hours.  At one point, I started to feel guilty for wasting their time.  I really, really didn't want this job.  When I left my old job, everyone kept telling me that this was my big chance to change directions, to stop putting numbers in spreadsheets and be creative, to find my joy, etc.  I want to be creative!

They didn't ask me typical interview questions, they all focused entirely on what I knew and what I could do.  Asking me about two programs I had literally used daily for nearly a decade was no biggie.  I wasn't remotely nervous, since I really, really didn't want the job.  I demonstrated my knowledge of the scheduling program easily, at one point leaning over the interviewer's desk and pulling up a screen on her computer to illustrate exactly what I (and the program they don't know how to use) could do.  I think they were impressed.

A couple of hours later they called and offered me the job, at a more than 30% salary increase over what I had been making.  My first thought was: Oh crap, now I have to take it.

I spent the weekend agonizing.  Greg kept telling me that it was completely my decision, we'd be fine either way, and he'd happily support whatever I decided.  It's a lot of money and we need money, I said.  We just paid off both our cars and all our credit card debt, he said.  Who knows when I'll get another job offer, I said.  You are an intelligent and talented person and you'll find another job, he said.

I consulted with friends, and finally decided that it would be better to take it.  I can keep looking for a more creative job, and a job closer to home, and I'll be looking from the position of an employed person who makes more money.

Here's the thing.  Back in 2008 Greg had a job he really liked, where he serviced medical hoods and clean rooms.  That sounds kind of boring, but it wasn't; he got to work at places like NASA, and he really enjoyed the analytical side of it, figuring out what was going wrong and fixing it.  He took a lot of classes and had expert, technical knowledge about the field, he was good at it.  But then he lost his job right at the point where the economy was taking its downturn, and he couldn't find anything else.  After looking for several months our savings had run out, so he took the only job he could find, and since then he's been driving a local delivery truck, delivering sign-making equipment.

He doesn't hate it, but it's boring.  He doesn't get to use his brain anymore.  It's not the kind of job where he really feels like he made a difference when he comes home at night.  But I love him so much for it.  I know people who made the decision to stay unemployed when they couldn't find anything good, but Greg knew we couldn't live on my paycheck alone, so he did what he had to do to take care of us.

Now it's my turn.  I'm taking this job, and it's Greg's turn to start hunting for something better.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Evening Lake

We live in a small condo community that circles a little lake with a fountain.  It can be quite pretty, when it's sparkling under a blue sky, or twinkling in the dark (it's lighted).  We see a lot of ducks and turtles and the occasional small alligator.

For some reason I've gotten into the habit of snapping a quick iPhone photo out the back window most nights, right after my 8:00pm phone call to Mom.  This time of year it's still pretty light out at that time, but a few days ago we had some pretty dark clouds gathering, and I especially liked this photo.

Our little backyard lake

Monday, July 16, 2012

Visiting My Mother

I drove up on Monday morning, leaving home at 7:30am, stopping once to drive through Burger King for breakfast and once to get gas and pee. At 4:00, 500 miles later, I arrived and checked into my room.

Except this time the managers put me in a 2 bedroom 2 bath "show" apartment, which was much nicer than the guest apartment, and closer to Mom.  I really don't mind staying in the little guest room, which is just one small room with a mini-refrigerator and a tv and a bed and a chair (well, and a bathroom), but having room to walk around in was a lot more comfortable. Having a big flat-screen HDTV and a couch to sit on and a kitchenette and a balcony overlooking the magnolia trees was way better.

Fancy living room

Fancy bedroom which is in fact nowhere near a sea

Mom and I always go to the IHOP to have breakfast for dinner the evening I arrive, it's our ritual.  She always gets the Senior Rooty, with blueberries or strawberries on her pancakes.  I always get the 2x2x2, which is 2 eggs, 2 pancakes and 2 pieces of bacon.  We always get the Splashberry drinks, which are Sprite, orange juice, and strawberries.  For some reason Mom always eats pretty much everything on her plate at IHOP.

Why even look at the menu, really?

Afterwards we hang out in her apartment, she gives me the stack of things she has been saving for me (interesting articles from our local paper in VA, letters and cards that she's gotten, and magazine articles about eating healthy and finding a job), and we watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  She has turned on the closed-captioning and doesn't use the sound at all any more.

Mom's hearing is not great.  She has hearing loss and has a hearing aid, but she also has nerve damage that distorts sound.  The doctor says it won't get worse, but there's nothing to do to help it, either.  The past time or two that I've visited I've noticed that Mom doesn't drag me all over the retirement home to introduce me to people like she used to, and I think it's because she is afraid that she won't be able to understand them.

At this point, there are plenty of people there who know me.  When Rhea, the manager, walked me down the hall to my room I ran into Paul; he lives across the hall from Mom. He's from Florida, so we have that in common.  "How are things down in Orlando?" he called when he saw me coming.  "Too hot, like everywhere else," I answered.

My fancy 2 bedroom apartment was right next door to Dee.  Dee is still very mobile for her age, tall and slender with curly white hair, and she's always dressed well.  Dee has breakfast with Mom every morning, and sometimes sits with her at lunch, depending on who else is there.  Dee doesn't come down to dinner, though, because she eats in her apartment with her boyfriend from down the hall.

Mom typically has lunch with Wilma and Mickie, who are her two closest friends.  Wilma is a lovely woman with painted nails and pretty jewelry, who flirts with the waiters in the dining room.  I won't say she flirts with every man, because I wouldn't want to hurt Greg's feelings.  She always asks about Greg and talks about how she's looking forward to seeing him again.

I think some women, regardless of age, just have a flirt gene.  I am not one of those women.

Mickie is very, very sweet.  She walks with a walker, and she is always smiling.  When I visited in March, Mickie gave me a birthday card, and signed it Your Mother's Friend.  When I sit in the dining room with them, I always try to put my back to the room so Mom and Mickie can watch everyone coming in, see who sits where, and discuss what's been going on with whom.

At some point I always run into Connie, either in the lobby or the dining room or the elevator.  She's a friendly Southern lady and always gives me a big hug.

On Tuesday Mom and I met my sister Mary and my niece Susan at Red Lobster for lunch.  I try to include Mom in the conversation, but I know she misses as much as she hears.  She says she hears enough, and she seems to enjoy herself.  She feels overwhelmed by all the food, though, and is only happy if someone will split a meal with her, because she thinks it's just too much.  I split lunch with her this time, sharing a salad, shrimp scampi, and broccoli.  There is always a small argument over how much goes on my plate and how much goes on hers.
Yes, have another biscuit!

On Wednesday I took Mom to Belks to try to find a blouse.  She can get along pretty well in a store with her walker, but we ended up having to walk too much this time, and she didn't find anything she liked so it felt like a waste of time.  Then the two of us went back to Red Lobster.  She likes it and she's comfortable there, so it's certainly fine with me.  This time we split a fish and chips lunch, and it was surprisingly good.

Each afternoon I would leave Mom alone to rest a while.  There was no wifi in the retirement home this time, the person from whom I usually steal it is farther away from the fancy apartment so I couldn't get it.  But I had my computer, and my Kindle, and the fancy TV, so it was relaxing for me, too.

Hanging out in my Gryffindor t-shirt, taking an iPhone pic of myself blowing a kiss to Greg

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had dinner in the dining room with Mickie and Wilma, and afterwards we watched TV and looked at pictures and talked about people back home.

We went back to IHOP, for actual breakfast this time, on Thursday morning.  We got the same things, though, without bothering with menus.  I was on the road headed south at 9:30am and drove up to my house at 5:00pm, literally just a moment before Greg pulled up.

I miss her already.  I remember the first time that Greg and I drove Mom and Dad up there and helped them move in, and I cried as we drove away.  Now, I don't usually cry, I just settle in for my long boring drive, feeling sad.  I feel sad and think about Mom until around Macon, which is about 2 hours.  Then after the Macon bypass I get on 75, the highway that'll take me into mid-Florida, and I start thinking about home.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Everyone Goes On Vacation To Florida On July 4

For somebody who doesn't have a job to go to, I've been kind of busy.

Greg and I had originally planned for a vacation week over July 4.  My pre-approved vacation days are a moot point now, but Greg still took the week off.

Last Saturday we had lunch with a writer friend that I met on Twitter.  I am trying to cultivate writerly friends, and how awesome is it that we met on Twitter?  She and her husband live over near the coast but drove over for lunch and tour of Orlando's finest comic shops.

Monday we went to Cape Canaveral to have lunch with my cousin, her husband and their son.  Despite hours of hard thinking, I couldn't even remember the last time I saw this cousin.  We've kept in touch through Facebook, but I swear it was at least the 1990's, and could possibly have been the 1980's when we last met.  They were on vacation and had a lovely timeshare right on the beach. We had a great time catching up, it's nice to connect with someone who knows your history and your childhood.

Tuesday we went to various hardware stores to buy stuff to put up many many shelves in our living room to hold Greg's many many DVDs and Blu-rays.  It was one of the main things we wanted to get done during our vacation week, but it turned out to be more expensive than we expected so we're putting it off until I find a job.

Wednesday we stayed home for a quiet Independence day celebration, had hamburgers and corn on the cob, and watched The Sound of Music, which Greg had never seen.  Never!  He loved it, of course.  Days later I'm still humming Sixteen Going on Seventeen, and A Problem Like Maria.

Thursday was supposed to be beach day, which I've been looking forward to for weeks, but I got my period and felt awful, so we didn't go.  I consoled myself by whining a lot.  Greg and I watched Die Hard, which he also had never seen.  I know, right?

Friday at 7am we took little, tiny, baby Alabama in to be spayed.  Then we sat around and worried about her all day.  I honestly don't know what we would do if either of us had to go in the hospital for a serious procedure, we were wrecks all day for a cat having a completely routine surgery.  At 6pm we brought her home and were tortured by her grogginess and by having to put a cone on her poor little head.  The second the cone comes off she tries to lick her incision, so we had to leave it on her, even though she is clearly completely tormented by it.  At first she freaked out and tried to pull her head out or pull it off or run away from it, then she just broke and lay down sadly in defeat, while Greg and I stood over her wringing our hands and apologizing to her.

Yesterday we managed to tear ourselves away from the kitten, who is healing just fine but still hates the cone, to go to lunch with one of Greg's old friends and two of her daughters.  They were in town on vacation for a few days, and it was fun.

Today I'm getting ready to drive up to GA to visit Mom.  I can't wait to see her, phone calls are just not the same at all.  Over time, it seems like fewer and fewer of those little daily life details get said on the phone, and I feel like I'm missing things. And we just feel so much closer after seeing each other in person.

I'll drive back home on Thursday, and we are going to the beach for sure this Saturday.  I'm already looking forward to it.