Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Cold Harsh January

I was feeling extra "talkative" yesterday and sent my family a long email.  Most of its contents were what I wanted to write here, so I'm just going to edit that email I sent my family.  And since my family makes up at least 60% of my blog readership I think, I apologize for repeating myself.  Rest assured that you get my thoughts first, too.

Happy 2014!  

I worked at Maxine's Taproom on New Year's Eve.  I was initially a little bummed that, for the 2nd year in a row, I just wasn't feeling this holiday.  New Year's Eve can be disappointing, depressing even, without a partner.  Last year I went out to the Kings River and read my friend's book and had a glass of champagne at midnight then went promptly to bed.  That was going to be this year's plan too.  But then Hannah mentioned off handedly that I could work at the bar for her.  GREAT, I said.  I'm in.  I was happy to have a job to do and the icing on top was making some money.  

It was insane.  I had forgotten what people always say about New Year's Eve being "amateur night" for partiers.  The bar was crammed all night and I could barely hear the live music (two great bands - New Orleans Rebirth Jazz  band and the newly-formed Hot Club of Block Street).  A fight broke out and two huge drunk college guys dripping in blood were hustled past me as I tried to part the crowd to help a (also very drunk) young woman in a wheelchair get through.  My job was to pick up dirty glasses but I ended doing whatever needed to be done.  Thank God that didn't include any other bodily fluids.  It looked beautiful at the beginning of the night  - we decorated it with a "Hollywood Glamour" theme - stars and balloons and tissue paper puffballs.  By the end it was nasty.  The floor was covered in popcorn, broken glass, money (a wad of ones - I stuffed it in the tip jar), and blood.  I did not take a picture for "before" and "after."  Too tired.

I changed into clogs and walked home after the bar closed.  Even though I'd only had one glass of champagne I felt it was safer for me to walk (drunk drivers, checkpoints), plus Stella had the car anyway.  The crisp air and new moon shone above as I walked, contemplating what 2014 might bring me.  Walking alone at that time of night I wasn't scared at all because if I learned one thing in 2013, I learned that I could fight off two muggers with size and strength advantages. 

I'm really working to enjoy this unemployed time instead of wasting it worrying or stressing any further.  Once my old job buys back my unused vacation days I should have enough cushion to last me at least one more month.  In the meantime I'm working on my resume, continuing to apply for new positions, spend as much time with Stella during her last week of winter break, and continue to help my sister in her shop as much as possible.  Oh - and I'm experiencing quite the creative burst.  I am working on a future post describing in detail all the things I've been making, both for gifts and personal use.

I had a long phone interview for a job that I thought I didn't want.  But the longer that the interview went on, the more appealing it sounded.  On the outset it sounds like the complete opposite of what I would want - Grant Administrator for a venture development firm.  Yeah, I had to look up what "venture development firm" meant too.  As opposed to a venture capital firm, that just provides seed money to new companies, a venture development firm works to help a new company with all aspects of starting up, from market research to patenting to promotion.  Then, when the company is strong enough to succeed on its own, the venture development firm keeps a percentage of future profits.  I understand more and more every year that best way to become truly wealthy is to figure out a way for your money to make its own money.  But anyway…this firm was started by a former MD so the focus is on medical technology and supplies, so the types of government grants they apply for are mostly National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation .  BO-RING…right?  That's what I thought too.  But then the interviewer got me talking about how it's a small firm (good sign as I prefer small businesses/workplaces) and everyone works together towards common goals, if need be (very good).  And he also said that even he doesn't usually understand the specifics of each grant, that is left up to the grant writers and researchers.  HA!  Good!  The firm is located very close to my house (extremely good) so immediately I had fantasies of riding my bike to work.  Did I mention that I don't have a bike?  I don't.  The workload wouldn't be near as demanding, no going to the ER at 11pm or the airport at 4am for example.  The pay is pretty good, about what I earned last year but the benefits are better - they pay 100% of medical.  

So perhaps you can understand - while I started the interview thinking I would use it just as practice, I ended it actually considering it if they would offer me a position.  I must've made a similarly good impression on them because the guy emailed me the next day asking for my references and college transcript.  Oh no!!  That means I really do have to pay that $50 parking ticket I hoped might disappear magically.  But I think I really will go through the hoop to get my transcript and send in my reference names.  

I had hoped that the job I really wanted at the UA would fall into place, but I still haven't heard anything.  Tomorrow I will ask again about that because if that job is still available I will have some difficult choices to make regarding the "boring" grants job vs the UA job.  The truth is that what I REALLY want is to not work either of those jobs but instead be making jewelry, doing online sales & marketing, and traveling the globe visiting former students and shopping for Good Things Boutique!  Maybe that can just be my long-term goal instead.  

Once again, Jessy and I bounced ideas off each other and came up with some great ideas for preparing the shop for Valentine's Day (next big shopping holiday!).  I love this experience with my sister - brainstorming and creative energy flowing.  In a matter of minutes yesterday we'd gotten the idea for and started making paper flowers to decorate the shop - always colorful and pretty and they never die!  We have lots of other ideas for things to do with these paper flowers.  Good thing because I can't stop making them!!

I can't stop making things period.  It's the best part of unemployment!!  I keep cooking.  I've got a perfect recipe for buttermilk biscuits now.  I even made them with soy flour last night, experimenting with gluten-free.  Another future post - experimenting with recipes and trying alternate ingredients.

Woke up yesterday morning to frozen pipes.  The bathroom situation is our biggest challenge.  I won't go into any further detail - you can figure out how awful that part would be.  So I'm off to Christina's house to take a shower and teach her Ruby how to make those paper flowers.

Buttermilk biscuits with Derek's homemade jam

"Before" picture - NYE at Maxine's

one of my first attempts at the paper flowers

in the window of Good Things Boutique

How to - step one - cut out a wavy circle, then cut out a spiral pattern

step two - start rolling from the outside in

Step three - at the end it'll hopefully look better than this

Step four - let it loose and unfurl - should look close to this

step five - hot glue the center of the flower

Voila!!  Pretty, huh?

See - just a tad obsessed

Friday, January 03, 2014

Re-solutions: Hello 2014 and Thoughts on Being Where I Am Right Now

My new year resolutions are always re-solutions, meaning they're always the same, always right, and I know that they're the keys to a happier, more fulfilled, healthier, smarter, better life.   The solutions that I must renew my commitment to every single damn year.  Things like:  be outside as often as possible; read more; move my body in a way that makes me feel good every day; eat more green than any other color; eat more colors, nature's colors; imagine, grow, make, and follow through with things; pay more attention to details, love the details…those sorts of things.  I will re-solve the mysteries of life.  We all know the answers already.

I'm unemployed for the first time since the meltdown years (2003/2004) so that makes it about ten years since I've been in this vulnerable, scary, exhilarating, transitional spot.  I'm much more confident now than I was then, though.  Well, understandably….ten years ago my personal & professional lives were shattered by a person hell-bent on destroying me.  And she did for a good year or two.  But now I'm unemployed by my own choice and I know I made the right choice.  I also feel much more secure in my talents and skills today.   I'm trying to really enjoy this unemployment because I know it will just be temporary.  Wednesday night (Jan. 1, 2014) I stayed awake super late, working on jewelry, watching all the Masters of Sex episodes, eating Hoppin' John & collard greens, and finished the 2nd 1,000-piece puzzle in a week knowing that I would sleep in the next morning.  Stella's home from college and doesn't go back for another week and it's been SO GREAT not having to go back to work on Jan. 2 and be gone all day.  Today we went thrifting.   I found a gorgeous pair of teal Diane Von Furstenberg teal suede heels for $4!  Stella got some sweaters and jeans.  We are looking for cheap ski pants and jackets she can take back to Colorado.  She knows ski instructors who have offered to teach her.  That makes me happy and excited for her.

I love my little house so much.  Every day it feels more and more like ME.  I'm hoping to productively use unemployed or free time continuing to organize and improve this space.  Do you know this feeling?  Where you walk into your house, breathe in, and it smells so good - just the way you want it to (whether it's with candles, incense, or the smell of good food cooking), and it just FEELS GOOD?  Like walking into a hug?  Well that's how my house feels to me.  It's dangerous, though….because I can easily spend two or three days here without leaving or even wanting to leave.  During our ice/snow storm a few weeks ago that happened for real.  I got a little cabin fever crazy, but was also completely content.

You'll be seeing me a lot more here and you can bet your ass on it.  If I stick with one commitment it'll be that.

Some photos from the past few weeks…all sorts of out of order, chronologically speaking - sorry.

A necklace I made on Christmas Eve.  We made as many presents as possible.  I'll write a future post on all the things I made, and how much fun I had making them.

My mom got this corduroy shirt at a thrift store, thinking it was perfect for the ever-popular "ugly Christmas" theme but it's surprisingly awesome!  The motif is dapper reindeer.  Look closely at how damn cool these reindeer are.

The back of Mom's secretly great reindeer shirt.

I was Marty's date to go hear the Early Morning Bourbon Girls reunion show at Maxine's on Dec. 28.  Everyone I've ever known just about, from Fayetteville and social media, was there.  It gave me a wicked case of social anxiety even though I was really happy to see everyone and to hear them sing.  

A good vintage score - satin pillowcase, vintage cloth napkins with a pattern I fell in love with, olive green silk dress, with tags still on, in Jessy's size for a perfect late xmas present, Little House in the Big Woods for my niece Lily, and old Vermont postcards.

Really pretty watermelon tourmaline, sunstone, and citrine faceted beads that Jessy picked out.  I'm going to  make her something special and beautiful for her with this combination.  Exciting!

Chicken stock

Hibiscus syrup flavored with ginger, honey, and vanilla.  Delicious with sparkling water, sparkling wine, or vodka cocktails.  This is another homemade gift I made.  So pretty too - dark red purple.

Buttermilk biscuits with jam that my friend Ginny's husband Derek (in Durango, CO) made.  Best biscuits I've EVER made.  

I worked here on New Year's Eve.  It was insane.  Not a spare empty spot.  I was happy to be busy and to have a task.

Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas, sausage, tons of veggies) with jasmine rice and collard greens.  The one New Year's Day superstition I follow.  Although I think of it more as tradition rather than superstition.  It also tastes really good!

We had Django for almost two weeks!  It was heavenly.  She's the best little dog and I love her so much it aches.  I know people might scoff, but I really think I understand the pain the parents who have shared custody must feel.  It hurts to be away from her and the times I have her are never long enough.

Benjamin eats and drinks while lying down - silly, lazy, adorable boy.

Today's thrift score - Stella's olive green wrap cardigan.  $3 at Goodwill!  And she's wearing the necklace I made her for Christmas too.  Her hair is so long.   My girl's beauty radiates from within and without….if I do say so myself.  That dimple kills me.

Happy New Year everyone!  What problems do you think you'll re-solve?