Friday, June 25, 2010

Freaky Friday (accepting applications)

Sometimes I think I should not be allowed to live my own life. Ugh. There are times I wouldn't mind trading places with someone else for a while, just until I got the tricky parts straightened out.

I am having the hardest time making life decisions lately. I am a fickle nickel. (Or a fickle pickle? Does that sound better? I can't make up my mind about anything!) I think that's part of why it's so easy for people to get stuck in jobs or situations that don't make them happy; making decisions that actually change things in your life can be scary and confusing. But that is another post for another day.

I want to thank you all again for how great you've been in the past couple of weeks. I feel like I've been super needy lately (which is so weird for me), but you guys have been amazingly supportive. It's great to have a place to go when my family and friends get sick of listening to me. (My family and friends have been great, too, of course. But they have their own lives, and oddly, they don't find my navel nearly as fascinating as I do.)

I had some really great comments on my last post. Rachel's, in particular, made me smile, because she said "I think you know, deep down, what the answer is. So listen to yourself!"

For some reason, that reminded me of Kung Fu. I spent the next several minutes imagining us in the roles of student and teacher:
Master Rachel: Close your eyes, Jane. What do you see?
Jane: I think I see the inside of my eyelids.
Master Rachel: You have much to learn, Grasshopper.
(FYI: We spent the rest of my daydream sequence avenging past wrongs and fighting for the underdog. We totally kicked butt.)

D's comment (reproduced below) probably made me think the hardest.

The change, for me, was ceasing to define who I am by what I do to make money.

I like the job because it is interesting enough, pays well enough, has good benefits, and lets me have a life (my real life) outside of it. Plenty of time for you to pursue your hobby.

I haven't found someone, yet, who loves to go to work. Doesn't matter what the job is. So, sure, change your job. Do it. Just be realistic about how green the grass is.

I've actually been ruminating about whether I'll always think the grass is always greener for quite some time (maybe even my whole life). Just so you know I never meant to suggest that I think (especially my lovely blog readers) are defined by their jobs, or that their 8-to-5 jobs are where people are living their real lives.

However, we do spend most of our waking hours at work, commuting, or getting ready for work. Yes, we work to live, but it does invade our personal lives to a rather large degree. (I'll have more to say about this particular after I post my next stand up video. Don't want to spoil the jokes, yo. xoxo)

Sure, many people would rather watch Law & Order reruns on the couch than drive to work in traffic five days a week, but there's a huge difference between a job that leaves you feeling drained and a job that leaves you feeling good about yourself. At my current (soon-to-be former) job, I sit alone all day with computer code. I interact with other human beings at work once or twice a week, if I'm lucky. I usually leave work each day completely drained. Could I be happy at a job doing the same thing if I were in a more social environment? Absolutely, and it's worth looking into.

But contrast this with how I feel when I leave my part time job teaching and tutoring. Even when I have to go in to work after leaving my 8-to-5 job, I almost always leave after my shift with an extra spring in my step. Sure, there are times I'd rather spend my extra free time doing something else, but there's a reason I've kept my second job for so long - I like the work.

At any rate, discussing which side of the fence has greener grass is kind of a moot point right now. There is no grass on my side of the fence anymore, or there won't be after the end of August. I can apply for better-sounding jobs in my field, but there's no guarantee that I'll get one. Part of my last post was really about exploring all the pastures out there so that I reduce my chances of starving to death this winter.

(And THAT, my friends, is how you beat a metaphor to death. You are welcome.)

All of this is a rambling, mostly nonsensical way of saying that I still don't have a clue what I'm going to do with my life.

I am applying for the teaching program, for sure. That has been my "someday" plan for at least three years, since I got my part time job teaching and tutoring (and probably before that, if I'm being completely honest with myself). I had been planning to do it long before I found out I was getting laid off. The job loss just raises the stakes for getting into the program a little higher. But if I don't make it this year, I'll try again. I don't know if I'm meant to be a teacher forever (who can ever know something like that), but I do think it is something I'm meant to do. And if it comes do it and I have to give up some of my free time or hobbies to pursue teaching, I will.

The next year is the fuzzy part. I have an interview for a job next week. We'll see how it goes. (I'm half afraid that they'll offer me the job and I'll say yes, not so much because I want the job but because I'm incapable of telling people no.)

I don't think I have any really terrible options, which is part of what is driving me so crazy. I'm sure it'll all work out. It always does, right? Still... if anyone is interested in switching places for a while, you know where to reach me.

Side note: It is amazing to feel like I can be completely honest about work stuff on here... I guess that's one unexpected benefit to being laid off - I don't have to worry about being Dooced.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The claw end of a hammer

I feel like I'm in the midst of a battle. I need advice.

When I was young, I was a head-in-the-clouds daydreamer with imaginary friends. I read fiction constantly and sculpted tiny animals out of clay. I delighted in anyone who was smart or weird or funny or talkative or thoughtful. By the time I got to high school, I was social butterfly. I joined clubs, made friends, and won awards for graphic design. I cried; I made best friends; I worked on a farm. I was Sensitive, and I was going to make the world a better place.

And yet.

I was also a straight-A student with a strong aptitude for math. When I was in elementary school, I saved most of my allowance for college and (I wish I were joking) retirement. In high school, my realistic and grounded side wrote and pushed through new bylaws for the National Honor Society. I did extremely well academically (despite my propensity for constantly losing important papers and forgetting homework assignments).

The older I got, the more I've felt like two people in one body.

My no-nonsense side got me into excellent colleges (with scholarships). It got me out of bed in the morning and to work on time day after day, year after year, and convinced me follow the rules for setting up IRAs and emergency funds and 401(k)s. It is the reason I have a great resume with upward progression and a decent amount of savings in the bank. My practical side has kept my feet nailed to the floor when my flighty side would have long ago filled me up with helium and carried me off into the clouds in search of something shiny and new.

I've never really trusted my flighty side. In my early and mid twenties, it had a habit of chasing bad boys and butterflies. But while my flighty side has perhaps been what has led me to periods of disorganization and depression, it has always also known what will make me happiest. It never let me get away with saying, "Hey, I know my boss is sort of a sociopath, but a few more months at this job will look great on my resume." Even after some truly awful dates (and, come to think of it, boyfriends) it never let me give up on the idea that one day I would meet a nice guy. It has always been the part of me that has said "Why not just try stand up comedy/horseback riding/making tiny birds for the top of your wedding cupcakes?" My flaky side, especially after a couple of beers, is a lot of fun. Heck, for the most part, Flaky writes this blog.

I was shaken last week when I found out that my position would be eliminated at the beginning of September. I am, after all, a person who plans, who makes lists, who wants to know what is going to happen next. However, I am also a person who enjoys - even thrives on - change. I felt trapped in my old job; it paid well, but I didn't enjoy the work. I spent most of my time alone with computer code that I found neither interesting nor inspiring. I lived for evenings, weekends, and vacations. As upset as I was last week, this week I'm beginning to realize that this job loss may be one of the best things to happen to me this year.

I have several options right now. Older, wiser people and many of my friends have suggested I get a job, in my current field, as soon as possible. Of course, they say, I may have to take a pay cut, but the important thing is to not have any gaps in my resume. My logical, reasonable side thinks they're right. My rational side, has, in fact, already talked me into applying for two jobs that seem somewhat interesting (although I did draw the line at applying for an opening at the organization where my stalker ex-boyfriend works).

Oh, but my flaky side... My flaky side dreams of finding a part time job at a coffee shop to keep me busy and cover my (admittedly low) expenses while I go back to school. (My flaky side, of course, found a perfect part time teaching program I'd planned to apply to long before I'd even caught wind of the layoffs.) Flaky reasons that I can get on Achilles' health insurance plan and count Job #2 as continuous employment, so I won't have to worry that much about a gap in my resume anyway.

Flaky is being awfully darn persuasive. To complicate matters, I got some potentially really exciting (but very tenuous) news about a hobby taking off. At this point, I am afraid to even dream that it might ever be more than a hobby, but right now, I love this hobby. I want to have time for it, and not only for it, but for Achilles, my friends, my nephew and niece, and the myriad other things that keep me sane by pulling me in a million directions. I am, after all, Distractible. I'm afraid that two jobs and school will lead me down the path where dreams go to die.

On one hand, I know that people gain wisdom through experience. The advice I'm receiving about getting a job NOW isn't being given lightly, or because people don't know or care about what's best for me. In fact, a lot of these people have probably spent time chasing dreams that didn't work out. On the other hand, though, I feel like I've been given a fantastic opportunity, and I'm afraid to let it pass me by.

Above all else, I'm tempted to shake myself and tell myself I'm too old to have my gaze so firmly fixed on my navel.

What do you think, Internets?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I can't tell anyone I have news anymore without hearing "OHMYGOD, YOU'RE PREGNANT!"

(Yes, and I decided to tell you over margaritas.)

(No, I'm not pregnant.)

Apparently, Unemployed Jane can nap for five hours and still go to bed at her normal bedtime. Score!

I am at once very superstitious about sharing good news before it actually comes to pass, and completely unable to keep a secret. I am an (oxy)moron.

I don't actually have good news. I have lots of potentially good news that I'm terrified of jinxing. Therefore, I shall shut myself up.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I love you and stuff

Thank you all for the outpouring of support. After the initial shock of losing my job wore off (I admit, I cried into a beer while wondering if my life had turned into a country song), I realized that I will make it through this transition just fine.

I liked my job just fine (I was essentially a computer programmer - I'm shocked that my passion for all things non-people/non-animal/non-art related didn't shine through on this blog), but my job definitely didn't define me. If I had to pick from a list of Bad Things, losing my job is probably what I'd go with. Especially now, when I can essentially say, "Well, my position was eliminated due to the economy. I was the least senior member on the team and was working on systems that were due to be retired anyway."

Heck, the experience has already given me a page or so of pretty decent stand up material.

I'll be fine, I promise. But your outpouring of support? Means a lot. Thank you.

Serious question: do you think I could get hired to go help clean oil off of baby sea turtles in the Gulf? I think that might be my calling.

Monday, June 14, 2010

And then Reality came along and punched me in the stomach

I got laid off this afternoon. At the end of August, I'll be out of a job.

And it's goodbye to A&M?

I know that few of my readers share my obsession with college football, so I'll try to avoid talking about this too much, but I'm surprisingly emotional about the possibility that Texas and Texas A&M could end up in different conferences at the end of this Big XII shakeup.

Both my parents grew up in Texas and attended UT Austin. When I came along, they made sure I understood where to place my alliances: the very first joke I ever learned as a little girl was an Aggie joke, and I was dressed in burnt orange and taught to root against A&M practically from birth.

I can't imagine a football season in which Texas and A&M don't play each other. It would be like eating chips without queso or barbecue without sauce. The Texas/Texas A&M football rivalry is the third longest-running in the nation, and by far the oldest in Texas. Heck, Texas and A&M mention each other in our fight songs, for heaven's sake.

The thing is, A&M and Texas are like brothers: you want to beat up your brother, but you don't want anyone else to beat up your brother. You definitely don't want to stand around and watch it happen.

I have a feeling A&M would get a little bit beaten up in the SEC. Can't we just convince Arkansas to come back to the Big 12?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Be careful this weekend

I cut off a big piece of my thumb last night using the mandoline we got as a wedding gift. Because of course I did. I am a person who can't be trusted around anything that is remotely sharp, bumpy, or otherwise unwieldy.

I still maintain it was partially Achilles' fault, because he told me to "Be careful!" just as I was finishing up my slicing activities. I think there's some variant of Murphy's Law that says you never tell someone to "Be careful!" when they're using a sharp object (unless you secretly want them to cut themselves), because if you do, they will inevitably cut themselves.

I don't have the energy to Google this, but if one of you happens to know whether this law exists, and if so, what it is called, I will buy you a beer if I ever meet you in real life. (Or, if I already know you, I will buy you a beer the next time I see you.)(Unless you are pregnant, in which case, we will have to work something else out, because I am becoming a bit overly parenthetical.) Until I hear otherwise, I'm going to call the you-don't-tell-someone-wielding-a-sharp-object-to-be-careful-unless-you-secretly-want-them-to-cut-themselves rule Biscuit's Law (because my nickname in elementary school was Biscuit, and that was probably the first time I accidentally cut myself because someone else wasn't minding their own business).

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Internets. If you happen to be in Dublin, Texas, I'll be there running, drinking Dr Pepper made with real sugar, nursing my wound, and contemplating personal responsibility.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Head case

I'm sorry I've been AWOL for the past... oh... several weeks. My explanation is boring, but I guess I should go ahead and give it to you. It's all I can really think about a lot of the time anyway. (Sorry in advance to the Y-chromosome type people who read this blog. You are not going to find this very interesting at all, and should possibly stop reading now.)

As of December of last, I'd had three migraines in my entire life. They'd been terrible - room spinning, head throbbing, nausea-inducing - just awful. But a migraine every nine years or so I could deal with.

In December and January each, I had two migraines. After consulting Google, I figured it was wedding stress or two much caffeine and nothing to worry too much about. I did start taking notes, though, to see if I could determine what was triggering the headaches. And per the Internet's instructions, I tried to avoid taking painkillers as much as possible to avoid rebound headaches.

In February, I had two migraines again. Each lasted longer than a day. At this point, I realized there was a pattern to when I was getting the headaches: I'd get one each month the first day I took the first pill in my birth control pack, and again on the second day of placebo pills.

[Again, I consulted Google. It turns out, while there hasn't been much research to support their claims, a lot of women complain that their migraines started after they began taking birth control pills, or even specific brands of birth control pills. Drug companies and doctors say hormones affect everyone differently and there's no way of knowing whether birth control pills could cause women to get migraines because young women have these hormones in their bodies anyway. It's a conundrum! In my case, I noticed that I stopped growing hair on my arms and legs when I switched to the brand of pills I was taking when I started getting migraines. While that seemed like a positive side effect at the time, I probably should have realized that there was a chance they were putting a few too many lady hormones into my body.]

I didn't really want to change my birth control around right before the wedding, as messing with my birth control has a history of making me a bit of a cray-cray emotional, and I didn't want to risk it. So I decided to wait until after the wedding and honeymoon to be safe.

By the time we got back from Greece, I was getting three migraines a week. When I had a headache, it usually lasted for 12-24 hours. I could smell my computer from across the room. Looking at the monitor to edit vacation photos or write posts (bright light!) was out of the question. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do my job.

Two weeks ago, I went to see my doctor. Up until this point, I had been listing my migraine triggers in hopes that I could avoid taking medication. I showed her my list:

-drops in barometric pressure
-sleeping too much
-sleeping too little
-eating too much
-eating too little
-too much caffeine
-no caffeine
-red wine

"With the exception of red wine and bananas, how do you think you're going to really be able to control any of this for the rest of your life?" she asked.

I left with two scary-sounding prescriptions and sense of cautious optimism.

Two weeks later, I've had one (very mild) migraine, and I feel like a new woman. I've had some mild side effects, but I mostly just feel better. And even though I do generally avoid taking anything, I'm feeling a lot less defensive about taking medication. (Sure, I did have one episode where I got very stabby when someone suggested I just try using Aleve and Vick's Vapor Rub to treat my migraines, but progress is progress, right?)

Hopefully I'll be back to my old Posty McPosty self soon. Thanks for your patience, Internets!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Because I'm starting to miss college football


"What color team do we root for, Daddy?"

"The ones in burnt orange. They're the ones that are winning right now."

"What color is burnt orange?"

"It's like regular orange, only prettier."

"Shouldn't we root for the other ones? The ones in red? Because they're losing?"

"No Sandy, that's not really how it works."