May 19, 2009

Say "Yes!"

Last week, Rob and I watched "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey. My opinion on the movie: it was okay. Not his best work (for my money, nothing beats "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") but not his worst. The message of the movie, however, blew. me. AWAY. Seriously! It made me think of all the times I've turned down going out or doing something for no good reason. Maybe it was too late in the evening for me. Or I just thought it wasn't for me. I wouldn't fit in.

How are you supposed to experience life if you keep saying no? I'm almost 30 years old and I haven't had a girls night out YEAH. That long. Eight years. So I have a new policy: if it's not illegal and there's no good reason to say no, I'm saying yes. I've even said yes to myself. Two weeks ago, I was watching "The Biggest Loser." All season, I've been in awe of these people. This was, by far, the heaviest set of contestants TBL has ever seen. I said to myself, "This is ridiculous. There are women on there bigger than you, in worse shape than you with less hope than you. What is stopping you? You've got a lot of weight to lose and you always seem to have an excuse. No more excuses! The changes start now!"

So I started with just walking. About three miles, I'd say. I threw in a few jogging spurts, about 30 seconds each. That was two weeks ago. Now I do a 3-4 mile route 4-5 days a week, and in that, I run 1-minute spurts 8-10 times throughout it and I'm gaining every day. My pants are already loose and I'm not stretching out t-shirts when I put them on anymore! I'm low-carbing it now and I'm down to only a couple of diet sodas a day, the rest is water. I feel great!

I'm aiming to run a 5k. I don't know if it'll be late this fall or early next spring but either way, I'm going to do it. And my mom? The woman who, despite all my desperate efforts, never thought I did good enough on anything? I want her ass standing at the finish line to watch her daughter - the one who didn't take enough interest in the piano, the one who didn't try hard enough in college, the one who had that hare-brained idea to move to California where only evil is born, the one who apparently doesn't know fuck-all about her own children and their needs - cross the line, 100 pounds lighter and a whole lot healthier.

She doesn't believe I can do it and I'm well aware of her disdain for my conventional methods of weight loss every time I mention what I've done that day. Instead of saying, "Well that's really great!" or "I'm really proud of you," all she can say is, "Keep it up" and "Cut back on what you eat and you'll lose even more." It's been this way my whole life. It's no wonder I have self-esteem issues and I'm constantly convinced it's not worth trying since I'll probably be no good at it anyway.


I'll show her.

May 5, 2009

On taming the male species...

We were driving home from Pittsburgh - yet again - yesterday and a Faith Hill song came on the radio. "Mississippi Girl," I believe it was. Anyway, Rob got all indignant for a minute and yelled at Faith (via the radio, of course) for sucking the soul out of Tim McGraw. You see, when Tim McGraw first showed up on the country music scene, this is what we were introduced to:

He's no Hank Williams but he's a country boy.

Now, this is what we get:

Meh. He's been neutered. Demasculated. He wears tight-fitting turtleneck sweaters with cowboy hats and still calls himself country.

In line with the "neutering" thought, Rob has decided that once I am gainfully employed with benefits and all, he'll undergo the snip-snip. We know we're done having kids, we're ready to sit back and watch them grow up. No more sleepless nights, no more bottles, no more teeny-tiny diapers.

Now, to tie those two thoughts together: we were talking about how Faith neutered Tim when they married. Rob says, "You kind of have to though. If men were left to be as wild as they always were, they'd never get around. They'd be pissing in the hamper and lighting the couch on fire."

I suppose it's one of those stories you have to be there for in order to understand why I got a serious case of the giggles over that. But surely you've cracked a smile?

He's right, too. Men need women in their lives in order to prevent chaos from ruling the world. We keep them calm, centered even. They don't need to be in the rut, sparring for the Alpha Male position; they already won a female. And they ensure that we don't...well...let's put it this way: we're not involved in the rut either. *wink*

April 23, 2009

Finally, someone who understands...

I first read Dorothy Allison as a freshman in college. My Interpreting Literature professor, Dr. Covey, had "Bastard Out of Carolina" on his syllabus. I'd never heard of her prior to this class, but it was one of the first books we read that semester and I literally could not put that book down. It took me two days to finish it because every spare moment I had I devoted to losing myself in the story.

Then, in 2005, I discovered "Cavedweller." You'll note that my Blogger address includes that moniker. I so loved this book, too. This woman is an unbelievable storyteller. Until today, however, I had no idea she had other literature. I thought she was just kind of a flash in the pan. Nope. My next read will be "Trash." Check out her bibliography:

She Who. A novel, forthcoming (Penguin Putnam)

Trash, A Collection of Short Stories, 2002, Plume.

Cavedweller. Dutton, 1998.

Two or Three Things I know for Sure. Dutton, Fall, 1995.

Skin—Talking about Sex, Class & Literature. Firebrand Books, 1994. A collection of narrative essays.

Bastard out of Carolina, Dutton, 1992. A finalist for the National Book Award, a selection of the B. Dalton Discovery program, and winner of both the Ferro Grumley and Bay Area Book Reviewers Awards for fiction, Bastard Out of Carolina has been translated into more than a dozen languages and published in more than a dozen countries. In 1995, it was made into a movie directed by Angelica Huston and premiered on Showtime.

The Women Who Hate Me, Poetry 1980-1990. A chapbook. Firebrand Books, Ithaca, New York, 1991.

Trash, Short Stories by Dorothy Allison, Firebrand Books, Ithaca, NY, 1988.

The Women Who Hate Me, Poems by Dorothy Allison, Long Haul Press, 1983

I was so excited to learn how much more of hers there is to read. Yay! Anyway, this page, found on her website, speaks volumes about where I'm at in life right now.

April 21, 2009

So I may get a job after all...

So I took the test yesterday down in Pittsburgh. First of all, let me say that I LOVE downtown Pittsburgh. I've never really been there, save for one two-block walk from a parking garage to the Mellon Arena for a hockey game in college. Rob dropped me off at the Pennsylvania State Office Building on Liberty Avenue at about 12:40 p.m. yesterday and I felt at home. This is where I need to be. LOVED IT.

Anyway, I made my way up to the 15th floor of a building so old, I'm sure I saw pillbox hats, a-line skirts and heard the click-clack of a mechanical typewriter behind a door with an opaque glass window. I walked into the office marked "Civil Service Examinations" and got sent through another door into the quietest room ever. The test proctor (that term always makes me giggle, the 14-year-old kid in me rearing its head) sent me over to a computer after giving me instructions on how to take the typing test. I managed to finish that with a score of 78 words per minute with only 6 errors.

The next section was a 135-question multiple choice test that scored me on comprehension, basic arithmetic, alphabetic and numeric filing, checking for spelling and grammatical errors or inconsistencies, and office etiquette. They give you 2.5 hours to finish it. I finished it in 45 minutes. I raised my hand (because that's the quiet way - and the only way - to get the proctor to come see you) and she came over and said, "I can't believe you're already done!"

That made me nervous. It's one of those situations where you finish a test so quickly you figure there are only two possible outcomes: a) You blew it. No chance in hell you did well. b) You kicked some serious ass. But I tried to shrug off the worries and went outside to call Rob to come pick me up. Want some free advice about Pittsburgh? Take the T. Much more convenient and much cheaper.

We had left the kids at my mother-in-law's for the afternoon so, despite the rain, we went down to South Side and poked around a couple of used book stores. We grabbed some onion rings and a big Diet Coke at Burger King and went back up to get the kids.

This morning, I checked my score. With civil service tests, your score ranks you among all the other people who've tested for that position. The results show you how many people are ahead of you on the list, how many are equal, and how many did worse. I got a 91. I had no idea what that meant until I clicked on each of the positions I tested for and there were four, apparently: Clerk Typist I, Clerk Typist II, Clerk Typist I (local government) and Clerk Typist II (local government). I applied for employment in five counties: Erie, Crawford, Butler, Allegheny and Washington. Here's how I did:

Allegheny County:
Fifteen people did better than me, nine were equal to me, and 334 did worse than me. YAY!

Butler, Crawford, and Erie Counties:
Roughly five people did better than me, a couple were equal and about 150 did worse.

Washington County:
NOBODY did better than me, one was equal, and about 100 were worse. YAY!

So now I sit and wait. Stay tuned for next week's update, when I test on the 27th for Income Maintenance Caseworker. I'll have the details on the 28th of how I did.

April 16, 2009

Time Marches On

So I'm still unemployed. Big news of the day, eh? I've e-mailed or snail-mailed about another dozen resumes in the last week, three going out tomorrow to Sarris, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, and to Duquesne University. I really hope something turns up. I don't think we can make it on two part-time incomes and live in the greater Pittsburgh areas.

I officially became a Pennsylvania resident today. I'm trying to contain my excitement. I thought I'd be okay with relinquishing my California residency...but it sucks a little bit. If things had gone like we'd originally planned - if Rob's work had been steady and he'd gotten steady increases in pay - we could have done really well. I know it's all said and done and that it just didn't work out but if you've never had to start over at nearly 30 years old, you don't know just how much it can suck. But the nice lady at the DMV in Meadville punched a hole in my pretty, yellow license and the nice old man (who, oddly enough, worked with Rob six years ago at AutoZone) handed me my temporary license with my god-awful picture on it. Same license number I had six years ago, same address. Meh.

Also, can someone explain to me how our country was so blind as to believe Barack Obama could be good for our country? This man is out of control. Oh, but he's not a socialist. Nope. Not a chance. MEH.

I'm feeling very cynical today. Do I have any readers who live in or near Pittsburgh? Do you know of anyone hiring? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

And a big, belated congratulations to Kate, my college roommate and one of my bestest friends, who gave birth to a baby girl last week, Kelsey Jo. YAY!

April 6, 2009

Stipulations and such

So apparently, when you sign a contract, you actually have to hold up your end of the bargain. For example: you ask a company to allow you to run their ads on your blog. They say, "Sure! Even though your blog is small and hardly noteworthy, you get maybe four hits per week, you can run ads through us and you'll get a hearty percentage of the hit value." I'm stunned; I was under the impression that only big, important blogs - even ones who take a walk on the controversial side and suffer the loss of readership for their efforts - got to run ads on their site.

So anyway, one of the stipulations was that I had to update at least once weekly or they'd pull my ad code. My last post was March 25th. Whoopsie!

I will, from now on, attempt to update at least weekly, if not more often. The thing is, where before I was living in an 850 ft² apartment, I'm now living in a big-ass house (relatively speaking) where kids can roam freely. My hands are full. Thus, I have little time to sit and focus on a blog. So to both BlogHer and my faithful three readers, I apologize for not blogging as often as I contractually should.

So what's happening here? Rob flew out to California this past Thursday to buy a pick-up truck and haul our stuff back to Pennsylvania. He found a 1989 Ford F-150 and rented a small U-Haul trailer; he and his brother are loading everything up as I type and are departing in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. Yay! After that, we'll officially become Pennsylvania residents again. Oy. Unnerving, really, especially since I'm still unemployed and didn't get that job at the high school.

Did I mention it's snowing today? Yeah. It's April and it's snowing. Up to a FOOT by Wednesday morning. I miss California.

March 25, 2009

"My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot." ~Ashleigh Brilliant

We've had a lot going on lately and yet nothing's really transpired. Well...that's not entirely true. I did go on another interview last week. This time, in a curious turn of events, it was for a local job. What's more, it's my aunt's job at the high school I attended. She's been there for 35 years and is retiring in June. She says 90 people applied for her job. Out of them, 10 were interviewed. So we'll see.

The kids are adjusting to life here kinda-sorta well. Bubba's doing great. His speech is exploding and he understands so much. You can't slip anything past this kid! Beth is riding the rollercoaster of "I'm still in a new environment AND I'm four years old. Wheeeee!" She still talks about going "home" and how she just wants "to get out of here." We have to keep explaining to her that, for now, this is home. It breaks my heart. Quite frankly, I like calling this domicile "home" about as much as I like raw onions. For those of you who know me, you know nothing makes me gag as much as tasting a raw onion.

Living in my mom's house has been, to say the very least, trying. She's lived alone for the last six years and has become accustomed to her solitary life. Then we come straggling in with our two small children and their toys, wreaking havoc on her simple, quiet home. We're up at 7:00 a.m. every day, there are Cheerios, Kix, and occasional cookie crumbs strewn about her floor, and dinner is a three-ring circus. We're cooking with seasonings and flavors she's never cooked with and she informed me that she's eaten more vegetables since we arrived then she's eaten in the last year.

With all that comes her belief (or, at least, what I suspect is her belief) that since I'm "home," I need to be led around and parented like the child she must think I am. She's meddling in my job search, brow beating me into working at that damn Cracker Barrel and trying to make me feel bad for not wanting to work into the evening. They only want to hire a prep cook for the afternoon/evening shift. My availability clearly states that I want to be home by 6:00 p.m. I want to eat dinner and bathe my kids and be there for bedtime. That's extremely important to me. Mom doesn't get that. She seems to think that this is the Best Job on Earth and that I should kiss the toes of the manager who's planning on calling me to try and convince me to work in the evenings. Good luck with that.

I really hope something comes along soon so we can move the hell out of this house. I don't care where it is. I need my own space back and my kids need to be free to have fun and yell. THEY'RE KIDS! Let them be kids!

And then there's the nebby, gossipy canary about town who's telling people I'm some oppressed housewife with no opinions and no chutzpah. I've got an idea of who it is and frankly, I'm not surprised. Conneautville is the very definition of Small Town, U.S.A., and what better to talk about than the person who moved out of this town a beer-loving, wildly independent party girl and came back a calm, settled wife and mom who appreciates the art of compromise and doesn't feel the constant need to be a hard-nosed, stand-offish bitch who keeps everyone at bay to avoid getting hurt. I went through a very rough five-year period before I met my husband. I lost my dad, my grandparents, an aunt and an uncle. I had two different boyfriends cheat on me with good friends of mine. I had friendships fall apart. By the time I met Rob, I had lost a lot of respect for myself and was sick and tired of getting hurt.

But when he came into my life and stayed, didn't hurt my feelings or make threats of leaving, and showed me that it was okay to let people in and that he wasn't there to use me, and most importantly that nothing was going to shake his love for me, I softened. I calmed down. I trusted him. And what people didn't bear witness to over the last six years was the metamorphasis I went through. I started seeing life differently, especially after having children. My values changed, my opinions changed, and I wanted different things out of life. I guess some people write that off as a character flaw and are bent on sharing the news with everyone.

Maybe all that city livin' in California did me some good. It taught me to mind my own business. It also taught me to stand up for me and mine. My politics may have changed, and I may not be as wild and crazy as I used to be, but I'm a whole lot stronger now than I ever was. So if the gossip hound reads this, pass this along, too: I don't need anyone's approval to be happy. I absolutely love my life and that's all you need to know.

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