Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm Really Bad... playing pool. Last night, I went to a pool hall to celebrate a friend's birthday, and I realized as I missed ball after ball after ball, that I have no idea how to play this game anymore.

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a pool table in their home. Growing up, I would play with my hands since I could barely reach the table on my tippytoes. When my parents were houseparents, we had a pool table in the rec room. I still played with my hands, but then I could handle a stick, so I learned to play with that. I could make a shot putting my stick behind my back. But last night, reality came crashing down: if you don't practice sometimes, the skill you have mastered flits away. So if you have a skill, be it cooking, pole dancing, speaking another language, or flirting, use it or lose it!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Apparently, I’m a Slovenian.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve started hearing the same question from many of the Bosnians I meet for the first time. Jeste li Slovenac? They hear me say a few words, know I’m not from around here, but they’re not really sure where I’m from. The “where are you from” game has been one of my favorites since the first time I came to Europe, back in 1999. That summer, I worked at a grocery store in Switzerland. My German wasn’t very good at the time, and most people picked up on the fact that I was an American, or at least a native English speaker, very quickly. Nevertheless, when I worked as a checker, people would still sometimes try to guess where I was from. I thought I’d made real progress when someone guessed that I was German, but it was pretty clear that they only said that because I spoke German-German and not Swiss German.

When I was in Austria, my German improved, so people had a much more difficult time trying to figure out where I came from by my accent. I even picked up something of an Austrian accent. By the time I left, people just thought I was “not from here”.

I started learning Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian while I was in Austria. Consequently, I’ve got a little bit of a German accent when I speak B/C/S. When Melinda and I came to Bosnia in September, everyone thought we were German. Melinda’s blonde hair and my accented Bosnian, gave us away as Germans…even though we’re not. My Bosnian has improved, so now the default guess has moved south to Slovenia, a place I’ve only visited. The Slovene language is distinct from but similar to Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, so I take it as a great compliment that folks here think I’m one of their neighbors from the north and not from another continent.

Friday, March 28, 2008

And now, something lighter.

A one-word-answer meme courtesy of Heather:

You're Feeling: overwhelmed
To Your Left: Cat
On Your Mind: Unpacking
Last Meal Included: Cheese
You Sometimes Find it Hard To: Stop
The Weather: Clear
Something You Have a Collection of: Teasets
A Smell that Cheers You Up: Cinnamon
A Smell that Can Ruin Your Mood: Poop
How Long Since You Last Shaved: AM
The Current State of Your Hair: Messy
The Largest Item On Your Desk/Workspace Right Now (besides computer): Chair
Your Skill with Chopsticks: Decent
Which Section You Head to First In the Bookstore: Discount
...and After That?: upstairs
Something You're Craving: Space
Your General Thoughts On the Presidential Race: blah
How Many Times You've Been Hospitalized this Year: Zero
A Favorite Place to Go for Quiet Time: Hammock
You've Always Secretly Thought You'd Be a Good: Actress
Something that Freaks You Out a Little: Roaches
Something You've Eaten Too Much of Lately: Chips
You Have Never: parasailed
You Never Want To: weaken

Can Stress Be a Good Thing?

If it helps you into your skinny jeans, I say yes.


It rained last night. So much that I couldn't put out my three recycling bins because if the paper is wet, they won't pick up. So I set my alarm for 6 am, and at 5:19, I woke up. I figured that since I was awake, I'd go ahead and put out the trash and the recycling. Good thing too - the trucks came at 5:54. I hate to think what I would've done had I had to deal with stinky trash and a mouse carcass for another week. It's raining again, and hard. And while FEMA tells me I don't live in a flood zone, my landlord told me he was required to get flood insurance when he bought the house. The creek isn't all that far from my house, and while I don't think the creek will get me, there is certainly no drainage. The ground is soggy; I have to walk in my yard to get my mail because a lake fills up in the street in front of my box. I'm debating getting flood insurance myself just for peace of mind.

Today I stayed inside the house all day, talking to Wiley via internet and unpacking bins. We went through 6 bins of books of Wiley's, and I now have four bins of books to donate and three bins of books to sell (I also went through my books again). On top of that, I made great progress in the office - I got through all of the bins on the floor and only have eight more bins to go through in the entire house before I'm finished. Of course, I'm running out of room...there are about 7 bins that can't be unpacked now, so I can't wait to see what's in the rest of the bins (two have even more books, and my three bookcases are already full!)

I start training to be a youth counselor/case worker on Monday. I have training for two weeks, and then they let me loose in a strange county I've never been in. While I was at Lowe's for the millionth time earlier this week, a guy told me he was from Greene county. I asked him if it was an easy place to navigate, and his response was, "If you stay on the main roads, you'll be fine, but if you have to go on the back roads, you're going to get lost." So if anyone's thinking of getting me a late birthday gift, I'll take a little GPS gadget. I need to find a map of this county...everyone says Greene county; they never say what town they live in. In Monroe, or Brown perhaps, we have a Gnaw Bone. Maybe they have something like that, like Cattail Junction or Wet Willy. But I'll find out soon enough.

I'm really nervous about this, and part of me wishes I'd stayed in the legal world. At least I knew what I was doing there, so I could have something comfortable somewhere in my life. There's nothing but change swirling around me - new city, new job, new friends, new home - and sometimes I feel like the boxelder bug in the toilet as it flushes: trying like hell to stay afloat, even though the vortex is pulling me down. It's not that I don't think I can do the job, but you never really know how something is going to treat you until you're in the thick of it. It's really a leap of faith; I think counseling is the way to go for me, and while I may have missed the mark by a hair, this could be really good experience for me and help me figure out if counseling is my next career. My career counselor three years ago told me to get out of the office; it wasn't for me. And I was ecstatic when I made the jump and moved overseas. But now that I'm back, reality has hit kinda hard. I can see why people choose to stay in one career for years - it's comfortable. And I have been so uncomfortable lately; anxious over the smallest thing (like mice, and having my power flicker and wondering if I blew a fuse how do I fix it, and worrying about flooding), almost to the point of brooding and getting no sleep (it's almost 1 am and I'm WIDE awake now). I'm guess I'm just ready to be settled. Not being settled is exhausting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Settling In

Today, the gods smiled upon me, for today, I was blessed with internet capability at home. As soon as I opened my eyes this morning, I got my modem/router from AT&T and bounded into the living room, plugged in my gear, and got two green lights and a red blinking light. I checked the directions; blinking light isn't something I should see. So I called AT&T and asked what was up. They told me I wasn't supposed to have service until tomorrow, but I had the packing slip right in front of me, and they agreed I was right and they were wrong. Finally, a guy who looked like he rode Harleys for a living showed up at my door and said he was there to connect my service. I practically mowed him down because I was so excited that my internet was almost ready. Half an hour later, it's smooth sailing for me. I don't want to shut it down for fear that it may not work again!

Tonight has been productive, but I suppose I should backtrack a bit. It took us 10 hours to move the bulk of my belongings to Indiana. I retrieved two of my cats, who were not one bit happy to see one another, so I had to separate them in the car. At hour 8, Dixie's constant meows hit a fevered pitch, and then I smelled the shyt. I pulled over about 10 minutes later, when I saw the first exit, and surveyed the damage. The poor thing had a massive poop that exploded everywhere, even on her. I'm sure it was quite a sight, me trying to clean up her cloth carrier while holding onto her at the same time so she didn't track poop everywhere in the car. I tried to put her in the carrier with Rewind, but he had an absolute fit, so she ended up staying in the carrier and he ended up sleeping on my lap the last two hours of the trip. So the first thing I did when I got to the house was give her a bath, which made both of us wet and neither of us happy. She objected very loudly to the point where I was sure the neighbor was going to call the cops on me for animal cruelty. After her bath, she sulked in the bedroom for awhile, but got even with me all night long, walking on me, over my head, and keeping me from sleeping straight through the night.

Wiley's friends came over and helped unload the large dresser and mirror from the trailer, and then we loaded up Wiley's things. Boy, what a lot of stuff. You never think you have a lot until you move it all. His friends joked and asked me where he was going to live when he returned, then they suggested he move into the other half of the duplex. Yes, it's small, maybe not even 900 square feet. I don't have a basement; I don't have an attic. After this ordeal, I realized I'm a very bad judger of space. But in less than four hours, everything was out of the trailer and into the house. The washer/dryer combo is a real pain to move, but Wiley's friends made it look pretty easy, except for the one whose head was actually in the dryer as she helped take the weight of the beast Here's a hint: don't get a combo unit.

Unfortunately, with everything out of the trailer and into the house, I had no living room, just a sea of blue and bronze Rubbermaid storage totes. We were able to get most of them into the office, and I've unloaded about 10 or so so far. I've also loaded up three to go to Goodwill. That's the joy of merging stuff.

Wiley's parents are amazing when it comes to gadgets and fixing things up. My bathroom is the size of a small closet. The toilet is so close to the sink that putting one of those over-the-toilet organizers isn't an option. But Wiley's mom told me about the shelves she and hubby made for her scrapbooking stuff. We went to Lowe's and looked around and didn't find them. But of course, when you're moving, you need things many different times, so on the fourth trip to Lowe's, we found what she was talking about, and they put them up in the bathroom. I was so happy that when my landlord came over today to give me a new screen door, I drug him into the house to see. Apparently he isn't as impressed with such things as I am.

One very unpleasant surprise I woke up to on Sunday were these little brown things that looked like mini chocolate chips on my counter. Upon further inspection, I realized it was mouse poop. Then I went all through the rooms and found more and more mouse poop. Wiley's mom tried to tell me that this happens and I can deal with it, but I was practically non-responsive. How could I have missed mice when I inspected the place? Mice! I haven't had to deal with mice in my own home since I was a kid and they were living in my closet (grandma had mice a few years back and that was also unpleasant, but I could leave). I remember my parents getting the glue traps, and one got stuck and woke me up with his squeaking. I felt sorry for him, but no way in hell was I touching that thing. I complained to my new friends, who tipped me off that Lowe's sells a mouse trap that electrocutes the mouse. Just one little zap and they're dead! Of course, I have to dispose of the body, but at least it's intact and looks like it's sleeping. And for everyone who thinks about it, yes, my cats should do the job, but no, they don't. And I'm ok with that. So this morning, I opened the closet where we thought the mice were probably coming in, and sure enough, there was a little tail sticking out the back, and the light was orange. So I put on my gloves, went outside and dumped the body in the trash. At first, it got stuck, which freaked me out, but I shook a little harder and it rolled right in. I don't look forward to this task, but I want these suckers gone. I told the landlord today about it, and he said he'd put poison in the crawlspace so hopefully that will take care of them. Not to be outdone, I got some steel wool, and I've been putting it in all the nooks and crannies I think a mouse would use...mostly in the floor, as the laminate was put on but no cording to go on top and cover up the little holes. It's a bit unsightly in some places, but it's too late to move now. And I put all the spices in plastic containers that would be harder to chew through, as Wiley's parents said they could climb into my cabinets. Steel wool is kinda painful to handle without gloves.

I also put up some pictures, which if you've seen the pictures Wiley has, you would appreciate this little feat. He's got two pictures that are probably four feet wide and 18 or so inches tall...pretty heavy things, and he said he thought they'd look nice on the wall. I thought they would be perfect in the dining area, so tonight, I measured, and put up picture hangers, and remeasured, and screwed up a few times so I have extra holes that can't be seen because they're behind said pictures, and after a half-hour or so, I now have two very nice pictures on the wall, and they're straight, and even at the same height. Yeah, I'm patting myself on the back. You can too.

Now it's off to bed for me to be up in time for the donations truck to stop by and take a few things off my hands.

Friday, March 21, 2008

So Old

I didn't know I was so old. After unloading a storage unit and loading a trailer, my lower back is super sore. I sit for any length of time, and I stiffen! When did this happen?

AMAZINGLY, we were able to get everything in my 8x10 storage unit into a 6x12 trailer. Wiley's parents must love playing Tetris because that's what it felt like - if we stuff something in this way, we maximize space. So we stuffed. And stuffed. I hope my cushions and my pillows recover. For the people who will be helping us unload on Sunday, I'm sure they're going to be confused because we unpacked bins that had clothes, shoes, sheets, and hangers and stuffed things in every nook and cranny - "Uh, Melinda, you're supposed to wait to unload things into the house, not the trailer". The mirror that belongs with the dresser has little shelves, so shoes got there. Even the chairs to the kitchen table got packed.

I guess this was more an informative post than anything. If you want wit, go somewhere else, 'cuz right now, I'm just too tired.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Stayed in the duplex overnight. Not too bad, but COLD, even with the heat turned on. Tub faucet is leaky, so emailed the landlord about that, then got in the car and headed to KC.

Got stuck for an hour on I-70. Wiley, my Mapquest even all the way in Bosnia, reported that there was an accident right where I was, and told me how to get off the highway. So I took a tour through Buckner (large houses) and got on highway 24 (hello, Independence), then missed the 435 north exit (tell me again why it's on the LEFT side of the road). When I finally arrived, about an hour after I thought I would, Wiley's parents were waiting for me in the driveway. So I go to the door, put in the key, and nothing.

Tried another key. No go. Not getting in the house.

Tried one more. Nothing. So after 8 hours in the car, I can't pee? No no no no no no. So I whip out the trusty phone and call my friend, who has a garage door opener. Then I tried one last key, and the lock turned. So in we went.

Then I flew south to get Rewind. The boy is a sick cat. He's dropped more weight, to the point where he's skin and bones. I fear he won't be long for this world. He seemed happy to see me, but upon putting him in the house with Dixie, he turned into the cat from hell. Normally he's not like that with me, but I guess I'm technically a stranger to him now. So I shut him in my bedroom apart from Dixie. Then I went to get his cage so he'd have something that smelled like him, and the door wouldn't turn. I turned the knob again, and it turned without opening. Turns out the door knob broke, and my cat was locked inside. Luckily for me, Wiley's parents are handy, and they were able to take the door off its hinges to get to Rewind. We made a trip to Lowe's and found a new knob, and Wiley's mom put it in while his stepdad and I loaded bins that were at my friend Hiney's. The van is full. Oh boy.

All day long, when I would see a trailer, I would think, My stuff won't fit in that. I'm quite concerned my stuff won't all fit. So bins will likely still be left here, as well as my desk! It's in the garage, as well as two cars. less thing to pack!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Pain of Moving

I am concerned. I'm driving to Kansas City tomorrow to move my stuff. However, Wiley's stuff is here in Bloomington. I figured today would be a good day to move a few things, so Wiley's friend 708 helped me move Wiley's big-azz bed. Normally, I wouldn't think that a queen-sized bed would be so big. But when you move it, then you suddenly realize just how big something is. First, stuff sprung up all around Wiley's stuff in the garage where his stuff has been stored, and I really think his stuff multiplied because I don't remember putting that many bins in the garage. Stuff stuff stuff. So finding the bed proved impossible unless we entered the garage from the side of the house. Ta da! Bed. So 708 and I move it outside and try to get it and the box spring into the van. On first push, no go. On second push, his side went; mine stayed put. One third push, mine went, along with a big, "Riiipppppppp". So much for the plastic mattress cover. On the fourth push, the bed wouldn't go in any farther, and there were still four inches hanging out. So we took the box springs out and took out a seat. One, two, three, heave, and the box spring is in. The mattress, however, proves a bit more difficult, and we have to bend it - I say we, but at this time, I am under the mattress with the mattress on my back, trying to push it in that way - and finally, the bed slides into place in the van. Unloading it wasn't quite so difficult, but man, is the bedroom small. I think all the furniture will fit, but it could be an interesting time on Sunday.

It's been raining here the last two days. As Wiley's telling me that Missouri is under a flood watch, I tell him that we are too. And then it hits me: I never asked if the duplex was in a flood plain. I immediately buzz off an email to my landlord, who confirms my fear that I am, in fact, living in a flood plain. "But it's never flooded," he assured me, and I have visions of cats floating away on top of furniture. Today, when I went to the duplex, there was the creek, swollen and rushing. The sound is heavenly to me; but the sight, not so much. Must remember to get sand bags - just in case.

It took about an hour to load and unload that damn bed, and of course, as we finished, it stopped raining. I decided to go back and get a few more bins. Then I unloaded the bins. Then I went back for five more bins, and this is where the concern comes in: save for the dishes and the silverware, I already have a fully functioning kitchen. I have pots and pans, two measuring cups, beer steins, a couple coffee mugs, a waffle iron , a crock pot, a stock pot, a pizza pan, a lasagna pan, and two cookbooks. With cookbooks titled "A Man, A Can, A Plan" and "Where's My Mother Now that I Need Her?", I can get busy in the kitchen. No Barefoot Contessa here. Nosireebob. Since we're merging, I will be getting rid of this and that, namely Wiley's things. Hahahahahahahaha. Serves you right for making me do this alone!!! Wiley's got some cool kitchen gadgets, and he might even have better pans, but I think my Belgian waffle maker beats his little waffle maker, so his is going to go. My crockpot is newer, and wayyy prettier, so his will go. This is going to continue throughout the entire house. So far, six bins are unloaded.

Now where do you draw the line on things like beer steins and plastic cups from your alma mater? I like school spirit as much as the next person, but the plastic cups are big and obtrusive. Couldn't we just put a pig's head up on the wall? I don't hold onto things the way Wiley does. Narrowing things down, weeding things's going to take a little time. Bah.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Offer #2

You read it here, Dear Reader: two companies want me. How does this feel? Like I'm swimming in a bowl of Oreo cookies with milk. In other words, it feels damn good. Day-um good, people. There are some advantages to working in a big company though, and those advantages are called benefits. It's a tough decision for me. I didn't realize it wouldn't be this easy, but I'm happy to have a choice to make; I realize many don't have the option, and I'm very thankful that I was able to procure work not long after returning on US soil.

I will be running with the bulls this weekend, collecting my cats and my belongings and moving them to my new digs in Indiana. I wish everyone out there a productive week and weekend, and if I don't post tomorrow, I'll catch the four of you who read this later.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Damn That Marketing!

Comcast has gotten my attention with their Slowsky turtles. My favorite is where the husband and wife are trying to get their bags off the carousel and the wife says, "Maybe next time." The husband says, "Yeah, let it do a victory lap," and then the camera pans out so you see both of them craning their necks, following the bag. I think it's hysterical. I like turtles, especially talking turtles.

But before that commercial, there was an ad on for some energy drink, and there's a silhouette of a woman drinking this concoction. But she doesn't drink it the way a woman normally drinks a glass of water or a Sunny D. She drinks it like she's in porn - head tilted back, chest stuck out, tummy in. Has anybody else noticed this?

I hate commercials. No wonder my grandpa muted the TV during them. I do it too (well, except for those Comcastic commercials). Feel the burn.


This morning, I got up and decided to have one of my cereal bars for breakfast. After I finished eating, I went to put on my makeup for the day. I noticed that there was something resembling blood on my face between my nose and my lips. I stared at the mirror, trying to figure out where I was bleeding. Nose was fine. Pimple that showed up earlier this week was fine. No bleeding on the fingers. No cuts on the face. I wiped it off, only a stain was left on my face, and then I realized what it was. Apparently, my Indian spices rubbed off on the packaging of the cereal bar.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday is now here. I was an 11 am baby, so technically I'm still 11 hours away, but I don't mind not being exact.

I'm not at a bad age, but I kinda feel it being in a college town. There are plenty of people older than me, but plenty of younguns. Tonight I felt like saying to so many people, "Are you sure you're 21? You look like a baby." No wrinkles, beautiful skin, full head of hair. And they would've said, "Put on your glasses, Granny, I'm old enough. See my sticker?" To the younguns, I say you'll never feel as old as you are. When I was younger, it seemed 30 was old. Of course, when I got here, I thought 30 was still pretty young...and then I look at my niece and realize it's not quite as young as she, but not as old as, say, 60. (Like that, Aunties? I don't think any of you are old! But I do think Gma is old. That won't change.) And I know that as I get closer to 40, that won't really seem as old as I thought it was. Perspective changes as you age, just like everything else; eyesight; knees; boobs. It's all part of growing up.

So for the rest of you March babies, happy birthday to you! I'm putting on my footie pjs and calling it a morning. And later on in the morning, I'm getting me some cake!

Minnesota 59, Indiana 58

Oh, what a bad night for the Hoosiers. My friend invited me to a place called Yogi's to watch the Indiana v. Minnesota Big 10 basketball game. I am not a huge fan of sports, but I had been inside most of the day and figured it was a good excuse to get out among people. In the last 1.5 seconds of the game, Minnesota did the impossible - tossed the basketball from the other side of the court, one of the guys near the basket caught it, and in the net it went. All of us in the bar clapped our hands to our mouths and just sat there, thinking, Can it really be true? Are we out? With just 1.5 SECONDS LEFT ON THE CLOCK? Last I knew, that was still the case, and the Gophers beat the Hoosiers. So sorry, Indiana. But it made me realize a few things, and I'd like to share this with you. I call it Fitting In:

1. If you move to a college town, better get to like sports, especially your local team, because if you don't, you will forever be an outsider and likely an outcast. And remember to take it seriously because everyone around you will.

2. Get a sweatshirt of said team that you wear whenever you go to support said team.

3. Whenever you're asked to go somewhere, even if it's not really something you want to do, go. If you say no too many times in the beginning, people will stop asking you, and then when you really want to go, nobody will tell you what's going on.

4. Explore the city. While I was getting my Indian food yesterday for my computer date with Wiley to celebrate our anniversary, I got a little lost. I knew the general vicinity of the restaurant, so I didn't bother looking it up because I figured I would find it if I turned down enough streets. Sure enough, I did, and I got to see a bit more of the city and piece places together.

5. Remember to listen more and talk less. This is a great psychology move, and I'm surprised more people don't catch on. People like to talk, and they especially like to talk about themselves. If you ask somebody about themselves, they will give up a lot of information, and at the end of the night, they will say, "Well, that Jim Beam there's a swell guy," and not even realize that they did most of the talking. Try it; it works.

6. When you're at a bar, and you don't feel like drinking, order soda pop. I got two glasses for free. I was told that perhaps it was because everyone else was drinking, so what's a couple of Cokes? Or you can tell them you're the DD and not have to pay for your drinks. I don't frequent bars enough, so this was news to me. So if you knew this little tidbit, thanks so much for not sharing!

So those are my tips. Remember them as you move around cities, countries, whathaveyou.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today is my three-year anniversary of dating Wiley. I am constantly surprised by him. Today, while I was sitting on the couch looking at apartments online, someone banged on the door. I opened it to find a mustached man, looking confused. "Uh, Melinda?" he looked at me quizzically. "Yes?" I said as I raised my eyebrows and noted his package (not that package, sickos - the flowers he was holding!). He thrust the vase of flowers into my hands and left. So now I have a wonderful arrangement of orange lillies and tulips, with a few red tulips interspersed. Today has been a rainy day, so these are beautiful against the gray sky.

The whole point here is to say that it's nice to live in the moment. Once you start having expectations, then you're bound to be disappointed. Thanks for the flowers, Wiley! I miss you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pros and Cons

So today I've been hitting the apartment search hard. I tried to stop by one guy's house, only to find he wasn't home. So I left and went to another place. It looks very nice. It's older, so it's got lots of trees. The only problem with this one is that it's 660 square feet. With my stuff, and Wiley's stuff, I'm afraid we probably won't fit.

Another apartment complex is just one-story. It too is in a wooded area. This one has 864 square feet for about the same price as the other one I viewed, plus it has washer/dryer hookups, so if I can move Wiley's stackable, then I would have the ability to do laundry in my home. However, this place requires $200 for the cats, I can only have two, and that money is non-refundable. On top of that, I have to pay a security deposit that could either be $300 or first-month's rent (I believe it depends on your credit score), an application fee of $20, Wiley will have to fill out an application and pay $20 when he comes in July, and then I have to pay a move-in fee of $50. What is a move-in fee, anyway? Am I not paying enough by hiring movers to load up the truck I've rented and will drive from KC? The $200 non-refundable fee isn't enough? The application fee isn't enough? Must you really nickel and dime me??

The duplex that I saw on Craigslist looked promising - cheaper than the apartments, security deposit equal to first-month's rent, cats ok, and near the bus line so Wiley can take the bus to work. What worries me is that it's a little farther south of town, and it's in an area of duplexes - we're all on two streets - and it's near a bar...Wiley tells me it's a big townie bar. But we are on the end of the street, and it doesn't lead anywhere, so I don't think there will be any problems unless I can hear "Achy Breaky Heart" from inside my home. Then I will be pissed because I don't do country.

Tonight, I headed back to Craigslist to see if anyone posted anything new, and lo and behold, there's a house located exactly where I want, available April 1st. The caveat? It's about $300 more a month than the duplex, and about $200 more than the apartments I've looked at. We are trying to save money, but it's RIGHT ACROSS from the park I love to walk in. But is it $300 love? Can I get in my car and drive to the park and walk? Yes. Do I feel somewhat stupid doing that? Yes. Why? It just seems odd to me. I can't really explain it. Can I afford this house? I think so. I'm hoping that perhaps I can sweet-talk the owner into decreasing the rent a little bit. I know of other houses that have been available for two months because this is not peak renting time. Or maybe she could give me a break until Wiley shows up. That would save a little money.

I need to figure out which is going to make me happier in the long-run, saving the dough or loving the area in which I live. And I need to figure it out soon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Number Two

The second interview lasted two hours. Originally, I was a little nervous because I had to fill out an application (it seemed my resume wasn't enough), and the receptionist wasn't very friendly.

If you're a receptionist, shouldn't one of your goals be to make people at ease? The receptionist at my first interview asked if I would like anything to drink with a wide smile. I instantly relaxed, which helped me relax and ace the first interview. This one pushed paper at me and said, "Fill this out, read this, and give it back." That just screams happy. My response was to flush bright red (I don't know if I actually did this to the point that they noticed, but my face was hot), so the potential interviewer could've read into it that I'm a boozer. After all, it was late afternoon.

I started to panic just a bit more when the guy started zeroing in on my college days. What was my hardest psychology course? What was my GPA? Was I involved in any psychology clubs? What did I do as a teenager? Seriously? I looked at him, blinked and said, "Most of the teenagers I knew and know go to the mall." It's like a rite of passage. That's where you cruise since you can't drive. Don't shy away, I know you know what I'm talking about.

The rest of my questions, and his, were more on-target (how do you keep your workers safe? and how thick is your skin and how much experience do you have dealing with difficult people? ha, I say to this), and I even took away some maps of the city to help with my housing search. I think both interviews went well, though I was infinitely more nervous about this one. I hope to hear back tomorrow about the next step in the interview process.

I'm in Bloomington, Baby

Bloomington, Minnesota? No. Bloomington, Illinois? Close. I drove through there, but a little further east. Bloomington, Indiana? That'd be the one.

I arrived last night after a 7.5 hour journey in the car. Instead of following Google maps to the letter, I detoured so I didn't have to drive all the way to Indianapolis, and I went through some little towns that ordinarily would've been nice stopping points, but I just wanted to unpack and get a little settled, so having Ma & Pa Slowmyazzdownonthetwolaneroad was a slight annoyance. The night before I left, anxiety struck big-time. Here I was, loading up my car for the third time, to go to another city another 7.5 hours away, with not much of a plan for what I do after the interiews. This is where I'm hopefully going to land permanently, but until that time comes, I'm just another nomad in another city. This time, I am staying in a beautiful apartment while the owner is on vacation. The apartment is nice, but the door to the outside world is a bit on the thin side. You can hear everything in the hallway. And last night, as I tried to sleep, I kept hearing someone's car alarm, and I'd wake up and wonder if it was my car being broken into (nevermind that I don't have an alarm that sounds like the one I heard). I tried to find an iron so I could pertty-up my suit, but all I found was wrinkle-releaser, and these creases were too big for that. I figured I needed a new iron anyway, so I ran to Target to get one, and picked up milk as well.

I got to my first interview today about five minutes early, and it is in a prime location - downtown a block or so off the square. If you have a thriving downtown, then you know how fun it can be to actually be downtown (KC's getting there, slowly). And I left my nerves at the door, answered all the questions truthfully, talked about this and that - it felt like the administrator and I were old friends. But I'm overqualified for the position, so there's a greater than likely chance that I won't get it. I'm the first one interviewed, and Administrator isn't sure what the next step is in the hiring process. This is what I'd really have fun doing: being the one-woman HR. It really is perfect. Other than being overqualified, the company looks really good to me - it's a small place with less than 30 employees. Coming from a job where there were over 2000 of us, I kinda like the idea of smaller. But with smaller companies comes smaller benefits, or at least that's true in this case. Employee-sponsored health plan. 401k after 6 months, and it takes 5 years to be 100% vested that the company puts in your plan. 1 week of sick time, 1 week of vacation, and 1 day of personal time, which is pretty good to me. I don't need a lot. Salary is much less than in KC, but again, I expected this, so it was not a shock. But when Administrator looked at me and said, "This may not be as challenging for you as your last position, so I'm not sure if this would be a good fit for you," I pretty much figured game over, back to square one.

And now I'm preparing for interview number two. This one I am completely unqualified for. Isn't that nice, to have two opposite ends of the spectrum in the same day? When I say completely unqualified, I mean unpaid experience. The goal is to sell them on my unpaid experience so they pay me to get the experience. I'm up to the challenge, just as soon as I finish my soybeans.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Blog Worth Reading

I am finally caught up on reading all the posts I've neglected. I've also decided that there are some blogs I'm no longer going to read. It's not that they're bad, or the writing is poor; it's just that I need to go in a different direction. So, in other words, I'm trimming the fat.

One of the blogs I am keeping is written by Pam Slim called Escape from Cubicle Nation. She offers good tips, not just for those who want to escape their pod, but for daily living. Most recently, she wrote about perfectionism and how many opportunities will pass right by you if you wait until you're perfectly prepared to snatch them. OhmygoodnesscouldIsaythatsbeenmeinthepast? Um, yes. She offers advice on how now to be such a perfectionist - wanting to produce good work is fine, but if you stagnate because of your perfectionistic tendencies, you're missing out.

Another post of hers that I liked was her post on belief-busting. Where do we get some of our ideas? And do they get in the way of what we think we should do, or what we want to do? One great example of this is a relative. Because other people have had bad experiences with this or that, she won't even try a particular product to see how it'll work for her. She lets other people's reality be her own reality, which drives me insane (partly because I suffer because she won't try something, and I don't like suffering when I don't see a need for it!). And I know now where I got that idea from, and it took quite awhile for me to unlearn that belief.

So go check out her blog (Logtar, I think you might find some of this stuff useful on your journey of self-fulfillment) and enjoy! I have to put my laundry in the dryer. (I get to use dryers now, though for some things air-drying is just fine by me!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

200th Post

No, I really don't care that it's my 200th post, but here it is.

I'm finally catching up on my Google Reader. This time, only 80 posts to read, compared to the 170 the last time I looked at it. I have been reading about Jill's adventure biking the Iditarod trail. If you've not gone to her blog, go do it. It's a bit of an eye-opener. Here I am, nervous about a job interview, and she's out on the Alaska range, trying to keep sane in -20 degrees with her bike and a bivy. When you put things in perspective like that, worrying over a job interview doesn't seem so important. But it reminded me that one of her readers, Dave, asked me once what I was going to miss about Sarajevo. I was in transit at the time, so I never fully answered, but am doing so now.

I only got to experience a small part of Sarajevo's spring last May when I visited for a weekend. I will certainly miss seeing the city bloom. The roses are everywhere, and I can only imagine that the city gets prettier and prettier when all of those roses bloom fully...there will be patches of red, pink, and yellow along the sidewalks, along businesses, along apartment buildings.

I will miss living with Wiley. I had an amazing experience, and I got to do it with someone I love dearly. We figured out we could live together, and we got to do a lot of things together. I mean, how cool is it that we got to spend so much time together? It was like everyday was a weekend. Nothing will compare to that.

I will miss the cakes. Sarajevo can do cakes.

I miss waking up in the morning and giving Wiley the Morning Report, where I go to the kitchen to make his coffee and look out the window and tell him what's going on. "A full tram just went by" or "We have a family of ducks paddling in the river!" or "Passati is first in line at the taxi stand!" He was our favorite taxi driver - gruff voice, always looked like he just woke up, kinda reminded me of a bear, but really friendly.

I miss mountains. It was fun to look out the windows and be surrounded by hills that kissed the sky. Here, the sky touches the corn...pretty, but not quite the same effect.

I miss letting other people drive! As much as I hated the time it took to get anywhere in Europe from Sarajevo, it was really nice to just get in the bus and sit and not have to worry about driving myself.

I guess that also means I miss traveling to new places...I have traveled quite a bit since returning to the States, but it's just not the same. To have Europe at practically my fingertips was nice.

I miss not having commercials. We are INUNDATED with Big Business' marketing ploys. You need this haircut to be cool. You need this watch, to go to this restaurant, to drive this car, to feel complete. Bull honky. In Sarajevo, there was none of that - well, not that I noticed, anyway. They still had billboards, and there were a few commercials, but not like what we have here. Don't be fooled though - Sarajevans know their fashion. The young chicks always looked great (though I'd hate to see their feet as old ladies since they always walked around in heels), and the young men fashionable with their leather jackets and spiked hair. But this barrage of marketing is something I can definitely live without. A friend of mine doesn't have a TV. At first, I thought, How do you survive? And now, I understand - as long as I have my internet, I don't need that dang TV. This could prove difficult when living with Wiley again, since he loves his sports channels and I'd rather just not have cable....well, we'll cross that bridge later.

I miss the bread. US bread, frankly, stinks.

I miss knowing what's going on in the other countries that surrounded us. We kept abreast of what was going on in the US with CNN and online, but we had another channel, as well as Al Jazeera, that we could watch, that gave us more info on happenings in Europe.

So that, so far, is what I can think of that I miss about Sarajevo. Coming back, I've had quite a bit of culture shock. Some things have been really easy for me, such as getting back into the time zone, while others have eluded me. It took me 10 minutes to decide which toothpaste to buy when I got to Kansas City. I stood there for a full 10 minutes, trying to figure out the difference between this one and that one and what flavor should I Sarajevo, I went with Colgate simply because it was the only brand I knew. It seemed things were a bit simpler for me in Sarajevo because I didn't have lots of options to weigh before making a decision. I have to retrain myself to be decisive, or at least as decisive as I was before I left. That's a tall order.

Finally, Some Sun Here

It's really cold, but at least there is sun. This is the second day since I've been here that I haven't had to shovel the driveway. This makes me very happy because I hate shoveling snow. I'd rather be at the gynecologist's office with my hoo-ha bared for all to see. So you can see how much I hate shoveling snow. This could be a bad thing, as I have no idea where I'll be living in the years to come.

My niece bought a house. It's an adorable bungalow, and she doesn't really have to do anything to it to be able to live in it. She's working on the kitchen, which I call the Cherry Pit (it's ALL RED, which normally isn't bad, but in a small space, it looks even smaller), but everything is still useable. Her cats seem to have gotten used to it. I got to help decorate, which was fun. And the basement is part cave. Wiley, you'd love it. Me, I'd hate it. Wood paneling, anyone? If that was gone, it'd be perfect. No windows to see out, which for me, would be great. I can't sleep if it's not dark. And when I say dark, I mean pitch-black. So I always have my eye patch with me.

Today I finally figured out how to get the internet to work at my grandmother's house, and I've been a computer whore all day. First, I was at Panera, where it took me a half-hour to figure out what was wrong with my computer (it wanted to dial to get a connection - my computer is old, but not that old), and Wiley was on the line with me helping figure it out. But once I got going, there was no stopping me. I emailed, I chatted, I applied to more jobs, I checked out some career sites...all while sipping tea and eating a cherry breakfast pastry in the corner.

I have two job interviews next week! Both of them sound like great positions, even though they are in completely different fields. But see, when a recession is a'hittin', and you're a bum like me, you can apply to everything you'd ever want to do, and let the chips fall where they may. There are times when I grip the table and imagine myself a homeless woman with nits in her hair, but that's still a ways off. If I don't have a job in a couple of months, this could very well be me. But I'm a gracious moocher...or I like to think I am. You can ask Wiley's parents and my grandmother for their opinions if you like, but I'm happy believing I'm a gracious moocher.

Because of my job interviews, I needed a new suit, which I snagged at the outlet mall in Williamsburg, Iowa. And oh yes, we got cheese curds, and they are tasty.

Since coming back to the States, my taste buds have reveled in all they've experienced: cheese curds; avocados; Wendy's; Sonic; Sheridan's; popcorn; Coke Zero; Tostitos tortilla chips; cinnamon and raisin cereal; my Kashi cereal; salads; and even graham crackers with frosting. I'm pulling out all the stops. Tasty vittles, Dear Reader, tasty vittles.

And on Monday, I drive 7 or 8 hours east to hopefully land a job. Cross your fingers, do a dance, whatever you believe in. Me, I'll be preparing for the interviews by talking to myself in the car and in a mirror to see if I sound ridiculous or look retarded. I doubt I will, but preparation is key to keeping those willies at bay.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Could It be Any Colder?

I'm in Iowa now. It's really cold. I mean, really f&cking cold. We got sleet and then snow last night. This morning, I was up at 7 shoveling the drive and walks. There is no grass to be seen. Snow drifts. I think the high today was maybe 25...with gusts up to 40 mph. It really is awful. I don't want to come here anymore.

And today, I decided to send Wiley a package, so I get my box, fill it up, fill out my customs form, and then when I go to the counter, Ms. USPS worker informs me that I can't send a package to Bosnia. I told her that that can't be right - I lived there and got packages from the US from the post office - from three different states. "Nope, I have a note here that says Bosnia's been sanctioned." She motions to her coworker and flashes a yellow piece of paper. "Has this changed?" "Nope," the next worker says. "It's been like that for a year." I again say, "But my fiance is there, and we've gotten packages there and from there through the postal service." They're not buying it, and give me a phone number to call. So I dial.

"You've reached the number for free legal services for Texans," a friendly recorded voice tells me. So I call the post office to tell them the number isn't valid, and I get a lady who says, "You can come back to the post office. There are no sanctions against Bosnia - it was for a very short time, but we know a guy whose wife lives over there and had no problems."

GEE, REALLY? I believe I said that to you retards the first time I stopped at the post office. So I go back. The two who were of no help to me the first time said, "Did you get it figured out?" And I said, "Oh, you're sending it." They seemed surprised when I told them that they had given me a defunct number. "Well, we're just telling you what we were told," and then, "That must've happened very recently," and then I responded in a less than sugary voice because I'm really quite pissed by this time, that I just returned from living there for five months, and I had no problems getting stuff from people from the US. Had you listened to me, or maybe checked with a supervisor, you could've helped me the first time. "We should be given the correct information," one of them said, and I agreed, SO YOU COULD BE HELPFUL TO PEOPLE INSTEAD OF SENDING THEM ON A GOOSE CHASE. Those two said that since they didn't know what was going on, I'd have to wait for the one who actually knew what was what, and when I asked if I could finally send my package to Bosnia, she gave me a look that I took as, "Sorry my coworkers are stupid." Maybe not, but that's how I read it.

So Wiley, in about a month, you should get a package. Hopefully it arrives. This lady seemed to know what she was doing. Thank goodness.