Wednesday, May 31, 2006

102nd Post!

Congratulations to all of us for suffering through, I mean, enjoying with delight and eagerness, over 100 editions of A Right Gapesnest! Yay for us!

I did realize that the 100th post was coming up; this was actually not a case of procrastination. It was more performance anxiety. What should my hundreth post be about? It has to be something really, really good! So instead of actually working on a post and not writing it on the fly, I chose to wait until after the moment had passed to share it with you. Wasn't it a good time?

Thanks for reading. I could do it without you, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun and my bitterness and alienation would be much more apparent to the naked eye. Please keep reading and tell your friends!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Is It Really That Hard?: Laundry

Like many people, I tend to do laundry on the weekends. Roughly 9 pm, Sunday evening I remember that I have absolutely nothing to wear for the upcoming week.

In college, it was a matter of scrounging up quarters and cramming as many jeans and t-shirts into one load as possible and still shut the washing machine door. However, now that Keith and I have had a few years to develop professional wardrobes, doing laundry is becoming increasingly more complicated.

Our basic separation is into darks (normal/warm), whites (normal/hot), and delicates (gentle/cold). But then there’s a sweater or two that has to be Dryeled—that gets set aside. And then there’s the intermingling between the three main categories: it can be washed normally, but can’t be put in the dryer. They suggest washing it with warm water on the gentle cycle. The latest trend is for labels to say that this particular item of clothing should be washed normal/cold and can be tumble dried but you cannot under any circumstances use a dryer sheet.

If I actually paid attention to all of these directions, by this point I would have 20 separate piles of one to possibly two items in each. And then there’s the clothes that actually say “wash separately.” Um, washing machines today are big. Gargantuan behemoths that could, if given the chance, eat my entire wardrobe in one fell swoop. I am not wasting an entire load (I believe the smallest setting on my parents’ machine is “small boutique’s worth”) on one stinkin’ shirt. No matter how stinkin’ it is!

You keep hearing on the radio and in the news about how much busier people are. Our lives are filled to the brim with work and hobbies, etc. All of these modern conveniences are supposed to be saving us time. And aren’t man-made fabrics supposed to be easier to care for?

Give it a couple years and I’ll be so fed up with the minutiae on every laundry label, Keith and I will only be wearing polyester leisure suits.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Reluctant Acceptance

I think I need to face the facts: I'm going to remain employed. At least for a little while longer.

There weren't any lay-offs in our department yesterday. There were some across the hall, and news is trickling in like reports on the battlefield, of who the casualties were. But I'm still here, I'm assuming because I'm so cheap (no benefits!) that it's not worth it to get rid of me.

I've decided that perhaps the best way to cheer myself up is to focus on the money. Because really, that's the only benefit to working. So I plan to spend most of the afternoon shopping online, virtually spending my next several paychecks, to feel the blow of lost free time less keenly.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just Twiddling My Thumbs

... and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I mean, not literally. Who twiddles their thumbs? I have tried it before, when waiting anxiously for news, but it did nothing to relieve the tension. It just made my thumbs tense, too.

And I don't actually expect my boss to come in front of me and drop a shoe, but I can picture it. That's it. That's all that happens: she walks up to the desk, holding a red, stilletto-heeled shoe between thumb and forefinger. She looks at me, looks at the shoe. She looks back at me, releases her grip, and the shoe falls with a soft thump on the carpet. She turns on her heel and walks away. Nothing more needs to be said.

(Except I would be sitting there thinking, "So, does that mean I'm dismissed as of right now? Can I count the time cleaning my desk out as being on the clock? Should I say good-bye to people or just leave? I need to delete my web history!")

So yeah, I didn't post yesterday because I didn't have anything to say. I waited all day to hear something, and then around 4 my boss left and said "See you tomorrow!" So I assumed that meant I was employed for another day.

Here it is, another day, and I'm just twiddling my thumbs again, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Happily Unemployed?

I’m completely flummoxed. I don’t even know what to think.

So this job is boring and not challenging at all. But it is a temp job and the people are okay, so I figured I could deal with it for a while. Because it is a job, after all. It gets me out of the house and feeling semi-productive and brings in a little extra money, which never hurts. So although I will complain about it on a regular basis, I still intended to keep doing it.

Today my manager mentioned that she hasn’t trained me on the large database because tomorrow they’re finding out about layoffs.

Really. I guess that’s good to know, huh? So apparently, as of tomorrow, I may or may not be employed.

At first, I thought that I was mad. I was definitely led to think that this was a long-term position. But, they were also upfront about the fact that the university is having budget issues, so I guess I can’t say I wasn’t forewarned.

During lunch, I decided that the strange, ebullient emotion I was feeling was actually not anger or disappointment, but hope. Hope that, through no fault of my own, I will have regained my carefree, lazy days. Writing, reading, running errands, not on any schedule except the one that I set for myself. I would keep applying for jobs, of course, but at the least I would have stolen another week or so of unemployment.

So now I just don’t know what to think. Am I angry and frustrated? Keeping my fingers crossed that I get laid off or not? If tomorrow goes by without any mention of me getting laid off, I’ll be disappointed. I’ll envision all of the fabulous things I could (and assuredly would) be doing without the yoke of gainful employment around my neck. If I get laid off tomorrow, I’ll mope around because I feel guilty and like I’m not contributing to society.

Instead of looking at this as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, I think I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon trying to remember the benefits of both situation.

Monday, May 22, 2006

To Lie Abed

My friends, Monday morning is never a happy time. I hope to someday in my life reach the point where Monday morning dawns just as bright and full of exciting possibilities as Saturday morning.

That day is not today.

But what made it even worse is that Keith stayed home sick. He didn't feel well yesterday evening, and didn't feel any better this morning. I know that he's miserable, but I still can't help being jealous as I drag myself out of bed and to another whole week of work.

Even if he feels better tomorrow, he'll still only have a four-day week. AND a four-day week next week, with Memorial Day. I mean, that's practically getting half of May off! Why doesn't he call it quits until June?!?

I am not complaining about Keith's behavior or work habits in any way, so don't go spreading nasty rumors and getting me in trouble. I'm merely making the observation that it's exceedingly more difficult to get out of bed on Monday morning when a warm, sleepy body is still snuggled under the covers.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Curse of the MA

I have a Master's in English with a concentration in writing. Which is fine and good. Except that, when looking for a job, it messes with my mind.

I got my MA because I wanted it. I knew that, without going on to get a Ph.D. in English, an MA is pretty worthless. Which was fine. It wasn't really about getting ahead. (That would be an MBA.) I like reading and literature and school, and it was free since I was working on campus, so I did it. And I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished that had nothing to do with my job or career. It was just something I wanted to do, and I did it.

But now I'm looking for jobs. And I've turned into a snob. I'm not sure if it's my voice in my head or that of career counselors and well-meaning acquaintances, telling me that surely having a master's should be worth something.

Honestly, it's not. It's not good for anything except preventing me from applying for good jobs with decent pay because I feel like I should get something better. Like people should be knocking down my door because I have a master's. But they don't. And I get frustrated and feel under appreciated and severely underpaid.

I'm glad that I got my Master's because I wanted it and I like to bring it up in conversations when I would like to seem smart. But I think I need to consider it as completely irrelevant to the job search. Everyone else seems to.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Administrative Procedures

One of the tasks that I’ve inherited at my temp job is to revise the outdated Administrative Procedures Manual.

I completely agree that having a Procedures Manual is important, particularly for a temp position where employees come and go more often than the NSA puts on new wire taps. A procedures manual can help ensure a certain level of continuity, and prevent the disadvantageous situation where you discover that no one in the office knows how to turn that machine on or what to do in an important yet exceedingly rare situation. (Like when Bush actually discloses relevant information to the public.)

All of this I understand and agree with. However, I think the type of content necessary in this manual is, surprisingly, debatable like a guest worker program.

This particular procedural manual is roughly 45 pages in length. The first 6 pages are a combination of telephone operation instructions and phone etiquette. Personally, I think the etiquette tips are excessive. They can’t just say “Don’t chew gum or hang up on people.” Oh no.

One of the suggested ways to make a caller’s first impression “the best one possible” urges me to:
Smile while you talk. You’ll feel good inside and this feeling will carry over the phone.
Really? That’s all you need to do to combat any type of bad mood or severe depression? Turn that frown upside down? If only more people could read this administrative procedures manual, we could cut Medicare funding even further and everyone could transfer calls straight to voicemail!

When I try to picture myself smiling for the benefits of callers, it looks distinctly like a threatening snarl. Kind of like the look on Bush’s face when trapped by angry journalists. Although I’m tempted to add some etiquette tips of my own, I think I’ll stick to updating how one transfers calls directly to voicemail.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Woxy Rocks!

I think that I have been negligent in my promotion of woxy, but I'm telling you all right now, you should listen to this Internet radio station 24/7. Woxy is like the coolest best friend you never had.

I started listening when I was looking for a radio station soon after moving to Dayton and found one that played JJ72 then Pearl Jam. To find a station that played JJ72 at all, much less followed by Pearl Jam?!? It was a miracle.

A few years ago, they sold the "terrestrial station" as the kids call it, and moved over to solely Internet broadcasting. There is a monthly fee if you want the supercool bestest streaming sound, but if you're just giving it a try you can also listen for free to a 24k stream.

Although woxy and I always got along fabulously, we grew apart at my last full-time job, when I wasn't allowed to listen to streaming media. I'd drop in and say "hi" every once in a while, but not too often. Now, at my most recent job, I can listen to the radio all day and woxy and I are again BFF.

Which reminds me that I should be touting the benefits of woxy to everyone I know. It will make your hair thicker, help you lose weight, bring you better luck in life and love, and get rid of the dandelions in your front yard. Additionally, they also play fantastic indie/alternative bands like:
  • Gomez
  • Pearl Jam
  • Placebo
  • The Shins
  • Postal Service
  • Ben Harper
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Sleater-Kinney
and many multitudes more. So quit reading, and go check it out! (If you're too lazy to scroll up to the link at the top of the article, click here.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Classical Dilemma

So maybe I’m going at the “reading the classics” the wrong way.

Yesterday Keith and I were trolling Borders for books on my Top 100 list. I ended up rejecting any that we found because they were too long (one was in two volumes!) or, upon reading the back cover, seemed too abstract and artsy.

It seems that combining reading the classics with an annual reading goal is counterproductive. Because whenever I pick up something that seems the least bit daunting (nearly everything on the list), all I can think is “it would take me forever to read this!”

But really, I feel like I need to set goals for reading the classics because, for the most part, they’re hard work. There’s a million books out there that are easier to read, more fast-paced, etc. And of course I intersperse those amongst the classics. (I’m very excited to start The Man Who Loved Jane Austen at lunch today!). But I do want to read these influential, ground-breaking novels. So I make a list, and give myself a deadline. And then don’t read the books because I don’t think I’ll make the deadline. Oh, and whine about how difficult it all is.

After one trip around the store, I did end up going back and getting Don Quixote because, while the list is 99% unnumbered, they did list Don Quixote as the #1 novel of all time, so I am definitely intrigued. Besides, if high schoolers taking Spanish can read it, surely I can. Right?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sadly, Fully Employed

So in case the dearth of postings last week wasn't a sure sign, I am officially—regretfully—informing you all that I am once again employed. I'm working as a temp admin. assistant on a college campus. The office is nice, the people are nice, but the drive sucks because it's on the other side of town. Good thing there's audiobooks to keep me awake!

I was actually quite despondent when I heard the news. I had slipped easily into my daily routine of running errands, walking the dog, writing, reading, and generally enjoying myself. I did things like spend hours watering the grass and stripping the paint off the front railings as penance for my idle enjoyment while the rest of the household labored away, but overall it was a great life.

Plus, I had done everything possible to look for a job. I'd sent out resumes, worked contacts, scoured Monster and Careerbuilder. I'd even called no less than 3 Kelly offices—all of which said they had no openings. So I could enjoy myself without feeling guilty that I should try harder to find a job. I had tried, it hadn't worked out yet, and therefore I could reap the benefits of being unemployed without the guilt.

Alas, this came to an abrupt end a couple weeks ago. I had an interview on Wednesday, I got the job on Thursday, and I started on Monday. Suddenly, not only am I working full-time, but I'm spending another 2 hours or so commuting. My lazy, carefree days are gone for now. But I'll remember them fondly.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Trivia Sucks

So last night was Keith's and my first pub quiz (although Cathy and Amy are old veterans), and I have to say: I wasn't impressed with myself. I mean, our team did okay. We didn't completely embarrass ourselves, but we didn't exactly set the place on fire and inspire all the other contestants to break into spontaneous cheers of admiration, if you know what I mean.

I mean, let's talk about this whole concept of "trivia." The definition of trivia, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, is "insignificant or inessential matters; trifles." So why, when I don't know trivia, do I feel stupid or less educated than the guy that can identify a picture of Dr. Seuss? (true story, we thought it was C. Everett Koop. Whoops!)

I think that, in our modern era where we never have enough time to do anything properly, trivia geeks are our version of a Renaissance Man. A jack of all trades. If you know random factoids in many different categories, you have proven your mastery over life. You can engage in witty repartee and sparkling dinner conversation. Everyone wants you on their team for any game that might somewhat involve intelligence.

People do ask me to be on their teams, falsely assuming that someone with a Masters in English must surely know something. Usually I end up spouting out random facts that actually have no relation to the question at hand. Like, if the question is what conflict is featured in Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls," I'll talk about John Donne and his religious conversion that completely changed his poetry mid-career. Not helpful.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pub Quiz

In honor of the Pub Quiz tonight, I thought I'd give you all a quiz on miscellaneous random facts. If you're looking for the answers, click on the comments. (To be fair, I knew very little of this myself—most of it came from Good luck!
  1. Where does the word "pub" come from?
  2. Who said, "You can take a whore to culture but you can't make her think?"
  3. In 965, King Edgar decreed that there should be no more than __ alehouses per village?
  4. When does the Guinness Co's lease on St. James' Gate Brewery end?
  5. In nine men's morris, a popular pub game, how many players are there?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Knit Together

Not to seem like I'm slacking or anything .... but I have to study up for Pub Quiz tomorrow night. I've been hearing about it for ages, and I want to help Nuns with Guns get first place! (Or there'll be hell to pay ...;)

So yeah, you should all read the story that I wrote (and got paid!) for Romantic Short Love Stories. Here's the overview:
All work and no play, Norah decided to take up a new hobby. After all knitting was one of those little hobbies that her hands could do while her mind was elsewhere. It all seemed so easy at first, until her knitting instructor David entered the picture. Friendly, soft-spoken, and absolutely gorgeous... the kind of teacher any girl could fall for. Then why was it that she could barely even stand the guy?
If you're interested, check it out here*!

Oh, and today is my mom's birthday. Happy birthday Mom!

*Link is now defunct.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Trusty Guide Articles

In case I never mentioned it, the Trusty Guide to Scrapbooking is up and fabulous, if I do say so myself. Obviously I'm biased, but I do think the articles are well written and informative. (Or is that because I've only read my own ...)

Here's a list of existing guides on the site. It's somewhat outdated, so feel free to just go and peruse. I'm also currently working on a guide to Hardwood Flooring, so look for that in the near future. I hope you find the guides helpful!

Career & Education
Study Skills
Public Speaking
Student Loans

Business & Finance
Retirement Planning
Identity Theft

Health & Fitness
Laser Eye Surgery
Bikram Yoga
Back Pain
Healthy Eating
Cold and Flu
Acupuncture for Infertility
Teeth Whitening

Family & Parenting
Potty Training
Wedding Vows

Home & Garden
Home Renovation
Selling Your Home
Feng Shui
Solar Panels

Hobbies & Games
Wine Making