Friday, February 23, 2007

one more thing

Last week I attempted to "mobile blog" several pictures from my camera phone. But for some reason about 6 of them never showed up. I'm noticing today that they are slowly popping up one by one. It should be interesting to see if they show up in order!

so far so good

So far I have 4 job interviews lined up next week. Three on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. And all of them pay at least $12K more than I was making at that other place. If you ever need a little boost to know that "yes, I was worth a lot more than I was getting," it really does feel good when you tell a recruiter how much you were making, and they bust out laughing. One job even pays $30K more than I was making- not a shabby payraise I tell you! My decision to leave that place feels better with every passing day. Oh, and speaking of which, they *only* withheld my wages for 2 weeks, and the check finally arrived today. (which, just for the record, was completely illegal. company contract or not, it violated a maryland state law and a federal labor law. the book isn't closed on that experience yet.) But not till after they accused me of stealing a printer (which they mysteriously found shortly thereafter). Seriously, I don't miss that place at all.

So 4 job interviews and 2 days of volunteering next week. Unemployment leaves no time at all for laziness I tell you! Where are my days filled with bonbons and napping? I think unemployment was supposed to be fun and easy?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Do I have to get back on the airplane??

My Utah vacation has come to an end. And as my sister so eloquently put it, "Three days really flies by fast when all you do is sit around on the couch and feel sick." It's true. I didn't get to do half of what I had hoped while I was out here due to this lingering stomach bug. I have now officially shared it with 5 other people, possibly 6. And quite frankly, it's not getting any better. My mother is convinced it is salmonella, and I am convinced it is not. I think we can safely blame US Airways for leaving me in germ infested airports for hours on end for whatever bug I have. Which is also why I have no desire whatsoever to get back on a plane and travel again tomorrow. But seeing as I don't live here, and my nephews would like their couch back (the couch I have been sleeping on is their video game playing couch), I have to give up and go home. On the bright side, I did line up 2 job interviews back home while I was out here, and I completed my main goal of the trip- Porter (the 2 yr old nephew) will now let me hold him. Wish me luck that tomorrow's flying experience will go a little smoother than last week's!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It is fun to be right

My vacation is finally starting to feel like a vacation and less like a punishment. The jet lag is over and the food poisoning is lessening. Hallelujah! I should be completely well and whole by the time I have to fly back home on Wednesday.
One of the more unique parts of this trip is getting to meet several new friends. As several readers of this blog know (because they are one of them), I have lots of "internet friends." I met Stacer at the writer's conference this week, and she was exactly what I thought she would be. Later that day I met ShaBang and others, and again, no surprises there. And last night I met Eric, and again, he was exactly what I expected.
It is always interesting to meet an "internet friend." Especially if it is someone like Stacer or Eric that I have been getting to know for so long. I think I've been reading Stacy's blog for almost 2 years, and I "met" Eric just about one year ago. You always have to wonder how much of their personality you have invented in your head or added to your conversations. And then be willing to completely abandon all those thoughts the second you finally meet this person and start from scratch.
Getting to meet these friends has been the high point of this trip so far. (The flight out here obviously being the lowpoint.) And only finding pleasant surprises in them has been particularly enjoyable.

(Sidenote: I feel I should report on the Tavernacle, since I have spoken of my love of such places so many times before. Eric and I went to the Tavernacle last night. It's SLC's version of a dueling pianos bar. It's a fun place and we enjoyed it a lot. However, it must be said, that as fun as it is, it is no JellyRolls. It must also be said and mocked that for the last 3 weeks Eric really thought I didn't know how to spell or say "tabernacle" properly, and thought I wanted to go see the Mormon Tabernacle at Temple Square. I set him straight on that one finally.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It feels like a Beatles' song in here

After getting some much needed sleep and a big home-cooked dinner on Thursday night, and almost, but not fully recovering from the trip from hell, I headed off to the "Life, The Universe and Everything," literary conference at BYU yesterday. And as you can see from the picture below, I met blog friend Stacer there. Stacer is an editor at a Young Adult Sci Fi/Fantasy publishing house. I really enjoyed the conference and learned quite a bit. I am not a Sci Fi or Fantasy person, and therefore skipped the classes on the politics of "Dawn of the Dead" and "How to Create Your Own Alien Language," but really enjoyed the classes on getting published, grammer, and the writer's workshop. There was just one flaw in the day.
Food poisoning.
On top of already still feeling dehydrated from the flight out here, the big delicious home-cooked meal left me, my sister, and brother-in-law with food poisoning. Which is why today my sister and I have opted for a nice long day of sitting on the couch and watching movies together. (Her husband and 2 older boys are in Reno. We get the pleasure of enjoying 2 yr old Porter and his exploded ear drum ear infection.)
Last night I enjoyed going out with Stacer to meet some of our other "internet" friends at a party. ShaBang, Just Beautiful and Manda Panda were just as much fun in person as they are online.
Oh and something funny happened while on the BYU campus yesterday. Around 7 pm I was walking through the CougarEat (giving in and eating there for the first time in my life) I ran into Walter VanderHeide. Totally random! (Walter and I are old friends from DC. He moved to Utah about 2 yrs ago I think.) It really is a very small world!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ugh, Ugh, and More Ugh

So as you may have noticed from my cell phone blogged pictures, the last 30 hours have pretty much sucked. It went something like this-

9 am- arrive National airport, stand in line for 3 hours to get rebooked because my 10 am flight was canceled

12 noon- get no promises whatsoever that I can be ticketed anywhere, but get put on standby for the 4:30 flight

4:30 flight becomes a 6 pm flight

6pm- I easily make the flight to Phoenix, where I am told I have no problems making my 10:50 pm connection to SLC

Our flight ran out of food and toilet paper less than 2 hours into the flight.

9 pm- Pilot announces that we are landing shortly... in freaking Albequerque!!! There are thunderstorms in Phoenix and we don't have enough fuel to wait it out, so we're going to ABQ.

10 pm- We leave ABQ

10:45 pm- Crew chief announces that we are landing and asks that anyone who (and i quote) "doesn't have a prayer of making a connection" please stay in their seats, and let those who just might still make the Vegas or SLC connections run for it. Some people are very mean and did not cooperate. I get out and RUN across the airport. And it isn't a short run. Keep in mind I haven't had anything to eat in nearly 10 hours at this point and I am exhausted.

10:52 pm- Run up to my gate to see my flight to SLC backing away from the terminal. I do everything in my power to not cry.

11 pm- Wait my turn to see the customer service rep. She doesn't make me happy. She hands me a coupon for a discounted hotel room. Only $140 with the discount. Gee thanks. And when she sees my shaky hands (I'm a little weak from hunger), I get a $10 voucher for a meal in the airport. Never mind that everything in the airport is closed this late at night. She then looks up flights for me and says she can get me out on a freaking 2 pm flight on Thursday or a 5 pm flight on Saturday. SATURDAY????? I think not. And she asked this as if there was actually a choice. She books me for 2 pm, and gives me the standby options for other flights, telling me it is hopeless.

12 am- I decide my best options for the night will improve if I flirt with the TSA and Phoenix PD guys. This proves very beneficial, as one of them tells me where I can find a 24 hour bakery in the airport, and another one gives me a big hint that rather than sleep in airport chairs, I can sleep in the Starbucks. I point out that Starbucks is closed and there is a Tensa-Rope thing blocking it off. His response, "I'm security. Who's going to stop you?" Priceless. A full stomach later, I find this mystery Starbucks and claim a big cushy chair as my bed for the night, using a wooden chair to prop my feet up. (Being kind and leaving the other cushy chair for someone else to use later.) The Phoenix PD guy is even nice enough to move the Tensa Rope Barrier thing for me as my hands were full.

I won't lie to you. It wasn't the best night of sleep I have ever had. It pretty much sucked, but it was so much better than some of the other airport options. Needless to say, by this point my cell phone was completely dead and of no use to me. However, my knitting project I had been working on and finished earlier in the day came in very handy. A nice new scarf made for the perfect pillow!

I woke up around 4:30 am, thanks to time differences and floor puffing machines. I worked my way down to the US Air counter, hoping for good news on the 8 am standby. Granted, it was only about 5;30 am by that point, but I was bored. Well, it was a good thing I went down there so early. There were massive complications with my ticket. The genius from the night before hadn't really booked me on the 2 pm flight, and had somehow canceled my return ticket, and listed Phoenix as my final destination. Oh Joy. So she rebooks everything and gives me hope for the 8 am standby. I go and buy a new phone charger, and wait for the flight, praying the flight from Austin doesn't show up, and all those people miss their connections to SLC.

8 am- Austin flight lands. My hopes are dashed.
8:01- the El Paso flight is now delayed, I still have hope. They board the flight. It still looks good. They call my name. I'm first in line! But wait! No, there's a problem. The computer says there are 2 seats available, but the hand count says it is full. In cases like this they solve it by walking you down to the plane and doing a visual check. (All that freaking technology and this is the answer.) There's no seats left on the plane. Fighting back tears, I walk back up the ramp to the gate.

8:10 am- Freaking kid working at the gate informs me "I knew the flight was full. I rolled you over to the 11 am flight for standby already." Using every last bit of patience and energy I have to not burst into tears, I turn around and walk away. The kid yells at my back very sarcastically, "And you are so welcome." I turned around, fully crying, and said (not loud enough for him to hear) "Up yours."

I go and call my mom, sister and Juli. Some of them got the crying me, some of them didn't. At 8:30 I see that the Customer Service desk has a short line and I really want to complain about the kid and see if I can get another meal voucher. That is when I met the angel. Her name was Ann Marie Halvorsen and she was the Customer Service Manager for the desk. She looks at my tickets, asks how long I have been traveling, and I tell her the full story. She looks shocked. She asks why I wasn't offered first class yet. I ask her the same. She looks at my tickets again and gets concerned. Somehow, I am still not really ticketed for the 2 pm flight. She starts making phone calls. She smiles. I smile. She says to someone on the phone, "If you were here right now, she'd hug you." I take this as a good sign. She books me on the 11 am flight, first row.

I kill even more time in the airport.

11 am- they change the gate

12- we're still not on the plane. Something about mechanical difficulties.
12:45- we board the plane. Ground crew suddenly comes on board because we have a weight distribution problem.

1pm- we finally FINALLY take off. I nearly cry from joy (or is it exhaustion?). I sleep the entire flight to SLC.

3 pm- my sister picks me up. My luggage (in case you were wondering) arrived on a nonstop flight early on Wednesday. I am happily reunited with clean clothes and toiletries (and nephews and my sister).

4 pm- I get a much needed shower.

Now, it is time for the much needed full meal and a nap.

I'm finally here. Finally freaking here.

still in phoenix airport. mechanical problems. save me!




Wednesday, February 14, 2007

6 hours and counting

6 hrs and no end in sight

Bad start to trip

Mobile Blogger

In about 6 hours I begin the trek west. My email and internet time will be seriously limited. But alas, you have no reason to fear blog readers! My new razr phone supports mobile blogging. So you can join in the fun from my vacation with the occasional cell phone pic sent straight to blogger. I'm sure you are as excited as I am about this development.

As you can see, my darling little brother (the Mancub) is my first candid mobile blogger post. He says hello.

You have new Picture Mail!


Monday, February 12, 2007

Maybe it is only fun for me, but fun it is!

Last week in one of the events that lead up to me leaving the company was the comment "you are bad for this company's image in the industry." This was just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. Earlier that day I had been asked to be on an industry advisory board and got the company on the front page of a magazine. That spot won't be offered to the person that gets hired to take my spot.

I submitted a resume on Sunday to one of the companies on the board. They called me to set up a job interview with them.

Yes, I am just terrible for the company's image in this industry. I have a horrible reputation. People must really think I'm an awful person. That explains so much! Like jobs that pay $30K more than I was making. And people coming out of the woodwork (in the industry) to help me out. Really, I was just awful.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Situational Disobedience

Today we had Stake Conference, rather than regular church. We had several excellent talks, but one really jumped out at me. Sister Richards mentioned something she calls "situational disobedience." I've heard her use this phrase before, and as before, it really hit home with me. "Situational Disobedience" is when we choose the situations or circumstances in which we blatantly, or maybe just subconsiously, choose to ignore commandments of God. Some call this being "a la carte" religious. We pick and choose the parts of religion we want to obey or acknowledge. Or we say I will be good in all things, except for this one thing. What gives us the right to say we know better than God in this one situation or instance?

It has brought me to think more about something that has now happened twice in my life. If you know me, you know I never cuss. There are a few words in my vocabulary that I use to express feelings upon occasion, but as a general rule, I do not cuss. Nor do I cuss another one out. In the workplace, particularly my last 2 workplaces, cussing was completely common and normal amongst my peers. I know that it was noted that I choose not to cuss because of the frequency with which people would apologize for cussing in my presence. This both amused and complimented me. At the job prior to this one (the 911 job) it was almost overwhelming to me how foul the language around me was. In the last night at my job there the proverbial poop hit the fan. Everyone around me was swearing, and things got nasty. In the course of things a person I really really strongly disliked chose to break all protocols and rules and did something to get intentionally in my way, and kept me from doing my job (in a 911 situation, that's a pretty bad situation). I responded with a very well placed and physically impossible swear word. And I got written up for it. It was humiliating to me that me, the good little Mormon girl, was getting written up for doing something everyone else around me did on a regular basis. I quit my job that night. But before leaving I asked why I was written up for it. The answer was at first "because it is against protocols." I pointed out that it was the one and only time I have ever cussed and yet everyone else did it regularly. Their response? Yes, but you knew it was wrong, and therefore meant it to be offensive. That couldn't have made me feel more guilty and worse. And made me realize that no matter what, I would always be held to a higher standard, even by people who have no idea what that higher standard is.
Something similar happened recently. A few weeks ago I used the same choice word in a directive. And was written up for it. I consider pretty much everyone involved in that situation to be a hypocrite at this point in time. Again, it is a word used commonly by everyone else that was in the situation. But obviously, I haven't spent my entire career writing up co-workers for their choice in language. And yet, the one time I use it, what do I get? Because I know that all of those people are reading this, I have this to express. If it is a word that obviously I consider to be abhorrent, and personally choose to never use, how upset must I have been that I did choose to use it in that setting? There are 2 sides to every story, and I know that in the past few days, my story has not been heard out in the least. And I am not going to express it beyond these thoughts.
But I do want it to be said and noted that I do choose to not speak in certain terms. And in the only times I have ever expressed myself that forcefully, I meant it. However, all things being what they are and have been, and in what I am learning now about "situational disobedience," I think it is safe to say, I won't be sinking to that level again.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Happy Thoughts

I know it has only been 2 days since I resigned, but I'm feeling so much better now. I'm considerably happier knowing that I have options and freedom. And of course, I am very happy about going on vacation this week. My poor sister has had to put up with me calling to plan and re-plan my trip every day for a month now, and I still don't have it completely planned! But as of right now, the plan kind of looks like this-
Wednesday- get there, watch the nephews while their parents go on a Valentine's date. Hopefully hang out with girlfriends later.
Thursday- attend "Life, the Universe and Everything" literary conference. Meet internet friend Stacer! Stacy is speaking at the conference, and I will be learning from the master.
Friday- maybe attend the conference again, possibly have a job interview. We shall see. Friday night- go to the Tavernacle! (you know how i love my dueling piano bars!)
Saturday- skiing with my sister. Heaven help us all. Saturday night- Monster Truck Jam!! My nephews and my friend Eric will be joining me for the monster trucks.
Sunday- it's Sunday, what do you expect I'll be doing?
Monday- can't tell! It's a secret.
Tuesday- the all important Aunt Erin and Nephews time. This is also known as "the nephews convince Aunt Erin to give them all of her money" time.
Wednesday- go home. But only if they make me.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Unexpected Turn of Events

I felt a bit prophetic today. Earlier this week I expressed to my parents that things were getting so miserable for me at work, that I didn't expect to stay there much longer. I've been frustrated, angry and completely fed up with certain aspects of my job, and wasn't handling the stress of it very well. Things finally came to a head today, and well, I resigned. And although I gave 2 weeks notice, I was escorted out immediately. (Nothing quite like feeling like a criminal, all because you don't want to work there anymore.)
I'm not going to explain the situation or give the details. (That would only fuel a fire I'm eager to leave behind.) But it was very... relieving? to walk out of there today. A huge burden has been lifted, and the thing I have dreaded dealing with the most is finally over with.
But in the meantime, I have no phone numbers for anyone anymore! And whatever the phone number is you have for me, it's wrong. I won't be posting it on here, but if you want the house number to call me on, leave me a message, and I'll email it to you. Hopefully, I will have time to pick up a new cell phone before I go to Utah on Wednesday.
Am I crazy for going to Utah on vacation now that I'm unemployed? My mother thinks so. But I'll be taking the chance to look for jobs in Utah. I'm not limiting myself to jobs in DC. I've got a whole world of opportunities out there. I actually kinda like the idea of moving to New Orleans- I really liked it there. The job search has already begun for me. My misery lead me to start applying for jobs about 3 weeks ago. So wish me luck, and if you know of any marketing or trade show positions, that require a strong writing background, let me know!
In the meantime- seriously, people! I am very happy! This is a good thing for me!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Real New Orleans vs. CNN New Orleans

I learned something interesting today. CNN really likes to exaggerate a slightly interesting story. I'm guessing I heard 5-10 different people say, "This is the real New Orleans, not the CNN New Orleans," today.

I came down here seriously doubting the ability of New Orleans to have rebounded well enough to host a convention the size of the one I will be attending here. Having spent 24 hours here, I now have no doubts at all that this city is doing just fine.

Coming down the freeway from the airport, I saw a little bit of remaining damage in a few deserted buildings. But in the French Quarter I haven't seen anything wrong. In fact, I'd almost say some parts of the city are better than ever before. The theme of the day was, "When we got the chance to rebuild, we didn't just rebuild, we improved." (And quite a bit of that improvement was done with tax dollars/FEMA money.) I've been here once before, and enjoyed the city, but didn't fall in love with it. Today I discovered that I actually really do like this city a lot.

Enjoy the pictures of the city!

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's all about the Big Easy, Baby

In a few minutes I will be off to New Orleans for a "hotel lottery." I've done this twice before, once in Miami, and once in Boston. The last time I was in New Orleans was just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina. I remember clearly that my hotel in NO cost $249/night back then. This week I'm pay $70/night, including taxes. Life is definitely still not the same in the Big Easy. We will be the guests of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and be given a tour of all the hotels and special events spaces available to our group when we return there in the fall. I'm curious to see how "real" this tour will be. Will we see any of the damaged areas? Or will we be kept to the cleaned up and revitalized areas? I noticed our assigned hotel isn't on Bourbon St, but instead off of Tchoupitoulas, over in the Warehouse District. Makes me wonder if they have something to hide?
Granted, we all know the damage is there. But a city trying to bring in big dollars in a convention may want us to see the shiny happy areas, and less of the continuing damage. Either way, I'm curious to see how this all goes. And no matter what, but 6 pm tonight I will have endulged in the most important of all activities in New Orleans- a big fat bowl of red beans and rice- Cajun style. Oh yeah baby! If there is one thing I truly loved about the Big Easy it was the food. (While there before I got compliments and kudos from restaurant staff for my ability to eat their Cajun goodness without breaking a sweat. All that time spent in Mississippi and Houston has done me well.)
And on that happy thought, I am off!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Moments of Impatient Clarity and Chaos

Have you ever noticed when you want the phone to ring, you can hear it "phantom ringing" everywhere? The washing machine starts, and suddenly you hear you cell phone 200 ft away rinigng in your purse? You are outside by your car, but you can sense that the house phone in your bedroom is ringing? You go to the bathroom, wash your hands, and suddenly over the sound of the running water, you just *know* your cell is vibrating somewhere. I'm *hoping* for a few phone calls right now. And no matter what the other sound is in the house- the tv, the radio, the vaccuum, or no sound emitting device at all, I hear the phone ringing through it. And don't get me started on how if I'm in the car, every single song has a melody that vaguely resembles my ringtone. If the phone is more than an arm's length away from me, I think I can hear it somewhere. When I am actually holding it, I imagine it vibrating. Has it actually rung or vibrated once? No. But that's okay, my nerves are ready to pounce in case it actually does.

10 days and a wakeup

10 days and a wakeup till I get to see the buggers!
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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Shake My Fist and Count My Blessings

I don't know about you, but sometimes there are days when things just suck so much that I just want to shake my fist towards the sky and scream out, "why? what the hell did I do to deserve this?" I've done my fair share of fist shaking today. I'm still shaking a little bit, but slowly calming down. I'm trying to dry up my tears. And there is only one way I know how to do that. I count my blessings and the things that make me happy today.

1. Cali explaining to me her cat didn't miss her while she was on vacation because he was too busy with his girlfriend.

2. That I have friends I can see the world completely different from and yet it will in no way make us less friends.

3. I really do love my little car, even if it does suck on wet roads and has a busted up windshield.

4. Next week I will be in sunny 60 degree weather in New Orleans.

5. There are people in my life that are truly truly talented.

6. I had a new baby cousin born today! (10 lbs 10 oz, natural home birth- GO TAMI!)

7. There is someone in my life that makes me laugh every time we talk.

8. In just two weeks I will be with my nephews in Utah.

9. In just two weeks I will be with a very funny friend in Utah.

10. Tonight is the Thursday Night Dinner Club (chicken tikka masala!).

11. We are planning an open mic night at my house in a few more weeks.

12. I know without question there is a God and He loves me and forgives the fist shaking.

13. I like my new roommate.

14. I have several friends have weddings over the next 3 months. And I am happy for all of them.

15. Making lists makes me happy.

16. My back hasn't hurt in a week.

17. My copy of Harry Potter is on pre-order at Barnes and Noble.

18. My brother joined the Utah Air National Guard today.

19. I really like watching the Super Bowl.

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