Thursday, March 31, 2005

Attempt IX at publishing the rest of the pre-lunch post:

article on how a living will can be the best revenge ( ). Finally, we can all delete the Living Will with Surrogate Designation downloads off our desktops, and stop getting creeped out by the thought of ourselves lying comatose with bad haircuts and drool on our faces for fifteen years straight. I'm just saying.
Crud, this is why I've read to save your hard-written thoughts before hitting the "Publish Post" button.

Okay, I lost a long and thoughtful post about how sweet and fresh-feeling the freedom of being a lame-duck employee is (like a douche, though I wouldn't know for sure), so to summarize: you get to shut down the cruel and backstabbing executive secretary who has made your life misreable over the past three years. Ha!

And, apparently Terri Schiavo has left the building (or borne up on the wings of angels into her heavenly throne, whichever you prefer). Via Nancy this morning, I found this great St. Petersburg Times article on how a article on how a

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I have to say I writing a job ad for your own job is a strange, but fufilling experience. My ad is way better than the one I responded to.

I got the offer in a phone call this morning. It turns out I never should have given them the exact amount of my current salary. I just have a hard time fudging numbers and facts, unless I've really committed and even practiced the "untruth" in my head. Now, I have to try to negotiate more salary, something I feel totally unequipped to do. The teeny-tiny stick figure stressing out deep in the pit of my abdomen says, "Hey, they're paying you more -- 13.5% more* -- than what you're making now, you should be grateful!" I'll have to take tips from my dad (who has ton of experience in salary negotiation), but that makes me nervous because last time he gave me career advice, it was wrong. Like, razing and burning villages wrong.

One interesting point: my current boss interviewed for the same position. She apparently was put off by all the writing and turned down a second interview. ("Are you sure you want to do all that writing?" she asked when I told her, and I bit my lip to keep from rolling my eyes.) Second interesting point: they told her the salary was $13k more than what they offered me. Seems like I might somehow use that as leverage, but I'm not sure how.

Bloggage: linking to a Slate article seems silly (doesn't everyone read it?) but I'm doing it anyway. I like thinking about how our relationships as parents or children can somehow be purer, more sincere, than our political leanings reveal.

Well, I'm off to cash an expense check to pay for a celebratory job-offer/job resignation dinner. Thank GOD for expense checks.

*The recruiter repeated this number twice, like she needed to convince me.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ah, never has Easter been so relaxing. I told Joseph, now I know how the Hindus and Muslims feel on Christian holidays -- just another day, except the only businesses open are the drugstores and Meijer. Why does Jesus dying on the cross mean I can't go shopping for a new handbag at the mall? As I grow more and more comfortable with athiesim, or agnosticism (either way, it doesn't really matter), I grow more frustrated with people who blindly follow along without really thinking about why they do it. I chalk it up to a phrase a professor of mine used: "It doesn't so much matter what's true, just what's useful." People find it useful to believe in god(s). I don't, but I've decided not to knock their tools for dealing with the hardships of life.

Whew. It's too early in the day and the week to be talking religion.

For the first time in my memory, Easter Sunday had beautiful weather. After the ice age we just made it through, sunshine and warm temps feels like paradise. The whole family packed up and walked down to the park. Grace tried to get her new kite, from the Easter Bunny, to fly but there wasn't enough breeze. But both her and I got good exercise running around the soccer field with it flitting behind us. Jack rode in the baby swing and laughed. We found a dented and cracked wiffle ball and bat, and I had a lovely time tossing the ball up in the air and whacking the hell out of it*. After we got home, everyone but Grace took a nap.

Other events this weekend:
  • Friday night: One of Joseph's high school friends had a 30th birthday party at this seedy bar/bowling alley. We were both feeling very successful with our college degrees (okay, almost-degree with Joseph) and our house in the swanky side of town. Not something I'd do every weekend, but fun for a night.
  • Saturday: Decorating Easter eggs at Joe's dad's house. Dinner was fabulous, plus had some very nice conversations with step-mother-in-law. She's so much nicer than my biological mother-in-law.
  • Sunday night: Easter dinner at biological mother-in-law's, which was great fun and not at all irritating, like usual**. Ate way too much, but it all tasted so rich and flavorful and holiday-esque. Just like a holiday should taste.

And this morning, after my shower, Joseph and I managed to sneak in a little Monday morning grown-up fun. He loves me so much. I love him too. Life is good.

*Turns out my athletic prowress is not limited to the eliptical machine!
** certainly because I was pretty drunk. Alcohol: makes your in-laws fun!

Friday, March 25, 2005

You can now make Peeps at home. It says to eat the marshmellows right away, but I think Peeps are best aged a week or two. The consistency is both firm and yielding.
The job interview? It went fabulously (thanks for asking). For weeks, I've been scouring the Internet looking for those really tought interview questions, then writing out three possible responses to each one. I've had my interview "outfit" (he, I love that word) ready for a week. I practiced in the mirror, planned out the exact arrangement of each hair in my tresses. I was READY. During the first interview (this was the third) Joseph said "Be confident!" before we parted for work that morning. This time, he kissed me on the cheek and murmurred, "You're awesome." And I am.

Of course, no one at my current job really cared where I was yesterday afternoon, so it was fairly easy to make an offhand comment about visiting another plant then take off. I made sure that all lose ends were tied up: newsletter went to the printer, phone calls returned, photos taken and that was it. I cruised out to Holland, breathing deeply and saying to myself, "You are relaxed," a tip I read in one of the zillions of articles on interviewing on the web. I reviewed all my pre-answered interview questions in the car, enjoyed the sunshine, bright and warm through the windows, then stepped into the building.

I sat down first with the woman who would be my supervisor, who immediately starts going over all the projects she wants me to work on. I'm a little taken aback by this. Is this an interview or a staff meeting? I nod, and answer to everything some version of, "Sure, I can do that." Then she says something like, "...if you get this job. Oh, what the heck, I'm just going to stop saying that." Now, at first I'm shocked by this. I'm someone that over-analyzes every inflection of every syllable someone says, so then I think, well, maybe she thinks she's being too wordy, or it's somehow not appropriate to say that in a job interview. More analyzing confirms that this is completely riduculous. Then I think, "COOL." I sit back and enjoy the interview.

She then shows me around the huge building, and it occurs to me this is going to be a big change for me. My current company, with its six separate facilities, is about the size of their corporate headquarters. I make a mental note to spend the weekend re-reading Covey and the new organizing book I picked up, Getting Things Done by David Allen. Gotta get out of this lazy, corporate-hating mindset I've been wallowing in for the past six months.

We head over the the HR Veep's office, and as we wait for her to finish her conference call, we have a very nice conversation about vacation, where my future boss mentions that her husband makes string instruments, like guitars and dulcimers. I mention my daughter really likes to bang around on her grandmother's dulcimer. Here's the one point I wish I would have done things differently: she asks, oh you have children, and I freeze. Remembering all the interview articles I read, and how you shouldn't discuss your personal life, I smile weakly and nod, then change the subject. I don't know, it's just my dorky manner to do things by the book, and instead of talking about how great Grace is, I act like I'm hiding something, maybe the fact I lost my kids to the court system because I locked them in the basement.

Again, I'm probably over-analyzing here.

The rest of the interview went fine. At the end, I spent some time with someone who would be a close co-worker. Luckily, she's a runner and so am I, so we chatted while touring the corporate health club (perk!). We also talked sewing, which we both do a little of. It was a little weird trying to think of things to casually say to get her to like me. I think it ended well, though I may have seemed a little eager to leave (again, more un-due analysis, probably).

When I got home, the family went out to eat a dinner we probably can't afford; I ate too much, but felt good about life. I really wish I could just get the offer so I could get on with this. It's been killing me not to be able to tell my best girlfriends here at work all the hilarious side stories that have been involved with this whole process (like when the recruiter asked, "Oh, do you think the President of ---- will be crushed when you leave?" during the second interview). Also, I'm really looking forward to doing the "I Quit" dance. But hey, I was in the Army. I could minor in waiting.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Whew! Today has been killer busy at work today!

You know, preparing for that third job interview I have this afternoon out in Holland. Lots of studying behavioral interview questions, brushing up on my active verbs, and making CDs of my portfolio to hand out to the interviewers.

If I don't get an offer, I'm pretty sure it's only because the President's daughter applied for the same position. Though even then, she'd be hard pressed to beat my drive and qualifications.

In any case, wish me luck at 2:30 p.m, EST.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This is our dog Abe, as interpreted by Grace. He doesn't actually have a bone; instead, he and the baby share toys. Posted by Hello

It's the story of our lives. Posted by Hello
This morning is a typical day at work:
  1. get in 10 minutes early
  2. fill my Grand Rapids Press coffee mug with some mediocre brew
  3. check my three most-used email accounts
  4. check bank account ($81, though I just ordered a used book for Joseph yesterday from amazon, so I know it's actually $20 less than that.)
  5. check nancy, (yep, still blocked by the company's filter) and a few others from my blogroll
  6. check the company's Intranet message boards (looking for inappropriate material to ask my boss' boss if I can delete -- I think NASCAR drivel meets that standard, but others would disagree).
  7. Send 80-year-old maternal grandmother a birthday card (I ROCK!)

I also manage to send a fax about ten minutes later, then read the paper. I vow not to post any more crap about the Schiavo case, just feel like I'm too far out of my league.

Tried out the new digital camera so the world can envy my GR Press coffee mug. I think it turned out quite nice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Today my boss said, "God, Jill, you need some new pants. The butt in those are huge." I lied and said we were saving money for home improvements* so we could sell the house this spring. Well, sorta lied. We do plan on selling the house in the spring, but really, I'm scrimping every last cent to pay for goddamn childcare.

We got a letter in the mail on Saturday, just as we were about to go upstairs and make a little hot monkey love. This is important, because conditions have to be just right in order for us to break out the lubricating jelly on a Saturday afternoon with the kids in the house**. The letter was from Grace's childcare, informing us that if we didn't come up with $725 by this Friday, Grace was no longer welcome at before/after school care. That letter shot a cannon ball right through our delicately-planned hornfest. Instead of a massive (but quick!) creshendo of sweat and passion, we just laid on the bed in our clothes, going over all the reasons were a couple of schlubs. It was awful.

The good news is that we didn't have to hit up our parents or get a credit card or anything drastic. We talked it out and came up with a suitable answer, just like the grownups on TV! We just can't spend any money on anything except gas and prescription bills until Joseph gets paid on Friday. And believe it or not, that's a big relief for us, that we can take care of it without incurring massive bank fees or humiliating ourselves in front of our parents. It actually feels good when I think about it.

*Though I could make the case that we're saving money for the house, if you count the change in the washing machine we pluck up to buy kitchen garbage bags. They're Awesome! brand, and Joseph and I always have great fun when we change the garbage, yelling out, "These bags are AAAAWE-some," a la his lame sister. The other usually responds with an emphathetic "SUH-WEEET!", again in the same manner as lamo sister-in-law.

**Trust me, we had them sufficiently occupied.
Anyone watch the Simpsons this past Sunday? Apparently a few folks over in Holland did (from, which doesn't have permalinks):

Tulip Time's spokesman: Homer Simpson
Tuesday, March
22, 2005
By Shandra Martinez, The Grand Rapids Press

HOLLAND -- Homer Simpson tiptoeing through the tulips?

Apparently the bumbling pop culture icon dreams of visiting
Holland's famed festival.

"Wow, I wouldn't mind taking that to the Holland, Michigan, tulip festival," Homer said in Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons" as he admired a tricked-out RV while filling up the tank on his modest rig, bought with wife Marge's savings.

The mere mention of Tulip Time during the show that aired on WXMI (Channel 17) was the talk of the 35,000-population community on Monday.

"Wherever I'm going, people are talking and laughing about it. I'm ready to name a street after Homer," said Holland Mayor Al McGeehan, who admitted he doesn't watch the show.

While there are no plans to use Homer's endorsement to market the weeklong festival this May, Tulip Time officials couldn't be more thrilled with the exposure.

"Anytime you get a reach like that, who knows what impact it will have," said Tamara Bouman, festival president.

Tim Long, who wrote Sunday's episode, says he would be delighted if the show boosted the festival's attendance.

"People need to know there is more to Michigan than Detroit," Long said from his Los Angeles office. "There is Detroit and the tulip festival."

Credit for the line actually goes to Long's boss, Al Jean, one of the show's executive producers, who grew up in the Detroit area.

In addition, Chicago native Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, has been one of the festival's millions of visitors.

"He said he had a lovely time," Long said.

Did you know giraffes only sleep 30 minutes per night? Posted by Hello
My first experiment with adding a photo! I wish Grace's hair looked a little more, um, washed, but you get the idea.
I'm linking to Dahlia's piece on Terry Schaivo because, well, after I read her article I thought, "Yeah! What she said!" And although apparently no one found my little palace here on the web, as a matter of principle, I think as many people should read it as possible. Man, I don't remember being this passionate about an issue, even during the election! History is going to look back on this thing and shake its head.

I sent Hungry Hungry Hippos (they have names, who knew?), she made me groan by countering with Pretty Pretty Princess. Joseph then suggests Sorry, which we played this past weekend, and Grace had a lot to learn about being a good sport. She countered with Twister. (What is it with this kid? We have a ton of games to play, and her top pick is the lamest, pansy-est game ever invented, beating out even "Mother May I"; her second pick is the most inhospitable-to-parents-sore-backs game invented.) At first I reluctantly agreed, but Joe overrode everything and brought out Connect Four, one of my personal favorites*. It was a tournament of sorts, with Grace being the "Black Cat" and I got to be the "Red Rooster." I let her win once, before Joseph stepped in.

A nice evening, feels good know our family time was much better spent dropping checkers in plastic slots than watching ANOTHER inane episode of Fairly Odd Parents. I swear to GOD there must be villainous subliminal messages inserted that goddamn show that makes kids crave it.

Additionally, Jack did the (almost unbearably hilarious) baby groove when Nora Jones came on the stereo. I'll try and get video with my new work camera, though I'm not sure I can figure out how to post it here.

*I used to KILL my brother at this game as a kid. But unlike Uno, I didn't cheat.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Another addition to the growing heap of research that says we are all (and by "all", I mean us rich/middle-class folks) too obsessed with our kids, and we're ruining everyone's life in the process.

This Newsweek piece sent me into a tailspin for a day, skipping work and smoking cigarettes. I seriously considered selling the house, packing up the kids and moving back to the homeland (Oklahoma*), where I could freelance write for a living while Joseph created art in the back barn. Joseph, bless his heart, hugged me, nodded approvingly, and agreed that our lives were incredibly ----ed up.

I was at work the next day, typing up birthdays in the company newsletter and nodding approvingly as my boss suggested I schedule a basketball tournament for the company picnic. No way could I live without a wine shop and a Blockbuster around the corner.

*more on this later
After reading some old entries, I feel like I should clear up a few things:

  1. Joseph has a job. A good one, where he builds prototypes of chairs and shotgun stocks. He could get paid more, but that's his own damn fault. And Kendall's.
  2. My father has a job. A good one, where he negotiates contracts for a major health-related web site. He feels happy and fulfilled for the first time in his career. At least according to my mother, god knows my dad never tells me anything, except how the weather is just perfect for golfing where he lives.
  3. My father-in-law did have a job, but doesn't anymore. I think he's secretly leaning towards finding a way to retire, even though he's in his early fifties. Hey man, if you can pull it off without pissing off your wife, go for it.


Here's my latest inspiration, from That's why I'm here, folks.

Also, the latest tempest about female bloggers, and columnists, not getting the props they deserve has motivated me out of my dark, dank, self-imposed banishment. I need to write, and writing for the company newsletter just isn't that satisfying. Really. I've also returned because I'm pretty sure no I know is has bothered to listen in a long time. If you're there, ma, let me know*. I'll find someplace else to curse.

I'm finding that getting links up is more time-consuming than I thought. Interesting and relevant links, that is. I have to keep telling myself that practice makes perfect. I'm picturing myself as Will Ferrell in Elf. Earnest. Funny. Hard time figuring out emotional boundries. But, with a better costume.

*Actually, she will let me know. She's cool like that.
You know, I started off not really giving a shit about this Terri Schaivo thing. It's been in and out of the news for years, just another news story to absorb slightly (like wiping off the kitchen counter, just picking up enough juice residue and toast crumbs so that it looks like its clean) and then forget about. But today, an opinion suddenly formed in my gut*, and now I'm a little pissed off about the whole thing. So pissed off, I found a template on Microsoft for a living will, and considered filling it out. (Haven't yet, though it's still open on my desktop.)

I can't understand why Congress is kicking open the front door and marching through these people's personal lives. This is a family matter. Her husband, the guy Terri promised loved and married when she wasn't a vegetable, gets to make the decision that is closest to both their hearts. At least that's what the courts have said.

Joseph asked what I would want him to do in a similar situation. Heck, if the reasoning and emotional part of my brain has turned to liquid, let me go. Kiss me sweetly on the forehead, give a sharp salute, and remember me as the smart, sexy, wonderfully humourous girl I was. I think a massive dose of morphine would be preferable to having the feeding tube yanked out, but if my brain is big bowl of tomato soup, the actual tool of death is rather pointless.

Looking for links? One more place to find info. Via

*sort of like a tumor