About Jenny

Jenny is a wife, mother, grandma, artist and accountant living and working in western North Carolina.

71 Days of Unemployment

You can find the original entries on my unemployment and job search by click here: job search. ~*~

Day 1: This is what drowning must feel like…

January 26th, 2009
So, I went back to school to gain a skill to save my family from poverty. I worked hard, researched local companies, and graduated with a 4.0 to a job offer from my dream company. I’d prayed so hard that this job might come to me - hoped, and planned and worked. And you know what? It was even better than I’d ever imagined it could be. I was hired on to a team that consisted pretty much exclusively of wonderful people, caring people, funny people. We enjoyed the time we spent together at work, socialized together, helped each other out. We were a team in the truest sense of the word: we pulled together to help each other succeed. But today - Bloody Monday as someone in the same boat I’m in now calls it - I was let go. Economic decline. Not enough work, too many workers. So sorry, let me know if I can help, good-bye for always, keep in touch. Oh, my God. And so now I feel like I’m drowning.

Day 2: Operation “Don’t Cry All Day”

January 27th, 2009
Okay - so having lost my dream job is hard - harder than I would have liked - as if there’s any “lost my dream job” hard that would be easy. Or something like that. Anyway - today’s accomplishments:
  • Sent my resume to a friend for retooling
  • Sent my resume to a recruiter I know
  • Wrote cover letters for non-profit accounting positions
  • Wrote cover letters for entry-level CPA firm positions
  • Wrote cover letters for health care accounting positions
  • Didn’t cry the entire day
Not bad.

Day 3: Figuring out what I want

January 28th, 2009
If I’m going to view this as an opportunity instead of a loss, I need to figure out what it is I really want to do … and not dwell on the fact that a lot of what I really want to do is the stuff I was already in fact doing.
  • Work as an accountant
  • Pursue my CPA license
  • Work in this region (Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina)
There are other things I’d love to be able to do, but they aren’t internally consistent, so have to be regarded as “some things I’d like to do, but not necessarily all at the same time”.
  • Work with non-profit clients
  • Assist clients with their tax issues
  • Gain experience in bookkeeping
  • Gain experience in payroll
  • Gain experience in A/R
I think this generally translates to:  gain an entry level position in the field of accounting, with room for growth. So now the search begins for positions that meet all three of my first requirements, and at least some of my second.

Day 4: Adjusting

January 29th, 2009
One of the strangest things about being out of work is all the free time you suddenly have.  For instance, today I:
  • Organized
  • Took the teen-agers out job hunting
  • Played games
  • Edited cover letters
  • Supported, and was supported by, another newly unemployed friend
  • Checked in with my folks
  • Took several walks
And there was still time left over that I wasn’t sure what to do with, besides think (strategize, bemoan my fate, worry).

Day 5: Planning, and supportive friends

January 30th, 2009
Today I drove Moira into UNCA, and then met up with a recently unemployed friend. We walked the mall, talked about our different experiences in being let go (hers was worse, I think), and our plans for finding new employment. My friend is able to view this as an opportunity:  she was tied to this area by her love of her co-workers, and feels free to do things she’d only dreamt of while the job still existed.  She has plans for her future that aren’t about recovering what she had, but rather about finding what she wants. I know that what I had was in fact what I wanted:  an entry level accounting position with a firm whose stated values matched my own.  I worked with wonderful people, doing challenging and interesting things.  So my shifting of gears is one that has to move me from my first dream job, to my second (as yet unrecognized) dream job.  I’m fortunate in that I tend to be loyal, to be very upbeat, to see the good in every situation.  I expect that when I do again accept an offer, it will be because the place is a good match for my “now dream”, not because it’s a match for my “then dream”. Oy. Friends from college picked me up later in the evening for a fabulous dinner (one them, natch) at Ichiban (one of those “cooked at your table” Japanese steakhouses).  It was delicious, and full of venting, and ideas for networking, and job searches.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go - I still feel very raw, very fragile - but I’m so very glad I did.

Day 6: Moira’s Dreams

January 31st, 2009
This morning I spent time putting in a dozen or so different applications/resumes for jobs that I’m qualified for (some of which I’m only technically qualified for, some of which sound just right for me, others sound like things I’d need to know more about before I’d know if they’re right).  So far, other than one call from the recruiter I contacted earlier this week, I’ve had no responses at all. But today is about Moira, and her dreams, of make-up artistry. This morning we have about a dozen people poised to come by and have their make-up done in a variety of ways, followed by a photo shoot for each with the wife of a good friend (a now-former workmate).  Each person being photographed will get a copy of a single photo for themselves, Moira will be copies of everyone’s pictures for her portfolio. And then, armed with her new portfolio, she conquers the make-up artistry world. ~*~ The day came and went, and here are a few of the fabulous looks (something like 15 in all!!) that she created during the day: Rufus is a sporting the latest look in barroom brawls:  a shiner, complete with small cut.  Allison was glad to provide the punch! Allison is all-natural here - her look is make-up that doesn’t look made-up!  (Super-cute dimple provided by Allison herself!) Arlette took on the unusual (for her) role of super sexy senorita (I don’t know how to make the tilde there, so we’re just going to take to take it as given).
  • Pouty lips:  check!
  • Beauty mark: check!
  • Bedroom eyes: check!
There were more looks, but it wasn’t until Rufus has his brawl that it occurred to me that I should be taking cameos in addition to the fancy photographer shots being done.  The day went on from noon to nine (and thirty or so).  It was super - lots of chat, support, some tears, some anger.  Just what the (unemployment) doctor ordered.

Day 7: Taking Trevor home to see his family

February 2nd, 2009
Today we’re headed up to Johnson City, TN - a trip that’s been in the works since long before I was let go.  Trevor’s brother’s birthday is being celebrated this evening, and he’d like to be there, of course. Moira and I will drop Trevor off, staying for perhaps an hour of chat before heading home. ~*~ This morning I’ve put in several new applications, and forwarded my resume to Rufus for editing (at his personal email address since evidently my emails to work are often being shunted to the junk mail folder by the mail-sorting software).  I asked him to come up with a Flow-chart Resume, where all roads lead to HIRE JENNY - ha ha!  I figure that can hang on my mirror and remind me that the road to joyful employment may be long, but I’ll get there in the end. ~*~ The evening ended with some cathartic release of emotion.  And cake.

Day 8: Building the perfect resume

February 2nd, 2009
Okay, so maybe it isn’t really perfect - and it is, after all, meant to be something dynamic that can be tweaked to represent the most appropriate set of my experiences for the job at hand.  And mostly the resume gets emailed, or uploaded, for some one’s appraisal.  But this morning I ventured out to Office Max and found the perfect white linen paper, and matching envelopes, for those resumes that just have to be mailed. Today I’ve:
  • Spoken with a recruiter
  • Edited again my resume
  • Submitted two job applications to the NC DOR
  • Asked the partner I worked with at my former firm for a letter of recommendation
And it’s only 2 pm!

Day 9: Not as productive as Day 8

February 3rd, 2009
The morning began with a call from a recruiter in upstate South Carolina.  This was a nice thing except for the part where he mentioned that there just isn’t really much available for entry level accounting in Western North Carolina or the Upstate right now.  In fact, he figures that since I’m pretty well pigeon-holed into a tax position, I’m probably best off either looking for a temp position at any firm that will have me, or taking other temp work in industry (so that I have, for instance, at least a little manufacturing experience). That was sort of demoralizing. It’s early yet of course in my job search - only 9 days out.  However, I do recognize that my limited one year of experience puts me in the position of needing a truly entry level post - one where I can expect to be supported with training in all those things accountants do.  On the plus side, I’m definitely trainable.  I graduated with a 4.0/4.0 in accounting from a respected accounting program.  On the down side, I definitely will need training. In other news, we took two walks today.  Lunch was a fabulous set of chicken and bleu cheese wraps.  Dinner was a single tasty grilled hot dog.  I had a call from my brother, spoke with my mom and my dad.  Marc and I both recognize that we’re blessed in so many ways - even with this set back.  And my spirits are definitely less rattled this week than last.

Day 10: Snow day!

February 4th, 2009
I may or may not update later in the day.  UNCA has cancelled classes (day classes at least) due to the inclement weather.  Moira will be home today.  My plans include:
  • Blanketing Hendersonville with resumes (CPAs primarily)
  • Sending in a resume to several targeted CPA firms in WNC that are known for their tax-exempt work
  • Working on a baby quilt for a dear friend
  • Organizing something, ’cause if I’m going to be home, I should get things done
I may also place an order for some tights since they’re on sale at my favorite online shop (and I’ll want them for interviewing this season).

Day 11: Hard and uneven

February 5th, 2009
I woke up badly this morning, and it turned out to be a foretelling of how the day would go. I woke up early as usually, and spent the start of my day printing resumes and cover letter for the 19 letters I’m sending out (cold) to CPAs in the Hendersonville/Brevard area.  Having finished those, I called another friend who was let go (also the economy) to get her opinion on what sort of envelope to use (the decision:  9 x 12). We were due to get Trevor back from his visit to his folks today.  His mom was driving him to meet us for lunch at Taco Bell prior to heading on to a 2 pm interview Trevor had for work at a local retailer.   Around 11.15 am we got a call letting us know that they had a flat and hadn’t left yet to meet us.  We headed out immediately so that we could meet up with them, we hoped, near the Tennessee border and still get Trevor here in time for his interview. It wasn’t long after we left, in freezing weather, that we realized the heater on the car wasn’t working. Then my brother called to let me know my mother had a stroke this morning and was on her way to the hopsital (paramedics at the house when he called).  He asked me not to call my father since he still can’t really speak following his oral surgery. Shorty after this, the heater began to suddenly work.  We continued to head off to meet Trevor (though there were some bumps along the way in planning that as well since Trevor’s dad had the second family car, and there was no one else to try and meet us on the way). We grabbed quick lunch at a cheap local place, then hit Trevor’s appointment just in time… to find out that what he had scheduled it for 2.00 pm, the store employee that set up the appointment failed to tell anyone else that’s when he was scheduled for… So now it’s been reset for next Wednesday at 11 am. We continued back to Hendersonville, hoping to stop by the TCBY that had a “Now Hiring” sign up as of Tuesday so that Trevor could pick up an application.  When we got there, we found the position had been filled. We don’t yet know how my mother is - my dad took a nap, and hasn’t heard from my brother who is at the hospital with her now.  I’ll be calling him before too much longer since I can’t stand having no information.  Her medicines were changed last week, and we’re concerned that this may have exacerbated the problems she has, possibly even leading to this (probable) stroke. In cheery news, I did work some on the baby quilt, and we did watch a super rampaging-mad-crocodile movie (”Rogue”) today.  Also, I did get a couple new applications in for jobs found on Criagslist.org; and of course my blanketing of Hendersonville with resumes is now in process. Sigh.  And whew.

Day 12: This time, it’s personal

February 6th, 2009
Today was another - don’t laugh - upsie-downsie day. I met some friends from (former) work for lunch.  The first question asked:  how is your mom.  She’s the same - checked into the hospital now, waiting for the results of being looked over by doctors.  My older daughter is in Florida now with mom, dad, Keith and Becka.  We’re told we shouldn’t head down (yet).  They’ll let us know more when they know more.  This resulted in crying, and other bad things.  I enjoyed the lunch though - it’s good to meet up with people I love, who love me. After lunch, I picked up Ms. Moira from UNCA, and we headed home.  On the way home I got a call from the recruiting professor at WCU.  Evidently the managing partner at my (former) firm, and the recruiter who hired me for my (former) firm phone to let her know what had happened.  She tells me they reported that it was absolutely not me.  That I was a victim of unfortunate economic circumstances.  It was heartening to hear this finally from someone else.  There’s a faint “patina of shame” that seems to follow you around when you’ve been let go - no matter why you were let go, even if you know know that you weren’t at fault … you feel embarrassed, feel ashamed, that it happened to you. And so I hadn’t reached out to the recruiter at Western yet.  She said she knew that reaching out to her would be hard - so she reached out to me.  She told me about an opportunity in a town about 45 miles from here - which is perfectly within my “willing to commute” distance.  She also told me that if I’d like to return to college to pursue my MAcc or MBA full time this fall, they’d love to have me in the program… and an assistanceship would be available to me. Wow. So I’m feeling more hopeful, more cared about, more valued, than at any other time since being let go.

Day 13: Stroke - a timeline

February 7th, 2009
Thursday, February 5th :  Mom has a stroke, is admitted to hospital around 11.30 am Friday, February 6th : We’re first told not to come down (she’s stable, just sleeping) and then that we should (she’s getting worse quickly now). Saturday, February 7th :  Someone at the hospital determines that they should, you know, hydrate my mom.  So she gets an IV and immediately seems “better” though still sleeping, not responsive, not as good as she was on Thursday immediately after the stroke. Around 10:45 am she has a seizure.  My sister, mom’s good friend, and my older daughter are there.  The nurse, seeming to think it’s a heart thing, runs to get the equipment leaving mom biting on her tongue.  Becka inserts her finger into mom’s mouth (and happily doesn’t lose it), until the nurse returns.  Mom is put on atavan (or something like that) and sleeps pretty much the rest of the day (until the neurologist visits around 8 pm). She moves too much for her MRI, and due to her shoulder tear is only able to be positioned for one x-ray. The hospital decides to move her to ICU after visiting hours will be over (post 9 pm). At 8 pm the neurologist comes, and begins his neurological tests on her.  This involves YELLING and poking, prodding, and more YELLING.  It’s startling!  But after he yells, “BARBARA, WHO ARE YOU?  WHO ARE YOU?  WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” repeatedly, she answers “Barbara”.  He keeps pulling my brother close to her face and yelling, “WHO IS THIS MAN?  WHAT IS HIS NAME?” and eventually she says, “Keith” (which is correct).  She also pulls back on his hand when he tells her to grip, opens her mouth and sticks out her tongue (after a dozen requests).  Eventually, she nods yes in response to a question, and then yes again when asked if she really nodded and can she nod again.  She also laughed when we made a joke (that turned into a painful cough, but she laughed!). We all head back to my parents house to sleep (or toss and turn as the case may be).

Day 14: Coherent - yay!

February 8th, 2009
Today mom was awake, and aware, mostly all day.  Words came hard to her - she’d start and stop the same sentence time and again … but she was talking again. She has a feeding tube in, and is at least receiving some nutrition again.

Day 15: An interview, and trippin’

February 9th, 2009
Mom was awake all day, but it was as if she was doing some significant drugs (she wasn’t) - sort of like what the movies make an LSD trip out to be.  “Jenny, come closer.  Quietly.  Do you see the Siamese Tiger in the corner?  It’s pretty but dangerous.”  Or having a long discussion (while she pantomimes the motions using my arm) of how to cut off, and properly freeze, my arm so that we can save it for later.  She referenced my arm again later when saying good-night to my older daughter, “Beth.  You have to take the arm out of the freezer and BURY IT! It’s possessed.  Hurry. Please hurry.” The neurologist we saw yesterday was very, very vague.  It feels like no one is quite sure what’s going on with mom - or quite sure how to fix it. ~*~ In job search news, I received two emails back regarding the resumes I sent out to firms that don’t have openings right now (but are places that seems as if they’d suit me well).  Both said they liked what they saw, but had no openings right now.  Each said they’d keep my resume on file. I also received a call from one of the first places I heard about after being let go.  I’ve got an interview scheduled for Friday morning.  Yay!

Day 16: Driving, but not crazy

February 10th, 2009
Mom came back from Crazytown this morning.  It was nice to get a chance to say hello, and good-bye, to a much saner seeming mother.  I spent the morning, before we hopped in the car to head back to North Carolina, helping dad wrangle the bills.  I’ve set him up with Microsoft’s Money (my new favorite financial tool) to keep him on track while mom recovers.  I’ll help mom work with the software, and learn to pay her bills online, when she’s up for it. Mom’s most recent visit from a neurologist called in to question to the “stroke” diagnosis that we’ve all just taken for granted.  Seems she isn’t showing the the usual scarring yet on her CT scans, and we have yet to see a “good” MRI.  Hopefully we’ll find out more this week.  The speech therapist has mom eating solid food again finally.  Today she’ll come and have mom write things out on paper - and then if that goes well, dismiss her from speech therapy.  The physical therapist helped mom get from the bed to the commode yesterday, but the pain (she’s not on pain meds for her bone-on-bone arthritis in her knees, or for her torn shoulder as yet), didn’t allow her to walk back to the bed.  There’s more physical therapy in her future for sure.  I haven’t heard what the results of the occupational therapy were, but I’d imagine there’s not much work to be done there. We drove from noon to eight, arriving home tired and sore.  Turns out we sat around quite a bit while in Florida, and topping that off with an eight hour car ride was hard on our collective lower backs.  Ugh.

Day 17: Short, but okay.

February 11th, 2009
I was going to say “short, but sweet” and then realized I had nothing to back that up with.  Heh. Wednesday after our return was largely dedicated to getting Moira to and from school, running a few errands, and sleeping. Turns out an extended weekend in Florida is darn tiring.

Day 18: In which I realize I’ve lost track of time

February 12th, 2009
Today is day eighteen - yikes!  I’ve been out of work for more than 1/2 a month.  And that knowledge hit me rather like a ton of bricks this morning.

(Isn’t this a super image?  It’s from a Flickr photo set - click the photo to go there.)

In job search news:  I followed up on the letters of recommendation that folks offered me when I left my previous position.  I decided I’d like to be able to take those with me on Friday when I interview with a small local firm.  Everyone did follow through and that was super.  Two of the letters were absolutely huge ego boosts; the other was a solid letter, but not terribly specific and so less good for ego-stroking.

Today we: walked, went grocery shopping, had homemade soup, and tried out some of the super chips Els sent us.

Day 19: An interview, lunch, and broken car

February 13th, 2009
The day began with an interview.  The firm is one that wasn’t hiring - but I sent a resume anyway since I’d heard they might be interested in my set of skills.  I thought it went well - the firm was open about the fact that they didn’t have a position available right now.  I’ll contact them again in two months to see if they’re hiring - assuming I haven’t found another fabulous position in the meantime. I then enjoyed lunch with my unemployment buddy.  We had all-you-can-eat pancakes at IHOP.  Yum! After picking Moira up from college, we were slated to head to the MAC counter in our local Belks… but the car stalled out and wouldn’t start up again and then we had to be towed to a garage in south, or possibly west, Asheville.  A good friend picked us up and brought us home.  A rental car would just be too costly, so we’re counting on this same friend to bring Moira to and from college next week - at least until the car is ready.

Day 20: St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2009
Two local Zaxby’s were offering a prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Day - so we went!  The meals for two came complete with candle light, dimmed lighting, and a long stem rose.  It was fun, and funny.  Marc even wore his tuxedo jacket.  If they do it again next year, Moira and I are going all out:  ballgowns, ftw!!

Day 21: Birthday and Sniffles

February 15th, 2009
Mom’s birthday was today. She’s still in the hospital (getting her blood thin enough to allow her to leave) but has hopes she’ll be going home tomorrow. She sounds great, but tired, on the phone. She does remember all her time in Crazytown, but as memories of things that really happened, not as delusions. Moira and Trevor have the sniffles. I’m hoping to avoid them. I also put in a couple more resumes for positions I found online in the area.

Day 22: 50+ people apply for 4 openings at Cinebarre

February 16th, 2009
A Craigslist ad appeared - and disappeared - today in about 8 hours.  This one was for four positions open at a local dinner/movie theatre.  Trevor went down to apply at the first available time.  When he arrived at 4.30 there were already dozens and dozens of people waiting for their 5 minute interview, and another couple dozen waiting to pick up an application prior to being interviewed. Wow.

Day 23: Whoops

February 17th, 2009
Okay, so I can’t always keep track of the days. It turns out that when you’re unemployed, the days do tend to blend, one into the next. Today I somehow managed to lose entirely. I’ll try not to lose tomorrow too.

Day 24: New possibilities, and organizing

February 18th, 2009
Today was given over to a frenzy of organizing - or at least, the start of such a frenzy.  We’ve meant to tackle the storage room (for storage room read “place we dump things we aren’t sure we’re ready to get rid of yet”).  Trevor and I got started by pulling things out of the laundry room (where things we couldn’t even fit in the storage room started being stored) but then realized we’d need to wait for Ms. Moira to tackle what remained.  She has been adding clothing, costumes, and craft items to the storage overload lately - and I don’t want to risk disposing of something she means to keep.  We’ll finish this up (I hope!) tomorrow. I also had two different possible job opportunities forwarded to me today.  I’ll have the adjusted resumes, cover letters and applications ready to put in the mail tomorrow.  One is an entry level internal audit position in industry; the other is a staff accounting position in a growing firm.  Both sound like opportunities I could enjoy.

Day 25: Dishwashing, cleaning & studying … oh, my!

February 19th, 2009
Today was given over to a multiplicity of tasks, each more mundane than the last.
  1. Trevor applied for another position, this time a dish-washing post at a local seafood restaurant that is walking distance from our home.  He said the owner seemed terribly nice.  The duties would include: washing dishes, shucking oysters, and keeping the kitchen generally clean.  While Trevor was speaking with the owner, I was outside waiting in the car, and chatting with a recruiter in Greenville, SC about possible positions in that area that would meet our needs.  I’ve now sent him an updated resume, my references, my letters of recommendation and look forward to speaking with him again on Monday.
  2. Moira, Trevor and I continued our efforts to clean up the storage room.  This resulted in a horrible mess in the living room (which I cannot stand, in part because it looks as if we’ve packed up to move out - something I fear could happen, though I truly hope not since this is the house where we planned to grow old).  The storage room is officially straightened out and useful again.  My guess is we have two loads to be taken to the local Salvation Army, as well as a couple garbage cans worth of things that must be disposed of.  In addition, I have some things that need to be integrated into my craft storage area (currently in a box on the porch).  It took a long time but was definitely worth the effort.
  3. Tomorrow I sit for yet another part of the CPA exam.  Oh, boy.  I’ve been a studying fool, though I hope I’m more of an idiot savant when it comes to taking the exam.  ;P  I’ve worked my way through the super Becker exam materials, and plan a final morning of studying the by now well-annotated and highlighted book before sitting down in that poorly lit testing room and showing the NC Board of CPA Examiners what I know.  Wish me luck!
Lunch was a very yummy BLT (the “T” standing for “Toast” in my case) followed up by a cheesy sausage omelet for dinner.  Yum, yum!

Day 26: A New Hope

February 20th, 2009
A New Hope Today’s highlight:  I heard back from a friend who will be dropping my application of for a position with a friend of hers in another department.  She tells me that the post has been advertised previously, with no qualified applicants coming forward -  which sounds like it’s a good possible opportunity for me.  The position is approximately an hour and twenty minute commute from home - which is really only ten minutes further than my college commute was for two years.  Not bad, right? The position is intriguing to me - it’s in internal audit, the area in which I did my internship.  It would be a great opportunity to see the non-tax side of accounting.  And working near a good friend would be just super. And if this doesn’t pan out, she also let me know that another two positions will be opening up at the end of March - either of which I’m qualified to have.  Neat, right? In other news, today I sat for the audit portion of the CPA exam.  Hard, but I felt pretty good about it.  Other than the huge pounding migraine induced by the combination of Sputnik-era monitors and flickering florescent lights. Egads.

Day 27: Affirmations

February 21st, 2009
My sense-of-self has taken quite a beating since I was let go. etsyaffirmation This affirmation painting has been on my list of “Favorite Items” since I don’t know when over at Etsy.  Isn’t it marvelous? Friends and I went to lunch at Never Blue, a local eatery.  The menu was a bit confusing, or maybe pretentious is a better word.  Pomme Fritte instead of French Fries, Aiole instead of Mayonnnaise, and so on.  I ordered the crab cakes (oh, so yummy), Ashley had the Cuban, and Cheri had the Turkey Bacon Club.  All were excellent.  We also had a starter - some sort of nacho chicken dip with chips.  The starter was particularly excellent. Cheri also helped me tighten up my application for the internal audit position I mentioned.  She’ll bring it by her office on Monday.  I’m excited by the possibility. In addition, today Allison came by and helped us take some of our storage-clutter to the Salvation Army (they wouldn’t take computers, stuffed animals or carpet remnants) and the Goodwill (they’ll take just about anything).  It only took one trip - if we’d done it on our own it probably would have taken two or three runs.  Once we were done loading the truck the living room sure did need sweeping!  Woah - the dust had built up in a big way.  Oh, boy.

Day 28: Oscars!

February 22nd, 2009
We’re preparing for our annual Oscar party - with our usual attendance of four.  We’re not terribly social most years and this one is no different.  We’ve got appetizers planned, and some sweet treats.  Marc will move the cable box out to the television in the living room (the one we only use for playing the Wii really) and we’ll all gather there in just a little bit to watch the pre-show. In honor of the Oscars party this year, Milo has created a new look* using a tutorial on YouTubeIsTheDevil.  I really do become more amazed at her skills every time she stretches herself. cimg7765 Moira continues to develop her plans for becoming a full-time professional make-up artist.  This will include enrolling at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock - in their Esthetics Technology program.  The one-year program will leave her qualified to sit for her cosmetology license.  The cosmetology license in turn will enable her to work at any salon or spa - and of course makes her resume look even more impressive for other freelance and counter work. * Additional images of this new look can be found in our Picasa web album.

Day 29: Inspection

February 23rd, 2009
I wanted to go for some inTROspection but the car’s needs came first.  Again.  ;-P This morning after dropping Ms. Milo off at the bus stop in Asheville, I headed back to Hendersonville to have the car inspected prior to the expiration of the current inspection at month’s end.  After 25 minutes, the friendly JiffyLube attendant let me know that the car was perfectly sound, excepting the tires and the blahblah that connects the muffler and (maybe) the catalytic convertor (leaving open the question of what catalytics are, and whether one converts them, or is converted into them). This led to a trip to Mienike (for muffler related fun).  At the muffler shop I learned what I had already suspected after my time at JiffyLube:  car shops have the worst magazines.  Details.  Golf Digest.  Sports Illustrated.  Joy.  (Joy wasn’t a magazine - if it had been it would have been, by definition, Joyful). Next I headed over to the super Wal-mart for a four-pack of tires. An hour, and Happy Meal later, I headed home to laze the afternoon away exhausted (and playing games). Tomorrow promises to be more productive, if only because it would be hard to be less productive.

Day 30: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

February 24th, 2009

xkcd

Ha ha ha! My dad introduced to me to the works of Douglas Adams as a girl.  He actually introduced me to most geeky sci-fi things as I was growing up.  I can remember my mother declining an invite to see the Hitchhiker’s BritCom series at some grown-up friend’s home - and my father bringing me along instead.  Four years ago when dad and I went to England, we went to see the newest movie adaptation of the Hitchhiker books.  And when we went  down to see my family during mom’s stoke, my sister had along with her (being as she’s a literary agent and all I guess it does make sense) Amazon’s Kindle - a tool I’ve lusted after (even ordering and canceling) ever since it was introduced. And now, realizing that it’s the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, my unreasoning desire for this pricey tool makes that much more sense. Find out more about the Kindle, and it’s community of devotees here and here and here.

Day 31: Friends

February 25th, 2009
Today was spent largely reading, playing games, and with friends (for lunch).  I was very glad to join three of my former co-workers for sandwiches and soup at Mosaic Cafe (a wonderful lunch place I’ve written about before).  Amazingly enough (considering it wasn’t planned) they were serving my favorite chicken and rice soup.  Tax season is in full swing at the firm I worked for but evidently not overwhelmingly busy for most of my friends as yet - busy enough, but not awful. I did also hear from a friend (another accountant) who was told by his partner to “hang on to your tax refund, save it, because you never know what might happen down the road”.  This firm also experienced lay-offs, so needless to say, he’s worried.  It got me wondering how things might have been different if I’d known in advance what was coming.  (Keep in mind that I did wonder how the firm was going to maintain it’s employees when there were clearly more people than chargeable hours.  I’d asked on more than one occasion, first at our team meeting in the fall, continuing on through the tax meeting held two weeks before I was let go, “Are we okay?  Do we have enough work?  Is there a plan for making more work?” … and I’d been assured and reassured that all was well, there was a plan, and staffing levels were exactly where The Powers That Be wanted them.) So.  If I’d known, if someone had come to me and said, “I’d working on building up some savings, because you don’t know what might happen in two months…” and we’d had recent lay-offs, and I was able to guess this might mean Bad Things, what would I have done?
  • Save.  Begin saving every penny that didn’t need to be spent on living, and staving off the inevitable “am I really going to lose my job?” depression.
  • Seek out varied assignments.  I worked in a very tight niche.  If I’d had any inkling that I’d be asked to leave, I would have tried to gain more experience in general accounting type things (payroll, bookkeeping, corporate tax) so that I’d have that experience now that I’m looking for jobs outside of my niche (there aren’t all that many positions that say, “Non-profit tax experience a plus!” out there).
  • Network.  I planned to work with my former company for the rest of my life - as long as they’d have me.  I loved it, breathed it, lived it.  It was everything I’d ever wanted, everything I hoped it would be.  Perfect.  I never ever looked at another company - and I certainly didn’t consider where I might want to land if things went wrong.  In “do over” world, I’d have kept my ears open, my mind open, and paid attention to those opportunities that might exist, those people who might be a help to me now that I am looking for a job.
Oy.  So my advice to my friend at this time is: think about the opportunity this affords you. Knowing that your job might dry up in a few months give you a chance to hit the ground running.  And who knows - maybe you’ll find the job doesn’t dry up after all.

Day 32: Another lost day?

February 26th, 2009
Thursdays are the day that the family is all home together, all day.  I think that makes the day, and the day’s activities, easier to lose track of.  Marc and I did some shopping (grocery), I sent in another application for a position I’m only mostly qualified for, received another email (for a different position) thanking me for applying, but telling me I wasn’t what they had in mind. Positions I wish I’d hear about:
  • Internal Auditor - this was the area where I did my internship.  I enjoyed the work, appreciate the idea of travel (at least in relatively small doses - say no more than two or three days a week).  The position closed yesterday, next week they’ll make decisions about which applicants to interview.  I have a friend who works at the entity, in a different department, so I should hear something unofficially next week I’d guess, possibly officially as well.
  • Internship.  This position is an internship spot at a county hospital.  The position, as I understand it, is an internship-to-perm spot, working directly under the controller.  My mentor at Western Carolina University alerted me to this post.  When I called and spoke with the controller, she indicated that the folks who hire were aware of me, and interested.  I’ve called to follow up twice and never heard back - which I think is a bad sign.
  • Entry Level Accountant.  This position is with a small corporation locally.  The position reports directly to another recent Western graduate.  I was alerted to this post by my mentor at Western.  I’m technically qualified, but honestly probably not the most likely choice.  My work experience is pretty niche - non-profit tax, internal audit.

Day 33: Less than 10 days until my severance runs out

February 27th, 2009
Okay, this isn’t the most cheery post title yet, right?  But it’s true.  I had six weeks of severance - 42 days - and we’re down to the last ten of those.  I’ll additionally be compensated for the time off I’d accrued (yay), but that’s balanced by the mandatory one week cool-off period before unemployment kicks in. And while unemployment will be enough to cover our basic bills, or so the web app that projects my unemployment tells me, it will not be enough to cover our living expenses, assuming we still find both purchasing gasoline and food to be important.  Heh. I’ll meet up with my unemployment buddy to apply for benefits the very moment we’re able (I believe this will be Monday the 9th, but we may try on Saturday the 7th).  Happily this can be taken care of online.  The requirement seems to be that twice a week, every week, you apply for at least one job in person and get evidence of that.  I’m honestly hoping that all the resumes I mail in each week, the applications I do online and by email, the interviews with headhunters, will count towards proving I am actively seeking a job. Of course I also hope that I, you know, actually get a job soon.

Day 34: Super Happy Fun Day

February 28th, 2009
So I woke up a bit off this morning, which caused Marc to declare today, “Super Happy Fun Day”.  He then proceeded to make decisions about what we’d do based on whether it would contribute to my Super Happy Fun attitude. Harhumph. We went grocery shopping (picked up an additional 2 pounds of the super yummy Canadian Maple Ham from Food Lion (BOGO), and the makings for our very own Super Happy Fun Sundaes). I got in some reading.  I’m currently reading an independent author, Dianne K. Salerni.  Her book High Spirits: A Ghostly Tale of Rapping and Romance is simply excellent.  She posts on a board I read and recently noted that she’s sold the book to a small press - which means the first edition will go out of print relatively soon.  Her new publisher will release a new edition (freshly edited with a new cover) later this year. Today I also sent out two resumes in reponse to online advertisements for jobs.  As seems always to be the case, I’m only mostly qualified (my super specific experience in non-profit tax is usually what leaves me lacking) but the positions sound as if, with some training, they’d be very appropriate for my general skills.  Honestly though I’ve never had so much as a “we’re not interested” back in response to any resume I’ve sent by email - I’m unclear on whether nothing I send ever gets through, people simply don’t feel it’s necessary to reply in any way, or something else.  I had several “we’re not interested” responses to the cold resumes I sent out by mail - so perhaps it is the “nothing gets through” issue.  Who knows?

Day 35: Snow!

March 1st, 2009
We’ve waited patiently for nearly a full year since moving in to our home in Hendersonville for a proper snow - one that would blanket the grounds and leave us living in a wonderland. cimg7770 This photo, taken today around noon, has me hoping we might be in for some real snow today! Moira had already determined by about 10 pm that there would be a snow day for UNCA tomorrow - so we’ll see!  If the blizzard (ha ha!) continues, expect many photos, and little work, tomorrow. Huzzah!

Day 36: Snow Redux

March 2nd, 2009
The snow here is just amazing.  I think our yard has never been so beautiful (though I have high hopes for this spring and summer when we get our gardens in).  Today’s will be a photo-intensive post. The View From Our Window Andrew Sullivan does a daily “The View From Your Window” feature than I enjoy.  This is the view from our window - the one in the alcove off the master bedroom. Like Yesterday But Better The same seat as in yesterday’s photo, but with today’s snow added. Oh, gnome! This is the garden gnome who sits in the planters in front of the house.  He usually looks so much taller. Close up These buds are going to bloom into something simply marvelous come spring.  For now they appear to be buds on the newly discovered Snowball Bush. cimg7784 Trevor ventured out to break off one of the mid-sized icicles hanging from the eaves.  En garde!

Day 37: Your moment of zen…

March 3rd, 2009
Qualified - wot wot? Ha ha ha!

Day 38: Learning Opportunities

March 4th, 2009
I’ve begun to consider two things:
  1. What can I do to occupy the time between now and when I begin work again?
  2. How can I add to my catalog of attributes and skills so that I increase my desirability as a hire, or as an employee?
One quick answer both questions might be additional education, or certifications, which either increase the pool of positions for which I’m eligible, or which add skills that may be useful post-hire. As the kids are hoping to start at Blue Ridge Community College this fall, and it’s less than 10 minutes from our home, this seemed like the ideal place to start looking for such opportunities. I believe I’m going to sign up for this notary public course on March 14th.  I’ve considered becoming a notary before because it seems like a generally useful thing to be if you’re working in a business setting.  I have the time now, so I believe I’m going to just do it. One of the skill sets that I did not get a chance to develop in my last position was Quickbooks.  Unfortunately the adult education classes at BRCC have already begun (indeed they’d begun by the time I was let go) so it’s a bit too late for this semester, but this offers a definitely possible direction for the summer. Additionally, BRCC offers a course on Medical Billing (again not available at this point until summer) which would increase my ability to compete for positions in hospitals or other health care entities in a staff accountant capacity. In the mean time, I’ll continue to brush up on my excel skills. ~*~ Arlette came for dinner last night, picking Moira up from college on the way.  She stayed until after 11 pm!  It was really fun.  I can’t recall when I’ve laughed as much in an evening recently.  We talked about making this a regular event - I hope we do!  Next time we plan to play Munchkin.

Day 39: Ow.

March 5th, 2009
Today was a busy day.
  • Moira and I spent the morning working out.  I logged 33 minutes on the elliptical at the gym.  Yow.  It was brutal.  I have an appointment next week to learn how to use the fancy pants weight machines.  I can’t wait.  Sort of.  I think the ow-factor means that it’s doing something - hopefully its something positive.  I’d like an increase in energy, and a reason to get out of bed on the days when getting out of bed seems pointless.
  • Trevor, Moira and I all went to Blue Ridge Community College to try and work out the last of the kinks regarding their admission to the college for this autumn.  It appears Trevor is likely to be an out of state student even though he’ll have been living with us, as our dependent, for more than a year by then.
  • I went by BRCC’s Continuing Education department and signed up for the Notary Public class on an upcoming Saturday.  I’d always planned to do this and just let it slip by the wayside.  I also plan to look at some skills classes as I mentioned before.
Whew.  Now it’s game time, after the delicious taco dinner Marc made for us.

Day 40: Notables

March 6th, 2009
Of note today:
  • We watched the Watchmen.  And it was excellent.  (Click for full size comic!)20090306
  • I hit the gym again - so that’s a start: two days running.  Well, not literally running as such.  I did 30 minutes on the bicycle, and 5 minutes on the elliptical (a different elliptical today - one that had arm thingies too).
  • I am no longer receiving severance.  The company told me it was 6 weeks of severance which would seem to take me through Sunday, as I was let go on a Monday … however a look at the paperwork they had me sign at the same time they said six weeks implies that today, Friday, was my last day.  I don’t know if this really makes a difference - but I was salaried, and I assume the firm is pro-rating the compensation for the number of days in the week - so losing two days is a difference of  approximately $300.  Ouch.
  • I received a call regarding an internship (part time, unknown compensation level but I was warned, “not at all what accountants would expect to make”).  The call was to let me know to expect a call for an interview.  The internship is expected to become a permanent position - which means I’d really like to know what the perm position would expect to pay.  If we were to go with an internship, it probably would mean that I’d return to school to pursue my MAcc or an MBA.

Day 41: Moving

March 7th, 2009
Today I worked on moving:  on and about. Moving On: I’ve begun to look seriously at what I’ll do next.  Now, of course I have already looked at that in the sense that I intend to continue trying to be an accountant.  All the time I spent returning to get my degree in accounting will not go to waste.  I enjoy the work, I feel like I have the potential to be good at it, and so moving to another field is not, at present, on the table.  However, while I’d always felt called to public accountancy I haven’t found even a single position to apply for in public accounting.  Today I spent time looking at the other major fields in our area that I might move into, and considering what would best move me there.  I’m looking forward to seeing the late April Blue Ridge Community College Continuing Education catalog so I can pick up a class or two in areas that will strengthen my resume.  I’ve also begun to look at volunteer positions in Henderson county that might both give me something to do (besides realize I’ve become very bored with World of Warcraft, and feel sorry for myself) and allow me to give something back to my community.  Oh, and I suppose something additional on my resume wouldn’t hurt.  :) Moving About:  Moira and I continue to work out.  I’ve settled on the treadmill (30 - 35 minutes) followed by a brief bout on an elliptical machine as my daily routine.  Next Wednesday we take a class on how to use the weight machines.  I’m looking forward to it, though my guess is my muscles will not thank me. ~*~ I spotted a new position as a staff accountant today and have put my resume in for that.  It’s actually not far from home which is a lovely thought.

Day 42: For the Horde!

March 8th, 2009
for-the-horde2 Today was dedicated to World of Warcraft - go figure.  I’ve created a character on another server, in order to play, or at least chat, with a friend who lost her job at the same time I did.  She’s never on, so that part hasn’t really worked … but I’m doing things in the game that I’ve never done before and that makes it at least a good time waster while watching television. Heh.

Day 43: Unemployment officially begins

March 9th, 2009
Today I applied for unemployment.  I think that’s what it’s called - it might be that I actually applied for unemployment insurance.  That wasn’t made clear to me.  I used the NC Employment Security Commission website to apply - I could also have done it in person or by phone, as near as I can tell.  It was pretty fast - maybe 10 minutes - and required only basic math on my part.  I may have gotten the actual figure for my severance wrong, but I tried to get a pretty close ball park number.  Presumably the NCESC contacts the firm I worked for and let’s them know I’ve applied - and then the firm supplies the more exact numbers. Marc and I met up with a friend who was laid off for lunch today as well (French Fryz, ftw!).  I gave her the information needed to apply for unemployment (we’d planned to actually apply online at the restaraunt but they didn’t have wireless internet access - something we’d called and checked on in advance, but evidently they misunderstood my question, heh).  We’ll both call on Wednesday to ask some additional questions (how long until we receive a payment, how do we know if we qualified (we should), how much will the payments be, when do the payments stop (on offer, or on the first day of employment, for instance), and do we really have to go “in person” and apply for two positions a week - even though (a) almost nothing is applied for in person any more and (b) I’ve never seen an accounting job that was an in person application thing. Whew. I also hit the gym again - yay, me! - and did more cardio exercises with Ms. Milo in tow.  The elliptical machine is easier every time we do it - but it still kicks my butt.  I’ve put in a request to speak with a personal trainer, just once is my plan, so that I can make sure I’ve got the right idea about what I need to do in order to start my exercise program out right.  My thinking is: 5 days of cardio, three days of weights, every week.  But honestly, when you google such things there are so many disparate answers out there that it’s hard to say. Also, would a tattoo on achieving my goal be a good idea, or a horrible one?  Ha ha!

Day 44: Easing into uncompensated unemployment

March 10th, 2009
Today Moira had her first Model Mayhem induced photo shoot with a model and photographer she connected with through that site. The shoot was held at the Botanical Gardens in Asheville (right near UNCA’s campus where both Moira and the model attend school).  Moira said it went quite well - the model was delighted with the make-up Moira did, and kept being super excited every time she took a progress-peek during the application process. In the meantime, I met up with former-work friends for lunch at Taco Bell (with many thanks to Allison for treating me to lunch!).  I really do finally like Taco Bell again.  There were so many years when it was the only restaurant we could afford to eat in that I doubted I’d ever enjoy it again - but it turns out it’s been long enough.  They’ve done another mix-up of ingredients resulting in a few new menu items - but I still just go for nachos, a taco, and/or a bean burrito minus onions.  I enjoyed meeting up with them.  I worry (as I ended up having to tell other friends in an email conversation) that I’m “using up” all my friends and they’ll be done with depressed-and-scared-Jenny soon.  So I try not to be too much bother.  I’m not sure if I’m succeeding or not.  Heh. After picking Ms. Milo up from the photo shoot (Side note:  she tells people she carpools to save on gas and so that it doesn’t seem like her mom drives her around - cute, right?!), we headed home, by way of the grocery store.  Tonight Marc’s letting me make dinner.  He plans, I think, to let me make dinner a night or two each week now.  Previously I never did - because I was the breadwinner.  The dynamic has changed ’cause I’m not - and I’m glad to have something besides my paltry (I assume) unemployment to contribute to the family.  Anyway, dinner was Chicken Enchiladas with Cream Cheese, a recipe I’d used many years ago when I was still cooking for the family.  I made Moira some very bad quesadillas using the filling mix - very bad because I baked them, thus destroying them, rather than nuke or Foreman-Grill them (she ended up with cereal for dinner).  Everyone else seemed to enjoy the enchiladas.  I’ll make them again some day.  Next week: Cream of Wild Rice Chicken Soup. Moira and I also got in our exercises this morning:  33 minutes on the elliptical for me.  The gym is up to 5 of 12 treadmills being in need of service now.

Day 45: A day of learning

March 11th, 2009
This is a photo from the shoot Moira did yesterday.  You can click on the photo to go to the photographer’s Model Mayhem account. Today Moira and I had appointments with folks at the YMCA to learn how to use the weight equipment  - or at least that’s what I thought I had an appointment to do.  It turned out I had a much more wonderful appointment set up than I’d realized.  I met with EJ at 9 am and spent the next two hours talking about my goals (controlling high blood pressure and pre-diabetes with exercise/diet rather than medications now that I’m uninsured) and how to best work toward meeting them. Cardio: EJ helped me determine what settings I should use on the treadmill (start with no incline, 2.8 mph for 30 min with a 5 min warm-up before and 5-min cool down after, adding 5 min a week until I hit an hour).  We looked at the elliptical trainer that I usually use -and he showed me that it has been on a pretty high incline when I start even though I didn’t know it!  With the incline set to 0 this is an exercise I could do while being able to control my heart rate.  Wow!  That was a real eye opener. Weights: EJ then showed me how to use four of the eleven pieces of weight equipment they have (we have another appointment on Friday to teach me to use other pieces).

Stretches: We finished up with a full body stretch.   One of the tools we used from streching was the Procor Stretch Trainer.  I actually really liked this tool - even though it felt like I’d be tumbling backwards any second now.  I didn’t know there were “machines” you could use to help you stretch! I’m definitely feeling my workout this evening, but look forward to doing it all again tomorrow.  I never did like that my physician put me immediately on medications for my border-line hypertension, and pre-diabetes.  Now I’m going to figure out how to reverse both without meds.

Day 46: Tangentially related to accounting

March 12th, 2009
So I’ve not been feeling as hopeful lately (something my dear husband not only puts up with well, but actually works still to soothe and comfort - he’s a good, good man).  Part of me is being worn down by the effort of figuring out in what way each position I apply for is a “good opportunity”.  And hope left the building when I realized I couldn’t actually afford to only apply for positions that are at least tangentially related to accounting.  The economy locally - and locally really means within 1.5 hours of my house - doesn’t allow me that conceit. Some good opportunities this week:
  • A position at a semi-local non-profit.  This position is not specifically accounting related - but non-profit work is something that I’ve always had an interest in.  The compensation is generally lower than in industry, but you make that up in job satisfaction.  This non-profit targets some of my pre-graduation interests (education, children) which makes it additionally intriguing.
  • A position with local law enforcement.  This position is advertised as largely research oriented - and anyone who knows me knows that research is one of my all time favorite things to do!  No accounting at all here - but research - who couldn’t love that?!
  • A position with a local hospitality company.  This positions is largely customer service oriented, with just a touch of accounting thrown in for good measure.  It’s also only part-time, but the hours are such that I would likely be able to keep the job when I find full time work (which is good since a lot of the full time work I’m applying for won’t pay the bills).
Unemployment let me know what my benefit will be today - and it exceeds our minimum bills by $80 (this is gross, not net - so that $80 may well be eaten up by social security/medicare deductions).  That means we’ll be using our savings to cover all food, incidental and transportation expenses.  Yikes.  I can probably make a “Doomsday” clock based on this information, but so far haven’t given in to that temptation. Monday I go in for an interview for a (as I understand it) part time internship position.  The experience would be super - it would add nicely to my resume.  I’m looking forward to learning more. Moira and I worked out again today - 40 minutes on the treadmill (the requisite 5 minute warm-up, 30 minute walk, and 5 minute cool down  recommended by my guide at the YMCA), followed by 30 minutes or so of weight machines.  I feel it in my limbs, and my core, this afternoon definitely. Tomorrow is GARDEN DAY and I’m very excited.

Day 47: A garden of my own

March 13th, 2009
Ren and Bleu came today and built me a 4? x 8? container garden of my very own.  (In exchange I’m doing their taxes - barter, ftw!) The garden is based on the Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening. It has done nothing but rain since the garden box was built, so photos will have to wait.

Day 48: Ow!

March 14th, 2009
abmachine This machine, like YouTube, is from the Devil.  Oh, my goodness - ow!

Day 49: Television & Games

March 15th, 2009
Today Marc and I continued watching Fall of Eagles, a BBC miniseries about the revolutions and governmental changes at the turn of the 20th century.  Today’s episodes were lately concerned with the Kaiser and the Tsar.  One of my favorite histories about this time period is written by Robert Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra.  We kept thinking that folks in this series had also appeared in I, Claudius.  Evidently though only a few players were in both (Patrick Stewart, for instance). I also hit the gym today - the treadmill and six different weight machines.  My abs are still killing me. And this afternoon and evening have been spent leveling my horde ‘toon (on Arlette’s server).  While playing we’ve been watching television - Mike Judge films: Idiocracy and Office Space. The kids are off at the Autodidactic Radical Gathering of Homeschoolers (ARGH) gathering.  They’ll be back on Tuesday afternoon sometime.  Until then, Marc and I are on our own!

Day 50: An interview, a call, and a cat

March 16th, 2009
An interview:  Today I spoke with the folks at a semi-local health care entity regarding an internship position they have open.  The position is projected to become full time in 6 months - with the intern offered the spot if all has gone well.  I was referred to the post by Dr. Swanger at Western.  The position is 20 hours a week (with a reasonable level of hourly compensation).  If I were to take this position (if it were offered), it would mean I’d probably head back to school this autumn for my masters with WCU.  The classes are offered at UNCA’s campus. A call:  I had a call back (and set up an interview for tomorrow morning) from a non-profit.  This particular  non-profit is one that my mother-in-law has volunteered with for years.  I’m looking forward to learning more about the opportunity.  I’ve already checked out their website, looked at Guidestar, and done some general research.  When the interview was set up it was noted that I’m overqualified - something which folks have mentioned to me before when I’ve failed to get an interview.  I understand that the fear - or at least one fear - has to be that I’d take the position and leave when something better comes along.  It’s hard to make it understood that I’m looking for a long-term position - that job hopping just isn’t in my nature.  Each time I have an interview it’s a new chance to make this clear. A cat:  Funny story.  I startled the cat (with some help from Marc) and now have a long Nike swoosh shaped scratch starting in my left ear (yes, in) and extending to my middle cheek.  Marc worries that, since I infect so easily, I’ll have a scar.  I think since its really a scratch and not a gouge, I won’t regardless of whether I infect.  Time will tell I guess.

Day 51: An exciting opportunity…

March 17th, 2009

heart2*

… that I don’t know I’ll be offered. Today started out just fabulously.  I had an interview this morning with a non-profit whose mission I was aware of, but about which I knew comparatively little.  I really enjoyed the time I spent speaking with the new-ish executive director.  This position has several things to recommend it:
  • Friendly work environment (complete with <40 hours per week, fully paid health insurance (for the employee at least), reasonable vacation/sick pay accrual).
  • Employees are required to interact with the volunteer staff on a regular basis.  Additionally, new employees are required to participate in the volunteer work as part of becoming familiar with the position.  All employees are required to pitch in during fundraising efforts.  I rather like the idea of administrative staff that keeps solidly in touch with “the mission”.
  • This is a new position - and the person who ends up in the role will work closely with the executive director to make the position all that it can, and should, be.
I called my father, one of my best friends, and my husband as soon as I left the interview.  Everyone I spoke with (including Moira when I caught up with her later) felt that  it sounded like something that was just up my alley - and indeed it does sound like exactly the sort of thing everyone thought I’d be doing when I graduated. I’ve made it to the next vetting phase, and hope to find out by month’s end that I’m in the final running. What it lacks in monetary compensation, it makes up in heart. Moira and Trevor returned home from their super unschooling reunion weekend.  I also hit the gym (and had Taco Bell for lunch, since it was the cheapest place near where we picked the kids up - and we were starving!) again.  I had a nice long talk with one of the more inspirational people at the gym as well. All in all Tuesday was a great, great day this week! * The green heart is as close to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as I came this year.

Day 52: Munchkin

March 18th, 2009

Arlette came over this evening for a rousing game of Munchkin (following the amazing pot roast Marc made - oh, yum!).  Munchkin is the perfect geek-game - it’s a bit slow to learn, but after half-a-hand or so, even the new folks realize that screwing each other over is the name of the game!  Of course, the girls were so dedicated to killing each other that we let our lone male -Marc - win both hands.

This morning I went by BB&T and set up an appointment with the investment counselor to see about moving my paltry 401K over to BB&T (so that I at least hopefully don’t lose ground on beginning to save for retirement).  My appointment is for tomorrow at 12.30.

Moira and I also decided that, given that Arlette will be over for game night every Wednesday we hope, Wednesday will be our “day off” for exercising each week.  We also need to pick Ms. Moira up a new water bottle as she broke her old one while out of town this weekend.

My usual job site scans found nothing new to apply for today.  I’m still pretty darn excited about the position I interviewed for yesterday though so finding nothing new wasn’t the downer it could be.  :)

Day 53: Retirement

March 19th, 2009
401k No, it’s not imminent.  But I did have to roll-over my 401K from work to an IRA today.  Happily, since leaving it’s up a few percentage points as well.  It was sold yesterday at 4 pm, and a check should be on it’s way to BB&T Investments today to start my IRA.  Because it’s a roll-over there shouldn’t be any tax consequences, which is lovely.  The company that held the 401K wasn’t willing to maintain the account because it wasn’t at least $3,000 worth (what with my having not even been a part of the plan for even a year and all). Job searching continues, naturally.  I put in an app or two today - though nothing really struck me as “perfect” this time.  I’m really just waiting to see how the irons I already have in the fire pan out right now.  It’s hard not to get excited by the possibilities - even when I know that nothing is certain (or even hopeful as yet). Moira and I worked out again - the usual 40 minutes on the treadmill followed by a pile of weight machines.  I also showered at the gym for the first time since starting there.  I think I’ll pick up flip flops and keep it up.  I liked the showers, and it is nice to leave all clean and sparkly. Dinner was Marc’s wonderful tacos, followed by a bowl of vanilla ice cream with nuts and chocolate chips. I’m finding that I’m not ready for bed until much later than usual lately - but unfortunately when I do finally go to bed it’s usually because I’ve realized I really should have been in bed an hour ago.  Eep.

Day 54: Celebrating

March 20th, 2009
I met up with friends to celebrate Friday at Celebrity Hot Dogs near my old place of work.  Celebrity was a tradition on the passing of a deadline (2/5, 5/15, 8/15, 11/15) - as was a Rock Band party at my senior manager’s home.  I wonder if they’ve continued that tradition… I put in an application for a staff accounting position again today.  I also exercised, ate tacos for dinner, and watched the season/series finale for Battlestar Galactica (which is actually the first episode I’ve ever watched as well).

Day 55: A whole lot of nothing…

March 21st, 2009
This morning Moira has a photo shoot with Grace, the model she met recently through Model Mayhem’s website.  It was in downtown Asheville. I dropped her off, headed home to spend some time job searching and playing Warcraft, then headed back out to pick her up (with Marc in tow).  She had a great time and really enjoys working with Grace - she hopes they’ll be good friends, as well as good workmates. This afternoon Marc and I hit the grocery store (dinner was “appetizers” - orange slices, popcorn shrimp, carrot sticks, grapes, crackers and cheese). Moira and I also hit the gym - though our treadmill time was traded for 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer since I have a blister forming on the ball of my foot.  Ouch. See?  Not much going on today at all!

Day 56: Weekly claim

March 22nd, 2009
Sunday afternoon is when I make my weekly claim for unemployment benefits.  It seems easy enough - you just log in to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission (the name feels a bit like Orwellian, like Newspeak in 1984), tell the system you haven’t found work, but have looked, and move on.  You keep records as well of where you’ve applied (at least two places on two separate days each week) though it is less clear how these records are used (audits? mailed in weekly?) so I’ll need to call today to be sure.  The FAQ on direct deposit of benefits also doesn’t make it clear when to expect a deposit.  Last week was the first week where I was eligible (on the face of it) for benefits.  My hope it that the deposits will begin within two weeks.  A phone call today should, I hope, answer both the record keeping and deposit questions. Moira and I hit the gym again - treadmill (40 minutes) and weights (7 machines).  I have an appointment on Friday evening with another trainer at the gym to talk about how to best divide up the time I spend on the weight machines - there are 11 machines in the circuit, and I don’t keep track terribly well of which I do each day.  The result is that I’ve done some machines far more often than others.  I’d like to try and even that out.  She said, “And I can show you an exercise that will cut out four machines from the circuit,” which I don’t really want to do.  For me the machines seem to be a way of being (a) accountable and (b) a way of ensuring you keep your form up - so moving from machines to DIY weights seems like a bad idea to me. On the job search front I got in another application (this one for billing clerk) today.  So many of the positions require so much more experience than I have in medical billing (hint:  I have none) … I’m looking forward to taking a medical billing class this summer at Blue Ridge Community College if I haven’t as yet found a position.

Day 57: Gardening

March 23rd, 2009
lettucestarts I finally put the starts that Ren and Bleu left us in the garden this morning.  (I have a great theoretical fondness for the “Kill Your Lawn” idea - but only if I can also have a vegetable garden.)  Our 4? x 8? raised bed (similar to what this website sells - but much, much cooler with a trellis on one 8? edge and made with love) is about 15 feet from our backdoor.  We have a fancy potting shed (with, um, slightly rotten floorboards that we’ll need to replace one day if (a) we’re able to keep the house and (b) when I get a job) that we don’t use right now.  Instead I keep my gardening implements in the laundry room (where the backdoor is also kept) and on the bench seat along the edge of the teeny tiny back porch. Back to the starts:  I put in lettuce this morning (unsure of the variety).  These starts joined the already planted peas (from seeds).  I added as well (again as seeds) broccoli, other varieties of lettuce, parsley, onions (white and scallion) and carrots.  Still waiting to join these are more herbs (cilantro, basil) and turnips (which I’m not sure anyone here will eat so I hesitated to put in).  Coming up as we head into summer: cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans, potatoes and more herbs.  How they’ll all fit I don’t as yet know!  As it turns out, my eyes are bigger than my planting bed. Next year I’ll add another 4? x 8? space, I hope.  In the meantime, I think that this year I will add a wildflower garden to the side yard.  (How to: lay down weed-blocker fabric, weighted down around the edges.  Wait a month or two.  Remove weed-blocker, rake up the resulting dirt, toss out oodles of wildflower seeds, and wait for the colorful show to begin.)  I guess that means I need to pick up weed-blocker fabric tomorrow! (We also hit the gym, played Warcraft, listening to Moira go on about her newest (several) upcoming make-up projects, had dinner, and worried that Trevor is still under the weather.  Whew.)

Day 58: Happy Anniversary, Marc!

March 24th, 2009
anniversary-picture Nineteen year’s of wedded mostly-bliss. We’ll celebrate today with dinner at home (I’ve got something planned) and a day of lazing around and enjoying each other’s company.  So really, it’s just like any other day lately except that we’ll say, “Happy anniversary, dear” more often than usual.

Day 59: A slow day

March 25th, 2009
I’ve begun to take on more tasks at home.  Where previously my “job” for our family was supporting us through work, now I’ll be making dinner and helping out more. Tonight, for game night, I made chicken and potatoes, with seasoning.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Today was also a “day off” from the gym.  Oh, yay.  My aching everything needed the break. My sleep schedule is off now - I don’t go to bed until much later than is good for me, and I’m up before dawn.  Tomorrow I’ll stop buying caffeinated sodas for the house and see if I can’t get some more rest if I minimize that stimulant. Playing Munchkin with Arlette was great fun once again.  I’m looking forward to next week. Oh, and we got some exciting news from Florida - which I don’t feel I can share here right yet.  But boy, it’s big!

Day 60: In which there is a dearth of accounting positions

March 26th, 2009
Every day I check a multiplicity of job search websites.  From what I can tell, this is how most people look for jobs these days.  Here are a few of the places I look each day:
  • Monster.com
  • NC Department of Revenue
  • USA Jobs - positions with the federal government
  • Craigslist - mostly these jobs are “scams” to get you to give up personal information, or recruiters trying to build interest in their for-fee services
  • NC State Government vacancies - this link is to the section that includes accounting positions; I usually navigate to other sections as well
  • NC ESC Job Bank
  • Alumni Central - BRCC set me up with an alumni account so that I could search for positions that people submitted to the college
  • Henderson County - I also check on Buncombe, Jackson and Haywood counties each day
  • Indeed.com
  • Local hospital websites (and other large healthcare entities)
Typically I’ll find one position, sometimes two, to apply for each day.  Lately I’ve had to work to find something that seems like a move in the right direction.  On the other hand, I did get official word that I’m in the running (one of three or four candidates to be interviewed by the personnel committee) for a position that I’m very interested in - so that’s super exciting.  Interviews will likely be conducted in April.

Day 61: Lunch, and BIG news!

March 27th, 2009
Today I enjoyed lunch with friends at 12 Bones in Asheville.  While at lunch, I got to share our super exciting Florida news:  we’re going to be GRANDPARENTS! This news really overshadowed the rest of the day.  Other things of note:
  • applied for one position
  • was tortured by a personal trainer at the Y
  • made Mexican casserole for dinner
  • played Warcraft with Arlette (and Ryan and Marc and Dani)
  • had no caffeine today - root beer for lunch, water everywhere else
That is all.

Day 62: Gomorra

March 28th, 2009
gomorrapasquale Today Marc and I went on a (cheap) date.  We saw Gomorra at the Fine Arts Theatre (using free passes).  It suffered from a lack of tight editing, but was otherwise fascinating.  The film is a series of short stories, interwoven but never intersecting.  Not overly violent, which was surprisng. Sadly, part way through the film I began to get a headache, and tummy ache, which meant I was contorting myself into strange positions in an effort to minimize the pain so that I could focus on the film.  I thought I was very subtle about this, but Marc afterward informed me that he knew something was wrong since I was practically sideways in my seat.  Oh, well!  A long nap, light dinner, and pre-midnight bedtime solved the problem.

Day 63: Of exercise, eats and examinations

March 29th, 2009
Exercise:  Today Moira and I hit the gym for our usual daily round of cardio and weights.  The gym we go to - the YMCA - has some issues with equipment that seem to be related to a cash flow problem.  When we started there were two treadmills out of order.  Now there are five out of order, plus none of the attached-to-the-machines televisions work anymore.  Only the two televisions on the treadmills are signed though (they’ve upgraded to an earnest sounding notice signed by the director of the wellness center) which means that when we started yesterday we didn’t know all of the televisions were broken.  So we optimistically opted for the upright bicycles - because the recumbent bicycles really really hurt my back when we tried those a few weeks back.  As it turns out, forty minutes on an upright bike also hurts my back (though not as much) and really really hurts all the parts you sit on.  Ow.  We have vowed to never, ever ride bikes again at the gym.  We followed this up with time on the weight circuit - both of us doing upper body work today (we’ll do lower body, back and abs tomorrow). Eats:  Dinner was a stir fry consisting of: chicken, scallions, celery, sherry, hoisin sauce, garlic and ginger.  Yum. Examinations:  I finally got the results of the Audit portion of the CPA exam - PASS!  Monday I’ll send in the application to finish up the CPA exam, and with a bit of luck and some studying, I’ll be an honest-to-goodness CPA by summer!

Day 64: Job opportunities

March 30th, 2009

gregory-myrick-jumping-for-joy

I got two calls today about jobs:
  • Arlette phoned to let me know about a position on CareerBuilder.com that it appears I somehow missed right here in Hendersonville.  Two positions open in a local financial firm.  I sent in my resume immediately, of course.
  • The non-profit I’ve been so excited about called back to schedule a second interview - this one with the personnel committee - and it’s for TOMORROW!
In addition, Moira and I hit the gym for a reduced 30 minutes on the treadmill, followed up by weights (lower body and two different “flys”).  I also put in my re-done scholarship application.  My first application was turned down because I made too much money last year, and don’t yet show Trevor as a dependent even though he’s lived here, while being fully supported by me, for well over a year.

Day 65: Interviewing, and miscellaney

March 31st, 2009
Today I had my second interview with a non-profit I’d very much like to work with. I think the biggest barrier to my receiving an offer is my over-qualification. The personnel committee asked at least twice questions that basically wondered why I’d take the position and stay.  I offered up what reassurance I could (I’m looking for a long term position where I can grow and do good for the company that employs me) but I recognize that their acceptance of such reassurances comes down to “is it believable?”  I hope that I was convincing.  The opportunity sounds mighty nice, and the reduced compensation is made up for in “good works” and great hours.  I know I’d feel like I was doing something positive, and returning something to my community, in this position. I think I haven’t mentioned my impending root canal as yet.  That’s next Wednesday at 11:30 am.  I’m told that I do not need to bring someone to drive me home (since I won’t be getting gas ’cause that’s just an extra expense we don’t need on top of a $850 root canal followed by a $1000 cap) so I’ll go on my own. Oh, and I’ll know Friday (Monday at the latest) about the position with the non-profit.   So now I’m sweating that out. I’m a leg-jiggling, finger-tapping fool, full of energy and hope and worry.  Hah.

Day 66: Dinner with friends

April 1st, 2009
First things first: no call back today on that position I’m salivating over.  Friday, maybe Monday. Arlette and Rufus both came for dinner and games tonight.  We played Munchkin again - this time with Arlette winning! Actually, while the entire evening was super, and I loved having people over and the household energy when that happens, it’s not terribly interesting to write about.  So I’ll sum up with: Tiny arms, and a tinfoil hat.  /sigh

Day 67: A job (for Arlette!)

April 2nd, 2009
Today Arlette, my lay-off-buddy, got a job!  And it’s a better job than the one she lost - which is super cool!  (I’m only a tiny bit jealous but mostly sooo excited that she’s be offered a position by people who recognize her value - woot!).  And thanks to her actually bringing me up after the offer… I actually have an interview with the same firm tomorrow morning.  Wow, right? We celebrated with dinner at Papas and Beer here in Hendersonville, after spending the afternoon listening to Arlette bubble about her position, and talking about where I am right now while I work out what the next possibilities look like (pending results on the interview I’ve already had, an interview tomorrow morning, two positions open to apply for at the governmental entity where another friend works coming up in mid-April, lots more job searching on websites). And now I’m stuffed, surfing the web, watching liberal television, and looking forward to ice cream (even though I’m stuffed) and bed.

Day 68: Lunch with friends, and a secret

April 3rd, 2009
Today I joined Arlette, Rufus, Jessica, Allison, Moira and Pam (who is temping at my former work this tax season) for lunch at Subway.  We chatted, laughed, and ate.  Arlette, Moira and I followed it up with shoe shopping - I’ll post photos tomorrow if I find time in the whirlwind of activity planned this weekend! I also received some big, secret news.  I’ll spill all on Monday! Today’s exercise included: 40 minutes on the treadmill and a set of five weight machines.  My totals for March were: Cardiovascular exercises: 1455 minutes Weight machines used: 77 Total weight lifted: 79,720 pounds

Day 69: Job hunting, lock in & Moira made dinner!

April 4th, 2009
Today the kids each applied in person for 7 positions in and around Hendersonville.  Moira has hopes for the shoe store she hit (someone is leaving just after Easter) and both kids interviewed at our favorite local hot dog joint, where the owner promised to call the next time he has hours available! Moira made dinner - she volunteered and everything - Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Yum! We waited until after dinner to hit the gym ’cause the early day was all full of driving around and applying for jobs.  When we got there around 6.30 we discovered that they close at 5.30 on weekends.  Oops.  They had a “Girl Scout Lock In” going on when we arrived - a pizza delivery guy was trying to overcome the locked doors to deliver a pizza to the poor locked in Girl Scouts! And here’s a photo of some of the super shoes we saw while shopping yesterday.  Even deeply discounted some were quite pricey!  Yow! cimg7798cimg7800cimg7801cimg7802 Our local shoe store are GB Shoes and Discount Shoes.

Day 70: Teeth and Make-up

April 5th, 2009
I’ve been on antibiotics for my abscess for about half the doses now - and the abscess isn’t any better at all.  Indeed tonight it was as swollen and dreadful as it has ever been.  I’m scheduled to undergo a root canal on Wednesday but will call the dentist today to make sure that he doesn’t want me to try other antibiotics and clear this up before the root canal.  Ick. Moira had a meet-and-discuss session today in Asheville regarding her next photo shoot.  This one involves an interpretation of the graces and deadly sins, as I recall.  There are a lot of models, a hairstylist, and a photographer also involved.  It sounds exciting and lovely.  Marc and I enjoyed dinner out together while in town waiting on Moira.  We plan to move our “date” each week to coincide with Moira’s activities so that we don’t end up going to Asheville any more often than necessary.

Day 71: A new beginning

April 6th, 2009
I am happy to report that a mere ten weeks after being laid off (due to the economy - too many employees, not enough work), I have accepted a position! On Thursday of last week, a good friend of mine was interviewed at a firm less than 2 miles from our home in Hendersonville.  She got an offer during the interview, and in the course of chatting, learned that they had another opening.  That night, before we headed off to celebrate her new job over dinner, I got a call asking me to come in for an interview the following morning … and was also offered a position! This morning I accepted that position.  I’ll start on April 20th. Thank you all for your support and good wishes during my job search!