Paraguay Blog #1: Whys and Wherefores

Even Brodie’s feet are punky.

“THAT IS UNWELCOME BEHAVIOR!” I yelled, extricating myself from my blanket nest on the couch.

This was my eighth such leap from comfort to stop my punkier ferret, Brodie, from trying to burrow through my zipped luggage. I scooped him up and flipped him onto his back on the carpet, looking him square in the eye. “You’ll rip the bag and my stuff will fall out and all the other passengers will laugh at me,” I explained. He responded by sticking his tongue up my nostril.

Ah motherhood.

The luggage in question is a wheeled orange and gray duffel bag, and it is about to travel 10,000 miles. As am I.

That’s right, folks; I am finally making a trip back to Paraguay, where I will spend four weeks staying with this gal, her husband, and their two awesome daughters.

I’ve been asked more times than I can count on 14 fingers why I’m taking this trip. Shrugging has yet to pass as an adequate response, which is too bad since it’s so much easier than fumbling around with words (inadequate) to explain (impossible) why I want (need) to go. I will still attempt the shrug response, but for those for whom that will not suffice, words:

The Simple Reason: It’s time for a refresher course

The family’s “missionary picture.”

It’s been 19 years since my family moved back to the States after living in Paraguay for two and a half years while my parents were missionaries there, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. I just need to see it again, you know? I need to see the city and our old homes, to walk the streets we used to walk, to eat the food, to hear the accent, to smell the trees, to see the poverty, to see the wealth, to see the litter, to see the art, to hear the music, the buses, the kids, the street vendors. I want to see it again, but this time through adult eyes.

I’m also looking forward to hearing Paraguayan Spanish again. The majority of the Spanish speaking population in my area is Mexican and their accents are so different from what I grew up with that I’m often unsure if I’m hearing a new word, or just an old word in which all the letters are actually being pronounced. My Spanish has gotten pretty lousy from twenty years of only occasional use; I’m hoping being around it for four weeks will kick my brain-o back into el gear-o.

Plus: Have you ever been to Wisconsin in January? It’s bloody cold here! Time to get me the heck outta Dodge.

(… she said, as the temperature dropped to (an unseasonably balmy) 20° F while the wind howled through the iced branches of the barren trees outside her window, skeletal reminders that death by hypothermia is kept at bay only by a few inches of uncaring drywall and saggy insulation.)

The Complicated Reason: I– Yes.

Things are about to get a little stream-of-consciousness here. Bear with me.

I’m treading water. I’m uncertain. I’m faltering. I’m fading. I’m creating expectations for myself, assigning their creation to other people, and then chastising myself for failing to meet those expectations. I’m digging a pit, filling it with icy hose water, and treading, treading, treading…

I need to see something else. I want to see something else, but I also need to see something else. Someplace else. To immerse myself in places and things I once knew well and loved deeply, those places and things that once brought comfort but which were taken away before I was ready, before any of us expected them to go. Is it like that theory that kids who suck their thumbs do so because they were weened too soon? I look for substitutes and create false goals to make up for having lost prematurely those things I might have set as goals anyway.

I also need to see Christianity against the backdrop of another culture. I need to see what it looks like when big “A” America is stripped away and replaced by little “a” american-culture-in-the-form-of-Facebook-and-hipster-hair-as-owned-by-developing-nations. I need to see what we consider “church” here that also shows up in vastly-different-elsewheres. Is there something to be salvaged in whatever it is we’re all concluding is worth keeping? Are there conclusions we’re all drawing, all of us all over the world, about God, regardless of the cultural templates we lay over our daily lives?

Whatever that is, whatever that is that sticks across cultures, I need to spend some time with that, and in a place where I am forced to pay better attention, a place where I can dig into a little intentional listening. I am seeking a balm. More than a balm- a poultice, in the hope it will encourage my heart that it is possible to draw out the infection of fear and self-centeredness I have nurtured in myself the past several years.

How It Came About

A couple years ago I worked in claims reimbursement for a phase 1 durable medical equipment provider that specialized in continuous passive motion devices.


The products were good ones, my coworkers were great, and I loved being able to clock out at the same time every day, a luxury I’d rarely been afforded up ’til then as I’d been working for small businesses for years. But the benefits of the job ended there as the work itself was almost unendurable. Not the actual bill calculation or information gathering, but dealing with the reactionary aggression of the people expected to pay those bills.

The ultimate black hat in claims processing: Continuous Passive Aggressive Motion (© Revolution Studios)

Here’s the thing:

The dark side of humanity isn’t reserved solely for bad guys in black hats.

It’s also found in 50-somethings SCREAMING into the phone that you- yes you, the cubicle monkey on the other end of the line– are the reason the health care industry is going down in flames. That you- yes you– are personally trying to rob them, are abusing the system, are stealing food from the mouths of their children, are depleting their kids’ college funds, are emptying their retirement accounts by allowing them months on end to pay the $20 in coinsurance they owe for a $16,000 equipment rental for which my employer will receive $200 total payment when all is said and done. They wrote down your name at the start of this phone call, smart-ass. They’re going to call your manager, know-it-all. They’re going to alert the Better Business Bureau, you lying ageist. They’re going to see to it that you’re fired, and that your employer is shut down, and that none of you people ever work again because you are thieves and evil and everything that is wrong with this country.

It was a nightmare. But it was a nightmare with a paycheck in an uncertain economy, so I willed myself to stay asleep.

My only escape during the work day was on my lunch break. I’d scarf down my Diet Mt. Dew and pb&j on my fifteen minute break in the morning, then spend my half hour lunch at my desk reading blogs from people who lived in Paraguay. I took such pleasure in seeing their pictures and reading their stories, especially missionaries’ blogs because their tales felt particularly familiar.

During one such lunch break I came across a blog from a woman living as a missionary in Paraguay with her husband and their two daughters. Over the next several months I plumbed her archives and read every single post, following this family’s adventure as it took them from the US to Peru to Paraguay. I left them comments, I shared their blog links, I even dropped a penny or two in the pot, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I really wanted to do, needed to do, was to meet these characters. (And boy are they characters!) I didn’t know how that could ever happen since there I was, nailed to a headset with screaming humanity shouting at me from the other end, but just in case: I started saving my money.

Me (far right) with a few of my co-workers after the “pack your desks and leave” announcement.

Fast forward to a sunny morning in April of 2010. A Thursday. My coworkers and I were called together and read a letter explaining that most of us were being let go, effective immediately. And so, after a year and a half, I was out of work once again.

Out of work, laden with free time, and coddling a growing desire to book a flight southward.

Since then I’ve picked up the odd job here and there being in commercials, helping my dad with roofing projects, and working for several months as a temp in an office with a fridge full of Diet Dr. Pepper. (Win!) A few bucks at a time I’ve added to what I squirreled away during my claim processing days, until I finally reached the point where I had both the time and the money to take this trip. One round-trip ticket purchase later and I’m on my way to meet a family of quasi-strangers 5,000 miles from home, eat an unhealthy number of empanadas, and sweat like it’s my job.

I’m probably causing permanent nerve damage to my smiley face-parts with how excited I am about this trip. I can’t wait to share the adventure with you here!


P.S. Yes I have made arrangements for the ferrets, and yes I will have folks stopping by my apartment to check the mail and make sure no crazy people have tried to break in and steal any of my… laundry? second-hand hardcover 1970s fiction? poop scoopers?

See Change

When I told friends 2010 was going to bring changes into my life I had no idea how true that prediction would turn out to be. Now I kind of wish I’d thrown some specifics into that prediction, like “On May 1st I’ll help a 98 year old lady cross the street and she’ll thank me by making me the sole benefactor of her gazillionty dollar estate.”

Ah well. Next time.

Aaron and me at The Great Milwaukee Race

As it stands, I’m now a couple months in to seeing the fourth fellow down from the top, and am currently jobless after my employer outsourced my department to Missouri. You know what? It happens. I’ve also been attending church every week for several months now, and have begun a slow return to a lost love: reading for pleasure. I haven’t quite reached “Rachel Fox” levels of literary consumption, but I’ve still managed to work my way through a healthy (for me) stack of libros over the past couple of months. Feels good, folks. Real good. The final change so far is that I’ll be spending a few weeks this August in Honduras with Mimi. Don’t know what all we’ll be doing there yet; I’ll update y’all when I know for sure.

See? Change.

Speaking of all that book readin’, I stopped by Half Price Books today to take advantage of their store-wide 20% off Memorial Day sale. As promised, the rundown on my awesome finds:

For me:

  • Night by Elie Wiesel ($2.00): I know only that his work is powerful and that I should read more of it, so I’m reading this.
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin ($3.00): I feel like I keep hearing about this book. Was it you? Were you talking about it to me? Anyway- I found it today for $3 so I picked it up. The guy who wrote it sounds pretty incredible. I’ll let y’all know if it’s as good a read as it seems like it’ll be.

4 books for 12.59. Yay!

Mimi in Honduras

For the Honduras trip:

  • Aprende a Escribir Letras ($0.25 a piece): I picked up 8 copies of this book at $0.25 each, which came to $1.60 with the current 20% discount. Woohoo! They’re 25 pages each on heavy, glossy paper so kids can trace the practice letters with crayon, then wipe the pages clean for re-use. They’re spiral bound, which I love because it keeps the books laying flat on the table while kids are using them. A super find!
  • ¿Dónde está el Jorobado de Notre Dame? ($0.50): This book is basically a Disney version of “Where’s Waldo” where you’re asked to locate various characters from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in the midst of bustling street scenes. I was hoping to find a good picture book to take along, so this is fantastic because what little writing there is here is in Spanish, and it’s good for a broader age range than some of the other things I found.
  • Enciclopedia de Oro: Tomos 1 (Apicultura a Bancos) y 2 (Ábaco a Apéndice) ($0.50 a piece): These short hardcovers are the first two books in an old encyclopedia series. I’m not too thrilled with the dated images (entirely illustrated, no photographs), but I like that the entries are about general stuff (King Arthur, astrolabes, the geography of Australia, etc.) so the information itself doesn’t appear to be dated. Still– I will probably end up leaving these two here.
  • Mi primer diccionario by Betty Root ($6.98): This one’s a hardcover book featuring a wonderful word selection with simple, helpful definitions accompanied by a sentence using the word in question. The accompanying illustrations are bright, cheery. Very nice little book.
  • Mi primer libro de números ($2.98): A paperback– finally! Packed with color color COLOR this book teaches numbers, shapes, colors, comparisons (bigger than, shorter than, etc.) with bright, simple illustrations.

13 children’s books for $11.31! Awesome.

Love, Sweet Potato

It has been– wow. Just such a day. Such a beautiful, beautiful– I am so blessed! So blessed. And I’m glad I’m in a place, in a state of mind, to be able to really soak it up, really enjoy every moment of it.

And today? Today was a Day to absorb through every sleepy, sunny, summery pore. The sun was shining in through all my wide open windows, the birds nesting in the tree outside my balcony were singing, the ferrets were bounding (and pooping) happily around the apartment, I found some great deals at an awesome book sale, then walked a mile and back into downtown Waukesha with Aaron for sandwiches at People’s Park. I am in an incomparably wonderful mood!

And now it’s time for s’mores and an episode of Father Ted before heading home.

See? Improvement. ;)

I kind of hate to see this day end, yet I can’t help but look forward to whatever kind of day tomorrow turns out to be. I figure tomorrow will be whatever tomorrow was always supposed to be, I’m just lucky to have had a day like today to precede it.

And I’m smiling.


For those of you in the know on my wildly exciting life, the fact that I recently got a job is old news. For those of you just tuning in, guess what?

I recently got a job!

This means four things:

1: I have to get used to getting up in the morning again as I have been unemployed since May of 2008 and the earliest anyone outside my family has “needed” me since then was 6:30. At night.

2: Passing the Sniff-Test in the morning is no longer a suitable substitute for bathing.

3: Office politics are just around the corner, and large groups of women in largely un-windowed spaces make me nervous even without the addition of multi-line phones and water coolers, so I can only imagine what awaits me.

4: I need to prove my safety as an employee and my perceived integrity as a human being by emptying the contents of my bladder into a clear plastic cup featuring a Sharpie’d “fill-to” line.


Oranges and Lemons say the bells of Saint Clements

“Oranges and lemons,” say the bells of Saint Clements.

I can’t imagine having to take a drug test and actually using drugs. It’s just– it’s an added stress I just. don’t. need. I can spell the names of most drugs,  occasionally I’m familiar with some of their slang names, and I can tell you how different drugs are administered about eight times out of ten. But actually using them? Oh God no.

First off: My likely ineptness in all things illegal doubtless knows no bounds. Secondly: Even if I could use a drug without making a total fool of myself while doing so, there would still be the looming of the pee cup, its possibility of being wielded absolutely imminent in the event that my behavior became suspiciously erratic in the opinion of whoever I work for who holds the power of the cup.

Not that my reasons for not using drugs stem solely from fears of random, unannounced drug testing at my places of employment- though that’ll do. I just don’t need to compound my reasons for not doing drugs with the addition of seeing the end results of that fear actualized in a work context. And if looking like an idiot and giving myself possible reasons for dismissal in a time when jobs are harder to find than un-ironic promise rings at Bible colleges aren’t enough to stop me, then I deserve whatever I get for using them.

Anybody in grade school ever tell you to spell “I cup”?


Add 750 ml SoCo…

On Friday of last week I visited an area medical center for the administration of a drug test. The nurse? (attendant? CNA? red-headed step-child?) who took my information and brought me back to the pee wing was just about the most miserable person I’ve come into contact with in at least the last four months. Wow. Never once made even partial eye contact. Spoke as few words as possible. Wouldn’t look up. Unwavering frown. A grunter. And she was pretty, probably mid-twenties, cute hair, EMPLOYED. So why the long effing face you grouchy beeyotch? Lighten up.

She rattles off the rules to me on all the things I can and cannot do in the testing bathroom during which time she will be pouting on a rolly desk chair just outside the door making sure I’m not taking too long. English degree? Useless. Barely understood a word of what Miss Meany Pants said. It was kind of like when you’re on a puddle jumper and the lead flight attendant is giving the “buckle up” speech for the 14th time that shift and isn’t really using words any more so much as familiar sentence inflection. I did, however, catch that I wasn’t to flush the toilet or to run any water in the sink. Yep. Pee in a cup and undoubtedly also on your hands and/or the outside of the cup which you must continue to handle. But don’t wash up! Just drip on down the hallway with a cup of warm urine in your hand and then wash after your pride and piss have had a chance to fully evaporate.

500 lbs? We could all sit on it together!

500 lbs? We could all sit on it together!

And the thing about peeing into this cup is that the toilet in the bathroom in question had exceptionally wide, um… Y’know how some toilet seats are like big, upside down “U”s? The “legs” of the U on this one were exceptionally wide, so the actual opening in the seat itself was quite narrow. For those of you of the “pee-standing-up” persuasion this should present no problems. Ready, aim, fire. For those of us seating ourselves on said narrow openings, however, finding additional space in this narrow plastic opening through which to insert a large plastic cup and a hand up to the wrist is difficult at best, carpal tunnel inducingly messy at worst.

I survived. You know how I do. Er– That may have been best left rephrased or unspoken…

My “proof of clean living” in hand I returned to Mlle Grinch who hovered over me like a mouthless male mayfly in heat while I signed her paperwork and wrote my initials on the sample tube into which my “donation” (their words) had been transferred. This is all awkward enough without your piss bitterness, chica. Sweeten up. I asked if she was always in this department. “Usually urgent care,” she grudged. Hm. ‘pparently my pee isn’t as exciting as what you’re used to. I’m over it.

Post-Piddle Wrap-up

Now I get to move on to the “did I eat some benign thing prior to the test which may have an unintentionally adverse affect on the results” post-test paranoia. I avoid consuming poppy and sesame seeds as a general rule since I don’t enjoy the taste or texture of either, but I remain unconvinced that there isn’t some way my body could metabolize things like bread or milk in such a way that I appeared not only to be a chronic drug user but also a puppy eater and a threat to national security. The possibility that they could also announce having discovered the presence of some latent cancer or an immaculate conception via the results of my test has not gone unhypothesized either.

Seriously, my droogs: If the position itself is only half as stress inducing as the pre-employment drug screening, this job is gonna be a piece of cake. *Special* cake.

The title is the hardest part

Had an audition today. My hopes are low, but it was great getting out of the house, out of the ‘sha. They said they’d let me know one way or the other fairly soon (my last audition with them they let me know the very next day), but I think I already know…

The upsides? Auditioned opposite an awesomely talented actor, two very nice, pretty, and far-cooler-than-I women chatted with me in the lobby, and the woman directing the show hugged me hello. I know nice people do nice things like that to everyone all the time, but when I spend so much time by myself and then meet those nice people and they do those nice things to me it just throws me completely for a loop and makes me happier than I can stand and I absolutely love it.


Inside Bella Caffe'

Met up with Parmanifesto at Bella’s afterwards. For as excited as I get at the prospect of seeing him you’d think I’d make ways to do so more often. *sigh* I am a lazy ass. Anyway- while there I enjoyed a yummy (but pricey!) pumpkin spice latte, the last several swallows of which I had to leave behind in my cup because they were *chunky,* for lack of a better word. It was fantastically hot and tasty up ’til then, though. But boy that’ll teach me to splurge when I really can’t afford to do so; the real thing is rarely as good as one’s memories of it. :P

*Geh* My hands still reek from pulling mounds of wet, sloppy onions off the turkey sandwich I bought there. *shudder* What’s wrong with people?! Onions? Piles of them?? On an otherwise delicious sub?! Boggles the mind.

Which way?

Which way?

Stopped at the library on the way home. First thing to greet me was a $20 bill lying in the middle of the main entryway. I brought it to the front desk so the owner could claim it and apparently if no one does so in the next 30 days then they call me up and the twenty is mine. Woo hoo! That’s heat for a week! :D

Picked up a PBS documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright and “Parlez-vous Francais? Learning French: The Basics.” Here’s to a rockin’ good time in front of the TV with Alfred tonight. Perhaps even better than last night’s “Murder, She Wrote” 4 episode marathon, including the Season 3 “Magnum PI” crossover. Ooh that Jessica Fletcher. She’s a crafty old gal!

I currently owe the Waukesha Public Library $6. $2 for a documentary about the Kindertransports, $3 for a documentary about living with/dying of AIDS in the 80s, and $1 for a Vincent Price flick. Yeesh.

Had an interview for an office job yesterday afternoon. Remembered to remove my nose stud and put my phone on silent. Two points for me! The typing test, which featured a missing-word-typo, threw me a bit by requiring a double space at the end of each sentence, and the Excel test marked two of my answers wrong in error. And the Word test? Don’t get me started. What year of Office is this test based on? The 1965 punch card roll out? It went well all-in-all, though. The place is less than 3 miles from my apartment, (Joy!), and the position starts at 8:30 am and lets out at 5 (Rapture!). They said I’ll know within a week or so if I got the job or not. Here’s hopin’.

This onion smell is making me sick and my coffee breath is positively rancid. It’s times like these I’m glad I live alone so I don’t start losing friends over my inadvertent pungency.

Excuse me– 2009?

(Post best viewed here.)

What’s the deal, ’09? I thought we had something good going on here. What’s with the bipolar thing all of a sudden? Last week: Rock awesome. This week? Erm…

Alfred and Patches Takin' a Snooze

Alfred and Patches Takin' a Snooze

Monday: Nada
Nada. Well– except for getting this super cute picture of Patches napping on Alfred.

Tuesday: Did a thing
Did a thing at 1. It was fun. Saw Libby A. and Chris F., which is always nice.

Wednesday: Was an idiot
Had an audition scheduled for noon today with a company I’ve never auditioned for. Very excited. Been looking forward to it for over a month. Had it in all my calendars as being today from noon to three. So this morning? I took my time getting dressed and then messed around online for a while before I realized “Ohmygod! It’s 11:45 am! I shouldn’t leave my place at noon! I should’ve left at eleven!”

How do I do these things? How? So prepared, and then BAM! Accidental idiocy.

I threw mascara in my purse, ran out the door, arrived ten minutes late to the audition wearing no makeup without having done my hair and in clothes I still wasn’t quite sure about, before discovering I only had enough change for 33 minutes in the parking meter for an audition scheduled to last from noon to 3. Luckily, however, I had the foresight to arrive late at the audition. . . so when it ended much earlier than anticipated I returned to my car to find I still had 4 minutes left on the clock.

Wednesday Part 2: Was disappointed
I stopped at Blockbuster on my way home to exchange my most recent rental, “I, the Worst of All,” for my second free rental of the month. I hadn’t been in there for two minutes when my phone rang. It was my contact at the staffing agency that got me last week’s interview. He was calling to say I didn’t get the job.

We talked. It was fine. We hung up. I cried. By myself. In a corner. In the back of Blockbuster. Like a dope.

I left with “Get Smart.”

Thursday: TBD
Come on, Thursday! Please go back to being cool!


Nice things to think about to help keep life in perspective:

Dad 'n' Patches

Dad 'n' Patches

1. Camille Dalmais (Thanks Ben- she’s awesome! And a must-watch. Check out the “Money Note” vid on YT…)
2. Affordably priced vintage style dresses
3. Metric
4. McSweeney
5. Our new president’s favorite movies
6. My celebrity nemesis- for no other reason than that she’s successful solely because she’s attractive- Jessica Alba was nominated for two Worst Actress Razzies; one for “The Love Guru” and the other for “The Eye.”
7. No one and no thing (outside of psychological disorders) can stop you from dreaming. And dreaming? It’s pretty cool.
8. Finding Jesus
9. Neuskool
10. Small acts of rebellyon

Thank you, 2009. . .

…for starting off on a better foot than the one on which 2008 ended.

Monday: Auditions!
Auditioned for “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at Waukesha Civic Theatre. Director I’ve never worked with before, actors I’ve never worked with before, good times all around. Lots of wet snow to navigate, but lovely to look at.

Tuesday: Job Interview!
Got a call from Aquent to attend an interview for a position that sounds pretty fun. The interview is tomorrow morning at 10. So woohoo for that, too.

Wednesday: Callbacks and Casting!
Callbacks for “Don’t Dress for Dinner” were last night, followed by an email saying I got the part I wanted. So woohoo for that. I’ll include more details in a later post, or perhaps just lower here; this is enough awesomeness for now.

Thursday: Moola!
Checked my bank account online and discovered I received an additional unemployment extension after all and that it had already been deposited since, as directed, I’d been claiming weeks even after my initial amount ran out. In honor of this I have the heat on and did some much needed grocery shopping this afternoon. Woohoo yet again.

Friday: Art and Friends!
Tomorrow’s the interview, then lunch with a friend, (then renewing my driver’s license :S) then an art showing at a theatre downtown, then karaoke night at the Ugly Mug for… someone’s birthday. I forget whose. Anyway: more woohoos.

Saturday: Ben!
Ben! I saw Ben! Ben Ben Ben! And I had a sandwich that was really good! And I saw Ben!!

Sunday: Food and Friends!
Brian. Birthday party. Beer. Buffalo wings. FREE! Running out of woohoos over here at this rate. ;)

In other news…
Watched a ton of DVDs this week. Nice to get back into that habit. Caught about 7 or 8 old, crappy flicks via episodes of MST3K, and watched The Dark Knight, 9 1/2 weeks, Memoirs of a Geisha, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and then all of Season 1 of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It’s a wonder I got anything else done this week. :P

I did, though. Somehow. Lots of cleaning, time spent with the fam, auditions and callbacks, laundry, organizing paperwork for tax season… It was good. Good good.

And now? Time to wrap up the day and prepare for the travel and wackiness of tomorrow. Phew!

Don’t Dress for Dinner
by Marc Camoletti

Presented by the Waukesha Civic Theatre
Directed by: Mark E. Schuster
Stage Manager: Kristen Radeunz
Costume Design: Sharon Sohner

“Be prepared for an evening of riotous confusion as this breathtaking farce races through a romantic week end gone awry. The setting is a French farm house. The plot is a carefully planned weekend with a chic Parisian mistress. Bernard has remembered to arrange every detail; a cordon bleu chef; wife sent to visit her mother; and best friend invited as a cover. Foolproof plan? Don’t count on it.”

Mark Neufang as Bernard
Matthew J. Patten as Robert
Donna Daniels as Jacqueline
Chelsey Peterson as Suzette
Ruth Arnell as Suzanne
Scott Fudali as George

Performance Dates and Times
March 13 – 15: Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm (8, 8, 2)
March 20 – 22: Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 4 pm and 8 pm, Sunday at 7 pm (8, 4/8, 7)
March 27 – 29: Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 pm and 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm (8, 2/8, 2)

Somebody’s got a case of the Tuesdays

The Good

I’m not exercising my right to bare arms until the divet on my bicep heals. I couldn’t even watch them work on me; it was just too gross. On the plus side- they pumped my upper arm so full of juice I wouldn’t feel it if an F-150 swiped it right now.

moleFor those just tuning in: About two months ago this *thing* suddenly appeared on my upper right arm. It didn’t hurt or itch or anything, and it was very small. Just this teeeeeeny little red scratch-like deal. That bled. A lot. Over the past two months it got bigger and bled more. No explanation. No previous mark of any kind prior to its appearance. There was just… nothing, and then there was something.

Through the connections of a bunch of wonderful people, most of whom I barely know and many of whom I never even met, I was able to get in for free to see a dermatologist this afternoon where I had the *thing* looked at, numbed, and cut out, with the ravine left in its wake cauterized so we all got to enjoy the scent of my burning flesh. I’ll find out in about two weeks when the biopsy results come back if this thing was cancerous or not. :S

The Bad

Speaking of things swiping me, I *might* have been robbed, but I’m not sure…

hamburglarEvery apartment in my building gets a storage unit in the garage. For a long time the wood around the lock on my storage unit was busted– apparently the previous tenant forgot the combo to their lock and decided that instead of cutting the lock off they’d just BREAK THE DOOR to get to their stuff– so I couldn’t keep anything in there very secure since not only could I not lock the unit, I couldn’t even get it to stay closed. For that reason I only ever kept empty boxes in there.

The door was eventually fixed, and I picked up a padlock so I could begin moving things in. I never did get around to putting the lock on, though, because I ended up never actually bringing anything down there except for more empty boxes.

I think.

I feel like I remember a friend of mine helping me bring down a few big Rubbermaid bins last winter, but I can’t be entirely sure if there was anything in them or if they were just helping me get some bulky, empty containers out of my way. I have a call in to him and his wife asking if they have any recollection of that favor, but I haven’t heard back from them yet so I don’t know for certain.

The *headdesk* part, the part that made this potential but as yet unverified theft possible, is that I still never did put the padlock onto the door. I don’t have any good excuse for why I never did that. I just… didn’t.

2244-blue-mist_smIf I did bring down any containers they were most likely just full of winter clothes and things like that, so there  was nothing of tremendous value lost to whoever (may have) robbed me. But, you know: It’s my stuff, and if it’s worth it to me to keep it then it’s got some value at least. Especially these days when I’m in no financial position to be out replacing things.

So now here I sit unsure if I actually put anything in there or not (because I still have several filled bins and boxes up here in my apartment and don’t know how many I had to begin with), and unable to really verify if I did or not until I hear back from the friends who helped me.

If it turns out that my things were, in fact, stolen, I plan on posting some notes around the building asking for the person(s) who removed boxes/bins from storage unit #17 to please replace them or leave them outside of my apartment door, no questions asked.

I need winter clothes. I’m frizeeeeeezing in here!! It’s 32 degrees outside, and about 56 degrees inside.

Dude: I need a job. O_O Speaking of which…

The Ugly

I’m registered with three different staffing companies and a talent agency, and applying for 3-4 jobs online every day, but still no luck in the ol’ Employment arena. I find this puzzling, to say the absolute least. I’m qualified, I’m honest, I’m loyal, I’m nice (enough), I bathe daily, and I’m available. I know the market is really rough right now, but… but… I still just don’t get it!

dilbert-02Basically: I find it impossible to believe I’m that much less qualified than people already filling positions out there that I know I could do. I mean– think of how many doofuses you work with. (And I know you work with at least a few or else “Dilbert” would never have become as popular as it is.) These are the people you work with who are so annoying and so inept that you complain about them on a daily basis to your significant other, your friends, your family, your bank teller, your grocery bagger… These are the people you know are going to get fired if the boss catches them screwing up, or screwing around, even just one more time.

So here I sit shivering in an apartment I can’t afford to heat, surrounded by furniture I’m taking pictures of so I can sell it on Craig’s List, asking myself: Am I really less suited to be your coworker than people everyone complains about and whose contributions are substandard? Really?!

*Meh*scellaneous #1

Click the Pic for a great blog entry about using this product

Click for a great blog entry about using this product

I wrapped my bedroom window in plastic yesterday. One of those 3M Scotch tape window insulator kits. I bought it after last winter for $5 bucks on sale. I don’t know if it’s helping or not, though.

I washed the window frame, let it dry, applied the tape- and pressed firmly!- cut the plastic to size, smoothed it onto the tape, tugged out any wrinkles… and then listened to it pop off as the pressure from the wind coming through the closed window loosened it.

(Series of Expletives Deleted)

At this point I’m kind of wondering if it’s worth it to attempt to insulate the window in the guest room since it’s just as drafty and therefore likely to have similar problems. I’ve been keeping the blinds drawn in there and the bedroom and closet doors closed and hoping for the best. Brrrrrrr!!!

*Meh*scellaneous #2

The show I’m in closes this Sunday. I had a great time with this cast and am really going to be sad to see this one end. Not to mention the fact that there’s really nothing I want to audition for until February, and that’s a long time to be off the boards, you know? Here’s hoping that aud works in my favor or I am going to be one bored little girl come this Spring.

08_7_noisesoffThere are really only two shows coming up in the area that I’m looking at auditioning for this Spring, and one of them is likely to have just about the fiercest competition I’ve ever seen. It’s a popular show at a popular community theatre and everyone I know who does comedy is already gunning for a role in it.

I’d be happy taking an added-in part of Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant Stage Manager and run a Canadian cross or two with a clipboard if that’s the only way I could get into this thing. It just sounds like such a blast.

If only they’d allow me to do the casting. Got a few good ideas up my sleeve… (JIM!!! MATTHEW!!! RICK!!! HINT HINT HINT!!!!!!!)

*Meh*scellaneous #3

You know what else sounds like a blast? A Filet o’ Fish meal. Or maybe just some chicken noodle soup and a pb&j while finishing “The Name of the Rose.” Now if I can just convince myself to get out from under the covers and remove my hat, coat, and scarf long enough to make them… Brrrrrrrr!!!!!

Wasting time in the unemployment line

Benefits Run Out In T-Minus 10…9…8…

When the middle aged man with two lazy eyes told me he liked my necklace, I figured the Job Fair could only get better from there.

I’ve been wrong before, so there were no significant aftershocks when I then went on to leave booth after booth empty handed.

Well- not entirely empty handed. I did go home with a banana from the Waterstone Group and hand sanitizer from… oh who even knows. One of the many hospitals that had a booth at the fair. After a while they all just kind of blend together into one gigantic, latex glove wearing, shot giving, disinfectant reeking nightmare of a distinct lack of job opportunities for li’l ol’ Ruthie.

Please don’t ever call me that.

Yes: I attended the Job Fair *cue bells and whistles* at the Local Community College (LCC) on Tuesday afternoon. I’d never been to one so I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped it would be more than 40% staffing services, 25% hospitals,  25% engineering firms, and 10% companies I’d love to work for but who aren’t hiring non-accountants or non-IT support staff.

But hope is often a stupid, stupid, stupid misplaced thing, as it was in the case of Tuesday’s Job Fair.

Oh and machine operators. The suburbs of Milwaukee love them some machine operators. Mm-mm-mm.

There’s something about overheard conversations at Job Fairs that would be heart breaking if the central focus of the Fair wasn’t finding employment but finding something else instead. Like donuts. Or a date.

“I used to date a really attractive, intelligent woman and within three months of beginning the relationship I was promoted to the position of Fiance until the woman joined the Shaker movement, which eliminated the need for my position. But I’m a great boyfriend, and a wonderful fiance, and I know I can be a great fiance to you, too, if you’ll just take me on.”

Instead it’s just stark, cold, mechanical. Almost pathetic.

Because here you are in a room full of people, most of whom are imminently qualified to fill any number of different types of positions with different types of companies, but no one wants them. They desperately need employment after months and months of living on credit cards, and the companies clearly need to increase the size of their staff, but the skills offered and the skills required just… don’t match up.

You may be a great boyfriend, the best fiance, but in a world full of Shakers what the heck are you supposed to do with those qualifications?

Upside #1 (because with me there’s always an up-side): I met the woman a friend of mine recommended from a Local Staffing Company  (LSC) at the Job Fair and am hoping that turns into a beneficial professional relationship for both of us. I approached her and said a friend of mine said they had used LSC to find temporary work and had spoken very highly of a woman there named A-a. The woman said that she was A-a and knew exactly who I was referring to and mentioned her by name. I really liked that. We talked about Fave Local Townie Bar, ferrets (hers died about a year ago; so sad :( ), and meeting up to see what they can do to help me out.

Upside #2: LCC was paaaaacked on Tuesday so I had to park in the lot on the opposite end of the campus- about a quarter of a mile- from the building I needed, which meant I got to take a nice long walk in the sunshine both before the Job Fair to get myself pumped up, and after the Job Fair to give myself time to quell my growing sense of disillusionment before getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Upside #2, Subsection a: Long walks on college campuses = long spans of time spent walking behind small, round butts in jeans so tight onlookers can see that freckle on your right cheek. Yeah, you know the one, Miss Hot-Pink-Cell-Phone-and-Knockoff-Black-Uggs.

The Philosophy of Slate-Based Vacations

I’m at my folks’ place right now. After the dark, chilliness of my apartment- which would be light and warm if I could afford to turn on lamps and the heater- it’s so refreshing sitting here in their brightly lit living room full of natural light, with the twinkle of the fireplace across from my spot on the end of the recliner couch.


The family dog, a Shih Tzu Bichon mix named Patches, is sleeping between my shins; my hulking loads of laundry are packed back up into my overflowing laundry bag; my belly is full of cheese, sausage, crackers, and coffee; and all is well with the world.

Except for that unemployment thing, of course…

My dad is in the dining room talking with a couple of buddies about their various business philosophies. He told them about the time he ran the idea by my mother of taking a road trip along the east coast during which they’d visit all the old slate tile mills from back in the day. She thought he was kidding. She was so wrong. Boy I tell you what: I’d take a tour like that in a heartbeat. And I’d bring a camera.

He showed them an old roofing report he and I put together for a potential customer a few years ago. I like when he uses that particular report as an example because– well first off it’s pretty impressive looking. The potential customer- a gigantic hospital- had an ENORMOUS, multi-roof facility, so when you look at the roof maps, at the project breakdown, at the photos- wow does it look good!

But the other thing I like about this one, the thing that really makes me smile, is that if this report ever comes up he always makes sure to show a roof picture that I’m in somehow. You’ll see me in my glue stained jeans, flannel overcoat, and work boots holding a defect card, climbing a ladder, whatever. I like that because I like the way he talks about his kids when he mentions things we’ve done that were hard for us at first, things we had to overcome other things for in order to conquer the task at hand. He doesn’t ramble on about my siblings or me. He just mentions these things in passing but with such a respectful tone in his voice that you want to go out and do that difficult thing again.

For this particular project I had a couple of things to get past in order to do my part. Namely: I’m afraid of heights, and I quickly feel overwhelmed at the prospect of organizing such a vast and diverse set of data. On this project I not only got to learn a *lot* about putting massive amounts of this type of information together in a logical way that supports the technical data while being easy to follow, I also got to climb ship’s ladders 10 stories up in the air. For me that is a Big. Deal. There’s nothing like hanging off the side of a building, looking out over what seems like the entire world to remind you a) why you’re afraid of heights, and b) that when you quit bellyaching and just get right down to it, you can do an awful lot more things than you may’ve thought you could.

How did this turn into an after school special? My apologies.

Other… Stuff

Oh hey! I forgot I can create polls now in WordPress! Let’s see… what can I ask you about… Ah. Got one.

12:41 pm. Still have to put away two loads of wash, do the dishes, vacuum the apartment, hit the library, run to the grocery store, and return Season 3, Disc 4 of Battlestar Galactica to Blockbuster before 6. Now if I can just find a way to pry myself away from this soft couch, this roaring fireplace, the gray light of Fall misting through the french doors, and the snuffling of a sleeping dog, I might actually get one or two of those things accomplished…

Can’t be bothered to begin…

When people who you know have nothing to gain from feeding you a line of bullshit about something feed you a line of bullshit, who are they trying to convince? Especially when it’s not terribly harmful bullshit so what was the point in the first place? Especially when it’s their own hole they’re digging?

Been a rough week. Can’t get into it too much here ’cause it’s work related and all that. The end o’ the tale, however, lands firmly in the “Ruth is working on her resume and actively seeking employment which she will interview for having driven to said interview in a car fueled by gas funded by unemployment insurance payments” camp.


So what do I want to be when I grow up if I’m not gonna be a roofer?


It’s become increasingly lonely here as of late at the ol’ apartamento. It’s the job thing. It’s family stuff. It’s hard. Everyone’s depressed. I keep daydreaming about meeting Bill Gates at the grocery store and helping him track down all of the apples (get it?) that have spilled from his grocery bag and rolled all over the parking lot and to thank me he gives me a million dollar tip and I take it to the bank and put it in the work account and the only thing I ask of my dad back at the office is that we hire a full-time IT person/CAD monkey.

My resume is stupid. And full of how-to-write-a-resume notes. And three pages long. Because it’s full of how-to-write-a-resume notes.

Do I *have* to write a resume? Can’t I just show up outside of some company’s building and walk in and ask if I can try out whatever it is they do and if I can do it I’m hired? Someplace that’ll keep me in my apartment. Someplace that’ll give me health insurance. And days off. And a drawer for my pens and not just a place to set my pen cup.

Time to shower and then go to bed. I keep trying to force myself to stay up as long as possible so that when I finally crawl under the covers I’ll fall asleep right away and not lay there thinking and thinking and stressing and thinking… but I’m out of things to do. I don’t want to be online (shocker, I know), none of my books is that appealing to me right  now, everything’s clean enough that I can’t be bothered to mess with it, and every time I go to do something that requires a light being turned on or hot water being used (as Silly Strawberry bubble bath isn’t nearly as much fun without it) I freak out and turn everything off because I’m so afraid my work endeavors will fail again and I’ll be paying for that energy usage with unemployment checks all summer and Lord knows those things don’t go far enough.

I didn’t cause anything to fail. There’s nothing I could have done. All I can do now is keep working, be there, keep my head up and my mind focused and eat during the day and get sleep at night and maybe take a walk tomorrow afternoon.

I’m so sad right now but crying just takes so much effort I can’t be bothered to begin. :S