Monday, January 31, 2011

Strategic Shopping

There are many things that Chef is amazing at. Cooking, making me laugh, trivial pursuit. The list goes on and on. However, there are some things that having a girlfriend really helps on. Shopping is one of those things.

My experience with shopping LA has been mixed. The first couple of weeks here really sucked because it was the holidays. Any store would be slammed in a highly populated city. So I couldn't really blame the stores for being crowded.

Now that I've been here a few months and have at least navigated through my part of town, I feel a little more able to avoid some traffic and do what I call "strategic shopping." I take what the city has to offer and use it to my advantage.

Let me give you an example:
  • When I want a good cut of pork, some fresh made salsa or handmade tortillas, I go to the Ralph's grocery store on Pico. It's in a Hispanic/ Latino neighborhood and is very well stocked in all things related to Mexican food.
  • When it was the holidays and I wanted some good beef and little crowds, I hit the grocery store in the Jewish neighborhood. It was less full of Christmas crowds and had a great selection of various beef cuts--plus fantastic corned beef. I'm in; I'm out; I'm happy.
  • For a quarter, I can park on the street in front of Trader Joe's without having to circle the crowded parking lot for 20 minutes. I can also park within 20 feet of the front door and be able to get in without raising my blood pressure. It's worth the 25 cents for my peace of mind.
  • If I'm lucky enough to convince Chef to hit an outlet mall with me, I should look at the list of stores and narrow my focus to the ones where I would have the highest likelihood of getting the best deal. For example, an H&M or Old Navy outlet store, while intriguing, would not necessarily provide me with a much deeper discount than their regular stores. However, a Coach or Nine West outlet could provide me with some real savings. Such was the case today when I celebrated my new job (details to come in another post) with a deeply discounted Coach purse. It's purple and gorgeous (picture below).

Those are some of my first LA lessons in strategic shopping. I'm sure I'll come up with many more as I spend more time here. And until then, I'll patiently wait for some female friends --either new or old-- to do some shopping with.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Birthday in Pictures

I made a list. Chef checked it twice and it turns out I must've been pretty nice this year because I had an awesome birthday(s). Here are my highlights in picture form:

Going to Book Soup. A great independent book store that had three books I couldn't resist.

Waiting for our pizza at Deano's at the Farmer's Market.

The white pizza. It was frickin' delicious.

Deano's pepperoni pizza--still good but not as delicious.

My cupcake-gasm from the Frosted Cupcakery.

The spoils of my hunt at Sephora. Love the complimentary birthday cake shower gel.

My grandma saw my list and stepped in for some birthday flowers. Beautiful! She's awesome.

Outside the Library Bar at the Hotel Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd.

My birthday sunrise walk on the beach. Moments later, Chef officially asked me to marry him.
I said yes...again (long story-we're unconventional).

More of the Santa Monica morning walk.

My robe and slippers for the 90 minute massage that Chef got for me. HEAVEN!

Dinner at Ruth's Chris. Can you see the butter gleaming off that steak??

One of gifts from Chef--my own and FIRST jersey. Go Colts!

Genghis liked the jersey too.

Here I am pondering whether or not to watch the Pro Bowl
because then I could wear my jersey.

Does it look like a great couple of day? CAUSE IS WAS!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An early birthday present

Chef took me to the beach today. It was the warmest day this week and nearly perfect weather. I mean, who can really complain if you're going to the beach in your swimsuit in January?

I say Chef took me because it was his idea to go today. The beach is my favorite place. He likes it, but not as much as I do. And really, the beach on a Thursday is awesome because it was pretty deserted. I got to work on some things and then lay in the sun. Get my daily dose of Vitamin D. And maybe get a little tan, but not too much.

I love the beach because it's one place where you can lay down and not be deemed a weirdo. Aside from a bed store, there aren't too many places you can do that and not raise an eyebrow. Well, unless you're homeless. Then you've pretty much got free reign to lay down anywhere without a lot of attention.

So, after a week of job interviews, working freelance on projects, taking volunteer phone calls, and trying to be a good partner around the house, I was ready for a day on the beach. I know that my life isn't all that stressful right now, but I have a feeling I'm going to need to cram in my relaxing while I've got a chance. And today was a great chance.

Now, I'm "off" the job hunt AND calorie counting tomorrow and Saturday for birthday celebrations. Chef got me a massage for Saturday morning and tomorrow is PIZZA DAY!! (Have I mentioned that I've been watching calories like a hawk and have lost 10 lbs in the 2 months that I've been here).

I'm a lucky girl. Not only do I have a good life, but I've got a partner who knows what I need --sometimes before I do!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

His Legs Move as if Independent from his body!

Chef and I saw an ad today for one of the weirdest new shows I've ever seen. It's a combination of Lord of the Dance with an illusionist, Cirque de Soleil, group dancing, tangos, and more. The promos were not super high quality, but intriguing. Intriguing in that "watching a train wreck" kind of way.

What makes it even weirder are two other things: 1) It's a dinner show, so you actually have to eat food while watching this. and 2) it's called "Battle of the Dance" but there's no knives, no cage matches and no winners. How is that a real battle?

I have no desire to see this show. Mostly because I have no desire to any of the Cirque de Soleil shows, any Irish step dancing, or any tangos that aren't being done by faux celebrities and judged by heavily accented men. Besides, everyone knows that dinner theaters usually mean mass produced food that isn't always the best. Honestly, I've been thinking a lot lately about the food that I eat and how good it tastes. Nine times out of ten, a made to order restaurant meal or something I make at home is going to trump anything else. It's the mass produced stuff that I think tastes delicious, but know it's really not.

So, anyway, if you needed any more incentive to come visit me in SoCal, then I think Battle of The Dance just about pushes you over the top, right?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maybe LA is rubbing off on me....or maybe it's just a product of comfort

The last couple of weeks as I've been strolling around the city in my kicks, I've noticed a few things. I tend to wear my normal shoes out in public. By normal, I mean my usual heels and boots. Three inch heels in the supermarket--no big deal to me.

Normally, I would wear them because I have plantar fasciitis and the stretched position of the foot feels better than flats.v Plus there's the fact that I'm 5'2" in reality and 5'5" in my head.

But in the true sense of LA, I've come to realize that my heels are good for the workplace, but a little out of place for my daily errands. So in an effort of comfort, I decided to get a pair of casual flats. Shocking, I know. Flip-flops made me feel like too much of a tourist, so I branched out to a pair of Tom's shoes. I'm a sucker for cause marketing and the shoes looked comfortable. They very much are. But while waiting for the first pair to come in the mail, I got impatient and bought a different pair. Also wonderfully comfortable. It made me wonder--if you take back a pair of Tom's shoes, do they strip the pair they gave to a child with your purchase off the kid's feet?

And today after my interview, I stopped by Off Broadway to checkout their clearance shoes. These cute Chucks were less than $20. I couldn't resist. Now I think I'm stocked up on cute casual flats. The last thing I would like is a dressy pair of red flats.

But all in all, I think I'm good for shoes. Bet you never thought those words would be uttered by me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Only Six Shopping Days Left Until My Birthday

Just a friendly reminder and an opportunity to figure out what you're going to get me. Emails, phone calls, and Facebook posts are recommended.

Unless your name is Chef. Okay, your nickname is Chef. Then I know you've already taken care of it, because I started musing on a list of things I wanted to do a few weeks ago and you're a smart and loving man who likes lists.

So, in my state of mind a few weeks ago, I decided to make this an awesome birthday. Last year was an awesome one too, and I realized that it was the little things that made the day great. Like going to any store that I wanted to. Eating all of my favorite things. Spending the day off of work and with Chef.

This year's birthday will be nice and my list got so long that we decided to expand the celebration to Friday AND Saturday (my actual birthday). I will NOT be counting calories on either day (sorry, Wrye Family Challengers--I promise not to go too overboard). Here are my some things on my list right now:
  • Seeing a sunrise or sunset on the beach
  • Having donuts and coffee
  • Eating dinner at Ruth's Chris (Thanks, Dad and Robin, for making this one happen as our Christmas gift)
  • Pizza from either The Good Pizza in Culver City or Deano's Gourmet Pizza at the Hollywood Farmer's Market
  • A massage (Chef already got me this one! Just got to make the appointment)
  • A trip to Sephora to use a gift certificate that I got for Christmas
  • Flowers
  • A trip to a great independent bookstore
  • A cupcake from The Frosted Cupcakery (that's a picture from their website below)
  • A drink at the Library Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel
  • To not have to clean litterboxes
  • Take the subway somewhere--although I may relent and just scratch this one
Does anyone have any suggestions? I think it's looking pretty good to me. Since Oprah, Tom Selleck, Heather Graham, Greg Louganis, William McKinley and I share a birthday, I think it would be a good idea for us all to get together for dinner. Of course, McKinley might be pissed he was assasinated, but he'd be good company.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Heart is Heart, wherever you're at

It was only a matter of time before I began to miss my American Heart Association roots. I made an appointment with the local office a few weeks back to come find out how I might be able to volunteer. It's a great way to meet people and maybe get a few job connections. Plus it's something that I know that I can do.

So, today was my day. The office was in downtown LA, which was cool because I hadn't really been in downtown yet. The Comm Director was very nice. She even introduced me around to who was there. The empty office on a Friday made me realize that it didn't matter where you were at, the AHA is still the AHA. Don't get me wrong. My colleagues work very hard, but the place is a little hollow on Fridays. The echoes ring louder the later in the day it gets.

Anyway, it felt good to know that my previous experience would be put to good use. I'm already planning on going to the Stilletto Strut they're having on February 3rd. This is a high heeled mall walk in honor of Wear Red Day. I'm all over it. And I have the perfect pair of shoes to wear.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Think I'm Over the Hump on the Diet thing. . .maybe

Can you sense the confidence I have in myself? Today, I stepped on the scale, as I am apt to do about three times a week, and was down again. All in all, it makes 9 pounds since I got to California. Not too shabby considering I just REALLY started concentrating on the weight thing 3 weeks ago (down 4 pounds since then).

There's always that time period at the beginning of dieting (or as Chef reminds me "lifestyle changing") when you crave nearly everything in sight. For me it was alcohol and sugar. Which is virtually the same thing, when you really look at it. One just gives you a different kind of high than the other.

So, week one of the family challenge (did I mention that I'm in this with a bunch of awesome family members who are helping keep me motivated?), and I didn't lose any weight. As anyone whose ever dieted, ehm made a lifestyle change, can tell you, that first week holds a lot of momentum in it. It's the hardest to change because your old habits are just a day or two behind you. The bottle of wine you opened on Saturday or the cupcakes you made on Friday are now verboten. But the memory of icing is still lingering in the back of your throat.

So, you struggle through and are proud, but then the scale says nothing. nada. zip. zelch. zero. No change. How can there be NO CHANGE when you made all the changes? It just seems like a cruel joke and leads to depression. And depression for me leads to cupcakes. Or bread. Or wine. Or French fries. Or all of the above.

But you decide to give it one more week.

And then you see some results. You work out a little more. You eat a little less. It makes you feel better.

For me, the real hump is when I start to crave or let's be honest, just enjoy for a change, the "diet" foods. That means I actually make a point of cooking and eating veggies--brussel sprouts, green beans, romaine salads, broccoli, etc. Between that and the fact that our house is fully stocked with a healthy option to nearly any craving, I think I'm good to go. At least for this week!

One thing I'm very happy about is that I genuinely like exercising. It's not a chore. It's a habit and I feel so much better when I do it. And I know it.

9 pounds down. Another 30 in my crosshairs (that wasn't a Palin reference...or was it?).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Better today than yesterday. Isn't that what it should be?

I had another interview today and it went better than yesterday's. Despite Chef mocking me playfully about making sure I didn't say the wrong company name, I felt pretty good going into today's interview. I got a little nervous when I had a hard time finding parking, but I got in and got there in plenty of time.

Like most of my interviews, I was overdressed. I'm sure the employees were mocking me a little in my suit as they were kicking around in jeans and sneakers. Of course, that just made me want to work there more.

The place had a good vibe and the interview was one that I felt prepared for. Being prepared is the only thing I can control in these interviews. Being prepared and being on time. That's what I can do.

The one thing I will say is that I'm convinced my love of sports will help me out. I know that I'm unusual for my knowledge, especially being a girl, but I am pretty good at being able to gauge when to pull out my sports love and when to pull back.

As usual, I never really know what's going to happen. That's the crappy part. I only know that I can do what I can do and the rest will fall into place. I just feel lucky to be getting this much action from my job searching and to be getting some varied opportunities.

Thank you, everyone, for your support!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sometimes You Get the Bear. Sometimes the Bear Gets You.

I thought I was prepared for my interview this morning. Based on my lack of experience interviewing in LA, I use my experience interviewing in Tennessee as my baseline. I had a weird phone interview a few weeks back, but I choose to think of that as the exception, not the rule.

Today wasn't really weird. It was for a PR/ Marketing position at a cosmetics company. Sounds pretty cool, right? Yeah, it sounded cool to me too. The only hitch in the giddy-up was that for whatever reason, I had a different company name stuck in my head. Same first name, different second name, but no excuse. When I did google searches to research the company, I had a hard time keeping it straight. It's like when you meet someone who reminds you of someone else and you call them by the name of the person they remind you of instead of their actual name.

Knowing this, I had said the company's name 10 times on my way to the interview to try and drive the wrong name out of my head. Despite all this, what was the first thing that popped out of my mouth? The wrong name, of course. Ugh.

Also, I was trying to make some small talk so I asked if he was off yesterday for the holiday. He replied "No. This is a small company. We don't get every holiday." And then I felt like an a-hole for asking, until he followed up with "Did you have yesterday off?".

"Well, I'm not currently employed and looking for a job, so I'm not really ever off," I said.

The rest of the interview consisted of a few questions about my background. It was scheduled for 30 minutes. I remember making those 30 minute weed out interviews well. All in all, I did my best, but sometimes you get a good vibe, sometimes a bad one, sometimes no vibe. I got a neutral vibe. It wouldn't surprise me if I wasn't brought in for the second round. It wouldn't surprise me if I was.

It's a coin toss. Isn't it always?

Tomorrow is another day with another interview. Keep those well wishes coming my way until I find my new work home.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Had A Dream...last night about my friends

Last night I went to sleep and in my dreams I had some visitors. All of them made me happy. One of them made me a little sad. Sad as in nostalgic sad, not as in depressed sad.

I had a dream about going on a weird job interview where the other competing candidate and I were at a picnic table and the interviewer was asking her tons of questions. When it was my turn to be asked, she kept spastically interjecting and I was getting pissed. Where were my friends? They were on the bench beside me. They weren't there for an interview or even as my life character references. They were just there.

And it was weird. I mean, the above is weird in its own right, but that's not super dream weird. It's weird enough to be odd, but not weird enough to be easily distinguished as a dream. At least when I was in the dream. So, anyway, the other interviewee was sitting next to me and mocking that I was wearing a suit (She was in a formal top, but jean cut-offs on the bottom--kind of how you imagine newscasters during the broadcasts). When the interviewer was turned away, the other candidate said to me "You can totally tell that you're not from California because you're way too overdressed." After a few times of cutting me off, I completely shifted to her direction and said "I was kind enough not to interrupt you during your interview and I expect the same courtesy or there will be consequences."

Anyway, she ended up throwing a fit and left, and the interviewer said "Sorry about that. She's clearly not a candidate of your caliber, Ashley, but she looked good on paper."

At this point, I left the picnic table interview in the park with my friends--Anne, Amanda, Schultz, Brooke and Lara. They all supported me and even let me blow off steam about how I wasn't sure if I wanted to work for a company that interviewed girls in cut off shorts in the park at a picnic table.

We went from the park to my old house in Evansville. What made me happy was that I know the type of conversation we were having was making me laugh in my dream and could and will probably be replicated in some form at some point in my life. Maybe not the conversation, but the feeling of being with my true friends having a fun, funny moment.

What made me sad was that I haven't seen or talked to one of these friends in years. There was no falling out, just a falling off. As in, she seemed to fall off the face of the earth. Not that I was all that much better, but I did make several calls and left messages with no return before I gave up. About 18 months after my last attempt, I got a birth announcement for her second baby. I felt horrible because I didn't know she was pregnant. It was then that I realized that we'd really drifted apart.

In the end, I woke up mostly happy because I have great friends who even in my dreams are right by my side supporting me. I think my dreams are telling me that I miss my friends and I'm tired of interviewing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Made a New Friend, Reconnected with an Old One

Today was a good social day for me. Since I moved to LA, I haven't been too social outside of my job interviews and Facebook. But today as I was finishing up my work out in the apartment complex gym, a guy walked in. I had seen him in the gym a few times and he always gave me a friendly smile.

Well, today I was alone in the gym watching the UT-Vandy basketball game when he came in. "You can change the channel, if you'd like," I said. "It's not a very good game."

That was enough for him to go "You like sports?". And thus began the conversation. Josh and his girlfriend just moved to LA from Atlanta. We talked about his work, our paths to LA and our significant others. It was a good time, and nice to have met someone else who was new. They just moved in the week before we did.

And so you know, there was a purely platonic vibe in our exchange. The love of sports thing has always made being friends with guys an easier task than meeting girl friends.

The other thing I did today was meet up with a friend from high school. It was a lunch get-together and I went to her place in Pasadena. If you've ever reconnected with someone after more than a decade of not seeing them, you know this can be hit or miss. You can either realize that you really didn't have anything in common but proximity or that you actually do.

Luckily, I realized that we're actually more alike that I realized even back then. And she was just as nice and gracious as I remembered. I think we'll probably hang out again in the future, and am thankful for even just a lunch with someone who isn't my long-time love, a cat or potentially hiring me. I look forward to having another one or two catch up sessions with some other Hoosier ex-pats.

All in all, not a bad day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Ocean to my right, the hills to my left--Not too shabby

Today I was on the Pacific Coast Highway (aka PCH) for the first time. I was coming back from a job interview and got to take a coastal route home. I literally could've pulled off to the side of the road to dip my toes in the ocean. I should've, but I also wanted to get home to Chef. Plus we have a plan to go to the beach on Monday. It's supposed to be really nice weather and I've got to make use of my free afternoons while I can.

But just the afternoon. My morning will still be spent working on more resumes and researching. I have to keep with the routine because it's working. I got 2 more interviews scheduled for next week. Both were off of tailored letters I sent out this week. All in all, I feel like my days at home during the week are numbered. It's a nice feeling.

I had two interviews this week. One was in person and one via phone. The phone one was fine. Typical questions and I gave some succinct and truthful answers. The in-person one was actually three interviews in one. One with the hiring manager, one with a manager in the department and one with the VP of HR. The company seemed to have some interesting benefits and the vibe from the people was that they all really love working there.

The only thing I hate about interviewing on a Friday is that I always stick out like a sore thumb in my interview suit while everyone else is in casual gear. Actually, come to think of it, that's probably not just a Friday thing. I tend to be overdressed. But I will continue to be overdressed until I get a job, because I don't want someone seeing a casual outfit and thinking "This is as good as it gets?". I can bust out all the jeans and cardigans I want when I'm in a job.

So, it's the weekend now. I'm "off" of the job hunt until Sunday night and still "on" the workout kick until I physically can't do it. I tend to make Sundays a little lighter than regular, but that's the only variance. Lunch tomorrow with some friends from high school. Good times!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Always in My Hoosier Heart

I saw this video today and it's not been up long, but causing a minor ruckus among Big Ten fans. It's an IU tribute to great Hoosier basketball and the promise of a new day. And I know there are many, many people who have chalked IU basketball up to being no longer relevant, but weren't the same pundits saying that 20 years ago about Duke? There is a natural ebb and flow to all sports and flow has admittedly been away from the direction of Bloomington for a while, but it'll come back.

And I have confidence that it will.Why? Blind trust? Stupidity? Being a fan? Probably all of the above. But with that, also comes a rationalization that Tom Creen is a good coach. Probably the right coach for Indiana at a very bad time in the program's history. Time, some wins and support will bring the team back.

In the mean time, I like watching the video below if only for a few things:
1) It makes me remember a time when I didn't think Isiah Thomas wasn't using his hands to grab inappropriate things, but using them to grab rebounds.
2) I love seeing the short shorts and tall socks. Awesome combination.
3) Calbert Cheaney. He was the hero in my hometown and remains so in my heart. Stay Classy, Evansville!
4) Bobby Knight. It's like seeing the really hot, yet slightly crazy, ex that you dated in high school and remembering the good times.
5) It doesn't matter where I'm at, I'm always going to be a Hoosier. And that's a good thing.

So GO IU!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'll Take It and Love It

Today was weigh-in day. Technically, everyday can be weigh in day as I'm not on the Biggest Loser, but today was the day when I officially tracked it. And I was happily down 2 pounds. Why am I tracking my weight loss? Well, my family and I are in a weight loss challenge where we all set a goal and a reward. We only get the reward if we ALL hit our goal. It's a little less competitive and more encouraging than the last weight loss challenge I had with Chef.

So, now I feel like I have to lose weight so that I can not be the weakest link. I think NOT being the weakest link has been a motivating factor for centuries and it seems to be working now. I'm working out at least 30-60 minutes a day. Yesterday, I worked out twice. Kind of like my at home last chance workout.

My family is doing amazing. They're all dropping weight which has only made the pressure to make sure I get the 10 pounds I promised off in the next 2 months. That seemed reasonable at the time I made pledge, but the more I work, the more I hope I can make it.

And I lost 2 pounds which makes me feel slightly better. Today I was sore for the first time in a while, and that made me realize that I'm at the very least toning my body. And toning can't be all bad. Plus I'm going to try and get my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in at least 7 days in the next 14.

So, I'm gonna take my 2 pounds worth of weight and be thankful that any came off this week. And maybe I'll also try to not look at the scale again until next Tuesday. Or maybe not.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Routine and Some Perspective

I started a new routine this morning. Mostly because the idea of finding a job was getting to be too overwhelming. You know how everyone says that finding a job can be a full time job in and of itself? Well, that's partially true. It can be just as much of a roller coaster as a regular job. And there tends to be the same amount of paperwork, but the results sometimes aren't there.

I think I liken it to more like losing weight. You do stuff everyday to try and take off the pounds, but the task at times seems insurmountable. You see a few pounds come off and it motivates you more. You see 0.2 pound come back on and it's a fight to get back into the fight.

After my phone interview last week, I realized that I was trying to do too much at once. I was applying half-heartedly to about 10 jobs a day. Not bad, but I wasn't taking the time to really try and distinguish myself on the jobs that I actually really wanted. And why I was applying for jobs that I was qualified for, but didn't really want anyway?? So, I took some time to try and devise a game plan, as well as do some soul-searching on what kind of job I really wanted.

And so I came up with this routine to try and follow. I will be at the computer and ready to go every morning by 9:30 a.m. I will concentrate on my job search for two hours. I will apply for two job listings (posted somewhere) with carefully tailored cover letters. Each day, I will also send a catchy intro email and my resume to two companies that may not having openings, but I would like to work at. I will reply to all emails or phone calls during this time as to not spend all day doing things piece meal.

So, that's my plan for finding a job. I've got another phone interview and an in-person interview this week. I've also set up a meeting with a local AHA employee to get her take on the communications/ PR/ marketing market in LA.

Now, I've got to get my weight loss plan working a little better. I'm working out like crazy (about an hour a day--which is like crazy compared to the 30 minutes a day I used to do). I eat plenty of calories, but I count them. And despite this, I've still not lost any weight so far. I started to get frustrated when Chef took me aside to say "It's about making the lifestyle changes. Not just losing weight." Which is very true and good perspective. But I also need to look better in my clothes. Just sayin'.

Friday, January 07, 2011

I'm A Teeter Totter

I realized this week that I've been a little more moody than normal. Or at least a little more susceptible to moodiness. I think it's a combination of all the things going on in my life. Here's are things that have gone up and down this week:
  • My weight (thankfully, down a net 0.2 lbs right now)
  • My anger with those who watch crappy stuff while I'm in the gym
  • My happiness to watch SportsCenter while working out
  • My annoyance with the cats for moving or dumping their water container
  • My urge to kill Mila for scratching my face
  • The scratch on my face's appearance
  • My urge to kill Mila for pooping outside the litter box for no apparent reason
  • My interest in Bowl games
  • My nervousness for the Colts play off game tomorrow
  • My anger in not being able to hear anyone who calls my cell phone (aka our only phone) while I'm in our apartment (this is getting fixed with a VOIP phone number and computer headset friends!)
  • My enthusiasm about job prospects
  • My enthusiasm for staying away from alcohol
  • My willpower for anything
  • My continued sleep patterns
  • My disdain for whoever spray tanned Bob Barker for the State Farm commercial
  • My loneliness
  • My anger/jealousy over Chef's midday naps
  • My belief that a teenager can lose 90 lbs in 90 days and it be healthy (C'mon MTV. I'm not sure "I Used To Be Fat" is a good example)
  • My excitement over finding out that Glee's Brittany used to be a background dancer for Beyonce and was in the Single Ladies Grammy performance
  • My love of being on the computer for 8 hours a day for working, job searching and pleasure
That's all I can think of right now, but as I am a teeter totter, I'm sure my love of the list will waiver and I'll add or delete more.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I'm Certainly Not Simple

I've taken to listening to the San Diego sports talk station. Mostly because they don't talk Lakers Basketball the entire day. In fact, they mostly talk about NFL football and lately about Big Ten football as the San Diego State Football coach (Brady Hoke) is rumored to be courted by Michigan to be their next football coach.

It discussing just that situation when the radio host was talking to a former NFL player originally from Illinois. Here's a snippet of that conversation:

Host: You're from one of those Midwest states, right? Iowa?

Former NFL player: Illinois.

Host: Yeah, I knew it was one of those states in the middle that start with an I. I don't really care about those states. They're just flatlands that I fly over when going from coast to coast.

(The host was smart enough to state that he was probably going to get killed for that one). The host then went on to ask the former NFL player from Illinois if he could explain what it meant when other people described coach Brady Hoke as a "Midwest guy."

Host: What does that mean? When I think of the Midwest, I think of people who just want to move to the coasts. Nobody moves from the coasts to the Midwest. Hoke wouldn't want to move to Michigan to shovel snow. So, when I think of someone being a "Midwesterner" I think of them as simple.

Former NFL player: Well, now I'm offended at that.

And so was I. Frankly, I realize that no one think of the Midwest until election night when they're the country that decides the fate of the election. Or until a snow storm hits Chicago and delays flights. But really? Simple? That's ridiculous. And I take offense to that.

Here are things about being from the Midwest that I would describe as being inherently Midwestern. All of which are better descriptions than "simple."
  • Hardworking
  • Strong work ethic (according to Wikipedia, the Midwest has a higher employment to population ratio than the Northeast, the West, the South or the SunBelt states)
  • Humble
  • Smart
  • Quietly strong
  • Speaking "standard" English- no accents here
  • Genuine
  • Truthful
  • Honest
Those are just off the top of my head. A none of them are offensive. So, radio host of 1090 a.m. in San Diego. Get a thesaurus and an open mind before you open your mouth.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Clearly, not meant for me

I had a phone interview today unlike any I've ever had before. It was so different that I had to call a few friends to make sure that my experience was not the norm. I mean, it's been a while since I've been actively ON job interviews, but I spent the better part of last year conducting job interviews. So I'd think it wouldn't be too different than what I was asking.

Clearly, I was wrong. Or maybe my expectations were off. But normally a phone interview is a brief screening call. You ask a few questions about the resume, the background, etc. Use the call to see if the person can put a full sentence together, speak intelligently and is more than just a piece of paper.

That was what I was expecting. I had done some research on the company. Checked out their client list. Their vendors, their executives, etc. Checked out the verbiage they use on their site. All that good stuff. When I go for a face to face is when I really spend some time researching. I only did THAT much because I wanted to be able to craft any questions that I had around the position and corporate culture. Apparently, I didn't do enough.

First, she began by explaining the process. A phone interview, an in-person interview with herself and another EVP PLUS a writing test, an in-person interview with their entire sales team, and an interview with the CEO. I thought the AHA was bad, but they've got NOTHING on this place. Did I mention the position they're offering is NOT a management position?

Anyway, instead of the "getting to know you" questions, I got the following:
  • After checking out client list, who would you say is missing?
  • What would you do to bring a new client on? What if you didn't have a travel budget to visit them? (At this point, I mentioned reading Business Week and using critical thinking to come up with some prospects. In one of her comments later, she said "Business Week is good and all, but it reports on things that have happened in the past. We need you to read things that predict the trends." I thought that was a little condescending.)
  • Who are our biggest competitors?
  • What is our business model? (I had to ask for clarification as to what she wanted me to answer. The next question was: How do you think we make our money?)
  • How do you feel about building relationships with brilliant minds? Do you feel you could handle carrying on conversations? (I was a little offended by that one)
  • Clearly you don't have a tech background (this was for a company that deals in the tech industry), how do you think you'd learn about tech?
  • What kind of hardware, software and social media do you use?
So, I'm trying to tell her about her own industry without having any background and I'm trying to guess at what their company does with only a very convoluted website to go by (tech people aren't generally naturally good writers). I'm getting no feedback, so I could be completely wrong (although I knew I wasn't that wrong--it's a basic business, not performing open heart surgery). As I'm trying to answer these questions, I feel two things: 1) I don't really want to work for this place and 2) they clearly aren't sold that I'm not a idiot.

When it was my turn to ask questions, I asked what qualities they were most looking for in someone to fulfill the position, what the most pressing issues would be when someone was on board and what the company's vision was. She seemed a little perturbed to have to answer my questions. When I asked her what the vision for the company was, she read off a mission statement. When I asked her the vision for the future (expecting something about growth, increased membership, increased prestige, etc), she said--"that is our vision for the future." Clear as mud.

So, please make me feel better and let me know that all interviews are not like this one. Especially not phone interviews. Luckily, I got another bite today and two more loose ends, so there's always hope.

In fact, there are five words that inspire and terrify me at the same time: "This is only the beginning."

Monday, January 03, 2011

Brett, You Should've Left a Year Ago

I'll admit I'm a Monday Morning Quarterback on this one. But considering what came out today, I would say that it's appropriate.

As he deadpanned into the camera and assured America he knew it was time to go, I couldn't help but think Brett Favre was at least a year too late in coming to that realization. I mean, America was ready to see him go about 3 years ago.

Look, Brett Favre owns a lot of records and sold a lot of Wrangler jeans in his day, but the guy sucked wind this year. If you ask most fans (except for Vikings fans), they would've preferred the guy left when the Packers went to Aaron Rodgers. Because after he left the Packers, Brett Favre went from "cowboy" and "gunslinger" to a joke. Him NOT retiring was kind of like the annual spurning of Susan Lucci at the Daytime Emmys. It became a farce of its own.

And while we're at it, can all the sportswriters, commentators, and anyone who makes a comment on Brett Favre, please refrain from calling him a "gunslinger". It's tired, old and not creative at all. Instead of "gunslinger" say what you really mean "A guy who can throw really hard and either is very accurate or an interception nightmare."

So, Favre says he's going to retire and we all want to believe him. We want to think that no idiotic teammates will make the trek to Mississippi and fluff his super big ego to make him think that his best year is just on the horizon. He just has to show up. No training camp or physical workout required.

We want to believe things about guys who've reached a certain level of fame. We want to believe that Brett Favre didn't sexually harass Jen Sterger or the two new team massage therapists that came forward today. We know deep down the truth probably lies between the wild allegations and the even wilder denials. There was probably some overly sexualized flirting and things that would get a C-level executive fired from a normal company. But Brett isn't a C-level executive and the NFL is not a normal company. (Plus with the ladies making the accusations in the same breath as they're trying to get settlements, it makes the allegations easier to brush off for the average or die-hard fan).

So Brett, if you wanted to avoid this ridiculousness, you should've taken the ego hit that Green Bay served you and retired without really playing for any other team. But you went to the Jets. You had an okay year. Then you went to the Vikings. You had one great year and one year that made fishing in Mississippi look nice.

But just because Brett Favre didn't listen to me or half of America, doesn't mean that there aren't a few lessons to be learned:
1) Never put your sexual harassment in digital form. Tiger learned that one the hard way.
2) If you're going to sexually harass someone, make sure it's a money-hungry, hot girl. Their stories will bring up the most doubts.
3) If 90 percent of the people you talk to are telling you something, don't do the opposite JUST because you don't believe in crowdsourcing your life decisions.

Bye bye Brett.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The World Has Come To An End

Today was the weirdest day in my shopping life. I went into Target and came out with NOTHING. That's right. . .nothing. It was the first time in my life that I went in with a list and left empty-handed. Mostly because the shelves were bare.

Perhaps it was my fault. Perhaps I thought too highly of Target and their ability to actually stock their shelves. The place was really missing a lot of stuff. Chef and I went in for a few things: 1) a level, 2) swiss cheese slices, 3) provolone cheese slices, 4) an iPhone arm band for jogging.

Went to the Electronics section. No armband for an iPhone. Just an iPod. Not big enough.

Went to the Hardware section. No levels. No tape measures. Just some drills and drill bits.

Went to the grocery section. No swiss or provolone cheese slices. Just cheddar cheese slices and rows and rows of Muenster. How much Muenster does a store need to stock?

Having struck out, we went to Ralph's. Ralph's is really Kroger. Chef corrects me every time I call it Kroger, and I get pissed. Kroger OWNS Ralph's and I spent more than the last decade going to Kroger, so I feel like if I want to call it Kroger between the two of us, I should be able to without remark.

Names aside, it was hard to believe and a little disappointing that the store I love didn't love me back this Sunday night.

Oh well. At least the Colts got into the play offs.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Two Things I read Today That Blew Me Away

While I have read from two creative books today, I still can't quite give up my Business Week. But I am going through it much more slowly. And today I was catching up on the year end issue and it has some great stats.

Here was one that caught me a little by surprise:
  • According to antivirus software maker AVG, 92% of U.S. children two and under have photos on the Internet. (Business Week December 20, 2010). Clearly these kids aren't putting themselves on the Internet. While kids nowadays seem to come out of the womb being able to type and navigate the Interweb, I'm fairly certain that they must develop some motor skills before this is actually true. So that means that some relative of millions of children are posting a picture on the web. Remember when it was scary to actually put your real name on the Internet, let alone a picture?

  • Secondly, e-books overtook hardcover book sales this year for the first time in history. For every 100 books sold in hardcover, there were 143 sold in digital form (Business Week again). To me, that's just nuts. Or at least it would've been a year ago. Before I had a Kindle (which I got last year), I would've never dreamed of loving anything more than a hardback book. I love cracking the binding, the smell of the print, and the tactile floating from page to imaginary dream world. But I soon found that a Kindle will still take me away and for half the price. I also like seeing the percentage of a book that I've read. It's a nice perk that I had to guess at with hardbacks.
The Kindle thing kind of changes my dreams. Well, not changes, but alters the perception of what it's like in the end. I always dreamed of having my novel (which will eventually be finished) shipped to me and opening the box to see a wonderfully intriguing cover staring back at me. Having it delivered to my e-reader, isn't quite the same. However, if I end up getting my book published, I'm sure the euphoria would ease the disappointment.


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