Saturday, January 16, 2010


Sorry for the inconvenience; it's a tough decision, but I've had to go invite-only to keep the blog up. It's just gotten to the point where I need more control over who has access for a lot of reasons. I realize you may have to remove me from your blog roll if I have a place there, although friends of my friends are always welcome here. My openness and honesty have become something of a liability, sad to say, and what with the job search and all and my full name on here making me ridiculously searchable, something had to be done. Please keep me in your RSS feed or stop by often; I'll be blogging a lot more now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Next Best Thing

So, about Facebook (for those who inquired)... I've been on there for a few years, since my cousin Angie invited me back when it was still a college networking site. You create a page with links to your profile, photos, and whatever contact information you feel like offering, and you can connect and interact with anyone else who's a member. And, of course, in the last year or so it's exploded; I now have 137 friends, mostly high school classmates and family. It was more effective when I only had 30 friends and could keep track of everyone, but now it's sort of a time suck if I'm not careful.

In addition to posting on your own wall (short status updates, videos, links, etc.) and on your friends' walls, you can play games (there are hundreds to choose from) and assault each other with imaginary pies, pillows, hugs, insults, gifts, what-have-you. I got addicted to something called Farm Town for a while, where you plant crops, harvest and sell them, buy seeds to plant more crops, buy livestock, houses, fences, wells... it gets insane. I quit after a few weeks.

The really great thing about it is that I'm keeping connected with my girls in San Diego, cousins in Wyoming, and friends all over the country. I'm getting to know Brent's excellent friends and accidentally alienating one feisty niece (don't worry, she's mellowing out some. Hormones, angst), and mine are getting to know him.

The really bad thing is just that; over the internet, sarcasm is a deadly trap, assumptions fly, and tempers flare over politics and social attitudes. A vague status update (I'm a chronic perpetrator) can lead to disaster if you never bother to elaborate. It's a tricky thing, who to "friend" (yes, verb) and who to "ignore." Plus, I don't always think about who's reading and share too much (or plop down an opinion that gets challenged), and sometimes my sweet, clever, devoted friend who happens to be working on a full-body tattoo gets a little profane and I cringe thinking, Mom's going to see that. But Mom knows her, and knows what she's been through. It's probably okay.

Overall it's great. For example, in the last month here are several things that, without Facebook, I would have completely missed out on (the great and sad): Kym's beloved Great Dane, Frankie, died; Cory revealed she's pregnant after she and Dave returned from a trip to India; Cara got her dream job in Denver; Dori posted pictures of little Thomas; Bekah posted pics of little Will (and burned her bra- I still have to find out what that was all about); Jesse sent me a Pig Hug; Andre, Michele and the girls hit the Washington slopes and nobody got hurt; Annie decided to have a year-end equipment sale and I got to purchase her Canon 20D (a $1,500 digital SLR camera) for $200; Tonetta ate garlic-flavored pita chips in bed and regretted it.

See how much fun? I could live without Facebook. I'm even cutting back, mostly because my attention is elsewhere (see two previous posts) but it's still nice to post a cranky status update at 1 a.m. and have several people chime in sympathetically. Connecting is, admittedly, much better face to face. But when you just can't do it... there's always Facebook.

Second Chance

This happened yesterday, and I'm still elated. In fact, it got me through today, which -- as Thursdays often are at the plant -- was sort of excruciating (it's the boss's Friday, and he feels pressured to wind things up and make check marks on a long list of accomplishments for the week, which often translates to a hectic, angsty day).

In the fall I interviewed with a company in southern California for a water-industry position that would land me in Palm Springs doing exactly what I want to do. I didn't get the job and, unlike most of the interviews I've been to lately, was notified via a relatively generic rejection letter, so I had no idea how close I'd really gotten; I began to fear that I'd said something wrong in the interview or that my experience wasn't quite adequate for the positions I've been applying for.

While I love the water industry, working at a plant is repetitive and isolating. The jobs I've been going after are with organizations who employ circuit riders, specialists and technicians who assist rural communities with water issues, whether environmental, treatment, distribution, consumer, regulatory, financial, etc. My short five years at the plant have been pretty action-packed, and I really do feel qualified to help operators in small systems get funding, repair equipment, solve problems, and receive training (a big part of these jobs is lining up and conducting conferences and classes; fun, right?) I'm diplomatic, a great communicator, a sharp researcher, I'm tough and fun but can be professional and polite. Also, I've got some administrative and financial experience under my belt, and I know how to deal with small-town politicians (hint: if you can avoid it at all, do so).

So yesterday one of the members of the panel that interviewed me down south called to let me know that they're looking to fill the same position up north, home base Sacramento, frequently deployed in the surrounding area from the coast to the Sierra Nevadas. No one could be more appreciative to have been remembered, much less informed that they had made an impression and were considered qualified. He had recently run into a manager from another group I interviewed with last August, and while they were talking about openings in this organization my name came up when he mentioned a girl from Wyoming he had been impressed with. The other manager remembered me, a close second in his own round of interviews, and realized at once who he was talking about. So my name's out there; it's only a matter of time.

I'm glad they found the perfect person for the job down south; now all I have to do is let them know I will work my tail off to be the perfect person for the job up north. Brent and I already convinced ourselves once that Sacramento would be perfectly feasible, and it only took a split second for it to happen again. Affordable (no, really!), an hour or so from all that is delightful (Yosemite! Tahoe! Reno! Monterey! San Francisco! Napa/Sonoma!), and just a 12-hour drive from home (a little longer to get to Kansas City, but we like to fly). When I was sure the connection was closed, I screamed out loud.

I've submitted my application packet and look forward to another interview among the palms, especially since the panel member that contacted me is a most pleasant and sensible person, and I want a chance to tell him in person how absolutely grateful I am.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Song and Dance

I hope everyone had lovely holidays and began the new year fresh and fit; I'm afraid I keep up better on Facebook than I do over here; it's quicker, I've tricked myself into believing. I'm going to start posting my short, vague statuses from Facebook here, something to try, the theory being that it will help me find a balance between too little and too much.

I keep starting posts that quickly get out of hand, trying to fill in all the blanks and express all the hopes and frustrations and create reason and sense where there isn't any. I thought around the new year that I'd do a quick rundown of 2009, especially the months I didn't post much (and sadly, that's more than half), but "brief" ballooned into "bulky" and I couldn't find a way to trim it down. I feel so much, and I have so much to say.

Seriously, I have at least 20 unfinished, unpublished posts that just go on and on and on, and even though there's some lovely language and information I'd love to share, I also fear I'm guilty of sharing too much. My reasons for blogging have to be different now; I'm so different than I was when I started this over five years ago, and a lot of what I had to say I had no one else to say it to. The returns from the blogosphere have been amazing, it's been great to have a way to keep in touch with friends and family when we haven't had time to actually get together, and I've loved (as I've stated before) being able to go back and see where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling. I think I'm emotionally healthier when I use this outlet, even though I have someone now I can't help but tell everything. He doesn't seem to mind; in fact, I he seems to like it. But he also likes reading me here. It's where he found me.

I have a hard time focusing. I have come to the conclusion that if I ever run out of artistic mediums to explore, I'll simply drop dead. So I'm working on a way to combine them all, believe it or not. The basic concept is that when I find a creative outlet I'm mad about, suddenly every other thing I've ever tried is as obsessive as it was when I first discovered it, and since childhood I've discovered myriad modes of artistic expression. I write; I draw in pencil, charcoal, and pen and ink; I paint in watercolors, oils, gauche and acrylics; I play several musical instruments; I take photographs; I carve wood; I crochet; and now, friends, I kid you not, I'm making jewelry. I discovered simple silversmithing and PMC precious metal clay, bought a kiln and some steel blocks, hammer, and solder, and went to town with the abandon I use to attack anything creative. And it's as rewarding as everything else. And suddenly everything else is rewarding in whole new ways. And while I was watching Coraline tonight, I had an idea.

I've been trying to conform. Imagine! I've been trying to tailor the things I create to meet the appetites of a society that is almost completely homogenized. The same movies come out over and over, the same music plays again and again, the last novel I read I swear I'd already seen, word for word. I went to Kansas City for a week after Christmas and dipped my toes in suburbia, where everyone eats at chain restaurants and sees the same movies and wears the same clothes from the bland stores at the mall (except for the remarkable few who have somehow managed to carve out a unique life of creativity and inspiration; some of those are Brent's friends, thank goodness).

And I got to thinking: it's the people who don't do this, who can't stand this, who run in the other direction screaming and spewing creative works in the wrong colors and styles and sounds (Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, Poe, Michael Jackons, Georgia O'Keefe, et. al.) who we really admire. Who really live. And I thought about the only line in the 1994 film adaptation of Little Women that really should have been in the book: "... you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?" And I'm a little grateful to have spent nearly a decade in a small town where I was protected, for the most part, from the mainstream. I've had the Internet and magazine subscriptions, a brief foray into cable, healing time with family, a short drive to a decent-sized city, and plenty of time to simmer in my own creative juices.

Anyway, in 2010 I intend to let go. I am plagued by self-doubt; anyone who knows me knows that. But I'm 30, I'm clever and able, and there's no reason I can't produce whatever artistic whims lead me to without caring about what people think. So here goes.

This should be interesting.