Thursday, April 30, 2009

April poll results are in: You like to walk/enjoy nature, were probably theatre people, and are fun & prepared!

Hello, readers! It's time to find out more about you!

Last month, we discovered that you are sensible, smart, funny, and technologically savvy! Good for you! This month, you were asked to choose your most likely reaction in the traffic-y, no cell phone scenario. Here are the results:(I realize this may be hard to read, but just click on it and it gets way bigger. The point is, you're still pretty.)

So, as it turns out, this poll has resulted in a 3-way tie for most selected answer! In bad traffic and given the choices, 24% of you chose "shut off your car and go for a stroll." I'm not saying I wouldn't have chosen that one, but really? Where are you going to go? The median? Anyway, you're walkers, I get it. Perhaps you enjoy nature? Also, you are probably physically fit. At least you can manage your anger and you don't explode on your way to yoga, like those 12%. (Note to self: Find out who those 12% are and give back the books you borrowed immediately).

Another 24% of you chose "crank up the volume to Heart's "Alone," stand on the top of your car, and sing at the top of your lungs. During the chorus, once you've attracted some attention, you invite onlookers to join you atop your vehicle." So you like attention. Were you an only child or maybe the youngest? Perhaps you were once one of the theatre people? Did you do drama in high school? I did. I was in South Pacific (I was a nun and one of the random singing ladies in the chorus...I think I wore daisie dukes for that show...embarrassing) and The Secret Garden (I was the Fakir [pronounced fahk-EAR], a dead guy who used to take care of this kid and now sings a lot to keep the audience on track. Try saying "I play the Fakir" in high school - you get a lot of "You play the F***er?!" Ridiculous.). Anyway the point is both of these were musicals, so I get your urge to break into song. In fact, I personally was torn between this one and the next choice, "Invite your fellow traffic sufferers to join you in a game of badminton with the rackets and birdies you keep in your trunk just for these occasions" (24%).

Not that torn. I chose the latter. And for everyone else who did: If I had to pick favorite readers, it would be you. There, I said it. Why? Because it pays to be prepared! I actually do keep badminton rackets and birdies in my trunk, right next to my water gun & balloons, frisbee, whiffle bat and ball, and blow up beach ball. (Oh and my snow shovel, because it really could snow in June). And what happened that time I got a flat tire in a parking lot and somebody had to go back and get some tool or another (whatever, the point is there was waiting involved)? We played badminton in said parking lot, and it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

To the chatties (the 16%): Please don't show me unsolicited pictures of your grand kids when you're 90. Other than that, I still like you. Also, I expect you to leave a comment, because you clearly have a lot to say!

Thanks for voting! Stay tuned for the May poll tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Unemployed Network?

There's lots of good news for unemployeds today. First, we won't get the swine flu (because how could we possibly catch anything from our own couches?) Second, we're a target market. Let me back it up.

First, *bam* the economy is awful. Enter bailouts and rising unemployment rate.
Second, we have 'empathetic' advertising.
Third, the ridiculous rise of the Recessionista and the 'being frugal is cool' trend.

Now there's a fourth step in the evolution of this economic meltdown: Merchandise for the unemployed, by the unemployed.

Obviously, there's Between Jobs: The Blog - THE STORE (check out the new shirt!). That goes without saying, and is perhaps the grassrootsy advent of this fourth phase. But now there's more. There are "Laid off need a job" bracelets (in the style of the "Live Strong" bracelets), unemployment board games, and artful t-shirts among other things.

The only problem with all this is that the target market, the unemployeds, don't have a whole bunch of money to spend. Huh. Tricky. But don't you feel a little special? I do. I feel somewhat honored to be a part of another specialized target market. This is good news, as far as I'm concerned! Will there be an Unemployed Network that results? I hope so. In my fantasy, on the UN...
Daytime programming, beginning at wake up time (11:30am): Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, then a cooking show describing how you can make a cheap meal (I wouldn't commit to either "breakfast" or "lunch" there, since it's 12:30 but you haven't eaten yet) out of the contents of your fridge
Afternoon programming: a daily exercise special outlining how you can get rid of that unwanted unemployment fat, followed by a half hour network break so you can shower and continuing with episodes of It's Me or the Dog
Evening programming: shark week reruns, marathons of bad horror movies, maybe some Saved By the Bell...whatever you're going to fall asleep on the couch anyway.

Someone should get on that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm not a lion tamer, but I could be; you don't know

I went to a show at the Improv Asylum last night with Jess and a few friends (it was a benefit for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training). The crew did the usual improv thing where they ask for suggestions from the audience. For example:
  • What's something you've failed at?
  • Someone name an unusual crime.
  • What's a deep secret you have?
And then the audience yells out their answer and they pick one. Well, one such question was directed right at me personally.

Improv Guy: What do you do for work?
Me: (sheepish grin, red in the face) I'm unemployed.

Of ALL THE PEOPLE in the audience, he asked ME what I do for work! And what did I tell him? Did I make something up? "Actually, Improv Guy, I'm a lion tamer." NO! But, as it turned out, the truth was funnier (at least, that's what I'm telling myself).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Memory Monday: Operation "Ho Ho Hose the New Guy"

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job. This week, I'm going back to my old favorite for MMs: My most recent job in Wherethehellisthat, MA.

When I started that job, it was the beginning of December and the holiday season. The company I worked for was a family business, with the type of family-owned business practices that make your head spin (the HR department was the boss's wife). Everyone was very close, something that I could tell right away. One of my coworkers had even invited the boss & One-Woman HR to her wedding and frequently went out with the accountant, the office manager, and their husbands. This was more than the "hey, let's grab a drink after work" environment. This was a "why don't you come over for Thanksgiving dinner?" kind of environment.

At first, I thought I liked the idea of a close-knit office. I sort of had no choice but to like these 4 people because they were the only 4 people I saw every day. It wasn't like I could make other friends within the company or avoid them at lunch. This was why I was an easy target for Operation "Ho Ho Hose the New Guy."

It was my third day of working at this place. I was asking my co-worker if there was anything else I should be working on, when she said, "Actually, I've been meaning to ask you something." What would it be: Is there something in my teeth? Do you celebrate Christmas? Can you recommend a restaurant in Boston? Do you like mushrooms? Is that your natural hair color? What?

She continued, "Would you want to contribute to the gift we got for our boss and his family?" Huh. Well there was a sticky situation. If I said yes, I had to contribute $28 bucks for hand-made Christmas ornaments they got for each member of the 7-person family. I didn't even know these people yet, and I certainly wasn't ready to invite them to my wedding. BUT, if I said no, I would never be invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at their house. Not that I wanted to be: They lived on a farm and raised their own turkeys that they killed day-of, something I wasn't ready to experience. I did want to make a good impression, however, as I was still new and didn't have any other options for office friends.

So I said yes and paid up. Looking back on this, I feel a little like I got hosed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Money Saver: Being Unemployed?

I was thinking more about how to save money and realized that being unemployed is saving me money. Oh sure, I don't have an income other than my weekly gift from the Commonwealth and that's really not financially ideal. But, by not going to work, I save money because:
  • I don't have to buy lunch (not that I could at my last job because I'd have to drive miles to one of the 3 closest Chinese places, but you get the idea)
  • Like Trent mentioned, I don't have to spend money to de-stress as much. I'm still stressed (in a below-the-surface, mild kind of way) about not having a job, but I don't come home and burst into tears because I hate my job so much
  • I don't have to fill up my tank once or twice a week (or for those of you who take public transit, you don't have to buy a monthly pass. Plus, you also don't have to deal with the smelly people during summer rush hour. That's an emotional sanity boost right there)
  • I have more time to do all those healthy things Trent was talking about, which apparently save me money
  • I have time to do things that I enjoy and that can potentially make me money, like entering writing contests and such
  • I have time to do free things, like beer and wine tastings that happen between 5 and 6pm when I would normally be driving home from work
  • I'm not at work, so I'm not being bullied into contributing to my boss's Christmas or birthday gift (look for this on a future Memory Monday...)
  • Also, without an income, I'm focusing on more general ways to save money (as you could tell by my last 2 posts or so)
  • I don't need to hire a dog-walker for the little idiots because I'm here all day
  • I don't get sucked into stores on my way home from work, reducing window shopping and impulse buying
That's like $300 a week right there! I should look on the bright side more often!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Money Saver: Trent's list

I just found some more great tips for saving money in this list. For the most part, it really is quite good. I already do some of the stuff, like making meals at home, making a list before going to the store, repairing or reusing old clothing, etc.

There are, however, a few items on that list with which I have a bone to pick. Here are the top 3:

29. Don't spend money just to de-stress.
What is this Trent talking about here? I found the explanation a little vague, as he never explained what the money was spent on. Booze? Gambling? Yoga? Hookers? It could be anything! Maybe Trent was being purposefully vague so we could fill in our own blanks. If that's the case, I'd fill it in with Cadbury Creme Eggs because every time I eat one, I forget my joblessness and get lost in the Sea of Oooey-Gooiness. And you're telling me to give these up, Trent? How dare you?

51. Don't fear leftovers, jazz them up.
In this tip, he suggests actually *gasp* eating your leftovers. Why people seem to think this is a 'suck it up and just do it' kind of task, I'm not sure. I would like to point out that this is really easy to do if you make good food in the first place. Revolutionary, I know, but somebody had to say it. Also Trent, I worry about your suggestion to "chain," or use leftovers for the basis of an all new dish. When Jess was growing up, her mother used to do this. She called these creations casseroles, a word that to this day causes Jess to run from the room screaming, crying, and pulling out her hair. Such casseroles often included white rice from Chinese food over the weekend, pasta from dinner last night, salsa, a layer of tuna fish from lunch three days ago, and leftover veggies that were just about hangin' on, all baked in a casserole dish and topped with a layer of grated Parmesan cheese. Her heart was in the right place, but soon her family members' stomachs were not. So Trent, I'm surprised and dismayed that you would suggest this kind of indigestion.

65. Cut your own hair.
Are you kidding with me right now, Trent? I mean, maybe you're a hairdresser, who knows? Maybe you can pull it off, like this guy (if you watch no other part of this video, please fast forward to minute 5:40 or so...).

Or maybe you can't and you end up looking like this doityourselfer. Trent says practice makes perfect, but what about the first time when you end up with this do? No, I will not be adding "cut my own hair" to my list of Pamscaping activities, thank you.

Other than these three biggies, though, Trent's list was pretty good. I think most of the items can be summed up into:
  • Don't buy stupid crap you don't need/Stop living like a rock star and live within your means
  • Buy the generic brand of crap you need in bulk and freeze most of it
  • Buy smart, like an old person (read: be cheap-- use coupons, camp out for sales, etc.)
  • Be healthy, because there are a lot of indirect ways that can save you money

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Money saver: Join a community band

As you may or may not remember, I've been a member of the Brookline Community Band for a few years now. Most of our performances are at retirement/ rehab/ convalescent homes. We sometimes get sugar-free cookies, fruit cups, and water. I love it. It reminds me a little of visiting my late grandparents. That is, without the smoke and the back-scratcher.

But then it gets better. In spring, there's the annual pancake breakfast. Put on by the Brookline Rotary Club, it's basically a benefit for some of the high school's sports teams and such. We play at the event every year, and every year we get free admission. That means free all-you-can-eat pancakes! And not only pancakes: there's breakfast sausage too, and you can add all sorts of toppings (like whipped cream and raspberry sauce. Also pancake syrup for the less adventurous). Then, you can wash the deliciousness down with Starbuck's coffee, OJ, chocolate milk, or apple juice. And it's all free! What a money saver! This year, I considered staying and having pancakes for lunch, too, but all my fellow bandies had left and I thought it might look a little weird if I stayed.

Yesterday was another money saver brought to me by the Brookline Community Band: Our annual performance at the Boston Marathon.
random marathon shot...I think about 2 feet to the right of where the shot gets cut off was a guy dressed as Captain America

It was rather chilly and quite windy yesterday, which made playing difficult, but I had NO problem housing my subsequent free hot dog, Doritos, and can of Pepsi.

So what is the moral of the story? Join a community band! The benefits might not always be healthy, but they're delicious and they're free!

Another useful money saver that is somewhat related? This free sample blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Memory Monday: Monkeys and Responsibilities

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job. This MM is likely to feel like a montage. Feel free to add your own musical score.

For one of my summer jobs, my responsibilities included answering the phone. The phone rang about once a day, so I spent most of my time sitting at my desk, reading "The Lord of the Rings." A monkey could have done it (well, maybe not the reading "The Lord of the Rings" part). I was fifteen or so, so I was that monkey.

On my first day, I remember my boss asking me, "When you answer the phone, you say 'Hello, (company name), this is Pam. How may I transfer your call?' and then you transfer it by hitting this button and then one of three extensions. Do you think you can do that?" I was insulted: Of course I could handle that! I thought, 'I'm getting an A in honors Chemistry; I can so answer the phone!' I didn't understand yet that at fifteen, you really are a monkey, and answering phones and doing data entry's about all any boss can trust you to do.

So I went on with my monkey work, vowing one day to have a real job with real responsibilities.

And then I got that real job and no longer wanted them. Those responsibilities, like getting quotes from vendors and doing statistical analysis on qualitative and quantitative data, were enough to scare the pants off of me. What if I made a mistake? My monkey days were over and mistakes were no longer acceptable. My boss would not say "oh, you're just a monkey; don't worry about it! Here, have a banana." Worse, there would be no endless fountain of second chances.

It was at my second job, when I worked from home, that I finally shed my monkey skin. I ate responsibility like it was cake and begged for additional helpings like one of the corduroy children. They gave me more responsibility until I became fat and sassy with confidence.

Then, at my next job (my most recent job), I went through responsibility withdrawal. My boss asked me questions like, "Are you sure you're ready to take this on?" about things I had done on a daily basis at my previous job. Now, I had every right be insulted because it felt like I had taken a step down from where I was. I felt like I was a monkey again.

And now, being unemployed, I'm not sure what my next job will be like. Will I be a monkey, or will I have responsibilities again? It really could go either way, and I'm finding that it no longer matters which.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fans Friday

I just want you to know I wasn't going to post today.

I was going to skip Friday all together, actually; you know, just sleep right through it. Wake up and *bam* it's Saturday! Time to make eggs in a frame and take the dogs for a walk to the pond! But then there was barking from the floor above us at 7 this morning and our dogs woke up and started barking. It was my day to walk them (every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and every other Sunday!), so I got up. There went my idea to skip Friday.

Case of the Nasties still raging like some sort of bad seafood allergy, I decided not to post. I figured it would be best for our relationship. But then, Reader, everything changed: I found out that I have fans.

Fans! And they're real live other people! They might have read more of this blog than my mom. So this Friday is Fans Friday. To you, Fans! (You couldn't see it just now, but I poured one out).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Nasties

I went to Target at 4pm 2 days ago. Four pee em. On a Tuesday. One would think this would be a good time to go to Target, but ohhh no. It was not. I think everyone who is unemployed or had a part time morning job decided to go to Target at 4pm yesterday. And not only did they go to Target yesterday, they did so while driving/walking/biking terribly and not really knowing where the H they were going. And they took their screaming children with them.

After 2 hours of aisle cloggers, screaming parent-less children, and the like, I braved my way through more traffic. On the way home, the traffic was mainly due to people who were trying to cheat the system by traveling in the less-clogged lane until the very last moment when they tried to get back into the turning lane. Such people disgust me. Wait your turn like everyone else! You're just making things worse! Unless I noticed a passenger in need of immediate medical attention (and I didn't: it was always someone driving a BMW while talking on their cell phone), I wasn't going to let those people in.

The fact that I still get all worked up just thinking about my Target excursion 2 days later tells me that it's not just a bad mood: It's definitely a case of the Nasties. Don't you just have those days sometimes, unemployed folk or not, where you feel the world is against you? You get upset at first, and then it blossoms into the kind of anger that makes you scream into a pillow. After that, you're ok for a couple days - that's when the Nasties lay dormant. But then someone accidentally steps on your toe at your 4-year-old cousin's birthday barbeque and the gloves are off. You find yourself throwing a temper tantrum almost as bad as the 4-year-old's, you're asked to leave, and why? Because you have the Nasties.

What causes the Nasties? I should start by clarifying that the Nasties are different from general snarkiness. They're not as serious/clinical as depression. They're almost a cousin of PMS, but only distantly: PMS is fueled by horomones and your mood goes away once the horomone craziness is over. The Nasties come from some deeper worry or disconnect, and only go away when you reconcile that inner turmoil or accept it for what it is.

I'm starting to worry about my lack of employment, hence my case of the Nasties.
Have you ever had the Nasties?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mid-Month Puzzle: Duck! I'm unemployed

Because I know you, my audience,
a) love interactive features, and
b) have some free time on your hands,
I figured you would like this addition to Between Jobs: The Blog --- the mid-month puzzle. Click to play. Enjoy!

Click to Mix and Solve

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ENTER MY "...look on the bright side..." CONTEST!

I've decided to have a contest at the suggestion of giantspeckledchihuahua. It's a good one-- tell your friends!
OK, here goes... Fill in the blank: "I'm sorry to hear you're unemployed. But hey, look on the bright side:_________!" (punctuation can vary; I'm not married to that exclamation point)
If you post the funniest answer, you win! Enter as many times as you want!

You: Great! What do I get if I win?
Me: Your answer will be printed on greeting cards that will be for sale in the "Between Jobs: The Blog THE STORE" store! How exciting is that?!
You: I'm not going to lie to you, Pam; it's pretty exciting!
Me: And that's not all!
You: Oh sweet heavens! What else could there be!?
Me: I'll tell you! You'll also get to pick any item from the "Between Jobs: The Blog THE STORE" store and I'll send it to you free.
You: Sweet baby J! How do I enter?
Me: You simply post a comment to this post with your answer to enter*! The winner will be announced when I feel like it, so check back often!

*By submitting any entries in this contest, you grant me permission to use your entry in a card that will be sold at my store.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Memory Monday: Would you like to buy a vacuum?

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job.

I sold Rainbows one summer. No, it's not a metaphor; I worked for Rexair as one of their Rainbow vacuum salespeople.
Yes, this was a clear precursor to my gayness.
No, I didn't go door to door.
I did, however, do demonstrations for everyone I knew. This is probably because I was very excited about this vacuum cleaner. In fact, I was sold on these amazing machines from day one, and still want to buy one.

Oh I'm so glad you asked!

First, they don't even use bags! Tell me you're not intrigued!
Well, what in the dickens do they use, you ask? Water. I know, right?!

During my presentation, I would lead by telling my captive audience about the Rainbow's use of water. Every time, they became curious (read: skeptical).

Step two in the presentation was explaining all of the features of the Rainbow.

Step three, my favorite, was the "reasons why your vacuum sucks" step (or more appropriately titled, "reasons why your vacuum doesn't suck"). I'd get into the physics of it. It was sick. The part of my presentation that almost sold people every time was the "Rainbow vs. [INSERT POTENTIAL CLIENT'S VACUUM HERE]" test that occurred during this step. I'd put a piece of cloth in the nozzle of each vacuum, then use their vacuum to go over the same spot of rug 100 times. All the while, and it was a while, I'd be explaining the physics and what was going on with their vacuum. "It's just spitting things out the back and not sucking up what it should," I'd say. Then, I'd take out the cloth and show them the dirt. THEN, with the excitement building, I would go over the same spot of rug with the Rainbow only once and show them the cloth...and it would be even dirtier than the other cloth! "Wow!" they'd exclaim. "My house is so dirty! I'm so embarrased! Get out!" And I'd go, "I know, isn't the Rainbow great?!"

Then step four, my least favorite part of the presentation, was to basically say, "hey wanna buy one?" If they said no, they still got a free gift (usually a Ginsu knife) for giving me 5 leads, and I still got my $20 per presentation. But the bottom line is that in a whole summer, I didn't sell one Rainbow. Not one! My guess is it was probably because it cost $1180. But they last 25 years - 4x longer than any other vacuum! My friends' parents and my relatives, however, could not be swayed.

But I believe in Rainbows, and one day, I will buy one.

PS- Hey Rexair: You're welcome.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Job Hunt

I remember every Easter growing up, my neighbors would have an Easter egg hunt for all the kids in the neighborhood (of which, I was among the youngest). We didn't go every year, but I recall that one year when I was very young, we decided to attend.

Right after church (I was raised a Catholic), in my white frilly dress, white lacy socks, and white patent leather shoes, we went right to the neighbors' house. We got there, and already I was pissed: All the other kids in the neighborhood, who attended the same mass we had that morning, had gone home to change into jeans first. And I was decked in white, ready to plow through their muddy backyard for some hidden Peeps. Not that I was upset that my white lovlies would be ruined. I didn't give a crap about my white lovlies, and I usually ran upstairs upon return from church every Sunday to put on some jeans and play outside. But not this time, oh no. I would wear the white lovlies to the neighbors' and I would like it.

After a few minutes and a few late arrivals, the scavenger hunt in the backyard was set to begin. I could already spot some of the treasures: The foil of a chocolate bunny shining in the sun, the unnatural neon pink egg waiting in the grass, the celophane of the Peeps' box; they're all mine! Mr. Neighbor finally yelled "go!" and all the kids rushed toward the yard, some of them not entirely sure where they were going. I started to run right for those Peeps, but my 5ish-year-old legs didn't take me as fast as the 12-year-olds' did. Plus I was wearing a dress and couldn't run at a full sprint because it would just reveal my white bloomers. (No, I'm not 52, and no, this was not 1949).

As a result, all the other kids got to the shiny foil bunnies and neon eggs with yummies inside, and I went back to the starting line. Mr. Neighbor asked me what was wrong. I explained that I didn't want to wear the dress, and that I couldn't find anything out there. He whispered in my ear that he hid a giant chocolate egg that was bigger than my head behind the willow tree on the right side of the yard. I was sure someone had gotten to it already, but I jogged over to be sure.

When I got there, not only had no one taken the egg, but there were all sorts of other treasures next to it! I held out the outer layer of my dress and filled it with the goods. The other kids saw what I was doing, as well as my amassed treasure, and hurried over, but they were all too late. I had the golden egg, and I was overjoyed.

And that's what I think we all could use right now: A Mr. Neighbor to tell us where the good job is hidden.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Foul breath Friday

I came across this ad the other day:

I blushed and wondered: Do I exhibit the symptoms of blog smog? It was true: I hadn't gone outside to do anything other than take the dogs out or go running in a few days now. So there was that. But did I waddle like that guy in the commercial, with my arms all up in the air for no reason? That was a definite "no." Now for the final symptom: the breath. I stopped typing and did the breath in the hand check. It was iffy.

I reflected on this morning, when I was taking Emma and Sparki out for their morning walk. I ran into a guy asking me if I needed my leaves to be collected. I was surprised he even started talking to me because it was clearly passed the "it's ok to wear your pajamas outside for a few minutes because it's so early and no one will notice" hour, but I was still wearing my pajamas. My bed hair had formed a nice little berret shape with an unexpected, rather artful awning in the back. I was even *gasp* still wearing my retainers! (Yes, it is embarrassing to admit that I still wear them. In my defense, though, my high school history teacher ended every class with his crookedy-toothed smile and a reminder: "Don't forget to wear your retainers, kids!" See, aren't you glad I shared? I feel like we just became bff a little.) Anyway, I wasn't at my best and this guy started to talk to me anyway. His mistake, because when I responded to his question with, "No thanksh, but you chan leave a brochure with my landlady," he backed away a little. Whether the retainer speech impediment had anything to do with it, I'm not sure, but it was clear my breath was not-so-fresh: There was nose-wrinklage. I saw it. I wonder if I had talked for much longer if he would have passed out like those folks in the commercial.

Then again, that was morning breath, not "blog smog," and I did brush after that. But point taken, internet commercial! Today, I will have a piece of gum before I make "face time"! That will surely cure my onion and garlic sandwich breath!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Buy my time!

To the tune of "Call Me!" by Blondie

I can run your errands, baby
Let me wash your car
I can start your garden, darling
I'll make your avatar
Come on now, you have a job
and all I do is write my blog

Call me! Buy my time!
Call me, call me; I'll pick up your wine
Call me! And I'll take your to do list for cash only
Call me.

I can walk your doggy, baby
I can bathe your cat
Pick up your dry cleaning, honey?
Yes, I can do that
Is it first class you want to fly?
Or to other jobs you want to apply?

Call me! Buy my time!
Call me when it's peanut butter jelly time
Call me! And I'll take your to do list for cash only
Call me.

I can be your personal shopper
I can cut your grass
I can go pick out your groceries
or drive you to spin class
I would do anything for cash
but, my friend, I won't do that

Call me! Buy my time!
Call me while you're at work (you lucky swine)
Call me! And I'll take your to do list for cash only
Call me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Tale of the Corduroy Children

In an attempt to save money, we've had to reduce our budget for dog treats. Emma and Sparki have been going through Greenie withdrawl, and as a result have been rather cranky. At least, however, they haven't tried to run away and join the circus. I felt bad for them, and so tried to fill the Greenie void recently with butt-busted pants. It's a heart-warming story, and I will now share it with you.

So my fiancee, Jess, had some pants that were well-loved. One day, the whole butt ripped. It just ripped right off. She wasn't even doing anything (i.e. trying to sit, do the chicken dance, get a leg up- nothing)! She was standing still and *poof* there went the butt!

Knowing that I have scads of free time on my hands and that I like to flex my creative muscle from time to time, she gave me the pants. "Here, do something creative with these. When I come back this afternoon, I expect big things to have happened with these pants," she said to me.

I accepted my mission and took the pants. I turned them over in my hands and studied them. They had a worn, corduroy texture. Hmmm. No butt, so I couldn't use the pockets for anything. Huh. What to do, what to DO!

I looked over at Emma and Sparki. They were sleeping. Their blankets had been kicked off, but they looked chilly. It was probably because they were losing their Greenie love handles, but I still felt bad. Maybe I should buy them some of those dog sweater things? I looked some up online and found that not only are they ridiculously expensive, many are just plain ridiculous.

And then it hit me: I could make corduroy outfits for the little idiots! I dug out my sewing kit from middle school and got started. I worked in a frenzy until, at last, I stood back and admired my work:

Contrary to what you might think, and contrary, certainly, to what it looks like, these are not little orphan children. They are not saying "Please sir, may we have some more?"

What are they then? What were their reactions to my creative attempts at recycling pants into warmth? Though Emma was impressed with my expert craftsmanship (especially with the shoulder strips on her outfit), Sparki was not at all appreciative of my efforts to warm his tiny old man legs. He took off my creation immediately following this picture and stormed off. We didn't speak for hours.

Jess came home and I showed her the outfits. She was speechless, and in her silence, it was clear that we would have to find another way to save money and keep the little fools warm. The lesson? Unemployment often leaves you cold, but it will keep you laughing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Between Jobs: The Blog -- THE STORE!

I am excited to announce the opening of my CafePress online store: Between Jobs: The Blog -- THE STORE!

So far, you will find a handsome mug (clear winner for the title of "flagship product") as well as a dandy mouse pad. More items coming soon -- suggestions welcome!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Memory Monday: Lost in Translation

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job.

For me, one of the finer points of being in marketing research was analyzing the international open-ended answers from surveys. For example, one common survey question asks respondents to state the one thing that XYZ company could do to improve their service. Many surveys with these sorts of open-ended questions that let respondents type in their answers freely were administered not only here in the US, but abroad as well in countries ranging from India to Russia to France.

There are 2 memories we need to discuss.

Number one: My latest employer sometimes didn't have time to get these international responses translated. Really, they were just incredibly cheap. Luckily, though, the questions required short answers. As a result, my former employer decided that free online translation services, such as Babel Fish, would suffice.

For the first 4 days of my work there, I translated Russian, German, and Japanese responses into English using this amazingly inaccurate service. ALL of the translations were terrible and didn't really make any sense. I remember one example was something like, "With the net it needs [PRODUCT] just, the home delivery it does to the home." I'm sorry, what? I'm sure you didn't mean that, Hiromi from Toyko. What it is you did mean, well, we will probably never know.

Number two: My favorite encounter, however, with international translations was at my first job. They were a larger company, and spent the big bucks to have responses in other languages translated back into English by a professional translation company.

There was one project where the open-ended question required a long response, and it was my responsibility to go through about 100 of these and record some trends. Around translation 79, I was starting to get loopy, and so I thought I imagined reading "I knew in my technical heart" on the transcript. What? You knew in your technical heart? I was confused. Maybe this gentleman just meant he knew something in his heart? I read on, but that didn't seem to make much sense either. Something was literally lost in translation.

To this day I still say "I knew in my technical heart" as a saying... one understands why or what it means, but for some reason, it warms me.

Over the years, there have been plenty of translation mishaps. It was a plus of working in the industry; a little something to look forward to amidst the cornucopia of crap. And now, if you ask me, "Do you miss it, Pam?" I would smile, almost wistfully, and say, "It's taken some time, but I've learned to live without the translations. No, it's the money I miss..." And so, the lesson here is "miss the money, never for the working," or at least that was what it said when I translated it in Babel Fish.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Today must be "Philosophical Phriday"

You know how when you're a kid, the world kind of sparkles? Your eyes kind of get that saucer-y quality as you stare at something you've never seen before (ex. Let me get this right - you put a bunch of disgusting goop from the refridgerator into a pan, put it in the oven, and this yummy cake thing comes out 25 minutes later? What do you call it? Cheesecake, eh? More please!) or as you ponder a new concept (ex. What do you mean, the sun is a big ball of gas?! No way, Mr. Saska!). I guess you want to know everything about everything because it all seems so shiny and interesting.

Then as you grow up, you get a little jaded and more than a little side-tracked with all the stuff you're supposed to be learning and doing. You don't have time to ask "why?" anymore. You have social studies homework, band practice, track have to pull an all-nighter because right after you saved your project the floppy disk (that's right floppy disk) broke (true story), sleep in, do a keg have to camp out in line for the post office to get some forever stamps, stay late at work, schedule time to do have a life to lead.

At least, I feel like that's what happened to me. Somewhere along the way, Curious George got lost. This is not very surprising because he always seemed a little ADHD to me, but the point is that he used to visit me all the time...wait, that came out wrong. That sounded like George was some sort of euphemism for a menstrual cycle or was, perhaps, an imaginary friend taken to an unhealthy level. What I mean is that I was once so full of wonder, but my wonder was soon replaced by my list of things to do. Now, however, being unemployed, I've found that "George" is back! I've found myself buying books like "Meteorology Demystified" and asking questions like "why do what they do in the microwave?"

So maybe the lesson here is that unemployment can be character-building; not only in a brute existent kind of way, but also in a 'the more you know' kind of way.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My first rejection email: A momentous occasion

I just got my first rejection email from a literary agency last night! It's a momentous occasion. I sent my query letter to a few literary agents and hadn't heard back from them, so this is an improvement over silence and/or indifference, I suppose. What I don't understand, however, is what's not to like. It's a funny book about unemployment that zillions of now unemployed people can relate to. How can you go wrong?

You know what, though? Someone will take a chance on me (and my sexy wink). Ba ba bop baaa ba! Ba ba bop baa baaa bop ba!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Nahhh, I didn't. April fools! Are you laughing? Don't be fooled by the tears-- I am! Maybe on the inside...

If you are going to plan any sort of AF joke, there are four kinds you should know about:
  1. Sad
  2. Mean
  3. Stupid
  4. Funny & Nearly Harmless
My joke today, for example, was Sad. Just like the joke an ex played on me one year. We were an on-again, off-again kind of couple, and one year on April Fools Day, we were off again. I wanted to be on again, but she didn't want to. No, this time was for real. She called me and said we should get back together, though, on April Fools Day. I asked "really?" and then she said "No, not really," laughed, and hung up.

Actually, the more I think about it, that joke was not only Sad, it was Mean. It was Smean.

An example of a Stupid AF joke would be something like the plastic wrap on the toilet seat. How is it funny to see a coworker skulkily return from the bathroom with pee on their pants and shoes? For me anyway, it's not that funny. Then again, I'm not a pie to the face, banana peel kind of gal.

Finally, a good example of a Funny & Nearly Harmless AF joke is the best AF joke I've ever played on anyone: Theft of the Left.

It was college and I lived in a townhouse with 9 other women. My roommate and I lived in the basement, where we came up with our Theft of the Left master plan. One incredibly gullible housemate of ours lived upstairs. She was our victim. One day, while she was at class, we went into her room and took all of her left shoes. Giddy, we hid them downstairs in our closets and imagined her reaction. We waited. We heard her arrive home and expected some sort of reaction shortly thereafter, but...nothing. Days went by. A week. Finally, 12 days later, she called my roommate and I (she knew we did it). She had worn the same pair of shoes for 12 days, thinking nothing of the fact that when she wanted to wear another pair, she couldn't find the left shoe. But that day she needed her fancy shoes to go to an interview, so the jig was up. But oh my, 12 days! The three of us laughed, and she went to her interview with both fancy shoes on her feet.

What's your best April Fools story? I'll take the first caller on line one.