Saturday, January 29, 2011

Work Travel - Louisiana

A few of us traveled to Bunkie, Louisiana for a Med Management install.  We stayed in a very cool casino/hotel called The Paragon, where we spent several nights exploring casino dining and entertainment.  The install went pretty well, with a few small problems that eventually got fixed.  A drive through the Louisiana Bayou on our way was very interesting.. it' pretty out there, although there's some poverty on the way.  This is a sunset over the bayou.

These are some alligators that were hanging out in the lobby of our hotel.  No, they were not guests, they live there.  The hotel has an entire bayou town set up in the lobby, where all the gift shops look like buildings and there is a bridge/boardwalk over these big ponds with alligators and fish.  It was very cool.

Monday, January 03, 2011


I got my first travel assignment for work today!  On January 24, I will be driving with several coworkers to the lovely city of Bunkie, Louisiana.  I have no idea where this is, but I have google maps, so I'm sure I'll be okay.  We're staying in a casino and one of the girls I work with said she stayed there for another site and it's pretty cool.  Looking forward to seeing what it's like.

I'm actually kind of glad my first site is a drive site rather than a site many hundreds of miles away.  Of course, unlike many of my coworkers, I actually think it would be fun to be assigned the site in Alaska this March.  I'm pretty sure someone else will be doing that one, though.

So my travel adventures begin in Louisiana.  Who knows where else this job will take me this year...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hello 2011!

During this time of reflection - the time we look back at the year that has passed and look forward into the new possibilities that are in front of us, most of us undergo this tradition of making resolutions.  I have found that the new year inspires new beginnings in most people.  Everybody has things they want to change.  I feel confident that this year will be exactly what I make it, and that I will look back on it this time next year with fondness, nostalgia, and no regrets.  So without further ado, here are my New Year's Resolutions:

Lose 100 pounds through healthier eating and exercise.
Complete all five Draha outlines.
Pay off my two credit cards
Excel at work and get a promotion
Finish Log Cabin blanket
Start and complete Snow Peacock Veil (before October!)
Do a cross stitch piece (I already have one in mind)
Read the Bible all the way through
Write in this blog at least once a week
Try something new once a month

And now I have to congratulate myself for something.  Every year, I resolve to stop biting my nails and every year I fail.  This year, I do not have to resolve to do this, because I already broke that nasty habit two months ago!  Beautiful nails are mine at last!  So now I know I can do the other stuff!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Goodbye 2010

Well, it has certainly been an interesting year, filled with as many ups and downs as the most popular roller coaster at Six Flags and with just as much confusion and exhilaration. I have sadly ignored this little blog, something I don't intend to continue because I miss it terribly.  The biggest reason for ignoring was professional. When one is looking for a job, one tends to be careful what is out there under their name for prospective employers to find.  I didn't really want to write much about the job search here in case anyone came looking for info.  I did have some very interesting experiences, though.  I will certainly recount them in the coming days and months now that I am again gainfully employed and loving the job!  So, a recap of my year is in order and if you will indulge me, I will do that right now.

I have to start earlier than January to really paint this picture.  In May of 2009, I had a first date with a lovely man. These dates continued through that year, and on October 30, we decided to make our relationship official. This leads me into 2010.

Started better than most years, although Jon was ill, so our New Year's Eve was a quiet one at his apartment.  I honestly prefer those, though - too many drunk people on the roads!  We had so many plans for the year, so much we were excited about!  I felt pretty positive about everything in January.  We finished rehearsals and started performances for Ug, the Caveman Musical.  It was to be my last play at Theatre 98 for a long time, although I didn't know it then.  I continued to enjoy living in Midtown with Shannon, and our friendship got closer and closer.  I was grateful for her friendship.  (still am, actually!)

Jon and I took our first weekend trip together.  We drove to Atlanta for a concert.  It was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed spending the time in the car and at the concert with him.  This was at the end of the month, and when we awoke the next morning he had to leave for a work trip.  That was a bad moment, but we got through it.  I missed him terribly when he was gone!  February also included some bizarre rumblings and rumors at work.  People were saying the organization was in trouble.  Donations were down. Corporate sponsors were having to back off from their normal yearly donation amounts to much smaller levels of support.  Individuals were unable to send any money at all.  It looked like the economy was starting to catch up with the nonprofit world in Mobile.  Many, many organizations had already started layoffs.  I had a bad feeling ours was not far behind.

I was right.  The first layoffs happened in March and were horrible.  We lost our receptionist, a senior citizen who was like a grandmother to all of us and was trying to live off her part time salary and her late husband's military benefits.  She cried when the CEO let her go.  After her, there were two guys from construction, then another.  Then another office person - this time one of our good friends.  Another construction position was eliminated.  Then it was quiet... for awhile.  On another front, I spent the first 2 weeks of the month staying at Jon's apartment taking care of Kaylee (his dog) while he was out of town.  We talked on the phone every night.  I missed him terribly.  The day I picked him up from the airport was a wonderfully happy day!  I had made a "Welcome Home" sign and some coconut cupcakes for his homecoming.  It was great.

We all know what happened.  I was the last layoff at the company.  It happened on tax day.  How appropriate, right?  Losing my job was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  Worse even than my divorce.  I had worked so hard for 5 years to build a reputation, to build contacts, and to build skills for my field and to have someone arbitrarily decide that my position was one that needed to be cut to save money - someone who really had no idea what I did or what value I brought to the company because she never paid attention or cared - it turned my world upside down.  I didn't know what to do.  If not for the support of friends and family, I never would have made it.  That's not me being dramatic.  It's really the truth.  After being asked to leave without talking to anyone (crazyboss strikes again) I immediately went home and cried for something like 2 hours.  Then I got out my laptop and started looking for jobs.  I had two interviews before the end of the month, but neither panned out.

One year since our first date - we recreated the date as closely as possible.  We went to Macaroni Grill and had dinner, and then went to the bookstore and walked around a little.  It was great.  The date ended a little differently, though!  :)  (I got a kiss goodnight!)  May was a big step for us.  I moved in with Jon.  Still very depressed and reeling from losing my job and not getting a new one right away, I am sure I was not a pleasant person to live with, but he handled it beautifully and took what could have been the worst time of my life and somehow managed to make it better.  Four interviews in May, but still no job.  But at least there were still prospects out there.  At least there were some possibilities.  I felt a little better (and a little worse) when I was told by one HR person that over 800 people had applied for one of the jobs I was trying to get.  I managed to get to a third interview in that process but no offer.  I didn't even know there were that many people in this area who were looking for that type of job.  It opened my eyes and terrified me at the same time.  I had no idea what to expect for the rest of my job search or what kind of job I would have to end up taking just to be employed.  May also brought the premiere of Shadows on Oak Island, the play Shannon starred in at Theatre 98.  She did a wonderful job and it was nice to be a part of the audience for once and watch others shine.  I was happy I had decided to take a step back from theatre after all the drama of 2009.  Burnout and insane situations can make something you love into something you dread.  And that's where I was with theatre in 2010.

Only one interview. Signed up with an employment agency. Jon went to Maine for work for three weeks. June was the darkest month.  The hardest to endure. I don't think I put on real clothes more than twice the entire month.  Applied for something like 50 jobs, but the pickings were beginning to become slimmer and slimmer.  I was beginning to feel hopeless and started looking at retail jobs and admin assistant positions.

Four interviews, so things looked a bit better.  Employment agency was offering me nothing.  Unemployment benefits were just enough to cover my bills.  I felt like a freeloader all the time.  To help pull me out of this depression I was in, I auditioned for and got into the Coastal Chorale.  It was something I needed at the time, something to make me feel useful and needed.  On the way to the final rehearsal for the summer show, I got into a car accident.  Just one more thing to add to my horrible year.  Just one more thing I had to borrow money for and one more thing to owe everyone in my life.  That was the low point.  And I was injured, although not seriously.  I did have some bad bruises and spent the next few days lying around, wishing I had something stronger to take than tylenol.

Things always heat up in August, and it was no exception for me.  I had six interviews this month, and although none of these ended with an offer, it was nice to know my resume was still attractive to employers.  Jon and I continued to enjoy our living arrangements.  I was becoming quite the domestic goddess, and discovered I would quite enjoy being a stay at home mom if finances were okay for that arrangement to make sense for us.  I swear at times Kaylee seemed to talk back to me when I would talk to her.  Or maybe I was slowly losing my mind...

My Google calendar tells me that I admitted Jon was right and I was wrong about something on September 2.      I have no idea what that's about and neither does he, but it's on the calendar so it's going in the blog!  This month brought with it five interviews, including the first interview for the job I eventually got.  I actually did get an offer from another organization first, but it was part time and the salary was less than minimum wage, so I was not able to accept. Nonprofits really do think they can use and abuse people, don't they?  Yes, I'm jaded - but it's for two very good reasons.  The last two places I worked!

Second interview at CPSI involved doing a five minute presentation to about 6 people on anything I wanted to present.  I chose geocaching and it was a hit.  They called me a week and a half later with a job offer that exceeded the salary range they had originally told me and that was in a special department that is expected to see enormous growth in the next few years.  Management potential in a short time?  Yes, thank  you!  I had three other interviews in October too, but after the job was offered, I stopped looking and stopped interviewing.  I was happy with what I had.  October also brought the cooler weather and the fair, which was a fun night.  Jon and I went and rode some rides.  I won two goldfish - they lived for about two weeks and then died. We brought home enough cotton candy to eat for like a year and then promptly forgot about it.  We found it in the pantry a few weeks later and it had consolidated itself into a sugar rock.  We threw it away, lol.  I was to start training class for work the second week in November, so I enjoyed my last couple of weeks off.  Jon and I celebrated our one year anniversary on October 30 by going to Boomtown Casino and having a lovely dinner at the steakhouse there, and playing the slot machines for a few hours (we only took about $50 in to play with) before heading home.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate.

I came to life again in November, just in time to turn 34.  Training class had 23 people in it, and we spent 6 weeks learning the software we are going to support and teach.  I became close with one person in the class almost immediately.  Her name is Hope, and we are already becoming very good friends.  She is an extraordinary person and I just love talking to her every day.  Our class is very tight - a great group of people.    We learned a lot in training and are now excited to apply that to real world scenarios.  I don't anticipate a lot of backstabbing or stepping on toes or heads to get to the top in this class.  We all look out for each other, which I think is great. Jon and I went to Greek Fest and the Renn Faire again this year in November.  It's awesome to have traditions like that and I hope these are yearly for as long as we live in Mobile.  We also put up our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving.  I love doing that!

This last month of the year brought a lot of changes. Our class went from being a class to being coworkers, as we spent the last two weeks of the year in the office with the rest of the department.  I actually managed to get myself into the call queue and took several calls.  I even managed to solve several of them without any help!  It is so amazing to be back at work, to be a productive member of society again.  I will hopefully never have to endure six months of unemployment again, but if I do, I know how to deal with it.  Apply for nearly 300 jobs and go on nearly 30 interviews!

Christmas was lovely this year.  Jon got me a beautiful set of opal jewelry, an electric ball winder (for yarn) an ornament with my favorite Alabama quarterback's jersey on a little baby boy (which is hanging on my review mirror right now) and some awesome chocolates and other candy.  Oh, and some iTunes and Barnes and Noble gift cards!  He got me a Nook for our anniversary / my birthday, so I'm having a great time loading that with e-books!  We bought matching stockings, and even got a plastic stocking for Kaylee with lots of treats inside.  We also got her a plastic candy cane stuffed with about 20 different stuffed and plastic toys, which she of course destroyed in about 5 minutes.  But she had fun, so that's all that matters.

So all in all, with the highs and lows, an interesting year.  Stay tuned for 2011 resolutions, expectations, and dreams.  For now, it's time to get off this couch and go do something!  I don't even care if it's raining cats and dogs!