Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Reflections

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/”>

Well, May is now here and I’ve taken a couple of days off, but I’m back in the saddle!

I loved the A to Z challenge, it was an exercise in focus that I think I sorely needed, being a newbie blogger. It gave me something to write about each day (but with enough creative freedom that I could write about whatever came to mind for that letter) and encouraged me to post each day.

Judging by the stats and comments, it seemed like depression, fear and spooky children held sway over sandwiches, videogames and my much-aligned home state. You guys are my kind of people!

My personal favorites were probably French Bread Pizza and Potpourri, but I enjoyed each and every one. I’m learning about and working on some new aspects of the blog (dividing up/categorizing, doing a blog roll, and working on my pinboard).  I’m trying to get all my favorite pins from my personal account (which has over 7,000 little time-wasters on it) to my blog account. I’ll post my user name and connect to my blog when I’m more finished (I’m at about 700 pins, a mere tenth of the way, so don’t look now, because it is not ME yet! LOL)

I thank everyone for their support and feedback this April! I enjoyed everyone else’s challenge that I wandered into. Great job, all!

Advertisements

Y is for YooHoo

Yoohoo image from Asheville Munchies

Yoohoo image from Asheville Munchies

YooHoo makes me happy. YooHoo makes me feel child-like, but also semi-responsible in the way that it is not soda. I have had a problem with soda since I was a teenager and mom couldn’t control what we were drinking as much. My sister and I both have this problem, Pepsi for me, Diet Caffeine Free Coke (why bother?) for her.

I do not drink coffee. I hate the smell, I hate the taste, I hate making it, I hate cleaning up after it, I hate anything that tastes similar to it, but I also hate being left out of the “Let’s go for coffee” rituals of everyone else I know. I am so thankful for single-serving coffee makers, because they really minimize the whole gross situation that I would have to contend with. So, throughout my adulthood thus far, I got my caffeine through soda.

For about 20 years, I would have at least a liter of soda per day. Sometimes more, sometimes a lot more. Soda made the taste of food go away more than water, so a meal never felt over until I had a big gulp of cola goodness. Soda started my day with a dash of caffeine, a ton of sugar, and that thirst-quenching I needed after a night’s sleep. I am the only person I know who, after a workout, wanted nothing more than a 20-oz Pepsi poured directly down her throat.

I am proud to say that it has been a year and a half since soda was a normal part of my day. A year or two before that I was cutting down. I would only have soda with lunch OR dinner, and did not drink it first thing in the morning at all. I stopped buying a 2-liter for the house, because that was too tempting. I bought those mini-keg cans and tried not to order or buy any additional soda when I was out. As of December 2013, I now have one can per week, as a rule, with our Chinese dinners every Tuesday Night (holla!). I cannot drink water with Chinese food. It’s like a punishment or something. Every once in a while, I’ll get soda at a restaurant, but it’s basically a treat these days, one that I usually don’t even finish.

It would really be great, but very dangerous, if I liked the boxes or cans of YooHoo as much as I like the glass bottle. Then I could just stock up on those and keep them in the house. But I like the bottle, and that’s helpful to my waistline. I like going to the convenience store up the street, taking that nice walk, getting a YooHoo and then walking home with it as a reward. It kind of negates the whole walk in calories, but it is leaps and bounds away from using a soda as a reward.

Drinking a YooHoo at the Laundromat, which is another weekly ritual, is so Mitten. There I sit, a responsible 40-year-old, doing the household’s laundry, making to-do lists and reading…with a chocolate milk mustache.

X is for X-Ray Technician

When I was looking into healthcare careers some years ago, I really liked the idea of going into Radiology. There is, as there should be, a lot of pre-requisites to get into the program, and it was not something I could afford to do at the time. I ended up going for Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound instead. At the time, it was pretty fixed in my mind that I would like to give that a go, based on the horrible experience I had just had in the hospital.

Big mistake.

I should have went with my gut, which was telling me to take my courses and get on the waiting list at my REAL college, and not rush into something. I didn’t listen. I didn’t want to wait.

Big, big mistake. I ended up going to one of those… erm… let me think of a nice way to say BullS@#$…horrible, waste of money and time…degree mills….schools that are advertised on television for “hot careers”. I was able to go with the help of the state re-employment funding, but in order to qualify, you have to choose a career with a good outlook projected for when you would be entering the workforce. The field can’t be holding steady, or going down, it has to be climbing. And then they have to approve the school, which means that at least one, and in this case it was just the one, program has to be a certified program. The governing bodies have to have this school registered as able to issue these credentials. And then the re-employment folks have to approve a million other things. And then you still have to pay out of pocket and/or get loans.

So I did that. The one good thing that came of it is that the school I attended happened to pair the Sonography with a Medical Assistant certification, so at least I had that at the end of it all. I am a straight-A student. I was on the honor roll the entire time I was there. But I am not currently a Sonographer.

Why?

The practical part. I hated it. I loved the learning, the study of disease, the testing, the reading, the helping people, etcetera. I did not love the actual technical part of holding the transducer, which is the part that is held on the patient’s body to pick up the signals, and wiggling and tracing my way to get a clear, perfect picture. It hurt my hand, which would cramp up after a few minutes. Then the nerves and tendons in my arms would start burning. And our patients were our fellow classmates. No one had any problems with their veins, or any disease, or any problems with their hearts or abdominal region, and everyone was fairly young and fit (not being mean or prejudiced in any way, as I am both old and overweight, but it is just plain easier to get a picture from a young, skinny body, because the picture is created by sound pinging off of what you are scanning), but it was still hard for me. I got pretty good pictures in our practices, but when it came time for the tests, we had to get a good picture on screen and then hold the transducer and the patient in place for when one of the teachers came around to see it. By that time, my hands and forearms would be screaming in pain and I probably lost the picture I had when I raised my hand to be checked. Unfortunately, you only find this out in the second or third “semester”. Your first few months in the program are not spent doing any practical training. This is when we learned lots of Medical Assistant functions, and did a lot of our book-learning. So, by the time I figured out that this may not be something I wanted to pursue, I was already stuck. And they plan it that way on purpose.

I ended up wasting a lot of money and time. The school was only specifically licensed for one of their many offered programs, so it was a big scam, and the teachers were a joke. I paid a lot of money for books and whatnot that were so old and outdated that we couldn’t even sell them back at end of term. They wouldn’t even take those books for free. Buyers beware, if these commercials look enticing, there’s a reason they have to advertise on TV. If it was on the up-and-up, they wouldn’t need to. I went first to one of the TV schools and didn’t feel comfortable. Then I went to two others, and picked the one that the state approved. The state would not have approved the TV school. But, I ended up getting screwed because I picked one that they did approve and it was terrible.

The clincher was when I got an M.A. job on my own, without the help of their “career center”. The gals there did everything they could to try to figure out where I was working, in order to try to get future positions from my practice, and to help them flesh out their list of practices where they “placed” their graduates. Leeches. I wouldn’t tell them, and my Office Manager was so happy. She had bad experiences with them, but hired me anyway. I was a little older, a little smarter, and had a wealth of front-end experience to use on the job than most of the other students churned out each summer from all these schools.

None of this would have been a problem if I went for Radiology. I need to go back to my real college anyway to finish up/re-calculate my credits. While I’m there, I’ll check to see what possibilities there are for me to start now, or sometime in the near future.

W is for Waiting

Wandering while we wait

wondering wistfully,

wishing…

when will we welcome what we want?

Why will we wait?

Whatever’s worth wanting will willingly wait.

I came up with that alliterative little piece of prose while trying to attack this idea of “waiting” in writing this blog post. I want to make a series of posts that fall under the heading of waiting, because waiting is what is behind a lot of the themes of this blog. The main source of angst driving me through life is questions of waiting… Should I wait? … For how long?…Will I ignore something worthwhile as I stubbornly wait for something else?…. Why does everybody else not seem to wait, or at least not wait for long?…Why do I hold myself back?… Why do other forces hold me back?…And so on, and so on.

If the above is “passively waiting”, then I must add that I am always “actively waiting” as well. I don’t know why people take so long to do things. I am a bit impatient (snort! snarf! giggle), but seriously… we are always waiting in this life and some of us handle it better than others.

The love of my life kept me waiting for six years before he was ready for this relationship, we won’t get into the reasons why at the moment. And he still keeps me waiting to this day. Appearance-wise, he is a low-maintenance dude: buzz cut, cotton t-shirts and jeans for the wardrobe. When we need to leave the house it should be 10-minute shower, deodorant, teeth, and go, right? No!

It’s those things and then putter around the house doing random stuff, some of which is more necessary than others, for twice as long as the actual getting ready took. I wait to get dressed until he has already started. I’ll then sit on the couch, ready except for shoes, and play with my phone. When he takes his shoes, I take mine. He goes back to the desk to grab his things, and I stand at the door with keys in hand. When I’ve waited so long in that position that I’m about to stick said keys in my eye, we leave. Then, when we are out, I am still always waiting for him to leave so we could go home.

Back in my single days, I was always the designated driver. Reason number one is that I’m not much of a drinker. But the real reason is that I wanted to be in control. Even when going shopping or something, I drove because I wanted to decide when to arrive, how long to wait, when to leave, etcetera. Even now, when I go out socially or meet my family somewhere, I insist on having my own car so I could go when I’m tired of waiting.

Being a wife-type person (not on paper yet, but WAITING), and a mom-type person (not really, but WAITING) I have people with me that have to have some say in the matter now. I no longer get to shout “The car is leaving in 3 minutes, whether you are in it or not!” because they are coming home with me. And if I left ’em, I would just have to go back and get ’em.

I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I really wish I wasn’t always waiting.

V is for Viewpoint

This post is late because I’ve been a little burnt out. Not just on writing, job hunting, errand-ing, and cleaning, though to be sure, certainly all of those things. I’ve been making lists in my head, on my phone, on paper, and on my tablet because there is a lot on my mind. So much that I feel like flopping on the couch and doing none of it.

I’ve done “none of it” all weekend, since Friday when this post was due. This a terrible enough point of view from my own perspective, but when I pull back and look from another’s perspective, see me laying on the couch, jobless, depressed and not out enjoying my favorite weather, it gets even more bleak.

Have you heard of de-cluttering journals? This is the kind of thing I would waste money on because it’s cute, even though I have a million different kinds of pads, stationery and notebooks. I believe, somewhere deep down, that buying something new, and wanting to use it because it makes me happy, will force me to do the task for which I am buying some sort of secondary or tertiary item to support. Anyway, in a fit of activity sometime around lunch today, I grabbed a tiny composition book (about the size of your hand) that was new and empty and waiting to be my next purse notebook.

On my way to grab that, I saw, in my mind’s eye, a spiral-bound polka-dot covered notebook that would be PERFECT for this exercise. I own that book. I used it during the months surrounding my move to this place. It has all kinds of notes on mortgage and closing, phone calls and errands, to do lists, and little doodles of floor plans and ideas. Being a true spiral bound notebook, yet pretty thick, it always stayed open and laid flat. I know where that book is. Even though I’ve lived here 14 years. Even after I’ve de-cluttered, reorganized and made major changes in this place so many times…

I put my hand on it in minutes. For some reason, it was with some CDs on top of my wardrobe/chest of drawers. That large, convenient, off-the-floor spot is also home to board games, purses, and backpacks and is also where I put wrapped and unwrapped gifts so they are up and out of the way. As I searched for a blank page in this old book, I looked fondly at some of my scribbles, my big plans for my tiny home, and some of the hard numbers I was dealing with. I never found a blank page, which says something about my viewpoint at the time. Anyone else picking up that book today, and sitting in this apartment would find it funny/scary that a lot of simple things were never done. It would be kind of cute to see how much the plans changed from when I lived here alone, to the way it looks now. From my viewpoint, though, I am both appalled and defensive, all at the same time.

Once I had taken up pages and pages (Front and Back!) of my new little de-cluttering project notebook, I felt a little more productive.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=friends+ross+the+letter&FORM=VIRE7#view=detail&mid=FE0923D616173EACE63FFE0923D616173EACE63F

Next, I took two ittle-bittle items off the list by picking up our winter accessories and putting them in the little cabinet by the door, and then dusted the floors and walls. I also took very honest (from anyone’s viewpoint) pictures on my phone of the whole place, from every viewpoint within it. I’ll post them when I could do a good “before and after” comparison.

I plan to also take the books that have been sitting in my car for a few days up to the library in preparation for a point in time (over the next few days) when I will need to fit my antique desk that’s been stored in my mom’s house for years into the back. I’ll drop the books off on my way to pick up John at the train tonight, then we’ll come home and I may cook. Sometime tonight, I’ll also get around to posting for “W”. I guess that is enough productivity for a day when I felt entirely useless. Even from my self-flagellating viewpoint.

U is for Umbrella

I have a love/hate relationship with umbrellas.

On the one hand, they are usually cute, they make you feel super Girl Scout-y, and who doesn’t like being dry?

On the other hand, umbrellas are very dangerous things to a spaz like me. Firstly, I’m short, so on rainy days (especially when I worked in New York City), I am always getting jabbed with a stranger’s elbow that is holding an umbrella, the points of other people’s umbrellas are always catching my hair, and those same points are always way too close to my eyes when I don’t have my own umbrella-shield up. Plus, I don’t like run-off from everyone’s umbrella ahead of and above me to soak my person.

Secondly, I am always apprehensive when opening an umbrella. I got my finger caught underneath the push-up part on a little parasol I received when I was five. It was cute and frilly and it had my name embroidered on it (which my mother never allowed) and I was playing with it under the spring sunshine in my backyard. Literally, that clasp surrounded my finger like a knuckle-ring. Now, I own many button-push umbrellas, so this danger is somewhat negated, but I don’t even like closing one of those. When I go out on a rainy day, I calculate and contemplate the umbrella-worthiness of the rain. Heaviness, windiness, what I’m wearing, and how far I have to go all factor into the formula. Most times, I am aware rain is coming and am wearing a hooded windbreaker anyway.

Complicating this is an innate talent for choosing the exact moment rain is heaviest to have to run outside. I did this the other day. I was at the Laundromat around the corner from my house (not exactly walkable with laundry, but not far) and it was a nice, sunny afternoon. I had heard on the news before I left the house that it was supposed to rain “during the evening commute”, but since it was 1:00 and I would be done before 3:00, I figured I was in the clear. I did my laundry, sun streaming through the windows, and was about to leave from the back folding area when I saw that it was wet outside. I said to one of the women sitting by the door “Where did that rain come from? Of course it’s raining when I have to leave!” She didn’t even know it was raining, and turned around, shocked. So, I wheeled my cart, laden with two extremely heavy loads of laundry in the basket and my purse and John’s uniform hanging from the top bar, out between all the parked cars and over to mine.

DOWNPOUR! Take Cover! Rain pellets bouncing off the ground like Super Balls! AAAAAAACKKK! I soaked myself, and the inside of my car doors. As I drove the 82 seconds to my house, it let up.

This would never happen if I owned this umbrella:

Bubble Umbrella – MOMA- wanelo.com

Because I would bring it everywhere. Phone? Check! Keys? Check! Wallet? Check! Umbrella? Check! I would overcome my fear of the little push-up device to use this umbrella. Seriously.

T is for Tapped Out (The Simpsons)

Sample town

Sample town

I love games, but I never thought I would play a game on my phone for very long without getting utterly bored. When my friend told me about this game almost 2 years ago, I thought I would download it, and it might be good for playing when sitting at the Laundromat once in a while.

Fast forward, a week later. I’m tapping like crazy, building my town, collecting XP and dreaming about donut jackpots. Even though I am a lifelong fan of the show, you don’t have to even know the show to love the game.

Fast forward to even now: I play it at lunchtime, I play it first thing when I get home from work. I check in before I go to sleep and after I wake up. And that’s just during “normal times”, not during special promotions, where I log in every free moment to clear my town, collect premium items, send my characters on specialty tasks, and chase down the gremlins, ghosts, or the mutant seedlings we are after in this month’s promotion.

I really didn’t think this was going to happen. I didn’t think I was the “type” to get obsessed with a “pokey game” as John calls this and any other game for which you have to poke/jab at your little screen. It’s called “Tapped Out”, dude. I’m tapping!

You can play for free. You could download the game free of charge, and never purchase any premiums and just have a jolly-good time.

If you start playing and like it, drop me a line and we’ll add each other as in-game friends.