February 14, 2010

back at it ...

I'm baaaaaack!! It feels good to be a working girl again. Not SO good that I'd continue working if my Powerball ticket was "the big winner" but still, pretty damn good. I have made quite a seamless transition from unemployed to employed or should I say from no-time to full-time. I started my position last Wednesday. I already have a good feel for the 8.5 hours per day that I'll be spending away from home. I have quickly gotten used to getting up earlier, choosing daily outfits and packing up my "meals". I'm impressed with my adaptation I must admit. I thought for sure there would be a few tears and lots of moping around when I was to start working again. This scenario however is much different than I had anticipated. It isn't a crappy office job where I am: stuck at a broken PC using Excel and working with numbers all day, a slave to five bosses and expected to do the work of three people all while being devastatingly underpaid. I am on a brand new 27" iMac, using graphics software with a hands-off boss and a great supervisor who delegates work to me that I am more than capable of handling with a paycheck that will keep me comfortable. Score one for Sheri Lynn.

I have been taken under the wing of my friend and now supervisor, Maryellen. She's been training me and it's been pretty fun actually. A lot of the processes are so new that we are collaborating on the best ways to get them done. It's nice to not have to learn something that's unchangeable and set in stone. Everything is sort of a work in progress at this point. My primary job consists of manipulating Illustrator files. As orders for products come in I will be putting University logos and specified colors on the desired items. I enjoy the work so far. As other projects come in I will be used in those areas as well. The art department is brand new so there will be lots of changes in the upcoming months. I only hope that our work at least stays this steady and a "lay-off" isn't in the cards. Let's cross our fingers on that one! 

My new routine is working out swimmingly. I set the alarm for 6 but usually beat it and get out of bed by 5:50. I make coffee and feed Brody. I sit with my delicious cups of joe and watch Roseanne until about 7. I get ready and am out the door by 8:10. Leave the office at 5 and am home by 5:20. Awesome awesome awesome commute. I have never worked South of the city before. It's a whole new world. I grab a book or magazine and bike 10 miles in the bedroom, shower up and have my last meal. Done with my day by about 7:30 and the rest of the night is open for relaxation. It is a fantastic balance and I only hope that I continue to stay enthusiastic about it. My old job made my days disappear and my nights seemed to be just seconds long. This brand new schedule is wonderful and I hope that once the daily grind starts to wear on me I can still see the positive points. Thankfully I have this blog to remind me. 

I remain thankful for this opportunity and hopeful for my future. Good day to you! 

February 9, 2010

Thank you: Door Slammers

Dearest Door Slammer,

I would like to thank you:

For holding the door long enough for your family of seven to get safely inside and then shutting it just inches from my face. After all, I need to learn to be independent and do things for myself. Without people like you I would become somewhat reliant on others' acts of kindness and be repeatedly disappointed. Thanks for the wake-up call!


Flat-face in Rhode Island

February 7, 2010

Italian gravy ...

For as long as I can remember I could always open our freezer to find 8-10 little, square, plastic containers filled with gravy. No, not that brown gunk that people slather on potatoes, Italian gravy - a.k.a. sauce.  My mother has always been known for her exceptional recipe. My friends loved to have dinner with us on Macaroni Night. The Soccio family gravy has evolved quite a bit over the years. It originated in Potenza, Italy, my grandmother's hometown. She and my mother both made changes where they saw fit. Sometimes using pork instead of steak, sometimes sausage and steak and sometimes all three. They would occasionally try different brands of tomatoes or the addition of sugar - but the basics remained the same. I started making the family gravy about 5 or 6 years ago and I have tried plenty of versions in this short span. No matter what I switch out or add in it is always 'wipe your dish clean with your bread' DELICIOUS.

This is the recipe for my usual and very easy to make GRAVY. Here is what you'll need:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the more you spend the better it tastes but I use whatever I have that week)
3 medium or 2 large onions
Garlic - anywhere from 5 - 10 cloves depending on your preference - I say the more the better!
1 lb hot Italian sausage (cut into chunks or leave links whole - your choice)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (cut into chunks or leave links whole - your choice)
6 28 oz cans of All Purpose Crushed Tomatoes (I prefer the Cento brand)
2 8 oz cans of Tomato sauce (I prefer the Contadina brand)
1-2 Sticks of Pepperoni (sliced or diced)
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil, Bay Leaves
Parmesan Cheese
Big, giant stock pot
10 - 12 freezable containers

Coat the bottom of the pot with Olive Oil - over medium heat.
Dice onions and grate or mince up the garlic and add it to the pot.
Be careful not to let your garlic burn or it will ruin the flavor and you'll have to start over!
Add sausage and pepperoni - I like to brown up the sausage before adding the tomatoes.
Give it a good stir and you may want to drain some of the fat - or keep it for flavor - your choice.

Add in your tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Fill the 8 oz tomato sauce can with water twice and add to the pot.
Add salt and pepper, add a couple of fresh bay leaves or some dried.
Sprinkle in some oregano but don't be too liberal - it can overpower the gravy.

Let the gravy simmer on very low heat for at least 6 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so (to prevent the bottom from burning).

In the last few minutes add basil (fresh is best but dried works) and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan or Romano cheese.

This is going to make about 10-12, 12oz containers that I will store in the freezer for easy thawing. It is a huge plus to have these on hand when you are craving a good Italian meal any night of the week.

Mmmmmmm ... always a crowd pleaser. Hope you like it!

February 6, 2010

bye bye Roseanne re-runs ...

"Like a marble pulled by gravity along the course laid out for it, your next few moves will have a feeling of inevitability about them. Trust that destiny has your best interests in mind!"
This was my horoscope for Thursday, February 4. My mother had emailed it to me just around the time I was getting home from a spur-of-the-moment and impromptu job interview, unbeknownst to her. It was eerily appropriate.  

The night before I read a status update on Facebook that would ultimately change my own status. A friend of mine, and former co-worker, had noted that anyone seeking a desktop publishing/graphic artist position should contact her. Normally I talk myself right out of graphic arts positions because I do not possess the degree to win over the interviewer. I have experience in the field and have worked with the programs for several years but I am often intimidated by these job titles, especially knowing how many terribly qualified candidates are out there these days. I decided to shoot her a text anyhow, inquiring more about the job. She was enthusiastic to hear from me and said that I would definitely be qualified for this position. After a few emails with greater details I became quite optimistic. Working in the art department doing graphics for a Marketing company is exactly what I wanted to do. The location of the office is exactly where I had hoped to find a job someday. Only 15 minutes from home and low-traffic, highway driving. The hours would be Monday through Friday basic 8.5 hour day. The work was nothing I hadn't done before and, although it was a temporary position, it seemed like this could be a great fit for me. I didn't get myself excited and I didn't feel anxious or lose any sleep, I just felt intrigued and hopeful. The next morning my friend, let's just call her Maryellen, said that she would speak to her boss and keep me posted. Within an hour I received a text asking if I could meet with her and her boss that afternoon or some time on Friday. I was mid-egg sandwich when I read the text. I began shaking and my heart started flying. Holy shit. After giving it five minutes of thought I made a decision to meet right away. If I had waited until the following day I wouldn't have slept a wink and would have over-prepared which would probably result in a tired and somewhat phony demeanor. I am 100% genuine in any interview. I don't make promises that I don't intend to keep. I don't boast of skills that I don't possess. I don't lead you to believe that I am anything but what you see. I'm just me, and that has worked in my favor in every single interview I have ever sat through.

Now, Maryellen explained that it wasn't a hardcore interview but more of a meeting. She said her boss told her to let me know that I didn't "need to look all fancy". I ironed some black pants, found a couple of shirts to layer up trendily (which seemed more hobo-ey to me), settled on shoes and jewelry and went to the mirror. Jiminy Christmas! I had make-up on from 6:30 a.m. and my hair had literally been in the same position for a day and a half. I did a three minute fix-up and to those of you who know me - it is a miracle that I didn't get into that shower and start from scratch, emerging two hours later. BUT I figured I should go with my instincts and they were to get to this office ASAP as I was insanely eager and interested in this opportunity. I printed a fresh resume, shoved it into a manilla folder and pulled up the company website once again to find some general information. After reading directions to the office I was out the door. 

The office is perfectly located and so easy to get to. The large, main room is bursting with cubicles. A big conference room sits in the center of the building. I was given a slight tour by Maryellen along with a brief company history. We then walked into the owner's office for the 'interview' and I couldn't believe it - I wasn't nervous a LICK. I was so unprepared! I knew basically nothing about this company, I hadn't thought out answers to possible questions that would be fired at me, I had no portfolio to show this man and yet somehow I felt completely calm and casual. We had about a 15 minute meeting. He seemed to like me, my attitude and my work history. Maryellen vouched for everything I said and her word is gold - as it always was in any office. We were finishing up when I slid my resume over to the man and said "Here, you get to keep this." He looked at me and said, "With your proofreading skills I shouldn't expect to find any spelling errors right?" I said, "Try to find one, I dare you." He enjoyed that response and I was given a "thank you for coming in, we're going to talk a bit and we'll get in touch with you this afternoon". As I shook hands I thanked them in return for the invite and wished them a great day. I walked out of the building feeling pretty fantastic. 

About an hour later I received a text from Maryellen stating that her boss liked me and they were going to offer me a PERMANENT position. I couldn't even believe it and re-read the text to confirm. I was emailed an offer about an hour later and I graciously accepted it. I am to start next week. 

I am really still floored by this turn of events. So many things could have gotten in the way of this - the biggest being my self confidence. I am So glad that I decided to inquire about this job. I really learned a lesson by doing so. It doesn't always hurt to put yourself out there. Obviously it helps when you know a good friend is going to bat for you. There is an automatic comfort knowing someone on the inside. Knowing that your first day won't be filled with weird stares and whispers. Well, maybe SOME but at least you'll have someone on your side. You won't feel like the new kid with the wrong color sneakers. I can't thank Maryellen enough. As sad as I am to be giving up my wonderful, yet financially horrifying unemployed status - I am so thankful for this opportunity and really eager to begin this new chapter. I am hopeful that I will love it and settle in easily. Change is good. Change is really really good sometimes.

February 4, 2010

"oh it's night night time again... you're getting tired..."

Try to get sleepy Try to get sleepy Try to get sleepy... ... stop playing Scrabble and Battleship on PS3 ...  hmmm perhaps reading will help ... shut the lights off ... let the dimness set in  ... 

This is my nightly mantra. I can't seem to get sleepy lately. Granted, I am unemployed and my days aren't exactly filled with hard labor. Or much easy labor for that matter. And I don't have any children to wear me out. I wake up in the morning between 8 and 9 on the regular. I wouldn't mind getting up at 7, if only I could fall asleep before 1 or 2 a.m. 

 Normally, I shoot for the sheets around 10:30/11. Unsleepy, I lay there flopping back and forth like a pissed-off flounder. Seems like everything I have ever given thought to in my lifetime just forces itself past the dam in my mind...

What is that friggin clicking issue with our TV? I'll have to see if it's under warranty. But, wait, we bought it at Circuit City. Crap. They are out of business. Hmm do they honor their warranties still? Gotta make a note to find out. And what about that water stain on the living room ceiling?? I know that's not going to go away. Where could the leak be coming from? The gutter? The roof? I think we have extra shingles. I don't want to get on the roof and figure it out. I can't fix that shit. How can I afford to fix it otherwise? Hmm maybe with the tax refund. Wait, we probably won't even get a refund because of my unemployment. Well that figures. We wait all year for a TINY bit of relief and we won't even get it. Or how do I know that? Am I working myself up over nothing? Probably. Which reminds me, Gregg hasn't received his W-2 yet. Where could that thing be? OH I should probably set my alarm for the morning. Don't want to oversleep and leave Kim stranded at the airport... 

These are just a few things that ran through my mind last night. Followed by thoughts of: things to add to my resumé, a job that I was told about that I would very much love to have but am not quite sure about qualifications or length of term, getting a new wardrobe when I DO find a job, how desperately we need groceries and dog food, how awesome it would be if we won powerball and I could call Gregg while he is at work and let him know... and the list goes on and on. 

I am clearly awake all day. I think of these things, I research and work on some of them, I make lists and notes all the time of things to do and things we need. I can't quite understand why everything just feels so unfinished the second I hit the pillow. But, at least when I do fall asleep I can usually stay that way for 6 or 7 hours. A few interruptions here and there, but for the most part I feel rested each morning. Which, I guess is all that really matters. I just wish I could give my speed-racer mind some molasses.