Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The State of the Union & the Economic Stimulus Package

I didn't listen to last night's State of the Union address. I'm job-hunting, and I can tell you the state of the union: it's sucky. It seems that when things are iffy, there are fewer mid-level professional jobs posted online -- what there is instead, is a lot of contract positions. It's much easier to let a contractor go if your department's budget tanks than to let an employee go, even in a "right to work" state like Florida. Or so they tell me.

The idea of the tax credit check sounds good -- who doesn't like getting a check in the mail? I could use the $300 to $600 myself, but not really to stimulate the economy. I need it to pay for COBRA insurance coverage, which is $400 a month for me. Just me, I might add. Someone is making some dough off COBRA, somehow. I know that my former employer wasn't paying $250 a month for the employer's share of my insurance -- they're a huge company, and I'm sure they were getting a much better rate than that.

But more about COBRA later. It's really worthy of its own entry.

I stopped watching State of the Union speeches ages ago. They never contain anything new or different, and they always remind me of a pep rally for the country. I didn't like pep rallies in high school, and I'm not interested in one now.

Besides, no matter who gives the speech, no one is going to say what I want to hear: we've got the health care crisis fixed and everyone has insurance; and we're also bringing the troops home tomorrow.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Make Your Voice Heard

Make your voice heard by completing the AFL-CIO survey on health care -- you can access the survey by clicking on the title of this blog entry. Those running for election need to know how rising costs, inability to obtain insurance, and high costs for medications are affecting the average person on the street.

Without compelling stories and numbers, nothing will change -- and what we have today isn't working for the country.

Take ten minutes to send a message. It's one our elected officials need to hear.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Political Problem

Today I received my sample ballot for the Feb. 5 presidential primary.

Now, despite being fairly liberal on most issues, I'm a registered Republican. This is because damn near 3/4 of the county I live in is Republican, as are 3/4 of the candidates in the primaries. Florida only allows people to vote for those in their own party in primary elections, so if I want some say in who is chosen in the primary elections, I have to be registered Republican. Hence my registration.

I looked at the ballot today and didn't find a single soul who I could vote for with a straight face, much less a clear conscience.

Ah, yes, I got trouble...right here in River City....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Menstrual Migraine

Oh, God. I forget every time how bad it is.

I take low-dose oral contraceptives and skip the inert pills for 3 to 6 months to avoid having a period. I don't mind having one, but the menstrual migraine that hits just drops me to my knees.

It's an amazing level of pain. It's like an explosion going on inside my head. Moving my head is bad. Noise is worse. I cannot get comfortable sitting, standing, or lying down. I can't keep still, it hurts so much. But moving around brings on the nausea. All I can think is, "Please let the medicine work. Please let it work. Please let it work soon."

And it never does, so it's off to the acute care center for a shot of painkiller and a shot of anti-nausea medication. It's amazingly difficult to get myself dressed and into the car. In some ways, it's worse than an asthma attack.

After I get the shot, I come home, eat a little, drink a bunch of juice/soda mixed, and then go to sleep.

It's horrible. If I could skip a year's worth of periods, I would, just to avoid the migraine.

So, that's what I did this Saturday -- lost a whole day to the joy of being a woman. Yay.

Cat Blogging

Baxter the literary cat. He seems to like historical fiction (note: not the same as historical romance) and magazines. In this pic, he was looking for the bookmark, I think. And he was on my side of the bed!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


(Previously published elsewhere, August 2007)

One of the things about a long commute (and not many people having your cell phone number) is that you have time to yourself to think about what you see while on the roads. Some days it's the guy with the "legalize marijuana not Mexicans" sign on his truck. Some days, it's less light-hearted.

While on the off-ramp to my suburb township this evening, I glanced to my right and saw a vehicle with yellow ribbon and flag magnets all over it. Then I noticed that there was a "memorial" on the rear window. The memorial said, "Real heroes don't die, they get wings." There was a picture of an angel with combat boots on.

The dates of this hero's life were 1984-2005.

Twenty-one. He was 21 when he died. Did he get to vote in an election before he died? Did he get to go to a bar and have a few beers while watching football with his friends? Did he get to go off and have a romantic weekend with his girlfriend? Snorkel in the Keys? Go skiing? Ride the big roller-coasters at the theme parks? I hope he got all of those things and more, because he isn't going to get them now.

Twenty-one. Jesus. Who will be sent over there next, middle-school students?

I was amazed at the ribbons and flags on the vehicle because I'd be damned pissed if that were my kid. That kid was sent to fight a war based on lies and wagging of the dog. I sure as hell wouldn't have yellow ribbons all over my vehicle. I'd be putting "bring them home NOW" stickers all over.

But...I hope that his parents always believe that their son died for a good reason. Still, at the end of the day, even dying for a "cause" isn't much comfort. Not when weighed against a kid who only got to live to be twenty-one.


Res ipsa loquitur.

Which brings me to the only song I've heard yet that talks about people not coming home. It's Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This," and I can't get all the way through it without tearing up. Give it a listen -- it's a powerful song.

When Friends Become Moms....and You Don't

(Originally posted elsewhere, Sept. 2007)

I've known my closest girlfriend since we were 17. We met right after high school, sized each other up in that way that young women have, and it could've gone either way. We were very much the same, and could've ended up being deadly enemies. But we wound up as extremely close friends -- so close that I beat her own sister in a bridal-shower game that involved figuring out how would my friend would answer the questions given. The friendship has withstood other people's gossip, bomb threats, boys, the evil boyfriend from hell (aka, Voldemort of the Westside) who cheated on her with me (don't ask, it's a long story), losing touch for a few years, family upheavals, family deaths, and her wedding (just kidding; she was an amazingly low-maintenance bride). When this year's fall college classes began, I realized that we'd been best friends for twenty years. More than half our lives.

My other friend was much the same way. We met at my first job with Megalomanic Insurance, Inc., and she became my friend and mentor. We survived job and boyfriend ups and downs. She taught me how to dress like a grown-up, but with style. I taught her the stuff about sex that no one tells you. (There was an incident where she was dating a guy who was uncircumcised, and before the big "we're gonna do it" date, she was all in a pother about whether it would look hideous. I tried to explain it, but we ended up buying gay porn to get the full frontal nekkie pic.) Sixteen years. Almost half my life.

And then something happened with both of them.

They became moms.

It's difficult for me to still be relevant to their lives right now. All of their friends are moms. Their social group is made up of married couples with spawn. And while I like my friends' offspring, I don't really want to spend the afternoon as the only never-married, never-spawned person at the gathering, with a bunch of other peoples' kids. I don't like children in groups. I don't like moms in groups, either. They make me feel all Bridget Jonesish.

So we're in different places, and it's hard to keep in touch. And it often feels like I've lost a huge chunk of myself, with those two people not so close as they were.

I'm not whining, or trying not to. I know that they find it tough to keep in touch with their friends who aren't married with offspring. My one friend works close to me, so we can meet for lunch. My other friend is in a position where she has to punch a clock, so that idea is out. And weekends are all family stuff. It sucks.

Then again, spawn grow up and move away, and the parental units need to know there is still life outside the home. And sometimes the spawn need to talk to someone who isn't a parent.

So I'll be around, even if the connection isn't as tight as it once was. It's different, but not broken.

It's just difficult to remember that sometimes.

New Year, New Job Hunt

Since the New Year celebrations are about over (though a lot of people won't get back to the office until next Monday), it's time for me to stop mucking about and begin my job hunt again.

Until last Friday, I was a contract employee, a business analyst with a mid-sized dental insurance company. I enjoyed the work and really liked my coworkers and boss, but the jobs that were available full-time weren't where I wanted to go professionally. I also would've had to take a large salary cut. I decided that I didn't want to settle since I'd feel some low-level resentment if I did, so I opted to not apply.

As a result, it's back to the rounds. Updating the resume, searching job boards, taking calls from recruiters. Some of them have jobs, some just want you in their database. Some of them don't read your profile and call you with jobs far, far away. No, thanks, I don't want to relocate to Kansas for six months.

I'm having the worst time putting my former job into resume-speak. Maybe I should have a glass of wine to facilitate authoring in the dominant workplace communication paradigm... blah-blah-friggin'-blah.