Monday, June 29, 2009

A video for those new to our country.... just some helpful hints

OMG! Joe is their idol!

My daughter went to see the Jonas Brothers concert last night. They had 3rd row seats and her friend actually got to touch Joe as he passed by. My kid was over the top about this event and she said it was incredible! The tickets were $100, yes one hundred dollars. It was our present to her for finishing up middle school.

This takes me back to my youth (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away) when my friends and I would go see shows. And they were cheap, just a babysitting job away. Most were under $20, closer $10 in most cases and just a bus ride to the Seattle Center away. My older sister used to take me with her to a lot of concerts when I was about 11 or 12. With her I saw the Beach Boys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Marilee Rush, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Monkees. When I was 13 she gave me tickets to a series of concerts, Neil Diamond, the Cowsills, Bobby Sherman. As I got older I started liking my own music and I got to see Jay Geils at the University Street Fair, we went to see Chicago, Bad Company, Yes to name a few.

Being from Seattle we were big Heart fans. We paid good money to see them open for SuperTramp. Later they became the headliners. In 1975 I saw Elton John, this was the one of the most fabulous concerts I have ever since. As I got older I saw the Who, Styx, Billy Joel (many many times). I saw Harry Chapin, Jackson Browne, Indigo Girls, REM, Moody Blues...I wish I could remember them all.

The cost of going to most live performances has exceeded my budget. I find it harder and harder to convince myself to pay these prices for a concert. But for my daughter, last night, the joy in her voice, the excitement she felt, how hoarse her voice was from was worth every dollar.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Damn, the dam is leaking.

There was a news article in the local paper about a dam that is upriver from my town about 20-30 miles. Seems like they have noticed that the dam is leaking water thru one side at an alarming rate. They don't know what they can do about it since it would cost a lot of money to repair so they are predicting flooding in the area next winter and the towns down river for this are making plans for this. WTF! If you know it is going to flood and that this will obviously cost FEMA millions of dollars in compensation to those affected, then why not just spend that money to fix the damn dam? And get this, it's an earth dam, made of rocks and dirt. And they are surprised that it is eroding. Durr!

We have 2 rivers in my town, the other river flooded last winter due to an error at the dam by the Army Corp of Engineers who let too much water out at one time. These are the same people in charge of controlling the water level in the leaking dam.

I'm so glad I don't live in the valley with 2 rivers to deal with. Oh yeah, they also have the volcano to deal with. If the mountain blows it will fill the valley with at least flash floods and mud floes.

I am very grateful that I live on top of a hill.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yes my son graduated, I have the gray hair and ulcers to prove it!

The last week has been very hectic here at Casa O as we prepared for the miracle of Aaron graduating from High School. It was a tremendous battle, fought long and hard. I spent a good part of the final week before the big day cleaning and getting the yard in order, things I'd neglected while I was helping out Girl Scouts. I found out that it's not a good idea to weed whack in sandals. I now have pretty pink polish to coverup the blacken toe nail that got whacked by a bouncing off the wall (must be why it's called a whacker, eh?). So all week, I have been asking Aaron about his grades because as a senior, it doesn't matter that if he "needs" the class (for the credit or a requirement) he has to have a passing grade in every class the last quarter to graduate. As of tuesday he wasn't passing 2 classes. So I'm in panic mode, Aaron just keeps telling me to watch Skyward (the online grade book) and everything is fine. So I keep logging on and finally it looks good. I order the cake (only $16.99 for a half sheet at Costco with Congrats Aaron in orange and blue), buy a ton of food and drink, ask my friends to make salads and keep on deep cleaning the house. I spend $$$ on plants for the pots on my deck so we don't have to look at the dead bamboo and the thyme that has gone to seed. Everything seems nice until Friday morning when I decide to check Skyward one more time. AAARRGGGHH, the Graphic Design teacher has added a new assignment into the grade book worth 400 pts and Aaron has 0, yes ZERO! this drops his grade to F again and I start to hyperventilate. I text Aaron and about 20 minutes later he shows up at home. I ask him, WTF??? He says, Don't panic! He runs upstairs to grab something and heads back to school. He comes home again about an hour later and says everything is fine, he got 290 on the project and should be passing now. He tells me to check online, of course it's not updated and I'm not completely calm yet. He heads back to school for the senior video presentation and I keep checking online for grade updates. Just after 2pm, Aaron comes home and tells me to check now. So I do and woo hoo, he has a D+ and passes!! Before I can do high fives, he says, BTW the school just might call about an incident involving him and his BFF Susan. My stomach sinks down to the floor, I'm thinking, oh god, wtf has he done now? Well, it turns out that after the video, the seniors were to go to the football field behind the school to assemble for one last cheer for AMHS. Well Aaron and Susan decide to ditch that, instead they get in her car, drive into the bus only lanes that run next to the field and lay on the horn, cheering and waving to their astonished classmates. Someone or someones turned them in to the principal about this horrific prank they pulled. Susan's mom came home to a voice mail from the principal that she would not be walking with her class the next day, but Aaron was safe as he was only a passenger in the car. Er, durr... it was his idea! Anyway, Susan's mom managed to convince the principal that it was very harmless and that she should lighten up.

So Saturday morning arrives, the weather is suppose to be nice, I'm excited to see my son accomplish something. Aaron comes bursting into the kitchen, irate. My phone charger isn't working!! You have to go out right now and get me a new one!, he yells at me. I pretty much lost it. I dropped quite a few f-bombs about what I had or had not "got to do" that morning. He stomps off to shower and get ready. I go back to nursing my coffee and Rob chimes in with a smirk, Just how is Aaron going to pay for this new charger? I said, I will pay for it since he spent most of his salary on clothes I told him to buy so he could follow the school's requirement of dress pants, a dress shirt and tie for graduation. Rob then changes his tone to the holier than thou attitude about responsibility. I lost it and told Rob to "stop effing lecturing me!" Then at 8:50 Aaron says, Aren't you going to take me to school? I'm like, Do you think you could have mentioned this sooner? He had to be there by 9am sharp! I race into clothes and off we go only to be gridlocked outside the school parking lot as 300 parents try and get their kids to school by 9 too. The whole way there, Aaron is demanding that I get him a new charger ASAP. On the way back home I realize my morning has fallen apart, so I call Mary to commiserate. I explain that I have alienated most of my family before 9:00, we have a good laugh and she asked if everything is set for the party. I told her I had enough chairs but people were going to have to eat with their plates in their laps due to lack of tables. I go in to find that Rob and Nicole have showered. I growl out that there had better be hot water for me, or there would be hell to pay. I zip in and out, get dressed and call Brianne at 9:50 to get her dad's number as I had tickets for his group. She was surprised to hear we were about to leave for the stadium as she had wanted to carpool with us. We knew that if we waited for Brianne, Aaron would have graduated without us, so we told her we'd save them a seat. I managed to meet up with the ex, find Rob and get seated well before the crowds showed up. Unfortunately I forgot to ask Aaron what side he was sitting on so we ended up not near him but we were facing him. I start talking with the woman sitting next to me and said that I was just happy that my son made it. She asked me who my son was. She screamed with I told her. Turns out she is Susan's mom, Aaron's BFF. She just loves Aaron. Out of 300+ grad families, I lucked out and sat with someone who loves my son!! My day was looking up. I will admit that even tho they told us not to cheer when our childs name was called, almost everyone did and I gave a big whoop for Aaron. I was quite proud.

After the ceremony and goodbyes, we drop Nicole off at a birthday party, drop Rob at home to set up tables (while we were at commencement, the Table Fairy came and left us 3 more tables!! Love the friends!) and Aaron and I headed to Verizon to see about his lifeline, er, phone. Turns out not to be the charger but the phone itself, it's under warranty and 45 minutes later, he has a new phone and we head to Costco for the cake. Hate Saturday at Costco. This takes us more time than it should have for one item. Off to Safeway for ice and back home. It's now 3:30 and guests are due in half an hours. Rob and I rush around like crazies and get it all done, right before people arrive. Time for a cold one or two. Aaron graced the party until 6pm and then begged off to visit other parties. We all had a great time, I got more cheerful and stopped swearing like a long shoreman. Everyone was gone by 9pm and we slept like babies.

Nicole's 8th grade graduation will be a snap. She has her dress, I have to make the little bolero jacket but I've started that. There is no party here, she is going to one via a limo ride. Nice to have rich friends. She is getting to go to the Jonas Bros concert as her present.

I've looking forward to some quiet time starting next week.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gotta love the weekends!

My friend Mary organized a family campout with her Cub Scouts in a local state park. She ran herself ragged for days preparing. Come friday night she texts me from the park.

Sent Friday 10:24pm: ok this weekend is doomed. we might as well leave now

Sent Friday 11:48pm: well we ran all day. did not get a shower till 6:30. j took the rv and it died. jump started it many times 2 get here

Sent Friday 11:49pm: any way. steve was helping him and backed his rv into a post. wrecked his rv

Sent Friday 11:50pm: and when i finally got 2 my campsite in the dark. i fell on uneven ground and i heard something snap

Sent Friday 11:52pm: was enough 2 scare john. he wanted 2 take me 2 the er. i am sitting lying w my foot up instead. johns cot broke and he is sleeping on the floor

Sent Friday 11:52pm: the end

I sent her this: All i can say is it sucks to be you

Sent Saturday 6:34am: eh. we all have our days dont we

So I sent her this: I kinda posted your text messages on face book

Sent Saturday 7:39am: that is hilarious. i was just thinking that if i go home and my house i broken into and ransacked. then it will suck 2 b me!

On Sunday I sent her a message as I hadn't heard anything for a while: Did you die? End up in the er? Did you have any fun? Did it rain?

Sent Sunday 4:02pm: not much at the camp though the thick canopy made it pretty dry. nice group camp. lots of privacy even tho with a pack of peeps

So turns out although it rained and she was laid up, the cub scouts had fun.

I was feeling for her as we took our Girl Scouts to a beach house on the ocean this weekend, that was the nicest house I have ever stayed in. WOW!! Hardwoods, granite, stainless steel, view, flat screens. Yeah, we were roughing it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The other shoe dropped and landed on my head and it hurt, alot!

About 2 years ago, I was asked by my local Girl Scout council regional director if I would like to cover the regional office phones for a day while they all went to an all staff meeting at another location. I was happy to do this and even more happier when they said they would pay me for this. I believe I was asked because I was a volunteer leader in good standing. This filling in became more regular and soon I was asked to fill in for the office manager when she was on vacation or out sick. She was an older gal, pushing 70 and starting to make noises about retiring. Since my husband had starting making noises about me working more, I was more than happy to make myself available to the Girl Scouts and when they offered me a temp job last fall doing recruitment, I took it. This was for about 12 weeks and then I rolled back into covering the office manager for her vacation just before Christmas last year. In all I probably worked over 4 months for them all before this last bit, which was almost 2 months.

In April, the regional director called me and told me the office mgr was retiring and for a brief moment I thought she was going to ask me if I wanted the job! But no, she wanted to know if I could be the interim office manager while they posted the job publicly. I said of course. Then I said that I would like to apply for the position. She was silent for a few seconds, then she said, "but I thought you weren't looking for full time work. You understand this is full time." I told her that a couple years ago, full time was not what I would have wanted but circumstances change and I was more than able and happy to work full time. She then told me that I would have to step down from my roll as leader to my troops and any other involvement in our local service unit. That policy stated that staff could not be volunteers, that this was a "conflict of interest". This was something I had not considered and almost made me hesitate but I figured I could work something out. I later discovered that this was her policy not necessarily the policy followed by all at council. In hindsight, I think she was trying to give me a hint that I wasn't the person she envisioned in the position but I was very excited because I figured the job posting was just a formality and I was a shoe in. I'm such a sap.

So I came in a day before the gal retired, I took notes on what I knew to be gaps in my knowledge of the job and got ready to settle in. For almost 7 weeks I did the job I had hopes to be hired for. I audited the files more thoroughly than they had been done in years. I contacted over 200 volunteers to provide necessary paperwork that was outdated or missing. I cleaned file drawers and cleaned up the general area as there was 10 years of outdated materials. I went thru her computer files and deleted or updated files as needed. I taught myself how to use the council database, learning tricks and finding files to help the office run more smoothly. I fielded phone calls and covered for staff who seemed to drift on in whenever they felt like it, never keeping to the posted schedule they completed each week. Whatever I was asked to do, I did and when I had free time, I looked for ways to fill it.

After a couple of weeks, they posted the job and the applications came rolling in. There were over 150. The regional director and HR were overwhelmed and it took a while for them to sort thru and they came up with five people to interview. I was told I made the cut and would be interviewed. I thought my interview went well. I got to see all the other applicants as I greeted each one as they came in. But during the time this is going on, I was slowing losing my confidence that I was seriously being considered for this job. I heard from some of the area managers that the regional director told them she was hoping to hire someone who would want to move up into an area manager job eventually. That job pays about twice what the office manager gets and requires a college degree. Forget the fact that none of the other regional offices had ever promoted an office manager into this position. The RD knew I was not interested in an Area Manager position as I wasn't qualifed that that job. I started thinking about how taken back the RD had been when I told her I wanted the job. I was feeling less likely that I was going to hired. That my being so available and eager to work wasn't going to be the stepping stone I thought it was to land this job. I was starting to feel less like a stepping stone and more like a doormat. They went on to second interviews. It was me and 2 fresh faced gals with the ink still fresh on their college diplomas. They brought in the RD's boss from the main office and an office manager from another regional office to help with the interviews. My RD pulled me aside the day before and told me that her boss was an "all business" type of person and that I should be very serious and professional during the interview. So I was.

The next day, Tuesday, I was told that I did not get the job. My RD said the new gal would start on Thursday and that I could stay until the end of the week. I told her it would be better if I left on Wednesday. She seemed surprised at my reaction and then said, "oh, you're not in the middle of anything, right?" I had been doing a couple of things and told her I would leave notes on where I was for the new person. She told me that the decision to hire had not been hers to make completely that she was pressured by others. It was a long silent afternoon with everyone tip toeing around me.

On Wednesday, after a rough night, I went into the office. One of the area managers came in just before nine and I told her I couldn't stay. That it was just too upsetting for me. I was feeling pretty rejected. She told me that she and the other 2 area managers were pretty shocked that I wasn't hired. They felt that the RD maybe was wrong in thinking that the position would be a stepping stone to their own jobs. She told me that the RD was told by her boss to pick one of the two other gals who interviewed as that they were more dynamic in their interviews and that I had a bit too solemn and businesslike. So the RD telling me to be all business turned against me. Not just was I not the first choice, I wasn't the second choice, I was the biggest loser. This hurt.

I really don't think that the RD ever seriously considered me. That the last 2 years of me rearranging my life to cover the front desk at a moments notice was all she wanted from me. That to her I was just a volunteer that she could count on to fill in as needed and I don't think she wanted to lose that and hiring me would have left her without me to say, Jump? How high? I guess the saying, "nice guys finish last is true". I'm sure the new girl will be great, the job isn't rocket science.

I really thought I could add a lot to that job, that my years as a volunteer would have made me a better person for the position as I understand the people the office is trying to serve. But perhaps I'm wrong, that what I would have had to give up, the work I do with my girls, would have been too high a price to pay. Over and over we hear the words, "it's all about the girls". But being on the inside for a little while, showed me that sometimes, those at council forget that directive and they forget that the program can't be a success without the volunteers who work with the girls. So I'm back to being "Just a Volunteer" and it's a good place.

This will be my last post about this damn thing! I will restart my regular inane ramblings and try and resume my good humor! Maybe a couple of jello shots in the morning coffee will help!