Monday, July 15, 2013

A new entry with new happenings with a spouting of opinion chaser

Hey cats!  Welp, here I am with some stuff to tell you.

Big news number one: The Husband and I have decided to reconcile.  We're sleeping in the same bed, doing things together, talking, telling the truth and generally going through our day to day the best we know how.  Things are going well.  As I said, we're talking.

It's a big deal for me to be able to ask him questions, ask him if he wants to talk about anything and tell him the truth for me now.  It's difficult to acknowledge my past bad behavior and say "During right now, it's important for me <insert whatever it is that's important to me that we're talking about>."

We both get frustrated with each other.  It seems that we're dealing with those frustrations a little differently.

Big news number two:  I'm now the bee's-knees barista.  I've been working for a big, coffee making company for almost four months now.  It's going nicely.  I am able to use my customer service skills to connect with our customers.  Our regulars have started to ask where I am if I'm not there!  Well, I heard one ask if I was there when I wasn't taking orders at the drive through window.

And we do get some cuh-RA-zee orders!  Caramel Macchiato, upside down, extra hot, made with half 2% milk and half 1/2 and 1/2 with cinnamon power on the top.  Or an iced drink with exactly FIVE ice cubes.  Five.  Not four.  Not six.  Five.

We just make it.

Big news number three:  Thanks to assistance from the Barista's mom and dad, we got our shower re-done.  This is after dealing with the tiles falling off to find mold growing behind them.  For several months we showered with plastic sheeting held up by duct tape.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves.



Now I want to paint the bathroom.  I'm auditioning paint colors.  A turquoise is currently a front runner.

Now for my opinion.

I'm very troubled by the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.  Mr. Zimmerman followed a young man, who was African-American and wearing a hoodie, not surprising since it was raining.

He'd been told by the 911 operator they didn't need him to follow the person he was following.

Trayvon Martin turned and asked Mr. Zimmerman why he was following him.  Mr. Zimmerman claims he said "What are you talking about?"  and Trayvon hit him.  Trayvon then started to beat him up.

And Mr. Zimmerman claims he was in fear for his life and shot the kid.  The kid who was just walking back from the store in a drizzle wearing a hoodie.  Oh, and he was black.

The thing I keep circling back to is that Mr. Zimmerman's actions instigated the fight.  If this had been a bar fight, things probably would have gone very differently.  If they had gotten to Trayvon's driveway, things would have gone very differently.  If Trayvon had been white, things wouldn't have happened at all.

I'm heartbroken for Trayvon's family and I'm walking around with an anger I can't do anything about.

I'm also somewhat worried that we'll see some type of increase in vigilantism.  Not a huge amount, but a little.  And if anyone else is shot for not doing anything but walking back from the store, that's too many.

Call the police and let them do their job.  Are there racist officers?  Of course there are.  But let them do their job.  It's not YOUR job.

Now we'll watch the civil trial.  And, I understand that Mr. Zimmerman owes his defense team a huge amount of money and can't pay them.  The defense team appeared on the View today and stated they hope Mr. Zimmerman will be able to pay them some day.

*sigh*  The world is a crazy place.  I think I need to cook some, since cooking helps.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: is a website that presents a regime that has helped my skin clear up, I recommend it highly.

Friday, June 28, 2013

God wants to work in my life! Check this out!

A few weeks ago I was watching James Randi videos on Youtube while I did dishes.  (If you aren't familiar, check out his wiki entry:  Randi in a wiki-nutshell)   I watched one of the videos where Randi had investigated Christian evangelist Peter Popoff.  (Here's the link to Petey:  Halleujah! Pass the collection plate!)

I have a special interest in Peter Popoff because for many years he was based in my hometown of Upland, California.  My high school friend, Kristi, can remember her older sister babysat for the Popoff family.

I got interested and decided to send the good Mr. Popoff a prayer request via his website, just to see what I'd get in the mail.

And it arrived yesterday!  Check it out!

Okay, first I turned the envelop over to check the return address.  Look!  Upland!  Go Highlanders!

 I opened it up and found a very long letter about how Satan is controlling me with debt.  Peter wants to help me erase my debt.  The word erase is repeated quite a lot in the message sent to me.  As a matter of fact, it's used 24 times, usually in bold type and capitalized.  Anyway, the letter gives me specific instructions.  First, I don't open the little envelop that was included.  DON'T DO IT!  He instructs me firmly.  Then, I take the little envelope with the shadow of Jesus on it and put it on top of my checkbook and bills, just for tonight.  The next morning, I send the envelope back to him.  He will put it in his prayer altar and then he'll send it back with exact instructions on how to Erase My Debt!

Oh, and I have to send him $20 to sow the seed of prosperity.  If that's a hardship, I can send $12 and the rest when God provides.  Apparently, I'm not to come before God empty handed. I gotta give to get!

I'm to include the prayer slip that was also enclosed.  There is a space for me to write how much I am sending along with a check list of the hardships I am facing so they can help me with those too.  He thoughtfully included a postage paid envelope, but he asks if I have a stamp to put it on there to help save God's money for blessings. 

Here's the little envelope with Jesus on it.  It has a stain where it's been anointed with oil.  I'm not supposed to open it, but I do anyway.  There's something inside!  What is it?  

Oh my!.  Is it a cloth?  Is it a pad of small paper?  Is it a packet of holy salt?  What can it be?

It's an eraser.........    God sent me an eraser. 

Is he serious or is this performance art? 

Either way I'm not sending him any money.

I'm keeping the eraser though. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Sunscreen!  Sunscreen! Sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen!  Go put some on right now.  I'll wait here. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

That was fun.

My good friend Leashya and I went to see Cyndi Lauper live on Tuesday night.  It just so happens that it's the 30th anniversary of the release of her album She's So Unusual.  She's So Unusual  just so happens to be the first album I bought on vinyl. 

In 1983 we hadn't seen ANYTHING like Cyndi.  There was punk rock and new wave, but none of the music associated with it was this happy, bubbly, bouncy or poppy.  There she was in these crazy outfits that could only have been put together in New York with her crazy red hair all shaved off on one side telling us that girls just wanted to have fun.  She then gave us a time after time that made us all cry.  She assured us that every one bopped, SHE especially.  She was fun and safe and gave us permission to rebel against the earth tones of the late 70's/ early 80's with bright colors and a funny voice. 

There was no way we were going to miss this chance to hang out with a bunch of other people our age, including a large number of gay men.  Every concert of women pop singers or bands I've attended all have a healthy chunk of the audience made up of men who like men.  And they all jump up and down, singing along and being affectionate with their partners.  Or, maybe, it's because I live in Austin and that's all over the place.

We drove downtown in my car, parked in the lot I like and then started to wander down the street. 

As we were getting ready to cross 7th I turned to Leashya and said "This is that moment when I feel like one of the coolest people in the world.  If I could point this out to my 14 year old self, that I'm dressed up to go to a concert in this amazing city with my pierced, tattooed friend I wouldn't have been so goddamn depressed."

As we were approaching the venue, a woman came up behind us and asked if we were all headed to the same place.  We agreed we all were.

She slung her arms around both our shoulders and declared "My friend texted me to say that he told me to be here at 7!  I said 'Bitch, I was there at 6:45 and there was a long ass line so I went to get some DRINKS'.  "  And she hung out with us while we collected tickets from will-call then declared disappointment that she had to go find her friend.  Don't worry, she reappears later.

We hit the bar and staked out our spot. 

Cyndi came out with her red hair, like she'd sported in the mid-1980's.  And she played the album in order.  And I knew EXACTLY what was coming up next and I could still sing along!  I jumped up and down when she started She-Bop along with everyone else.  During Time After Time, I made Leashya dance with me the same way I danced with a guy named Eric at my 8th grade graduation dance.

As she swung into side 2 our new friend reappeared!  She was meandering around with her strapless dress getting ready to fall down.  I didn't want her to flash the crowd so I went up behind her and pulled her dress up.  She got excited when she saw it was us and got into a monologue about music, people, how old we were and was telling me some story and was hitting me with the heel of her hand.  After 12 or so hits I requested that she please stop hitting me. 

She talked about the fact that her friend supposedly had a beer for her and then asked us several times if we wanted any pot.  We'd say no, then she'd forget she asked us, ask again and we'd again decline. 

A female couple walked by holding hands and our friend yelled "I just want to hug all these lesbians!  I love that all these gay people are here and out and proud!"  And she ran off to hug some guys with their arms around each other and tell them how she loved them.  Leashya and I laughed heartily and then expressed concern that she find her friends and be driven home.

We popped out for the rest of the show and then waited for her encore.  For her encore she sang True Colors.  I almost cried.  And, due to our age, a lot of us had lighters.  We held them up and sang along, swaying and doing gospel hands.  At the very end, the last line because your true colors are beautiful Cyndi just stopped singing, didn't even hold her hand out and the audience sang like a raaaiiiinbooow.  And it was such a great, amazing moment.

Then the lights came up, it was hard curfew of 10:30 p.m.   I got my t-shirt and we joined the rest of our fellow fans heading back to their real life of work the next morning.

I want to be one of those women who go to concerts when she's 80 years old, trucking along in her walker with the seat for me to rest on.  I'll ask strangers to get me a beer.

Concerts, part of my life I love.  This one was great.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  During the summer you may have to switch your deodorant to an antiperspirant. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

If it's one thing I know about, it's etiquette. Prepare for my opinion

First, go over and check this out:

Rudeness at some of it's best

In a nutshell,  the above article is the back and forth between a new bride and one of the guests at her wedding.  She tells him that the gift basket he gave that contained various kids of candy, cookies and marshmallow fluff, isn't something they can eat and asks if he has the receipt.  He apologizes and then it dissolves into the bride explaining to the guest that people don't give gifts, people give money.  They give money to cover the cost of the wedding and to give the couple an opportunity to make money. 

My jaw dropped.  Are you frigging kidding me?  The point of wedding and shower gifts is to help the newly married couple set up housekeeping.  That's why one registers for towels and plates and glassware, so you can get your new digs as a married couple into a state where you don't have to drink out of empty jam jars.  (Although there is a certain romance to that.) 

It's like baby showers.  It's to help the parents to be get all the stuff the new bundle of expensive joy is going to need in those first several months, not so the parents can set up a trust fund. 

As someone who received a number of monetary gifts upon becoming a Missus, yes, it's nice.  However, it isn't anything but rude to tell people to give you money because that's how it's done now.  And it's downright nasty, ugly and makes me question your quality as a person to point out to someone you invited to your wedding that they got to eat food, drink booze and have a great venue to party in, therefore, they should have given the couple an envelope with enough cash in it to cover the cost of having them at the wedding, plus a little more. 

If you can't afford the wedding, then don't have it!  You are tossing yourself a party.  (In my case, my parents tossed me a great party)  If you decide to throw yourself a birthday party, as my friend Barb did for many years, most of them costumed and all of them with a margarita machine, then you don't charge a cover.  Well, maybe you do, but then I can't help you.  If friends bring you prezzies, that's wonderful, say thank you.  If they don't, hug them and thank them for being there to celebrate with you. 

Yeah, there is some stuff you return.  And yeah, there is some stuff you don't use.  And there is always at least one gift where you'll find the card inside of it from the person who gave it to someone else for THEIR wedding before they passed it off to you.  I think it would be fun to find someone who is going to regift a gift, then have the person who received it regift it again, just keep putting the wedding cards inside and see how far you can keep regifting. 

Greediness and outright lack of manners like this makes me nuts.  Here, allow me to assist you in eating this goddamn marshmallow fluff. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you're going to be swimming a lot this summer, start double conditioning and using a deep conditioning treatment at least once a week as the chlorine will turn your hair into a mass of dry fibers resembling hair. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

After two months, a movie review!

I saw the movie The Purge last night with my friend Chris.  Chris is my movie buddy.  She and I both like thrillers and horror flicks.  We hide our eyes, scrunch down in our chairs and generally get really into it.

When we attended a screening of The Woman in Black we laughed at a girl behind us who actually screamed.  It was even funnier when I did the same thing. 

Anyway, The Purge is set in the year 2022.  For 12 hours, one night a year, anything is legal.  Emergency services are not available and people run amok in the streets killing the homeless, their bosses, people who annoy them or any random person.  For the rest of the year, everyone in America is much calmer, the economy is booming and unemployment is at 1%. 

Essentially, the movie shows that American's shut themselves up in their homes with elaborate security systems that turn your whole house into a panic room.  Those who don't are out in the streets either hunting the killers running amok or are the runners amok.  It's not safe to be outdoors.  Suburban people and college students fall under the sway of sociopaths who spend the whole year planning their Purge night. 

It had a good level of suspense and we were able to pick it apart afterwards.

We had questions about the practicality of such an event.  Wouldn't the inner cities just burn to the ground?  If you stole a car, did you get to keep it?  What if you bought a whole bunch of cocaine and sold it?  Would you still have to pay taxes on the big profit?  Insurance rates would skyrocket and would probably exclude any damage that occurred on Purge night.  Life insurance wouldn't pay out if someone died due to a Purge killing.  If you looted a store, did the store get to declare the items stolen?  If you were caught with the stuff would it still count as a crime if you tried to sell it while the Purge wasn't happening? 

And what about rules?  If you really didn't want to participate could you leave the country on holiday?  Cruise down to Mexico, or go to Canada for a little vaca?  What else could you do?  Rent a boat and be out on the ocean seems an option.  Or camping waaaaaaaaay out in the desert on top of a hill where you could see everything.  Wouldn't a group of families band together in the most secure house with their children, everyone bringing their guns and night vision goggles?  It would be potluck of course. How many people would commit crimes in order to be in jail when the Purge rolled around?  How were hospitals secured?

Then there was the conversation about how homes would be built differently.  The main character makes a ton of money selling Purge security systems. Wouldn't affluent areas have the security systems standard?  Or hired private security?  I'd think Blackwater would take that gig.  Wouldn't they set up the electric barbed wire around their homes, just for that night?  

We commented to each other that once all the poor people were killed off, a new level of poor would take their place.  First, the homeless are seen as leeches on society.  Pretty soon anyone who was renting would be offed, then those who lived in less than 3,000 square feet.  Old people, the disabled, and blah blah blah. 

I'd say it's worth Netflix-ing.  A solid 3 out of 5.  Because I know you want my opinion.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you are going to use benzoyl peroxide, don't use something over a 2.5% concentration.  It will just dry out your skin, 2.5% is plenty. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's a very sad and difficult time in my life

I'm going to keep this short, but it's not sweet.

The Husband and I have separated.

A personal message to the friends he's probably going to be get in the split:  Those of you who are reading this who have heard only his side of the story.  I'd like to tell you that the weekend you saw him, when he told you I was leaving him, I hadn't given him my final decision about the separation.  I'd asked him to give me through that weekend. 

If you'd like to hear my side of the story I'm glad to tell you. But I'm not going to do it publicly.  You can private message me via email or Facebook. 

I'm really very sad about this.  22 years is a long, long time.  And we had a really good thing going at one time. 

When we got married in 1990, we were so much in love.  Somewhere between now and then it went sour.  My heart is broken for my children.  I'm so concerned about what they'll be going through.  I love them so much

Again, if you'd like to hear my side of it, I'll tell you. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Hip Housecleaner!

I've now started a new job.  It's not cooking, it's cleaning houses with a locally owned company.  It's not huge money but the hours work out exactly right for the needs of my family.  My boss is the owner and she cleans with us.  She also has kids and understands that sometimes shit happens and a phone call from school means you'll have to take off.

A few of us will go in to dust, clean the bathrooms and kitchen (including the inside of the microwave, vacuum, mop, make beds, take the trash out and make everything nice for the people who live there.

It's fascinating to me how much you can tell about a family by being in their home, even when they're not there. 

You can tell if they're a blended family, if they cook, if they're not home very much and a variety of other things.

A big wall of DVDs means movie buffs.  High end small appliances with an emphasis on coffee making gadgets generally goes with gourmet foods in the pantry.  The patterns of wear on the carpets tell me which rooms are used regularly and which don't see people very often.  A formal dining room table that always has a layer of dust on it, but never any crumbs shows a family that doesn't do much entertaining.  A sign on the upstairs bathroom decorated in pink and black that says "Carrie, if you or Lance come in here I will KILL YOU!  Laura"  shows some sibling tensions.  And stuffed animals in the master bed lets me know that they have a little monkey that comes in to sleep with the grown ups.  Books like "The Dinosaur's Book About Divorce" indicates a split occurrs. 

I haven't met many of the homeowners.  They usually prefer that we come to work our magic while they are out.  That brings me to the fact that people are outrageously trusting.  In the first client's home I cleaned, I went into the walk in closet to vacuum.  When I closed the door behind me in order to vacuum behind it, I saw a stack of twenties on one of the shelves.  There was easily one hundred dollars there.  I finished vacuuming and marveled to my boss at the things people left out.  Tablets and laptops are left charging and we dust them. 

The homeowners I have met are gracious, courteous and thank us.  In one instance, I walked into a room housing a couple of computers and bookcases, the study I called it.  One of the computer tables was covered in used tissues and beer cans along with some glassware.  I double checked with the person I was working with and was told I needed to clear that all off and take the dishes downstairs.  I started out dusting the electronics and window sills before I  moved on to the shelves covered in knick knacks. 

The man who lived there came in, got a very embarrassed look on his face and said "Oh, yeah, you don't have to do much in here.  I should have told you before you started." 

"Oh, okay.  Well, I was planning on clearing your desk to dust it, finish up these shelves and vacuum." 

"No, no.  I'll clear off the desk.  You can just vacuum."  and he gathered up all the debris and glasses to take them downstairs.

"I've dusted your electronics and in front of your books.  We'll go ahead and vacuum.  If there's anything else I can help you with in here just let me know before you leave."  then I smiled. 

He told me that what I'd done was fine and left me to dust the stair railing.

Yes, dusting, lots and lots of dusting.  Dark wood is a pain in the ass.  I'm telling you right now a bunch of stuff on dark wood or smoked glass takes a long time to get perfect.  And my boss demands perfect.  Stainless steel is polished until there are NO streaks.  Mirrors must look as if you could just fall into them.  Bathrooms should sparkle and smell nice when we are finished.  We even get down on the floor to wipe down the little ledge under the dishwasher and stove. 

There are a few things we don't do on a standard clean.  Cleaning the baseboards, vacuuming furniture, cleaning the inside of the fridge or oven and dusting the blinds costs extra. 

I'm finding that I like it.  I like getting a little glimpse into people's lives.  I like making their lives a little easier.  And I don't have to get all dressed up. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When cleaning, put lotion on your hands before you don rubber gloves. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

After a long absence, poetry

How impersonal and cold the crossroads are, staring at me silently and stoically showing me the choice is to be made

One of three, the straight road which clearly opens to reveal the rocks and pitted path or the road that curves into the stand of trees that obscure what I will encounter or to go back. 
Each with it's own fate and consequence. 

Not only my own fate but the fate of those I love.  Should I choose the dark and unknown it will mean detours and heavy machinery as those around me must alter to the decisions I make. 
How can I do this when so much is at stake?

Do I dare to take the chance?  To dash into the darkness where dragons may wait?  Dragons that will breathe fire at me, blind me with smoke that waters my eyes and chokes me while it's iridescent scales glow with the pleasure of it. 

My courage is all but gone.  My bravery is shrinking behind the shelter of that which is safe. 

But is it safe?  No, none of this trio is safe.  My selection will thrust me into a new state of being.  What on earth will I wear?

If the best part is the jumping, as I have been told, standing on the edge, teetering out over the chasm before pinwheeling arms to come back to the crumbling surface is the worst.

I study the absence of a signpost and prepare to jump.

And prepare to jump.

And prepare to jump.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to

I've spent the last week tossing applications and scheduling interviews.  I've had two.  One for a cupcake bakery and one at a local head shop.

I talked to the cupcake owner/manager on Monday, who said he'd call me on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I called to follow up and haven't heard back.  I'm writing that one off.  He told me he was looking to hire quickly.  I'm going with the thought that if he wanted to hire me he would have called me.  The Husband tells me not to assume I blew the interview, there are a lot of other factors involved. 

I'm taking his word on that.

The head shop?  It would be standard retail stuff.  They assure me that they'll call in a week to ten day to either schedule another interview or tell me they've hired all they need for this cycle. 

Meanwhile,  I'm doing a lot of contemplation.  I'm coming back to the work force straight out of culinary school, which means I'm at the bottom of the ladder.  I'm also coming back to the work force after having been a housewife for a decade plus. This also puts me at something of a disadvantage. 

It's very hard for me to not get discouraged and fall into beating myself up.  LOTS of negative talk going on in my head right now.  I'm doing my best to squelsh that and remind myself of all the sappy stuff that's true. 

At my last therapy appointment we talked about finding a higher purpose as outlined by Victor Frankl, the psychiatrist who survived Dachau.  He states that those who survive are those who identify their higher purpose. 

What is my higher purpose?  It's been pointed out to me that taking care of the family right now is a perfectly acceptable higher purpose. There's no shame in being a woman who keeps hearth and home. 

And there's no shame in finding something part time. 

But I'm discouraged and hating on myself right now.  Telling myself I'm just not cut out to do ANYTHING.  My skin isn't thick enough.  I'm spoiled by my lifestyle.  Stuff like that.

I'm trying to be very spiritual about this, looking for the message telling me what to do.  I've got three more applications out, so I'm going to wait to hear on those and then regroup after that. 

There we go, tried to keep the whining short and to the point. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When it's cold, make sure that you are exfoliating regularly all over your body to keep the flaky itchies away. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Right, the job wasn't for me.  I quit in shame knowing it was the right thing for all involved. 

Now, there's the fallout where I have to deal with all the crap I'm trying to put myself through.  I'm seriously doubting my ability/knowledge/whatever you want to call it.  I'm starting to tell myself that culinary school was an indulgence where I probably could have just watched a lot of Food Network or worked my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking a la Julie and Julia.

I'm scared to put ANY applications in, ANYWHERE.  I'm having to remind myself that applying to another cupcake bakery is appropriate.  I like to do it and I have experience.  The owner of my externship site will give me a good reference. 

If that doesn't play out, I may fall back on my retail experience to find something part time.  Part time is what I need to be doing right now.   Yes, it causes an issue with finding something that will let me bring in about $500 a month. 

I'm also fighting off panic attacks about where we'll be in ten years.  Retirement!  Paying off the house!  Oh my god! 

I'm dealing with being very frightened.  I'm forty-one and going into a third career with very limited experience.  It would be a lot easier to just stay home. 

I'm not feeling good today so I'll just tell you that being clean can make you feel better.  I think I'll go do that now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

That didn't work out. And that's okay. But then there's other stuff

Welp, the job didn't work out.  I didn't have the right skill set to complete the tasks in a satisfactory manner.  I just didn't.  Wasn't a good fit.  I left voluntarily after three days in the store where I would be working.  I was very aware that I wasn't the person for that particular job.

Then there's the fact that the schedule was tossing my home life into a state of extreme disarray.  Again, it wasn't a good fit for me or the bakery that needs a baker.

I'm surprisingly not beating myself up about it.  It doesn't mean I'm a failure.  It doesn't mean I'm unemployable.  It just means I wasn't right for THAT job.  I'm good at lots of other things. 

I tried.  I gave it my best shot and that's all I can ask of myself.

I am, however, trying to beat myself up for going to culinary school in the first place.  I'm done with school, I've got my certificate and now I'm feeling an obligation to DO something with it.

Here's what's going on in my head:  Okay, I went to culinary school.  And, yes, I did well.  But I didn't really learn anything that I couldn't have learned off Food Network.  I just went to say I went and impress people with how sophisticated I am.  It doesn't make me qualified to actually have a job.  Scott and I are going to end up living in some crappy studio apartment in 20 years, living on social security and eating cat food.  I'll prep myself for that now.  It's my destiny!  Beans and rice and my kids giving me money!  But with my parenting ability they'll probably be living with us, so at least I'll have someone coming in and out to make sure I'm not dead. 

Etc. etc. etc.

I'm having to make a concerted effort to tell myself that I dreamed of DREAMED of going to culinary school.  And I went.  I went.  I graduated with a 4.3 on a 5.0 scale.  I learned a LOT.  I really did.

So what if I end up at Barnes and Noble or Target or checking at a grocery store?  It's perfectly okay. I'll cook for my family and friends.  Giving people the gift of a good meal isn't anything to be ashamed of.

Right now, I have the luxury of making this choice based on the needs of my family and my own well being.  I have a couple places in mind to submit applications including a cupcake shop in a town north of me.  I'm also going to apply at a smoke shop that's hiring for shits and giggles.  Scott says I need to go in with a Bettie Page haircut and a push up bra to be a shoo in.  

I'm going to spend these upcoming days getting ready for my parents' visit next week.  I'll pop in a couple of applications and see what happens.

And, Amy, if you are reading this.  I'd still love to come work for you. If you want me to stop bugging you, give me a job already!  You know you love me as much as I love you!  C'mon!  You know you want to!  Love you Amy!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Coconut oil can be used to moisturize both your skin and your hair.  Keep it in the shower so it's lovely and warm before you rub it on. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back behind the counter

I'm half-way through the first week of my new job. The very early shift, 2 a.m. -10:30 a.m., is a little weird.  Why?  Because I punch out, come home, have a nap and when I leave to pick up Will from school at 2:30 p.m. I realize I've already worked a full shift.  But, I still have the rest of the day left.  Yes, I have to go to bed very early.  But, I like being able to pick him up from school and be here when Zoe gets home. 

It's fascinating to me that retail is retail is retail.  I'm thinking specifically about the social make-up of the store.  There are still the cliques, usually organized by department, who gossip about each other.  Some people drift in between, but mostly the employees stick with the other people in their own territory.  There are still the personality clashes, the various philosophies towards their work and all that good stuff.  There is still the person who will tell you that the store you're going to is gross and the boss is mean.  Still the same old inter-departmental personality clashes.  Luckily, I'm used to this.  I'll be okay.  

The really early shift consists of frying donuts, baking bagels, baking breads for the deli, baking kolaches, replacing all the product on the racks for preparation for the next day, helping the 4 a.m. bakers with whatever they need assistance with and putting away supplies that have been received before cleaning up and punching out.  

The assistant manager I worked with yesterday showed me a very streamlined way to complete all these tasks in the time allowed.  She's younger than me, but attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has worked at a number of resorts giving her a total of 14 years experience in baking.  Her system makes sense and I paid attention.  

My chef instructor's voice is in the back of my head "Mise! Mise! Mise!  Work smarter not harder!  Have everything you need close enough that you don't have to take a step to reach it!  How can you cut out a step to be more efficient?" 

Tuesday, I worked with a man who has been baking for 40+ years.  He's been in the US for 39 years but still isn't 100% fluent in English.  But, his English is better than my Spanish.  Between the two of us we operated the majority of the shift in Spanglish and pantomime.  At one point, he put his hands over mine to show me how to form a ball of dough into a soup bowl loaf.  

Because he knows so much and is so good at what he does, I found myself paying outrageous attention to his instructions.  Have you ever met someone who knows everything about something you want to know everything about?  You want to ask them a million and a half questions and watch what they do. It's like that with me.  I found myself desperate for his approval.  All I wanted to do was have him tell me "Si, bueno."  

He had to keep telling me to stop working the dough.  I like to do that because it feels nice.  

As I was putting pieces of dough onto a sheet pan which would be formed into different products he said "Organize! Organize! Organize!  Vamanos!  Vamanos!"  In other words "Mise!  Mise! Quickly!  Quickly!"  as my chef would say.  

He also circled the loaves I shaped so I could see how mine differed from his when they were baked the next day.  Sadly, I was off my shift the next day before they came out of the oven.  

I'm working with him tomorrow.  I'm bringing a little notebook so I can take notes and draw pictures.  

When I came home from training with him I was overwhelmed and doubting my ability.  But, one day isn't going to decide if I can do the bread baking.  And it's something I really WANT to be good at, which makes me think I'm not going to be able to be good at it.  Why do I think that?  Hell, I don't know, that's why I'm in therapy.  

The bread baking from scratch is going to take practice with both organizing and working with the dough. 

However, when I was making donuts and putting pre-shaped cookie dough on sheet pans, I was VERY organized.  I had the box of dough circles on my right, parchment paper on my left, the sheet pans in front of me and the rack where I'd be placing them right next to me, far enough away that I could just turn at the waist and rack them up.  I'd been told to place 48 on a sheet pan. So, six across then eight across, fill in the grid.  Rack it up.  Parchment on the sheet pan, six across then eight across, fill in the grid. Rack it up. Repeat.  Snickerdoodles are sugar cookies dredged in cinnamon and sugar.  Box of sweet stuff next to my sheet pants.  Count 48 into the box, shake it up, six across then eight across, fill in the grid.  

When I came home yesterday I was SORE, mostly from putting boxes in the freezer and cooler.  The fact that I was sore and tired made me worried.  But I'm going to worry no matter what.  

I have today off.  I will spend it getting something to read at Half Price Books and going to see a movie with the gift card I received from my aunt and uncle for Christmas.  

Tomorrow, I go back and make bread some more.  Here's to hoping I'll get the "Si, bueno" at least once.  

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  A baby washcloth is great for exfoliating your face.  Use gentle pressure and don't forget to get under your chin.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Back in the saddle! Hang on tight!

I got a paying job! 

Culinary school:  completed with a 4.3 GPA on a 5.0 scale!

Externship:  400 hours completed!  Very positive reference obtained!  Many thanks to the cool boss at the cupcakery for taking me on! 

Employment in my field:  secured!

Go me!

Can I just say that starting a third career at the age of 40 is nerve wracking?  I was the oldest in my culinary class by 10 years.  In most cases, I was old enough to have given birth to my classmates.  I said this a lot, usually shaking my finger at the person I was talking to while saying "I'm old enough to be your mom!"

And I have children. I didn't have the freedom to go work nights at any of the fancy schmancy places downtown for my externship.  I needed morning hours for the two mornings I had available to me to actually work.  Luckily, I found a mentor in the owner of the bakery where I worked for free making cupcakes and icings 2 mornings a week. 

I was able to parlay my experience at the bakery and my schooling into a job offer with an upscale grocery store.  I'll be in the bakery, making all the fresh baked yummies you see.  Breads, donuts, muffins, cookies, danishes, bagels and all those good things. 

When I received the call from the regional recruiter, she emphasized that the bakery position required time management skills and it was physical work.  Lifting bags of flour, working with huge mixers, deep frying donuts on a big scale were all things mentioned.  I said I'd still like to come in and interview.

At the interview, it was again stressed that there was a timetable to be followed, time to be managed, problems to be solved.  I said I'd like to give it my best try. 

The next day, the recruiter called again with a sad tone to her voice.  My phone's earpiece doesn't work anymore, I have to put my calls on speaker.  I did that and went into my bedroom where I could hear.  Based on her tone of voice, so apologetic, I shook my head at The Husband mouthing "I didn't get it." 

Then she told me they wanted to go ahead with hiring me.  I said "Fantastic!"

In her sad voice she asked me how I'd felt after the interview.

"Well, I felt like it went well.  I did all that second guessing that everyone does after a job interview, wondering if I should have answered questions differently and stuff like that. But I felt fine."  I answered.

"You weren't scared?"  she asked.

"Um, no.  I think it was a realistic representation of what I should expect." 

"Okay. Well, maybe they're trying to make it sound worse than it is so when you get there you'll be surprised that it's easier." 

Since I was hired so close to the end of the year, the process of getting me in for training took three weeks.  Which brings me to a start date of this coming Monday. 

At 2 a.m.

Yep, I'm a baker, I work baker's hours.  2 a.m.-10:30 a.m., 3 a.m. - 11:30 a.m and 4 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. are the hours I'm going to be working the majority of the time.  It's full time, which is going to be a HUGE financial change for us.  But I'm going to be T-I-R-E-D for the month of January. 

Once I can get my sleep schedule worked out it'll be better, but the first 4-6 weeks will be rough.

Being the smart cookie I am, I looked up the health hazards of shift work.  Did you know there are health hazards associated with shift work?  There are.  These include increased risk of breast cancer, sleep disorders, headaches, stress and increased appetite.  These won't be too much of a worry, other than me getting myself onto the new schedule, since I won't be on rotating shift work.  (going from graveyard to swing to days to graveyard to swing to days)  It would appear that exposure to sunlight and lack of melatonin are going to be the things I need to be concerned with.  And I'll need to make sure I have proteins in the mornings. 

I'm excited to be starting something new and I'm scared to death.  Excited because I'm glad to be bringing some money in after almost 12 years of being a stay at home mom.  And scared because it's new and I'm a little nervous about the picture they painted for me.  What if I can't keep up?  What if I can't pick stuff up?  What if I destroy an entire batch of something?  Oh noes!  I'll get fired!  I'll have to hand over my paycheck to cover the damage!  AAAAHHHH!!!

Again, Shel Silverstein's whatifs strike. You can read the poem here....

There's also the issue of when The Husband and I will be able to spend time together.  It's going to have to be scheduled because I'll be going to bed when the kids do, if not before.  Melatonin is going to be my friend for awhile. 

One other thing is concerning me.  We're going to have to get used to living in filth.  Since I won't be home to make my feeble attempts to pick up after everyone, this place is going to just fall into ruin.  Laundry won't get done, dishes will stay dirty and the dog hair will collect in drifts along the base boards.  I'm not looking forward to it, but I may need to let it go until the family decides they don't like it and will pitch in with the chores.  Yes, I can force the children, but I may not have the energy to make that happen.  Even bribing them with allowance doesn't help.  They'd prefer to be poor and lazy instead of having discretionary cash and doing chores. 

It's going to be great.  I'm going to do well in my new place of employment.  The money will allow us to take a big breath and get things taken care of we've had to put off due to lack of funds.

Meanwhile, I'm going to paint while I can.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  The cold weather and the dry air caused by central heating is going to dry out your skin.  If you have dry skin, use a moisturizer.  If you have problem skin that breaks out with a moisturizer, step up your exfoliation.  And drink more water!  You'll need it.