Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reflections on leaving

Just had my last day at work at the company I've been with for over ten years. Here are some thoughts.

There's always a small part of you when leaving something you loved that's still sort of glad to be done with certain things, of course. I had responsibilities and now I no longer have them, and my life is more of a clean slate than it was before. I'm in between jobs, so I don't have the duties of any career hanging over me (except for my writing stuff, of course--welp, I do need to get on that and send a manuscript I promised my agent, but I digress). That little bit is good.

Everything else is really sad and I miss it already.

I didn't "love" the work I did to the extent that I would have done it for free, but as far as jobs go, I think it's safe to say I loved my job.

The people I worked with were by and large incredible. I don't know if you can really understand where I'm coming from without some background, so here it is: I came into this job straight from six years in retail, where almost without exception I was disrespected by customers and management alike. Treated like my everyday goal was to slack off as much as possible even though I sometimes came in on my day off to make sure an inventory project was done or worked through my lunch hour. (Er, half hour.) Suspected of stealing from the company if we had a bad inventory and I'd been working there since the bad numbers started. Expected to prove I bought my coffee from the internal café by rubber banding it to the cup. Treated like I must be a liar if my metrics were high. Frequently gaslighted about my schedule (e.g., I'd write down my schedule, be off for two days, and get screamed at by someone who expected me to come in on a day I wasn't scheduled, refusing to acknowledge that someone must have changed the schedule after posting it even though doing so was against policy). I came from that to a job where I was treated fairly. I never stopped appreciating it.

My principal was patient and kind. He listened if I had a problem and provided resolutions above and beyond what I could have ever expected. My co-workers assigned my tasks without it ever feeling like being ordered around--almost as if my duties were favors I was doing for them instead of work I was paid for. I was appreciated and thanked. I was included in financial rewards like bonuses and invited to company gatherings. I was given very good benefits, including company stock. And I felt like my work was meaningful, because I was relied upon for many things the others didn't or couldn't do themselves. These were people I wanted to help, and it wasn't just because I was rewarded with very good pay. I received basic trust and respect. That goes so long for someone like me.

My co-workers even got me a pie when I got a book deal.

And today, on my last day, they also got me a pie.

My bye pie.

Jerry cutting the bye pie.
Brian and me trying to eat the pie with giant forks.

I have high hopes for the future for my next employment opportunities, but at this point it's so hard to imagine I'll ever work someplace better. I hope I get to see them again soon. (You know, when they can't figure out how to get a document to print, have trouble locating a file, or need a FedEx made out.)


I thought I'd share for posterity the thoughts I wrote down in a journal on the day I first interviewed for this job. Enjoy.

I think it went well! I was on time, and the first person I talked to was the principal, who was very friendly and talked a lot about the company to me. He told me all about it and about some of the company's strong points and all that. Then he made it more personal and told me about my role--I was interviewing for an administrative assistant position. Basically it turns out I take the clerical and organizational tasks off his hands as much as possible and do things like order supplies, manage filing, schedule stuff, you know. Also I have to try to edit, proofread, and otherwise spruce up their proposals so that the company gets granted work to do instead of the companies giving it to their competitors.

It's a small cozy office. Only about 8 to 10 people work there (depending on what you mean by "work there"), but only about 6 are on the premises at any one time, and they are very quiet. (Hey, they're transportation engineers, what do you expect?) After the women who are currently filling in for "my" position are finished showing me the ropes and training me, well . . . I'll be the only girl in the place.

Not surprising, actually.

The principal then introduced me to some co-workers and THEY all talked to me for a while. One of them was his partner for many years and he had a very disorganized office. Hehehe. And then he went and told me, like, the same things that the principal had told me. Next I got to meet another guy who's not really an engineer but he works as one. (That's what he said.) He used to be in government. He said that he hoped that such a silent workplace wouldn't make me want to shoot myself in the head. Hehehe.

I really hope I get the job because it seems like something I could do AND it pays well (AT LEAST five bucks more an hour than I made at BAM, and that was the low end!), and the people were so friendly. The previous administrative assistant was very organized and before she left she made a list of things her position is supposed to take care of, and that is awesome because that's exactly what I did when I left the kids' specialist position! They had a little kitcheny room with some sweets and real coffee in there. I worked at a bookstore with a café and we didn't get free coffee. Here they have a coffee machine. Ahhhhh. The only thing that sucked about that was someone walked by eating cinnamon buns and my face felt all scratchy. (If you didn't know, I'm allergic to cinnamon, or at least really intolerant.)

I guess they have a couple more people to interview and then I'll know by Friday. I'll update then for sure. :) I hope it's with good news. . . .

[Spoiler: It was good news. For over a decade.]


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: January 21 – January 27

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday I had Drink and Draw! I scurried like a bunny to get everything I needed to do done before heading out, and then the night was pretty nice. I got to see Victor there and receive some more birthday presents, and I got to see Joy and Eric and some others. I drew a webcomic and some fan art.
  • Sunday I got up and started two fights on my phone before I got out of bed, and later finished one of them. (The other person didn't even try to come back at me after that.) Then I did some karaoke, practiced ukulele, and spent a bunch of the day trying to get a good recording of a song that was really hard for me. I goofed off a lot except for submitting a couple job applications and doing laundry. And I drew a new piece of fan art on a whim.
  • Monday I had a phone interview for a position that sounded pretty good. After it was over, I went to the office and things really started happening. I worked on a report and some binding stuff, and my mom picked me up to help me get my stuff home since we are closing down the office. We hung out and chatted and I helped her with roommate stuff. (She's looking for someone to rent her spare bedroom.)
  • Tuesday the remaining four members of the Tampa office went out for a last lunch together. We ate at Gino's and they tried to talk me into drinking wine but I did not do it. Then I boxed some things up and did more report stuff afterwards. Then I went grocery shopping, had some dinner, and called my agent. Michelle and I had a little chat and she said she wants to see a couple of the books I talked about so I guess I gotta get them ready. (I'm a writer sometimes, who'da thunk?)
  • Wednesday I had to go to the office early to help really get the gears turning for closing down. The corporate secretary from California was there and she is really amazing at getting things done fast! We got so much packed up or thrown out. Then I met Jeaux at Panera and we had some good food and watched Crazyhead on Netflix. We completed the series. Then I called my mom and we chatted a little while I drew.
  • Thursday was the last full day in the office. My last coffee, my last task on the work computer, my last bike trip to the good old building. Sigh. I didn't help with the tasks very much because I was still trying to do clerical stuff for Jerry! But I did help with a few things. It was a weird and sad day. My mom came to my house after and picked up some renter applications, and after she left I drew webcomics and talked to Victor on the phone.
  • Friday I biked to my boss's temporary office space for the first time. It's nice, but it's a closet! I helped unpack some supplies and chatted with the computer guy who was trying to get the Internet working. And I got to eat a donut. :] After I helped with that a while, I went back to the old office and helped finish up packing and tossing stuff, and it took way longer than I expected! I also changed the business's address. And I got to take my computer home, plus a bunch of supplies nobody wanted! My boss drove me home so I could get it in my place. I had a bunch of boxes and computer stuff clogging up the living room but it's okay. I finished my comics and went to bed.
    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: Nothing--I'm preoccupied, sorry.
    • Currently reading: Fluke by Christopher Moore.
      New singing performances:

      This week's performance was "Caramel" by Suzanne Vega.

      New drawings: 

      Fan art: Opal and Garnet. It's very funny to see someone
      as tall as Garnet get called "shorty" by a giant woman. So laugh, will ya?

      Webcomic So You Write Issue 68: "Original."

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0611: "Basic Respect."

      New videos:

      My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Strong in the Real Way" from Steven Universe.

      New photos:

      Wearing the visor Victor made me. I have suddenly become the coolest person in the world.
      Eric wearing my visor. With wine. Wine glasses? HAW HAW!
      They had this banner up at Drink and Draw.
      Look at all our junk.
      Ready to go. . . .
      What a shambles.
      Me eating a sad cookie in the aftermath of the office pack.

      Social Media counts:
      YouTube subscribers: 5,307 for swankivy (1 new), 614 for JulieSondra (lost 4). Twitter followers: 856 for swankivy (lost 6), 1,329 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 204 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 652 likes for JulieSondra (2 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,499 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 102 (lost 1).

      Wednesday, January 25, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Hate and Love

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's something you hate that everyone hates? What's something you love that everyone hates? What's something you hate that everyone loves? What's something you love that everyone loves?

      Hello. . . .

      I hate / everyone hates:

      MOVING, probably. Almost everyone hates moving. Packing, humping the stuff to a new place, unpacking . . . I don't know too many people that like moving, though I guess there are exceptions.

      I hate / everyone loves: 

      I guess drinking. Obviously not "everyone" loves drinking but I do not care for alcohol. I have no policy against it and I have no reason built into my past or my family to hate it. I'll drink a little here and there if it's, like, someone left wine in my fridge or there's a toast at a gathering. But I generally don't deliberately engage in drinking and won't order it at a restaurant or anything. People seem to think this is super bizarre. I just went to a party for the end of our office at work and two of the folks there were urging me to get a drink and quizzing me about why I don't like it. I just . . . don't really like the taste and don't like how I feel if I drink. That's really it. (Plus it's expensive, not great for your health, and high calorie, so it's not like there's any good reason to do it if you aren't enjoying it.)

      I love / everyone hates: 

      Hot days. Especially in Florida everyone complains about the heat, about burning up, about overheating, about sweating. I don't really have those problems because my tolerance for heat is SO high (while my tolerance for cold is laughable). So I really like nearly 100ºF weather in Florida where the air is practically liquid, or at least I don't really mind it. (Not a fan of exercising in it, but I love the cozy feeling of hot suffocating air. Yeah, I'm weird.)

      I love / everyone loves: 



      Tuesday, January 24, 2017

      Birthday Gifts

      So I know a few of the birthday gifts I'm going to receive have not yet arrived! But I'm still doing a birthday post and I guess I will do a cute little follow-up sometime when I get those, whenever they come.

      Speaking of which, let's do the follow-up on my holiday gifts that I received after I did my holiday gifts post.

      For the holidays:

      Gift from Fred: A music note shirt.
      Gift from Victor: a necklace.
      Another gift from Victor: Sandman graphic novels.

      Yet another gift from Victor: handmade gauntlets. Who wants punchin'?

      And now for the presents sent to me for my birthday:

      Presents from Dad: A faeries encyclopedia, a Steven Universe drinking glass,
      and some CDs of the Mamas and the Papas and Fleetwood Mac.
      Present from Eric: The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For.
      Presents from Jeaux: Not one but TWO Steven Universe LED watches.
      Card from Kari: Illustration of Peridot, with a magnet of Peridot's head.
      If for some reason you are a freak and are not watching Steven Universe,
      Peridot is a character on Steven Universe.
      (Steven Universe.)
      Present from Ronni: A bank shaped like Lion.
      (From Steven Universe.)
      Presents from Victor: Handmade visor to make me the coolest person in the universe,
      Sandman graphic novel, and playing cards with a Steven Universe design.
      More presents from Victor: Two more Sandman graphic novels,
      a talking Yoda head, and a necklace (I'm wearing it).
      Present from my boss: Cake.
      I also received a SingSnap annual membership from my mommy!

      I've been notified of a few other presents so I'll look forward to being surprised. :)

      Saturday, January 21, 2017

      Personal Digest Saturday: January 14 – January 20

      Life news this week: 
      • Saturday was spent with Meghan all day since she was in town for our birthdays. We hung around the house in the morning eating homemade waffles, and then later we went to the mall to see the movie Hidden Figures (which was amazing, by the way). We had dinner at Johnny Rocket's (they had a veggie burger there for me!) and bought shoes. And then at home we just hung out and chatted.
      • Sunday Meg had to get something on her car fixed so she was gone for part of the day. I made music while she was gone. Then when she got back we had fake chicken sandwiches, made a video for my asexuality channel (which I'll post next month), ate Cookie Cats, and made a cake for ourselves. The cake was tasty! And then we of course did more yakking and chilling.
      • Monday Meg had to go back home and I had to go back to work. I had a bunch of graphics work to do so I couldn't do a lot of the wrap-up stuff I had been trying to get to. I went grocery shopping on the way home, fell asleep early, and got up in the middle of the night for a wee-hours rush of productivity before going back to sleep again.
      • Tuesday was my birthday. I'm 39! I wore my Cookie Cat dress to work for fun. Jeaux came over during the work day and gave me a slice of cheesecake and a new watch as a gift, and then like five minutes later my boss came in with a chocolate cake, so I had two cakes at the same time! When I went home, Mom came over and took me out to eat at Best NY Pizza, where I got a pizza and she got a sandwich. We hung out and I opened a bunch of other presents at home, and after she left I did some reading and played around on the Internet.
      • Wednesday I got a phone call in the morning from a staffing agency that liked my profile and wanted me to sign up with them, so I made an appointment. At work I did more graphics stuff and then met up with Jeaux for Jeaux Day. He gave me another watch that was almost identical to the first watch, LOL! We ate at IHOP and watched two more episodes of the series Crazyhead, which is turning out to be good. After he left I read the rest of the book I was reading.
      • Thursday I went to the staffing agency in the morning and did the prep work for that, and then went to my current job to bust out some graphics. When I got home I had to do a typing and computer knowledge assessment online for the staffing agency, and then I chatted to Victor while drawing my comic.
      • Friday the staffing agency called me again and apparently my test scores were kind of ridiculous (I do type very fast, and got perfect scores on accuracy and spelling/grammar stuff, with only a couple items missed on the computer knowledge test), and I was told there's a place that wants to interview me. We scheduled a phone interview that was supposed to be the same day but got postponed 'til Monday. I spent the whole day at the office by myself making a file for helping my boss be able to work without me when we close, and I packed up some stuff too (but I'm nowhere NEAR done). I went home, talked to Mommy while finishing my webcomic, and relaxed a little.
        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week's performance was "All of Me" by John Legend.

          New drawings: 

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0610: "Always Yelling."

          New videos:

          My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Hands Clean" by Alanis Morissette.

          New photos:

          Cookie Cat time!
          Consumption in progress.
          Some birthday nerds excited about a cake.
          Maybe a li'l too excited?
          My birthday outfit: Cookie Cat dress.
          Two cakes??
          Cake Selfie at the office.
          "Back Together" shirt.
          Empty to-do files. ;(

          And the haircut comparison photos:

          Front, February 2014
          Front, January 2017
          Back, February 2014
          Back, January 2017

          Social Media counts:
          YouTube subscribers: 5,306 for swankivy (lost 3), 618 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 862 for swankivy (5 new), 1,327 for JulieSondra (lost 3). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 205 followers (no change) for swankivy, 650 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,500 (5 new). Instagram followers: 103 (2 new).

          Wednesday, January 18, 2017

          Wednesday Factoid: Box Tops

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Have you ever collected box tops for a program (or anything similar)?

          Hm, when I was a kid I think I collected some kind of cereal points for some reason, but I don't even remember what the program was. I did collect some box tops for an offer to get a stopwatch, that's not really the same as what this question is asking, I don't think. 

          The closest I can think of is that I collect bottle caps from Coke products and I enter the codes into a website so I can redeem the points for a variety of gifts in a catalog. Mostly I just turn them in for bookstore gift certificates. It's pretty nice (even though it's a little annoying to plug those codes in), because if you're going to be drinking the soda anyway you might as well get some free stuff if they're offering it!


          Tuesday, January 17, 2017

          Last thirty-something birthday!

          Woo-hoo! I'm 39 today, and it's my last year as a thirty-something.

          Like, I don't care?

          People kind of expect you to start having crises about your life when you're my age. I guess you're "supposed to" have crises right on schedule when you hit your thirties or something.

          I had Meghan over for the weekend before my birthday. Her birthday is two days after mine so we usually celebrate together.

          We decided to make a video together that vaguely relates to my usual asexuality subject but also discussed friendship and relationships. (I'll edit that and post it probably sometime next month, but my camera takes still photos while making videos, so I have some cute shots.)

          We kinda talked about this whole "expected at your age" phenomenon. We are both regularly treated like we're "not adults" or something because of our interests and our values--neither of us drink, both of us like cartoons, I don't drive, she's obsessed with going to Disney World, etc.--and it's also been suggested that our friendship is childish because it matters to us. I guess women are expected to have other woman friends and maybe you have a girls' night out or a cards club and you drink wine and chat about men, but when you're like me and your friendships are the only thing you have relationship-wise, you're still expected to put relationships like mine with Meggie on the back burner in favor of finding a primary partner. And that is always supposed to be your priority--your family, based around your (probable) husband. Not having that and "just" having friends is childish.

          And I've never cared what people think about that either.

          Maybe I'm not as rattled by getting older because I've never done what I'm "supposed to" in reference to my age and I feel that expectations seeking to limit what I can do just based on my age are more or less arbitrary. If two fortyish ladies want to spend their birthdays geeking out about cartoons, eating ice cream sandwiches, and having heart-to-hearts (plus a little shopping, I mean we literally did go to the mall and buy shoes like Women Are Supposed To), we should be able to do that without feeling like we did something inappropriate.

          I don't think this is all that unusual, of course. Plenty of people have relationships that aren't what the media tells us our relationships should be like. But the fact that Meggie and I have encountered opinions like "still? You're still hanging out with that girl you knew in high school?" and "What do you even still have to talk about?" makes me think our friendship is kind of an outlier. We are expected to dive into our (singular) Primary Relationship and more or less devote ourselves to the family that will grow from that, and that (with our career if we have one) is supposed to fill you up. Friends are treated like something you do, like going to a concert or scheduling a meeting. They're not supposed to be as fundamental to your identity and your lifestyle as they are when, say, you're a teenager. 

          And maybe that's why so many people see my relationship with my ~friends~ as childish and like to throw "but [person] is just a friend, right?" into conversations. "Friend" always has "just" in front of it for them. So they can't imagine that it could be otherwise for someone who doesn't have primary relationships, or even for someone who does like Meggie. She's married with children and works very hard as a nurse. And our relationship is as important to her as it's ever been, even though we met at my sixteenth birthday party.

          I rarely see maturity being discussed outside of a prescriptive sense. It's gotten so I don't even know what maturity means. Surely it can't be based on self-sufficience, because even though I used to think that was part of it, I understand now that many people who can't or don't take care of themselves can be mature. Surely it can't be based on "leaving childish things behind," because even though I'm interested in many things I've either liked since I was a child or presently like even though they're primarily made with children in mind, these interests do not depend on being childish or actively cause me to be childish. Surely it can't be based on financial or professional success, because plenty of people who do not achieve those things are mature. I think that I have matured since I first met Meghan, but the direction in which I grew did not require me to move away from her or leave her behind just because I was less mature when I formed a bond with her. It's disappointing to hear people conceptualizing some of my choices as if they indicate immaturity and lack of capability, and to be honest I doubt the maturity of anyone who weaponizes its definition to shame people into giving up what they love in the name of a perceived rite of passage.

          There are certain prescribed ways for adults to let their hair down, and many of them involve alcohol, risky behavior, sex, gambling, or relatively expensive hobbies. There are a few "adult" celebrations I can get behind and find enjoyable, like having a relaxing beach vacation or going on a sightseeing road trip. But to be honest I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than at home in a comfortable space hanging out doodling and talking about nerdy things and enjoying our homemade cake.

          Off to enjoy the last year of writing my age with a 3 at the beginning. :)

          Saturday, January 14, 2017

          Personal Digest Saturday: January 7 – January 13

          Life news this week: 
          • Saturday Victor had slept over so we got up and had some coffee, and Victor ate a Cookie Cat from my freezer! He finally got to have one. :) After he left, Eric came over and we went to the flea market together, then had some coffee and snacks at a café and went back to my place to watch cartoons. Yay! It was a really good day and I also drew a picture.
          • Sunday I woke up when I wanted and mostly spent the day doing music stuff. Once I'd done my recordings and video editing I just did laundry and watched YouTube stuff.
          • Monday I had a phone interview with a real estate company in the morning before work! That seemed to go really well. Then I went to work and did grocery shopping after, and just kinda lounged around at home afterwards.
          • Tuesday I found out I got a second interview at the place I interviewed with on the phone, so that was cool. I spent the evening making a video for my asexuality channel and submitted some feedback for stuff I had bought on eBay and Etsy.
          • Wednesday I got called into work early to help with some data that wouldn't download properly, so I worked a long day because I still left at the usual time. Jeaux and I ate at Five Guys and watched one episode of a show called Crazyheads which was pretty good. After he left I made my plans for my Thursday interview.
          • Thursday I took off my current job to go interview at a potential new one. I took Uber to the meeting, got there early enough to hang out in the area a while, and had a really good time at the interview--I'm sure that if I'm picked to fill the position I can get along with the people I'd be supporting, and the job sounds similar enough to the one I'm leaving that I could do it without much stress. (The location of the office and the longer hours aren't as nice, but what can ya do?) I went home on the bus to see how long it takes, and got some reading time in. I can't believe I didn't get lost at all. After that I had my mom over for biscuits and eggs. I told her about what went on at the interview and we chatted a while, and then after she left I talked to Victor and drew my webcomic.
          • Friday I had to help my boss with graphics all day, with a little break when our traffic counter Yasmin came in to sign some stuff. Then I went home and processed my webcomic while hanging out with Meghan! She's in town for our birthdays. We chilled and got Chinese food delivery, and just hung out yakking until we fell asleep.
            New reviews of my book:
            Reading progress:
            • Finished this week: Almost done with the one I'm reading, but not quite.
            • Currently reading: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.
              New singing performances:

              This week's performance was "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel.

              New drawings: 

              Pen doodle of Garnet that I did to celebrate 100 followers on my fan blog.

              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0609: "The Heart Finds a Way."

              New videos:

              My latest Letters to an Asexual video is #43, which is about good and bad book reviews.


              My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Something Entirely New" from Steven Universe.

              New photos:

              Victor eats a Cookie Cat while drinking
              coffee out of a Cookie Cat cup.
              Giant gauntlets Victor made for me for my holiday gift.
              Eric with a giant pan at the flea market.
              Me at work wearing my Mabel sweater.
              What I wore to my interview.

              Social Media counts:
              YouTube subscribers: 5,309 for swankivy (lost 9), 618 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 857 for swankivy (lost 2), 1,330 for JulieSondra (6 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 205 followers (lost 2) for swankivy, 649 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,495 (5 new). Instagram followers: 101 (no change).