Friday, January 27, 2006

Waiting for Gingercat

Today is the day Richard comes down to see where I live for the first time. Circumstances have dictated that I drive up there rather than vice versa -- I have the more flexible schedule, being an academic, and I have fewer evening and Sunday committments to work around. (I also think I like distance driving more than Richard does, but that's just a speculation). I have to admit that I am a little nervous because he's never met my cats nor seen my house.

We have somewhat differing styles of home decoration, which will have to be reconciled when we end up living in the same space. Luckily, I think there's enough overlap that we can reconcile these -- but he's going to be looking at a lot of rose-festooned wallpaper borders and cool pastels (summer palette) in the short run. My observation of his apartment: he favors a winter palette (bolder colors like black and red) and Chinese motifs. I think we're going to have to change the wallpaper border, at least in the living room.

The last male to comment on my house decor was someone I used to date (he doesn't really qualify as an ex-boyfriend, it was so casual) who said it "wasn't bad for having flowers all over the place." But his notion of style was Southwestern patterns and a preoccupation with bull terriers...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Introducing myself

I'm the Lauren, AKA Cheshirekitty, that Richard has been talking about ... If that doesn't answer enough questions, let me try for a few more answers:

1) I'm 42 years old, but I think I'm young for my age.
2) I am an associate professor at a small regional Midwestern college, but can be exceedingly silly at times.
3) I would have to live to be 224 to learn and experience all the things I want to in life.
4) I am owned by three cats: Opalina (the geriatric passive-aggressive tortie-tabby), Kitty Kitty Kitty-Kitty (the aggressively friendly odd-eyed white), and Stinkerbelle (the little monster).
5) I would like to have coffee and chocolate officially accepted by the American Dietetics Association as food groups.
6) My love of good food wars with my desire to be thinner than I am, so I struggle with maintaining my weight. I work on feeling beautiful no matter what my weight is, which sometimes is harder than other times.
7) My favorite relationship philosophy: "20 Dos and Don'ts of a Functional Relationship" by Eve Bernshaw:
Hi everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Changes ...

Hi all ... with my impending nuptuals a year away, Lauren and I have decided to consolidate our blogs into one spot. The link to her LiveJournal blog will remain, but we'll post here moving forward.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How Windy Was It?

I know ... sounds like the set up for a Johnny Carson joke. How windy was it today? In some places, it got up to 60 MPH winds. Windy enough that a weather advisory was called. Windy enough that trash cans and branches were scattered. Windy enough that a revolving door I was going into broke when a strong gust pushed one of the panels (the one behind me), about four foot forward, briefly trapping me until the door guard at the drs. office got the panel in front of me pulled forward so I could get inside the building.

Now that's windy.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Good Weekend

It's been a pretty good weekend. Lauren came down Friday afternoon and I took a couple of hours off work (having Lauren along helped when I asked the boss). Yeah, it cost me a couple hours of vacation, which will cost me a little bit of money in vacation cash-out. But right now, the time off and time spent with her is much more valuable.

Anyway, I'm hoping to spend next weekend down in Maryville, which, unless a job prospect pans out here, will turn out to be a scouting trip for how we're going to combine the contents of two households together. In my case, a lot of what I have is books and bookcases, and as for the rest ... we'll find a way to make it fit.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Remaining Hopeful

I was telling a former boss yesterday that the hardest part about being laid off was that I've generally been employable. This is the first time that I've been involuntarily unemployed, and I've only been voluntarily unemployed once (and that was for about a month and a half when I moved up to Des Moines and finished graduate school). I got a part-time job at a Waldenbooks, then got hired by my current company, and have been steadily employed ever since, so with one interruption, I've been employed since 1994 (12 years).

Is being laid off a shock to the psyche? Yes, it is, and there's small comfort in knowing that I'm not alone at my company.

So now the question is: where do I go from here? I've got skills, talent, and knowledge. I just have to find the right opportunity.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Honking Like a Lame Duck

One thing I've struggled with over the last couple of days is feeling like a lame duck. I think I need to simply get over it. I've got job applications out (8, up from 5), and perhaps it's time to look at this situation as the opportunity to find a new challenge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

And The Beat Goes On ...

Today came out a bit like yesterday. Found one more job prospect, applied for it, now I wait and cross my fingers. And pray I get a good result from it or any of the other five job apps I have out now.

I spent a chunk of this evening helping out one of the cubicle mates being let go, by helping her clean up her resume prior to an interview for an internal, customer service rep job which will let her stay with the company and keep her benefits if she gets it. It made me feel a little like being on a sinking ship and helping someone into a lifeboat, wondering "who the heck (besides my fiancee) is going to help me?"

Ah well ... at least if she gets the job, I'll get a free dinner out of it. And then I'll get her workload until it's my turn to bow out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

That Lame Duck Feeling ...

Today was the first day back at work following the layoff announcement. There were a few items to take care of, but the day seemed to go by rather quickly ... a blessing, in and of itself, I guess. I told my fiancee, who does a three-day breast cancer fundraiser walk in KC, that I feel a little like she must have felt when she finished the walk: "tired, exhausted, and wondering 'what next'?".

The insurance industry is a very tightly competitive market these days, and while my company has put up a good fight, it simply doesn't have what it takes in financial resources, nor is it taking in what it should in revenues, to compete with the larger companies. I suspect that it's only a matter of time before a major chunk of my soon to be former department coworkers are eventually let go when the systems they support are eventually outsourced ... you can see the signs already.

In retrospect, perhaps it's good that I'm being cut loose now. I suspect that the troubles for my soon to be former company are just beginning; despite the company's stock price being 20 points above where it was when I first started here, the belt tightening has continued for the last few years and will probably continue long after I'm gone in terms of consolidations and staff reductions. For me, I hope that I can simply find a job that I enjoy, where I can use my skills to their fullest, and where I don't have to take a cut in income.

Monday, January 16, 2006

And The Search Begins ...

I spent today home from work (the soon to be expired job), some of it on the phone with my family, some of it checking out job listings from friends, some of it finishing the draft of a curriculum vitae (or CV), i.e., an academic version of a resume, and drafting cover letters. Lauren's been very supportive through all of this (thank God for that; I don't know if I could have faced this alone); she came up this past weekend and stayed through this afternoon. We went for some long walks ... her parents came down from Illinois and took us to dinner Friday night to celebrate.

Today we set a date for our wedding.

Tomorrow, I do more polishing on my work portfolio, put out a few more resumes. Offer up some prayers. Hope that out of all of this, the fear, uncertainty, and doubt subsides, and that something good turns up.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pictures From Christmas ...

And here's some pictures from Christmas in Illinois with Lauren and me opening gifts ... more pics coming on CD, to be posted later.

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times ...

Hi everyone,

This was one of those weeks where it once again proved how quickly life can change on you. In the really good, life-altering/changing news, I'm now officially engaged. I've only told a few friends and family, and we haven't set a date yet.

In the not so good news, Friday (the 13th no less), myself and two coworkers in my workgroup were called into a meeting at HR and told that, due to a business decision (i.e., a need for more project managers, and no other money available to hire them), that the three of us were being terminated as of March 10th. It wasn't a case of work performance, but a case where they needed the warm bodies, and we got sacrificed as a result. Reactions ranged from shock to "nice while it lasted", and I immediately started shipping my resume out online, and checked off with my internal and external contacts to see what jobs were out there. I'd kinda been expecting this since October.

They're giving us decent severence packages, and at least giving us a few months to prepare, rather than giving us the boot immediately. I'll likely survive, and it may open up new options for Lauren and myself in terms of living together, but now I'm worried about the two coworkers, who weren't prepared for the situation, are now scrambling, and who both have (or will have, after this year), have kids in college.

I hope we all find good places to land.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Where I've Been ...

Hi everyone,

Quite a few of my friends have asked me why I haven't updated my blog in the last few months (since mid-September), and a lot of it has been due to changes in my life ... some positive, some needing a bit of my time and effort to address ....

On the "needing a bit of my time and effort to address" side, let's just say that there was some unpleasantness at my current job, which put me in an uncomfortable position and forced me to look at my career options. That's as far as I want to go with that description, given that other people read this, some of whom may be coworkers, and I want to stay on good terms with them, regardless of what happens.

For the positive changes ... let's just say that since the holidays, I've been seriously involved in a long-distance relationship with a wonderful woman named Lauren (see the pic) ; we've hit it off very well, and I've already met her parents over Christmas in Illinois (and they and the rest of her family likes me ... yay!). We're looking at our long-term options for now. I'd say more, but as she hasn't met my side of the family yet, there's something I have to hold off on saying until then. Suffice it to say that it is serious between us, and I love her. We even have pet names for each other: I'm her Gingercat (because of my playful nature) and she's my Cheshirekitty (because of her smile) ... (yeah, I know, it's hokey ... so there). I've included a link to her blog at the side (she hasn't updated hers either, but that's because we've been spending a lot of weekends together as of late, as well as the holidays).

So that's what's new with me ... it's been an eventful couple of months. I'll write more as I know (or can reveal) more ....