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I am happy and bored but have no excuse to be bored because there's plenty to do, but oh wait I'm going to make an excuse anyway. My legs are so sore that it's impossible for me to bend over at all without extreme hamstring pain, so chores are kind of out of the question today.  Hopefully tomorrow...

I'm really psyched to start my new job -- both new jobs!  The Weight Watchers job seems a little slow to get going, but I'm making progress...apparently the person who is assigned to be my mentor has been on vacation, but she's back now, and she got in touch with me yesterday...but so far it's just been a few back and forth emails.  Nothing specific yet for training.  But the other new job starts on Monday, and I'll work the full week there to get all trained up.  It's a really small company -- I'm just the 7th employee.  It seems like a really chill atmosphere.  The owner is pretty cool from what I can tell.  I think I'm going to really like working for him.

I looked up the bike route to this place, and it's 10 miles.  I'm not entirely sure I'm up to that...but I'll give it a few test rides on non-work days to feel it out.  Google says it's an hour each way.  I wonder what level of biker Google uses.  Like, should I expect myself to be slower than that because I'm not that experienced as a bike commuter, or maybe faster than that because I'll have a good bike and I'm in good shape?  Hmm.  Anyway it's probably something I won't do every day anyway...but definitely worth trying.

My apartment is in desperate need of a thorough cleaning.  I just don't feel like it.  But every day I put it off, it gets a little worse, and bleh.  I need to fucking clean.  Even if it does hurt my legs.  Sigh.  Maybe I'll do a little bit now, and then take a break and do a little bit later...
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McKenzie is in Medford directing at the regional all week.  I stayed home for a few reasons.  First, I don't have a partner in Medford during the week anyway, and I'd rather be at home with not much to do than in Medford with not much to do.  It's a lot harder for me to stick to a good eating/exercise plan when I'm on the road, so that's a big part of it.  Second, I'm hoping to start doing some job training this week, and that means I need to be in the area probably, although it sounds like the first part of WW training I'll do is online.  Still waiting for details about that.  I keep getting emails from various managers saying "welcome aboard, so-and-so will contact you soon about training...) and the last one said I'd get a packet in the mail with details about online training, so...I don't really know what's next, but I am anxious to get on with it.  I'm also hoping to get an offer from one of the other jobs I interviewed for, and if I do, I could theoretically start this week.

I am going down to Medford for the weekend to compete in the Flight A GNT.  There are five of us on the team, so I'll be rotating partnerships with Chris and Laurie.  Chris has another team for the Superflight event, which he won yesterday, so if we do win this weekend, he won't be on our team in Philly.  I know a couple other members of the team are lukewarm at best on the Philadelphia thing, so while I love to win, it would be kind of a relief if we don't.  Playing in the GNT's adds basically a whole week to the time I have to take off from whatever job or jobs I will be working by then, and obviously I'd rather not do that, though both WW and my prospective employer have been pretty cool about it.  

This afternoon, I have a training session with Ertan.  Dude is killer and I'm still a little sore from our last one, but the results are amazing.  I'm so much more toned than I was before I started working with him, and way stronger.  I push myself harder when I'm not with him, too, though I have felt like I've plateaued a little bit lately.  Part of it is that I've been doing a lot of travel, and it's not a plateau so much as a yo-yo, where I backtrack a little bit while I'm away, and then catch up again when I get back.  I have a few weeks in a row here at home now, so I'm pushing to break through this wall.  In keeping with that goal, I signed up for another 5K.  It's a church-sponsored one, and the proceeds go to some ministry thing, which I'm not thrilled about, but it's a lot cheaper than the other one going on the same weekend, and I like the course a lot.  I have a bunch of friends on board to do it with me, too.  Look at me just fundraising for the church.

Tomorrow, I'm going out with Shanon and Lorie for some girl time, and that's really all I have on my schedule for now.  The apartment is a colossal mess, and I'm sure Z would appreciate it if I did something about that.  Shit, I would appreciate it if I did something about it!  But I don't wanna...
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I guess it's time to start figuring out my life...again :)

I still don't have all the necessary pieces of information, but I'm getting there.  I have one more job interview over the phone in a few minutes.  This is for a work-from-home customer service over the phone type deal.  On paper, it seems really great -- set your own hours, good pay -- but I'm sure there must be some sort of catch.  It's nice to already have the WW thing set, so that I can go into this with the proper amount of cynicism and without desperation.  If it turns out to actually sound decent, I'll give it a shot, though.  Looking around online for employee reviews of it yields mixed results.  It's definitely a legit job, and most people like the work from home aspect, but a lot of them say that management is shitty.  Those seem to be the folks who are doing this as a full-time job, though, and I'm not looking to do that, really.  Apparently the HQ is here in Portland but all the management is in India and they don't speak English very well and are very critical all the time.  I think I could live with that?  Like, it's not my main job/career, so I wouldn't take it too hard if they didn't like me?  Maybe?  

I also feel pretty confident about the office interview I had yesterday.  I know the owner liked me a lot, and even said I was definitely a top candidate, but he's worried that I'd be bored and would quit.  I sent him a note thanking him for the interview and assuring him that I do really want that position, so I hope I get that.  If I do, I won't take the phone support one, and if I don't, I'll probably make a push to go full-time at WW anyway.  The recruiters said it takes about 6 months to build up to f/t if that's what I want to do.  So, cool.  Options.  Once I know exactly how much I'll be working/earning, Z and I will rework our budget and I'll start thinking more seriously about houses.  We walked through my favorite neighborhood yesterday and I didn't see any for sale signs.  Just as well since I'm in no position to buy anything now, but I hope that some of them will be for sale when we are ready to make a purchase, because I'm pretty much married to the idea of living in that exact neighborhood.  Basically the same neighborhood I'm in now, except this is the part with houses instead of apartments.

And I want to get seahorses.
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Sitting in a hotel in Kennewick, WA today.  I'm spending the day applying for jobs and following up on the things I've already applied for.  Remembering what a deflating process this was last time around.  Somehow more optimistic this time, though.  I'm basically only applying for admin stuff, or things that pop up that I am definitely 100% qualified for.  I learned last time around that so many hundreds of people reply to each ad, that if I don't meet all the preferences the employer lists, I shouldn't even bother.  I also haven't written a standard cover letter for any of these.  If they ask for one, I don't stray too far from the traditional format, but generally I'm writing charming and funny introductions.  Who knows if they'll be received as intended, but it has to set me apart more than the "To whom it may concern, I am interested in this job because..."

I did get hired for a very temporary temp job next week -- two hours serving on a mock jury.  This could either be very interesting or very boring, but at worst it's just two hours of my life, and I'm getting paid for it, so, woo.
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Z and I are going to Billings, MT for the weekend.  He has a sectional there, and I am holding onto a thin strand of hope that I'll get a chance to play, but it seems unlikely at this point.  I don't know any players in that area and shockingly, no one wants to make the trip.  So I figure I'll romp around Montana while McKenzie works and it'll be all fine and dandy.  I just looked at the Billings forecast -- today and tomorrow are 80 and sunny, but Friday through Sunday they're calling for 40s and rain.  Figures.

I've spent some time today applying for jobs.  I'm pretty proud of the cover letters I wrote -- I'll be disappointed if I don't get any bites.  It may not matter, though.  I have another interview with WW tomorrow afternoon on the phone.  That job is basically at the top of the list for me, so if I get that, I won't worry about the others.  Why am I looking for a job again?  Sigh.  Freelancing is a world of empty promises, and my creditors don't take hypothetical checks.  I made a lot of plans for spring and summer based on certain expectations, and while the expectations proved wrong, the money is still spent or committed, so I need to come up with some way to pay for it all.  

Z went to the bank this morning to get small bills for change for the sectional, and the teller goofed and gave him an extra $400.  He didn't notice until he got home, and we had a long chat about it.  "We could really use this money right now...but we are good people, right?  That means we have to take it back...sigh."  When it's someone else, it's easy to say "you should take it back, of course."  But when it's you, and you really do need that money...doing the right thing is fucking hard.  But we did.  Because we're good people.

I got the good news that my tenant renewed her lease for another year, so the condo is basically still paying for itself.  If she hadn't renewed, I would have to really rethink my job situation and how casually I'm taking the hunt this time around.  

I turn 29 in two days, y'all.  I wonder if I'll stop getting excited about my birthday when I'm 30.  Probably not :)
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I gave my notice at my temp job last week.  My last day will be Friday the 6th.  I'll have a few days off at home to get my ducks in a row, and then I fly to Charlottesville to meet with the new owner of my old company and discuss the kind of work I will be doing for him.  I am thrilled with this turn of events, and excited to get back to what I do best.  

I've also added some bridge tournaments to my upcoming schedule, though I still need to line up partners.  I'm not interested in a grueling bridge schedule like I've had in years past, because I don't want to be juggling work and competition and stress about both.  But it seems as though my work obligations will start out, at least, on a part-time level, and I'd like to come back to bridge at about the same level of intensity.  I need a partner for the upcoming regional in Santa Clara, CA -- let me know if you are interested; I know I have a lot of bridge lurkers on this blog.

Anyway, things are good.  I have a three-day weekend, the Sugar Bowl is on the horizon, and I'm going to get to see my folks a lot sooner than I thought.  And then I'm going to motherfoxtrotting SOUTH AFRICA.  With JESS.  And Jess is AWESOME.  And we're going to have a BLAST. 
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Yay I have a job!  One that I want and not a fallback!  I have been posting mostly in locked entries about the job search, but now that I am officially employed, I'll open up a little more -- I had a job offer to do data entry for a shipping company yesterday.  The job was not exciting, but totally doable, and was my fallback.  Then today I interviewed with another company for a job I was really excited about, and they hired me!  This job involves a LOT of travel -- basically M-F every week, lots of overtime, too (yay, money).  I'll go all over the US, including Guam (Guam!).  It'll be crazy busy for a while, and no time for sightseeing, but I imagine I'll rack up a schload of miles and hotel awards, and I already have a plan for those...

They wouldn't give me the time off I needed to go to the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest with Jess next weekend, so I had to cancel on her for the second time this year -- I had to cancel a visit back in February, too.  I feel terrible about this, a) for backing out on my friend and b) because I really fucking wanted to hang out with said friend at said festival.  SO.  I've decided that with the miles I accrue from this job (it's just a 3-4 month assignment), I'm taking Jess on a trip.  I hope I get enough miles and points and such to go somewhere fucking awesome (hopefully Hawaii, 'cause she's never been and I so want to go back!).  I'm really excited about this plan :)

I'm also hopeful that this will turn into long-term employment.  It's through a temp agency for now, and the contract is just 3 or 4 months, but my interviewer said that there are in-house positions available when this assignment ends.  There would still be some travel, but not nearly as much.  So that's promising :)  It looked like a fun company -- lots of young people. 

So I'm going to Eugene tonight to spend the rest of the weekend at the regional with Z, and might just let myself do a little shopping while I'm down there if I don't line up any bridge partners.  I need some more pants.  For my new job!  Rah!
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My weekend in Seattle was a blast.  I was on a team of beta testers for this year's PuzzleHunt, which is a team puzzle-solving race that (mostly) Microsoft employees put on in the fall.  The puzzles were amazingly creative and I was absolutely humbled by the creativity that had to go into building the event.  The puzzle creators were there observing us most of the way, since it was a beta test and they were trying to figure out what they need to change before the real event.  Some of the puzzles were frustratingly hard, but it was SO REWARDING every time we made progress on them.  I really hope I can do more events like this in the future because it was SO MUCH FUN.

I'm back to real life in Portland for all of one day before I head east for Falcon Ridge.  I haven't done any packing at all, so I guess that's what I need to do today.  I had two appointments scheduled for today -- a 2pm job interview and a 4pm appointment with a new therapist.  I got a call at 8am from the company that was going to interview me saying that they filled the position over the weekend, but were going to keep my resume on file because they think they'll be hiring for a writing job soon.  But no interview today.  So...bummer.  This job hunt is the suck.  Progress is so slow and it's just so very frustrating.  I really had hoped to have something lined up before I left for Falcon Ridge, but that seems unlikely.  Oh well -- FRFF will be a welcome escape, and hopefully will recharge me for the hunt when I get back.
Today's agenda now looks like this:
Send out a million more resumes
Pack for Falcon Ridge
Shop for the things I don't have for Falcon Ridge
Meet new therapist
Early to bed for 5am flight
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I just posted a fun little travel rant about hotel internet on my website.  Please check it out, tell your friends, the usual.

Now for a writing rant.  I know it's correct to capitalize the word "internet."  There is only one of them, so I guess that makes it a proper noun?  I don't know.  I don't think of it like that, though, and I don't think many people do, so this is a grammar "rule" that I choose to defy.  Most of my writer friends are on board with me here, so I don't think I have to turn in my grammar police badge over this.

This reminds me of a time I was visiting my 85-year-old cousin at her house on the family farm.  She kept saying things like "Internet told Robert it was going to rain today."  She doesn't use a computer and I don't think she really knows what the internet is.  She talked about it like it was an anchor on the news or a guy she knew from church.  It was cute.

Anyway, I'm in Bellevue, Washington for the weekend.  Z is up here to direct the local bridge tournament, and I'm tagging along because I was invited to participate in the beta test of this year's PuzzleHunt at Microsoft.  Every year, a group of Microsofties puts together this weekend-long puzzle hunt -- like a scavenger hunt, but more riddlerific, I guess (I dunno, this is my first one) -- and I'm part of the group that's testing the puzzles to make sure they're actually solvable.  I'm on a team with 7 other people whom I've never met, but they seem nerdy and nice, so I'm excited about it.  Some of them plan to stay awake all weekend and work through the night -- that's not really my plan, but I'll see how I'm feeling.  I may be so into it that adrenaline keeps me awake.  I do really love solving puzzles.  I remember when Bubbles used to create puzzle hunts for the caddies at every DC bridge tournament.  Those were so much fun, and they often took all night, but we'd be running full speed through the hotel the whole time, never mind that we'd all just worked 18 hours that day and would be working 18 more the next day.  Good times.
Not so good times -- I got a reply about the job I interviewed for on Wednesday.  I was really starting to want that job, and I know I rocked the interview, but I didn't get it.  I had interviewed with a staffing agent, and she recommended me to the company, but they want someone with more experience in their particular industry.  This is what sucks about having to go through the staffing agent -- because I KNOW that if I interviewed with them directly, they would determine that I'm smart enough to overcome the experience gap in no time.  But even though I convinced the staffing agent that I was a good candidate, they only saw that I don't have the right experience.  But I have the right brain, you guys!  Don't be so pessimistic!  Bah.
I interviewed yesterday with the company to which I'd sent the hot dog hat cover letter.  I don't know how I feel about that one.  It was really short.  I know I came across well, but they didn't really ask any questions.  They just described the job, I said yeah I can do that, and they said thanks we'll call you next week when we make a decision.  Um...don't you want to hear me brag for a few minutes about how awesome I am?  Zac suggests that they only called me in so they could meet the crazy lady who sent them a picture of herself in a hot dog hat.  I suppose that is a possibility.  Or maybe they're basing their decision solely on appearance.  Here's hoping I'm the hottest one they interviewed!  Honestly, it did seem like a fun company.  The office is in a cool part of town, the atmosphere is laid back...but the pay sucks and the hours might be long.  It's certainly a job I'll consider if it's offered, and if they throw in some things like health insurance or a puppy or something, the low pay won't be so bad.
On my way to that interview, I got a call from the HR person at another company.  I'd sent my resume to them almost a month ago, but they were just starting to bring people in, and so I literally had my preliminary interview for that job on the bus on my way to the other interview.  Heh.  I have a face to face interview with them on Monday.  So...there's a little momentum now in the job search, but unfortunately the one that I got turned down for was my frontrunner.  And as much as it sucks not to get any calls from all these places I've submitted my resume, it sucks even more to get rejected by a place I really thought would hire me.  The recruiter really thought they would hire me, too.  Or maybe it's just their job to make you think that.  In any case, I'm pretty bummed that I still don't have a job yet.  But Z has been really supportive, and luckily we're not desperate.  I also haven't hit the pawn shop circuit very hard yet, because I've been devoting all of my productive energy to the job search -- but it's possible that that's a gold mine waiting for me.  So, I'm not completely beaten down yet.  Just, you know, mostly.
But Falcon Ridge is next week!  That will restore the spirit like nothing else can.
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I really shouldn't have procrastinated finding a doctor in the area.  It turns out, there's a walk-in clinic covered by my insurance right down the street, and they're great.  I went yesterday and found out I have bronchitis (yay!), but my real reason for going was to be able to regularly renew my prozac.  The doctor I saw was really great about it.  She was very encouraging and wrote me a six-month prescription, then said she could write year-long renewals after that if I'm still doing well.  Yay.  She also gave me some antibiotics and codeine cough syrup for my bronchitis.

I took the first round of meds last night, and they didn't really kick in until today -- I'm feeling a lot better right now, but last night was brutal.  The cough syrup made me totally batty, but didn't help me sleep at all.  The worst part was that I was definitely really high, but didn't feel high at all.  So it's not like it was fun.  But I was definitely high -- I got into a game with myself where I listed off every animal that I could name without pausing to think or repeating myself.  I went on for a very long time, so I guess I "won," though I did throw in "digiridoo" at one point.  Not an animal.  Anyway.  I was up most of the night, but had a decent amount of energy when I got up this morning, so I guess I'm doing alright.  I feel much better this afternoon, and even went to the gym and worked out for a while, which I haven't been up to in a few days.
On the job front, I have one pretty promising lead, but I'm not sure if I really want the job.  A staffing agency called this morning and did a phone interview, and they want to place me in a receptionist job in Beaverton.  I don't know what company it is yet, and I don't know if they offer benefits, and I don't know if it's more than temp.  If it's temp, I'll definitely take it.  If it's not, I'm not sure -- the pay is on the low end of what I'm willing to work for, and it's not exactly a dream job, so I'd probably want to keep looking if I took it, and I don't want to take a job I plan to walk away from.  But if the benefits make up for the shitty pay, I'm much more inclined to take it.  We'll see what they offer me, and maybe what other things the staffing agency has.

I'm going to make pancakes for dinner.  I'm really looking forward to that, but it's not even close to dinner time.  Hmm.
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I just wrote a killer cover letter.  Seriously, if this company doesn't want me after reading that, I don't know if a good candidate for this job exists.  Too bad it's for a job I don't really want.  But it's important to have a fallback.  Or twelve.

I also published a quick intro blurb on road trips today.  Over the next few days, I'll dive into deeper detail and finally start sharing some of the great stuff I saw and did in Montana and Wyoming.  So check it out.  Tell your friends.  Keep visiting.  Thankya.

I've had really terrible acid reflux all morning, so I've just been hanging out in my gym clothes waiting for it to pass so I can go work out.  I'm really irritated by how long it's been hanging around.  Also irritated by the screaming that's coming from upstairs.  I honestly can't tell if it's kids playing or an actual banshee fight, but whatever it is, I wish it would end.
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Today was a lovely day of doing nothing.  Z and I walked to a restaurant for breakfast, then came back and crashed.  I went into the bedroom to give him a hug, and next thing I knew I was waking up from a nap.  I have no idea how long I was asleep.  I don't think very long, but it felt great!  I played a lot of bridge with Zac, honed in on some particularly bad habits that I want him to eradicate, and wrote him a dissertation on doubles.  We played four or five speedballs today -- I think five?  The first three were disasters, but the last two we were 2nd and 1st, so we finished strong.  I really love teaching him because he's smart enough that I don't have to give up on anything because he just won't get it, and I feel like he really understands my analysis.  And I don't have to suck up to him.  We've won like 30 points together online, which is a kind of shameful amount (we've only been playing for like six weeks).  I really hope he'll start coming to real tournaments soon.

I spent some time on the job search today.  Turned in a few more resumes...but these are still all backup plans.  The hiring process is really dragging at the job I want, but I do think I'm still likely to get that gig.  I just hope it's not another two months before I know, you know?
The Mountain Goats were really great last night.  The venue was like 110 degrees, but it's the most fun I've ever had while being that uncomfortable.  The lead singer had spent a few years living in Portland, so he had some great stories for us.  The one thing I really hated was how so many fans would shout out requests.  For one, bands write set lists before they come on stage.  In pen.  They've already chosen what they're going to play, so shut up and enjoy it.  If you only want to hear one song, just go home and listen to the CD.  Two, the Mountain Goats have like 40 albums.  If you have a serious request, email it before the show or something, but for fuck's sake, calling it out is just like saying "I don't wanna hear what you wanna play."  Why go to a concert at all?  I don't know how all performers feel about it, but I know some of them definitely hate that shit.  I like it when they respond with something bitchy and witty -- usually that shuts up the hecklers.  So I guess if they don't retort, they don't mind, and I shouldn't either?  It just annoys me.  I feel bad for the performers, and I didn't buy concert tickets to feel bad.
But anyway I had a great weekend.  Tomorrow is a day to get a lot of work done, and then go celebrate Grampa's birthday in Salem.  


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