Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Updates on Life, The Universe, and Everything

Here's the scoop on the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can decide for yourself which is which.

My sister's condition has a name -- it's Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome, or PRES. Apparently the combination of a slightly premature birth, the not-quite-right epidural (resulting in spinal headache) and postpartum pre-eclampsia (that's high blood pressure to you and me) made her brain swell, giving her a monster headache. After googling PRES, I think she got off lucky -- no blurred vision, no seizures, and hopefully no permanent brain damage. Not that that will keep me from a little sisterly mocking from time to time, since I'm so glad to have her around.

She was discharged from the hospital today around noon, just in time for an appointment with a neurologist who is familiar with PRES. He told her that her headache likely has multiple causes, that they will monitor it over the next few weeks, and that she will recover. I cannot say what a relief all of that is. Plus, she gets to go home and settle in with her baby and husband and son, which is a huge relief to her too. Her mother-in-law has been an enormous help with David; they don't know what they would have done without "Meme." Three cheers for Meme!


I got a call back from HR Chick at Large Corporation today. She informed me that I'm not terrifically technical. You don't say! I'd love to know why employers keep telling me the first thing that I tell them -- or the first thing they should be able to read for themselves from my resume. Yes, I have an engineering degree, but I have done project management and data analysis for most of my career. Nowhere on my resume do I state that I have written code or anything similarly technical; I'll be the first to say that I'm a pseudo-geek, not the real deal. I thanked her for getting back to me quickly and reiterated that I'd be very interested in hearing about any project management or data analysis positions they have open.

And then I hung up the phone and I cried.

I know that it's business, not personal. I know that my identity doesn't come from a company; it comes from my Maker; He tells me who I am. I gotta tell you though, after a while, you just start to think that you're plain unlikeable. And that's the wall I hit today. Two weeks ago, I had interviews coming up with between two and four employers and had visions of multiple offers dancing in my head; today I'm still unemployed with no prospects in sight.

I'm reading another Donald Miller book, Blue Like Jazz. As I was getting ready to take Son the Younger to the doctor for a virus today, this passage leaped off the page at me and made me lose it again: "If we hear, in our inner ear, a voice saying we are failures, we are losers, we will never amount to anything, this is the voice of Satan trying to convince the bride that the groom does not love her. This is not the voice of God. God woos us with kindness, He changes our character with the passion of His love."

Coincidence? I don't believe in it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bloggy Giveaways #2

More jewelry fun! This necklace, like the one in #1, features a fun and funky lampworked bead, although this one was not made by me.

This is a fun little fish friend for you, featured on a 16.5" necklace; the fish is a 1" drop. Retail value on this necklace is $30.

And here's a closeup of the fish:

To enter, just leave a comment... no rules except that you must have a way for me to contact you. If you don't have a blog, please leave me your email. Oh, and only one comment per person, please.

I am open to shipping internationally, so anyone can enter. I will draw a winner via random number generator on Saturday around noonish.

Go see the rest of the fun stuff here!

As stated in my other post, you're welcome to take a gander at my other jewelry on my web site. You're also more than welcome to enter both my drawings if you like both pieces.

Thanks for looking!

Bloggy Giveaways #1

I love to bead, and I love to share! So I'll do two giveaways this time around. You are welcome to sign up for either or both. These are both a little unusual for me... you're welcome to see my usual style at my web site.

First up is a necklace for which I made the 6 largest beads on my torch. These are called lampworked beads. They have been kiln-annealed for strength, and the purple and green make for a fun and funky color combo to wear with an eclectic outfit. Retail value on this piece is $45.

The necklace is 18" long with a 2" extension, so it's great to wear over crew neck tops or with a v-neck.

To enter, just leave a comment... no rules except that you must have a way for me to contact you. If you don't have a blog, please leave me your email. Oh, and only one comment per person, please.

I am open to shipping internationally, so anyone can enter. I will draw a winner via random number generator on Saturday around noonish.

Go see the rest of the fun stuff here!

Updates on Life, the Universe and Everything

Since I've had so many questions from my RL friends about either my sister, my job interview, or both, I thought perhaps I should update here as well.

Sister is still in the hospital. Baby Katherine was discharged today. Her Mimi (Sister's M-I-L) is there to help take care of her and big brother David, which is great. Sister is still in a great deal of pain, although they're trying to wean her from the really heavy stuff in preparation for sending her home. They have to have her blood pressure stable for 24 hours before she can be discharged, so the hope is tomorrow, but we'll have to wait and see. When I talked to her this afternoon, her last reading had been "a little high," whatever that means. She did have Katherine, hubby and Mimi there, so hopefully that was helping. My small group and church are praying, which is appreciated.

My interview with Large went reasonably well today. I "flunked" the technical portion, or at least parts of it. I went in telling them that I hadn't done a lot of technical work, and I'm sure they were trying to find out where my limits were. It, um, didn't take them very long.

They ask me to do a theoretical plot (something I haven't seen or thought about in a good 10 years). Only two ways this plot could go. After an hour of technical questions, I'm too brain-dead to think, so I just guess... wrong. "Take us through your thought process," they say. "Why did you graph it that way?" At that point I know it's wrong; no one says that if it's right. I stare fixedly at the white board and pray for instant death. God elects not to grant my wish. Drat. I fix the graph. They ask me which area of the graph is "pass" and which is "fail." Again, without thinking, I just pick... wrong again. D'oh!

Worse yet, I came home and presented the same questions to Son the Older, who proceeded to... that's right, draw the graph right and guess correctly which area was pass. "Excuse me, Large Corporation? You'll be needing to hire my teenage son, not me..."


The non-technical portion was much more favorable (at least I think so). I just chatted with these nice men. They asked questions; I answered them. Talking I can do. Shocking, I know.

I would like to know why, when I knew I was going into this interview, I didn't prepare for some technical content, but siiiiiiiiiiiigh. Now they know they're talking to the least technical engineer ever. I can do that stuff; it would just take me longer to get up to speed.

Now I wait for them to tell me whether I'm suitable for one of their many openings. Whee!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sister, My Sister

You'd think it would be enough that my niece is still in the NICU. But you'd be wrong.

My poor sister had a spinal headache from her epidural, which really didn't "take" all that well (and of course left her in a lot of pain during labor to boot). Her head was still hurting today, but they'd treated her twice and were pretty confident she should be over it. So she took her blood pressure, and lo and behold, it was sky-high. She called her doctor, who said, "Hie thee to the ER!" So she did.

And now she's in the ICU with postpartum pre-eclampsia. Poor sister.

They called her and said they could send baby Katherine home today. She replied that she was in the ER, and their answer was, "Oh. Um, Katherine is definitely not ready to go home tonight. Not at all. Maybe tomorrow morning."

Fortunately, Sister's condition is supposed to be resolved within 24 hours, and she and her beautiful baby girl can be at home enjoying each other by tomorrow. But today's been kinda rough. Mimi (Sister's fantastic mother-in-law) is changing her plans to come in early to help out. Three cheers for Mimi!

Friday, January 25, 2008

All the News That's Fit to, Er, Web

Hmmm, good news, good news, or bad news? So much has happened this week.

We'll start with the bestest news! I'm an aunt again. For the very first time, I have a baby niece! Katherine was born yesterday at 11:45am. At 35 weeks, she was still just under 7lb and 19" long -- a big girl for one so undercooked. We'll call her "medium rare."

I'll tell a little bit more about her, but first, here's a picture of Princess Katherine:

Isn't she bee-yoo-tee-full? She'll have to be in the NICU for a little bit while they make sure that everything's ok... or more correctly, until she can regulate her own temp and come out of the incubator, hopefully by Monday.

After a little coordination, it was decided that her Mimi (her dad's mom) will come to play with her this week, and I get to come play with her the week after. I can hardly wait to meet you, Miss Katherine! Get strong soon and go home with Mommy, Daddy, and David!

In other (job-related) news, I did not get the job with Small (everybody say "awww"). Mr. Boss decided that my background didn't match closely enough and I wouldn't come up to speed quickly enough -- and truthfully, I can't disagree with him. I could have made it work, but it wasn't a great fit. Small has another job opening that is a much better fit, but they won't be hiring for it for another month or two.

In the meantime, I have an interview with Large on Tuesday the 29th. I'm having trouble filling out their online application, but other than that, all is well there. I was supposed to have a phone interview with Medium this week (according to an email from their HR person on Monday), but I didn't hear anything else from them all week. Hmmm, was it something I said? I promise I showered this week...

In still other news, hair-related this time, I'll be getting re-redded tomorrow by Katina, my very own Hair Wizard. That wouldn't be newsworthy on its own (even considering the chunkier blond highlights I'll get this time around) except that Son the Younger will be accompanying me to get his own hair wizarded, which it definitely needs. I hope he doesn't develop a dependence on celebrity hairstyling, since it don't come cheap, but it will be fun this one time. Hmmmm, maybe I'll talk him into before and after shots...

Monday, January 21, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

It actually is quite cold and rainy here today, although it's not pouring.

Not that the title was intended to refer to actual rain, you understand.

I'd love to know why it is that you loook for a job faithfully for three months, without a peep from anyone, and then one week, everything just clicks into place and everyone loves you. It's feast or famine in Job Search Land, my friends.

I just got home from an interview with a very small company. I'm awaiting a call from a large company to schedule an interview, and I got an email today to schedule a phone interview with a medium-sized company. Small is wonderfully located but would require a great deal of travel. Medium has a nightmare location, just south of downtown. Large is much farther south (even worse) but is just off of the new toll road, which runs right by my house, which would make the commute faster, although a great deal more expensive. Medium and Large would probably not require travel, or minimal travel.

And I never heard back about another job I applied for... but I pinged them today too.

So I guess now we wait.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Off to Dallas This Weekend

My sister, who has been so lovely as to conceive and cook me a niece (a NIECE! can you IMAGINE?!) is having a baby shower tomorrow morning, so I am off to Dallas to enjoy the festivities and party with the nephew.

In case you're unfamiliar with my excitement above, I have a million nephews but only one niece -- and she was 7ish when I joined hubby's family. This will be my first baby niece. My existing niece has been kind enough to present me with a great-niece, which is its own brand of amazing but also makes me feel old (she managed to do this before my 40th birthday). So back to my niece in the oven...

I would share with you the lovely gifties I have planned for Katherine, my niecelet, but of course my sister has been known to pop onto my blog. So I will have to post pics later. I can't wait to share in the fun tomorrow though!

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wow... Job(s)?

Funny how things happen.

A week or two ago, a close friend (Shell) emailed me. She had a friend here whose boss wants to hire someone "just like her," so she thought of Shell. Shell unfortunately lives in NYC and is geographically undesirable for an Austin job right now, so she thought of me. (Have I mentioned how I love my friends?) So she sent an email to both of us to introduce us.

The friend of Shell's, also named Michelle (notice I'm calling them different things so you can keep them straight), emailed me and then called me to talk about the job. She's the only female in the office, so I suggested we meet before she gave me her recommendation. I've been there: you're the only female in the place, and you know hiring another chick is totally going to change the vibe. If I were in her spot, I'd want to meet me first.

We met for coffee and talked about the job and life in general. She's as cool as a friend of Shell's should be, and the job sounds great (or as great as a job with 50% travel can sound). My resume doesn't quite cover all the things it should for that job though, so I go back to the drawing board and get her a new one. Her boss likes it, and I'm now waiting for a call from him.

Fast forward to today. My phone rings, and it's a number I don't recognize. Assuming it's the call I've been waiting for, I answer. Surprise! It's a hiring manager from an entirely different company where another friend works. (She told me they'd call, but one never knows if or when such a thing might occur.) I talk to her for a half hour or more. She says everyone in her group was impressed by my resume ("Really?" I'm thinking) and wants to bring me in for an interview, which they do panel-style, five on one. Oh, the joy. She also says they need leaders, that they have several positions open that would probably fit me well, and I should think about my strategy and what kind of team I'd like to lead. At this point I'm wondering if she's mis-dialed... then I wonder if this question will be multiple choice or essay. Strategy? Really? My career strategy thus far has been "get laid off and take the next job"... so I guess I'm going to have to come up with something that sounds more professional than that, huh?

Both jobs sound like they have great groups, really tight, which is what I had in my last job and what I miss most. That's what I want from my next job -- it's what makes or breaks a job really. The work can be ho-hum, but if your co-workers are the best ever, it's all worth it.

So, um, yeah. All I can say is, "GOOOOOOOO NETWORK!"

Edited to add: The interview for the Michelle job is now scheduled for Monday. Woo!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Welcome to the Ranks of the Unemployed...

One of my good friends has unfortunately joined me in Laid-Off Land.

She may be an victim of what I think is one of the worst double standard in the business world: men who are assertive are "go-getters" and women are a word I'd like to not write in my blog. My friend H got on the wrong side of a company exec who saw her as an assertive female who was in her way (or at least that's my take). Being the "go-getter" that he is, he took her out of his way before there was an intervening manager hired who could protect her.

I have a few choice words to describe him too, but again, I will choose not to use them here. Suffice it to say that I don't have a great deal of respect for his business methods or his integrity.

They will be hiring five -- FIVE! -- contractors to replace my industrious friend... and the only bad thing Mr. Go-Getter had to say about her was that she sometimes didn't get her projects in on time. Anyone see a discrepancy here? No? Me neither.

Fortunately, H and I both believe that there is Someone in charge, that whatever is awaiting her career-wise is better than the job that left her. I can't wait to see what that is for her, just as I can't wait to see what it is for me.

Last night's reading in Psalms had me thinking about all this, so I will post it here.
From Psalms 86:

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life—
men without regard for you.

15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant
and save the son of your maidservant.

17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Books, Books, Books

I'm reading Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What for the second time currently and am just about done. After the first reading, I loaned it to a good friend. She enjoyed it through several readings on business trips through multiple states and loved it into a Velveteen Rabbit state. (That's right, furless and missing one eye.) She bought me another copy for my very own second reading.

I'm a fiction junkie. It's exceedingly rare that I re-read anything, particularly non-fiction; in fact, this may be a first for me. Miller writes so casually that it's almost a conversation between writer and reader; I felt as if he was speaking directly to me. His candor and humility are disarming and, one hopes, contagious. It's also one of the few books that have made me want to pick up the Bible and re-examine passages or chapters or entire books for myself, in context, to see for myself what he's seeing. Several of the amazon reviewers have mentioned reading scripture in a renewed light, and I agree.

His main point in the book is that there is no list, no formula, to a relationship with Jesus. It's just that -- a relationship. It's knowing Christ. He talks a lot about the systems society has in place and how crazy they are seen in the light of eternity, how Jesus turned that economy on its head. And yet we forget all too often. Pretty much daily really, at least in my case. It's a good reminder of what's real, lasting, permanent.

I think I will have to pick up his other widely sold book, Blue Like Jazz, and explore an author he's often compared to but who I've never read: Anne Lamott.

So many books, so little time.

Also just finished another book by a favorite fiction author who I will always recommend, from the psychological thriller genre: Jonathan Kellerman's Rage. For those unfamiliar with Kellerman, most of his novels involve main character Alex Delaware, a psychologist who frequently assists the LA area police, and his detective friend Milo Sturgis. They get into a great deal of grisly trouble whenever they get together, but it's always a great read. I was a psyc major the first time around (before the insanity of the engineering degree), so I dig that stuff. I have read all the Alex Delaware books, and they are in fact re-readable. Kellerman's wife Faye is also a novelist -- similar style and topic -- and I read her obsessively as well. I found out on my last trip to the bookstore that one of their four children is now publishing novels as well. Ack! I really must get a job just to keep up with the Kellermans' output!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Rare Movie Treat

I watched "I Am Legend" tonight, after a long debate ("'Juno'? 'National Treasure'? How about whichever one we aren't late for when we get there? All right then!") and was surprised in several ways.

I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Suffice it to say I was expecting something like "Cast Away" and got a great deal more action than that. (I never saw a trailer as detailed as the one in the link above, or I would have known better.)

Another surprise was a conversation about the nature of God that took place near the end of the movie. Will Smith ended the conversation by saying, "There is no God," which is what you would expect from a big Hollywood movie, but that wasn't the last word on the subject, only in the conversation.

It was a thought-provoking movie in terms of lots of things: what would the world be like without people; what could / have people done to ruin the earth we've been entrusted with; what would I do if I found myself in Smith's shoes (for much of the movie, as far as he knows, he's the sole survivor on earth); and some medical ethics and animal issues thrown in for fun. It's been a long time since I saw a good serious thinking movie. I was pleased.

Friday, January 4, 2008


This is an idea shamelessly stolen from Antique Mommy. I doubt my list is as impressive as hers, but I loved the idea, especially around this time of year. Feel free to blog your own!

Still loving life, love, Jesus, Austin, my family and friends. And, to steal one from AM, my iPod.

Still missing my mom, four years after her death... although I'm much closer to my sister now than I was before.

Still wanting to write the Great American Novel (my secret for years).

Still praying for my sons to grow up to be happy, fulfilled men who love God and love people, regardless of whether that looks like what I expect it to look like.

Still not interested in politics.

Still looking for the perfect job. Or really, just a good one.

Still hoping God has plans for a good job for me!

Still enjoying melting glass with a torch in my garage and making beautiful jewelry from the result.

Still reading the Bible all the way through -- for the second time.

Still proud of having gone back to school to get an engineering degree, with two kids, while working, and getting a respectable GPA.

Still failing to establish a real workout plan of any kind, although I've lost weight during my time at home by eating less.

Still grateful for my family, my home, and all the hundreds of other blessings in my life every day.

So, reader, what are you still doing?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's a New Year, All Right

The last few months have been eventful, to say the least. I thought I would get to the end of this year and sigh, "same old, same old," but it hasn't turned out that way at all.

Losing my job in early October certainly wasn't in the plans. And a few other life events were more than unexpected as well. I haven't called my faith into serious question or anything, but I'm floundering in several areas of my personal life. My marriage and my faith are solid, but pretty much everything else is feeling pretty shaky right now.

Son the Older turned in his application to Rice today, after several days of prodding and lots of dreaded essay writing. Now we wait to find out about financial aid. He'll also apply to Texas A&M as a backup. Here's hoping for a big scholarship for the first of my two bright boys. That's another big change coming up in a few months -- half of my nest will be empty.

BigMama wrote an amazing post on changes in the past year and welcoming the new year, with a couple of scriptures that really hit me where I'm living right now. She certainly said it more eloquently than I am. Go read hers. It's a little long but worth the time.