Sunday, April 27, 2008

Took the Job... Then Brought About the Apocalypse

There were lots of other things in the background, but I did accept the job offer from the Taiwanese company. I will support two large corporate customers in Texas (one local, and one that will require travel).

Since their payroll is monthly, I will start on June 2. I would have liked to start sooner, but no biggie.

Lots of fun things to settle along the way: I need to set up a home office; I need to ramp up my technical skills; I need to figure out a lot of the ramifications of being the only US person in an overseas company. Nothing too difficult, and I love a challenge, so it's all good.

One distraction that's been particularly gratifying is that I'm having to buy a whole new wardrobe... yes, me, the engineer chick who cares nothing for fashion. The irony was not lost on me, believe me.

I went shopping on my own and bought some things at Coldwater Creek. Then I took my wardrobe advisor (a.k.a. my friend Heather the interior designer, who knows a thing or two about color and how things work together) to the mall. We went to J.Jill (which I'd never heard of), Talbot's, Gap... all those stores I'd never shopped in because I didn't fit their clothes. I discovered a few things: lots of these stores now carry larger sizes (i.e., I could have been wearing them for years), and I'm a size smaller than I thought (i.e., I've lost three sizes since I was laid off from Dell in October). So now I have a pretty good start on a basic business wardrobe that's cute and comfortable. And I did take BigMama's advice (see question #3) and get a great pair of black pants and a really sassy pair of trouser jeans which shockingly fit my Hobbit-length legs. Huzzah!

I had never made purchases from any of these stores, so these were big doings for me. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Yes, I know it's pathetic to have never bought anything from Gap. Yes, I was a sad excuse for a chick. But no more! And it was actually FUN to shop for clothes for myself, which I don't ever recall happening. Ever. There were clothes that fit me and looked good. Heather told me she didn't think she could buy this much for herself if she tried; she simply couldn't find that many things that looked good on her in a day. (Heather is beautiful, and I still have two or three sizes on her, even at my new smaller size.)

So apparently Jesus is coming back imminently. Hope y'all are ready.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Sometimes God's timing makes me laugh. Or cry. Sometimes both in the same day. It's been one of those weeks this week.

You'll love this because I'm not really going to go into specifics, but my past has reared its ugly head multiple times this week and caused me to deal with it in a way I've refused to for years. Which, while it's a "Yay God!" moment, is exhausting. And having what's essentially an emotional brick to the face three times in one day is a little much. Not that I get to choose.

Interestingly, I'm on the planning committee for my church's women's retreat, and I'm not the only one going through some sort of stuff this week. With the retreat two weeks out it's not so surprising -- this sort of thing happens yearly to retreat staff -- but it's still frustrating.

Coincidence? Don't believe in it. I just hope God uses it to restore a relationship that I'd love to have back in my life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Well, It's Official!

I do, in fact, have a job offer.

I haven't accepted yet, but the offer is from a Taiwanese tech company who needs an interface to the company who laid me off (one of life's little ironies). My main contact at the customer company -- my former employer -- has been a friend for 15 years and recommended me for the job. Doesn't get much sweeter than that.

There will be a few challenges. I need to ramp up my technical skills in a big way very quickly. I will also support a second company in a different city, so I will do a fair bit of travel in the lovely state of Texas. And of course, the communication challenges that occur when keeping up with people half a world away are always "fun."

I did have an in-person interview with the man who will be my boss. Not only is his first name the same as my hubby's, but I found him to be very honest and definitely someone I can easily work for. Another bonus. It's tough to work with people whose primary language isn't the same as yours, but these folks have all been delightful (I've had two conference calls as well, so I've talked to a number of the employees). At some point I'll grow comfortable with everyone there and not rewrite every word in every email seven times. That will be a happy, happy day. I can't wait to discover their personalities, their senses of humor, all that stuff that makes a job fun!

In the meantime, I've enjoyed working at my church, which has been a personal goal of mine for years. Now that I've actually done it, maybe it's not a long-term career goal. It's been great to work with all those people who I love and respect so much, but with two kids headed to college imminently, it's probably time to earn an engineering salary for a while.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Aggieland Lives On... At Least in My Memory

Apparently you can't ever go home. Or back to college 20 years after you were there.

Ouch. That number really hurts. It's not quiiiiiiiiiiiite that long since graduation, but still.

We took Son the Older to College Station, home of the Fightin' Texas Aggies, today. And I forgot my camera. Bad blogger! So my only pics are from Son's camera phone, and for some reason they have an odd frame around them. Don't know why, and can't get rid of it. Bear with me in my inadequacy, please.

Shortly after arriving, we decided we were hungry. Rather than getting a yummy off-campus lunch (original Freebird's, anyone?), we elected, at Son's request, to show him what he was in for in the finest dining hall anywhere. Yep, we ate at Sbisa. Here's my lunch:

Mmmmm, can't you just feel that starchy goodness clogging up your arteries? Fortunately, we proceeded to walk 18.3 miles, so I feel no guilt about my chicken fried steak and mashed taters. With cream gravy. And there's not even a picture of the ice cream bar I had for dessert.

We wandered around, visited the engineering building, talked to my hubby's old advisor, saw all our fine dormitory choices, visited the financial aid office, where we found out that to get a good scholarship you must apply before you're actually born, and then before we left, we had to go and see the bonfire monument for ourselves.

Now, hubby and I were out of the country when this catastrophe occurred. I've been out of the country precisely once since my birth (which occurred out of the country owing to the draft), and the news of the bonfire disaster was big enough that we heard about it in Spain. I don't go back to campus frequently (or pretty much ever), so I hadn't seen the monument. And they held bonfire in a different field back in the day when I was there. But still, that place is powerful.

This is a picture of the very center of the memorial, where the center pole would have gone. There are coins all over it, which I'm not sure I understand -- is it because there is no fountain to make good wishes into? Anyway.

And here is a pic of hubby and son, with part of the memorial behind them. No, you can't tell they're related. Not at all.

Most bloggable thing from today? Overheard snippet of cell coversation from college student walking the other way on the sidewalk in front of the Academic Building: "So now you think you can read God's mind?" Great one-liner... cracked us all up. But who among us has not been there?

Shortly before we left, we went to the MSC (that's Memorial Student Center, or the student union building for you non-Aggies). I just had to buy a roll from the cafe -- they're pretty much the best in the universe, in my memory. While they didn't have the buttery sheen I remembered, the roll I bought today was still quite yummy. My men agreed. It was at this point that my ever-observant son pointed out, after having listened to the reminiscing of his parents all the livelong day, "This trip was really just so you guys could take a trip down memory lane, wasn't it?"

Maybe, son. Maybe. You got a problem with that?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sound the Trumpets!

Today was a monumentous occasion, but naturally I'm going to tell you a long story before I get to the good part. It's how I show my love for you.

Today is my friend Dave's 40th birthday. I've known Dave almost 10 years, and he is a dear, dear friend. I planned a surprise party for him at PF Chang's with a bunch of his good friends (many of whom RSVPed yes and didn't show, which is one of my largest pet peeves). We had a lovely time sampling each other's dinners.

To celebrate the monumentous occasion of going out to eat for Dave's birthday, I went beforehand to shop for a new skirt. Before I was laid off, I had bought a lot of new clothes in the largest size I've ever worn. These clothes are now all more or less falling off me, so I decided it was time for a new skirt for the party. I stopped by Lane Bryant (which I've seen called Lane Giant in someone else's blog -- this makes me giggle) to check out their wares. I tried on a skirt in their smallest size, and lo! it was almost too large.

I found a very cute pair of black crop pants with white flowers embroidered on them, which were crop length on me (this never happens, as short as I am), and lo! they were also almost too large. Now, I had taken the smallest and next smallest sizes in with me; I knew I had lost weight but wasn't gonna get all cocky. So now I'm all, "huh... who knew?"

I go to find a cute white shirt to go with the flowers on the pants. I try two on, both in a fitted cut, and they're clearly too large in the smallest size. Both clerks informed me that I can no longer buy shirts at Lane Giant.

Now at this point, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm thrilled beyond words, of course, but Lane Giant and I go way back. Shop in a "regular" store? Fuhgeddabouddit! Not pay the "fat tax"? Unheard of! And clearly I don't care about fashion, but I think that's a big part of the reason why (if you'll forgive me the pun).

The clerks, of course, want to know how this weight loss came about. I told them, "I got laid off. I don't go to fattening lunches with my co-workers anymore. I eat turkey sandwiches at home. No more tex-mex -- that's my big secret." Go figure. Give up the love of your life, and the pounds melt away. Ha!

So now that I can shop like a real person, tell me -- where do I go and what do I buy? In theory I may have a new job someday and will need new clothes, so I do need advice. I do read BigMama's Fashion Fridays and pay attention, but I'd love to hear what you have to say too. So let me have it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April Fools Came a Week Late

If you are a person of the gentleman persuasion, today's post may shock you. You have been warned.

We ladies tend to grow, um, hair in the underarm and legular regions which must be removed periodically (I know you gentlemings think we're hairless... stop reading now if you feel faint!). In the shower this morning, I was attempting my usual hair removal routine, which for me involves a razor. Unfortunately, this razor, with 2nd-time-use blades, didn't appear to be working at all. I was shaving every which way and not seeing any hair removal at all. I use those funky Venus razor blades that have 3 blades and the gloppy slimy stuff that supposedly keeps you from razor burning. So after a few passes I was sporting some serious slime under my arms to go with the hair, but no hair removal was taking place. I was quite puzzled.

Since I had JUST replaced these blades last time I shaved, and since they worked fine on their first use, I was really at a loss to explain why there was still hair in the left pittal area. At that point I remembered that I hadn't remembered to toss the old blades out, so I switched them out and quickly shaved both pits with the old razor. No problem.

Then, however, my curiosity got the better of me, and I switched back to try the new blades on my legs. Surely the pit thing was a fluke, I thought. I'm not a morning person, and the wattage of my brainpower is somewhere in the night-light range before noon (or at least before my morning Dr. Pepper).

After switching out the blades, I tried the new blades on my right leg, with the same result as before -- not a single hair was removed. At this point, I'm thinking I should actually take a LOOK at the razor and try to diagnose the problem. (Oh yes, I are an engineer!) So I look, and sure enough, the blades are facing the wrong way. That's right, I could only shave successfully if I turned the handle around and shaved "up." So that's what I did. Try it for yourself, ladies -- it's fun!

After I was done, I looked at the razor again and figured out that of course it can be popped off and switched around, which is how it got backwards in the first place. Then I figured out the whole scenario: my razor had dropped on the floor during hubby's shower, and hubby had "helpfully" picked it up and put it back together for me.

He didn't do it on purpose, but he punk'd me good! If there was video of my shower (and if it could be shown), we could win some money...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Life? What Life?

I keep thinking I should post more often, but it seems like I just don't have much to say these days. Maybe I'm not cueing in to those fun little moments in life, or maybe I'm just bored. Or, as my dad used to tell my sister when she would complain about being bored, maybe I'm BORING. That's certainly a possibility.

So here's what's going on in my life. I'm working on the silent auction for the women's retreat at my church, which is always fun and a challenge. For the first time in three years, I'm not in charge of the auction, which is actually great -- we have someone who's new and excited in there doing some different things. I bet everyone will love it. We'll be doing a lot of themed baskets this year, which I'm sure will be well received. Lots of our regular donors are coming back -- massage by my massage wizard, jewelry by me and the other woman who has always been my co-lead for the auction, purses by an amazingly talented woman who happens to be the wife of our associate pastor (soon leaving the church world for the business world), fantastic girl bows by the new auction leader, and the list goes on and on. So I'm excited about all of that. Proceeds go to our women's ministry: helping with child care for women's groups, helping single moms, things like that, so that's great too. It's been taking up a fair amount of my time.

I also just volunteered, as I have in years past, to put together the music for the retreat. Our church is nontraditional to say the least and is very seeker-friendly; we will have a lot of women who are new to faith or who haven't made that step yet who will be at the retreat. So the music will not be CCM heavy but will be a mix of fun stuff that people recognize and things that will make you think if you listen to the lyrics. I just picked up Dave Barnes' new CD today, "Me and You and the World," and I'll cram as much of that into the mix as I possibly can. I'll also have some Monk and Neagle, some Aaron Roughton (friend of M&N, native of our church, and hubby of the auction chair). I'll put in some stuff that should sound familiar to everyone: Colbie Caillat, Feist, and Yael Naim's "New Soul," among others.

So if you have any thoughts about great music I should pick up, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for good music, and this time of year is always a good excuse for me to find more. =)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Just to Clarify

Apparently the entire world doesn't live in Texas.

This is news to most Texans, but I try not to let it be news to me. However, in my last post, apparently my description of my son's college decision process was a little too abbreviated. So, in the interest of being clear for my readers, and in the interest of having something to post about, I'll clarify.

Son the Older had originally considered some pretty hefty schools -- MIT, CalTech, Tufts, and Rice, all of which were places he sent his SAT scores. When it comes time to actually apply to schools though, one only wants to fill out so many applications. He must take after me that way; I think I only applied to one school. He applied to two: Rice and Texas A&M. Rice was his first choice, with A&M being an easy backup.

For those not in Texas, I'll explain: if a high school student is in the top 10% of his or her class, they are automagically admitted to any Texas state school (A&M, University of Texas, Texas Tech, etc.). This is great for the top 10% but is a bit of a pain for the other 90%, and the point has been made that it's unfairly skewed toward small school districts. I think it's unfairly skewed toward dumb schools (my class was pretty seriously dumb, as evidenced by the fact that I came in 3rd in a class of over 400), but whatever. Make the class rank and you're in, is the point. My boy is easily in the top 10%, so he knew he was automatic for A&M.

Both Rice and A&M have great engineering programs -- this is the son's intended field of study -- so either school is great for him. Unfortunately, Rice did not choose to admit him, for reasons which of course they don't disclose to you. You just get the "we get a lot of qualified applicants, and we're sorry, but we're not going to admit you" letter. He apparently wasn't surprised, but I was, and several people that I talked to were as well. I did hear after the fact that Rice has gotten considerably more difficult to get into in recent years.

Financially, I'm a little relieved: Rice is a private school, and A&M has a great scholarship that I had when I went there that I hope he can get as well. But Rice's marching band, the MOB (Marching Owl Band) is a ton of fun, and he would have enjoyed it. A&M's band is military, and my boy is in no way military, so that's the end of his marching band career. A little sad, but oh well.

Hubby and I both went to A&M, although hubby has always been what's called a "two percenter" (you're either a two percenter or a real Aggie -- someone who bleeds maroon). Son the Older is almost a carbon copy of his dad, so I see two percentedness in his future. Sad, because the traditions are much of the fun at A&M, in my opinion. Still, he'll have a great time there.

Now we just have to find him a nice geekchick like dear old Mom, right? ;-)