Things That I Need To Get Out

I have several tangents to go on today. If I make it through one of them without forgetting the rest, I will be pretty impressed with myself, considering I can't seem to remember jack squat these days. For those of you who care (I am not sure who that would be other than Aspen and MacKenzie) I forgot dance class AGAIN on Monday night. Flat out, forgot. Just like Sunday, only worse, because Sunday should have been a lesson to me. But no, I forgot dance. It's just as well, really, as Josh pointed out, because Monday afternoon I came home from my first day of work (which was really only three hours, but that's another tangent) to Aspen and MacKenzie in a knock-down-drag-out war. This is the kind of sibling squall that ends up with the nine year old calling the 15 year old the B-word and the 15 year old pinning down the nine year old so she could bite her. What. The. Heck. As I made my way up the front steps, dropping mail and groceries and trash from the front seat of my car along the trek (authors note:large jack-o-lanterns make excellent trash repositories), I hear angry screams emanating from the "play room". The play room that is really more of a WWF ring, depending on occupation. My parents have a "pouting room" at their house, where one or more of their adult children can frequently be found during any given holiday nursing a wounded spirit when we vote against their movie of choice for holiday viewing, or their team loses at Trivial Pursuit because nobody would believe them that Ingrid Bergman was born in Portugal. Since we sport pouting in every room in our house, we have a fighting room instead, where siblings go to destroy each other, without the threat of breaking any of their own precious collectibles. This "Spare Oom", as I whimsically dubbed it, is pretty much as far from the fantastical escape that I had imagined as it could be. Josh and I went several rounds in there about whether a futon or a bed was more practical, since the Spare Oom doubles as a guest room, and as usual, I won. Josh was insistent the kids needed more room to play legos and dress up and rubber dolls and squinkies and every other imaginable thing that can penetrate through the tender point right under the ball of your foot with appropriate placement. I felt that they would be just as adept at constructing their multi-level-multi-family-multi-purpose toy worlds on and around the bed. And they are. If you come to stay here, I apologize in advance for the calico critters in your sheets. Apparently the other day all of Aspen's Calico Critters (which, for the savvy, is the modern name for Sylvanians) were forced to relocate from their box homes into neon colored barbie cars and live transient because of "taxes". This is what election years do. One more plug in favor of the bed-over-futon argument: queen size beds are just about the right size for middle school boxing matches. Just saying. 

But let's leave the fighting room alone until the blood stains and tears on the carpet have dried, and follow up on another tangent: Work. So I started this job. I didn't really need to work, but some Great Friend of mine suggested I apply at a certain outlet store that was opening because wouldn't the employee discount be nice? So I did, and I got offered part time seasonal work, which is really more work than I wanted, but I guess they don't make less than that. As soon as I got the job offer I was overwhelmed by the thought of having any kind of a schedule, but I decided to suck it up for the sake of the greater good (i.e. employee discount) and do it. I started work on Monday, and although I have done retail hardware sales and of course, wholesale customer service stuff (did you need boxes today?), this is my first foray into the wild world of high-end clothing sales. I was hired low-man on the totem pole, as in, the only part time seasonal. Every one else on staff is AT LEAST permanent part time, but most are "lead sales" or "assistant manager" or "assistant to the assistant manager" or... whatever. It occurred to me, about 15 minutes into my first shift, that A) I was only getting paid $9.00 an hour, and B) my coworkers were clearly well-versed in retail employment. This is what I have learned so far: If you are making $9.00 an hour, you should always move VERY SLOWLY, and don't try to figure ANYTHING out by yourself. I worked for three hours, and I was exhausted from trying to keep up with the pre-school pace that the managers were clearly expecting. I have never been congratulated on my ability to assemble a rack so many times. On the second day of work, the managers, who carefully position every employee on very specific repetitive tasks so they don't have to constantly retrain, set me to work with Phyllis (that's not her real name, but she looks and sounds just like Phyllis from The Office, so that's what I call her) building metal 4-way clothing racks. Phyllis had worked with another guy for about 4 hours the day before and they got 4 of these racks assembled. In three hours, and after kindly demonstrating a few more efficient approaches to assembly, Phyllis and I had built 20 more. At the risk of sounding harsh and judgemental, I am fairly certain that my co-workers had found the absolutely most inefficient and difficult way to built a metal 4 way. "Hey - wouldn't it be way slower if we try to screw the casters on the bottom while the unsecured rack is balanced precariously over our heads?" "Yeah, that sounds really dumb! Let's do it THAT way!"  It's Just Not That Hard. I got a little bit of a positive-reinforcement reprimand from the managers when the other three employees were standing around and I taught them how to tag items like I was. Apparently I exceeded the training expectations and they quickly reassigned the other people to less complex tasks as soon as they got back from their hour long lunch. After my first shift I told Josh I might not survive. Which is OK since my old boss at the hardware store said he might be able to find me some hours since I was his Best Employee Ever. But after my second shift at the outlet, I started to see a glimmer of light: mainly that being the picture of me working there alone surrounded by really cool stuff that I could buy at a 40% discount. This glimmer was dimmed only by the realization, after I got off shift, that I had actually made five times as much money on eBay that day as I did at work. FIVE TIMES. 

Tangent #3: The Fire Job Process. I married a paramedic. I knew, when I signed on, that he would not rest until he had a job in the fire world. I knew also, what that entailed. I went through two (and a half) EMT classes, basic wildland and structure fire training, hazmat training, Firefighter Academy and a million other classes so that I could be a firefighter. Fast forward a few years and here I am with a notebook full of certifications and little to show for them except a tattoo, some great memories and an empty pang of regret. It's the one thing that I gave up that I really, really, really wished I hadn't. But it's ok. We all make trades and concessions and if a better lifestyle for my family precludes me volunteering my time to swagger into burning buildings (I say swagger when really I am waddling in all that gear), then I guess I am ok with that. If you can't be one, do one, right? Oh, sorry mom. But Josh has a shot at a job as a real live fireman. The kind that gets paid. The kind that I fantasized about for like 30 seconds until I realized that the amount of time and resources I would have to dedicate to make myself competitive against a bunch of ripped 19 year old guys was not something that I could afford. But Josh has a shot. He has the strength of two ripped 19 year old and the brains of two dozen, not to mention common sense and experience and the maturity of an extra decade that makes him that much more desirable (or potentially so) to a department. In the two years since I have known Josh he has persevered through more than a dozen tests, for which he drives up to three hours and pays sometimes hundreds of dollars to take (just the test!), so that he can make it onto a list where he can pass another test, a physically grueling combination of ladder climbs/hose hoists/dummy drags, etc, etc, etc, just so he can pass that and go on to a series of anywhere from 2-5 interviews with a variety of different collections of supervisors and peers, and if that works out, a psych test of over 500 questions, followed by a psych interview (depending on the department), at least a couple of EMS scenarios (one trauma, one medical), a chiefs interview, and finally, a job offer contingent on background checks. He's made it through over 12 of these processes, not counting the ones where he was dropped along with 300 other candidates because the pool was so large they only kept veterans and applicants with bachelors and masters degrees. One misstep along the way. One transposed number in the math test, one forgotten protocol on the medical scenario. One missed mission statement buzzword in an interview, and there are hundreds of other hungry firefighters waiting in the wings to trample you in the crowd. Josh spent three days memorizing the credo and all of the values listed in the mission of the last department he interviewed for. This morning he had a chiefs interview there. Friday we find out if he is one of six guys out of the ten remaining to get a job offer. This is the last dregs of a list of over 200 guys to start with. This could be his job, finally. I know Josh started this process before I even met him, and had already endured the frustration of being passed over, and the bitter disappointment of getting THISCLOSE and not being chosen. He has continued to chase after this big dream of his, in spite of the cost, in spite of the rejection, time after time after time, being told in as many words that all of his work and passion and experience just weren't good enough. Maybe this is finally his moment. He has earned it over and over again. I would have given up. I did give up, before I even tried. I don't even have to courage to send a manuscript to a publisher because I can't handle being told no. But Josh has taken every blow and turned it into more determination and better results on the next one. Josh will make an even better fireman than contractor, which is saying A LOT. It's his turn, right? If there is justice in the world and karma is real? I believe it is. If not, it might be time for some of these fire big-wigs to step into the Spare Oom with me. 

Tangent #4: about me. It goes without saying that men are really good at taking things literally, and less good at interpreting what a woman is actually communicating. My husband, for all of his perseverant amazingness, is no different. The realization that Josh has read my most recent blog usually comes in his affirmation of one of my (slight) exaggerations. Case in point: We were discussing how I would need some clothes for my new job that were a little more grown up and dressy. When I mentioned slacks (which are clearly one of my favorite subjects) he kindly pointed out that I should just get skirts since "right now you won't be comfortable in slacks, since none of your jeans even fit." The difference between Josh and some other men is really that he hasn't learned when to keep his literal interpretations to himself. I refrained from throwing my laptop at him when he made this innocently stupid comment, and instead pointed out that the comment on my blog was actually an exaggeration, and not only were my jeans fitting just fine, but I had actually been wearing (ok, not super comfortably, but FITTING!) my smaller sized ones. In fact, I had just repaired, by myself, on a sewing machine (see tangent 5) 4 pairs of my size-down jeans so I could wiggle into them and congratulate myself on the success of my coffee-only diet. He was clearly confused and pointed out that since I hadn't been active much he was just concerned about my comfort. SSSSTTTTEEEEEEEEERRRRIIIIKKEEE TWO! For such an intelligent guy, he can be super dumb. Since I am on Prozac, I was able to smile patiently and explain to him that a lot of the things I write on my blog are actually mild exaggerations, because for example Clare didn't REALLY burn off my face - only just the first 30 layers of skin. And It sounds much sillier when I can't squeeze into my jeans than if I am bragging about the 13 lbs I have lost. And I really don't wear sweat pants all day. I feel like I am explaining that a lot. He has since continued to stick his foot in his mouth regularly, but I think he is taking my blog a little less seriously. I guess I will find out tomorrow. "what do you mean, dumb?" 

Tanget #5: Sewing. I think I might save that one for tomorrow.