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What I Learned This Week – 7/26/15

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This week I learned that I could build a hillbilly sound system.

My hillbilly sound system.

My hillbilly sound system.

When my preschooler son moved into a bigger bedroom, my husband designated the former nursery as his “man room.”

Well, then I designated the remaining bedroom as my room. Mostly craft/photo/exercise/sporting goods/genealogy storage, but also a tiny office space. Which, I figured, needed a sound system. You will notice that it features the portable CD player from my post a week ago. I also used the speakers from our old Dell desktop computer, which my husband and I both have almost discarded so many times, but they actually have really great sound.

"Dude, you're getting a Dell!"

“Dude, you’re getting a Dell!”

I rounded it out with my Sears mini boombox that is probably 30 years old. It once went to the electronics repair store to have a cassette tape removed that it ate (Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin’ Rich – Warrant). I don’t even think their are repair stores for cassette players anymore. People now even view computers as disposable. Everyone except me–I have resurrected my laptop with a new hard drive and a new power cord (Friday) in the 4 years I have owned it.

I placed it all on an ancient TV cart that my great-grandpa used in his TV repair business. I used an old Pepsi wooden crate to hold my extra headphones and cables.

Yes, my dear friends. This is me putting my Communications degree to good use.

And no one should be offended by me referring to it as a “hillbilly” sound system because I am hillbilly. I can prove it. Come dig through my genealogy storage bins 😉

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

A Degree I Do Not Use

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Me, 1981

Me, 1981

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications-Mass Media, specifically Radio & TV Broadcasting.

I have never used it.

People ask me why. I have always dodged the question.

Why would you ask someone that? It is just pointing out that I failed. How, I’m not sure. But that question still makes me feel like a failure. It is like a big gray cloak being pulled over me.  It suffocates me.

My mom probably hates me for not using my degree. But she was the one who made me go to stupid college in the first place. If I was going to be there for 4 years, I wanted to do something fun.

I was a fan of many local DJ’s at the time. While I was still in high school, I even got to be on the most popular local radio station for an hour and pick all the songs. I thought the Universe was telling me this was my thing.

Me on "Look Ma, I'm on KISS-FM", 92.5 WVKS Toledo, 1994

Me on “Look Ma, I’m on KISS-FM”, 92.5 WVKS Toledo, 1994

None of my college projects turned out perfect. I got A’s on most of them. But there was always something about the audio quality or length or lighting or editing that bothered me about every project I did. I wasn’t used to not being perfect in school.

Four years later, after spending time on half-broken, analog equipment, I didn’t feel like my college had actually prepared me for the real world. I didn’t feel confident I could walk into a radio station and operate their board. And the college gave me no assistance in finding a job.

Laryngitis. The only time in my life I have ever lost my voice was the last month before I graduated from college. Right when I wanted to make demo tapes to send out to radio stations. While my voice came back, it wasn’t the same for about 2 months. I had a limited window of time that I had access to the recording equipment, so I made tapes anyway. They didn’t sound like me. I did send them out to stations. None of them called.

But I took the laryngitis as a sign that I wasn’t meant to go into radio. The Universe is a fickle mistress. It broke my heart a little. But I was also scared to death to go out into the big bad world and be that brave. I think my discouragement was equal parts laryngitis and fear. I decided maybe I was just a better radio spectator than player.

I got a boring office job in a giant corporate building filled with cubicles I hated. My mom had always worked in offices.  It felt like a safe bet, if not one I was thrilled about.  I hated the long commute. I hated the work. But I liked the people. I made some great friends just at the time in my life when I needed them. We had lots of important experiences that shaped me into the dorky weirdo that I am today. I wouldn’t trade the chance to meet those folks for anything. (Love to Patti, Carrie, Jeff, Linda, Ann, Megan, Paul, and the rest…)

I recently applied a few times to the local radio station. I got an interview, but with no current experience, they didn’t hire me. Other stations are an even further commute for me. Or I would have to move. I don’t want to move. For many reasons.

You might look at this post as a list of excuses. I suppose it is. But I don’t have a better explanation.

The Universe told me it wasn’t my thing. I believed it.

Maybe the Universe was trying to tell me that my words were important, just not the ones that come from my mouth. Maybe the ones that come from my fingers are more important?

Wienermobile

This post will make you laugh, and it will make you cry.

My deep feelings about the Wienermobile are plenty. Let me share them with you now.

I never knew such a thing as the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile existed, until one night on the 11 o’clock news I saw it as the final 30 second special interest feature they always do before cutting away to the Tonight Show. As a devoted follower of all things weird and pop culture, I instantly fell in love.

I sent away to Oscar Mayer for an information pack about the Wienermobile. In those pre-Internet days, that is just how we did things. The packet was a folder full of stuff, containing an 8×10 glossy of the Wienermobile, along with historical facts, and of course a catalog of fine Oscar Mayer products for purchase.

First Wienermobile info packet from Oscar Mayer

First Wienermobile info packet from Oscar Mayer

Being a good little consumer, I totally ordered a Wienermobile shirt (it was one of my favorites for years), a Wienermobile Hot Wheel, and several wiener whistles, that I then continued to hand out to people who were important to me for years to come. (If you knew me in person, you would understand. Or at least you would smile to my face and laugh behind my back about it. That IS the polite thing to do, afterall*.)

Wiener Whistle

Wiener Whistle

I was instantly interested in how I could maybe one day get to drive the Wienermobile.  Unfortunately, it was a college internship thing.  At this time, I was only senior in high school.  So, I hung the picture on my bedroom wall and wore my shirt weekly.  (Can you guess that I was not popular in high school?  I was Sue Heck, from The Middle.  I was so oblivious, I didn’t even realize how unpopular I was.  Except I had glasses instead of braces.)  At this time, I may have also came up with my dream of Jennifer’s Wiener Hut.

Sue Heck from The Middle standing in front of a giant hot dog.  It is like this picture was MADE for this post!

Sue Heck from The Middle standing in front of a giant hot dog. It is like this picture was MADE for this post!

When I started college and majored in Communications, taking classes in Radio and TV Broadcasting, and minored in English-Writing, I thought that maybe those would be skills Oscar Mayer might find useful.  I thought that maybe if I had a Wienermobile internship for a summer, that then I could parlay that into an actual job at Oscar Mayer.  Wisconsin is not that different from Michigan.  Weather or culturally.  I could probably handle living there.  I like cows and cheese.

When I was a junior in college, I inquired again in writing to Oscar Mayer about how to become a hotdogger (what they call the people who drive the dog). They sent me another information packet (not quite as awesome as the one from 3 years before).  Incidentally, that was the 60th anniversary of the Wienermobile.  They informed me that the internship was only for graduating seniors.  So, I would still have to wait.

Second Wienermobile info packet from Oscar Mayer

Second Wienermobile info packet from Oscar Mayer (Yes, I DO save everything)

With either the first or second mailing, they had sent me a cassette tape with all the different versions of the Oscar Mayer weiner song on it.  Traditional, march, bossa nova, you name it, it was on there.  I even used the music (and some of my other memorabilia) to make a commercial for my TV Production class.

[My apologies to the college students who are displayed within. I am withholding their names to avoid any further embarrassment.]

The Wienermobile came to Toledo.  I was brave and drove down all by myself to go see it at the Lucas County Fairgrounds.  I took many pictures.  They wouldn’t let anyone go inside of it 😦

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Ned Skeldon Stadium

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Ned Skeldon Stadium

As I got closer to graduation, I wandered into the Career Center at the college once or twice.  It was useless.  Usually no one offered any help in there.  Once the adviser guy did talk to me, and admitted that they did not get many job postings for positions in the Communications area.  (Gee, thanks.  Glad I spent 4 years worth of money here so that you could tell me that now!)

On one of these trips in, I saw it…

The sign to apply for the Wienermobile Hotdogger interships that year!  The year of my impending graduation!

The bulletin that Adrian College posted (Note the incorrect spelling of Mayer!)

The bulletin that Adrian College posted (Note the incorrect spelling of Mayer!)

But F**K!  The deadline was just a few days away!

I had to type up a resume and cover letter and get it in the mail, pronto.  I am sure whatever I had for a resume at the time was pathetic, so I am sure I had to spend some time in the computer lab to revise it.  The computer lab that was always busy, because many students did not yet have their own desktop computers.  (Laptop?  What is a laptop?  A cell phone?  Only guys on Wall Street have those.  A smart phone?  Does not compute.)  I went to the post office and mailed it off priority 2-day mail, which I had never used before, because I wanted it to make it there by the deadline.

Then I worried and fretted that I had not made the deadline.  I never heard back from them.  Not even a rejection letter.  By the time summer came and they would have been starting their Wieneriffic journey, I knew I was not worthy of the wiener 😦  I would have missed my then boyfriend, now husband if they had chosen me.  But I think he would have understood.  And followed me to Wisconsin.

For years, I was bitter about not getting the internship.  I still am.  In July of 2011, I was laid off from my job of 12 years.  A year and a half later, I was still looking for a new job.  I had gotten pretty desperate by then, so I was applying to somewhat crazy jobs anyway.  Then I stumbled across the Hotdogger job.  Again!  But this time, it was not tied to anything about college.  There were no restrictions, so I applied again!

I knew I wouldn’t get it.  And I knew it was crazy, since I had a husband and small child at home who I really couldn’t leave to travel.  But I had to apply.  Again.

So I could feel rejected.  Again.

I always knew someday I would write a blog post about the Wienermobile.

But what spurred me to do it now?

THIS!

It is for only 8 hours, and there are other restrictions (click here for more info).

I HAVE ANOTHER SHOT!  And because I am a powerful manifester, I will continue to get shots until IT IS MINE!

You think my confidence is cocky?  I have a $2000 6 foot tall plush giraffe that I got for free in my house to prove that I CAN make my dreams come true.  That only took me 20 years.  And it only took me 20 years to get a dog.  Hmmm…and to get a Red Wings hockey jersey…

I see a pattern here.

This bodes well for me and the wiener.  And for getting a book published sometime soon.

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

RELISH THEM! (hehehehehe)

Once again I am coming down to the wire, though.  If you want to enter as well, just tweet #tweet2lease by 2/7/14.  But please don’t, because I want to win.

But if you do, and you do win, please swing by my house for a ride.  That is all I really want…to have a ride in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

…and the Goodyear Blimp.  Obviously not at the same time though.

* “afterall” is one word in the funnygurl2 dictionary.

What I Learned This Week – 6/9/13

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Photo: YouTube.com

Photo: YouTube.com

This week I learned that while my husband and I are both working for the first time since our son, M, was born 2 1/2 years ago, our living conditions at home are deteriorating.

Thursday from 10PM on played out like a painful sitcom episode. My husband and I both arrived at our wonderful babysitter’s house, having both worked for 8 hours. This was a miscommunication, because my husband’s job is 10 minutes from the sitter. My job? An hour. We were all starving (I assure you, the babysitter did feed my child. But his schedule is so far out of whack, that he now eats fourth meal on a regular basis.). So, I sent the husband home with the kid and to let the dogs out (who had been left an hour beyond their expected bathroom limits), while I headed off to the McDonald’s all-night drive through to buy a randomly-selected number of double cheeseburgers.

I arrived home, walked in the back door, and felt something stuck to the bottom of my shoe. I looked to discover it was dog poop. I cursed the dogs for pooping right outside the back door (I had not walked through the yard). I continued further into the kitchen for paper towels, only to discover that I had poop on both my shoes. And that is was actually diarrhea inside the back door on the laundry room floor.

My husband left my unhappy, thirsty, hungry son on the couch while we worked to get the mess cleaned up and the starving dogs fed (A rug was completely discarded in the process). We did manage to eat our dinner, although my son kept dropping chunks of burger on the couch, much to the non-diarrhea dog’s delight. I changed my son’s diaper one more time, gave the sick dog some Pepto-Bismol, and forgot to brush his teeth (the boy, not the dog). I went out and wiped down the floor a second time, which seemed to finally rid us of the doggy diarrhea odor.

The following night, on the same time table, seemed to go smoother. Only one parent showed up to claim the child (still me), we had dinner that wasn’t fast food, and no one pooped on the floor! Ya! Maybe this 2 jobs thing just requires practice.

I also learned that I have trouble working AND keeping up with my blog. But I assure you, I have many completed posts in my cue and the next three days off. Just let me catch up:)

I Have Written All My Life (Doesn’t Everybody?)

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I have always written stories or poems, almost all my life. I didn’t realize that not everyone does this. Only recently did it dawn on me.

Does that mean my career calling should be to be a writer? I have been spending 37 years trying to figure out what I should be when I grow up.

Is writing the answer?

"The Worst Snow Storm!" My first book.

“The Worst Snow Storm!”
Commentary:  My first book.

I made my first book a long, long time ago (but in this galaxy). It had a cohesive plot, but questionable spelling choices. You’ll have to excuse that fact–I had no editor, and was only in elementary school myself. It even had characters of varying ethnicities–one family was white, the other was black. That must have been the influence of 1970’s and 1980’s cartoons, which all had a token black character on the cast, because I didn’t even know any African-Americans at that age. The story wasn’t a school project or anything. I just made it all on my own, at home. I was very proud of it, because my mom put it in the scrapbook.

"Bobby Jones and Marty Cargo one day planned to play on that day.  But they had a snow storm." Wow.  Snow's so thick, I can't see a thing!

“Bobby Jones and Marty Cargo one day planned to play on that day. But they had a snow storm.”
Wow. Snow’s so thick, I can’t see a thing!

All through school, I would write stories every chance I could for class assignments. It made an assignment easy for me to complete. I would also write at home, just for myself. I would skip lunch during high school to write in the computer lab (much less chance of getting picked on or having food thrown at you). When I had a big depression my senior year, I became a prolific poet. I took lots of English classes as electives. I took the AP English class, but not the placement exam. I even took a one week summer writing workshop held at a local college.

"They asked their moms'.  Their moms' said, "No! You cannot go out." Smart moms.

“They asked their moms’. Their moms’ said, “No! You cannot go out.”
Smart moms.

One of my favorite teachers was my English teacher. We will call him Mr. C. He also happened to be the adviser for the newly formed school newspaper. I wrote a story or two for it. The next year, I ended up as the Co-Editor, which I actually really enjoyed. It was just kind of a happy accident that I ended up with that position (and because no one else wanted it). It helped to make my college applications not look so naked.

"But they went out anyway far, far away.  And they built a snowman.  While they were building a snowman it started to snow."

“But they went out anyway far, far away. And they built a snowman. While they were building a snowman it started to snow.”

In college I was busy, but I still wrote. During that time, I wrote one of my favorite stories. It is kind of goth. I used poetry at that time to once again get me through depression. I was a Communications major, with an emphasis on Radio and TV Broadcasting. I filled in the gaps between classes for my major and prerequisites with English and Psychology classes. I took so many English classes that the head of the department told me to make it my minor. He let me do an independent study to work on some stories and get a 400-level class on my transcript. (That would be an unfinished story that wasn’t good, and I wish I wouldn’t have wasted time on it.) (I could have minored in Psychology as well, but I didn’t want to have to take a statistics class, which was required to have it be an actual official minor.)

"After they were done with the snowman, they were very, very cold.  They would go home, but it was too far away." Damn, look at those goodsebumps.  They were REALLY cold.

“After they were done with the snowman, they were very, very cold. They would go home, but it was too far away.”
Damn, look at those goosebumps. They were REALLY cold.

My first full-time job, I found other creative-minded types. We read each other’s old stories. We wrote and emailed poems to each other throughout the day. They also were interested in dream interpretation, as I had been for years.

"When Bobby's dad woke up, Bobby's mom told him that Bobby was gone.  And when Marty's dad came home from work Marty's mom told him that Marty was gone." The mom's sure look happy about that.

“When Bobby’s dad woke up, Bobby’s mom told him that Bobby was gone. And when Marty’s dad came home from work Marty’s mom told him that Marty was gone.”
The mom’s sure look happy about that.

Really, the only time I can remember not writing was while my mom was sick. I spent one evening a week doing her grocery shopping for her, two nights doing her laundry, and usually taking her to a doctor’s appointment as well. And I worked 40hrs a week, plus a 2hr daily commute. She about killed me. I didn’t have time to write at that time. I didn’t even have time to think. Even though she got a clean bill of health a few years after she was diagnosed, I was still doing all those errands for her. I had to put an end to it when my son was born. Literally, like 10 minutes after I walked into my house from the hospital.

"So they went out and looked and looked for their boys." Sorry.  Too lazy to rescan.

“So they went out and looked and looked for their boys.”
Sorry. Too lazy to re-scan.

I went back to work after my maternity leave on the exact same day my company filed for bankruptcy. I also went back in a new position (my former lateral position that I had interviewed to get back into had been eliminated while I was off, so I was starting a new lateral position. Got all that?) where I got to work on one of the company’s blogs. It was fun. I found out a co-worker had a personal blog. This peaked my interest. Plus, I could read the writing on the wall. I knew I needed to add some new mad skills to my resume. So, I started this blog, got on Facebook and LinkedIn, and figured out how to actually use my Twitter account.

"They found their boys and picked them up and took them home." Wow, frozen solid.

“They found their boys and picked them up and took them home.”
Wow, frozen solid.

While hanging out at home with my son, I found more time to blog regularly than I would have anticipated having. Regularly publishing posts got me followers. Followers made me try to think up more content. This made me dig out an old story from high school, my only intent being to jazz it up a little, then post it on my blog.

That led to me deciding that I might be able to combine it with more short stories, and do one of those self-publishing dealios.

In 6 months time, that has led to me finishing 2 young-adult (short) novels, and starting a third in the trilogy, with plans for 2 bonus books.

My original goal is to have one self-published by year’s end. I am thinking the writing may be the easiest part of the equation.  I don’t know anything about royalties or percentages or designing book covers, etc.  And at first, well, I thought an e-book would be good enough to fulfill a dream.

But, well, a physical book with a cover with my name on it, filled with words spilled forth from my brain, is so tempting I can taste it. That was my first vision when I made that book out of crayons and pencil.

Trust me, when I get to that point, you will all know. imnotstalkingyou.com will be book-hawking central.

You know, I have also always had a love to art (drawing, painting, photography). Hmmm, maybe that is my real calling…

"They got home and laid their boys down, covered them up, and gave them some soup." This story has been sponsored by Campbell's Soup.  Mmm-Mmm Good.

“They got home and laid their boys down, covered them up, and gave them some soup.”
This story has been sponsored by Campbell’s Soup. Mmm-Mmm Good.

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