Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: The Day Job (page 1 of 3)

Another Update! It’s Crazy!

What a week! You’d think a bunch of my time was taken up driving rich people around the city this week or something. Wait. It was. Yeah money! It’s nice to like my job, honestly. I hope it works out for me for some time to come. Just sayin’.

On the other hand, the whole job thing puts a rather large wrinkle in my lovely normal way of organizing my week. As in, nothing is the same and I don’t have the time I used to and I got spoiled and now I have to do everything in less time and I’m going out of town this weekend so the week is even shorter and OH MY GOODNESS I’M GOING TO EXPLODE.

Okay, I think I’m better.

Mostly.

By popular vote (And by “popular vote” I mean one person bothered to respond. Thanks, Mom.) I am posting photos of the progress on the master bathroom project, highlighting the rather wonderful sink/vanity unit we installed.

In case you missed it, or needed a reminder, here’s what it looked like before:
Master Vanity

And after taking out one wall and putting another in, and doing a lot of drywall work and painting, here’s what it looks like now:
New vanity

If you click the photos it should take you to my flickr photostream and a set of photos where I will be adding more pictures of the changes to the house as time goes by.

In other news, some of you may remember my post last year about buying an enormous amount of popcorn. I’m happy to announce that although we have not finished absolutely all of the 31 pounds of popcorn I ordered (though I’d say we’re within 5 pounds of it), we’ve polished off the 15-pound bucket of our favorite flavor and identified one or two other varieties that we’re planning to have around 3 pounds at a time.

In just over a year.

Yeah.

So if you’re looking for good popcorn, I recommend Fireworks Popcorn, especially their High Mountain Midnight variety. Go! Buy it now!

I really need to take the time to talk about my job. There are so many wonderful things about it. Like my Men In Black suit (sadly, sans flashy-thing). And my mafia car that could fit at least three bodies in the trunk, and feels like I’m driving four Laz-Y-Boy recliners around town. And my FBI security clearance to deliver people to the airport. Because it’s awesome.

This weekend I’ll be up in the mountains outside Colorado Springs on a women’s retreat. I think it will be lovely, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to relax and unwind my soul a bit.

Finally, I just have to say one thing about American Idol tonight: WHAT?!?! Pia went home?!?! WHAT! Not that she won’t have a really solid career taking off at this point anyway, but seriously. Unexpected. I was flabbergasted.

Gasted.

By.

Flabbers.

It was quite unpleasant, if you must know.

More later. Maybe I’ll introduce you to Mr. Prickles! That sounds like a great idea.

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Um… Happy New Year!

Holy cow! It’s been almost 5 months since I posted an entry here!

In my defense (I always have a defense) I have been really really busy. Really! First there was the cross-country driving, which included visits to both my family and Matt’s family for Thanksgiving and also for pilfering various items from their houses–some of which we had left behind to be collected later and some of which were donated to the cause of furnishing our new house. We drove back with a big U-Haul trailer which, thankfully, did NOT try to kill us in Kansas like the last one did. In fact, this trailer behaved so well compared to the last one we pulled on the same route that any lingering doubts or guilt I might have carried about taking U-Haul’s money five years ago to repair our truck after their trailer tried to kill us have been laid to rest. Their trailer had a problem. A big problem. And it damaged our car and threatened our safety. And I do not regret taking their money to pay for the necessary repairs. So there.

So we returned with our bellies full of turkey and our car and trailer full of boxes and furniture, and promptly unloaded those latter items into our apartment’s garage, because we had not yet closed on the house. In fact, while we were gone another complication came up to delay things for *another* couple of weeks. In the beginning of December we threw common sense to the wind and cleaned up the leaves in the back yard even though we had no claim to the house yet, because we didn’t want them to be matted down over the grass by incoming snow in case we *did* close. At the most, it would be a few hours of free labor given to a good cause. We raked up 41 big bags of leaves and piled them on the back patio, just in time for a big snowfall to justify our actions. We also cleaned out as many roof gutters as we could reach with our apartment-sized ladder–most were entirely full, and some had plants almost two feet tall growing in them.

Luckily for us, we DID close on the house just after Matt’s finals week in December. We signed all the paperwork on Friday the 17th, I painted and cleaned like a crazy person all weekend, and we moved the bulk of our belongings in on Monday the 20th. In true Whitt fashion, we unpacked and decorated for Christmas in record time, and were entirely out of the old apartment before the end of the year.

After our housewarming party in mid-January, we started in on remodeling the master bathroom. That project is still in process, but it’s closer than ever to being finished. Right now, all we need are trim (baseboards, etc.), tile in the shower stall, and a shower door. The tiling is holding things up at present, because it takes a big chunk of time at once, and we haven’t had a whole lot of that.

The next project will be the half-bath and laundry room downstairs. And the garage doors (only one currently works). And the retaining wall in the back yard. And pulling out the enormo-bush out front. And the dead bushes. And… well, I’ll be sure to keep the photos coming.

Shiloh does, in fact, love her new house and back yard. She’s not too sure about all the service people who’ve come over to work on things and make sure our systems are up to par.

It’s probably worth mentioning that now that we have extra room even after designating a guest room and an office for me, we’re renting our spare room to a college student. His name is Kevin, and I’ll probably mention him from time to time. So now you know who this random Kevin person is.

In other news, I bit the bullet and got a new job. I’m driving for a car service here in Denver, mostly Town Cars with the occasional SUV, van, or stretch limo thrown in. It’s a good job, and I like it thus far. Flexible, good people, decent money. Can’t complain. So if you’re coming to Denver and you need a driver, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll give you the company’s contact info.

Matt is on schedule to graduate this May, barring a sudden descent into insanity as a result of his crazy schedule this semester to get everything done. So May will be busy, as we host several family members for his graduation ceremony, then throw a party, then head out for a week of vacation with some of those family members.

I don’t remember all the other things that have happened in the last five months, but I’m sure things will come to mind as I return to regular updatery.

So? How are things with you? What have I missed? What should I post photos of first? Talk to me, people!

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The Amazingly Normal, Non-Exploding Blog Post

For those who have not been paying attention, today was New Stove Day!  Before the old one was hauled away, I took this photo of the damage:

IMG_2267

Yes, the oven floor is a bit dirty, but at least it was not flaming.  For those who really like details, the right portion of the broken coil was the bit that wasn’t getting power, and the left bit was the angry red/white-hot/flaming bit.  The flame traveled from the broken end up and around about the where the top rack crosses it in the photo.  Maybe a bit more.  As I said before:  alarming.  I do not recommend it as an experience everyone should have.

So the new oven came today.  It’s white and extremely clean (it makes our white-painted cabinets look a bit dingy), and it doesn’t have a window in the door or an oven light.  But it seems to cook things just fine, which is really the material point, and I can’t blame the landlord for going a bit cheap on his rental property instead of shelling out a big load of cash.  See?  New oven:

IMG_2268

And to initiate it, I thought it was appropriate to cook myself a chicken pot pie for lunch.  That which brought the last one to its death will initiate the new appliance’s life.  Or something.  It smelled something awful for a while, but that was only alarming until I decided that was “new oven smell” (which is decidedly not as nice as “new car smell”–no one will be bottling it and selling it at Wal*Mart) and in the end I had a perfectly lovely chicken pot pie made with ABSOLUTELY NO FLAMES INVOLVED.

IMG_2269

To be entirely candid, the bottom was less crispy than I really like, but that could be because I didn’t preheat the baking pan like I usually do.  I will report on this high-interest story as it develops.

In other news, I need to go officially turn in my key and access card and final timesheet to leave the day job behind.  I should probably call Matt and make sure he remembers that so I can have the car.  Also, the new writing regime has been working quite well, and I anticipate consistent progress in the future as well.

Finally, I leave for Ohio tomorrow, so you can expect things like updates of me with my adorable nephew for the next week or so.  And funny things I see at the airport.  And whatnot.

I’m sure there’s more, but it will have to wait.  You know how it is.

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The Amazing Exploding Blog Post!

Those of you who are Facebook and/or Twitter friends already know about our flaming oven, but I thought it was worth more than a couple of 160-character update.

Once upon a time (read: Friday evening) a we were at home after a busy day of doing our various busy things. In fact, we were only home for a little while, as Matt was shortly expected at a friend’s house for poker night and I was expecting friends (mostly wives of those at poker) to arrive for a girls’ night in. He planned to eat while playing poker; I fell back on a perennial staple, chickie pa’ pah (read: chicken pot pie). I pre-heated the baking pan for a nice crispy bottom crust, wrapped tin foil around the edge to prevent burned edges, and set my handy-dandy kitchen timer for the requisite baking time.

About five minutes before the timer was supposed to go off, as I was reading on the couch, I heard a faint “pop pop pop-pop” from the kitchen. It sounded a lot like microwave popcorn, but quieter. Maybe something *else* exploding in the microwave?

So I asked, “Matt, are you cooking something in the microwave?” My tone was rather skeptical because, as you may remember, Matt was expecting to eat later and he’d already had a snack.

“No, but you have something in the oven,” he said, as if I were a rather slow four-year-old who would forget that my supper was cooking even though my stomach was trying to eat itself at that point. (I love you, sweetie.) I extremely reluctantly marked my spot in the book, got out from under my cozy blanket on the couch, and went to check on my pot pie, just in case something very odd had happened and it was boiling over.

I feel it necessary to mention that never in all my years of cooking Marie Callender’s most excellent individual chicken pot pies has one of them bubbled over, much less gotten past my tin foil rim AND the baking sheet to make ploppy sizzles on the oven floor that will bake on and set the fire alarm off in a week or so. But I stopped reading and went to check on it Just In Case, secretly hoping the popping noise (which had been going steadily for several minutes since I’d noticed it) was the result of something silly Matt had done and forgotten about. Because I did not want my pot pie to be ruined. I was hungry.

A quick glance through the oven window showed nothing amiss with the pot pit, but a bit of extra brightness down in the front corner of the oven. Maybe something else ran over and now caught fire?

I opened the oven door, and blinked several times.

Me: Um… Matt? The oven is on fire.

Matt (in the living room, unconcerned): That’s not good.

Me: No. The oven is on fire. The metal is flaming.

Matt scurried to my aid with satisfying speed, and by the time he got there I had turned off the oven and was staring in consternation at the heating element, which had actually broken. One end was black (and presumably cool, though we didn’t touch it) and the other end was glowing angry red and shooting off sparks at the end. And flaming, of course. Just a bit at the end, not the whole thing. Maybe a half-inch of the metal was actually flaming, and it wasn’t particularly a huge flame. Maybe an inch tall. But it was in our electric oven. In case you have never used an electric stove before, flames are really quite bad.

Anyway, the oven knob was now turned to “off”, which I expected to mean that the red-hot-ness and the yellow flaming-ness and the throwing off sparks-ness would dissipate. But they didn’t. There was more redness and a bit more flaming, though it did stop sparking as the white-hot area immediately inside the flame began to travel slowly away from the broken end and toward the power source. It was like a very slow magnesium burn.

It was also very alarming.

Matt tossed a cup of cold water on the heating element to cool it down.

Safety note: in retrospect this was a STUPID STUPID idea, but we really thought no power was running through it. Actually, we weren’t really thinking at all. As I mentioned, we were rather alarmed. I am very glad I was not there alone. Regardless, please don’t follow our example. The water did nothing anyway, except run down into all my cake pans in the bottom drawer and then onto the floor in a huge rusty puddle that I had to clean up later.

So the water (STUPID IDEA!) was ineffective, and the flame was still burning its way along the heating element and Matt realized this was all going to go south very fast and he started pulling the stove out from its little nook in the counter so I could reach back and unplug the whole thing.

Everything calmed down right away, and I called my Mommy to tell her we didn’t burn the down the building. Matt sent the landlord an email rather apologetically informing him that we need a new stove (which is supposed to be delivered sometime on Wednesday), and we proceeded with our evening as planned.

For those who are interested, my chicken pot pie was not fully cooked (evidence that perhaps there had been issues for some time before I noticed them) and when I put it in the toaster oven to finish cooking I was completely mistaken in my estimate of how much time it needed–and it ended up charred and mostly inedible anyway. I had ice cream, popcorn, and peanut m&ms for dinner.

Don’t judge me. My oven tried to blow up.

In other news, this week will effectively mark the end of my day job. It hasn’t been the job I signed on for since the middle of June or so, and it’s an entirely amicable parting–in fact, I suggested that it was time for them to stop employing me, given various circumstances. So we will have a test period of me being a Real Writer, complete with external accountability checkpoints because I am like a greased weasel if I try to keep myself on track. And if I, you know, finish things and send them out and sell them, I have permission not to get another day job in the foreseeable future. Woohoo!

Also, I am close to insanely jealous of Neil Gaiman’s library. Close.

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The Unpacking

It’s frigid again today – temps overnight were down in the single digits, or so the local news people say. We hung curtains in the house last night, and sleeping with them all closed did seem to help keep the apartment warmer, so that’s a good thing.

We’re close to being finished with the unpacking – Matt’s squirming because he hates the bare walls, and he’s home all day today, so I expect when I come home he’ll have everything unpacked that is in his power to unpack, and he’ll be more than ready to have me help hang all our various pictures.

That will still leave me to unpack and organize the second bathroom, which is more of a disaster than ever, but I think I can handle that.

Tonight should also see our washer and dryer installed in the laundry room. This is a good thing, because we are running out of clean clothes. Also, we’re going to take a trip over to the old apartment to pick up the last of our stuff and clean the place out in general. That means we’ll have the vacuum cleaner at the new apartment, which makes me very happy. The dog will not be happy, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Also, we’ll have butter again. The butter dish was one of the random things that never made it into a box (probably because it still has butter in it), and so we have lived all week without it. Let me tell you, dry English muffins are only good for a morning or two. Then you start craving butter. Believe me. I know.

And because Dr. Grounds has some errands to run and a doctor’s appointment, I doubt I’ll get much done as I drive him to and fro today. Not that I mind–I always have fun spending time with him–just that I won’t be individually productive. Of course, now that I think about it, I didn’t particularly have any goals for today that don’t involve unpacking at the apartment, so it’s not even much of a loss.

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The Day Job

I don’t talk much about my day job these days. That is in part because I’m wary about saying things online that can be traced to real life. It is in part because a lot of the time there’s not much worth saying, because I tend to work rather mundane jobs that allow me to spend my real brain power in other areas, like writing. And, to be frank, sometimes I’m in a mood to complain and day jobs just cry out for that sort of thing, whether they deserve it or not–but I try to keep the outright complaining to a minimum. Finally, there are subjects that I’ve always been taught to be very careful discussing in polite company (like religion and politics) and my jobs of late have been with religious institutions. So I try to tread softly.

I do things like refer obliquely to my job and whether or not it’s going well, but most people who just read my blog don’t know what I actually do. And I know I mentioned that I was switching jobs a few months ago, but again, I gave very few details.

But I’m having such a great time that I want to tell you about it.

I work for a gentleman, Dr. Grounds, who is 94 years old. He still comes into the office every day to meet with people and mentor students at the school where he has worked for the last 57 years. He usually arrives, picked up by a friend, by 7:30 in the morning, and we leave at around three in the afternoon, when I drive him home to the retirement community where he and his wife of over 70 years have lived for almost as long as I’ve been alive.

My job, essentially, is to make it as easy as possible for Dr. Grounds to come in and meet with people. I make appointments and serve as his hands and feet for quick errands around campus, make sure he eats lunch, and generally make sure he’s okay. Most of the time, when he doesn’t have a visitor, he reads or prays in his office; on a particularly sunny afternoon, he’s likely to doze off in his chair. Quite often, he encourages me to work on whatever writing I’m currently in the middle of.

“Is the genius burning?” he’ll ask. Thanks to him, it often is these days.

His office is in the back of the seminary library, through the Reading Room that is named for him and holds his personal library, which he has donated to the school–I don’t know for certain, but at a rough estimate I’d guess there are eight to ten thousand books in that room. It’s quiet back here, and sometimes Dr. Grounds sings to himself in his office; old hymns or popular songs from sixty or seventy years ago. His voice is strong, but roughened and a bit gravelly with age. He reminds me, in the best possible way, of a strange mix between my husband’s grandmother and Yoda. And he has a vivid imagination and dry, razor-sharp wit that regularly makes me laugh.

Last week, the library had a fire drill. We took the rear emergency exit and, as Dr. Grounds made his way with his walker around the building, he asked where we were headed. I told him we needed to meet up with the rest of the library staff, and he said, “Ah, is that so they know not to look for our charred corpses?”

“That’s exactly it, Dr. Grounds.”

I’m still chuckling about it more than a week later.

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Monday, Monday, Monday!

I was going to wait until I had time to upload some photos from this weekend before I posted, but that will be silly, since I won’t have time until at least tomorrow. The backpacking trip was lovely, in almost all the possible connotations of the term. The only down side, so far, is that I managed to strain my right knee, which means today I’ve taken three ibuprofin pills and taped one of those one-time-use heating pads onto it (you’d be how surprised how little it takes to dislodge a badly-adhered heat pad from your knee joint area) and as long as I don’t so anything really silly (like crouch down) it’s just fine.

Shiloh doesn’t seem to have picked up a knack for jumping fences, though we are told she did dig a few small holes in the yard. We’ll have to watch out for that in the future. Also, she stayed in the yard when the gate got left open, even though the other dog went galavanting around the neighborhood. We’re pretty sure that’s because Shiloh knows which side her bread is buttered on, and staying near the humans who feed her is pretty much always a priority.

Also, I can now announce that news that’s been in the works lately – I’ve turned in my notice to my current day job, and this Thursday will be my past day there. Starting next week, I’ll be taking a job at the seminary as a personal assistant. I’ll get more hours at the same pay rate, and there’s an excellent chance that I’ll be able to make progress on my own projects while I’m there. It’s a winning situation all around. So that’s very fun.

Hope your weekend was as lovely as mine. Was it?

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Whee!

There are no longer essential chunks of manuscript missing from my novel. All the big gaps have been filled, and it feels lovely to be able to say that. There are, of course, several threads that I need to be sure are securely woven throughout the course of the story, but most of those will only require a sentence or two here and there. There’s still plenty of work to do (I do have three whole days before I figure I have to mail this off, and far be it for me to not use all my available time) but things are in pretty good shape.

I’ve put off thinking about the wisdom teeth stuff for now; I made my consult appointment and it’s not until October, which means I’ve got time to think about it later.

I have something of a job interview today. Am excited to see how it goes; updated my resume and need to remember to print off my list of questions about the job, since there are several.

This week is busy – aside from that little deadline thing, I’ve got Bible study tonight, I’m accompanying a friend to the doctor to be there for her stress/heart test, I’m working Thursday (as usual) and have a lunch meeting on Friday. And then Matt will be gone this weekend. Lots to think about, lots to do, but my brain is fried enough that I’m not worried. That is the up side of being on your brain’s last legs. Nothing much bothers you.

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Still Alive

The manuscript has become pretty much all-encompassing, except for when I shove it forcibly out of my mind. Most annoying is the fact that I think about it while I’m falling asleep–or rather, while I’m NOT falling asleep because I’m thinking about it. And when I do get to sleep, it’s not good sleep. I’m remembering my dreams, waking up in the night, and feeling extra tired when I wake up, which all point to less than stellar rest.

At least I’ve made progress this morning on the myth/legends that I’ve been putting off for the last few months. I’ve know for some time what the point of the various stories needed to be, their moral or theme or whatever you want to call it. The trouble has been that I didn’t know what happened in each story. Theme without plot isn’t a story. So I’ve got a plot for one of them now, which is great, but for some reason the words aren’t flowing very well. I was going to write the story while all the plot ideas were still fresh (though I brainstormed on paper, so it’s not as if I’ll lose something vital), but at this point I’m thinking I should just move on to the other stories and see if tomorrow is more friendly to putting words on the page.

I made an appointment for a consultation with the dentist who will pull my wisdom teeth, so events have been set in motion for that.

I’m also being a weenie about the potential of moving away from my current day job. The alternative is a very good one, and I’m sure I’ll like it, but I never like giving my notice to quit, especially when I like my coworkers. But the move will be good both for my writing and our finances, so I have to get past the weenie-ness.

But now it’s time to get back to the writing. And the thinking about the writing. And the finishing. Ta ta.

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*cringe*

Maggie Stiefvater just kicked my butt and, if you’re a creative type, perhaps you should go let her kick yours, too.

Now, it’s time for me to take a shower, run my errands, and go hope I don’t blow up the mail room at the office. Everything was relatively unscathed after yesterday, but I don’t expect it to last. After all, I’m only pretending I know what I’m doing in there.

Then it’ll be back here for some writing. Because I’m a writer, and that’s what I do.

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