It’s January 19th, and I Don’t Know Where the Bathroom Is — November 20, 2015

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I said good-bye to my job at Blue Cross Blue Shield this week.

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Bye Blue Bear!

I started at BCBS back in January — January 19th to be exact — and went through the lengthy claims examiner training class with my group.  (It was a tough class and I had all the stress dreams to prove it!)  We got out of class, got to work, and even after all those weeks of training, we found the learning curve to still be extremely steep.  I almost felt like I was starting each day at the bottom of a sheer cliff, all smooth rock, staring up towards the top before starting the arduous day’s climb.  There were a lot of days when I felt certain I’d been given a dull pickaxe and flimsy houseshoes for the day’s ascent.  A friend and I developed the saying, “It’s January 19th again.  We just got in the building for the first time and I don’t even know where the bathrooms are.”  It was a more fun thing to say than to try to express our true feelings of full-on confusion!

But of course, when you’re new, I guess some level of confusion is to be expected.  We carried on, and then early May hit and we were called into a meeting.  Topic: OUTSOURCING.

(cue dramatic music)

It was certainly a shock to find out my brand-new job was going away!  We were given a timeline for the end of our positions and that was basically the new reality from that point forward.  This is the second time that I’ve had a job end with a planned layoff.  (My first job out of college ended as a result of a similar meeting.)  I’m here to say: it just really isn’t any more fun the second time around than the first!

Fortunately, I was able to find a new job, and I ended my time at Blue Cross this week.  It has been a really hard few months trying to keep all the plates spinning and myself motivated when gloomy reality loomed largely. Even still, quitting was bittersweet in some ways. I don’t really like quitting jobs and I’m not very good at it….and quitting two jobs in one calendar year is more than I really thought would happen in 2015!  But we do what we have to do.

The neat thing about BCBS is that it gave me an opportunity to have a couple of experiences that I always thought would be interesting to try:

  1. I finally got to live the cubicle-lifestyle.
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My cubicle, from my birthday this past year.

I have always wanted to know what it would be like to have a cubicle and live in your own little space!  I’ve never had that before.  And, this pic above is in no way a reflection of how my cubicle usually looked, hehe.  My space was barren and devoid of basically all touches of humanity.  It was a sterile space, that save for  a box of Kleenex, pretty much looked like no one lived there.  I liked it like that!  Plus, the cubicles made for a really quiet environment most of the time, which was also great for me.

2. I finally got to work in a place that got neat perks.

When I worked for Capital One, I was always a little jealous because our nearest large office was in Plano and they were always doing cool stuff.  They got to bring in vendors for things, have parties and other fun events, but we were always too small for that.  Well, Marshall BCBS was large enough to get to do fun things — like eating!  I was totally well-fed at that place.  :)  I can’t even begin to guess how much free cake came with my job.  Lovely! Then there was our “purple day” when we had all purple foods:

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This is grape soda, purple colored rice krispie treat, and purple chips and queso.  Yes, it was unnerving to eat that glob of purple and taste cheese!

3. I finally got to have a “mystery job.”

I remember several years ago talking to a manager at CVS about my ideal job.  I was telling him that I’d love to go to a job and work really hard all day, and then come home, and know that no one really knew what I did all day long.  Yep — that definitely sums up my life for the past few months!  There were some days when I wasn’t even sure what I was doing all day, (hence the title of this post!), but I got enough compliments on my work that I must have been getting it right — at least most of the time.  :)

————-

And now we move on to the next new adventure.  I’ll be working for the Harrison Central Appraisal District, so I’ll be back in the world of counting money — my familiar world!  Looking forward to what’s to come — let’s get started!

Marshall Mall – My Own Personal “Groundhog Day” — November 12, 2015

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We like to walk on our breaks at work, and since the Marshall Mall is connected to our building, we often walk in the mall, especially if the weather is iffy and we can’t walk outside.

The mall here is pretty scrawny and mostly empty. As such, it’s got a little personality all its own, and for me, it’s like a scene from “Groundhog Day” every day.  It’s the same world over and over again every time – nothing changes – I just visit it for a few minutes and relive the same scene over and over.  Either every day in there is really the same, or else it’s on an eternal loop and I break into the time warp periodically for a visit.

Loop Evidence #1 – The mall music never changes.  They have the music stuck on repeat, and every day it’s the same song:  Ricochet’s “Daddy’s Money.”

I get inside the door of the mall and it’s:

“Country As A Turnip Green,

She’s got Daddy’s Money,

Momma’s Good Looks,

Look Who’s Lookin’ At Me”

Every day.

Loop Evidence #2 – It’s the same people in the mall every day.

  1. There’s the little old guy with the tiny hand weights! He walks the mall daily for hours on end (or at least The Loop makes it appear that way.)  One day we were walking outside and the tiny hand weights were laying in the parking lot next to a car.  Did the little old guy break out of the time warp?  If so, he wasn’t out for long before they pulled him back in.  I saw him later that day, weights in hand.  His clothes never change either.

“She’s got Daddy’s Money,

Momma’s Good Looks”

…..sorry…..

2.  There’s the little old guy reading the novel! This guy is totally my favorite looper.  He’s a teeny tiny old man who walks the mall so super slowly that he can read a thick paperback novel and walk at the same time.  Don’t get behind him because you’ll never make it back around the mall before break is over.

a. The mystery of novel guy: he never gets beyond about page 50 in his novel. I can’t figure it out.  He’s walking nearly every day but never progresses in his book!  What happens here?  Does he get to page 50 and suddenly get bored with every book and trade it out for another?  Does he get to page 50 and then go home and speed read to the end?  Does The Loop not allow him to progress past a certain point?

b. The second mystery of novel guy: he’s so super old but doesn’t require glasses. Does The Loop stop aging?  One day I was walking fairly close to Novel Guy and a few coworkers of mine were a little ahead of me, between me and Novel Guy.  They were marveling at the fact that he could read that tiny print unaided by glasses.  I hope he heard them because they were truly jealous of his super strength eyesight, hehe.

c. The third mystery of novel guy: how does he not trip all over the place? He’s not even looking where he’s going! And his little old man steps are just little shuffles!  I’m trying to walk like a normal person and I’m running into things all the time in there.

“Country as a Turnip Green….

Look Who’s Looking at ME!….”

(Oh, ooops.)

3. It’s the college students playing Magic: The Gathering at the table in the middle of the mall! Dear college students – those cards you have laying out on the table are the same cards I stare at every day as I go past. I realize you’re holding a discussion about them, but you have to know that your game isn’t changing.

“She’s Got Her Daddy’s Money,

Momma’s Good Looks,

More Laughs Than a Stack of Comic Books,

A Wild Imagination,

A College Education,

Add It All Up It’s A Deadly Combination”

(ahhhh……it invades! it invades the skull!)

4. It’s the girl filling up the tartar sauces at the (one and only) food place in the mall! I have to ask: “Who is eating all this tartar sauce?” There is no one at your counter buying your food, ever! I don’t understand where the sauce comes from or where it goes, but she’s totally committed to getting all those little containers perfectly full.

Loop Evidence #3 – The Mall tries to pretend that it’s not on a Loop.

I walked in there one day and THE MUSIC WAS DIFFERENT.  We switched from Ricochet to Randy Travis’ “Digging Up Bones”

“I’m Digging up Bones, I’m Digging up Bones,

Exhuming Things that’s Better Left Alone,

And I’m Resurrecting Mem’ries of a Love That’s Dead and Gone,

Yeah, Tonight I’m Sitting Alone, Digging up Bones.”

I was so confused at the music change.  I stole furtive glances around to confirm my reality.  Oh look – there’s that roach that’s been dead in the corner for weeks – check!  Over there – the clump of dust on the floor mats that never gets swept – check!  And whew, that handprint on the door – signs of life…or a looper’s escape attempt….okay, we’re good.  Can’t go changing that music on me.  It alters the whole sense of reality.

—–

So, ironically, I might actually be the one who breaks the Loop wide open – I’m about to leave their world.  My last day at Blue Cross Blue Shield will happen next week.  Alas, that’s a whole story for another time, but we’ll eventually get there.  I’ll miss my Loop though.  It’s given me a lot of reason to walk down the mall giggling as I roll my eyes to the only Ricochet song I’ve ever known.  :)

“She’s Got Daddy’s Money,

Momma’s Good Looks,

And Look Who’s Lookin’ at Me”….

The Fried Food Fiasco — May 13, 2015

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Every year, at least once, either David or I say, “You know what we should do this year?  Go to a Rangers game!”

And most years, it starts and stops with that sentence.

Some years I will go so far as to look at the home game schedule, but we never get much past that point.

This year, David hooked me in:

“Guess what the new ballpark food is this year?”  he says.

“OOOooooooh, what?!?!”, I reply, and suddenly the plans were on.  (He knows me well.)

So this year’s new foods are a large array of bacon products (which I will take a pass on…but really, now…bacon cotton candy?!), fried corn (yes!), and, what I wanted most of all, S’mOreos, which are deep-fried-oreo-smores.

So, off we went to Arlington and the Globe Life Park…to see the Texas Rangers play…and to fulfill our fried food mission.

We stopped in Longview along the way because we needed some fries to get us started, and we found our theme for the trip:

wpid-2015-05-13-18.48.09.jpg.jpegWe booked a room at the Howard Johnson hotel, which was right next to Six Flags and the Ballpark.  We mapped it out and realized that it would be a lot easier to walk to and from the hotel.  It was so close!  Why pay for parking if you can walk!

As we checked in, we found out that Arlington has a free trolley service from various hotels to the Ballpark, so we decided that would work just as well.

wpid-2015-05-13-18.46.53.jpg.jpegI had very strategically booked our seats at the ballpark.  Globe Life Park’s website is pretty neat because they actually let you see what food offerings are in each section!

It didn’t take long to see that the State Fare Stand in Section 41 was going to be our perfect seats…

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And here we are, Section 41!

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(You know how it is when you are too excited to hold the camera still!)

So, we decided to start off easy, with ballpark nachos:

wpid-2015-05-13-18.44.21.jpg.jpegEasy, delicious, and gets the appetite geared up for the goodness yet to come.

I had to be the one to get up to go get the nachos, so David took the task of getting up to get us some Fried Corn.

We were about 3 innings in by this point.  I started to look around to see who all else booked their seats based on the food offerings:

To the right:

wpid-2015-05-13-18.43.41.jpg.jpeghmm…..rather empty there….

To the left:

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Oh.  Seems like I’m the only one who scrambled to get into Section 41.  How interesting. :)

But the view was actually really good!  (Lucky accident, because we were sitting in 41 or else, right.)

wpid-2015-05-13-18.42.36.jpg.jpegWe did have some people in front of us.  They were really nice.  They shared their funnel cake fries with us, which was super, since I had them on my “maybe I will try….but maybe I won’t” list for the day.  (The funnel cake fries were pretty good.  They were a lot more chewy than regular funnel cake, but also not as sweet.  I probably wouldn’t choose section 41 again based on funnel cake fries alone.)

So, after nearly forever, David comes back to report that my State Fare stand was out of fried corn!!!!  What!!!!!

So I sent him after these beauties instead:

wpid-2015-05-13-18.41.40.jpg.jpegGarlic fries.  Stand back all vampires.  These things were so strong.

We shared our garlic fries with our funnel cake fry neighbors, since we were sure to be breathing garlic fumes on them for the rest of the game.  (Maybe THAT’S why they left early!)  They agreed that the fries were quite good.

That was a huge order of fries, so we took an eating break after that for a bit, and then….it was time for our main event:

S’mOreos!!!!!

It was my turn to get up, so off I went!

And……

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!  NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!  Why, cruel world?!  How can my S’mOreo dreams be crushed in one mere instant?  This is exactly how.  Closed.  CLOSED!!!!

It hurt me to have to share that news with David.  Of course, we couldn’t help but laugh.  Our main incentives for attending the game – demolished just like that.

So, luckily, the Rangers won:

wpid-2015-05-13-18.40.29.jpg.jpegAnd David surprised me by wanting us to walk back to the hotel instead of waiting for the trolley.  It really was an easy walk.  I would definitely stay there again — and now, we HAVE to go again because there’s still food that I must try!

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Also, thanks to my co-workers who decorated my cubicle at work today for my birthday:

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It was a fun day full of cupcakes, chips, and lot of nice wishes from everyone.  :)

Our Little 3-Year Olds — May 7, 2015

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Peanut and Cashew are turning 3!  I’ve been looking through some of their “baby” pictures lately and have been really surprised at how much they’ve grown up.

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One of their first pictures together, May 2012.  Peanut is a little bit older than Cashew, and is definitely a little larger here.  He’s also a little lighter in color.

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So tiny!  They usually slept pretty close to each other in their cage back when they were babies…

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And sometimes, we’re lucky enough to catch them still sleeping in a row!  (Peanut’s still a little lighter in color, but Cashew’s done a lot of catching up in size.  He’s actually a little bit larger than Peanut now, and he’s got more shell growing in!)

We just recently had to start separating them into their own cages, so they’re independent turtles with their own rooms now, hehe.  They are both males and we think they were competing for space, so now they have cages across the room from each other, within viewing distance of each other.  I think they’re happier with this arrangement, and they’re still friends — they get to hang out together when we’re home with them.

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I love this picture of Peanut standing up on those little spindly legs he used to have!  He’s much larger than Cashew here…

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And they actually used to be able to share their water bowl!  (Please excuse Peanut’s wide rear end…he still has that feature….)

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Cashew, present day,…same water bowl….but now he takes up the whole thing all by himself……

And we had to take action on Peanut’s wide rear when he really started expanding and could no longer fit in the log hideout in his cage….

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He was doing a Winnie-the-Pooh every day trying to run and hide in his log!  It was really hilarious and he somehow always made himself fit, but we finally stopped laughing at him and got him a larger log.

Turtles at their first Christmas:

Peanut and CashewNovember2012Christmas

They both have always considered David to be their own personal climbing toy.  Cashew’s new game is to swan dive off David’s desk and into David’s shirt, using it as his trampoline.  (We’re going to have to get a video of it.  He really commits to it!)

PeanutandCashewNovember2012CrawlingonDavid

Peanut is hiding under David’s collar, back when he was small and still fit under there.  Cashew is on David’s hand, about to take off and climb the rest of the way up…it was a long climb back then.

CashewTurtlePowerOct2014Cashew has Turtle Power!

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Of course, this was the baby pic of Cashew that made him famous.  :)  Still one of my favorites of him!

So I couldn’t resist a redo….

GrowingCashew2Peanut’s baby pic…

PeanuteyesclosedMay2012And now, he’s bigger than a handful…

PeanutinHand2015But he still loves to be held.  He loves nothing better than to sit and watch tv with us.

And if Cashew’s famous pic is my favorite of him, then I also have to share my favorite pic of Peanut:

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So so cute!  He was sitting in my lap asking to eat, and his expression here is just too cute.

It’s been a fun and interesting 3 years.  We’ve learned a lot about our little chelonians, and we’re sure to continue learning more as they continue to grow and mature!

I’m Not Only The Hair Club President…I’m Also a Client — April 9, 2015

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sysperling

Ahhh, the 1980’s, when you couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing Sy Sperling’s famous tagline….

My facebook feed has been like its own little hair club lately.  It seems that everyone is getting new haircuts for summer…so, why not join in?

The before… (with a baby duck….no, we didn’t buy him….this is from last week’s trip to the feed store!)

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Shane came down for the afternoon for haircut moral support….

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He is always great about getting the haircut footage –

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I am donating my hair again, of course.  I got about 11-12 inches cut off, so I hope that will be really helpful to someone who would love to have some thick curly hair!  :)

This time, I will be donating my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  This is my first time to donate to this organization, since all my previous donations have been to Locks of Love.

(Locks of Love seems to have gotten a bit of a bad rap lately, but I wonder if some of this isn’t just being taken out of context.  They are being accused to selling their wigs, rather than giving them away to children who need them.  In truth, their website has always stated that they do provide free services to those in financial need, but might charge others due to their financial state.  They have also stated clearly that they do sell any hair donations that are deemed unacceptable (too short to use for a wig, too damaged, etc.)  They say that they put the proceeds from these sales back into their organization.  I haven’t done extensive research for myself, but I would hate to think that people would stop giving to them based on a few angry people.  Hair donation, like blood donation, provides a commodity that just isn’t easily replicated.)

***Off the soapbox…I just really have a passion for this!***

I decided to give to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths programs this go-around for no particular reason, other than that Pantene focuses on wigs for grown women who are suffering from hair loss, and adults are just as deserving as children.

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So, yay for short hair!  It’s always a welcome change after all the time it takes to grow it out, and I was quite ready. I will miss my long hair, but I will not miss those marathon de-tangling sessions!

When Things Are Just Plain GOOD. — April 4, 2015

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I feel like I’m in this golden moment right now. Do you ever get one of those?  I’m just inexplicably happy.  I think my general persona is a pretty happy one, but right now, it’s a genuine all-over, just plain GOOD feeling.

I’ve been trying to find reasons, and I think it’s just a general convergence of a lot of the things I like, all just coming together at once.

1.  Daylight Savings Time is back.  That’s a life-affirming bonus X 1000.  I don’t know what happens to me in the winter, but the constant darkness is just not for me!  Having light in the evenings is really my favorite, even if I’m just staying indoors.

2. I can finally leave the house without a jacket on most days.  (And live to tell the tale.)

3. I am getting “think time” at work.  This is such an amazing feature of this job.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a job where I’m blatantly encouraged to “zone in” on what I’m doing.  My brain is in love.  We even had a meeting just this week where we talking about the importance of keeping interruptions to a minimum.  Yes!

(I went through a phase several months back where I got insanely jealous of those Edward Jones commercials that were constantly on tv.  They were talking about how they believe in their advisors having “think time” to better serve their clients.  My life at the bank at that point was one solid interruption after another, and that commercial made me so jealous!)

I was at work one day this week and I was working on a claim that was really difficult and complex for me right now.  I was going through all my information trying to come out with the right decision, and I didn’t really even know how deeply I was focused until I was done.

When I finished, I sat back in my chair and I felt like I literally came up for air!  I kind of looked all around me, just to make sure nothing important had happened while I was so absorbed.  It was a great feeling.

4. David and I got to continue our Easter tradition of visiting the baby duck and chicks at the feed store.

AtheneChicken2015

They’re just so cute.  :)  They had a different type of chicken this year that I’d never seen there before.  I’m not sure what they were, but they almost looked like little owls from the way they are colored.  They were neat!

5. I am walking to work on days that weather permits and I don’t have another job to go to afterwards.  It’s been really great, and it only takes me maybe one or two minutes longer to walk to work than to drive when considering the time of getting in and out of the car and also across the parking lot.

I was walking the other morning — it was about 7:30 — and I found my singing on the way to work!

Of course, I was definitely channeling this guy:

Right – we don’t sing when other cars are passing us!

Look, I am not the person who goes down the street singing!

But, for right now….maybe I am!

AtheneChicken20152

When Everything Does Everything — March 28, 2015

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David just bought me a brand new tablet.  :)  It’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab S.  Excited!  We got a great deal on it, so we also bought the matching bluetooth Samsung keyboard. I guess I’m starting to build out my Samsung collection, since this adds to and coordinates with my Galaxy S5 phone really well.  It even has a feature called SideSync, where it syncs with the phone and puts the phone on the tablet screen.  It’s like picture in picture, hehe.  I can toggle between the phone and the tablet, and since the phone itself is emulated onto the tablet, I can text with the keyboard.  That’s pretty neat.

Before this, I had an older ipad2, so the resolution difference (especially in reading ebooks) is pretty remarkable.

But here’s the thing — as much as I like all the cool features of this new tablet, honestly, this is just another thing we have that does all the things.  It’s true!  Besides some small novel details, the tablet does the same thing as the phone, which does the same thing as the ipad, which does the same thing as the laptop, which does the same thing as the desktop.  When do you stop needing another thing that does everything?

There are two people who live in this house, so we have a max of two people who can use the internet at any one time.  (We’re still training the turtles on technology use…..)

Peanutwatchinghisvideo

(…..but they already enjoy watching their own videos.  This is Peanut re-living his outdoor shower.)

So if there are only two of us, why do we need so many Internet enabled devices?  We can’t really use all of them at once.  (Although one day I had my desktop, tablet, and phone all going at the same time and I felt pretty gifted to keep all those plates spinning!)

A friend’s husband wrote an article once, and even though it’s over a year old now, it has kept replaying in my mind all this time:

Smart TVs, smart fridges, smart washing machines? Disaster waiting to happen.

This is exactly the problem with the fact that everything does everything.  You can’t possibly keep up!  Do we just throw out my Galaxy S5 when the S6 comes out in a few days?  What about when my new tablet is no longer the latest and greatest?  Not to mention our Wii, which is generation one of the Wii system.  Stand back everyone, we’re retro!

I was at work at the cinema a few months back, talking with one of the guys who works with me.  We were mid-conversation when he got a text, and pulled his phone out of his pocket to sneak a quick peek at it.

“Oh, that was from my washing machine.”, he says, putting the phone back in his pocket.

I just had to laugh at that.  “You get texts from your washing machine, now, huh?”

So he continued to explain that they had just gotten a new machine with all the bells and whistles, and he set it up to text him when it was finished washing.

This immediately made me envious, because in our life, we still have to walk to the machine to see if it’s done!  Our house’s layout is such that the washer and dryer are in the garage.  To get to the garage, you have to walk outside and across the front of the house to check the laundry, which is not super fun when it’s cold or rainy.  Not long after we moved in, we went and got a cheapie baby monitor and put one side on the washing machine and the other side in the house.  Voila! No unnecessary treks!

But to have the texting feature built in….hmmmm….

So, when do we stop needing more of the things that do everything?

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