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!

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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”….

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

Needed: GPS System for Cubicles… — January 21, 2015

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I started my new job on Monday!  I am now working for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas as a Claims Examiner.  I have 10 weeks of training ahead of me, so I can’t even pretend like I can describe my future daily activities right now!  Today was Day 3, so right now everything is still pretty easy.

There are tons of people who work in our building.  (I’ve never had so many co-workers before!)  The funny thing is how many of them I already know.  We, the newbies, haven’t spent very much time out of our training room, but just between trips to the restroom or the break room have given me a lot of chances to see familiar faces.  Most of the people I know are due to me waiting on them either at the cinema or at CVS.  We had to go around and introduce ourselves, and as soon as I mentioned Marshall Cinema, everyone in the room was like, “I KNEW I knew you from somewhere!”  So, that’s been fun.  I surely hope they never saw me at “those moments” when I’m running around like a crazy person because everything’s going haywire all at once!

Once I get out of training I will be assigned my own cubicle.  I’ve never had a space to be like “my own” before, so I’m super overly excited about this.  :)  They already told us that we would not have to share our cubicles, so that really makes me happy.

SmallCube

None of this!!

Our trainers have been taking us around the building here and there to show us around.  The office is in an old K-Mart building, so you can imagine the amount of space that is covered with cubicles.  I felt like we were on parade when we toured the office because everyone was standing up in their cubicles to see all of us new people pass by.  hehe!

They told us we could decorate our space as well.  I heard one person say she was going to get on Pinterest to find something cute for her cubicle.  I’m not really big on moving my entire life into my workspace, but maybe I’ll go out on a limb for this one time…hey, new job, new chance to start over right?

PRINCESS CUBICLE FTW!!!!

PRINCESS CUBICLE FTW!!!!

um….nah.

I’m still the same old me.  :)

But I do have one new irrational fear, and this is serious.  I truly believe that I am going to lose my cubicle and never find it again.  What if they assign me a cubicle out in the middle of everything…all the rows look the same to me right now…what if I can’t find it?!

I don’t want to be like a little old lady who parks her car at Walmart and then can’t find it when she comes out!  I don’t want to wander the aisles aimlessly with a slight panic in my eyes…..crossing back and forth…have I been down this aisle yet?….what if I came out of the wrong side of the store?

Cubicle GPS.  I need it.  :)

Confirmation of Crazy — December 16, 2014

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Well that was quick.

We got brand new next door neighbors a couple of weeks ago.  They are a young married couple with a few dogs, but I have only met the guy so far.  We have had maybe two very fast hellos and introductions in our front yards.  Our house thrives on its wacky schedule and it seems that they work a lot as well, so our paths just never cross.

Earlier this week I was outside with Cashew.  It was nearly dusk, but the day was so pretty for a December day that I decided to take him out just for a second to let him roam around.  I was following behind him and I also was sporadically scrolling through my Instagram feed.  (I lurk there very well.)

Our neighbor comes home from work.  I wave to him and he says hi and asks about our trash pickup schedule.  I am chatting with him in between staring at the ground as Cashew crunches around in the leaves.  He says bye and walks toward his house.

Suddenly, I hear him walking back over.

Neighbor:  “Um, I hate to intrude, but are you all right?”

Me: “hehe, yes, I am fine!”

Neighbor:  “Well, I just realized that you’re just standing here in your yard.  I wanted to be sure you’re okay.”

Me: “Yes, funny story…”  (and went on to explain the turtle following ritual.)

Neighbor: “Oh!  Okay!  Just checking.  One time I came home and my parents were standing out in their yard.  Turns out they saw a snake inside the house.  I had to go get it out for them.”

:)

Dear New Neighbor: I promise we’re not going to be “those weird people” next door!  Please give us another chance!  :)

My Journey with Contacts — December 9, 2014

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I have finally converted (back) to contact lenses! Yes, after 5 years of wearing glasses, I decided it was time to experiment with something new.

I got my glasses (bifocals, yes) for my 30th birthday. My eye doctor at the time steered me away from contacts, so I went with glasses and they were okay. (Yes, I am having a “oooh, you are old” moment when I realized that I am talking about my 30th birthday like it was far in the past.)  One thing about glasses that has always been a hindrance to me — I like to let myself “hide” behind them.  Between the glasses and the fact that my hair is pretty long right now, I am finding that hiding is pretty easy nowadays.

So, I was thinking about a month ago that my plan year is almost up on my vision insurance, and I haven’t used a drop of my benefits all year.  What a waste, hehe!  I decided that I should at least get back some of the money I’ve spent all year on that insurance, so off I went to the eye doctor.  (Great reason, right?!)

Mind you, remember these glasses are bifocals, and even though I’ve had them a long time, every eye doctor I go to acts really surprised that I am wearing bifocals “already.”  (groan!)  This doctor was no exception.  But she put me in “multi-focal” contacts anyway, and let me have some trials of the daily use ones.  You toss the contacts in the trash at the end of the day and start with new ones every morning.  (I felt really luxurious and rich for being able to do that!)

She did not have me “try on” the contacts in the office, which rather surprised me since I haven’t worn contacts in forever, but apparently inserting contacts is like riding a bike, and I had them in my eyes in no time.

“Oh gosh, where is the floor??!!”

This was like starting over with bifocal glasses all over again.  Glad I was home.  When I did have to leave, those two steps down from the house to the sidewalk were a real challenge!  (Our neighbors, poor things, I hope they weren’t watching.  They probably already think we’re super weird because we are always outside with the turtles.  They can’t see that we’re walking around behind the turtles, so to them we’re just staring intently at the ground and occasionally talking to it.)  But I made it down the steps intact, so bonus for me.

Bonus for the rest of the world: David drove, hehe.  I really don’t think I could have passed a driving test in those contacts.  Definitely the wrong prescription!

I got another round of trial contacts this time in a “less severe” bifocal correction.  My closeup vision was great — it really doesn’t need much correction — but my distance vision still wasn’t what I wanted.  Good enough, but not great, you know?

I carried on with the multi-focal contacts for a few weeks.  I was gasping wildly at the idea of paying full price for them when my insurance benefit allowance ran out (ridiculously expensive!), but otherwise, I was pretty happy about the switch.

Finally, I decided I needed to give something else a try: monovision!  This is where one eye gets corrected for close up, and the other eye gets corrected for distance.  This also translates into cheaper contacts because they are just regular contacts and not the fancy multi-focal ones.  The kind I got are Alcon Air Optix Night & Day contacts.  You get to wear them for 30 days straight!  You even get to sleep in them!  Crazy!!

Day 1 with Air Optix:  I put the correct contacts in the correct eyes.  Left eye was correcting for close; right eye was correcting for distance.  I could immediately feel my left eye “dragging” along. It was a weird sensation – like it was overworking immediately to try to correct itself.  Right eye – AMAZING!  I had the best distance vision of all time.  So, lefty was being a problem, but I decided to carry on through the day to see if it would adjust.

Day 1, a couple hours later:  I was THISCLOSE to giving up on life.  Working at the bank obviously requires a lot of reading and a lot of reading of numbers that really look alike, and lefty just wasn’t having it.  Worse, my eye was so miserable with that contact in there that it was tearing up both my eyes!  Right eye: still amazing!

Day 1, several hours more:  I started texting Shane that I was preparing to remove the contacts and stab them with knives.

I started developing this strategy for throwing away the left contact and just using the right one.  I really felt like I only needed the distance correction anyway, so why not?  Guilt began at the thought of throwing away a month’s worth of contact after Day 1, even though it was a free trial to me.  (You can’t put these back in once you take them out unless you disinfect, and I didn’t have anything to disinfect with, so if it came out, it was going in the trash.)

Day 1, after work:  I drove home as a menace to society.  Lefty had truly given up on life, so I mainly drove with that eye closed.  Right eye was super joyful and happy as it was all day long.

I got home, and I wanted to run my contact-throwing-away scheme past David before I actually did it (I don’t know why) but he was asleep.  So, I took the left contact out.  I held it on my finger for a minute, trying to decide if I was making the right decision.  Left eye suddenly woke up from its coma and breathed a sigh of relief, and at that, I threw the contact away.

So, here we are, a week later, and I am still only wearing one contact.  I think I like it.  I returned my multi-focal ones yesterday for an insurance refund and will be ordering more (right-eye only) contacts.  This has actually turned out to be a cheap project!  The Air Optix are a lot cheaper than what I had before, and now that I only need one….even better!!

We shall see what we shall see.  :)

The Mystery Gift — November 15, 2014

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A new mystery surfaced at our house yesterday.  I was coming home for lunch yesterday afternoon, and as I turned onto our street, the mail truck was sitting at the end of our driveway and the mailman was just getting back into the truck.  I waited for him to pull away so I could pull into the driveway myself.  I saw that there was a somewhat large box on the porch.

It was marked “Fragile” and there was a large sticker on top that said, “1 SET.”

Dishesbox

I puzzled at the box as I pulled it in the door.  It was pretty heavy!

It came from Amazon, and David orders stuff from Amazon all the time.  Sometimes he remembers to tell me something’s coming, and sometimes he doesn’t, so I never know for sure.  I just figured it was something for him.  The only thing that puzzled me was that “1 SET” sticker!  What does that mean?  My first thought was, “set of dishes,” which made absolutely no sense because there was no way he would order dishes without telling me, surely.  Then it’s not like I ever cook, so our current dishes are more than sufficient for the little bit we use them.

I tried to think of what other things could come in sets: dvds, Star Wars figures, …….  *going blank.* Nothing really seemed logical for that box size.

I went on back to work, then David called me when he stopped by the house in between leaving one job and going to the next.

David: “How did we get these dishes?!?!”

Me: “What?  Dishes!  They are really dishes?!!”

D: “Yes!  They are Christmas dishes!”

Me: “No they are not.  Nobody in this house orders dishes.”

D: “Yes they are.  They have trees on them.”

Me: “You can’t be serious.  Is this a gift? I think everyone we know already knows we don’t really do Christmas.”

(Truly, I don’t decorate at all.  Some years I get my mini-Charlie Brown Christmas tree out (it’s like 6 inches high) and some years I can’t even get even That into it.)

D:  “I can’t find anything on it that says it’s a gift.  It just has my name on it.”

Me: “Go back in your history and see if maybe you ordered it in your sleep.  You know how easy it is to order stuff, maybe you just clicked on it.” (because I also know that we’re both bad about falling asleep trying to read something online — clicking while asleep wouldn’t be that far of a stretch.)

But no — no dishes in his history, or anything related to dishes.

So here is the box:

Dishes 002

I have never heard of Spode, but clearly it’s a pretty common dishware company.  (Have I missed something important in my years?  You know we never registered for anything anywhere when we got married, so maybe I missed out when I avoided the “let’s get a fancy set of China when we get married” experience.)

Here are the dishes,

spodetrees

According to Amazon, these dishes are listed for a price of $420.00.  WHAT!!?!!!!!!!!!!  They are on sale for $104.95.

So we are totally lost.  If you sent us these dishes, thanks for your clear generosity, hehe.  Please identify yourself!

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