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.

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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

On the Other Side….Finally!! — March 21, 2015

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Athenegraduation
I finished my training for my job on Friday! Yay for that! We were in class for 9 weeks, and we are finally finally finished! I almost can’t believe we’re done, but moving into our cubicles made it feel more real. After being squashed in our classroom setting for so long my cubicle is absolutely enormous to me. (And my name is on it, so I can’t lose it!)
I learned so much during this training. The recruiters talk to you about the training class even during the phone pre-screening interview. You are warned from the onset that the class is a full 8-hours a day every day, and that you are not allowed to miss any days during training. This was repeated again during my face-to-face interview, and they talked a lot then about how much we would learn and about the rapid pace of the class. Boy, no lies there! I can’t count the number of days that I got off from work, stumbled into the door at home, and crawled straight to bed for a nap because my brain simply could not think anymore! The learning curve was really steep, for sure, and I am thankful that I did not have to miss work at all – I would have been so lost!

When I was getting ready to start training, I was telling anyone who cared that I really hoped I was getting into a “brainy” job, where I could really think and apply knowledge and feel smart about it. Yes, be careful what you wish for! :) It’s been good though. I had been living on auto-pilot for too long — time to actually use those neurons!

So here’s one of the most interesting side-features about this job – we eat cake A LOT.

Our building loves to celebrate everything. It’s pleasant and people really get into all the morale boosters and celebrations. Our unit has embraced this philosophy, and somehow cake is always involved. I have eaten more cake since I started this job than any time I can think of in recent memory.

I was recounting this fact to David the other night, and how we ate cake at work two days in a row for two different occasions. His response? “Oh, you have found your dream job!”

Yes, I really love cake.

And here’s the best part about this place: there’s NO SUCH THING as a little dainty slice of cake there!! You get a full-on SLAB of cake, every single time. They hand you your cake and you can’t even see your plate because the cake is hanging over the edges.

What can you do? Just grab your fork and say, “Challenge Accepted!” (in your best Barney voice from HIMYM)

And that dizzy feeling you get as you walk back to the classroom? It’s just your blood sugar congratulating you on a job well done. :)

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.  :)

Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now? — January 12, 2015

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I quit my job today.

The bank and I have broken up.

“The time has come,
The time is now,
Just go, go, go!
I don’t care how.”

This breakup was a very long time coming. I have been with the bank for more than 8 years, and there was a long time period within those years where I really thought I would be there forever. There was a lot of contentment in that job for me, and I got to do a lot of things that really appealed to my detailed-oriented, let’s-get-this-right nature.

Then 2014 happened.

“Marvin K. Mooney,
I don’t care how,
Marvin K. Mooney,
Will you please go now?

The entire bank culture shifted. Phrases like, “manage out the under-performers” and “with increased terminations, stay in close contact with your branch recruiter so someone is ready in the pipeline at all times in case of an opening,” became commonplace.

Our environment became unstable. We started to lose a lot of longtime co-workers, friends. They left quickly and en masse. All of the rest of us felt that our remaining time was limited.

“Marvin K. Mooney!
Don’t you know
the time has come,
so GO, GO, GO!”

I had somewhat hoped that things would pass and we could try to carry on, but it was futile. Gone were the easy days, only to be replaced with fear — will this be the day to get sent to the house? I spent many days where I could not even take a deep breath. There was too much panic lurking beneath the surface and I felt like I was only seconds away from giving in.

“You can get yourself a Ga-Zoom.
You can go with a…BOOM!
Marvin, Marvin, Marvin,
Will you leave this room!”

Then the day came. I had found another job and I could finally be finished. Time to hand in my notice. David had been supportive the entire time of my quitting, but we wanted to be sure I wasn’t premature about my timing. My other jobs…my managers could not have been any more helpful to me. Both of the managers at Marshall Cinema and CVS were ready to help me — extra hours, more shifts, whatever they could do. I was lucky.

I delivered my notice to my bank manager. After I finished, I walked back to my computer and the area I had called home for several years. I wasn’t nervous. In fact, the feeling was incredible! Suddenly, my shoulders no longer hurt. I couldn’t believe how free they felt! That was a tension I had carried so long that I wasn’t even noticing it anymore. I took a deep breath – no more panic. Everything changed in that moment – all I had to do from there was carry on a few more days, and then move forward into something new.

So I did.

“I said GO and GO I meant,
The time had come.
SO….Marvin went.”

The Time Had Come…

SO….Athene Went.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

marvin

Text of entire book.

My Own Little Brush with Celebrity — November 4, 2014

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I was lucky enough recently to rub elbows with some of the staff from CinemaTour!  That was really exciting to me.

CinemaTour is a website that documents history of theaters around the world.  I have been a huge fan of this website for many years.  (I have even talked about them on my blog before!)  They get the opportunity to go all over and take pictures of cinemas.  That is such a neat idea to me.  I would love to do something like that!  (It would combine two of my curiosities:  cinemas, and urban exploration — since they often photograph old, abandoned cinemas whose glory years are long forgotten.)

I’ve said this before, but I really admire people who have a real passion for what they do in life.  (Exactly the reason why a Bigfoot Conference would be enthralling to me!) CinemaTour definitely represents a life of immersion into one’s work, and I like that.

Cinematour came to visit us at Marshall Cinema once before, back in 2005.  I was working there then, but I didn’t come in that day until after they had already left.  I was really let down that I had missed them!  So I sent them some pictures and got them posted on their site.  :)

Fast forward several years to the present.  We finished our cinema remodel in early summer, and I had been trying desperately to remember to send some of our new pictures to Cinematour.  It was one of those mental note kind of things that would occur to me only at the least opportune moments.  :)  I wouldn’t be anywhere near a computer, and I’d suddenly think, “Oh, I need to send those pictures!”

So a few Saturday nights ago I had just gotten to work at the cinema.  I had settled in at my usual register behind concession.  It was unfolding as any other typical night, we were telling corny jokes to each other (my favorite) and we were waiting for customers to start coming in.

A group of three people came to the door and the usher pointed them towards me.  The woman walked up and shook my hand and said, “I’m Emma from CinemaTour!”

OOoooooh yay!!!!!!  I was so excited!  I got to talk to them all about what they do, and where they go, and they were just as enthusiastic about their work as I hoped.  Our manager showed them my photobook!  He loves to show the book to everyone, and they really liked all the construction pictures.

So I finally got to meet my own version of celebrities, AND my memory became permanently etched to get those pictures sent in!  All my pics and their new pics are up on their site!  Feeling:  accomplished.  :)

outside

 

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