January 15, 2019

Hello 2019!

by Janie Jones

Greetings!

As expected, when the Christmas and New Years holidays arrived they flew past in a blur of happiness and indulgence.  I can hardly tell you where the first two weeks of January has gone, but my house is still stuck in December.  All the holiday decorations are still up.  I had thought to start the de-Christmasification last weekend, but Leif cut his hand up pretty good, he needed six or seven stitches, and spent the weekend at my place and it was too hard to resist sitting like a slug watching movies and YouTube videos all weekend with him.

But despite the sloth, I am feeling inspired to do a lot of things.  I have many plans in the works.  First, but not least, I am scheduled to finally finish wallpapering the upstairs hall starting this weekend.  And, there’s a 15% off sale at my home improvement store of choice to stock up on any supplies I need, so the Universe is giving me the thumbs up to get off my ass and get the ball rolling.  It will get the same treatment I gave the living room last May, however, a new paint color will be applied.  That green-grey never, ever pleased me.

I hope once that is done I will move on to a few other home improvement projects.  I don’t know why it has been such a hurdle to get things moving on some of the stuff I’ve been wanting to do, especially considering I have most of the supplies already on hand.  But, in a way, once the biggest projects wrapped up and the house actually started to feel like home, I have just had this undeniable urge to enjoy and relax and be without always doing.

Anyway.  I am still with the Mouse Lab.  I still don’t like it much.  I still am working on borrowed time.  Meaning, I still don’t know if I will be employed in the Mouse Lab much past May/June, whether I like working in the Mouse Lab or not.  If the bosslady gets a new grant by then, I’m told I will be kept on and given my long over due raise.  If no new grants are awarded by then, I could very well be sent on my merry way.  So, I am trying not to panic while keeping an ear to the ground and an eye on the horizon in hopes I will find a new science-y job that doesn’t require Mouse Work.  As I really don’t want to be in this particular field of science anymore, whether I’m let go or my position is re-funded almost feels irrelevant to me.  In fact, I’d almost be glad if it wasn’t.  Almost.  As one can imagine it would be considerably better to find a new job sooner rather than later in any case.  Unfortunately, good paying science-y jobs seem about as easy to find as a unicorn and about as easy to catch as a greased pig.

In the meanwhile I am still trying to figure out grad school.  That has been a huge disappointment, as trying to figure out how to pay for it without it taking an impossibly long time to complete or going broke returning full time to get my degree “in a hurry” continues to leave me stymied.  Stymied, for sure but not so much as to give up entirely.  I’m thinking of trying some other programs or going in other directions which offer better financial aid packages.  Just to have options.  And, I suppose if I get laid off from Mouse Lab and I have yet to find the illusive Unicorn Lab or my greased pig catching skills fail me, going back to school full time might be better than being unemployed.  After all, it’s one more option….

Finally, the Spud is supposedly going to come home for High School next fall.  We shall see how this plays out.  I am in the midst of negotiations with how to transport her stuff, what stuff to transport (really she has a full bedroom of stuff already so all she really needs is her clothes), and where to enroll her.  The local public school or a charter school.  Which ever the case, I’m afraid she’s going to have to start growing up quickly.  I don’t have a partner to be home to make sure she’s getting off to the bus on time.  If she misses the bus, I can’t just leave work and go home and get her.  I really hope she’s going to be up to the challenge.  We shall see.

So, there’s a lot of balls in the air in these parts, but despite it all I am currently feeling fairly hopeful 2019 will be a good year.

Hope 2019 is treating you all well!

 

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November 27, 2018

My favorite time of year

by Janie Jones

I love late fall and early winter.  I love when the air becomes cool and crisp and the leaves change color, then fall and finally the snow blankets everything in white.

I love the holidays.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, and finally Christmas.

Halloween decor goes up the end of September and then comes down November first.  Here in the great white north the first snows come early, so Christmas lights go up outside early in November before it gets too cold or too deep in snow.  Then, generally, indoor Christmas decorations go up directly after Thanksgiving.  Gift wrapping begins, holiday fudge making starts, Christmas music plays, holiday cards get addressed, sent and received in return, and sugar plums begin to dance in my head.  Stuck in between Thanksgiving gluttony and Christmas revelry is my birthday, and this year I am taking a personal day to treat myself with some final holiday shopping, and to spend some gift cards I’ve been hoarding.  Stickittoyou U gives us all a large number of days off for the holidays, so there is time off to look forward to at the end of December, as well as feasting and finally, the unwrapping of all those presents.

Three wonderful months of twinkling lights, fanciful decor, anxious anticipation, good food, fun with family and friends and abundant good cheer.  It comes and goes so quickly.  I am anxious for all the Christmas revelry, just one month away, but at the same time I don’t want it to come and go and be over for another year!

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November 25, 2018

Thankful

by Janie Jones

Last Thursday was the Thanksgiving holiday here in America.  I love Thanksgiving almost as much as Christmas.  Primarily, I love Thanksgiving because I get a 4-day weekend, and I can spend it eating all my favorite things and preparing for Christmas.

Stickittoyou U gives all it’s students and employees Thanksgiving Thursday and the following Friday off, and this year I splurged and used a vacation day to take the Wednesday before off as well.  I spent Wednesday cleaning.

And, when I say cleaning, I mean, cleaning.  I vacuumed, I mopped, I steam cleaned rugs, I did laundry, I scrubbed the bathroom, I took out trash and recycling.  I changed the linens on the bed and washed all the throw blankets on the living room furniture.  And, when all of that was done I made apple and pumpkin pie from scratch for the holiday.

Does that sound like the most wonderful holiday ever?  Oddly, for me it was.  I have been so very happy this week because what I love the most is to be a housewife and do all that housewife-y stuff.  Very little makes me feel as content and proud as making a clean, tidy and beautiful home.  I will confess, I don’t like to dust, but most household chores are very therapeutic and, if not exactly fun, are deeply satisfying.  I almost get giddy with joy when I survey a linen closet of neatly stacked and tightly folded sheets and towels.  I love the look of a gleaming bathroom faucet, and the wide open real estate of a bare table and empty countertops.  And, I must also confess that I do sometimes do a little skipping happy dance when I survey a messy room that has been wrestled back into a sense of order suitable for a Better Homes and Gardens photo shoot.  I don’t get much chance to do that stuff anymore.  Between working full time, and now having a part time job as well, volunteering and before that when I was a student there just isn’t time to do the things that really give me a deep sense of personal contentment and satisfaction.  Sad.

But this week was happy because I got to do all of it.  I cooked my little butt off on Thursday and we had all the traditional stuff, just me and Leif.  So there are containers upon containers of delicious left overs.  Which means there was little cooking needing to be done the rest of the holiday weekend.  Happy face.

Friday for me is not about shopping.  Usually I am 90% done with Christmas shopping before Black Friday rolls around.  I stay in these days and set up all the holiday decorations.  Friday night I sat back and drank rum punch with Leif and admired my clean house and how pretty it is with all the holiday decor and sparkling lights.  I remembered how just last year at this time my house was still a construction zone.  I don’t know if I can explain how both physically and emotionally painful it is for someone like me to live in chaos, ugliness and disarray.  Living so many years without a real home, and the first year in my new house, it was all about just surviving.  There was very little harmony in my living arrangement and that was a huge stress factor.  I have to have a good home to be my best self.   There’s still a lot undone but, all in all, I’ve come a long way.  That, my friends, is a good feeling.   And, sitting there, sipping punch, in my new, mostly remodeled, fresh and clean home watching the twinkling lights play on the red and green and gold and silver ornaments on my Christmas tree was the best Black Friday gift I could have gotten myself.

Saturday was cleaning day part deux.  My dear Rupert in his advanced age became rather less concerned about where he did his business and the whole waiting to be let out thing, and started using the basement and laundry room as his potty grounds.  I tried to clean up his messes right away, but I have no doubt that I missed some pee puddles.  So everything came out of the laundry room and the place was thoroughly swabbed with 100% disinfectant.  The previous owners of my abode have wall to wall carpet in the main room of the basement.  Having run out of remodeling money, the basement is still rather a catch-all for renovation supplies and things I don’t know what to do with yet.  It also is storage central and my exercise area.  Eventually I want to get rid of that carpet, but for now I just liberally doused the carpet with carpet sanitizer and then ran the carpet cleaner over the areas not covered with piles of stuff until there was no more suds from the sanitizer.  The waste water never really ran clean, hence, I still plan to get rid of the carpet, but that will have to be a project for another time.  Until then, I’m hoping the liberal application of cleanser will get rid of the smell of pet potty.  It was gross, sweaty work, but it was very satisfying.  I had to haul out quite a bit of trash and organize a lot of stuff that was just dumped here and there during the various phases of remodel and unpacking, so it not only smells better down there, but it looks a lot better too.

This morning I have chores to do.  Bills to pay and I have to do some work for my part time job.  But first I walked the dogs, it was cold and crisp and even though the sun was out there were these lovely, fat, flakes of snow lazily drifting down from the sky.  I felt happy watching the dogs prance and play in the park.  I felt happy coming home to a warm house and left over apple pie and ice cream for breakfast.  And, I decided to take a few minutes and put out this post so I could capture this happy moment and bask in my gratitude for where I am today.

Although 2018 in general was a rather sucky year in Janedom, I am thankful that I can see the year out with a clean house.  And, it is my house.  I had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and lots of leftovers to fill my belly and tickle my taste buds.  I have sweet dogs who love me, and Leif and I are happier in each other’s company than ever.  I may not have much, but at least this year, I can say I have the love of good people and good dogs, a full belly and over flowing refrigerator, my very own home, and the bills got paid.   As the Rolling Stones so poignantly said, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes if you try you might find you get what you need.

After all is said and done, I have everything I need right now, I am very thankful and proud of that accomplishment.

Happy holidays to you and yours,

Love Janie Jones

 

June 25, 2018

So bummed

by Janie Jones

A couple weeks ago I played hooky from work to go on a second job interview for a research study I really wanted to be a part of, no mouse work, and only 4 days a week!!  The first interview seemed to go well.   I was particularly excited because I had a lot of relevant prior experience and they called me for the second interview just two days later.  I thought the second interview went really well, too.  I felt very comfortable with the interviewers, who would be my co-workers, and thought everything felt like it was “clicking.”

Today I got my generic you suck letter.

Sigh.

 

June 23, 2018

Lowest bidder, or a very bitter monologue

by Janie Jones

I did not go into science with the expectation of becoming rich, however, I thought a highly skilled education would at least make me eligible for jobs with salaries sufficient enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about wasting a teaspoon of ketchup.

Apparently, a BS in cell and molecular biology and a BA in biochemistry is only worth $3 more per hour than working the night shift at the local McDonald’s.

Being sick to death of mouse model research, I decided that a year and a half post baccalaureate job experience was sufficient time to begin looking elsewhere.  I applied for a job in a substance addiction study.  The job was full time and required a bachelor’s degree in science or psychology.  Duties would include recruiting human participants, informing them of their rights as study subjects, taking blood and tissue samples and interviewing them regularly for progress through the study.  There would also be data accession and record keeping duties.

I received an email asking to schedule a preliminary phone meeting to discuss the position and eagerly accepted.  The interviewer outlined the job duties and, as if being timed, quickly spit out the starting salary and rushed on, “So we would like to know if you are still interested in the position.”

I mentioned I was, however, the starting salary was well below my current rate of pay, so I would hope there was room to negotiate.  I was well qualified for the position having at least 1 year or more experience with every requirement except venipuncture on humans.

She commented that she was not involved in salary negotiations and could not make any comments on the possibility of bargaining for a higher wage.  I mentioned that I would definitely accept an offer if they were willing to come up on the salary.  She said that they were assembling a pool of applicants that they were interested in interviewing and if I made the cut I’d hear more from them soon.

Apparently they wanted to low ball their salary budget and battle it out for good employees with McDonald’s night shift instead of paying for a well qualified, hard working and experienced employee.  They re-posted the position a week later.

If I could actually stay awake past 9pm, at this point I would seriously consider McDonalds.  At least there I wouldn’t have to poke and dissect mice.  Poor innocent little mice.  At least the Gen Pop are so stupid I wouldn’t feel sorry for them if I “accidentally” slipped an obnoxious customer a little listeria.

I am seriously frustrated.  How the hell does anyone make ends meet these days?  My internet bill just went up $20 a month.  From 49 to 69 dollars.  I am not getting any new benefits.  As far as I know they haven’t upgraded anything.  So, in my book, a $20 increase seems a bit steep and uncalled for.

Oh, and my property taxes went up this year too.  The county, in all it’s wisdom, whoops I meant greed, just decided that everything across the board was going to be worth more.  My house, which no one even came around to assess jumped in “value” buy $12K.  Now it would be nice if that meant the sale price I could realistically get would jump that much, but those of us who live in the real world know that’s not going to happen.

I might, just might, be lucky enough to get a 2% raise this year.  The civil service committee, or whatever it’s called, determines each year what an appropriate raise level is, but then the individual departments get to assess what their budgets can bear and their employees deserve.  It’s arbitrary and has absolutely nothing to do with merit.  So the boob who never shows up to work or botches everything and is carried by others gets the same raise as everyone else.  Because you know, Equality, man!  Everyone should be treated the same.

Right, and the way everyone should be treated is like a pauper.

I’m beginning to feel like we need to go pitch a boat load of tea into the harbor of some government and human resource offices.

If something doesn’t change soon, well, I don’ t know what will happen.  But I’m telling you, I have always felt that if I worked hard I’d get somewhere.  I don’t have unrealistic hopes, I don’t want to live some high end lifestyle.  I just want to be able to go buy new clothes or shoes when I need them, I’m not even talking high end clothing labels or Monolo Blahniks or who every the haute shoe designer is these days.   I want to go to the grocery store and not worry if I have money for everything on my list and still be able to buy the organic stuff that isn’t pumped with pesticides and genetically manipulated.  I want to be able to finish remodeling my home and put in a little garden.  And, here’s a real crazy dream:  I would like to have the ability to put a little money aside after all the bills are paid.  I do not see how this is asking too much.

But, despite every sacrifice and all the hard work, apparently I still have no skills any employer actually wants to pay a comfortable living wage for.  And, to add insult to injury, by the time taxes, mandatory retirement money and insurance is taken off my paycheck, I lose about 30%.  Then they take more away from me after payroll taxes for the “privilege” of owning a house, a car, buying furniture, buying cleaning supplies, buying gas, even my utilities are taxed!  I very seldom travel these days because the taxes on hotels, restaurants and other transportation fees scare me.  About the only thing I buy that I don’t get taxed for is food, clothing and some medical expenses.  And, I know from other places I’ve lived that a lot of states even charge those items.

So, I’m asking an extremely rhetorical question here.  Where the fuck does all that tax money go?

I don’t live a bad life, but there is always this pressure that there’s just not quite enough money.  If something breaks or wears out with my house or car, I’m screwed.  If there’s an emergency, I’m screwed.  I cringe when my daughter doesn’t finish the milk in her cereal bowl; hard earned money spent on milk dumped down the drain.  I chastise myself for buying all that veg and forgetting to make salads before it goes rotten, or get frustrated when the Spud eats half of her dinner and “saves” the rest only to go moldy in the back of the fridge because she’d rather eat ramen than reheat quality food.  I had some friends over for brunch last weekend and one of them dumped about half a bottle of ketchup on his eggs and hashbrowns, ate two bites and the rest went in the trash.  It is absolutely painful to work so hard and watch the pennies add up so slowly then get spent and wasted in a heartbeat.  I think I will throttle the next septuagenarian who says, “I deserve a discount, after all, I live on a fixed income.”  Like I can just will money into my bank account because I’m not retired yet.

I have a tiny little bit of money I managed to save after buying my house, but I don’t make enough to add to it, much less replenish it if I spend it, so, I’m stuck.  It’s an emergency fund I live in fear of spending.  Despite going back to school for an education, I am no better off than I was before, possibly worse, because now I owe all kinds of student loan debt.  So, barring a miracle, I will live with the stress of balancing on the brink of financial disaster until I die.  There is little hope for a comfortable retirement, as I don’t even live a particularly comfortable life of employment.

I am beginning to understand the multi-generational welfare abusers.  Why bother working hard when you are never, ever going to get anywhere.

Well, that’s communism and socialism for you.  Make everyone equal so no one goes without.

Yup.  No one goes without being miserable.

 

 

 

June 20, 2018

Thanks, but no thanks

by Janie Jones

So they had an employee appreciation day at Stickittoyou U recently.  All employees were given $25 gift cards to a big box department store.  Very nice.  Thanks!

Then week or so later I got my paycheck.  It was smaller.  Not a bank breaking amount, about the amount it would cost to buy lunch at the average sit down restaurant, but enough less that I was a little concerned about where that money went.

So I pulled up my check stub, and what, What, WHAT?  They taxed the gift card.  Because they added it to my “net salary” by the time taxes were applied I actually lost money.  They taxed, as income, a gift card.  Which was not like a prepaid Visa or something.  I can’t use the gift card to pay bills, but yet it is considered income I have to pay taxes on, and then when I use it the store will charge me taxes on what I buy.

Thanks, but if given the option, I’d have passed on a gift that would ultimately cost me more money than it was worth.

Employee appreciation my ass.  I suppose it was well meaning, but it’s kind of hard to feel grateful when I make less than industry standard, less than I made before I spent 50K on an education, and the “appreciation” gift requires me to give up money out of my already puny paycheck.

And, when I went to complain to the HR person, I found out that the new Dean, who made the decision to bestow these “gifts” was warned that they would cause the recipients to be taxed, but in her wisdom still seemed to think people would prefer to be awarded a gift that caused a deduction in pay.

Thanks new Dean.  I hope you made lots of devoted fans out of your employees.  I know I am just pleased as punch.  I will think of you oh so fondly and be oh so grateful for my job when I can’t afford to buy lunch this week.

May 25, 2018

Soooo much better

by Janie Jones

The Spud comes home tomorrow and by working up until yesterday I was able to meet my living room reno deadline.  Sort of.

I did run out of time and energy to finish the window trim and a little bit of baseboard trim, and there are a few touch ups needed.  But I can live with that a while because in every way the living room looks sooo much better and like home.

Unfortunately, I am not as pleased with the paint color as I thought I’d be.  I really went round and round with color swatches.  I taped them up to the wall in various areas of the living room trying to decide which I liked better.  I wanted something grey with a subtle warm green tone hoping it would downplay the blue tones in the drapes.  In dim natural light it is fine and picks up the greyish tones in the drapes like I wanted.  Unfortunately the lighting mostly makes it look greyish mint green and I feel that color clashes with the drapes.

Strangely enough, the color gives me the impression of being old and tired instead of fresh and chic.   Perhaps because, I have recently realized, the color is very much the same color as the area rug I had for many years until the death of my landlady and my years of pseudo homelessness.  As much as I didn’t want to go with tones of blue in my living room and dining room, looking at this new paint color actually makes me wish my walls were more of a color match to the drapes.

Oh, man, I hate it when I like things that go against the plan.  But this is a fresh “new” house and a fresh “new” phase in my life.  Much of the furniture is new, and I think maybe it is good to go down a different color palette route.  So I’m going to live with it a while and see if it grows on me, but I’m pretty sure eventually I’ll want to change it.  While that distresses the penny pincher in me, at least I only will need one gallon and re-painting the wall only will not take long.

Silly Janie.  This is where I have to laugh at myself.  Even though I am not thrilled with the color of the walls, I love the wallpaper texture.  I makes the room feel so much more elegant, hiding the flaws in the wall and the painted cheap wood paneling.  I finally dug out my art and hung the prints up in the living room and dining room, and it gives the house such a feeling of homey-ness and completion.  I do like it a lot over all.

So, without further a-do, here’s photos:

BEFORE

 

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AFTER

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