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.

 

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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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DSC04364

AFTER

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May 17, 2018

An interesting series of thoughts

by Janie Jones

So yesterday, I suddenly felt like running.  And not just a little trot to look like you are hurrying, but a full out urge to pump those stumpy little legs of mine as hard as I could.

It got me thinking.  Although it might sound scary, I actually do a lot of thinking.  Too much thinking, I’m sure, because it’s always rather fruitless thoughts that leave me worried, vexed or dissatisfied.  Mostly I’m always thinking how to manage on a limited budget, how to get everything done before I’m exhausted, or how to make it through the tedium of a job that makes me very miserable.  These are seldom lines of thought that lead to anything uplifting.

But in the past few days I’ve started applying for new jobs and ways to make it work to go back to school for my graduate degree.  I think, perhaps, all those annoying applications are making me feel a little better about myself and all the things I have done, have learned and can do.  Perhaps it’s good therapy.  Because for the last year and a half I’ve been trying to convince myself to be grateful for a job that is respectable but yet is contrary to every fiber of my being.

I like to make people happy, I like to nurture things and make everything feel good.  But my professional life revolves around seeing how much pain innocent little mice can withstand and then eventually putting them down and harvesting their organs for molecular assays.  It’s ghoulish, soul crushing work for me.  And, the longer I am here the less respect I have for myself and the work our lab does because, I think, it goes against my basic instincts.

Don’t get me wrong, I logically know that the sacrifice is going to help better understand how to treat people with chronic pain and diabetes.  But, as valuable as it is, it is really, really hard for me to do and not think about how it must feel to be a lab mouse.

Anyway, I also have begun to have some other thoughts about my boss, which I am getting more concerned about.  Normally I read people really well within a short period of time, but there are a few personality types that trick me.  I think hers is a passive aggressive type that has been messing with my brain, and causing me to lose confidence in myself and my perceptions.  Today was the light bulb day, when I finally accepted the suspicions which have been nagging at me.  A little thing happened which caused the doubt to dissipate.

I could still be losing my mind, but at least I once again am trusting myself.  I haven’t trusted myself in about 4 months.  I don’t know why I lost it initially, but, I do suddenly feel a sense of clarity I haven’t known in all that time.

So, while I still don’t know exactly how I’m going to effect a change in my circumstances, I now feel totally at peace with myself and confident that forging ahead in a new direction is the right thing and the necessary thing to do.

 

May 16, 2018

What alien snatched my brain?

by Janie Jones

So, a very weird thing happened a little while ago.

I was walking down a long empty hall with a slight ramp.  Suddenly, I had this giddy urge to run as hard as I could.

I NEVER have the urge to run.

An alien body snatcher must have stolen the real me.

May 14, 2018

Maybe I missed my calling

by Janie Jones

Perhaps I should have been an interior designer.  I really do love shopping for paint and wallpaper and furniture.

I don’t particularly like painting, hanging wallpaper and paying for furniture, but hell, if you’re an interior designer that’s what lackeys and clients are for, right?

Unfortunately, I’m my own interior designer, lackey and client.

I have spent the last several weeks chipping away at the living room reno.  I am getting close to being done.  The wallpaper went up this weekend.  It took waaaaaay longer than I anticipated and there was a lot more waste trying to match the pattern than I expected, so that was a little bit frustrating.  But, man.  I am getting really excited.  It is looking soooo awesome.

My house was built in 1919 and keeps whispering “Art Nouveau” to me.  Any design purists out there will probably roll over in their graves as I say this, but I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between art nouveau and art deco (which I guess came a little later than art nouveau and is more in keeping with the era my house was built), and both styles are really appealing to me lately.  So, I’m sort of mish-mashing them together and picking some things to give a nod to both design eras.

Case in point.  My wallpaper is an anaglypta style with a relief pattern very reminiscent of the swirls and lines of art nouveau/art deco.  I have picked out a semi-gloss, smokey grey-green to paint over it, which I see in a lot of period appropriate designs and I think will tie together nicely with my funny aquamarine/silver velvet drapes, grey patterned rugs and green-grey upholstered furniture.  I wanted to buy these really cool light switch and outlet covers that screamed art deco, but to outfit the house, which doesn’t really have all that many, would have cost several hundred dollars.  Eeek!  So, plain white it is.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances I think I will be finished by next Sunday.  The Spud returns for the summer on May 26, and I set myself the challenge to have the living room done before she comes.  So, nothing like finishing in the 11th hour.