The dad’s big day

Last month the dad turned 60 and since the sisters and I couldn’t afford the cottage on the lake we know he and the mom would really like, we went the nostalgia route.

We brainstormed names and then contacted friends, family, old friends, old colleagues, church buddies, anyone for whom we had or found and email address or could feasibly stalk online, and sent emails or snail mail letters requesting that each recipient take the time to send a memory of the dad and the time each person had known him.

With letters and emails and even some pictures from a 1975 fishing trip rolling in, the sisters and I decided that everything should be collected in a manner that gave a nod to the dad’s military service. The finished product, with each memory in its own envelope, turned out just how we were hoping.

While I neither built the box nor carved the eagles, I did stain the box, stamp the envelopes with years (the seventies were a nightmare), stain one eagle and paint the other with a pen, stuff the envelopes with the husband’s help, and even put little clear no-scratch feet on the bottom of the box because I know the dad and his precise care of the flat surfaces in their house, upon which this box would not be allowed to rest without the proper, well, footwear.

The envelopes are stamped fifty-two through twenty twelve, with all memories tucked in at random, with a few exceptions. The memories from his girls I put into the years we were born, and we started with a memory from his oldest sister about the day the dad was born then ended with a letter from the mom.

It took a while to read them all, and the family spent a great evening on the back patio, eating, listening to the dad’s letters, and blinking really fast. Happy 60th birthday, Dad!

Today could be full of adventure. Our a/c is broken–the fan blows and blows and the tepid, sticky air moves around but that’s it–and it should be in the 90s, I’m walking a new client this afternoon and then later I’m off to yet another interview with the good congressman. His office emailed last week and asked if I would be free this week to meet again with the good congressman and with Mrs. Good Congressman, who is in town.

But of course! said I although in fact I detest it when bosses want you to meet their wives before hiring you (or not). There seems to be a particular stripe of hiring boss who goes this route, and for the record, I have never known a male interviewee who had to meet the wife, and I have never known a female boss to bring her husband in to cross-examine potential employees. In my head I call it the tart test. I don’t know if it’s more offensive to pass or fail.

In the meantime, grocery lists, laundry, and thank you notes. The sisters threw a baby shower for me over the weekend! Another post, another time.


I’m a machine

Today I’m a baking machine.

A blog I have recently started following posts beautiful things that are often, cruelly, within my baking skill range. I have been wanting donuts for the last few weeks but so far the husband and I have resisted walking up to the Dunkin’ Donuts that is at our new corner. Unfortunately, today I found a recipe for donuts on this new blog, and not only were they donuts, they were baked, which meant they were possible in my kitchen, and that I can have two when they are done cooling.

Me: I made donuts!!
The husband: Oh good! I am psyched.
Me: They are silly looking but tasty. I mean, I think they’ll be tasty.
The husband: Are they cream-filled glazed?
Me: What kind of skills do you think I have? I baked them in muffin pans and popped out the middles with an apple corer.

To protect my self-esteem, I will only link to a picture of the donuts from Mama’s Gotta Bake but if you love me, you won’t click it, you’ll just admire my sad little Quasimodo duffins and wish you were here to eat them with me, even if the frosting that I intended to be a lovely spring green did turn the color of Grinch.

Currently in the oven, awaiting its blog debut, is a chocolate pound cake that will eventually have a glaze when I get to the store for the required chocolate and cream for said glaze. Yes, it’s from Mama’s Gotta Bake and no, it won’t look like hers. I’m ok with that, since if it’s any good, there’s a chance no one, not even the husband will see it.

It seemed like a shame to warm up the oven for just one recipe so I chose to make two. Also, I couldn’t pick between chocolate pound cake and donuts.

Yesterday I was an interviewing machine.

I’m still waiting to hear from the good congressman’s office after interviewing twice with them last week, but yesterday the chief of staff did email me to send names and contact information for references. Unlike every other job I’ve ever applied for, I’m pretty sure he’ll actually contact these references. I don’t know what it says about employers in general but of all the times I’ve given references or been listed as a reference, I have only heard of references being called twice:

Once was when a man in a trench coat, with a badge and business card from the FBI, came to my work to grill me about a brother-in-law’s background and character qualifications for a security clearance.

The other time was when the little sister got a job at Victoria’s Secret right out of high school.

Yesterday I also went in for training at a crisis pregnancy center I’m interested in volunteering with. Depending on how the job situation works out, I’ll have a lot of time on my hands or not much time on my hands to help, but their needs are flexible and I’m excited to volunteer there in some capacity.

After the pregnancy center, I went right to an interview with one of the dog walking companies that called me back. The interview, to which I boldly wore a black t-shirt and gray cotton pants, was a series of scenarios to which I was asked to apply my problem-solving skills.

Me: The interview was a dozen problem-solving questions, like what would you do if you got to a house to let the dog out and the key doesn’t work?
The husband: And you told them, “I’d leave and never come back”?
Me: I said something about making sure I have the right key, checking under the mat for a different key, calling the office, etc.
The husband: Oh. That’s a better response.
Me: They were the sort of questions that I had to answer when I interviewed to work at Subway in high school.
The husband: Was the person interviewing you younger than you are?
Me: No, thank goodness.
The husband:Well that’s a start.
Me: Yeah. They wanted to know what I would do if I was about to walk a dog and a guy showed up on the front porch, saying he had an appointment to fix the refrigerator.
The husband: And you told them, “I’d take the upstairs and he’d take the downstairs and we’d clean the place out”?
Me: No, I told them I got a bachelor’s degree so I don’t have to think about shit like that.
The husband: Really?!
Me: No, but I kind of wanted to. Sigh.
The husband: At least it’s not Subway.
Me: Truth.

This afternoon I am going to be a painting machine. If I make it to the hardware store I can spruce up our bedside tables with a crisp white. I am nearly done with the yellow on the little oyster’s giraffe clothing rack, and when the green underneath it is sufficiently covered, I can do the brown dots. Pictures tomorrow when, who knows? Maybe I’ll be a cleaning machine. Or an employed one?

You never know unless you ask

No, I didn’t ask for the job I interviewed for this week, although that would have been the bold, sales-trained thing to do.

Instead I asked the old landlady if, instead of waiting for her to write us a check for our security deposit, I could just have our last rent check back since, believe it, she never cashed our May rent check. In a month when we paid an even bigger security deposit for the new place, a pet deposit for the new place, all of our regular bills, and a prorated rent to move into the condo on the 15th, the shoebox rent check of $1,300 was pending all month long, to my aggravation.

Of course I phrased it more diplomatically in my email, presenting it as a way for her to “not have to deal with running to the bank” when I know she’s “so busy” and thinking this would “make it easier for her and works for us, if it works for you.” Sure enough, it worked for her, so I left the walk through yesterday evening with our full security deposit in my little paw, wrote VOID across the check and the carbon copy in the check book, and took the husband out for dinner.

And with that, we’re officially done with the shoebox era. With Dietrich’s help I’m spending today unpacking our final boxes at the condo, setting up the desk in our new work-area corner of the living room, washing floors, and reveling in the fact that I don’t have to drive anywhere today to move boxes. Welcome, June!

No word from the interviews this week. I did end up wearing the same suit with a different, though still black, shirt to Round 2 yesterday. No one gave any indication that they suspected or noticed I’m 23 weeks preggo, although I do think the congressman himself might have noticed. The ball is in their court though, and I really don’t know where it’s going to land. I’m not worried, just curious.

And now, back to Agatha Christie and unpacking the boxes. A girl’s gotta rest after a week like this.

Yeah, I’ve still got it

What I wish I looked like waiting for my train today.

This morning I had an interview on the Hill. So even if I don’t get the job, which I think would be an excellent fit for me and for them, chew on THAT, Hill interns!! Looks like you don’t get all the interviews, suckers!! <ppppppbbbbt>

Anyway. After much hemming and hawing yesterday afternoon about what I could wear and what I should wear, I was pleased to discover that the black maternity pants the other middle lent to me, with a black dressy tank with ruffles and the one black suit jacket I own, all combined nicely in a passable suit for the day. And those people who say “oh shoes always fit” (I used to be one of them) clearly have never been pregnant, because my only option for today was the cute leopard print flats I own and yes, are suitable for work, though not my typical first choice for an interview shoe. Nothing else, save the blessed flip-flops, was going to fit in 90 degrees, and I did wear the flips on the train.

And so I planned to set off this morning, makeup on, hair done, suit constructed carefully, about 9:30 am, leaving myself plenty of time to wander to and from the train, stop by the husband’s office, use the bathroom, and so on.

At 9:20 I was almost done getting ready when the dog started barking quietly. I thought I heard a knock at the door but surely the dog would have barked louder if someone was at our door. Just to be sure, I, sans pants, crept to the peep hole and saw our across-the-hall neighbor standing there. I swiftly donned the required garb for such encounters and opened the door.

His car was at the shop, his wife had the other keys, he needed to be in Baltimore for work, and could I give him a ride to the garage, some four miles down the road, to pick up his car?

We shot out of the condo parking lot and set off at a barely legal pace to get to the garage. Four miles down the road in the old days would mean a five-minute drive. Four miles down the road now–and I believe he meant four miles down the road after we get to the right road–is a different beast. At 10:01 I was back at the condo, hauling myself out of the car, into the house, throwing my lunch into my bag and double-checking that shoes-that-aren’t-flip-flops were in there before patting the dog on the head and bolting out the door again.

By 10:10 I was at the Metro station where someone (like me) with the right type of pass card can park his or her vehicle for the day and Metro into the city. If, that is, this person can find a parking spot in the parking garage. Doing my best not to hyperventilate at the lack of parking, I decided that the risk of parking in the reserved section was worth getting to my interview on time, so I did. Then I gathered my things, prayed that I didn’t just swipe an armpit full of deodorant on the outside of my black jacket, and took off at top-ish speed for the tracks.

I’ve played out a lot of scenarios in my mind throughout the course of my life, but sprinting full-tilt, five months pregnant, wearing a suit and flip-flops, laptop bag clapping me on the back in encouragement, to catch a train for an interview on the Hill was not one I’d pictured before. The only thing I could think, besides “I’m screwed if I fall” is “Heck yeah, I’ve still got it.”

So even though I had planned to mosey to the Metro and into my interview, I really looked more like this, although I still made it with a few minutes to spare, and even had time to change my shoes in the husband’s office:

What I actually looked like catching my train today.

The interview went well, I enjoyed the conversation and what I heard about the office, and they liked me enough to ask me to come back tomorrow to meet the rest of the team and the congressman. I’m 95% very excited about this and 5% wondering what the HECK I’m supposed to wear this time.

What’s another interview?

A Certain Organization had me in for an in-person interview earlier this week and it went well. My biggest concern was the transfer between two lines on the Metro, but once I aced that part, I figured I had done the rest of it before and this wouldn’t be anything new.

I was right. I really like A Certain Organization and I know they like me too, it’s just a matter of whether they like me the best. It was a two-hour block of time during which I met with four different team members and answered some of the same questions and a variety of unique ones. The VP of the department complimented the writing samples I sent, saying they were very good, and she doesn’t always get good writing samples so it was a nice change to read actual solid writing. I was pleased and thanked her politely.

Pre-interview nerves were sufficient to make me skip lunch and the bagel shop that was in the same building had a choir of angels and a heavenly light shining upon it when I left A Certain Organization over two hours later. Asiago with plain cream cheese, bless you.

New Year’s Eve, farm style

On Saturday the husband and I packed up the dog, an overnight’s worth of food for him and clothes for us, and headed north to the in-laws’ farm for the second time in a week.

Dietrich was elated to be back with his cousin–a long-haired female German Shepherd who was far more welcoming to the mild-mannered chap than anyone expected her to be–and the husband and I enjoyed the relaxed pace of not-Christmas.

Shooting guns at midnight is the standard celebratory measure on the farm. The husband and I thought ahead to put Dietrich in the barn so he wouldn’t be scared, but he found his way out and shortly after hearing 13 rifles fired in quick succession and close proximity, also found his way into the house and hid out, shaking, under the table. The mother in law was kind enough to pretend she didn’t notice him inside.

When we got home, we washed the dog in the bathtub, a first for us all. He did his best to stoically resist, pretending his legs gave out after we lured him into the bathroom with treats and then stiff-arming the bathtub as the husband lifted him in, one half at a time. Eventually all four paws were in the tub, the bag of bacon treats was empty, and the forlorn but clean Dietrich emerged.

That’s when we realized how much water an 80 lb. Rott holds and decided to blow dry him for all our sakes. Although not thrilled with this, the dog has the patience of a saint (something about he knows he was rescued and we are the bearers of the treats or whatever) and bore his 1800 watt ionic burden with steely resolve.

I can’t believe you are photographing this humiliation. I smell like a girl.
But I am ready for my close-up!

Thursday morning is a second phone interview with A Certain Organization. I had a phone interview with them about two weeks ago, for an editorial position, and was referred to the media relations director after that. So really it’s a first second phone interview. I have heard excellent things about A Certain Organization and would really love to work for them.

Tonight the husband is at a watch party for the Iowa caucuses and I am home, blogging and plotting how to begin a freelance career. And also eating cookies before they go stale.