Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back to Square One

Six years ago, after Jason and I got into trouble, we both had to go out and find work. I found my job first in June at McDonald's. In August, Jason found his job at Chili's.

I had been working for McDonald's for a year and a half, and I had worked my way up to being a shift manager when, while waiting for Jason to get off work one late evening, I was talking with his manager. His manager was having an incredibly tough time; he was in the middle of an incredibly nasty divorce and his kitchen crew was falling apart. He didn't have a dishwasher to work the next several shifts, and although that's not as big a deal as he was making it, considering all the stress he was under at the time, I got why he was so distraught.

I was really hating my job at McDonald's. Sure, I got to work with one of my best friends, but the job itself was stressful, paid pennies, and I just wasn't cut out for it. As I sat there talking with Jason's manager, I made the offer to come and help out. In my mind, I thought I'd be a dishwasher for a month or so, just long enough for him to find someone more permanent, and then I'd just go find another job. That's not exactly what happened.

The next day, I came in to officially apply. I was hired on the spot, making $1.00 more per hour to wash dishes than I had been making to manage shifts at the Wal-Mart McDonald's. I began working the next day, and while I knew it wasn't something I enjoyed, it was also considerably less stressful than my previous job.

I continued to wash dishes over the next two months, until a new daytime dishwasher had been hired. He worked circles around me, and as such managed to get most of the hours. I still needed work, and I knew I wouldn't find a job that would pay me the money I was used to making at Chili's, so I decided to train to become a cook.

For a year, I worked as the Salad/Nacho cook, and some days I was lucky enough to work alongside my husband. I still knew that I wasn't really cut out for this type of work though, and although I had long since decided that I'd never wait tables again after doing HORRIBLY at it when I was younger, I decided to give it a chance.

I started out as a server just a couple of days each week, still maintaining some hours in the kitchen, in case it didn't work out. But over the next month, I realized that I'd found something that I was not only good at, but I enjoyed. I learned all the front-of-house positions, like food expediter (QA), host, and to-go.

I decided to take some time off after I found out I was pregnant with Kairi. I had started school, so I'd cut my hours anyway, and since my prenatal vitamins made me sick, standing on my feet for an entire shift was making me light-headed. My plan was to return a couple of months after Kairi was born, but instead I took off until she was nearly two.

About six months after my return, I began working a position called the Key. I basically walked around and talked to each table, making sure that everything was tasting great, letting everyone know about our survey that is on our receipt, and just generally helping out wherever needed to make sure the shift runs smoothly. I had a manager card so I could help the managers out by comping and discounting food. I was really enjoying the job I was doing and had decided to try to go for a management position after I was done with school this May. My manager had just started working with me to get me ready for that.

Then, last Saturday night something unexpected happened. I can't go into very much detail yet, although I'm sure I will at some point, but Jason and I were completely and unexpectedly let go. Jason's termination, I guess, is a little bit more understandable, but he has reasons for doing what he did that I believe will hold up in court, should we decide to go that route. My termination, however, was completely unexpected. I did nothing wrong, unless you consider being married to Jason wrong. I'm being told that I behaved in a way that I most certainly did not behave, and despite all of my plans to move forward within the company, all ties are now severed.

Jason and I are now left flailing... He'd worked there for six years, and I had been there for 3 of the last 5. We had worked out a five year plan, in which I'd go into management to support our family so that Jason could go to trade school and become an electrician. And now we're left searching for minimum wage jobs, which will more than likely leave us searching for a smaller house. We've taken five steps back and are left basically exactly where we were when we were first starting over after getting in trouble.

We're back to square one, except now we have a bigger house that costs more and two children instead of one. We're used to a more expensive lifestyle, and while it's not anything extravagant, it's still something that I am going to miss.

We'll be fine, but it's going to take some time. I have hopes that this will move us forward instead of back, but we'll just have to see where it goes once we get there. Until then, I guess we'll just be hanging out back here at square one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are you one of the 99%?

I had a post lined up for yesterday about the Occupy Wall Street movement, but the more I learn about the movement, the more ignorant I'd feel about posting it. I'm working on getting a firmer grasp on my feelings on the subject before I write a (hopefully) more intelligent post, but in the meantime, I'd like to invite you to share with me your stance and thoughts about it.

Are you one of the 99%? Or do you think they're crazy?

More to come in a few days!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

8 Months Drama-Free

I don't know about you guys, but for me, Facebook used to be a near-constant source of drama in my life. (As evidenced by the number of posts regarding my Facebook drama.) For a long time it seemed like I couldn't go a month without some sort of controversy taking up space in my brain. Someone would get offended by a post about breastfeeding, threads were getting hijacked out of nowhere over any random assortment of issues you can think of, names were called, and all the other fun forms of havoc caused by internet drama were all taking place on my wall.

I am incredibly happy to say that the last bout of drama was back in February. I am thankful to say that there has been very little drama of any sort in my life since then. I've spent some time thinking about the reasons for this, what changes I might have made, in order to understand better where the drama was coming from in the first place.

But the more I look, the more confused I am. I haven't changed much in the past eight months, and neither has my social networking. I don't post quite as frequently, but I still do post on Facebook multiple times each day. I don't post a lot about breastfeeding anymore, but I do still talk about it there from time to time. I've edited my friends list over the past several months, but I've really only eliminated 15-20 people.

One thing I do know I can attribute to the lack of drama is that I have placed a stricter filter on the way I respond to people. I still say what I want to say, but I try to be more tactful and respectful of other's feelings. I'm not saying that before I would just say whatever I wanted without any regard at all for others, but I can definitely see where a lot of the times I had problems could be caused by my lack of consideration that something might be taken the wrong way.

But that still doesn't account for the random, drive-by hijacking of posts. Don't get me wrong, just because I don't know why that's stopped doesn't mean I'm not appreciative of the fact. It's definitely no fun getting blind-sided like that.

I guess though, it probably just comes down to the people that I allow in my life, on Facebook as well as otherwise. One of the biggest complaints among the people I had it out with was that I posted too much: too much about breastfeeding, about cloth diapering, pictures of my kids, what I'm doing for the day, what I'm making for dinner, etc. ...You know, the kind of stuff that interests me. See, I always thought that the point in social networking was to share these details, the things that interest you, and to experience the interests of those you care about. My mother joined Facebook so that she could see pictures of my kids and read about what my family is up to. Should I stop sharing that information because a few people think I'm clogging the feed with my posts? Or should I get rid of the people who obviously aren't interested? I think, in the end that's the question I found myself facing. And when it's put in terms like that, I think it's fairly easy to figure out what steps to take.

I don't know how many of you experience Facebook drama the way that I have, but it's really not worth the time. I find myself breathing a sigh of relief every now and again when I realize I've made it another day/week/month without that kind of drama. Real life is dramatic enough. Facebook should be the least of your worries.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October is...

It's that time of year again, folks! It's the time of year when the weather starts to chill, the trees start to turn pretty colors, and we all take the time to slow down in preparation for winter.

It's also important that we slow down and take some time to learn how to prevent, prepare, and learn how to deal with a few other things.

As most of you know, I'm sure, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the month when we'll see rampant "awareness campaigns" all over Facebook where women boast the color of their bras, where they like to keep their purses, and more recently, how far "along" they are and what they're craving based upon their birthday.

Now, don't get me wrong, copy and paste status games can be fun, but let's get real here. How much are these games really helping? Are you aware of how much they're hurting? I'm not here to preach about that, but if you think these posts are harmless, please go read this post before participating in another copy/paste awareness campaign.

Personally, I think that it's more fun and helpful to go out and find information to share about breast cancer and its prevention. Last year I posted a few facts each week on my Facebook page, and I was astounded to find that I knew several women who had no idea that you're supposed to do a monthly self-check. So even the most seemingly trivial information can be incredibly helpful.

Here's a short list of a few places to get some information to share:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The World Health Oranization's Cancer Info Page

Also, for those breastfeeding mamas out there, there is a game that you can take part in to help spread the word! Last year, some friends of mine started a game to help spread the word that for each year you breastfeed, you reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 4.3%. If you'd like to read more about it, you can do so here.

A little lesser known fact is that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project,

Domestic Violence is best understood as a pattern of abusive behaviors -- including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion -- used by one intimate partner against another (adult or  adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.

Did you know that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? Yeah, it's rampant, people. Someone you know is experiencing it as you are reading this. That is why it is SO important to know the signs and what you can to do help.

A few good places to turn for this information are:

The Domestic Violence Awareness Project

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (pdf)

The Domestic Violence Resource Center (Be sure to check out the drop-down menu under "Resources.")

Sunday, October 9, 2011

On School, Religion, Protest, and Music

Hey guys! I've got a lot to update on today, so pardon the fact that this post isn't really one set topic. It's more of just an update; I'll be back on track with the more regular postings later.

As many of you know, I am in school, and MAN is it kicking my butt this semester. Let me tell you - college algebra is no joke, folks. That crap is HARD! I can handle math, don't get me wrong, but it just takes me a while to get into the groove of it. I'm working hard, but I'll be happy to make it out of that class with a C.

I'm really enjoying my other classes so far though. I've got Interpersonal Communications, which I'm really interested in to begin with. The fact that it gets me out of having to take a public speaking course for the next few semesters is definitely a bonus though. The instructor is awesome as well. I've had him for both of my comp classes, and I've known him for a long time. He used to work with my mom and two of my aunts at various different times. I also just found out that a girl I went to school with and work with now is his oldest daughter! Yes, I live in a small town, and paths really do cross that many times around here.

My Computer Concepts class is pretty cool. We do about 90% of our coursework in class, so it's an easy A, which is always welcome. And then there's Music Appreciation... I already appreciate music, but I get to learn a little more of the in's and out's of why that is, so that's alright. 

The girls are doing well. Kairi is crazy as usual (I say that in a loving and endearing way, I promise!), and Gracie is still really enjoying school. A friend from school stopped by last Wednesday night and asked if Gracie would like to join him at church. She wanted to, and while I've stated that Jason and I aren't religious, I'm not going to keep her from learning about different religions, so of course I let her go. I've been hesitant to let her go to church because I don't want her to believe in something just because that's what everyone she knows believes, but I also understand that she's only 6 and she's not really mature enough to understand that she can question authority and go against the grain - if she wants to. 

I've thought a lot about this over the past couple of weeks and I've come to the conclusion that I've just got to let go and trust that my brilliant daughter will figure it out for herself. After all, whatever she chooses to believe should be just that: her choice. It's not fair for me to impose my doubts upon her just because I struggle with faith in something I can't see or recognize. I'm sure that one day she will begin to question things, especially as adamantly atheist as her father is, and I want her to feel respected enough by me that she can come to me to help find her answers. 

I've also spent a lot of time lately looking at the Occupy Wallstreet Tumblr page. I can relate in so many ways and some of the posts make me really, really sad. But it's important to be aware of what's going on no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I could very well be one of those people holding up one of those signs. I'm really hoping that the 5-year plan that Jason and I are working on will keep us afloat enough that we won't end up there as well. I'm really hoping that the government will figure out something to do with their budget and start creating more jobs, and make the changes necessary to keep all these wonderful people off the streets and out of debt. How awful is it that I am considering postponing finishing school until I have some money in savings so that I don't fall so far into debt for merely trying to better myself and my future for my family?

Music has played a big part in the last several weeks of my life. I used to spend a lot of time listening to music and it was a big part of how I identified myself. I slowly began disconnecting from that as I've gotten older, and that's something that I've really regretted. I recently got a Spotify account and have begun finding my feet again where that's concerned. I love that I can find any song I want to add to my playlist(s) and I can share that with my friends. I highly suggest checking out this program (it is something you'll have to download, but it's super cool and you can connect it to your Facebook page to see what your friends are listening to as well!). And when you do go get it, or if you already have it, be sure to follow me and see what new stuff I'm listening to!

Follow me on Spotify