Friday, November 28, 2008

baby steps

If you push long enough, eventually something will push back, even something small. I have a little job for the Christmas season - the same thing I did last year for Shasta, plus going to the Market on Saturday mornings with the booth. It's not a lot, but it will get me out of the house and make a little money to cover the inevitable costs of the season (bus tickets, ferry hot chocolate, Christmas junk food).

Also, I spent a few hours at the computer lab Sean was monitoring last night and finished up my JET application. At this point, all I need is Kate's letter of reference, which is currently being finished up and emailed to Amy so I can pick it up and mail everything out together on time (in Kate's defence, she was laid out with strep for two weeks and thus out of the office until midweek). My feelings are kind of mixed on JET - I don't want to leave Sean behind for a year while he finishes his degree. On the other hand, it's terrific experience for my DFAIT ambitions, and I should come back with pretty good Japanese, and I've always wanted to live in Japan for a while (in fact, if my five year plan goes as I hope, I could eventually work in the embassy there), and unless something unexpected happens I'm unlikely to get a decent job in Fredericton.

And I did my good deed for the week: last night Megan interviewed me as the focus of a story she's putting together for her radio journalism class. It's about being an accomplished BA graduate and not being able to find work in Fredericton, so I'm pretty okay talking about it. It's only really going to be heard by her prof, but I think I did fairly well - full sentences and so on.

So now I'm heading over to a sort of emergency D&D session (hard to explain) before Sean and I take off to his parents' place for the weekend to dogsit. We'll have the station wagon to drive up and back, so we are filling it with laundry and violins and possibly broken furniture to repair. I'm looking forward way too much to the curried salmon we're planning to make for supper.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

another no thank you

It seems I have less and less to write about, as the days get shorter and colder and I stay inside more. The guest room is finally together; the living room is pleasantly Christmassy; the cats spend a good deal of time moving from one comfortable napping zone to another.
Aside from the usual sifting through job banks and career resources and sending out five or ten resumes every few days, the only action on my job hunt was a somewhat anticlimactic phone call today, where the receptionist promised to have the HR girl email me. And she did. They are finished hiring for now, though they frequently need more people and will let me know if they want to pick me up. I always thought that "we'll get back to you and let you know either way" meant that when hiring was done, I would get a saddening but cathartic phone call to let me know, but this is two jobs in a row that I had to badger for an answer.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. I am back to coffee shops at this point. I had already perused the job offerings of the day before making my ill-fated phone call, and sent out another five resumes, so I spent an hour or so combing through random other cities and getting a little bummed about my chances of getting a job from this far away when I can't even land something here. There are a couple of call centers who have posted jobs closing the end of December, but none earlier, so it's hard to say what comes next, barring an answer to one of my many applications.

Friday, November 14, 2008

job applications

The biggest news first: I've done some preliminaries (phone interview, short written test) for a job with Professional Quality Assurance, a smallish Fredericton-based company with its headquarters about four blocks from my house. I applied through a CareerBeacon "online job fair" a couple of weeks ago, and was actually pretty pumped about this job specifically - anyone who knows my writing knows that I'm a bit of a spelling and grammar perfectionist (not as much in my blog, but I've always gotten excellent grades in papers and so forth that mark such things). It's copy editing and proofreading educational material for online university courses and things like that. I was excited enough to call them up a week later to make sure they had my resume (yes, yes, I should be calling everyone).
Since going over to write the test yesterday, I've done a little more research on the company (CareerBeacon profile, main corporate page) and I kind of wish I hadn't, because now I really want this job, and I'm nervous. They're small, as I said - they just hired their hundredth employee this October - and seem like they have a good thing going. They make the effort to make staff comfortable - a staff lounge with a pool table and foosball? - and have a casual dress code: "it’s perfectly appropriate to wear shorts and flip-flops to work when you work at PQA!", according to their terrific work life page (please check it out for the bonus Blues Brothers quote at the top of the page, these people are awesome). When I went in to write the test, the receptionist (who does the phone interviews) told me not to worry about dressing up, as she goes to work in a hoodie and jeans! And of course, that the receptionist is in charge of phone interviews is a good sign - if you don't need a full-fledged HR team to recruit forty people at a time (I'm looking at you, call centers) then you probably don't have a high turnover rate.
So I'm nervous.

In job application news, apparently Obama is requiring politicians who want to be part of his cabinet to fill out a 63-item background check asking for a summary of everything from real estate and speaking engagements to internet habits, handles, and posts. Some people may call it nosy, but from the number of embarassing politician stories that have come to light recently, I can't blame him for wanting to properly vet his team to make sure there are no nasty skeletons in the closets. It's not like they're applying for just any job.

Anyway I'm off to put up Christmas lights and knit replacement mice for my nephews, who have destroyed the original mouse:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

report card

So I checked my government test scores in case they may have come in early, and imagine my surprise when they did! Also, I managed to find the minimum pass marks to qualify for Foreign Service, so it's in brackets after my score:

Graduate Recruitment Test: 44/55 (pass: 23/55)
Situational Judgement Test: 76/100 (pass: 60/100)
Written Competency Test: 39/50 (pass: 18/50)

This by no means guarantees that they will be interested in me, but it gives me a fighting chance, I hope.
God, it feels good to succeed at something for a change.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

new leaves

It's Sunday, and the beginning of another month. I've been finding the passing of months to be kind of depressing the past while; another month without a job, another month closer to wintery deep freeze. This Sunday is particularly telling for the latter - it's the end of Daylight Savings (did you turn your clocks appropriately?) and it's frosty out there.

I have a few projects to work on this month, a few things to establish as habits that I've been meaning to get around to for a while:
1. Counting points again, of course; the battle to not eat too much delicious, delicious food is never won.
2. Allied with that, starting to do Pilates videos every day; strong core muscles are a good thing and I need to do some sort of exercise other than walking up and down the stairs all day long.
3. This one may shock some: picking up the violin again with a vengeance. I've actually been noodling around with it a bit the past couple weeks, and it's surprising how much of the muscle memory has stuck, but my actual brain? Not so much. I've wanted to get back into it pretty much ever since I stopped, but until I graduated, I was just too busy to commit to the amount of practice it would take to get back what I've lost. Sean is partially to thank for this, too - he's been quietly pushing to have me teach him violin for years, and even has a decent beginner violin of his own, but I can't really teach him much past Suzuki Book One at the moment, so as we start lessons in earnest, I'm going to try to get my chops back.
4. Lastly, NaNoWriMo, my yearly battle that I have never won or even made any headway with at all. I keep publicly declaring my challenge (here, and older defunct blogs) and then quietly failing to give any updates. Angus is doing it this year, along with Rose, and so I have support this time. Angus has been plugging away with his writing faithfully the past two days (it starts November 1 and runs the whole month) and has an interesting historical fiction premise (Canadian history? interesting? really?). I'm a bit behind. I will prevail.

The hope is that when December comes around, I will have successfully lost about 10 lbs, be more fit in general, have made a habit of violin again, and have written a novel. Oh, and hopefully have a job.

Interesting side note: Gail stopped by yesterday to drop off an apartment warming gift: a Magic Bullet! I was already aware of the neat things you can do with it, as Michelle has one, but this morning Sean read the booklet a little and got all excited about the many things his culinary mind could think of to do with it (pesto! salsa! spinach dip!). We liquified a couple of onions for latkes and then he had to play will-it-blend with some ice cubes and other things (ice cubes into snow in thirty seconds!). So thank you, Gail... we are going to have a lot of fun with this :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

sticky floors

I've always really loved Halloween as a holiday. It can be whatever you want it to be - a family occasion with pumpkins and trick-or-treating, a classy excuse for dressing up in silly costumes and going to the grocery store in them (Angus saw a woman dressed as Inspector Gadget, complete with police light hat that worked!), or, in the case of my age group, having a party that involves as much candy as possible.

We invited over a bunch of people we know - really, all the people we know, which is kind of sad considering they all showed up and it was about ten people, but they are quality people, so that's what counts, I think. My plans to pumpkin the entire house were thwarted by putting it off too long; we have no safe outdoor space to store pumpkins, and indoors they don't really last that long, but by Wednesday night there were zero pumpkins left to buy. Still, we have a surprising number of spooky props, and with some candles and of course large bowls of candy, we were able to pull it together. Our neighbours were having a somewhat rowdier party, more on the order of about twenty people, and got told by the landlord to cut it out, but thankfully we are still in her good graces, and some of the neighbours came up to visit us when their party went pear-shaped, so we got to know them a little better.

All in all a good night, and it was good to see people. The cats were sequestered for the night, so they are a little sulky, and the floors definitely need a mopping, but it was worth it for the morale boost. There will be pictures - Rose brought her camera - so you can see my bee costume (which didn't, sadly, have as many bits to it as I hoped, but definitely got the point across).

By the way, if you are in need of a Saturday afternoon (or whenever) chuckle and have some time, I highly recommend reading Natalie Dee's story of her terribly complicated pregnancy. She and her husband are both popular webcomic artists, and she's a hilarious (if somewhat pottymouthed) writer.

EDIT: Pictures!

Will (a sixth-level wizard) and Marie (a luchadore):


Angus (a stockbroker suicide, pictured here doing his best Sad Guys on Trading Floors face):

Rose (a padawan Jedi. Not pictured: her amazing homemade lightsaber, and her completely authentic foot-and-a-half long rattail):

Me, as a somewhat greasy looking bee:

Halloween is all about the scary, and as anyone who has spent time with me in an outdoors context knows, for me, the face of fear is BEE. I sewed up the skirt Friday morning from a tutorial on Craftster for bustle skirts. It's pretty great.