Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Fish Bowl

I grew up in what I thought was a small town. Looking back, it wasn't really that small. For those of you unfamiliar with my hometown of BrockVegas, NY, please bear with me while I toss out names of local businesses. Not knowing them won't really impact your ability to understand my rant any more than usual. My rants are often unclear. Buckle up. This one could be a doozy.

Back to my hometown; We considered it small. Sure you'd run into people you knew at Wegmans, Canal Side, or Friendly's, but everyone enjoyed a decent measure of privacy. We learned to strategically plan excursions to avoid those we didn't want to bump into. You could hold a position at one business and apply for one at another without the owners 1) knowing each other, and 2) discussing who was more entitled to/in need of your employment. For example, if while working for Lakeside Memorial Hospital, I applied for a position at Brockport HS, my supervisor at the hospital wouldn't get a phone call the minute my application hit the principal's desk. It just didn't/doesn't work that way.

Living and working in the Florida Keys - especially Islamorada - is completely different. Not for the first time since moving here, did I discover that other people know more about my life than I do. (In case you're on the fence about that particular phenomenon, it's not a pleasant experience.) If you're familiar with Kenny Chesney's song, "Welcome To The Fish Bowl", then you've been afforded a brief glimpse into island life and this aspect of it sucks moose balls. (Also not a pleasant experience, based on what I've read.)

Do you know what frosts my ass more than other people making decisions that affect my livelihood without my input/ability to choose what's best for me? I'll wait while you guess.

Time's up. What's worse is not being able to bitch about it in my own damn blog! I'm not free to express myself because exposing this type of ridiculous behavior will surely result in a series of closed doors and I can guarantee that within fifteen minutes of posting this, the repercussions would begin. I can't afford that right now, so I'll keep my big, Irish pie hole shut.

Just wait for the next book....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Pickle Barrel

I read somewhere that when everything seems to be going wrong, great things are on the horizon. What's happening is that old energy is clearing out so that new energy can enter. I've no idea if that's true, but I sure as hell hope so, because lots of things just don't seem to be going right lately. I know, I know. Lots of people have it a lot worse than I do, and I should be counting my blessings instead of complaining.

I'm not actually complaining, though. I'm noticing and commenting on what's happening. How else to share my thoughts with you?

I'm sure your reason for stopping by my blog is to be entertained - no one likes a Debbie Downer - but this is my blog and you readers can't always have it your way. This isn't Burger King. I usually make an effort to throw a giggle or two your way, but not so much today. I'll do better with the next post, but for now, just let me get this crap off my chest.

 - My living arrangements are troublesome because I know that soon Lauren and I will need to find another place to live. The lease on this place is up on October 1st, so we'll be searching for another home at the height of the season...along with the snow birds...when rent costs are jacked up because of the high demand. It weighs heavily on my mind.
- I lost my job in early May, and have been told by a potential employer that I'm "over qualified". That's ridiculous. What am I supposed to do? Dumb down my resume and pretend that I don't know how to do the things that I'm really good at? I've found a part-time job two days a week...yeah. That job will maybe buy groceries, but nothing more.
- I'm still waiting to be paid a month's wages from the last job. None of us have been paid. One former colleague has filed a lawsuit and others have gone to the media with our story. I've contacted the Department of Labor, but still no relief. It's insane to think that our staff could go six weeks without getting paid - and still go to work every day because we believed in our mission - and here we are three weeks after being furloughed, and we still haven't been paid.
- There's the car situation, caused by the lady who ran a red light an hit Lauren. (What really matters is that my baby girl wasn't hurt. The rest will sort itself out.)
- Then there's the damn lake house that I rented in Old Forge for Memorial Day Weekend to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday. We can't afford to go now. Although the house is already paid for, we'd still have to pay airfare, rental car, gas, and food. I can't use the house, but I can't find someone to take off my hands. Money down the drain makes me cranky. Especially now.

There's more, but you get the idea. I'm almost always a happy-go-lucky person who doesn't ever feel stressed. I used to say, "I don't believe in stress." I'm always the one reminding others to be patient because it'll all work out. Hmmm.

I guess it's my turn in the pickle barrel.

I typically don't allow myself to dwell on these obstacles, but today they seem overwhelming. I'm a strong woman. I can do what needs to be done to provide for my daughter and myself, but sometimes it would be nice not to HAVE to be strong all the damn time. Sometimes, I think I'd like to be able to lay these problems down and let someone else be strong for a while.

Enough bitching. Get back to your weekend chores and be thankful you have all that you do. Or else.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Remembering Big Len

Last week marked nine years since my Dad, affectionately known to some as Big Len, left this world and made it a few shades less colorful. Tomorrow would have been his 88th birthday. Rather than tell you what a wonderful, giving, selfless man he was (many of you already know that), I'm going to share some examples of the colorful way he expressed himself. Big Len was a bit like Archie Bunker (I'm dating myself), in that he often didn't get words or phrases quite right. Whenever I hear my Dad talking in my head, these are some of the things he says that make me smile:

  • Chesterfield - this is a sofa if you were born in Canada or have a bunch of Canucks for relatives
  • Davenport - this also means sofa
  • Down celler - this is a basement
  • Tamata - tomato
  • Patata - potato
  • Punkin - pumpkin
  • Asparagris - yes, he called it that
  • Dungarees - pants
  • Up-To - as in, "We were up to Wegmans when I got a bad case of gas"
  • Hots - hot dogs
  • Lull - this means slow...Goom called Dad this when we played cards
  • Leonard Box - she also called him this. I never understood the origin, but it made Mom and Gooma laugh their arses off
  • Harvest Frog - as in, "her has is bigger than a harvest frog's"
  • Grand Old Opra - actually the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
  • Fresh - this meant either a heifer was knocked up or or that I was being mouthy
  • Schafer bugs - Japanese beetles
  • Scours - cow diarrhea
  • Cow flop - normal cow poop
  • Doc - a nick name my Dad earned after attempting to fix some male calves by putting rubber bands around their nuts...he missed one and that dude got Dad's whole herd "fresh"
  • Ungion - onion
  • Reddish - radish
  • Brass Monkey - as in, "it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a..."
  • Pick Stone - I dreaded hearing this phrase each spring...it involved picking up gravel from the sides of the driveway that had been misplaced by the snow plow during the winter...we picked it up piece by piece, dumped it in buckets until they were full, then dumped it back into the driveway and began again
  • Pick Walnuts - whatta you think?
  • Get Your Ass Behind You - directions given to my brothers when using a wrench, Dad didn't swear around me until I was over thirty years old
  • Cukes - cucumbers, which Dad ate in a sandwich on buttered white bread
  • Son of a Seapup - SOB
  • Chicken Ass Mary - referring to a woman with a big caboose
  • Up south/Down north - I don't know....
  • Silver Bells - if you never heard my Dad sing this while dancing in our living room, then you haven't truly lived
  • Grand Pricks - the car...grand prix
  • Thousand Islands - not the location, but the salad dressing
  • Like Two Pigs Wrestling Under a Blanket - another way to describe a large butt

There are endless others but you get the idea.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope you're enjoying hots and pop with Goom, surrounded by all those that went before you, as well as those that came later. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hired or Fired?

I interviewed with a company today for whom I'd really like to work. I see potential for job satisfaction and professional growth. The interview went well and walked away feeling like it was mine. Towards the end of the interview, I was given a personal assessment to complete. The first section requires one to select the aspects that one believes others expect them to portray. The second section requires one to select the aspect that one believes are their true personality. I was as honest as I could be.

As part of the interview feedback, the company sent my results, based on my responses. The analysis was frighteningly accurate given the amount of information I provided. I am concerned that these results may give a potential employer cause to think again before hiring me. I welcome your thoughts.

"Patti is a distinctly independent and individualistic person, strong-minded and determined. Venturesome, she will stick her neck out and take responsibility for risks when she believes she's right. She finds the challenge of new challenges and new problems stimulating and responds to them with action. She has a lot of confidence in herself, her own ability, knowledge, and decisions.

Patti is an ingenious and innovative problem-solver and trouble-shooter. She has an actively inquiring mind, a lively interest in the technical aspects of her work, and a need to know more and learn about the systems, techniques, fact, and concepts involved in it. She will drive hard to get things done her way, and quickly. A self-starter, she initiates, makes decisions, and assumes responsibility for them. She has a strong, competitive drive, is ambitious, and will drive herself hard to her goals. Her sense of urgency and drive for results will put pressure on others as well as herself.

In expressing herself, she is direct, factual, outspoken, and frank. Her approach to others is authoritative, telling, and if she encounters resistance or competition, aggressive. Always concerned with timely results, she deals with ambiguous situations briskly and firmly.

Because she has a broad focus on goals and results, she prefers to delegate details to others. Quick and fairly accurate in handling details herself, she becomes very impatient and less accurate in performing work which requires routine and repetitive handling of details at a slow of systematic pace."

The aggressive and competitive talk could prove fatal, as well as the words "outspoken" and "frank". Those aren't exactly qualities that every employer is looking for or wants to deal with on a daily basis.

By the way, don't call me Frank. My name is Patti, although I'll answer to "Doll" if you say it properly.

Clearly, what that damned thing failed to capture is my glorious, unending sense of humor and love of all furry creatures and sea mammals. Oh, and my love of Sean Connery and Buck Owens. They were also left out and are very important aspects of my personality.

So what if I punch in the throat those who have it coming? Is that a reason not to hire me? I'm forever loyal to those who earn it.

Not sure where things stand, except that I feel compelled to compete with myself for different results tomorrow....

Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Spite of the Miles

I gladly count myself among the fortunate souls blessed with friendships that not only stand the test of time, but the challenge of distance. I have friends that I've known almost my entire life (like my BFF whom I met when we were three), others since junior high, and still others that I didn't connect with until my adult years. The best friendships, in my opinion, are those that can be counted on to continue in spite of job/family responsibilities or the side affects of life choices.

Specifically, I'm talking about a friendship that began for me as a powerful teenage crush. It was rather one-sided, I admit, but it provided some sweet memories nonetheless. After high school, I moved to Washington DC and it was well over twenty years before we reconnected. Thoughts of that person had crossed my mind now and again and those warm memories never failed to make me laugh (another sign of a powerful friendship), but there were no words exchanged until we were (in theory) grown and responsible adults.

It was during the aftermath of my first book that we found each other face-to-face once again. I was dressed in a nun's habit...but that's another story. The belly laughing and playful banter came as easily as if we'd been doing it for years. That spark, that connection with another soul, is the magic of which I speak. (Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm not talking solely of sexual relationships with the boys of summer; this phenomenon happens on all levels). It's those types of connections that remain powerful in spite of years without communication and thousands of miles of highway.

I am truly grateful to share these kinds of timeless connections with a handful of people. You know who you are. I am happy to call you friends and I thank you for sharing yourself with me.

Enough sappy shit. It's happy hour.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I sometimes look around to see if there's a film crew camouflaged nearby, just there to record the craziness that has become my daily existence. I've yet to spy one, but often suspect they're out there, hiding in the mangroves and bougainvillea. Don't get me wrong; I'm not claiming to have an exciting or desirable life. It's just been one weird event after another lately and it makes me wonder who is getting joy out of watching me bumble from one mess to the next.

Hmmm, I suppose it's vain to think that anyone would be interested in my bumbling. Oh well. I must be vain, then, because I'm sure someone/something is enjoying this.

Some of my recent challenges have been brought on by life choices and were mostly predictable, if I'm being honest. (And there's really no point in being anything else. This is my blog and those who don't like my truths will move along.) Some recent hurdles were not predictable at all and I'm still reeling from the latest kick in the pants.

Tuesday night, the agency for which I work was descended upon by employees of an aggressive, power-hungry ghoul from Tallahassee. They rescinded our certification and shut us down. All of the staff, including our brilliant, hard-working CEO, were furloughed and kicked off property. Tallahassee is calling it a furlough, but the truth is that they've replaced all of us with a new staff and we'll never be rehired. There was no warning, although it became crystal clear when this went down that the Capital has been planning this take-over for quite some time. It seems that our CEO's leadership and reputation for excellence was making those to the north a bit uncomfortable.

Each of the staff is experiencing shock on some level and it's interesting to see how differently we handle it. Those who've worked there for more than fifteen years are grieving as if they'd lost a family member. Those with fewer years under their belt are more focused on the financial implications. I'm somewhere in between. I strongly believe in our mission and...I like to get paid because I like to eat...and drink wine.

I suppose there's never a convenient time to become unemployed, but at this point in my life, this could hardly be considered convenient. Fear not, good readers! I have an interview tomorrow at 10:30am and another on Tuesday at 9am! If you'd be willing to walk around with your fingers, arms, legs, and eyes crossed for positive outcomes, I'd be most appreciative.

Until then, I'll be keeping an eye out for the hidden camera crew....