Monthly Archives: October 2015

Would You Do Something Over If You Could?

My husband is going to be starting a new job soon, and while it is similar to what he has been doing, it is in a more stable and secure area. This has caused him to wonder if he should have taken this step several years ago, and if he was offered the chance to do something over, would this be what he would have chosen to. This led to conversations between us as to what in our life would we like to “do over” if we could. Of course the quick answer would be to be born rich, but that isn’t really something we would have control over. The idea of the “do over” is to choose something that we could control.

I admit that I gave it a lot of thought. It made me think about my life and what would I change. For me it all came down to my degree and that I would have chosen something else to major in. In high school, I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to specialize in International Law and work in D.C. My goal was to find a way to pay for college and use the annuity that my grandmother had put away for my education to pay for law school. So I studied hard, got good grades and earned a scholarship that paid for my tuition. I also qualified for a grant that paid part of my room and board, leaving me to work part-time to pay for the rest. (Side note: I recently learned that 1 year of college today at my university costs what I paid for all for 4 years. Wow!) I majored in Political Science (perfect for D.C.) and minored in Legal Studies. I also happen to  love history. I had a great teacher in high school who made learning about the past interesting and I knew that I would take a lot of history courses in college once I finished my core classes and started working on my major. During a meeting with my guidance counselor in the fall of my junior year, he told me that I was actually only two courses short of having a second major in History. His advice was to give up the minor and instead earn a Bachelors in Political Science and a Bachelors in History. So that is what I did. Little did I know that in my senior year, when I was getting ready to take the LSAT’s for law school, the money that I had been counting on to pay for law school wasn’t there.

For more than a decade, my grandmother told everyone that she had put $5,000 away in an annuity for both myself and my younger brother to help pay for college. She was always discussing how much interest it was earning and gave my mom yearly updates as to the overall balance for both of us. So when I needed money to pay for the LSAT’s, I asked my mom to have my grandmother release the money so that I could pay for it. It was a total shock to my mom and myself when my grandmother replied, “You didn’t really think I put aside that money did you?” Uh, yes, we did. Because you told us and everyone in the family about doing so. No one was more surprised than my grandfather, who wanted to know what she had done with the $10,000 that he released to her to purchase the annuities years before. It created turmoil in our family. My mother was angry at her mother for leading all of us on. My father was angry because she was destroying the dreams that we had of our education. My younger brother was angry because his dreams were gone before he even started college. To me, he was the one with the best consequences. He had plenty of time to rethink his plans and adjust them so he could still achieve his college goals. He wasn’t the one who was just a few weeks away from graduating with a degree that would be hard to use. So for me, my “do over” would be to choose something else to major in that would have given me a better career path.

I am not upset with the career field that I am in now. I enjoy what I do and it truly is a great opportunity to help to take care of people who are fighting the hardest fight of their life every day. Playing just a small role in taking care of them is very rewarding. But I would have chosen something else. Several years ago I thought about going back to school to be a teacher. I had the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher for a year and came to the realization that I did not want that job at all. Nope not for me. I met people that were teachers who had also come to that realization too late. But what do I think I would choose if I could go back and have a “do over”? I know that I would have chosen Criminal Justice. I think learning about forensics would be really interesting. Of course, that wasn’t available back when I went to college and only came about around the time of the original CSI show. Or maybe I would have gotten a degree in Medical Management, since I am now working in the medical field, that may have allowed me to move up to a higher position. My husband is working on getting his Master’s and tells me that I can join him and we can do college together. It is definitely something for me to consider.

Touring DC

Washington Monument, 10-19-2015

Washington Monument, 10-17-2015

My husband and I moved to the East Coast three years ago, and while we have visited a lot of historical locations in the area, we have only been to Washington, DC for a specific reason, once for a holiday party and once for an alumni luncheon for his University’s local chapter. We actually live about an hour from there, so we could have visited a number of times, but life tends to get in the way and plans always change. I am also not someone who likes to play tourist in the summer. I don’t like being hot and I tend to burn easily in the sun, so that means we visit places in the early spring or fall. The weekend was supposed to be in the low 50’s and sunny, so that to me was perfect touring weather. Warm jacket, gloves and a hat/scarf combo and I was all set.

Now my husband is all about the planning, and we thought it would be nice to take one of the buses that allow you to get on and off all day at their stops. He downloaded their app and made sure he had a copy of the different routes around the city so we could decide what we wanted to see and where we needed to get off for each location. Of course, with us, nothing ever goes as smoothly as we hope and there were plenty of things that made me go hmm.

While my husband made sure the GPS had the latest maps downloaded, it didn’t recognize the address for the parking garage. As we got close the location, he wanted me to pull up the address on his phone and we would find it that way. The only problem is I couldn’t get it to tell me right or left turns, so we usually ended up the opposite from where we needed to be. Eventually we found the parking garage and as we exited we were looking for the gift shop on the corner where we would pick up the tour bus. At this point, a homeless woman began screaming and cussing at us for looking at her. Now, we initially didn’t notice her, and we probably would have walked on by, but now we did. Another homeless person pointed at her and said ignore her, she gives all of us a bad rep. I nodded and gave him all the money in my pocket. My husband told me to remember we just arrived and to pace myself on the donations.

After finding the corner where the map and the app said we could board the tour bus we waited for a bit, seeing all the other different tour buses stop and go, but not ours. I looked down the block and thought I saw the bus we were waiting for, but it didn’t come where we were at. We walked down to that street and learned that the map and app were one block off. Once on board, we decided to sit on the top where it was open. The sun was out so it didn’t feel too bad despite it being about 50 degrees. We were able to see some of the most famous DC landmarks before getting off at the Jefferson Memorial.

Now, a little tip. When you come across a bathroom, use it. Bathrooms are scarce. So are restaurants near the major sites. Our guide told us that the restaurants in the museums are closed on the weekends, so you really don’t have much of a food choice there. We saw hot dog and pretzel carts on the corners and refreshment kiosks, but the restaurants were closer to downtown. There were two streets where food trucks were lined up, but not any place near the places we were getting off. Once it became cloudy, the wind picked up and the gloves came out. It was really cold on the top of the bus, especially when the route took you onto the highway and going 50 mph meant chapped lips and wind burn.

While our day went by quickly, we learned several things that will make our next visit even better:

  1. See a bathroom, use a bathroom.
  2. Plan to eat downtown on the weekends or hop off when you see the food trucks.
  3. Sit inside the bus if the route takes you onto the highway.
  4. Make sure you bring plenty of sun screen and lip balm.
  5. Not all of the maps or apps are correct and may lead you to wait in the wrong location.
  6. Bring an extra memory card to ensure you can take lots of photos.

The day went by much too quickly. On the way home we talked about what we will do differently for our return trip, probably in the spring. I would like to see the Cherry Blossoms when they are at their peak. We might take the train to Union Station and just stick with the local Connector bus or maybe try the trolley tour. Either way, I’ll remember the lip balm and sunscreen.

 

Does An Author’s Identity Matter? My Two Cents…

Apparently sometime during the past few weeks or so, one of my “go to” authors in the M/M genre revealed themselves to be a woman. The only way I found out was when I went to search about their next book. (I’m not going to reveal who it was. I’m sure you can find out if you do a search). So when I read about it, I learned that there had been some backlash and people lashing out at the author on various sites around the web. I don’t go to many sites where people meet up to discuss different books and genres, and it seems that this is where the author is getting criticism from people who view this as some sort of fraud. They feel that she has lied to them and owes them an apology. I couldn’t help but think why does this matter?

I started reading when I was 3 years old. My mother took us to the library every Saturday morning and we had to make sure we checked out enough books to last the week. My mother often told the story that the library wouldn’t give me my own library card until I proved that I could read. My mom told the librarian to pick out a book and when they did, I showed them that I could read. I got my first library card that same day. From my earliest memories of reading, it was always about the story. I couldn’t tell you who wrote a particular story, but I could describe in detail what it was that excited me or what I didn’t like.

Who wrote the book, whether they were a man writing romance and using the pen name of a woman or a woman writing science fiction and using the pen name of a man, never mattered to me. What does matter is the story. I want to be sucked into the story. I want to be challenged to think, whether it is something I don’t agree with or something that I’ve never read before. I want to be hooked from the first page and keep reading until I figure out who the killer is or to see if the main characters get their happily ever after.

What I don’t think about is who the person is behind the pen name. I don’t need to know if they are a man or a woman, if they are married, divorced, where they work or play. I understand that an author may have reasons for keeping their identity hidden, be it the fear of losing their day job, losing their friends, etc. If an author chooses to share who they are with their readers, that is fine, but I don’t feel that an author owes that to me because I buy their books. None of that matters. What matters is if they can write a good story. I have several authors who are auto buys for me. Most of the time I love their new books, but once in a while, I won’t. And that is okay too. I’m not going to like every book an author puts out. For instance, one author writes really funny, campy contemporary vampire books and I have them all. When she put out a new historical romance, I read it but didn’t like it. Others did, and that is what makes the literary world go round and round. Not everyone is going to like everything you write. Just write a good story. That is all that I, the reader, is owed.

The Apology That Wasn’t Necessary

My husband apologized to me for losing his job. At first I wasn’t sure that he was serious. I mean, why was he apologizing for something that wasn’t his fault? But he was serious. He apologized because for the first time since he was 14 years old, he did not have a job. He felt that it was his fault. I assured him that it wasn’t. His job was simply eliminated. His small company was bought out by a much larger one and they slowly began to let people go. Actually, we were surprised that he survived more than a year after they were bought before being let go. Others were not so lucky. But because we knew that eventually it would be his turn, we were prepared as much as we could be for it to happen. So when it did, we just moved forward.

We went over our monthly expenses and looked for ways to cut back. I was still employed, so we still had my income. Thankfully the cooler weather is here, so turning the AC up a few degrees, and eventually off, really hasn’t been hard. We also use coupons, so shopping smart has been something we have done for a long time, so we were fine there. The biggest savings was on not eating out. We usually eat dinner out on Fridays. It is something we have done for years. Unfortunately, we would also eat out several times on the weekends. That was something that we stopped doing and started saving.

Once he stopped working, he turned his job into finding a new one. He contacted people he knew within his industry, and knew that they too were facing budget cuts, but it didn’t hurt to try. He actually passed along a few jobs that he wasn’t qualified for, but knew someone else that was. He also started looking for job fairs and applying for jobs online. One of our friends even brought jobs that he knew about to my husband. One of those turned out to be one my husband was called to interview for. He wanted to know if our friend put in a good word for him, but it turns out, he works in an entirely different section, and doesn’t know anyone where my husband would work.

Things about the job search that make you shake your head and go hmmm….

  1. Trying to get through the unemployment application process is absolutely crazy. “Yes, I understand that you need someone to verify my employment / unemployment, but since I was the person for my company that did that in the past, you need to contact this office.” And of course, they don’t contact the correct location, then call you back to tell you they can’t verify with your employer. When they send you a time to be on a three way phone call with your former employer, who doesn’t show up for the call, it is somehow your fault. It has been 5 weeks, since my husband’s last day and we have not received one penny from unemployment.
  2. Signing up for a Retired military, Disabled Veteran class to help you in your job search only to be told that you don’t meet the requirements. Hmmm, let’s see, Retired military-check, Disabled veteran-check, Veteran-check. Submitted documents to prove this-check. So what is the requirement that isn’t met? No response other than you don’t meet the requirements.
  3. Apply for one job, only to be contacted about a completely different job that you are not qualified for, and the recruiter doesn’t understand why you aren’t interested in that job. Hmmm, not qualified might be the first clue.
  4. Interview for a job, then get called back several times for the employer to pick your brain, and then find out they hired someone else. Hmmm, okay, that will only happen once.
  5. Eventually, you will hear something good. Which is what happened, so now you wait for the official offer letter to arrive. Until then, you continue to search on the off chance that unemployment will actually approve something before you start back to work.

The good news is that my husband was offered a job and will be back at work soon. It will be in a different industry, but hopefully a more stable job field. He feels much better, but as I told him when this all started, there is nothing to apologize for. It happens and we move on to something better.

October is Breast and Liver Cancer Awareness Month

Image result for liver cancer awareness clipart(Ribbon from: Fight Like a Girl Club)

Everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you know that it is also Liver Cancer Awareness Month? According to Breast Cancer.org, more than 230,000 women and 2,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 in the United States alone. For liver cancer, the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 35,000 people diagnosed in 2015, with men making up the majority of cases at just over 25,000. Chances are you know someone that has or been treated for breast or liver cancer. It is important to have routine mammograms, so please encourage your loved ones, both women and men, to get screened. Also see a physician if you see or feel anything out of the ordinary.

Emerald is the ribbon color for Liver Cancer. Pink is the ribbon color for Breast Cancer. There are many places online where you can find awareness ribbons and products that help fund research into the various types of cancer.  If you live near a cancer treatment facility, contact them to learn about cancer awareness events and fundraising activities in your local communities. They may also have cancer support group meetings. You can help make a difference by participating in a walk, run or volunteer in some way. If your office is doing a fundraiser for breast cancer, ask if they can include liver cancer as well. Any help is greatly appreciated.

You can find more information at the following sites:

Fight Like a Girl Club

Choose Hope

Liver Foundation

Breast Cancer

American Cancer Society

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