Friday, March 31, 2006

Drivers wanted...

I've been interviewing for jobs, and this afternoon I got turned down for Texas Teaching Fellows. It’s highly competitive: 3000 applicants for 175 slots, and I made the first cut, which only 1 in 2 applicants does, but still...I’m beginning to feel like no one is ever going to hire me again, and damn, if I had endless money, I wouldn’t care. Although it’s an excellent program, my heart was not really in it (which they may have picked up on), so in a way, it’s sort of a relief. I had an interview for a Program Analyst position on Monday, but I don’t think I made the cut for that position either, although I haven’t heard anything back one way or the other. Although C loves working at the place where I interviewed, I don’t really want to be a Program Analyst. I was amazed that they've been pursuing me for that position, and I have to admit that I did the interview mostly to satisfy my own curiosity about what they'd seen on my CV that made them think I was a good candidate for a PA position. I’d love to have a writing job, and have applied for a medical writing job, but the HR person has told me that right now they’re leaning toward hiring someone with a journalism degree, which puts me out of the running for that as well. And I have to admit, when I walk in there...although everyone working there seems to love it, it creeps me out a little, it’s so corporate. The thought of wearing stockings and heels and pencil skirts and sweater sets to work each day is not appealing to me. I’ve become so spoiled...I like getting up and pulling back my hair, putting in my contacts and applying a little mascara and lipstick, spritzing on a spray of cologne and slipping into khakis or jeans, and a t-shirt or sweater and open toed shoes, and then having coffee and easing into the day at my leisure.

Sooooo...what to do? I miss working with kids, and I miss child psychiatry, but I’ll never go back to the University. It’s a dead end in terms of career, and I’m so much better off being out of there. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about changing paths in mid-life, which is what I’m doing, although at 56 I’m beyond mid-life...anyway, one of the things one is supposed to do is to imagine, what you would do if money were no object. For starters, I’d never work for anyone again. I’d work, but for myself. I’ve never liked answering to others, and age hasn’t made me more amenable to that. I guess there are some exceptions; AP is starting a private practice, and if he offered me a job helping him to set up and run his office, I’d probably accept that in a NY minute, although it wouldn’t be without its problems, working for a friend. Still, it’s child psychiatry, and I love child psych. On the other hand, if I could snap my fingers and change my life, maybe I’d be an interior decorator at this point in time. Like Michael (who’s in the process of applying to the Visual Communications program at UA), I love design, and I believe I’d enjoy helping people plan how to decorate a room...but I don’t feel up to a lot more than that right now.

I feel so blah at this point in time, as if all my vitality has left me. I never thought I’d say this, but middle-aged malaise has hit me hard...

I am so overdue for an adventure...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Patrick's Saturday Six, Episode 100

Saturday Six - Episode 100

Cat: If you could trade places with one person in your family for a week, who would you choose? And would you want to trade as they are now, or sometime in the past (or future)? There is absolutely no one in my family with whom I’d trade places for a week, ever...but, outside my family...if I could time travel, I’d happily be Mark Twain for a week, or Maria Callas.
De: What were you doing 1 year ago this month, and are you more or less satisfied with your life today? One year ago this month I was trying to get my son Christopher to finish high school by literally driving him to and from alternative school and spending a lot of one on one time with him on math homework each day. Halleujah, it worked, he graduated. I’d have to say that I’m less satisfied with my life right now.
Lisa: Do you prefer watching television over surfing the internet? No, I prefer surfing the net. I think the quality of television is pretty poor. I’ve never watched Desperate Housewives, or American Idol or The Apprentice or even Survivor...all shows that a lot of my friends talk about, but I’m just not interested and can’t get excited about most tv shows.
Antonette: Outside of the U.S., where would you live and why? I think New Zealand would be high on my list, because I’ve heard it’s gorgeous.
Elton: When you leave your home, do you ever feel paranoid that you've left something behind? No, I don’t feel paranoid that I’ve left something behind, but sometimes I worry that I’ve left something on that should be off, e.g., a burner on the stove, etc. We had a bad house fire 3 years ago that started with an electrical short in a fan, so this is not entirely paranoia on my part, to worry a bit about this happening again.
Laura: What song or songs would you want played at your own funeral and why? This one makes me smile. First of all, I don’t want a funeral. I want to be cremated, and after that, I’m fine with a memorial service, with good music. Years ago I made a deal with one of my best friends that among other things, I want Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess played at my memorial service. It’s absolutely glorious music, and maybe because I’m no princess (but my friend, technically, is), the irony of having that music played appeals to me.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oh, ah'll take ya ridin' in my car, car...

First, a riddle. Remember the old VW Fahrvergnugen ad campaign? OK, here's the riddle: What do you call a bunch of blondes driving around in a VW? (Note: the answer's at the end of this post, but you may enjoy it more if you read the post first.)

I had dinner with an old friend on Thursday evening. On the way to dinner, we stopped at a Porsche dealership so he could check out the new Porsche Cayman S (aka hatchback Boxster), one of which was sitting on the showroom floor, just inside the door, making it impossible to get inside the showroom without almost tripping over it. It’s a gorgeous car, there’s no question about it. There’s not a bad line in its design, from any angle, and it boasts a powerful (295 HP) mid-mounted engine, among other things, but as I sat inside it, admiring the leather interior, it occurred to me...although I love and have a certain appreciation for beautiful, luxury cars, I have no desire to own one (and that’s a healthy attitude, because I also have absolutely no means of owning one).

I love my car, a ‘99 VW Cabrio. I love that it’s a ragtop, and that it’s a stick. I love all ragtops, because I love the feeling of driving fast with the top down on a starry night, and I love driving a stick, probably because that’s what I first learned to drive, when I finally learned how to drive, at age 30, in a ‘75 VW Rabbit in downtown Chicago (a subject for a separate post, for sure). I love that I know all the little intricacies of the foot/clutch/hand/stick dance involved in driving a stick, and I’m not above loving the fact that it’s considered cool to drive a stick. I also love my car because although it’s small, sporty and chic, I can put the top down and load 10' boards from Home Depot into the back, something I’ve done quite a few times in the 7+ years that I’ve owned it.

When I first got my car, I was dating a guy who drove (among other things) a Porsche Boxster. The first time I took him out in my car, I put the top down and then got out and started to snap on the convertible top boot that VW provides to protect the ragtop when it’s down. "Jude," he said, "don’t bother with’s not cool...just leave it and drive with the top folded down."
I’m grateful that he spoke up, because from that simple statement, I learned to really enjoy my car, and to treat it as if it were an extension of myself, subject to the inevitable occasional ding and scratch, (just as I am) rather than as some exotic object that I’m afraid to drive for fear of damaging it. I’ve known my share of guys who own beautiful, expensive cars they almost never drive, e.g., I once went out with a guy who owned a vintage Porsche that (he proudly declared) had never been driven in the rain...sheesh! As soon as he told me that, he was toast - I’m a hands-on sort of woman, myself.

My Cabrio is the only new car I’ve ever owned, and when I got it, I was very excited about all the zappy features it has. I called my ex, and described them to him in endless detail. When I finally shut up, he said, "What, no remote keyless entry?" "No," I said, "They didn’t offer it to me, so I guess it’s not available on this model." "What are you talking about?" he said. "Of course it’s available! Check your keys, and if you don’t have a remote keyless entry, call the dealership and tell them you want one! It’s a safety measure, for when you’re getting into your car alone, at night."

I hung up the phone and examined the keys the dealership had given me. There were three of them: the plain key I’d been using, a valet key, and...aha! a key equipped with what appeared to be a remote keyless entry device. Feeling foolish, I walked into my garage and clicked the key several times, waiting expectantly for the door locks to rise and simultaneously make the small but pleasing, sort of mechanical whooshing sound that they make when they’re raised or lowered.


I clicked again.

Nada, zero.

I tried again, with the same result. Feeling disappointed, I walked all around the car, pressing the key over and over, only to have my brand new car continue to sit, mute, in my garage.
Irritated now at my inability to utilize a feature of whose existence I’d been blissfully unaware just 10 minutes earlier, I stormed into my house and called the dealership.

"Sales, please!" I said crisply to the operator who answered the dealership phone. When I was connected to a salesperson, I continued, with what I hoped was authority in my voice: "Um, yes, just 2 days ago I purchased a car at your dealership, for which my remote keyless entry doesn’t work."

The salesman was very polite. He spoke in clear, modulated tones, and sounded like he could be a DJ on a classical radio station. "What model did you buy?" he asked. I told him. There was a pause, then he cleared his throat and said, "Well, I don’t actually think there IS a remote keyless entry for that model," Before he could continue, I interrupted him. "But I was given one!" I said, "And it doesn’t work!"

"You’ve tried it, then?" the salesman asked. "Yes, I just spent 10 minutes in my garage, walking all around the car, pressing the thing, but nothing happens! The doors stay locked, the lights don’t come on...the remote doesn’t work!"

"Hmmmmmmm..." the salesman said. "I’m sorry to hear that. As I said, I didn’t think there was a remote keyless for that model, so I’ll have to check it out. I’ll talk with one of the service representatives, and I’ll have someone get back to you, later this afternoon."

I thanked him and hung up, happy that I’d been assertive.

A couple of hours later, my phone rang.


"Yeah, this is Rocky, from the service department, callin’ ‘bout your new VW Cabrio," a lazy sounding male voice said, audibly chewing gum as he spoke.

"Thanks for returning my call, Rocky," I said. "Do you have a replacement remote for me?"

Rocky ignored my question. "Lemme ask ya somethin’" he said, sounding amused and infuriatingly male. "Are ya blonde?"

"WHAT?!?!?" I said incredulously. "Did you just ask me if I’m a blonde? Why on earth are you asking me that? What does my hair color have to do with anything? What difference could it possibly make?"

"Just answer the question, please," Rocky said, still chewing. "Humor me. I told the other guys, I bet ya anything, this is a blonde who’s bought this car..."

"Well, as a matter of fact, not that it has anything to do with anything, but in fact I AM a blonde, now what about my remote..."

"IT’S A BLONDE!" I heard him shout, apparently to the other guys with whom he worked in the service department. I thought I heard laughter in the background, and...was that the sound of guys high-fiving each other?

Really irritated now, I said sharply, "Rocky! What about my remote?"

"There’s no remote for this model," he said, sounding pleased with himself.

"But there is!" I insisted. "I was given this key..."

"Yeah, do ya have that key there with ya?" he asked.

"I do!" I said frostily.

"Well, do me a favor, look at it close!" he said, "REAL close."

I examined the key.

"Ya see that little raised part, in the middle of the top?" he continued.

"Yes," I said, "I see it."

"And ya see that little clear part, on top of the top?" he said.

"Yes, I see that too," I said.

"Well, Blondie," he said, chuckling, "That’s a KEYLIGHT, to help ya see the lock when you’re openin’ the door, manually, at I told ya, there’s no remote keyless for this model," he added triumphantly.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh...shoot...OK...that makes sense.

Nevermind then.

I hung up, smiling. I may be a blonde, but I have a good sense of humor, and I can always laugh at myself (and that’s good, because many is the time I need to).

As for the riddle:

What do you call a bunch of blondes driving around in a VW?

Far from thinkin' (and I include myself in that group).