Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nine to Five

(subtitle: how to start a new job, suddenly become totally incompetent, and buy nothing new)

Whew. My first week at the new job is over. It will get easier from here, right? Not that it was a bad week. It just had a lot of hours in it.

Here's what I learned this week:

1. If you go to the front door, which is locked, and stand there looking like a dope for 10 minutes, the security guard will eventually come open the door for you.

2. The normal people all use the back door.

3. Even if you only live 10 minutes from your office, you do not have enough time to drive home, enjoy a leisurely lunch, put your feet up, get a little fresh air, recharge your mind, and return to work.

4. You may if you are quick like a bunny have time to drive home, frantically throw together a grilled cheese sandwich, eat it standing up, and return to work.

5. The normal people all eat at their desks.

6. If you have been doing a job for ten years, do not assume that you know how to do that job. There are helpful tools nowadays such as "project management software" that add a whole new dimension to your day, causing you to receive emails every 15 seconds which require your urgent immediate attention and prompting three or four hundred visits to your project manager's office to ask intelligent questions such as "So, is a job folder, like, an online folder, or is it actually a folder folder?"

And last but not least -

7. It is possible to go from slouchy, unkempt freelancer to stylish, snappy office worker without buying anything new. But only if you have a stylish, snappy sister who wears the same size and who is a fabulous eBay shopper and who is willing to pack up a box of cute outfits and ship them to you. Thanks Monica!!!!!

Only 477 weeks till I can retire ... but who's counting?


Friday, February 19, 2010

I've really done it now

(seriously? you want me to wear these? every day?)

Well, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

After all, my hobby is sending out resumes. I think it's fun to write cover letters. And my bookmarks include,,, and

So it only makes sense that one day I would find my way to the jobs section of craigslist. Lo and behold, there was a job listing for a writer in Plano Texas. Hey! I'm a writer! And hey! I live 5 minutes from Plano!

The job was at a financial marketing company. Hey! I write financial marketing projects!

I figured "financial marketing" was probably a pseudonym for "shady debt collection" or "fly by night payday lending" ... but what the heck. I sent off a resume.

A few hours later I got a reply.

Two days later I had an interview, at a definitely non-shady, non-fly-by-night marketing company.

A week later I had a job.

A job. Wow. Nine to five. An office of my own. Health insurance.

I start on Tuesday. Gulp.

I will probably be blogging less frequently, but I'll still be around. I definitely need to know what Fran has been eating on the bus, who Amanda has run into at the park, what Joan found in her local police reports, what Rae has found to rant about, and how Cyndi is making the world a better place.

I'm thinking I may need more than an hour for lunch. I hope that won't be a problem.

I'll keep you posted.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: The End

Finalissimo! We have reached the last stop on our fabulous 10-day CTCS tour of Italy!

Here we are in the amazing city of Venice, where you can drown while crossing the street, unlike the rest of Italy where you are much more likely to simply be run over by a motorbike.

Fortunately, by the time we got to Venice we had completed our singing schedule so the nice Venetian people did not have to endure one more rendition of Glory Hallelujah Sing My Praises As Loud As You Possibly Can.

I loved Italy, but I was ready to go home.

I was a little tired of thick black coffee that tasted like motor oil.

I was a little tired of being told "This way! Andiamo! Hurry, lazy Americans! Only six museums and ten cathedrals today! Look up! The art work is all on the ceiling! Hurry! Hurry!"

I was even a little tired of my charming roommate Lillian, who by this point had told me her amazing life story involving a wealthy husband who fell one day while shoveling snow in the driveway and suffered permanent brain damage requiring her to be a caretaker at a very young age until he mercifully died and left her the mansion and all his earthly possessions.

I wasn't sure if any of this was true, but it definitely made a great story.

We had a great time, Lillian and me. Especially when the choir wasn't singing.

... and now, I will leave you with a few more pictures and a little reminder:

When in Rome, do as the Romans do ...

Drink wine

Eat pasta

Look fabulous at all times

And break into song whenever you feel the urge, unless you are part of the CTCS in which case you really should just look up and enjoy the scenery.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 9

By now you are surely getting weary of my travels. I know I was. But we are almost finished with our off-key tour of the lovely Italian countryside.

Just a few more stops.

We went to Pompeii ...

To Pisa ...

To Florence, where I bought a lovely gold necklace ...

To Assisi, where they loved our rendition of Seventy-Six Trombones (by this time I was pretty adept at the organ, though it was awfully hard to oom-pah with all that reverb going on) ...

... and then we arrived in Venice, our final stop ...


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 8

By the time we arrived in Capri, I was ready for some R & R. I was quite exhausted from arguing with the Vatican organist, and I was tired of running around corners and hiding in little shops whenever the choir would burst into song.

Which was quite often.

Capri was lovely. Warm and flower-ful.

Here are some pictures :

Isn't that gorgeous? I really want to go back.

... then we traveled north again ...


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 7

Oh my gosh, how could I forget the Vatican? Silly me. Let's back up.

When we first got to Italy, we spent a few days in Rome. We saw the Spanish Steps, the Crumbly Colosseum, pickpockets of all ages, and several hundred hideous statues.

But the highlight was our trip to The Vatican.

We were scheduled to sing in St. Peter's Basilica, and we had heard that The Pope Himself might be on site. Goodness gracious.

We were, of course, planning to sing Mr. Director's original composition, Magnificent Glorious Hallelujah I Sure Am Talented In Excelsis Deo. Everyone was quite excited.

Except me.

I knew that St. Peter's Basilica would have a huge, imposing, phenomenal pipe organ for me to play. The only problem is, I had never played an organ in my life.

I'm a piano player. A pretty good one. But I had told Mr. Director quite clearly, several times, that I do not play the organ. My feet and my hands simply do not cooperate with each other. Feet or hands. Choose one. Can't do both.

Sure enough, we arrived at St. Peter's and there was a rug hanging from the window indicating that The Pope was in the building. There was also a gigantic organ. Gulp.

The choir took their places. The director stood at the podium. And me? I was off to the side, arguing with the organist.

Me: You do it. Really. Here's the music.

Him: Prego. Argobargoandiamocrazyamerican.

Me: I can't. I'm sorry. Please.

Him: Prego. Prego. Issabissayourmusica.

Me: Gotta go. Carry on. I'll be over here hiding behind a pillar.

... and then we headed south ...


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 6

Are you getting tired of my Italy story? I hope not. Cuz I have 4 more installments to go.

We are now in the lovely city of Siena. And we are in luck! Tonight, in the town square, is the Palio. This is a famous horse race which I have never heard of but which sounds like a lot of fun.

My roommate Lillian and I are good friends by now, even though she has turned out to be even quirkier than I feared and she is indeed at least 100 years older than me. So we decide to go into town after dinner to see what this Palio is all about.

Tra la la, here we go walking down the cobblestone streets when out of nowhere, wow! here comes a horse followed by about 50 people waving flags and singing songs. Very festive and Italian! Arrivederci ciao andiamo cabernet ola! We follow them into town.

When we reach the town square, we discover that it has been roped off like a race track, with hundreds of people in the middle of the square and hundreds more in bleachers all around the sides.

There is nowhere for Lillian and me to go, so we stand in the middle of the track.

Soon a nice policeman appears and lets us know that the race is about to start. Which means, unless we move, we are about to be trampled.

We thank the policeman and find a spot to stand underneath an arched doorway. We notice ambulances parked off to the side and try not to be alarmed by this. The horses go around and around, the crowd cheers, people sing their Palio songs, and it's time to go back to the hotel.

But uh oh, we have forgotten which arched doorway we used to enter the town square. Oh well. All of the arched doorways should lead to the same place, right?


Lillian and I start wandering the dark, maze-like streets of Siena. We wander and wander. We wonder as we wander. Will we ever find our way out? We go in circles, squares, and figure eights. We come to a dead end at a military base guarded by an armed guard who does not seem particularly happy to make our acquaintance.

We somehow, I have no idea how, miraculously, only by the grace of God, just when I thought I would never see my children again, find our way back to the hotel.

... but wait! I forgot to tell you about the Vatican ...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 5

(we made it! yes this is me, umpteen years ago, with my fashionable fanny-pack)

There are many, many amazing places to see in Italy. We saw them all in 10 days flat.

Unfortunately for the people of Italy, we also sang in most of them.

The very first night that we were there, the entire choir ate at a charming little restaurant. When the wait staff learned that we were singers (in the loosest possible sense of the word), they offered to sing for us.

Lo and behold, they launched into a gorgeous melody with lovely Italian lyrics, full 4-part harmony and a sweet tone that echoed off the stone walls.

When they were finished, the director stood up and motioned for the choir to stand. I shrank down in my seat and pretended not to know them.

"Let'sh shing the Italian nashional anthem," proclaimed Mr. Director, who had just polished off several glasses of wine after consuming at least 27 drinks during our 27-hour airline ordeal.

The wait staff smiled and waited with anticipation.

Then the singing began.

The wait staff raised their eyebrows and looked at each other in bewilderment. Clearly they did not know their own national anthem. Amazing.

Or maybe they just didn't recognize it. Ya think?

... then we went to Siena, where I was nearly trampled to death by horses ...


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 4

(how to turn a 9 hour flight into a 27 hour ordeal)

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard Northwest Flight 666! We will be making a quick stop in Boston, and then it's on to beautiful Rome, Italy.

I understand we have a choir on board - no, no, don't start singing - please take your seats. Please. We all heard you singing in the airport. Just sit back and relax. We'll be leaving shortly.

... an hour later ...

Ladies and gentlemen, we do apologize for the slight delay. It looks like we're ready to go now!

(the plane begins to back up, makes an alarming grinding sound, and rolls to a stop)

... an hour later ...

Well, we have word from the cockpit that our engine problem is all fixed! Fine and dandy. Nothing to worry about. However, our legal department has asked me to inform you that you do have the option of leaving the plane if you are at all uncomfortable with the idea of flying with a refurbished engine.

Plus I have these little waivers for you to sign.

And by the way we've already missed our connection. But nothing to worry about!! Que sera, sera!

... 3 hours later ...

We are about to begin our descent into Boston. Please prepare for landing. Good news! We have plenty of seats available on our 8 pm flight to Dublin, and then it will just be a hop skip and a jump to Rome!

... long wait ... long flight to Dublin ... another long wait in the extremely cold Dublin airport in the middle of the freaking night .... long flight to Rome ...

... and then the tour began ...


Friday, February 5, 2010

Short Choir Break to Buy Nothing New and Change the World

(would this make a cute card or what?)

Our eager but tone-deaf choir is now on the way to Italy (or are they?) - so I am taking a short break to provide my Friday updates.

The BNNY year is going well, aided considerably by the fact that it has been cold and rainy and I rarely leave the house anyway so nobody cares if my favorite jeans are becoming alarmingly threadbare in strategic areas.

My total savings for the year is already over $300. Wow.

This week's Change The World Wednesday Challenge was a little more challenging. (Visit Reduce Footprints to see what this fun weekly challenge is all about!)

The challenge sounded simple: Use an online card company to send somebody an e-card.

Sure, no problem! Piece of cake!

I scooted right over to, since Blue Mountain has been very encouraging about my attempts at writing paper greeting cards. But I couldn't register for their service because my computer was eating cookies. Or blocking cookies. Or something.

Then I tried, where I was lacking a plug-in so I couldn't hear the funny music playing while the nearly-nude old geezer danced with a "Happy Birthday" heart plastered on his butt. Without the music, it was just really disturbing. wants 10 bucks a year for the privilege of sending e-cards. wants 12. wants 20!

Holy moly, I didn't think this would be so difficult.

What I'd really love to find is an online e-card service where I could insert my own photos, like the adorable one above! But so far, no luck. I did try Reduce Footprint's recommendation, Care2 Cards, which is a terrific website with great pictures (though not quite as adorable as mine) and no annoying annual fees.

So - one more vote for Care2 Cards! Give them a try!

... and now, back to Italy ...


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 3

(hold on! don't crumble! i'm coming!)

I was very super excited about going to Italy with The CTCS. They promised to pay my way, as well as my husband's way! Wow!

Then they changed their minds. They would only pay my way. But they would give me single, private hotel rooms. Yay!

Then they changed their minds again. They had a roommate for me. I'll call her Lillian, since that was her real name and there is no chance on earth that she will ever read this. Lillian was approximately 100 years older than me. And a little quirky.

But hey, who cares! I was going to Italy! For free!

Hubby drove me to the airport one morning in June, a little concerned because I would be flying off for 10 days without him. Also without our 3 kids. Also without leaving individually wrapped meals in the freezer. Or detailed instructions. Or Prozac.

But hey, it was his turn! Tough luck! I was going to Italy!

The nice President of the choir and his nice wife assured Hubby that they would take good care of me. They would make sure I was on their bus, and at their table for dinners, and right by their side for the sight-seeing tours. They lied. They never came within 100 feet of me and Lillian during the entire trip.

But hey, I'm a big girl! It's ok! I was going to Italy!

... and then we boarded the plane ...


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 2

(uh-one and uh-two and uh-seven and uh-twelve)

Open your music packets, everyone! Quiet down now.

As you can see, I have carefully selected some classic songs for our European jaunt. After all, we will be singing in famous cathedrals and quaint churches and even The Vatican!

Here is our repertoire:
(I kid you not)

Seventy-Six Trombones - I bet the Italians have never heard this performed with a giant pipe organ before!

The Impossible Dream - Which should probably be our theme song.

The Italian National Anthem - Which we will sing everywhere we go, even though nobody in the choir knows how to pronounce any of the words.

Glorious Sparkly Whoop De Doo Hallelujah Song - An original composition by me, no no hold your applause, oh you are too kind, no really I think genius is too strong a term, but yes let's work on this one over and over and over and over. Sparkle while you sing it! And remember, louder is better!

... and then we went home to pack ...

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Choir That Couldn't Sing: Part 1

("there once was a church choir that was not ill-bred,
but i have forgotten where it is" - Mark Twain)

There once was a choir that could not sing. It was quite a large choir, about 80 or 90 people. It was not a church choir. It was affiliated with one of the large auto companies in Michigan, back in the days when there WERE large auto companies in Michigan.

They were super nice people. They hired me to play piano for them, and they paid my way for a 10-day tour of Italy.

I really can't complain!

But I can tell you the story.

First, you are probably wondering why they couldn't sing. They really tried. They rehearsed every week. But, to put it as kindly as I can, they had a director who didn't know how to direct.

And so, as a result, they didn't know how to sing.

Here's how choirs behave when they are left to their own devices:

1. The sopranos sing as loudly as they can. After all, they have the melody! They are the most important section in the entire choir.

2. The altos sing as loudly as they can. After all, they read music and hence sing only the correct notes. They are the most important section in the entire choir.

3. The basses sing as loudly as they can. After all, their deep tones anchor the harmonies. They are the most important section in the entire choir.

4. The tenors, not surprisingly, also sing as loudly as they can. They mean well, but they just don't know any better. When not singing loudly, they are generally making trouble and telling jokes about the director. They are under no illusions about being the most important section. They just want to have fun.

... and then we received our packet of music for Italy ...



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