The Perks of Being Sick & NaBloPoMo

It’s been a bit of a struggle making it through the week. I’ve been equal amounts of depressed, annoyed, and bored in turn and sometimes a bit of all three at once.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be participating in something that will make that all go away… or, you know, give me something else to focus on, in any event.

Introducing:

National Blog Posting Month

That’s right. If you don’t know anything about it, National Blog Posting Month is an unofficial month of basically committing to writing one post on your blog per day for the entire month. It’s a means of committing to your blog and making sure you get your posts up.

Hosted by BlogHer, I’ve added CubedLife to the mix on the blog roll there, and I’m going to be posting a blog every day for the month of February. As you can see from the badge, the theme BlogHer has created this year for February is love and sex.

Of course, I may or may not blog on that theme, but in the spirit of that, I thought I’d tell you one of the perks of being sick that I rather recently (as in, within the last hour) discovered.

Fernando texted that he was out and about running an errand that needed to be completed. Considering he’s been working nonstop and I haven’t seen him since he came to take me to the doctor’s office Monday, I’ve had to resign myself to seeing him tomorrow.

Not so.

He showed up with some food because I said I was hungry. May I just point out that when you’ve got a keeper, you should, well, keep him? He brought us both a quick bite, and we scarfed down some food (dare I think it: my appetite is actually coming back!) before he decided it had been a bit too long since we’d seen each other.

Now, at the risk of sounding a bit scandalous and risque, I won’t say that Fernando and I are at all improper. However, things do sometimes get a bit, ah, steamy at times, and one thing leads to another.

In short, Fernando takes me away with his Spanish mutterings sometimes. I can’t understand a word, but I suppose they call it a Romance language for a reason, yes?

I got an energy boost I wasn’t expecting when he got that glint in his eye and decided he needed to get me to a softer surface than being seated at my kitchen table. Being the altogether chaste young woman I am, I stood up quickly and moved away from him, which, of course, became a game of chase.

Upper respiratory infection, lack of appetite, and general sickness versus peak of health, taller, and generally faster man? No contest.

He gently escorted me (read: wrestled me) to a softer surface for a quick yet steamy make out session before he, unfortunately, had to leave for work again.

Who says you need copious amounts of sex to perk up a love life? Just add a bit of excitement in the form of your significant other surprising you with a visit when you’re sick. It does wonders to add a bit of spark and energy.

Despite my ears being plugged up, I can still hear, rather well, that my heartbeat is still increased from Fernando’s rather passionate kisses. I’m fairly certain I even look a bit healthier and brighter than I did an hour and a half ago…

Ah, the perks of being sick.

Now onto NaBloPoMo and the excitement of February. Join me?

RaeNez

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Vintage Fashion & the Job

So it’s been a week off almost, and I’ve been immersed in the world of period fashion trends, namely through watching copious episodes of the rave hit Downton Abbey. I’ve missed this series for the past few years, but I’ve now blown through the first two seasons in the last few days and am contemplating buying season three on Amazon Instant Video for my viewing pleasure. (And, no, I don’t make any profit if you decide to purchase something off that Amazon link, even though I should figure out how to set myself up on something like that.)

After watching all these episodes and feeling like I was born out of time and then reading several fashion pieces over at BlogHer, most notably this post that perked my interest and sent me off on a tangent, I figured I would comment on fashion in the workplace.

All my business professors (most of them male) would comment on the studies that showed implementing professional standards of dress tended to increase productivity and employee relations and blah, blah, blah. All that is well and good, but it stands to reason that in today’s workplace, professional dress and business casual dress can be seen as very fluid concepts. Women, especially, seem to have trouble finding a balance between what to wear and what not to wear, and there’s very little solid guidance on this.

That said, I’ve become a bit enamored by the period clothes of the early 1900s favored in Downton Abbey and even prior to watching the series had a desire to go back to some of the vintage styles so favored in the roaring 20s. While I simply can’t see us going back to the standards of the Victorian Era (quaint and stylish as it was in its own way), I can see a turn towards a bit more modesty and femininity in dress that can easily be taken into the office quite stylishly.

Edith, Sybil, and Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey

While I won’t say all their dresses would work for the office, the styles and a paring down effect would work perfectly. The dresses of Downton Abbey are the perfect blend of modest and proper with a bit of daring and flare, sometimes high-waisted and sometimes drop-waisted, sometimes square-necked, sometimes loosely draped – all to excellent and highly feminine effect.

To that end, since I work in an office that expects employees to wear business casual Monday through Thursday, I suppose it’s only proper for me to be able to indulge a bit of my feminine side every once in a while and wear something that’s not your typical business slacks and sweater or business slacks and button down or business slacks and so forth, ad nauseum.

I’ve become a bit of a fan of ModCloth from years ago and only recently indulged in any purchases there. One such purchase is a dress I’ve yet to wear to work as it’s been a bit chilly to wear it yet. But I’ll be wearing it soon enough, no doubt. It’s an adorable dress that I found and couldn’t help myself buying, and while not quite Downton Abbey, it is a bit me.

Unfortunately no longer available, it is rather adorable, don’t you think?

Capped off with some strappy black heels, this would easily be a business outfit that borders on flirty but doesn’t cross the line into dangerous territory. On me, it’s not too short; though it does go just a hint above my knees. And the flirty ruffle draws the eyes away from any extra curves I might have and gives me a bit of feminine flare.

I’m definitely looking forward to warmer weather to wear this number to the office.

And another number I ordered and have already worn to the office is in one of my favorite colors: red. Of course, red is always a striking color, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And my Coach Tour Dress is one of my favorites that can be paired well in the winter with a few extras to make it warm and inviting in the office.

Coach Tour Dress in Rouge

It’s slightly fitted with side pockets, and once again, it hits just above my knees. The buttons make a flashy bit of pop that give it some flare, and the dress pairs well with some leggings in the winter, even black and gray plaid ones if I’m daring. I pair this with black leggings or my black and gray plaid leggings and a pair of black mini boots with a silver buckle on the sides.

I’ll likely do more shopping at ModCloth for more options; though I should really be looking other places for more vintage-inspired styles. ModCloth can be a bit pricy, and their dresses aren’t always work appropriate, especially in terms of length.

Any suggestions would be helpful, but overall, I believe it’s best to remember that dressing for the office comes down to remembering to follow exact guidelines (i.e. no flip-flops, no t-shirts, etc.) as written in company handbooks and then use your own judgment in determining how to reflect your own individuality in your dress as you work out the fluid idea of “business casual” dress.

Just a thought.

– RaeNez

 

 

Why Is It Always Sales?

I’ve been looking for jobs for a while now, and I’m going through all the usual mediums. I’ve got my profile set up on Monster and CareerBuilder. I’m using the university career website. I surf the web and check places like Indeed, which pulls job listings from every known area on the web and allows you to search for and view results in their original listing.

My educational background is simple. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I studied general management. I got an overview of all the main points in running a business as well as courses in all the different areas of business: finance, accounting, economics, human resources, information management, marketing, and logistics. I guess going into it I hoped having the overview would make me a more marketable candidate because I could be more versatile.

Now I’m looking for everything from an administrative assistant/office assistant position to a manager-in-training position to anything in between that looks remotely doable. I’m checking jobs that are specialized, like entry level HR positions or logistics positions. I’m trying to leverage myself as someone who can learn quickly and play nice with others.

Does any of that seem to matter?

Well, I suppose it will when I find the right job. (I say when and not if to keep my spirits up since I am rather depressed about it.)

But today as I’m stuck home still sick and trying in vain to get in touch with my doctor, what do I get?

A phone call from a potential employer who has my resume and wants to interview me. That would be all well and good if this was a call from someone who I submitted a resume to. But it’s a company who saw my resume on one of my public profiles.

The company? Oh, they do brand marketing, direct sales, customer acquisition and retention for Fortune 500 companies, really high level stuff, and what we really want you, RaeNez, to do is work in our account manager position.

Follow the link to their website, and you’ll see the career path starts at account manager. Makes you wonder if that means you’ll be starting from scratch with training, a list of cold calls to make and a prayer to the great commission gods for a bit of leniency in your first sales position.

They said they were looking for leadership. I said I was looking for steady income that wasn’t based on sales and commission. They said I sounded like I was good leadership potential for a position managing a few key reps.

Could I come in for an interview, and oh, by the way, the woman who wants to interview me isn’t available Tuesday or Friday, so would tomorrow work?

Yes, because I’ve been down and out with an ear infection all week. Sounds like a great time to go to an interview. Why not. Because I’m certainly not getting any other offers. And it’s not like I can’t say no when they tell me I have to start on commission-only rates and pray to the commission gods that I’m a good sales person so I, too, can rise above the masses to make that amazing six-figure salary that you, too, can make within your first year on the job.

A bit much on the sarcasm, I know.

In any event, I did say I’d been sick and would likely be home again tomorrow for illness. The response? Great! Can you come in at 2?

That bodes so well for employee health and safety…

We shall see, but my point still stands. Why is it that I always get emails from sales or commission-based jobs that want me to come try my hand in this exciting, new opportunity with unlimited income potential that you, too, should be jumping off a cliff to get to? Because, I’m not sure I’m your girl if all you want is for me to make cold calls and tell people why they should buy this brand new product.

I’d likely say something else. “You want this? No? Okay, didn’t think so. Have a nice day.”

Just saying. I don’t have the personality for sales.

– RaeNez

The Ethics of Job Blogging

This can be a rather dicey subject, and I’d best put out my thoughts on it now before I go too much further in my blog and let you all know more about the place I work and the people I work with.

There are lots of things I want to explain about the call center, and before I start, there are some hard and fast rules I have set for myself and this blog:

  • I will not name the company for which I work, its location, or any of the people within the company.
  • I may badmouth some of the business practices of the company, but I have signed nothing that states I am not allowed to do so, and I believe I am indemnifying myself by holding to point 1 above.
  • It isn’t wrong to blog about the company I work for, the conditions I work under, or the reasons I’m seeking work elsewhere, especially considering I have yet to find something else, and if/when I do leave, I will still hold to point 1 above in an effort to indemnify myself and absolve the company of any blame.

All of that said, it’s hard to blog about your company as an unsatisfied employee. When the problem is not that your customers are bugging you but that management is constantly offering up change that seems to make the place more unworkable and expecting you to adhere to standards you cannot meet, you begin to feel it necessary to find some means of venting.

Now, many people do this on the premises at my work, which is an ethical nightmare of its own. Not to mention any rational person knows this is a means to an end: literally an end of losing your job. I’ve heard it said any gossiping reported to our VP of Human Resources will report in immediate dismissal. Given the fact I work in a gossip den, I find that highly unlikely but don’t want to test my luck too much longer by venting with other equally unsatisfied co-workers for fear of getting lumped in with the group and going down in a heap of ashes.

Venting can take other forms at home or in other places away from the office. I’ll sit at the dinner table at night and rant to my parents or Fernando about this or that change that’s taking place. Our key phrase at work that seems to define everything we do is: “Change is Good.” And my sarcastic rants typically reiterate this in the most sneering way possible, followed by the ways in which this change will likely make my life hell for the next however long until the next change comes along.

While an adequate means of venting and while both my parents and Fernando (and even some girlfriends of mine) are good sports about my venting, I always feel it gets tedious for them.

I don’t want to become the next crazy person walking into the office with a gun and blowing people’s heads off because of workplace stress. Granted, I also don’t feel it’s gotten even close to that point. But I am taking my own measures to ensure it wouldn’t get near that point.

So here I am. I set up a blog unaffiliated with any of the other blogs I host, under a different name from those blogs, attached to a different email address. The secrecy may be unnecessary, but I would like to keep my anonymity. Should someone who knows me personally find this blog and read it and recognize me from the posts, I would hope they would come to me before running off to someone else to share the surprising content of the blog. However, I’ve decided to start this blog for my own form of catharsis from some of the things my employers do, and given the number of others who do the same, I see no problem with this.

As a side note, I have made sure not to associate this blog with a Facebook page or Twitter account or any other social media I am a part of. Why? I’m sure you can imagine. The ethics of hosting a blog like this demand I be polite and maintain a distance between my personal life and the truth behind my professional life.

It’s just good sense. That’s all.

I believe the content of this blog will be a mix of funny and sarcastic, angry and amused, witty and wondering as I take the journey of life outside the box. And it won’t all be about my job. But I have quite a bit of fodder gleaned from my time at the call center, and I believe it’s worth posting for people to read.

Besides, how many people have you talked to who worked in a call center? Do you really know what it’s like behind the phones and polite “May I speak to so-and-so” tones?

This is my ethical statement of purpose for writing this blog. I believe it’s perfectly fine to write, and I am not condemning myself or anyone else by doing so. Anyone who feels otherwise is more than welcome to make his opinion known to me, but I will continue to write my posts in the interests of maintaining my sanity in a working condition that has me wishing I were independently wealthy and able to live off nothing with my dog for company in a posh apartment where I could spend my days shopping and being vain about being wealthy and having done nothing for it.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

– RaeNez

Happiness is…

…apparently a three day, unintentional vacation created by the unfortunate condition of having been infected by this lovely condition known as an ear infection.

I was writing about escapes as you’ll recall, and apparently the boyfriend noticed.

Perhaps I should give him a spiffy title. He’d appreciate that. I’m not sure what. The women at work ask me about my man, which always seems so crass. He’s not my man, and I don’t have a ring on my finger. Besides, even if I were married to him, I wouldn’t call him my man. Then he’d be my husband.

Again with the digressing. (That is rapidly becoming a theme here.)

Well, well, the boyfriend has spoken. In an effort to protect the innocent (though how innocent he is I cannot disclose), he will henceforth be known as Fernando. (Until he changes his mind.)

In any event, it came to my attention through dearest Fernando that I am, in fact, sitting here in my bed happy on a sick day. I’ve been utterly wracked with coughing, suffering from a perpetually sore throat, had piercingly sore ears, and a plugged up nose. And yet, I’m happy.

The last two or three days I’ve been happy. It’s a lovely feeling. An escape, if you will.

I watched Doctor Who with Fernando. We’re not aficionados or hardcore fans. We’re just starting our way through the series. But it’s silly and goofy, and we’re loving it. It’s relaxing and entertaining.

I’ve immersed myself in the world of Downton Abbey as well. The large, old British castle brings out my inner dream to have lived in a different time. (My mother would say I was born out of time. I could certainly rock the vintage fashions of Downton Abbey and look fabulous doing so.) I’m making my way through the free seasons on my Amazon Prime account and mourning the fact the remaining season is paid only at this point.

What else? Oh yes, I’ve been blogging incessantly in case you weren’t aware. I suppose there’s a limit there somewhere, but I haven’t been made aware, and WordPress hasn’t stopped me from posting yet. I suppose my blogging will slow down a bit soon, but it won’t fade away.

And I did some random things today, like searching for more jobs, crafting more cover letters (despite myself I can’t help loving writing in any form), and, well, looking for puppies.

I swear I was looking for a puppy for Fernando. Promise. Okay, okay. Even he doesn’t believe me. However, I did find a couple adorable faces that yearn for adoption. Even Fernando would be swayed by these adorable faces.

Madison – 3 month old Alaskan Husky/German Shepherd Mix

Now tell me: who could say no to that face? Even if she will grow up to be a rather large dog given her particular mix, she would be an adorable addition to anyone’s home. (I will say I already have a dog of my own, so I’m not exactly allowed to have another one until I move out of my house, which is why I’m looking at dogs for Fernando – besides, his birthday is coming up!)

Gary – 3 month old American Pit Bull/Terrier Mix

Have I mentioned Fernando needs a lapdog? And Gary clearly needs a lap? And the two would be an adorable couple? Perhaps I should become a matchmaker.

Needless to say, the point of all this was really due to the conversation Fernando and I had. Here’s the recap:

Fernando: “You’re so sappy today, looking for a puppy, writing blogs, thinking of love and happiness.

Me: I’m not at work. There’s a difference. I can be sick at home and happy as a clam if it involves not working.

Granted, he said “sappy” and not “happy,” but me being a sickie, I read “happy.” So put two and two together and get, well, a puppy. Or just get that sick days, while unpleasant, are my own versions of escapes because they’re better than being trapped in the world of cubes on the phones, being yelled at for no fault of my own.

What’s your happiness?

RaeNez

P.S. I promise not to post like a maniac all the time, but I do rather enjoy the inspiration I get from blogging… and, well, I’m sick. I have to have something  to do!

 

Escaping

You’ve seen this blog, you know I’m trying to escape, you know it’s an escape from the cubed life I live. But what is escape, really?

If we took this bit of advice by Ani DiFranco, we might all live this cubed life with a bit of reprieve and ease we don’t experience currently…

Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, well nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but you know, there’s no escape, there’s no excuse, so just suck up and be nice. (Ani DiFranco)

There are multiple definitions for the verb form of escape. It can mean: “to slip or get away, as from confinement; gain or regain liberty” or “to slip away from pursuit or peril.” Another definition can be: “to slip away; fade.”

Escape can mean different things to different people, and that’s why it’s such a fluid and oftentimes dangerous topic. To one it means the escape from the daily mundane tasks of life to the exotic, maybe a road trip with friends across the country for a brief vacation where loads of money will be spent and good times had. To another it means cutting designs across his flesh to escape an internalized pain from years of mental or emotional abuse, substituting a controlled form of pain for an uncontrolled one in a way that makes him feel his life can be held under control. Both scenarios are forms of escape.

Both are equally different for each person.

The point may be that everyone yearns for a bit of escape from something. Whether it’s from my life of going to the office with the cubicles that seem endless, the calls so mundane, the voices shrill and unpleasant, and standards unforgiving, or your escape, whatever that is, there’s something we want to escape.

What is it? And how do you do it?

When I was escaping something else, a more personal demon, as you may put it, I escaped to a very different life in a very different world. I went far away to a job I was not suited to, teaching in a foreign country for a full year. And that changed me very much. It also taught me many things about myself, including the fact I would like to try teaching again.

But enough about that. If you’re escaping anything, if you’re like me and trying to escape cubed life, remember that many times the escape is in the little things from day to day. It can very well be the thing that keeps you sane and draws the line between manageable workplace stress and clinical depression that leads somewhere dark and dangerous.

For me, it’s a lot of little things. It’s time with my boyfriend, who makes me smile and laugh and cheers me up in all the right, little ways that I appreciate more than anything in the world. It’s reading lots of books that give me ideas of my own. It’s writing, whatever, whenever, wherever, whether it’s this blog or that book I’m working on or emails and cards. It’s going shopping or getting coffee or visiting friends. I have to make myself schedule these things in sometimes or else I’d go crazy.

They’re my escape.

Maybe someday I’ll write about a bigger, grander escape. But from time to time you’ll hear more about the mundane escapes of my everyday life, and if that’s enough to remind you of a few escapes of your own, that’s more than enough for me.

– RaeNez

 

Is it wrong to…

…blog about lost job opportunities?

I may work in a call center, but don’t for a moment think I’m not like the rest of the world of the cubed: looking for a way out. While I don’t think I have to get out right this moment, I do think it’s imperative that I not lose my own dreams and hopes in complacency and settling.

That’s why I have a boyfriend who I talk about these things with. He and I share our own dreams about what the future will bring for us, and he’s doing his best in a job he doesn’t necessarily enjoy as well. He is the excellent and well-respected assistant manager of a superb fast food restaurant. Read that: he gets treated like crap, walked on, and works overtime all the time because he’s salaried and they don’t have to pay him extra.

Maybe the call center isn’t so bad…

But I digress.

As many people are doing these days, I’m on the hunt, the job hunt, that is. I’d like to say it’s going well, yielding lots of leads that suit my particular combination of education and experience, and giving me interview opportunities galore. The opposite appears to be true.

I’m going to the normal sites that it seems thousands of people visit daily: Monster and CareerBuilder. And I’m using my university’s career site. And then there are a few companies I surf on a regular basis to see if they have any openings in my area, or really in any area so long as it seems to suit my education.

The problem is… the economy tanked. For me, it tanked right as I was graduating college with a generic business administration degree and hoping to make my mark in some business field. Guess how many businesses want you when you don’t have a specialized (read: logistics, marketing, accounting, HR, etc) business degree? Oh, that would be…none.

I always hear something along the same lines: “You don’t have the right combination of education and experience. We appreciate your interest but have hired someone else. But good luck on your continued search.”

Well, thank you for that. I wonder where I could go that I do have the right combination of experience and education. Can you tell me that? Maybe suggest someone or something to me? That might be more helpful than not telling me just what magical combination you were looking for.

Take the job I was supposed to interview for this week… well, more appropriately last week. My initial interview was canceled due to the weather conditions. That company shut down for the safety of their employees. Hearing that, I told myself I’d take a job for them out of their sheer consideration for their employees. Of course, it didn’t help with rescheduling the interview when I got sick, but that was over the weekend anyway, and they wanted to try to reschedule for today or tomorrow. I was game with the hopes my infection would be more manageable by then.

Today I got the dreaded email that my interview had been canceled permanently because the CEO had hired someone else.

At least they had the good grace to email me in the first place. I will certainly give them that.

It seems the more applications I put out, the fewer responses I get period. I rarely hear back from any of them. Over the last two weeks, I’ve probably applied to a good dozen or more jobs. They were the only company who bothered responding. Granted, it was a rejection, but at least I know.

I much prefer a response, even if it is a flat out form rejection that doesn’t tell me anything than a non-response. I can’t even tell if anyone even saw my application. How do I even know if my application made it to an inbox?

It’s like sending your manuscript to a publisher. Why would you assume anyone read it? It likely goes straight to a slush pile where no one ever sees it but the person assigned the task of sorting through the slush and seeing if something, anything, is enough of a gem to send to the next person in the slush editorial hierarchy to view. Though that’s highly unlikely to generate anything more than the next person rejecting it without a word to the author, it moved it all of one person further… still without the author knowing anything about it.

In any event, it sometimes feels redundant to craft a tailored cover letter for a job I’ll likely hear nothing back on to a company who doesn’t care one whit to respond to my query when they’ll have a thousand others to review. Why should they when it’s their market? And I’m just one fish in the sea they can pull from.

The problem is I’m one fish. Among thousands. I have to figure out how to make myself a dolphin or a starfish or a crab or something that doesn’t look like a fish. Something that stands out and looks a bit more unique and at least deserving of a response. That’s why I have to keep writing these ridiculously detailed cover letters that tell you just why I should be your candidate. And if I get a bit high-handed and tell you that you will consider me an excellent candidate for this position because I have an impeccable background and am eager to learn and work hard, you’ll have to forgive me. There’s a whole ocean out there. And I’m just a fish swimming through the waves with the others, trying to find a net.

I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about this job hunt I’m on as I keep throwing my own nets in a sea of employers who are equally happy to cast wide and talk to few…

– RaeNez