Friday, March 21, 2008

FFUCDPJL Strikes Again

Well, it’s that time of year again. A time of renewal. A time to begin again. A time to evaluate decisions of the past. A time of renewed opportunities and of chances to make new choices. It’s also a time of anticipated visits, of children’s joy and a time to enjoy the many sweet confections that life has to offer. No, I am not referring to spring, though it is definitely upon us (YAY!!) Likewise, I am not referring to Easter, though I’m looking forward to that as well. (Though not so much to images such as this, called the "Ultimate Peep Show":That's just too disturbing for me to even comment upon...) No, I am instead referring to that utterly anticipated, eagerly awaited, favorite time of year for many of us: Girl Scout Cookie Season. Yes, I consider it a season in itself, since it is a process of agonizing decisions and amazing restraint, followed by a period of unbearable waiting, then ending with the gaining of hundreds of a few pounds. I, of course, participated once again in this annual ritual, as I have done nearly every year since I was a Girl Scout myself. And once again I over did it. Though I won’t tell you how much I spent, or how many boxes I bought, I will say that once I told a co-worker how much I had spent this and last year, she commented that I am single-handedly keeping the Girl Scout cookies in production. Well, I don’t quite know about that…

I will tell you how very disappointed I was to discover that the powers that be in the Girl Scout world have changed the names of all of the cookies. No longer are there such things as Tagalongs, Samoas, Thin Mints, Trefoils or Do-Si-Dos. Now there are only Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel Delights, Shortbread Cookies and other ingredient-sounding names. To tell you the truth, I didn’t pay much attention to what the names are now. I was so utterly and bitterly disappointed that they had changed such historical symbols that are so big a part of my past that I nearly didn’t buy any at all. Ok, so I’m lying. It didn’t even cross my mind not to buy any. But I’m mad, damn it! Why can’t they ever just leave things alone? (I won’t even address the issue of “who is they?”, or “why do they have so much control?”.)

Which brings me to my next topic. There was a saying on my calendar the other day that was so true, I had to write it down. It said “Law of Necessity: if it is good, they will stop making it.” How true is that?!? In fact, the more I started to think about it, the angrier I got. I have a whole list of things that are either no longer made, or else the stores have stopped stocking them. It’s something I find very irritating, since I’m the type of person who finds something they like and sticks to it. Is it just me? I mean, really, is there a Foundation for the Furtherance of the Universal Conspiracy to Discontinue Products that Janci Likes (aka FFUCDPJL)? Well, if the FFUCDPJL does exist out there, they’re sure doing a bang up job of it. Let me enlighten you to just how often this happens to me. Here is a list (and I’m sure it’s only partial) of things that I have had discontinued or changed on me:

Hair GelSpecifically the brand is Loreal, but they changed all their products AND all their packaging, so I have 150 5 bottles of nearly full hair gel in my closet representing my failed attempts at finding the right one. (I’m positive that the amount of time it takes me to get through a bottle of hair gel has absolutely nothing to do with why it all changed on me.)

Hair Dryer – gee, you think once they’d made a hair dryer that lasted for 9 years, they’d keep making it. But I guess that means if you didn’t have to replace them as often, they wouldn’t get as much money. Unfortunately, when mine died 9 years after its purchase, I realized they’d long ago discontinued it, and I’ve had to deal with a less-than-stellar replacement.

Generic Claritin-D – Ok, so I really don’t know whether this is discontinued, or if it’s just not being carried by my favorite store to hate, Wal-Mart, anymore. I’m guessing though, it was (temporarily??) discontinued to compete with the release of OTC Zyrtec. So, just to show them, I’ve switched to PRESCIPTION Zyrtec.

Electric Youth PerfumeI know, I know, laugh it up, but this stuff was my signature scent for years!

Numerous Bath & Body Works products – every time I find a scent I like they discontinue it and I spend a fortune trying to stock up on what’s left and still available for sale on E-bay! Let me give a few sub-examples:
Bergamot & Coriander Aromatherapy Line
Red Currant & Thyme Tea Lavender & Vanilla Aromatherapy Line
The ENTIRE Dolci Line
Red Current Lip Balm

Need I continue?

Several different types of feminine hygiene products – I’ll spare my male readers the details, but suffice it to say, I was BEYOND PMS grumpy when I found out these were discontinued or no longer carried ANYWHERE! I swear these companies are run by men. Single men. Who have never been within 200 yards of a woman.

Jeans – two separate styles of jeans from the same company (Levi) have been discontinued. I spent five or so years buying the first style as new as I could get them off of E-bay when they were discontinued, and I would wear them until they had holes worn through both knees and the pockets were tearing out. The second style was discontinued just a few months after I received my first pair and decided I liked them. Guess I need to be a little less picky about the jeans.

Einstein Bros.’s Chocolate Cherry Coffee – YUM – MY!! And they discontinued it…

Arizona Sweet Tea in cansYes, it’s still made, and it’s out there somewhere, but no longer at any of the stores I shop in, something which occurred mere months after I discovered its existence. Now all I can find it in is plastic bottles. Not the same.

Nature Valley Oats ‘n’ Honey Granola BarsI’m sure they’re still out there somewhere too, but nowhere I can find.

Many, many character cake pans

Many, many cross stitch kits and patterns

Yes, the FFUCDPJL is definitely all-powerful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guppy Love

I’d like to introduce everyone to the newest addition to my office:

Not a very good picture, I know, and if you can’t tell, he is mostly purple in color. And then about half way down on his fins the color stops and they are white/clear. No, I had no intention of getting a beta. It just so happened that a couple of Saturdays ago we were in my favorite store to hate, Wal-Mart, (no I’m not capable of just calling it Wal-Mart from the get-go :-) ) and we had to get cat litter. Of course that puts us in the pet aisles, which Sweetpea immediately recognized as the place where the fish are. So, to avoid a serious fit of screaming in the middle of the store, we had to go look at the fish. Totally out of character for Wal-Mart, they had an amazing selection of betas, with some absolutely gorgeous coloring. Once I saw this one, I could not resist. Since purple is my favorite color, I just HAD to have him. And since we have a beta at home already, and I knew he and Mr. Fish would not get along, I decided he’d be perfect for my office.

I brought him in the following Monday. Once I got his bowl all set up and filled, and he was comfortable and fed in his new home, coworkers began noticing him and stopping by my office to check him out. One asked me what his name is. Name? What name? You mean I have to name him? Oh. It hadn’t even occurred to me that he needed a name. Since Mr. Fish was already taken, and I thought it needed to be something a little more creative than “that fish over there”, I was drawing a blank. I suggested to her that if the office wanted to contribute to the name, he could be an office mascot. She just laughed and left my office. Later, however, she came back in and said she thought his name should be Grape. Grape? Hmm. He may be purple but I just didn’t think that fit. I told her I’d think about it and let her know. Later it hit me. I emailed her my idea for the name, and upon her giggles from down the hall and “laughing” email response, “that fish over there” has now become: GILLbert Grape. Thank you, thank you. I’m here all week. Geez I crack myself up.

In further fish news, a friend of mine came to visit this past weekend from Idaho. We had a girls’ night out/slumber party at a local hotel. I’m sure many of you have heard of it, the Hotel Monaco. The Hotel Monaco is very pet friendly. In fact, it is so pet friendly that one of the amenities they offer is entitled “Guppy Love”. Upon request, and free of charge (very important), the hotel will provide you with a goldfish in a pretty clean bowl for you to “adopt” for the term of your stay in the hotel. This is a service provided so that you will not be lonely for your own fish, since they are the type of pet that doesn’t travel well.

I’ll try not to get into my thoughts on what kind of person gets lonely for a fish, as I have this image of Commandant Lassard from Police Academy in my head, carrying around his fish bowl with his little goldfish inside. But I digress…

When I sent my friend the link for the hotel’s website, I told her she HAD to check out the amenities section. It wasn’t long before I got a response saying we had a reservation, and that she couldn’t resist the Guppy Love, so we had a goldfish too. Since I didn’t really believe this whole thing to be more than some sort of sick marketing ploy, I was quite surprised when we arrived to find that there was, in fact, a goldfish ready for us in our room. He was quite a pretty little goldfish, too, but I did not think to snap a picture. My friend named him Sushi Bowl. Unfortunately we weren’t aware how appropriate that name would end up being.

We enjoyed Sushi Bowl’s company during our stay. He was a lively, interactive sort of fish, very curious about us and our goings on. We were therefore immensely dismayed and disappointed when we awoke the next morning to find that Sushi Bowl had gone belly-up. Our mention of this fact at the front desk brought swift, horrified apologies, but no compensation for our loss (after all, Sushi Bowl was a free amenity in the first place, and we were only foster owners, not adoptive parents). I warned my friend to watch her credit card bill to make sure they didn’t bill her for Sushi Bowl’s apparently untimely demise. Regrettably, I don’t believe our status as foster owners gives us the ability for sue for wrongful death, or even for loss of affection. Ah, well, rest in peace Sushi Bowl.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The World Out There

Recently a friend of mine nearly made the rash decision to quit his job. But not only quit, just walk out. No notice, nothing. I won’t go into the details of the troubles that had plagued him at work that day, (and apparently every day), but things were bad enough that he was ready to throw up his hands and throw in the towel. Thankfully, since he has a wife and children to support, he did not let his emotions get the best of him and is still employed. In his honor, though, I’d like to post the journal entry I found outlining my experience with my very first job interview, encountered when I had first decided to search for other employment back in May of 2006. I would just like to remind him of what it’s like out there (at least, what it was like then, though I don’t think the job market in the area of law has changed much around here.) Enjoy! (And, for those I work with, please remember that this was written nearly two years ago!)

**When I graduated from law school I figured I had it made. A J.D. can always get you a job, whether it’s as an attorney or not. I was proud of my education, a huge accomplishment for someone who graduated from college without a clue as to what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I believed, as my parents had always taught me, that education was the most important thing for securing a future. Now I wonder how much of a waste of time – and money – my education really was.

Today I had an interview for the first time in nearly ten – count ‘em, 10 – years. Though I’m not sure I would call it an interview at all. Since there are no attorney positions available anywhere in the valley, it was for a paralegal position in a medical malpractice firm representing medical professionals, a type of law I have no experience in and know even less about. Forgetting for just a moment that I would be taking a step down professionally, the position offers a minimum of $15k a year more than what I’m making now, plus benefits – insurance, vacation, PTO, even retirement. Needless to say I was nervous. After all, I submitted my resume on Tuesday and received a phone call on Wednesday asking for an interview to take place on Thursday. The call itself was extremely encouraging, coming directly from the partner of the firm who needs the new paralegal. During the call he asked me little about myself, (I assumed because he would address that in the interview) and instead focused on giving me a history of the firm and a small amount of information on the position itself. He made the statement more than once that he felt my education made up for my lack of experience in the med-mal field. Many times it sounded as if he was making an attempt at recruiting me. Overall, the ending of the call gave me the feeling that I had landed a new job in just three days of searching.

This morning, though, the more I contemplated the day ahead, the more I began to worry. What if he offered me the job? I’ve put out ten other resumes, including one for a $103k per year Court Commissioner position. If I accept this position right away, will I be selling myself short for possibly better offers? If I don’t accept, will there be any other offers at all? Money is also a huge concern. With my husband going to Nursing School, will $15k be enough to cover his cut in, or loss of, pay? If not, how do I negotiate? What is too high? $60k? $75k? When will they say “sorry, you’re asking too much and we’re not even going to try to negotiate down”? On the other hand, what is too low? What if I ask for $50k and they’re willing to pay $60k? Then I’ve just lost my chance at a higher wage? By the time I arrived at my office, my mind was spinning and suddenly I didn’t really want to go to the interview at all. And I certainly was in no mood to deal with all the b.s. my clients were dishing out already in my over-night absence from work.

Ah how na├»ve I was. As it turns out, seems I had no reason to worry in the first place. Looking back on it now, I am trying to figure out exactly what I did with an hour of my day, sitting in a large glass-enclosed conference room at a large wooden conference table, politely sipping ice water and feeling my back start to ache as I try to hold my beauty-pageant-posture, as I listen to this partner tell me I am NOT their “ideal candidate”. By the time I left that room, I hated that phrase so much I fairly gag now, even just writing it down for you to read. What happened to “education replaces experience”? What happened to my “resume standing out”? Why did he even bother to have me show up? Suddenly I’m sitting in a room with this stranger telling me “you’re good but not good enough, and I don’t want to train you to make you better for someone else”. I think it’s the first time in my life I’ve been told I’m both over and under-qualified all in the same breath. I honestly did not know whether to be flattered or offended as it seemed both emotions applied.

Ok, so it’s been a long time since I interviewed. Ok, so even my last few interviews weren’t even real interviews, just friendly conversations ending in “when can you start?” Ok, so it’s no secret that I really don’t even know what an interview normally consists of. Even so, I doubt it’s supposed to be 50% the interviewer giving a job description and the firm’s history, 40% the interviewer saying why I’m not the “ideal candidate”, 5% the interviewer asking me about myself and 5% the interviewer telling me what not to do for “future interviews”. When, at the closing of the ‘interview’, Mr. Partner said he was still going to try to look for Ms. Perfect Paralegal for three more weeks, and if she didn’t respond to his mating call he would be calling me for a second interview, (i.e. don’t call us, we’ll call you), I nearly told him not to bother, as I’m sure my lack of experience would be a huge disappointment to him, and I’d hate for him to waste one single precious second in training me. But instead I bit my tongue, remembering one of my mother’s favorite phrases “don’t burn bridges”, and pretended like the whole fiasco had gone exactly as I had planned. On my way back to work I stopped and bought myself a 31-flavors Mocha Cappuccino Blast. Once back at my office, I changed into jeans and prepared three more resumes to send for jobs I am over….er, under…..qualified for.**

As a follow-up note, I searched for a new job for nearly another year before giving up, and then miraculously having my present job land in my lap. And that was pure luck. It’s not so great out there, so, when considering quitting, remember what you’re facing if you do! I do have two other journal entries written during that year concerning the job hunt. I regret that I cannot post them, as @#$%! would appear so often you would not be able to make much sense out of the rest of the text. Needless to say, it was a harrowing experience for me, and I am extremely glad that it appears to be over….until my boss gets unhappy with me…. ;-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lifestyles of the Poor and Anonymous

Recently I came across some old handwritten journal entries of mine from a few years ago, written during the time when I was still practicing as debtor’s counsel. A couple of the stories I found are pretty interesting, (I think, anyway), and I thought they needed to be shared. So, in the next couple of posts, I will include them. (I really love when my blog posts write themselves!)

The first one will be much appreciated by anyone who meets with clients, or other members of the general public, in a one-on-one setting on a regular basis. For those of you who know about all the junk I keep in my desk drawers, this will at least explain the Lysol sanitizer, Clorox sanitizing wipes, room deodorizer, air freshener and anti-bacterial gel and wipes. So, from May, 2006, here you are:

I thought I’d seen and heard it all, until I spent an hour sitting in my office with a client who, during the entire appointment, proceeded to perform a series of self-grooming activities, all the while carrying on the conversation with his wife and myself as if he was sitting with his hands folded primly in his lap. He began with the cleaning of his ears with a car key, after which he repeatedly wiped the key across his pant leg to clean it off. All I could do was think of Jeff Foxworthy’s definition of a redneck, and be thankful he hadn’t chosen to pick up any of the documents on my desk and use them as a tissue to wipe off the key.

Once he put the car keys away, he began to pick his nose. Literally pick his nose. Not just the “I feel something sticking out” courtesy wipe, or even the “I have an itch inside and am trying to do everything to scratch it besides jamming a finger up there” rub. No, this man was buried to his knuckles. And afterwards, he chose to flick the contents to who-knows-where across my office. Several times I had to fight the nearly uncontrollable urge to duck, and even to crawl under my desk to avoid being hit.

Since he had now completely cleaned out his ears and nose, I figured he was finished. How wrong I was. He began biting the cuticles and dry skin around his fingernails, and spitting out whatever he bit off onto my office floor with that all too familiar “phlbt” sound that means he’s gaining distance with each spit. He wasn’t even quiet about it. I literally heard “phlbt” in between sentences about how a Chapter 13 would affect their children. (Of course, the idea that this man had children at all created images too awful for even my worst heebie-geebie nightmares. But that’s a whole other issue.)

Finally the appointment was winding down and I figured my glimpse into this man’s personal hygiene habits, and apparent lifestyle, was over. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to wrap it up before the car keys made their reappearance and assisted the man in cleaning the dirt (and probably other things I choose not to imagine) from beneath his fingernails. Understandably, I spent the majority of the appointment speaking directly to his wife in an attempt to keep from losing my lunch all over my formerly clean desk. Thankfully, we did get the appointment completed prior to his taking off his shoes and picking out any toe jams, or using the multi-purpose car keys to clean out from under his toenails, or doing who knows what else to clean the various crevices of his body he had not already attended to.

As you would assume, after the couple left the office, my secretary helped me clean and sterilize, as much as possible, every inch of my office that could be reached without employing the use of a ladder and a power washer.

Hmm. And nobody finds the fact that I got out of that practice while I had the chance the least bit surprising. I wonder why.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The King of South America

As a quick post today, I’d like to share with you a story a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago. I will not say how the friend found out about this incident, as I am attempting to keep everyone’s identities confidential. Those of you involved in the legal profession will especially appreciate the absurdity of this whole situation, though I think it will be similarly obvious to those of you not involved in the practice of law.

This story came from a family law attorney. Let’s call her Jane. (*All names have been changed to protect the innocent or otherwise unassuming.*) One of the first cases Jane ever encountered was a divorce here in Utah. Jane represented the husband in the divorce. Let’s call him John.

By way of a little background here, Utah is not a community property state. What this means is, while all states have different laws pertaining to divorce, in Utah, if you have been married a short amount of time, you take out of the divorce what you came into the marriage with.

John told Jane that the reason he was employing her is because he had walked in on his wife, (we’ll call her Mary), and her future divorce attorney, (we’ll call him Tom), in bed together in John and Mary’s house. John and Mary had been married three weeks. Jane contacted Tom and indicated that it would probably be in everyone’s best interest to just walk away from the marriage with what they came into it with. Tom actually had the nerve to write back to Jane, on behalf of his “client” Mary, and demand the following from John:

1. $2,000.00 per month for LIFE in alimony (as far as I know, whose life was not defined)
2. One half of John’s retirement
3. John to buy Mary a house which would be paid for in full by John

As if this wasn’t enough of an insult, Tom then promised that in return, Mary would do the following:

1. Let John keep his kids from a previous marriage (as if she would have any chance of getting custody of HIS kids)
2. Make John the king of any South American country except for Guatemala. (I’m really not kidding, this was a promise made.)

Being such a ridiculous proposal, Jane did not believe any attorney would put such a thing in writing. She was dismayed to find that Tom was absolutely, 100% serious with the proposal. How did it all end, you wonder? Well, Tom proved to be crazy enough that the entire proceeding lasted 18 months. The good news is that John was able to get an annulment instead of a divorce, so custody of his kids was never a question (not that it really was to begin with, but still…) Oh, and Jane was required to testify at Tom’s disbarment hearing.

And, as a final bit to the story, those of you who are LDS or aware of what is involved with the LDS religion will appreciate this. Apparently Tom and Mary were reading Tom’s patriarchal blessing while they were being intimate in bed. (I’m not LDS, so I’m not really 100% sure what that is, except I believe the patriarchal blessing is believed by church members to be a direct revelation from God. I found a quote from former Church President Ezra Taft Benson: “A patriarchal blessing is the inspired and prophetic statement of your life’s mission together with blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give.” Nope, still don’t have a clue what that means, but it’s obviously very, very bad to read it while in bed with someone else’s wife. For those of you who are interested here’s information from Wikipedia.) John found the patriarchal blessing and sent it to Tom’s bishop with a letter of explanation as to how John came in possession of it. Needless to say, I’m sure none involved have been the same since.