Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Job Hunt Resumes

Ok, this is going to be a quick post considering I have worked all morning and have to work again this afternoon. The second job I recently found sucks. This is my fourth day and the only reason I'm staying is for the paycheck. Should I find another job, I'm pretty certain I'd take it - within limits, before the jokes start flying. I won't name said job or any employees because, well, that's stupid until I find another job. Anyone can use the internet after all.


1. I've worked 2 weeks and I don't know my wages.
2. The tax forms I was given are from 2003.
3. I have to take written tests every so often which would be fine if they weren't blown off and open book. So, they're giving me busywork homework - Blah!
4. There is a 17 year old girl training me. This wouldn't come under this list if she knew how to train. She doesn't. My second night, she left early without telling me and let me close by myself.
5. The other waitresses are already talking behind my back.
6. The other waitresses are idiots because I can hear them talking behind my back.
7. Everybody else can ring on my drawer and its frequently off by the end of the night. I won't lose my job over it, but I'm the implied guilty one. Just so you know, at the last cashier job I had, my drawer was never off. Never. I think I hold a record there or something.
8. I don't know my schedule. Tonight's my last night on this schedule, but there's no new schedule up and I don't know when it will be up.
9. I've been told that once I'm done training that I will begin training other people. Um, somehow I don't think its wise to have a new person training another new person.
10. The food's not that great. Even worse, its supposed to be an Italian restaurant and I'm Italian. I could cook their menu better than they do.
11. Women are in the front and men are in the kitchen. One of my friends couldn't get an interview because there were no kitchen positions available. When he said that he had server experience, they told him that there were no kitchen positions available. On top of that, the kitchen staff get paid way more than the up front staff. The waitresses do get tips, but counter girls like me get minimum wage or slightly above it.......I don't know which I'm getting yet.
12. One of the managers is probably only a little older than me, but show's up with his pants ready to fall off and an untucked shirt. He walks around talking on his cell phone (which isn't allowed) and sends people on coffee runs. He is also the son of the owners.
13. I think he has a crush on me. I'm really uninterested.

Well, I'm sure I left something off the list, but I need to get ready for work. Tomorrow, I start following up on other applications and I few restaurants that I heard were hiring. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Backing Away from the Edge

Things have begun to improve for me. I have found a second job and acquired a few piano students to supplement my library income. With this assurance, my parents have decided to at least temporarily postpone further discussions about my summer plans. So, I'm not constantly on edge, but the effects of three weeks of living that way haven't faded yet.

My singing, for example, hasn't bounced back the way I was hoping it would. After about 30 minutes, my voice feels tired and the back of my neck is stiff. Usually, that's a good signal that you're doing something wrong. My problem has been that I can't tell the difference in my technique until the symptoms show up. Then, its typically too late for that session. My mission is to avoid damaging my voice and I know stress is the main culprit, but I can't seem to pin this one down. I don't feel stressed when I walk into the practice room, but I definitely do by the time I leave.

I want to try to get all my recital repertoire learned by the end of the summer. Add in about three opera roles to my already busy schedule and well, I need to find a way around this stress-is-killing-my-practice-time problem. I might need to go back to my theory that hot tea relaxes me. During my last opera stint, I brought a thermos of hot tea with me to every rehearsal and performance and it seemed to help with the tension. It seriously could be a placebo effect, but there are worse things than tea. And heck, the tea I drink contains massive anti-oxidants and no caffeine naturally. Finally, an addiction with health benefits...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Choir meets Video Games

This website currently came to my attention through random searches during boredom. The University of Wisconsin has an a cappella ensemble known as Redefined whose recent performances include aNintendo Medley. The chorus is excellent on its own, but the staging is the one element that holds your attention.

I would post a video here, but alas, I'm not that computer savvy just yet. So, follow the link!

Nintendo Medley

I've also listed the pieces included in the medley below. I do owe credit elsewhere for this listing, but the internet being as it is, I don't know to whom.

Mario Bros. "Flag/Stage Clear"
Super Mario Bros. Main Theme
Dr. Mario
Mario Bros. 3
Mario Bros. "Star"
Mortal Kombat
Mario Bros. "Dungeon"
The Legend of Zelda
Mario Bros. "Game Over"

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Not Drowning

You know thing are bad when your Google AdSense starts to display anti-suicide ads.

I haven't found a second job yet. This is particularly distressing because my parents have threatened to whisk me directly home in a week if I have no new employment. I think that's the absolutely last place I want to be right now. Well, maybe Iraq would be worse....

Its not like I haven't been trying to get another job. I've applied all sorts of other places, but with very little luck. (Please see Autonomy Wars IV for more information.) I went over to Hallmark to pick up a Mother's Day card and used that opportunity to gently suggest once again that I am very interested in their money. I was told that the manager who was in charge of hiring had been in very little and that if I did not receive a phone call in a week, that I should come in again. Waiting a week puts me exactly at my parents' deadline.

On top of this, I don't have enough students to balance this out yet. Tutoring will pick up when the semester starts, but piano is a bit sketchy in the summer. Summer 1 begins on May 16th, so its really close, but not close enough. I do have a new little student. He's 4 years old and had his first lesson today. He has no previous musical experience, but some of the things he did were better than some of the 8 year-olds I've taught. Ten minutes into his class, I had to improvise the lesson plan to accommodate him.

My main goal tonight is to somehow get a copy of my tax papers from my parents without tipping them off. Don't worry, they don't even know about this blog - I'm not that stupid. I think that I'll tell them I need it for the in-state residency people. Come to think of it, I probably do. I should be able to handle that, but I'm terrified about tomorrow.

I've never had to deal with the Financial Aid office. I don't know how to work these people. I have to manage to convince them that I should be allowed to file independently from my parents and get a loan to cover tuition. Keep in mind that I'm paying out-of-state until the residency people approve me. I love how I can work, live, register my car and pay taxes to this damn state, but not automatically qualify for resident tuition. Do tears effect these people? Or would it just harden them further against me?

After all that is handled, I get to go job hunting again. I know of a few places that I haven't forced my presence upon yet, although they fall into my parents' "Do Not Apply" category. I just need another fucking job. My stress has reached meltdown proportions and something has got to give here. Hopefully, it won't be my sanity. Well, what's left of it. Its gotten so bad that I left church early today because I couldn't keep my composure. I was doing ok until the Prayers of the Faithful announced the death of a former coworker of mine. Not that I knew him well or anything; its just startling. I lasted until the Communion hymn which happened to be one of my favorite songs and one which we sang at my grandmother's funeral. That did it. I said my post-Eucharistic prayers and skeedaddled with tears streaming. That song speaks to me on so many levels and it just overloaded my already taxed system. Here are some lyrics to give you an idea:

You Are Mine
I will come to you in the silence,
I will lift you from all your fear.
You will hear my voice,
I claim you as my choice,
Be still and know I am here.

I am hope for all who are hopeless,
I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadows of the night,
I will be your light,
Come and rest in me.

Do not be afraid, I am with you.
I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me
I will bring you home;
I love you and you are mine.

I am strength for all the despairing,
Healing for the ones who dwell in shame
All the blind will see,
The lame will run free,
And all will know my name.


I am the Word that leads all to freedom,
I am the peace the world cannot give.
I will call your name,
Embracing all your pain,
Stand up, now walk, and live!


It has been suggested to me that I go receive counseling for all this mess. I went for maybe 2 sessions the last time something like this happened, but I panicked and stopped going. I know I need to do at least some little things to help myself here besides the aforementioned. My friend, Rai, had a chart to help her determine where she was on her anxiety scale - I'm in her red zone. That's part of the reason I'm spending so much time blogging these past few days. Blogging, drinking water, exercising and a clean apartment all mark the "green zone," so I have to try and do those things. At the moment, my apartment is clean but messy and I already tried to drown myself this week when I forgot to exhale through my nose during a flipturn. Luckily, the lifeguard got a kick out of it.

I'm trying to make sure I stay social too. Its hard with all the demands of work and financial aid visits, but I have time. My natural tendency is to pull inward and let no one see what's happening. I don't want to burden anyone, but a few friends know the situation and have listened to my rant and ramble. I seriously need to get them medals or really good Christmas presents or something. I also must go and practice - I haven't in at least a week. I mean, I tried, but crying kinda interferes with singing. Especially when you cry every time you try to sing.

Geez. I've been typing for about an hour. Off I go to wash clothes and drink some tea.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Autonomy Wars IV: A New Hope

It has begun again. I knew it would strike again, but when or where was difficult to determine. Common side effects include: swollen eyes, screaming, fist clenching, headaches, dizziness, frequent need to rant and emotional numbness. In most patients, these symptoms were temporary and did not deter the patient from continuing to do exactly what they had done before. In fact, studies show that after 4 years, the typical patient had dealt with enough and decided to take matters into her own hands.

Another battle with my parents rages.

It all began a few nights ago when my mother called about my bridesmaid dress. Apparently, the dress my father picked up looks like it could fit 2 of me and requires severe alteration. Mom was not pleased for a few reasons:
  1. This would be costly and they've already paid for the dress.
  2. I'm not at my parent's house often and the alterations would take a few visits to accomplish. A scheduling crisis looms.
  3. The dress tag read "6" instead of "2."
  4. I must have measured myself wrong - according to my mother. Since I could not travel 2 states north to have measurements taken during the school year, I did it over the phone. I asked the seamstress very specific questions to avoid things like this. Granted, this was over 8 months ago and I couldn't recall exactly what the woman had said to relay it to my mother. I attempted to retake some of the measurements over the phone, but although the ones I took matched with what was on the dress, my mother still swears that I am wrong.

So, basically, this is all my fault. I have a few reasons of my own to think otherwise:

  1. They wouldn't let me pay for the dress. I had written a check and stamped an envelope.
  2. They haven't taken the dress out of the plastic to really look at it. I know from personal experience that a dress can look hideous on a hanger and beautiful on the body.
  3. The dress tag was handwritten and it could have be a mistake or poorly written. I've played with this - you can make a 2 kinda look like a 6. Its hard, but it would be enough to panic my mother. Or, it could have been a 4. That seems a little more likely to me.
  4. Most dresses are made about a size up when they're ordered that far in advance. You can't fix a dress that is too small.
  5. I don't know how else one measures at the bellybutton. Now, I didn't pull the tape overly tight to get the smallest reading possible, but I have a pretty good idea from opera measurements that I'm not way off here. And I want to breathe. I'm hoping this can double as my next recital dress.
  6. The dress will look long as the seamstress had no idea what shoes we were wearing. Hemming up a dress is the easiest alteration possible.
  7. I told her I wore a size 2. I asked about a 1000 questions on measurements and such to avoid this argument. If its as wrong as my mother thinks, then its not my fault.

This "discussion" on my irresponsible tape measuring skills quickly bridged into other ways that I'm irresponsible and take advantage of my parents. I write "discussion" because I don't usually define the word "discussion" as a situation when one person literally yells over the phone to another, but my mother thinks the whole phone call was a "discussion." Whatever.

So, back to being irresponsible. I have yet to have found a second job. There are some strong possibilities including Hallmark and private teaching, but nothing is set in stone. I have been asking and applying since early March to no avail. My parents put boundaries around where I could apply including but not limited to no late night shifts, no "creepy" parking lots (um, take that as loosely as you feel) and it must enhance my nonexistent social life. Well, just fuck my chance of getting a job. I've ignored that policy and applied anywhere with a help wanted sign.

In case that method doesn't work, I've created flyers for tutoring and teaching piano. It takes far less students to make up for a 20 hour part-time job, so I figured this might be a good option. I think my mother's ok with this for the time being, but my father abhors the idea. Keep in mind, that to them, music is not a real job; its a job for married women whose husbands earn the real living. Their kids are in school and the mom is bored apparently. Every time I go or call home, my dad reminds me how fabulous I'd do in law. Yeah, not gonna happen.

My father will accept the teaching gig only if I get enough students and they've all signed contracts. Now, I'm not stupid - of course you create a payment contract so that you don't get screwed. Piano students are notorious for that. As far as numbers, I'm working on it, but I view this very opportunistically. The job that works out first will win. The trouble I'm having is that I already work one job and have to tell every possible employer that theirs will be my second. Very few have seemed pleased with that. And I have 2 weddings to attend and a few random doctor appointments. Not that I won't switch with someone, but its harder with two jobs.

The most promising situation at the moment is the Hallmark store. I applied about a week or so ago and had a good conversation with the manager there. I checked the status of my app yesterday and talked to a completely different manager. She said that they hadn't started going through anything yet, but they would pull mine out and look at it that day. I should expect a phone call.

The other related conflict is that I won't make as much money as my brother, Joey, does at Harris Teeter. I tried to explain to my parents that Joey has worked there for about 4 to 5 years and I'm starting new. I couldn't pull that same trick because the doctor wouldn't let me work for 2 years. My library wage will be raised in the fall, but probably not by much. Joey also doesn't live in the frat house over the summer and therefore, saves my parents on rent and such. His frat is part of student housing - he has that option. I would have to move out for 3 months and find a new apartment since mine wouldn't be there when I came back.

My parents do pay for a lot. They pay my tuition, rent and utilities. I've been taking on a bit more every year, but 2 years without work has done a number on my checking account. I've offered to get student loans to cover it all and that was rejected. In the last conversation, my mother threatened to confiscate my savings account. It doesn't have a whole lot in it, but I definitely need it for graduate auditions. That was the last straw. My savings since 2nd grade could be gone because they got mad at me. But I'm not supposed to apply for student loans to pay for anything - how am I to handle this???

I have a plan and I've enlisted several friends with financial aid wisdom to aid me. I'm going to the Financial Aid Office on Monday and applying for some type of loan. The trick is that I supposedly need my parents information which I've never had and they'll never give. That's why I've never been able to fill out a Fafsa form. I've heard that I might be able to file without them. I hope so. If not, I'll go to Bank of America. I already need to go there to see about transferring my savings account from the little church bank its in now. The loan shouldn't be as much as a burden since I should have instate residency in June. Tuition is much less expensive that way.

A few of these friends have literally kept me from emotional explosion the past few days. I have always felt like I was inadequate and incapable of taking this kind of step. Well, and a lot more than just that too. I'm fighting to overcome what was instilled in me. I can make good decisions for myself and follow through with them. I can do what I want to do without it making me feel like I'm some sort of selfish toddler. I am worthy of love and happiness. I have to re-evaluated myself and my place in this world to make it all happen.

So, say a prayer or five and feel free to leave any tips on the comments page. I've also set up a few Affiliate links from which I'll receive some sort of commission. I'm trying in every way I know how to prepare myself for the storm to come. The war is not over, but the turning point is coming...I can feel it this time.