Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coming Clean

So I suppose I should write about what's really going on with me so I can keep track of things from today on.

Yesterday was my last day at Big Bank Company. The childishness, back-biting, tattling, divisiveness, and mismanagement finally became too much. The problems at work began to negatively affect my health, my marriage, and my self worth/outlook. Bob and I were fighting. I developed a terrible case of anxiety breathing and a possible ulcer, and I began to feel as if there was nothing I could do well. I wasn't sleeping. I was eating and drinking too much. It was just a bad situation. I couldn't find another job within Big Bank Co because of the written performance issue I incurred in May.

So after talking with Bob and praying about what to do, I signed on with a temp agency, started part time classes in professional photography, and quit my job.

Today was my first day of freedom. I slept until 7, was out the door by 7:30 for a walk. I walked 4 miles today and it was amazing. I felt more like me than I have in ages. I had class at 1pm so I got to school a tad early in order to experience the place at actual school hours instead of at night. I got a student ID. I sat through class. We were let out early so I came home and made dinner for me and Bob. Overall, it was a good day.

My friend and former co-worker came over to give Bob and haircut. She said I looked so happy...happier than she's ever seen me. I said I finally feel like me again.

Bob has said that he would prefer I did not accept a temp job for the month of September. He has enough business on ebay to get us through this first month so I've agreed to change my date of availability to Oct. 1st. He is meeting with a social worker and is filling out paperwork in order to sign up for Medicare and state health aid. He will be getting help from the state and we are also looking into possible state grants that will pay for me to stay home and take care of him as his PCA. As much as we are loathe to admit and accept it, his health is declining and the possibility of him falling or injuring himself is quite high. I am nervous about his being at home by himself because of his health limitations and the high probability of injury. In fact, I did not bring the cell with me on my walk today and as I neared our apartment complex an ambulance raced passed me. I realized that it could be Bob and quickened my steps to home. Thankfully, it wasn't Bob but I learned to always take the cell with me and expect the unexpected.

So, to more Big Bank Co. I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds my future and I am ready for whatever comes next. Both Bob and I felt that this was the right decision at the right time and though it may not seem like a wise decision in this economy, we know it was what was right for us. Life is short and our time together is precious. It should not be affected by a crappy job that has no place for growth, development, or movement.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sounds of a Storm

It was so hard getting out of bed this morning.  First off, I’ve been going to bed later than usual because my new school schedule is throwing me off.  Second of all, it is now officially still dark when I get up.  When did that happen?  What happened to my early morning sunrise?  Sigh.  Third of all, a lovely late summer storm blew in just as my alarm went off.  I turned my alarm off and stayed in bed and watched the lightning and listened to the thunder and rain.  It was heavenly but I wanted nothing more than to just stay in bed and drift off to sleep to the sounds of the storm.

Class last night was good but man; I am in for it as far as class work goes.  The class I had last night is a design class and there is a ton of reading and writing in addition to photo work.  Every week we have to write an essay on some aspect of design and there will be a review/biography of a photographer of our choice.  The nice thing about this class is that there are no tests. Whoot!  Something that surprised me is that students are not allowed to bring laptops to class.  Nor are they allowed to bring cell phones, pages, beepers, or blackberries.  AND we can’t bring personal listening devices to the computer labs.  I guess they have found these things to distract students from the business of schooling.  Who knew?

Another nice thing about this program is that I’ve been making connections with classmates.  It’s nice that I have many of the same people in my Monday and Tuesday classes since it helps me get to know people and put names to faces.  Last night I was able to chat and find common ground with two 18-year old young women.  I like that.  We bonded over the wonderful attributes of Flickr.

I really wondered how I would do in this program and I think it’s going to be great.  When I checked out Brown College and was told that their degree is a Bachelor’s and the program furnishes a Mac Book Pro laptop and Cannon Rebel xti, I really wanted to go there.  However, they didn’t have any evening courses and their program costs approximately $17,000 per year.  That doesn’t include the cost of books and fees.  The program where I’m currently enrolled is at the local tech school.  It’s a two year degree and teaches you to use your own camera to start.  I like that even though the majority of students have the obvious Cannon or Nikon, there are other students with Olympus, Sony, Pentax (me), and Fuji.  We all have different cameras which lend to our different perspectives and eyes.  I also like that we can get our own computers.  I will probably get a MAC since that is what we will be working on at school but right now I am trying to decide if I should get a laptop or desktop.  This program is practical, helpful, hopeful, encouraging, and so far…fun!

Tomorrow I have a lighting class and that’s my last class this week.  Well, it’s the last class unless I can get into the digital darkroom class that has been full since I registered.  I NEED to be in the digital darkroom class yet when I look at my workload right now I see that there is a lot more work involved than I would have anticipated so maybe it’s OK that I start out with only 3 classes right now.

I am looking forward to this weekend.  We are working at the annual MDA Labor Day Telethon.  It moved from the Mall of America to a local casino so we will be spending Sunday night at the casino hotel.  I am the unofficial official photographer and Bob is the unofficial official runner/guy Friday volunteer.  I’m not sure what we will be doing Saturday but I do know our apartment needs a thorough cleaning, we need to pay bills, and I need to give some attention to my patio garden.  Not to mention I now have homework.  So, we won’t be lacking for things to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Learning I have a lot to learn

I was nervous about class last night.  I’ve been struggling with being 40 lately and thinking that sounds so old.  I was afraid that I would show up in this class and be the oldest person in the room.  I just had a lot of anxiety.  I think a lot of it stems from my job and the fact that no matter what I do, it’s not good enough and the fact that mistakes are sought out, pointed out, and made to be life and death.  So now I feel like I am not able to do anything well or that if I do, it will be dissected to the nth degree and every negative aspect picked apart.  This is what I was bringing to class.  Fun, huh?

Anyway, class was AWESOME!  Women outnumber men but there is a great age range.  In fact the table where I sat featured 3 other women close to my age so we were all able to chat about “old lady” stuff.  Our instructor was positive and encouraging.  He gave us our syllabus and assignment schedule and it’s kind of overwhelming but he was so excited for us that I became excited myself.  I am really going to get to know how to use my camera and its manual functions.  I am going to grow and learn and become an even better photographer and I am so excited.

There are people at all levels of talent and knowledge.  I am about in the middle (age and talent-wise).  I don’t know much about the RAW format and I’m a dummy when it comes to f-stops and apertures, but ask me about it all at the end of this class and I know I will have the knowledge to back up my answers and work.

I already have homework, reading, and prep for a pop quiz in that class.  I also have to purchase a wide angle lens and some sensor cleaners.  I’ve been meaning to get a wide angle lens so this will be a good way to get one and learn how to use it.

I have class again tonight too.  Last night’s class was Intro to Prof. Photography and tonight’s class is Photo Design.  Many of the same people I was in class with last night will also be in class with me tonight.  I am still trying to get into another class that is full and am hoping someone drops it in the next few days so I can add it and be set for the semester.

One thing made me feel so good last night.  Our instructor was trying to get a gauge for our knowledge and talent and asked us, “How many of you have family and friends that always love your work and tell you to do this for a job?”  About a quarter to half of us raised our hands.  The instructor then said that this indicates that we have a natural talent for lighting and composition and will probably really enjoy building on what we already know.  He also said it will be work and that we may get to a point where we get frustrated because, “shouldn’t we know all there is to know about photography already?”  But no.  If we ever get to a place where we aren’t constantly growing, learning, building, and getting better then we should hang up our cameras.

In response to my last post from earlier this morning, my friend Nan may have found a car.  One of my other friends actually had an old car she has been meaning to donate but hadn’t done yet.  Nan and her husband are going to check it out and it looks like it might work.  My friend is going to just give it to them if it works out and that is awesome.  LOVE!  IT!

Seeing a Need

Hey all!

I am just sending out an SOS on behalf of a friend.  My friend Nan works in my building.  I see her every day.  She works in the cafeteria in my building M-F and at a local restaurant at least one weeknight and weekends.  She is awesome as she always has a smile and a good word for me. It really makes my day to see her when I stop by the cafĂ©.

Today she was noticeably upset and not her usual self.  When we pressed her on it, she told us that she was driving her car to her other job when it started smoking. An electrical fire was burning in her car.  She pulled over and basically watched her car burn to the ground.  It was only insured for liability.

Nan is good people.  She and her husband are working class adults just trying to get by.  She’s not sure what they are going to do now. Her husband has a truck that he drives to work but his hours are just different enough to make it tough for them to commute. She lives in the Robbinsdale area of the Twin Cities and works in the St. Louis Park area.

Does anyone know where Nan can get a fairly good used car cheap or where she can borrow a car for a while to get by?  It would make her day if we could find her reliable transportation.  I offered her my car since we have 2 and live so close to work but she can’t drive a stick shift and I can’t offer her Bob’s van in case he needs it.

Does anyone have any ideas or know anyone who might be able to help Nan?  I know it’s huge but I thought I would ask.  I just feel compelled that when I see a need, I try to do what I can to meet it.  Anyone know of a way we can do this?


Monday, August 25, 2008

Rock Gut

Today is a new day.  Well, every day that you awaken is a new day but today is special because today is the first day of school!  Yes, summer has officially come to an end and the start of the school year is upon us once again and today I will be joining the ranks of the new students.  At 7:00 tonight I will be ensconced in a chair at a local college learning all I can learn about professional photography.  It’s weird because I don’t feel like it’s real. It doesn’t feel like school should be starting right now.  I am not very prepared.  I have not received my books yet and I haven’t even been school supply shopping.  Granted, at this point I really probably only need a notebook and pen, but I don’t even have that.  I will have to stop at Target or Staples on my way home.

Bob and I went to the fair on Friday.  It was fun, but again, it didn’t feel right.  It didn’t seem like fair time and there was so much we didn’t do.  When we got home, we realized that there was a lot of stuff we neglected and wished we’d done.  Maybe we will head back on Friday or Saturday this week.  We didn’t go into any buildings or see any animals.  We even missed the Miracle of Birth Barn.  We did end up at the Pet Center though and that was fun.  There were lots and lots of dogs there participating in obedience drills so we got to see lots of furry friends there. We also played some games at the midway and had breakfast at a church diner.  I rode the sky gliders early on and had a good time doing that.  I also took a lot of pictures.  Still, it was fun but just different from year’s past.

Saturday was spent not doing too much, although I did do our laundry.  It seemed like every towel we owned was dirty and I had to do our sheets as well so there was a lot of laundry to do.  As I was folding the clean laundry I began to feel lightheaded and very warm.  My heart began beating very fast and I began to sweat profusely.  I finished up folding and went home to lie down.  Don’t know what happened but I felt drained the rest of the day so I just took it easy.

Sunday we drove 2 ½ hours north to see Bob’s folks.  We had a nice visit with them at their place and took them to lunch.  Weirdly, after eating lunch I excused myself and went to the bathroom.  Once there I began to heave as though throwing up.  Nothing came up and after about 5 minutes the episode passed.  I felt a little lightheaded and my heart was beating really fast and I was sweating again.  When I came out, everyone notice I didn’t look so good so we paid the bill and went back to my in-law’s place.  We chatted a bit longer and then Bob and I took off for home again.  I slept most of the way home and once there, I just took it east.  I ate a BLT for dinner and was fine though still a little drained.  I went to bed early but didn’t sleep so well (I never do on Sunday nights).

Today I’m feeling OK.  I ate breakfast just fine and since I just sit at a computer at work, there isn’t a lot of activity.  I notice that I have a bit of anxiety breathing going on but that’s not unusual when I’m at work.  Things at work just continue to go from bad to worse in regards to the back-biting, gossip, and division which leads to my heightened anxiety and nervousness.  I haven’t been getting a whole lot of good rest which is probably where all of this stuff is coming from.  I feel like I have a rock in my gut at all times when I’m at work and when things are the worst, I feel like that rock is on fire.  That can’t be really healthy.  I just wish I could find my peace again.  Maybe I will find it in class tonight.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Time

I contacted a local temporary agency tonight. After the day I had at work today (not just today...every day) and after coming home crying again, I decided that enough it enough. Since there's not much hope of getting anything within my company I decided my best bet was to contact a temp agency. I am meeting with someone at noon tomorrow. The company I am visiting has benefits and weekly pay and it's highly likely that I can coordinate my work around my photography school and can maybe add a couple of day classes to my current schedule. For the first time in months I have hope again.

I hope the meeting with the temp agency goes well enough that I can give notice tomorrow. I would prefer to give a full 2 weeks notice but school starts on the 25th and I want to be able to attend day classes if at all possible. So, we'll see what happens.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Wouldn't Want to be a Millionaire?

Bob just called me from a local casino.  He went down there early this morning to try out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.  He didn’t make it to the show though.  He said they passed out a test of sorts and he must not have done very well on the test because next thing he knew, they were thanking him and sending him on his way.  They did give him a t-shirt which they didn’t give to everyone, so that’s nice.  He said the casino gave everyone $10 to play with AND the buffet lunch is free for all people trying out for the show.  So he gets a nice hot lunch before leaving the premises. Not bad for a morning’s play.  It’s kind of a bummer that he didn’t make it to the show.  He would have been AWESOME on that show.  He said he did do a lot of book networking while waiting in line.  He handed out a bunch of cards and recited some poems.  We hope it goes a long way to get people interested in buying his book.

I can’t believe this weekend is over already.  I can’t see where all my time went.  Friday night we went to a wedding reception for some long-time friends of Bob.  I only knew the groom, his brother, the bride, and the mother of the bride.  Bob seemed to know EVERYONE.  I took a bunch of pictures, I held the most adorable baby in the world, and I had a couple of drinks.  Bob seemed to have a good time and enjoyed seeing some folks he hasn’t seen in a good long time.

Saturday escapes me.  I know I went to Sam’s and I know I drove some flowers to a friend’s house for her birthday and that’s…really all.  Oh!  I did a little grocery shopping and we grilled out for dinner.  OH!  And I got an awesome floor cleaner from Sam’s.  It’s called the Electrolux Pronto.  Essentially it’s a dustbuster for your kitchen floor.  I use it to suck up the stray kitty litter tracked through the kitchen by our cats.  It also has a handheld dustbuster attached for quick clean up of messes not on the kitchen floor.  It’s a great little appliance.  The cats don’t like it so much but I LOVE it!

I got up early on Sunday and cleaned the cat boxes, kitchen (I used my new Pronto!), and living room. I vacuumed and did some spot cleaning on our awful carpet (I wish I could rip it all up and install laminate flooring), and I tended our neglected patio garden.  I watered and watered and watered.  Then I picked dead leaves and buds off all the plants and rewound the vines that had wound themselves around my flowers. Our morning glories still haven’t bloomed but the vines are going crazy.  The rest of the day I worked on some stuff for Bob and the book, watched the Olympics, and grilled out pizza…so good. (grill the dough first then add the toppings and grill until cheese is melted.  It’s got to be really hot and you have to close the lid to ensure cheese melts quickly and evenly)

I’m so bummed I missed the opening ceremony for the Olympics.  The wedding reception we went to was at a local VFW but they didn’t have a TV at the bar or I would have stationed myself in front of it for the entirety of the opening ceremony. I’ve seen some bits and pieces of the pageantry while watching certain parts of the games and I am awed by every part of it.  Anyone know if there is a place online where I can watch the full opening ceremony? 

So, in other events and happenings, I’m on track to attend the technical school.  My first day of classes is Monday, August 25th!  So far I am signed up for 3 classes and I’m still waiting for someone to drop out of the full class I want to add to my schedule.  So far I have class on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights and if I get into my 4th class, I will be in class Monday through Thursday night from the end of August to December.  I received my financial aid award and it’s nothing at all but will pay for my classes, my books, my supplies and MAYBE have enough left to get a new Macbook.  The 3 classes I’ve registered for cost less than $1,000 including all my fees and taxes.  Now I just need to get my books and my student ID (and Macbook…and software).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I submitted my FAFSA (financial aid paperwork) and am just waiting to hear back.  I went to the tech school website to register and found out that after registering, I must pay for classes by Friday or lose my place.  Most of the classes I wanted are already full and the others are dangerously close.  So this MAY be something I need to put off for a semester.  Boo!  Oh, and I cancelled our appointment with the guy at Brown.  Not only did the tech school have what I was looking for, they had it at a much more affordable price.  I do not need another BS degree (that’s Bachelor of Science not Bull SH** but it might as well be) and am just looking for the skills I need to be competitive.  I am thankful that there are options out there and I hope I can find an affordable loan to help me get there.

Yesterday Bob took our van to the place where we got it.  The driver’s side button to release the ramp had fallen off and it was messing with the whole raising and lowering system.  The guy that fixes our van looked at it and said it was not covered by warranty any more and might be expensive.  Still, it needed to be fixed so Bob gave the go-ahead.  The guy fixed the button, fixed some spare stuff on the ramp, made it look shiny and new, AND took a look at what had just set off our engine light and fixed that too.  Bob was nervous about the bill but when he looked at it, all he saw were zeros.  Bob asked the guy why our bill showed a zero balance and the guy told Bob that his boss gave the OK to do the work pro bono because of all we do for them.  When Bob expressed confusion over just what exactly we’d done for them, the fix-it guy said that just seeing Bob being so positive and so outgoing and so willing to always help and lend a hand went a long way in making everyone’s day at the van place.  Also, Bob’s been passing along coins to the fix-it guy who is also a collector AND we’ve sent some people their way to purchase accessible vans.  So the lesson learned is that it pays to be nice, positive, and willing to serve.  Thank you Roll-X!

Bob’s book is due out soon. We are waiting for (what we hope will be) the final proof copy. Once we receive it, Bob will look it over and if it’s all good, he will email the publisher to approve and they will print.  This could be as early as Friday!  Yes, this Friday!  Bob is beyond excited.  We have a website for the book here: where we will post updates and such.  I will also post things here once and a while.  If you are interested in the book but happen to miss it when we announce that it’s ready to buy, just go to and search for Poetry for the Soul.  Bob also wanted me to remind everyone that 10% of the royalties are going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  Also, he is thinking his next book will be a memoir about living with Muscular Dystrophy and the challenges he has overcome as a result.  Nothing is set in stone on that one yet but I think that might be a very positive and uplifting read for anyone who struggles with adversity in life.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What is that smell?

My ph seems off today somehow.  The perfume that I wear nearly every day smells to me like bug spray today and nothing I have done makes it better.  Then, I got to work and put some lotion on and it smells odd to me as well.  Gah.

On Saturday I went to our nearest technical college’s open house to talk to them about their professional photography program.  I was pleasantly surprised to find they had evening courses and their cost per credit is only $133.00 making the 10 credits I want to take only costing me about $1330.  The 4 courses I want to take are: Intro to Mac, Digital Darkroom, Intro to Professional Photography, and Photographic Design.

At the tech school open house I applied, submitted my transcripts, and got a student ID and website access.  I haven’t registered yet because Bob and I are going to meet with the Brown College rep tomorrow at 5:30.  We are going to talk with him about costs, classes, and why I should go to Brown when I can go to the tech school for so much less.  Granted at Brown, tuition includes a new Canon Rebel XSi and a new Macbook Pro.  I priced a Macbook Pro yesterday at approximately $3,500 and the cost for the Canon body only is about $800.  Lenses and flashes cost a couple hundred more at the very least.

So, if I go to the technical college, I can use my own camera but I am responsible for buying at least 3 new lenses (wide angle, telephoto, and zoom), a new computer capable of speedy photo editing (hence the Macbrook Pro used at Brown), a new flash system, and the books and software for each class.  So the nice price tag on the tuition is kind of cancelled out by the cost of all the new equipment needed.  If I go to Brown, the tuition is quite startling but the 2 costliest items are provided.

The biggest factor in me choosing the tech school despite having to drop dollars on equipment is that they have evening classes available.  Brown does not.  Brown has a program starting August 18th and another in October but neither one has any evening classes.  The tech school classes start August 25th and every class I want is offered in the evening.  I just need to talk to the guy at Brown and then most likely I will get on the stick and apply for financial aid and then register for classes at the tech school.  I’ll know more after our meeting tomorrow but it looks like Brown is out and tech school is in.

In other exciting news we will be attending a wedding on Friday (08-08-08).  This will be the 5th wedding we’ve been invited to (we could have gone to one on Saturday but declined that invitation…this is the ONLY wedding we’ve NOT attended so far this year) and we have at least 4 more weddings coming up.  I don’t know that we will go to all of those either.  What is it about 2008 that made everyone decide to get married?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Five Years

So today marks my 5th anniversary at BigBankCo.  In the past, this would entail a small celebration with a little bit of recognition, some cake, and a pin or some such thing.  Today?  I’m buying my own ice cream cake to share.  ALTHOUGH, 3 of my favoritist co-workers caught wind of my plan and gave me money towards the purchase of said cake.  That was nice and surprising and though a small gesture, it made my day.

What did NOT make my day was a big wig calling various and sundry co-workers from the midst of maternity leave and asking them if they would PLEASE consider attending our office outing on Monday.  See, in an effort to appear as if our department is unified and plays well together, an outing to a St. Paul Saints game was planned for Monday evening.  For the first time ever (in 5 years) I RSVPd my regrets.  Since things have been so unpleasant at work lately I didn’t see a need to prolong the agony even at a fun event like a Saints game.  Rumor has it that so many people declined the invitation that now the powers that be suggested to those who are going that they can bring a loved one as well.  Apparently attendance is still such that now calls are being made in an attempt to personally invite certain individuals to attend the game.  Was a call placed to me?  Oh no.  It is apparent that I am not part of the “in-crowd” and it is not important that I attend.  Oh, and it wasn’t just me.  There were others that were not called either.  Only certain people were called and invited.  This goes a long way in showing that I do not work in a mature business department intent in growing and seeing the growth, maturity, development and cohesiveness of its staff.  I work in a jr. high school lunch room.

Tomorrow I am going to an open house for a local technical college in order to gather info about their digital photography program.  Maybe there will be a more affordable option offered at this school that will fit better into our budget and lifestyle.  At this point I would just like to throw my all into this photography thing.