Saturday, May 26, 2012

Final Wedding Post

I figure I have a few more wedding tips to share, so here goes..

Bridesmaid gifts: This was tough for me. If you've followed the blog closely, you know I lost my job a month before the wedding. Clearly, I couldn't do anything super amazing. My mom offered to pay for a mani/pedi party for myself and my bridesmaids (and her of course!) since I hadn't had a bridal shower or bachelorette party... I love my mom : )  When we moved the wedding, it worked in our favor since she has a little nail salon she attends regularly, and they were willing to close shop so we could have a private party and bring in snacks and wine.  While there, I presented the gifts...

Sorry the pictures are small, but I think you can get the idea...  I decided to give the girls something practical that they could reuse, so I thew together a wedding survival bag. 3 of my bridesmaids are in college still and the other travels a lot, so I figured a quality tote bag would get good use. I nervously ordered from (Liberty Bag).. you couldn't beat the price, and the quality sounded pretty good. They arrived quickly, the quality was good, and I would definitely recommend them.  I found someone in town to stitch each girl's initials onto their bag.

I filled the bag with a number of "survival items"...  flip-flops, nail files, a VitaminWater, etc. Then I got each girl a small heart-shaped necklace, and in the cards, I told them they will always be on my heart!  They seemed well-received!


Vendors: I can't honestly remember if I mentioned my vendors yet or not, but if you are planning a wedding in Andover, Mass. the Andover Country Club was fantastic! They did such a great job helping me on 12 days notice, and I can only imagine what they could do with full planning time!  Tracey was great!

Now, if you're planning a wedding in Vermont (Vermont brides, listen up!), our vendors were all fantastic!

  • Flowers: Just Weddings ( Katharine and Marriam are AMAZING! Seriously can't rave enough! They worked with me to get the budget where I needed it, include my must haves, and help me with ideas. More amazingly, when Hurricane Irene forced the move, they moved with me!! These girls are great, and they know what they're doing!
  • Photographer: Jay Ericson (Jay Ericson Photography) Jay was great. His work is incredible, and I felt completely comfortable having him around... you didn't even notice him! He did offer us a Veteran discount, but his regular prices are a touch below the other photographers are contacted. Be warned, he is extremely busy, so he can be a bit difficult to get in touch with, but he is worth it!
  • Dress: A Trace of Lace Bridal ( If you are a Vermont bride (or heck, anywhere within driving distance), GO HERE. You will not regret it! The owner Jamie, is super nice, knows her stuff, and makes sure you are happy. The dresses are well priced, and the boutique is super cute! Just don't blink or you might drive right past it!  Jamie encouraged me to try on all types of dresses, even those I didn't think I'd like. Sure enough, I liked one I didn't think I would, which lead us to my dress, which I LOVED. They can also recommend seamstresses in the area, and will store your dress for you. 
Hair and makeup ended up being done by an independent friend of a friend, and the cake was baked by a friend of my mom's. In Vermont, I was set up to use Mountain Cuts for my hair, and I absolutely loved my consult with her. 

I was also meant to have the wedding at the Killington Grand, and again, while I never got the see the final product, the preparations were well-done and fun! We worked with Emily, and she is all about making sure your day is exactly how you want it. Even though we had to cancel, Emily still sent us an adorable wedding gift with Killington mugs and some local food mixes! 

Feel free to post any questions about any wedding DIY or vendors... I hope my few posts help you with your planning!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Box...

My husband does Crossfit. He has for a while. I ran. Or pretended to run. And pretended to like it. And resisted his urging to try Crossfit.

I haven't abandoned the run. I've finally started logging some miles again, but real satisfaction? Real satisfaction comes when you push beyond your boundaries. For me, it seemed to come when I lifted more than I thought I could. When I pushed out the last rep. When I took my aching, angry muscles the next day and went from sore-in-a-good-way to an all out push.

I haven't decided to actually Crossfit. But with the purchase of a home gym for my husband's Crossfit needs, and the amount of weight at my fingertips, I've started incorporating some Crossfit moves into the basic moves I tend to rever to.  Today, I did a 21-15-9 of kettlebell swings (35 lbs.) and box jumps (step-ups).  Why step-ups? Because of the box.

The box.

It doesn't just sit, it looms. It casts it's own shadow. It seems too high, just a bit too far. I stared at that box, I wanted to jump, but when I stood next to it, it psyched me out. You can't do this Stacey. You can't jump this high. You can't top this. You can't attain.  I tried it. A weak jump, full of fear. Not enough height. I didn't even move forward. You can't do it. It's simply beyond you.

So I took the easy route. The route I knew might be easier, but I knew I could do it. It would challenge me a little. In cardio. Not in strength, in power, in explosion. 

I did my workout. I did a 10-8-6 of bench presses with my 20 lbs. dumbbells. I sat on the bench, and I stared at that box. 

The box. 

Too high.


Too tall to jump.

A challenge. 

I walked to the box, squared up, squatted a bit and gave it all I had. 

And I landed. Flat feet. Drove through my heels and stood. Paused a moment, smiled and stepped down to do it again. I only did 5 jumps (c'mon, this is post-workout), but I did them. I jumped that high, I had the strength, I met the challenge. 

I could be extremely cheesy here, but you already know the metaphor I'm suggesting, so I'll keep it brief. You know the challenges I'm still facing in my life. The challenges you may be facing. The box is looming, yes. It's standing there, too tall, telling me I can't do it. That things are too high, too hard. And it's been topped.

Square up. Have confidence. Stare it down. And jump. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Am Proud...

The President addressed the nation from Afghanistan last night. As usual, we tuned in. One of us favors Mr. Obama, one of us does not. But it is Afghanistan. And having lost two years of our lives to that country, we tune in.

As is my norm, I riffed along a few snarky tweets while he spoke. Let's face it (and I choke on this quite often when it's invoked by people I don't agree with), it is the right of every American to voice their opinion, to have freedom of speech, and to voice disagreement with our elected leaders. (Insert "America, F Yeah!" statement here). So I did my usual thing. And in the end, when the speech rapidly swung into campaign territory, I tweeted this:

Is this really going toward "I'm in Afghanistan. Fix Economy. Forward!!!"?? Vets & spouses can't even find jobs you twit!!!

That tweet seems to have found a target in a total stranger. (Complete tangent, I am simply amazed by how people find people on Twitter. Seriously, can't make the connection sometimes.) This morning, I woke up, poured some coffee (oh, sweet coffee), and dutifully checked my mentions on Twitter (what, that's not what you do every morning?). There they were.

 Stop bitching. Vets are taking up all the defense intel jobs. Nothing like putting retards in important national security jobs.
 and if you are worried about a job, you should have gone to college and not focused on marrying a military person. DUH

Wait. What? Huh?

Seriously. My first reaction was not one of anger, of indignation, or urge to hunt the person down and smack them. No. I was confused. Then I was shocked. Then I laughed out loud.

There are so very many things wrong with these tweets. First, perhaps because it's the most simple, I did go to college, did not focus on marrying a military person, and am beyond proud of what my husband has done and continues to do. It is amusing and ignorant to believe that a military spouse must be unemployed because clearly there is no way she went to college. Clearly because my husband serves, my entire goal in life was to follow around guys in ACUs until I found one that would take me home.

I really laughed out loud when I clicked through to her profile, found that in her personal description is one short line, and then a link to her online resume. So this hate and condescending statement is actually coming from someone who is unemployed just like me! But I thought she had all the answers?? That I should have gone to college and not focused on a marrying a military person, and DUH then I would have a job?  

So I clicked.

She went to Indiana University. You know, the one in Bloomington. Home of basketball. Home of the Little 500. Home of the gorgeous Dunn Meadow, Old Campus and the beautiful gateway onto Kirkwood, the Main Library that rumor has it is actually sinking. Oh, the one where I attended for four years, and graduated, receiving my Bachelor of Arts with a dual major in Communication and Political Science. Oh, the irony.

So perhaps she's inexperienced, facing the new graduate struggle, the bitter effort to find a job, any job in a bad economy. No, in fact, she had 9 years experience with major defense contractors, each employment stint lasting roughly 2 years and showing career growth. She claims in several tweets to have active security clearance. But she is unemployed. And she is bitter. (I'm pretty sure you'll see the irony here, as I too am unemployed and bitter, though apparently I didn't realized that I deserve my unemployment because I married a military person).

So let's think about the meat and bones of these tweets. That veterans are in her words, "retards" and "assholes".  Really, read that again. "Vets are taking up all the defense intel jobs. Nothing like putting retards in important national security jobs."

Let that sink in.

In another tweets on her timeline, she refers to veterans as "assholes". She re-tweeted and adamantly agreed with a tweet complaining that soon we will withdraw from Afghanistan, veterans will come home, and they will need jobs. I suppose they could have stayed here, fought for her job all along, and never gone to war, which if you think about it, probably created the very jobs she's had for the last 10 years.

Now, as for vets taking up all the defense intel jobs, I can see where she could be upset. I mean, why should defense intel companies hire people who have actually been on the ground in the country in question? Who have trained to interact with the people there, both good and bad? Who have studied the customs and culture? Who have hunted down and fought against those very security threats that defense intel people fight against? Nah, that doesn't make ANY sense to hire veterans for those positions!  

And really, how dare these companies be offered tax credits for hiring our veterans? For attempting to ensure that our men and women can come home from fighting a war for us and actually be taken care of? Frankly, forget the tax credits, their real-world life experiences outweigh her 9 years of office experience any day.

Now, I may be an unemployed, uneducated, fatigue-hunting bum, but I know one thing she doesn't. Twitter is powerful. Twitter is accessible. Twitter is not going to pick and choose for you what other people can see. I know that if you're constantly tweeting about how desperately you need a job, if you're tweeting out your resume, if you've linked to it right there in your bio, you DON'T spend multiple tweets insulting, grossly insulting the very people you would be expected to work with.

If I am an employer, I see out the best person for the job. In many cases, for a defense contractor, the best person for a job will be a veteran. Regardless of any hiring incentive, the veteran has experience, honor, dedication. Knowing this, if I receive an application or an inquiry from someone, I check their Twitter, and I see them refer to veterans as "retards" and "assholes" multiple times, do I call that person, or even give them the time of day?  A big, fat, emphatic NO.

As far as her mentality, her hatred and disrespect for veterans and their spouses, I can't answer that. It'd be easy to lump her in with the Occupy Wall Streeters, the Bradley Manning supports (tweets show she is), the anti-war liberals. I could give her a category, walk away, and never think about her again. But really, when I scrolled through her timeline, I was simply sad. Sad that life could have made her so broken, so bitter, so angry. Sad at the opportunities she is destroying for herself. Sad at the sheer anger and ignorance coming out of her.

And it made me proud. Proud of our veterans. Proud of my husband. Proud of the spouses who struggle, who fight, who wait. Who don't lash out (well, maybe we do, in the safety of a group of friends, wine in hand). Who live through war with honor, despite the ignorance among our society. Who receive hate and push forward anyway. Who come home and seek jobs, seek treatment for what ails them, seek to be productive in society. We won't be knocked down by bitterness, resentment, misguided hate. And for that, I am proud.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm Not That Desperate...

Ah, another frustrating day of job hunting. Yes, I know it's only 10 a.m. That is just how depressing the job hunt is in Metro Detroit.  But rather than be sad, time to find the humor in the situation...

I've seen plenty of blogs, posts, articles, etc. about job hunt blunders made by applicants, or what *not* to do when hunting for a job. By way of a genius suggestion from @SgtMsWife (AKA "The Wife"), I've decided to flip the tables, and share with you the things employers should not do. Or simply the things you shouldn't bother clicking on when you're job hunting.   Here's today's list, but I will probably revisit this theme as my job hunt drags on...

Let's begin with the obvious. Job search engines suck. Seriously, they are terrible and frustrating to work with. Keywords that make sense to you clearly make no sense to the search engine.

  • Search term: "Event Coordinator"   Result: "Director of Community Relations" - I can somewhat see the event planning/community relations link, but I'm a bit confused by the titles because coordinator level work just screams Director.
  • Search term: "Community Outreach"  Result: "Nurse Practitioner" - Because, nurses work in the community?
  • Search term: "Public Relations"  Result: "Pashto Interpreter" - Monster jumped on the word "public". Public relations thus is the same as a job within Army Public Affairs. And writing press releases in English is definitely the same as interpreting Pashto.

Every search engine likes to have you upload your resume, then create a search agent for you. OK, so mine shows roughly 4 years professional experience, plus retail positions and internships. My last two job titles were Programs Coordinator and Client Relations Assistant. My job agent recently returned:
  • Senior Manager - Product Research.   I suppose 4 years does make me senior to people who are unemployed...
  • Sales Management Trainee at Enterprise.  Uhm, no. Just NO.
  • Public Relations Intern.  I'm not above a foot in the door position. In fact, I would welcome it. But an internship? Unpaid?
  • Director of Marketing.  These two were literally one after the other. It seems my agent thinks I'm qualified to be both the lowest person on the corporate totem pole and also to run the show. Excellent.
  • Law Office Word Processor.  Uhm, what?
  • Director of Anesthesia Program.   Because Program Coordinator (essentially event planner) means I'm a Doctor.
Then there are the companies that either don't actually want you to apply, or just are looking for really dumb people.   Don't even get me started on how often I see listing for Communications professional with misspelled words or typos in the listing title. Also, the use of exclamation points frightens me. 

Actual listing:  Event Specialist!!!   
Responsibility: "Conduct Demo Event for approximately 5.75 hours"  (that's awfully specific)
Among the Duties:  "Move around cart area to approach customers within 10 feet"  (so you're a very aggressive demo event conductor).  "Push cart weighing 52-74 lbs. distance of 150-300 feet" (no worries, when the customers get within 10 feet, I'll push my 52-74 lbs. cart those 10 feet to block them in and ensure they demo my product!)

(This was listed 3 additional times, with slight changes to the position title. Sadly, the exclamation points were only in one listing.)

Actual listing:  Global Account Executive ? Meetings Sourcing Sales"   Company: American Express
(So, are you not sure what you're calling the position? Did you not think to review your listing to see how it appeared? Are question marks now acceptable separators, much like hyphens?)

And my personal favorite...


(You will see multiple versions of this listing any time you search any number of keywords.)
Actual excerpts from the job listing:   "UNIQUE approach to advertising"  
" **Experience in the below industries are a plus**
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Sports and Athletics
  • Entertainment
  • Military
  • Finance and Accounting" 

These "direct marketing" firms prey on young graduates who need jobs. They are quite skeezy. I know, I had one horrific day with one in Massachusetts.   This one claims "we do NOT participate in door-to-door, telemarketing or graphic design".  So they've moved on from the days when my "interview" consisted of changing into a Verizon polo in a gas station bathroom, then going door-to-door with my "mentor" trying to sell FiOS to people...  Maybe it's office-to-office now.  What blows my mind is that they sucker enough people in that they stay in business. Sure, you can get a good commission, but I'm not that desperate...