PMA

My mom has always talked about PMA – positive mental attitude. She’s a very “choose to be happy” person. I like to think I have a pretty positive attitude most of the time, and I probably get that from her. But I’ve been struggling since we got back from our visit home. It was a very short trip, and I was so sure I’d be able to start working when we returned. And yet, there is no end to my unemployment in sight. (Note, I do have a job. I also have the necessary security clearance to start working. What I don’t have is a functioning federal government or a start date).

Anyway, my frustrations and disappointment have been building. I may have occasionally fantasized about the life of a leisure of a housewife, but I’m nearly 5 months in and it’s very clear this is not a good fit for me. And while JR hears about it a lot (uh huh, just ask him), my mom really bears the brunt of my complaining. So, I thought today I’d really try to be positive (in honor of her) and also thank her for all of her support and encouragement.

My mom and I have always been close. I think since I left home for college, we’ve talked on the phone almost every single day. Definitely once I moved to Columbus and started law school, I called her every morning on my way to class. When class turned into work, our phone schedule didn’t change. We didn’t know how difficult it would be to talk on the phone once I moved, but we probably talk more now than ever before (thanks again to my unemployed status!). She’s a great listener and she gives smart advice. Even though I’m older and married now, I still look for her reassurance before making big decisions.

I need her help with the little stuff, too. When I wasn’t feeling well a few weeks ago, I complained that I desperately wanted some Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. That same day, she went to Buehler’s (greatest grocery store ever) to stock up, and then to the post office to mail some to me as fast as she could. Halloween is coming up, and even though it’s JR’s favorite holiday, I struggle with costume ideas. I’m not especially creative, and it seems like so much work! My mom is actually making my Halloween costume. Sort of like I’m a little kid, instead of an adult. I should probably be embarrassed, but I’m not. I’m just grateful that she is so generous and giving of herself, not only to me, but also to my brother and sister, and everyone who knows her.

So in honor of you, Mom, I’m really going to work on my positive mental attitude. I’m going to focus on the good stuff, and try not to worry about things that are beyond my control. Thank you for being such a great example of that, and for being such a wonderful mom.

Hello, October

At first I thought September was kind of dragging along, and then all of sudden it’s October. Funny how that works.

Over the weekend, Stacey and her husband hosted a cookout for the whole Embassy community, and it was great. They had a ridiculous amount of meat – pork and beef bbq ribs, hamburgers and chicken – and everyone else brought a side dish. Because they are from New Orleans, JR wanted to make his special jambalaya. It worked out great for me because I didn’t need to cook, and everyone at the party loved it. Success!

Apparently people from New Orleans take their grilling quite seriously – look at that thing. This was the second round of meat, I was probably busy eating and didn’t get a picture the first time, but the whole grill was full.

cookout

There was also a surprise guest there – this ADORABLE little puppy. One of JR’s co-workers found the puppy wandering around outside the Turkish Embassy, and took him home hoping to find a permanent home for him. When JR first told me about the puppy, we had a lengthy discussion about whether we should get a dog right now (spoiler alert, this does not end with us getting the puppy!). We agreed it wasn’t great timing, but that was before I actually saw this adorable creature, and when I did, I wanted to take back everything I’d said and take him straight home. Logic prevailed, and our friend Amy, who’s been looking for a puppy, adopted him! Isn’t he the cutest thing?

puppy

Now that it’s October, Halloween planning is in full swing. It’s JR’s favorite holiday, and he’s coordinating all the volunteers for the children’s party hosted at the Embassy. At last year’s party, they went through 150lbs of candy in an hour! So our CLO office has been asking for candy donations. JR forwarded the e-mail along to our families, and they have been AMAZING and have sent so much candy for the kids. (I swear, it’s for the kids. JR won’t even keep it in the house because he’s deemed me somewhat untrustworthy around candy). Here’s a picture of just one package we got.

candy

Our families have been awesome about sending care packages. Most food items are available here in some capacity, but it’s still really nice to have my mom send me a random package with jello, frosting, muffin mixes, and mints! Now if we could just figure out a way for her to send me an East of Chicago pizza, I’d be set!

In case you were curious, it’s October and I’m still not working. I’m really close, but the government shutdown is not helping my situation. At this time, JR is going to work per usual, and we are very much hoping that his paychecks are not delayed. No one really knows what to expect or how long this will last. I am disappointed that it came to this, and I really feel for our friends who were sent home from work yesterday, and don’t know when they can return. My proposal is that we kick everyone out of the House and Senate and start fresh with new people. Except Sherrod Brown, because he’s basically perfect.

So stay tuned to see if I ever actually work again!

Interview Expert

I’m wondering if I can add “Professional Interviewer/Interviewee” to my resume.

In July and August, I had 5 interviews for 5 different positions. Just as I was scheduling interview #6, I was FINALLY offered job. Woohoo! Super exciting. I’m still not working though. I have to wait for a security clearance and a start date, which they tell me could take up to 90-120 days. I’m pretending they don’t mean that, and the call will come at any moment. It’s hard not to be frustrated by the fact that we’ve been here for over 4 months now, and I’m still not working. I really thought it would all be taken care of by now and I could get excited to start working, but I’m just waiting on news from DC.

In addition to going to my own interviews, I’ve been a part of three different interview panels since we arrived. I mentioned before that I volunteered to be on the board of the employee association. As a board member, I participated in the first and second round interviews of candidates as we searched for a new manager for the association. It was interesting being on the other side of the interview process, but I also had the overwhelming urge to hire every single person.

Mostly recently, I served on interview panels for two prestigious scholarship opportunities. First, we interviewed candidates for the Humphrey Program, which is designed for mid-level professionals to do a year of study in the U.S. (More information can be found here: https://www.humphreyfellowship.org/). We had a great group of interviewees (I really don’t know if that’s a word but I’m going to keep using it) and they each presented a very compelling idea for their study in the U.S. It was difficult to narrow down the field, but we felt really great about the names we sent forward for consideration.

This past weekend, we interviewed a very large group of candidates for the Fulbright Program (http://foreign.fulbrightonline.org/). I was vaguely familiar with Fulbright because a close friend applied a few years ago, and one of my favorite professors of all-time, Gerry Hudson, is a Fulbright alum. Again, we had a difficult task because all of the people we interviewed were intelligent, motivated, and eager to study in the States. The exchange of students, ideas and study between the US and Kosovo (along with other countries around the world) cannot be overstated, and I’m glad I was able to take a very small part in it.

So with all that experience, maybe I can start getting paid for interviews? 🙂

Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job

It’s officially the longest I’ve gone without a haircut since I can remember, and the longest I’ve gone without a job since I first started working in high school (with the exception of first semester of law school, because we weren’t allowed to have a job). I keep thinking of a song my stepdad used to sing around the house – “Get a haircut, and get a real job. Clean your act up and don’t be a slob. Get it together like your big brother Bob.” Great song.

I’ve always liked to make money. Ashleigh, my childhood best friend, and I had a Snoopy Snow Cone machine and spent one summer selling delicious snow cones to our neighborhood friends.

snoopy

When the Snow Cone business slowed down, I had to get creative. In our house there was a random box of these strange glass figurines that were actually perfumes. As a 10 year old, I had no use for perfume. But I had the awesome idea that I could make potpourri! I pulled up grass from our yard and put it in little sandwich baggies, and then poured perfume all over the grass. I sealed up the baggies, loaded them into my wagon, and walked around the neighborhood selling my homemade potpourri. Shockingly, it was not a very successful business.

Like many teenage girls, I did a lot of babysitting while I was growing up, and I liked it. But what I wanted most was a real job. When I was 15, I started working as a hostess at a small cafe in my hometown. I thought it was the greatest job ever. I got to dress up nicely, talk to people, and like many a young hostess, I felt like I was super important.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of part time jobs. In high school, I worked at a tanning salon, and as a waitress, and that was also the year my friend Kristen and I started a purse and embroidery business. It started when I was envious of another friend’s Gap purse, and my grandma said she could make it for me. She actually sewed me a purse out of a dishtowel! I was super impressed, and saw visions of selling purses all over the world. Kristen and I learned how to sew a few different shapes and sizes of purses, and started taking orders from family and friends. We debated on a name for our new business, and decided on The Bag Ladies (although Purses for the People was a close second). We even had business cards (what I wouldn’t give to still have one of those).

We spent every Sunday morning at Jo-Ann Fabrics, and then we went straight to my grandma’s house to sew for the afternoon. We sold our purses at craft shows, and we even had a display at a store in town. We also made personalized fleece blankets. Sadly, we were headed off to separate colleges and our business venture ended.

The summer before college I was an on-call factory worker for the GREATEST JELLY AND JAM MAKER IN THE WORLD. While it was pretty cool to see how a factory worked, it was only about 2 hours into my first day on the job that I realized I was not cut out for manual labor.

smuckers

During college, I worked as a computer lab assistant, a sales associate at Things Remembered and Gap, a waitress, a resident advisor for my dorm, history department assistant, a receptionist for an advertising agency, and a bank teller (a terrible job for someone with a lifelong struggle with math). I usually had two part time jobs during school, mostly to help pay for my Banana Republic credit card.

With law school came more serious jobs and more responsibility. Although two summers ago, a Jeni’s Ice Cream shop opened across the street from our house in Columbus and I just had to work there. It combined my love of ice cream, sales, and talking! It was maybe the greatest job ever. My boss (a sweet 21 year old student) told me that I really set the bar high for the other scoopers at our shop – which I took as a very nice compliment.

All this to say, it’s been very strange for me to be unemployed for this long. My parents (I’m blessed to have three of them) instilled a strong work ethic in me from a very young age. Truthfully, it’s hard to feel like I’m doing my part when I’m not working or bringing home a paycheck.

I’m feeling very optimistic that my employment status will change soon. Oh AND, in equally important news, I have a haircut scheduled for this Friday.

It’s possible that I have too much time on my hands

It’s very exciting and cool that we live in another country, and JR is hard at work doing important things. My day to day, however, is a bit more low key. Of course, this will hopefully change once I have a job, but for right now, I’m kind of loving it.

I have plenty of time to watch movies JR is not interested in seeing. Shockingly, Pitch Perfect is one of those. It was fantastic. My mom called just as I turned it on, and she started to give me a hard time. She said, you should really be out doing things, not watching movies all day. I told her I had already been out today – which is true, there is a new family here and I took the mom and her little boy on a little tour, and we walked downtown to get her cell phone set up, and then we had lunch. As my mom was going on about wishing she had time to watch movies all day, she said that she can almost do the Cups song from the movie. (If you don’t know what that is, you should YouTube it.) The point is, she’s clearly spent a lot of time working on that routine, and here she was getting on me about my free time!

So after I finished the movie, obviously I had to YouTube the same song, but I don’t have the hand-eye coordination (or ability to keep a beat) to do it myself. With a few hours to go before JR gets home, it seems the best use of my time is to YouTube some of my favorite musical performances.

First, a word about YouTube. It’s amazing. I mean the internet and technology and all that is amazing in general, but YouTube specifically is so cool. You can find almost anything.

My first search was “Jani Lane Heaven.” I have an obsession with 80’s hair bands, and Warrant and this song have a special place in my heart. Here is my Warrant story. I was probably 7 or 8, and they had Heaven as their hit song. I was in love. My parents said we could see them in concert that summer. Unfortunately, I was committed to attending a Girl Scout overnight camp on the one night they were playing nearby. I was beyond devastated. My parents wouldn’t allow me to skip the Girl Scout event and went without me. (Believe it or not, this story gets worse.) So I’m off at camp, most likely sobbing by the campfire, while my parents go to the concert and enjoy their lawn seats. Well, all of a sudden, body guards brought Jani Lane out INTO THE CROWD IN THE LAWN, and stopped basically dead in front of my parents, and he performed Heaven right there.

They were there and I wasn’t. I’ve never gotten over it. Warrant still tours, and my friend Caitlin was cool enough to go see them with me a few years back. But unfortunately, Jani Lane left the band many years ago, and passed away in 2011. So I never got to see him sing Heaven. But thanks to YouTube, I can!

I think tomorrow I’ll watch all three Free Willy movies (my sister bought me the commemorative DVD for Christmas). Unemployment really seems to suit me.