Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Have a Job! Almost...

I guess the nice handwritten bread'n'butter note to my interviewers did the trick, because I received a phone call today from the younger interviewer (as opposed to the 140-year-old principal) letting me know that they DO want to hire me, and fully intend to do so, just as soon as they get a contract signed with a client.

This should happen Monday.

My fingers are crossed for good luck, which makes typing inordinately difficult.

As you might guess, my spirits are lifted, as a result of the phone call, and the bleak future that lay ahead of me - forever living in my parents' home, surfing the Internet all day, gaining bazillions of pounds - no longer seems so certain.  And no, I'm not really concerned about being fat, because I've lost weight since being unemployed, contrary to my initial expectations.

When I informed my mother, she immediately suggested that we take advantage of the $10 discount coupon we received from DSW to buy me some celebration shoes.  Alas, there were no shoes that will stay on my impossibly-shaped midget feet, so she took me to the GAP and bought me a cute dress instead.  And then handed me her Macy's card so I can buy cute shoes tomorrow while she's at work.

Okay, so there are perks to living with my folks.

(Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons License user Foxtongue can be found at


I am about to embark - once again - on designing a portfolio for application to grad school.  Again.  After reviewing it with one of my former professors, we came to the conclusion that I need to reduce the amount of text in the portfolio, where possible, and to attempt to let the images speak for themselves.  Today, I begin that task.  I plan to high-tail it to a Starbucks in a very short while in order to drink some tea and mark up one of my old portfolios.  We'll see how this goes.

I intend to make the book of the portfolio myself.  Therefore, I have been looking into various bookbinding workshops offered here in the DFW area, and I also ordered a couple of books from  After I read them, there will probably be some reviewing of the books here-abouts these parts.  Unfortunately, all of the workshops are either full, or they take place in the middle of the day (precluding me from taking them if I ever get a job) or both.

I've decided to change the layout of my portfolio completely - different sized pages, etc.  Fortunately, the text is all completed, and I have the images I used for my last go round saved and ready to be exhumed for use this time around.

I typically go through 2 or 3 different layouts before I'm satisfied with what I produce, but I know this time around which color I want to use to thematically link the projects, I know which type-face I want to use, I know the color of font I want to use.  Alas, the big expensive book I have that is the cornerstone of my portfolio design experience is tucked away in the back of a 10'x10' storage unit, behind towering metal bookshelves and wooden tables and a loveseat.  

Hopefully, since I've done this before, I won't require its presence again any time soon.  That's a daring rescue I'd rather not make.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I still haven't heard from the firm with whom I applied last week.  I mailed thank you notes yesterday - late, I know - so hopefully they'll arrive tomorrow to provide the "Oh, yeah, her" that I need for them to call me and HIRE ME.

I also sent an updated Curriculum Vitae to a headhunter with whom I registered back in November.  So far, I've heard absolutely nothing from them.  Back in November, they told me they could get me a job if I was willing to move to San Antonio.  I should have taken them up on the offer.

I have a feeling that part of what is keeping me from receiving positive feedback - in the form of interviews - is my lack of a Master of Architecture degree.  I understand that most people would see that I only have my B.S. Architecture and say, "Well, she hasn't finished her schooling, yet.  We don't want to hire her," but I was managing master planning projects at my former job, and managing people who had M. Arch. degrees, to boot!  It's difficult to convey that in the standard Internet submission required by most firms, these days.

So now, I'm starting the really nitty-gritty work of going through Internet databases of architecture firms, looking at their websites, and deciding if I'm going to submit my resume to them as a cold-call deal.


Of course, if I the firm decides not to hire me, I still have that trick card up my sleeve, but the difficulty is that I might not be able to play that card for months.  I can always go to work for my dad's company as an employee, and I'm working on starting my own business, but those are kind of iffy, if you know what I mean.

* I am in no way supporting the book used for a graphic; I have not read it.  It's just a CC Licensed image I found online that doesn't require attribution.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Nim Chimpsky" by Elizabeth Hess

The image on the cover of the book is adorable: a juvenile chimpanzee in a red T-shirt, gingerly reaching out to grasp the hand of an adult human.  Don't let the cover fool you.  There is very little cuteness to be found within the pages of Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human.

Nim Chimpsky (quasi-namesake of Noam Chompsky) was quite possibly the most famous research chimpanzee ever.  I remember watching clips of him on Sesame Street as a child as he put on his shoes and his jacket.  It was adorable, and as a child, I didn't stop to think about what had brought him to the attention of the Children's Television Workshop.

Nim was the subject of a psychological study during the 1970s aimed at discovering whether or not humans are the only animals to consciously use language.  At the time, no one - not even the researchers involved - had actually decided what constituted conscious use of language vs. mimicking the actions of humans.

It's kind of difficult, as the book shows, to decide whether a study is successful if no one has a concrete definition of the study's goal.

Although Nim Chimpsky includes some cuddly feel-good stories, it is also a chamber of horrors.  Physical mistreatment of chimps is depicted - mostly through their handlers ineptitude - in addition to the psychological abuse endured by chimps as they were reared by their human "families" and then abandoned after research was completed.

Although Nim Chimpsky has an ending that is more uplifting I expected, particularly given its unblinkered nature, it was still a sad look at misguided experiments in the name of science.  After reading it, I'm now much more opposed to the use of animals in scientific research than I could previously have imagined.  The fleeting glimpses into the realm of corporate laboratories are horrifying enough to put off the most callous of humans.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ah, Memorial Day!

I did not go to a Friday Happy Hour, architectural or otherwise.  My sister and her husband - and their two dogs - came to Dallas from their place of residence for the weekend, and I infinitely prefer my sister's company to a bottle of beer.  Besides, we had beer at my parents' house.

My poor old dog was stoned most of the weekend.  We kept thinking that it was going to rain, and he hyperventilates and quivers when it rains, or even hints at raining, so we gave him tranquilizers to keep him calm.  The rain let us down, however, so my dog spent the weekend in a euphoric haze for no reason.  Thankfully, my sister's dogs didn't bother him too much, as he is completely incapable of fending off both of them at once, tranquilized or not.

As you might have guessed, my interviewer has yet to contact me about the job for which I interviewed.  Hopefully, it will happen this week.  I intend to call Wednesday if I haven't heard from them, just to make sure they don't need any more information, or to clear up any doubts they might have.  I'm trying not to worry about it, too much, but there's a little part of me nagging and nagging and wishing that certain occurrences in my career had taken a different course.

My dad's side of the family - his two brothers and their children - all congregated Saturday for the relatively new tradition of a Memorial Day Weekend reunion.  We used to have the reunion at Christmas, but it was rapidly becoming impracticable as "the kids" - my cousins - grew up, moved away from home, and began producing offspring of their own, which they were required to take to see in-laws, etc.  I much prefer the Memorial Day gathering, as we're not required to fulfill a certain obligation that the Christmas gathering necessitated: gift-buying.

One downside to the Memorial Day reunion and its attendant outdoors activities is my raging allergies.  For the past 24 hours, I've been miserable, with itchy eyes, a runny nose, my skin mildly broken out in pseudo-hives from overexposure to pollen.  Also, some of my relatives didn't know that I am currently unemployed.  It's always neat telling people about that.  My mom corrected one of my cousins when she talked about my "getting fired."

"She wasn't fired, she was laid off."  My cousin kept right on talking.

I'm now considering moving elsewhere in order to find work.  Elsewhere as in somewhere other than Dallas/Ft. Worth or Houston.  It would mean a big change, yes, but it could be exciting.  The difficulty is that no one appears to be hiring, so far as I can tell.  I can't even find job postings in Alaska, for crying out loud!  Not that I would seriously consider moving to Alaska. 

My delicate constitution would never survive.

(Creative Commons License Image courtesy of Flickr User Alaskan Dude can be found at *

*Note: I am not vouching for the artistic quality of all of this user's images.  Not vouching for them at all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Word Yet

I have yet to hear from the firm with which I interviewed, Tuesday.  I'm not too surprised, but I am a bit anxious.  Understandable, I think, because I've been unemployed now for six months.  I have another potential card up the old proverbial sleeve, but I'm hoping I won't have to play it.

I've been keeping busy the past few days, what with interviewing, preparing for my sister and her husband and their two dogs to come visit (my 12 year old Lab is in for a surprise), meeting fellow TWC beneficiaries for coffee, being asked in a decidedly vague manner to join an unspecified number of people at an unspecified location for what may or may not be a date, and then refusing the last-minute quasi-invitation in a decidedly non-vague way.

NOTE: If you want to enjoy Ms. StrainedConsciousness' society in person, you need to put forth a modicum of effort (SAT word, that one), else you will suffer not only her mockery via telephone, but also her Internet snarkery.  Consider yourself forewarned.

In an effort not to focus on why the job offer/denial is taking so long, I've thrown myself headlong into the archives of Mental Floss' inimitable website, where you will find lists.  

Yes, lists.

I'm a compulsive list maker, so I get easily lost in the section where their lists are kept.  So far, I've read 5 things I previously didn't know about Colin Powell, 38 things I didn't know about Frankenstein (actually, I knew a couple of them, but who's counting?), a list detailing the most corrupt people/places in the world (supposedly), and several others.

I have not retained any of the knowledge learned, so far as I can tell.  This is somewhat disappointing, as my mind is a usually as absorbent as a sponge.  A big, mouldy sponge, full of useless anecdotes and facts that I frequently squeeze out for others' entertainment.  Or annoyance, depending on who you are.

(Creative Commons Licensed Image courtesy of Flickr User ccarlstead can be found at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Mental Floss History of the World" * +

By: those guys from Mental Floss.

My mother - a middle school "gifted and talented" teacher - received a copy of The Mental Floss History of the World.

If only we could have used Mental Floss' version of world history in my high school classes!  It's hilarious, mostly because the writers use their typical Mental Floss snark-i-cist writing style.  No one is safe from their factually accurate ridicule.

If you want to learn about the highlights - and lowlifes - of world history, look no further.  It's probably one of the most engaging historical texts I've ever encountered.  Although it covers more European and Asian history than North or South American, it's understandable: the Aztecs weren't exactly great chroniclers.

In addition to the main text, there are these little reddish-pink boxes with "fun facts" in them.  They include tasty morsels such as:
1) Attila the Hun died of a nosebleed on his wedding night.
2) Situations in which Greeks approved of male homosexual relationships
3) The Romans' cover story for increasingly outrageous debauchery (it was Dionysus's fault!)

Some of the discussions veer into the gross, as in a lengthy discussion of Roman banquet fare, but overall, it's an interesting read.  If you want an irreverent take on world history - and really, who doesn't? - then The Mental Floss History of the World is a great place to start.

*  I know.  I know.  It's been a while since I wrote a book review.  Blame it on the Swiss Family Robinson.  They took forever getting off that island.  And no, that's not a spoiler.

+ No news yet on the job, either.  Every time I call a family member, they assume it's because I'm about to announce impending employment rather than, say, the fact that I accidentally punctured the "dog walking" bag with my finger, thereby covering said finger in dog poo.  Eww...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ego Boost

I interviewed Tuesday with the boutique architecture firm.  I feel really good about the firm, and also about the interview.  If asked, I would probably say I have a 70% chance of getting the job, and that's just because I'm trying to reign in my rampaging optimism.

The day started off well: I didn't encounter jammed traffic.  In fact, the cars on the Dallas North Tollway zipped along at alarming rates of speed.  Ergo, I arrived at my destination 45 minutes early.  I drove around the design district for 20 minutes to kill time (and the Earth - sorry Gaia* ), then parked in the free parking lot outside the office building.  After reading the short news synopses in The Economist, I realized I - um - needed to use the facilities.

There were no public facilities.

Buzzkill.  Impending sense of doom.  I asked a young woman waiting for the elevator if she knew whether there was a public restroom in the lobby.

"No," she replied. "I think there are access codes for all the bathrooms."

"Oh." Duh-duh-dunn!  "I have an interview in 15 minutes-"

Young Woman's face brightened.  "I'll open the door to the ladies' room on my floor; you can use it, then go on to your interview!"  

NICEST GIRL EVER.  We chit-chatted about the field I'm in, the field she's in, and then she dropped me off outside the ladies' room.  Hooray for friendly people!

I was ushered into the small conference room and a few seconds later, in came my prospective boss, along with the fellow who suggested I apply at his firm.

"Well," said Prospective Boss, "You'd definitely be the most attractive person in the office if we hired you."  I thought the Suggester was going to melt, he was so embarrassed.  I laughed, thanked Prospective Boss - who appears to be 101 years old - and the interview commenced.

It was short.  30 minutes, tops.  I left a copy of my portfolio for them to peruse, and a copy of my resume ("ooooh, nice paper" - P.B.).

Again, trying not to get too excited too early.  In fact, in preparation for disaster, I'm still working on the business idea my Dad developed and passed off to me.  If I get the job, I'll open this business, anyways.  It will be a great way to save up money.  You know, just in case there's another recession...

* Gaia was the Greek goddess of the earth and mother of the Titans, but you probably knew that...

(Creative Commons Licensed Image courtesy of Flickr User Ventolin.  Image may be found at

Monday, May 18, 2009

Here's to Interviews and Insomnia

I interview today.  I'm scared.

I haven't slept well, the past couple of days, and I've been snippy as hell, I know, especially with my mom.  In addition to the resurgence of my chronic insomnia, I'm chafing at living at home.  I shut myself in my room more and more often, lately.  If the door is closed, it typically means "Do not bother me, please."  But there are some things that are so important that my solitude must be intruded upon.  Like my mom's friend sending her a pair of sunglasses in the mail. That is, apparently, an occurrence of earth-shattering importance.

So now I'm whining, I know.  I'm incredibly lucky to be able to live with family while I'm unemployed.  But at the same time, it's driving me crazy.  That's one of the reasons I want this job so badly: if I get a full-time gig, and get my side-business up and running, it will mean that I can move out, back down near Downtown Dallas and my friends.  I have not as yet succumbed to the siren song that is apartment websites, but that's only through sheer willpower.

Everything about the interview is freaking me out, such as "Did I buy the right color of pantyhose?"  This doesn't sound important to most people, I'm sure, but architecture is all about design.  Because I am slightly OCD about design, I coordinate EVERYTHING: my desk accessories must all be complimentary in texture and color; the objects in my purse must all coordinate in some way (they are all animal print with black patent leather trim); I carry 8 colors of lipstick in my purse so I'm sure to have one that will coordinate with my outfit.

This concern for my appearance causes me to obsess over little things, like the fit of a pair of pants that most people would consider acceptable, but that wrinkles in the wrong place in my estimation.  Into this category of Seemingly Unimportant Details goes the color of pantyhose I wear.

I have incredibly pale skin.  My Hispanic friends nicknamed me "Casper."  If I buy the color of hosiery that matches my skin, I look like I'm wearing white hosiery.  Seriously.

I always have to buy a darker color so the hosiery looks natural.  But then, I wonder, "Did I buy a pair that's too dark, or is this the right color?  Does one shade lighter look too light?"  I never can tell.

I have a million pairs of pantyhose in my closet, but I continually buy new ones, because I can't remember which color to buy, or I put them on and they're too shiny, or they have a tiny slub in them that is most likely noticeable only to myself, but then you never can tell.  I'm the sort of person to whom others say, "But nobody will notice."  Except I'm the person that always notices shortcomings of appearance, even on other people.

When I wear hosiery in the Winter (as dictated by the Southern Code of Conduct for Ladies), I usually wear knit-patterned tights or nude fishnets.  Yes, fishnets.  If they're not too thickly woven, or they're nude-colored, fishnets are quite tasteful, and they don't have to exactly match your skin.  But your skirt can't be too short.  If it is, then you just look like a cheap hussy.

(Creative Commons Licensed Image courtesy of Flickr User Bobster855.  Image may be found at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Hour etc...

Two of my friends and I opted out of the usual Happy Hour gathering, Friday, in favor of someplace with less expensive fare.  Where did we go?  Adair's, a rockin' little country dive-bar in Deep Ellum.

Adair's is all about atmosphere.  The walls are covered in permanent marker writings - as are portions of the ceiling (!) - executed by patrons over the years.  If you ask nicely, the bartender will hand you a marker for your own personal use.  Seeing as I am in the design profession, however, I always have writing utensils in my purse, and so I was not forced to beg for a felt-tip, like other patrons.

The burgers at Adair's are some of the best I've eaten.  Big, greasy, wonderful concoctions, cooked just how you want them.  If you order the Texas Fries, beware: they're a wee bit spicy, but still delicious.  I say "wee bit" because I'm a wuss when it comes to spiciness, so for the vast majority of Texans, they're probably downright bland, but I was gulping beer after every fry.  And they're big fries, too, not like sissy McDonald's fries.  They put other French Fries to shame.

As for beer listings, there's not a whole lot of choice, but we didn't go for the vast encyclopedic beer knowledge, we went for the cheap beer.  And boy, is it cheap.  If you order Lone Star, Lone Star Light, Pearl Light, or Pabst Blue Ribbon, your beer is less than $3.00.  If you're so snooty as to order something imported, the price goes up.  Regardless, though, bring your coozie, because the most of the beer is served in cans.  What I spent Friday night on food and drink is about what I typically spend just on beer at the normal Happy Hour haunts (of course, my PBR was about $2.50, and most places sell Guinness for $5-6 each, so...).

There's almost always a band playing at Adair's.  Friday night's wasn't particularly memorable, despite the concert posters proclaiming that it would be otherwise.  If you sit towards the front, where the stage is, you can count on watching a bunch of people country-western dance.  If you sit in the back, where I was, you can count on 50+ year-old men making passes at you and asking to take pictures of your feet.  Their requests were denied, needless to say.

Friday was awesome.  Saturday morning around 6 a.m. not so much.  See, I woke up at 6 with a rumbling stomach, fled to the guest bath at my friend's house, and proceeded to be violently ill.

At first, I figured it was food poisoning.  We'd finished "breakfast" around 3:15 a.m. (bacon, eggs, cinnamon toast, green tea, heaven!) and I'd gone to bed feeling a bit queasy, but chalking that up to too much grease in my diet, that day.  At 6 a.m., I got sick.  I still felt bad Saturday evening, and so subsisted off strawberry Jell-o, 7Up, and saltine crackers, which was difficult enough to keep down.  After discussing with my mother, we initially came up with the idea that the tea was what had made me ill.  But when my system was still a wreck 12 hours later, we decided I must be sick.  The fever and chills tended to lend evidence to this assumption.

I'm better, now, and successfully polished off a turkey meal from Boston Market a while ago with no foul repercussions thus far.  Hopefully, I'll be back to my chipper old self by 9 a.m. or so; I want to drive down to look for the potential employer's offices and to scope out the parking situation before the interview Tuesday.

Getting lost + being late = no job for Ms. StrainedConsciousness.

(Creative Commons Licensed Image courtesy of Flickr User Derrick Davis.  Image may be found at

Friday, May 15, 2009

Get Ready, Get Set - IMPRESS

I feel like all I've done for the past two months is spend (and borrow) money.  It's nerve wracking since, as my Dad occasionally observes, I'm "tight with a buck" most of the time (clothes and computers not withstanding).

I bought a suit, tried it on with the sensible black shoes I own and was immediately depressed at the sight of myself, as I believe I mentioned yesterday.  The effect of me as frumpy librarian was probably partly due to the fact that I was wearing my funny architect glasses, but then I tried them on again today with my shoes, and I felt even frumpier, because the funny architect glasses give my appearance a bit of an outre edge.

I decided that the best thing to do in the situation would be to buy some sensible close-toed sky-high heels, and I accomplished that mission today.  Combined with a pair of nylons and a sensible yet stylish (and cheap) purse, I'm now ready for my interview, which will take place Tuesday morning.

Why did I feel the need to spend so much for this interview?  Because if I don't feel confident in what I'm wearing, my whole body language reflects that, as does my manner of speaking.  If I feel frumpy, I'll act all shy and want to crawl into a hole, and that's not going to impress an interviewer.  I need to project more of an attitude that lets people know, as my dad says, "I'm here to kick tail and take names."  My dad has a vivid way of expressing himself.

When I spoke to the fellow who owns the architecture firm, we'll call him Mr. Principal, he asked me if I knew a particular type of software.  Short answer: no.  This is the answer he received.  Long answer: no, but I will be downloading a trial version and working my tail off over the weekend to see if I can get the hang of it by Tuesday.  It's a Building Information Modeling software, which is something I need to learn anyways.

So I'm currently downloading ArchiCAD so I can shut myself in my room with my computer, listening to the new as-yet-unreleased Wilco album (streaming on the internet).  I will learn this software.  I will get this job.  I will be employed again, if only on a contract basis.  I want this job so much I can taste it.

It tastes kind of like copy-toner and Chart-Pak markers.  Sweet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Excuse to Buy Some New Clothes


The architect whose office I called yesterday called me back today and apologized for not getting back to me sooner.  It was all I could do to keep my voice from getting all shaky and ridiculous-sounding.  Apparently, he'd spoken to one of his employees (who suggested I apply to work for them) and so he knew a bit about me.  He asked me to refresh his memory about the type of architecture I'd been doing, where I went to school, etc...  

Then, he said the magic words: "We'd like to interview you."

To which I replied, in typical sauve Ms. Strainedconsciousness style, "Really?"  Oh, yeah, I'm smooth.

After I made sure the phone was completely hung up, I proceeded t scream at the top of my lungs.  My dog, who was sunning his poor arthritic bones in the backyard, heard my shrieks, and came loping inside to see if I was okay.  When he discovered that I was not being attacked or bleeding, he shifted his attention from me - by now crying with joy and trying to call my mom - to the closet where we keep his Milkbones.  He'd done his duty as protector, after all, and so I rewarded the poor old feller.

I got through to my mom, who then had to listen to me shriek and cry some more, and by the end of the conversation, we'd gotten down to the real meat of the issue, "What are you going to wear to the interview?"

As you may have noticed, I'm a teensy bit obsessive about my appearance, particularly my wardrobe.  The only real suit I possessed at the time of the mom convo was a heavy grey wool suit that is only suitable for winter wear.  I wore it when I interviewed for my last job, got the job, quit snacking all day and drinking as much beer as I had when in college, dropped 5 lbs, and now the jacket's too big for me.  So even if it was the correct season, my tailor couldn't have made the alterations in time for the interview (serious reconstruction on the jacket: it's got enough seams and darts in it for a platoon of suits).

Granted, I wasn't too sad about not having a suit to wear, because that just meant I got to buy another suit.  My mom came home from work, and we jetted off to Northpark Mall to explore the BCBG store (50% off!), Banana Republic, which used to be my own personal Cheers, and wherever else the fancy struck.  I struck out at BCBG, but found a suit at BR from their Monogram line.  Oooh.  Fancy.

And then, the fatal issue: no blouse.  The blouses at BR didn't work especially well with the suit, so we ping-ponged back and forth between Club Monaco, J. Crew, BCBG (again), Dillard's, White House/Black Market, Ann Taylor, Ted Baker, you get the idea.  You probably got the idea after the third store, but I'm slightly OCD about listing things and counting things, and really OCD about my appearance, so I'm bound to get carried away when confronted with the prospect of listing things relating to my appearance.

My mom and I were about to abandon ship, leaving me to pick up the scent Thursday, when she asked if we could go into J. Jill.  There was a shirt she wanted online, but they were out of her size.  We zipped into the store and she tried on a shirt, but it was too big.  Whatever, the important thing is that I found the perfect shirt whilst browsing the racks, waiting for her to emerge.  I tried it on with the suit, and it was amazing.  Not what I'd intended to buy, not by a longshot, but maybe even better than what I'd hoped to find.

Now I just need to find some killer stilettos, screw the interview-tip website's advice to keep it below a 2" heel.  Honey, I don't do less than 3-1/2".

(Creative Commons licensed picture courtesy of Markusram's Flickr Stream, found at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Well, THAT Didn't Go As Planned

I made the phone call to the small architecture firm today, and...


So there went all of my nervousness and anxiety.  I left a message on his voicemail, and if I haven't heard back by Thursday, I'll call him again.  I pretty much have my spiel downpat, now, so no need for me to have a script in front of me, anymore.

On other fronts, I've once again begun job-hunting in earnest, no thanks to Craigslist.  Yesterday, there was an advert posted for a position at an architecture firm.  Between the time I saw it, and the time I formulated a "cover email" and attached my resume to aforementioned email, the advertisements from both Sunday AND Monday had mysteriously disappeared, and I was left in the lurch.  My email bounced back to me, and I have yet to find the ad again, or any ads posted since Saturday, for that matter.  Frustrating.

Additionally, I've sent resumes to two different companies, but for three different positions, two in the DFW area and one in Houston.  At this point, I'm pretty much willing to do whatever it takes (within reason) to get a job in architecture, even if that means packing my things and heading farther south, into the humid environs of Houston.  Alas, one of the jobs - over in Fort Worth - already sent me back a "Sorry, you're not what we're looking for, right now" reply.  Jerks don't know what they're missing.

It's frustrating that it's so difficult to get past some of these companies.  They won't accept resumes unless they are submitted via email, and if you call them to ask for an interview, they refer you to their email application system.  There's only so much a piece of paper can tell you about an applicant.  It sure as heck won't tell you how stunning she looks in a suit and 4" heels...  Maybe I should just attach a copy of my profile photo, eh?

(Creative Commons Licensed Image courtesy of natalia & gabriel's CC flickrstream found at

On Your Mark, Get Set, Call!

I am preparing to call my prospective employer.  Yup, you heard right.  Preparing to call.  What does that mean, exactly?

1) I have written a script of what to say to his receptionist so she won't blow me off.

2) I have written a script of what I will say to him when he answers the phone, with some help from my sister and one of my mom's friends.

3) I am about to shower and get dressed so I will feel "professional" while making my phone call. I will wear a skirt, shirt, but no shoes.  It's amazing how being dressed can change your  whole attitude.  Also, I would feel silly making a phone call with the sleep+hair-pomade induced faux-hawk I'm currently sporting.  I look like a big pale rooster.

4) I will pop a couple of aspirin, because the combined stress of cold-calling an architecture heavyweight and then studying for an exam I'm taking is about to make my poor widdle cranium explode.

So off I go to shower and change.

I also submitted my resume to a company in Ft. Worth, but they didn't seem any too interested in it.  I submitted last night around 11:00 pm, and this morning at 8 am received a nice little note that they were not going to pursue the hiring process with me any further.  Pbthhhhhh on them.  They don't know what they're missing, apparently.  Hrmph.

Hopefully, all will go well with this phone call.  If not, I've still got a couple more cards up my sleeve that I can slip out and play.  We'll see if it comes to that, although I seriously want to work for the firm I'll be calling in about 30 minutes.  It's one of those "life-changing" jobs that will get you an entree into any other firm you want.  Keep those fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Goes Another Round

If you're a Foo Fighters fan, then hum the melody along with the song title for me.  If not, that's your loss.

Happy Hour Friday was at The Gingerman.  I like the bar, even if some of the Happy Hour Gang holds a grudge against it for its location in Uptown - horrors!  Whatever shall we do, surrounded by professionals who - gasp! - like people!  Quick, get me to a misanthropic dive bar!  Stat!  And put James Brown's "Sex Machine" on the juke box, or we'll all go into shock!

Anyways, the Gingerman serves a mean pint of Guinness, or Ace Pear, or Wyder's Peach, or whatever your poison is, and an even meaner turkey sandwich with a side of heaven.  Supposedly the roast beef sandwich is pretty good, too, but I'm a creature of habit, so I stick with the turkey.

If you can "deal" with the attractive young denizens at The Gingerman and you like a bar that serves GOOD beer with a cheerful atmosphere, knock yourself out.

The real news, however, is that I received a job reference.  One of the fellows from HH was laid off from his job around the same time that I was downsized, albeit at a different firm.  He asked me if I had found a job, yet, and I said that I hadn't, but that I was considering starting my own business.  He then suggested I apply at his place of employment.  He works for an AWESOME small architecture firm in Downtown Dallas, which means - if I got the job - I would have an excuse to move back down to Dallas!

So now, I have to work up the nerve to cold-call the firm's principal (that's architecture speak for "owner" or "partner").  Hopefully, he'll say, "Well of course, if so-and-so suggested you come in for an interview, I'd love to meet you," or something equally encouraging, and then it could all be a matter of mere formalities before I'm employed, once again.

The thing is, I'm scared to death.  Just like I was last time I applied for a job.

I've never cold-called someone about a job, before.  Part of me says, "Oh, just email him," but that seems chicken-livered.  The other jobs for which I've applied were all as a result of my emailing a resume through some automated system, or having a former employer call up a guy and say "Hey, you're hiring this girl because she's the best damn designer you'll ever find" (no, I'm not exaggerating on that one, but aforementioned former boss had ulterior motives in trying to flatter me, so...).

How do I do it?  I don't know.  My mom was supposed to give me her friend's phone number, because her friend pretty much helps people do this for a living.  Unfortunately, we didn't get home from our Mother's Day dinner until around 9:30, and I wasn't about to call the woman at 10:00 at night to start asking her questions about how to interview, and all of that.

Part of me says, "Ok, call her friend Monday after she gets home from work, and then call the firm on Tuesday."  And that same part thinks that's a great idea.  Another part thinks that plan is just a chicken-livered way of just putting things off.  And another part of me is just running in circles screaming "Oh crap!  Oh crap!  Oh crappity-crap-crap-crap!" with a busted-up shopping bag from Banana Republic over its head.  I'm listening to this last part a wee bit too much, but that's also the part that told me to go get the last of the coconut gelato out of my parents' fridge, so I kind of like that part at the same time.

So by Wednesday morning, you'll know what plan of attack I adopted, and hopefully I'll have good results from that plan and the inevitable merciless slaughter.  Hopefully, the battle's outcome will be for the better.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"The Swiss Family Robinson" by Johann Wyss

Just in case you saw the Disney movie of "The Swiss Family Robinson," I think you should know that the book is NOTHING like the movie.  The book came first, I know, but in reality, the movie is far more entertaining.

For instance, in the movie, Fritz (eldest son) is a virile 20-something with a nice tan and beguiling smile.  In the book, Fritz is an arrogant 15 year old who likes nothing better than to shoot stuff.  Disappointment.  No pirates in the book, either, but at least there's an explanation of the fact that there were no sailors on board the ship when the family ended up marooned on their island.

Also, just FYI, the family's last name is not Robinson, as the titles of both forms of entertainment might lead you to believe.  Oh no.  I have no idea what their name is in the book, honestly, because the characters are just Father, My Wife (who we find out is actually named Elizabeth), Fritz, Ernest, Jack, and Francis.  Jack was conveniently left out of the movie version of the story.  Why are they "The Swiss Family Robinson" you may ask?  Because the book was inspired by Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" and was meant to imply that they, too, were marooned on a desert island.  Not many Robinson's in Switzerland, as I understand.  In fact, it's an English last name.

Moving past my being disappointed because I don't get to read about Fritz's rippling muscles...

The book is entertaining, so far as moral tales go.  The book is based on a series of stories the author's father used to tell he and his brothers (4 sons, not so coincidentally) in an effort to teach them morals and values and virtues and the like.  So when sons show undue haste in butchering everything that moves, he reprimands the son in a loving way; likewise when the well-read but slothful son wants to lie abed all day, doing nothing and musing, instead of helping build a treehouse out of vines and a decaying goat carcass or something.  "Father" gives MacGyver a run for his money, no doubt.  He even creates an explosive device!  Not to fend off southeast Asian pirates, alas.

Occasionally, the book gets "long winded," as when the father in the book starts sermonizing (he is a minister after all) about various virtues, or he starts discussing some animal he's read about that wouldn't possibly exist in the area of the world where the book takes place.  That's one of the things about the book that irks me: Wyss takes things he knows  about America and Australasia, and he cobbles them together.  So there are American game birds (pheasants) cohabiting with monkeys and iguanas.  Makes no sense, to me.  Pretty much, he took as many fantastic animals and plants as he could and crammed them into one big bio-catastrophe.

That having been said, it's an entertaining book.  No, I'm not finished reading it, yet.  I'll get there in the next day or two, however.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Other News, but Continuing From Previous News

Firstly, and most importantly, I GOT MY NEW COMPUTER TODAY.  It's everything a girl could hope for, and more.  So far.  Of course, that's because it's all nice and shiny and new, and if there's one thing I'm guaranteed to like, it's a "pretty shiny."  

What most fascinates me about my new Dell Studio XPS 16 is the way it was packaged.  When I bought my Fujitsu Lifebook back in the day, it came in this horrible box, sandwiched between four Styrofoam blocks.  It took both my Dad and I to get the thing wrested free from its box.  Dell, however, has this "slick packaging" thing figured out.  When you open the shipping box, there is a nice black cardboard suitcase inside.  Open the suitcase, and you find your computer, sheathed in a black ultra-suede envelope.  It's like opening a box from Tiffany's.  They whole experience of revealing your computer is exciting.  Score one for Dell.

Also, my computer has leather on it.  I may have mentioned this in one of my earlier posts, but I can't remember.  So its case is this shiny black, in appearance something like lacquer, and it has titanium hinges.  And just above where the hinges  fasten to the screen, there's a band of black leather.  Not leatherette, mind you, but real leather.

I'm not sure why Dell chose to put leather on the computer, except, maybe, that it makes it easier to grip when you pull it out of the ultra-suede envelope, or that it is more comfortable to carry in your hand when you hold the leather, or that it will draw all the BDSM crowd to their company by default of black leather and heavy hardware.  Whatever the reason, there it is, a fact that amuses my Facebook friends no end.

Just in case you're wondering, you can't buy the XPS 16 from the Home Office store online.  Oh no, you have to buy it from the Small Business site.  I learned about the Small Business site from a blog I read several times daily.  It is  It is amazing.  You should also read it.  Just like a crack dealer, I try to get others hooked.  Unlike a crack dealer, however, I won't profit from my plugging.

The second thing to write about today, although not as exciting as receiving my fancy-prancy computer, is that I bought some clothes.  After visiting my sister on Sunday and seeing her attired in a "nice" t-shirt and shorts, with one of her funky-chunky necklaces, I decided that I, too, could go that route for informal summer clothes, averse to the idea as I formerly was.  I also discovered while perusing the internet last night that you can get t-shirts for $10 at Old Navy. 

So off I went, and I bought 6 items there for $60, which is what I usually spend on one item.  Score one for Old Navy and the fact that my jewelry box runneth over.  Seriously.  I have about 4 of them, not including what's stashed in a drawer.  There is a reason my mom teases me about being a magpie, those birds that collect pretty shiny things.

"Born to Rule" by Julia P. Gelardi

So I just reviewed a couple of my entries and discovered that, not only had I not thoroughly spell-checked (I'm going to blame the time of night and Tylenol PM combined with Benadryl, for that), but the grammar was somewhat lacking.  I apologize profusely and promise to attempt to rectify the situation in future posts.

ON TO THE BOOKS!  The "lengthy tome" I blogged about (ref: "Persepolis" review), was none other than "Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria."  Yes, another volume to add to the long list of books with powerful women as their subjects.  The difference, however, is that most of these "powerful women" ended up penniless exiles, cast out by the people they formerly ruled.  That's right, folks, the commies will get you every time.  Or the Spanish generals will get you.  Or the strange democratic/anarchic chimera will get you.  Or you'll meddle in national politics about which you know nothing, lend your ear to a corrupt holy man because you're traumatized by having a hemophiliac son, and end up dead in a basement in Siberia, and your daughter will end up the main character in a 20th Century Fox animated feature, voice provided by Meg Ryan.

Vicky's granddaughters, whose names are too numerous to repeat here in their entireties, were mostly pretty miserable in marriage, either because their mothers hated the Germans, or their mothers hated the Russians, or sometimes both.  Mostly, I felt sorry for them, because they were powerless to decide their fates, and then their children repudiated all they had suffered for (Spanish Queen Victoria Eugenie's kids were really bad about this one) and married Cuban divorcees.  Shameful.

Julia P. Gelardi (distinguished by her middle initial from all the other Julia Gelardis that write biographies) does a masterful job of pinning down the intricacies of court intrigue, although I think the plaudits she garnered from Dr. Amanda Foreman were somewhat overblown.  An interesting book, but I didn't get the same degree of "verve" from the book that Dr. Foreman apparently did.  I've definitely read books that were more novelesque, to coin a term, than this, and that were more exciting reads.

I enjoyed the book, as I think I already said, but there was some difficulty in keeping the lineage straight, as the family tree was apparently the victim of a deranged arborist, because not all the siblings and children of the Queens are listed on the genealogical chart, so things get a bit muddled, with lots of page flipping, and "Mussy?  Who the hell is Mussy?"  Another thing about those blasted Victorian Royals, they all had a million nicknames, and Ms. Gelardi switches back and forth between the noms des usages* so that it's a bit difficult to figure out who belongs where until they're all about to keel over.  Actually, this happens after the first of the queens has keeled over, at the wrong end of a rifle, manned by some evil commies.

*Disclaimer: I learned my French from an evil college professorina and Eddie Izzard, so it might not be grammatically correct.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sorry for the lapse in writing, Monday.  I was busy pretending I was in "Flight of the Navigator", but in a Toyota Avalon, and I didn't actually do any navigating, because my dad (pilot) received a Garmin Nuvi from us for Christmas.  Not much intergalactic space travel, but interesting, in that we discussed such topics as the use of torture on Guantanamo inmates, the economy and the degree of interference the current administration is taking with aforesaid economy, etc., etc., ad adendum, ad infinitum.  I enjoyed myself immensely.

The reason for my whirlwind road trip was, technically, to keep my dad company while he drove from one business appointment to another.  I, eco-shamefully, waited outside in the car, air conditioning cranked up, either sleeping or doing calculus; sleeping in a company's lobbydoesn't really make the right impression, either on potential clients or their customers.

The real reasons for the trip were: 1) to see my sister (trip was to Houston) and 2) my mom decided I needed to get out of the house, because I'm going a wee bit stir-crazy from boredom and a certain "caged animal" feeling I get when I've been living with my parents too long.  Remember when Mumble was put in the zoo, and how he got all dopey-eyed and sad and just sat around all day eating sardines?  Yeah, that's me, except with Cheddar Bunnies instead of sardines.

Several interesting things happened, apart from in-depth discussions with my sister, her husband (who makes finding a boyfriend impossibly difficult, now...  He's totally ruined dating for me), and my dad.

Interesting thing #1:  My dad presented me with a potential business plan (for me) that I think is viable and that, with some help from my dad and a couple of his contacts, I think I can get off the ground.  It is completely unrelated to architecture.  I also have a name for the aforesaid potential business.  Now I need a logo, a website, some business advice (from those in the know), and a little certificate saying "Okay, you can call yourself that and be a business."  The business idea is one to which, in theory, I could devote a limited amount of time while earning more than $20 per hour.  It would help me get off the government dole, too.  I hate taking handouts (unless they're in the form of shoes, purses, or pretty shiny baubles, in which case zip me a comment, and I'll send you the address to which you can mail them).

Interesting thing #2:  I learned more about my dad's business, how personal financial statements are developed, and discussed logical reasoning behind a couple of my dad's recent business decisions.  He also dissected the psychological reasons for contextual comments he makes during phone calls with potential clients.  Fascinating.

Of course, as I've earlier discussed, dinner at my sister's house was AMAZING.  We had pork spare ribs (from happy pigs that grazed in an oak and walnut forest before, being slaughtered).  To accompany the wonderful pork, we had a salad of mixed baby field greens with avocado slices, huge pieces of heirloom tomatoes, and feta cheese crumbles.  Everything's betta with feta!  For dessert, we had pound cake with blackberries and strawberries, and I went to bed full, happy, and having eaten more at one sitting than I typically do in two, which my doctor says I shouldn't do, but she's never eaten at my sister's house.

Alas, I couldn't drink any beer, because I am on ridiculous antibiotics as a result of a local infection at the site of the surgery I had ALMOST A MONTH AGO.  For this reason, and also because I didn't want to miss out on prime sister-schmoozing time, I backed out of a proposed "beer and catching up" session with a boy I went to college with and with whom I worked at the university newspaper.  My sister appreciated that, the more so because she knows I love the ginger men (although I usually end up dating Central Americans.  Go figure).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Today, Friday, is Happy Hour day.  Occasionally, I grace my readers with a post on Fridays, but that is something of an aberration.  Today, you get "the usual."