Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Taking Care of Business (2012)

Today was my first day of work. For the rest of the summer (this week excepted) I will work 4 days - Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

In a way, I'm glad, because it means I'll have 3 days off in the middle of the week to do "stuff." At the head of the "stuff" list is resting my poor aching feet. Concrete floors are not much fun for employees...

In another, much BIGGER way, I'm incredibly sad, because it means I'll only be able to have brunch with my niece if we do more of a breakfast thing (at 7:30 or 8) on the weekends. Except for Sundays, when I don't have to be at work until noon. For anyone out there who knows me, you will know just how much I adore my niece, and how awful it will be for me not to see her every Saturday.

I'm trying not to cry, thinking about it.

I like my coworkers, so far. There's DeeDee (as I'll call her) who was sort of the "head honcho" on my floor, today (the store is 4 stories, plus a basement for unknown purposes). She was incredibly helpful and upbeat, and answered some questions I had. Then, there's a fellow I'll call Yao, because he's big and Asian (no stereotyping here) and who was funny, but doesn't seem like a traditional furniture salesman. He's a go-getter, though.

Tomorrow, I will meet another coworker who has been compared to Lisbeth Salander in her ability to get s*!t done. If it needs to happen, she makes it happen. They refer to her as The Closer.

I'm kind of scared of her. A little bit.

At any rate, I'm working three days, this week, and then taking a quick vacation before returning to finish out the summer working 30 hours per week, then cutting back the number of hours during the school year. I'd originally been under the impression that I would only be able to work 20 hours per week, this summer.

Let the banking begin.

And something else: we get employee discounts from day one. BIG ONES. The biggest discounts are on the clothes sold in the boutique area of the store.

At least I'll look cute for work, right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Super Uber Busy

I accepted the position with the retail interior decor store, yesterday evening. I was still sort of struggling with what to do when the manager who had interviewed me (the first time) called to see if I would accept their offer. I said I would.

"You sound flustered," she remarked.

I laughed. I probably did sound flustered, and I was sweating like a - er - nevermind. Ladies don't sweat. I was "glistening."

"I'm making risotto for the first time!" I replied. It was true. Also, I was sort of flustered because I hadn't made up my mind 100% about the job situation before she called.

So, I now have a job. I start this coming Monday. Tomorrow, I will go to the store to pick up my employee manual and the paperwork they require.

I emailed the hiring manager a couple of questions, after I received her email. I had some very very SERIOUS issues I needed to discuss.

Like shoes.

Are open-toed shoes acceptable?

Well, yes, but only if they're peep-toes or if they're wedge sandals, but not if they're flat sandals that are very bare.

In other words, not the sandals I currently own (like these ^).

She felt the need to tell me that my toenails had to be nicely pedicured if I wore open-toed shoes. Oh, darn. I have to get pedicures to keep my feet pretty...

I went into my closet and started going through my clothes to see what is and is not acceptable for "fashionable business casual dress." My closet has become considerably more casual since I entered grad school. Hooded sweatshirts are now de riguer in my wardrobe, alas.

I then received an email from Neiman Marcus Last Call informing me that their whole store was 40% off, through tomorrow.

Guess where I went?

The only Last Call within driving distance (or, rather, relatively reachable driving distance) is in Katy, TX. Katy is about 30 miles away from where I live. Katy is also a depressing town. I think.

It did have one redeeming quality, however: a snow-cone stand. I have not had a snow-cone since I moved from Arlington, TX to Dallas, TX (where you cannot easily find snow-cones, if at all). Needless to say, I was elated. I bought a raspberry one and proceeded to sit in the parking lot of a gas station eating it. I told the snow-cone people that their snow-cone stand made my day. Also, the snow-cone stand was bright fuschia with big signs saying "SNOW QUEEN." I can give you directions, if you like.

So I bought a few things at Last Call, and then I was driving back to Houston - the long way - and went by the Galleria area and saw that Anthropologie was having a sale, so I went to that, too. And I bought some stuff there.

Did I mention I also bought some stuff from Banana Republic a few days ago? Um, yeah, I did.

Fortunately, I've sort of been squirreling away a little bit of money to help out with summer clothes expenditures. Everything I've bought - okay, everything but one item - can be worn to work.

So now, I just have to tackle the shoe dilemma. At present, I have one pair of black flats in decent condition, but they have stretched, so I've got to get little pad thingies to put in the heels. Otherwise, they just flop around off my feet. But I'd like to get one or two other pairs of shoes to wear to work.

We'll have to see. Maybe I'll head to Nordstrom, tomorrow, to see what I can find. Or maybe, I'll wait and go shopping in Dallas, while I'm up there, this weekend. Regardless, I need shoes. And I need them before Tuesday!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Cup Runneth Overeth

I have two job offers, as of right now.

One job is with the retail fabric/decor store with which I interviewed twice. Apparently, my second interview was a success. They offered me $X/hour to come work for them, plus the possibility of getting a year-end bonus based on my sales.

Another job was offered to me as I sat during the course of my 90 minute interview this morning (I didn't actually speak much). It's a position as a part-time retail clerk/sales gal at a custom window covering store. It's offering me $(X - 3) less per hour than the retail fabric store. BUT I get commission for every appointment I book, and for every sale I make.

I then decided to go ahead and interview with a third company, this afternoon. It's doing architectural drawings for a sort of "drawing shop." They do drawings for other firms, essentially. (Sometimes architects have other people do their construction drawings.)

So, I hopped into my trusty Honda Civic and headed to his office building, which is... creepy. He offices on one of those "park below, work above" two-story jobbies, and... At first, I drove by it, convinced that that could NOT be the place where he officed. Eventually, I checked my map and discovered to my horror that it IS his office building. So I parked in the poorly lit garage and went into the downstairs lobby (there's no elevator). The flooring was old and stained, the grippy-strips at the edge of the risers were wearing off, and half of the skylights were covered over with debris.

I wandered up the steps - they're a 1960s fantasia of modernist purity... but with more dirt - and found his office at the top of the stairs. All 180 sf of his office.

Seriously, my cubicle working with Oldsmobile was bigger than this guy's entire office.

I sat down, and he proceeded to tell me all about what he does. He brought out bunches of drawings, and noted that - since I'd worked on residential projects - my drawings sets were probably smaller than what he was used to.


I looked at one of the residential sets he's producing, and calmly informed him that his whole set was about the size of the interior elevations sheets I produced. That surprised him. I smiled and told him that the houses I'd worked on had been on the order of $300+ per square foot, construction cost-wise, so there was extensive detailing. He agreed that one of the CAD drawings I'd sent him (an example of previous work) did seem to have a lot of details for just a house.

We sat and chatted a bit about my experience, and then we got down to brass tacks: money, honey.

The guy offered me $(X - 5) dollars: much less than the retail fabric company. He said he could bump it up to $(X-4)/hour if I proved to be a hard worker.

I was tempted to get up and walk out, right then. I haven't worked for that little money since I was 21 and working for the summer at a huge firm, when I had zero experience. I'm not about to settle for that now.

Awkwardly enough, we were also having the job interview in his one-room office while his other employee (and some random girl from down the hall who was using his internet?) listened in. I think he was surprised when, after he asked if everything sounded good, I informed him that the one thing that didn't sound good was the hourly pay.

Note to my readers: I have never spoken up and demanded more money in my life. Ever.

He asked me for a number I could live with, and I told him what my base would be. It is $(X-2)/hour.

He then went into a spiel about how he didn't know anything about my work habits, etc. and he was reluctant to pay me higher based on that.

I could get him recommendations, I replied. Multiple recommendations.

So now, we've each retreated to our little corners and are considering things (his corner is his office... and it's literally a corner. My corner is my apartment). He asked me if I'd be content with working for his lower offer for a couple of weeks, and then he'd raise my pay.

I initially said I would, but here's the problem: if I do that, I risk him deciding in two weeks that he won't pay me the higher wage, and by then, I'd have refused the other two jobs (I only have a couple of days to decide this). He could decide that I'm not producing enough work, or come back and tell me that he's just run the numbers and he simply can't afford to increase my pay.

And then, I'm stuck with him.

So, right now, I'm tempted to just accept the job for $X and make a lot more money working part time than I would be working for the architectural drawing guy. Plus, I'd be in a more vibrant atmosphere, doing something I love: playing with fabric samples.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview With ... Everyone

Seeing as neither of the summer internships for which I applied worked out (one said I had too much experience, and that they were really looking for someone they could help "get off the ground" and who had no professional experience; the other has ignored my calls to find out WTH they didn't hire me...jerks), I started branching out. Well, not really. In fact, I'm going back to my roots, so to speak.

My first job, after I graduated from high school, was working for a retail upholstery/interiors fabric company in Plano, TX. We did custom window treatments, bedding, and furniture, in addition to just selling fabric by the yard. It was fun and challenging (especially when you had to tell a customer that, no, you didn't think those two fabrics went together at all).

So I decided, once my internships fizzled into the ether, that I would see if I could get work with a retail company doing something fabric-related.

I have had a life-long love affair with fabric. I used to have bolts of it... okay, actually I still have bolts of it in my closet at my parents' house.

I interviewed Wednesday morning at a prominent retail upholstery/interiors store here in Houston. The interviewer flat-out told me that she was going to have a tough time making a decision, because there were so many great applicants. She told me she'd call me Thursday if they had a place for me.

She didn't call Thursday.

I was sad.

Then, she called this morning.

Happiness ensued.

But...I have to interview again with another manager.

Okay, that's fine, because it means there's still a potential job for me, and it would pay a decent hourly rate. Granted, it's nowhere near what I made hourly before I came back to grad school, but this is retail, not architecture. It's also part-time (most likely 2 days per week).

When I thought that I had been rejected, Thursday evening, I was pretty glum. Okay, I'm glum, right now, for multiple reasons, but I'm not going to get into all of them, right now. I ate some beef fajitas and a chocolate-cinnamon milkshake, and felt better.

Amazing how that works.

After my little pity party, I decided to take the economic bull by the horns and skim Craigslist, to see if there were any ads posted for work in my fields.

There were.

I applied, at around midnight Thursday night, for three different positions.

Today, I received calls and/or emails from two of those. One of them is a company, very close to my apartment, that specializes in custom window treatments of all kinds and needs someone in the shop 2-3 days per week. The hours would be flexible, I would only have to work 1-2 Saturdays per month, and they're willing to work with me around my schedule come Fall Semester.


The other one is an interior designer who needs someone 2-3 days per week to do construction drawings and interior detailing. Her posting offered a pretty low hourly wage, but it was also on the assumption that the person replying would have no experience whatsoever. She stated that, as productivity increased, so would pay (seeing as I'm already pretty experienced, I'm assuming/hoping I'd get to start at a higher hourly wage). There's also the potential for a full-time gig with her company (which is growing, natch) after graduation, along with potential relationship development with clients and consultants that could also result in post-graduation employment. She's willing to work with me around my schedule come Fall Semester.


So, in addition to a round two interview Saturday morning, I have an interview set up for Monday morning, and another one to take place mid-week, next week.

Feast or famine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Apartment Locating


I haven't been having the greatest of luck with my apartment search.

Or, at least, I hadn't been having much luck. Until I called an apartment locator.

It was an accident. I thought the guy would completely blow me off, due to my small budget and my requirements (W/D and a bathtub: neither is negotiable).

The man has come through like a champ. A CHAMP.

I awoke, this morning, at 4:30 a.m. I couldn't get back to sleep. By 6, I'd decided to just chuck the idea of staying in bed, and I got up and made myself some breakfast. I moseyed over to my computer to check my email, and - voila! - there was an email from the fellow. I checked it, saw that he'd referred me to a bunch of properties I'd already looked at and called, and felt dejected.

I called my dad, discussed a potential employment situation with him, and we started chatting about the apartment hunt. I told him I might not be able to find an apartment in Houston - in a safe area - within my budget.

After the phone call, I found another email from the apartment locator, listing apartments and condos for rent by private owners, as opposed to the 300 unit mega-complexes I've otherwise found in H-Town.

I like all but one of them. They all have a washer and dryer - either the connections, or the appliance is provided - and they're all within my budget.

My previous experience with apartment locators was hit-or-miss. The one I tried to use when I moved to Houston kept referring me to apartments that were $300-$400 above my price range, or to ones east of downtown (not a safe area for a single gal to inhabit). The one before that successfully found me an income-dependent rental that met my budget and location requirements (after about three weeks).

But this NEW apartment locator... he's doing a fantastic job, right off the bat.


Hopefully, I'll be able to get into one of the units he's advertising. Keeping the fingers crossed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I've Been Searching


And if you know anything about my musical tastes, you will immediately assume that I am referencing some of that terrible 70s/80s pop rock that I love so much. In particular, you will recognize the title of this post as a song by Chicago.


I am still searching for apartments. I'm utilizing the joys of the interwebz to look all over Houston. Or, at least, all over Houston but not there and ohforGod'ssakenonotthere. I took myself on a driving tour to see the various apartment complexes I'd found via the interwebz, this afternoon, and quickly ruled out... all but 6.


I have some requirements, you see. Nothing over $XYZQ per month (this has risen twice, thus far, in $50 increments. My savings will just have to be put on hold for a while.) Washer/dryer provided, or connections provided, and I'll just steal back my W/D from a friend in Dallas who is currently using them.

That doesn't sound so terrible, does it? And yet, if I want to stay in the Inner Loop of Houston (inside I-610, that is) and not live in an apartment where razor-wire is considered de rigeur, then I'm SOL. It's the washer/dryer requirement that does it, every time. And the fact that I consider $1300 for a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 600 sf apartment ridiculous.

Today, I accidentally enlisted the help of an apartment locator. I emailed about a listing on Craigslist, asking if I could tour the apartment, and would they be willing to hold it until 7/7/2012, or thereabouts.

Apparently, apartment locators don't actually have the apartments they advertise available. They lie. And he wanted to know if the w/d was an absolute must.

Um, yeah. It is. I can't waste the few hours I have outside of class/sleeping/migraine attacks in a laundromat or a laundry room in the basement of my building. I have classwork to do.

There's a condo for rent in Midtown that I might go see, tomorrow. Hopefully. It might work out, and it has a washer and dryer. (My sister is probably cringing as she reads "Midtown", which is sortofkindof marginal. But I don't have a whole lot of choices, and it's better than the Third Ward).

In other news, I'm also still looking for someone who can oust The Man of My Dreams from his #1 Contender ranking. Last night's combatant sure as hell didn't manage it. (I say combatant because Love is a Battlefield.)

What made The Non-Contender fail?

Do you have a while?

I should have known things wouldn't go well when he suggested we meet for dinner at 6:30. That's a no-no. Most of the time, I eat dinner early, but that's because I'm by myself and there's no one to criticize if I eat a fourth meal sometime around 10:00 when I take my B12 complex before bed. But if there's a man involved, then I tend to eat at 7:30 or 8:00, and that's pretty standard.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I didn't recognize the guy. He's acquired glasses and - er - girth. He didn't lie about his height, though, so there's that. He said 5'7" and he meant it.

When we were seated at the Indian restaurant, I noted that the painting above our booth was - er - decidedly erotic. Specifically, it was a male god fondling his lady friend. I wouldn't have thought it was odd, given my knowledge of Hindu scripture, but it became uncomfortable when he commented on it in a rather sophomoric manner.

And then... I like manly men. I have a (seemingly strange) requirement that the gentlemen I date have to be able to physically pick me up. Given my medical history (which I will not recount here, because I'm sure you don't have THAT much time) it's a logical requirement. A part of the "manly men" thing comes the ability to drive a truck and/or shoot a gun (I can't help that Texas is in my blood, okay?).

Also, not walking with tiptoe sashay and no speaking in a lisping monotone.

Although The Non-Contender drove a (small) truck and hunts, he failed on the last two counts.

And he kind of resembles Chip & Dale (the cartoons, not the "exotic dancers").

So. TMoMD still reigns supreme. And that's fine with me, for now.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a ridiculously early dinner to eat. By myself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

School's Out For Summer

My last class of the semester took place, today. It wasn't much of a class: sitting around my professor's dining table, drinking iced tea while my classmates drank wine, and trying to figure out how to configure our writing pieces for publication. I'm in charge of setting up a template for the publication, so... I've been working in Word and InDesign ever since I got home. I think I've finally figured out how to configure the pages, but... We'll see.

I am still seeing TMoMD, but I also have another potential date lined up for some time next week. We'll see if Mr. Geologist can knock TMoMD out of his coveted spot. (I'm being egotistical, here, and assuming he covets his position as Gentleman Caller).

So, I've been busy. Fortunately, the semester's over, and now I can focus on more important things, like finding a summer job and moving.

Yup. I'm moving. Because my apartment complex has decided to raise my rent by $250. PER MONTH.


Fortunately, I spoke to a lovely young woman at an apartment complex near here, and I can rent an apartment from them for $100 less per month than I'm paying now beginning July 1. Seeing as I have to be out of my current apartment by July 14, I think that works out well. And it's slightly bigger than my current apartment. And it's pretty much the same, interior-wise, as my current apartment. I go see the apartment Friday morning, so I'm hoping that I can get in, see it, and - voila! - fall in love and sign a lease. Then, I can give my current landlords the old "heave-ho" and start dreaming up how to arrange the furniture in my new pad.

I'm already giddy, just thinking about it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I went back to the AIA message board, today - Cover Letter typed out, resume updated, etc... - to apply to the job doing high-end custom houses. It is no longer posted on the message board, and genius that I am, I did not write down the info when I saw it.

Insert curse words of choice here --> *&$_@)#!^

And, to put the icing on the cake, my apartment complex left me a cheery note informing me that they're raising my rent by $160-250... per month (depending on if I jump on this great deal by May 11).

$150/month X 12 months/year = too much money for me to ante up for an apartment.

So I spent some time on the Houston Craigslist, looking for advertised architecture jobs (Grand Total: 0). And then I looked at Craigslist for apartment prices (if I don't want a washer/dryer, I can get a decent one in a decent area for $800/month).

And then one thing led to another and I was researching portable washing machines, all of which are apparently either completely worthless or $900.

Tomorrow, I drive around Houston and look at design stores, hoping to find some place to work that doesn't have gobs of candles in it (good luck, there). And I continue to hunt for architectural summer internships that don't require me to buy a AutoCAD (because I refuse to illegally download one).

Blargh. Any ideas?