Sunday, November 30, 2014

DIY - dresser and night stand

Now that I have living quarters for the next six months, I need to stop living out of bags and suitcases and take everything out of my car.  And maybe actually USE some of the stuff that I packed on my original journey out this way.

Since this is temporary, I didn't want to invest in nice stuff...I'd rather do that when I have a more permanent place and when I have a job and have some sort of income coming in.  So, I went to Goodwill and they had this dresser for $20.  It seemed sturdy and was a design/shape that wasn't horrible.  So I bought it.  When I got home and was unloading it from my car, I was disgusted by how many spider and cob webs there were. I  hate spiders and this just sat in the garage for a week until my friend came over with a vacuum and helped me clean it.  Gross.  Made me doubt the purchase.

dresser - before
Later that afternoon I went to an estate sale.  "Estate Sales" make me nervous because where I was from, those were the fancier houses with nice stuff...that I couldn't afford even in their version of a garage sale.  But I went to the one I found and since it was Sunday, they were doing 50% off everything left.  I found a chair for $30 - so for $15 I couldn't pass that up.  It seemed to be in good condition, just needed a good vacuuming and Lysol disinfecting spray.  Next I found this small little cabinet that was $7 ($3.50 on Sunday).  I figured it would make a decent night stand.

cabinet - before
 A day later, a different thrift store, I found a small filing cabinet.  List price was $5, but it was 50% off because that store was closing.  The cabinet does not have the nice smooth drawers, they just pull out...but for $2.50...I got it anyway, I need a place to put some of my important papers.

I went to both Lowe's and Home Depot a total of three times.  The first time was to get a sanding sponge and a drop cloth.  Then I realized I'd probably get all the sanding done fairly quickly - I wasn't sanding down to the bare wood...not knowing if it was wood.  The second time was to get paint brushes and paint samples and the third was to pick up the paint, polyurethane, wood fill and 1 hardware for the cabinet (I forgot to measure it before I left).  It took me forever to figure out the paint thing.  There are so many choices.  After about 15 minutes I selected a semi-gloss.  Then I spent about 5 minutes picking out the color.  I kept debating if I should go dark brown or do something crazy like teal or burnt orange.  In the end, the brown was selected.  Call me boring.  I ended up getting a gallon of paint. I knew it was going to be too much, but the small seemed too small...why nothing in between? How many coats will I need?  I dreaded spending $26 something on paint...that cost defeats the whole purpose.  Hopefully, I will be able to use that paint for other things in the coming months and then that cost would be spread out.

I took the drawers out of the dresser and took off the hardware and began painting, using mostly a small foam roller.

Is it the quality pant I selected, or does a dark color just need many layers.  This is layer one and two.

In the end, I probably painted 5 layers of paint.

I kept debating if I should put a coat of polyurethane on or not.  I read a few blogs/articles that people do it to seal since items will be placed on top and it will get lots of use.  I bought some urethane from an estate sale.  While I read how to properly apply it with long brush strokes and a thin coating...the top of the dresser looks quite horrible.  I may put more coats on top to even it out.  The rest looks can see the brush strokes, and you couldn't with the paint, so, was it worth it?  Yes that only I will be using/seeing the furniture and it will prevent scratches and whatnot.

The original 'test' hardware turned out to be too small, so I went back to pick up more.  But I haven't really liked anything worth the price, so everything was returned.  I ended up sanding down the brass hardware and thought the silver-ish looked better, so I used that, which was 'free'.
top after sanding, bottom original
This great idea of me saving money by buying used turned out to be quite costly.  But I have plenty of free time and it is always good to learn to do something I am going to chalk up the expense to the experience.
dresser - after
  • dresser $20
  • night stand $3.50
  • gallon of paint $27
  • paint brush $1
  • drop cloth $1
  • roller and tray $6
  • polyurethane $11 - returned; re-bought a full container and a spray at an estate sale $2
  • hardware - ended up keeping what was on there, but I sanded it down so it went from gold to silver.
OK, well, that is a lot more money than I wanted to spend, but really $60.50+  for bedroom furniture isn't horrible, especially if you average it out over the two pieces.  And I have lots of paint and urethane for other projects.

Friday, November 28, 2014

my first Colorado winter experience

When word got out I was moving to Colorado, everyone asked if I liked to ski.  No, I don't.  I tried downhill skiing on two different occasions, and I really did not enjoy it.  Cross country that I enjoyed when I tried it this past January.  No, I was not moving to Colorado to go "skiing", not many people think of cross country when they think Colorado skiing.

This new friend I met really wanted to go skiing and had a coupon for buy one get one free lift tickets to Winter Park.  I thought it would be good for me to get out of the house and get some fresh air because I really haven't done anything 'fun' in a while.  It gets a little mopey job searching and cleaning all the time.

I had my snowshoes shipped out to me about a month ago, I was happy to take them out of the box, along with my winter boots and gloves.  I had my base layers and coat already from when it was below freezing the week before.  We met at a park and ride and I drove out there.  Thankfully, the roads were dry, I am not sure if I would have been a good driver if the roads were wet and icy.

Now, I did NOT need a lift ticket to go snowshoeing, but that would defeat the whole purpose of my friend saving money.  So I bought one/half price $36.50 and took the lift up with her the first time and then walked down a trail.  Sadly, I only did it that one trail.  Since walking takes a bit longer than skiing, my friend had already gone down 3 or 4 times (only short, easy trails were open since it was pre-season), and then after we stopped for a beer and half lunch, I videoed her when she went down two or three times.  

On our way out, we decided to make snow angels.  I haven't done that in years, it was so much fun to feel like a kid again!

Our trip back was faster than getting there by 40 minutes (thankfully much less traffic going east) and she was able to make her dinner plans with another friend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

my first meditation

I've been wondering more about spirits because I get this amazing cold shaking sensation at night mostly.  For a while I thought it was hormonal.  And then after that that I was cold and it was just a chill.  But I've been tracking it for a while, trying to learn more about it...and wondered if that is a spirit passing through me.

Now before you laugh, there is every reason for someone to do this to me.  ManFriend.  I summoned him to watch over me for two years.  And while I did feel this sensation 4 years ago at a haunted house, it has been very sporadic until February.  Since February it is a regular occurrence.  Of course ManFriend passed at the end of January.  I talk to him very frequently.  I started to wonder if it is just him letting me know he was there.  I wanted to explore this more.

Being alone out here has been difficult.  I have the constant reminder of what led me here (ManFriend's death + my not wanting to live in NY for about 8 years - after SI).  I've had lots of psychic readings done over the years and most recently a lot have been fairly accurate.  It has become a little bit of a fascination for me...maybe because I need some sort of reassurance that things will be ok.

I found this new psychic group, so I joined.  I was not sure what to expect, but figured, something led me to it, might as well try it.  Everyone was at different levels with me being the most inexperienced and the lady running it doing it professionally.

About an hour into the meeting, the leader led us through a mediation.  I had not previously ever tried mediation and was not sure what to expect.  I was surprised with how fast I became comfortable and relaxed.  After we relaxed our bodies, we called to our spiritual helpers to show themselves.  I didn't see anything, but I felt this pressure in/on my right hand, which was in my pocket.  The timing of this sensation was was when we were introducing ourselves to them.  I wondered, was I shaking someone's hand in greeting?  We asked our helpers to let us know if there was anything they'd like to share with us.  Again, nothing.  I didn't hear or see or feel anything.  We went through several other requests before we came out of mediation, and I did not get anything else.

We went around the room, if anyone wanted to discuss what they saw or felt.  I shared that it was my first time ever in meditation and that I enjoyed it.  I told them I, sadly, didn't see anything but felt for a brief moment this pressure on my hand.  A lady chimed in that I was a healer.  They asked a few questions, and then I told them a little bit about the chill sensation I get.  I would not be surprised if I was a healer, after all, I like to fix people.  I don't want to say the guys that interest me are charity cases...but they've all had issues and I tried so hard to help them through it.  It is what I do.

I am looking forward to our next meeting...but sad that it is a month away.  I guess I have homework to work on in the meantime.  That night I attempted meditation on my own, but was not successful.  I instead thought so much about other things that I ended up shedding a few tears before calling it quits.  maybe I need to get a tape to walk me through it again.

I am open to the idea of learning more and attempting to gain more knowledge and skill, but I am worried about opening my channel to the undesirable, and will have to make intentions known and clear about my expectations.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview #3 since I've been here

It's been three months and twelve days and I sent out 49 resumes.  I know that doesn't sound like a lot considering it is 100 days...but I am being selective on where I apply....if I get a call, I want to be sure I like what the job entails.  Interview #3 (not counting the two informative ones) makes it 16% rate of call back.  I need to get that number up a little bit.

I received an email stating that a company wanted me to come in for an interview in two days, here is the time slot, please respond back with what hour would be best.  I was a little surprised that I got an email and not a phone call...but I pushed that aside and responded with my preferred time frame.

The following day I did some research on the company, made a few new index cards with questions and reread the job description over and over again.  Honestly, this job wasn't one of my favorites....which is why I am selective.  But after I kept reading and thinking about it, the company might not be my favorite, but the job itself would be good for me.

We had this polar vortex and snow, so on the day of the interview, I kept hoping the interview would be rescheduled.  It was not. Originally I planed to wear a skirt suit, but decided that wouldn't be good, I was not sure how far I'd have to walk to the office since it was downtown.  Thankfully I purchased a pant suit at the thrift store two weeks earlier and dug out my winter coat that I had my parents ship to me.  Still it was an interview, I felt high heels were still required, but I guess I could have gotten away with dressy black boots under the pants, as long as there was a heel.

I am not used to driving in the snow, so I left 2 hours early to go 12 miles.  The roads were not great, but they were not horrendous either. A lot of people were out and about.  I find street parking at a 2 hour meter, pay for an hour and get back in my freezing car for an hour and reviewed my index cards. I'll be honest, I did not prepare as long as I would have liked for this interview, but I knew my basic examples and responses.  After the hour, I put in two hours worth of quarters and headed for the building. I still had 30 minutes, but I needed to pee. I found a bathroom then took a seat in the lobby.

I headed up to the office and met with my interviewer, the second interviewer was unable to attend.  She briefly told me about the history of the organization and her position and the position for which I was there.  Then she went through pre-made 10 questions about how I do work.  I had to respond with my answer and then provide an example.  For the most part, I didn't hesitate.  But there was one question that I really needed to think and eventually came up with something.

But it got me my work career, let's span that to about 15 years, how I am supposed to recall something that was so long ago?  The example from above was from 5 years ago - but I couldn't remember all the details.  So what, not only do I need to track my work for what will be put on a resume, but I will have to start to write down projects, work, and examples of all things in between.  And with each job being a little different, we are talking about having a pretty big range of scenarios and examples.

So after her 10 questions, it was my turn to ask questions.  I opened my portfolio where I had my questions written and selected a handful that was not yet answered.  We then had a bit of a conversation with other questions and information and my turn to tell her something about me that we didn't discuss.  That threw me I stated something about my work that was in the job description but that we did not answer.  Then when I thought about that, we really didn't touch upon any of the job description duties.  Those ten questions were more general - missing deadlines, prioritizing work, taking initiative, etc.;  they were relatively easy and straightforward.

At the end she told me about her process and her need to work fast.  She was finishing up the interviews this week and would have an answer by Friday who would make it to round two where we would discuss the duties of the job.  I thanked her for her time and 58 minutes later I was walking out of the office; fairly confident I'd at least make it to round two.

When I got back to my temporary home, I shoveled the snow again, ate an early dinner and started to work on my thank you.  But I wasn't loving it, so I didn't send it until the next morning after I tweaked it some more. I figured it was still within 24 hours, hopefully that would be OK.

Update: I was not called for round two of interview process, but the lady did email a nice email stating that she could tell I was smart and efficient and since I was new, if I needed a reference she would be happy to do that for me, but she went for someone who had more experience (even though she had low expectations for the job!).  She also gave me a lead to look into, which I thought was very nice of her.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

six month lease

I, or rather, friend and I decided to rent the place I am currently house sitting in.  They will do a 6 month lease and are sympathetic to understanding my nonemployment.

While the rent isn't bad...I am very concerned about the utilities. I hope they will not be as much as I fear.  Water is more pricey in Colorado than NY.  The electricity will be quite a bit...and garbage is not included as a town service so that is extra, and of course internet.  

What will be nice is that the small house has a two car garage, so for the winter months especially, this is great.  It also has a washer/dryer in the house (many places have hookups), and two bathrooms so we each get our own bathroom which is quite fabulous.  Add it the extra 3rd bedroom, which is small...but will be helpful for all our stuff.

Now that I have a place I'll be for 6 months, I can work on finding a part-time job that is close by in addition to a full-time position (that can be anywhere provided the salary is good).

With this lease, I can also get a PO box and transfer to license and apply for health insurance since I'll be a resident and get a library card.  These things have been on the top of my list...but because I was sort of homeless, I couldn't proceed.

Hopefully this is what was needed to make other things work out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Informative Interview

Applying for jobs has been stressing me out.  I read postings, apply and then nothing.  And I keep at it because I need a job, and eventually something will come through.

Last week I started go a different route. Instead of reading job postings, I researched companies that sort of did what I did.  I looked at their websites and thought all their websites needed help.  Then I came across a company I was familiar with.  The company has a good reputation, so I sent the VP of XYZ Denver an email:

I am writing because I recently relocated from New York to Denver and looking for employment.  XYZ Company is a name I know from New York, with a strong reputation of being a great WXY company.  To find out there is an office out here, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to send an email.  I have over eight years of experience in WWY focusing on item #1 and item #2 and I am a ABC.   

Two paragraphs here that is similar to my cover letter.

I attached my resume so you can become familiar with my work history and see that I would be a valuable addition to your staff.  I look forward to talking to you regarding a position at XYZX Company. 



Shockingly, the man emailed me back the following week stating they did not have any openings as they are a small office, but if I'd like to meet with him for an informative interview, he would be more than happy to meet me.  So I took him up on his offer, went to his office and we chatted for 45 minutes.  He told me a little about the company, pulled up my resume and asked me a few questions, and then I asked him questions about the industry out here and about other resources he thought I should look into.  It was refreshing to speak to somebody who has the same credential as you as well as knows the industry and work it entails.  He said he would keep my resume for a while, and hopes that in a few months they will grow as they take on more clients.  I told him it would be wonderful if he kept me in mind, and that I really appreciated his time and thanked him for responding to my email even if a position was not available.

So bottom line, I cold-emailed a place I knew I wouldn't mind working at, the guy in charge wrote me back, we met...and who knows what may or may not come about in the next year.  I got out of the house, I got dressed in work clothes and I sort of talked about me and my work.  It is great practice, if nothing else.

If you get an informational interview, I suggest you be prepared with questions you can ask them.  To help you get a feel, these were some of the questions I asked:
  • You mentioned XYZ is a small office, how many staff do you have here?   How many clients do you have?
  • Are you actively pursuing finding new clients or is XX a happy number for you?
  • What qualifications do you seek in a new hire?
  • How does XYZ compare to its competitors?
During the course of the 45 minute meeting, a lot was discussed and answers to questions are automatically answered if they are too basic, so it is good to do your research and have 'harder' questions so you at least ask something, after all you are there to get leads, learn more, and make a connection.

When I got to the car and checked my email, I had an email asking me for an interview off to the library to do more job-related searches and research to prepare.  I hope the interviews continue as that is good enough motivation to keep going! and/or a job is offered...keep those fingers crossed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

the need for a forgiveness email to ManFriend

I was on the phone/hold for 90 minutes, I couldn't do much, so I was in my email and came across that forgiveness email I sent 4 years ago.  Even after 4 years, it was so touching, that will be one email that I don't delete.  My list was great and the brief dialogue after was emotional too.  Isn't it crazy after another 4 years I can still tear up and cry.  Not for the guy...but for what I went through, memories of a happy time that I really haven't had since, and maybe for how far I've come.

Of course some things are still painful: the fact that I am single, childless and sort of without direction.  I am so unsettled.  It goes without saying this is not how I thought I'd end up, I never imagined I'd be single in my 30s and as of today, without even a prospect of a significant other.

Where are they?  I really don't care.  He is probably married with kids; and I don't care if he is happy or not.  She, well, I think she is happy I moved across the country.  I say that because when I changed my LinkedIn profile to Colorado, she stopped stalking me (viewing my profile under her name).  Maybe she is finally satisfied that I am not with him.

Anyway, the time and thought I put into that forgiveness email really helped me mentally; I felt much better afterwards.  So, I started to wonder if I need to make a similar list for ManFriend.  I still think about him all the time and aside from my few post-mortem emails, I can't ask him for his forgiveness and get a response.  Maybe if I write it and send it to his email or post it here...maybe I will feel better.  I need to let go of this sadness and guilt for not doing more for him.  At the same time, this list will remind me of both the bad and good and I will be thankful for the brief time I had with him.  It is worth a shot.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Freezing. absolutely freezing

November 11-13, 2014 was record breaking low temperatures for Denver.  With the arctic blast storm that passed by, temperatures were -5 through 20 degrees.  That of course, does not account for the wind chill factor.

My family back home was teasing me...this of course is what they warned me about, Colorado being cold and snowy, and I kept telling them it isn't as bad as everyone thinks.  Snow melts faster because of the elevation and the sun still tries to peak out.

I am not used to driving in the snow because I would walk to the train, take the train and then walk to work...and do it in reverse at the end of the day.  When I got home, if the weather was bad, I'd just hang out at need to go out for the most part.  So while NY had some horrible winters, it really didn't affect me driving (trying to stay warm for all the walking is another story).

But I had not choice, I had to leave because I had an interview and I didn't want to cancel.  What would that say about me?  So many other people were going to work.  I wanted to show that I was interested.

I watched the news. I saw the accidents.  I figured the highway might be better than the main side roads.  I heated up the car and headed out.

main road 12:15 pm
My road wasn't plowed.  At the time there was about 2 inches of snow on it.  When I got to the 'main' road, there were lines of where the cars have traveled.  Key was to stay in those same lines.  I kept a driving speed of no more than 30...and shockingly, I wasn't the slowest. I figured with all the people used to it, people would be driving faster, I was happy to see that wasn't the case for the most part.

Took ramp to highway, and was shocked that the interstate wasn't plowed.  Same conditions as these main roads.  Now sure, it was still flurrying, but the interstates are heavily traveled for all the commuters, surely they would have plowed this several times right?  It didn't seem like that was the case.

Interstate 12:30pm
What I worried about wasn't necessarily driving in the few inches of snow, but because the temperatures were so low, all that slush turning to ice...and sliding all over the place.

Going slow, keeping music low, hands on the wheel and having a good winter weather car of course really helps.  I was nervous but I did it.  And it was good to have my first taste of this before winter comes along.

my road...4pm
From what I have been told, is that most winter snow will fall, and then the sun comes out and melts it away either that day or within two days.  What was so unusual about this storm is its extremely cold temperatures.

By the time I got home from the interview, and navigating the interstate and main roads, I turned into the development and all that snow was still there.  I shoveled the driveway and side walk for a second time that day and my fingers were frozen by the time I was done.  Looking at this site from inside - even the following day, does not make me want to leave the house, even though I am sure the main roads are fine.

So I made it through the freeze.   But then today they say that we are expecting another storm that will bring in 3-6 inches.  More fun.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Interview #2 since I've been here

Three Fridays ago I applied for an Executive Assistant at a company a bit north of where I am.  I wasn't sure if I'd really want to be an Executive Assistant, but the salary range thy had listed was good and well, quite frankly, it was a job I could do, and I could do it well.  Within three hours, I got a call back from the recruiter...a good sign.  We set up an interview for the upcoming Monday.

I looked nice, I did research on the company, I had my questions set, I practiced answers to common questions, I was ready.  Since I was not familiar with the area, I went up two hours early so I could drive around neighborhoods and see what the area was like, research just in case I ever end up in that area.  It was a cute town.  It felt more like a town than Suburbia.  It was more quaint.  I was pleasantly surprised.

At the designated time, I go into the office and wait for the recruiter.  She comes along and brings me to a large conference room.  We sit and chat.  She tells me that she normally does not do the recruiting for this particular position and was not familiar with the position at all, but after we chat, she would bring in the HR guy.  Great.

So she tells me basically what is in the job description.  Yes, I know how to do that kind of work.  She is more pleased that I am from NY, because the executive wanted someone with a NY attitude. This is going well.   I ask a few very basic questions, knowing that I'd ask the HR guy the better ones, as he knows the position and company better.  As a recruiter, she is not employed by the company, and only has been representing them for a few months.

She gives me a tour of the facility.  I ask questions about production, sales, etc along the way.  Her answers are vague, she really doesn't know very much.

We end up in the HR offices and checks the door of the HR guy; his door is closed.  She asks a lady who I think manages his calendar about his availability, and he is in meetings for awhile.

Well, that is bad.  Why didn't she check his availability BEFORE scheduling my interview?  So she tells me to leave and that if I was interested, she would pass along my information to this guy.  I said yes, I would be interested and left.  That evening, I sent her an email thanking her for her time, and reiterating my interest in meeting with Mr. HR Guy.

I never heard back.  Nothing.

I was extremely frustrated with the experience, but, it was great experience reviewing my interview questions/answers.  Hoping more interviews will come about, it is good to go over those note cards so there is not so much to do in a short period of time when you get that call.

So, in three months, I had 2 interviews.  Let's hope for more!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

what to do, what to do?

Granted I have a lot of free time on my hands, but having all this free time and having no TV and internet in spotty locations in the house only on the iPad has made for challenging things to do.  I love doing puzzles, but I don’t have a table and there is only so much sitting on the floor I can do before my back hurts too much so that isn’t really an option.  Of course I am reading, but I can only read for so long so many days in a row.  I can sort of look for jobs and websites, but I need the computer to actually apply (my comfort level with technology).  And of course there is NetFlix and watching previously aired TV shows through the network.  With daylight savings, it gets dark around 5 now, so occupying myself for at least 4 hours with this and one dim bedroom light and a hallway light is very limiting. 

The obvious thing to do, especially when the fridge is broken, would be to go out to eat and sit at the bar and take my time and watch their TV.  But…that cost more money, and I can’t afford to eat out ‘big’ meals so often.  Also, driving around in the dark isn’t as fun because you can’t see much.

There is a cheap movie theater pretty close to me ($2.50 for movies that were out months ago), maybe I’ll start seeing an evening movie one night a week, just to get out of here.  I am worried that living like this, even for 4 weeks will result in a pretty big depression.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

first snow in Denver

Well, it only took 102 days here before it snowed.  Everyone I was talking to in the last two weeks was saying that this was abnormal, that it usually snows before Halloween, how mild and wonderful the autumn has been.

And it has been.  October was gorgeous.  It ranged between 63 - 75 degrees most days with little rain.  It was the perfect weather.

The meteorologists a few days ago said to expect dropping temperatures and snow...and you know what?  They were right.  This morning (November 10th) was blue skies and 67 degrees at 9:30 am.  Within an hour it was down to 50 degrees and partly sunny, then at 11 it was 34 degrees, flurrying and cloudy.  As I type this at 3 pm, the flurries are still coming down.  The temperatures will get into the single digits tonight and stay there for 2-3 days.  I made sure to stop at the store to pick up some hot chocolate, snacks and comfort foods as I brace for the cold weather.

I don't think I would mind the cold, if it was already cold.  But when it drops so drastically, it seems colder because just hours it was nice, no coat needed.  Now you need to bundle up, so I feel like the chill stays with you longer when that happens.

I am very curious how this winter will play out here.  I am so nervous about driving in the snow.  Sure, I have a great car for winter conditions, but, having walked to the train, commuted via train and walked to work, I didn't have to worry about driving in it...and many times elected not to leave the house after work if it was snowy because...well, I'd rather just curl up on the couch.  So, this year will be different, if I have a job, I will have to drive there. and I don't want to be holed up all winter in a new place either.  We'll see.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November’s living situation: week 1

My friend’s rental house tenants moved out and for the month of November we are fixing it up so she can list it again.  Aside from the regular cleaning, she wanted to get estimates on a kitchen floor and new windows, so the house was going to be vacant while these things were being done.  When she asked if I’d like to stay there, for free for the month of November, I said sure.  Of course ‘free’ comes with a price, while I don’t have to pay rent, I am living most minimally, on an air mattress and two folding chairs in the living room and helping with the cleaning and repairs.  They were able to hook my iPad up to a cable hot spot, so I am able to stream Netflix or check my email from certain areas of the house, depending on how the wind blows.

I’ll be honest, cleaning isn’t really my thing, and cleaning other people’s filth is even worse.  So a little about this house.  It was built around 1972.  The windows are original.  The kitchen floor is all scuffed up.  The kitchen cabinets are falling apart and need to be touched up.  The fridge is broken, but the freezer, stove, oven and dishwasher work.  The carpet is dirty and a little skivvy in parts. And all the walls need touch-up or repainting.   There are two bathrooms and both cabinets were filthy and one tub was disgusting. 

Day 0, Friday – we stopped by after the tenants moved out to see the state of the house.  We were there about 20 minutes.  No appliances were in the kitchen, the grass was cut but the bushes were overgrown, all the batteries were taken out of the smoke detectors and garage door openers, the blinds were all broken, and maybe 9 out of 25 light bulbs worked and the place smelled and was just kinda gross overall.  I thought I can’t believe I am going to live here starting tomorrow…and that I hoped the four weeks went by quickly.  Just another part of this exciting adventure.  That night they called the tenants and told them to move the appliances back into the kitchen; they did.

Day 1, Saturday – we spent 8 hours cleaning and assessing the damage.  Her husband took care of wrapping the swamp cooler, installing a toilet seat I bought (I didn’t want to sit on what was here), smoke detectors, looking at paint, getting stuff at the store, etc.  She & I started scrubbing one bathroom and wiped the kitchen cabinets with the magic eraser (what an amazing cleaning product).   Yes, it took hours to clean the surface of those items.

They left and I was left alone in my new temporary accommodations.  I was exhausted.  I took a shower in the cleaner bathroom and went to RedBox to pick up a movie. 

Day 2, Sunday – everyone was exhausted so they didn’t come over.  I trimmed the front hedge, and went out driving a few times.  I started to have a lazy day until power was lost at about 3:30.  I went to a friend’s house for a few hours and returned ‘home’ to power at 9pm.

My neighbor’s diagonal from me must run a side business on weekends fixing cars because all day there was revving of engines and cars coming and going and it was just so loud and very ghetto like.

Day 3, Monday – three people came over for estimates, two window people and one floor guy.  As my friend was talking with each of these guys, I was peeling contact paper out of the kitchen cabinets and drawers and applying new cushiony foam stuff.  We then went to two places to look at refrigerators.  Not having a fridge is harder than I realized.  I’ve had to really think about what time I went to the store and when I would be making dinner.  What can I make that does not require refrigeration or defrosting (no microwave).  No making things in advance to reheat later or the next day.

I bought a pair of DearFoam slippers for $10 at BigLots. I am not a slipper kind of gal, but I didn’t want to waste all my socks walking around,

Day 4, Tuesday - I needed to get out of the house for a while, so I left early in the morning, even though I knew my friend was coming over to work.  I want to help her, I do...but I also need to think about ME and finding a damn job.  So I went to a new library and sat there for a few hours reading job postings and not really making too much progress applying for anything.

In the evening I scrapped contact paper off one cabinet.  Friend told me that the new fridge would be delivered on Friday, but they may not put it in the kitchen since they want to get the floors redone...I hope they plug it in somewhere because no fridge/freezer would be even harder than just having a freezer now.

Day 5, Wednesday - Back to the library for more job searching and an 'online job fair'.

Taped a bedroom for painting in the evening.

Sleeping much better on the air mattress.  It took 4 nights, but I adjusted.

Day 6, Thursday - Taped the second bedroom for painting.  Cut the paint in bedroom #1, did all the painting in bedroom #2.

Went to the library in the afternoon.  Didn't have a such a productive job search day. Went home but friend was still there, and honestly I just couldn't handle having 'company' so I turned around, drove around, ran an errand and by the time I got back, she was gone, so I made some spinach and paneer cheese dinner, finished my book, and went to bed by 8:30.  Yup, the depressed life of Denise.

Day 7, Friday - I moved out of bedroom #3 and into bedroom #1 so my friend can paint the room.  Had a few ravioli's for breakfast, then I headed to the library to do....I don't know. I only applied to a few temp jobs.  But it is good to get out of the house and use the internet.  Starting to wonder where in the world I belong.

Fridge delivery window was from 4:15 - 6:15pm, so I was home for that and then went to the grocery store for some food for the next few days....hopefully I will start to eat better since I have this 'luxury' of keeping food good a few extra days!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fast Food Fatty

Originally I had hoped that being in Colorado, I would lose weight because I would be more active.  That hasn't been the case at all.  While I have gone on a few hikes, I am more sedentary and lazy than ever, let's chalk it up to depression.  

My first place, I didn't like to cook when the lady was home and I only had so much free space in the cabinet, fridge and freezer...but I went grocery shopping regularly and picked up a few things and ate quite minimally.  Now in place number two, my kitchen situation is much worse.  Aside from the whole house skiving me out, the fridge is broken, there is no microwave and I have been trying to go to the grocery store daily to pick up items for one meal because saving leftovers is not an option.  Honestly, not having a microwave isn't a problem, back when I owned my apartment and the microwave died, I didn't replace it for two years.  The fridge is more of a challenge.  

Fast food is all over the place out here.  Someone told me that Denver is a test market for new restaurant chains...I still have to verify if this is true or not.  Being on such a tight budget, it is cheaper for me to get two tacos or a McDouble for dinner than it would be for me to buy some fish and vegetables and then having to cook it or even buying the ingredients for a hamburger.  My friend has kids so when we go out or when she buys me lunch for helping her with the apartment, it is mostly fast food.  I know that all the fast food places are starting to serve salads and whatnot but 1) I have never enjoyed salad and 2) most salads still have a lot of calories after you add up the yummy stuff they put in it and the that point wouldn't you prefer the sandwich?

In my three months, I've had the following fast food (which is more than the last ten years worth of my fast food eating!)
  • Chick-fil-a
  • McDonald's
  • Wendy's (new for me)
  • Arby's (new for me)
  • Burger King
  • Chipolte
  • Taco Bell
  • Noodles & Company (new for me)
  • Sonic (new for me)
  • Panda Express (new for me)
Of course I know I control what I eat. I can be making better choices, but I feel like you need to experience this before you can make that realization. And that realization just came as I feel less than pretty in my body right now.  

Aside from moving around so much, the eating is another reason I am craving a more permanent living situation.  I need to get back into my routine of cooking and eating better - and it worked out really well when I was cooking most of my food once a week and eating it throughout the week. I was able to take advantage of buying larger quantities to save money.

But I get it.  I understand why poor people are generally fatter and eat crap food...because it is cheap and honestly, it is filling.  I can eat a Wendy's hamburger & fries for lunch at 2 pm and not really be hungry for dinner...or have something small and light or a snack and I'd be fine.  But poor people also  can't afford (good) insurance and gyms and our health goes down hill.

Maybe I am supposed to take this knowledge and find a job where I can make a difference.  Hmm, something to look into during this week's job search.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

sleeping on air mattress

I haven’t slept on an air mattress in about eight years and ended up sleeping on an air mattress for about a year or year and a half.  It was hard to adjust, but eventually I did.  I am having the same ‘problem’ now.  I bought this air mattress from a girl who was moving knowing I’d probably need a bed to sleep on if I wasn’t renting a furnished bedroom.  The air mattress is queen sized and is higher up off the ground then the one I slept on years ago.  I went out and purchased some beige 650 thread count sheets from Ross for Less for $16.95 plus tax, a pillow and king size down alternative comforter from Kohl’s with a 30% coupon to total about $70.  I started to price duvet covers, but they are just too expensive for me to justify right now.  Maybe around Thanksgiving when everything starts going on sale I will be able to buy something.  I wasn’t sure if I should keep the king size comforter for a queen size bed, so I didn’t open it right away. 

My first night I was freezing.  The air in the mattress really cooled me.  I had the microfiber sheets and a small fleece throw blanket on the bed.  Night two I raised the heat just 3 degrees and I was less cold.  But night three was going to get below 30 degrees…so I had to do something.  My friend lent me a really old mattress pad and blanket.  I put the mattress pad on under the sheets hoping it would get that extra chill off me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

free rent for cleaning

This wouldn't be much of an adventure if everything went according to 'the plan'.  The place I am 'living' in now is a room in a lady's house.  We agreed on a rent for the first three months and then she was going to be away for three months and wanted to increase the rent by $400 since I'd have the whole house.  I already use the bathroom, kitchen and living room...I stay clear of her bedroom, so I couldn't justify another $400 for something I wouldn't be using.

As I was contemplating not staying here but where would I go, a friend told me her tenants were moving out of her house and I could stay there for free for the month of November as they prepare to list it again.  That sounds great - save money and good timing!  The decision to leave this 'home' was an easy one.

The day my friends tenants moved out, I went over with her to check out the state of the house.  It needed a major scrubbing.  I don't mind a little cleaning, but scrubbing other people's yuckiness is not my thing, it skives me out.  But, it is something that I have to do - her letting me stay there, the least I can do is help clean it, paint it, fix it, etc.

Since I will only be there 3 1/2 - 4 weeks, I am not bothering with cable or that will be a little bit of a challenge, but a good one I think because it will get me out of the house.  I also bought a few used books at the library so I will have something to do in the evenings.

It will be a good test.  Of my mental health as well as perhaps deciding on where I want to live.  It will be a tough month, but like everything else so far, I am up for the challenge.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

job, oh job, where are you?

It is really hard to want to research and apply for jobs when you are sad or don't feel well.  It takes a bit of time to not only look for jobs and then look at the company websites when you find a posting you like, but then to write a good cover letter takes time, even if you have a template.

I've applied to a good number of jobs, not as many as I could have, but ones I would actually want to work at.  Now that I've been here three months and those jobs aren't calling, I have to start a new round of applying at different places.  I start the day optimistic that I'll apply to at least three jobs.  But many times I don't apply to any.  Choosing between several equally not-so-good jobs is hard, and I end up with many tabs open and hours of frustration.  It becomes this downward spiral of stress, frustration and sadness.

Sure most of my current stress about money would be solved if I was hired.  Then I could be happy.  But getting there is really hard.  I am losing faith.

I am educated and have years of experience, I really didn't think I would have this much trouble finding a job.  I started to wonder, was I overpaid at my last job?  I thought I was underpaid.  hmm.  I started to wonder if my qualifications even mean anything...can anyone do what I do...yeah, I guess so.  So where does that leave me? Why would they want to hire me over other people?  This is something I need to figure out and address in my cover letter.

Sadly, because I have a graduate degree, I cannot accept a $15/hour position because I have mounds of student loans still....and should someone with a graduate degree work for $15 and hour anyway? That is why I spent thousand of dollars, so I wouldn't have to, so I can work for a more acceptable salary to meet my personal needs.

Job, oh Job, where are you??