Monday, July 28, 2008

I take a bow

I did it! I did it! I got a new job! I haven't ranted, let alone raved, about my professional situation in a while. I decided it was unproductive to put a lot of negative energy out there about how little satisfaction I found with my professional situation. Instead, I talked to a lot of people about what I was looking for, and started putting in applications selectively for things that looked interesting. The third application I turned in became the avenue to my new job.

I'm leaving my teeny tiny backwater of an office for the world of campaign finance. It's exciting for me, I love the subject matter I'll be working with. I also have it on the authority of a friend, who used to work for the campaign finance office, that they are very professional but very friendly there. That's also the impression I got in the interview. It was the first time I felt like I was interviewing the panel as much as they were interviewing me. It was empowering. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I normally am on an interview, because I wasn't sure I wanted the job until after the interveiw concluded.

I'll be sad to not have my two co-workers around to chat with, they're very nice people and I will miss them. But, I know this is the right move for me. I never really found what I was looking for in the tiny office. They just don't think about the world the same way I do, and that's ok, but it's not where I want to work. There are also some personal issues about my bosses behavior at times, and I know I'll never be comfortable working with her because I find it difficult to believe or trust things she says, professionally or personally. I had an epiphany about this a few months ago, as I sat in class and we were talking about ethics. I realized that, at the core of the issue, my boss and I have very different views on what constitutes ethical behavior - i.e. I view much of her managerial behaviors as unethical, and she thinks it's all perfectly acceptable - and at that moment I found great peace in seriously looking for a new job.

Three good things:
1. Ummm, new job!!
2. I've set up a graceful transition between the two positions.
3. Talk about applying learning to life - it feels good!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mojo at work

I have a friend, I think of her as MOJO. She's my sexy Latina friend, you know, the kind who always has guys getting whiplash from tracking her as she walks down the sidewalk. She asked to borrow a pair of my sexy shoes to go take a dance class. Since I was leaving to visit Paulo before she finished working, I left said shoes out on my stoop for her. Later in the day, MOJO was worried about getting home on time to meet a friend and asked if I would mind if she left my shoes outside for the weekend. I told her "heck no! Thou shalt not leave my sexy dancing shoes on the front stoop all weekend. Take the extra five minutes and go pick them up, pretty please?" Being the good friend that she is, that is exactly what she did. What followed was, I feel, highly fortuitous.

As she shimmied (MOJO walks with a certain sultry shimmy, not the seventies disco kind of shimmy) across the parking lot towards my door a very attractive man stopped her to ask if she enjoyed living in the complex because he was moving in to the area from out of state. Admitting that she did not, in fact, live at said location, she did offer up that her friend (me) very much enjoyed the place. Being a realtor, she of course asked him if he was interested in buying. He said he might be, and gave her his card. His name is, no kidding, Mr. Fine. And, by all accounts, he is very fine indeed. Apparently they have been communicating for a few days and are meeting up for drinks in the near future.

I feel like some sort of love connection fairy. Bow to the power of sexy dancing shoes!

Three good things:
1. MOJO has had it reaffirmed that she's a hot commodity.

2. My shoes are safe and sound.

3. The name Mr. Fine just makes me grin...I can totally fantasize about my dear friend being "Mrs. MOJO Fine" someday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nice People Do Exist

Desperate for my daily mocha, I was waiting to turn left across two lanes of traffic in to my coffe stand. As the truck behind me inched closer, impatient to be on his way but not willing to cut out around me, I watched the stream of cars coming towards me for a break. Finally, I spotted an opening my zippy little Subaru could make it through. Then the person last in the line of cars coming towards me slowed down...a lot...and he put on his blinker to turn in to my coffee stand. Damn, I was going to have to wait for another break and maybe even go around the block to avoid stalling traffic.

Suddenly, the car signaling to turn in to the coffe stand stopped and the middle-aged gentleman behind the wheel, perhaps sensing my distress, waved me in to the coffee stand ahead of him! I left $5.00 behind to buy his coffee for the day. It's nice to run across the nice people in the world :o)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello to my new car!

Well, as indicated in the previous post, I have a new car. I did my homework and feel good about my decision to stick with a safe and reliable Subaru. Paulo came with me and was a haggler extraordinaire at the dealership. He even said afterwards that he had fun playing hardball. It was also nice to have Paulo's extensive negotiating experience backing me up. I'm certainly not as comfortable as he is with the general process of negotiation prices.
We knew the rock bottom price for this model at a competing dealership, and also had the information on the actual invoice price for both the vehicle and the options. After sending the sales man to 'the man behind the curtain' at least 6 times in 90 minutes we were at an acceptable bargain. The price was $120.00 over what the competition offered, but this car had better options, and it was also the color I wanted (I am a girl, after all).
Since I was pre-approved for a loan the paperwork at the financial office was relatively easy. They did change the term length of my loan at the dealership, which was perfect. I also got the maintenance package and GAP insurance rolled in to my loan because I was getting such a great rate. However, when I went in to my financial institution I discovered that the dealership had already pushed through a loan at more than double the proper interest rate by some "mistake." So, that got removed right quick. Then I discovered that the rate I was promised by the dealer wasn't available at the term length the dealer offered, and that the dealer was telling the bank, "I swear, she signed for a shorter term, it's right here." Well, the financial person at the dealer was lying through her teeth, or was too lazy to pull out the paperwork, because Paulo faxed me a copy of the paperwork I signed and, right there in clear type-face, was the longer loan term at the lower interest rate. Now I have the bank trying to push through those terms on an exception, since it's technically not an "available" loan. How that is possibly my fault, I fail to comprehend. My next idea is that the dealer should eat the cost of the additional interest they failed to advise me of if the bank makes me take the higher rate. Did they think I was just going to lie down and take this with a spoon full of sugar? Seriously?
Three good things:
1. I was so pissed yesterday that I deep cleaned my kitchen...a much needed proceedure.
2. I get to use my most intimidating "do the right thing and give me what I'm asking for" voice, look, and possibly correspondence.
3. I love my new car - it smells new and is all shiny and so quiet you can hardly tell it's on at a stoplight.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Goodbye to my car

My wonderful Subaru Impreza inexplicably overheated last week on my way to Paulo's house. It was right before I left for Vegas, so taking it to the shop had to wait until my return. Sadly, the news from the auto repair shop is that I have a leaking head gasket...ouch...along with a problem with my clutch (which is the fault of the absolutely terrible mechanic who did a crap job on my new clutch last summer). The cost to repair it is somewhere around half of the remaining value in the car. My decision? Time to buy a new car.

Now, I'd been thinking about upgrading for some time. My sweet little Subaru had a lot of miles on it and I was thinking little things (like seals and gaskets...doh!) would be wearing out soon and it would need to have some serious investment in repairs. This is, admittedly, a much more dramatic and sudden impetus to upgrade my vehicle than I would have wished...but that's life. At this point, with a leaky head gasket, it's a candidate for a paltry trade in, or perhaps a rally racing enthusiast who want's to kit it out and take it in to the hills. I'll lose money since now I can't sell or trade it in for anywhere near what I still owe on it, but at least I'm financially solvent enough to handle it with only having to sacrifice picking up the tab at dinner with friends less often (sorry, friends...we may be splitting more checks or you'll be enjoying my home-cooked tasty cuisine).

Either way, my time with my 2001 Impreza, the first car I've ever truly loved to own, is at an end. The end of a beautiful relationship.

On another note: Paulo has been completely wonderful through all of this. He put all of his home-remodeling projects on hold to drive around to dealerships with me for the last two days. We play it like he's buying the car, or at least that I'm not buying it on my own, just to keep the salesmen on their toes. At the end of two solid days of zipping between dealerships I've decided to purchase a brand new (eek!) 2008 Impreza. I will miss having a sunroof, since they cost more to get as an option than I really want to spend right now, but the new Impreza is much safer and actually very roomy (they've moved it on to the Legacy frame). I also think the new body style is not as sporty as the 2007 and previous models, but I have found it impossible to find a manual 2007 Impreza...oh well. I also drove a Mazda 3 (poor side-impact safety ratings) and a Mitsubishi Lancer (felt like a toy car on meth). A loyal Subaru customer I remain.

Paulo has helped me with the research on what a good price is, and has also signed up to come along and help me haggle down the purchase price and help me keep an eye out for little scams they might try with financing and my trade-in. Through all of this, Paulo has avoided making me feel like I don't know what I am doing or what I need, as some guys would if taking their girlfriend car shopping. He respects the fact that I actually know quite a lot about Subarus and have a good idea of what I want. He's supportive and provides a kind of support I wasn't sure really existed - he knows how to help without taking over. He doesn't forget that this car buying experience is all about what I want, not how much he can show off about cars or bluster and be a manly man on the car lot. I think it's called respect, and it's absolutely wonderful.

Tomorrow we're going back to begin the arduous process of actually haggling with the dealers, but at the end of it all I will have a new car. Now I just have to decide if it's a better option for me to buy or lease...ahhh....the life of a consumer.

Three good things:
1. I will have a warranty!
2. My poor little car may be re-born as a rally fun!
3. I've discovered yet another wonderful way in which Paulo and I are insanely compatible!

(it's exlamation point day...obviously!!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back from Vegas...again!

I just returned home late last night from another weekend in Vegas with Paulo. I take it as a mark of great respect that he welcomed me to come in for a visit during his week-long poker vacation with his buddy. To me, that says a lot about how much he trusts me. How many guys would happily invite their woman down to Las Vegas during a poker-fest? Not too many.

Admittedly, we had to have a few long and careful talks about what the expectations should be surrounding time together and activities before I bought my plane tickets. But, in the end, I really think we overcame any hesitation and successfully navigated our way through a potential relationship minefield. He had total freedom to play poker whenever he wanted to - I was well supplied with comfortable walking shoes, a good book, and my bathing suit. Paulo instructed me to charge any food or beverages to the room and did take me out to a very nice dinner at our favorite restaurant. The dinner was especially fun because I got to meet and hang out with another of Paulo's good friends.

I periodically visited the poker room, making the other players jealous of Paulo by wearing hot little dresses and rubbing his shoulders as he whiled away the hours at cards. Several times players from other tables tried to woo me away from Paulo with promises of a commission to give them a shoulder rub. Well provisioned by my sweetheart, I felt no temptation to take them up on their offers.

It was a little sad to leave yesterday evening; I wanted to stay in Vegas and go back to the pool, curling up with Paulo at night. However, as I reached my door some time in the wee hours of the morning after driving home from the airport I could hear my cat plaintively meowing inside my apartment. She'd heard me coming up the stairs and was waiting for me to dig out my keys and come pet her. I suppose it's not that bad to be home after all - there is a creature here, too, who loves me and wants to be around me. It took away the gloomy clouds of leaving my darling.

Three good things:
1. I have, again, reaffirmed that I'm a kick-ass girlfriend.
2. Paulo comes home tomorrow.
3. My kitty cat is a loveable ball of fur who earns her keep by being so cute and excited when I come home.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Meeting the Parents

Paulo and I spent the 4th of July weekend together, and oh, what a wonderful time it was. First on the schedule was a trip to the local islands where his Northwest adopted "family" owns a beach house. I'd met many of the people attending at previous shin-digs, but this was a chance for me to prove my mettle in a large party situation where Paulo wouldn't be right by my side the whole time. As we dove in to our cups of wine between 10:30 am and 12:30 am (the next day, of course) I can quite honestly say that I think I took home the brass ring for being the coolest girlfriend ever. I chatted, I helped with food, I laughed, I rubbed someone's injured foot (they were clean!) and I imbibed a respectable amount of wine without losing my dignity.

Then it was off to another island for a wine tasting, lunch, and viztin' with my friend Bonnie and her family. We toodled around country roads and had a tasty pizza lunch before sampling some local wine. Dinner with Bonnie and family was lovely, we met their family friends from England and had fun trading semantic oddities. We rounded out the evening with a drive North to our loding destination for the evening - a lodge! Nestled out in the country, our mountain lodge was warm and inviting. The inn-keeper was very mellow and told us all about the llamas in the adjacent field. We watched a VHS (and felt soooo retro) copy of "Meet the Parents" and turned in for the evening in our airy tree-top retreat (i.e. the suite on the top floor of the lodge).

The next morning we had a tasty breakfast at the lodge and began our search for organic, local strawberries. After cruising down a seaside drive we found a famous local berry stand where we lucked out and picked up some scrumptious local berries, along with traditional shortbread cakes dusted with raw sugar...mmmmmmm. A quick run to the market for fresh cream and some flowers for my mother, and Paulo and I were set to go and meet my parents.

Everything went swimmingly, of course. Paulo and my dad swapped home remodeling stories and worked on grilling our dinner together, mom and grandma thought he was very polite, my grandpa thought he seemed really smart, and my sister-in-law had a nice conversation about title insurance with him. My brother was being his normally anti-social self, but Paulo did try to engage him a few times with mediocre success, which is saying something.

I feel totally ready to head back East next month and meet Paulo's brother, sister-in-law, and mom. Life is good.

Three good things:
1. Paulo and I have proven, once again, that we're good travel companions.
2. I got to show Paulo around my stomping grounds.
3. I managed not to over-indulge on food or wine all weekend (sounds random, but it's important!)