Light at the end of the tunnel...

I just went through the course catalog, and the list of what core classes and electives I still need to get my degree. After this term is complete, I have 5 terms to go. 10 more classes and I will finally have a BS. (Not that I haven't always been full of bs, but now I'll have the paper to prove it! lol)

I picked out the classes I want and sent an email to my Academic Advisor with my preferences. I can't believe I'm so close to the end finally. And even with my total lack of interest last term and the one before, I've still got a 3.52 GPA and if I stop slacking off and keep my grades up for the remainder of my classes, I may even be able to get that back up to a 3.7.

Here's my tentative list of classes for the next year:

July '10
IT 470 Interactive Scripting
IT 355 Web Programming Development

September '10
MM 212 College Algebra (because I couldn't transfer the grade dammit)
IT 430 Project Management

December '10
MM 250 Discrete Math
IT 492 Advanced Scripting for Interactivity

March '11
IT 461 Advanced Visual Basic (or MT 300 Management of IT Systems)
IT 476 Web Marketing & E-commerce

June '11
IT 450 Software Development Leadership (or MT 460 Management Policy and Strategy)
IT 499 Bachelor's Capstone in IT

Read page 57 in catalog because I may be able to get certified for the committee on national security systems by taking two business courses as major electives.

And then I'm done. I've been at this for a little over a year now, and it's been rough at time, but it's worth now. Now, if only this degree will help me find a job, because the pickings are still few and far between - though I'll hopefully get something seasonal cleaning cottages for the summer. At this point, I'll take anything.

Come into the light....

Well, anyone who knows me will realize by now that I suffer from seasonal depression. I always get into a funk of some kind during the winter. I have self-diagnosed this a photo-sensitivity thing. I don't like hot weather, it always makes me feel sick and lethargic and physically unwell, but mentally I'm in a much better place during the summer months. In the winter I feel physically great (unless I am actually sick with a virus), but I always get into this mental shell that it takes a lot of effort to break out of.

This past year, I really hit rock bottom. I would go days without showering. I would go weeks without submitting a single resume. I pretty much stopped doing any kind of housework. I've spent the last six months literally sitting on my couch, staring at the TV (the TV that up until then I almost never watched!), doing the bare minimum to get through my classes and not communicating with anyone outside of immediate family. This was one really bad winter. And unlike my usual winter funk, it didn't automagically reverse itself once the days started getting longer. I got really good at feeling sorry for myself.

About 10 days ago, I really started to realize how bad I'd gotten and I decided to start forcing myself to function. No matter how bad I wanted to just stay in bed, I forced myself to get up and shower and dress as though I had someplace to be. Every day. It's not always perfect, and it's still an effort to actually do anything, but it's starting to work. I did spring cleaning. I've done some yardwork. I've started taking the baby outside to play in the yard for at least an hour every day, and on really nice days she and I stay out there for hours gardening (playing in the mud) and reading in the sunshine (reciting Winnie the Pooh, because she won't let me actually hold on to a book for more than a few seconds). And I've made myself a schedule for doing school work. Even if I don't actually have an assignment due, I spend an hour and a half reading and researching the subjects I'm taking this term. And the baby likes this time. She has her own little W the P laptop that talks to her when she pushes a button, and while I'm online reading she sits at her own little table beside me with her laptop and a notebook that she scribbles in. She does her homework right along with me every day.

I'm getting better. I'm feeling better. And the next step is to start communicating again. I need to talk to people who do not live in the same house with me dammit. I'll be starting on that project on Monday.

Wish me luck.

Productivity Ahoy!

After many weeks of wallowing in self-pity and just being generally depressed, for some reason I've been pretty optimistic the past few days. Don't know what exactly brought about the change in mindset, but I'm also not going to look too hard. That old adage about gift horses comes to mind and I'm going to follow the advice.

So, my sleep has FINALLY managed to get itself straightened out. I'm sleeping a full 7 or 8 hours a night (sometimes even 9) and actually getting that sleep at NIGHT. For months I was staying awake until 7 or 8 AM and then sleeping until mid-afternoon, then taking a 'nap' from 8 or 9 PM until around midnight. It was a mess and no matter what I tried I couldn't get my sleep straightened out. But last week I was really fighting a cough, and found an OTC med that helped with the cough but also made me sleep. I slept for almost 3 days straight, but when I finally came around the cough was nearly gone and I was able to sleep at night and say awake during the day. For the past 5 days I've been awake by 6 every morning, in bed by around 10 or 11 at night and sleeping through the whole night. HALLELUJAH!

Maybe it's because I'm finally getting sleep again, but I've been kinda-sorta remotivated in the job search now too. Yesterday's search for resume examples was a wash, but on the shcool's website I found some guidance. One of those expensive review sites offers their services to Kaplan students for free, and I took them up on the offer. This morning I uploaded two of my old resumes and a cover letter for review, now I just have to wait for feedback. They also have a tool for portfolio building, that can also be submitted for review. I think I'm going to spend this afternoon perusing my art and websites and then tomorrow morning I can start uploading and see what I come up with.

There is even a possible make-over in the mix. (I still haven't managed to get my teeth fixed, though I'm hoping my tax return will be able to cover that.) There is a module on this website that will allow me to take and record sample interviews for review by hiring managers. So I'm thinking a haircut and some new make up might be a viable investment in the next couple of weeks to make the most of that tool. I know appearance isn't everything, but I also know that looking good for an interview is an asset, and I'm going to do whatever I can to give myself an edge.

My goal is to have a good resume, cover letter and portfolio on tap by mid February and to start my job search fresh (including resubmitting resumes to places I've already tried once or more) by March 1st. I am determined to have a job by April 1. So there you go. My goals for the new year.

Ambition, or may the lack thereof

As of this past Sunday, I have been out of work for 11 months. It's an anniversary that I'd rather not have to take note of, but there it is and I'm stuck with it.

Over the course of the past 11 months, I have sent out approximately 480 resumes. I have been called for exactly 7 interviews. I've revised my resume a few times, and haven't noticed a noticeable increase in the number of interviews. Yesterday I decided to revise again. I spent around four hours staring at the old versions, praying for inspiration and coming up blank. I figured I'd search for some successful resumes online and see if they would help. I came up with nothing useful but ads for outfits that will create a resume for me for a fee (starting at $170 and going all the way up to 'my car didn't cost that much'). Having a pro do the resume for me is out of the question, since unemployment will be running out in just a few more weeks, I really have to watch the expenditures.

So I guess for the time being the resume will stay as is, unless inspiration strikes out of the blue.

Moving on to less depressing news - I was offered a lot of money recently to make an afghan for a friend to give as a baby shower present. I've made several versions of this same basic pattern for my kids and my granddaughter. By changing the weight of the yarn and the needle size, and expanding the base chain, I can make the afghan in basically any size and weight. The friend asked for an afghan in baby weight and neutral pastels. It's coming out very nice. It's lacier than the other blankets I've made so far, but that's what she wanted (baby is due in April/May so a lightweight, lacy shawl will get plenty of use). She also suggested I put some of my afghan's on Etsy - she's convinced they'd sell 'like hot cakes'. I'll admit that I considered it, but an afghan takes about a month (if not longer) to make and it's not like I have a store of them put away somewhere. I'd have to make them to order, and I'm sure if that would go over or not. It's an idea though, so I'll keep kicking it around for a while.

I started re-reading Wuthering Heights recently. I had forgotten how much I really loathed both main characters. Catherine and Heathcliff deserved each other, and they are two characters I really love to hate. I'm contemplating reading Emma next. We'll see how I feel once I've finished this one.

And I think I've rambled enough for now. Cheers!
Bored Now by Sith_Dragon

Ringing in the New Year

NYE was pretty quiet. We went around the corner to my sister's house, munched on heavy hors d'ouvres and watched Dick Clark. I was home by 1AM and asleep by 2, but even though it was quiet, it was nice.

I guess it's time for an update on the family. Sean got a ticket back in September for underage drinking (he's only 20). He was definitely drunk, but he wasn't driving or anything, just walking home from a friend's house about 4 blocks away. The cop who ticketed him was actually someone he'd gone to high school with. Anyway, the result of the ticket was 15 days active jail sentence or 9 months of supervised probation with a 9PM curfew, 2 mandatory AA or NA meetings a week and $150 in probationary fees a month. He got tired of the probationary restrictions and turned himself in to serve the 15 days instead. He should be home in about a week. He also decided not to go back to school this semester. He thinks it's a complete waste of time when he doesn't even know what he wants to do with his life. He's supposed to start a job towards the end of January working with a brick and stone mason. Let's hope a steady job and a few weeks in jail will give the kid a better outlook on life and teach him a little responsibility.

Kelli getting ready for graduation from HS. Her senior project is almost done, and she presents next week. If everything goes well and she gets passing marks, she will be all set for June. If not, she goes back to work and gets a second chance to present in April. She wants to attend East Carolina in the fall, but I'm pretty sure I have her talked into going to the local community college for two years and then transferring. She just isn't emotionally ready for a school the size of ECU and living away from home. She won't do anything for herself, and expects me or her boyfriend to take care of everything for her (and that includes things for the baby), so I really can't expect her to be able to take care of herself in a setting like ECU. I'm hoping a couple of years of community college will help her get prepared for the real world, before she dives into it headlong.

Erin has decided she wants to change schools. She's very disappointed with the experimental school, and I have to admit that I am too. By this time, midway through her 2nd year, she should have been preparing to take all college level courses that are geared toward her area of interest (cooking and restaurant management). Instead, she is taking advanced math and science courses that are way beyond her (Calculus, Physics and Marine Biology) and we were told a few weeks ago that she won't be able to take any cooking courses, or business or restaurant management courses at all. This completely defeats the purpose of this school. She was supposed to be able to graduate from high school in 4 years with the equivalent of (around) 2 years of community college or vocational school credits so she could get a decent job straight out of high school. The whole purposes of this school is so kids who don't want to attend a University after high school have an alternative that doesn't lead to minimum wage burger flipping or to more school. I think their experiment failed. Erin plans to transfer to the regular high school, where she can at least take some vocational courses and take business math and accounting instead of university track maths. We'll just have to take things as they come and see how it goes when she transfers.

Jeff is ... well same old kid. He's looking forward to starting high school next year. He's been playing Sax for two full years now and he's happy with the instrument. He plans to play in the band next year, and he's looking forward to marching season and the competitions they'll be attending, and he got a preview of the music they'll be playing for marching season, and he seems pretty excited about it, but he can't remember what it's called so I have no idea what they'll be playing yet lol. He's been researching music scholarships and trying to find schools that will give him at least a partial scholarship for music, have a decent football program (and therefore a marching band program), and offer a field of study that he likes and that he's interested in. Let's hope he sticks with it.

Kairi is growing like a weed, and she is the funniest, most independent kid I've ever seen. She's 19 months oldand she is all the entertainment I could possibly want. She has a very large single word vocabulary, and she adds new words and phrases every day. Her latest is "that's scary" or "I'm scared". She can actually hold a conversation with you, if you're willing to interpret her single word responses into full sentences. And she has no difficulties letting her know what's on her mind, especially if she thinks she's right and you're wrong.

She loves music too, and sings along with the songs she knows best. Right now her repetoire includes all the songs from "The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", "21 Guns" by Green Day, "Everlong" by Foo Fighters and a handful of Nickelback songs. Riding in the car with her when the radio is on is more entertaining than most of the shows on TV right now.

As for me? Well, I'm still out of work with no prospects on the horizon. I'm doing pretty good in school, and while I'm not at a 4.0 any more, I'm still keeping above a 3.5 (the 2 B's last term killed my dream dammit). I was invited to join the Golden Key Society, and I think I'm going to do it. If nothing else, it looks good on a resume. I've been fighting a cough since before Thanksgiving, and it refuses to go away. I'm pretty sure I've got either bronchitis or pneumonia, but a doctor visit just isn't in the cards right now. I'm hoping that I'll have enough money left over at the end of this month to be able to go to the clinic and get some meds to try and clear this up. Cross your fingers for me. The heat situation isn't helping here either. We haven't had heat this fall or winter. I had the furnace guy in three times and he insists that the furnace is working fine, the problem is in the gas lines coming into the house. But I've had the gas company out here twice, and he swears there is nothing wrong with the tank or the lines. So I'm at an impasse. I have an electric heater in the living room, and a kerosene heater in the den/kitchen area, but the fumes from the kerosene heater make my cough 100x worse and teh electric heater never gets the room any warmer than around 50*. I've got heavy drapes hung over all the windows and doors, and I've sealed everything I can with plastic sheeting, but it's still damned cold in here most of the time. I've been avoiding housework even more than usual, because it ould mean get out from under the blankets I've been cocooning myself in. Even the baby is willing to sit still wrapped in blankets because she's cold. (And yes, that's in her vocabulary too).

That's pretty much my life to date. I've made a few afghans, and some hat/scarf/glove sets recently, for family and friends, and I'm thinking about posting photos on Etsy and taking orders. One of the other girls who was laid off shortly after me is doing that, and she's making a decent amount of money. Enough to keep her and her daughter in groceries anyhow, so it's an idea. I've gotten a lot of reading done too. First book for 2010 is A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau by Carolyn Morrow Long. It's a bit dry, and while there's a whole lot about the legend, there is very little about the reality. And the reality that she lays out is done in a very confusing way. Sometimes it's hard to tell if she is talking about Marie Laveau or one of her ancestors. And she is inconsistent in her use of names throughout. It's just very confusing, and not informative enough to make up for that.

I think I've written enough to make up for my 4 month absence now, so I'll just wrap it up and say I hope you all have a 2010 worth celebrating.

Happy New Year 2010

No resolutions this year; they're just wishful thinking anyway. '09 wasn't the best year, but it certainly wasn't the worst either. My oldest was in a serious car accident that should have killed him. He didn't walk away, and there were a few scary days full of neurosurgeons and ICU, but he made a full recovery. A few weeks later I was laid off. Not the best thing that ever happened to me, but definitely a blessing in disguise. I got out of a job where I was working under a jellyfish and a psychotic - not the best combination of managers - without having to quit. And I was able to commit full time to my schoolwork and spend more time with the kids and the grandbaby. Money has been tight from day one of '09, inflation was definitely outrunning my salary (I was making more money in 1997 than I was making in 2009 if you take cost of living as a guide) but somehow I managed to keep my bills paid and still give the kids a half-way decent giftmas season. I went through a pretty serious bout of depression and managed to come out the other side; not necessarily better than before, but honestly no worse.

So I have plenty of things to be thankful for, in spite of everything else.

I sincerely hope that all of you can say the same. I know that life hasn't been all wine and roses for any of you either, but if you can find a few rainbows hiding among the clouds, then all is not yet lost!

Happy New Year.

IT LIVES!!!!!!!!!11eleventy

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. No really, I haven't, I just like to pretend that I have. I've been swallowed up by Facebook (though, the novelty has worn off at this point) and Twitter (but even there I only maybe Tweet once a day) and reading a lot of political action blogs. The past week though, has had none of that. Classes started again this week and my love affair with the computer has lost some of its glow. Now I usually get online only to check the classroom discussion boards and submit my assignments. I still read through most of my old haunts, but after all the writing I do for my classes, I'm a bit burned out and can't seem to muster the energy to do any writing just for myself. I get inspired half a dozen times a day for things I want to write about, but actualy opening a window and starting to type seems to be beyond me.

I think what I need to do is get into a routine. A sort of set schedule that I don't vary from (at least at first) to get myself into the habit of doing certain things. Right now my entire life seems to be entirely hit or miss - with an awful lot of missing going on. Part of it, I think, is because I've been out of work for so long. I've even gotten apathetic about the job search. Mostly because I see no results. I have had a total of one interview after submitting almost 250 resumes over the course of 4 months. It's discouraging. And I guess that 'why bother' attitude has flown through to the rest of life. I need to do something about that. Maybe tomorrow ;) There's always tomorrow, right? lol
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