Saturday, July 14, 2012


first, an update: still no call on the job.  i emailed my first contact last thursday afternoon and haven't gotten any response.  i was thinking of pursuing it on monday by hunting down phone numbers.

but i may not be able to.  see, i'm about to start my final week of school at university of phoenix.  my last two finals that will be handed in july 22nd.  and then, within that next week i'll get my final grades.  and then i can apply for my diploma.

i'll have my first degree: associates of arts with a focus in psychology.  and then this fall, i'll continue my education at a local college.  two years from now, i will have graduated with my bachelor's in community health and human services, and i'll have completed the requirements to take the test to become a certified new york state alcohol and chemical dependency counselor.  oh, and i'll be taking a couple of hospice counseling classes.  because i think i'd like to do that too.

and a mere two years ago, i didn't think this was at all possible.

if you were around two years ago, you may have witnessed what was my last real nervous breakdown thingy.  i also started a new medication that kind of freaked me out

that new medication also may have saved my life.  i felt more normal than i have since... well, ever really.  and then we added tarzipan to the mix for my panic attacks (which i now am much better with) and i've been mostly okay for going on two years now.

so much has changed in two years.  just two years.  it's not a long time.  my blog's been around longer than two years.  i've lived in new york again for over a year.  two years ago i decided to go back to school.  my mom was still alive two years ago.

that's an odd thought for me.  and i think that's part of what makes me graduating soon so strange.  mom and awesome husband were supportive but surprised when i decided to go back to school.  i think they weren't sure if i'd stick with it.  what i couldn't explain to them (and still can't really explain well) is the difference the medication made.  pristiq made me feel like i knew my limitations.  i'm not as terrified that i can't go out in a social setting, or that i'll have to quit my job if i call in crazy one day.  i wasn't sure how to articulate that feeling.  but i knew i could do school.  and everyone was supportive.  i enrolled in school the first week in september.  i even accepted a new job in october and started training.

i had just started my second block of classes when mom moved up to new york.  it was november 13, 2010 when i drove her to the airport early in the morning to catch a flight.  it would be the last time i would see her outside of a hospital, but i didn't know that.  of course i didn't.  i spent that day at epcot with some friends and drank mead that night.

monday november 15th was mom's first day at the new job.  awesome husband and i went about our lives in the quieter-than-it-used-to-be house, comforting the two cats who seemed to be missing mom.

i spoke to mom a few nights that week.  her eyesight was bothering her and my brother took her to the eye doctor, who wanted her to get an mri.  she was terrified but we were going to make her do it.  but that saturday she emailed me and told me to call her.  when i did, she was upset and having extreme vision loss.  we convinced her to go to the hospital and, within four hours of getting to the emergency room, we had a diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer.

from mostly healthy but having vision trouble to metastatic fucking lung cancer in mere hours.

i was on a plane the next morning.  and mom cried when i got to the hospital.  i told her not to cry, i was there, what was there to cry about?  she worried that i wouldn't finish school because of her, because i'd miss too much work while i was in the hospital with her.

i didn't.  there was wifi in the hospital, and i had my laptop.  i'd sit next to her bed in ICU and do classwork.  my new job let me put the training on hold.  i helped her eat and drink, i helped her stay comfortable, i rang the nurses for her, and i did my homework - all right there in the ICU.

and when they told me not to bother going back to florida on thanksgiving morning, that there was nothing they could do but keep her comfortable, we started looking at hospice facilities.  we were lucky to get her in one - they didn't charge us because she didn't have insurance - and we moved mom there the saturday after thanksgiving.

they also had wifi, and i spent a week sitting in the reclining chair in her private room, helping keep her comfortable, wetting her mouth, and telling her i loved her - while i did my homework.

and when she died, i did what i had to do, took a couple of extra tarzipan, and made her proud. 

oh, and i kept doing my homework. 

i thought a couple of times about stopping school, but they were fleeting thoughts.  i never would have stopped, because of my mother. 

things were so different two years ago.  and maybe that's why it seems so strange graduating without my mom.

but two years ago, there mere thought of my mother dying was enough to put me into full panic attack mode.  i always figured i'd have to kill myself when my mom died because there was no way i could live without her. 

now i know differently; i've proven that monster of depression wrong.  i can be strong and do what i need to do, i can be a good daughter and a good wife.  and i can have a positive impact on people's lives.

i learned that all from my mother.

thanks, mom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

i've got hives, they're multiplying.

i've been trying to save this up to have a big, happy blog post.  but i can't.  because things are happening/not happening and i'm really fucking itchy.

the last time i really had hives was when i was getting two of my wisdom teeth out, the only two i had.  one just popped out - they didn't even need to cut my gums - and the other had it's roots wrapped around another molar.  i was terrified of going under anesthesia and was convinced there was a good possibility that i'd die.

obvs, i didn't.  but it was still pretty traumatic to me.

now, you all know i've been applying for jobs.  as much as i love piercing - and i really love piercing - i need a job that has benefits.  awesome husband (should i just start calling him @_antgas?) wants to be a nurse.  instead of a diesel mechanic.  which i'm pretty sure qualifies as a mid life crisis (i'll have to google that in a bit).  but that involves school and not working full time because nursing school is, like, five days a week and the practical day is from 7am-2pm.  so he is hoping to cut back his hours at the shop OR become a personal trainer (omg seriously, this is what i'm dealing with) and make his work hours fit around his school hours.  because he wants to go back to school full time so he can get his RN in two years and get a job in the industry and go on to his bachelors in nursing.

but but but anyway.  i have to get a job that has benefits so i can, you know.  have benefits.  because happy pills and tarzipan don't pay for themselves.  and since my drug dealer/doctor recently doubled my dosage, it's even pricier to be normal.  instead of taking one 50mg pill a day, i'm taking one or two 50mg pills a day (he said i may not want to take two a day every day.  i'm with him).  even with our insurance, that's like $150 a month.  i can't even think about what it would cost without insurance.

anyway again.  i've been looking for a job.  preferably customer service or data entry.  i applied a couple of places that are social-work-y like planned parenthood, but i don't technically have a degree in anything yet.  so they don't love me.  i get it.

turns out the data entry job i had before and when i got married was hiring.  and i still know people that work there so i applied away and got a call for an interview within a week.  it was terrifying.  they changed buildings since i left and the new one is in a block of office buildings called jericho quadrangle (i'm assuming there are four buildings.  yes, assuming, you'll see why i didn't pay attention soon).  when my mom moved to new york right before she died, she had a job with a company in jericho quadrangle.  i was like, weird.  but still.

so i show up for the interview and drive around the parking lot looking for a spot.  some of the spots were reserved for different companies, including one called aon.  it was familiar but i couldn't tell why and i was nervous so i parked and went inside.  checking the directory, i realized why aon sounded familiar: aon is the parent company of the travel insurance company my mother was working for.  i had to communicate with them when she died.  i took that as a good sign, that mom might have been looking out for me.

the first interview seemed to go really well.  i was interviewed by a guy i used to work with and it was fun.  the new building seemed really nice and i was superexcited when he told me they'd call me back early next week (my interview was on a thursday).  i hobbled out on my 4" wedge heels, smiling, and got in the elevator.

that monday i got a call to come back for a second interview.  i was so excited!  this was july 2 and they wanted me to come back july 5.  i started planning what i should wear (different shoes, for one) and thought about how i'd make it through three days waiting.  thursday i went for the second interview and interviewed with two people.  i thought it went exceptionally well and, i mean, i know the job already.  why wouldn't they hire me, right?  i walked out to the elevators on the third floor and pressed the button.  there were a couple of people standing talking at the entrance to the only other suite on the floor, and i looked over just because sometimes you happen to do that.  that suite?

it was aon affininty berkely travel.  the travel insurance company my mom was working for when she died.

it made me sad and happy at the same time.  i felt like mom was trying to say something to me.  i had a dream with her in it that night, which i also took as a good sign.  they had told me they had a couple more people to interview and would call me early in the week.

it's wednesday.  i still haven't heard from them.  i was hoping to hear from them on monday, but no one wants to do shit on mondays.  so i was like, i'll hear from them tuesday.  i started getting itchy monday night.  not bad, but a bit itchy.  i set up to have all the phone calls to the house number ring my cell phone too, so even if i was out or at the shop i could take the call.

tuesday morning, i woke up itchy and excited.  i figured it would be the day.  i really want this job because i want awesome husband/@_antgas to be able to pursue his dreams like i've started pursuing mine (OMG I KNOW IT SOUNDS LAME).  i know there are a lot of opportunities with the company and i know it's a great company to work for and i know they have great benefits and i know i would not hate the job and i know i would rock the fucking socks off the job and i know i'm probably overqualified for the job.

it's an entry level data entry job.  i got hired for the same job 11 years ago with a bunch of food service and a little customer service experience.  i am now 12 days away from my associate of arts, have gained a lot more customer service experience, as well as a/r and a/p experience, have managed others, have supervised and been responsible for customer satisfaction for a group of 80+ agents, and have owned my own company.

this occurred to me yesterday morning.  so i started itching even more.  and then i went to the shop and my phone didn't ring.  i did a couple of piercings and kept itching.  by the time i got home, my feet, ankles, and thighs were sofuckingitchy and i was trying not to freak out because i'm unsure they'll hire me now.

i've stopped filling out applications and sending out my resume.  i was turned down by two other customer service positions in the area.  i sent out about 18 resumes to other customer service and data entry jobs.  and the job i found in a homeless shelter that would basically be perfect based on my degree?  over 5K other people IN THE AREA applied for it.

i started itching more.  this morning, my elbows and upper arms joined in.  and now my back it itchy.  i'm trying to just remain calm and not itch, but it's after 3pm eastern time and they still haven't called.  they'd call if they weren't going to hire me, right?  people do that?  the other two did.

so i'm going to sit here and itch until i get some word.  want to follow my itching and find out the status of my jobs first?  follow me @stephgas on twitter.  want to see pictures of my cats and stupid shit i see around the town?  follow me @stephgas on instagram.  want to stalk me?  foursquare.

it's so easy to be a stalker, thanks to the internet.  too bad i can't get a job as a stalker.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

crockpot crazy

i have a handful of go-to recipes i make in my crock pot.  moroccon beef stew.  chili.  black beans.  occasional soups.  but i've never really ROCKED my crock.

until now.  thanks to @misstattootara, who has a pinning obsession (as do i, find me on pinterest @stephgas.  same for instagram) and pins a lot of slow cooker meals, i've started compiling a bucket of new slow cooker recipes for awesome husband and i to enjoy (since i'm plugging everyone's fucking twitter and pinterest, you can find awesome husband @_antgas on both twitter and instagram). 

i tried a sesame chicken the other day which turned out less than awesome (leftovers were tossed.  that kind of 'less than awesome').  but i found a lot of great blogs with photos and recipes of slow cooker meals.

while reading them, i realized something: both of my crocks are timer-free.  i have a 4 quart and a 6 quart, one for meat and one for veg.  it turns out i cook vegetarian crock pot meals for my brother about once a year, so a separate one is not necessary.  ONCE i made chili for the family, and one crock was meat, one crock was faux meat.  ONCE.  in an entire year.

so i'm donating my gently used 4 quart (hanging onto the 6 quart in case i need to make 'fill in the blank' for a crowd) and purchased a shiny new cuisinart 3.5 quart slow cooker with a timer function.  i set the timer for however many hours, set it to high, low, or simmer, and walk away.  after the time is up, it automatically switches to the warm setting for up to eight hours. 

last week with my sesame chicken debacle, i set it for 6.5 hours, went to work, came home 8 hours later and it was perfect - cooked through and still hot (it was the sauce that ruined the meal, not the cooking).

today i'm trying another recipe - orange beef.  i've never even ordered orange beef from a chinese restaurant, so we'll see how this goes.  credit where credit is due, i snatched this recipe from stephanie o'dea who challenged herself to make something DIFFERENT in her crock EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR.  and she has a fuckton of awesome recipes on her blog, including slow cooker orange beef.

i have to modify each recipe a bit as i go because i'm cooking for 2 (usually get three servings) but like, in this recipe, she uses 1.5 pounds of beef... i'm using 3/4 of a pound.  so i cut everything in half.  i also may end up reducing the time a bit here and there as i get used to how my new crock works.  since it's a bit smaller (she uses a 4 quart for many of her meals) and i'm filling it a bit less, it *should* even out, right?


anyway.  so last night i sliced up my eye round (on sale at stop & shop, i hate paying full price for meat) and popped it in a reuseable, resealable container (not a tupperware, since that's a brand name and i own, like, two things from tupperware) along with the ingredients called for.

i gently threw it in the fridge and have given it a toss each time i'm in the fridge.  now i'll be dumping it in the crock, along with a bunch of frozen veg.  that's right, fuck fresh.

no, not fuck fresh.  it's just, frozen veg are just as good for you and hold longer and are less expensive when i buy them on sale (yes, i also fucking detest paying full price for frozen vegetables.  there are few things i enjoy paying full price for...).  one medium pepper, sliced, should yield roughly a cup.  and i'm halving this recipe... but i love me some veggies.  so i'm going to add a cup and a half of mixed peppers to my crock.  i'm also going to toss in a scant 1/2 cup of chopped onion too, because i'm too lazy to buy green onions and i love nice, smushy onions cooked in the crock pot.  like stephanie o'dea's daughters, i don't eat bok choy and saw no reason to waste money on something i don't like to eat.  so i left that out too.

then i set my crock for 6 hours (i'm erring on the low side of the time because it's a smaller portion), set it for low, and go to work! 

we'll see how it comes out when i come home tonight...


so i came home about a quarter after 8.  i opened the crock and found this....

i guess that sheen is a bit of fat from the meat floating on top.  no biggie, right?

it was a bit liquidy, probably because i used frozen vegetables so they release a bit of liquid.  i reheated some brown rice i had left over from the sesame chicken debacle and awesome husband and i sat down to this....

pretty much yum.  the flavor was delicious.  i can see it might be a bit better with fresh veg, but i'm a busy fucking woman.  but it was very good.  i'll just cut back on the liquid next time.

so there you have it.  i'm going to post stuff about my crock adventures as well as the normal other shit.

i got a call back on the job interview i went on last week, which is a great sign.  i can't wait until thursday to see what happens!

have a safe and happy fourth of july everyone!