Home > Archive: September, 2013

Archive for September, 2013

OUCH: September expenses way high

September 29th, 2013 at 03:42 pm

I knew it would be bad, but yikes. I had a lot of non-recurring expenses this month that all combined to put me over the $5,000 mark in expenses this month.

New hot water heater: $723
Car insurance (for the year): $704
Homeowners insurance $584
New furnace humidifier: $520
Heating oil top off: $464
Medical: mostly related to my headaches: $330
Quarterly estimated IRS payment for my freelance: $112

My net income for the month was just $1766, so my net loss for September is - $3,292.

While I should catch up once I start the new job, this brings my YTD savings for 2013 to just $2913. At least I saved something. (I did not deduct the $19K I spent on my new car from this equation, since I pay cash when I buy a new car and it always comes out of savings.)

I'm so glad it's Friday...vent

September 28th, 2013 at 03:13 am

I wrapped up my 2 weeks at the real estate brokerage today and left a bit earlier than planned (3:30 pm), but really, while they are still so busy, they didn't even have time to give me anything to do so I literally sat around all day.

I brought in some muffins from Dunkin Donuts and we all sat around in the a.m.

I got a bunch of things done earlier, though, and it was really nice working with such an appreciative group of people. I got a chance to write press releases (3 of them), blogs (2 of them), update a bunch of web copy and update two key brochures, one for sellers and buyers and one for new realtors coming on board. I also wrote the CEO's bio on my very first day.

And I have the promise of lots of freelance work in the future. So a win/win for sure.

Got a call from BAchelor #3 tonight; first time we talked on the phone. So he's a retired equities trader. He worked on Wall Street for his entire career and finally left about 5 years ago. So I guess he made out quite well, financially. He sounds much older than the age he said he was on the phone because of the garbled way he talks, which I took a distinct disliking to. It makes him sound like an old man. Maybe it would be different in person. Can't say I felt much of a connection, but I so seldom get to even this point with this online dating stuff that I try to make an effort to at least meet once for coffee.

I think he was leading up to a possible get-together this weekend, but I sort of hedged, saying I was still unsure what my schedule was going to be as I'm trying to get various things done in the week before starting yet another new job. I guess I'll meet him, but again, feel sort of blah about it.

I had another ton of paperwork to take care of for this bank job with the recruiter. It's really getting super annoying, because instead of simply mailing me a packet in the mail, she's emailing me individual documents and forms, some from the employer and some from her agency.

Because they're PDFs, I can't just type my answers in the forms. I have to print out the forms on a cheap printer that jams when you insert multiple pages, so I have to hand feed each page one by one. Then fill out the forms, then put them back on the printer to scan them, save the scans and then email the scans to the recruiter.

How many more forms can there possibly be? What really got me going is that the person researching my background could find no record with secretary of state's office of the existence of my freelance business. That's because I chose not to register the name with the state, becus once you do that, the town learns of it and then starts wanting to charge you every year a tax on your business assets. So I just use the name informally and surrendered an earlier name I'd used before I realized the repercussions. When you register the name, it just protects that name so no one else in the state can use it, but for my little business, it doesn't really matter; it's just something I'd put on an email signature.

So anyway, she said becus there were no records of my business registered with the state, she said we have to document your income, either with a paystub showing your income or your tax return. For the past 2 years, every source of income. I already supplied info on all my other piddly little jobs, and now we're down to my freelance business.

Say what??? Why isn't my word good enough for you, for one, and two, if you're self-employed, you don't get a paystub, you idiot and 3. I'll be damned if i'm going to just hand you my federal tax return. My income is not public document and none of their business. What relevance does any of this have on my ability to do this *&^%% bank job?

I sent her my 1099 from my one main client. That's all i'm going to give her and i'm just wondering come Monday when she goes thru all the paperwork how much more insistent she's going to be. Because I may just draw a line in the sand. If she wants to risk the embarrassment of having a job candidate back out after she told the bank I accepted, becus of their excessive documenting requirements, I may suggest I'm having second thoughts. It's such an intrusion and invasion of my privacy. Once again, if you're an employee or a patient in the health care system, NO PRIVACY.

I hate this crap.

Tomorrow is our town's annual health fair, something i like to attend cus you can visit a bunch of different booths, get some free apples, toothbrushes and talk to various medical professionals, etc. Then it's to the library to rent some DVDs, drop off some old paint at the household hazardous waste drop-off site, and 3 or 4 other stops while I'm out, including some condos I'm unfamiliar with and just want to do a drive-by to see if I'd like the neighborhood.

I have a builder to interview Sunday and will write up his bio same day. Thinking of may be going down to Jersey to see my dad on Monday, come back Tuesday. See girlfriend to catch a movie Thursday or Friday matinee. None of the house chores or doc appts I'd hoped to knock off next week came to fruition becus everyone's booked well into October for whatever you need done. I still have other things to do anyway.

Another oops calculation

September 27th, 2013 at 02:52 am

Math is not my strong suit.

I underestimated how much I'd make from the f/t 10-month bank job. If I work a 40-hour week making $35/hr, then I'll gross $6066 a month, or $60,666 for the 10-month period. Net, that comes out to $43,302, or $4330.25 a month.

After subtracting my "bare minimum" expenses of $2,000 a month, I'll still have $2,330 left over each month. Hey, that's a lot. It's been a long time since I worked full time. Not counting the 2-week real estate job I'm wrapping up now, I haven't worked full time since 2010!

It'd be nice to think that I could save as much as $23,300 over the 10-month period, but I do have so much deferred home maintenance around here. And, I'm not all that disciplined, especially after chafing after such a long period of self-imposed frugality.

I'd like to automate my savings, meaning on the first of each month I'll transfer a fixed sum to my online money market account. I figure if I save $1600 a month, I'll still have plenty ($730) left over for other stuff. Some of those savings could go into my SEP SIMPLE IRA, from my freelance work. (The Roth is already funded.) It won't be a lot, but I think, off the top of my head, you can contribute up to 25% of your gross, which for me would be just about $1,000.

Today at the real estate job we were all treated to a pizza lunch and the CEO called out a few people, and a few departments, to recognize for their big contributions toward ensuring a successful transition to the new brand. She singled out me, too, a lowly temp worker!

This was one of the easiest writing jobs I've ever had, but it was also pretty interesting. I guess I just enjoy working in real estate.

I've wanted to bring in some sort of little treat for them tomorrow, my last day there, but I've been too anxious to get home at the end of the day, after a longish commute, plus i haven't seen any good bakeries on the way in. There's a stop and shop nearby, but i don't think they're known for their baked goods.

If I can get an earlier start tomorrow a.m., I could maybe find something at Caraluzzi's right here in town. An extra 20 minutes would do it.

I charged my homeowner's and my car insurance tonight on one of my rewards cards, immediately earning me the $100 cash back. I also earlier earned another $100 from my new Barclaycard. It sure is easy money, but I may be running out of cards to apply for with those bonus rewards.

Happily planning my next $ moves

September 26th, 2013 at 12:17 am

The last 2 days I happily created a list of all the things I want to accomplish next week, before I start the bank job.

Among them:
1. Visit dad for an overnight trip in Jersey.
2. Get handyman back out here to do a few repairs.
3. Chimney cleaning.
4. Furnace cleaning.
5. Breast ultrasound.

I was crushed to hear back from the handyman who had been in a very similar position to me, financial-wise, when I first met him, but then had to put the work on hold when my 3-day-a-week furniture company job was downsized to "as needed."

Today he told me he also landed a big break and is supposed to start a new f/t guessed it, next week. He'll be building a large luxury home that he estimates will take a year to complete.

I really was counting on him. He's smart, knows what he's doing, wasn't trying to gouge me...I went back to the friend whose husband had recommended him. Friend says hubby has a ton of contacts in all the trades, so maybe there's someone else they can pull out of a hat.

I scheduled the chimney cleaning, but it won't happen til end of October becus they're booked up, and same thing with the furnace cleaning. Will have to call one of them back to see if I can put both jobs on same day so I don't have to ask my new employer to come in late or work at home on 2 days, just one.

As for the breast ultrasound, nurse at gynecologist's office isn't sure if doc will do a referral for me to get the ultrasound (dense breasts) without doing the mammogram as well. I've had mammograms yearly since age 40....they're not without controversy, you know, due to the not insignificant radiation. I just had that CAT scan, so I'd like to skip the mammogram for one year and just do the ultrasound. She said she'd call me back tomorrow and let me know.

Today at work I was talking to my manager when the CEO walked up to us. She held up a brochure in her hands and said, "Did you write this?" (Uh-oh, I think.) "Yes, I guess I did," I said. "This is fantastic," she said. "This is really fantastic. We've got to get this in the agents' packets," she directed to my manager. I asked her if I could have a copy and she told me that I wasn't getting hers and walked away. Smile

Today was the big gala event at local performing arts center to officially transition to the new brand, and 1400 agents would be there; CEO wanted my sales brochure in their information packets.

This, coming from a woman with a rep of being hard to please. I think this will further secure my ability to do more freelance work for them after I leave. Smile

I knew today would be an easy day and ending early for me, because both the agents from all over the state, and the staff at HQ, would be heading to the gala event around 2, and that's when I would have to leave. Also, I'm back to my usual insomniac ways, and I woke up again at exactly 3 am for the third morning in the row. As often happens, I started composing a blog I had told my manager I would write the next day. I had it all written out in my head! Fearful that I'd forget it my a.m., I got out of bed and typed it all down on my computer, then went back to bed, where before I knew it, I was composing the 2nd blog in my head. Wide awake now. That one, too, I had to get down on paper lest I forget my brilliant prose.

So anyway, it was easy to wrap these both up today. Sure was nice to have a few extra hours for moi late afternoon. I was able to mow the back lawn and change the hummer water, though I'm not sure if the hummer has left for Mexico already. Nights are getting chilly.

Speaking of chilly, the heat is not yet on, of course, but I did throw my winter comforter with flannel duvet (oh, it's SO comfortable) on the bed. Also partly due to one of the cats, ID unknown, having puked on two quilts AND a throw, meaning I had to strip the bed.

I'm looking forward to figuring out how to allocate my future weekly or biweekly paychecks. I like to set aside a fixed $ amount toward savings on the first of each month. I firmly believe that without setting goals, you'll never achieve anything worthwhile. So I need to set new goals for myself.

The month of September I will likely be way in the red, due to 5 large irregular expenses: 1. higher than average healthcare cost of over $300, due to headache issue, 2. the humidifier ($530), 3. the new hot water heater ($770), 4. an estimated IRS tax payment for my freelance work (just $125) and oil tank fill-up this week ($440).

Coming any day now will be the homeowners and car insurance totaling over $1,000. Yikes.

This month's income will be half of what would be needed to pay for all this stuff. I'll be catching back up to where I need to be soon.

I'm reading a new book which I really quite like. (See sidebar.)

Things didn't work out with Bachelor #2. I really was attracted to him, but I think we both realized that we wouldn't mesh because riding his "hog" (he has TWO Harleys) is a big part of his life, and he likes to take trips with them, like to NH, while I have zero interest in getting on a bike, at my age! I just don't think they're worth the risks you take with so many distracted drivers.

Just yesterday there was a one vehicle motorcycle accident; i suspect the biker was cut off or tried to cut someone else off at an exit. As the traffic crept by the crash, I saw the police leaning over the man, still on the bike and on the ground. He wasn't moving. So no, you won't get me on a bike.

Fortunately, there is now a Bachelor #3. Jeff by name. He's supposed to call tonight; if all goes well, I'll suggest a meeting next week. He sounds very mature, smart and balanced. Semi-retired from hedge fund trading, I think, and doing some volunteer work. I really don't know much about him aside from a few emails, but he sounds pretty nice and lives nearby.

I got it!

September 25th, 2013 at 02:47 am

That is, I got the bank job!

I start Oct. 7.

Will be mostly wrapping up the real estate job this week, but told her if she needed me to work a bit into next week, I probably could, although I might want to do it from home at that point, and that I was still available for occasional weekend work.

She agreed to both suggestions. Not that I want to work 24/7, but I have a lot of catching up to do and you never know what'll happen with the bank job, so better to have two birds in the hand.

Next week I hope to take care of a few doc appts and HOPEFULLY deal with my headache issue. Maybe call the guy to do my closet damage repair cus I'll want ot be home when it does it. I'm on Prednisone for a week and it seems to be keeping headaches at bay, but not sure what happens after that if they just return? Also would like to run down to Jersey to see my dad for a day as I think his worsening vision is keeping him from driving up here.

Recruiter's feedback was that employer thought the interview went very well (so did I), that I'd be a great fit and they liked me not just for my copywriter skills but also becus of the "outsider" view I could bring to the job. (Not having worked at a bank before, I guess.)

I had a ton of paperwork to fill out tonight, the app, background check ok, references, w-4, etc. She wanted precise salary and contact info for last 2 years of work, including, she said W-2s, which I thought was overly intrusive and unnecessary since I'm giving her all the $ details anyway. It seems if you're an employee or a patient, you have zero privacy.

Anyway, I'm happy I got the job. I was afraid she'd think I was overqualified. I don't know that it will be the most interesting job, and certainly not as interesting as my current real estate job, but hopefully it won't be too bad. And I've never worked for a bank before, so this will nicely round out my financial services experience on my resume. It's not so much marketing, which is really my thing, but more customer communications, writing in a very concise, direct and straightforward manner about non-marketing stuff they need to know about their accounts or whatever.

So it will last for 10 months, or into next July. I'll gross about $56K which I calculate will be about $40K net. I hope to save as much of that as possible but also get some long-deferred home repairs done. No extravagant dining out, clothes shopping or OTHER SHOPPING. Just the essentials.

Commute will be a relative joy, at just 35 minutes, a very easy and direct drive, compared to 50 minutes to real estate job and 60 minutes plus to the furniture company job.

Also got some nice feedback from the woman who hired me for the real estate job; she said she couldn't have done it (the transition to new brand) without me, that I'd helped her out like this a few times before, that everyone in the dept liked me and asked if I could stay, etc. I will have to bring them donuts or some kind of treat before I leave.

I had also suggested via email that in addition to staying a bit longer into next week, that I'd still be available on weekends, and she liked both ideas.

I must say this job was super easy to fall into from day 1, partly becus i had a prior work relationship with the hiring manager, and partly becus I've worked quite a bit in real estate (different brokerage) and know the business pretty well. Also, the people there are very down to earth and friendly and seem like a good cross-section of everyday people. Very different from the furniture company where it was a very youthful employee base with a certain snob appeal and, i noticed, a lot of gay people (who gravitate toward design or artsy jobs, i guess?) and very NYC-oriented.

There was a guy who started at the real estate company, someone I knew from the job I was laid off from in 2009. He was also hired temporarily, but he lasted 2 days and then they let him go. So, you can never rest on your laurels, sit back or relax when it comes to jobs. Stay alert, do your best, always.

On to yet more new adventures. I've had a ton of experience in new work environments with new people all the time, new commutes...makes my head spin but I guess it's all good experience, especially for an introvert.

The Good and the Bad about my HVAC Experience

September 24th, 2013 at 01:33 pm

So if you haven't been following the fiasco, it went like this: The HVAC company came to install a furnace humidifier. The winters here are so dry I wake up with a sore throat each morning.

The old humidifier connected to the furnace had, at some point leaked and rusted out the plenum and some of the furnace. No real damage to the furnace but it looked unsightly and I didn't want it to attract attention when I sell the place, so I also asked them to replace the plenum, which is basically a large duct on the furnace. (Nothing I can do about the furnace rust, but at least the rusty plenum doesn't draw attention to it.)

They quoted me a price of $520 if I supplied the humidifier myself, and another $210 if they supplied an Aprilaire humidifier. (It's all labor.) Getting the different brand, a Desert Spring, was something I'd been considering after researching it online. Ultimately, I decided not to because they weren't familiar with it and I decided it'd be better to go with an Aprilaire in case they or someone else needed to service it.

They came to install it about 2 weeks ago and left. A day or so later, they call and say they have to come back to "reinstall a certain part." Actually, they had to reinstall the way they wired it to my furnace. They rewired it so the wired isolation relay is between the oil burner primary control and the fan center. The fan center is now the power source for the humidistat and thermostat. Apparently a conversation took place and that's what they decided to do. Not sure what he'd done to start with...

OK, I can deal with that.

After they left the first time, I noticed a wet spot on the floor of my electric hot water heater. I did wonder, momentarily, if it could be related to the recent humidifier installation, but i also know that hot water heaters will start leaking when they beg in to "go." I looked up when I'd last replaced it, and it was 11 years ago. I went online to see what the average age of an electric hot water heater is, and it said 10 to 12 years. So I figured it was probably ready to go due to age.

I didn't want a flood in my basement so I went with Home Depot to install it to the tune of $770 with labor.

I took a day off from work so I could be here when they came (and also for my bank interview). Home Depot never showed, but they managed to arrive the next day.

He began to disconnect the hot water heater, saw the damp spot and showed me how the water was actually seeping down from the new shut-off valve, which sadly I didn't notice. In other words, the hot water heater was fine, but by this time he had already cut a pipe in the process of disconnecting it.

So I had to go through with it and I figure I might as well due to its advanced age.

But I was still fuming mad at the HVAC company becus for all I knew, I could have gotten another year or more out of it and not working f/t, I certainly don't need more big expenses.

When I called the HVAC people, I was real ticked off at his attitude. The first words out of his mouth after I told him what happened were, "We're not responsible for your new hot water heater." I wasn't asking him for reimbursement but I was simply telling him what happened, which wouldn't have happened if their valve hadn't been leaking. Then he suggested the water wasn't leaking from their valve. He didn't even see it and now he's trying to deny it???

He asked for photos, which I emailed and then he quickly said yes, that's our valve and he'd have someone over here to replace it. The guy who did the installation apparently told him the valve was "no where's near" the hot water heater, which wasn't true at all since it was directly above the hot water heater.

This is the shut off valve in question.

It's directly above the new hot water heater, as you can see.

So he apologized in the email for being testy.

Now in the past, I would just take my lumps like this as they come, figuring, what else can I do. There have been any number of times over the course of my homeownership where workmen or contractors here doing some kind of work cause damage to something else, and most times, I've just had to accept that.

This time, I was pissed, and while I knew I couldn't expect them to pay me the $770 for the hot water heater, I emailed and asked him for the first scheduled annual maintenance on the Aprilaire for free, to make up for some of the aggravation. Something I would never had thought to do before. He agreed.

I figure that's got to be worth about $100, so at least I got that for my trouble and aggravation.

It gets better though.

When the guy came this morning to replace the broken bolt on the shut off valve, he also gave me the bill for the humidifier installation. Usually they mail it after the faCt, but since he was here, he just gave it to me.

Again, the estimate i got said the price was $520 if I supplied the humidifier, plus another $210 if they supplied the Aprilaire model. The bill i got today was $520; I think the guy in the office looked at it quickly without reading it through and forgot that they supplied the humidifier, not me.

So IF they don't catch that mistake, I will have saved $200 on that. I wondered for a brief second if he threw in that break to me on account of the leaking shut off valve, but I really doubt that as he'd already given me the free service call and I think he would have told me if that's what he was going to do.

I just hope he doesn't catch the mistake.

The die has been cast

September 22nd, 2013 at 01:02 pm

I plan to connect with the recruiter for bank job first thing tomorrow to review how the interview went and learn when I'll find out if I got it or not.

At first blush, you'd think I'd be a slam dunk for the job becus I have the financial services experience, I'm a great writer, yadda yadda yadda. But I'm worried that because I could not show her specific examples of letters I've written JUST LIKE the ones I'd be writing in this job, she may pass on me. Employers are funny. It doesn't matter that I could do this job with my hands tied behind me in a pool of water. My portfolio had a slew of marketing writing samples, but these letters would be "non-cross-sell" letters, meaning, they weren't meant to sell anything, just inform the customer in a straightforward way about a change or event they need to know about concerning an account. Easy-peasy.

If I don't get this job, it will really suck, becus right now I have no other hot job leads.

So yesterday, the Home Depot sub-contractor finally showed up to install the new hot water heater. I can't tell you how upset I was when one of the guys informed me that the concrete floor right next to the hot water heater was wet, not because the 11-year-old heater was finally kicking the bucket, but because the new shut-off valve the furnace humidifier guy had just installed the day before was leaking!!!!

I had seen the wet floor and assumed it was the hot water heater leaking. The shut off valve for furnace humidifier is directly above the hot water heater.

By this time, it was too late to back out of the hot water heater installation as the guy had cut off a pipe on the old one. What it comes down to is that I spent $700 for a new heater I didn't necessarily need due to the ineptitude or carelessness of the furnace humidifier guy. The bolt used to tighten the value was no good. the hot water heater guy said when he saw the leak, he tried to tighten the bolt and it came apart in his hand.

I was super upset about it but have more or less accepted it now. Eleven or so years is about all you can expect from an electric hot water heater. How much more I could have gotten out of it, I don't know, and maybe I could have sold the house before I'd have to replace it. Also a shame that when you buy a new hot water heater, it's not like you're getting anything NEW or better in terms of the water that's provided. It's just money spent. It will look good when I sell the house in my list of home improvements, I suppose.

I got an email from a dentist I've been to before on Friday announcing an unusual Saturday opening, due to someone's cancellation. They are usually booked far in advance. As an added incentive, the first person to take that spot would also get a free teeth whitening kit. I decided to take the spot becus I realized it had already been 6 months since my teeth cleaning, and they said yes, you can get just the cleaning ($105) without the exam or x-rays.

The one thing I don't like about this dentist is he's always trying to sell you something when you get there and i disliked having to sit through his sales pitch. Dentists have these expensive x-ray machines and so they don't make their money back unless they get people to pay for x-rays.

Now I've gotten dental x-rays all my life and not once has a dental x-ray revealed any issues whatsoever. Not to say that wouldn't happen, but I don't think you need to get them every year like the dentists want you to if you take care of your teeth, as I do.

Plus, I'd just had that CAT scan for the possible sinus infection and I knew I'd had dental x-rays about a year ago with a different dentist who offered them for free, so I declined this time around. Then he said he would do the exam for free, probably becus if he uncovered problems in your mouth, he'd be boosting his income anyway. He didn't find anything in the visual exam but kept hammering away at me saying my fillings are old and there could be a cavity under them and you really should have x-rays.

He did also give me a brochure that described a dental insurance plan where if you spend $210 upfront, it covers 2 cleanings, x-rays and exams for a year, plus you get 25% off any fillings that might be needed.

I might consider doing that since, unless I found another dentist offering a new patient special, which I've done a few times already to save on dental bills, I'd be paying $105 anyway just for the cleanings.

I spent a number of hours yesterday doing additional work for the real estate job, writing up a press release about an award they got and finishing up on a brochure given to new realtors, talking about training, benefits and so on. I was trying to make up for Friday, a day I mostly didn't work, becus of the bank interview and the hot water heater contractor.

So this second week there will likely be my last week there, although if it turns out I don't get the bank job, I will definitely tell her I'm still available if they need me. Either way, I'll tell her I'm always available for weekend work should they need me. I'm hoping that now that I've shown how easily I can pick up the work, she'll find it easy to send me various assignments. They're really so very unparticular about what you write. As long as it sounds good, you can approach it whatever way you like without having to conform to anyone else's idea of what it should be.

I used to do a ton of PR work for this person about 5 years ago but have gotten very little from her in the more recent past. It's possible she'd forgotten how easy I could make it for her! However, what they're paying me now, $35/hr, is quite a bit less than what I usually charge, $50. I knew that when I suggested the $35/hr; I wanted to encourage them to consider hiring me to work full days or weeks at a time, on site, rather than piecemeal for individual projects. I'd make more money that way.

Trying to figure out what to do today; I'm not used to having only a day or two of free time to do personal stuff when you're working. I need to go grocery shopping and figure out some work week lunches, although I've been doing pretty well with $1.25 bean burritos at Taco Bell supplemented by my own snacks and drinks.

I did make a pretty good vegetarian chili using a box mix and adding a can of beans and my own tomatoes. I think I'll save the 2 leftover portions for 2 lunches this week. For the other days, I think I'd like to make my mother's cold pea soup recipe. It's very good, and becus you don't cook the peas, the soup is a bright green and very healthy looking.

I was going to pull up my cherry tomato plants this weekend, but there are still so many tomatoes on the plants and it will be in the low 70s this week. Maybe I'll give them another week.

I HAVE to mow later today when the grass is dry. I think I'll pick up around the house (really needed) and maybe around noon stop by to see my neighbors with some more tomatoes from the garden.

There was yet another delay in getting my 5-year CD with State Farm Bank going. First it was the agent I saw who explained he needed a copy of my driver's license, and so I had to wait for him to mail me the forms. Then yesterday State Farm the company sent me forms becus they needed either my beneficiary or me waiving my right to name a beneficiary. If there's one more delay or issue associated with this stupid CD, I'll withdraw the whole thing and do something else with the money. Not sure it's worth the 2% on $8,000 ($160) for all the trouble.

My first pay day is this Friday. Can't wait. Before I left the office on Thursday, I asked my manager if I could email her my hours for the week, have her review them and then have her pass them on to Payroll. She said fine, but I was feeling nervous becus she's super busy amid the whole brand transition thing and I was worried she wouldn't see the email and not get it to Payroll in time. So after I emailed it and later in the day on Friday, I also called and left her a message. I didn't get any acknowledgement from her but am counting on her to get it right. Too easy to let something like that slip; it happened to me before with the furniture company job becus the woman who usually handled my time sheets went on vacation and my time sheet somehow got lost in the process of someone else doing it.

So the next step in the search for a cure/cause of my near daily headaches: doctor suggested Friday night that we try prednisone/steroids for a week to see if we could "break the cycle" of headaches. I was game. I picked up the meds yesterday and was going to start them today (best to start in the am due to dosing) but now I'm delaying doing so becus i was mostly headache-free yesterday and feel pretty good today. If the headaches return, fine, i will start the meds tomorrow. But they are pretty heavy duty meds so don't want to use them unless i have to, and right now, it feels like a spontaneous recover; i want to see if that will last or if headaches return.

Goings on

September 20th, 2013 at 09:05 pm

This was a crazy busy week.

I wrapped up my first of 2 weeks at the real estate job. Very, very busy over there, and I have lots to do, but that's a good thing. The people are nice to work with and I even have my own office.

I think it will look very good on my resume to be able to say I was hired for 2 weeks to help the company transition all its sales lit to the new brand, and among my first day assignments was writing the CEO's bio. I also updated the key brochure used with sellers/buyers, and have been asked to interview a homeowner (who's listed his home at $5 million) for a story they want to pitch to the local paper. So very diversified work, which I really like.

My doctor wanted me to have a CAT scan yesterday for my headaches becus she suspected I have a sinus infection. I had the scan, reluctantly, and the technician told me that while she's not a doctor, my sinuses look perfectly clear. So, likely waste of money, not to mention radiation I'd rather not have.

I will have to chase after the doctor now for the official results. Unless you're there for an appointment, their follow-up is terrible. I have no idea what the next step is, but I can tell you the headaches persist; better on some days, worse on others. Sometimes not like a real headache, just a lower grade pressure. I personally have not ruled out Lyme or some other tick-borne illness, though it appears my doctor has based on the bloodwork.

And the beat goes on.

I had the anticipated interview at the bank for the 10-month contract job there. I think I did pretty well; my only concern is that she doesn't think I'm overqualified or that i might be bored with the work, as it's solely focused on non-marketing customer communications. I sent off my thank you letter earlier and of course the recruiter is anxious to talk to me about how it went. I'll let her call me. She's a little over the top. After my interview with another recruiter at her firm and after scheduling the interview with the hiring manager at the bank, she also wanted to have a special conversation with me to prep for the interview. We did that 2 nights ago. Then this a.m. she calls me again to wish me good luck and make sure I didn't have any questions. Enough already!

This a.m. I also had the company that installed the furnace humidifier come back to fix something in the way they installed it.

When they left after the original install, I noticed my electric hot water heater was leaking. It's 11 years old, so I guess it needs replacement. To expedite matters, I found one on Home Depot and arranged to have them install it today. I was taking the day off from work to get all this stuff done, so it was important that they do it. They were supposed to call this a.m. between 8 and 9 to confirm the installation and let me know whether they'd be coming in the a.m. or pm. They allow themselves a 3-hour block of time, so you have to wait around a half day for them to arrive anyway.

Well, they never called this a.m. and they never showed, either. I finally called at 3 and the woman had no idea what happened, or why they didn't show. She said I'd have to reschedule, by which time, I was about ready to scream.

I was able to reschedule the install for tomorrow, but again, I'm supposed to wait for the confirm call 1st thing in the a.m. I have a 9 am dentist appt, so i hope they call on time.

I wrote a scathing review on the Home Depot site; their message said IF my review is "approved," it'll post in 72 hours. Hmph.

I usually like to bring my lunches to work, but I couldn't think of anything good to make for work lunches last weekend, and so after that first day of work when this woman monopolized the conversation, talking about nothing but her surgery, I decided to head out on my own for lunch each day to the nearby Taco Bell. I'm not a real fan, but they do make a decent bean burrito (sans sauce) which costs just $1, so I kept costs down for the most part.

Had to pay $1.50 in quarters to pay the meter when i went to the bank interview. The guard told me afterwards that i could have parked in the garage and had them validate the ticket. I had ASKED the recruiter about parking, whether the bank had its own parking lot, and naturally she said she didn't know. Hmph.

If I could just get that damn hot water heater installed tomorrow, and get the dental cleaning out of the way, then at least I'll have one full day (Sunday) to relax before returning to work. Then, it'll just be the whole headache thing distracting me from my work.

A tale of two jobs

September 18th, 2013 at 12:41 am

I wrapped up my second day at the new job. It's extremely busy, and they seem grateful that I'm there.

I can't help but compare this job at a well-known real estate brokerage, recently bought by a larger and even better known name, and the upscale furniture company I worked at over the past few months.

They are both extremely successful companies, but their cultures couldn't be more different.

At the furniture company, the whole atmosphere was what I'd describe as "urbane sophisticate." Their offices were in a renovated brick factory building in a section of the city that, once downtrodden, is being reborn. Inside, the plumbing and ductwork and wiring is all exposed on the ceilings. The kitchen is humongus, with 2 stainless steel refrigerators, 3 matching dishwashers and ample room to fit a bunch of people.

No one save the president of the company has an office, and even his had just a glass wall. The rest of us sat in an open setting with work stations butting up against each other. It was often very noisy and difficult for me, as a writer, to work.

At the real estate company, they share office space with other businesses, although this, too, is the corporate HQ. They still have the old-fashioned cubicles with walls only 4 feet high. So you get a modicum of visual privacy but really very little sound privacy. Still, after working in such an exposed setting where anyone can walk by and peer at your computer screen, I relish my little cubicle.

The kitchen is laughably tiny with a small table that could fit 6 people max. It's obviously an afterthought.

At the furniture company, there was a "briefing" meeting with several people attending for even the smallest writing assignment, just to spell out the purpose of the piece, when it was due and how it would be used. My manager, the Editorial Director, extensively rewrote much of what I wrote to fit their "style."

At the real estate company, they are preparing for the official launch of their new brand and are scrambling to have everything ready by next week. They are literally throwing brochures, presentations, ads and other collateral at me, asking me to update this, edit that and rewrite this. They provide next to no direction on what they're looking for when it comes to writing new copy, but they seem very pleased with everything I've done with not too much critique in the process.

Ironically, I found it more stressful working for the furniture company. I was surrounded by 20-somethings and a lot of city-oriented people with a certain snobbish attitude.

The real estate company seems much more your everyday people. Everyone seems to know who I am and it's flattering that the woman who hired me is having me do a once over on just about everything that's going out the door. It's obvious they never invested in a professional writer because a lot of their stuff is poorly written.

I am still struggling to set an interview date/time with the bank, and until i do that, I don't want to schedule my hot water heater replacement (the one I have is leaking it is somewhat urgent) nor schedule the return trip for the guy who installed my furnace humidifier as he neglected to do something with a certain part. (Annoying.) I'm also still having a lot of trouble with headaches. Spoke to doc yesterday and she said bloodwork shows I'm negative on any of the tick-borne diseases but that my sed rate, a marker for inflammation, was elevated, so i do have an infection somewhere in my body. She is thinking nit could be sinus infection and suggested either another round of antibiotics, this time targeted toward the sinus infection, not Lyme, or a CAT scan to see if there is swelling/pressure in my sinuses.

I initially opted for the CAT scan becus i wanted to get to the bottom of my problem, but seeing as how her assistant never called me today to schedule the CAT scan, I'm going to call doc back again tomorrow and ask for the meds. Otherwise, it's wait to schedule the scan, wait for the scan itself, wait for the results...this is ridiculous. I'm struggling to keep up with a very demanding new job and having to deal with constant headaches. I don't like dosing myself repeatedly with antibiotics, but it would be quicker, with no radiation from a CAT scan.

It's frustrating becus she's so difficult to reach; you have to call and leave a message and she (hopefully) returns the call in the early evening.

I took a Sudafed pill this morning to see if that would reduce my headaches, since it's designed to reduce congestion/pressure of sinuses, but i can't say it helped. I was very headachey all day until about 4 pm, when things eased up.

1st of's official!

September 13th, 2013 at 07:54 pm

I'm now officially starting the real estate job on Monday, 9 am.

It sounds like i might not have to drive in every day, but I will on the first day.

I will finish up by Sept 28, so it will really be just 2 weeks, not 3 weeks of work. Plus, I'll have to take some time off for the expected bank interview...but maybe I can work at home, or take work home, to make up for lost time.

I'm going to email the bank recruiter now and ask her to call me on my cell on Monday, now that I know I won't be home. Hopefully, when I get the call, I can just scoot out to somewhere private to set that interview up. Maybe it won't really be necessary, it's just scheduling a time.

It's something...perhaps it could lead to similar short-term assignments, you never know.

I finally got my furnace humidifier installed today and am looking forward to my first ever comfortable winter.

PS Wednesday night, per doc's suggestion, I stopped taking Cat's Claw for the Lyme Disease, as her quick search online indicated it could cause headaches. On Thursday, I had fairly strong headache all day, starting around mi-morning.

Today, however, no real headache. It seems borderlineish, but much better compared to yesterday. Could it be the stupid herbs themselves were causing the headaches? If so I will try to contact the author of the book. It was the same herbalist who said that "2%" of people report getting hives when taking the andrographis. I was one of those people. Don't know how he can judge it's just 2% since not everyone is going to bother to tell him.

Phone job interview

September 12th, 2013 at 10:07 pm

The phone interview with recruiter for the bank job went very well this morning. She said she thought I'd be perfect for the job, and the more I heard about it, the more I agreed!

This is a regional bank in 16 states, on the East Coast, and I was surprised to hear they have never had a "professional writer" before. I would love to step into that role of managing all their sales letters and notices. It's not marketing as much as it is customer communications where you're not really pitching/selling something, but more about administrative stuff. I could do it with my eyes closed.

So, as requested, i sent a pile of writing samples over after I hung up, and she said she'd have her associate call me Monday to schedule an interview with the hiring manager at the bank.

I'd LOVE to get this job, because it's longer term (10 months) with the possibility to go further. It would be a 35-minute commute, which, after driving over an hour to that high end furniture company contract job, would be a piece of cake.

And, I'm still waiting to hear back from the real estate 3 week job which I was kind of hoping I could start on Monday. I will need to start quickly (that's what she said she wanted) so that it doesn't bump up against my start date at the bank job, which, if I was hired, would be Sept. 30.

I sent a brief note to my contact at the real estate job just letting her know I might have another possible assignment starting 9/30, which SHOULDN't be an issue since she'd told me their work for me would end Sept. 25. I'm not sure what the significance of that date is, but anyway.

So, I'm very anxious to get started at both places as I have various expenses, of course, plus I want to get started on some home improvement fixer upper projects to get my house ready for market.

Mostly minor stuff but I need money to do it.

I saw my doctor again yesterday for my Lyme. She seemed puzzled that I was still having headaches, and when I told her I was still taking these 3 herbs, becus I thought they helped on previous occasions when I had Lyme, she looked them up online and quickly found that the cat's claw can sometimes cause headaches! Which is interesting, cus the herbalist who wrote the book whose advice I'm following mentioned a few other side effects, but not headaches. So we agreed I'd stop taking the cat's claw.

I can tell you my headache has been with me all day today and has been fairly pronounced, so I'm afraid the headaches are not cats claw-related. Which would have been too easy.

I also had the doc take my blood and I asked her if she could identify the specific tick-borne bacterial infection I have since she said yes, the antibiotic(s) used for the infections would vary somewhat depending on whether it's Lyme or rocky mountain or babeliosis, although doxycyclin is the gold treatment, which is what I had first 2 rounds already.

She's supposed to call me tomorrow with the results and then I guess we'll take it from there. I do hope we learn something definitive. Unfortunately, though I'm paying $589 a month for health insurance with the state plan of last resort, my doctor doesn't accept that plan and so I had to pay for the visit/blood draw out of pocket, just $87, but I am hoping the bloodwork, which is done at the hospital, will be covered at the hospital. Doc said she thought they'd have to accept every plan there.

Despite my headache issues, I am feeling very upbeat due to the job situation. Staring no income in the face is not a nice place to be.

And if i got the bank job and, worst case scenario, it only lasted the 10 months, I would have worked there long enough, I think, to qualify for the maximum amount of unemployment benefits again, so that would be something. Having paid my mortgage off, I could almost live on it.Or at least get by.