Two Roads Diverged

Life is all about choices – so which choice is coming next?

Balancing Act

This balancing – it’s hard.

I explained in my last post what’s been keeping me busy. I’m still only working 4 jobs right now – due to eletrical difficulties the bartending has not begun yet.

Jobs on one side - life on the other...

Jobs on one side – life on the other…

So for now, I’ve been handling the four.

AND managing to have a social life replete with friend interaction!

Until this week though…

Maybe the spring break in the air is affecting me – or this is the week I fall off that balance beam…

It started when I stayed up ’til 3 chatting with my old college roommates who were visiting.

Then had to get up for work at 6.

Then I forgot to set up my tutoring appointment –

Until the day she went on spring break. So no appointment.

Then I forgot to check if I was babysitting – until the morning I was supposed to go (I did go!).

Then in the middle of my Friday night shift the closer asked if I could close – so he could visit some friends who were leaving. So I closed.

I got home at 2:30. Wired. Fell asleep around 5.

Or 6.

Got woken at 9 by a family friend phonecall, “So we’re still on for lunch before you got to work?”

So what I looked like...

So what I looked like…

And last night I also agreed to swap shifts on Sunday and close.

I’m opening on Monday.

Spring Break – thank you for not letting me sleep either…


The Juggling Act

So I mentioned a few weeks ago how my lack of activity was due to lack of internet.

And also that small detail of the acquisition of 5 jobs.

Well, now I have internet! (Yay for mail spam that actually gives you great deals!)

Ok, so my mailbox only had one letter... but it happened to be a great deal from Cox!

Ok, so my mailbox only had one letter… but it happened to be a great deal from Cox!

But those jobs, well, they do require time.

Dang it.

To be perfectly honest, at the moment I’m only doing 4, the fifth hasn’t started yet.

But I’m sure the question is: How did this come to happen?

Well, around December, after 4 months of unemployment, I caught my first break! I finally got an interview! Sure, it was to be a food runner – a step below server – but it was a money making job!

So job number 1, secured.


My mom works in the principal’s office at my hometown high school.

So when first, a family came seeking a babysitter, and then another family came seeking a science tutor, my mom offered my name.

So babysitting and tutoring were added to the list.

Then one night during a food runner shift, I ran into an old customer from when I worked at a bagel shop. I kept in touch with her and her family while I was in Greece.

It turned out the administrative assistant at her company had just left, so she offered me the position. The work is in the mornings, so I could keep the restaurant job, babysitting, and tutoring.


Meanwhile, during all this, my mom had contacted a friend who worked at a casino. He said he could see about getting me a job as a bartender, but I should get a bartending license first, and gave me the name of the school his son went to.

With the luck I was having, I called during their big holiday promotion and paid 1/3 the normal cost.

So I started classes at the Riverside National Bartending School.

Now, I’d read on multiple places online that having a bartending license “doesn’t help”, and “bars prefer you don’t have it”, etc.

I did have several reasons for taking the class. Obviously one was to get a bartending job. But really, it was something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and why would I ever regret the class? Learning new drinks, being able to make drinks at parties — really there would be no losing!

So for a month, I drove 1 hour each way, to finish this class.
Memorized over 100 drinks.
And finished the final (making any 12 drinks the teacher called out) in record time.

Then began the tough part of bartending.

The job search.

So first, I jumped on Craigslist. And saw an ad that said a new restaurant opening where I lived was having interviews.

The next morning.

So the next morning, I jump in my car, wait while one person interviews in front of me, then was interviewed myself.

Got invited to a second interview.

The day after that, got offered a bartending job.

So the first place I walked into? I got a bartending job!

But the restaurant hasn’t opened yet. It looks like that may take a while. So only working 4 jobs at the moment – but (hopefully) soon to be five.

Then we’ll see – for reals – how good my juggling skills are…


I Love WP, Just Not On My Phone

So I’ve been rather random in posting lately.

And I’ve been even more random in reading. Like some may have noticed that I, just today, commented on blog entries from over a week ago.

And missing these posts as they come out causes me to be late on Big news – like the resigning pope (Thank you Doggy’s Style).

Why have I been so remiss?

Well, I’ve got 5 jobs now. (Ok, Truth: soon to be 5 jobs, one hasn’t technically started yet). 3 are in one city, two in another.

This means lots of travel and little extra time for WP for the moment.

It also becomes much harder when one of the places I’m sleeping at has no internet.

Why this travesty? Because I’ve been too lazy to set it up…

So soon, hopefully, I will be back to not being a week behind on everyone’s posts. And I will be able to write my own posts more frequently.

For now – I’m trying to work out my fingers so they’ll slim down and stop hitting the wrong buttons on my phone’s internet pages…

How does anyone have the patience to write on this?!?!

How does anyone have the patience to write on this?!?!


6 Degrees of Separation

So I’m sure most of you know of the concept of 6 Degrees of Separation, or if you don’t, well, I guess we’ll forgive you and I’ll give you the handy-dandy Wikipedia link.

Of course I’ve heard about 6DoS. But never really thought about it.

Until recently.

Sometimes you never know what commenting can lead you to learn!

Vyvacious meeting blog friends real life meetings

Thinking, “Hm, that’s interesting she feels that way, I gotta ask…

Blog meetings, meeting people online

“What if we had class together once?” I so innocently asked at the end. Because as two UCLA alums, that’s definitely how we would’ve gotten to know each other, right? CLASS!

Without thinking too much about it, I click through my other internet pages.

AKA: Facebook.

Ah, more planning for the Surprise Birthday Party for a friend.

I read through the messages, and come across one that catches my eye:

Meeting people online, online meeting, Vyvacious

Wait a minute.

Wait a minute!

A girl named Vyvy? That’s funny, I read a blog by a girl named “Vyvacious”.

Mistaking a comment as being about strippers?!

Vyvacious has a pretty dirty mind!

But it can’t be! That would be so coincidental!!

So I ask:

online meetings, meeting people online, Vyvacious

And so we’ve figured it out.

We’ve met on WordPress, been commenting on each other’s posts for months.

And we share some of the same friends!!

So this weekend, both Vyvacious and I prepared to celebrate our friend’s birthday.

And we prepared to meet in person.

meeting people online, online meetings, Vyvacious

This is what WordPress Badasses look like!

As with many of the blogs I read, I often found myself thinking as I read Vyvacious’ blog, “Man, I bet if we ever met in person, we’d totally get along!”

And you know what? We did.

And just like that, blog friend became real friend.


Talk About Your Emotional Gamut

I guess this is what it must feel like to be pregnant.
Or hormonal.
Or like a girl who’s learning stick shift.

The last week has been my first week driving the stick (name still to be decided).


And man, it got driven a lot. Several hours worth of distance every day.

And during those hours: my emotions swung everywhere.

Emotional gambit, swinging emotions, emotion meter

And most days went a little something like this:

Get out of the driveway.
Wait at the stop sign to cross two lanes of traffic.
Fidget, body tenses
Make it to the freeway safely.
Shift onto the freeway, guy behind me tailgates as I shift too slowly.
Navigate the freeway.
Have to get off the freeway for some reason (gas, destination, etc.).
Get to stop sign/stoplight.

Light turns Green.
Restart, let foot off clutch.
The car behind me honks.
Start panicking
Somehow get the car started.
Get through that intersection.
Get stopped at a light.
Another car honks.
Burst into tears

Most of last week I stalled at least 3 times a day.
And burst into tears at least once a day. (I swear I don’t cry that much!)

It all culminated into Friday, I jumped in the car, headed off to work.

I was parked a bit differently and was going to have to navigate a bit more to get out of the driveway. Now, our driveway is relatively flat at the top, drops off on one side, and the drive is a good 70O angle. So I didn’t want to go off the edge, and I didn’t want to be trying to navigate the steep drive.

When my turning angles weren’t quite what I wanted them to be (damn you geometry!), I tried to go back to start over.

I turned too sharply, and the right front tire went over the edge.

Cue the tears.


If only I was this adorable when I cried! Ah, lost youth…

A quick phonecall to my dad – a turn of the steering wheel, and the right wheel was able to grab onto concrete and pull me back onto the driveway.

Completely shaken, I took my dad’s car. Loving the automatic, and not having to shift, I was able to calm down.

But just as many of you claimed I would, I missed the shifting. I can’t say I missed the control, which I hadn’t gotten yet, I didn’t even miss the gas mileage, which I hadn’t calculated yet.

I can’t honestly tell you what I missed. But when my mom suggested I stop driving the stick, I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t just the desire to learn (or ‘stubborness to learn’ I guess I should say), but there’s something about the car that I liked.

So I returned to the stick.

And for three days now I’ve been relatively stall free! (Only twice in three days!)

I can HEAR the engine changes. I’m starting to understand the shifting.

It’s falling into place!

But my emotions are still all over the place. No more crying – but panic. That’s definitely still there.


Driving to the End of the Year

As 2012 came to an end, and many were looking back at the year, I spent the last days of 2012 looking forward.

At the road in front of me and concentrating really hard on the ‘sound of the engine’.

Actual New Years Eve I spent working. The night shift. And then the night shift had the opening day shift on New Years Day. Brilliant Managerial scheduling really – we were all ready to work from having passed out from exhaustion rather than from drunken partying.

Driving a stick, Day 2
My dad drove us out to a little town nearby. (And when I say ‘little’ I mean population 1,000.)

Lots of back roads, no people. The perfect place to practice.

Needless to say as I got behind the wheel I was petrified.

“There might actually be someone else on the road! What do I do if someone else is driving on the road too?!”

My dad just patiently looked at me.

Oh right. I know how to drive, just not the mechanics of the stick shift yet…

I pushed in the clutch, and started the car.

And everything about day 2 went better!

Having actual space to get the car moving to practice shifting gears? Awesome! I was no longer just starting, stopping, starting, stopping.

I was starting, GOING, shifting!

For over an hour I was able to drive on the roads, not only shifting, but also practicing stopping and starting as I hit stop signs.

I even went on the freeway – jumping off and on at exits to practice shifting faster. (Let’s just say: I need more practice…)

And the next day went well too! (Though it was a rough start – it was the first time I drove with shoes on. I really am a better driver without shoes – my feet are more sensitive to the minute changes in the pedals.)

The end result: when we first got the Oldsmobile, it was meant for my dad to take up to San Jose, for his work commute. But since he claims, “I’m comfortable enough to manage,” the car will be staying in San Diego for me to drive. (I am especially rejoicing as the truck I’ve been driving gets 18 mi/g. Ooph that’s been hurting my bank account!)

Next week will see me driving the stick shift. Alone.



Reverting to 16 Years Old

New Driver

Day 1
“Why are you wearing flip flops?” asks Dad.
“Well, I drive barefoot.”
“Your feet will get tired.”
“I’ll handle it.”

Dad and I jumped in the car, and he drove us to the church parking lot.

“It’s like I’m 16 and learning to drive again!” I joke.
“Well, you are learning to drive. A stick shift,” says my ever-logical father.

I lol'd.  This is me. Viking hat included.

I lol’d. This is me. Viking hat included.

He starts the process of explaining how the clutch works – what it does for the engine. Technical talk to fill up my brain.

I push in the clutch, and turn on the car.

“Ok, push the accelerator and let’s bring it up to 2,000 rpm. Listen to the engine, hear what 2,000 sounds like. Then slowly let off the clutch.”

I listen. I let off.

We jerk.

“Ok, let’s do it again.”

We try that for a while. Lots of jerking.

“Ok, let’s try something different.” He puts on the e-brake. “Let off the clutch, we’re looking for the slip. Feel the slip of the clutch.”

I feel it. We take off the brake, and try to let go of the clutch, and push on the accelerator; simultaneously.

The engine dies.

“That’s ok. Again.”

The engine dies.

We keep trying. As the engine dies for the 250th million time, hot tears spill down my cheeks. I pretty much am a 16-year-old-frustrated-at-learning-to-drive-and-not-being-perfect-at-it again.

“Don’t get frustrated,” my father calmly says.

Yeah, I’ll work on that…

“Ok, pull into a parking spot. Right, good. We’re going to go in reverse. Now the engine power is lower in reverse. You can’t let go of the clutch, you have to slip the clutch. Let’s just go in reverse for a while.”

And it finally starts to make sense. I feel what slipping the clutch is! I’m going backwards, the car’s not dying!!!!

“Ok, good. You feel it? Right. Let’s go forward now.”

And now, I can go forward! We’re not dying! Sure, I’m jerking at least half the time, but I’m not killing the engine!

“Ok, let’s go out of the parking lot. We’ll turn up the street and go up to the Smith’s house the next street up.”

Attempt to pull out of the parking lot: successful
Going up the hill: successful
Turn onto the next street: successful

“Let’s stop, we’re going to practice e-brake stop and start to go up a hill.”

I stop on the hill. Pull the e-brake. Clutch and accelerator. Release e-brake. Engine dies.
Repeat. Car rolls back.
Repeat. Engine dies.

“Maybe this wasn’t the best idea,” dad ponders.

We eventually, eventually get over the hill, and then safely back to the church lot.

Dad takes over from there and we drive home.

That night is filled with dreams of clutch failing on steep hills at a stoplight with cars behind me…


Accident Update

Turns out the driver who hit me at the end of November wasn’t insured.

But that’s why you get your own insurance, to take care of things like that.

As I wait for my insurance to finally come through (they’re usually really good – guess they’re all just gone during the holidays…), good luck came through again.

While looking for a new car (and by “new” I of course mean “not new”) I’ve been checking ebay, autotrader, Kelly bluebook, etc.

And I was flabbergasted by how much the cars were! What happened to all those stories of people who got pretty good cars (aka: it got them from point A to point B) for under $1000?! It didn’t seem like it was going to be possible!

Then my mom heard about a teacher at school who was selling his car. A 2000 Oldsmobile. 150,000 miles. $750.

Who doesn't love the dramatic glamor shots?

Who doesn’t love the dramatic glamor shots?

My parents tried it, they liked it.

The best thing about it? (And why couldn’t I try it?)

It’s a stickshift.

Why am I so excited?

One of my life goals: learn to drive a stick.

When did this become a really important life goal?

When I tried to rent cars in Greece, and we couldn’t because none of us drove a manual. Ooph.

I’m definitely a “things happen for a reason” person. So while I lost my first car, I gain another. And an added plus: new skills.

Tomorrow I learn how to drive a stick.

Tomorrow you might want to stay off the roads…


A Family Holiday

It’s Christmas Eve, and many families will be gathering tonight and tomorrow around the center of the family decorations. The center of the holiday spirit in a home.

The Christmas Tree.

Now there’s many types of trees: you’ve got your real trees, your fake trees, your big trees, your small trees.

But my tree – well, I think my tree is pretty special.

For one thing, it’s old.

If my tree had rings! … But who am I kidding, my tree can’t get more blinged-out and shiny than it already is.


You see, my tree – my tree is made of aluminum.

ALUMINUM?” You say!

Yep. Nice, shiny, SHINY aluminum.


“Aluminum? So your tree is basically made out of soda cans?”

But contrary to what you might think – it’s actually quite beautiful!

When the sun shines in the windows, it catches the branches in a blinding display of light.

And at night, we turn on the rotating spotlights – and the tree changes colors. Blue, yellow, red, green.

aluminum christmas tree, aluminium christmas tree, Christmas tree

This tree was my Mom’s childhood tree. It’s been in our household since before I was born.

I love having the tree every year.

And every year I love it more.

Because for me, the tree is a connection to family.
For the members that aren’t with us any more, or who can’t join us at Christmas, they’ve been there at some point with the tree.
A little bit of them is there and present.

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday – full of happiness and full of love!


Success: Thy Name is “The Interview”

Yes, I give that sly look. Works every time.

Yes, I give that sly look. Works every time.

So of course since getting back home a goal has been to, ya know, Get a Job.

So I started the search the day I got back.

Wow, that’s quite early I hear some of you say. Didn’t want to rest a bit?

Yes, yes it was. BUT! I had an employee referral from the Holland America cruise I had just gone on, and a guaranteed interview if I submitted my application in a timely manner.

So I submitted and waited.

Dancing in my seat – already imagining my blog turning into the “overseas adventures of Jillian”.

2 weeks went by. Nothing. So I called the company.

“Hi, I would like to speak with the hiring manager.”
“Oh, you can only send an email.”
“All right, to whom?”
“Oh, we’ll make sure it gets to the right department. Just put the job title in the subject line.”

I sent a follow up email (while also emailing my ‘employee referral’ about “What’s up?”) with the typical, “I applied for such and such job with a referral from so and so and would love to know if you’ve accepted my application, blah blah blah”.

The response: ”Thank you for your interest in Holland America, if you’d like to apply please visit the HA website at…”

So much for that ‘guaranteed’ interview. Dead end it was looking to be.

The next 4 months followed applications to every cruise company, multiple travel companies, several jobs in Hawaii, etc. Follow ups, calls, you name it.

I took secretary tests, math tests, and personality tests.

I would score exceptionally well on these tests. But then get rejected.

The problem I was running into, and all the rejections I got, were because I lacked experience.

I was running into the current economy’s catch 22. Can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job.

Thank you Google - you understand!

Thank you Google – you understand!

Even the age old, “It’s who you know” wasn’t working for me – in most cases, just as I was about to have a foot in the door, the door shut because the company decided not to hire.

I knew, I just knew though that if I could get in there, get in person for an interview, I’d be golden.

So finally, last week, I filled out an online application for restaurant position.

When I called the restaurant I was informed that on M-W from 2-4, if you’d filled out an online application, you could come in and request to speak with a manager.

I was in that store faster than you can say, “I finally got an interview!”

I dazzled, I shined, I blew up his mind!

Or rather, I showed that I was a good candidate.

Specific examples for all the questions. Confident, calm, friendly.

And what I knew to be true was true.

When I finally got my in person meeting, I finally got offered a job.

Say hello to another member of America’s workforce!


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