Thursday, February 21, 2008

A little something to cheer us up....

Found these on a website for Christian sex toys. (Not purchasing, just thought it was incredibly funny.)

Unemployment Blues

I haven't been posting much lately because my life's kind of boring right now. I have spent the last 3.5 weeks job-hunting to no avail. I had an offer from a maid service, but it was only 6-12 hours a week, which is not enough to cover groceries, let alone make a dent in living expenses. I've also been interviewed by an education temp agency, which could be sweet, but for now I'm waiting for my background check to clear and then hoping they'll actually call with work for me. (Other temp agencies haven't been great about this.) In the meantime I'm applying for every entry-level job I come across: retail, secretarial, home care, child care, Subway Sandwich Artist (a girl can dream, can't she?), and etc.

Basically the job market sucks here. It seems to move at a snail's pace, and my resume's a bit scattered. If I can get an interview I can generally land a job due to my ability to intuit what people want to hear, but on paper I'm not ideal. I graduated university 11 months ago and have since then failed to work a full-time, non-min-wage job, and also not been in a single job for more than 4 months. These suits just don't get my current gypsy lifestyle.

We were hoping through some loophole I'd qualify for unemployment, but there are some problems. I can't collect in the UK because I'm not a citizen. I can't collect in Washington because I wasn't laid off, and I could collect in Montana if I had earned taxable income in that state during the last year. I did have a part-time nanny job over the summer, but the money was under the table and thus I didn't pay taxes on it. So no dough.

So say a prayer to Cajetan for me, the patron saint of deadbeats.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Like Hope, but different

For all of you who saw the Black Eyed Peas Obama video and shed a little tear.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Milestones....or maybe ministones

Valentine's Day is here, and Ryan and I are approaching both the anniversary of our engagement and our 6 month wedding anniversary, or 6th monthiversary. Statistically, being married this long means we've outlasted over 70% of Pamela Anderson's marriages. In honor of these facts I've decided to write up a "what I've learned so far" about marriage. These are specific insights, but I suspect some could be more universally applied.

1. It's really true, you have to let go of 90% of the things you could potentially fight about. For the first 4 months of marriage Ryan and I had "the shoe fight." AKA he leaves his shoes wherever he takes them off, usually in the middle of the floor and within tripping distance. There isn't anything preventing him placing his shoes in the closet immediately after removing them, but to be honest I've never actually tripped over them. I save a lot of time kicking his shoes out of my path instead of arguing with him over something stupid he'll probably never do anyway.

2. Everyone says that marriage is about communication, but I never understood how difficult this would be until I realized that most of my lexicon consists of nonsense (i.e. I need to go the store to get some blah blah for that thing later) meanwhile Ryan is only able to process auditory information about 35% of the time. The rest of the time he is distracted by his other 4 senses.

3. Marriage is a team sport. But when you've been a one man team your whole life, its hard to switch over. Its really nice having someone to cook dinner or run an errand for you, but it can be hard to let someone else take care of important things like finances or choosing shampoo.

4. When you are dating someone, you notice how charming and funny they are. When you are married to someone you notice that for every time that he's clever or funny, he'll probably do something kinda gross. Men's bodily functions seem to operate on a different scale than women's. I love him all the same, but sometimes I make him leave the room to fart.

5. The amount of time Ryan and I spend together is insane! We're together almost constantly and when one of us returns from being apart we do ridiculous play-by-plays of the ever exciting "what happened at the doctor's office/on the metro/in class." I couldn't imagine spending this much time with anyone else without losing my mind. As a result of all the time we share, I can finish most of Ryan's sentences and 90% of his arguments. Lets say this habit does NOT endear you to non-coupled friends, so I try to stop, although sometimes he's hunting for a word and I know what it is, and like a jeapordy winner I have to shout it out proudly.

6. I love being married and spending time with my husband, but I notice we tend to isolate ourselves in lovey-dovey world. I was pretty independant pre-marriage but now I find myself hesitant to socialize sans husband. I think being married can be a crutch. I have to remind myself to get out my comfort zone and experience new things. And then I can race home and tell him "oooh today at the blah blah I met this guy who (soundeffect) and then...."

Lenten Reflections

Lent starts before Valentine's Day this year, and on such years I generally ignore it (who's going to give up chocolates or booze before Valentines?) but lately I've been given to a lot of reflection.

I picked up the book "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Phillip Yancey at the library. I read it cautiously as the back is emblazoned with a Billy Graham endorsement about the best evangelical writer blah blah, and the term evangelical tends to make me nervous. I know that we are all part of the body of Christ, but I tend to associate evangelicals with the kind of Christian I don't want to be-- homophobic, warmongering, insensitive to the plight of the poor-- basically a lot of politics and weird recruitment that I don't consider to be part of my faith.

But Yancey's book completely surprised me. It is an honest analysis, straight from the gospels, about the person of Jesus. It didn't cater to this side of the church or that politics and it didn't pull any punches about the church's many faults. The author owns up to his own prejudices and shortcomings as well (and not in the this- is-how-great-I-am-look-I'm-even-humble way).

It is a completely radical message that most people aren't ready to deal with. Jesus commanded to give all our money to the poor, to turn the other cheek, to be perfect. As often as we try to explain away or rationalize what He said, that's what He said. So what are we doing? How do we call ourselves Christians if we don't follow the teachings of Christ? He wasn't interested in politics or social reform, He was interested in doing everything personally to help others, regardless of expense to Himself.

This doesn't fit with any part of our modern lives.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Do you have a fashion for passion?

Its time for more jobhunting, hooray! Yesterday while exploring downtown Newcastle we saw a sign for sales assistants at a cute boutique called Oasis. They're hiring in their Metrocentre location. So today I set out to the Gateshead Metrocentre to drop off CVs and do a little shopping.

I should mention that the Gateshead Metrocentre is the 2nd biggest shopping mall in England. It has over 330 stores divided into 4 color-coded quadrants. It was exhausting. Before I started the apply-athon I decided to get a haircut. I should explain that my previous style is fairly American. I'm certainly the only woman in England who doesn't own a straightening iron. Everyone here has shoulder-length pin-straight hair and fringe (aka bangs). So I took the plunge and went from before to after. Hairdressers are very different here. They're not for listening to your personal drama and giving you a scalp massage, they want to give you a bitchin haircut as fast as possible. Also, you have to negotiate your haircut with them. Today I heard that she wouldn't cut above my shoulders and wouldn't do a fringe. The only conversation beyond that was "Yuv got a lot of hair, don ya?"

I think the cut makes me look much more British. At least this is what I was channeling while spending the next 2 hours smiling and handing out my CV. After all of them were gone, I started hunting for Ryan's Valentine's Day present. One of my coworkers from Atkinsons had asked me what I was getting Ryan and I said "lingerie-- that's all he wants." She burst out in a fit of giggling. (Maybe she thought I meant man-gerie? Or maybe underwear is still really funny in England?)

I don't think Valentines is hugely popular in England, but this country is made for it. Not only do they have a chocolate shop per every 50 residents, they also have great lingerie stores; the best part being that they make cute stuff up to size F or G. In the US you're lucky to find a D that don't look like a giant beige sail boat. Thus ended my exhausting retail day.

P.S. my hair will never be this straight again.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Internet, internet, internet...

Well Ryan and I have successfully escaped our nearly-collapsed hovel known as our Boyer Street residence. We are safely installed in a 1 bedroom flat in Newcastle that we have all to ourselves! Yes-- bask in amazement that newlyweds can live in their own apartment together. It's quite nice.

Anyway, it is apparently English tradition to forgo heating the first night you're in your new place. I spent the first day solving this part of the equation whilst waiting for our internet to be moved via Virgin Media. It did not go according to plan, to say the least. Below is an angry letter I intend to send to Virgin. Suggestions?

1 February, 2008

I am writing this letter in complaint against Virgin Media’s customer services. My husband and I moved house on Tuesday after speaking to a Virgin Media customer services representative who informed us that we should leave our cable modem and power source in our old home and that a new modem and set up would be delivered to us on Wednesday.

I waited at home an entire day Wednesday only to receive an incomplete set. When I called to inform Virgin Media that my set was incomplete, they refused to even speak with me on the grounds that the account was in my husband’s name. I have all the account information, I am using the same phone and address, I have confidential information (i.e. his date of birth etc) to confirm that I am his wife. But Virgin Media wouldn’t even allow me to order a new set. I had to wait until my husband returned, by which point it was too late to get a new set out the next day.

Now it is Friday and I have had to wait at home again for another Virgin box to arrive. I set everything up and called to turn on service in our house, and once again was refused service, even after claiming to be my husband, using all his information. I am merely trying to get the internet service turned on in our house, the house Virgin knows my husband lives at. Instead I was called a liar and treated like a criminal. What am I supposed to be; some kind of thief who breaks into peoples’ homes and activates their internet for them?

Virgin’s customer service team has proven themselves to be an entirely bureaucratic and unconcerned lot. I have no doubt that the individuals working here would like to be of help, but the policies of this company are more about protecting themselves from frivolous liabilities than helping the customers who are paying their bills. I have thus far been thoroughly dissatisfied.

I have wasted two days waiting for delivery, plenty of phone minutes (for which I’m being charged, no doubt), and lost several days of internet usage that I am paying for. Furthermore, when I asked to speak with a manager to register a complaint, the customer services representative wouldn’t pass me along. I am entitled to complain about this poor service and am thus writing this letter.


Mrs. Katharine Strange, legally married to Ryan Strange, living in his same house, using the same phone and on the same bloody bank account.

Anyway, Ryan thankfully arrived home to deal with the Virgin people and get us all set up. My next order of business was tracking down this week's episode of Project Runway, which I didn't find, but instead found the video of this amateurishly hilarious fellow. Enjoy.