Saturday, August 29, 2009

On dating online

Speaking of dating...
I just realized I have music from every one of my past significant others—except the one who was a music major. Interesting.
So, have you ever used an online dating service? Are you too embarrassed to admit it? These virtual lonely hearts clubs are treated with skepticism by the socially higher-functioning among us, but I figure they have their merits. How else are shy people like me going to find each other? I have met a few of my favorite people through dating sites (not that we're actually dating now or anything). But meeting people online definitely has its drawbacks.

Outside of dating sites, how do people meet each other? Maybe they are coworkers. They get to know each other through work, and then they start meeting each other outside of work. If they're in school, they obviously meet each other in class, then they arrange study groups after class, and then study sessions in dark janitorial closets after the school has closed. Or perhaps they start chatting on the subway and go home with each other's numbers. Later on, they meet for coffee. Sometimes one of them hollers at the other out the window of the car. People seem to think that's a good idea, but frankly I have my doubts as to its success rate. But the point is, there's an established sequence for things, and it involves a timeframe that spans several days, weeks, or maybe even months.

There is something about online interaction that makes people lose all sense of the proper romancing procedure. Let's say you're acting out scenario a: You're chatting with a new coworker you think is the bee's knees. After two minutes of getting to know each other, do you then strip off all your clothes and say, "Hey, whaddaya think? How would you like a piece of that?" So what makes people on dating sites think it's acceptable to send you nude pictures of themselves as soon as you're finished with the introductions?

How about scenario c: meeting on the subway. Let's say you're chatting with a stranger you think is the cat's pajamas. You tell them your name; they tell you theirs. Do you then say, "Hey, now that we know each other, let's have a hug!"? So why do people that meet you for the first time on a blind date want to start things out with an introductory embrace?

And why do they assume that they are going to want to spend hours and hours with you the first time you meet? I have recently talked to several people that I met online, with whom I've either planned and carried out, or merely discussed, an actual date. An overwhelming number of them (ahem, that is 2 out of 2. I'm easily overwhelmed) expressed disappointment with my plan to meet for dinner and then call it a night. They responded with things like, "I'd rather see you all three days," and, "Just dinner? Why not something afterward?" Why not spend all night together? Why not meet and then just never part?

Did it ever occur to these guys that I'm not such great company? Did they ever imagine that after having dinner, they might want to call it a night? I don't care if you think someone is the monkey's cufflinks based on a few emails and online chats; what's wrong with making sure you really like being around them before committing hours of your life into their hands?

Am I just cold and heartless, or are these guys just overenthusiastic? Either way, I think it's time to add another clause to Valerie's Guide to Dating Valerie:

5. You can't hurry love.
If you think you want to be with me, you have to be willing to take it slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo - wait - what was I talking about?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hire Valerie

The all-consuming object of my life (second only to the other all-consuming object of my life) at present is to get a job. As you well know, I work a comfortable number of hours at a wage low enough that I can just barely pay the outrageously cheap rent that buys you residence with a bunch of people who are terrible to get along with. I would like to change this. Seeing that there are only two semesters until I graduate and that I have no classes during the current semester, I have decided it's high time to get a better job. One that will provide me with enough income that I can find more desirable housing.

It has not been easy. For a few months, I was scouring the online classifieds and sending out resume after resume with no result. I received one call back from some guy with a thick accent who was almost completely unable to explain what he wanted, except that he wanted it far too cheaply.

Oh, yes, I do get regular calls from the insurance companies that have carefully reviewed my resume and decided I would be a perfect candidate for one of their sales representative positions. Because, obviously, insurance sales representatives are "publications professionals with skills in web design, print design, and writing."

I get regular emails as well from companies looking for a customer service representative, which sounds boring, but still higher paid than both of my current jobs. The only problem is, every email I get on that subject quotes a lower hourly rate than the last one. And I'm skeptical of any shotgun message that makes its way to me. It has the insidious potential of really being a job in sales. Possibly insurance sales.

Finally I received another email back from a representative at a staffing firm, who after meeting me, seemed really enthusiastic about my potential to get hired by one of his clients. Unfortunately, I didn't get hired by one of his clients.

Only a few days after my interview with him, I got a call from another staffing firm and another interview the next day. The representative I spoke to also claimed to be impressed by my skills. The day after my interview with her, she called me to let me know she wanted to send my portfolio to a potential employer offering work that sounded right up my alley. She wanted, however, more information about my knowledge of search engine optimization, writing/editing, and my graduate program. I emailed it to her within the hour, but while I was at work that evening, she left a voice mail saying she hadn't received it. As soon as I got home, I sent the email again, and I called her the next morning and left a voice mail asking if she'd received the messages. No reply.

I'm feeling very frustrated by these repeated false starts and dissolving job opportunities. Yet, like the fox that couldn't reach the grapes, I will claim that I didn't really want them anyway. After all, is having to wear a suit all the time really worth having gainful employment?

Maybe I should just spruce up my freelance website and start offering discount deals to my lapsed clients. Or maybe I should start randomly sending my resume to nonprofits. Or maybe I should pick one direction and stick with it for more than a day at a time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More perils of being Valerie

I humiliated myself multiple times at work today. Now, because I don't know when to quit, I'll recount the embarrassments in my blog!

First, I confessed to my coworker that I don't know how to make friends. I'm sure all you readers have read similar confessions from me so many times that it's just a fact of life and not a confession. But the people at work all seemed genuinely surprised that little miss sunshine has no friends. So then my coworker said she'd start inviting me with her everywhere she goes because she feels sorry for me. Yippee. Charity friendship, here I come!

Well, after that, my manager decided to laugh long and loud at the nice suggestion I gave to the nice lady that she could use her baking chocolate (she'd bought it thinking it was drinking chocolate) to bake brownies, since she couldn't return it opened and without a receipt. I said, "That's not funny! I was just trying to be helpful!" And he said, "It is funny! It's a good thing!" And I said, "Maybe it would be good if I was trying to be funny, but I wasn't!" And he said it still was funny and it was just "such a Valerie thing to say." All right, fine. At least I have character. I guess, deep down, I don't mind playing the clown.

But I do mind alienating people with the stupid things I say, which is what happened in the last, and far worst, embarrassment. Every evening, we make an announcement at 8:50 reminding customers that we close in 10 minutes, and a second announcement at 9:00 to inform customers that we are closed and they should make their way to the registers. I have those announcements memorized, and I can recite them like a pro. But today, my manager asked me to make another announcement at 9:05 to encourage the stragglers to get out of the store. My impromptu announcement went like this: "Good evening shoppers! The time is now 9:06 and we will be closing our registers in the next few minutes. If you haven't made your purchases by then, you will lose your opportunity to do so." I knew instantly that it was the most horrible announcement in the history of store announcements! Being thus mortified, I could not even think of a friendly closing line, so I just held the phone (our version of a microphone) for a few seconds, squeaked audibly into it, and hung it up. Oh, the horror! Apparently there was only one person in the store...but if they report the incident to the owner, my job is gone! The manager (the same one who laughed at my brownie suggestion; he laughs at pretty much everything) laughed hysterically and said it was great. I was not convinced. Everyone else laughed hysterically too.

I snuck out the back door and went home.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Driving Adventures with Valerie

This morning at 9, I was supposed to go on a hike near Baltimore. Last night, I got home from work fairly late, and instead of researching how to get to the hike, I watched a movie, figuring I'd get the directions this morning. So I did, but of course that, plus refusing to set an alarm clock, plus taking a shower and brushing and tying up my considerable amount of hair plus trying to find something for breakfast meant I got a kind of late start. It was nearly 8:20 when I left, but thinking that a Baltimore address meant the park would be near campus which is about 45 minutes away, I figured that wouldn't be a problem as long as I drove with a purpose.

I was wrong. At 9, I wasn't anywhere close to where I needed to be. Oh, well, that was OK, I concluded. If I didn't manage to meet up with the group, I could still get to the park and enjoy a nice solo hike.

However, in my hurry, I had written inadequate directions, which made it difficult to get to the park. I thought I was supposed to take exit 20 to get to I-83 (I hadn't specified whether that was 83 North or 83 South) and then take a right on York Rd. I crossed I-83 before I got to exit 20, but concluded that the exit number was the most likely piece of information to be correct, so I kept going. But at exit 20, there were no signs for either 83 or York Road. At that point, I wisely got out my gigantic Baltimore area wall map, and found out that I was supposed to have taken 83 North and THEN gotten off at exit 20.

OK, so I needed to turn around. I had started out going north and thus assumed that I would need to go south to go back, but had already gone so far around the loop that I was actually going south again, so I really needed to go north. Too bad I didn't figure that out until I actually got back on the highway and saw I was still going in the wrong direction. I had to go 4 miles down the road before I reached another exit and succeeded in turning around.

Well, now, when I saw the signs for 83, I knew I was back on track. I was still going to make it to the park. 83 North, then exit 20, then follow the nice instructions. But after driving on 83 for just a short while, I discovered I was going south! I don't know how I had managed that! I swear I took the exit for 83 north. It was almost 10:00. I was an hour late, and I didn't want to turn around a third time, so I just went home. Actually, first I went to the University of Baltimore and had a heck of a time trying to find out where my projects had been kept. But I got them. I got home.

Since I was already in the car, I took the opportunity to see if I could fix the various nonfunctioning dashboard meters. I couldn't.

When I turned on my computer, I noticed an email from the leader of the hiking group. It had arrived at 8:20 this morning, stating that the hike had been canceled.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The lion sleeps tonight. And tomorrow night. And the night after that...

One of my neighbors is in the habit of playing oldies really loud--loud enough, at least, that I can hear it quite plainly through my window, day after day. I have not been able to figure out if this neighbor is listening to his own collection of music or a radio station with a very limited repertoire, but I hear the same songs all the time. Usually I don't really notice it, until "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" comes on. Then all of a sudden it's high pitched wailing assaulting my ears. Is it really possible to sing that high? Does it have to happen every single night?

Today I discovered the culprit. I was walking home from work and heard some song which was forgettable but nonetheless part of the familiar playlist. I followed my ears and saw him sitting in a chair in his backyard. It's a guy who lives on the street behind me. I know his address now, but I don't think it would be nice to publish it. I also know his last name because it's posted prominently on his house. It's a good thing for him that his attempts at DJ-dom amuse me more than annoy me.

Speaking of songs that traumatize...

Most music, I either like or dislike. There are just a few pieces, however, which I do like but still have unpleasant effects on me because they are indelibly associated in my mind with unpleasant things.

It's been 3 years since I originally blogged about this - apparently so long ago that it was in the blog that AOL deleted - but still I cannot hear most of Vivaldi's Four Seasons without feeling a certain sense of dread, sleep deprivation, sadness, and biscuits. All because, for a time brief period one summer, I used that CD to wake me up for my opening shift at Bob Evans.

And then there's that song, "Mama Said (there'd be days like this)." One time long ago, I (think I) happened to see a movie about Captain America, in which (I think--it really was long ago) this song was played. Something about that movie horrified me. It had something to do with a rat, a man with glasses, and a little boy who met an upsetting fate. Now whenever I hear "Mama Said," that old horror comes back to me.

Too bad, because they're really kind of catchy--the Shirelles and Vivaldi alike.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Classic Val's Galore

I now present to you a relic--one of a collection of stories from a time when I could not quite spell, but was able to manage a mostly coherent sentence. In honor of my turning 26, let's step back in time and have a look at a fictional masterpiece that I created at the age of two. In this endeavor, I am deeply indebted to my mother, who not only took on the laborious task of transcribing these stories from my juvenile dialect, but who also rediscovered them in the attic at just a time when I am experiencing a literary dry spell. Ha! Now I don't have to do any thinking! I can just reach into the great coffers of my creative past and pull out...


This story is about weeds. They grow in Valerie’s garden. Carrie went to the store and saw weeds. She dropped down her suitcase and made a bong. This is a fire. The fire has to take Valerie to the store again, because she ran out of her weeds. Then Valerie and Carrie ate dinner. They ate carrots and fish. The Queen came and said to them, “Do you want to live with me?” They said, “Yes.” And then they bumped their car into Carrie’s suitcase that she dropped.

A snake came by. Carrie and Valerie and the Queen had a meeting. And then Baby Eric came by, walking with a brand new stick, and they were glad to see him making a bright sunshine. And then a banana was walking. He came from the banana tree. Eric brought the purple sunshine home to his mother and he said, “I brought a sunshine to you. Do you like it?”

Mommy said, “I don’t want a sunshine in my house.” Then mommy put Eric in the corner. And then a ghost came walking by. The sleepy ghost went walking in his breakfast suit. Carrie and Valerie and the Queen and the Ghost and the Snake (their names were Moss-Bus and Chair) got sucked by a tree.

Then a GREAT BIG car came walking down a road. It swallowed up the tree. Then Tweety-tweet (a bird) came tweety-tweeting until it saw its mother bird. It saw its mother bird before a sailing boat came up. The sailing boat sank. The mother bird and the baby bird swallowed up the rocks and the sailing boat. And then the little red baby came by and a blue ghost. The baby and the ghost got swallowed up by the great big car. Then Carrie and Valerie came back again and non once came walking by until Eric and his mother came with a girl and then something good happened.

Valerie and her mother dropped down a carrot. Then the carrot went to the garden and picked up her Mommy carrot. Then the Daddy carrot came walking by a girl. Then Carrie worked in the garden and played in the garden.

Valerie doesn’t have any eyes cause her eyes got dead. One more cardinal came and walked by a little cube.

The carrot family was swallowed up by Valerie. Then sweet Mother came by. Valerie, Eric, Carrie all loved each other.

The End.