Sunday, May 29, 2011

When The Folks Come To Town

My mom is my favorite knitter and, while I have many times tried to encourage her to expand her crochet skills, she rarely picks up a hook, even though she was the one who taught me and my sister.  My daughter is the same way and this is not the only characteristic those two generations share.  My folks came for a visit not long ago (one of the reasons it has been a while since an updated post) and I really noticed the similarities between my kids and my folks.  I also noticed how having parents as house guests help one appreciate the little differences in how we live our lives and how their visits have changed as we all have matured. 

In my 20s, I had something to prove about how well I could take care of myself so I cleaned every inch of my house and tried (alright, I admit "try" is the operative word here, rather than "succeed.") to make the place perfect.  In my early 30s, I wanted to show that I could take care of my family, so in addition to cleaning up the house, I took on the unattainable goal of perfecting my family.  In my late 30s, I got smart and realized that they needed to be occupied while they visited.  I certainly didn't want to disappoint them, so I would leave a few cleaning tasks for my mom to occupy herself with and made a to-do list for my dad.  I fondly refer to my early 40s as the Golden Age of Parental Visitation.  I rightly embraced the philosophy of my late 30s and started saving up housework from the day they left until the day they came back on their next visit.  Ok, maybe that is taking it a little too far, but I REALLY liked that approach.  Now, in my mid-40s, I realize that my parents are on to me, much like they were when I was a teen, and when they come over, all they do is sit around, visit with my kids, read, and nap.

I have to say, I'm not sure I like where this is going.  Since my kids are a little older and don't wake up in the middle of the night or need to be served, my parents don't feel sorry for me anymore.  Since I no longer have a drama queen, non supportive husband making more work for me, they don't feel sorry for me anymore.  Since I don't have a full time stressful job, they don't feel sorry for me anymore.  While I enjoy the reality of why the pity is gone, I really DID enjoy getting work out of them.  Ah well, I suppose you can't have your cake and eat it, too.

I'm not sure how it happened, but that Golden Age of Parental Visitation has morphed into a slightly altered mental version of my children's toddler years.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the charm and joi de vive of the toddler years and how they lived in the moment, but if you are fundamentally lazy, like me, the toddler years are not a good time to start a new hobby.  In case you haven't noticed, I am all about starting new hobbies these days.  Retired parents possess the wisdom similar to toddlers in that they have relearned how to live in the moment; the energy level is a little toned down, but it is the same outlook.  While I am working toward that goal and proudly get closer everyday, I still have a way to go.  As a result, retired parents' wisdom changes your daily life during their visits.  Here are the things that I noticed as being the same or similar to keeping house with toddlers and retired parents:

You go to bed before 9:30
You wake up before 7 after hearing impatient footsteps (little fast ones with children, big slow one with retired parents)
You cringe whenever you hear a distasteful word on the telly or radio (even something like "damn"), and peek to see if they heard it
You actually make an effort to include vegetables and fruit in each meal
You go to great lengths to avoid conversation about news, politics, or anything else unpleasant
You make and drink lots and lots of coffee
Your furniture keeps ending up in the wrong place
You are (more) tired when you go to bed at night
You are constantly amazed by the weird and creative things they do
When you wake up in the morning, you appreciate this time you have, knowing you are lucky to have them around

Friday, May 13, 2011

Crochet in the Minnesota State Constitution

For a few years not so long ago, I worked in politics.  As some of you may know, on Minnesota's birthday, Minnesota joined the ranks of those states who wish to put on a ballot whether or not our constitution should be amended to require that marriage be defined as only between one man and one woman.  Since this proposal involves a direct question to the populace and their constitution, this bill cannot be vetoed by our governor.

While many Minnesotans, political geeks and those who sort of pay attention, have debated what this means for Minnesota and our future, I have been intrigued by this process.  A way to dodge the veto bullet and present a subtle campaign drive on the ballot – paid for completely by the people of the State of Minnesota, regardless of political persuasion.  Absolutely brilliant!  Additionally, as a crochet designer, I have a natural tendency to be curious and observant about fashion trends, the world around me, and what I hear when I eavesdrop on people.  As I watched our Senate discuss how the foundations of every thing we know as a society are based on heterosexual marriage, and how Minnesota may burst into a ball of flaming gas, should we ever recognize same-sex marriage, the gears were turning.  If this constitutional amendment thing works to get a ridiculous measure passed, maybe it will work for changes that actually MEAN something!

S.F. 1424 - "A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; banning men's pants below the butt."  I mean, really, who ISN'T going to vote green on THAT one!

S.F. 1425 - "A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; banning the simultaneous adornment of leggings and spiked heels in women OR men more than 20 pounds overweight.  'Overweight' as defined in sec.2a, subsection c."  We sure as heck don't want to single anybody out, now do we?

S.F. 1426 - "A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; banning use of a Bluetooth device within 100 feet of some one who DOESN'T give a shit about your stupid conversation."  Another slam dunk.

S.F. 1427 - "A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; recognizing the domestic union between ultra conservatives and their domestic pot bellied pigs."  Politics is all about compromise, right?

S.F. 1428 - "A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; recognizing that crochet is the best damn thing EVER!"

S.F. 1429 - "A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; banning all amendments to the Minnesota Constitution."

Crochet artists, I give you meaningful and relevant use of constitutional amendments to improve life here in Minnesota.  After all, what else should constitutional amendments be used for?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"We are impressed with your experience and qualifications, but have decided to pursue other candidates."

I navigate away from the usual crochet forums, the free pattern sites, the crafty type tutorials, the multitude of crochet ideas online, just long enough to check my email.  There, in my inbox is a note from a potential employer!

"We are impressed with your experience and qualifications, but have decided to pursue other candidates."

I give a prayer to God for the Sensitive HR Professional who, obviously, spent hours in his or her stuffy office trying to come up with just the right phrase for Lisa.  I imagine him or her with head in hands, furrowed brow, pencil perched behind the ear.  Each time they approach the keyboard with an idea, they realize that it just isn't the right method of delivering the bad news.  How to tell her?  How to tell Lisa that she is so close….she was ALMOST selected, if not for that 'other' person (who will probably show up drunk and high the first day).  Lisa is a straight shooter, intelligent and resilient.  No meaningless profundity for her, just respectfully say it and move on.  She is talented, intelligent, an asset to society – Lisa is a winner.  As a Sensitive HR Professional, your job is simply to let her know that you realize that she is a winner and that you know she will be snatched up by some other, wiser, more important Hiring Manager.  Wait….wait….here it comes!  Yes!  Yes!  Our Sensitive HR Professional starts typing and knows that he or she has hit the mark with the above sentence; they would be correct.  I like it.  I think it is classy – it compliments the rejected party, but quickly lays out the rejection.  I like it.  As it turns out, every one else likes it too because every turn-down letter I receive contains the same sentence.

Another chip at my positive attitude?  Another attack on my naïveté? Absolutely not!  In these troubled times, I will cling to my naïveté much like Linus clings to his blanket.  Even though I KNOW it is naïve, I refuse to accept in my heart what I already know in my head – that people are pretty much turds.  In fact, being the true public servant I am, I have decided to help them climb out of the Pit of Turd-dom by providing some models for future employment rejection statements.  Each sample has a unique flavor.  Sensitive HR Professionals, remember that the key here is tailoring the rejection to the position and the rejected party:

Poetic: "Thou impressed us much and thine heart aches with the misery of these unfortunate proceedings, borne of this sad result, whose roots descend deeper into the soil of the putrid world men have wrought and now must feast upon, as an orphan babe who must feast at the teat of his cruel nurse.  Farewell, oh beautiful candidate!  May fortune find you well and thine heart shall weep for you oft'!"

Political:  "We have thoroughly vetted your application and found your credentials and experience to be admirable, significant, and sincere.  You are a credit to the applicant pool.  Nevertheless, our staff has pondered the greater interests of our country and all possible scenarios have been reviewed and played out by our staff of experts.  It was a difficult decision, one not entered into lightly, a decision that was made after countless hours of review and internal debate.  At this time, we feel that the best path for all concerned is to follow other alternatives and pursue a population more inclined to currently hold the training, expertise, and dedication that is so needed in this position in order to achieve an outcome that will reflect positively for the country and rest of the modern world.  While we understand that this is a negative development for you, we are optimistic that you will rise above this momentary setback and realize the goals, dreams, and standards that we all hold dear.  After all, this is America and no other country provides countless opportunities to each and every one of us, regardless of skin color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other individual characteristic.  Good luck on your job search."

Pirate:  "Matey, I've a bit of sour rum to share with ye, arggg.  The deck is full of better souls, I'se afeerd, so ye fate is the plank.  Arrgggg."

Descriptive:  "As you entered the grey, cubicle filled chasm for your last interview, a bitter taste of fear in your throat, you heard the sharp clacking of the keyboards, wondering if your next great employment adventure would occur in the colonial blue concrete, fluorescent sun, and soft CPU hum of our headquarters.  It's not."

Maternal:  "Sweetie, I have some great news for you!  You know that job you really didn't want anyway?  The one you regretted applying for and wasting all that nasty time traipsing downtown and sitting through those ridiculous interviews?  Well, guess what!  You don’t have to worry about how you are going to turn down their offer!  Isn't that great!?  You are so beautiful and smart and lucky!"

Dr. Suess:  "Go back to your brickle bush, loser."

Light Hearted: "Ha ha ha ha.  Ahhhhahahah! Ha ha ha!"

Religious:  "We regret to inform you that God has spoken to us and his choirs of holy angels have told us that your immortal soul is not yet ready for employment with our company.  After you cut back on the lying, cheating, and devil worshipping, we welcome you to apply for a position in the mail room.  Sign up here for email updates on new opportunities.  Good luck in your job search."

Rebellious:  "So you think you want to work for 'The Man,' eh?  Well, what has 'The Man' ever given you?  Repression, that's what!  Well, guess what….here is more repression and it is carefully constructed to tear you down and beat you into submission….No job for you!  No work for you!  No food!  No shelter!  No dignity!  Hope this letter finds you well and good luck on your job search."

A note to Sensitive HR Professionals:  These samples are only models on which you can turn for inspiration.  In other words, if I find that any of these samples have been copied, Sensitive HR Professionals, I will sue your ass off for copyright infringement.  After all, times are rough!  Arrrgggg!