16 June, 2010

A Long Day's Journey Into This Good Night (Part 1/3)

I wrote this on 30 March 2010 but just haven’t had a chance to post it until now. But then, something happened today (a few conversations with a few different TweePALs) that made my memory job back a few months and remember what I had written, and realize that now would be a great time to finally get this up on my blog:

I had to go into the City today and forgot to bring a book along with me to read on the train ride. While the ride isn’t that long (50-minutes tops, from my sister's home) it’s long enough to get through a few chapters of a good book.

I did, however, have my trusty laptop computer with me so I’ve brought it out as the train is departing and am just going to write down some of my thoughts until a few minutes before my stop, when I’ll have to start the process of hibernating the computer (it takes a few minutes to go into hibernation mode because writing 3,221,225,472 bytes (3GB) of data to a hard disk drive – no matter the speed and/or interface – still takes a few minutes!).

Today was perhaps the busiest day I’ve had in a few years. I made, and kept four different appointments (although technically, I combined two appointments into one by seeing two friends in NYC at the same time, in-between the 1st and 3rd appointments I had, which were more business-related).

First, I met with an individual from Twitter with whom I had become twendly (that’s Twitterspeak for “Twitter-friendly” or “friendly using Twitter”), Linda Rey, whose Twitter username is @ReyInsurance. I had an absolutely, fantastically fabulous time with her, and actually am quite glad that I managed to get up, go out, and do something that’s outside of my routine. 

Linda truly is an awesome, awe-inspiring individual. She’s warm, caring, intelligent, smart, friendly, funny, witty, compassionate, courageous, and a true wonder woman.

We talked shop for a bit and then talked about our lives. I look forward to building a relationship with her (boy, bet you’d never have heard those words coming out of THIS gay boy’s mouth, right? LOL!)—both business and personal—and having it grow as time move forwards. If I were straight, I could very well imagine myself falling in love with Linda—she’s just that sort of person. Linda was able to get me laughing quite often during our wonderful repartee, and actually said something which I thought would make a wonderful twote (that’s when we tweet quotations on Twitter—did I just coin another portmanteau?):

Linda was relaying a story of her dating escapades (or attempts thereof), and as soon as she said the following, I had to stop her and write it down. She asked if I was going to tweet that (GMTA!) and of course I told her that I was, because I thought it was such a fabulous thing that she revealed about her that also speaks volumes of truth about people and relationships in general these days. Thus sprach Linda:
What is it with all of these men putting all sorts of conditions and requirements into a relationship these days?? I’m at a point in my life now where I’m just, add water and I’m ready to go.
With that kind of humorous wit, how could anyone not fall in love with this great lady?

So not only have I made what hopefully will turn out to be a wonderfully productive and profitable business connection via Twitter for my new business venture, but I’ve hopefully made a wonderfully great, caring, and loving new friend as well. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Linda is perhaps the fifth person I’ve met in-person whom I originally “met” via Twitter. And my meeting with her reinforces what I said in my blog posting around New Years of this year, that there are some absolutely phenomenal people in this world whom I never would have met without the benefit of being on Twitter. That I can turn an on-line relationship into a real-life relationship is an even greater benefit, and I expect that as I encounter more people around the world on Twitter such as Linda, I will find more and more people who possess the same wonderful and great qualities that I believe will make her a wonderful friend.

So after two hours flew by with Linda, she dropped me off at the train station where I caught the train into Grand Central and met up with two of my friends, one whom I haven’t seen in nearly a year and the other of whom I haven’t seen in nearly twice that amount of time. We went to Junior’s Restaurant (yes, of the same fame as Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecakes and Desserts from Brooklyn, NY) where I had a pretty decent Tuna Melt (on Rye, of course) served with the traditional, awesome, great-tasting New York Dill pickle. ;-) So we just chatted and caught up a bit and caught up with each other. I had to give one of my friends their tax return (it’s almost as if I were really killing three birds with one stone today, right?) so I was able to do that over lunch/dinner, as well.

One of my friends had to leave, so the other walked with me to my destination a few blocks away, a huge global law firm (somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 attorneys) where I might be able to get some work (after being unemployed for nearly three years!). Since I receive SSD income and have gone through my trial work period, I’m allowed to earn a whopping $1,000/month (gross income, pre-tax of course) and keep my benefits. That might not sound like a lot but believe me—it definitely comes in handy and having to live these past three years without that extra income has been an excruciating experience, to say the least!

If I actually could work enough hours to earn that (around 30 hours / month) amount, my net income would be more than double than what I’m receiving now from unemployment [note: my unemployment benefits ran out shortly after I wrote this; I haven’t received any unemployment benefits for nearly three months now!]. Add to that my work-from-home business (Tax Preparation, Business Consulting, IT Consulting, and Computer Repair/Instruction) and I might just start making enough money again to be able to afford a little present for myself every few months, instead of scraping by and worrying about finding something to eat on a daily basis. That would be a really nice—and welcomed—change of pace.

So my fourth and final meeting was actually to be tested at one of these firms (for about the past 8 years or so, the large firms don’t let one work for them, even through a temporary/employment agency that already has conducted its own testing, without first testing one’s skill set for their environment). The test took me a bit longer than I had thought as they tested me on the entire suite of MS-Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, as well as their document management system (DMS). In all honesty I haven’t used PowerPoint well over five years and they were using the 2007 version of MS Office, into which were incorporated some very drastic changes to the user interface (but that’s another story, for another time). So instead of finishing ahead of the “average” user who has taken the test, I took almost exactly the amount of time I was told the average user took to complete the test.

The one area where I think I may have not done so well, of course, is PowerPoint. After wasting around 15 minutes trying to modify the built-in templates to produce the document required by the test, I just scrapped everything and used the “screw it, do whatever works” method. I did manage to get the document completed and it looked fairly close to the original; however, it may not have been using the “best methods” or “best practices” that most firms like to see one use these days in MS Office applications. I’ll find out soon, and hopefully I will have scored well enough on the test so that they’ll call me in for work, during third shift (graveyard, a/k/a overnight shift). [UPDATE: I passed the test; the firm I tested at doesn’t score and only uses the pass/fail method, and I’m hoping to be called in for work soon!]

Another area where I actually was surprised was in the MS-Word portion of the test, because they required completion of a Table of Authorities, which is something that, normally, the paralegal or attorney would do. They also asked that citations to be inserted were formatted properly—again, something that usually is under the prevue of an attorney or paralegal. It’s a good thing that I went to law school and have worked as a paralegal, so I knew exactly what to do; I’ve never before seen a test given by one of these gigantic firms where such knowledge was required to successfully complete it.

So now I’m sitting on the Metro North train which is whisking me back toward my sister’s home. Once I get there, I’ll check into Twitter, update my blog with this posting, check into Farmville and see which of my crops had withered (I hadn’t planned to be off the Internet for such an extended period of time today), and just try to unwind. For me, this was a very, very busy day. While I feel drained of energy, at the same time I’m also excited, as I made new contacts, reconnected with old ones, and hopefully might have some work coming in that will replace the end of my unemployment benefits.

Coming soon:

Please read Part 2 of this posting to get an update on my family:

Then, read Part 3 of this blog post to learn why I decided to go back to what I had written a few months ago, dredge it up, and post it to my blog now.

15 June, 2010

QOTD - Suze Orman

Found this awesome video clip from one of my favourite famous women who do not work in the field of entertainment, Suze Orman:

Here is a partial transcript of quotes that I thought should be transcribed for all to see:

Back [in the 1980s], there were ethics. There were ethics with money, believe it or not. You couldn't buy a house unless you had 20% down. They didn't give you credit cards unless you had the money to get out of credit card debt. They didn't give you a financial rope so that you could hang yourself.

Today's economy is based on the ignorance of the people everywhere in the hopes that you're going to make some serious financial mistake that makes these people over here be able to meet their earnings reports for the stock markets and the this and the that.

Way back when, money made sense. You could go to the university and pay $100 a semester to attend. Now we have kids graduating college with more student loan debt than they have any idea what to do with. Good luck if they ever are able to afford to buy a home, no matter where they live. Their jobs are being shipped overseas. And i can go on and on and on. The price of a gallon of gasoline—are you kidding?

All of everything ties to politics. Today it is so hard, you know I did this whole thing, this whole book deal that i did called The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke. I should've called it The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, Depressed and Broke. And there's a good reason that the young ones today—I call them the wife & beers—that they're depressed: because nobody has their back, financially speaking.

You can tell—can you not tell I'm an emotional woman? I am passionate. I believe in what i'm saying. I've been doing this for 30 years. I have, and it's like, I'm going like, give me some emotion back...

However, it's worthless but through our own actions we can tape [the ripped up $20 bill] back together; we can bring these parts together—we can! But you're going to have to do it yourself because here's the bottom line: the government isn't gonna save you. Nobody's gonna save you. YOU have what it takes to save yourself. So when it comes to your money, I want you to look in the mirror because that's the best financial advisor you're gonna find. Please people, if you think other people have your best interests at heart when it comes to your money, I don't think so!

25 May, 2010

The End of a Friendship

I just wrote this to my supposed best friend:

We met almost two years ago and have been through a lot together. However, our friendship cannot continue. You have destroyed any and all trust that I had in you by your actions.

If I speak to you about this, instead of writing, I will be using words that you do not want to hear – language that you, or any person of your race, would want to hear. That is how upset I am. So instead, I leave you with this letter.

It does not matter how much you took, or what you took. It matters, simply, that you took, without asking and without informing me (after the fact), period. And you didn’t take just once, or twice, or thrice—you took multiple times. After I confronted you about it and left for my mother’s, you continued to take. That’s all that matters.
I wish you well; I do not wish you any ill will. I will try to help you when I can, but we are and can only be acquaintances now.

I don’t know if you’ll ever repay me the money that you owe me (a substantial amount, at that) and even if you do, I don’t know if it will restore my faith and trust in you.

I gave you multiple chances—moreso than I would give other folks these days—solely because of our history and what I thought was to be our lasting friendship.

But another thing you took from me is the respect that you had given me. You don’t treat or view me with respect. It’s either Johnny’s way or the highway, and that can’t work in a true friendship. You weren’t respectful of things I told you, or as you to do. You didn’t respect my opinion, you didn’t heed my advice. You just did whatever it is that you wanted, and everyone else be damned.

I know you’re going through a lot right now. I’ve been there, as you well know. But I never stooped to the level that you have stooped to. I always maintained my personal integrity, self-respect, and trust among others. I always kept my word. You, conversely, have not.

I’m finding that people I once thought I was able to trust I am not so certain I can, and I’ve been reevaluating and reexamining all of my relationships with everyone.

The way you spoke to my mother in your messages, and what you told her, just prove my point about you—that you cannot be trusted. I still care about you, and this is what hurts the most—that I can’t trust you any longer. Without trust, there is no friendship.

My mother has demanded that I completely remove you from my life; I’m not certain that that’s possible. Maybe one day in the future you will regain my trust, but that day—if ever it comes—is a long way off into the future.
I leave you with this message: I hope you’re able to ground yourself, to find yourself once again, and to find what it is that you’re looking for. I hope you’re able to ease the pain you’re suffering, and to find love and friendship from others.

I wish you well, []. Even though I am still upset and furious at your actions and your decision to destroy our friendship (as it has been solely your actions that destroyed it) but still, I wish you well and all the best that life has to offer.

Peter C. Frank