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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sarah adds to her short list of pieces of life advice.

Good evening!

I don't give a lot of advice. I mean, if you read this blog, you know my life is one disaster after another.  I have a couple bits of advice I hand out to my Sunday School kids, although none of them have ever actually taken my advice. Maybe someday they will. Believe me, the few bits of advice I do hand out are solid, proven bits of wisdom.  Here's the list:

1)  Everyone learn to play the tuba.  Colleges always need a tuba player.

2)  Ladies, date low brass players. They try harder than trumpet players do.

3)  Ladies, learn to love football.

4)  Gentlemen, yes, there are differences between all the pairs of black shoes your lady owns. Learn what they are.



That's it. Or so it has been it for the longest time.  But now, as I watch another newly minted class of high school graduates dip a toe into the "real world"  (and if you're going to a four year college, no, that's not the real world. The real world doesn't come with a meal plan or a class schedule you can ignore half the time.) and I feel I have to share a bit more advice.

So I'm writing this letter, and this is for anyone who is starting out in life and isn't quite sure which way to go.

Dear High School Graduate:

Congrats, you've completed high school..  You've survived the bullying, name calling, cliques, break ups, and horrors of high school and you are now not only an adult, according to the state, but now it's time to make a decision. What are you going to do for the rest of your life? 

Most of you are 17 or 18 and I know when I was that age I did NOT want the focus of my professional life to be jobs in which the biggest two skills I needed was the ability to type and a working knowledge of the alphabet.  I wanted to be a radio DJ  (Yep, did demo tapes on my parents stereo, which had a microphone.  I was awesome, reading dedications, breaking news, playing all the summer hits from back in the day.  Those tapes still exist.  And anyone who cares to clean my basement may have them.) I wanted to be a paramedic.  I wanted to be a rock star, a best selling novelist, a movie critic, and an Olympic gymnast.

So of course I went to school to become a teacher.  And I got the teaching degree.  I taught.  Then I worked in an office where all they cared about was that I could type and I knew the alphabet.  Then I had babies. Then I figured out that my magical power was my phone voice and since then I've worked, for the last ten years one way or another, on the phone bending people's will to my own. And then I learned Quick books.

I am an author, you can check out proof of that by clicking here  or by clicking here  or by clicking here or even by clicking here.  But other than that, I'm none of the above things I honestly believed I would be.  Life sort of decided for me.  And the funnier thing is I spent four years learning to be a teacher and I taught for one and since then I've held jobs that honestly did not require more skill than to be able to type, know the alphabet, and talk on the phone.  It taken me several years since high school, but I finally landed a job doing something that wasn't even a thing when I was in high school. I didn't know it then, but this is my dream job  (you know besides being a DJ, a rock star, a movie critic or a world famous best selling author).

So, new grads, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?  People want to know NOW!

If you're already enrolled in college and you've got a scholarship and you're going to study hard math and science and become a doctor or an engineer, then okay, I'm not talking to you.

I'm talking to the other 98% of you out there.

I'm an employment analyst. I spend my work day calling all over the country to find out who is hiring, what they're paying, and what skills they want. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about when I say if you have a high school diploma or a GED, congrats, you're already ahead of the game.

If you don't have these things, get them.  There aren't that many jobs out there for people who don't have that minimum piece of paper. Sure, you might find a job and it might pay well.  But what if you get hurt, have to move, or that company goes out of business?  And there you sit, no education, no job, and no way to get a job because you don't have that piece of paper.

Now, for those of you who have a high school diploma, but don't care to go on to college, never fear, there are plenty of places all over that will hire you and you can make good money doing these jobs.
Most of them are in food service or manual labor of some kind and all of them require good physical condition.  But if you're willing to put in the hard work and the long hours, you can make a nice living.

If you want a little more of a guarantee of good money no matter where you live and no matter what the economy is, then here is my big giant piece of advice: Go to your local tech school.  Train to be in the trades: Carpentry, plumbing, electricity, car repair (Mechanic and body tech), sheet metal worker, and welder. These are skills that don't take eons of time or money to get, but once you have them you can continue to build on your skill, thereby building on your value in the job market. Yeah, the work is physical, and yeah, you're going to work long hours, but the payoff and job stability is awesome. 

Don't believe me?  Close your eyes and picture a world without plumbers. Computers haven't figured out a way yet to unclog a drain system that has been taken over by tree roots....or toys your baby thought would look funny being flushed down.  Yes, and that is why, children, you pay the plumber $200 for a service call after 5 Pm because you can't live without the toilet and he's the only one willing to get that village of Fisher Price guys out of your pipes.

By now I'm hoping most of you are gone off to find a job or to get enrolled at your local tech college.  But I'm sure there are still a few of you waiting for me to tell you that the magic to life involves winning a lottery ticket.

I'm not going to tell you that.  If it did, do you think I'd be blogging at my desk right now? No.  I'd be sipping something blue and alcoholic and blue  (I love those blue drinks) and being fanned by a very fit young man named...I don't eve care what his name is. He's going to be tall, he's going to be tanned, and he's going to have that perfect mix of a swimmers/gymnast's body.  And he's going to be able to get sand out of my laptop because once I'm settled on my private beach located on my private island I won't be moving until I have the next book done.

But life isn't like that.  So for the rest of you still waiting for me to give you the great advice, you've missed it. I already did.  And you ignored it because you want to go to college and major in something other than teaching or science or engineering or doctoring.

So for you I'm going to now tell you some of the things employers, you know the people who pay you money to do things at their businesses, are NOT looking for.  College is expensive...do NOT waste your parents' money and your time on the following courses, (These are real courses taught at real colleges and parents if your kid is taking one of these, then you would be better served actually burning the stacks of cash you're using to pay for his/her education) because employers are not going to care. They are going to mock you for taking these classes when you could have been learning welding, or math, or anything else.

Study me, learn me, LIVE ME!
1)  The Sociology of Miley Cyrus.

What's the final?  Twerking while singing the "Hannah Montana" theme song?

2) How to watch Television.

(I've know how to do this since I was five and I've logged so many hours I probably have a PhD in it, but seriously...someone's taking money to teach this class.  And people are paying for it.)

3)  Zombies in popular media.

I know. The zombies are coming and we should know how to fight them. But this isn't a fighting class. This is a bunch of kids sitting under a tree with the world's biggest "Walking Dead" fan.

4) What if Harry Potter is real?

Let's go to the source. Hey, J.K., is Harry Potter real?  No?  You made him up?
Class dismissed.

5) How Does it feel to dance?

You don't need a college class for this. Just go to a couple weddings this summer and ask people of varying shapes, ages and sizes.  The fat guy in his 50's is going to say he needs a drink. The five year old girl in the flower girl dress is going to yell, "GOOD!" throw up on your shoes because she drank too much free soda at the reception , and then go dance more.

6)  Learning from YouTube.
It's true. My husband uses YouTube like his own personal technical school.  Gotta tie a bow tie?  YouTube.  Gotta give an IV to a cat?  YouTube.  But see, he does that, and he doesn't pay $400 a credit to do it.


Okay, hey anyone can have a no brainer class, and it's fine. But how about, if one of you takes your parents' $160K for a four year degree and really blows it on something stupid that is never going to translate into any sort of student loan repayment ability?

These are real majors, people graduate with degrees in this stuff all the time, but I'm here to tell you that in this world in this economy...in any economy, these are degrees that, at best, will land you a job that starts at $9 an hour for 20 hours a week.  Basically, when the zombies come, the people who have these degrees are going to be the first eaten.  Maybe even before me.

1)  Art history. 

I love art history. I love art. I love history.  But a full on degree in art history so I can be the only one at my job who can tell the difference between a Monet and a Manet  (and I can thanks to one semester of art history, not a whole degree.)  There are no jobs for this.  You want to study art and art history?  It's called a library. There are a million books on art there and it's free.

2)  Communications

So many jokes have been made about this I don't have to add to them.  Stop skipping class and take some business courses.  Learn Quick books.

3)  Philosophy

I love a good debate.  I can start one in my living room with my family with no more than these four words:  Trump might be okay.

My husband and I have an ongoing philosophical debate about whether or not trees communicate with each other.  Thanks to JRR Tolkien, I'm winning that debate.   

My point is, the people who are hiring right now are not hiring people who had discuss whether or not we are all made of color or if a butterfly poops on a tree in Bolivia, does it rain in the Hamptons?  You want to read the great philosophers? You want to discuss philosophy with someone else?  Great, fine.  Again, library. Free.  Won't cost a thing, no student loans to pay back while you're making a living cashiering at the local mini mart  (they are always hiring and the wages for those jobs are going up.)

Ultimately, you're going to do what you're going to do. We all have a romantic streak. We all want to write poetry and live in Paris and sip coffee an debate (in French, Russian, or Italian) pretty much everything.  And why not, when you're not yet 25?  It seems perfectly reasonable to believe you can live in a 700 square foot flat in Rome with three roommates and a cat you've named Kierkegaard, but ball Kirk because it's easier and you like Star Trek.  

Listen to Auntie Sarah. 

You can't do that. By the time you get out of college you want to be a grown up, or very close to it. You'll want your own place, your own bathroom.  You're going to want clothes that aren't t-shirts you won at some eating contest.  You are going to need a job.  That pays money.

And guess what?  A degree in Russian Poetry or French history is not going to help you unless you live in Russia and they are hiring poets (I don't think they are) or you live in France and they need another historian (and I doubt they're going to hire an American to fill that job.)

Love art, love poetry, love history?  GO TO THE LIBRARY. 

Oh, and don't get a degree in creative writing.  You can't teach creativity and if you want to write you're going to write you don't need a piece of paper to tell you to write.

Now if you want to be a writer, and an author, or a poet, it's good idea to take classes, take publishing classes, take grammar classes. Look for these at local tech schools, at your local park and rec department, or in the phone book. You're going to find a writers' group or studio where you can write and learn about writing without using your uber expensive college time to do it.  

Of course, if Bernie Sanders gets elected, then hey, study want you want to in free college.  

Learn to type. Learn the alphabet.  Learn to put a sentence together.

Oh yeah, and learn Quick books.


Now, if after all this you realize you're not ready to decide your whole life just yet, that's fine.  There's no rush. The state may say you're an adult, but we parents know you're just a kid and kids probably shouldn't be making decisions like what career they're going to have for the next 50 years.  Take some time. Work for a while. Serve in the military.  Go abroad, see how other countries, other cultures, live. Build a well someplace that needs good water...like my old hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Just don't get a degree in the Societal Effects of The Hunger Games on Emerging African Economies and then wonder why no one will hire you.

All my love, 

Sarah












Friday, May 20, 2016

Yeah, Yeah, but here's what I really accomplished!

Hello all!

WOW!

It's been almost a month since I've checked in.  I could say nothing funny has happened to me in the month and that would be partially true since I've lost some of my sense of humor lately.  Peaches is moving away. Like away, away.  She wants to live closer to her fiancee, Junior.  I suppose it's the natural. way of things, but for any mother who has watched their baby move away to another state, you know, it's not easy.

That said, I've regained my sense of humor because today we loaded the truck. And by "WE"  I mean Hubby and a band of young lads because for some reason we forgot just how many people we had to UNLOAD that truck back in September.  (Five. We had five strapping young lads.)  So at about 6 Pm we walked into Peaches' apartment, took one look at the boxes and the furniture and realized that Hubby, Peaches and I would not be muscle enough to get the stuff OUT of the building.  (Skippy was working.)

That's when I called my good friend Joy and she brought her four boys, whom I will call J's 1-4 and those boys and Hubby and Peaches got that tuck loaded in well under an hour.  Where was I?

At Starbucks, enjoying an iced tea with Joy.

So now Hubby and Peaches are unloading half the truck into our garage.  Why?  Well, because Peaches doesn't exactly have a "place" or a "job" in the city where she is moving, so she'll be staying with her future mom in law for a bit while she's getting settled. The good news is that at some point later this year Hubby and I get to rent a truck again and drive the rest of the stuff down there.  My mother points out that if Peaches were in college we'd be doing this all the time, so I really can't complain. And I'm not. I'm going to miss that girl big time.  (Insert tears here.)

But I'm not here to weep about the passage of time and "Cat's in the Cradle" and all that.

I accomplished something on Mother's Day weekend that astounds me even now.

And it's gross. 

So if you're easily grossed out, or if you're TODD, then don't keep reading.  

you've been warned.

So Mother's Day was very nice.  Well, the evening was.  Dinner was lovely all my kids, biological and otherwise, were there, except Junior, who we missed.  It was lovely.

Mother's Day morning I directed the Sunday School kids while they sang a song in church. I stress about this every year and every year God sees to it that it comes through okay.  

This year I wasn't so sure that was going to happen. So I had a little conversation with God and it went like this:


Me: I just don't think we're going to have enough kids to sing this year, Lord.
God: Sure you will. You always stress about this, you'll be fine.
Me: But I think we need to have an over/under.
God: Like Abraham? If there are ten you'll sing and I'll spare Sodom?
Me: Yes. Ten.
God: Okay.
Me. Wait, we're in the balcony and it's a big church. So maybe twelve.
God: Twelve. Got it. You have less than 12 and you don't sing.
Me: Wait...there aren't many older kids. And the little ones only know the refrain.15. 15 or less and we bail.
God: Fine. 15 or less.
NEXT DAY:
ME: (sweaty and still stressed after first service.) Hey, God...what the what?
God: What's the problem?
Me: I said 15 or less and we wouldn't sing.
God: I sent you 16. Actually I sent you more like 30.
Me: Right. But of those 30, four of them I SWEAR were under the age of two, three of them showed up AFTER we actually sang the song.
God: Still holding at 23.
Me: Right, but here's the thing, Lord, of the 23, You sent me, 18 of them were under the age of 7 and the ones that weren't yanking their skirts up over their heads the whole time were looking at me like a herd of terrified fawns.
God: So what did you do?
Me: I told the pastor to invite the congregation to sing along so it wouldn't seem so...weak.
God: Hey, you singing groups in churches always talk about 'leading worship" and all that. What are you leading if no one DOWNSTAIRS joins the voices coming to Me from UPSTAIRS? People heard the song, they sang along, I was praised, and they got to sing something in your particular church that had a little zest to it. I like that Mike Westendorf.
Me: Okay. Fine. Lesson learned. But could You maybe have sent just a few more fourth and fifth graders so I didn't flop sweat through my favorite top?
God: No.
Me: Why not, Oh Lord?
God: Because it wouldn't have been as funny.
Me: God, I don't know that I get your sense of humor.
God: And I don't get your pink hair.
Me: So what You're saying is we need to learn to laugh and not stress as much?
God: Sure, let's say that. Amen.
Me: Amen.

So that was Sunday morning.  

And Saturday was really nice as well. My mother and I had our first weekend selling art and books at the Waukesha Farmer's Market and it went very well.  I'm excited to be selling my two NEW books this summer, Missing in Manitowoc and my movie review book with Linda Schmalz, Two Moms, Three Glasses of Wine and a Movie.  So Saturday morning went well.

And of course Saturday afternoon was the Kentucky Derby and this year I had a favorite going in, which I never do. I picked Nyquist, who was the favorite and actually won. I picked him because I'm a raging Redwings fan and any
horse named after a Detroit Redwing is going to be my favorite.

And he won!

But that's not why I'm writing all this. No, the thing I accomplished on Mother's Day weekend, the gross this is this:

I yanked off a skin tag all by myself.

For those of you not familiar, skin tags are those weird little....tags...of skin...that form pretty much anyplace. My dad's side of the family is silly with them. My mother tells stories of cutting my dad's off while they watch TV.

Gross.

My brother goes to the doctor to get his burned off.

Expensive and gross.

I noticed one forming right at the base of my throat. Really lovely.  right there in front of everyone, here's this bulbous tag of skin.  So, Saturday night, I poked at it and rubbed on it and toyed with it long enough so that it fell right off.

Gross, yes, but also awesome for me.

Can't wait for the next one to grow on me!

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