Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

The Burglar Who Stole My Heart

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Did I mention that I like to read? And that my favorite genre is mystery?
I have 16 shelves of books devoted to various mysteries, most being books in series, some single examples. I think there are more in the basement. And in my bedroom. And on my Kindle.

This love of mysteries started in grade school with Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and the Three Investigators. In junior high I moved up to Barbara Michaels and Mary Stewart, and was glad that the ladies were prolific writers. When I was 19, I joined The Mystery Guild and branched out.

And then one day, I fell in love with a burglar.

Bernie Rhodenbarr began letting himself into houses without a key a year or two before I graduated from high-school. When I met him, he’d already pulled a couple of jobs, nearly gone down for murder, and dealt justice to a few scoundrels. I immediately ordered the rest of the series and waited impatiently for more.

Bernie is a pretty unassuming guy to be the hero of a whole series. He’s a quiet bachelor who’s kind to his elderly neighbor, appreciates the art he steals, and loves to read. He’s a little of a renaissance man, appreciating fine cognac, attending the occasional play or concert, dining at a private club, dressing correctly for every occasion. A decent, steady kind of fellow. And then he’s also a dashing rogue, who just occasionally opens locked doors, helps himself to a few choice morsels, and thoughtfully locks up behind himself when he leaves.

Alas, Bernie’s creator, Lawrence Block, was enjoying the adventures of Matt Scudder and Evan Tanner, and he ignored Bernie for years at a time. After The Burglar in the Rye, back at the turn of the century (this one,) I’d not heard from Bernie again except when a sleepless night sent me on a visit to a familiar adventure. My copies of the Burglar books are well worn and showing their age now, a little like me.

BUT HE’S BACK! This year for Christmas, Block is treating us to another adventure with the gentleman burglar, and if you haven’t fallen in love with Bernie in the past, here’s your chance. We find our rogue hero doing what he does best—selling books in his book store, that is. Can he help it that people look him up there and offer tempting challenges? Soon he’s deeply involved in rounding up early American silver, solving a murder for his old friend Ray, and enjoying his popularity with the ladies. With his henchperson to help and some unofficial investigating along the way, Bernie soon puts things to right. Well, maybe not right, but at least all the guilty pay.

Through the years, as I and my books got older, Bernie didn’t age much, but he kept up with the times. When we started off together, he didn’t even have a cell phone. These days, he’s using burner phones, googling bad guys and lamenting the popularity of Kindle.

I, too, lament the Kindle, even as I have decided I like reading with it. Yes, I love the feel and weight and smell and appearance of real books. In my fondest dream, I own a store like Bernie’s and sit among good friends and new aquaintences, surrounded by reading for every mood and need, sharing these treasures with customers and aquiring new ones. But unless I take up burglary, I’m as unlikely to be able to do that as I am to turn a corner in New York, wander into a bookstore and toss some wadded paper for Raffles while lunching with Bernie and Carolyn on Juneau Lock.

What does the future hold for Bernie? I don’t know if he’ll be back for another adventure. I always hope. But if this was the last time we hear from him, it was worth the wait, and so much fun that I might just start my second reading tonight.

Thanks for the Cold, Lord!

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Right now I am sitting in bed with my laptop on my lovely wooden bed tray (thanks, Mom,) a plate of nibbles beside me, a glass of freshly brewed iced tea at hand, toes snug under the covers, and it’s only 4PM. I should feel like the most carefree Princess in the world. However, thanks to carefully spaced doses of Nyquil and Dayquil, I don’t feel anything at all. I can breath, though, and that’s got to be a good thing.

I used to think I led a busy life. That was before I actually got busy. Now I long for the days when I had time to knock out a blog post, catch up on Facebook, tweet my activities, and spend face time with friends and family. I’ve lately been accused of abandoning my friends and quitting activities, not answering my email, and being a slacker in school volunteering. All because I’m trying to get a good start in a new career. So when I cried to a friend a few days ago that I just wanted a day when I didn’t have to do anything, I really meant it. And God, who has a much better sense of humor than most preachers let on, was paying attention. I have a really bad cold.

I feel rotten, but it’s almost worth it. I slept for 14 hours. I got up, ate breakfast (at lunch time) and read my email–all of it! I thought about doing laundry, decided I felt too bad and checked my Facebook instead. Then, feeling guilty about not sweeping the floor where the cat dug in the plant, I made a two minute real estate phone call. I went to Google Wave and check that off my To Do list. I added a couple of items to the To Do list. As a reward for getting some work done, I read all the latest tweets on Twitter.

Three hours later, I felt bad enough to crawl back in bed. My six pillows are cushioning my achy muscles. The Dayquil is pushing the fever down. The Bible says to give thanks to the Lord in all things. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked Him for giving me a cold before, but I’ve never been quite so in need of downtime before. As Princess time goes, it could be worse.

The Tip of the Day

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Who invented tipping? How did such a silly system get started, who makes the rules, and why are they in charge of my money? I’d love to know who “they” are so I can ask some questions that never seem to be answered.

Who gets tipped? Who decided who gets tipped? You tip the waitress, but not the cook. Tip your hairdresser but not if she owns the salon. Tip the paperboy, but what if you pay your bill by mail? I never see the paperboy. If he gets no tip, he won’t know if it’s because he leaves the paper in the bushes every day or if I’m just cheap. I never have a chance to tell him.

Cab drivers get tipped. Bus drivers don’t. Bus drivers have a harder job! And what if the cab driver owns his cab, is that like the hairdresser who owns the salon? How would you know if he owned the cab?

When I was a waitress, a hundred years ago, we expected a ten percent tip. We were very happy when we got fifteen percent and anything higher was like Christmas. Dinner for four might be around $20, and if we got $2 that was fine. Now, dinner for four at the same kind of place is probably $40, and a $4 tip would equal the percentage we got back then. Dinner is twice as much, the waitress gets twice the tip. But the wait staff expects $6 to $8 instead. Inflation, they say. But if food prices are inflated, tips are automatically higher at the same percentage. Why did the percentage increase?

And why do we tip based on the check anyway? I have had dinner recently with the same friend at the same restaurant several times. One evening, we had steaks and appetizers, and the meal was fairly expensive. More recently, we had sandwiches, and our bill was less than half what we’d paid before. We were in the same restaurant, in the same room, the waitress did the same amount of work waiting on us, and we stayed about the same length of time. So one evening, she earned $4 for waiting on us, while another she earned $8, and the only difference was the type of food she carried out to us. Not only is that senseless to me, it’s unfair to her! While we sat at her table in the crowded room, other diners came in and ordered expensive meals, but she missed the bigger tips because we weren’t that hungry. Why don’t we tip based on length of time at the table or how many trips the wait staff makes to refill glasses and bread and get your steak cooked correctly? (Actually, I do base my tip on these things. Why doesn’t everyone?)

I don’t want to search for the sign that says not to tip the valet, or figure out how many bags I have to know what to tip the bellman. I don’t want to decide if the doorman has done enough to merit a tip or just a thank you, and what do I do with the concierge? People, let’s rebel! There is enough anxiety in the world. We should be enjoying the strolling violinist, not thinking about whether we have to tip him. If Congress wants to pass a helpful wage law, how about one that makes businesses pay people who work for them and outlaws tipping? It’s always right to smile and thank someone for good service. It’s extra nice to send a note to management complimenting an employee who has provided excellent service. Let’s spare them the insult of not being tipped correctly by someone who couldn’t decide what tip was expected!

Passing the Test

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I wrote about going back to school to take Real Estate classes. Now the classes are finished and I’m studying for the state exam, which I have to pass to be licensed. As soon as I’m licensed, I can get right to work, listing and selling houses and making BIG MONEY!

Well, that’s what I thought, anyway. I have known plenty of people over the years who made a living and raised families on what they made selling real estate. Most of them lived pretty well, too. But they must have been making money in some other way, because by the time I finished the classes (when it was too late to get a refund) I had heard from every teacher and half the students that I would be lucky to make enough money to cover my fees in the first year. And there is a good chance I’ll quit before the year is up. And I’m going to get sued. In fact, I think the entire point of taking the classes is so you can’t say, when it happens, that you didn’t know you could get sued. All of the teachers reminded us of that daily!

I’m not all that worried about getting sued. After all, remember, they also said I’m not going to make any money. Can’t lose what I don’t have! I’m more worried about working sixty hours a week to make an average of $36,000 a year. Who would do that on purpose? Oh. Me, I guess. After all, I took the classes. Shouldn’t someone have told me to research this first? Of course, figuring out how much money I might make probably involves math. I’ve looked at the math part of the study guide. I’m not even going there.

Now as an excellent test taker, I have never before in my life worried that I’d actually flunk a test. I have worried that I wouldn’t get an A, or even a B, but flunking was just not a problem. This time, I’m worried. The goofy part is that I can fail this test and it will not mess up my GPA. It won’t even go on my permanent record. If I fail, I can do what high school and college students only dream about—pay to retake the test until I pass! That’s right, as long as I can afford the test fees, I can take the test over and over until I pass…and I WILL pass.

Okay, truth, I’m not really all that worried. I know that I could probably pass most standardized tests with no knowledge at all of the subject, so this test will not be that hard. Well I’m not worried about passing the test, I’m not worried about getting sued, and I know that, if the average income of a real estate sales person is $36000, I’ll eventually make more than that, because I am so above average (or so my mother says.) What’s left to stress about? I guess I just feel bad, knowing that I’m going to cause my teachers to be wrong when I pass, don’t quit, and make plenty of money without getting sued!

*Editor’s note: The content of this blog post (okay, probably ALL my blog posts) is fictionalized to make it more interesting than my real life. So I want to point out that my teachers were really great and that, while they scared us to death about how hard the test is, they also assured us that we WILL pass. It is my intention to prove them right, by passing the first time.

Back to School (It’s Not About What You Think)

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Three weeks ago, I started back to school. I haven’t been in school in a very, very long time. Frankly, I was terrified. I figured I’d be in a classroom full of young, bright students who would make me feel stupid and slow. I thought I’d never be able to remember anything. I never did learn how to study. It just seemed nuts.

Okay, when I say I started school, that sounds more impressive than it really is. I am actually taking real estate classes. I’m taking three intensive weeks of classes that I thought were going to teach me to sell real estate. Turns out they’re just teaching me to pass the exam so that I can get a license. Then I’m supposed to take all this new knowledge about contracts and lot sizes and fair housing, go out into the world, and just do it. Look out, world!

Maybe I should just stay in school. Turns out that school is FUN! It’s really interesting. There are lots of people my age and older in the class, and plenty of bright young students, too. The teachers move fast, but I was up to speed in no time. I have met great people, enjoyed stimulating conversation, and surprised myself with what I’ve been able to do.

The message here is that you can do more than you think you can. And it’s never too late. It isn’t easy, but the sense of accomplishment is wonderful.


Monday, May 18th, 2009

Today I’m trying to work but getting nothing accomplished.  I spent an hour doing my morning accounting, a fifteen minute job.  I spent the next hour sorting through desk drawers, shuffling papers, and checking my phone for messages.  Well,  I also spent part of that time trying to think of songs with gambling as a theme, at the request of my daughter’s music class.  I have no idea what they’re learning there.  Right now I’m hard at work filing government forms.  Or maybe not.  How long til lunch?

The human brain is a funny thing.  Yesterday I had decided that I was tired and I wouldn’t push to get too much accomplished.  As a result, I did paperwork that normally takes three days in two hours.  Every piece of paper made sense, all the numbers added up, nothing was lost in the wrong pile.  Why does that happen?  And how can I make it happen every day?  Oh, wait.  If it happened every day, I’d work myself out of a job in less than a week.

I suppose it’s good that my brain knows that sometimes work has to be done.  And I guess that it’s also figured out that since I worked hard yesterday, I can afford to goof off today.    But if I had focus like yesterday all the time, I’d be a millionaire by now.  Maybe there’s a pill for that?  There’s a pill for everything else.  I know, because I read about it while goofing off this morning.

What was I writing about?  Oh, yeah, getting stuff done.  Filing paperwork.  That’s why I turned on the computer.  OH, THAT’S why I turned on the computer!  Did I mention that the human brain is a funny thing?