"List Your Work History"
This is long; hope you're in a comfy chair.
12-12-2011, in response to "Don't leave any time unaccounted."
As a teenager in Naples I spent many hours taking care of a girl named Angie who had Down's syndrome. She moved in right across the street and her mother was a waitress working the late shift. On certain days I would go get Angie off the bus, bring her in her house, play with her, and make us dinner. Eventually I would put her to bed and then read or fall asleep waiting for her mother to get home. I got paid eight dollars an hour. That probably doesn't sound like much now, but that was when minimum wage was $3.35.
Angie was amazing. She was nine years old, but they said she had the mentality of a two-year-old. She was small, frail, and usually quiet, and had big scars across her chest from surgeries. We communicated mostly with sign language. There were special needs that had to be addressed of course, but she was a living example for me of simple contentment. She could be happy just sitting in the moment, playing with a short string of yarn and a spoon. Those were her favorite toys. I spent a lot of time with Angie.
When Angie moved away, I got a job at a dentist office for a few hours a week doing all sorts of odds and ends like copying x-rays and autoclaving instruments. At 16 I worked for JCPenney in the credit and catalog department for nine months, taking care of people’s credit card applications & payments, catalog orders, and customer service needs. I also did gift wrapping and was the stand-in telephone operator when needed. After that I did women’s clothing retail sales at a couple of places.
I remember the old operator at Penney’s taking my application and looking me up and down, asking if I owned any skirts. I had quite a few, just hadn’t worn one that day. During those years I always took two hours to get ready before I left the house, full makeup and hair done, and usually skirts, hose, and three-inch heels. I did a three-hour manicure on my nails twice a week. After a full day at high school, I then crossed the street to the mall and worked until nine, ten during holidays, three or four days a week.
Eventually I got a job doing cleaning work at the Naples Philharmonic that paid better than retail, and it was a beautiful facility. Sometimes we would work nights during big events, carrying radios and making sure people had what they needed in their box seating areas, and polishing the brass and glass before intermission. I went to modeling school for a while and got seriously bored.
My own company
I became an entrepreneur at 19, owner/operator of my own cleaning company. I handled mostly houses and condos, juggling everybody’s keys and schedules and mess, and the occasional ornery pet. From word of mouth I had more work offered than I could do.
In my spare time I was working as a political activist for civil liberties and belonged to half a dozen environmental groups. I wanted to eventually become a lawyer and maybe Supreme Court Justice, so that I would be in a better position to help make beneficial changes that mattered. After three years running my own successful business I decided to finally go to college full time. I found a replacement to take care of my clients and to this day I miss several of them.
Mrs. S. had a nifty two-bedroom/two-bath waterfront townhouse with tons of windows and tile floors, and the place was always nearly immaculate when I got there. I mostly took care of minimal dust on surfaces and floors (and made $15 an hour.) She celebrated her 50th college reunion during my time with her, and I never would have guessed her age. Incredibly active, she did aerobics and tennis multiple times a week, and traveled quite frequently. In addition to being fit and youthful, she was a friendly, gracious person. I’d like to be like her when I grow up.
K was a home nurse that had been devastatingly physically handicapped from a collision with a drunk driver. I was with her twice a week, one day to take care of the house and one day to take her out on errands. On days in, I did the usual cleaning along with whatever other things needed to be done like hanging pictures & watering the orchids, and also regularly drained, cleaned, and refilled the aquarium and the therapeutic hot tub. On days out, we did the grocery and the drug store shopping, and usually stopped for one or two dozen fresh flowers. Sometimes we would go out to lunch. Also friendly and gracious, K had every reason in the world to complain, and she never did.
We don’t usually think of how many things we would not be able to do if we became handicapped in that way. Particularly in stressful times, though, it can help to remember to be in appreciation for all the things we can do with ease. There are so many things that we take for granted.
Phillips University came highly recommended, and they had an outstanding Political Science department. I moved halfway across the country in 1993 and worked my brains out keeping up with the rigorous study schedule. It was hard work, and fascinating, and I loved it. Even after four years out of school, I still managed to do well.
I never worked for minimum wage until I was at college, oh the irony, but they had a student center management position that worked around my class hours, and allowed me to get a little homework done from time to time. Again I was juggling keys and schedules although at least this time I wasn’t driving all over town – people were coming to the facility and I would make sure the rooms were unlocked and set up with whatever they needed for meetings and events.
One summer I worked for a telemarketing company, calling people up and offering them an insurance card offer. Not being very appreciative of the telemarketing industry in the first place, that was a little hard for me to do, but the wage was decent for the area. A lot of people liked the offer, thought it was a good deal, and were happy I had called. I also helped build Adventure Quest, which is a huge outdoor playground with a three-story castle worth a visit any time you’re in Enid, constructed by (12,000) community volunteers.
After two years kicking butt in the political science course arena I became very sick, and unfortunately stayed that way for about three years. I was heavily medicated, barely functional, and nearly bedridden for much of that time, but that’s a story for a different day. I had gone to class as much as I could, but that wasn’t much. I needed an art class for my degree and took Ceramics, and it turned out this was something I could do, though arguably not all that well, even though I was sick and drugged.
By the time I came out of that mess (the illness mess, not the clay mess), I had changed my major to Fine Art with a specialty in Ceramics, having fallen in love with the clay and raku in particular. The school had just ditched their fine arts degree program in favor of sports, but I worked up my own custom degree program according to all of their nook and cranny requirements. Low and behold it was approved by the powers that be, and I was ready to kick some more butt and get that Bachelor degree finished.
Then Phillips University declared bankruptcy and closed. My folks had followed me across the country, Mom got cancer and Gram was in no condition to help or to move again. So, degreeless and helping take care of my family, I watched my friends pack and saw them off on their new adventures to other schools.
I began volunteering in the Pottery Lab at Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse in 1998. They had a great little studio there. I taught clay art for three summers in the Leonardo’s Arts and Sciences Academy, and eventually started clocking in a few hours for pay during the school year as well.
Meanwhile, helping friends pack and seeing them off, I had met my (now) husband and started hanging out with him and his kids. Eventually we got married and I became a stay-at-home mom, which is the toughest job ever of course, but it was worth it. I’ll spare you the normal and very long list of work including chauffeur, housekeeper, et cetera, and just say that squeezed in there I read when I could, participated with and facilitated some social networking & other community groups, and did research at the library and on the Internet.
I also created my own clay studio at the house and made some pretty spiffy raku pieces when I wasn’t doing all of that mom stuff. When it came time to have the work photographed for the website I was writing, I realized that the nature of the work was going to be incredibly demanding on any photographer. Raku pieces, even if covered in one single glaze, are often very different-looking even if turned ever-so-slightly. I wanted all of those views, and I wanted the colors to show up properly, to capture as much of the ‘wow’ as possible that the pieces have in person. I learned how to do fine art photography, researched camera capabilities, and painstakingly took the pictures myself. They still don’t look as ‘wow’ in pictures as they do in person, but I believe I’ve gotten as close as possible, and saved another photographer much hair-pulling and head-banging.
As the kids grew older, I considered re-entering the work force. Every time, there would be an illness or car break-down or other emergency, with me to the rescue, that told me my current ‘job’ was not yet complete. I did a lot of volunteer transcription for special-interest seminars, and more research.
Meanwhile I found out that a new online friend did Web work. I told him he had my job!! In high school while taking all of those tests that tell students what they will do best at professionally – I aced them all so it didn't help me figure out what I wanted to do – I told the testing people that I wanted to go into Arts Communications Technology. They asked me what that was. I said I didn't know – they were the career people, shouldn't they have known? But they didn't know, and I had no leads to follow. That was 1988-1989. Circa 1993 when the Internet started spreading to the masses, then having pictures, graphical user interfaces, and increasing modem speeds, I think I was getting my first experience of what that Arts Communications Technology was supposed to be. I had taught myself HTML in 1995 and had made several sites but didn't take my skills seriously. My webbie friend listened to this story and encouraged me to pursue the path I had tried to follow so many years ago. I kept this idea in the back of my mind, mulling it over from time to time.
With a lull in raku sales, a mentor suggested doing some marketing, which I had never done. Synchronistically, a so-called marketing guru landed right in my space quite out of nowhere, only he turned out to be all about selling himself and how great he was. So like the photography, I decided if it was going to be done right then I was going to have to learn how to do it myself. With the kids mostly grown, I decided to do this art business thing properly and go back to school. This time the degree program was Business Administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University's Enid campus, which then shifted very quickly to E-Commerce. (They didn't have a Fine Arts program, if you're wondering why I didn't just finish that one.)
I *loved* my E-Commerce classes, which incidentally included marketing as well as making websites, but wouldn't you know it, they were cancelling the program. Déjà vu! I worked like crazy to get all of the classes in that I could before they stopped offering them. Sufficient substitutes could be made for some of the cancelled ones with computer science classes, which were elusively on a two-year rotation, so I was taking all of those that I could, also. Meanwhile there were a few straggler freshman classes that I hadn't ever finished, so I was doing those as well. My first semester in the autumn of 2009 started out with 15 hours (12 is full time, considered a 48-hour work week) and they kept getting fuller.
Spring 2011 found me doing a 22-hour class schedule, plus internship. That translates to about a 93-hour work week for that four month period of time. Though I have to admit I didn't have a life outside of classes, internship, and homework, I finished that semester with a 4.0. Not only did I get the E-Commerce Bachelors right before time ran out, but I also achieved an Associate in Science in General Studies, Summa Cum Laude, 4.0, from Northern Oklahoma College.
During the year that I was helping out at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center, I put in about four times the number of hours that were needed for the website internship there. I learned a lot and liked volunteering there. I also did a summer website internship at NWOSU. Arts Communications Technology, it seems to me, is all about the World Wide Web from the inside-out. The coding and designing and presenting and interconnecting – it fascinates me and I love it.
After those two degrees were finished, I only needed three more computer science classes to qualify for the Bachelor in Computer Science, and our youngest still had a year left in high school so we weren't going anywhere. I like programming and I decided to go for it. I was told I needed 30 more hours after the first BS for the second BS, so I enrolled in 15 hours, only to find out months later that information was wrong. It turns out I really only needed the three remaining computer science classes because the additional hours were already covered by classes I had taken sixteen years ago. Doh.
That 15-hour semester (which translates to a 60-hour work week), the least-full one that I have had since my first, yet one which still kept me incredibly busy, has just recently been completed. It was another 4.0 (every semester since I re-started school in 2009 has been a 4.0 semester). It included a couple of advanced marketing classes as well as systems analysis and design, which is fascinating. During that time, outside of class work, I also wrote a university-level educational research web application that was heavily tested and used successfully just before semester got out. There are plans to use it again next semester. That's exciting. :)
I have one more semester to finish, and provided all goes well I will then also have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I can do event facility management, writing, teaching, digital photography and editing, graphics, websites, programming, scuba, and refined raku, but what I really want to do is fly jet helicopters.
Just kidding :D
Sounds like fun, though, doesn't it?
I've been helping out at my father-in-law's store, Sundance Wine & Spirits, a couple days a week. There's a lot more to wine than I ever would have guessed.
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science has been achieved, with a 4.0 in my major, woot!
I am remodelling office premises downtown for my new business SeeMe Digital Inc., professional website design and development, digital graphics, photo restoration, and related nerdy-artist projects.
We are empty-nesters. That's weird. Without the scheduled dinner-bath-and-bed time, we work sometimes until ten and forget to eat.
Current work includes updating the Red Dirt Run of Honor website for the May 2013 event, working on a new site for the Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park, and doing some redesigns, updates, and other tweakings for clients as far away as Kaw City.
I am webmaster for the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center. That website went through a total transformation, new host and software and everything. I helped get the new site in order (again, did that two years ago, but this time was more familiar and more fun) and have been doing content management on a weekly basis for whatever is needed.
Time Flies, and Whoops
Helping out at the family wine store continued for considerably longer than I was expecting because my father-in-law got an aggressive and inoperable form of cancer. After two separate full, heavy, and long rounds of treatment the experts said he was cured, and they got a manager in the store to take care of things, and I left the store after 3.5 years. His challenges soon cropped up again and continued, however, and he disengaged his physical focus in February 2016, which was very hard for the family and the community.
Website management for the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center continued along every week for years until state budget cuts forced them to let me go in early March of 2016.
SeeMe Digital has carried on with websites, digital graphics, and photo restoration along with some other projects. One of the most obvious from the 'other' category was the Bridge Shark on the East Maine train trestle bridge in downtown Enid. There is a web hub for that one which explains a bit.
And for the Whoops part, I had forgotten to mention some things in my work history earlier. No real surprise since I had sat down and tried to write out 25 years of my life in a couple sittings, but here are some additional pieces:
In May of 1995 I taught myself HTML and started creating websites from scratch. I also continued to make sites on and off, for myself and others, ever since, and would not use the WYSIWYG website builder software options because they weren't exacting enough for my taste.
Back in 2000 I had refused an exec admin assistant position starting at $40k/year plus benefits which would have been very easy and fairly interesting for me, at a beautiful facility, in order to be the primary caretaker for our kids alongside their Dad. (His biologically, they were 'mine' by love and marriage.) It was of greatest value to choose the harder option for me, to not take that job, and to do the stay-at-home mom thing.
I worked with the Enid Art Association and the co-op Gallery of Fine Arts after they had moved to their location off Maine on South Jackson, and during and after the move to downtown on Independence across from the square. I continued to work with them until the group decided it was time to cease operations.
One last one comes to mind for now. Long after I had moved to Oklahoma I had helped for a couple weeks to set up a new boutique retail shop on the Gulf Coast in South Florida. That included pricing items and double-checking inventory but my main purpose there was to focus on merchandising: displaying the items in the most appealing presentation. There were many hand-carved and hand-painted items involved, including colorful tropical fish and birds, along with more Balinesian-styled earthy-colored sculpted pillars and other sculptures.
They flew me down and provided room and board in a new house in Cape Coral which had just been intensely landscaped, including mature palms. It had a hot tub and a screened-in lanai. I was driven wherever I needed to go in a slick new SUV that was detailed weekly, I was brought food while at the shop, and I was taken out to restaurants. Everything I needed or wanted was provided and paid for, including the smallest things like cigarettes and soda, and they had even stocked the fridge with soy milk for me since I don't drink animal milk. I thought that was considerate.
Those were long days working of course, if you can even imagine setting up a fine shop in that short amount of time, but the work was easy and interesting for me. During that trip was the first (and last) time I had ever gone to a tanning salon, at the insistence of the woman who owned the store that I accompany her at her expense. I confess I much prefer the soft sand beach, under sun or stars, with its gentle rolling waves and light breezes.
I believe that was late 1998 or 1999.