Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Review (spoilers included)

I just finished reading "The Girl's Guide to Homelessness" by Brianna Karp. It was my 24th book this year. I've now read 25 so I am one book behind in my one-book-a-week goal.

What a book. I was hooked by the first sentence in Chapter 1 and by the end of the first page, I knew it was going to be my kind of book.

It's a story about a woman who faced adversity in some form all of her life. She was raised in what she calls a cult, force-fed a very hypocritical religion her whole child-hood. She was molested and abused as a child/teen, raped and cheated on as a young adult. She started working at nine years of age to help support her family and she finally found her dream job and worked hard to finally have a place of her own. And then the recession hit. She was laid off from her job and six months later, lost her home. She moved back in with her mom, only to suffer even further abuse and false accusations. She inherited a travel trailer from her estranged father who had committed suicide and lived in it in a Walmart store parking lot until it was towed (even after she had the permission of the store manager) and she didn't have the money to get it back. This woman was no slouch. She applied to hundreds upon hundreds of jobs and worked for a couple more companies that laid her off after promising full time work simply because it was cheaper to bring on a full time employee and lay them off than it was to contract through a temp agency. She lost everything, but she found love. And then just when you think things will work out okay, she lost that too (and a baby). But this isn't just another sad story. She not only survived all of what she went through, she conquers her destiny. She found success, not in spite of adversity, but because of it.

In this memoir, Brianna Karp makes you question your beliefs, assumptions, prejudices and opinions. As much as I am an advocate of the homeless and less fortunate and although I work with a couple different homeless ministries in my community and do what I can to show love and respect to all people, regardless of social status, I found myself feeling some pretty strong conviction for judgments and assumptions that I didn't even realize I had. This book humbled me. I identified with several of her experiences and couldn't help but thinking several times throughout the book "this could have been me.... if not for the grace of God."

I know I put a spoiler or two in there, but this book is absolutely worth the read. It is not for the faint of heart though. It is laced with f-bombs and other profanity, but it is REALITY for so many people out there.

Winds of Change...

So much has been going on the last month or so.

May: Trip to Arizona. It was Ken's first trip and I spent about half of my childhood there so we had to balance visiting old friends (for me) and seeing new things (for him). My friends seemed to really like Ken so that's always a good thing. And Ken seemed to love one of my favorite places in the country. He even said on several occasions that he could see himself living there. The weather was perfect - mid-90's most of the week. We hiked at Picacho Peak, saw Montezuma's Castle, drove through Sedona and visited the Grand Canyon and even got in a game of golf and a trip to a water park. After the horrible spring we've had in Spokane (it snowed two days before our trip), it was just so relaxing to be out in the dry heat, soaking up the sunshine. We found cheap airline tickets, a cheap condo and a great deal on a rental car. The cost of the trip, not including food and gas, was just under $1000! Ken happened to win $1,000 playing Black Jack the week before we left so the casino paid for the trip. Can't beat that!

I also cut my hair and donated 11 inches to Locks of Love. I'm digging my new 'do. Perfect for summer!

And then of course, my birthday was the 21st. It was pretty low key, but I definitely felt the love! Hard to believe I'm 33!

June: I applied for a job at Spokane Transit Authority. I rocked my first interview, but found it a little odd that when I asked my questions toward the end of the interview, I found that they really were hoping to find someone with experience in insurance and accounting. This desired qualification was not listed in the recruitment bulletin or anywhere in the job description. Still, they passed me on to the testing round. That was a THREE-HOUR written test that they sent off to a psychologist in Connecticut for evaluation. The scheduled a second interview with me and again, I really felt like I did a great job, but this time they actually asked some specific questions about my insurance and accounting experience, even though I already explained in the first interview that I had absolutely ZERO insurance experience and my accounting experience is limited (I supervise accounting personnel and certify their work, but I've never been an accountant). They told me only five out of 50 made it to the second interview and I found out later that one of them was out of the running almost immediately. The CEO told me that my test results were some of the strongest she's ever seen and that she was very impressed with the way I interviewed. Still, I did not get the job. They said the only reason was because the lady they hired had the specific insurance and accounting experience they were looking for.

This is the first time in my life that I have not been offered a job I applied for. It was humbling and disappointing, but at the same time, I felt really relieved. See, the district manager approached Ken while I was in the interview phases and offered him the opportunity to get out of Moses Lake. Apparently, the Home Depot store in Walla Walla has some issues and he wanted to know if Ken could turn that store around the same way he turned the Moses Lake store around. He told Ken to go check out the store and the town and let him know. That weekend, we had a wedding (which was awesome, by the way) in Corvallis, Oregon to attend so Walla Walla had to wait.

Finally, last Thursday, I took the day off work and drove down to Walla Walla with Ken. It is a one and a half hour drive between Spokane and Moses Lake, but a three hour drive between Spokane and WW (I love saying Walla Walla, but it feels too redundant to keep typing it). If Ken moves there, that will double our commute to see each other. We both really loved the town. It's in wine country so it is very lush and green. There are over 140 wineries in the area! The downtown area is beautiful, with several restaurants and cafes with patios and a ton of wine tasting rooms. Housing seems to be about the same as it is in Spokane. I could very much see myself living there. However, Ken met with the store manager and didn't have a great overall feeling. It seems the district manager isn't being very forthcoming. He told Ken that he needed someone who could "fix" the WW store, but he told the store manager that Ken just wanted to move and was interested in WW. Also, the store manager there is a self-proclaimed micro-manager and that is one of the things Ken hates about his current boss. At the end of the day, he felt really torn. He plans to meet with his old store manager here in Spokane next week because he trusts him to be honest and blunt about the WW store manager and his opinion on the risk he'd be taking to move there. Then, early next week, he has to have a decision made...

So much to think about - if he doesn't take it, I've applied for another job that I'm not really sure I want, but had to get in an application before the deadline with absolutely no time to really think about it. The good thing is, Ken has to have his decision made before the first round of tests so I can always withdraw interest if I need to. If he does take it, I think I may just look for work in Walla Walla. That brings up a whole other list of issues and fears for me, but I'll save it for another blog...