Florida Vacation 2018-2019 Day Three

Sunday, December 30, 2018  9:33am

What a view I woke up to this morning! We are staying in Satellite Beach, Florida at a resort called Las Olas and we have a huge corner unit that overlooks the pool KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

and the ocean. This is place is paradise!

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According to my phone’s built-in weather app, it’s 22 degrees celcius as I sit out on the balcony, watching the waves crash on the beach and listening to the surf. I woke up about one and a half hours before anyone else and have been enjoying a leisurely breakfast in a tropical paradise. Of course, part of the breakfast was a Ruby red Florida grapefruit. Ahh. It’s so nice to be able to sit out here with the sun warming me, knowing I have a whole week of this to look forward to.

It’s been a long year to get to this point. After I lost my job at the end of October, I figured I wouldn’t be able to come here this year. Being suddenly unemployed, I had to focus on getting a job, and even if I did, what employer would let their staff go away for two weeks straight, barely a month into their probation? I learned a lesson about not trusting God after losing my job. He gave me a new job I love even more than my last, made it possible to talk to and from work (thus saving $25 to $30 every week in transportation feeds on the TTC, not to mention all the fresh air I get now walking to and from work) and on top of everything else, my new employer let me go on this vacation with their blessing. And I am now making more money than I did at my last job. God didn’t just provide out of an emotionally painful and scary situation; He blessed me and my family, more than we could even have asked.

Whew! It’s hot out here. Time to back inside to the air conditioning. Definitely going to want to spend lots of time in the water today. The best part is, how blue the sky is here with only a few wisps of cloud. This place is amazing! Maybe I’ll get some writing done while I’m here. There is certainly lots of ‘scope for the imagination’ as Anne Shirley put it. Signing off for now.

 

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Florida Vacation 2018-2019 Day Two

Saturday, December 29, 2018 10:19am

Dear Loyal Readers,

We stayed in an Econolodge in Rock Hill, South Carolina last night. What an adventure that turned out to be!  We got into our PJs and had just brushed our teeth when my husband saw a cockroach skitter out from under the bed our daughter had chosen. He promptly killed it but a second beast, spawned from the core of hell (maybe a tad dramatic but when you have a history with them, you tend to dislike them just a wee bit, to put it mildly) skittered across the floor behind its cohort and that did it. My husband told us to pack everything up, making sure we shook out our shoes and went to get us another room. By this time our daughter was all freaked out (she has a rather irrational fear of bugs) and was afraid every room had cockroaches and asked if they could walk up walls. I chose not to answer the question rather than lie since the truth would only make things worse and I didn’t want to be dishonest.  We moved to another room and made sure everything was off the floor, shoes included and then tried to get our ten-year-old daughter settled. She went from freaking out about bugs to complaining it was too hot in the room despite the temp being only 71 Fahrenheit.  Needless to say, we were all pretty grumpy when we got up this morning.

After breakfast, we felt a lot better and have now been on the road for about two hours and the GPS says we have about 5 and a half hours to go until we get to Florida. I have already seen a few palm trees. We are now coasting along on a grey day but it doesn’t look like it will rain. We have slowed down traffic wise and are now playing a game where we can see how many different State and Province license plates we spot. My father in-law just pointed out a huge grey Heron on the side of the road. I think I’ll stop writing for now so I don’t miss any. Got to get my camera out soon.

Saturday, December 19, 2018 12:37pm

We stopped off at a Sabatier knife outlet and stretched our legs about 40 minutes ago. It was interesting to see all the different kinds of knives and handle truly beautiful pieces. (My family is teasing me that it’s weird that I liked the knives so much. Meh. I recognize good craftmanship and appreciate it.) It was a kitchen outlet, so no swords or daggers, but still some lovely pieces of varying shapes, sizes and weight. My mother in-law received a Sabatier knife from my father in-law for Christmas, so when we saw the sign for the outlet store just off the highway, we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and then grab lunch at a Subway nearby before getting back on the road.

South Carolina is a very big State. Maybe it would take less time to get through if we didn’t keep hitting traffic but there’s no point stressing. We will arrive when we arrive. I’m looking at the trip as a chance to do some reading, writing and thinking. We should be at the Georgia border soon.

12:55pm

Yay! We finally crossed into Georgia. Their State sign reads, “We’re Glad You’ve Got Georgia On Your Mind.” That reminds me of a song. The clouds are heavy and it looks like it may finally rain. The air pressure is giving me a bit of a headache. I’m just glad I don’t have to drive.  Today in our license plate game we have seen Ontario, Quebec, New York, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maine, Maryland, Lousiana, Georgia, Colorado, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Alabama, Texas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Kansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, California, Wisconsin and Nevada. Not bad.

1:16pm

Now I’m enjoying listening to a Terry Clark CD while we truck down the highway. Ahh. There are definitely worse ways to enjoy vacation. We are about 8 miles from the Georgia/Florida border. I hope the pool at our resort is heated and there’s a nice hot tub. I also hope the water is warm for walking barefoot in the surf, since we are going to be right on Satellite Beach. I can hardly wait to switch from shoes to sandals.

2:37pm

Whoo hoo! We just entered Florida State. Just a few more hours to the resort now.

5:08pm

We are getting close to the resort. I’m pretty tired of sitting. Can’t wait to get out and stretch my legs.  My buss is getting sore.

 

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Florida Vacation 2018 to 2019 Day One

Dear Loyal Readers,

Recently my family went on a much-needed vacation and I wrote all about it. It’s been a busy time since then so I haven’t had time to write it all down, but on this freezing rain day and since I don’t have to be at work until 2pm today, I am going to start inputting it all. So, here goes. I hope you enjoy the tale and the pictures and videos!

Amy McGuire

Friday, December 28, 2018 (10:32 am)

Dear Loyal Readers,

Today is the first day of our two week Florida vacation. My vacation officially started yesterday as I waited in Toronto Union station for the 7:45pm VIA Rail to Windsor. I arrived at the station almost 2 hours early (no point going home and then trying to get downtown in rush hour even though I was off work at 5) and got to relax in their cozy lounge until boarding. They have three Swarovski Crystal Christmas trees (faux trees draped in Swarovski Crystal ornaments that just shone like ice) set up behind a fence just beside the lounge and a few artificial ‘elf trees’ with ornaments in red and green set around several chairs and green couches. It was quite relaxing.

I’m glad I had that time before the train ride to wander and lounge because what was meant to be a 4 hour train ride turned into 5 hours when two commuter trains got in our way and then we stopped in London for VIA to remove one of the cars. Not sure what that was all about, but we were 47 minutes behind schedule according to the guy over the PA. I don’t remember his title. I was getting rather punchy by this point and am amazed I remember anything from that long trip. Because of the delay, I arrived in Windsor at 12:30 this morning instead of 11:44 last night and I was so grateful to see my wonderful husband waiting for me on the platform.

I drifted off pretty quickly after settling in for the night and then had one of those movie-type dreams where you wake up before the end, wishing you could have dreamed just a little bit longer. I think I got fairly good rest though because I haven’t yawned yet today and my mind is clear. We stayed with my husband’s aunt, uncle and cousins on his mom’s side last night and they have two adorable cats, two super sweet dogs and usually a menagerie of other animals. My daughter was especially sad to say goodbye to the black cat and black dog. The cat, Mozart, was the cuddliest and sweetest and curled up near my daughter last night to sleep. The dog, Angus, is a black lab (I think) and kept giving my daughter the most adoring gaze as she pet him and he followed her everywhere. I think he will miss her as much as she misses him.

We drove across the border at Detroit this morning and are traveling through Michigan at the moment. The weather is in the double digits (celcius) so all our winter coats are tucked away into the back of the van for the next couple weeks. It’s a nice 8-seater van so with just 5 of us, we can all spread out a bit. My daughter has taken the whole back seat and will probably keep it that whole trip. It’s cloudy today but not rainy which is nice when you’re stuck in a van for multiple hours each trip. Not that I’m complaining. Quite the opposite in fact. There is always something new to see. The grass is still pretty green in some places which offsets the smokestacks. We left Detroit behind a while ago but I was disturbed to see yellow smoke pouring out of the stack of one of the smelting factories. I don’t know how anyone can live in Detroit. I suppose you get used to it, but I will be happy when we get into a State where factories aren’t so prevalent, or at least not so smelly.

Tomorrow we should start seeing palm trees about noon when we hit Georgia. We have five people with five different music preferences in the van, so we all brought our own CDs and we take turns. It works pretty well. I’m also finding my sea bands work well too. It’s a long journey over 2 days and it’s nice to be able to write.  I love being able to journal the journey. Someday I will read back over my blog posts and the memories will come flooding back in years to come. We haven’t made this trip in 2 years. As I am the only non-driver of the adults, it lets me get in some writing and do a lot of reading. I filled my eReader with library books before we left Toronto. Super convenient when you want books but can’t bring the real thing due to space. I guess I’ll sign off for now. I’ll write more as the mood strikes me.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.

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Adventures in Job Hunting

So, after my last depressing post, things have started to really look up. I went to two interviews today and have another on Thursday. I have been applying to everything I think might be interesting and have been cautiously optimistic in light of various employers calling me and saying they’d like to interview me. So, yay! God has been so gracious and keeping my spirits up the last couple days. Hard to believe it’s almost midweek. Time seems to have been flying by lately.

Today I did a working interview at a braces clinic and right after that met a dentist looking for both front desk reception and chairside assistant (2 positions because that’s too much work for one person). I really enjoyed the working interview at the orthodontist and am cautiously hopeful about that one. The second one…well, let’s just say, it ended up being so funny and weird that I just had to blog about it.

One of the great things about being a writer is being able to translate an experience to paper in such a way that other people can enjoy your experience along with you. Today was one of those times when I just HAD to blog.

So, here goes my story. Today I interviewed with a dentist in a small practice along the Bloor line. And when I say on the Bloor line, I mean that the practice is directly above the east and westbound trains. I approached the desk where this dentist was, behind the counter, answering phone calls. He put the call on hold and handed me a clipboard with pen and lined paper and said, “Please write down any goals for the future and how you can be an asset to the practice,” and then went back to his phone call. When he got off the phone, he interrupted me to discuss my resume. But it wasn’t to talk about my skills and any questions…it was to figuratively shred it. He went into how my bullet points were all wrong, how the sections were long and redundant etc etc until I was silently asking, “Are you my English teacher or potential employer?”

After this, we had the interview which was one of the most bizarre I have ever experienced. First thing he did was say, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ Well, I was thrown off since that’s usually a near the end of the interview question and ended up asking my questions as we went along. It was bizarre though. Instead of asking me the usual questions, he said, “Let’s role play for a moment here.” So, okay. I was game since I had nothing else to do at the time. His first question was, “Let’s say it’s your first day, you have had no training, I’ve gone off to get a coffee or something and a new patient walks in. What do you do?” I answered with, “Look at your schedule and book in the consulation.” Then he said, “But how would you know my schedule? How do you know I’m even available?” To which I replied with slightly raised brow and more of a question in my voice than certainty (because this was just getting weird), “I would look at your book or the software?” Then he said, “That’s not right. What you should do is tell them to take a seat and that I’ve stepped out and will be back momentarily, or take their number if they can’t stay.” The way that he said it made me feel like a dumb student who got the test questions wrong. So, I tried again with another question he asked and at one point he accused me of making stuff up.

I am not kidding people. He also swore at me in the interview. Not with heat, but with a definite, “You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about,” air. I have to say, being told that I’m ‘making up sh(you can figure out the last two letters)’ and to try again…well, it was all crazy. I felt like I was dealing with a person that, in the first five minutes of meeting with him, one would clearly see that whoever worked for him would never do anything right, in his eyes.

Now, it would be easy to feel like my time and his was wasted in this interview, but I think it made great fodder for my writing. I think I’ll have to put a character based on him in a future novel. Just too good to pass up. This guy was arrogant, full of himself, a bit off and very picky about everything. I say this not with anger or bitterness but with a laugh. It was just crazy. I think that what he needs is a person at the front desk in her sixties who has years of experience behind her and takes over, telling him to keep to his dentistry at the back and let her run things. I honestly do.

So, that was my first adventure this week in job hunting. If I come across any other weird and wacky stuff, I’ll be sure to write it here for your amusement.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.

Amy McGuire

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The Reality of Being Let Go ‘Without Cause’

Sometimes I write from musings, and sometimes I write from things that happen to me or someone I know. Today I’m writing about something that happened to me. Something I had actually never heard happens, but now I know it does. And it sucks. On Thursday, October 24, 2018 at 1pm EST, I was brought into a meeting with my supervisor. She started off the conversation with asking how things are going and I gave her an overview and report and expected her to either make suggestions or tell me I’m on the right track. What I did not expect and I know no one can ever prepare for, especially when there were no signs of discontent from my employer, were the next words that came out of her mouth.

“Amy, I’m sorry, but we have to part ways.” Just like that. No explanation. Just, “Thank you for your service, we wish you well, but it’s time to move on.” I have to say, when I woke up that morning, boarded the first of two buses and headed to work, I was not thinking that by 1pm that same day, I would be looking for work. I was blindsided. I was shell-shocked. I honestly couldn’t breathe for a moment. I just sat there, trying to comprehend what my supervisor was telling me. After over a year and a half with a company I had worked faithfully for, loved and saw myself staying with for a minimum of five years (as in, ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ ‘Working at this clinic, managing and seeing it grow and hopefully thrive.’) I was being let go without a single word of explanation.

I asked what I had done and was informed that it was nothing I had done. That was it. Through the haze, I tried to think of how my co-workers would be without me, without a manager to help things run smoothly. In any job change, I have always wanted to make sure I never leave anyone in the lurch. When I asked if they would be okay, I was informed the new person starts on Monday.

Jaw drop. Disbelief. Gratitude that I wasn’t sipping the water in front of me at the time, because my former supervisor may have gotten sprayed with it. How does it feel to know that your leaving of a company through no fault of your own was planned well enough in advance that the person filling your position comes in on Monday, creating no gap in your employment (I work four days a week and another staff member covers Fridays, so essentially, there was no gap between me and the new person)? How does it feel? Horrible. Gut-wrenching. Sickening.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and could barely comprehend as my former supervisor slid an envelope across the table detailing my severance and reminding me that I had to immediately return any clinic property, such as my key and uniforms and I didn’t need to work to the end of the day but would be paid anyway. She asked if I wanted my co-worker to pack up my things and bring them down to me, thus somehow ‘saving me any embarrassment’ as I did the walk of shame. I told her that no, I wanted to collect my things myself, that there were no patients at that time to witness my downfall and that I wanted a chance to say goodbye to at least the few staff who had not yet gone on their lunch break.

I said goodbye to a few people, puzzled as to the reason, simply telling them I was being let go and wished them well, unable to hide the tears I tried so valiantly to hold in. I left hurriedly like a thief or someone who had done something shameful, instead of being given the dignity of holding my head high, knowing that I had done nothing wrong. I called my husband immediately to let him know, then got on a bus to head home, not sure where I was and what I was even doing.

How does it feel to be in such a situation? It’s a grieving for sure. It’s disorienting and easy to be bitter and exasperated and a host of other negative emotions. Your feelings go in waves, from disbelief, to anger to relief that some of the stresses you had when working in that job are no longer there, to fear that you will be unemployed for a long time and then how will you pay bills even if you have EI, which is only 60% of your salary anyway, to anger again that your former employer treated you in such a fashion after all the hours of service you put in without a single complaint, to feeling crushed by the weight of rejection.

Ironically, I can write this objectively two days after it all happened. Maybe not so ironically, since I have an incredible network of friends and family who have been supportive, praying, urging me not to give up and to move on, giving me good advice on the best way to go forward, and generally not letting me get down on myself. Some of my friends have shared their own experiences of being let go with no good reason, and knowing I am not alone, has been a huge help.

I am trying, with God’s help, not to be bitter at my employer, not only for the manner in which I was dismissed, but also for how little they seem to care for my wellbeing or the wellbeing of my family, as the severance was a scant two weeks salary, which means I had better to get a new job that pays at least as much as I was making before with equal or more hours because now I have higher bills to equal the previous higher salary, just before the Christmas season where most employers aren’t hiring, in the scant space of two weeks, or we stand a chance of going into arrears for bills. I am fortunate that my husband also works, though we are a dual income family because it is just too expensive to live in Toronto without that.

Now, I don’t write all this for you to feel sorry for me or even be angry on my behalf. I am simply writing my experience and thanking you all in advance for kind words and prayers for our family. It’s tough suddenly being unemployed in today’s economy and so close to Christmas, but I know God will provide as He always does. I just find that, especially as a writer, I need to get my thoughts out and sharing them with others is cathartic.

I also hope that my experience will make others who have or are going through the same or similar situations, feel less alone.  So, if you have a story to share, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your stories and how you got through or are getting through the tough times. And if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, know that I’m in the same boat as are many others in this world. As my mother says, “God won’t drop you.” I feel at the moment like He has, but I know there is a bigger, better plan He has for me. I just need to be patient. And take the time I have while unemployed to rethink what I want to do with my life. And maybe be there for others who are going through or have gone through what I am currently going through.

I am also really sorry I haven’t written a post in ages. I have been going through a real dry time in my writing, not really feeling like sharing my thoughts online. I know that this too shall pass.  I hope to be blogging again real soon. Maybe I will even do a series on job hunting. I guess we’ll see.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up!

Amy McGuire

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A Little Nostalgia

Dear Readers,

It’s been quite a while since my last blog and for that, I apologize. I have been writing, but not as much as usual and I have been editing my fourth book, which I think has been an ongoing process for a couple years now and the book isn’t even completed. I guess you could say that life got in the way, but recently I have been more determined to make time to work on my book than ever. Life has had its discouraging moments though, and I have wanted to throw the towel in more often than not. Sometimes I think to myself, that woman is a hack. She can’t write. What on earth was she thinking writing three novels and now working on her fourth? Maybe the first three books were just a fluke. But then, last night I was going through old diaries (I have kept them since the age of ten and really only stopped writing in my diary about three years ago, so I have a lot to look back on) and stumbled upon a journal where I had written some stories.

One of these stories was a 98 degrees fandom story that may or may not see the light of day, which I wrote way back in high school. The other was obviously meant to be a whole story but for some reason or other, I abandoned it. I have no idea who the character describing the rain in this book is or even where I was going through the story. I might pick it up again and turn it into an actual novel, but for now, I felt like I wanted to share it. It’s a rare piece when I can’t even remember what I was writing, but it encouraged me to keep writing.

So it is that I wanted to share this brief excerpt that I must have written back in high school. It’s a tiny window into my writer’s soul if you will, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed re-reading it.  So, without further ado, here goes.

Outside my window, the rain came down in an endless drizzle. It was so light that from my window, I had to look closely at the trees, just to see the water.  It was nearly invisible, but traveling so fast, it could have been pouring.  It was a melancholy rain, a hundred tiny drops accumulating on the leaves, then dropping in one large drop, then pooling again, to drop off again. It was the type of rain that you could drive through, and it was deceptively clear which meant a  person could get soaked through, as they sought to prove that you couldn’t get very wet. The sky was a whitish grey, and the usually bright green trees and bushes looked dull in its reflection.

I let my mind drift. Drifting to a time when a young girl in bright clothing stood out in such a rain, playing in the puddles, looking at her dark reflection in the deceptively shallow pools gathering around my feet. My hair was stuck to my head and draped down my shoulders, and I opened my mouth, face turned to the sky.  I gave up after about two minutes, because there weren’t enough drops at once, or they weren’t big enough, to even feel on my tongue.  I splashed through the puddles, free and innocent of any sickness I might get, from being so wet. 

My thoughts turned to the present, as I gazed out my window once again, curled up and warm on my bed.  Had the rain stopped? I opened the window and leaned out, seeing my breath in a cloud of cold.  Still raining.  Daydreaming.  Days like this can be depressing, or an opportunity to reminisce about the chapters of my life that involved rain.  Warm rain, cold rain.  It didn’t matter.  Rain this light could be very relaxing. 

Somewhere a seagull screeched.  The sound reminded me of the ocean.  The beach.  Grey or white, it didn’t matter.  The beach has always been a refuge for me.  Same as the mountains.  It rains like this all over the world, at some time or other.  The air was a little chilly, but I hated to close the window.  Hated to lock the wonder of it all outside. 

What is it about a drizzly rain like this, that makes it seem almost magical?  The sunshine afterward?  The gentle rhythm on the leaves outside my window?  A quiet autumn rain.  Maybe a bit too cool.  The air had a chill in it, and I felt I must once again close the window, for my health’s sake.

Well, that’s all I wrote. Maybe my next blog entry will be me getting up the courage to write my 98 degrees fanfic for the world to read.

Until next time,

Keep dreaming and never give up!

Amy McGuire

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My ‘Trippy’ Visit To The Eye Doctor

So, I am currently flaked out on my couch after a visit to the eye doctor which I don’t believe I have done in at least 8 or 9 years. I’d have to verify that with my hubby. Anyway, it’s been a looooong time since I got my eyes checked and my prescription updated and I think things have changed a bit in the way they do things. For one thing, they use a lot of different apparatuses (apparati?) to figure out exactly what kind of prescription you need, then they put both an iodine drop in each eye as well as this crazy drop that dilates your pupils to two or three times their normal size. Okay. So that part hasn’t changed.

So, I went through the usual, ‘does this lense make my eyes look fat?’….oh wait. No. That wasn’t it. Right. It was ‘does this lens make the letters clearer or blurrier?’ thing. We went through a lot of that until my doctor said, “You know you have one eye with astigmatism? When did you get your eyes checked last? Do you get headaches?” To which I had to admit that I get headaches when I wear my glasses and it had been so long since I last had an eye exam (except the ones for when I had pink eye) that I honestly couldn’t remember the date.  Wait. Where was I going with this? Hard to concentrate when my vision is like something out of a 90’s sitcom dream sequence.

Anyway, after the initial check and going to get my prescription ordered, I went back to the doctor (it was one of those places with the eyeglasses store attached to the doctor’s office…or the other way around?) and he shone a bright hand light in my eyes while asking me to look left and up, right and up, just right, just left, just up, just down and then behind my eyes and touching my toes and…well, we did a lot of eye exercises. The cool and trippy part started there. I don’t remember ever seeing the veins on the inside of my eyes but man…every time he shone the light I did.  I think it would make a very opening sequence to a thriller to just show the veins on the inside of the eye, branching away into the distance.

So, after getting out of there and being told to come back in about a week, I put on my sunglasses (remembered that from last time) and went out into what was, fortunately, an overcast day.  Did you know that when your pupils are three times their normal size, all oncoming car lights look like half stars with the bottom half shooting off at crazy downward and outward angles? And I do mean ALL. There was a police car going by with sirens blaring and lights flashing and that was pretty cool. Walking as a bit of a challenge as I was extra careful not to trip but those oncoming (and signal lights at the back of the cars too) lights were very trippy.

When I got into the house (and still my vision is blurry) the hallway lights were like starry clouds. So, very cool experience. I think I need to lie down now, but I wanted to convey it while I’m thinking about it.

So yeah, this is a random blog post, but sometimes you have to write those because it’s just so fun to share. Please leave a comment about your experiences with the eye doctor. This should make for some fun discussions.

Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up!

Amy McGuire

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