All bass lessons via FaceTime should include a cat or two.
I’ve been trying to keep busy as my work life invades my home space, and I spend most days indoors in self-isolation. In my spare time, I’ve been binge watching the Slow Mo Guys on YouTube. If you haven’t seen them before, I highly recommend their videos. Their slow motion clips are short, usually awe-inspiring, educational and funny.
In addition to watching TV, I’ve been writing. I’m also learning Swedish using Duolingo because I have the time. When I’m not doing all that, I play my bass.
I’m taking vocal lessons now (as part of my bass lesson) since we were supposed to be recording a Christmas music CD on April 26th. That has since been postponed, of course. Still I’m practicing both bass and singing.
Even with all of this added learning, activity, and practicing, it’s hard not to get stressed out and fed up. I’m actually taking a vacation (ha ha ha) day tomorrow. I need a break from staring at the tiny 6″ x 10″ Chromebook screen I’m using to remote in to work. When we make it through this nightmare, I hope none of us ever takes the blessing and routine of a normal life for granted.
Looking back on my personal work history it occurred to me yesterday that I’ve been working steadily for 41 years. That’s a long time. I’m old and getting older all the time.
I’m closer now to the end of my working career than I am to the beginning of it. I started work at 19. At the time I was even shyer, and I was a greenhorn in so many ways.
After a couple of temp jobs, I started out at what is now known as CTG. Back then it was called Computer Task Group, and it provided data processing services to other companies. I worked in the office, and over the years there I did a little bit of everything. I started out at the reception desk as a clerk typist when I was 19. CTG was the first place to send me on a business trip. I took my first airplane flight to Chicago, Illinois for a week of training. I also traveled by car for business meetings in Buffalo, New York and Syracuse, New York.
Nine years later after temping briefly at Eastman Kodak, I landed at ICE Communications, an advertising agency. I was an account coordinator to three account executives (salesmen). They sold advertising and the in-house creative staff made the ad campaigns a reality. At ICE I worked my first job with summer hours. We had half days on Fridays. That was nice.
I was laid off for lack of work two and a half years later and after I came home from my honeymoon, I started at Nixon Peabody. New husband, new apartment, and new job. Within a year, new baby, too.
I worked at Nixon, my first law firm, for twelve years. I also had my second baby while working there. I started as a floating secretary with zero legal experience. I was terrified. I floated for maybe two weeks and took a job that opened up in their Human Resources department, something that fit my background much better. I worked in HR for eight years and then when I was feeling burned out, they tossed me a lifeline.
I moved to the Intellectual Property department and became a paralegal. I learned all about patents. This monumental step would secure me my niche. All my working career to that point had been as a generalist, either general secretarial or general HR work. Anyone could have done my job.
Patent work was unique and complex. It requires a strong attention to detail and focus on the minutiae. Everything has to be exact and correct. Learning this skillset was a lifesaver for me. It made me feel special and unique to know something that others did not. Apparently I’m good at it, too. I’ve been doing this type of work now for 22 years.
While at Nixon, I would also travel by airplane again. They sent me to Washington DC for a tour of the US Patent Office, something they did for all IP employees. They also sent me to Tampa, Florida for a week of patent training.
Unfortunately while at Nixon, my youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Work was telling me I needed to spend more time there – stay later and maybe come in on weekends. My heart was telling me my son needed more of me, not less.
When one of the IP attorneys at Nixon decided to open up his own biotechnology startup company, he took one of Nixon’s HR managers (my former boss) with him. A year later, she asked me to come to the startup, too, so my four years as an IP paralegal (and my twelve years at Nixon) came to an end.
It was meant to be because while working for Integrated Nano-Technologies, I was able to flex my schedule and work part-time. I got my son on and off of the school bus every day so I was there for him. I was almost a stay at home mom.
The startup was different. In addition to keeping an eye on the company’s patents, I did everything else. I did accounting, payroll, and I even sat at the front reception desk, something I hadn’t done since I was 19. We wore jeans and sneakers.
Unfortunately as is often the case with startups, they ran out of money. When I was asked if I’d defer my pay, I couldn’t so I left. I was there nine years. Others stayed, and the company is still around today.
While at INT, I went back to college (at age 51) and earned two associates degrees online.
I was unemployed for eight weeks. It was a nice break, and I got to take a deep breath and relax. The world of patents beckoned again, this time with the opportunity to learn trademarks and copyrights, too. I joined my second law firm, working in Intellectual Property, Woods Oviatt Gilman.
WOG is where I still work today. I’ve been there nine years this year (there’s something about that number – nine years at CTG, INT and WOG). WOG is likely where I’ll stay, if I’m lucky, until I retire.
I’ve been fortunate to work at some great places for some good people, and I’ve had long stays at all of them. I can’t complain. I learned something each place I’ve been, and I think I’ve been a decent addition to each place.
Not bad for a shy kid who only ever wanted to be a stay at home Mom.
Hard to believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted, but I’ve been busy. Busy getting to know my new friend. My guitar arrived, and since Epiphone was founded by a Greek gentleman and was originally run by a Greek family, I decided to give my gorgeous guitar a Greek name to honor his heritage. Yes, I name cars, and I name guitars.
I chose Philo, which is Greek for good friend. So, he’s “Phil” for short, and he is beautiful. I am enjoying my good friend way more than I did playing a cheap guitar at ten years of age. Phil is easier to play even more so than my starter electric guitar, Sky. Sky is lighter, but it’s harder to make Sky sing. Everything about Phil is solid, slick and easy. No, playing is not some sort of magic, but it is so worthwhile.
I’m taking a combination of online lessons and DVD lessons. I’m reading music again. I’m working on the first three strings. It’s so challenging, but it’s also so rewarding when I can make Phil sing the same notes I hear on the DVD or video I’m following. It’s a blast.
I love my Epiphone Les Paul. I practice him every day. I also give my little Fender amp high marks. I’ve already bought a portable DVD player so I can do my lessons anywhere and a music stand to make it easier on my neck. My experience with Epiphone has been a good one so far. Buying a more expensive instrument was definitely the way to go. I might have quit playing if I’d stuck with the starter guitar. I picked Sky up the other night, and it was like driving a Yugo after driving a Rolls Royce. There’s just no comparison even for a beginner like me.
My Guitar Center experience wasn’t as good, unfortunately. I showed up to pick up my major purchase (I spent a decent amount of money – he wasn’t a starter model). I was so excited, and I wanted them to be excited for me. There was no one around when I went in. The store is poorly set up. It’s not brightly lit, and there’s all sorts of side rooms for people to play guitars, and there was a lot of that going on, both in the rooms and out on the floor. No one acknowledged me as I stood waiting at the front desk. A kid finally showed up, and he went and got my two boxes (guitar and amp) and basically looked at my ID, had me sign and turned away. I had heard they might unbox and set the guitar up for me (as it turned out that wasn’t necessary, but it did take me a bit to figure things out on my own). I asked the clerk about a case, and he said (I’m not joking here), “Oh, I don’t know anything about the guitars.” I was so annoyed by that point that I wanted to ask him why the fuck he was working in a guitar store then. He referred me to someone on the other side of the store, and he picked my boxes up and dumped them over there.
I then waited for the guy on the other side of the store, and when he waited on me he said, “What is it? an acoustic?” like I wouldn’t know how to play an electric? That kind-of annoyed me, too, and it clearly said on the box what it was. When I told him it was an Epiphone Les Paul, he pointed to a hardshell case and said, “Oh, you have to have that one. It’s made for the Les Paul.” So I shelled out another $129 and my son and I carried my boxes out. Imagine my surprise when after unboxing everything, I discovered there was no amp cable. I’d also forgotten to buy a strap, and when I attempted to put the guitar in its case, the case didn’t fit. The label on the case said “SG”. An Epiphone SG is a different model than an Epiphone Les Paul – different shape altogether. So much for “made for the Les Paul”.
I was back at Guitar Center the next day at lunchtime, and again no one was around when I went in, and no one acknowledged my presence. All it would have taken was someone saying, “I’ll be with you in a moment, ma’am.” No, no customer service skills there whatsoever. Must be nice to be so shitty at your job and still get paid, even if it is minimum wage. When I was finally waited on, I told him the case didn’t fit. No apologies. No questions as to whether they could sell me one that did fit. They just processed the refund, and I ordered a cheaper, better case off of Amazon. Seriously, do the managers at Guitar Center not teach their employees about handling customers? I wanted some excitement (on my behalf), some attention, some acknowledgement, and they missed out big time. I was so jazzed I would have bought all kinds of accessories for my guitar. I am a novice. An experienced sales person would have made a nice commission off of me, but no, I got indifference, rudeness and stupidity.
I will consider myself fortunate that the guitar itself is a solid winner, even if the store who sold him to me isn’t so great. I would buy my Epiphone again in a heartbeat. I love my guitar. I am hooked.