Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sloppy Joe

So, remember this summer when I said I was working on a couple projects and I'd let you know when something happened?

Well, something happened!  At least on the one project anyway!

I have a new job!

Let me back up for a bit.  For the last almost five years, I have been a lunch lady at the local school district.  I started because my husband had lost his job and when he got hired on as a contractor, there were no benefits.  So, I became a lunch lady.  At first I was so excited!  Part time hours, decent pay, benefits, summers off!  Then, as time went on, I learned exactly how hard the job is.  In a nutshell, they pay you to be a mom.  You do laundry, cook, clean, put away the groceries (a lot are very heavy) do dishes and serve children.  You listen to their smart mouths (quite a few of them actually) and do it all with a smile.  You have to adhere to strict government regulations and regular (i.e. not government) inspectors.  When the President's wife chooses your occupation as her new project, things change drastically.

You work mostly with women.  Seven in fact.  So, someone is always pmsing, having a hot flash, irritable, cranky, quiet, and/or loud (ps. I'm the loud one).  And, sometimes, that's just one person! lol  You learn the dance.  You learn when you can joke with certain people.  You learn when not too.  You learn compassion.  You work on your patience.  You try not to complain.  You make friends, lifelong friends.  You learn new ways to do things.  You share your life with these women.  It can be a beautiful thing.

Then, change happens.  In the time I was there, we went through three managers, two employees, and a plethora of subs (substitutes).  Last year, we existed on a rotation of subs the entire year since an employee had left the year before.  You learn pretty fast who is a good worker, who is not.  It was hard because you're really working hard to get all the work done all while understaffed.  Just because you have a sub, i.e. a warm body doesn't mean they actually work.  We had one lady who would stand there, arms in front of her, like she was waiting for a bus! lol

Towards the end of last school year, I decided this lunch lady gig was no longer for me.  There's a lot of drama and even more politics.  I know it's prevalent in every job, but this one was overflowing.  So, on the last day of the school year, I started looking for a job.  A full time job that would utilize my prior administrative experience.  I applied to so many jobs this summer.  I even started a secret facebook group to keep my friends updated on my job search!  It was called Gina's job search that never ends lol.  I prayed a lot and was very disheartened when I realized I had to go back to being a lunch lady this year.  Yet, I pressed on!  I kept applying everywhere I thought I would be a good match.  This year brought even more drama.  A new manager who is going to work out well.  A new employee who, well, lets just say I have a rather unsavory opinion of, and a sub whom I just think is all that and a bag of chips!  There were lots of changes.  New way things are being done.  And, when you're use to doing things one way, you balk, LOUDLY, at the changes.  Some of the changes weren't so good.  Some, meh, I'd deal with it.  The first week it was so bad, I came home in tears, twice!  At least twice I almost walked out.  This was about me and my needs and how I liked things the way they were (mostly).  I don't like change (unless I hit the lottery, then okay :D)!

I prayed so much I'm pretty sure God was tired of listening to me (note:  He never does.  He loves me more than I can even fathom!).  I did a lot of yelling, crying, stomping my feet, and told Him that I trusted Him and wanted His will for me as long as it was what my plan was for me.  Note:  It doesn't work like that. lol  So after a while, I finally accepted my lunch lady fate for this year.  Then, I get a call about a job.  We talk for a while and then they invite me in for a formal interview.  The interview was two hours!  And, I can tell you, it was the first time in my entire life that I've ever been so calm.  I was peaceful, calm, and happy.  Usually, I'm super nervous and anxious.  But, nope, not this time (Thank you Holy Trinity!).  They offered me the job on the spot!  I will now be working for a mortgage loan servicing company.  I'll tell you more about it later when I'm actually doing it and getting the hang of it :D

When I told one of my friends, she was so excited for me (as they all were) but she said something that struck me.  Joan said I was brilliant.  Not smart.  Brilliant!  This is hard for me to except.  I guess it's part of my low self esteem issues, but I balk when paid a compliment.  "Oh, they don't mean it".  "They're just being polite".  Especially, when it comes to my knowledge.  I always quote the old adage 'surround yourself we people smarter than you, then you are smart by association.'  My husband has an Ivy League education.  I have a high school diploma and some college.  While he's never done anything to make me feel less than.  I feel less than.  The nerves have already started about the new job.  Will I be good at it?  Will I do okay?  Will I move up in the company?  Will I get along with people?  Will they accept me?   When will I *finally* be good at something?  That's a big one.   I spent the better part of my weekend realizing and believing that God can do anything.  I know He can.  Just not that I can.

Yesterday was my last day at work.  I'm sad to leave my friends Shortie and Monaco.  My Kathy has already been gone four and a half weeks.  But, friendships, real friendships, they keep up no matter where you are and if you are still working together or not.  Kathy is a great example of that.  We still talk.  Which is good, because I'd be so bummed if we didn't.  I'm on to the next chapter of my work life!  I'd like to thank all the members of my secret facebook group who prayed for me, supported me, and loved me through all of my whining.  I love you all.

Until next time,
Pray for my Carol.  


Sunday, September 8, 2013


Spoiler warning.  If you have not seen Les Miserables, the play or the movie, read at your own risk.  

I warned you.

Last chance.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Les Miserables has become one of my favorite movies.  If you told me I'd love a movie or a play about the French Revolution I'd say you were nuts.  But, alas, I do.  Actually, love is to light a word to describe my feelings about the film.

To me, this is a very Catholic film.  It's a film about love, grace, and redemption.  It's a film that makes me cry.  Every time.  There are so many fabrics weaved into the story.  But I want to focus on just one for now.  The fabric of prisoner 24601 Jean Valjean.  Valjean stole a loaf of bread to feed his nephew and was caught.  Because he tried to escape many times, he spent nineteen years doing hard labor.  After his release, he breaks parole.  He makes his way to a church where a Priest grants him solace along with grace and mercy. During the night, Valjean steals all the silver from the church and runs off.  He gets caught immediately and the police take him back to the church and talk to the Priest.  The Priest, showing more grace and mercy tell the police that he *gave* Valjean the silver and proceeds to give Valjean silver candlesticks telling him he forgot those and to use them well.  At this point in the movie, Valjean ends up in the sacristy and is touched by the grace of the Priest and of Jesus.  He cannot understand Jesus grace and love for him and I must confess, many days, I feel the same.

Fast forward through the movie.  Moved by grace, Valjean turns his life around.  He has become a respected member of society.   Unbeknownst to him, he makes a bad decision regarding a worker named Fantine.  She loses her job and takes to the streets to support her daughter.  When Fantine is discovered by Valjean again, she is a shell of herself.  She has been used, abused, and is dying.  He realizes what he has done and takes her in and cares for as she dies and promises to raise her daughter as his own and he does.

Throughout the film, Valjean helps others all while evading the police who recognize him as the man who broke parole all those years ago.  The police officer doesn't care what Valjean has done in the time since.  What good works he has done, all those he has helped.  He only sees the prisoner he once knew.  He's all about following the letter of the law.  No grey, only black and white.  Towards the end of the film, Valjean takes the opportunity to bestow mercy and grace on the officer.  This confuses the officer and he is forced to deal with the grey. 

The church is it's own character in the movie.  It's where Valjean meets the priest who shows him mercy and grace.  Then, in the middle of the film, he comes to a convent seeking sanctuary.  Then, at the end of his life, he comes back to the convent to die.  The ending scene gets me every time.  Valjean sings a beautiful song to Jesus about how he is ready to come home.  And, Fantine, comes back to bring him home.  And, in one of my favorite lines of the entire film says "to love another person is to see the face of God".   

No matter how many times I watch the movie, I identify with so many of the characters, but none more than Jean Valjean.  We are both granted, unworthily, Jesus grace and mercy. We are both moved by the kindness of others.  We both change our lives for the better.  We both find solace and love in our faith.  And, no matter how much good we do (or think we do) we are pursued by our past.  Whether it be in Valjeans case, police officer, or in mine, falling into the devils snares of anger, jealousy, greed and so many more.  Watching this film reminds me of who I want to be to others.  How I want to show others, who I feel who don't deserve it, God's love and mercy.  And, give it freely.  Something that is so hard to do.

 This movie may not have intended to be Catholic, not even Christian.  And, I'm sure others who have seen it don't see it that way.  But for me, and my faith, I could not help but see it as so.  And, after all, who am I?  Who am I?  I'm Jean Valjean.

Until next time,
Watch the movie.  I promise you, you'll love it.