New Year, New Direction

I am tremendously excited, and a little uncertain, and a tiny bit skeptical, that my time has finally come to start changing the direction of this blog.  It has always been my intention to write about my work until I can write as my work.  That goal has not yet been achieved, but this year, quite literally starting at the beginning of January 2015, I have the chance to start tipping the scales away from meaningless paycheck earning in favor of fulfilling my dreams of becoming a Writer.

Granted, the scales will have to hang balanced for a while yet as I have no clue how or when I will make the leap from amateur scribbler to professional author and still need to pay some bills.  However, for the next three or more months I have the opportunity to spend a few hours every single day at minimum scribbling away with no guilt, timetable, or mental exhaustion to limit my creativity.  And after that time, through the love, support, and unique set of ideals of someone who cares for me, my paycheck earning has been decreed to be not only part-time, but also must be a job I find enjoyable rather than tedious or stressful.

I can’t actually really believe this is happening to me yet.  Part of why I am writing this post now is to help myself absorb this knowledge, to drink it in in my favorite flavor (the written word), savor it, and let it become fuel for my imagination.  There is so much hope in me and that hope is now seeing the light of day!

My uncertainty comes in that I am not exactly sure how I will transition this blog.  I will continue to write about my job search when it comes time to enter the working world again and find that fun part time job.  I will also certainly talk about how the greater Job hunt goes i.e. what it’s like trying to make writing earn wages and how I am doing it.  I have, however, begun posting some of my writing, in the form of a fictional adventure story which looks (in my head) to be shaping up into possibly a full novel, on my other blog.  So I am not sure exactly which pieces of my books or words will actually end up here.  Hmm… I suppose, just like I do most things, I will simply veer towards the feather-weight, penciled-in plan and not worry about straying from it if something else seems better at any particular moment.

I suppose I must bring the “tiny bit” out into the light as well so I can poke at it a little and hope it goes away.  I am afraid and skeptical that I will fail myself.  That I will waste this opportunity.  That I will find everything else to do, but write.  That I will allow my innate, immensely strong impulse to put others first to keep me from shouting “Hey world! Taking my few hours now, so Bugger off for a bit, and don’t try to tell me you’ll fall apart in the meantime!”  That I will fill my precious time with tasks that could be left off for just a bit and not hurt a thing.  I do that, you know? I feel bad about doing what the tiny, ugly voice in my head says is “not work, not productive, not important, not helping anyone but yourself.”

A wise man reminded me yesterday though… “You are important.  Your Dreams are important.  And if you don’t take the time to do what makes you most happy, then you feel cranky or preoccupied, and then you can’t really be successful at making anyone else happy. In simpler terms, I like your smile.  So take the time.  Write.  The dishes will wait.”

So New Year, here I come!!!  I will be bold, expansive, outrageous!  I will change direction finally!  I will leap out of bed in the mornings and charge into the unknown, wielding my mighty sword, uproarious and joyful and wild! For those of you unfamiliar with that sort of behaviour, it looks an awful lot like a messy-haired girl rolling from under the covers, slightly grumbly and sleepy-eyed, squinting at the steeping french press working wonders on its little magic beans, and crawling into an armchair by the fire with her pen.

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Breaking the chains

It is not in my nature to settle.  It is not in my nature to simply “put up with” unhappiness in the hopes that life will improve.  For that is all it is really, hoping life will improve.  I believe if it makes you unhappy,  enduring it is a waste of time, a waste of precious moments, of the potential for joy.  Everyone knows pain in the body exists for a reason, to tell us something is wrong.  I believe pain in the heart and the mind is the same. Yes, of course there are brief times when we must endure pain, when it truly is a step on a journey or towards achievement.  But we must never forget that pain is a message, that something is wrong.  And if there is no end in sight, and only our own willpower and choices stand in the way of ending that pain, then we must be brave and choose another way.

As I said in the last post, I have been unhappy, hurting, enduring pain for an invisible, unknowable, merely hopeful, improvement in life.  I was living the way I was “supposed to” and hating it.  Then I remembered my true nature, my old bravery and social rebellion, my need to make the most of life, smile more often than frown, enjoy the journey and keep seeking until I find “it,” not sit and wait for it to maybe, someday, hopefully, possibly come find me.

So I’m breaking the chains, big time.

I resigned from my job yesterday.  I put in my 2 weeks, started saying my goodbyes (no matter what, those are hard when you love the people, but not the place).  I hated it there,  and that’s just silly in the end.  So I ended it.  And now I feel amazing.

It wasn’t a totally sudden decision.  The recognition of my unhappy drudgery stirred me a few months ago to begin planning and reaching towards change.  There’s no point in leaving one miserable situation to just move into another one though, so I really looked at the things I wanted, and didn’t want, and reminded myself there are so very many options out there.  As usual for me, the initial ideas and plans I came up with are not the ones coming to fruition now, but that’s okay too.  They helped me open my eyes and get inspired and excited, so a shift here and there and a few beautiful curveballs thrown my way are only making the end of this chapter more fun.

Did I get another job?  Well, um, sort of.   Another occupation and means of living yes.  A Job, like the all-American, proper paycheck, benefits, clock-in type?  Nope!  I have finally found someone in tune with my heart and together we are taking on the position of caretakers on a ranch for the winter.  My “income” (read room and board) will be earned feeding and caring for horses, oiling tack, chopping firewood, learning to bake bread for the other part time residents, potentially yelling at some chickens, and whatever else comes up that needs doing.   My remaining time will be spent blissfully pursuing a few of my real dreams. Silence, warmth from a wood fire, a farmhouse kitchen, falling snow, a slow pace, and love will be my companions as I finally get an unencumbered opportunity to grow into a real writer.

Hello Life, good to see you again.

I was right

I was so very right.. about complacency being a silent killer.   I have stayed with the same job, basically, for a year and a half now.  In my attempts to be a normal civilian, to sit still, to build a resume and stability, I have developed in “my industry” from part time receptionist to assistant to the studio manager, to assistant manager of the studio to taking over my very own studio as Studio Manager within 14 months.  Before I speak further, let me say how grateful I am to my friend who made the connections to get me the part time position to start with… the job market is horrific, thank you for helping me survive.  But… I hate this place/job/company/corporation/position/work…   I hate it.  I do not understand the prevalent mentality that due to people’s misconceptions of human capacity, one must keep a job one hates for inordinate lengths of time in order to look marketable to someone else so that one might eventually improve one’s lot and life.  I have retained, and significantly advanced within, my “industry” and so should now be, in theory, more attractive to employers.  However, I have been stifled and belittled and bored for a year and half and I wonder and hope, and despise, that I may now be in a position to get a job I actually care about and can be proud of.  I feel I have been wasting time. I don’t think I have time to waste. Life hold so much more, so many possibilities, for adventure and excitement and significance and change.  A year and a half is far too dear.  I must find something new, to save myself from crumbling beneath a disrespectful boss and. an irrelevant “responsibility” and to further my goals and pleasures, no matter what society thinks of them.   Wish me luck.

Preparing for the (Job) Hunt

I am restless again.

I know, I only found the good job a few months ago, got promoted a couple months ago, and said I would sit still for a while before I looked for the Good Job.  When I said that, I intended 6  months to a year of “sitting still.”  Uncooperatively, my nature is beginning to rumble and growl within its cage though, the blanket of “this is a wise decision” not muffling the sounds in the least.  I am yearning for more, yearning, eager, needing, to stretch my legs/wings/mind and find something more.   I want, yet again, to search for my Job.

My search this time feels a little… well I was going to say more scattered and unsure, but upon typing the words I realize it may actually be more “focused” than ever before (if, that is, the definition of focused can be slightly reexamined and include two potential paths rather than the traditional one).

The Underlying desire – I want to do something fulfilling.

Path one:  A Job in South Florida (climate and geography as close to ideal as the USA allows) that pays $50k+ per year (estimate based on current status of single, childless female) that contributes directly to positive change in the world and includes ample time off and interaction with people of other cultures, preferably in the form of actual travel.

Path two: A job in a foreign country of ideal climate and geography that allows for a simple, but stress free (i.e. all minimal bills covered, roof over head, enough food to sustain active lifestyle… again based on same “spinster” status((yes I have actually had this legal description personally, not willingly, applied to me)).)   Simplified – live on Caribbean island cheap and peaceful.

Obviously I have not yet made a choice between the two.  But I am moving towards the choice, cutting contracts and leases and such, and allowing myself to be much more open to accepting either path with an easy and happy heart, and a plan is formed to lead to a decision.

I will both island hop on long weekends when cheap tickets allow, and Job hunt for the next few months and see which feels better….

Here goes.. Again…. Finally???  Wish me luck ( and contacts if you have any!)

Little jobs, Big Promotions and Better Chances to Pursue Happiness

Sometimes you have to take a little job just to get by while you work on building a better resume, stay in one place to appear more stable, or simply pay the bills so you don’t have to live under a bridge.  Everybody does it, these days, no shame.  Frustration at that fact may run rampant, but there’s no shame in it.  

The nice thing is, if you can find a little job that you don’t hate, maybe one that at least gives you a little pleasure, through cool benefits or a nice team to work with, the potential for improving your quality of life is a lot better.  Beyond that, the potential that that little job could turn into something bigger looks a lot more hopeful and can lessen the frustration and sense of failure that comes from taking a “not anywhere near my dream Job” job.

I “chose”  (as much as anyone in dire straits and needing a job last week! can choose) to work the front desk at a massage studio and retail at a bike shop (pedal powered, not petrol).  At the massage studio, I work in a quiet atmosphere with a mostly great team, I have steady hours and get free massages.  At the bike shop I get discounts and again work with great people.  It has made a big difference getting to work with a team larger than 1; though I have yet to make friends in this new home of mine, at least now I get a little social contact.  I figured, if I just jump in at ground level, show off my skills any chance I get and keep my eyes open for something better, something better will somehow show up.

I played it right (and was super blessed). Within 3 weeks, I was offered a promotion to management at a new store within the bike company.  I ended up turning it down in fact, partly because the pay didn’t justify the position and commute, but more because I would have to walk away from the other two jobs with no notice at all.  I couldn’t do that.  A friend referred me to the massage studio, and the owner there had worked hard to take my needs into consideration; I chose professionalism and personal ethics over promotion.

 Luckily, that was not my last opportunity for advancement.  Over the next week 2 different managers at the bike shop spoke with me about separate promotion options that might come up in the next few months, and the management team at the massage studio also discussed with me an opportunity to advance that might arise along the same time lines.  I decided I would bide my time and see what popped up first.  

Within a couple of days, to my surprise, the massage studio decided to make a move on restructuring the team early and offered me the promotion to Assistant to the Studio Manager.  Pay increase, added benefits, additional responsibility and more challenge included, I jumped on it and am thrilled to say I am headfirst into my new role.  

I admit, to myself and anyone who cares to ask, that this is not my dream Job.  I still want to pursue the goals I have for myself to make a difference in the world, use my skills to their very edges and continue to sharpen them, and make a living that allows plane tickets in the budget.  But with the perks of this promotion, I am content for now, to let my job-hopper label fade, work nice hours with good people, help build success for a great business to the best of my ability, and get free massages for a while.  

I can finally breathe and feel at least comfortable with where I am to sit “still” a bit and enjoy the non-work side of my life as well. It’s time to write, live, and who knows, maybe even love a little.  

This blog is nowhere near over though, as I keep watching for that dream Job, writing to pursue my ultra dream JOB, and of course relating my non-work/writing adventures in my other, linked blog inkstainedadventures.

Would love to hear how your job search is going and any suggestions you have for me on my path to fabulousness.

Complacency – The Career Search Killer

There is a killer lurking in your workplace, behind your desk or your cash register,  whispering lies in your ear, stealing the pens you use for brainstorming and replacing them with a book or a tv remote …

Ok, so maybe he’s not following you, but a killer dogs my steps these days and it is not my first encounter.  I know his name though, and like those violent offender bulletins in the mail, maybe if I spread the word, register his proximity, then awareness will keep us all safe…

The killer’s name is Complacency D. Dreamsnatcher,  a.k.a  Good Enough for Now, and he is loving this economy. Let me tell you a little about him, in the words of Dictionary.com

com·pla·cen·cy – noun

1.  a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.

 

 

Doesn’t really sound so bad does he?  If you ignore the “while unaware of potential danger” part!  That’s where his true colors lie.  Complacency is the feeling that everything is ok, that life is smooth, maybe improving even, and you have no need to fear.  Complacency sneaks up most quietly, and dangerously, when things have been bad in life, when bills have gone unpaid, rent keeps you from eating more than noodles and peanuts, and the weeks drag on, stretching the job search like an old, crusty rubberband… and then finally you get something!  You don’t get a major break through, a dream job, a challenge matching your needs, skills and hopes, but you do get something.  It’s ok, it’s a job you don’t hate, with hours that are manageable (if you alter your life a little) and a paycheck that maybe doesn’t pay all the bills, but keeps your roof over your head and puts a little tuna and frozen peas in your pasta sometimes.  So you take it!  Yes!!  A job!!!  And the fear ebbs and the load lightens and you start to breathe again, and Complacency sees the perfect victim.

I’ve seen him peeking in my windows lately, watching me read a book, casual as can be reading a book in bed sipping coffee, enjoying my one late morning before I work an evening shift.  I hear his sinister laugh and I cringe, knowing.  I am falling prey to Good Enough for Now.

I am not paying off my debt.  I am not buying a vehicle.  I am not stocking my fridge.  I can’t imagine getting new lingerie, let alone a plane ticket to St. Somewhere.  And more importantly, I don’t feel like I am changing the world.  I don’t wake up excited about the day’s challenges.  I don’t feel like an educated, worldly, experienced 33 year old. I don’t have weekends off to go on road trips or write my books.  But, I like my little jobs, they are easy and mellow. I work with good people. I find a few hours to talk to a friend sometimes.  I bought toothpaste and didn’t have a panic attack at the register!  So I get home at night, a little tired from an 11 hour day, and Complacency whispers soothingly to me “All is well!  It’s sooooo much better than it was. You worked so hard and struggled so much, and things are ok now.  Take a little time to breathe, relax. Things are Good Enough, for now, you can start searching again soon…”  and I sit down with a book and a calm sigh, enjoy my tuna and peas immensely (relatively), and suddenly it’s a week later and I haven’t sent out a single resume to a Dream-style Job.  It’s happening…

 

Complacency is killing my Career Search.

 

I must stand and fight, turn on bright lights and music to scare him (and the coziness) away, steal back my pens and shout “I WANT MORE!!!”  I don’t want good enough!  I don’t want “better than it was!”   I don’t want toothpaste and tuna, but no plane tickets or Vicky’s ever again!

 

I want Amazing.  I want Bliss, not contentedness.  I want Exciting.  I want Freedom from this grinding hunt and peck.  I want!  And I deserve.  And that means less sitting by while the meager (but appreciated) paychecks stumble in.  It means less plodding and more plotting.  It means holding onto and following my dreams.

 

For me, Complacency’s whispers tend to make me forget my hopes and dreams list when I need it most. So for my first counter attack, next post, I will post my hopes and dreams list right here so I can’t forget and maybe someone can poke at me once in a while to remind me just in case.

 

So There dastardly Mr. Dreamsnatcher!!  I refuse to let you kill my Career Search!  I refuse to let my dreams be taken away by a bad economy and a crazy job market that makes even tiny jobs masquerade as lucky success.

 

I refuse to settle for Good Enough for Now!

 

What Your Shoes Say About Your Job

shoes

I should be applying for jobs right now.  Instead I am doing laundry, picking up around my apartment, and playing with my blogs.  Well, I’m sort of doing laundry…  There is only one machine in my apt building and I am waiting for whoever is using the dryer to remember they are using it and come move their stuff so I won’t be late and damp to work in an hour.  Off topic…

In prepping for work and picking up, I looked at the shoes lined up by my door and had a little laugh.  I have very different shoes for the very different jobs I do and have done in the past, and maybe I am crazy, but I think that is interesting somehow.  (I decided to add the photo to my header so you could see what I mean for just a day or two, then something more applicable will be up.)  I have flip flops for daily life and for when I worked on the boats/docks.  I have my chuck taylors for pedicabbing in S.FL and my tougher Puma athletic shoes for the bike shop and the pedicabbing in NOLA which was much more strenuous.  I have power heels for interviews and jobs requiring more suit-like attire, and dainty heels for when the job calls for a more subdued and less threatening, yet still feminine business-wear.

I will say, I have nowhere near the number of shoes many women do, but I have quite the variety.  Other shoes don’t belong at work (odd to say considering the range I just listed…) so no point mentioning here, but I think the shoes things says something.  I can look at each shoe and tell you memories of days and likes and dislikes about not only the wearing of the shoe, but the circumstance of the wearing as well.  Psych background kicks in a bit and I wonder playfully about the study one could do on finding the right job based on the shoes one prefers to wear.  I think there is something there really.  Do you love the relaxed, well-formed but easy to kick-off fit of the perfect Reef?  Do you enjoy the maneuverability, speed and  comfort of an athletic shoe?  Do you feel confident, strong and successful in a dress shoe, and further, power shoe or loafer/dainty slingback?

Ok ok, weird, I know, but a fun jaunt into the odd, lighter details of the work world and the search for the perfect career.  I admit though, if it really were that simple and telling, I have a sneaking feeling my career choice would be considered semi if not wholly unacceptable/unsuccessful by most  people.  I’m ok with that.

You MUST Stay Positive When You Job Hunt, But No It’s Not Easy

Staying positive, in and of itself, when you are searching for a job is not only a daunting task, but is honestly really crucial to your search.  There is so much negativity that can both surround and spring from job hunting, it can be truly difficult to stay positive.  I struggle with it all the time.  Sometimes I lose.  Sometimes I have really tough moments, or even really tough days (yep, plural).  But I bounce back (okay maybe it’s more of a slow rise than a bounce on occasion, nonetheless, back up I go…) and I know I have to keep it up, keep ME up, or I will lose the whole war, not just the battle.

The tough moments come sometimes out of the blue, or are sometimes caused by rejection, but mostly I think it is the slow, blind, grinding of hours and days spent looking at hundreds of job openings and, though I write cover letter after cover letter, resume tweak after resume tweak, nothing happens.  It wears down my resolve, frays my nerves and makes one tiny word grow louder and louder in my head until all my positive energy is used up trying to drown it out.  “WHY?”  grumbles, pesters, screams across my thoughts and all of a sudden I find myself feeling oh-so-NOT-positive.

“Why can’t I find a job if there are so many job openings?”

“Why don’t I get any callbacks?”

“Why did I decide to __________ in my past so I don’t look more hireable now?”

“Why doesn’t anybody want me?”

“Why am I such a failure?”

Yep, I know, extreme, negative, depressing, supremely unhelpful.  But sometimes that’s just the way it goes.  And when it does, there’s a big ugly black hole pulling me away from any progress I could be making.

My logical brain knows (thank goodness) that all those Why’s are unproductive, if not downright crazy.  I know most jobs listed online are already filled internally or by people who know the right people.  I know the thousands of applications swirling around with mine out there in the Monster-ous ether are too much for any one hiring manager to deal with.  I know that I have lived a great life and would not be who I am today if I had made different decisions.  I know that this wild, and currently fruitless, hunt is no reflection on my self worth and my significance to others.  I KNOW those things.  I still feel like crap anyway, some days.  But luckily, since I KNOW, I also now know that the craziness is my signal to take a break, instead of kicking myself for feeling bad, thence feeling even worse.

When I am feeling terrible about, well, the whole d@mn thing, I know that I will NOT write as well, I will NOT be as creative in my approach to either search or application, I will NOT be as efficient, I will NOT apply for jobs at or above my goal/experience/salary level, but only to those my crazy, negative brain thinks I am worthy of (fast food? really?), etc etc etc.  I simply will be wasting my time and leaping into that black hole of sad insanity.  Neither of those are good things, should you wonder; I have tried them and advise that you don’t.  So when the WHYs get so loud they begin to make me sad, I stop.  I stop hunting, digging, writing, applying, brainstorming, staring blankly…  and walk away from it all for just a little while and I get better.

I have to admit that I don’t know the exact reason behind my change back from a negative to a positive mindset all the time.  Once in a while I just get the pleasant surprise of randomly feeling better and taking another step forward, like the cliche “sun coming out from behind the clouds.”  Most of the time though, I see the negative slide and have gotten to know myself well enough after all these crazy, adventurous years to know what/who/where helps me to turn myself around.  Staying positive, or getting back to feeling positive, is very personal, what I do may not be beneficial to you at all.  I’ll give some of my suggestions in another post, but really you have to get to know yourself and find Your best ways of turning the mess around.  It’s worth it, now and in the long run, when we find our dream Jobs! Right?! right??

Celebration and Concern – Obtaining jobs, But Not a Job

I have been remiss in my duty to log my search and progress these last couple of weeks.  I acquired not one, but 2 new jobs and have been swamped by new schedules and double training.  Cause for both celebration and concern, my new jobs will relieve a bit of the financial starvation I have been feeling, but not my hunger for true satisfaction, fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment or adequacy, let alone success.

I am grateful for the jobs, incredibly grateful, however I can’t shake the concern that they are simply additional notches on my “jobhopper” belt in the eyes of future potential hiring managers. Though I am told one looks more desirable to employers when one is already employed, I can’t help but wonder at the truth of that when the current jobs are “fillers.”  The positions in which I am working are low-level, low-skill, and low responsibility and I do not feel they support my credibility as candidate for excellence in a demanding career.  Not only that, but I am forced to hold two such jobs to feed my landlord and my light bill (nevermind myself!).  So I am up to 28 jobs now, looking less stable than ever.


Therefore I am both happy and disheartened by these new developments.  I know that I need to focus carefully on the happy feelings and hold myself firm against the frustrations because I am walking the edge above a slippery slope of negativity – the despair, however illogical, of feeling defeated, of feeling that this, THIS!, is all I can achieve.  I know that’s not true, I know that I will, eventually, find my Job. I have to keep believing that.

Job-hoppers – Waste of Time or Secret Ideal Candidates?

I usually dislike labels in general, but Job-hopper… rarely have a I met a label quite so lethal as that.

I believed I was doing the right thing, taking chances, seeing the world, learning about myself and other countries, cultures, ways of life.  I gained so much.  And now I am afraid I have lost just as much.  These last couple of months I have heard a new word, far too many times – Job-hopper.  Job-hoppers are despised by employers, feared, looked down on, sneered at, whispered about behind their backs, plotted against at morning meetings…  Okay okay, so that may be a bit extreme, but carrying the label, as I now know I do, is making my job search miserable.  The part I hate the worst is that I am NOT a Job-hopper, I just look like one on paper.

Remember those dreaded resumes I ranted about?  They are the only way to get yourself in front of hiring teams these days it seems (yet another post), and as I mentioned, I look terrible on paper.  I look like a job-hopper.  I am a traveler, I believe in unconventional education and the value of knowing oneself and how to work with people of various ages, backgrounds, personalities, etc.  I know for a fact that employers value those things as well (hello cultural sensitivity in diverse communities!).  However, when writing a resume and following advice on including measurable results, not only is it very difficult to format travel and life experience in measurable results, but including the successes from previous jobs means my frequency of altering my geographical location is all too obvious.  Thus the dreaded J-H label.

Once a Job-hopper, always a Job-hopper seems to be the assumption. Though I understand that concern, having been in a hiring capacity myself,  I also wonder how one is expected to stop the hopping when one is not given a chance at a great position because of the quick assumptions made by glancing at an online application.  Having been a hiring manager, I am also well aware that online job apps tell one Very little about the applicant’s actual ability to perform, let alone his or her personality and how he or she will fit with the team.  Quite a conundrum – how to sort through hundreds of applicants weeding out the potentials from the unsuitables.  And a conundrum for us applicants as well – how to get through the weeding process when you KNOW you would be awesome for THAT job.

I am ready for a career, to find a company I admire and feel good about being a part of, a place and team to which I can give my loyalty and utilize all the skills I have learned.  I work hard, I learn fast, and I am finally in a place (geographically) that I want to call home for a good long time.  But how How How HOW do I convince an employer of that when I can’t even get in the door to discuss it?????

How do we, those of us trying desperately to find success, to find a good job, a job worthy of the time and effort we have put into learning how to be successful assets in the workplace, how do we avoid that Job-hopper label?  How do we avoid it when we must work in cafes and restaurants and retail and front offices just to pay the bills while we search for our careers? How do we avoid it when we are supposed to be multi-cultural, immensely skilled in a variety of functions, and know we are in the right place where we can grow and be happy, giving all that a satisfied employee can give to her team?  I think maybe job-hoppers are the secret ideal candidates.  Now how do I convince employers to ask hoppers why they hop? I wish they would ask me.