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Amanda graduating from Grantham University

The fondest memory I have of Quality Assurance Analyst Amanda Giese is watching her whip out a Nerf gun from under her desk to join an inter-office war that she helped plan.

That should tell you just about everything you need to know.

Truthfully, our paths don’t cross very frequently. So when my random number generator chose her for the next employee spotlight, I was pretty excited to learn more about her fun personality and her history operating Nerf guns. All I knew was that she works on our management software and that she enjoys using code words before going into battle. Director of Engineering Adam England works with her more closely, and he was happy to share some words on what it’s like to work with her:

The engineering team loves Amanda's approach

Adam also told me that Amanda talked about video games in her interview. He shared this bit of information to show how he knew she’d be a great fit with the engineering team, but all I heard was that she’d be a blast to interview for the employee spotlight.

So here we go.

Amy: The first thing I did was jump onto your bio, of course, and one thing that stood out was that you got your degree in multidisciplinary studies. What led you to pursue that?

Amanda: I tend to be the “jack of all trades, master of none” type, and I had gone through college many moons ago and just didn’t finish. I was working at Grantham University and decided, “You know what, I should at least get the piece of paper.” I could get most of my classes done online in four weeks. The easiest place to bring transfer credits in was multidisciplinary studies.

Amy: What kinds of topics did you study?

Amanda: Music education at Missouri Western. I was going to be a band director when I grew up. It was really great, and then after three and a half years, looming on the horizon were three and a half more. Seven years for a bachelor's degree was just too much. I got a little burnt out and I had always promised myself that if I didn’t love something anymore, I wouldn’t do it. Because I knew I wasn’t going to love it any better if I kept torturing myself with it.

Amy: That’s a good outlook. So, I see you read a lot. As a writer, I think that’s really cool. How much do you read?

Amanda: As much as I have time for. Right now I’m working on Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and the Coco Chanel biography. I’m also reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.

Amanda loves reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series

Amy: Wow. So are you one of those people that can read multiple books at once?

Amanda: Mhmm. My fiance and I share a love for books. We both read constantly. We have three bookshelves just downstairs alone, as well as boxes filled with books in the garage. And we have two bookshelves upstairs.

Amy: Is there a certain genre that you gravitate toward?

Amanda: No, not really. It kinda depends on how I’m feeling that day. I’m all over the board. When I was younger I read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy type books. I read a lot of J.D. Robb, who writes futuristic murder mysteries. I also read biographies of people I like.

Amy: Like Coco Chanel?

Amanda: Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn…

Amy: Ooh. She’s really cool.

Amanda: I adore her.

Amy: And not for all the reasons people think of, either.

Amanda: Absolutely! I own one of the best biographies I’ve seen written about her. It was more from the perspective of “You’ve seen all the other biographies, and these are the stories behind those stories.” For example, during one of the world wars, she and her mother were fleeing from where they were. She was trapped in a bombed out house in the basement with nothing to eat for about a month. That’s why she’s so rail thin. When they found her and she was able to escape, she was emaciated. She was never able to get over that.

Audrey Hepburn was a huge human rights activist

Amy: It’s more than just “Oh, she’s pretty and thin.” She was also a really big human rights activist.

Amanda: Definitely. Especially children’s rights. She had two kids of her own, so that kept with her. It’s funny because I read an article about her the other day. One of her sons didn’t know his mother was Audrey Hepburn. People would tell him and he would argue back, saying, “No, my mother is Audrey Dottie. She’s not a Hepburn.” He had no idea who she was because she didn’t live like a celebrity. She lived like Audrey, and the one thing she wanted in life was her children. So she did everything she could to keep those two parts of her life separated.

Amy: That’s really cool.

Amanda: I learned how she had a pet deer. Who has a pet deer that goes to the grocery store?

Audrey Hepburn with her pet deer

Amy: Normal things. Also, I didn’t know you were engaged because I apparently don’t pay attention to anything. But you mentioned your fiance. What’s his name? What’s he like? What’s the story?

Amanda: His name is Russell Perkins. We met at work. He interviewed me and was actually the manager who hired me, and he knew from the moment he saw me that it was all over. I was just some punk kid off the street, with a kid, of all things. We became really good friends. I was one of his biggest supporters when he went back to school for his master’s in military history. He started writing, and he’s a published author for several different military publications. One of the latest is the Kansas City Public Library online history encyclopedia. He’s written several entries for that and they’re really impressed with his stuff. We’re actually waiting for an article that he wrote and I took pictures for called “The Effect of Cultural Memory on Battlefield Preservation: The Battle of the Little Blue River.” It’s supposed to be published soon but we haven’t seen it!

Amy: He’s kind of a big deal, huh?

Amanda: He doesn’t think he is, but pretty much everyone else does. He does the writing and I do the pictures.

Amy: Good teamwork!

Amanda: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. He’s a published writer and I’m a professional photographer, I guess. I’ve done a couple paid jobs and sold a print once.

Amy: When are you guys getting married?

Amanda: October 17.

Amy: Oh, so it’s coming up! Are you getting excited? Getting nervous?

Amanda: Nervous as hell. It’s super simple. I don’t know why I’m nervous because we’re going to The Vow Exchange. They do everything for you.

Amy: Oh yes! I’ve seen that online and I think it’s amazing.

The Vow Exchange is a beautiful wedding venue

Amanda: They’re beautiful. We went and saw them in person. Simple, one room. They call it “eloping without the Vegas style.” It’s really classy and pretty. We’ve got the dress, we just got the wedding bands, and pretty much everything is done. Now we just have to write our vows and the guys have to get their tuxes. Writing vows is going to get done the day before because I’m a slacker.

Amy: You can always just wing it. Speak from the heart.

Amanda: Yeah, that would take like 45 minutes, and we only have 90. And that includes pictures. I’m probably going to have a brief outline of the points I want to hit and then probably scrap it when I get there.

Amy: For dramatic effect.

Amanda: I’ll toss the cards and they’ll be blank. He’ll look at me and say, “You didn’t write them, did you?” But I made my own veil. They don’t let the flower girls use petals, so I made my daughter a wand. I hand-did the invitations. They look like little book slips like you used to get at the library, with the little envelope and the card you take out and stamp. The title was “Becoming the Perkins” and it had both of our names.

Amanda with her fiance, Russell

Amy: Aww! Are you going to be Amanda Perkins?

Amanda: Yep.

Amy: That’s so cute.

Amanda: It’s so much easier to say than my name.

Amy: How do you say your last name anyway?

Amanda: Geese-y. Like “Geese” with a long “ee” sound.

Amy: I never would’ve guessed that.

Amanda: Nobody ever does. Usually it’s just “Amanda… G…?” And I actually am waiting, oh gosh, I’m that nerd. I may have ordered a personalized license plate that says MRS-RSP because those are his initials.

Amy: Adorable. I’m glad we talked about this. Also, you have kids. How many do you have? What are their names?

Amanda: Two. My 12-year old son's name is Jack. My daughter is Claire Olivia and she’s 5. I keep threatening people that I’m going to bring her in because she’s hilarious. She’s like a little adult and it’s so funny. She asked Russell, “What are goods and services?” He told her that a good is something you buy and a service is something someone’s done for you that you have to pay for. And, straight from her, no prompting, she said, “So, when I was born, my mom got a service.” And he’s like, “Yeeees.” You’re five! How do you know this?

Amanda, Russell, Jack, and Claire out to eat

Amy: Do you have any epic or hilarious kid stories you need to share with us?

Amanda: They’re such interesting little people. Jack is about 5’2”, and dude’s a great keeper in soccer. There’s no way somebody who’s 5’2” should be able to do this, but he’s absolutely amazing at it. This year he decided he was going to do hip hop dance at the dance studio. He participated in the recital and actually did really well. My daughter is a dancer as well.

Amy: It sounds like she’s a little sassy.

Amanda: She’s something. I always say she’s 5 going on 15.

Amanda and her daughter Claire being silly

Amy: We’ve got to meet them!

Amanda: Yes! I’ve got to bring them at some point. The boy is totally into gaming and potentially getting into coding. He’s done some of Codeacademy online. He knows that I break things and he knows that it’s annoying when he’s playing video games and I QA for him. I’m always threatening to write letters to them. “Mom, why are you logging a bug? It’s not even yours.” At least he knows what a bug is.

Amanda and her son Jack smiling for the camera

Amy: Wow, that’s pretty advanced for a 12-year old. So, speaking of, how do your natural strengths tie into the QA role and what that requires?

Amanda: I like to figure out how things work. That’s really helpful because in trying to figure out how things work, you figure out how things are not supposed to work. It’s that natural curiosity. It’s almost like being psychic because we’re getting to the point now where we have to write test cases before a feature is developed. So I look at the requirements and ask, “What do I have to test in order to make sure that it does these things and to make sure it doesn’t do these other things, or that when it does this other thing it doesn’t affect anything else?” You have to look into the crystal ball and think of what all you can possibly do.

Amy: So what you’re saying is that your natural psychic abilities tie into your role here.

Amanda: Of course! My kids claim I’m psychic because I always know what trouble they’re going to get into in the next five minutes.

Amanda with her kids, Jack and Claire

Amy: Excellent. Well, speaking of work, you have a steampunk costume.

Amanda: I do, I do.

Amy: When do we get to see it?

Amanda: Halloween. That’s usually when it comes out. I’ve had it for several years now and it evolves every year. I have a corset, gears, pocket watch, goggles. The goggles are pretty cool. I haven’t quite made the persona yet outside of being a tinkerer. It’s one of those ever-evolving things. It’s absolutely fun for me. I might actually have a steampunk picture from last year. I’ll have to go find it.

Amanda dressed in steampunk last Halloween

Amy: If not, you can just come in and show us.

Amanda: Oh yeah, I’ll come in with full gear and full make-up.

Amy: Fancy Friday!

Amanda: Yeah, there we go! Last year I glued clockwork gears on my face with eyelash glue. I had full make-up done.

Amy: It sounds pretty epic.

Amanda: It’s pretty crazy. My kids probably enjoy it just as much as I do. It’s kind of a thing.

Amy: So aside from dominating in our Nerf gun wars, what have you enjoyed about RNL the most so far?

Amanda: The ability to not have to sit at my desk all day along. Being able to come back into one of these little office living rooms. You can only take so much sitting in an office chair for one day.

Amy: It feels less like work.

Amanda: Yeah, and that’s the thing. You know you have to get stuff done, and you know there’s a release coming, but it doesn’t feel like work. It’s not that “grind” that just gets to you. I love being able to talk with Rachel over coffee in the morning. We have our moments where the world’s on fire and we have to put it out, but for the most part it’s not work. You get stuff done, but it’s all good. It’d be cool to find out what everybody does in the office. Again, it’s that “How does this thing work?” mentality.

Amy: I think it’d be cool for people to show off what their job is.

Amanda: Mhmm! It’s fun to know. I’m a little nosey. “How do you do that thing that you do? And what is that thing that you do?” I’d love a job shadowing day.

Amy: Definitely. Well, I stole you away for 45 minutes. Is there anything random in your moment of glory that you want to share, other than the randomness that you’ve already shared?

Amanda cuddling with her daughter Claire

Amanda: I guess, since I did say I was in music education, my major instrument was French horn. But I also know how to play trumpet and the drumset. And I can sing. Don’t tell anybody!

Amy: Whaaaat. You can sing? I heard you can sing.

Amanda: No! I can… swing. That’s what I said.

Amanda Giese can sing

Amy: Got any YouTube videos you want to embed in your post?

Amanda: No. You wouldn’t think so, but I get so nervous singing in front of people that I almost didn’t even try out for choir in college. But I made it. Alto 1.

Amy: Look at you, fancy!

Amanda: Yeah, ‘cause I can’t sing soprano. It’s just too high. It hurts.

Amy: Yeah. Sometimes, even when they sing properly, it hurts.

Amanda: “You’ve got a beautiful voice, but you’re calling my dog. I just can’t deal with your voice right now.”

Amy: “You’re calling my dog and my soul is cringing. But it sounds lovely! But please stop.”

Amanda: “I can’t even hear half of what you said. Oh, you’re singing in Italian as well. That helps me none! I’ve got a… thing… over there that I’ve got to do.”

Amy: Awesome. So my new goal in life is to trick you into singing.

Amanda: Good luck! Because most people who know me can’t even do that.

Amy: Oh, I’m gonna try. I’m pretty dedicated to this now. This thing I just learned about literally a few minutes ago. It’s my new mission.

Amanda: #lifegoals. You’ve got to have something to live for, I guess.

Amy: Perfect ending.