Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The post that's a bit esoteric

I hate to be vague. I am quite literal usually, but since this is public, I should have some level of discretion, right?  Please excuse my ambiguity.

There's someone in my life that I really don't like dealing with. My life is much easier when I lie low and stay off this person's radar. Sometimes lying low involves squelching my own wants and acquiescing to this person's wants, which makes me somewhat resentful when it happens with great regularity, but the greater good is peaceful relations. It's not the best set-up, yet constantly butting heads doesn't seem productive either.

Right now this person wants something I have. Let's say it is an apple, for the sake of making this less ambiguous. I have an apple. This person wants the apple. Why? I'm an amateur psychologist, no PhD here; my best guess is because then this person can lord his/her "I have an apple and you don't" mantra over everyone else. That's kind of par for the course with this person, which is the main reason I dislike this person.

In actuality, I don't have an apple. I have a responsibility/duty. I was handpicked three years ago to fulfill a role because of my strength, competence, and adeptness. I take it seriously. There are psychological rewards that go along with this responsibility/duty, but I don't focus on them at all. What I focus on is the responsibility and fulfilling the role the best way I can.

By the way, this is why I could never be a CEO.  I'd focus so much on the responsibility of running a whole company that I couldn't permit myself to enjoy the rewards of being a CEO.

This person wants my role. Again, my best guess is for the power. For the past few weeks, I had convinced myself that this person had succeeded. I felt crummy. I thought I was on my way out of this role because this person had persuaded everyone that I suck at fulfilling the obligations of this role & that this person would be a much better alternative than I. (This person might have said a few choice phrases that alluded to this person being in the role instead of me.)

I hated that I was in a mental place like that. I felt like I let everyone down, that I wasn't competent, that I wasn't good enough. One person (who I don't respect as a person all that much) practically crumbled my self-confidence in that area completely. I know, I'm not a pillar of self-confidence to begin with, so it's not like it took a lot of work.

After hemming and hawing, I finally got the courage to talk to the powers that be. I asked for feedback on how I was doing in the role. My thought was that if I got the sense that my presence wasn't wanted, then I would just step down from that specific role. If someone doesn't want my skills anymore, then it makes sense to step aside for someone else to try. There's something to be said for bowing out gracefully. However, the feedback that I got was that I was doing great. This person may have TRIED to take away my role to obtain it himself/herself, but it didn't work.

I have a sense of relief now. Various things bugged me about the whole thing, and of course I hated that any part of it bugged me. I should have known that I was doing at least an adequate job. That had been my personal sense about the whole situation. But then a few sentences from this person make me question myself - not just in a "hmmm, what's going on?" way, but in a way that could potentially devastate me to the core. I like to think that I'm strong and resilient, but the past few weeks made me realize just how fragile I really am. I feel awful at the thought of disappointing people who are relying on me.

Monday, August 27, 2012


I struggle with some of the things that are automatic for others. Most notably, I don't know my own hair or eye color.

For the record, I'm not color blind. I'm just an idiot.

My eyes are a weird bluish/greenish/grayish/gold-ish cacophony. I don't know whether to round my cacophony to hazel or blue. I usually pick blue because hazel brings to mind a light shade of brown. Nothing's wrong with hazel; it's merely that my eyes are closer to blue than brown. Usually I round to blue for that reason.

My hair, though, totally befuddles me. I have no idea what color it is. I haven't dyed it since 2007, so right now I'm dealing with my completely natural color. Back in '03, I dyed my hair BLACK. Permanent BLACK. That was a bad idea because I totally looked goth. It took forever to get my hair completely back to "normal," and I ended up getting addicted to hair dye to ease my transition back to what it used to be.

After 5 years of having completely natural hair now, I am stymied by those little questionnaires that ask your hair color. I simply have no idea what color my hair is. Some people are adamant that I have red hair. I don't think I have red hair since I don't see any red. A few others say I have brown hair. If you think of the huge spectrum of brown hair, it's definitely on the lighter side of brown. Then there are others that say I have blond hair. The sun has really lightened my hair this year, and there are definitely strands that I would consider blond. On the whole, though, I'm not completely blond.

I suppose, then, my hair is brown. Light brown with blond and red highlights, just to cover all of the bases.

Since this is a complete nonsense post, I will add a P.S.

P.S. I want to grow out my hair for Locks of Love, and it's getting really, really long. But I've still got to grow it another 6-8 inches; I'm not sure I'll last that long without hacking at it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Food

You might wonder what that lump is. It looks gross, I know. It's that liquid egg stuff, salsa (hence the pink tinge with dark chunks) and a bit of cheese.
Lunch: 2 corn tortillas, chicken underneath the lettuce, sharp cheddar, lettuce, salsa, black beans
1 serving of Dreyer's/Edy's Berry Rainbow Sherbet + 2 organic Yummy Earth lollipops
Dinner: Zone bar

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small, Sustained Changes

This month I've focused on cutting portions and eating a reasonable amount of calories each day. Way back in 2000 I got into an eating mindfulness regimen. I ate reasonable portions. If I wanted something sweet, I'd have just a little bit. I was, for lack of a better word, restrained. I was the epitome of eating restraint for about a year and a half, and then I just gave up. I went back to a more limited version of my old ways (i.e., way less eating out but still doing plenty of baking). That basically means I went to a weight that I have been at for the last 10 years. A little higher than I would like, but a perfectly maintainable weight by watching what I eat for a couple of days per week and then eating whatever I want for the other days of the week.

This month's priority is trying to stay at 1,500 calories per day. Let me not even count how many calories I ate before this month. 2,000 on a good day, probably 2,500 on average with some 3,000 days. But I exercised. So I maintained my weight for the most part. I might gain 5 pounds over Christmas, but in January I kicked my butt in gear and would be back to normal by the end of January or early February.

August has been interesting since it's been so long since I've concentrated on calories for such an extended amount of time. Sure, I might be interested in calorie counting for a day or a week, but I soon realize that I eat all of what I'm supposed to by 3pm, and then I just scrap counting for the rest of the day.

This time is a little different. I've done it for 3 weeks now, and I'm getting into a rhythm. It's not as hard as it was for the first week anymore. I'm not "starving" anymore. I think they say it takes 3 weeks for a habit to develop, and I think that's true.

What's weird is that my diet hasn't changed much. I still pack my lunch for work every day. I'm still packing similar food (fruit, veggies, protein). The big difference is that when I get home, I try not to graze for snack-type foods. My problem time is when I used to get home from work and was ravenous. I would mindlessly eat cookies/tortilla chips/chocolate chips.Instead, now I suck on my brown rice syrup lollipops or veggies.  That saves at least 500 calories a day. Then I limit my dessert to a couple of those lollipops or a tiny bowl of ice cream (if I have the calories remaining). That probably saves another 200-300 calories. If I don't have the calories remaining, then I won't allow myself to even go to the kitchen.

And I'm trying to eat more soup because it tends to be more filling (and trying to make it homemade so there's less salt).

And I'm upping my exercise. It's a bit more than I sometimes am in the mood for (7-10 hours a week), but I'm sticking with it.

After 3 weeks, I'd love to say I've lost 20 pounds and am exactly where I want to be. I am jealous of those people who can do that. Or on Biggest Loser, people who lose 20 pounds in one freaking week.

Alas, it is slow-going for me. My weight's been very erratic. My body is trying to figure out this new normal, I think. One day it's down 3 pounds, up 2 pounds the next, up another 3 pounds the next. I can safely say that the scale hasn't budged, if at all (there's no overall trend in the numbers). In my old mindset, I'd get frustrated by this. I'm the type that would need positive feedback within 2 weeks or I'd say, "Screw it!"

This time I have to admit that the little voice in my head is a tad frustrated because it thinks there should be some results by this point. That voice will never completely go away. But I'm not changing anything or even close to giving up. I'm plodding along with my, let's be honest, small changes. Staying away from the Oreos should be something that I should be doing already. Upping exercise never hurt anyone either. All in all, they ARE small changes that I can sustain.

I was thinking of doing a food log for next week. Maybe I'll show improvement over the last time I did such a log where my diet was popsicle, candy, okay food, popsicle, popsicle.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Stereotype

Our culture has created an image of a stereotypical guy. He drinks beer, doesn't talk about his feelings, watches sports, only does "manly" chores, and lives in his garage with a workbench, artwork (i.e., posters of scantily clad women) and a mini fridge stocked with beer. He may also resemble Al Bundy.

I often chuckle at this stereotype because I've never dated anyone like this. I have purposely avoided drinkers because all of the men in my family liked alcohol a little too much. I'd have to say almost all of the guys I dated were more the emo type, versus the silent type. All had decent cleaning abilities and didn't mind washing dishes or folding clothes. And most were of the computer/active athletic type instead of the live-in-the-garage type.

I did actively disregard the frat boy type - you know, the type who would turn into the stereotype if they weren't already there. To be honest, most of the frat boy type didn't bring much to the table. They tended to be exasperating (both in what they said and what they did), chauvinistic, and annoying.

Soooooo... when I go to a party and see these Al Bundy types that are in their 30s, 40s and 50s, I cringe. There are people who are really like that. And they marry women who then complain about stoic men who don't show emotion and who are obsessed with garages and workshops and sports. These guys guzzle beers and tend the barbecue while the womenfolk do "womenfolk" things.

And I leave the party appreciating my non-stereotypical guy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Balls balls balls

When I was a kid, I was raised by a single mom whose first priority was to put food on the table. Her job demanded long hours; she would usually bring home work on top of the long hours. She was often on call, which would necessitate taking me with her to the hospital at all hours of the night. (I was traumatized by seeing a fetus in a jar once.)

Thus, my mom coordinated after school care for me. The YMCA or that town's equivalent usually picked me up from school in a van. I hung out at the YMCA for a few hours. There I either read or played those torturous arm pinching and scratching games with other girls. Sometimes I made friendship bracelets or played horse on the basketball court.

I completely missed out on extracurricular/after school sports activities growing up, which for the most part I'm fine with. When I was in 5th grade, I harbored a bit of resentment for not being able to join the Pepettes, which was some junior cheerleading thing in Texas. Every single girl in my class except for me was a Pepette. How I coped was being a cheerleader in college, which was far more painful but got my Pepette resentment out of my system.

Since I didn't get an opportunity to do this stuff as a kid, I want to at least offer some extracurricular opportunities to Miss J. She wanted to do soccer. The community we're in has a big soccer program (errr....religion). I signed her up. There was no communication about what specifically was needed in terms of equipment or uniforms, and remember I've never played any organized sports outside of PE.

I was cranky that we were given so little notice. We were told to bring a soccer ball plus cleats plus shinguards the night before. Husband gets a soccer ball. Who knew that there were different types of soccer balls? Not me. Or him apparently. My friend let me know we needed a size 3; my husband had gotten a size 4. We couldn't find soccer socks or shinguards small enough for Miss J at 9pm the night before.

When we get to the welcome meeting, we realize that the micro league is from 4-6 years old. Did you know that some 6 year olds are giants? We also are told by the coach that practice is at 5pm. Buttttt....what if you work? Well, you better figure it out, buddy. We're also told that there's a parade, and each soccer team makes a banner. There's a first place, second place, third place. Last year they won second place. One of the moms says she has ideas for the banner this year. We're told that we're going to all get together to make this banner on a Friday night at the local pizza place. My eyes get huge, and I give a worried look to my husband. Ummm...arts and crafts???

The thought of making a banner with all the kids and parents makes me want to hyperventilate. I don't know why. It just does. I suppose I thought we signed up for soccer, and what does banner making have anything to do with soccer?

Then we were told last night that there would be no parade this year. Awwww shucks! I couldn't even pretend to be sad. No banner! No parade! No arts and crafts!

And then I started to get a little excited about watching Miss J try to play soccer. Maybe it will help build her confidence. Maybe it will help her be a little more outgoing. Maybe we'll meet some parents. Maybe I'll learn the rules of soccer.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Getting off the fence for once

There are a lot of issues that I'm "eh" about. I wish I had more passion; I wish I wasn't so apathetic. I want to have a strong opinion about something and valiantly defend it. Most of the time, though, I can see both sides. I acknowledge both sides have points, and then I stand on the fence.

Fence sitting allows you to acquire a lot of information. Occasionally, I actually form an opinion after taking it all in. More often than not, I feel like I'm the person that can write both sides of the pro/con list for each option.

A few issues I am passionate about. Passionate enough to not really understand the other side and what they're thinking. Are they even thinking?

The topic is....spanking.

I was shocked to find that there are people I know who spank their kids. They don't live around here, or if they do they don't admit it. They are in a different region of the country than the west coast.

I try to be all "however you want to raise your kids is cool." I try, but I don't succeed well when it comes to spanking. WHY do people think it's okay to hit your kids? When does hitting resolve anything? It's exerting brute force over someone who can't defend him/herself anywhere close to your ability. It's teaching that hitting is okay. It's barbaric.

I would like to understand the rationale that spanking advocates have. Yet I can't get over being appalled by it to even conjure up a reason why people do it. And what's a nice way to ask, "Why do you choose to spank as a punishment?" It totally gives away your thesis, you make the person defensive, and it's just bad all around.

So instead I sit and wonder why people make that specific parenting choice. I'm too afraid to ask. There's not a lot in the way of resources about "why it's okay to spank your kids." Even if I read an article about it, I would probably be lost because I would be coming at it from a completely different angle.

My thesis: You should not spank your kids (or anyone else's). 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bad Influence

When you're a parent, you realize that it's only a matter of time before your kid meets a Bad Influence. Preferably, your daughter will be 18 the first time it happens, and the Bad Influence will be a girl (not a boy) who drives a sports car 5 miles above the speed limit and offers your daughter a sip of beer (just a sip). Right? Isn't that the best scenario? For my husband's sanity and blood pressure, let's hope the Bad Influence isn't an 18 year old boy with a studded leather collar while our daughter is only 14. As we all know, that type of Bad Influence would create all sorts of havoc.

The thing is, I really didn't think the first Bad Influence would be a kinda mean 4 year old decked out in hair bows and a ballet tutu. I don't even blame the kid. I blame the parents for creating a 4 year old Mean Girl. (Not that I'm blaming them for her mere existence, but I'm rather blaming them for starting a behavioral pattern that has created the meanness in her.)

Bad Influence only goes to daycare once or twice a week. She's that unpredictable storm that you never know when is going to strike. However, you always know when she's been there because your child picks up certain sayings and behaviors.

1) "You're not my friend anymore!" with the corollary of "You're not coming to my birthday party!" (in 10 months...okaaaaaaay)
2) Talks in absolutes, usually after you tell her no and explain why. "I NEVER want to eat ice cream again." Then proceeds to ask for ice cream 5 minutes later.
3) Slams doors, dramatic floor antics, etc.

In other words, she acts just like Bad Influence. It's been about a year or so since I've noticed that Bad Influence is the main reason for my daughter's unwanted behavior. Sure, I bet there's some other kids at daycare she's picked it up from, but the timing of when it becomes a huge problem is usually right after Bad Influence showed up to daycare that day. We try to kick it out of her, and by the time she's back to her status quo, Bad Influence is there again.

Bad Influence's mother is interesting. We had a playdate last year, and she praised herself to me for being a Tiger Mom (flashcard drills every night, extracurricular activities every night of the week, overprotective, etc.). I don't do flashcards. My limit is one extracurricular activity per week. And I don't think I'm that overprotective, but it's really hard to judge your protectiveness as compared to other mothers.

It seemed to be a decent playdate that one time. The girls had fun. Afterwards, though, the mother was kind of cold toward me. I saw her in a store, and she just nodded and walked away. Ooooookay. Then I saw her while we were dropping off the girls at daycare, and she didn't even acknowledge me. But then I saw her in a store another time after that, and she talked to me for about 10 minutes. I had to get rid of her because of my time constraints. Needless to say, I'm really confused about where I stand with her. Maybe she's one of those hot/cold people, which might be why her kid is so hot/cold. One day Bad Influence wants to be J's best friend. The next day she wants nothing to do with her, which of course breaks J's heart and we get to hear about the crushing disappointment once she gets home that day.

I really don't like that Bad Influence's mother lies to her kid. My husband and I both observed one instance where she lied to her kid, and then she told me another time that she lied. I don't know, it seems to me that if you lie to your kid that your kid might have trust issues and be insecure. Which might then logically manifest itself into being a Mean Girl at daycare, but I digress.

If only my daughter didn't think the sun rose and set on Bad Influence. I suppose this is a learning experience for us as parents and my daughter. There will always be Bad Influences around; you can't control that. But what you can control is your behavior and how you respond to it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Optimistic about Resolution

It looks like BOTH things that I had been hoping to pan out actually will pan out. Not 100% chance but at least 90% chance.

So my husband has been looking for a new J-O-B for a while now. It's probably been about a year although he was initially exceedingly picky about what jobs he'd actually apply for. The main reason that he's been looking for a new job is that his company is going to close his current location at some point. They have a few locations across the nation, albeit less locations than 5 years ago because they keep closing locations. He knew it was only a matter of time. Plus he works in a dying industry.

Back in December he got pretty far along in the process with a company that writes A --> Z on its boxes that they send you. If you don't know this company, then you live under a rock and don't use the Internet so then you wouldn't be reading this, now would you??? THAT company was a pretty far drive, they expected 12 hour days, and my husband expressed his personal preference to have more of a life. However, the job WAS pretty cool. Well, that didn't pan out, which actually was good because I'd never see my husband.

During 2012 he had a few phone interviews. Two were at different gaming companies; one I was particularly excited about because I play their addictive games All. The. Time. He didn't get past the phone interview stages at either company. Oh well. A few other applications were sent in without phone calls. Such is the job market unless you're in an "in demand" field.

Well, he got a call about 3-4 weeks ago for an in-person interview at a company. It seemed odd because I thought phone interviews were the first step. Before the interview, he had to do a case study. They sent him a case, and he had a few hours to complete it and send it back. He had a panel interview. This was all on a Monday. It turns out that he knew someone who works there, so that could have eased him in. By Thursday they contacted him to come back to a second interview and testing. The second interview was the next Thursday. It was also the day after Julia was up all night puking. She has great timing, that girl. Last month she puked all day before her birthday party. Impeccable timing.

So with maybe two hours of sleep, my husband went to his second interview that started sharply at 8am. It was a series of interviews with various directors. Then he had to take a series of tests on Excel, Access, SQL & Visual Basic. It lasted until after noon.

What surprised us was that they offered him a contingent job offer (contingent on the results of his tests and references) before he left the interview that day. I'm not sure how often that happens these days, but I would think they would want more time to make a job offer. However, we were very excited and he was intrigued about the contingent job offer.

Then comes Friday at his work. The new job hadn't yet gotten back to him about his test scores and references (they wouldn't end up getting back to him until Monday). His current job, however, announced that they are offering people severance packages if they tell HR by August 3rd that they will vacate their jobs by August 17th. The severance package isn't that great, but it's definitely something.

So he was hoping that he could firmly line up the new job and then take the extremely well-timed severance package offer at the old job. He could work the old job until the 17th, start the new job on the 20th. Funny thing, this is kind of like deja vu because this is what happened at his job before his current job. They ended up closing the Seattle location, and his last day was a Friday and his new job started on the subsequent Monday & he also got a severance package out of the deal. Nine years later, this would essentially be a repeat.

One wrinkle this time around. You could apply for the severance package, but they could deny you. Why? They had some vague excuse that if you were deemed too necessary by upper management, you couldn't leave under the terms of the severance.

Early this week it's been kind of crazy. My husband's trying to line up the details of the new job, including salary and start date, trying to feel out management in his current job to see if they would deem him "necessary" or if they would let him take the severance, not let the current job know that he actually has a new job lined up (because why would they give him the severance if he was going to leave anyway?), and otherwise be a nervous wreck.

Thus far, we're optimistic. He's starting the new job on the 20th. It looks like he's sweet talked his current management into thinking he's not necessary, so he thinks his severance is going to be approved. He negotiated a slight increase in pay in the new job.

I'm very proud of him and his new adventure. Some other good things about the new job: the new job is about 10 miles away (pretty decent given this area), he gets a new and better title, there are more opportunities for growth in the new company, and it's NOT in a dying industry.

Oh, and on Tuesday his current company announced they would be completely closing this location by the end of the year. So instead of having imminent unemployment looming, he'll be out for beforehand. Still, we're sad for everyone who's left there knowing that they will be jobless right around Christmas. Ugh!

Anyway, this is all great timing for my husband, and we're both very relieved at how things are working out.

Friday, August 3, 2012

FullFirstName vs. Nickname

If I ever have to fill out an official form where there's a line (like this: _________________________) for me to write or type in my name, I always write my FullFirstName and LastName. It seems proper. It seems correct. When I applied for a job where I work now, FullFirstName was what I wrote in the box. They never asked if I had a nickname. They ordered my name placard and business cards with my FullFirstName, and my e-mail address alias also had FullFirstName.

So I became the type of person who goes by FullFirstName even though FullFirstName is kind of long with more than two syllables. It's begging to be shortened.

I'm not a stuffy FullFirstName kind of person! Really! When I introduce myself, I call myself Nickname. It's always easy to tell how a person met me. If you met me in person, you call me Nickname. If you met me through work or somewhere where I filled out a form (i.e., doctor's office), you call me FullFirstName.

However, there's a quirk. I despise the rhythm of my Nickname + LastName. Completely sucks. Independently each is fine but together it's a mess. It's short and awkward; it doesn't flow well because the last letter of the nickname and first letter of the last name shouldn't occur in that order. FullFirstName + LastName sounds much, much better. The longer version flows better; the syllables work well together.

So when I introduce myself, I call myself Nickname. And then people just sit there expectantly waiting for my last name, which I don't say. Not because I don't like it, but rather because it just doesn't work well with Nickname. Then they say THEIR last name, and I feel like I have to say my last name. But because there's that pause, I just say my last name. I let them put the two together and realize on their own that the name rhythm is just plain wrong. And then when I see Nickname + LastName in print (which doesn't happen that often because of my aforementioned hate of writing Nickname + LastName in print), I recoil. It even looks wrong on paper.

Alas, I'm cool with Nickname all by itself. When LastName is added, it looks wrong. It sounds wrong. It's just plan wrong.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why I don't wear white shirts

Quite a while ago I found 3 white shirts on clearance. The tight white t-shirt type that go with skirts or jeans, and they are easy to layer with a light sweater. I bought 3 since they were like $4 each. And then I proceeded to ruin all 3 of them with various stains. Mostly food stains, but then throw in some pen stains, grease stains, smudge marks from who knows what, etc. Maybe one became gray in the washer. Soon they became only appropriate to wear under certain sweaters that hid the stains. Now they are all out of commission.

Then I put myself under a ban of buying white shirts. Even at a bargain basement price of $4, they are more grief than a blessing.

Now I decided that I need some more white shirts. Why? I have no freaking idea. Sure, they're a good basic piece of clothing to have...I theory.

Today I wore my new white shirt ($7.67...damn you, inflation!). Here are today's thoughts about my shirt.

1. I always wear a black or royal blue bra. Why? I have no idea. Today I put on a royal blue bra, put on my new shirt, realized why white shirts don't go with dark bras, took off my shirt, took off my bra, scrounged up a white bra.... blah, what a waste of time. And I'm in an inferior color of bra just because it's kind of trashy to wear a dark bra under a white shirt.

2. I had an orange juice accident this morning. I freeze orange juice in little containers, and I had a klutzy moment (kind of par for me) where the orange juice container did a double flip, landed upside down and had cracked. I had picked it up, not knowing there was a crack, and it leaked out onto my sparkly new white shirt.

3. Go to bathroom to clean out stain.

4. Get to work. Eat a nectarine. Get nectarine juice on my white shirt. Swear.

5. Repeat #3 from above.

6. Eat chicken teriyaki. There's teriyaki sauce splatter on my white shirt. Swear twice.

7. Repeat #3 from above.

8. I look like I'm in a wet t-shirt contest (at work!) (but at least I have on a white bra!).

It is not even 1pm. I've had THREE stains on my white shirt on the first day I've ever worn it.

I really think black is my color.