Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holidays Half Over

Well, I dropped of Mom and Unc at the airport this morning and so Christmas is officially over. Yesterday we stripped the house of decorations. I know it may seem a little brutal, but I was pretty sure if I didn't get it done then, it might be March and I'd have a fire trap of a tree sitting in my living room.

I made out like a bandit this year - receiving not one, but TWO GPS units. I'm still deciding what to do with the 2nd one. I may gift it to Hubby or go check out my exchange options at Best Buy. I also got the under counter CD/radio unit I wanted for the kitchen (cuz you know I'm such an amazing cook and spend hours there....not...). Hubby installed it right away (another gift!).



This baby even has an iPod connection cord...sweet.

And in case that wasn't enough gadgetry, I also scored a little pocket Canon digital camera. I think Hubby heard me bitching and moaning about the beautiful SLR that I inherited from him when he got his new camera. I'm not a bells and whistle kind of gal. Give me a camera with one button, a large view screen, and can fit into my pocket and I'm a happy girl.

It took these holiday/family photos!












We're heading off for our next half of the holiday - looking forward to seeing my sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew-in-law, and two great nephews!








Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin Laid an Egg


Well....here we are...at another Christmas. My 42nd Christmas alltold. And they sure seem to come fast and furious these days. It's hard for me to believe we are in the last days of 2009 when I'm still singing Prince's 1999 in my head from that eventful New Year celebration.


The next few days will be filled with family, friends, and food. And, oh yeah, maybe a little alcohol too. Just a little (really!). I splurged on a lovely Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc and I'm just debating if I should share it alone with Hubby tomorrow night before family arrive, or save it for the holiday meal toast....hmmmm.


I hope everyone who stumbles into my virtual world here has a lovely holiday, a happy, healthy and prosperous new year and keep coming back for more. Remember....there will be something new to see on January 1 (it may not be totally cooked yet....but it will start regardless).


Be well. Be happy. And don't eat the yellow snow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Mouths of Babes

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable hour sitting at the kitchen counter with one of my most favorite 8 year olds of all time. Miss Chloe was showing off her writing journal and I was struck anew by the young mind and about the sometimes very adult thinking.

On one page, titled "First Day of 3rd Grade" she wrote, "When I was getting on the bus, at first I was scared, but then I sucked it up." I laughed out loud at this entry and so related to the feeling.

Today, as I drove in to work and thought of the myriad of things to do on my desk - many of which I'm still trying to figure out HOW to do - her words rang in my ears and I re-wrote them for myself: "When I was heading to work today, at first I was overwhelmed, but then I sucked it up."

Wise words.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

This is just going to be a rambling rage against the machine. The machine that is THE MERGER. While I am grateful every day that I have a good job and that I work with good people, this in between phase of we aren't who we were and we aren't who we are going to be is a killer.

We have started, stopped, started and stopped again on so many projects so many times I'm beginning to lose count. On one side, we have our pre-existing management who have definite ideas of how to take the value proposition of our firm into the merged entity, on the other side, we have the mysterious MERGER company that seems to operate in stealth mode with lots of smoke and mirrors. It is a strange combination of a leadership team that seems to be much more business-direct on things, and yet, they are not willing to talk to the players in any interactive way.

Our latest start-stop-start-stop has to do with our brand....who we are as we present ourselves to the marketplace. Will we be MERGER, will we be OLD COMPANY, will we be both? What about our sub brands? what about our Operating Companies? What about in each of the umpteen countries we operate in? what about in each of the 4-5 divisions we have? These are big questions that can have big implications in how well we do in sales of our services going forward. Identity can be a big part of the equation. So recommending a focused team and an objective outside consultant participation seems appropriate. Not to mention the fact that our thinly staffed corporate teams are being run ragged just keeping up with the day to day.

But no. Response: Consultants only tell you what you want to hear (according to one MERGER leader). Well yes....unless you empower them to give their true opinion and factor it in to your decision process. If you aren't going to trust the consultant to know their area of expertise, then why the hell should you hire them. So instead, the "Board" will decide our brand, and the rest of us will execute it.

How the "Board" will come to their decision is a mystery for another day. But since I have about 100 other tasks on my list, I'm going to take a deep breath, let go of my disillusionment with this MERGER, go back to hoping for the best once we get through this painful limbo period, and move on to the next item.

Just somebody, please, tell me when I can peek behind the curtain and get a better understanding of who has their hands on the controls.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Self-Help on an Empty Stomach

This morning I awoke and while Hubby was showering, I opened a little book I picked up on the bargain rack at Borders this weekend: "The Experts' Guide to Life at Home" (hint - this is research for my soon to arrive OTHER blog).

As I scrubbed the crust from my eyes and sighed deeply thinking of another work week to come and all the extra holiday activities scheduled for the evenings, I opened to the first chapter - "Increase Your Energy"

Wow! How timely!

According to this book, "...energy can be acquired through simple strategies, action steps, and power sources." Well, hell, that sounds good to me.



  1. Take a 10-minute Thank You walk - essentially walking while thinking about gratitude, because "When you are thankful, it's physiologically impossible to be stressed." Seriously? news to me.

  2. Eat Breakfast. Duh.

  3. Take 5-10 minute energizer breaths while thinking of "a feel good mantra, such as 'Great things are happening." Ok - starting to sound a little cultish here....

  4. Take a B-Complex Vitamin. Guess that makes sense.

  5. Eat More Earlier. I loved the sentence here that said, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card." I generally prescribe to the eat more (period) or maybe eat more chocolate.

  6. Exercise. Duh, but how to enjoy it?

  7. Healthy snacks. Strangely enough all examples in the text are tied to almonds. I wonder if the author owns some kind of nut stock.

  8. Drink Water. Apparently most of us are dehydrated without even knowing it - causing fatigue and headaches....and I thought it was just life.

  9. Have fun again - turn on music and dance around the house...actually sounds like a good time.

  10. Spend 10 minutes in silence. I have to say I spent a little silent time on Sunday morning and was surprised how strange it seemed to me. I'm so used to waking to the radio, running all day with people, machines, traffic, phone calls, meetings, and tv that I had forgotten how loud quiet could be.

  11. Neutralize energy vampires. Has anyone else noticed how vampires have taken over everything? The young adult section in Borders had no books that were not related to some sort of blood-sucking being.

  12. etc. etc. etc.

Well - I decided to keep these things in mind as I got ready for work today. I turned on music instead of the normal depressing morning news show. I didn't dance around, but I hummed. A good first step. I drank a big glass of water and then decided to drink another and take a multi-vitamin (after checking the expiration date, because I couldn't remember the last time I had used one) that was rich in Vitamin B.

Within minutes though, I realized that I had forgotten a step. I hadn't eaten breakfast! And my stomach immediately began to rebel against the 2 large glasses of water sloshing in my gut along with the vitamin (oh and I took a calcium pill too). The sweat began to break out on my upper lip as I tried to apply make-up, blow dry my hair (and no way was I turning my head upside down for extra volume today!) and quell the nausea rising in my throat. Finally, nearing the limits of my psychological warfare against barfing, I skittered down to the kitchen and broke out some crackers. I sat at the table (for my 10 minutes of silence) and began my positive mantra of gratitude.

"Thank you for graham crackers left over from the pie we made last week. Thank you for moving the meeting to 9:30 so I have time to sit for 10 minutes in silence and swallow graham crackers and bile. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not hurling all over the bathroom I just cleaned."

I think I did pretty well for my first day's attempt at living an expert life at home. Don't you?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Coming on Christmas

Well, the tree is up and decorated..I'm shuffling furniture and every day decorations to make room for things green, red, white, gold, crystal, and glistening. Every plug is full, the front and back doors are wreathed, and the dining room table actually has a tablecoth instead of a puzzle on top.

We've spent the last two hours enjoying Love Actually, the ultimate modern holiday movie. And I'm about to start tackling the gift wrapping...

I must admit that the duties of Christmas often overwhelm the joy of it all, but having most of it behind me two weeks prior to the date goes a long way toward making it bright and enjoyable.

Last night, friends we rarely get to see stopped by to quickly borrow some supplies for an event and their two adorable daughters wandered our house exclaiming at decorations, lights, and candles. The one who is, I've discovered, an anti-pyromaniac, actually secretly blew out every candle I had. But more importantly, she gave me about 10 hugs and drew me a picture with an I "heart" you message.

And really, what else could you want for Christmas?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Think I Must be Crazy

As you can tell, I'm having a hard time getting to blogging these days. Sporadic is the word of the month. And yet...I'm cooking something up....something that will require a year-long commitment from me on a blog/activity project...and I think I must be stone-cold nuts to try it.

But here's the thing. I don't have any kids. I don't even have a dog. And while my cats are always happy to see me, they don't really need me. My hubby? He needs me. He needs me in the best way possible. He just likes to see me, be near me, talk to me...otherwise, he's pretty self-sufficient. The job? Yeah - it is really demanding. But with the MERGER, all things are up in the air. The school thing? Yeah - the assignments and the semesters keep rolling along, and the thesis thing is hanging over my head and is coming up quick. But life keeps moving along too swiftly to do only one thing at a time, so I've got to make the time work for me.

So, the intrepid Kiki (formerly of Good Intentions blog...I'm trying to revive her, but she's become a facebook and Jewels game fanatic instead) is going to help me set it all up. She's going to partner with me in my journey into insanity. And if we've timed everything out right, January 1 will be a whole new blog of fun for Wenderina.

I have no doubt that since the other 99% of my life will continue that Anxious Moments will still have a place and plenty of content. My anxiety ain't going anywhere, and this will remain the home blog for my various ramblings.

But as for the other blog...get ready...get set....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conversations Over Dinner

Last week as I travelled for business I was able to enjoy the one true benefit of business travel. Putting faces to names of people you deal with long distance all the time. Enjoying a meal and a glass of wine with these folks is the best part of the trip.

One individual in particular was a joy to spend time with because he has such passion for, well, everything, as I found out. In our meetings he cut to the point immediately, made plenty of jokes along the way, but was all about getting to the answer. He listened and was appreciative of expertise and input that was not his own ideas, and yet I never doubted who was the leader in the room. His passion extended beyond his work and an interesting dinner conversation began like this.
  • Scene: New restaurant in downtown Denver.
  • Surroundings: hip, happening, all waitresses slinky and sexy in black short skirts.

Me: [commenting on wait staff] Well, they're hot but they're slow...I guess you are supposed to forgive them because they're so damn hot (made by me, not one of the men at the table)

Him: Yes....these girls are hot, but I have to say, I've been married to my wife for about 15 years and she has NEVER been hotter than she is right now.

Me: [melting] really?

Female Colleague (His "Work Wife"): What is it, do you think, that makes you feel that way?

Him: Honestly? [sips drink] I think it's her bootie. Damn, she's got a fine bootie.

Me: [laughing] Tell us more.

Him: I can't keep my hands off her...if it wasn't for those damn kids...we'd be all over each other all the time.

Me: Oh - you have kids - how old are they?

Him: [deep drink, deeper sigh] The boys are 3 and 5.....

Me: Oh how swe....

Him: NO. No. No. They are not sweet. [eyes twinkling, but shaking his head miserably] They are HORRIBLE. Just Horrible. If I could just get rid of them, it would be just me and my wife again....then, let the games commence!

----

Not exactly the conversation you might have around the conference room table, which is why I enjoy the dinner opportunities. But how cute was it that all the 20-something hotties couldn't detract from him thinking about his hot 40-something wife at home and his "horrible" kids that just keep him from getting in her pants 24/7.

He's now officially on my favorites list.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hugs or Handshakes

I'm a bit of a tight-ass. Didn't you know? Well, yes I am.

I'm also a bit of a prude. If you didn't know that, you are a moron. Have you seen one single reference to S.E.X. in this entire blog?

Yesterday I had the same experience that recurs whenever I travel on business. When I greet people that I "know" well - via email, or periodic meetings, do we hug? or do we handshake? Essentially we have a very limited relationship. I don't know their spouse's name (or their spouse's gender). I don't know their kids (or even if they have them). I don't know their age. I don't know where they live or how they live. I don't know much of anything actually....although we are (corporate) war time buddies...which is saying something.

Today as I was walking into our Denver office I ran into a pack of my colleagues. I don't think I've seen these folks in over a year. As they approached, I began to wonder....ok is this a hug or a handshake moment.... ???? My prudish, tight-ass mind began to click away.

Being a nearly 6 foot tall female - and not the skinny model type - I have a bit of a physical presence. Think Cheerleader Coach from Glee folks. This morning I was wearing my new kick-ass boots - with 3 inch heels...so add that to the mix. One of the colleagues (male) is about 5'2" ...hugging him would cause an immediate issue of face to boobage quandary. Another is about 6'0"...but I've met him only once. Another - a lovely 6'2"ish - I didn't recognize at all, but I'm bound to have talked to him on the phone many many times. And lastly a female - friendly and fun (to my recollection), but not in my normal circle.

What to do, what to do.

With only fractions of seconds to decide the right course of action, I quickly stuck my hand out to the 5'2" incher and then bent to brush cheeks briefly. Then embraced the woman with a joke about warming up in the brutal 8 degree weather. The 6'0 unknown guy...he just followed the crowd and gave me the half embrace welcome. The 6'2" was an introductory handshake and yessir, I did know him from many a phone call and email transaction, but had never met him in person.

Awkward moment passed.

But it is amazing how much easier it is to make this decision when departing the same group at the end of a long day of meetings, hard work, laughs, strategies, jokes, and finally a meal with wine. Hugs and kisses all around...when can we all meet again, we cry....how much we love one another, we declare....how valuable the time we spent, we agree.

12 hours difference in time....but a huge leap in relationship and socially acceptable touching.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Left Hanging

Keep commenting on my previous post...you guys have some interesting ideas...

------




When I was in college Hubby and I had cassette players (for those of you who don't remember those, shut up and go to a younger person's blog, I have no time to educate you in defunct technology). Cassettes were a great tool for making copies of records (yes, I know, another defunct technology...but it's making a comeback!). Hubby was a fan of Harry Chapin and had made some cassette copies of albums. Unfortunately, he did a piss-poor job of figuring out how much tape there was to use in comparison to the album and the last song left us hanging....every g*ddamn time.

The song was: A Better Place to Be. And if you know Harry Chapin, you know that every song he writes is a well-crafted story - compelling characters, an arc, a life lesson.

This was the song we would listen to:

A Better Place To Be

It was an early morning bar room,
And the place just opened up.
And the little man came in so fast and
he Started at his cups.
And the broad who served the whisky
She was a big old friendly girl.
Who tried to fight her empty nights
By smilin' at the world.

And she said "Hey Bub, It's, It's been awhile
Since you been around.
Where the hell you been hidin'?
And why you look so down?"

Well the little man just sat there
like he'd never heard a sound.

The waitress she gave out with a cough,
And acting not the least put off,
She spoke once again.

She said, "I don't want to bother you,
Consider it's understood.
I know I'm not no beauty queen,
But I sure can listen good."

And the little man took his drink in his hand
And he raised it to his lips.
He took a couple of sips.
And then he told the waitress this story.

"I am the midnight watchman down at Miller's Tool and Die.
And I watch the metal rusting, I watch the time go by.
A week ago at the diner I stopped to get a bite.
And this here lovely lady she sat two seats from my right.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was alright.

You see, she was so damned beautiful that she could warm a winter frost.
But she looked long past lonely, and well I on to lost.
Now I'm not much of a mover, or a pick-em-up easy guy,
But I decided to glide on over, and give her one good try.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was worth a try.

Well I was "Tongued-tied like a school boy, I stammered out some words.
It did not seem to matter much, 'cause I don't think she heard.
She just looked clear on through me to a space back in my head.
It shamed me into silence, as quietly she said,
'If you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me.
Cause I know I'm going nowhere, and anywhere's a better place to be.
Anywhere's a better place to be.'

Well I drove her to my boarding house, and I took her up to my room.
And I went to turn on the only light to brighten up the gloom.
But she said, 'Please leave the light off, oh I don't mind the dark.'
And as her clothes all tumbled 'round her, I could hear my heart.
The moonlight shone upon her as she lay back in my bed.
It was the kind of scene I only had imagined in my head.
I just could not believe it, to think that she was real.
And as I tried to tell her she said 'Shhh.. I know just how you feel.
And if you want to come here with me, then that's all right with me.
'Cause I've been oh so lonely, lovin' someone is a better way to be.
anywhere's a better place to be.'

Well The morning come so swiftly I held her in my arms.
And she slept like a baby, snug and safe from harm.
I did not want to share her or dare to break the mood,
So before she woke I went out to buy us both some food.

"I came back with my paper bag, to find that she was gone.
She'd left a six word letter saying.....

ARGHH!!!! Saying WHAT??? What???? What????

This was the day before Internet folks. There was no Googling the answer. And yes, I supposed we could have gone to the RECORD STORE (yeah yeah, whatever - no Amazon or itunes either) but we were poor college students and for some reason we just continually tortured ourselves with not knowing the 6 words....

Imagine my frustration then, when my little blog reader posted a teasing entry from Erin at Poor Penmanship that went like this:

"So, I’m flying back to Iowa for Thanksgiving, and the woman in front of me at airport security has a bullet casing in her purse. A bullet casing. The TSA guy pulls it out of a makeup bag thingy and says..."

When I click on the link to read the post - it's not there!!!! A subsequent post indicated the previous post had been inadvertently deleted from a mobile device...but I'm sorry...I CANNOT go through that again. I must know! I must, I must. What did the TSA guy say? And how many words were in the sentence? I'm actively lobbying Erin for an answer....

***UPDATE*** Erin answered in the comments!

And for those of you who wish to know the end of Harry's song;

...'It's time that I moved on.'" (THE SIX WORDS!!!)

{and here's the life lesson...A whole 'nother section to the song I was without for all those years}

You know The waitress she took her bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes. And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
She said "I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
And I wish I weren't so g*ddamn fat, I wish that you were mine.
And I wish that you'd come with me, when I leave for home.
For we both know all about emptiness, and livin' all alone."

And the little man, Looked at the empty glass in his hand.
And he smiled a crooked grin, He said, "I, I guess I'm out of gin.
And I know we both have been, so lonely. And if you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me. 'Cause I know I'm goin' nowhere and anywhere's a better place to be."

So much more satisfying to know the end of the story.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Whaddya Think?

I'm a group thinker...I may have my mind made up before I start, but I like the group to agree with me...so I've been thinking of setting up my own little 365 day blog for 2010. You know the type, 365 days, 365 recipes...or living like Oprah...or some such nonsense. I'm just looking to focus this hobby a bit.

So here are my top 3 ideas:

  1. The Cozy Cottage: Follow a Career Woman with domestic disabilities as she attempts to create a cozy home room by room.
  2. Twelve. Read and discuss the books published by Twelve in 2010.
  3. No Boob Tube. Watch me go crazy-nuts without any television, DVR, or even hulu in 2010.

I have to be honest. As a self-proclaimed TV addict number 3 frankly scares the bejesus out of me. I think it scares Hubby too as he would have to live with me. But he did say, if I selected number 3 I would probably be surprised how much time I had on my hands and would be able to do all three blogs without breaking a sweat!

Let me know your preferences - or bring a new idea to the table - but be warned...I'll be making up my own mind.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...

I cannot believe it is Thanksgiving tomorrow. Absolutely cannot. What is happening to time these days? It goes by much too quickly. This blog is the only thing in my life that helps me keep a calendar in perspective...I scroll back through the years I have been blogging and so, I yeah, I remember that moment...was it really 2 years ago?

I'm doing the last minute stuff I need to do to get out of town while my nephew snoozes on my couch. He volunteered to come be here for the delivery of his 9 boxes of belongings - all that is left since he sold off his "household" in Seattle. I believe the sell-off consisted of some 1960's retro furniture given new life from Goodwill, a large flat panel TV (don't need it - have a computer and hulu), and a bed. His remaining belongings will be safely ensconced in our garage until he locks down his new apartment in Brooklyn. I think he has to sell a camera to make the deposit, but such is the life of a 20's guy who likes to freelance through life.

He's grown up though...he's really an interesting human being. We spent last night chatting about any number of random things and (gasp) never even turned on the tv.

So now he snoozes until they arrive with the boxes. While I am doing a (very) little work, running loads of laundry, packing up the last of the weekend needs, and making the last Thanksgiving recipe. Tonight it is over the river and through the woods to Mama Lou's house we go. The weekend is packed with possibilities but not everything is locked down, as is my preference.

Tomorrow is the big meal with cousin Suzie and crew - and if the day breaks early we may stop at an old friends in the evening for a quick hello. Friday will likely be some shopping with Mama Lou - NOT THAT BLACK FRIDAY CRAZINESS folks, but just wandering through the little antique centers we love. Friday night may be dinner with friends if everyone feels like going out vs. leftovers (tempting, tempting) and

Saturday we go to see the live play of "A Christmas Story". I have threatened hubby with duct tape over his mouth if he cannot refrain from reciting every line of it - but I'm sure I'll have to give him a pass on "Fra-GEEL-LAY...it must be Italian!" because of the unfettered joy I will see on his face when he says it. We'll gather with some dear family friends for dinner afterward and then suddenly it will be time to head home early on Sunday.

Sigh.

It's like it's almost over already.

So I'm going to rewind a bit, enjoy the moments of today...and look forward to tomorrow. I wish you and yours a healthy, happy, prosperous harvest this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Environmental Art

I love it when someone takes something that seems like trash, or waste, and turns it into something interesting....

Check this out (sorry for commercial!):

Monday, November 23, 2009

MERGER Miscommunications

I love trying to learn how to communicate with MERGER company. We truly have different vocabularies and styles...Here is a sample email exchange (some details changed to protect subject info and identities, but I promise no license for comic purposes.)


Wenderina to MERGER Comm Team (MCT):

Hi guys – happy Monday! I was hoping you might provide me with a complete list of MERGER Operating Companies (OpCos)? We recently created matrices for capabilities in the [widget] business (for meeting next week) based on a model [Global Leader] sent us for [other widgets], but I believe we are missing some OpCos. I wanted to cross-check against a master list.

Let me know if you can provide one.


MCT to Wenderina:
SILENCE


FIVE DAYS LATER...


MCT Member to Wenderina:
You can find all the OpCos in our annual report 2008 (attached) or on [MERGER Intranet] or at www.[MERGER].com.

Let me know if you need another kind of info.

Wenderina to MCT Member:
Thank you MCT Member. We don’t have access to [MERGER Intranet] yet, but good to know the global website listing is the right info.

MCT Member to Wenderina:
Did you see them in the annual report?

Wenderina to MCT Member:
To tell you the truth, not really. While I saw some breakdowns in financials, as well as the organizational diagram on p. 112…I just wasn’t sure what equated to Operating Company as that is defined.

MCT Member to Wenderina:
Yes.

???? Yes ????

No, puzzled reader, I did not skip a step in relating this communication string to you. That was honestly the response I got to my last comment/question. This is the professional Communications Team we are joining with. G*d help us.


So, how would I have answered this request if it came from them to us?

Well, within one day, I would have sent an email with a listing of the OpCos clearly defined. Then, I would have pointed to where exactly in the Annual Report and where exactly on the global website the info could be found.

And, if someone had asked me for clarification of definition of Op Co, I would NOT have answered "yes".

Geez. Communications 101, folks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let the Commercial Blood-Letting Begin

Despite all the vampire fervor this week with that Twilight movie thing happening, the bloodletting I'm speaking of is purely in my wallet. Hubby took the weekend and ran up to visit friends and hang some of his photography in a Cape Cod Gallery (Fresh Paint in Yarmouth Port, stop by if you are in the area!) but I, sadly, stayed home. We have been running non-stop since the end of August and I needed a break.

What did I do with said break, you ask?

Well, I woke up at 5:45 AM when Hubby kissed me good-bye and didn't get back to sleep, so that blew my plan of sleeping in. After fighting it for a while, I got up at about 8 and started puttering around the house. I removed the A/C units from the bedroom windows and stored them in our pitifully small closet. The only good thing about a Cape style house is the bottom of the closets are super deep due to the pitched roof. I shimmied those bad boy A/C units all the way to the back and then stacked all the rest of our various junk items in front of them.

I picked up all the odds and ends on the 2nd floor, essentially shifting piles from one place to another, made the bed, wiped down the bathroom, and sauntered downstairs. I fixed myself a yogurt and cereal breakfast and sat down to make some lists. I knew the stores were in my future, but I was reluctant to leave the peace of the house (a regular feeling for me). So, I puttered with laundry, and cleaning the kitchen, and straightening my desk. Then I tackled the 2-year old vat of home-brew that never quite made it to bottling and sent it down the drain. Believe me - it was not tempting to test it.

After shooing away the Watchtower crowd on my front porch, I headed out the back, re-set the pool cover where our overly zealous landscapers had used their leaf blowers to blow up/out everything on site (although the yard does look vacuum clean!) and finally with a deep sigh, got into the car.

I hit ONE plaza y'all. ONE. For 5 hours. After wandering up and down every aisle of the Kohl's and the Marshall's I decided it was time for moi. And I made a beeline for the Annie Sez. Two suits folks. Two suits for $120.00 total. Gotta love Annie Sez. Then I hit the Payless and picked up some cute shoes and my first pair of boots in about 8 years (very cute and very imprudent being unlined and high-heeled, but love them) and a few cute pairs of shoes on their BOGO sale.

Lest you think I am awfully selfish on this my first day of Christmas shopping, I can assure you much more was spent on others than myself, and I made a good dent, but I'm not done yet.

What next on my leisurely day off? I went to the grocery store and (holy hell) spent more there than on 4 suits getting the basics for my contributions to Thanksgiving and a few staples for us. Can you say, "Jacked up prices?" The price on the cranberries and pumpkin was outrageous.

After unloading my car in about 20 trips, I started the cranberry relish (simply yum-deli-icious folks) and just inhaled the holiday goodness of that simmering on the stove. This was followed by my Mom's famous apple bread recipe which bakes for 1.5 hours so I finally got my feet up for a rest. Tomorrow I'll get to work on the Sweet Potato Casserole. Check out these recipes here.

And maybe while things are baking, I'll wrap a present or two. I feel some Luciano Pavarotti Christmas music coming on too. Have you started your Christmas rituals yet?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Define Job Satisfaction

This last couple of weeks were a little tough on Hubby. What I've always known, and appreciated, about him, is his pretty impossibly high standards. He operates by them and expects others to do the same. In particular, he values honesty, integrity, good work ethic, and accountability. Of course he is also very human and can be counted on to be empathetic and flexible and an all round good guy. Yes I know I'm biased, but I can confidently state the majority of people who know him would say the same. Sometimes he's an idealist and I try to ground him in the idea that corporate america is just not the place to find pure inspiration and perfect operation. First of all, it's populated by humans...and second, it is an inherently tension-rich environmental structure.

I won't get into the details here as it isn't my story to tell, but it raised the question in my mind, how do I define job satisfaction?

Unlike Hubby - who has worked at 7 different places in the past 20 years, I have been at 2.001. One for less than a year, the other for over 19...the .001 refers to a job I held for 2 weeks. I definitely experienced my share of job DISsatisfaction at the first two jobs, but the last one always seems to keep coming up positive on the balance sheet.

I guess that is the clue - that there is a balance sheet. There are days - many in fact - that I wonder what the hell I'm doing. But I truly don't dread getting up in the morning and going to work. And I truly don't groan every time my phone rings or blackberry buzzes. And I definitely appreciate the paycheck and benefits I receive. Most of all though, is I enjoy the people I work with, and mostly, for. And therein, I think, is the key.

My cousin, also having a tough time at work these days, just told me of a quote she heard once in a Human Resources seminar, "People don't leave companies, they leave bosses." While that may seem simplistic and there are certainly more reasons than toxic boss relationships that move people from company to company, I see that having a toxic boss is definitely a reason to leave.

But what I can ALSO say, without equivocation is: Having good people around you - at all levels - is definitely a reason to stay.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Kind of Snob Are You?

I've come to realize I'm high-class in attitude only.

Today at lunch, I strolled the Whole Foods with BL (Boss Lady) and I was totally intimidated. By the selection of high-falluting foods and accessories, by the wealthy SAHMs and their kids in designer strollers and their coach diaper bags, by the number of foods that I could not identify by package or even by name. Give me a good old Stop & Shop with kraft food products, pre-packaged dinners, and aisle-side coupon dispensers. I'll take my A&P with bright flourescent lighting and give back the flattering subdued soft light and quaint floor tiles of Whole Foods.

The truth is, I'm such a snob, that I need to be able to shop in a place where I can look DOWN on the the shopping conditions. I need to be able to laugh at the mis-spellings on the aisle signs, snort in disgust when I can never find someone at the meat counter, and dispair at the quality of the 99-cent greeting cards. It does not serve my interests to feel "less than" when I am shopping for frozen pizza and bagged salad.

This is likely the reason I don't shop at Nordstroms either. At Kohls, Target, Macy's or Annie Sez there is piped in scratchy pop music - at Nordstrom's there is a live piano player - seriously? a live piano player? I mean THAT is intimidating.

I have a lovely woman who has been cleaning my home for the past 7 years. I cannot be home when she is there, because I can live with the snobbishness of having someone scrub my toilets, but I cannot be there to observe it and feel like I am contributing to a class society.

I can take a car service to the airport, but I have to carry my own bags and I have to be chatty cathy with the drivers (despite the language gaps), because despite my sense of entitlement in being driven curbside to curbside for my own convenience I can't possibly be rude enough to treat the driver as a second class citizen.

My clothes are mostly 10 years old. My shoes are from Payless. I do my own nails because I haven't been able to find a salon where I feel comfortable having someone else clean my nails and scrub dead cells from the bottom of my feet. My quality jewelry is hand-me-down or gifts, or else it cost less than $10/piece and turns my neck green. I throw money at problems and at people, but can't seem to put it into quality when it requires walking into a fancy store.

My friends buy coach bags. I buy pleather.

Yet I have a diva attitude that just won't quit.

I think I am quite the strangest snob on the planet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Ass...

My office, in this post 9/11 world, is rather particular about security. You see, we have in our hot little hands and files some critical design information about the nation's water and wastewater facilities. Because of this, we take securing that info, and of course our people, pretty seriously.

Main doors are open for entry only during fixed work hours. Beyond those hours, you can use a swipe card to gain entry. On 4 floors, entry to stairwells and/or any staff area from the hallway requires a swipe card 24 hours of the day. Needless to say, we keep our swipe cards on our person at all times.

This weekend, I stopped into the office after my full day of school. I plugged in my computer, called Hubby with a location/status update, and determined while the computer was logging in to take a bathroom break and get a soda. As I exited my department into the hall, the door swung shut right behind me and BAM! I realized my swipe card was sitting on my desk.

On any regular workday, no sweat, you borrow a visitor pass from reception and get back in. On a Saturday after 5pm, the place was pretty much a ghost town. After rambling around the square hallway passages for a few moments trying every door in vain and looking for signs of other weekend workers...I sat down in reception to think. I wasn't panicked, but I was certainly and frustratingly puzzled as to how to solve this problem short of calling 911.

I tried the extensions for the IT helpdesk (supposed to be manned 24x7) and the general counsel's office (he is a maniac worker here about 24x7) but no answer. I then determined to call my Hubby....but I forgot the lobby phones are not enabled for external calls. Finally, I decided to try calling the external operator - and after an annoying long pause, it finally clicked through. I made a collect call (what a blast from the past...don't think I've done that since my poverty-stricken college days) home.

For once, my forgetfulness was helpful as I had left my blackberry at home and Hubby was able to mine it for some of my colleague's home numbers. Before any of them could save me however, I heard the telltale swish and clang of the elevator in motion. I jumped to the wall and hit every button there was and started calling, "Helloooooo....Helloooooooo" into the crack in the door. With my lips nearly attached to the elevator doors, they slid open, and there were some rather shifty looking characters as surprised to see me as I was to see them. They were in the building doing some necessary electrical repairs. Their passes allowed me access and soon I was back at my desk.

Today, I considered sending a note to our building manager for a consideration of punch key pads to alleviate this situation, but I was afraid his response would be, "Since I've only heard of this happening once in 30 years here and it was you, perhaps I would suggest that you not let the door hit you in the ass on the way out...at least not without your swipe card in hand."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is that the Death Rattle I hear?

She was a young single girl living in San Francisco. Her first apartment was found over a restaurant downtown. The previous tenants warned her of the disadvantages of restaurant proximity...namely, mice! Thinking ahead, she ensured the landlord would allow for a cat in the lease agreement.


Never having owned a cat, she was pleased when a friend told her she had found a young stray. "Sounds good," she matter-of-factly responded. She refused to be sentimental about the selection of this pet - this animal was to be used as a tool. This animal was to be her mouser. This animal was a co-habitating partner not a family member.


The cat, recognizing a non-cat person, realized that the idea of a handy litter box might not be something her new "owner" would possess. No matter, thought the feline, this potted palm is perfectly acceptable for my needs.


"How neat!" exclaimed the girl, "the cat finds her own patch of dirt, no need for late night walkies!"


That night, the cat determined, regardless of the girl's lack of understanding of the needs of the great feline race, she would cozy up and grab what warmth she could in the night. She curled up around the neck of the young girl and went to sleep.


The next day, the girl determined that a trip to the vet was a necessity and bundled up the cat for a visit. When the vet entered the room, the girl looked at him sadly and said, "I'm sorry to say, I think this cat is doomed....in fact I think her death is imminent."


Surprised, as the cat appeared to be quite active and healthy, the vet questioned the girl as to her evidence of illness.


"Well," she said, "she has a bad breathing problem...and I'm sure it's only a matter of time."


The vet examined the cat thoroughly, listening hard to lungs and heart to see if he could determine the problem. After he completed his exam, he stroked the cat as he spoke to the young girl some more.


Suddenly the girl said, "There! That sound! That's it."



The vet looked at her with pity. "Ah yes....that sound. Well, that is a sound I know only too well. Tell me young lady, you've never had a cat before have you?"

"No...no...this is my first time." said the young girl sadly, "Is it very bad?"

"Oh no," said the vet solemnly, "That my dear, is what we in the industry call...a purr."

----
Told in all honesty to Wenderina by Boss Lady...a most savvy and with-it chick who has obviously learned a few tricks in the past 30 years.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Things You Learn...

Last night I went out with some colleagues. Since the MERGER we're making a concerted effort to get out, have a drink (the club is actually called Just One) and do a little bonding, venting, laughing, complaining, or whatever is required on any given date. This was only the second club meeting - the first was ok, but a little depressing. Everyone was very stressed about the MERGER and we were in the middle of our first budgeting cycle with the new parent company which caused some...well...angst? But last night, we were a little more light-hearted and oh the things I learned.

Story #1: Closing Out Bad Health

The only gent in our group last night - DLR - proceeded to tell us a story of a health scare he had several years ago...in a very humorous way. It manifested in waking each morning with a great feeling of heaviness and constriction of his chest and after a couple of weeks, he really feared for a serious condition. He went to the Dr. and was run through an extensive cadre of tests....all coming back clean.

Suddenly, his Dr. asked - do you have pets???

Why yes, answered DLR.

Are they large or small?

Well, I have a cat and a dog and the dog is mid-sized, the cat is large and fat - about 25 pounds.

Do they sleep in the bed with you?

Well, yes they do.

Ok, here is what I want you to do - I want you to set a low volume alarm for about 2:30AM.

Why?

Just do it.

Result: DLR sets alarm and at the quiet beep, beep, beep he awakes and finds his cat - all 25 pounds of her - curled up on his chest.

Doctor, Doctor - I woke up and this is what I found...

Aha - that is what I suspected - having 25 pounds on your chest for several hours a night can cause some serious pain and discomfort when you awake.

But what should I do, Dr. to stop her from doing this - I'm asleep - how do I keep her from climbing on my chest??

And then the Doctor - with great patience and solemnity - told my very smart friend:

{can you guess the answer? scroll down to see.}
















When you go to bed? Close the damn door.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Humble Thanks

HLM (Dad) 1926-2003


Today is one of the few days designated to remember the fallen and to thank those men and women who stand on a wall and take our national interests to heart and to arms.

Today is one of the many days that I reflect on how lucky I am to live in a country where my right to protest war is as protected by a person in uniform as is my neighbors right to support it.

Today is the day, with no sense of hypocrisy at all, I wore my peace symbol t-shirt while donating to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in memory of my father and uncle, and in honor of their youngest brother - all veterans who served their country with a sense of duty and honor.

How did you thank a veteran today?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's because of my typos, isn't it?

Typos have cursed me most of my life. About 20 years ago, when I was searching desperately for work, I had 4 interviews in one day. My current Company (shall remain nameless here), Reader's Digest (dream job), Pepsi Co headquarters (free DP for life!), and a financial firm ($$$$). My Company was at the bottom of my list.

Because I was going for an entry level job - every company gave me a typing test with my interview...every company except MY Company, that is. You guessed it, one offer on the table when it was over and it was the job without the typing test.

I can't regret it as the journey at this company has taken me from entry-level administrative assistant to a manager of a national team with plenty of interesting side-trips and challenges along the way.

Today, I listened to NPR and the BBC's coverage of the mother of a slain soldier in Britain lambasting the Prime Minister for, among many other things, 25 typos in the letter of condolence he sent to her family. Her real complaint was the lack of helicopters to save her son from bleeding to death, but the typos hurt enough for her to count and present to the Prime Minister as an insult that she took great umbrage with.

Every year, when I do that holiday letter thing (which has shrunk to a holiday post card in recent years) I have a "friend" who delights in receiving it and immediately calling me to point out my typos - which range from the traditional typo to the misuse of a word, or a comma, or other grammatical error. I claim to be a writer. I did graduate with a 4-year degree in English. But hell, sometimes my mind and my fingers are not in sync. And sometimes, I don't care enough to spend the extra time to proof read. So sue me.

In the hop-skip-jump way my thoughts work, I was admiring the new layout and content at the Women's Colony today and recalled Mrs. G contacting me this summer to write an article from the working woman perspective. I took my sweet time getting back to her (a month) with my article, and then suggested perhaps the WC could use a working woman room (a Den?) that I'd love to contribute to on a regular basis.

I haven't heard back.

It's been more than two months.

And I wonder if it's because of my typos.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Despite my masterful procastination....

I entered the weekend convinced I would get everything done that needed to happen. The biggest priority - my term paper for Leading Change class due next weekend. And as my master plan unfolded (or disintegrated)....this is how my weekend went.




  1. Plan to stay late at office on Friday when all is quiet and do some further outlining of paper and annotate articles.
    What happened? Well....a good friend came by my desk to do some bragging on her kids and then we talked for about 2 hours and then I answered some emails and then...I played with some stuff on my desk...and then....well...it was time to go home.

  2. Plan to get to bed early, then get up Saturday AM and head to the gym. Also hit friend's new store opening in Valley Cottage and maybe Annie Sez for the great sale going on. Then come home, hit the books, while laundry runs and get that paper done.
    What happened? I fell asleep on the couch after hubby went to bed (around 1AM) and woke up at 5AM all befuddled. I crawled upstairs and washed the grime and smeared makeup from my face and climbed under the covers. Next eye opener - 11AM. Given my inability to enact my plan as envisioned, I froze and stayed in bed watching movies until 4PM when I had to get up to have dinner with my in-laws.

  3. Plan to come home from dinner and relax, then get an early start Sunday, go to gym (missed on Saturday) and go to friend's new store (missed on Saturday), and forego the Annie Sez sale in order to get home and do laundry (missed on Saturday) and finish paper (now a must do!)
    What happened? I fell asleep when we got home from dinner (8:30PM!) but at least this time I was in bed - woke up at 3AM dying for water and then found myself awake until about 6AM. Finally fell back to sleep until more acceptable hour of 9AM....but couldn't motivate my ass out of bed. I mean after all - what was waiting for me but a workout, homework, and laundry - yuck.

  4. All Plans abandoned or blown, I finally hit the computer at 12 noon, with a yogurt in my tummy, but no ab crunches completed, at which time I spent about 2 hours surfing and goofing around on blogs, making popcorn and eventually starting the laundry, playing with cats, reading 2 chapters from a novel, checking out HGTV site for bedroom designs, and Bed Bath & Beyond for duvet covers. Finally, as hubby got home from his lodge duties at about 4:30PM I'm settling into the paper...working at a record pace I slam through the materials and write write write write for 3 straight hours and I'm done. 10 page paper complete and proofread, printed and ready to go. Oh - and 5th/last load of laundry in dryer!

I love it when a plan comes together, don't you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Two-Way Communication

I'm thinking I need to change the name of my blog. I've been focusing so much on communication lately - because it is my work, and my school focus...and well communication is everywhere right? Anyway...that's just a sideline to today's topic: Two-Way Communication.


---


I've been reading more blogs these days. The Women's Colony has some great writers and great readers with blogs of their own, so I've been linking in here and there to check people out who comment on the WC and also to scan through their blog rolls. A little fresh content to read, I guess. And in the way of good blogging, I'm trying to connect with people with a little two - way communication by posting a comment here or there.


One of these forays took me to a great site - Swistle's - and some insights on voting: namely, what should and should not be fodder for our politicians. It thought her post was excellent and not just because I agree with her position. It was clean, concise and unemotional. It was logical and respectful. And let's face it when it comes to issues like voting on gay marriage, people's emotions typically take over. I decided her post deserved some positive feedback and so I moved to the comment link.


And. Then. I. Paused.


She had over 100 comments. Hmmmm. Is this typical traffic for Swistle I wondered or had the controversial topic, even so respectfully handled, driven the crazies out for a ride?


Still, I thought, I'd like to connect with this person. This post was worth my attention and my effort to comment. I scrolled all the way down to the bottom and typed a polite and insightful comment (if I do say so myself). Then I glanced at the comment above and my jaw dropped open. Leaving my draft comment in place, I continued scrolling and realized there was a bit of a knock-down-drag-out happening in the comment section of Swistle's blog. All of the emotion she had managed to keep out of the post was spilling over in the comment section and I could almost see in my mind's eye the rabid hordes of protesters standing on either side of her home screaming at one another.


My blood began to boil as I felt the emotion that too often clouds our judgment in these matters rise to the level of her other commenters. I called on specific names to rebut their arguments and positions, I wrote and re-wrote the response which was growing longer and more emotional by the minute. Any of you who read my blog normally know my rather rigid stance against organized religion and that OR thing was all over this blog. Then, by some happenstance, my computer blue-screened and all of my vitriol was wiped out in one moment.


Today, I went back to Swistle's site and checked on the status. The comments were up to nearly 150 at this point and most of them were a continuing argument between a few rabid players. I was happy, I determined, that my computer had saved me from engaging in the battle as my peaceful little blog has thus far escaped too much controversy and poison from readers somehow offended by my lonely little opinions.


However, I wonder if this very relief is indicative of how the moderates in the world end up allowing the extremists on either side to do their speaking for them. Is this how, on election day, the rights of our fellow humans are trampled upon? Because there are more voices raised in hate than in acceptance? Is it a lesson to learn that quiet acceptance of differences cannot be the norm until LOUD PROPONENTS of differences prevail?


So, from here, I'm heading back to Swistle's blog and put my two cents out there. But I'm going to try and moderate my comments with respect and logic and quiet fortitude and leave the vitriol to others.

But MO-OM I don't wanna go to school


This is echoing through my head as I prepare for my last class of the semester and enroll for my next semester in the seemingly never-ending pursuit of my master's degree. I'm feeling particularly anti-school today because I have a group project (collective groan from all my fellow-suffering grad students) due next weekend.

I work in groups all the time at my office. In fact, I rarely do anything completely alone and thrive from collective brainstorming, consensus building, and co-authoring of written materials. I would NEVER complete something without getting someone else to weigh in...it just sharpens my process and final deliverable.

But at school, with people who just aren't motivated or interested in participating, I'm sick of the group project. Just leave me alone to do my reading, writing, and class participation without the rest of you, thank you very much.

This weekend I must complete my own final paper on "Leading Change" which is more complicated than it sounds because it's about applying the soft sciences to the much more defined workplace environment. A study of human behavior within an organization. I, of course, am using the MERGER as my topic, which adds to the complexity as I AM LIVING THIS EVERY DAY. And while it is great to have the professor tell you to write the paper like you are EMPOWERED to make the change happen as you need it to...it's pretty frustrating to then go into the office and have little to no power at all.

But back to the group.

They bug me. And not ladybug bug, but more like spider bug.

The two "men" in my group seem like they are barely old enough to have graduated high school, much less college and have had little to no interest in making a real effort since the professor shared his grading philosophy of never giving less than a B. Well that's great for all of us who need a B or higher to get tuition reimbursement (professor's reasoning), but what about the group that is hauling around these two teenagers like a couple of bowling balls.

Next week we will have one hour to complete our group project, then we have to do a 45 minute role-play exercise. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I spent the last 3 hours orchestrating the whole thing on paper with role descriptions, class participation notes, and scene by scene breakdown aligned with 75% of the change management tools we've learned about in class.

After this I think I should be allowed to sit in the back of the room and pick my nose and get my A, but I doubt the professor would understand. Then again, according to him I could sit in the back of the room and pick my nose and won't get lower than a B.

Hmmmmm.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ladybug, Ladybug

Nearly ALL cultures believe that a Ladybug is lucky. Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune.


So, given the work environment and economic conditions, I'm okay about welcoming a few into my office this fall. For the last several weeks my metal mini-blinds have been "tink-tinking" with every lifting and landing of a friendly polka dotted beetle.

This is likely the only insect I can say I welcome. I don't mind if they crawl across my hand, or my keyboard, and no shiver up and down my spine that spiders, ants, bees, and other bugs can induce.

Currently there are about 6 crawling on and around my window. Once in a while, I try to move them onto the friendly green leaves of my plants, but they tend to prefer the window glass, blinds, and papers on my desk.

I would not, however, be so welcoming if the numbers grew to the thousands I read about in Washington and Maryland.
And we might have to revisit that legend about sadness and misfortune.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More New Stuff


Today I visited our soon-to-be new address. Office, that is, not home. For the first time in over 35 years, my company is relocating its headquarters from the outskirts/suburbia to a downtown location.


(Don't get excited, it's not like we are moving to Manhattan, just little old White Plains). We will also be moving from a building that is entirely our own space to a two-floor setup in a high-rise building with many other tenants.

While walking the space with another member of my group, she kept talking about what a change this will be for our culture. I thought she meant being able to walk to public transit...or being able to run an errand at the adjacent huge shopping mall...or having covered parking in the winter...all the GREAT things about this new place. But how naive of me not to think that people dwell on the negative when it comes to change.

When you make a move personally, there are a lot of psychological steps you take. You make the decision. Then, filled with excitement at your decision, you purge, you pack, you clean, and maybe you mourn a little, but then you return to your state of excitement and you go! When your company moves you multiply this by 300 people and then you add on the not insignificant element of upheaval that comes from the first step being skipped by 295 of the people involved. Yes, that's right, those 295 did NOT make the decision to move. (For the record, I am one of the 295, not the 5).




For some reason, in the business world, this means that 295 people feel it is their duty to feel betrayed, to bitch, to whine, to question, and even to revolt. I find it tremendously amusing, and equally frustrating, to watch people act out on this emotional reaction.

I often find myself asking, "If you were to get a job offer tomorrow at a new company how much of your decision to accept or not would be based on the square footage of your cubicle; the height of your cubicle walls; the identity of your cubicle neighbor; the distance between your desk and the bathroom, the break room, the exit; etc? When you look for a job do you think, I will only apply for a job on this street? or do you think within X miles of my home? If you accept that job, do you expect them to buy you a new chair, replace the art work on the adjacent wall, provide you with an extra filing cabinet or book shelf, or move the HVAC unit over your desk??"

Of course not. If you are like 99.9% of us working folks, you just want to know you like the company, you enjoy the work and do it well, you hopefully will like your boss, and you'll get some nice pay and benefits out of the deal.

Why is it then, that just because you have now worked for a company for 3 months to 30 years do you assume that you have the right to dictate individual needs into a space designed for 300 people? Why do you feel that in this economy, or really any economy, it is appropriate to bitch about the company saving money by reducing individual cubicle space by 2 square feet/person rather than doing a 10% layoff?

I understand. Really I do. It's change. No one loves change. But this is business folks. So let's make a business kind of deal.


Go home, put your feet up on your favorite cushion, have a glass of your favorite wine, watch your favorite TV channel. We won't interfere, I promise. We won't dictate that you move the couch 3 inches to the left, turn the volume down on your tv, and change from red wine to white. Essentially, I'm asking you to go home at the end of the day and LIVE YOUR LIFE AS YOU SEE FIT.

And tomorrow, in exchange, when you come into work....well...COME IN TO FREAKING WORK. Don't stress about cubicle arrangements, conference rooms, artwork, or the size and temperature of the breakroom fridge. Let the Company run its business as best it can.

And in the end, please remember, you have a job. Not only that, you have a good job for a good company that does good work.

Deal? Deal.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween...Oh so sweet


This weekend we took a ride down to DC to see our favorite Sarge become our favoriate 2nd Lieutenant. (Photos and story coming tomorrow). But today, I've conquered Little Man A's Mom's Mac just in time to upload a few highlight photos of LMA and Baby Brother Z and poor exhausted Mom....Happy Halloween.









Moments after awaking from her exhausted cat nap above, Mom rallies for Halloween festivities.


Want to see what Baby Brother Z was costumed as? You have to go to Searching for an Even Balance to see it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Other Side of the Desk

Dateline: April 1990. I was a young office worker in a marketing department. Our job was to sell senior living apartments to retirement age homeowners. Somehow the job had turned into a cold-calling telemarketing nightmare. And cold-calling can only be made worse when you are cold-calling elderly people.

"Hello, is Mr. Smith available?"

"MR. SMITH DIED LAST YEAR!!!!"

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry...um...are you Mrs. Smith?"


"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU PEOPLE KEEP CALLING HERE - MR. SMITH IS DEAD."

"I apologize Ma'am, I'm calling from XXX and was hoping to talk to you about an opportunity to live in a place with more amenities and services that would enrich your life."

"WHY WOULD I LEAVE MY HOME??? MR. SMITH BUILT THIS WITH HIS OWN HANDS AND I RAISE ALL 17 OF MY KIDS HERE AND WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING HERE ASKING FOR MR. SMITH?"

[probably because Mr. Smith is still the name on all the utility bills and public records...but I get how it is upsetting]

"Well we thought you might enjoy a day out and a tour and learning a little about what we offer - we like to compare our community with a cruise ship on land, we have activities, and restaurants, and organized outings, and..."


"I DON'T LIKE TO CRUISE, I GET SEASICK. AND MY NEIGHBOR MILDRED DRIVES ME TO SHOP I DON'T NEED AN ORGANIZED OUTING. AND I COOK FOR MYSELF...THOSE FANCY FOODS DON'T AGREE WITH MY DIGESTION."

Multiply this conversation by 100 and you had my typical workday.

And yet, as miserable as I was at this job, when I sat across the desk from my boss that morning and expected the usual pep talk about how to handle the calls and her expectations for at least 7 appointments to be made that week, I was unpreprepared for her announcement that I was being let go.

It was devastating. I hated this job, but to have someone take it away was like a blow to the gut.

In the end, after unemployment and frustrating job searches, and finally a relocation to find work, I found my real professional home. And after some time had passed I realized that boss had done me a real favor in kicking my complacent miserable ass to the curb.

Fast forward 20 years and here I am. On the other side of the desk. And I'm here to tell you that the message is no easier to give than it was to receive.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Truth to Power

10.27.09 Post Script
CEO Daughter just stopped by my desk with a smile and offered me a Russian candy. After contemplating it for a moment and wondering on the odds of poisoning...I decided to give it a try. A delicious lemon drop. And I'm still alive.
----

One of the buzz phrases of the business environment is "the ability to speak truth to power". I think it may actually have originated in politics - you know - in order to be a good advisor, you need to be able to speak truth to power, but it is valid in the business environment today.

I had my chance on Friday. Not in a way that would affect a business decisions, but a more personal discussion. You see, my department intern is the CEO's teenage daughter.

[pause for reaction]

Yes, I know. But luckily I have a CEO who is honest, forthright, and approachable and who told me on day one that I was to hold his daughter accountable just as I would any other member of the team...and maybe moreso. He is also paying her salary. And I don't mean that in the sense of he oversees her budget, I mean that he writes a check to the company to cover her salary to make it a net zero impact on our budget. This is not about getting his kid a job for some pocket money, this is about teaching her to EARN her pocket money. You gotta respect that.

So, needless to say, when it came to my attention that we had a situation with her attendance...I struggled with how to deal with it. I mean, it's not like I would call anyone else's Mom or Dad who works for me to address this...even an intern...but he asked me to hold her accountable and I had a complicated situation.

You see, she called in on a Friday saying she had a mid-term to study for. While we had some deadline work for her, we respect our interns are students first and we said ok. Then, when she arrived on the following Tuesday she let it slip that she had actually been hanging out with her friends because her parents were both traveling and she was grounded, so this was her way to skip out on her punishment. Why was she grounded? Because she had come home drunk when she was supposed to be studying with friends. Lies on top of lies.

I really thought I would deal with this directly with her, but then I thought about her safety and our responsibility should anything happen to her if we didn't clue in her family on what was going on. The added complication is his daughter has only been in his family for about 4 years having been adopted from an orphanage in Russia when she was just 15 years old.

I was still debating what to do while eating lunch with the CEO and some execs last week. Then he said, "So I hear [daughter] is working extra hours these days." And there it was. My opportunity to cover for her with a bald-faced lie, to play clueless and pretend I didn't know what me meant, or to come clean with everything I knew.

What would you do?

Many people I asked said they wouldn't have said a word. Or if anything, they just would have so, "No, not that I'm aware of" and have him go digging for the truth with his daughter. But I'm not good at games and I totally respect this man, so, I did it. I took him aside and told him the whole story. When I was done, I told him that it was awkward to have to do this, but that I hoped it was the right decision.

Then...and here's another place you can question my judgment, I came back to the office and told his daughter that as of that moment, her Dad knew everything. She, of course, turned bright red with embarrassment (there's hope for her yet!). I asked her to take one important lesson from this: Don't put me in a position to have to lie to her father. I value his trust too much.


Today, he thanked me. He apologized for putting me and my team in an awkward position and he thanked me. They are struggling with allowing her some independence and trying to trust her with it, and then having to discipline her bad judgment. He also learned that the family she was staying with were told by his daughter that she was not only working on Friday, she worked longer hours than usual. Lies on top of Lies on top of Lies!

I feel sorry for her a bit. She is going to be 19. Most kids her age and in her situation are away at school, making their mistakes without Mom and Dad looking on. She doesn't have that luxury...she has to make her mistakes in the spotlight. Learning to make decisions based upon what others expect you to do, based upon a level of respect for them and their judgment...this is a tough life lesson.

The daughter? She comes in tomorrow for the first time since this went down. I don't think she'll thank me. But maybe some day when she has a child of her own, or a staff of her own, she will.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Right Person

video














And this picture is why I know he is the right person. I've never seen her so happy. Thank G*D for 2nd chances.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

12 Hour Countdown

In just 12 hours I'll be walking down the aisle again. This is my 7th wedding.

Not as a bride....of course...you just read about my 20th! As a bridesmaid. I've been in two rainbow weddings (ah, the 80s), 2 black and white weddings (ah, the 90's) and 1 polyester navy wedding (ah the 70s) and of course the floral wedding.

This is a first...or should I say a 2nd. It is the 2nd time I've walked the aisle on behalf of this bride, and I'm hoping this one will take. We'd never want to negate the first, since it brought her the most beautiful twin girls, but this one brings her a great man, another daughter, and two sons to add to her current brood.



It's a Sunday morning outdoor wedding in upstate NY. On our drive upstate yesterday? We drove through snow....beautiful...but more winter-like than harvest fall weather.
Tomorrow's forecast?? dicey at best...

8 am 35°F Partly Cloudy

9 am 37°F Partly Cloudy

10 am 39°F Partly Cloudy

The setting is incredible (pictured above), so the bridesmaids are determined to ignore our frigid toes in strappy sandals in the frosty grass and the goose pimples scattered amonst the pearls the bride gave us today and running down our bare arms. We did the run-through today in the drizzly rain and survived, so here's hoping for tomorrow.


Send good vibes our way....this bride and groom deserve a beautiful memorable moment overlooking Canandaigua lake and the gorgeous fall colors around them.

12 hours to go....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

LOL

Laughing out loud is such a joy, isn't it? On Monday night, I was watching the new comedy "Accidentally On Purpose" and experienced such an LOL moment that it has recurred several times a day since. The show is not tremendously good, and Jenna Elfman can get on my nerves pretty quickly, but I was so startled by the joke that I didn't just giggle, smile, smirk, but I really laughed...out...loud.

I experienced a similar moment today at work, where a meeting was interrupted by a short hysterical interlude having to do with the sound the styrofoam plates were making (think chalk on blackboard) on the polished finish of the conference room table. You'd never get it, so not worth explaining, but the side-aching laughter was such a welcome relief to the MERGER environment we've been under.

Thinking about this also brought back a memory of my Dad. We were sitting on a couch watching, for the first time, the Paul Newman movie Slapshot. When it got to the scene where he puts the crazy brothers into the hockey game and they proceed to beat up every other skater on the ice in the most random and aggressive ways, I remember my father starting to chuckle. Not one to react to TV very often, except to call it the Boob Tube, I was surprised. He often sat there with his thumbs aggravatingly twiddling, but he didn't often laugh with the comedies. As the scene went on for moment after moment of ridiculous and brutal sport, my father and I begain to really laugh...and laugh...and laugh. I think we were both wiping away tears by the time it was over. Not sure the movie (clip below) is as funny now, but the memory is priceless.



I hope you find something today that really makes you laugh. No wry quirk of the lips. No minor, "ha, that's funny" comments. But true, uncontrolled, giggles, belly laughs, snorts, and maybe even a little pee your pants kind of laughter. It is truly a joyous thing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where were you 20 years ago today?


I was marrying my best friend.

THEN



NOW


Happy anniversary friend.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Priceless

  • 600 miles on the Subaru - $100.00
  • Two nights at Crook Jaw Inn, Yarmouthport - $300.00
  • Price Fixe Menu at the Ocean House - $98.00
Weekend Getaway with Hubby to celebrate 20 years of marriage....PRICELESS

For the first time, Hubby and I visited Cape Cod in the Fall. Expecting to see an explosion of autumn colors, we were quite surprised to instead find it a very mild 70 degrees and very green. The ocean waters apparently warm the area and delay the season. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful time to be at the Cape. We stayed at a lovely B&B (Crook Jaw Inn) right on the famous 6A in Yarmouthport. This 1780's house was so well appointed and charming, and we immediately felt at home.

This little trip was just a small treat to mark our 20th anniversary (coming on 14th). In contrast with our 10th anniversary where we spent 2 weeks in Hawaii, we really had to squeeze it in this year between work, school, and family commitments, but squeeze we did. Although fighting the Columbus Day traffic on I-95 made me think we were a little nuts, we finally arrived and had a lovely weekend. We topped off a day of wandering (and of course, with Hubby at the lead - plenty of photography) ...



...with a fabulous meal at the Ocean House in Dennisport. Their fall price fixe menu was incredible and for a very reasonable amount, we had a spectacular 3 course meal.

While Hubby is the pro photographer...I had fun with his old castoff 35 mm SLR and posted some of the results here. (Note: Hubby was a real help with the photoshop techniques I could use to make the images even better for printing...but it was ME who used the posterize filter to create some fun shots where the lighting just wasn't working for the plain photo.) I think the Americana of the Cape works perfectly with the poster technique.

Of course, art is nothing without sacrifice. In this instance, I sacrificed some shoes.


< Teaser: Next weekend...the WEDDING OF THE CENTURY. Me, the bridesmaids and the bride all in sleeveless gowns for a lakeside ceremony in mid October...and yes - high temps in the 40's are predicted..... >

Cape Photos