Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Men Hate Us

On Saturday I went to the gym with a friend.  After working ourselves up into a sweat, laughing and moaning the entire way, we decided to take a walk along the track and enjoy the beautiful springtime weather.  As we walked, we entered into a totally female discussion...

T:  I was in such great shape last year after working with that personal trainer.

W: I know, it's what got me started going to the gym.

T:  But then I stopped!  Now I'm at my heaviest ever.

W: Mmm. (this is getting into danger zone)

T:  Don't I look it?

W: Ummmm....No. (danger Wil Robinson, danger!)

T: Really?

W: Ummmm....No.

T:  (In a horrified voice) - Are you saying that you remember me being FATTER?

W:  (totally cracking up) - That is such a "girl thing" to say!!  Seriously?  I'm telling you that I haven't noticed you are heavier and you are more worried that I thought you were fatter in the past?  There is no winning here.  If I say you look fatter now, that's insulting.  If I say you don't look heavier now, you think I mean I remember you fatter.  If I say you look about the same now and you know your weight is up, it sounds like you have always looked heavy.  I'm not answering this question any more.   

This conversation?  This is why men hate us.

Tears for Good News

I spent nearly an hour crying today over good news.  The news that my cousin does NOT have cancer.  It has been our experience in our family that when testing begins, cancer will be found.  My father (lung), my mother (ovarian and colon survivor), my uncle (skin survivor), my cousin (lymphoma), even a family pet....all in the last few years. 

After losing her brother only 27 days after his diagnosis of lymphoma, imagine my cousin's shock to hear she would need blood tests, biopsey's and ultrasounds herself just two weeks after the funeral.  While our attitudes were forcefully positive, it was evident today when the good news arrived that our gut was already tied into knots for the worst case scenario.

So when I heard her say, "It's all okay - everything was negative." I just burst into tears.  And I couldn't stop for almost an hour.  What sweet exhausting relief. 

This damn blog has been little more than a downer the last few entries and I'll be glad to get back to boring normalcy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wake Up Call

You know when the phone rings at my house early in the morning, it's rarely a good thing.  Especially on a Saturday.  This morning it was my Mom calling to tell me my Uncle had fallen last night and broke his hip.  Luckily it was not a bad break, he's having replacement surgery now for the ball of the joint.  From what I know this is better than when the pocket also needs replacement.  He's a pretty healthy active 75 year old, so I'm hoping this is just a minor health setback.

These are the times I hate being 5 hours away from my Mom.  While there may not be a lot I could do, if I were there, I'd be a little extra support. Instead of hearing that Mom, who was sleepless all night while they were in ER, was driving back to hospital to sit while he had surgery, I would be there to drive her or split the duties.  Instead of hearing that the back lawn needs mowing and rain is expected, I could be there mowing.  Instead of hearing that he may be in hospital and/or rehabilitation for a while, I could be there helping with shopping, shuttling, chores, and hospital visits.

Of course there are more family members in town - including my Uncle's daughter and son, and numerous teenage and adult grandchildren.  One of them can mow the lawn, help with hospital visits, run an errand.  But it doesn't make me feel any better about being so far away.

Post Script:  Mom just called and Uncle Al is doing very well.  Surgery fine.  I mentioned coming up and she pooh poohed it, but I know (and I know you are reading this mom) that being there would be a relief.  The choices that life puts in your path.  The pull of one responsibility to another.  The need to be independent and dependent at the same time.  The phone ringing at 8AM didn't wake me up, but it remains a bit of a wake up call, all the same.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


My company/office is moving.  We are going to a swanky building "downtown" instead of an office park on the outskirts (we've been here about 30 years).  One day, our office services VP asked me to step into a meeting to give a fresh perspective on options for the lobby.  After reviewing current plans I threw out an idea about using flat panels, mounted vertically, that we could use for images and messages that support the company brand.  They've been trying to figure out the logistics of this ever since.

One of the team just sent us this You Tube video of a guy's flat panel display in his home.   THESE ARE NOT WINDOWS.  These are computer screens.  Truly. You have to see it.  It is the COOLEST THING EVER.  If you want to see more, go here.

This is what they pay me for

My current view of the world.  Notice the beautiful Spring day outside the window of the conference room...and the data hell in which I currently reside.  Ah Boss Lady just said..."This is what they promoted you for, W!"

Post Script:  And this is why they keep paying me more....note it is now pitch black outside. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Now I feel like a schmuck

So today VP called me to say, "Congratulations, you have been promoted!"  And now I feel like a schmuck for my (de)motivation comments of yesterday.

Here's how the call went:


"Hey W, this is VP, how about that call with RP yesterday --- yada yada yada --- Oh, I just wanted you to know that I was called in for the corporate review committee yesterday and you've been promoted to a senior associate."

"Holy Cats, VP, really?  I never expected that this year of all years."

"W, you always underestimate...."

{at this point as he paused to talk to his taxi driver and I'm thinking he is going to chastise me for not having enough self-confidence...he's going to finish that statement with "....your value!" ...and then he resumes....

"W, you always underestimate MY ABILITY TO GET THINGS DONE."

And so, the universe righted itself with VP at the center as usual. You gotta laugh right?

But that's ok....he got it done...and I got it done.  I don't know yet what this means - role, compensation, car?!?!?! (please, oh please, a replace my 160,000 mile Ford) but I do know that it means that all that work was noticed. 

So I'm motivated, but feeling a little guilty as I know the rewards are few and far between, and I'd enjoy this much more if I could ensure my team all got the recognition they deserve as well.

It's all very hush-hush until the formal announcements of all management promotions next week, but it's okay that I share it with the internet right?  I mean all 6 of you who follow won't tell right?

And tonight I'll dream of a new car...maybe.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I had my review today.  And I'm very happy...sort of.  The review was great - I got great feedback and all the areas for improvement were constructive and directed me toward next career steps. 

Comments that make me blush...
  • Smart, articulate, insightful, creative
  • Not afraid to voice her opinions - and they are on the mark and helpful
  • Has a point of view which we value
  • Organized and frank
  • Extraordinary work eithic
  • Brings a different perspective to a debate
  • Performed above and beyond expectation
And then the other side of the story....

No raise in 2010.
No promotion in 2010.

Damn this economy already.

Maybe I'm just feeling too secure that the MERGER will not kick me to the curb.  Since fear is no longer a motivating factor....I'm looking for the more traditional money. In today's economy, when so many are so worse off, are you motivated simply by being employed?  Is it selfish to want compensation for working harder than you ever have before when your peers are just trying to get health insurance again?

I don't want to sound like I'm de-motivated, but it does come down to some of those age-old debates.  If you put in all the time and effort and the other person in the company who is 9-4ing it, doing the minimal and still goes home with the same raise as you, what is the impetus to do what you are doing?

I guess I'll have to find the motivating factor soon, because tomorrow I have to deliver the same message to three of my senior staff.  All with positive reviews....all working hard....all getting no raise, no promotion.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Value of Good Administrative Staff

I come from Administrative Staff stock.  By this I mean, my career dates back to a secretarial position.  I have truly climbed the ladder rung by rung at my firm.

Because of this, I have a healthy admiration for the Administrative Professionals (Assistants, Clerical, Reception, Reproduction, etc.) and the importance of good staff in these positions.  I also recognize that they will forever be the lowest paid position in the company.  Only by dint of will and longevity have the administrative assistants in our company climbed out of entry-level pay scales.  And by then, most are so beaten down that it no longer feels warranted, but it definitely feels earned.

I try to be smart enough to take advantage of a good administrative assistant, without taking them for granted.  I often find myself apologizing when I need to ask them to set up a meeting, order food, or take care of some of the millions of menial tasks that are required to get the work done.  I actively look for more interesting things for them to do to balance out the shit work.  I also try to roll up my sleeves and pitch in side by side when the shit work is overwhelmingly ... well ...shitty.  All of this has to be done in delicate balance.  In point of fact, my time is "more valuable" and while I can pitch in to do their work, there are no board room meetings they can attend in my place.  I can order a mean lunch, but sadly, they can't create a strategy presentation. 

When in a meeting room, I used to bristle when the men would look to me (typically the only woman in the room) to manage the coffee and the note-taking.  I do respect the person who is in charge of this, so I don't find it appropriate to act like it is beneath me, I just wondered why they thought it was my job?  I finally developed a deflection technique where I would declare (truthfully) that I don't drink coffee but I could point them to the coffee machine (which I don't know how to operate, because, as I said, I don't drink coffee) and as far as notes, I offer to share the notes I am taking, but declare that if they want an accurate record of the meeting we should get a professional admin to handle that.

This month, April 21st is Administrative Professionals Day.  I already have the card for our group admin, and I'm planning the lunch - one meal she doesn't need to schedule.  If you are a working stiff of the female persuasion, I encourage you to think hard about this day. 
  • If you are an admin, consider that the people who push things "down" to you really need you and they know it, even if they don't always show it well.
  • If you are a staffer, you can learn a lot from those admins in your team - organization, prioritization, tact, and managing up!  Respect their talents on the team.
  • If you are a manager, take a moment to remember what it was like when you were on the lower organizational rungs and remind your admin that every little task is critical to the end result.  And when people try to make you feel like an admin, don't take it as a slight, but rather defer to the admin, as you would with ANY OTHER EXPERT RESOURCE. 

    Because they truly are.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some Action This Weekend

Actually it sounded like a machine gun action...or the cats were doing something new and different and getting into more trouble than usual - nope the cats were both curled upon bed with us.  Oh no, maybe something wrong with the boiler...but the boiler is off right? 

Hubby chased the noise most of the weekend and it wasn't until we were both outside together today working on the crown molding, that we realized that the sound was coming from the roof.  More specifically from the top of the chimney. 

It's nearly impossible to see, but there is a small woodpecker who has decided the harmonics he creates by rat-atat-tating on our chimney topper is sweet music to his ears. 


It's going to be a long spring.  But as Hubby said, "Hurrah - it isn't a problem with the house!!" (for once)

For the rest of the action this weekend, check out the Yellow Cottage.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have you Freecycled Today?

The Yellow Cottage did!

The great thing about redoing space in your FINDING space in your house. So a little renovation, a little spring cleaning, and soon there is a little more breathing room.

I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Old Habits and Ex's

This week my favorite cousin got a new job. YAY SUZIE Q! Next week my favorite cousin turns 40! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

So, I sent her the first of a series of cards. This one congratulating her on her new job.

It arrived today. I know that because her newlywed husband just sent me a text with a picture of the envelope with this message:

"What is wrong with this picture?!?!"

I puzzled for about 2 seconds until I realized. I'd used her former last name. In fact, her former husband's last name.


My text response: Old habits, just like Ex's, die hard. Sorry!

Today, I Love Everybody

You ever have one of those days where you are just brimming with affection and happiness? You know, where people who normally annoy you make you laugh...where even the most painful meetings don't even raise your hackles enough to roll your eyes? Today is one of those days. Maybe it is the 85 degree weather and sunshine. Maybe it is just hormones. Maybe it is total and utter exhaustion of the mind and body. Or maybe it is just you've given up on trying to change the world and you are just going along.

Today, I love everybody.

Well, maybe not everybody.

Like the female person who uses the paper toilet seat covers in our office, but doesn't make sure they flush when she is done.

And maybe the executive who keeps sending new and more complex tasks my way that don't seem to be a part of the original plan.

And maybe the traffic gods who decided that today was the day to, for seemingly no good reason, create a traffic jam that lasted for an hour on my way to work.

And maybe the building manager who can't seem to get the security lock to recognize my badge on one particular door causing me to have to walk halfway around the building.

But mostly, I love everybody. And those I don't love...well...I'm not even rolling my eyes at you today.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One in 1.1 Million

And I feel like that high school student volunteer, all welled up with pride and lots of hope that this thing actually works.  Even if it costs more to someone like me - lucky enough to have had employer-based healthcare my entire life.  The extra cost is worth it to know that my neighbor who may not be so lucky, has the same opportunity for medical care. So yeah, I signed it. I'm one in 1.1 million.

Monday, April 5, 2010

But also...

My last post focused on the positives of Spring...and this doesn't eclipse it, but it does gross me out a little.  Just saw my first indoor ant of the season, crawling across my desk.  Ugh.  Yes Spring is definitely here.

Wind Tunnels on My Mind

When the season begins to warm, there is a building phenomenon that happens here at work.  The staircases become wind tunnels.  Not quite, but almost, the kind that lifts skirts and hair.  The wind howls throughout the stairways and the security doors require a specific push to latch.  I'm not sure what happens to the ventilation system (since we don't have windows that open and all exterior doors are automated to close) during this time, but it is definitely an unusal harbinger of spring.

The trees are beginning to pop with that beautiful early spring pink and the daffodils are in full bloom, slowly giving way to the budding tulips.  The early heatwave here is bound to cause some havoc with mosquitos, germs, and gardens, but after a long harsh winter that brought lots of snow and floods of rain, the balmy and sunny weather could not be more welcome.

I don't recall the last time the first week of April brought on desires to open the pool, add plants to the pots and window boxes, and put screens in the storm doors.  It is still truly too early to do most of that - some cold nights could definitely kill off potted plants and the pool will definitely not be swimmable until end of May, but oh the dreams of warm summers were definitely upon us this weekend.

Time to break out the open-toed shoes, the capris pants, and the linen tops.  And to remember, once again, why living in the northeast is such a pleasure.  To experience a true reawakening when Spring arrives at our doorstep.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Back to my Roots - Anxiety

Today I was talking to my Aunt about her granddaughter (not sure what relation that makes her to me...just picture a beautiful blond 14-year old girl) who is suffering panic attacks.  I (cross fingers and knock wood) have never had my anxiety take this path.  Mine has always been more a general worry-wart, sleepless night, skin break-out, junkfood binging, hubby head-snapping off kind of path.   Poor young M is experiencing the frightening breath-halting kind of anxiety. And can I just say, what kind of "intelligent design" is this of the human body that it isn't enough that your mind is in a whirl of fear and dread and then your body starts to act up too?  Like is that supposed to DISTRACT you from the other worries because now you're just worried you are going to have a heart attack and die?  Is it supposed to be some kind of GET IT IN PERSPECTIVE activity?  Well...I may still be stressed out about my schoolwork and my parents divorce and the loss of my uncle and my dog in the course of a month, but hell, at least my heart didn't explode?

???? Is it just me????

Then later today, I was reading Aaryn Belfer's blog (damn, that girl can WRITE) about her recent trip to Europe and how scary she finds getting out of her comfort zone and navigating foreign cities and transit systems on her own. And yet, she sells it because it was such a fabulous trip that it was totally worth all her anxious moments. I have to admit, the only cloud hanging over Venice is my similar anxieties.  But then she said the magic words....Fake it til you make it.

Man do I know that philosophy.

I spent most of my teenage school years avoiding any class that required me to give an oral report.  Stand up in front of a crowd? No F-ing Way.  It was too often a requirement I couldn't get around and those memories remain lodged in my brain forever.

Like when in junior high we were required to read a biography and it wasn't until AFTER we selected and locked in our choice that the teacher told us at the end of term we'd have to dress up as our subject and act out an interview ON VIDEO with a classmate.  My choice?  Mary, F-ing Queen of Scots.  And I can promise you, it was NOT as good as the TUDORS on HBO.  The surprising hit of the class? Hitler.  I still want to know how that kid got a Nazi flag for his backdrop.

Or maybe when in music class we had to select a song and give a report on its structure, history and how it made us feel.  I was preceded by the class clown who gave a rousing presentation on Steve Martin's King Tut to the enjoyment of everyone in the class.  My choice? You Don't Bring Me Flowers by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand.  Yeah, that pretty much cemented my reputation in the class as a clueless and very uncool dorkwad.

But finally, as an adult in the working world, I figured out that FITYMI (fake it till you make it) concept.  Don't get me wrong, the palms still sweat, the blood still roars in the ears, and I'm usually pretty hyped up the night before, but it's also kind of an out of body experience now.  I just get up there and talk.

So, my dear (cousin? niece? relative?) M - my advice to you is FITYMI, FITYMI, FITYMI.  Somehow at some point the faking becomes real and you survive...and even thrive....and  surprisingly your heart doesn't even explode.

When in Rome...or Rather Venice

So after reviewing our finances (post-tax season), I think it's time to embrace the idea that we are heading to a new more exotic locale for vacation this summer.

Venice, Baby!

Hubby has signed up for a 2-day photography workshop and I'm gonna tag along and extend the trip.  I may not have enough funds to buy some art, some Italian fashion, or Murano glass, but we're going.  I hit the bookstore last week and picked up an Italian phrase book, a guide book of Venice, and - of course - Italy for Dummies.

But, lest any of you think I'm changing my ways by going all European, let me assure you in August we return to the same old vacation spot - Cape Cod - for our standard week.  This will be our 9th year.

I don't think it is any less beautiful than Venice, do you?