Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moving On.

It's finally time. We're moving. Offices, that is.

I was in this space for about 3 years or so...in this building for about 7 years. The company had been in this office park for more than 30 years! Needless to say, people were a little nostalgic...even for this broken down wreck of a building that had us constantly trying to manage our business through plumbing failurs, water main breaks, power failures, and massive blizzards or ice storms on an open parking lot.

The old empty office after weeks of sorting, purging, and packing.
Say good-bye to a window and wooded view.

Moving Out Day.

Moving In Day.

Unpacked and sorted out.

I expect this level of organization to last about 10 minutes.

My only view now.

But all in all... a smooth move and I'm okay with moving on.

Especially when this is the view on the drive home.

Soon I'll add the beautiful pots and orchids my sister bought me and some of Hubby's gorgeous artwork and it will all be good.

P.S.  Just learned that two days after move, the old office is once again experiencing a water main break that has shut down the entire office park.  So glad we are here!

Monday, June 21, 2010

In Honor of the Women's Colony Demise

Last year Heather (Mrs. G.) had asked that I consider writing an article on career advice.  Me?  Are you kidding?  But she was serious.  Unfortunately, the working women section of the site never seemed to get off the ground and as of last week the entire web magazine Women's Colony up and folded.....totally depressing all of the regular readers. 

So in honor of the demise....I'm posting below the original article written for all of those working women who read the Colony...all 3 of you who also read here will undoubtedly enjoy it.

The Accidental Career Path
Kicking and Screaming Your Way to Success
by Wenderina

Yesterday a junior colleague looked at me in blind admiration and asked me to help him chart a career path.

I nearly spit out my Diet Pepsi. CHART? a career path? As I looked back over my 22 year journey I couldn't help but giggle madly. While I can attribute my progress from secretary to executive to a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, and applying common sense to a world gone mad environment, the truth is that my haphazard career path is all about unexpected (and sometimes unwanted) opportunity.

I began my journey as a temp because no one could figure out what to do with me. I was an average student with a B.A. in English and minor in Psychology. The best thing I had going for me was my 75 wpm typing skills and my experience as a summer intern at Eastman Kodak...yes my Dad did work there, what's your point?

One of my temp jobs turned into a permanent offer. A whopping $16,000 a year job as the assistant to the marketing director of a senior living community. When said marketing director defected to a competing old folks home, I went with her...until she fired me three months later. This would turn out to be the first in a series of forks in my career path, yet it had NOTHING to do with any grand scheme of mine.

After spending a few depressing months in a bathrobe searching for work, I eventually decided relocation was my best hope for a fresh start. A college roommate convinced me moving from upstate NY to the lower Hudson Valley would guarantee me greater income and opportunity. She was right. In one day I interviewed at PepsiCo, Readers Digest, a leading financial institution, and an environmental engineering firm - more interviews than I had been able to garner in the previous 5 months. I got an offer and my salary increased to an impressive $24,000 a year...but my rent also increased from $295/month to $700/month. My friend forgot to mention the cost of living downside.

Since that fateful day in September of 1990, I have worked at that same company. I'm coming up on my 20th anniversary and my (pause for finger count) 8th position within the firm. What a strange trip it's been. It's kind of like living in the same house for your entire life, but having the cast of some HGTV show stop in once a year to completely re-design your living space in a weekend, while you are away, and you just live with the results.

So let's review.

1. Get a degree no one knows what to do with.

2. Be a temp.

3. Follow the leader.

4. Get fired.

5. Relocate your life.

What was next on my journey?
I was partnered with another secretary who hated my guts. Truly. Detested me to my toenails. So she was happy to use her knowledge of the company bulletin board (literally a cork board then) and the job postings to push me into another department. That was my first K&S move (kicking and screaming). Less than a year later, when I had just settled in to that job, I was asked to move to a different office because "I lived on that side of the river and the girl who had the job before you self-destructed". Hmmmm. Again, not my choice, but they dangled a whole $2,000 raise in front of me so I had to go.

Once there my job changed in smaller ways -- always adding more work and responsibility -- sometimes even coming with more money. These people had my number. I hated change, but I loved to feel needed and, yes, I loved watching my 401k grow. Happy in my little New Jersey office coma, I would have happily lived out my days in Garden State bliss, but a big K&S moment was coming my way. I was sued for discrimination by a disgruntled employee to whom I had given a bad performance review and suddenly I found my liberal-all-culture/race/creed-accepting-ass in a sling by a system-twisting witch. No, thank you for asking, I'm really not bitter.

One more review.

1. Get a degree no one knows what to do with.

2. Be a temp.

3. Follow the leader.

4. Get fired.

5. Relocate your life.

6. Partner with someone who hates you.

7. Live on the opposite side of the river as your home office.

8. Get your ass sued.

Despite the preferences of my company that I stay where I was and "work through it" with the witch, survival of my sanity (and her scrawny neck) required a big move. Less than 48 hours later, my desk was packed up and moved back to the corporate headquarters and a new job description was written for little old immovable me. I'm not sure they exactly knew what to do with me at that point. So, I floated from assignment to assignment for a year, finally landing a role when the firm decided to create a new division and I was the only untethered marketing person who could readily take it on.
At this point, I am clueless on 50% of my job, but faking it well...and the division is succeeding. I'm pretty happy. I'm approaching the coma-like state I had found in New Jersey. So guess what? Of course! K&S time again.

The company has decided to re-organize.

All divisional marketing staff will be rolled back into a central department.

Suddenly the organization chart turns into a battlefield. Somehow we adapted the org chart, roles and responsibilities, and when the music stopped this time, we still all had jobs. Amazing right? Normal operations, after some very bumpy transition time, begins to return. But in today’s work environment you can only count on one constant thing. Change.

Can you spell M.E.R.G.E.R.????

So here we all are. Swimming with the sharks. Re-establishing our reputations. Hoping the merger integration keeps us all employed. And this guy wants me to give him career path advice? I guess the only thing I can do is take him through my personal path step by step.

1. Get a degree no one knows what to do with.

2. Be a temp.

3. Follow the leader.

4. Get fired.

5. Relocate your life.

6. Partner with someone who hates you.

7. Live on the opposite side of the river.

8. Get your ass sued.

9. Float until the music stops and hope for a chair.

10. Keep your eyes on the road signs along your career path and watch for merging ahead.

Feel free to follow in my footsteps...kicking and screaming all the way.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Round Tuit

I am a horrible procrastinator.  I come by it naturally according to my mother.  She tells me that my father said "I'll take care if it, when I get around to it." constantly.  I remember my Dad as being equally busy and relaxed, so I didn't see it, but I wasn't the one having the "honey do" list discussion.  One day, my mom bought him a new coffee mug.  On the mug, it said "A Round Tuit" and she said Now you can do all those things you've wanted to, you finally have a Round Tuit."  Well, at least, that's how I remember the story.

Maybe it was my Dad's spirit sitting on our shoulders this Father's Day weekend, or maybe we both finally got our "Round Tuit" because we attacked the list with a vengeance.  On Friday, I quit work around 3PM and lugged a load of laundry upstairs to put it away.  I soon realized that cramming one more thing into my closet was not going to happen.  So it started.  I opened every drawer and emptied, sorted, trashed, and organized. 

(No before pictures...I was in a frenzy and not thinking of recording progress)

A true sign of activity - an organized sock drawer!

A whole drawer just for scarves and pashminas....and the books TO READ stacked neatly.

Then I attacked my tiny closet.  The only part of this house I hate (except the bus and motorcycle route out front that I can do little about) is the closet space in the bedrooms.  Those people in the 20's sure didn't need much storage.

Yes, this is my ENTIRE closet space.  Hubby has identical version on opposite wall.
AFTER I had done my clean out, it is still wall to wall hangers.

A partial pile of things.  These go to Freecycle while another 2 hefty bags went right to garbage.

I collapsed on the couch when our takeout dinner arrived....and then Saturday started up at 8:30 AM with another burst of activity.  I'm telling you, that Round Tuit was definitely here. It started with a shopping list and Hubby headed out for his own Honey Do list. 

Then I emptied and defrosted the fridge.  Yes, we do have a modern fridge that seems to require defrosting. We hope this is the last time as we learned of a quick/cheap fix on internet we're going to try.  This activity, though, required trashing expired food, and removing viable food into cooler or down to our garage fridge...in several trips. Then cleaning out fridge and wiping it down. 

 Then I headed to Home Depot with a list from Hubby and my own garden list.  On return, Hubby hung the much awaited closet doors in the home office (see Yellow Cottage ) and I headed outside for a Rambo-like attack on my jungle of a garden.  {Missed you for this stuff Mom!} 

Cleared the flagstone walk (again) and trimmed back the insanely overgrown bushes.
Cut back all the intruding branches along the LONG driveway.
Added plantings.
And more plantings.
And more (ok, I bought these as is and hung them...but still...)
And more!
And then gave Home Depot a little free advertising at the curb
with the SIX bags of waste I cut, bagged, and dragged. 

Other than a quick eats break with Hubby, I was moving in that garden until the light faded at about 9PM.  I took a quick dip in the pool (heaven) listening to the AWFUL and funny and enjoyable Karaoke at my neighbor's high school graduation party next door and then made a beeline for the kitchen. 

Because today is Father's Day and a cake was called for.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake to be exact.
Happy Father's Day all...Hope you get a Round Tuit today.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I was at dinner with colleagues a few weeks ago and we began talking about one of our peers who had left the company some time ago.  She was a friend...and I liked her very much...but in the last 2-3 years before she left, it became increasingly difficult to work with her for one primary reason...she was MISERABLE.  There was nothing good about anything related to our company or our work.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good bitch session as much as the next person, particularly because there is so much to bitch about.  But every little thing was just a heinous affront to her.  And that poison spreads fast.  Pretty soon, everyone around her was miserable and convinced of the horror that was our workplace was unrelenting and unredeemable. 

After several years of this she left the company.  It was interesting how many people were caught be surprise by her decision.  My only surprise was that it had taken her so long to make the move.  Since then, I've run into her at two conferences - she now works on the client side of our business and she loves it.  She is always smiling and laughing and interested in what is going on.  She revels in driving consultants like us batty with requests, but surprisingly is still pretty loyal to using our company despite how evil an organization she felt it was when she worked here.  She does, however, demand things done her way by her selected individuals because she knows from the inside how to make things work.

Since the MERGER I've noticed that this taint of misery is running through the organization on many levels.  Combine that with lack of promotions, raises, and communications and you have a fatal combination.  And the kicker has been the job market and dearth of opportunities for the miserable ones to pursue elsewhere.

I've had my share of doubts about this organization, the MERGER, and the future of our business as a whole.  But I've been lucky so far.  I've been able to remove myself from some of the more poisonous activities and have found some teams that are friendly, proactive, and positive.  The difference is palpable.  Rather than spending my days in frustration, I'm spending my days with a mixture of challenges and the ever present ridiculous tasks that you can't shake.  The challenges keep it interesting and sometimes make the ridiculous tasks feel like a break.

What is the breaking point for those not so lucky as me however?  For those who now find the organization permanently tainted, I wonder if it is possible for the company to ever regain its appeal.  Because it's true that our company was different.  It attracted some great people and some great clients.  And at the end of most days, you could leave satisified with your work.  It was small enough that even if you didn't know the big wigs, you knew who they were.  It was privately held which meant the stock market was of more interest to you as an investor than it was a driving factor in your business. When you grow by a factor of 10 in one signing of a merger document, and then spend 18-24 months in limbo as the organizations integrate, will any of that shiny center of the company you once loved survive?  Will the people poisoned by the process recover?  Or are the tainted best served by departure?

Today's radio report said that for the 2nd month in a row, more people quit their jobs than left involuntarily.  This economic indicator  may just be the green light the miserable ones are looking for.

When you make your pro/con list, which side do you come down on?  Is it time to go? or is it still right to stay?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Buggus Interruptus

Have you ever found that the littlest thing can derail your blogging mode?  For those of you who blog daily I applaud you.  Sometimes I find I am brimming with ideas (in fact I have a draft post full of just titles/ideas) and I want to post 3 times in a day.  But mostly, I struggle for the one post that will have meaning.  Not for you all...I mean I love all 3 of you who read this, but for me...when I go back and read this a year in the future will I be like, "I am so boring I don't want to know me?" or will I be like, "Huh...not bad.." (It doesn't ever get better than that when you judge yourself does  it?

Well this weekend I was all excited to write a post about a girls day out with one of my favorite adult friends and one of my favorite 10 year old friends (aka her daughter).  Hell - I should say I was excited to HAVE a girls day out.  We were doing the mani-pedi thing, and then going to some specialty plant stores for my simple annuals and her more exotic pond/water plant needs, then we expected to lunch and perhaps lounge by the pool afterwards for some more girl-time. 

Then....Buggus Interruptus.  Some kind of stomach bug struck me at about 5AM and by 8:30 (the latest I could wait before cancelling) it was no better...in fact I had the inkling it was getting worse.  I spent most of the morning huddled in my bed with the A/C on high, running to the bathroom sporadically, snoozing in between with a cold wet washcloth on my eyes and tums followed by ice cubes in my mouth.  When my friend called to check on me in the afternoon I responded, "I'm starting to think the effort NOT to throw up is not the way to be spending my energy."  "Wenderina!", she replied "Go throw up right now...you will feel so much better."

She's a nurse.

So I did.

And I did...a little...but essentially I was still down for the count.

Sunday I awoke totally fine...just trepidatious about adding food to my empty and sore belly.

That one little minuscule interruption though derailed my thought pattern, reading pattern, shopping pattern, eating pattern, errand pattern, working pattern, sleeping pattern, you name it...if it has a routine, it was in upheaval.  Three days later and I'm starting to catch up...but now Hubby is down with the same bug.

Buggus Interruptus begins again.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Garden Surprise

Have you ever turned a corner in your yard and been surprised by your own garden? 

I found these beautiful flowers growing along my fence (should have taken a natural shot before I cut them for vase)...and was just momentarily stunned. My mom and I planted these in an odd little corner by the front stoop last year and I haven't thought about them for a second since.  I come in the back door, so I rarely pay attention to the front yard/garden except at a glance as I fly up the driveway.

What a lovely June afternoon surprise.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Easy Off

A few years ago, my self-cleaning oven stopped self cleaning.  And I had a bit of a melt down.  So much so that my mother, who was visiting, sent me to go soak it out in a long hot shower, while she tackled the grease in my oven.  The relief I felt to have my mommy handling one of my domestic failures superseded my shame at not being able to handle it myself.

Recently, I visited my mother and when I opened her oven it LOOKED BRAND NEW.  I mean seriously, my mom cooks about 20 times more often at home than we do, and it looked like it had never been used.  I realized I had not tackled this job since the last time....3-4 years ago (I know I know) so I went home with my mom's recommendation to use this stuff.


I know - gross right?  The foil wrapping on the burner was an internet tip I found to make sure you don't get the cleaning agent on the burners and cause damage or smokiness.


Who knew....Easy Off actually is Easy Off!
It still needs some spots managed, but I'm getting close. 

Thanks Mom.