Letting go of the bitter | I found this pen

My mother taught me a lot growing up, as all good mothers do.  She worked very hard at giving us a childhood of which many would be envious, instilled a sense of independence in us and always added those special little touches that made mundane moments, sparkle.

The drive to make things special for those I care about remains my favorite “inheritance” from her, but I also recognize there is a flip side to that.  The dark side, if you will.  The grudges.  The deep seated, tenacious, must hang on to the very bitter end grudges.

The grudges are never undeserved, mind you.  In fact, they are typically rooted deeply in a logical thought process that concludes that the situation is unfair.  There is a strong sense of what’s fair and what’s right in my family.  Depending on if one situation was particularly egregious or the cumulation of many small interactions (death by a thousand cuts, if you will), the result is the same: The Grudge

Now, no one is better at holding The Grudge than my mother.  It’s legendary and well acknowledged in our family.  Lest I sound like I’m throwing her under the bus, she will also turn herself inside out to help someone or make a special thing happen (and it is always amazing).  But over the years, I’ve myself running  a close second.  It’s not something I’m proud of and was just something I had absorbed along the way.

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Something I should buy at Hobby Lobby.

In the increased amount of family interaction I’ve had as of late, I’ve been seeing the cumulative effects of things for my mother.  A wedding, months of my father’s medications resulting in him being in a drunken Parkinson’s stupor (a new doctor fixed the issue) and the general everyday annoyances in life have had her flirting with “the edge”.  She has lost some of her resilience, some of her shine, some of the life she’s always had swirling around her because she just couldn’t find enough of a reprieve.  Like me, she is quite involved with horses.  Unlike me (because I just want to ride and she likes everything else more than the riding) she helps rehab and rehome abandoned, neglected and sometimes abused horses through volunteer work.  While the ranch has been her “happy place” for the last five years, life had been so busy, she wasn’t getting enough time out there.

It’s no secret that life has been kicking me in the teeth for awhile.  I guess given how most of my life drama has been relatively minor for the majority of my life that I was probably due.  (Dear Life Karma . . . it would have been nice to spread it out some, but I can handle it.)  I’ve been holding, very tightly in a “My Precious” sort of way to some epic level Grudges.  One of those grudges was for the company that I used to work for that started the cascade of shitty life events for me (“my people” at this company are exempt – I will ♥ them forever).  But while my dating life remains a hot mess (sigh), things really aren’t so bad overall.  I’m certainly not flirting with “the edge” like my poor mother.  Let’s review . . .

My boss still seems to love me and congratulated me during my review for fitting in so well and truly embracing the values of the organization – in fact, my entire review was super positive (I’m still not sure if she got me mixed up with someone else or not) and I even got a tiny little raise.  I was completely shocked by that given that I haven’t even been with the organization a year yet and my review only encompassed 5 months.

 

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Fabio Mane

Sampson the giant pony seems to be happy and healthy (and because I wrote that, he’ll come out of the pasture lame tomorrow).  We’ve been having lovely, relaxed rides and are slowly working our way towards my goal camping together and riding a 25 mile “race” together.  We’re rapidly approaching the long, lazy days of summer where the daylight far exceeds the darkness, which means lots of time to ride.

 

I’ve been out of town so much in the last month to
glamorous places such as Palm Springs, California, Memphis and both Cedar Rapids AND Dubuque, Iowa, that my wanderlust is temporarily sated.  I’m sure it will be back in time for my week long excursion to {wait for it} Oklahoma!  I know – everyone is just dying of envy over that one.

 

The New Desk

I’ve been feathering my little nest of a house and am actually working my way towards an actual office.  Since I work from home sometimes, it seems to be a reasonable goal.  I’m having my usual angst about picking out paint colors (and will likely force someone else to pick for me), but have a lovely new desk, new and more functional furniture arrangement, a cute little trio of succulent plants in the window and have the artwork all planned out in my head.  I’ve got my plan for the back patio too – I can’t wait to pull it all together.

All these good things are good.  Happy.  Positive.  So when I pulled this pen randomly out of a tub of Sharpies I had dragged into the office this morning, my first thought was to send a picture of it to my “sorority girls”.  wp-1460427458045.jpgI didn’t find myself riding out that bitter shot of anxious energy burning through my core, with a bitter aftertaste.  I’ve let it go.  The CEO there is still an idiot, but I thought that from the first day he was in that role (and the Glassdoor reviews support me in this!).  They did make an entire debacle of things, but that’s not surprising either.  It’s sort of the norm for anything coming out of corporate there.  I realize that my team there was really and truly my experience – and they are amazing.  When I was eliminated, they were right there, crying on the floor of my office with me.  Through both rounds of unemployment they were right there, cheering me on.  They are awesome. The Grudge, for this particular case anyway, has been released.  Because, just like everyone’s favorite gone-bad hobbit Gollum, I’m only hurting myself hanging on to “The Precious”.  Somewhere along the journey of my life, I’ve left that grudge and it’s suitcase on the side of the road.

It may be that all of these urges I’ve had to purge lately have nothing to do with my overflowing closets and everything to do with the baggage I’m dragging.  I want to feel lighter.  Focus on what’s good and what I can take in a positive direction.  On what’s ahead in life.  What’s the point of expending so much energy on something that’s not benefitting me anyway?  I recognize there will always going to have bitter moments in life.  But, I’m going to use them to remind me how sweet life can be instead of letting the bitter permeate all the flavors.

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Farm sunsets are the best sunsets.

 

 

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So easy a monkey could do it. Just not this monkey.

‘Tis the season for office parties, fah-la-la-la-lah!  While some offices still get to have the booze fueled table dancing and morning after shame filled parties of Hollywood portrayals, most of my experiences in the last decade have been generally sedate office potlucks.  I haven’t had a company sponsored holiday cocktail since 2004 . . . even when we rented out an entire bar.  A cash bar at the holiday party was how we rolled then.  Surprising since our fearless leader was Mormon (and innocent enough to think I was drinking at work because I had olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles stashed under my desk) and we had not one or two, but three definite alcoholics on our maintenance/housekeeping crew.

Now, I have been fairly fortunate in that most of these potlucks have had 2 – 3 people who could actually cook, a majority who had a few go-to dishes that worked for all occasions and the willfully helpless or unmotivated few who either contributed soda or cash to the party organizer to offset their lameness so they could bevy up to the buffet without a modicum of guilt.  With 15 or so people, this is usually a light and fun work day without a huge cleanup at the end.

Now, my current office probably has about 50 or so people, so things get a little more interesting.  There a no sign up sheets.  There is only a vague guess as to how many people will show up.  Coordination happens in departments (I coordinated my department exceptionally well, given my status as a department of 1 in the office) but not across cube pods.  To be honest, no one pays any attention to who brings what, so there is no shame for those who don’t contribute to what inevitably is a belt-loosening and button popping affair.

So, when this most recent potluck came up, I decided to go for an Oreo Dump, given that I’ve been on a run of baking fails as of late.  An appetizing moniker, is it not?  I had made it once before and also had consumed it when an old co-worker had concocted it  As the directions state, it is so easy a monkey could do it.  Apparently, I am not on a par with a monkey.

You see, in an effort to be more efficient with my route, I utilized a grocery store I had only been in once before.  My regular chain, but this is their flagship location which means I am as lost in it as if I had opted to go to their major competitor in town.  I only had to procure a few things – Oreos, cream cheese, Cool Whip and instant vanilla pudding.  Keeping in mind that instant part, because I couldn’t find any on the shelves, so I figured regular would be just fine because I’m just stirring it into the Cool Whip, right?

Uh, wrong.  See, the ingredient list doesn’t include milk for the pudding – it makes a notation in the instructions to making the pudding according to the directions.  So I found myself with two packages of regular (requiring cooking) pudding that call for 3 cups of milk each while I have a milk “chug” in my fridge, which accounts for about 2.5 cups of milk.

Throwing caution and common sense to the wind and counting on the serious lack of milk to result in a stiffer product, I continued on.  No biggie, right?  I blithely whisked away, waiting for some serious coagulation to occur . . . and whisked some more . .  and more . . . and still had about 2.5 cups of vanilla pudding flavored and colored milk.  Ummmm.

This is where I figure it is to late to do anything about this and proceed to mix in the Cool Whip and cream cheese, hoping the situation would become less, well, fluid.  Fail.  I then poured the concoction over the crushed Oreo crust, crumbled the rest of the cookies on top and crossed my fingers for some overnight refrigeration miracle.

The morning brought hope.  Or I could have just been really happy to have a spoonful of the stuff in the 5:30am predawn darkness, but when my sample spoon mark disappeared completely due to movement in transit, I abandoned all hope and shoved it into the fridge at work.  It appeared on the dessert table in due course and I assumed it would largely be unconsumed.

I was rather shocked to find 2 guys eating the remnants straight out of the pan with spoons after lunch . . . not only had it been eaten despite its rather perplexing consistency, the last scraps were being relished.

Given the amount of leftovers covering every surface of more than 6 tables, I guess it turned out alright.  Next time though . . . I’ll read the directions all the way through BEFORE I go into the store.  (Or stick that shit in the freezer!)  🙂

 

 

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The Dangers of Multi-Tasking | Working from Home

So, one of the super cool perks of this job is the ability to work from home one day a week.  I usually take Friday because, well, if I start working when I’d typically leave to drive to the office, I get done with some of the afternoon left.  It also lets me run some loads of laundry and sometimes multitask during certain conference calls.

We’ve been doing a really cool leadership training program the last few weeks.  The people who operate this program hail from elite schools and run companies we’ve all heard of . . . it’s been a very interesting process and I’ve quite enjoyed it.  It has been challenging, given me a lot of confidence in my approaches in the past and a greater understanding of why some of the change initiatives I’ve been subjected to in the past have been such flaming failures.  Some of it has been a little uncomfortable – which is good.  You never grow unless you push the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Because I’m still a little shy being so new to this company and the industry, and most of the people I’m in this with a couple of job grades above me, I didn’t particularly love the aspect that involved posting to shared boards so that everyone could read and comment.  However, most people are so busy that they’re mostly just posting their own thoughts and comments, not replying to others’ posts.  I kind of got over it, but I’ll never be the kind of person who can just free form ideas and click “post” – I had to read what everyone else had already posted, digest it a bit and then come back with my own response to the question.  The readings, reflections, comments and videos are all followed up and tied together with a conference call on Friday.  You can ask questions and participate, but most people don’t interact too much.  It’s a good multi-task call for me as a result.  I can listen to it and keep an eye on what’s going on on the screen while I work on something else.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I’m elbow deep in cleaning a toilet, with long rubber pink gloves on and not much else (nekkid cleaning for the win!) and I hear one of my comments get tossed out as one of the best form the module and the moderator asking me to further elaborate.  On a call of over one hundred people.  Pretty much nekkid.  Talk about feeling at a disadvantage.

I think I’m still blushing.

 

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Marilyn Might Be On To Something

Sometimes things fall apart

And this pretty much sums up my summer.

I had an unexpected  adult summer vacation this year as my job was eliminated.  Again.  I hated the job.  I had already decided to just stick it out for a year and look for something else …  I just was never going to be down on their wavelength and the culture was depressing. So, while once again I was stunned and shocked when it happened, I was totally relieved once a few days had passed, although frustrated.

At least this time I wasn’t totally starting from scratch. I had a solid resume, good advice from friends on explaining the short term nature of the last role and, well, at least it was summer and not the dead of winter!  I didn’t have the same full on panic and being unemployed wasn’t an unknown quantity any more.  (Is that a good thing or a bad thing that I’m now experienced at being unemployed?)  I had a much better handle on being able to read between the lines on job descriptions  (and only went on one interview that was stupid – somehow my salary requirements weren’t screened, so I was fairly shocked to have received an offer for an amount that I haven’t worked for in a decade.) and could more strategically apply for jobs that were both interesting and possible.  It’s still hard to determine salary based off of job titles, but that’s nothing new.

I ended up having 2 fairly strong prospects. One was with a company I had both interned for and worked at before I moved back to the Midwest. I should have been a slam dunk stupid easy hire – the hiring manager and I traded war stories about mutual acquaintances the entire interview and I already knew the job (having spent the last decade doing it) and the company.  The other was with a Fortune 500 company where I had a total debacle of a recruiter screen (not a native English speaker and a spotty cell phone connection) and somehow still managed to have a phone interview with the hiring manager.  I hung up from that interview and decided I was completely in love with her approach and management style despite the fact that the job was a total unknown compared to the other role I had under consideration.

Shenanigans ensued along the way of course … 2 more phone interviews  (I tried to push it along by always selecting the earliest possible day and time from the choices, which didn’t always work) and plus a trip to ATL for a face to face, including a lunch with 3 strangers (while desperately trying to not slop food on myself) as well as presenting a case study based on how I’d handle a situation in an industry that I have no clue about.  It went fairly well – I was kept so long that I was literally running to make the flight back home, holding my head down because I was that “late” passenger that just barely squeaked through when everyone else had been seated for at least 10 minutes.  That wasn’t so bad . . . there were 2 more flights back to StL that evening and the hiring manager had told me I’d be hearing from her the next day.

In the meantime, there were practically crickets chirping on the other prospect . . . I had followed up a few times and heard back promptly from the GM and was told to just be patient as the next person who needed to chat with me was on vacation, but he was sure I’d hear from her immediately upon her return.  (I’m sure that was his plan, at any rate.)  She finally emailed me for an interview almost 6 weeks after my first one (and well after I had already started my current role).  That story isn’t quite done yet . . . I have some very friendly contacts/friends and relatives at that company and there are some rumblings over the delayed follow up time.

In the meantime, things kept clicking right along with the other prospect.  No, I didn’t get the call back the next day . . . I conveniently held off on sending her my parking receipt until late that day so I’d have an excuse to follow up.  She apologized and promised I’d be hearing from her the next morning.  Yeah . . . that turned into being hired as late as possible on Friday evening (YAY!) and the excitement of being on the job (and flying back to ATL) that Wednesday.  HR was NOT happy about that one as they had to expedite the background check, never mind that she wanted to buy another plane ticket for me before I had been officially cleared.  Sillly HR people.  But, hey, I GOT AN AWESOME JOB!  The kicker to this story is that I actually also scored a boss who has a clue, a company that has very clear development objectives and landed on a rocking team.  Looks like the last job just served as a place holder to get me through – I would have never applied for this if I had still be there.

My first day is worthy a blog post in and of itself for being exceptionally memorable for the  capers that ensued and for the fact that my lovely new boss couldn’t be any more awesome and has been as excited to bring me on as I have been to join the team.  It’s a big ol’ sloppy love fest and I hope that it always remains as such.

In other news, The Fella and I have parted ways.  It was unexpected and I’m still rather miserable about it.  It’s a new experience for me … the divorce was a totally different scenario – I felt like a huge weight was gone once the process had started.  This feels more like wanting to completely retreat and avoid many of the things I’ve done before as my single self. It’s been confusing, which seems to be a theme for the year, and it’s taking time to process through something that was such a huge positive in my life abruptly disappearing.  Thankfully,  I have friends who are willing to smash plates, play bartender, and eat ice cream with me and otherwise keep demanding my presence.

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We specialize in attractive pictures.

The horse has been an amazingly helpful creature this summer too – we moved barns to a friend’s new place and I was out there pretty much every day during my little break.  I’m not much of an organized religion girl and tend to view my church as being on the back of my horse, but it’s nice to be told in a truly sincere fashion that someone is praying for you and being pleased as punch for your successes.  Plus, this place is delightful and being able to just spend time with Sampson with no agenda and having someone enjoy all the smooching (because how could you not want to smooch this horse!) was so very good for my battered heart.  As Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of the horse that is good for the inside of a (wo)man.”

This new job has been a plus too, besides the obvious reasons, because it is so much more challenging than anything I’ve ever approached before.  It takes up most of my available brain space.  Combine that with actually working as a paid wedding designer for a few weekends over the next month or so, Sampson being used in a fashion photo shoot for the local paper, well, keeping busy is supposed to help, right?

Now, with regards to Miss Marilyn Monroe’s quote about good things falling apart so even better ones can happen … well.  This is holding true for the job situation, which is back on an actual career track (woot!).  It remains to be seen on the relationship front … but I am a believer in things happening for a reason.  I can only wonder what the reason on this one is and what it means for a future that seems quite hazy and somewhat dark for the moment.  To complete all of the clichés, only time will tell.

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Highly Quotable

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I love quotes. Seriously. I write them all over my bathroom mirror (as previously mentioned in my post about some of my favorite things). I love finding a cute quote to make into a little graphic to share on Facebook at work (lots of home quotes there!). I have Quotables cards from the late nineties from when I worked in a card/gift/stationary store in high school because I loved the quotes on them so much.
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I do find it amusing that these quotes that I have often loved, mean different things to me at different points in my life. I have one that is quoting a small kid, saying “People are supposed to make mistakes. That’s why we have erasers.” When I was still in my teens and even in my very early twenties, this always made me think about how we could “fix” our mistakes, in effect erasing errors in judgement or just blithely carrying on after an incident, effectively sweeping it under the mental rug. Now, I ponder the fact that immediately after some sort of fall out, accident, relationship explosion or just flat out mistake, most of us probably would like to immediately rectify the situation and erase it. But, much like pencils (or erasable ink pens), even after you erase, some stroke impressions and residue remain on the page. Especially for me – I am what was referred to back in my elementary school days as “hard presser”. I all about ripped through the page in writing with pencil. I’ve learned a lighter touch since then, but still find that my mistakes leave a permanent impression in my life. That’s a good thing. That’s how I’ve learned from my mistakes. I learned that far from the world ending because I messed up, it was just a chance to become a smarter and better person. Plus, you know, that whole thing about the world not revolving around me.

I’ve heard people say that regrets are stupid. I don’t know that I agree. I think regrets are a part of the evolutionary process that is learning. They do not mean that I regret the outcomes of my choices. However, I’ll regret, at times, how I handled something in a given moment. Those are the times I wish the eraser could come out so I could chosen the kinder, gentler, more sympathetic or clear thinking aspects of myself to be present. Instead, I carry the regret, the close cousin of learning, forward and hope that the next time a situation presents itself that I give myself a minute to breathe. To feel. To think. Then to speak. And then, finally, act.

Looking back, I am hardly overburdoned with regrets. I do not wish to take an eraser to large swathes of my life, leaving a gray smudge where there was once chaos and action. I embrace my mistakes and my failures as much as my triumphs and wins. These things are all part of who we are as individuals and learning life. Those decisions and outcomes brought me to where I stand today. They will influence the choices I make in the future. I’ve got those few pebbles of regret in my pocket to remind me, now and again, of the past. Of what I’ve learned. I’m OK that.
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A Love Affair

Nope.  Not about The Fella.  (He may or may not be waiting for his heart to start beating normally again after reading that.)  No . . . I’m going to share about a long-term affair that I’ve been having for most of my adult life.  This all consuming sort of can’t live without each other sort of love that leads to all sorts of curves, changes and utter cravings to devour.  I’m talking about my love affair with carbs.

Yes.  I am madly in love with carbs.  Now, I have a rockin’ sweet tooth too, don’t get me wrong.  But, oh the carbs.  They make me happy.  They make my belly happy.  My belly happy makes my brain happy.  Then I’m happy.  Except about those curves I mentioned up above.  Curves is a nicer word than fat roll, isn’t it?  Changes might be referring to changes in weight.  And cravings might be self explanatory.  Fluffy is cute for a dog.  It is not so cute when referring to one’s weight.

What is it about bread, crackers and potatoes that I adore so much?  Pasta is tasty, but I rarely have a sincere desire or craving for noodles.    I could about live off of saltine crackers, Cheez-Its and Diet Pepsi.  Truly.  The salt, the texture, the fun of the soda bubbles.  I’m a little excited just writing about it.  Potatoes and their lovely starchy selves . . . I will happily take them roasted, baked, mashed, nuked or boiled.  They bring all sorts of friends with them to this little food soiree that accentuate my love instead of distracting from it.

I have a little thing going on the side with fruit too . . . and sometimes I dabble in vegetables.  But truly, carbs are my thing.  I never really thought about it much before I realized that The Fella has managed to drop weight by, I dunno, breathing, despite his alcohol intake seeming to increase.  The joys of being a tall man who is a dedicated runner?  And then  . . . I don’t fit in any of my summer clothes.  At all.  As in last year’s jeans are so tight that I’m concerned that if I did actually manage to button them that the button would pop off, ricochet across the room and take someone’s eye out.

So, with a sibling’s wedding looming in the not so very distant future (March 2016) in the destination location of dessert California, some things need to be taken in hand.  I’d like to not be trying to hide my bulk behind everyone else in pictures and to not have to wear body armor under my dress to hold everything in.  (Sigh.  That will probably happen anyway, but at least it won’t have to be as restricting!)  I have 10 months.  I need to just work on doing a pound a week and keep in mind there are going to be some occasions to indulge on a regular basis.  It is not going to be a case of feast or famine . . . just plain old fashioned calorie counting.  I’ve done Weight Watchers before and did very well with it before I was married, but they switched the program which just resulted in me “gaming” it.  Not exactly the point.

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Much like the, "Mirror, mirror on the wall" of fairy tales, this cannot tell a lie. I'm trying to make what it does tell me into a positive instead of a negative.

Which brings me to the app that I recently installed.  There is no system.  You plug in your height, your weight, your goals and it gives you a few choices based on how fast you’d like to drop the weight.  I selected the less aggressive plan in order to reduce the chances of me wanting to tear into someone (“hangry” is a real thing) and to make it more of a lifestyle switch.  You simply input your foods, it calculates the caloric intake and deducts it from your daily allowance.  It does offer a pie chart breaking out where those calories are coming from – carbs, protein and fat – which where I realized that I’m a wee bit into carbs.

Now, at this point, I don’t know that I care so much that my carbs are high and I really need to shift a little more to the protein side and so need to get back on the veggie wagon.  I haven’t been making bad decisions hungry because I’m just having little snacks of the aforementioned saltines and crackers regularly, which gives me the space to make purposeful decisions about what’s next.  I can incorporate some other things in there, but that requires going to the grocery store (loathe).  And, really, I feel naughty eating Cheez-Its, so it makes me really happy that I can consume them in a logged fashion AND still see the scale go in the right direction.  Win – Win, yes?

I say all of this slightly more than a week in.  One day of which involved warm beer goat cheese, fried pretzels, several cocktails and a rather large dinner.  Tonight will also be a little challenging due to a treat with The Fella at a somewhat decadent steakhouse. But, hey, the scale can’t lie and it has moved the right direction in a satisfactory manner over the last 7 days.  I am quite looking forward to getting back into some my favorite pants which I have temporarily outgrown. (Oy.)

So I will continue onward and downwards.  And perhaps a trip to the grocery store to round out my options for consumables a little bit.  And maybe for another box of Cheez-Its.

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Falling

So, I might be in the habit of buying high heels.  I can’t help it.  I love them.  I they’re pretty.  I like how they can make an outfit sassy or polished depending on the shoe.  Plus, being vertically challenged, I like the height boost.

Now, I’m admittedly a klutz.  However, generally, I trip in flats more often than heels due to what seems to be me consistent dragging of my right foot and I’m less aware of my feet in flats, because, well, I’m in flats.  By the very nature of their name, flats imply less danger and challenge in navigating the world.

So, the Fella took me to meet two of his work peeps who are also good friend peeps (ie, they’ve known each other since I was still back in high school).  S & K are both older than the Fella by a decade plus, and S actually has a daughter who is only 3 years younger than me from his first marriage.  They live in a gorgeous old home that was built in 1911 with all the fun Craftsman details, woodwork, stained glass and charm that you’d expect in a 100+ year old home.

Shoes

Back when they were brand new and I only walked on very flat surfaces at malls.

To go with the gorgeous, quaint old home there are giant, beautiful old trees.  Trees with big roots.  Trees with big roots growing next to the sidewalks I was to navigate to one of the urban oasis areas in StL from the beautiful old home in our quest for drinks and dinner.

Do you know where this is going?  Let’s be fair to the Fella, I was fully warned ahead of time that we’d be doing a 10 minute walk to dinner.  I was also treated to a full round of raised eyebrows when he watched me strap on my shoe selection.  I was lightly mocked and gently encouraged to make another choice.  Being hard headed and seduced by the siren song of these monster platform heels that had been singing so sweetly to me for the last week.

Let’s be honest.  It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened.  Which was approximately halfway to the restaurant where a cut out for a wheelchair ramp plus my lack of depth perception fatally combined for a slow motion fall.  I am proud that I neither scraped my knees, pants or hands as a consequence.  The only thing that emerged with damage was my pride.

Predictably, S & K were making the “Are you OK?!” fuss.  The Fella just stood back and then stuck out his elbow so he could escort me the remainder of the way.  On an evening that was slightly too fiery to put two bodies together comfortably . . . it was a warm walk to say the least.  That may have been a bonus as we couldn’t see how flushed my face was.

I have to give them props for being adults.  If it had been my family, I would have been hearing about it all night.  And most likely for the rest of my life.  The only comment I heard about it was when I successfully navigated back home after 2 drinks and in the twilight (which makes determining cracks and uneven sidewalks extra tricky!).  By the time we got into the car, I couldn’t wait to unbuckle the previously fairly comfortable shoes.

That walk home had me treading very, very carefully.  And gripping as hard as I could with my toes, I suppose.  I was rewarded with a nicely sized blister on the bottom of each big toe as well as pink Shoeson the balls of my feet.  I suppose I’ve learned my lesson.  The Fella isn’t a shoe guy anyway (I’m pretty sure I could walk around in some really gnarly bunny slippers and he’d be cool with it because it was comfortable) and there is no need to break my neck over vanity.

Except I have this pair of bright pink peep toes with bows on them that he hasn’t seen yet … aren’t they cute?

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Flashback Friday

Once upon a time, long, long ago I was doing shopping center marketing in the wilds of Virginia.  Sometimes, we’d have to travel for meetings to far away places like, Philadelphia.

On one such meeting, after the plane ride from hell (think of a small regional jet riding waves like a boat – it will make you green), we had been gathered in a souless hotel banquet room where the temperature hovered just above freezing for some public relations and on-camera interview training.

On camera training is a special circle of hell. Especially in large groups. Now, at this point in my life I am a veteran of hours worth of live TV and more than a few on-camera news interviews, but back then I had been on camera approximately twice. Both times for nice, fluffy and innocuous pieces. This training was focused on crisis management.

Here is how it was set up – there were two groups, each with a PR trainer and a camera person. You’d take your mark in front of the camera, pray they didn’t zoom up at your face from beneath your chin and wait for the PR trainer to thrust the large microphone up near the vicinity of your nose and ask a hard hitting question about the crisis you had just been debriefed on. To my amusement (even more so now), I was asked as to why we made the decision to close the mall down after a visit by Keven Federline (of Brittany Spears fame – how could we all forget?) caused a huge crowd to gather in my mall.

This is an easy question. Once you let the assorted snarky remarks filter through your brain. It was easy to apply the things I had been taught over the last three years, create my three talking points and spew forth in a consistent and confident manner.  No biggie. This process, while awkward and weird, is not the circle of hell to which I previously referred. That’s the next part.

Part of the fun of souless hotels is that they have to offset their blandness with cool gadgetry. In this case, somewhere back in 2006, this amounted to a very large projection screen that hooked up directly to the video camera, allowing for playbacks from the tape. (Yes – tapes – remember that from back before the digital age?) The finale to this particular session was to play each individual’s tape and then have a group critique.  I maintain that very few people actually enjoy seeing their head blown up to being 3 feet tall and hearing their voice projected through a speaker system for all their peers to watch, hear and evaluate.  Some of them were right to feel cringe worthy about their performance. In true training fashion, something always positive was said and no one cried publically. I was praised for some particularly good turn of phrase by both the trainers and my regional bosses, so I was relieved to be done with that particular adgenda item and not have any lasting scars over it.

Of course, at these meetings, they ply you with excessive amounts of caffeine in an attempt to keep you awake in the very cold and often very dark (during the never ending powerpoint presentations) room. This one was no exception. I was drinking hot tea in a lame attempt to keep warm. The bonus of this being is that tea makes me pee. A lot. So, I could legitimately be getting up for a restroom break on a fairly consistent basis during the more boring bits.

During one of these little forays into the ladies room, I encountered the brand new business development director for two malls in Central Virginia. Brand new as in his first day on the job involved him being at the airport to fly to Philadelphia. He introduced himself to me and then inquired, “Will your tape be available with the other ones on the internet?” Now, mind you, had I known him to any degree and liked him, this would have been hilariously funny banter. (Mostly because that point point in life, I wore a ton of conservative cardians, suits and pearls.) However, having an old enough to be my father and somewhat unattractive man that I had never met before give me a dig about having porn tapes online was a bad call. If memory, serves, I said something to the effect of, “Nope, not this one!” and continued walking back into the room.

Being a generally awesome employee, I rolled right up to my Business Development Regional, who happened to also be his boss, and gave her my run down of the interaction under the heading, “thought you should know.” Because no one wants to accuse anyone else of sexual harassment on the first day. She made a face. We both moved on to other things and agenda items in the meeting. I kept closer to the people I knew and liked and kept higher up folks in the vicinity when we were all out doing the requisite after meeting drinking that such meetings require in order to maintain one’s sanity.

Now, I didn’t work with this guy, let’s call him Joe, directly in any fashion. He was based 2 hours south of me and his job was exclusively to focus on selling the mall for advertising and sponsorships. I didn’t think about him too much except for when my lovely Bus. Dev. Regional would call to bitch about something that was going on. Joe, wasn’t performing as desired. Well . . . as the company would have desired. One one of her trips South, to her old mall where Joe was based, she had occassion to utilize his office and computer when he was elsewhere. And she discovered lotion and a crusty towel in the desk drawer while digging around for a pen. Now, if that doesn’t start to make you go “Ewwww”, the man had also been complaining to the customer service girls about how dry the soap in the bathroom made his hands and how he needed to put lotion on constantly. And by girls, they were actually girls, teenagers who worked customer service out of the mall office. The mall office where this man was based and found the need to work “after hours” frequently, leaving the trapped and alone with him down the hall. They were not fans and were not hesitant to report on their discomfort. Of course, that’s also when she found out that he had made several comments about how good she looked in skirts . . . Old Joe was not long for the company … especially when IT tracked his internet usage. I’m sure it does not surprise you that it wasn’t particularly business oriented.

I noticed the other day that I am putting lotion on as soon as I sit back down at my desk from a trip to the ladies room. Doesn’t matter which of the soap options I chose (that’s right – my selected bathroom is fancy and allows for a choice of soap and has the highest grade of single ply toilet paper available!). It reminded me of her (she was one of my favorite superiors) and creepy Joe. Somehow she had managed for forget that particular episode (how, I’ll never know, although the lady that followed this guy was an absolute doozy!). We had a nice little chat about it and hopefully she’ll be doing a trip out here soon where we can meet up.

Office life – it is never boring!

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On being alone . . .

Nope, not a sad break up story.  The Fella’s situation does mean that we’re either seeing a lot of each other or we have some downtime between face to face interactions, but that’s OK.  Why?

Well, I’m the oldest of three.  My younger siblings are both boys.  I tended to be off on my own a lot growing up as I was often excluded from the boys only activities (mostly by my own choice – playing “knee hockey” with tiny hockey sticks on carpet or playing endless rounds of Ninetendo were not my favorite things).  I have been self entertaining for as long as I can remember.  I find enjoyment and peace in being alone . . . and I have rarely been lonely.

I find in this age of Facebook and online everything, that my attention span has grown so much shorter in some respects.  From someone who was once a prolific reader to realize that a book hasn’t been picked up in over a month – there is a bit of a shock.  Because books were the place where I was often alone in the author’s world, but I was never lonely.

When I moved out of my ex-husband’s house, books were one of the first things to be sorted as the sheer number of them was too ridiculous to even contemplate moving.  But, I tell you, it was really quite hard to get rid of some of those literally dog chewed sad little paperbacks.  Many of them had memories attached to them – trips I had picked them up for, books I had reread growing up more than a dozen times, stories that I had wished were my actual life.

It was a process to sort through them all. The ones that I never really warmed up to were easy.  The ones that were a “one and done” type of read were next.  The ones that I associated with periods in my life . . . those got harder.  Many of them I took into the office so that the stories could go on in a different way, with different people.  Some of them went to the used book store.  Some of them found places on shelves and nightstands in other homes.  The ones I kept were either cherished childhood books, ones I literally couldn’t bear to part with or were wonderful books that also had beautiful cover art – which means they were incorporated into my new home as multiple purpose – touchstones of sentiment, a much enjoyed story and decor.

So, this week as I find myself with multiple days with nothing scheduled and full evenings to enjoy at my leisure (although leisure these days involves cleaning the hardwood floors while debating the merits of listening to NPR vs fun music), I have 2 books on deck to “stick my nose in” (as my parents were rather fond of saying).  One is currently showing as a movie – Away from the Maddening Crowds by Thomas Hardy.  The other is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.  Both, I heard about during interviews on NPR (sigh . . . I love NPR. I don’t always agree with it, but I do love how they tell stories and do interviews).

So, while I will be alone, I don’t believe I will find myself to be lonely.  It is hard for me to not feel satisfied after a good ride on my horse and a hot shower follwed by a glass of wine, a few crumbs a cheese, a favorite dog curled up by my side while  being lost in finding a new world.  Maybe I’ll even indulge in a new candle.  🙂 

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Feeling a project coming on . . .

In the midst of all the things going on lately, it feels like my home is getting no love.  And that’s a shame, because I kind of love it.  Admittedly, I’ve let it get a little dirty in the midst of my post World War I Britain Netflix additions (Call the Midwife and Peaky Blinders), but given that I’ve had the wee beastie known as Higgins who despite being practically perfect in every way, tracks an enormous amount of dirt in on his giant paws (as 96 pound Greyhounds are wont to do, I suppose?), quite a bit lately as The Fella travels, I’ve sort of given up. 

However, I’ve been having sort of nesting urges lately.  I’m assuming as I have no upcoming trips coming up, I need to channel the focus and energy associated with those into fluffing my little nest.  Of course, this translates utterly into an extreme case of home improvement/Pinterest/DIY ADD.  Maybe Nesting ADD would be a better handle for it?

In my Nesting ADD, I end up saving about 10 million links on Facebook of various ideas to improve my outdoor space (which, really, I have to wonder why.  It means I’d need to be religiously cleaning up the dog poo out there instead of just allowing my naughty Roxie to graze upon it as a snack whenver she is feeling a little peckish) and plants (because who doesn’t love watering plants when it is so hot and humid that you feel like you’re swimming through bathwater while outside).  Inside, I have so many ideas for cleaning out my excess of “stuff” and organizing it so that I can find anything in a moment. The point of this being that if I had to pack up and leave in 10 minutes, that I’d be able to without, you know, packing only left shoes, black bras, and pants and shirts that don’t match while forgetting everything else.  (The Fella is busting out laughing at this . . . he feels that my packing techniques leave much to be desired and that I can’t seem to make it anywhere without a 40 pound suitcase full of shoes.)

In reality, I’m goingto be making a small list of relatively inexpensive projects that will give me that “HAPPY!” whenever I see the results.  Projects that don’t require much in materials, time or money but will pay it forward in the amount of gratification I will find in the results on a daily or weekly basis.

Here is what I’m thinking:

Something has got to go at this horrible corner of my little townhouse.  I’m considering a hydrangea for a couple of reasons.  A) They do well here in the alternatively sweltering and freezing Midwestern environment.  B) They look good nekkid or with all their leaves and blooms.  C) They bloom – if they are happy, they bloom a lot – and their cut flowers last for two weeks in a vase.  Win! Of course . . . I am a sucker for peonies too – nothing looks as pretty as an upright peony bush . . . plus, they can live for up to 100 years – that ‘s a lot of bang for my buck, right? We won’t talk about the ants that it attracts or the fact that it is just a green bush for 11 months of the year. I’ll probably do the smart thing . . . but I might install a peony in the back just for the 1 month of gorgeously huge and fragrant blooms.

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Sad and ugly little corner . . .

I’ve been having a love affair with succulents for a couple of years now.  Mostly because I love the variety, but they all have that same crazy waxy sort of texture to the touch but, also, because I totally love saying the word.  It sounds like something sinfully decadent and wonderful.  I’d like to put together a tiny little planter for my outdoor seating on my patio. The bonus is that although I might never actually manage to sit out there, I can see the table from my sliding door when I let my little evil dogs out, so it is a multiple daily happy. 🙂

I’m also considering doing some sort of fabric drapes for my little porch/patio. Again, not because I might ever, you know, sit out here. But because it will give me an added sense of privacy in my kitchen but it might also reduce the amount of shrill barking I am subjected to when my little yappers (although, one is a quiet dog when the other isn’t in residence) spot something that is worthy of notice (a blade of grass, a blowing leaf, a giant rotweiler peeing on the corner of my house while off a leash) since they’ll be able to see a little less. image I think this is a feasible project as I’m not looking for some spectacular type of outdoor fabric curtain that I’ll have to maintain. More of something that can stay up until it looks grungy and then can be tossed. Environmentalists – I’m sorry. But outdoor fabrics are expensive and require cleaning.

I’ve got to get my little office finished up too. At this point, that requires fixing the sliding closet doors (again – I took them totally off the tracks and rehung them a few months ago, but one popped off again when I was apparently too exhuberant in opening them) and getting through this box of random junk that needs to be filed away.

What do you think? I think these could actually all be accomplished within the space of two weekends. One weekend to buy everything and do the planting and the other weekend to do the installation/hanging/sorting of the the things. Of course . . . I might decide to go ride my horse instead. Or accidentally turn on Netflix.

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