Sep 28, 2017

Things I Have Zero Patience For

I know I let things get to me too much and I shouldn't be irritated about blog posts and social media and so on.  Butttt... sometimes it's nice to just complain.  So here you go!

Things I Have Zero Patience For

Complaining About Being Fat

First off, there's nothing wrong with being fat.  If you're going to be bigger, why not just own it and love your beautiful self, regardless of size and what society says is ideal?  Secondly, are you actually doing anything to change it?  Yeah, I know it's hard.  I've experienced the struggle as has every single other overweight person I know.  With a very, very few exceptions for people who actually have thyroid issues, there's nothing special about your body that makes it harder for you than everyone else.  We all struggle and we only succeed when we really work to make it happen.  Decide what you want to do and be and then rock it.

Giving Away Pets

This is one area where I'm not ashamed to judge people.  It's amazing how many people suddenly develop allergies to their pets years after getting them when something else happens (like a baby) and they don't want them anymore.  Go be around animals before you adopt one.  If you have allergies, you'll figure it out before taking responsibility for a creature's life instead of finding out later and ditching your pet like a child with an old toy.

Our Home Owner's Association

The one meeting I went to was plenty for me.  I unfollowed the Facebook group because my neighbors are the whiniest assholes.  We don't want dogs in our yards or kids in the street!  Build a playground or a dog park?  Hell no!  We don't want to pay for that!  It's just constant whining and unwillingness to take any proactive measures.

People Not Helping Plan Events

You know when you say, "Who wants to go to happy hour?" and everyone says, "YAZZZZ, that sounds amazing!"  But then you ask, "Does such and such a day/time/location work for everyone?" and it goes silent.  Fine.  We just won't do it.  You think I've got time to plan all this shit AND keep following up with your ass to see if you actually want to do it?  No.  We're all equally busy.  I don't have magical reserves of time that you don't.  I'll invite someone who doesn't make it hard for me.


Things I Have MORE Patience For (than I used to)

Babies Crying

Someone else's baby was crying at my office job the other day and I thought, "Awww, it's a baby!" instead of "Ermagawd, I'm going to slam my head into a wall!"  Who knew having your own kid would toughen you up to everyone else's as well?

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Sep 26, 2017

What Men Don't Get About Being a Woman

I read an interesting article the other day about the "real reason women drink."  It's not click bait, despite the title - it's a pretty well-thought out analysis of some of the difficulties women face in the everyday world and how we use alcohol as a coping mechanism.

I don't know if I agree with the article that women use it more than men do because our lives are more terrible, but I do agree that alcohol is a crutch and a huge proportion of our population uses it to self medicate whenever life isn't performing the way they'd prefer.

Something the author said that I found compelling was that if any situation requires you to drink to cope, maybe it's time to change the situation instead of just drinking to forget that it's bad.  I do think one (of many) benefits to my own sobriety has been realizing which activities I actually enjoy for themselves and which are just fun for the alcohol and because everyone else seems to think it's fun.  (Dancing = still fun.  Flip cup = meh.)

But there are situations that we can't actually change, alcohol or no.  There is racism and classism and misogyny.  There are all kinds of ugly, little cultural mindsets that impact us negatively every day.

I'm all too apt to brush these things off, but my sisters and I were chatting about this and I've got a few stories.  I'll start with the scary one and end on the funnier ones.

Sister3 was walking home at night and a car stopped and rolled down the window.  Thinking it was perhaps an uber trying to find his/her passenger, she walked towards the car.  Upon hearing the catcalling that followed, she realized it wasn't someone confused or in need of assistance but just some gross asshole.

So she walked away.  And he followed her.

She tried turning a corner and he turned to keep up with her.  She was getting nervous when she tried walking the wrong way on a one-way and that successfully deterred stalker asshole.

This story reminded me of that video from a couple years ago.  The one with the woman who walks around New York and the many negative reactions she gets from people in the street (men) simply by not returning their greeting.  It reminds me of how infuriating the comments are because a huge number of men thought it was her own fault for not being friendlier.  Because women have time to engage with a stranger every 60 seconds of their day.  Fucking ridiculous.  I can't even talk to my own baby that frequently and I'm in charge of his mental development.

So anyway, that story is a little scary because there are crazy people in the city and getting pulled into a car isn't a story that usually ends well.  But it didn't happen and Sister3 is ok, minus a little scare.

The next story is from the male perspective.  My father recently went on a trip to visit relatives.  He forgot his glasses, which he's supposed to use for driving but especially at night when his vision goes to shit.  Rather than do the smart thing and stay put after dark or have someone else give him a ride, he drove off on his own and got lost.

Finally after aimlessly driving around for a while, he stopped at a gas station to get directions.  He got out of his car and walked towards the first person he saw - a woman pumping gas next to her car.

She walked away.  He followed her.  She walked faster, and he KEPT FOLLOWING HER!

He had no fucking idea.  According to the story he chased her all the way around her car before he realized what the problem was and said, "I just need directions!"  Hopefully that was an exaggeration, for her sake.  She was apparently a stellar human being because all she said was, "You gave me a little fright" and then gave him directions.

We heard this story and laughed because, it too, had a happy ending.  And the idea of someone being so oblivious that they accidentally threaten someone is kind of funny.  But it also really highlights how much men do not understand what it's like to constantly be on guard for potential threats.

And now the least serious story.

On the day of writing this (who knows how long it's been to actually post), I stopped for gas before heading to my office job.  It was around 6:45am on Labor Day so it was pretty empty and I was enjoying the lack of crowds.  I also happened to be wearing makeup and heels because I'd pulled yet another all-nighter and after finishing up at 4am, knew I couldn't take a nap and still be on time to work so spent that extra time gettin' purdy instead.

I didn't feel particularly pretty, despite the effort I'd put into my attire.  I mostly felt groggy and ready to go into survival mode for the day.  So I was taken aback when a man stopped his truck close enough to call to me,

"It's a shame that someone looks so good [gesturing at me] this early in the morning and I'm so ugly."

When he'd started talking, I'd been prepared to do my waitress smile and make whatever small talk was required while pumping gas, but that...  That confused me.

Was I supposed to reassure him that he wasn't ugly?  Was I supposed to just agree with his compliment/insult and say "thank you"?  Was he hitting on me at 7am at a gas station?

My brain couldn't figure it out and when I tried to formulate a response that wouldn't open me up for potential flirting, it failed completely.  So instead I made a strangled, "Mlehehghghg" noise and quickly turned back to the gas pump.

And I think that's another thing men don't understand.  I don't want to be rude and blow people off.  But it's also 7am, my brain isn't working, and I don't necessarily want someone telling me how good I look.  I put makeup on as some ridiculous sort of psychological trick to amp myself into surviving an all-nighter.  I didn't put it on thinking I could get some attention at the gas station.

I can even picture a scenario where it would my dad making a similar comment.  And it wouldn't be intending to hit on that person.  He would just notice that someone stood out because they were more dressed up than the rest of the customers, then make a self-deprecating joke.

But as a woman, I can't just assume it's all harmless and silly.  I can't just let someone buy me a drink at a bar.  I can't give my number to a man who says he's interested in hanging out and making more friends because he "just moved here."

As a woman, and frankly, not even a particularly hot one (not fishing for compliments - I'm perfectly comfortable with my looks), I'm constantly on guard to prevent misunderstandings and men getting pissy with me because I "led them on" and they now feel they're owed something.

I think this morning was the first time I ever thought, "Huh, maybe I shouldn't wear makeup anymore."  What???  My brain's first thought is how to change myself to fit into a society that thinks I'm a sex object as soon as I put lipstick on?

No.  I don't accept that.  I'm going to do my thing and if people make incorrect assumptions, I'm going to correct them.  And I'm going to practice appropriate responses so that my brain doesn't vomit out random sounds in the moment.  "What do you mean by that?" "I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond to that." "I'm not really worried about my looks right now."

What random, stupid shit have people said to you?  How did you handle it?

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Sep 21, 2017

Quarterly Goals - Fall

I'm a bit late, but that's ok because quarterly goals give you 3 whole months to get 'em done!

Summer Goals (June, July, August)

1) Quiet Time - there was an attempt

I read some books.  Mostly because a friend and I had visited the most amazing second hand book store and seeing physical books lying around made it harder to resist the lure.  I also, quite by accident, defined "peace" at my counselor's office as holding my baby while he sleeps.  So I've decided to quit feeling guilty for letting him fall asleep on me and instead just enjoy the quiet.

2) Mom Friends - check

I joined a local mom group on Meetup and made some other overtures.  I'm checking this off not because I've successfully made friends I see regularly but because I feel I did all I reasonably could to foster those relationships.  I don't really have any new friends yet (or solid prospects) but that's more because I don't feel as much of a drive to seek them out now that I have childcare and I can focus more on work/networking AND because I got tired of people not getting back to me.  Sometimes I'm willing to put forth the effort to make social things happen and sometimes I say, "Fuck it.  I'm busy, too, assholes."

3) An Adventure - check!

I can't take credit for this but Ryan planned the most amazing surprise for my birthday!  He had told me to keep a weekend open for him and I literally thought we were going to sit around and play video games (which I was still looking forward to but expectations were low).  Then he started asking some pointed questions about whether I'd be ok to leave the baby with "the best of care" overnight (which was/is clearly my mom).  I still wasn't expecting much more than a good night's rest until the day of, when we got into a car and proceeded to drive past Philadelphia.

At that point you pretty much know you're going to New York, which I guessed and Ryan confirmed.  Happily I chatted away, and oohed and aahed as we entered the big city.  We got to our hotel and went up to the room, where I was quite surprised to see a cake and balloon - not typical Ryan details.  As I turned to thank him, my sisters and brother-in-law burst out of the 2nd room in the suite and yelled, "Surprise!"

I almost cried.  It was awesome.  Then we went to an amazing restaurant where the worst possible thing that could be said of any of the dishes was, "It was good for brussel sprouts," saw Sleep No More which is insane, and had a leisurely stroll through Central Park the next morning munching on random food from street carts and pastry shops.

Our masks from the show.  Imagine dark hallways with lots of silent people wandering around with these on.
We also did the long-planned eclipse trip and it was awesome, too.

4) "Prune" - Semi check?

I wrote a post about pruning, and I did try to cut some stuff.  But I think what I did more of was delegating, and I guess that's ok, too.  I've got Kelli handling my social media stuff and a freelancer who works with me on Fridays.  We also hired a nanny, which was really good for a while.  Then she hurt her back and the daycare asked if we wanted to move our start date up and it all seemed rather serendipitous, so we said yes.  So pruning is less of an issue now than it was before I was gifted 3 extra baby-free days each week.

5) Get Outside - check!

We tried to go to the off-leash dog area at the state park or the dog park at least once a week.  We also walked a lot (and I got comfortable walking the dogs and baby on my own).  Then we ended the summer with a beach visit and a trip to Wyoming, so nature and sunshine galore!

4/5 - Half points for pruning and quiet time

Fall Goals (September, October, November)

  1. Run a 5K or 2 (I need something to train for)
  2. Learn to cook something new (Still inspired by the zoodles!)
  3. Try something new (I'm thinking acupuncture but am leaving this open for other ideas)
  4. Go the zoo (Orion's probably too young to really get much out of it, but I finally have a kid and I want to do kid things!)
  5. Ren Faire!!!
  6. Link up to SUYB for the first time in months
  7. Pay off my credit card (Confession: I've been floating a balance since buying my laptop.  But I'm tired of paying interest, so I'm calling in all the client invoices.  Pay me, mofos!)
  8. Burn some candles (We buy them and always forget to use them)
  9. Bake something!
  10. Try 9 new flavors at UDairy Creamery (They have seriously fun ones like cherry pie and fig/goat cheese)
I started making my fall list based on things I want to accomplish and then I thought more about my "Living with Enthusiasm" post and realized I want fun goals.  I want to eat the ice cream and watch my child's face when we show him giraffes for the first time and spend some time reading with candles and tea instead of sneaking in a few pages late at night when all the work is done and I only have 6 hours left to sleep.

I'm going to enjoy life this Fall - what about you?

Do you make seasonal goals?  What are you planning for this fall?

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Sep 18, 2017

Living with Enthusiasm

I was going to write a humor post with something like "Life Lessons from a Baby" and then I realized there was really only one.  And then I analyzed it to death and turned it into this instead.

I've been told by several people that Orion is a "good sleeper."  I wouldn't know, I only have the one kid so no basis for comparison.  But even as a "good sleeper" it's still hard to put him to sleep.

He fights it.  He looks around and smiles at the dogs or Ryan or anyone else who happens to be within view, even when he's so tired that he'll start crying the next minute.  I have to feed him sitting up because he doesn't want to lay down and get sleepy.

Sometimes he's still awake when I set him down at the crib and leave the room and I turn back to say, "Good night baby" and he gives me this super happy, manipulative little smile that almost cracks me and sends me back into the room to pick him up and hold him some more.

I know that smile isn't for me.  It's an attempt to stay awake a little longer.  Because life is so amazing and so fun that he can't stand the idea of being asleep and missing out on a few hours of it.

I can't remember the last time I cherished my time that much.  That I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I wasn't willing for it to end.

I do remember being a child when the day after Christmas felt almost like a hangover.  That crushing disappointment of the holiday ending and all the decorations being put away.  No more anticipation, no more twinkly lights and old-fashioned carols.

In general, I think things are very immediate and very intense as a kid.  The highs are high, the lows are low, and I don't miss the crazy emotional mood swings of my teens.  But I do miss the zest for life and living and the enthusiasm I felt for my hobbies.

I was listening to an audiobook the other day and it was making a point about how at some point in the last few generations, it's become parent's job to be their kids' playmate in addition to parent.  How they have to structure everything.  I think the point the book was making was that we should step back and let kids be kids while we do our own, adult things.

But I wasn't in the mood for that message (though I'm sure it's valid in many ways).  I want to have fun with my kids.  I want to see things through their eyes and enjoy it vicariously through their enjoyment.  I want to play with them and laugh and be silly again.

A couple weeks ago, I was checking out at the grocery store.  It was nearing bedtime and I had Orion with me, so I was alternating talking to the cashier and doing payment things with making faces at the baby and eating his feet.  (Gotta keep the fussiness at bay, people!)  The woman behind me had 2 older kids in one of those horrible bulky car/cart things and they were obviously on her last nerve.

I could tell the cashier felt as awkward as I did because all small talk ceased as she berated her kids and I paid and left as soon as physically possible.  It's not like she was screaming or anything but there was a lot of, "Just stop it!" and "This is the last time I'm telling you." and so on.

On my way to the car I passed another family, and it was like night and day.  The dad finished loading the car while the mom tickled her son and they laughed together.  He put their child into his car seat while she brought the cart over to the cart corral and half a smile lingered on her face as she made eye contact with me.

I'm not judging either of these people.  For all I know Mom A was having a terrible day and Mom B had just won the lottery.  But it did make me think about my own relationship with my son and future kids.

Lesson 1) The higher the kid to adult ratio, the more stressful life is.  Lesson 2) As much as possible, I want to be the second mom.  I want to be having fun and enjoying the moment and not just struggling to get through life while irritating shit happens to me.

There's not a whole lot I can change in my parenting style now - an infant can only do so much, after all.  But it's a lesson I want to apply to the rest of my life.  I want more time for fun, and I want to plan events I'm genuinely excited about.  I want to savor the anticipation instead of pushing it to the back of my mind until it's time to go.  I want to do things in my business that excite me and I want to try new things.

If you go out and seek them, you're offered a lot of opportunities as a business owner.  Coffee dates, conferences, events, committee roles, and so on.  A fellow designer who recruited me for the DE Small Business Chamber's marketing committee has mentioned a couple times that the board often has openings for new directors.

It seems smart - there's perks and you sit at a high table during events, and everyone knows your name.  But the idea makes me feel tired and reluctant.  You know what does excite me?

Business conferences.  Speaking opportunities.  Classes.

I think I need to follow that little thrill of excitement I feel when considering certain possibilities and listen to my gut when it says, "Meh."  It doesn't always need to be the most logical choice or the most productive for my business.  Sometimes my choices can be purely for me to be happy and excited and enjoying the moment again.

Long term gains are just that - long term - and they're important to keep in mind but you don't know how much time you, or anyone else, has.  So I want to make the most of the here and now.  I want to blow bubbles and laugh and eat ice cream and sign up for way too many productivity courses and ready fluff and be happy.

How do you live in the moment?  What makes your day-to-day life enjoyable?

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Sep 5, 2017

Life and Mortality and Grief

This isn't a particularly well thought-out post.  I didn't have a specific concept going in that I wished to express.  But I did want to write it.

A family member died last week.  Abruptly and unexpectedly and, as far as I know, it shocked everyone.  It's not my place to go into details and I don't want to be disrespectful to her immediate family, but I am sad and it feels wrong to go about daily life pretending everything is normal.

It's weird what your brain does in times of grief.  I should mourn my relative, feel empathy for those closest to her, and sadness for myself for all the future conversations and time I won't have with her.  But instead I felt disbelief, then sadness, then guilt.  Who was I to feel sad about this?  This person wasn't a part of my daily life.

Our family is a fairly close one.  Despite living on opposite corners of the country, we have reunions every 2 years, with occasional extra gatherings, and we chat via family email threads fairly often.

I've probably seen my relative in person 20 times or so.  It's a countable number.  But my sense of her feels much stronger than that.  Sometime in the future, I'll tell my grandmother this.  Because her goal was always to have strong family ties and I think she succeeded, despite time and distance and obstinate personalities.

We haven't experienced a ton of loss in our family.  The few occasions that I can remember losing someone they were even more distant, but the feeling of disbelief is a constant factor.  It's hard to process and feel that loss when the person you mourn is across the country and not a part of your daily life.  There's no hole in each day to remind you or instill a feeling of wrongness.

I don't want to go back to life-as-usual, but I also do.  After the first day when we tried to grasp it, and my mom, sister, and I spoke together about grief and death and remembrances, I've felt my mind instinctively shoving it away whenever something reminds me.  Because it hurts and it's easier not to think about.  Life goes on, after all, and I need to function.

But that, too, feels disrespectful.  And I think I need to make time to think about it and feel the pain and process what we've lost.  I think sometimes being hurt is important and it's part of the process of living.  Hiding from feelings and bottling things up might be easier but is ultimately more destructive.

It's hard to feel helpless.  To know that I'm across the country and can't offer much solace to my relatives in their time of grief.  To not know what the best course of action would be even if I was closer.

Death is such a hard concept to wrap your mind around.  How can a life, particularly such a warm, loving, vibrant one, be so suddenly gone?  How can life continue on without this force in it?  It feels distant and incomprehensible to me, but what really breaks me down is thinking of those still living.

Thinking of her daughter, so recently engaged whose mother won't attend her wedding.  Thinking of our next reunion planned for summer 2018 and what it will be like without her kindness.  Thinking of her husband and their interrupted plans for a retirement filled with travel and togetherness.

I hope she got the most out of life.  I hope the time she had was happy and filled with joy.  I hope she had all the things figured out that I still struggle with and that her time was better spent than mine.

I have an advice book that my sisters made with tips from all the parents in our family.  I'm so glad I have some of her words to remember.  I'm so glad she contributed to my life in tangible and intangible ways.  I'm glad I can look at the picture of her from years ago and read the words she gave me.  I'm glad I knew her.

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