Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Slacking. Big time.

So this has been a little more difficult than I thought...esp since work has kicked into a whole new level of high gear this week. Seriously, if I get one more proposal, I will.....well I don't know what I will do. I'll likely spend my glorious bus ride tomorrow morning thinking up what I will do if another one comes my way.

But I promise to pick up the slack...I mean 40 posts in 40 days means I need to AVERAGE one post a day. But I could always back fill, right? Just cut me a little slack and I swear I will get back on track. I still haven't had any soda and haven't looked at let alone purchased a celeb magazine.

Oh and PS - this totes counts as a post.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gone in the blink of an eye

Back to the grind tomorrow; this weekend felt as if it went far too quickly. I hate these Sunday nights where I feel like I will probably up till far too late, unable to get myself to sleep and ready for the week ahead. Lots of thoughts running around in my head probably won't help the situation much either. This will be the first work week of five full days in a row in a month -- just the thought makes me feel queasy. How do you do it -- how do you psyche yourself up for a week at a job you aren't loving when you are in a total and complete funk in all facets of life?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Gram

In the summer of 2008, I lost my Gram. Frankly, it's a loss I am still trying to process. Outside of my mom and dad, she was the relative I was closest to and some days I struggle with the fact that she's gone. My Grandmother meant the world to me. My mother was an only child, so me and my brother were her only grandchildren. That's a great set up if you can get it, I highly recommend it. They also happened to live about 5 minutes from my parents' house, so I spent quite a bit of time with her and my Pop-Pop at their house. She was my partner in crime -- when I was old enough to use the phone, whenever my little brother was annoying me, I would call her telling him I was calling Santa. I ratted him out, she was initially upset on the other line for being used but always laughed in the end.

My Gram was a tough lady -- she liked things a certain way. I lived with her for all of my summers growing up when I stayed at her beach house. That's when I learned to make my bed every day -- and today, it doesn't matter how late I may be, my bed is made before I leave for work. She also would not let me have a soda before noon -- I can't say she would approve of my early morning diet coke habit.

She valued a orderly home and we all fell in line. She put up little laminated notes everywhere: "remember to turn out the light when you leave", "put empty cans in the recycling", "pull up the door." She was efficient to a fault. My family will still joke about how she used to consolidate items for the sake of saving space -- a half bag of doritos and a half bag of potato chips would be married together in the name of a more orderly and neat kitchen. I think she even consolidated chunky and smooth peanut butter jars for the sake of saving space.

She remembered everything -- every birthday, every anniversary, every person she met, every recipe. Maybe that's why it hurt so much that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I had been really upset by bouts before -- a Thanksgiving trip when she didn't know where we were started us all to worry. It progressed because that's what happens, you can't stop the disease. It felt like each year I lost more of her. I can't put into words how hard it is to lose someone mentally while still having them physically there. You go to see them each time never knowing if they will remember you and know who you are. I also can't put into words my feeling of loss, not taking the time to hug my gram and tell her I loved her the last time I saw her at my brother's wedding. There was no way for me to know that was the last time I would see her. But that still upsets me to this day and I don't think I will ever forgive myself.

She was tough, but she was the best. And I know I have a lot of her in me and I am beyond lucky for that.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Looking for signs

I have been having a lot of mixed feelings about work lately. Towards the end of 2009, I left my old firm for a new one -- still keeping the same type of job and responsibilities and switching to a slightly different title. It wasn't going to be same old same old; I was going to be working in new subject areas and supporting different practice groups and branching out into more PR and branding responsibilities. I also was primarily leaving my old firm because it was just an unbearable place to be....lack of support from my boss, unrealistic expectations of our department, always working late into the evening and usually coming in on the weekend, in short it just felt miserable. It wasn't just me; there was no joy in the workplace. Very little lighthearted banter, lack of support for one another or willingness to help each other, and a general sour attitude that felt like it just permeated the majority of the department. I knew I was good at what I did...I just couldn't be my best professional self under those conditions.

So I made the move to a firm where I would have a better work/life balance, more support from my bosses, and an assistant to help me properly manage the workload. And I am still good at what I do, and as a bonus usually get to work a 7 hour day (yup, 7). I have been getting great feedback from my bosses. I have been impressing the attorneys and other staff I work with and as a result getting involved in higher level projects and asked more for my professional opinion and suggestions.

Even with those really positive things going on in the workplace, I have been realizing recently that those nagging, lingering feelings are still there. The ones that keep ringing in my ear "This isn't what you always wanted to do." "This isn't making you happy." "This isn't the best use of your skills and abilities." I think my judgement was too clouded at my last firm to be able to see the forest for the trees. I just thought all of the unhappiness was a result of the horrible, miserable working conditions. And yeah, a lot of it was a result of that. I know I am happier and better adjusted now that I am not spending most of my waking hours, seven days a week in a windowless office.

Now that those gray clouds have cleared and I can see things better...well, I am worried. Worried that I shouldn't be doing this and I made a wrong turn somewhere. Even more worried that I can't undo that turn. I don't really know if it's "normal" to feel this way. Maybe I have put too much thought into it or maybe I have set the bar too high for what I hoped to do with my life or get out of (or put into) my work.

An organization that I am a member of for work will soon be holding their annual conference. I had the opportunity to go two years ago and found it incredibly helpful. While my firm is on a tight budget leash these days (really, who isn't?) I found that the local chapter of the organization was offering a scholarship essentially -- you wrote a super short essay and the judges would award two "winners" all the expenses for the conference - hotel, airfare, and registration. I thought it must be a sign. I could get myself there and maybe get the career kickstart I needed. So I sent off my little essay and could already picture myself there, drinking the KoolAid and getting my batteries recharged. But the winners should have been notified by today....and I didn't receive any notification. And I find myself a lot more upset and disappointed than I thought I would be. The slightly irrational part of me thinks this is some sort of sign, of what I am not sure.

So I came home today, a little upset and a little defeated. Not sure of what to do about it or really if there is anything to do about it. I try to tell myself all the time that lots of people doubt their jobs and if they are doing something that they should be doing. Right now that affirmation is not doing diddly squat for me.

Then I flip through the TV and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is on. That should be a sign. Of what, I'm not sure. But I like this sign much better than the other one.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I guess if you are going to be awful, be spectacularly awful

I feel like I have been encountering a number of services lately that just suck. Last night, I had frustrating call number 184 with Comcast (exaggeration, but you likely feel my pain on this one) that did not end up in my service being restored. It didn't even end up in them setting up an appointment for a tech to come here today, or even the day after that. Nope, it would be a full week before they could come and "take a look at" their shoddy cable box. And even at that she acted as if I was really lucking out. I know the immediate response to this is just me being impatient....or maybe I should see this little break from television as a good chance to read an actual book. Well, those who know me know I'd be more inclined to read an Us Weekly and the good news is it is only affecting the TV in the living room. So we still have TV....just not reliable HD tv. It's so rustic, it's like one step above camping.

My real anger stems from the fact that I am paying for a service. Quite a lot actually. And I think it is fair that I should expect that service to be somewhat reliable. I want to come home and be able to turn on the TV and have it work. Not turn on the TV, then go to my DVR, then select a show and let it play for 5-7 minutes, then go back to TV and see a very pixelated image and then after it works itself out to normal (another 5 or so minutes, well THEN you can watch TV. Yes, that is the process and while it eventually gets you TV, it is completely unacceptable.

Same goes for Metro. And I have experienced a whole new level of hate for Metro now that I have added Metro Bus to my daily routine. I get that a vehicle that is out on the roads can't keep to a strict timetable. I understand that due to traffic, or frequent stops for onboarding and offboarding passengers, the 8:35 bus may not be there right at 8:35. Maybe 8:40 or even 8:42. But recently with Metro (and I mean BEFORE we could blame it on the snow), these timetables seem more like a humorous suggestion. Like a joke on all of us that they could say there were coming and then show up 35 minutes later. Sadly, 35 minutes is one of the shorter wait times too. One morning, I turned into a human popsicle as I waited out in the cold for a full hour waiting for a bus. According to the metro published timetable, 5 or even 6 buses should have shown up in that time period. I know at the end of the day I am just paying for a ride with the hoi polloi but dammit, would it kill metro to post a schedule they could actually stick to? I truly don't care if that means busses are running less often. Cause let's face it, they are running less often as it is. Maybe publishing a schedule that makes it look like you are running all the time helps them sleep better at night, but it doens't keep me from freezing my ass off.

It just astonishes me that companies can be not jus awful, but spectacularly awful...and apparantly that is a-ok. I get paid a salary to do my job well. And that "well" implies consistency. What would happen if somedays I rolled in at 9:52 or 10:17. Or if someone needed my immediate attention on a project and I told them I would be sure to help them -- in a week's time. Well, I'd likely be out of a job. But that's not who I am....I go into work, I work hard, I give it 110%. And then I foolishly expect the bus to be on time to get me home, so I can unwind the stresses of the day with some HD TV. Silly me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kickin’ it back to the old school…

So it’s Ash Wednesday and I find myself mulling over the same question as I do every year, “What am I giving up for Lent?”

I will try for back-to-back years of giving up soda. This is so hard for me, but after last year, I know it can be done and my apologies in advance if I am especially cranky this next week. The first week or so always seems to be the hardest.

However I got to thinking (which is almost NEVER a good thing!), since I gave this same thing up last year, it doesn’t really seem like as big of a challenge, you know? Those other popular sacrifices like candy, chocolate, and sweets don’t seem that hard for me to give up either because if they aren’t around, I simply don’t go out and seek them. I’m the person who bakes for fun and then gives all the treats away - I bake more for fun than to actually eat anything I make.

So I thought back to my fine Catholic grade school education, where every year someone would inevitably proclaim they were going to give up homework. Even at a young age, we were all still looking for religious “loopholes”. It was always then that our teachers would remind us that Lent is a period of reflection and bettering ourselves. In addition to the sacrifice of giving up something we enjoyed, we could always make a better effort to do kind acts or be more considerate people. For example, if we were good students in a particular subject, we were encouraged to offer our help and tutor other students in that subject. That whole “making use of the gifts and talents that God gave you” sort of a thing.

This year in addition to going sans soda (I actually just frowned typing that), I am going to challenge myself to write something here every day. When I was growing up, I wrote all the time. I rounded that out with a Master’s Degree focused in writing and then….well, life happened. Dreams and things you are passionate about sometimes get pushed aside due to time or circumstance or a million other reasons. Lent is just as good an excuse as any to dust off my writing cap, put it back on and give this a shot. So right here, every day, for the next 40 days, I will be posting something. Well, the next 39 days since today counts as day 1. How will this be different from all of your other friends’ blogs out there? Good question. Let me try to respond with a bulleted list (this use of bulleting should prove I write for lawyers FAR too much and need to get back in touch with my creative side):

  • I don’t have kids (yet anyway), so alas, there will be no hilarious tales of junior peeing in a potted plant of spitting up his breakfast. I do have a couple of fully grown adult friends who I could see exhibiting those same actions after a late night out though, so stories may oddly stay the same.
  • I don’t have some cause I am uber/over-the-top passionate about. I am not a die-hard Dem or a Ridiculous Republican. My politics are my beliefs and I prefer to keep them to myself for the most part and not let people see/hear about them from a mile away. No offense to those who are passionate about their parties and very involved. It’s just not my thing and doesn’t define who I am. I also raise money for the causes and charities I care most deeply about, but don’t really feel the need to always wear the t-shirt or slap the bumper sticker on my car.
  • I am not on a super cool extended vacation or wandering all over the world. God, I wish I was! So there won’t be any funny stories of dinner with a monkey or pictures of me hiking up a mountain. I won’t be riding any exotic animals or eating any new and strange cuisines. And while I do sometimes feel like riding Metro is a daily adventure, I’ll try to refrain from making it sound like DC public transportation is anything like trekking the globe.
  • I don’t have some amazing/exciting/interesting job. Let’s face it, if I had some job that gave me a sense of being professionally fulfilled and like I really used my talents every day, maybe I wouldn’t feel compelled to start writing a blog a day for the next 7+ weeks. If nothing else, any reference to my job will likely make you feel better about yours.
  • I am not on some sort of personal “journey” to be chronicled. I am not training for a marathon, or trying to become a vegan. I am not remodeling a house or trying to learn a new language. All of those things sound perfectly nice….and like I would perfectly want to shoot myself after about a week of any of them. (No offense marathoners/vegans/home remodelers/language learners!)

So what the hell am I going to write about? Good question. Only way to find out is to keep reading over the coming days and weeks. I promise to stick to it if you promise to bust my chops and hold me accountable. Who knows – this blog a day regimen could very well make giving up soda look easy peasey by comparison.