Sunday, December 7, 2014

T'is the Season

Oh, good....you can't see all the dust and cat fur on cold air returns.

The Holiday Season has descended upon us.  Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror with Hanukkah and Christmas growing visible on the horizon and the twinkle of the New Year not far beyond.  This season can mean so many different things to different people.  It can be a time to reunite with family that you may not get a chance to spend time with throughout the rest of the year.  Great joy can be experienced through giving and seeing the elation on the faces of the folks on the receiving end of your generosity.  Not just material gifts but time, just your time.  Being with people that are important to you and you them.  It can also be a time of struggle.  Going through personal strife is unfortunately accentuated this time of year.  Financial troubles, health problems, loss and grief can seem exaggerated when comfort and joys is being shoved in your face everywhere you turn.  Here are the things that make my Holiday Season festive, merry and bright, even when the cat pukes in my bed.

Getting together with friends is something I typically procrastinate.  I work at home.  I love my couch with my super soft, pastel aqua, grey, and white fleece throw.  My DVR acts like a surrogate friend, reminding me that there’s a new episode of Getting On waiting for me.  I don’t have a vast number of close friends, where there are just too many to “fit” into my calendar.  I love my friends.  I just generally don’t care to interact with the masses.  This is one that leaves me feeling conflicted.  I want to catch up with my friends, especially during this time of year, while this is also the worst time of year to throw myself into the fray of the Black Friday public mentality that spans from Thanksgiving through the days after Christmas.  I swallowed my anxiety this weekend and met one of my good friends for breakfast on Saturday morning.  Breakfast was the compromise necessitated by my new work schedule.  Historically, she and I met up for lunch on a Friday, when the restaurants, cinemas and shopping venues aren’t nearly as busy as on the weekends.  Our work schedules were such that catching up at this time of the week worked for us both.  Well, I screwed that up when I took a new position at work.  Turns out, not many people want to get up early enough on a Saturday to go sit in a café at 8:00 a.m.  We enjoyed the food and, even more so, the conversation.  Between our delicious Anaheim Scramblers with gourmet coffees, non-stop chatting and wandering around Ulta, post-meal, I got in the Big Red Jeep to leave a much happier gal than had arrived.  Not that I was grumpy or sad heading into our girl’s morning, I just felt so much more fulfilled and enriched having spent the morning with my friend.
The evening before, I had spent over an hour and 15 minutes on the phone with Mom trying to provide “technical support” with her budget.  This budget is a MS Excel-based file that I created for myself and have been using for years and I emailed to Mom a few years ago so she could use one, too.  At 73 years old, she has enough computer savvy to get around online, do the email thing and use the basic functions of Word and Excel.  Beyond that, my phone rings.  By the end of that phone conversation, we both agreed that we had to stop, despite the issue not being 100% resolved to her preference.  Sitting in the Jeep that Saturday morning after having such a nice time with my friend, I dialed Mom and told her I’d be over in a few to fix up her spreadsheet.
I spent the first hour of my visit sitting at Dad’s kitchen table (I had to move his laptop from the kitchen chair over to its back-up spot on the stovetop), as we chattered about the weather, how the Jeep’s been running, money, and food.  Mom came down to join us (her chair had been free of electronics but she did have to move a stack of newspapers and magazines in order to pull the chair out to take a seat) and the conversation turned to nail polish, coffee mugs, and then back to food.  Mom and I excused ourselves to go up her flat so I could get to work.  We sat in her cats’ bathroom (which doubles as her computer room) while I clicked away on the computer’s keyboard, making sure to ask her preferences on column width, centered or left justified, and to wrap or not wrap text.  All in all, it took me under ten minutes to get it all fixed up and saved.  She looked at me and called me a smart ass in the most loving way possible.  I know it’s an emotional struggle for her not to be able to do this kind of stuff on her own, feeling like she can’t learn it anymore.  I try to be as un-eye-rolly as I can, remembering that she’s my mother.  After the work was done, we moved into the living room and visited for another hour or so.
Back in the Jeep and ventured to WalMart for some cheap yet great smelling jar candles, aluminum foil, shaver heads, rubber gloves, and junk food (I do not intend to use all of those products simultaneously).  I made a new friend there by bonding over our mutual love of each other’s blue hair.  Onto Bed Bath and Beyond to meander my way through the crowd for an extension handled duster to clear the “cat lace” off of the ceiling fan blades and a couple packs of holiday doggie treats (impulse grab while walking toward the registers, damn their marketing prowess).  Finally, popped into an expectedly busy Pick N Save for the week’s grocery shopping.  I was pleased that I didn’t encounter even one rude shopper during my adventure.  Have I been wrong about the masses this whole time?
Ended last night with some bonding with the boy.  We watched As Above So Below, during which I accidentally banged my head on the wall in response to a particularly startling scary part (thoroughly enjoyed the movie, by the way).  Woke up today and made Bacon Pancake Dippers for the first time since seeing the idea on Facebook. They were easy and tasty.  I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to pull out the Christmas tree this year.  I am not planning on hosting the family this season so I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the hassle.  Smelling the combination of the bacon and my brewing Roasted Almond Chai tea from Fava just tipped me over the festive edge and the tree is now standing, all lit up, in the hall immediately to the left of the fireplace.  I have not committed to digging out the ornaments yet.  Hey, one snowy, glitter-filled step at a time.
I hope you find something this Holiday Season that brings you happiness and warms your soul.  Happy Holidays, everyone!
Yes, that is an Indianapolis Colts Pillow Pet on the boy's bed, in case you were wondering.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Have My Mom’s Attitude and My Dad’s Facial Hair

Genetics is a funny thing.  You can inherit physical features, mannerisms, even the way you laugh from your parents.  I’ve been told that despite not having grown up knowing or spending but a handful of fleeting moments with him, my brother (technically half-brother) walks exactly the same way as his biological father.  Equally as odd, I find it unlikely that solely from being around his father (my ex-husband) during his first four years of life and thereafter on alternating weekends, my own kid sounds just him when he laughs (causing brief and intermittent unsettling moments for me).  I was lucky to have inherited a wonderful sense of sarcastic humor and quick wit from my mother along with the color of my hair and we all but look like twins – decades part – if you look at pictures of us when we were each twelve years old…oily hair and all.  From my father, I inherited select patches of his facial hair.


Yes, I said it.  I am a 39 year old woman with enough facial hair to qualify for a position in a carnival side show.  Now that may just be my own personal perception of the matter but I can assure you, I am not imagining its existence.  “But Sandy, I’ve never seen any facial hair on you,” you may be saying.  You wouldn’t be wrong.  I spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy dedicated to putting a hairless face forward.  But, I will tell you, in preparation for my first visit to a new endocrinologist, I stopped tweezing for three weeks.  You know, so she could see me in all my X-Men Wolverine glory.  That was the longest, most traumatic three weeks of my life.  Ok, ok….that last part was a bit dramatic, it wasn’t the most traumatic time in my life, I once went six months without cable television!
I refrained from removing my facial hair because I had previously discussed my concern about the increasing facial hair growth with my primary doc and she thought I was greatly exaggerating because she didn’t see anything.  By the time my appointment rolled around, I was beyond bristly and had moved into the fuzzy stage.  It was embarrassing, very noticeable and my new, likeable endocrinologist thanked me for letting it grow because it went a long way to help her narrow the battery of tests she wanted to order to eventually diagnose my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and ovarian teratoma.  Thank goodness I was working from home as to not subject my coworkers to my mutantness.
I panic if I don’t know where my Tweezerman stainless steel slant tweezers are.  I invested a few hundred dollars in an at-home IPL system.  That stands for Intense Pulsed Light.  It isn’t a laser and it doesn’t permanently remove hair…and the safety and instructional booklet specifically states that it is NOT to be used above the neck.  But the sole reason I purchased it was to use it in that exact forbidden manner.  I threw caution (and common sense) to the wind, placed the ergonomically curved handset against my chin and pushed the button.  There was a zap-click, a flash of bright light and a momentary sting on my skin but I didn’t spontaneously combust or go blind.  There was a distinct smell of burnt hair, but that was all.  The second time around, I pumped that sucker up to full power, no fear.
After about a month and a half of every other week use, I noticed a marked reduction in the amount of regrowth where I had been using it.  Here’s the drawback…for me, at least.  During the treatments, you cannot tweeze.  WHAT!?  You can shave (wow…shaving my face…way to make me feel even more like a dude) but because of the way the light works, it needs those little dark pin points under your skin to find and zap in order to do its job.  If you tweeze, there’s nothing to find and the hair will grow back just like it was before you tweezed.
So I resigned myself to keeping an extra Gillette Venus Breeze in the shower reserved specifically for blindly scraping at my chin, neck and upper lip while showering.  It wasn’t so bad, I guess.  I only cut my chin once.
Long term, as long as I use the IPL on a regular basis – generally once every couple of weeks – the hair growth on face and neck is much finer and sparser than it is if I slack and forget to zap my face.
I have experienced the “miracle” of carrying a child and giving birth.  Some would say that is the epitome of womanhood.  Eh, I don’t know about all that business but I do know that it would be nice to be a girl and not have to obsess about keeping my face hair free.  I realized that is a personal choice but I have a thing about body hair in general (I’ve been shaving my arms since I was a sophomore in high school…story for another time).  More great stories about girls with a ‘stache are Bearded Lady, by Mara Altman and this spectacular blog post by one of my favorite strong ladies, The Militant Baker, Jess.  Being a woman can sometimes suck but I’m pretty sure I’ve already blogged about that.
Image via

Ph-Ph-Ph-Phases

The boy loves to make fun of my “phases”, as he likes to refer to them.  I will, occasionally, become incredibly obsessed with something seemingly out of nowhere.  For example, about a decade ago, I decided that I wanted to be super fancy and start casually drinking wine at home…alone.  So, I went to Kohl’s to buy a set of wine glasses.  Next stop, the liquor store.  Thus far in my life, I had only ever had Arbor Mist.  If you’ve ever had this particular brand, then you know that I was no fine wine connoisseur.  I liked it because it didn’t taste like wine.  It tasted sweet and fruity, but with bubbles (bonus!).  So when I got to the wine section of the booze shop, I didn’t even know where to begin.  I bought a bottle of merlot, I honestly can’t remember the brand, I seem to remember it may have had fancy, scrolly leaves on the bottle.  I bought because it said it was bold and fruity.  It wasn’t expensive but I felt it was a step up from Arbor Mist…and it wasn’t in a box.  I just have this prejudice against boxed wine, no grounds or basis for it.  So I get home, wait until the appropriate hour (I reasoned that it should at least be dark outside) and then realized that “fancier” wines don’t have a twist off top.  After a handful of attempts at pulling the cork out with a paring knife, I resigned myself to the fact that my newfound elegance would have to wait until I could procure a corkscrew.  Let me just interject here, I am not a drinker.  I have never been a drinker.  I just don’t care for the taste.  Even the smell of beer makes me feel queasy.  I believe I picked up a bright red shiny corkscrew the next day, probably at Walgreens or the grocery store and was eager to fancy up my nighttime routine with a relaxing glass of red as I watched Pimp My Ride on MTV.  First sip, I thought I had make a mistake.  Did I accidentally purchase a large expensive bottle of limited edition, imported vinegar?  That phase was very short lived.

I go through recurring phases.  Reading books, where I will voraciously shred through four or five novels of mostly mystery and horror over the course of a few weekends.  Playing The Sims.  This is a dangerous one.  I can lose hours of my life in front of my 32” LCD computer screen clicking and motherloding my way through generations of Sims (have you heard of the Asylum Challenge??).  Binge watching Netflix.  Breaking Bad never seemed interesting to me until there was such hype around the finale.  So I started watching it on Netflix after the series concluded and when I got through the final eight episodes of season five, it seemed so…anti-climactic.  And then I realized, that wasn’t the final-final end.  Then I was on a frantic search for a way to view those last eight episodes.  I found that if I added a free extension to Chrome, I could log onto my Netflix account as though I were in the United Kingdom.  And THEY had the final episodes!  I had to watch it in my computer room but I didn’t have to wait, and that was all that mattered in that moment.
My most recent phase is tea.  More specifically, loose leaf tea brewing.  I went through a tea phase not too long ago.  I ordered boxes, and when I say boxes, I mean a box of eight boxes, of different Celestial Seasonings and Lipton and Bigelow.  Green tea, herbal tea, black tea, white tea.  Who knew there was so many varieties of tea offered in convenient, single serving tea bags!?  I had a special shelf on the kitchen wall to house my boxes of tea.  And don’t even get me started on my quest to find the perfect organic, unpasteurized local honey.  That phase lasted quite a while but, like all of my phases, eventually saw its end.  Until two weeks ago.
I was shopping at a local health food store, looking for a nice peppermint tea, when I spotted the fancy glass containers of the self-serve loose leaf teas.  Exotic sounding names that I’d never heard of; Rooibos, Mate̒, Pu-erh.  Oooooohhh.  I spied some blueberry rooibos, carefully lifted it down from its shelf, removed the top and inhaled the aroma.  It smelled so yummy!  I measured out a couple of ounces into a bag, grabbed a tea ball off the shelf and wandered up to the checkout.  When I got home, I put the kettle on, washed and dried the metal tea ball, loaded it up with some tea and waited for the whistle.  It did not disappoint.  While in the midst of my previous tea phase, I was heavy handed with the honey.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t need any sweetener at all with this loose leaf tea.  And so it began.
I found Teavana online.  What a treasure trove that place is!  I immediately found a coupon code for $40 off $100 and had no problem filling my quota.  As I added luxurious sounding blends such as Blueberry Bliss Rooibos and Raspberry Riot Lemon Mate̒ I clicked the magic button to check out and was delighted to see that I would also be receiving a sample of their most popular blend.  My order arrived, complete with my super fancy new mug and Perfectea brewing system.  I was hooked.  I am unashamed to admit that, at the mall today, I dropped $66 on a beautiful glass jar full of three pounds of natural rock sugar (some of their teas do need a bit of sweetening) and 8 oz. of their holiday blend, White Chocolate Peppermint, which I was able to sample in the store and immediately fell head over heels for.  By the way, you know that I am heavy into this phase if it drove me to enter THE MALL…I haven’t been in a mall to actually shop for myself in years (I don’t count popping in for a Sephora trip, that’s in and out).  Please excuse me while I brew myself some fanciness.  Pinkies up!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Millennialisms That Make My Ears Bleed (A.K.A., I'm Old)

Although my current number of regular readers is small, you guys are a very diverse group.  Each generation creates their own language of sorts.  I am a proud Gen-X’er, which is, like, totally rad, dude.  I am the parent of a Millennial.  I just don’t understand these kids today.  Here is a list of my top language pet peeves of the “next generation”.

 

1.       Sick: Crazy, cool, insane; “Yo, that tricked out Civic is sick!”

a.      Gen-X translation: Awesome, Rad, Sweet

In my book, sick will always mean “not feeling well” or “disgusting”.  I just can’t get on board with calling something sick when you think it is impressive.  I guess I don’t even understand the origin therefore it will never make sense to me.

2.    Butt-hurt: An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the "aggressor."  (See also: You mad, bro?); “Skylar totes rage quit COD today, he’s so ButtHurt”

a.      Gen-X translation: Pissed (loose translation, no direct equivalent)

This is just yucky.  It evokes an unpleasant visualization that no one wants floating around in their head.  What’s wrong with just saying that someone is upset or has had their feelings hurt?  Gross…just gross.

3.     Bae: Girlfriend, boyfriend, crush, or any other sort of significant other (See also: Boo); “Bae be lookin’ hot in those yoga pants.”

a.      Gen-X translation: girlfriend/boyfriend

I have read that this one may have its origins as an acronym for “Before Anyone Else” but I have my doubts.  Much like “ho” of my generation, I have my suspicions that this term is derived from mumbling and/or poor annunciation.  It just sounds ignorant, please stop.

4.    Turnt up: A state of altered consciousness induced by alcohol or narcotics; “Kayla’s parents are out of town and she’s having a huge party, imam get turnt up tonight.”

a.      Gen-X translation: Lit, Baked, Drunk, Loaded

I suppose that someone, somewhere, thought it sounded “cool”, which is likely how all euphemisms get started, but I just think it sounds ridiculous.  You turn up music, you turn up the lights, you turn up when you’ve been missing.

5.    Ratchet: A person, typically of the female persuasion, who is viewed as trashy, loose or fake; “Day-um, Alicia’s weave is so fake, that bitch is ratchet.”

a.      Gen-X translation: Ho (I really hate that one, too), Trashy

First of all, why do we need another term to degrade our fellow girls, c’mon, ladies…really?  Second, it seems to be another bastardization of proper English in the mispronunciation of wretched.  I do understand that this term also has roots in the drag community and I can’t even pretend to understand the where’s, how’s, and why’s of a community I have only experienced through RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Carry on, ladies.

So, there it is.  I have come to terms with the fact that this list may very well be my clue that I am getting old.  I don’t care.  There will always be new and ridiculous sounding slang and phrases that will pop up.  I can’t wait to hear the boy, twenty years from now, complaining about the slang of the next generation…I’ll write a blog post about it.
P.S.,  Thank you to Urban Dictionary for helping me ensure the integrity of the definitions of these awful, awful words.
 
Image Via.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is Calling Yourself an Everyoneist a Dick Move?


This year, I discovered that I am a Feminist.  This discovery wasn’t the result of any intentional action or reaction, it was that I only recently learned what Feminism is and what it means to be a Feminist.  And it made sense to me.  I was all, like, “Hey, yeah, I’ve always though that everyone should be treated equally!”  And henceforth, I considered myself a Feminist.  But now, as I read through my Twitter feed and browse links and posts on Facebook, I am coming across article after article that ends up inadvertently making a mockery out of feminism.  It’s obvious that the intention of the original article or message wasn’t to diminish the feminist theory, but the conversation starts to degrade into segregating feminists into classes beyond social, political and economical: white, privileged feminists, WOC feminists, cis-gendered feminists, able-bodied feminists…I could go on but I won’t.  Wait a minute, I thought the very principle of feminism was equality?  Why are we further isolating ourselves?  What gains can we expecting out of this behavior?
 
So I thought, ok, I do really support the basic theories and beliefs of feminism but I’m not too keen on this trend of splitting the ladies (ahem, and gents) up into different classes just to throw hate and call bullshit on one another.  We can disagree with one another and still all subscribe to the same values, can’t we?  I started thinking, well, maybe I’m more of a “Humanist”.  That sounds like the “can’t we all just get along and have equal rights” that I believe feminism was founded on but extrapolates it to include EVERYONE….right?  Apparently, Humanism is a real philosophy and has been around for much longer than feminism.  And it isn’t at all what I was thinking.

Humanism: A branch of philosophy and ethics that advocates for equality, tolerance, and secularism; commonly referred to as the “separation of church and state”.

Well….I may not be a religious person but I believe that people who wish to align their beliefs under an organized (or disorganized) religion should be free to do so.  Just as I don’t push my religious friends to “drop God” in favor of science, they don’t think any less of me for my sciency outlook.  And while googling humanism, realizing that my belief system was much broader, I stumble upon Egalitarianism and think, is that me?

Egalitarianism: A form of political philosophy that advocates all human beings are fundamentally equal and therefore entitled to resources.

That’s a bit closer but still not hitting the mark.  Entitled to resources?  What does that really address?  Equality needs to go beyond “stuff” and into the realm of action, reactions, benefits, and consequences.  You can’t just hand everyone a dollar and say you’ve done your part to make the world equal.  Maybe I need to revisit feminism.

Feminism: A social movement advocating for equal recognition of human rights and associated protections for all genders.

So if it’s a social movement for equality among all genders, why was it coined Feminism to begin with?  I really only ask this as a matter of rhetoric, I have done a fair amount of reading and I understand that the movement was founded in the blatant disparages between how things are for men versus how they are for women.  I get it, so I’m not going to go into the deep philosophical and social nuances of “why fem”.  Over the last decade, with the forward movement of acceptance (or at least acknowledgment) of the extreme diversity of human sexuality and gender identity, doesn’t the term feminism perhaps perpetuate a bit of exclusion to those who aren’t knowledgeable on feminist theory?  Sometimes I feel like the title alone prevents a feeling of all-inclusivity.
Personally, I don’t shy away from the feminist title.  Probably because, through life’s experiences, I have developed a semi-impervious shell to protect me against the backlash of haters.  Now I have to tip toe around again for fear of being labelled a “white, privileged, cis-gendered, able-bodied feminist” by other feminists who may not agree with a particular point of view or opinion?  What kind of crap is that?  What happened to maintaining a safe place for healthy, open dialogue about things?  What’s wrong with a heated debate between two feminists, where we listen to and respect each other’s views without compartmentalizing those views as “well, YOU can easily say that because YOU are/aren’t <fill in the blank with an external characteristic>”.
So why can’t I identify myself as an Everyoneist?  Of course I am all for the equality of men and women.  But I also wouldn’t want the rights of one “group” of people to suffer for the advancement of another.  Does using the term “everyoneist” make it sound like I’m being too…removed?  Too general?  Well, with social media trending with hashtags like #NotMyFeminism and #GamerGate creating such upheaval that people lose sight of where they even began, feminism is quickly becoming a place that doesn’t feel so welcoming anymore.
Image via.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Daylight Savings Time is a Dirty Liar


 
I did NOT gain an hour of sleep last night.  The seductive lure of this promise had me foolishly giving the finger to my mounting exhaustion last night as I said to the boy as the clock read 1:21 AM for the second time, “Sure, let’s watch Red Dawn.”  Last night was one of our mother-son bonding nights, as we occasionally have on weekends.  It’s important to spend time with your children.  Yes, he *technically* isn’t a “child” at age 20, but….semantics.  Some nights, we have mutual gaming marathons, lasting well into the next morning, the boy playing Madden or Minecraft on his Xbox One while I play KOA Reckoning or Minecraft on my Xbox 360 right alongside.  I realize this isn’t exactly a typical scenario that comes to mind when one thinks of mother/son quality time but, hey, it’s been working for us for over a decade and if it ain’t broke….well, you know the rest.  Anyway, moving on….
My day yesterday, leading up to our night of gaming and movie viewing, consisted of mostly writing and doing things related to writing.  I launched a Facebook page for my blog (shameless plug…*LIKE* me HERE!), I chose new profile pics for my social media platforms, I designed an original digital/sharpie piece of artwork to use as my FB cover and Twitter banner.  I was busy.  And all the while I was clicking away one the laptop, SpikeTV was on in the background airing their standard Cops marathon (seriously, is there ever anything else on that channel?).  I wasn’t really watching it but my subconscious was picking up bits and pieces.
Back and forth between the laptop in the living room and the big Lenovo desktop in the office, I was sending pics and documents back and forth because I just can’t seem to get my home network working properly.  I kept getting AV pop-ups on the Lenovo about blocked intrusion attempts and quarantined threats.  This started happening about a week ago and since I occasionally fall victim to ADD (hey…a kitty!), I decided to take some time and google around about these intrusion attempts.  Looks like the good ol’ Lenovo has contracted Ebola (too soon for jokes?).  DLL.exe COM surrogates….yeah, I can function pretty well as “tech support” for my mother but when I started reading threads about this brand of malware and viruses, yeah, I decided the only step I was comfortable with at this point was a deep scan by the AV followed by a full scan by the Malicious Software Removal Tool.  Norton did turn up one virus that it quarantined but the MSRT claims to have found nothing.  I am suspect because when it was finished, I still had seven COM surrogate DLLs in my processes.  *heavy sigh*
In between all those scans, the boy and I were enjoying our time together…

“MOM!  When are you coming in here??  Geez, you and your stupid social media lately!”

“Just give me five minutes, I want to finish up what I’m doing.”

“Fine, we can watch your show but you BETTER stay off your phone!”

*feels incredible sense of irony at that remark*

“You’re really gonna make me drive thru Taco Bell, why can’t you go?  You know I hate going for us cuz you always order like 20 things!”

“I’ve never in my life ordered 20 items from Taco Bell…besides, we can try out their new app!”

“Ugh, I suppose I’ll watch Airplane but it better not be dumb…wait, it’s THAT old?!”

“Yeah, but it’s really funny”

(from the office, to no one in particular…) “Are you f*n SERIOUS right now?! No malicious software found?!  I still have SEVEN dll COM surrogates running right now!!”

“I have no idea what you just said but it was freakin’ hilarious.”

Somewhere in there, the boy decides it’s as good a time as any to bathe the stanky dogs, a chore he prefers to have an audience for so I find myself in our “quaint” (read: small) bathroom with the boy and both dogs.  With both dogs bathed, the litter boxes cleaned and diabetic cats all shot up with their nightly insulin fix, we return to the boy’s room for more entertainment time.  As the credits roll on Cabin in the Woods, we laugh at the fact that it’s now 1:20 AM, again, and decide to watch Red Dawn (the one from 2012 with Josh from Drake and Josh).  Not long into the movie, he decides he’s finished gaming for the night and attempts to crawl into bed amongst the damp and inconveniently placed dogs.  My exhaustion ramps up to high and I decide it’s time for me to surrender to it and go to sleep.
I make my ritualistic pre-sleep pit stop in the bathroom and then climb into bed.  There’s a nice chill in the air so I leave the ceiling fan on medium rather than OMG-IT’S-GOING-TO-TAKE-OFF and burrow under the covers.  Within minutes, I have one cat laying on the pillow to my left, another crowding next to my right thigh and, of course, little Georgeanne, asking to be scooped under the covers to cuddle in the cradle of my left arm (I’m a left-side sleeper).  This is a process, the cuddling of little Georgeanne, my eldest feline.  In her agedness, she has grown "eccentric".  She will walk around the house, loudly declaring her presence, for no apparent reason (this often happens around 2:00 AM).  Her nightly requests to join me under the blankets has evolved from cute to annoying to downright dangerous.  What began as soft mews and gentle paw taps on my forehead have developed into nips and bites of my neck, chest and flabby upper arm.  I mean, she really gets into it, grabbing with her tiny front pearl teeth, sometimes shaking her head back and forth like she’s trying to kill a small animal.  I have a number of tiny bruises to show how much little Georgeanne loves me.
 
As I lie there, trying to fall asleep to the not-so-gentle bites of my 16 year old cat, I suddenly find that I am unable to stop playing Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys’ over and over in my head…”bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you”.  Is this real life right now?  Then, like it was some f*d up theme song, I start thinking about the computer virus.  And then I start to ask myself if I should buy Lena Dunham’s book now, in light of the recent controversy or if that would be weird because, I mean, I really like Lena but those quotes were kinda off-putting.  And then (bite, bite, bite) I wonder if I’ve unknowingly sent that virus to the laptop or my phone (is that a thing?) with all my file transferring.
At some point, I did fall asleep…only to wake up at 7:30 AM new time.  Did it ease my mind to think, “Gee, if this were a day ago, it would actually be 8:30 AM”?  No, of course not.  Because Daylight Savings Time is a dirty, lying bitch.

Images via, via

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why so hateful?

Srsly, stop it...

Why so much hate?  Sometimes, as I browse through my Facebook timeline or Twitter feed, I can’t help but click on the comments of a story that I know is a “hot” topic.  I don’t know why I do it.  I know it’s going to give me pause to question why I returned to the world of social media after saying goodbye a few years ago.  I am not naïve to think that everyone should think like I do.  I am all for individual opinion.  However I do not think that it is crazy to believe that an individual’s opinion should not compromise another individual’s safety.  Maybe you know what I’m talking about or maybe you don’t but thinking about some of the most recent “hot” topics being shared and commented on across social media, I am sad to acknowledge that I am part of this “human” race.

Ebola.  The word itself brings up feelings of unease and the unknown.  If you limit your “knowledge” of Ebola to the sensationalized “news” reports of your local media, you might be inclined to think that there is a real threat of an Ebola pandemic in America.  You might even start to feel like this terrible virus finding its way into the United States is all part of some huge conspiracy of some sort.  There are laws in place to provide safety for the public for anyone arriving in the US who have been in Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone in the previous 21 days before coming to here.  This is a safety measure.  So many news media outlets seem to revel in the chaos they encourage when they choose to take very single preventative quarantine, even where there are no signs or symptoms, and make it an “OMG EBOLA IN OUR COUNTRY” pseudo-news story.  Pick any one of the myriad “Ebola Scare” stories on the web right now and you can likely find a number of comments about how “those people should be shot” or “send them all back where they came from” or “burn ‘em” and this makes me sad.

Street harassment.  That phrase can mean so many things, depending on the context and the person.  The video that has been recently circulating was intended to provide one person’s point of view on the subject.  People have attacked the editing of the video, saying that it shows only a racist view of street harassment.  Others will scream that those men were being nice, complementary even, and how dare she call that harassment.  What so many of the opinions are doing is negating the fact that this is what SHE felt about HER experience.  It seems it has become the general public’s right, no, responsibility to diminish a person’s feelings about how they perceive their life experiences and this makes me sad.

Fat Girl Costumes.  This one is timely since yesterday was Halloween.  Several website ran stories on one online retailer’s controversial clothing category titled “Fat Girl Costumes”.  Four of the pages I follow on Facebook alone had this story highlighted recently.  This one was a great example of a behavior I like to call “blind commenting”.  So many people seem to have huge, important opinions on social media that only make one thing glaringly obvious: they did not read the article/look at the picture(s)/watch the video.  They made a decision about something solely based on the lead title and/or picture without knowing the whole story...isn't this sort of, oh, I don't know...judging a book by its cover?  This was not a story about plus sized costumes or even fat girls.  It was about an unfortunate choice of one marketplace vendor’s words when naming the category of a certain selection of women’s costumes.  I don’t use the term “unfortunate” here because I disagree with using the term “Fat Girl” as a descriptive.  Hell, I’m a Fat Girl and I’m not afraid to use the term.  It’s only a word, a descriptive word, like thin or tall or short.  It only draws gasps and causes feelings of shame because people have allowed it to be used in a derogatory manner.  A word is only powerful in a negative way if you let it.  Commenters who said that Fat Girls should “be happy they have costumes that fit them” and need to “take a look in the mirror and put down the ice cream” and “get up off the couch once in a while” are the same kind of judgmental individuals who will take any opportunity to shame someone who is different than they appear to be.  As much as we try and break down the barriers of hate and shame that have been built up over years and years of being told what is beautiful and what is ugly, it is so ingrained into the average American’s psyche, I believe that even those of us who are actively fighting against these stereotypes and profiling still find themselves fighting that fight internally every day, which makes it ever more difficult to turn the other cheek when it comes at us from others and that makes me sad.
 
Renee Zellweger.  Love her or not, she has reemerged into the public eye.  Bridget Jones, Jerry Maguire, Reality Bites, Me, Myself & Irene...pretty sure we've all seen at least one movie with Ms. Zellweger.  She removed herself from the limelight for quite some time.  No one "needs" to know why or what she was doing, she's completely entitled to live her life privately.  As she returns to the big screen, she bring herself back to the red carpet and, unwittingly, into a firestorm of the public's harsh and cruel scrutiny.  "Why did she ruin her face like that", "she used to be so pretty", "what the hell happened to her face".  No, Renee, I think you look great and congrats on your upcoming film.  I am happy that she found a project that she was excited about.  So, public, you would prefer that she go under the knife or needle to conform to what your expectations of her looks are?  Wow, that's pretty f*d up and that makes me sad.
 
There are so many other things and events that people glom onto to spread their hate.  If you find yourself wanting to respond to a story about a person – a HUMAN BEING – by deciding that they should die, maybe think what that is saying about you as a HUMAN BEING.  Yes, there are heinous acts that are carried out by humans every day and that is horrible.  And of course people have the right to be appalled, horrified and angry and even confused at these acts.  Child abuse, terrorism, rape, animal cruelty…all horrific things that I wish would just stop…but they’re out there.  How does wishing death or violence on that person go toward making change in society as a whole?  I am no idealist.  I do not consider myself a pacifist.  I have even found myself, in the midst of an awful personal experience, thinking how the person causing me pain should feel the same pain they’re causing me.  I think that is a common coping mechanism but it’s a fleeting thought and it passes as quickly as it arrives.  You don’t dwell on it and you certainly wouldn’t put it in black and white on the world wide interwebz…..would you?  Those who take news stories and such things so intensely personal and choose to lash out and wish harm to others, well, that makes me sad and I’m really tired of being so sad every time I scroll through Facebook and Twitter.

Rather than being sad, I have decided to make this into an opportunity.  An opportunity to weed out all of the pages and people that bring my smile down.  I will no longer engage those commenters, not even to ask why they are so filled with hate, because it never changes their opinion or outlook anyway.  It’s just giving them what they wanted to begin with, undeserved attention.  Life is hard enough.  My sadness ends here.
I dare you to look at this and not be happy...
 
Top image via

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tomorrow is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

Snow....why snow? (Image via)

Now I've done it. I've left my cozy, cocoon-like comfort zone. The windows have been shut, the curtains drawn and the door locked, nailed shut and wallpapered over.  There might even be a slightly askew bookcase in front of it that makes you feel that there's something...off....about it, making you back away uncomfortably, not wanting to be near it yet not wanting to look away...whoa, sorry, went a little horror-novel there for a second...moving on...  I posted for a new position at work and I got it...I start tomorrow. It is scary and exciting. You get in a rut, you know? Some people choose to call it a groove, but it's all semantics. Rut, groove, track....it all means that potentially your entire life consists of what happens between two distinct, never changing points, A and B. It's comforting because it's expected. When you're always on the same train going to and from the same place, things seem calm and relaxed but then you start to wonder what else it out there.

I've always had a job, ever since I was 16, with the exception of a few months I tried my hand at being a stay at home mom when the boy was a baby. From Target cashier to bank proofing operator to industrial engineering tech to senior claims representative, I've worn many different hats, professionally speaking. One common theme that presents itself in my adult life is that I've never changed jobs unless it was forced upon me. “Change is stupid,” said the me between the ages of 18 and 36. Whether I was working in a job that I loved or not, I envisioned myself retiring from that position with no want or aspiration to ever change or evolve.

It all started with the foundry that shall remain nameless, where I was slated to be the third generation to retire from there. My dad would have been the second and his dad was the first. Notice that conditional “would have been” qualifier for Dad? Grandpa's legacy never went beyond his retirement from that dirty, lung-blackening place because they closed down even before Dad could retire. I was comfortable there. Over the course of seven years, I went from part-time payroll clerk to full-time industrial engineer tech running my own department (albeit a department of one – me). I had friends there and was very good at my job. When it happened, it wasn't a surprise that they were closing down. It happened in stages, changing ownership, reorganizing, bankruptcy, downsizing here and there. I was lucky enough to be among the last few to have to move on, leaving only a handful of friends behind to complete the business of shutting down in the weeks after I left.

Moving into the first job offered to me post-foundry, I found myself thrust into the world of insurance, specifically health and life. It was a national, yet small company and the office I worked in was one of the last remaining satellite locations (should have been a clue...). I quickly learned everything one could want to know about health insurance and more. I even took advantage of the free industry-centric education offered there and earned the illustrious ACS designation from LOMA. If that means nothing to you, don't feel left out, it is a very specific program for the insurance industry and means very little outside of those walls. I quickly became, once again, comfortable in my role and good at my job. When the company was purchased by a larger one, I started having deja vu, feeling that the writing was on the wall. We were assured that it would continue on, business as usual, which it did..for a while. Then, it happened again. I was out on medical leave when I got the call to tell me that the decision was made to close that location, essentially downsizing the entire staff there. We were free, no, encouraged to apply for a new position at the location a couple of miles away however it would be in a totally new division and no one was guaranteed a spot. I was lucky that when my leave was over, I applied for and was offered a position in one of the other division and my “time served” came with me so it was less like starting over than it could have been, and I was grateful for that.

Having been through the drama of the dreaded office closing twice, I made a silent vow to myself that I would do whatever it took to make sure that this was the last job I would ever have. Once again, I worked at becoming very good at my job. After seven-ish years, I found myself curious about what I might be capable of beyond my current role. The company is huge with too many divisions to think about with a myriad of opportunities to move around in all directions. Having the advantage of being granted the luxury to work from home, all it took was to narrow my job search down to a few key words along with specifying a telecommuting environment and **poof** look at all the choices! I would throw my hat in the ring here and there, secretly terrified that I may actually get a call of interest in my resume and cover letter. My inner child was constantly arguing with my inner responsible adult between “not fixing what ain't broke” and “why limit your opportunities”.

So, here I am, at the escarpment of my new adventure. I've achieved the new position. I know I am capable of this new role. Why am I scared? I'm distracting myself with the minutiae. Changing the time on my recurring alarm on my phone. Spending way too much time selecting the perfect song to rouse me from my slumber on that first day of the rest of my life. Blogging about being nervous to start a new position...wait, where was I going with this...

Tomorrow I will wake up two hours later than I had been rising on workdays. I will do my morning routine and settle in to log onto my work computer. The same computer that I had been so proficient in using just a few days ago. Logging on to the lesser known, the uncomfortable, the challenging. I read once that you can't move forward without taking that first step. I thought at the time, “How asinine, who thinks this shit up?” Well, I get it now. I am solicitous to start my day tomorrow. I am appreciative to have earned this chance at transformation. It isn't nearly as intimidating as starting anew at a completely different company (shout out to my courageous cousin and friend Steph for bravely exiting her comfort zone for new exploits on new grounds!) but I'm sanguine going into my new post. The first step is upon me, I'm moving forward...by choice for the first time in a very long time...and it feels pretty wonderful (but still slightly terrifying).

Sunday, October 12, 2014

5 Reasons Why Sunday is the Worst Day of the Week

I think a pretty common philosophy in America is that weekends are the best thing about being a member of the working community (or a student).  Traditionally, one considers the weekend to start at the close of their workday on Friday and end when they go to sleep on Sunday.  I recognize that there are people who work a job where these are not guaranteed days off (thank you for your dedicated service, grocery store clerk, et al).  But for me, I have that traditional weekend.  And here are five reasons why Sunday is a million times worse than Monday in my book.



1.  You have good intentions to get things done over the weekend.  You make lists.  Laundry, grocery shopping, yard work, give the dog a bath, vacuuming, cleaning out the gutters.  You really mean to get them done.  And now it's Sunday and you've done one or two of those chores, if any.  Do you buckle down and get them done, thereby rushing through your last day of would-be rest and relaxation?  If not, you'll go to bed kicking yourself for not getting your shit done.

2.  Sports.  You either love them or you don't.  Racing, football, fencing... whatever... there always seems to be one sport or another on television on Sundays.  If you're totally into it, you're stressing about your team and your fantasy league.  You have to remember, were these the socks you wore the last two times they won?  If you're not into them, good luck finding something to watch.  And if you're of the unluckiest of the bunch, you couldn't care less about sports but live with a fanatic.  Restful Sunday is an oxymoron in your household as small bits of life are startled out of you everytime their team misses, or scores, or almost scores, or... anything.  The shouts and incomprehensible guttural noises made in support or scorn of one's team is something I will never understand.


3.  It's always too early or too late.  Facing work Monday morning leaves you to bargain with yourself between turning in early so you're fresh and well rested for work in the morning or squeezing every last drop off R&R out of your weekend before resigning yourself to start all over again in the morning.  Seems whichever you decide, it's always the wrong choice when the alarm sounds.


4.  Is it the beginning of a new week or the end of one?  I look at a calendar and it tells me that Sunday is the start of the week.  But it's always included when someone talks about the weekend.  Is it my chance to start anew or my last hurrah before a life-changing new week?  Perpetual dieters or anyone wishing to quit smoking, you know what I'm talking about.


5.  You never know what to expect from a Sunday.  At least you know, it's Monday, I have to work today.  But Sunday, depending on how you have spent your Friday and Saturday, you may be up with the sunrise on Sunday morning or you may not roll out of bed until noon-ish.  And if you're someone who has an active social life and choose to party on a Saturday (not my thing but I see plenty of social media comments and posts) then you may have no choice but to use Sunday as a recuperation day, possibly spending your first hour or so having quality time in front of the toilet.

Whatever direction your Sunday takes and however it shapes up, it never seems to live up to expectations.  There are never enough hours to get everything done while still taking that final day to wind down before returning to the grind the next morning.  Sunday is an inevitable concept, even if it isn't on Sunday.  There will always be that last day before you have to get back to being a contributing member of society, and that day will always be disappointing.
(Images Via, Via, Via, Via, Via)