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Posts Tagged ‘Random’

Okay, so I wrote this post on my job huntin’ site. It’s about the stuff I’ve learned by living amongst stay-at-home moms rather than through analyzing them in research reports, a task that was ironically, a big part of my former job.

The post idea was spurred by all this reflecting on what-in-the-heck has happened to me over the last 10 years. I swear, I used to feel so foreign in my suburban surroundings. I didn’t know how to be a mom, give my days structure, make friends, cook, or have a hobby. Nothing felt right or familiar or as I expected.

Now ten years later, I’ve gotten used to being at home. I’ve ushered my kids off to school successfully (enough), made great friends, cultivated some interests and adjusted to the pace. Dare I say, I enjoy it.

I remember how I used to love going to work, carrying my latte and tote bag. I loved the big windows in my office and the cold bottles of Evian in the conference room down the hall. I felt at-home in a black suit. I thought nothing of giving a presentation. I could draft a Powerpoint “deck” in a single afternoon. I had business cards, a title and an assistant.

Now I sit in reception areas waiting for interviews, and I feel completely ridiculous. I don’t like the smell of offices. The fake, piped-in air seems toxic. I see stress on faces that race past the waiting room, and my stomach hurts. I’m tortured with my inability (or desire) to button-up myself up into a business persona. I’ve spent the last ten years speaking frankly and cracking self-effacing jokes. I’ve forgotten how to wear a poker face or use terms like “circle the wagons” without laughing.

So I ring my hands and force myself to keep trying. Maybe this adjustment can be different. Maybe it will take less than ten years, two nervous breakdowns and 92 desperate blog posts.

Yeah, so…got any advice for me? Anyone? Bueller?

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Another day, and I’m once again — job hunting: slow-going, confusing, overwhelming and confidence-slashing.

This morning I started off with productive intentions. I searched news sites and Twitter feeds for articles pertinent to my fanciful job ideas. Then I treated myself to just a peek at Facebook where I saw a local Jcrewville mother posting about moving her blog to a new host site. I barely know her, even though we’re technically friends (and I mean that literally). So I got right to stalking.

After getting 404’ed multiple times, I did find her Twitter feed, which led me to contemplate following her, which led me to re-visiting my own profile, which led me to re-designing it, which led me to losing two hours of  job hunting in lieu of a slightly prettier profile background. And because I’m so research-inclined, I went back to her tweets, comparing them to my tweets (or lack thereof) in order to discern her social media prowess versus mine.

Wondering who won? Please, I don’t gossip. 

Three hours later, I was no closer to drafting one (just one!) cover letter than I was yesterday.

But then yesterday, my daughter was puking, so I gave myself the day off to wipe puke off the walls, wash five hundred loads of laundry, and scrub doorknobs, remote controls, phones and faucet heads until my hands were raw. Somewhere around 4pm, I think I brushed my teeth (can’t confirm that 100%).

The whole time I kept asking myself, do I feel sick? Am I getting sick? So to ease my suspected illness, rattled nerves and enormous dose of self-pity, I ate everything white in the house: white bread, cold pasta, crackers, toasted bagels with cream cheese and vanilla ice cream.

Now today, I’m not only behind on things, I’m bloated. My black stirrup jeans (yes, you heard that right) are tighter than appropriate –if stirrup jeans were ever meant to be appropriate after 1985. 

This afternoon I forced myself to go the library where computer time is limited to 60 minutes. It’s quiet here and there’s no fridge to taunt me with cold, simple carbohydrates. 

I am finding the folks around me highly distracting, however. I think the guy next to me has a tick. He keeps gesturing at the screen every (and I’m counting here) 20- seconds as though jabbing an imaginary friend with a “what the hell?” Oh, and he’s scribbling non-sensical (and I’m glancing here) tally marks on a napkin in between gesturing and typing. He’s wasting my time, and after much effort to ignore him, I only have 10 minutes…

…and three hours to come up with today’s answer to my husband’s daily question (which he still does, despite my pretending I didn’t hear him): “Soooo, what did you do today?” 

And that’s the sad truth here. Meanwhile, what did you do today?

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Every day I park myself at Starbucks to get some job-seeking work done. I find I’m most productive if I leave the house. Yesterday I made the beds, cleaned the kitchen, worked out and showered before I headed out.

Today I threw on a fleece, brushed my teeth (I think?) and left the house — a mess. That’s okay, because today I planned on getting a lot done by getting there early.

So I wander in feeling blurry-eyed and dirty, and take a table in the back by an outlet.

But next to me sit two men having coffee. A discreet-ish glance puts their ages at mid-50. They are having a LOUD, but friendly chat about politics. When I sat down it was about healthcare and though making great effort to ignore them, I caught pieces on homeland security. When the conversation moved to the divide between liberalism and conservatism, and how that divide is remarkably thinner here versus in other places, I couldn’t help myself.

I’ve decided to give up on working. There’s just too much to their conversation that I don’t want to miss. So I’m pretending to do something by typing this post, but really, I’m eavesdropping.

The guy with his back to me sounds exactly like Dustin Hoffman. He’s speaking with authority using phrases like, “Tell me this, Mister” and “that’s the kind of paralysis that…”

Meanwhile his friend is stretching out his words for emphasis, “Myyy price is entirely different,” and “their price is the saaaaame.”

What’s particularly distracting is how chewy and sparky their chat is — chockfull of names, dates, examples, and other places. Each one takes his turn with a thoughtfully articulate presentation of opinion. I’m struck by how substantive their time together is. I want to join them. I want to stretch my debate skills, form sentences with thought, reference things that I’ve read in the news (and/or pretend I even read the news).

I wish my friends and I chatted more often about things of cultural significance. I wish I got outside myself more often, and without such conscious effort. I wish, I wish, I wish…me…me…me.

I really do love that women are emotional creatures of detail and observation, and that we take such deep interest in the people around us that it’s often exhausting. But it’s refreshing to hear two goods friends talk about the world with passion and intellect.

I mean, is it just me in Jcrewville, or do other women have lengthy debates about legislative impact and cultural influences? Tell me, what do other women talk about?  

Damn, they’re leaving.

Me, too.

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‘Appy new year!

Hope your fresh start is brimming in optimism. Mine, as of day 4, has been good-ish. I’m putting serious effort into finding a job to fill my days and weary bank account. For ten years I’ve been swimming upstream in suburban utopia, and it’s time to get out and dry off (ew, bad metaphor and two clichés to boot — wait, three…). 

The first prong of my get-a-job strategy involves hunkering down in coffee shops all across town, sopping up free Wi-Fi while abstaining from mega cookies and buttery scones. I try not to peek at other laptop screens and/or eavesdrop, but the temptation — oooh, I tell you, it’s not easy. I think the lady to my right has a cool job. She’s drapped in a plum-colored scarf, hunched over her Mac and doesn’t appear to checking Facebook — a coffee-shop anomaly. Another guy in a too-big coat keeps making business calls to people I can tell don’t want to talk to him. He’s using an amped-up, folksy voice to coax them into thinking business with him is so fun.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, my second prong to the search involves soliciting friends and unfortunate blog readers (Mom, are you there?) for help. I’m conducting a little “grandma research” experiment as part of a potential job idea, which I won’t explain now because, well, you guys are busy, right?

Normally, being a purist, I eschew using a personal blog for anything impersonal. But 2011 is a new year, and I need to get something done. 

So I’m hosting a mini-writing contest. Yep.

My contest is this: win a free ten-dollar gift card to Starbucks (I know, not a windfall, but still: free!)  in exchange for a dazzling comment to the following prompt:

Tell me how you feel about Starbucks and why.

In ten days, I’ll randomly select a “winner.”

That’s right: ten days, ten dollahs. Exciting, no?

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Last week I finally got on a plane and went to visit my brother and his wife in San Francisco. Ten years ago I had grounded myself with (conveniently cited) budget constraints and a rabid fear of flying. This trip was big.

My mom went with me. Actually, the whole thing was her idea. Before surgery on her shoulder, she made me promise that when it healed, we could go. Imagining her on an operating table under anesthesia, I said yes. And shortly thereafter I was stuffing a boarding pass in my purse, and peeing my pants. 

I’ll spare you the story of the vodka-soaked flight over, but the visit itself was great. We had ideal weather, saw a lot, drank a lot, and of course, ate incredibly. My brother had to work, so for much of the sightseeing, it was just my mother, my sister-in-law and me. 

Did I mention, my sister-in-law is extremely smart and ambitious? She’s at the top of her class at a top law school. Oh, and she’s the managing editor of her law school journal.

Did I mention my mom is 71 and retired? She plays the piano at her church and bakes a mean mint brownie. After her shoulder was fixed, her hip started to bother her. And now her other shoulder hurts.

These two were my traveling companions.

My sister-in-law is forward-looking. “Maybe we should rent in the city and buy a house in Napa,” she told my brother one day. “Wouldn’t it be fun to make wine?”  She carried around a law-school book in her bag, and pulled it out whenever there was down time. She drove fast, weaving in-and-out of traffic, cursing dawdling drivers.

My mom lives in the present. She’s been married three times, and her number three is juuust right. She’s finally settled, and she loves nothing more than a long afternoon with a good book, or a day spent caning peaches. She’s challenged by her feet. After too much walking they hurt, and she has to sit to down and put them up.

I’m not sure where I’m looking or in what tense I’m living.  I feel too old to dream about a house in Napa, but too young to put my feet up. I know it’s not all that profound. Hello, I’m not young, I’m not old. That’s why they call it middle age.

But every time I go on vacation, I reflect. No matter how busy I am. I compare my vacation life to my other life, to the lives of those around me. I can’t help it. I’m crazy, so what. 

This time my assessments came from two generational data points. And I have to say, I felt boring. It’s hard to remember some of the dreams I’ve had, or worse, acknowledge they’ll never happen. Sure, I love my family, my house, having a garden and shelves filled with books.

But some days I’m bored, and restless. And oh gosh, what is there to look forward to? Sore feet, breast cancer, parents dying, kids leaving, friends getting divorced? 

Dont’ get me wrong, I’m grateful for what I do have. Some days, I’m even freakishly grateful. But other days, I want to go back — just a wee bit, and see if I couldn’t make better headway on those dreams.

It’s weird to be in the middle. It’s even weirder when you’re aware of it.

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Denial

Thursday: Went to make healthy granola bars for my girls. Came home and realized I forgot the oats. Made chocolate chip cookies instead. Ate six of them.

Friday morning: Ate four more.

Friday evening: Mojitos seemed harmless. I’d just have one — and a  few of the cheesey, fried appetizers and dip. Dip made me thirsty, had another mojito. Mojito made me hungry, had a few more appetizers. Thirsty again…

Friday late night: Ate the last three cookies.

Saturday: In bed all day with a cold. Needed comfort food: ordered Mongolian beef, egg roll and fried rice. Ate in my pajamas. Bummed the cookies are gone.

Sunday: Salad for lunch — healthy, fat-free dressing. Topped it off with an Oreo cookie malt. Promised I’d have a healthy dinner. Had a healthy dinner — two heaping plates of healthy dinner.

Monday: Wondering why I’ve gained weight. Maybe it’s my thyroid.

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* I woke up early this morning worried about my blogging friends. Even though I’ve been absent, I think of you guys. So I got out of bed at the crack to check blogs and see w’assup. My husband was all, “what are YOU doing up?” A summer sighting before 9am is concerning to him — or another opportunity to mock my summer hours. Either way, Dear, you’re welcome for making coffee.

* Lately, my summer indulgence is reruns of  “Sex and the City.” As soon as everyone goes to bed, I creep downstairs and curl up with HBO on Demand. Now older, I  fully appreciate Mr. Big. When I was in my thirties, I did not get the Big deal. Now I like, love the guy.

* I’m interested in summer reading recommendations. I just started “Little Bee” based on an urgent text to “run, not walk, to the bookstore to get this book.” Anyone? Any others I must read? 

* Last week, my husband and I rented the miniseries “John Adams.” Run, do not walk, to the store to get this one. Utterly absorbing and provocative. In fact, the other night, I was up late Googling Thomas Jefferson. I think Thomas Jefferson was hot. I might have to plan a trip to Monticello next summer — just to snoop around a bit. Anyone with gossip on TJ, please deposit here. Tom is now my Mr. Big.

Anyway, in the second half of the series, John Adams gets old. And his aging is well depicted – right down to his nasty, black teeth and spotty face. In his old age, people he loves die first. My husband and I were both speechless with the same realization: We, too, are headed into the latter half. Someone will be going first.

* And so age has been on my mind. Then yesterday, I took a few photos of some hosta blossoms. I was trying to be more aware, do more  of that “live in the present” stuff.

Afterall,  it’s summer — and at present, things are not too bad, my friends.

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