Thursday, March 31, 2011
This is not the first time I have heard this phrase. Nor, I’m afraid, will it be the last. This is not to say that I consider myself ‘not normal’ but, it seems, by the standards of others, I am a little…odd. I don’t consider myself odd. It’s hard to do that when the things you do every day seem normal to you.
I mean, look at the film, “Elf.” Buddy the Elf thinks it’s perfectly normal to put sugar on spaghetti, talk to raccoons and wear an elf costume. In his world, this is all normal behavior. It’s only when he goes out into the wider world that he realizes this is not what everyone else does and so he’s considered to be…odd.
Not that I’m comparing myself to Buddy the Elf. It’s just to illustrate the point that what might seem odd to others can seem perfectly normal to you. Normal is a very relative concept. In my case, what seems normal to me is watching the Top Chef: All Stars finale with a strong sense of anticipation. My very favourite cheftestant, Richard Blais, was in the final two. I have liked Richard since he was on Top Chef in Season 5. I think he’s an amazing chef who has an amazing sense of creativity. I’d never cook the way he does but I think some of his ideas are absolutely brilliant.
Anyway, (sorry if you haven’t seen it yet), long story short, Richard won. Naturally, I was very excited. I was so excited that I shouted “YAY! RICHARD WON” very loud at the TV. This proceeded to wake Sookie and Rory quite abruptly. After they got over their initial befuddled alarm as to why their mummy was shouting, they started to respond to my “YAY”’s with their own brand of excitement. It turned into a small, celebratory dance party with no music. This is quite normal for us. The pups and I often have dance parties. Sookie isn’t much of a dancer unless I pick her up and twirl her around the room. Rory, on the other hand, likes to jump up and down with me and keep up with my very uncoordinated but very enthusiastic dance moves. Sookie generally watches the two of us with a slight air of disdain. Although it might be confusion. Sometimes it's hard to tell.
Apparently, doggie dance parties aren’t that normal. I found this out today when my coworker asked if my “Top Chef” favourite won. I told her how excited I was for him and then told her about the dance party. This is how she came to say that somewhat familiar phrase of “but you seemed so normal when you started working here.” Keep in mind that this comes on top of my rather idiotically telling her a few days ago that one of the dogs and my favourite new games is “Throw the Rock into the Sewer Drain to Hear it Splash.” Apparently this is not normal either. How would I know? It’s what Rory, Sookie and I do on our lunch break now. It’s normal to us.
I probably don’t help my own case. I’m the twit who wonders aloud if you can eat Canadian geese and if they’d taste more like duck or goose when we pass by a flock on the way to an office lunch. It’s been ongoing since I started. It usually happens at all of my jobs. I start out being the proper British girl (or woman, I suppose I am now). Then, slowly, as my coworkers get to know me and I start to relax around them, I forget to act like a proper British woman and…I act like me.
It’s not that I’m not proper. Sometimes, I’m a little too proper. I can’t get used to my coworker putting chewing gum on the back of his hand when we go out to lunch nor can I get used to discussing bodily functions with my coworkers. However, I have also been known to be caught singing rather loudly in my office without realizing I’m actually doing it. This is not good especially when I’ve been singing the same line from one song over and over because it’s stuck in my head. I also like to bop my bobblehead of Ben Linus from Lost on the head so it bobbles and then cascade into a peal of giggles because he looks so funny.
You get the idea. As I said, normal is relative. I don’t think of my behavior as particularly odd until I get either an “ohhhkaaaay” from my coworkers or, worse, “The Look,” which, all at once, lets me know that I’ve made the mistake of letting people know too much of what goes on in my head and I should probably have kept my mouth closed.
Still, I suppose with this job, I should be pleased. It’s taken me six months before my coworker considers me weird. I think that may actually be a bit of a record. I’d like to think this is because I have an office and it’s a lot easier to ‘hide’ in an office. When you sit in a cubicle, it’s much harder to have chair boogies, sing-a-longs with myself and bobblehead moments without someone seeing you and giving you The Look or, worse, saying “What are you doing?” and being forced to realize that a) not only have you been spotted in a quite private moment but b) the tone of voice is conveying that it’s a weird thing to be doing and they’re a little concerned.
The nice thing about this job is that everyone’s a little weird so I don’t get judged. In my last job, office politics were horrible. It was the type of environment where if someone screwed up or did something ‘different,’ it would inspire gathered whisperings in offices, odd looks thrown and conversations with coworkers where they used that overly friendly tone associated with TV characters who are trying to calm down a person holding a gun.
Certainly, this sounds dramatic but, well, that’s how it was or, at least, how it felt. I might have imagined the tone of voice and maybe the looks but the whispered gatherings were real. The funny part is that there were some very loud whisperers and it was pretty obvious when they were gossiping and even what they were saying. That’s why it’s nice to work in my current office. If coworkers think I’m doing something weird or I say something weird, it’s greeted with a, “you’re very strange,” or “WHY on EARTH would you think about eating a Canadian goose?” I like that. It’s very refreshing to have upfront honesty like that even if it does make me question whether or not I’m normal.
Besides, as I said earlier, what is normal, anyway? Exactly. There’s no such thing. It’s all relative. I like my ‘abnormal’ world. It seems perfectly normal to me and that’s what counts, right?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I imagine that parents often feel the same way towards their children. I am aware that my furry little beasts aren’t quite on the level of responsibility that having a child might be but it’s the closest I’ve ever come.
Being a pet parents is still new to me. Sure, I’ve had my dogs over a year now but as with any living creature, each day is a whole new learning experience.
Take, for example, the simple but amazingly complicated puzzle that is food. My dogs don’t to eat dog food at home. I’ve tried different brands but most of the time, they eat begrudgingly and clearly don’t like what they’re being offered. What’s annoying is that I gave one of the bags of food my girls wouldn’t touch to my parents because their dogs DO eat the brand.
Imagine my frustration when my girls went straight to the food bowl at my parents’ house and started chowing down on the very food they turned their nose up at home.
In my attempts to get them to eat on a regular schedule and eat healthy but tasty food, I’ve resorted to buying canned food. I’m not a fan of canned food. It makes their, uh, poop smell bad and, also, it’s just not that appealing. However, there are some good, holistic brands out there. We’ve tried most of them. Rory, for example, loves chicken, blueberries, sweet potato dog treats and peas. So, I found the perfect can of food- it was chicken with blueberries, sweet potato and peas.
Would she eat it? No. Of course not. Why would she? It was DOG food. My dogs don’t like dog food unless it’s not me providing it to them.
Sookie is a little less fussy and deigned to politely put some in her mouth but she glared at me the whole time she was chewing and when she finally swallowed, her stare said, “seriously? You really expect me to eat more of that?”
I imagine this was not altogether different from the way my mother would feel when she’d put a plate of dinner in front of me and I’d complain, pick at it but not eat very much because I ‘didn’t like it.’ Then, I’d go to my granny’s, have a very similar plate of food put in front of me and I’d devour the whole thing AND ask for more.
Sorry, mum. I know I can only relate on a canine level but…I’m sorry for being so picky as a child.
I have discovered that if I leave the food down long enough, they will eat it out of hunger but I do wish they had a little more enthusiasm. We did find one food that they both loved. It was another holistic brand that was for ‘high energy’ dogs. They loved it and licked the plate clean afterwards. So, excited, I went to Petsmart to buy more.
Guess what? The bloody manufacturer had discontinued that particular line of foods. Needless to say, when the pet store employee told me that, he tried to recommend other, similar brands. My girls didn’t like any of them. We’re still trying new flavours and brands. The nice thing about dog food is there are a lot of varieties to try. I just avoid ones with bad things like corn, corn products and animal by-products because, well, that just sounds bad.
In addition to our food battles, my dogs also cannot be trusted to be left alone. Last night, for example, they were happily playing outside, chasing each other and staring into the fabled sewer grate. So, silly me, I thought it might be ok to take a shower.
I’m take fairly fast showers. I didn’t think it would be a problem for the 12 minutes it takes me to disrobe, shower and get dressed again.
So, imagine my exasperation and alarm when I’m just rinsing my hair and I hear Sookie’s ‘panic’ bark.
I’ve learned to recognize this ‘panic’ bark. I’ve experienced it more than several times when Rory has pulled her Houdini act and found a way out of the back yard and is running around near the street while Sookie barks with alarm. I’ve also experienced it when Rory finds the most miniscule hole at my parents’ house and runs off to explore the great wide beyond of the soybean field next door while Sookie barks with alarm.
Thus, I can distinguish the difference between Sookie’s, “SQUIRREL! MUST EAT SQUIRREL” bark, her “you’re annoying the crap out of me, Rory,” bark, her “I’m cute so come and get me bark,” and her “PANIC! RORY’S DOING SOMETHING BAD! PANIC! PANIC!” bark.
Rory has her own series of barks too, primarily distinguished by her “I’m bored, play with me,” bark, the “why are you petting her and not me,” yip and the, “Sookie, dude, I’m outside, why aren’t you,” bark.
However, it’s Sookie’s Panic bark I’ve come to dread. When I heard it last night in the shower, my heart sunk. I immediately washed all the soap off, turned off the water, grabbed a towel and rushed to the window to see what was happening. Sookie was waiting for me with an expression I recognized on her face: Rory was Up to No Good.
Rory is often Up to No Good. It usually involves paddling in my parent’s fish pond, discovering holes in fences, digging in inappropriate places, getting covered with mud by rolling in it or doing other things she shouldn’t be doing. Sookie can be a little naughty but Rory is usually the one who is Up to No Good.
Last night was no exception. Sookie’s worried expression and Panic bark were duly merited: Rory was running around in the Dog Whisperer’s yard.
I grabbed the nearest clothes which didn’t necessarily match, threw them on, grabbed a coat and put on my wellington boots. Needless to say, I probably looked a little like a bag lady or an eccentric English woman who wanders around saying “Would you like a cup of tea dearie?” while wearing a pot of daisies on her head.
I didn’t have a pot of daisies on my head, in case you were wondering.
When I went outside, Rory wagged her tail enthusiastically. Sookie Panic barked again. In my bag-lady get up with soaking wet hair, I realized that to retrieve Rory, I would have to go all the way through the house and out the front door because I had chains and padlocks on the gates due to Rory’s last Up to No Good escape attempt.
Dog Whisperer and his family were not home. I thusly claimed Rory by cracking open his gate, catching her before she could slide by and bringing her inside. Naturally, she got told off. She knew she’d been Up to No Good because for the rest of the evening, she looked at me with flattened ears and big, sorrowful eyes.
It’s hard to stay angry at such a pathetic creature but I was quite furious. I had to spend a good 20 minutes finding creative but foolproof ways to make the fence secure because she’d found a vulnerability where the chain link didn’t quite meet the ground and she’d burrowed under it. I’ve since ordered tent stakes to make sure the fence can’t be lifted up. Hopefully, when they’re installed, I’ll feel a little more relaxed. For now, I’m going to be paranoid every time I let the dogs outside and I can’t see them immediately from the window. They will not be allowed unsupervised outside for long periods of time and I will not leave them out when I take a shower.
The sad part is that since they’re dogs, not children, they won’t completely understand their punishment. I think Rory is smart enough to have deduced that Playing in Dog Whisperer’s Yard=Mummy is very angry but I don’t know if it’s enough to stop future escape attempts. I do know that as soon as I see Rory is not in the yard, my Code Red Alert button goes off in my brain and I start to panic that something bad will happen. My anger with them is as much from fear as from frustration. It shows how much the silly little creatures mean to me, I suppose. It’s just not good for the stress level.
Being a parent is hard. Even when your ‘kids’ have fur and four legs. Kids or dogs, they can still make you so angry you want to throttle them.
Even when you’re hugging them to you in relief that they’re safe.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
For example, today was remarkable because I got to make someone very happy. It’s a lovely feeling.
Part of the reason I was not happy in my last job (besides bad bosses, optimistic bathrooms and office politics) was because I didn’t get to work with people. As a general rule, I quite like people. Granted, there are days like I had on Saturday where I just feel crotchety towards the whole human race because they seem to be working against me but, for the most part, I generally like people. They’re unpredictable. They don’t always do the right thing. Yet they also make life nice and interesting. Also, it feels really good to help someone. I like helping people.
In my job, I see all types of candidates. I see the ones who aren’t employed because they were laid off and the job market has just been bad. I see the ones who aren’t employed because they were ‘let go’ from their job. One thing I have learned is that when someone was ‘let go’ from a job, they were never “fired” and it was never their fault. It was always the fault of the manager or the HR department. While I think in some cases, this may be the case, usually if someone was ‘let go’, there was a reason. It takes a while to dig to the reason.
During an interview, I’ve learned that I have to be sneaky to whittle out the good candidates from the weirdos. Another thing I’ve learned is that everyone is a little bit of a weirdo. Most of the time it’s manageable and it doesn’t really show. These are usually candidates who are currently in a job but want more money or more of a challenge. The candidates who haven’t had a job in a while but have been on a ton of interviews to no fruition…well, they’re a little trickier. Usually, I try to do in-person interviews with these folks. That way you can see them while they’re talking to you and it helps you figure out what might be ‘wrong.’
Sometimes, as awful as it is to say, it’s apparent quite quickly. For example, there are candidates that show up who clearly don’t bathe much. Sitting in a small conference room with them and having the door closed actually makes it quickly apparent that it might be a little hard to work with them. We can’t really discriminate against them but there are times when we do have to suggest that if they get an interview with a client, they need to be clean and tidy.
We’ve had candidates with no teeth. Quite a few of them, actually. I try not to discriminate on something so minor as having no teeth but it’s a little…offputting. We still try to send these candidates on interviews but we can’t control our clients’ reactions and, sadly, if they have a problem with toothlessness, we can’t force them to hire a candidate. It sounds mean because, after all, maybe they have no teeth because they have no job and I really WANT to help them find a job so they can get teeth but we have little control over if candidates actually get hired.
I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that I am not a bad person and I try to respect every person and so if I have someone come in who’s missing, say, an arm or a leg, I wouldn’t discriminate against them AT ALL. It’s harder with teeth. I can’t explain why. It just..is.
Maybe it’s because people with no teeth have a less interesting ‘story’ than someone with a missing limb. A missing limb could have been bitten off by a shark or mangled in a lawnmower. Missing teeth if knocked out in a fascinating way generally get replaced. If they’re missing without replacement, they probably just fell out. That’s not such an interesting story, say, as my dad’s story- he lost several teeth as a youngster by playing on a slide. They were playing “bridge’ where one person straddles the slide and the other kids slide underneath. My dad was the bridge. He fell off and knocked his teeth out.
My dad has a story to go with his teeth. He also have false teeth. He likes to flip them down so he has this rather creepy skeletal grin and do a slow wave. It makes me laugh every time. Also, he lost his teeth in the English Channel once. That’s another story to go with his teeth. Still, most of the time if there are false teeth involved, you don’t know they’re false teeth. Thus, if a candidate comes in without any teeth, false or real, you can’t help but wonder why they don’t have any teeth but you can’t ask their story.
That was a rambling about teeth especially since it most likely was a thinly veiled attempt not to make myself sound evil for judging someone based on their teeth. Or lack thereof.
Anyway, moving on, sometimes candidates come in and they seem normal. Then you ask them something as simple as “what’s your dream job” and they spend ten minutes explaining how it would be rebuilding antique cars. Now, while I think that’s a perfectly respectable ‘dream job’, it’s not terribly helpful. What I prefer is someone who says, “my dream job would be to work on antique cars but since that’s not very realistic, I’d like a job that fits my skillset, provides me with a challenge in a company that doesn’t suck.”
When I don’t get that response but, instead, a ten-minute diatribe regarding the beauty and freedom of the antique car, it’s a little…disturbing.
In short, what I’m trying to say with my ramblings about teeth, antique cars and amputated limbs is that it’s important to interview candidates in detail because it does actually work out. Which leads me to the original topic of today’s blog: Helping people.
A few months ago, one of my first placements was a lady who’d been out of work for a while and feeling down about it. When I told her she had a job offer, she was so excited, she hugged me and promised to send people my way. That was a good day and it made me love my job.
The best part is that she did send someone my way. It was a friend of hers who’d been laid off and had been out of work for months. Then she found a very low-paying job that made her miserable. When I talked to her, there was a certain level of empathy on my part. Having had a job where I had to psych myself up to get out of bed and go into the office every day and how I had to make sure to control my urges to strangle people with a yoga strap, I knew what she was going through. Thus, I wanted to help her.
Today, I got to tell her we’d found a position for her and that she’d be starting in two weeks. When she came in almost immediately to fill out her paperwork, she was so happy, she was almost crying. She gave me one of the hugest hugs and “thank you’s” I’ve ever had.
That’s why I do my job. The paycheck is nice. I like my coworkers. My office is nifty. I like that I get commissions and incentives.
Yet, honestly, cheesy as it sounds, that’s the best part of my job. It makes me feel like I’ve done something nice, something that’s slightly remarkable because I’m helping someone make their life just a little better.
Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a day remarkable.
That and a full set of teeth, real or false.
Don’t judge me. Please.
Monday, March 28, 2011
So, here I am…I’m having one of those days where I’m feeling listless and unsettled. Nothing is holding my attention for long. I can’t decide if I’m hungry or just wanting to eat because it’s something different to do. I’m not having any luck locating resumes for a job I’m trying to fill and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. It’s a great job for an entry level person. The salary is good and the experience will be invaluable. Yet I’ve sent at least 15 emails via Linked In and Monster.com to people who say they’re looking for this exact type of job and….nothing.
All in all, it’s just one of those days where I can’t settle down and do something. I start reading, I don’t feel like it. I put something on TV to watch and decide it’s not what I want to be watching. I start to blog and it’s not what I want to be blogging about. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it really is Spring Fever. I’m trapped inside because it’s cold and murky outside but I’m mentally prepared for warmer weather, planting seeds, taking warm walks with the dogs and mowing the lawn. There’s not much to be done outside when the thermometer peaks at 38 degrees and even on short walks, my hand that holds the dogs’ leashes gets cold even when I’m wearing gloves.
Some days are just indecisive days. This is one of them. I know I can’t be the only one who has them. I’ve had them all of my life. I remember as a child, there would be rainy days where no matter what toy I got out to play with, it wasn’t what I wanted. Even my books were not appealing because I’d start reading and decide I wasn’t in the mood. Now, as an adult, indecisive days manifest the same way that they did when I was a child. They’re sneaky days. You don’t expect them when you get out of bed.
Some days, they can be identified immediately. You get dressed in the clothes you laid out the night before and can’t decide if you want to wear that particular outfit. If you don’t lay out your clothes ahead of time, they result in a complete wardrobe crisis in which case you don’t even have a starting point about which to be indecisive. Having suffered from “Staring into the Wardrobe Full of Clothes and Finding Nothing to Wear” syndrome far too often in my life, I now attempt to counter this by picking out the next days’ outfit before I go to bed. This, at least, aids in the fact that if I’m suffering from “Staring into the Wardrobe Full of Clothes and Finding Nothing to Wear” syndrome when I pick out the outfit, at least I’m doing so at a time where I have ample time to have the crisis because the only penalty is going to bed later than planned.
If the indecision occurs the morning of the when I’m trying to pick out an outfit, not only am I groggy and unfocused but I’m likelier to be a foul-tempered beast all day because this is no way to start a day. Also, if I stare at the wardrobe for too long, then I could potentially be late to work. If you do lay out an outfit and put it on in the morning, you may not be aware that it’s an indecisive day immediately. Instead, the realization may arrive when you’re trying to decide between a Kashi Cranberry Granola bar, a Quaker Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bar or a Blueberry Nutri Grain bar to take to work for breakfast. It may occur when you’re sitting in a meeting at work and your boss asks which job openings you want to work on and your mind instantly goes numb and you have absolutely no idea. It can occur when you go home for lunch and can’t decide if you want to eat leftovers or make a salad. You get the idea.
The worst part about indecisive days are that no matter which outfit, breakfast bar, job opening or lunch item you choose, it will always seem the wrong one because you’re not really in the mood for anything. So, the day passes, listlessness sets in and indecision prevails. Now you can see why I had trouble blogging about anything. Nothing seemed right. No matter how witty I tried to be, it felt like I was trying too hard. No matter how chipper I tried to sound, I could tell I wasn’t feeling particularly chipper. Everything just felt…off. Thus, I decided to blog about the type of indecisive day I was having. I’ve got this far and I’m making the decision to just go with it. It’s not the most exciting blog I’ve ever written but I’m deciding to go with it because, at least, I’ve made a decision about something. It just doesn’t really feel like the right one.
But on days like this, there really is no right one. Even the right one would feel like the wrong one. I think I’ll blame Monday. That, at least, feels like the right decision.
Tomorrow, I’ll be more decisive.
I’m determined. That’s another decision and it’s definitely the right one.
Maybe things are looking up!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
It’s hard to know what to do when the weather is like this. Just yesterday, I was overly warm as I walked the pups around the neighbourhood wearing just a light cardigan. Today, I had to dig out my winter coat and I’m not sure it’s going to be warm enough to walk the girls. They quickly got used to the warmer weather and this morning, when I let them out, they trotted right back in and gave me an accusing stare as if to say, “Where’s the sun? Give it back!”
The weekend is also supposed to be grey and gloomy. I had plans to work out in the garden. Right now, my Tuscan room redesign project is at a standstill. The room is done except for the floor and getting a few pieces of furniture and I can’t do the floor until I get my dad to help me move the rather heavy cast-iron stove that dominates the room.
I should use the colder weather as an excuse to indulge in some of the activities I can’t justify when the weather’s nice. Staying inside and doing jigsaw puzzles, for example. Curling up on the sofa and watching bad movies would be another one. Even though I could do these things when the weather’s nice, I feel horribly guilty and feel as though I should be doing something more useful.
The problem with getting a taste of spring is that you quickly get used to it. I had mentally accepted the fact that it was time to start planting seeds and landscaping when, in fact, it really is too early, just as it is every year when I do the same thing. We’re still getting snow. Since most of the seeds I have state that they shouldn’t be planted until danger of frost is passed, it’s definitely far too early to think about planting them, especially when we’re still getting snow, never mind frost.
I’m pretty impatient my nature. I do recognize this fact but it doesn’t change it. This is why I want it to snow in October and why I want the weather to turn warm in April. I love winter and I like it when it arrives and passes but when spring starts being a possibility, I want it to be spring. The only season I don’t anticipate is summer. I’d rather have a very long spring and go right to autumn. Summer is hot, humid, full of bugs, flamingos and pink plastic drinking glasses.
You may wonder how flamingos and pink plastic drinking glasses belong in that sentence. It’s because when I think of seasons, my brain automatically jumps to associations. Spring is full of pretty flowery gardening gloves, little garden ornaments and seeds. These are what signify the season in the stores. Then when summer is nearing, the displays change to plastic tableware, patriotic stuff and paddling pools. Autumn is fake leaves and scarecrows. Winter is hot chocolate, gloves and snowman stuff.
I am quite aware that I’ve allowed commercialism to invade my perception. It’s not a good thing. Yet I can’t help it. It’s happened and I am a victim of Commercial Seasonal Disorder (CSD). It’s a new condition. I invented it. Feel free to use it.
So, it’s established. I suffer from CSD. Thus, when I think of summer, my brain thinks of plastic novelty ice-cubes in the shapes of summary things like fish and flamingoes.
What flamingoes have to do with summer, I do not know but doesn’t it seem like they’re featured a lot during the summer? Whoever decided flamingoes were summary? Is it because they’re bright pink?
Oops. I went off on a tangent. Imagine that. Back to the topic at hand- My impatience.
I’m impatient for spring now. I’m not angry with winter for intruding on the next season. After all, spring trod on winter’s territory. I appreciate the last minute snow. It’s just…well….my mind was already harvesting the first asparagus spears and that’s a little hard to do when there’s frozen precipitation coming down around my head.
Also, I’ve already bought seeds and my flowery gardening gloves and thusly given in to my CSD for Spring. Therefore, it should be spring.
We’ve also moved the clocks forward. SPRINGed them forward. Well, sprung, really but it doesn’t have the same emphasis on the season if you say sprung. Although, now I think about it, people say “I wintered in Florida” and “we summered in the Hamptons.” Do they say “we springed in Myrtle Beach or “We sprung in Myrtle Beach.”?
I apologize. I’m exposing you to a little more of how my mind actually works than usual. Normally, I filter my thoughts a little more when I blog so that you don’t know how strange I actually am. My mind has a tendency to wonder about odd things. For example, I’ve always wondered when they change the light bulbs on traffic lights. I’ve never seen them do it but obviously, they must burn out. I could look it up online, I suppose but I like to wonder. It’s harder to wonder with the internet at your fingertips to give you an instant answer although it is convenient, I suppose.
But sometimes, you don’t want to know….you just want to come up with a fictional answer of your own. For example, a candidate was asked “Why is a manhole cover round” in an interview. This, apparently, is a question that Microsoft ask their candidates. There are all sorts of logical answers online to be found. My first response is because it’s easier for a man to climb through because his head is round. This is not the correct answer, not is it logical. The power of the internet told me how wrong I was. I don’t like finding out I’m wrong. I like to wonder things. I suppose I don’t have to look them up but, well, I’m also fond of closure so I’m compelled. This is a personal issue but along with my impatience and my CSD, I do recognize it and as I and G.I Joe always say, “Knowing is half the battle.”
Doing something about it is the other half of the battle, I think. Of course, I don’t think G.I. Joe ever explained that. He might have done but I’m not really a G.I. Joe fan. I just steal his phrases. In England, our version of G.I. Joe is Action Man. I’m not joking. Boys play with Action Man. Girls play with Sindy. We have Barbie too but the British fashion doll is Sindy. I always thought she seemed a bit of a priss but I still had one. I had a Barbie too. I didn’t really play with them. I just cut their hair, changed their clothes and then got bored and picked up a book instead. Yes, I was a nerd but knowing is half the battle, remember?
It turns out that this is a self-awareness blog on my part. I had no idea it would end up that way but, well, that’s what happens when you have absolutely nothing to blog about and end up just randomly typing. Now I’ve established that I know a) that I am impatient, b) I have Commercial Seasonal Disorder, c) I need closure and d) I’m a nerd.
I appreciate you staying with me if you still are reading. You’re very kind.
I think, however, that this blog proves that it’s been a long week and I might just be ready for a weekend, even one that is unplanned and supposed to be cold and unspringlike. Never mind, Spring will take grasp soon enough and I’ll probably be blogging about how much I hate mowing the lawn.
At least I’m consistent.
Happy Friday, have a great weekend and thanks for reading!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
When it gets grey and stormy, it’s hard to believe that just a few hours before I was sitting outside with the pups at lunchtime, throwing little rocks down the sewer drain so Rory could hear them splash. She’s a smart dog. She’s got to the point where she now tries to take the stick or rock from my hand and drop it herself. I’m still not sure what her fascination is but it’s very cute.
Sometimes, I think I might find my dogs too cute. I feel like I’m one of those mothers who when they’re asked politely about their kids, whips out her phone and shows pictures. I don’t always do that with the girls but I have done it before. It’s just that they are my furry babies and we have a nice little family unit going on together. We have our routines. If we veer from our routine, the pups sulk. Both dogs have a very specific way of sulking. Rory will go in her crate and bury under a blanket. Our issue can only be resolved by my laying on my stomach, putting my head in the crate and making a fuss of her. Yes, this may seem a little silly. Yes, I stick my head in the crate while laying on my stomach more often than I’d like to admit. It does the trick and usually, Rory forgives me.
Sookie’s method of sulking is to cast me a hurt look and then sit with her back to me. She refuses to look at me and when I pet her, she pulls away. She likes to drag it out. Whatever crime I’ve commited against her to cause her to sulk is heinous enough that it takes a while for her to forgive and forget. Unlike Rory who can usually be appeased by a hug and a treat, Sookie will not surrender to the power of a treat at all. She will forgive me when she’s ready.
I have rather sensitive dogs. I find it a constant juggling act to make sure that I don’t spend too much time fussing over one of the girls and not the other. If I do, this will inevitably lead to sulking.
In the evenings, Sookie and I are tend to be quite mellow. By 9 p.m., we can both usually be found sitting on the couch either watching TV or reading. Well, I watch TV or read. Sookie is smart but she hasn’t developed the ability to read yet. That would be very cool, however.
Anyway, while we’re sitting calmly, Rory is not ready to relax. She’s still in full “play” mode. She has taken to lying on the floor, staring at me with a mix of curiousity and defiance as if to say, “What on EARTH are you doing? It’s not time to sit! You must PLAY! WITH ME!”
If I don’t pay any attention to this look, the barking begins. It starts with one little yip. Then if Sookie and I both continue to ignore her, Rory ramps up her efforts and she becomes far more persistent. Usually, I end up playing with her for a few minutes and Sookie will join me. My prime directive is actually to get the girls to play together so I can go back to my book. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I probably shouldn’t give in to a dog so easily but Rory is hard to ignore. She’s a very good communicator and I can always tell what she wants. I’m not sure if that’s good or not, honestly. I love that she’s so intelligent although at times, I have to be careful. For example, if I’m not planning on taking a walk with them because it’s raining and it’s coming close to the time we normally go, I can’t say the word “Walk.” If I’m talking to someone on the phone, I have to spell the word out. Fortunately, Rory has not yet learned to spell.
It’s not that Sookie isn’t bright. She is. She’s got her own methods of being annoyingly intelligent. For example, if I’m bathing Rory and her turn is next, she’s found a new hiding place of getting up on the bed and hiding under the covers. The first time she did this, it took me a while to find her. She’s also a very good alert system and she warns me of any intruders.
It’s interesting. I probably spend far too much time with my dogs. I know them so well. They also know me. Sookie is very good at knowing when I’m feeling blue and she becomes my ‘teddy bear dog’ and likes to cuddle with me on my lap. There’s something to be said for canine companionship.
I admit, I probably talk/blog about my dogs too much. I used to get annoyed at people who were parents who did nothing but talk about their kids. Yet I can see how it’s easy to do.
Life is much more fun when you get to share it with someone or some dog. Even the small things make it entertaining.
Even when it’s something as simple as throwing rocks down a sewer drain to hear them splash.
Happy Thursday (and thanks for reading about my dogs!)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It was only at lunch time that I realized I wasn’t in the mood to speak with people when I had a candidate call to ask about a job posting I had on Monster.com and I wanted to ask her if she could read because all of her questions were clearly answered by reading my posting.
This is not a good sign. Normally, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume there’s a reason they’re asking questions that should be obvious. I did not snap or bark at my candidate, however. I merely politely answered her questions through a veiled layer of irritation.
Then, I also realized that I was in a bad mood when I was driving home for lunch and I was feeling grumpy because I was hot. Given that it’s March in the Midwest, I should be thankful that it’s hot rather than freezing cold. It’s supposed to snow on Thursday. It’s currently 73 degrees outside. I believe I have mentioned the schizophrenic nature of the Midwestern spring. It makes it awfully hard to know how to dress, I have to admit.
Still, I managed to get through the day without being rude to anyway. The pups helped cheer me up. Sookie has taken to not only greeting me at the door at lunch time but also after she’s done her business outside, running back in to say hello again. It’s very sweet and makes me feel very loved. Rory, unfortunately, is still obsessed with the storm drain in the garden and this seems to obsess her as soon as she gets outside. Today, I spent five minutes throwing rocks down there so she could hear them “splash.” Unfortunately, for some reason, this sent her into a slightly mad bout of whining and running frantically around as if she just had to get into the drain for whatever reason. I’m still baffled as to why she likes the drain so much but I’m hoping she gets bored with it eventually.
Besides, her distraction is Sookie’s advantage. Sookie is fully aware that Rory is too busy to spend much time with me and thus, The Sook, as she is often referred to by me, takes full advantage of being able to get petted and cuddled by me.
It really is amazing how much a happy dog can cheer me up. Even though I still wasn’t in the best of moods this afternoon, I no longer felt like throwing something at anyone.
Also, I realized that I couldn’t have been in that bad of a mood anyway. I realized this when my coworker came in, picked up my stress ball from my old job which has a bamboo skewer embedded in it and asked me why I had a skewer stuck in the ball. My explanation was that if he looked, he’d see an eyeball drawn on the ball and the skewer was stuck in this eyeball. This, I explained, was how I dealt with the fact that I really couldn’t stab my ex-boss in the eyeball with a skewer and so when I felt the urge to, in fact, stab him in the eyeball, I stuck it in the stress ball instead.
This caused my coworker to put the ball down calmly, say “Oh,” and move out of my office. I realized after how violent that sounded but given how much I disliked my old job and the fact that my boss was very passive-aggressive and ineffectual, it made sense.
Still, violent tendency or not, it was nice to realize that even though I’d been in a bad mood this morning, I’d never once had the urge to stab anyone in my office in the eyeball with a skewer, pencil or other uncomfortable object.
This means that my bad mood was not that bad. Also, working in a place that doesn’t incite you to have violent, bloody or mean thoughts towards your coworkers definitely scales down the bad mood a bit in the first place.
I don’t think I’ve smiled maniacally once at my current boss in the six months I’ve been at this company. I’ve never pictured strangling him with a yoga strap and I’ve never wanted to throw something at my coworker’s head. I’ve said it again and I’ll say it before, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I found a different job.
My stress ball has never been happier. I should probably take the skewer out of its handdrawn eyeball but it is a nice reminder of how far I’ve come.
Also, it reminds me that even on a day when I’m in a bad mood, things could always be much, much worse and that thought alone is enough to put me in a better mood.
Monday, March 21, 2011
It is a very warm day here in my little corner of the Midwest. Given that it was snowing less than two weeks ago, it’s interesting that it was over 70 degrees today. The air has that almost humid feel that makes everything feel a little clammy.
It makes things interesting. Given that it’s the first day of spring today, the warm temperatures provide the urge to convert everything to spring. This means taking the down comforter off the bed and replacing it with something lighter and taking out the clothes I packed up at the end of last summer and switching them with my winter sweaters.
It’s still too early, however. By Thursday, the schizophrenic nature of the Midwestern weather will take us back to the low 40s. I suspect people will be shivering.
What’s interesting is that just a few weeks ago, we would have been rejoicing at the sound of temperatures in the 40s. We would have taken off our winter jackets and embraced the balminess of the higher temperatures.
Yet now we’ve had a taste of warmer weather, we’re greedy and ungrateful and we balk at such coldness that doesn’t belong in the Springy world of outside.
My theory is to just go with it. I like the fact that we haven’t settled on a climate yet. I like that we’re still in for some cold nights before it starts to stay warm for good. I sleep best when it’s cold outside. The pups do too. We snuggle together and wake up rested and groggy. It’s hard to achieve that same level of unconsciousness when it’s balmy outside. Even when it’s time for the air conditioning to come on, you can’t fake yourself into sleeping as deeply as you do when it’s winter and hibernation feels like a tempting prospect.
Yet even with the colder temperatures, it’s pretty clear that spring is here to stay. My garden and the others around me are boasting golden clusters of daffodils. The tulips are coming up and will have their turn to bloom in a month.
Unfortunately, with the spring flowers, the weeds are starting to appear too. My garden is coming back to life with more green popping up in the muddy soil every day.
The grass has also started to grow which means that it will soon be time to mow. As I’ve mentioned, it’s not my favourite task but I do rather like coming home from work, mowing the lawn and then relaxing on the deck with the puppies as I admire how much tidier the back yard looks.
All the signs that winter is passed and spring has her grip are appearing. Unfortunately, like the weeds, the signs are not all good. The Dog Whisperer has taken to leaving his beasts out for longer periods of time which means their annoying yips are driving me a little crazy. I have decided that this year, if I’m working outside in the yard and the dogs next door still continue to bark non-stop, I’m going to talk to the Dog Whisperer or, more likely, Wife of Dog Whisperer. I’ve now lived in my house for over a year and have one summer under my belt. Thus, the fact that they said their dogs would get used to me and stop barking has become a bit of a lie. Also, since the dogs bark at every living thing that moves, it’s unlikely that they ever ‘get used’ to things. It’s just hard to relax in the warm spring air when there’s three dogs barking persistently through the fence.
The barking dogs are a nuisance but not enough to deter me or the pups from staying outside. We’ve already inspected the garden to see what signs of life there are. Most everything is coming back to life with the exception of one rose bush that clearly didn’t survive the winter. More likely, it didn’t survive the fact that two dachshunds decided to make it a digging site and it’s now practically sitting on top of the earth rather than being embedded in it.
Yet, dead rose bushes aside, the rest of the landscape is growing greener by the day as if someone is slowly dragging a paintbrush over it. The grey days of winter seem to have passed and Spring has taken her hold.
Despite the fact that I’ll miss the snow and coziness of winter, it’s time to let go and embrace the brighter days of spring and summer.
I don’t think that will be too hard.
Happy First Day of Spring!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Nevertheless, Sunday it is and thus we begin the downward slide towards the workweek. I'll start it with a nice weekend under my belt. I spent the weekend with my parents which was a spontaneous visit that ended up being wonderful, as my visits with my parents usually.
My mum and I spent the day together Saturday. It was a nice early spring day with just a touch of chill in the air. We spent most of the day on a quest for curtains.
This may sound dull but it's actually quite fun to have a quest. It doesn't mean that we spent the day avidly and obsessively looking for curtains but, instead, we browsed for other things while keeping curtains on the list of things to look at in each shop that sold them that we visited.
It turned out to be fruitless. I have learned that curtain shopping makes you feel rather befuddled. You see, according to most curtain makers who sell to commercial retailers, all windows much be 84 inches long. Also, you apparently only want to buy one panel at a time.
I am aware that there are other options. You can, for example, get custom made curtains which fit the window perfectly. These tend to be quite expensive. I could also make my own which is a perfectly reasonable alternative and something I'm not opposed to doing. After all, I have a sewing machine and several fabric stores nearby. I've made curtains before. They're not complicated.
Yet they are time consuming and I tend to make a mess while I'm sewing in that all the little pieces of thread that I snip gather on the carpet. I have to be careful not to drop pins. I don't have a dedicated sewing room so the fabric takes over the living room. I have dogs that love to play with large pieces of fabric.
So, while making my own curtains is definitely an option, it's not the easiest one. Also, the curtains I had in mind didn't need to be anything complicated with an effect I could only achieve if I made them myself. I simply wanted either a natural, off white or taupe set of panels that I can tie back with red raffia. Sounds simple, right?
Not so much. As I said, most of the time, the off-the-rack curtains are exclusively 84 inches long. My windows are only 48 inches wide and high. Those are long curtians. I could get some and hem them but that would involve chopping off a lot of fabric and still having to sew which defeats the purpose of buying them in a store in the first place.
Also, most of the time, they're sold one panel at a time. This is ok until you need six panels because you have three windows. This gets very expensive. One of my other reasons for not wanting to sew them is because I'd need a fair amount of fabric and it can get to be quite expensive to make my own. Thus, I figured, if I bought ready-made ones, it'd be easier.
There's that word again: Easy. Curtain shopping is not easy.
I don't understand the logic in making curtains come in 84 inch lengths. How many people really have windows that long?
In the end, after much grousing, I didn't find any curtains that day. I ended up finding some today at Walmart of all places. These are only 63 inches long, came as a set and were very inexpensive. They're not meant to be functional curtains, just decorative. Walmart saved the day which is not something I can say very often.
It was nice to resolve the curtain issue. When you start a quest, it's fun. By the end, you feel a little bad tempered and embittered if you can't find anything remotely close to what you want. However, along my quest, I did also manage to buy a book, some herb shears, some hand sanitizer and a tea bag rest and my mother purchased some shoes and some seeds so, really, it wasn't a wasted day.
I'm just glad I found my curtains. I had visions of spending next weekend hunched over my sewing machine. That's a great winter activitiy but when it's springtime and there's things to be done outside, it's not so fun.
So, for once, I have to say thank you to Walmart. They did something right. I'm glad about that. I'm also glad I have my curtains.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
This, of course, made it hard to work. I don't even have a window but I was a little restless. It didn't help that our office has a lot of sports-loving men and with today being the start of March Madness, they were a little distracted by basketball to focus. Add the fact that it was St. Patricks' Day to the mix and, well, it was a very low-key day in the office.
I even managed to sneak out early. I wanted to get home and give the pups a chance to enjoy the weather. I always feel bad if they're cooped up inside on a nice day. I also got to come home and do a little prep work for my current DIY project- I did the edging of my room today. All that's left is to grab a roller and do the rest of it.
I like having projects. It's so much fun to plan what I'm going to do and then start doing it. I do have a tendency to procrastinate. I have the idea for something and then I don't do much about it for a while. Eventually, however, if I want to really do it...I do it.
I think I get that from my dad. He's a project kind of man. He has big ideas for home improvement and he likes to do it himself. He's pretty good at it too.
The only thing is...he often doesn't quite finish. For example, I still remember how, back in England, he built my mum a lot of new kitchen cabinets. The only thing is he didn't put doors on them. For months, we had no cupboard doors. I think he finally got around to it a few months later.
Another one is the house he and my mum live in now. He began to redo the siding. Currently, the house has two different colours of siding because he never quite finished that.
He's currently redoing their office and remodeling so that my parents' bedroom is bigger. He ripped up the floor and...it stayed like that for a couple of months. Now, fortunately, he's back involved in that project so the room is getting finished. My fingers are crossed that he actually does finish it and doesn't, say, leave the ceiling undone. I think he still has yet to build a window sill for the window he replaced before winter began.
I admire my dad and his ability to do practically anything. I try to be like that but, alas, I'm a bit of a clumsy monkeypants and, often, when I do something that is rather finicky and involves great detail, I tend to get sloppy and bored because it's just too time consuming for me.
Still, I think I did inherit his love of projects. My only fear is that maybe I inherited the inability to quite finish them. I look around my house. I did get my cranberry walls painted when I moved in but the baseboards still look as natty as they did when I moved in and I haven't done anything about it. I did replace one of the lightswitch covers to be more ornate but there's still another one I haven't done yet.
So, you can see my fear. I'm currently repainting a room in which I'd also like to redo the floors and rearrange it a bit. I'm afraid I won't get that far. Don't get me wrong, I want to get that far I just...well, like my dad, I get distracted easily by other projects. This is why when I start to clean the kitchen, I suddenly find that I'm taking an inventory and alphabetizing my spice cupboard. True story. I have an excellently organized spice collection and a list on the cabinet door to which I can refer if I want to check I have something I need for a recipe.
Still, I do believe there's such a thing as mind over matter. Thus, if I know I'm prone to not finishing things, I must make sure that I DO in fact finish them. It's possible. I'm looking forward to finishing the painting this weekend. I like closure which is another reason I shouldn't have a problem finishing something.
I just need to make sure that something more fun doesn't get in the way like, for example, landscaping my front yard.
It is looking a bit bedraggled.
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Affirmations are good for us because they make us feel like whatever it is we’re doing, no matter how small, is the right thing. For me, I had one of those small ones today. It came when my coworker were running an errand for the office and we got stuck behind a giant truck. This was a McDonald’s truck. This would not be a bad thing except the enormous photograph of McDonalds French fries that dominated the entire rear of the truck.
Let me explain.
Since the new year, I made a vow to myself that I’d drop the extra 15 pounds that I’d allowed myself to gain during the past few months.
So far, I’m down by seven pounds and I really didn’t have to do much at all. As I’ve said before, I’ve been blessed to be a huge fan of vegetables. I’ve always centred the majority of my meals around vegetables when I cook. I find veggies to be a gift in life- there are so many types out there and so many things to do with each type that were it not for my fondness for meat, I could easily be a vegetarian. Unfortunately, while I do prefer veggies, I have a certain fondness for bacon, chicken and other carnivourous fodder. I also adore fish which I would still be able to eat if I were a vegetarian. Of course, I’ve never understood that because I’d think fish were as much a live creature as, say, a chicken but who am I to argue?
Anyway, the point is that it’s been easy for me to switch to a healthier eating plan. All I had to do is adjust how much I ate and when I ate it and I’ve been able to lose weight without much deprivation at all. I still get to eat things like cheese and bacon, I just do so in moderation. Instead of pouring cheese onto everything, I consider what else I’m eating with the cheese to decide if it’s worth the nutritional black marks or not for that day’s eating. I have a fabulous website that I use that lets me log what I’m eating and then it estimates the nutritional content of that food. It makes me responsible for what I eat and how much I eat. I love that. I know how many calories I’m supposed to have in a day and so I can see how I’m doing.
I like having that discipline. I find that it makes food rewards fun. If I’m doing well for the day and I’ve eaten primarily healthy, low fat stuff then I can have a glass of wine in the evening or a piece of chocolate or even some cheese with my dinner. It’s actually a much nicer way of eating than letting myself cram my face full of whatever I feel like eating at that moment.
There are times that it is hard. I find that if I have a day that doesn’t go well, I’m hungry. I want to fill that emotional hole in me with food even though I’m technically not hungry. I think half the battle is recognizing if I am actually hungry or if I’m just thinking about eating because I’m watching TV and it seems like the thing to do. Of course, there are days that I am really hungry. These are generally the days when I’ve been super healthy. Fortunately, if I’ve eaten a low amount of fat and calories for the day, it usually means I can have a healthy-ish snack and not suffer the consequences on my thighs or hips.
The only really hard time is when I’m subjected to temptation. At my job, we have a lot of business lunches with our consultants. This is our way of saying “Thank you for working for us” as well as to stay in touch with them. These lunches are nice but they’re always at a restaurant where healthy eating is not always easy. Compounded with this is the fact that I’m faced with a menu full of pictures of items that are not healthy but are, in fact, absolutely delicious. It’s so easy to listen to that voice in my head that says, “You’re craving bacon, cheese, hamburger goodness with a side of salty French-fries”.
The voice in my head is usually right. If I’m given a picture of a juicy hamburger when I haven’t had one in ages and I really, really want one, of course I’m going to crave the bloody thing. It’s a law of nature: we crave what we shouldn’t have.
Since I started my attempt to lose weight, it’s become very easy to talk myself out the hamburger. At first, it wasn’t. It’s much easier to cheat when you first start something- (“Oh, go on…order it! You can start over again tomorrow.” ). The longer you persevere, the easier it gets because you’ve come a certain distance and you don’t want to undo the good you’ve been doing.
There are times when I do go ahead and order the hamburger. It’s part of that reward system. If I let myself have it once in a while, I’m far less apt to say, “screw it! I want bad food now!”
There comes a place when you realize you’ve turned that corner and trying to eat well 95% of the time is as natural as eating itself.
Thus comes my affirmation.
McDonalds french fries have always been a weakness of mine. Generally when I crave something, it’s savoury, rather than sweet. I want something salty. McDonalds french fries? Perfect salty snack food. Two months ago, I would have seen that picture of the french fries on the back of the truck and instantly, my taste buds would have been kicking into sense-memory mode. I would have been able to taste them and smell them in my imagination. I would instantly have wanted those french fries and found a way to get them.
Two months later…not so much. I could still smell them and taste them in my imagination but internally, I simply shrugged and said, “eh, I’d rather have the brussel sprouts roasted with bacon that I’m planning for dinner tonight.”
I liked that feeling. Granted, there’s bacon involved in my dinner but it’s only three slices and combined with the Brussels and the fennel I plan on also roasting, I have a pretty darned tasty meal there with very little badness except for the bacon.
The more important thing is that I’d rather have that than Mcdonalds. That was my affirmation that all the work I’ve done in trying to lose some extra weight and improve my overall health is sticking. Also, I’m enjoying it. It involve creativity, planning and research but those are three things I enjoy very much anyway.
I have to say, I would never have thought a giant picture of french fries would seem like a life affirming thing but that’s probably why it was such a nice moment.
The unexpected things always are.
Thanks, as always for reading and have a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
It’s the Ides of March today. That really doesn’t mean much in our society. The only reason I even remember it is because we studied Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar” in high school and it stuck with me.
When you study something in high school, you don’t just casually read it. You read it and then discuss it. Then you analyze it. Then you have to read it again because you’re taking a test on it. Then you have to write a paper on it.
The upside is that often, it stays with you as in the case of the literature we had to read that I enjoyed. I liked Shakespeare. I can still recite most of Hamlet’s soliloquy. I cannot, however, really tell you what happened in Moby Dick other than it’s about a man obsessed with a whale because, well, I never read Moby Dick. I tried really hard to read it but I could not get passed the first place. Each time I tried, it was like this curtain came down in my brain and everything in the world was more interesting. Still, somehow I managed to get an A on my paper in class. I’m still amazed at the fact that there is a way to construct sentences so you sound like you’re saying something really important but really, you’re saying nothing.
Anyway, long story short, I still have March 15 bookmarked in my brain as a day to ‘beware’. (“Beware the Ides of March"- Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2,)
Fortunately, so far the only thing I’ve had to beware is trying to avoid a bird as it flew perilously close to my car this morning and, also, getting wet since it’s raining. Work was pretty quiet but nicely productive and no cause for beware-ing so that was a good thing.
It’s a pretty typical March day out there, Ides of March or no. It’s wet and soggy and even the daffodils that have bloomed early are hanging their heads to avoid the rain.
Yet, the nice thing about March in the Midwest is that while it’s chilly and damp today, tomorrow, it’s supposed to be warm and sunny. Thursday is supposed to be positively lovely with 70 degrees and sun.
It’s going to be hard to work on Thursday. It’s always hard to work when it’s nice outside but I find on the first truly nice days of the year, work is something that one must be talked into doing. I’m not the only one who feels this way. In my old job, it was a day when all of those with laptops (read: Everyone BUT me) got to go outside and “work” while I, chained to my large old desktop PC, got to see them laughing and chatting from the window. My boss used to go outside too without so much of a “hey, sorry you’re stuck inside” to me. This is one of the many reasons he’s my ex-boss.
My current boss is much nicer. On nice days, he doesn’t mind if we leave a little early. One of my coworkers is an avid golfer and on nice, balmy, dry days he leaves the office to go hit the golf course.
Once again, I have to say, I like my job. I’m thankful that I escaped from the old one and landed here. I actually was talking to a candidate yesterday who is stuck in a job that makes her miserable. She said that it’s hard to talk herself into getting up in the morning and not calling in sick. I know how she feels. Truth-be-told, at my last job, that’s where I was when I decided to solve the problem by finding another job. I’m glad she came to me. I’ve made her my #1 priority- no one should be stuck in a job that makes them miserable.
Yet, I try not to look back to much on my old job. It’s hard sometimes because I’m still friends with a couple of my old coworkers and it’s easy to get sucked back into the gossip and news in the office. It’s just simply nice to know I work now for a place who not only makes me feel appreciated but also makes me feel respected. That’s a huge thing that doesn’t seem important until you realize how much of a difference that makes.
Sometimes when I talk to my old coworkers, I wonder if things would be any different if I stayed. Yet when I hear the stories of backstabbing, passive-agressiveness and office-politics, once again that amazing flood of relief washes over me and I am eternally grateful I got out of there.
But, the beautiful thing is that most of the time, I don’t need those reminders to make me appreciate my new job. It’s the small things such as not having to pay 35 cents for a Diet Coke but having it provided for the small cost of occasionally having to stock the fridge. It’s the “thanks for your hard work” I get from my boss at least once a week. It’s the fact that my boss buys a 24 pack of beer and brings it into the office so we can all hang out in the break area for a while.
It’s the fact that a bad day at this job has yet to send me outside my building to place an emergency venting call to my mother or my friend because I’m on the verge of either throwing a heavy object at my boss or I’m going to do something worse- go cry in the bathroom because I’m so frustrated and angry.
Really, bad days at work are relative to how much you like your job. Mondays, rainy days and the Ides of March really don’t seem so bad after all when, in the grand scheme of things, you’re simply grateful to be where you are.
And, in my case, I truly am- in all aspects of my life.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I don’t do well with Daylight Savings time. I’ve mentioned that before. As I said yesterday, you can change the clocks all your like but my internal clock KNOWS it’s all a big, fat, mean trick. I think I’d prefer it if, perhaps, we got to spring forward with the clocks at a more appropriate time than 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning. For example, how about we do it, say, at 3 p.m. on a Monday? Wouldn’t that be nice? One minute it’s 3 p.m. and you’re dragging but you still have 2 hours to go and then, boom!, the clocks skip forward and it’s 4 p.m. and there’s only an hour left!
You may wonder why I don’t say it should happen at 4 p.m. so that the 9-5’ers can just leave but, well, in my odd way of thinking, I think it might be harder for supervisors to just let you leave. If you do it at 3 p.m., it gives everyone an hour of looking at the clock, cheerfully counting down that final hour and it’s not so…sudden.
Hey, it makes sense in my head and that’s what’s important, right? Of course, since this won’t ever happen, it’s all theoretical anyway which means we’re stuck with the cruel trick of losing an hour ON A WEEKEND and then being abruptly awoken by our alarms on a Monday only to discover it’s still nighttime outside but we still have to get up.
It didn’t help this morning that I had two dogs that also did not want to get up and couldn’t understand why that horrible alarm clock went off so early and interrupted their sleep. Believe me, Rory and her Moaning Myrtle impersonation let me know that it was quite rude to disturb her and she did NOT want to get up.
But we did. I’m glad we did. The day, as such, has not been too bad for a Monday. It’s not sunny but it’s also not gloomy outside. It’s just grey with a side of brightness. My day has actually been busy which is rather nice on a Monday. It means that the day went by quickly and I didn’t have time to sit at my desk in a funk, wondering if the phone was going to ring.
Of course, I did sit in a bit of a funk. I felt like I didn’t really wake up all morning. I moved in slow motion and had trouble focusing for the first part of the day . However, thanks to far too much tea, coffee and Sprite Zero, by lunchtime I was mostly awake just in time to run home to spend 30 minutes with the dogs.
It’s nice to have a doggy diversion in the middle of the day. When I finished up my lunch, I went outside to see what the girls were up too. Sookie came bounding towards me in greeting which is always a lovely thing. Rory, however, was riveted to our storm drain.
I’m a little perplexed by this. She’s become absolutely fascinated not only with our storm drain but all of the storm drains along our street. It’s a little disturbing. Sometimes, after it rains, there is an odd banging from the drain in our garden and I can see why she and Sookie might want to investigate. Today, however, the drain was quite quiet. Yet Rory stood there, looking into it. When I went to see if I could see/hear anything, I couldn’t hear anything but I did notice that Rory was trembling.
This, of course, alarmed me. What was she seeing/hearing/smelling that had her rooted to the spot and afraid? I coaxed her too me and she backed up so that she could press herself into my bent knee for comfort but she still stared down into the drain.
I never did figure out what she was waiting for in that drain. With my vivid imagination, I confess I was a little alarmed in case Pennywise the Clown appeared. Yes, I’ve read/watched Stephen King’s It one too many times. Given that Rory is a) a dog, b) can’t read and c) has no comprehension of who Pennywise the Clown is, I don’t think that could possibly be that which fascinated her but I’m still curious.
My non-Pennywise theory is that there may have been a creature down there at some point. I’ve seen an elderly raccoon amble its way across the street and disappear down a storm drain so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it tried to get up into our yard. I’m glad it didn’t. I have a feeling Sookie and Rory would like to think they could take on a raccoon but having had quite a bit of experience with raccoons in my life, those things can be quite vicious and I think it’d give the girls a run for their money.
I did finally manage to distract Rory away from the sewer. I’m sure that when we go for our evening walk, she’ll once again pull me towards each drain along our route but since she’s on a leash and can’t actually go down the drains, I’m not too worried.
When I went back to work after lunch, the afternoon passed quickly. We’re supposed to have heavy rain later on tonight so tomorrow is likely to be grey and soggy. I’m just glad that it held off today. Wet Mondays are not fun, they elude the power of positive thinking which is hard to get going on a Monday anyway.
Although, today it worked. Phew!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
It helped that Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day. Having had snow only two days before, it was unexpected but it ended up being almost 60 degrees, sunny, blue skies...perfect. It was the type of day where you feel guilty for staying inside.
Thus, I spent the majority of the day outside, clearing the autumn and winter debris from the garden and sprucing it up, ready to start planting/landscaping when spring genuinally arrives. I had planned on taking the girls for a walk over the park but instead, they spent the time happily playing outside in the garden while I worked. We compensated by walking around the neighbourhood twice. It was a busy walk due to the weather. We saw Larry-the-Potential-Serial-Killer for the first time since the autumn. He was very friendly. The pups and I have actually had to avoid his house for the past few days due to a very Dead Squirrel that was laying on the edge of his property.
Dead Squirrel posed a problem because the girls could smell it and desperately wanted to claim it as their prize. The first day we discovered Dead Squirrel, I was just glad the leashes I walk the girls on were strong. Sookie and Rory both whined and wimpered desperately to be allowed to go get Dead Squirrel but, alas, I had to play the mean mum card and say "No." Also, it violates our Squirrel Rules anyway: Sookie and Rory may claim any squirrel that they personally catch. Squirrel must be in full health when caught. Already Dead Squirrels do not count and thus will not be claimed.
We really do have Squirrel Rules. I like to pretend the girls understand them even though I know they don't care. Squirrels to dachshunds are a little like crack to an addict: They desperately want the squirrel, they need the squirrel. Nothing else counts but getting the squirrel.
Fortunately, squirrels are too fast for the girls and they can climb trees. This, however, never prevents a chase anyway.
I had to explain to Larry-the-Potential-Serial-Killer why we were avoiding his property. He said he'd take care of Dead Squirrel for us so we could walk by. He's actually very nice like that. Also, I'm sure he didn't really want a decaying rodent on his lawn, anyway.
Dead Squirrel was gone by Sunday. Unfortunately, so was the nice weather. We woke up to a grey day that was almost 20 degrees cooler than the day before. Also, it didn't help that I completely forgot about Daylight Savings Time. I actually knew that it was happening this weekend but completely forgot to change the clocks before I went to bed lst night. Thus, when I woke up this morning, my alarm clock read 8:40 a.m. Then when we got up, I looked at my cell phone and was shocked to see it said it was almost 10 a.m. Thus, the lightbulb in my brain went on and I figured it out. Still, I'm not a fan of the time change. Falling back is ok, I suppose but it's the springing forward I don't like. We lose an hour of sleep and it's not that easy to tell our body clock that it's seven p.m. when we know it's really only 6 p.m. It'll take a couple of weeks before it starts feeling natural.
Even with the clock change surprise this morning, I still had a productive day. I finally got my paint picked out for my family room so I spent the day cleaning the room, taping the edges and taking down curtain rods. All that's left is to actually paint it which I forsee happening next weekend. Hopefully it well be slightly easier than the cranberry paint debacle of 2009.
All in all, working in the garden, working around the house and walking 2.5 miles each day with the dogs has made for a busy weekend. It's the type of weekend that makes me feel like I need a hot bath to soothe my aching muscles but also that it's good to have aching muscles.
Tomorrow it'll be back to work. It's another Monday. As we all know, I'm not particularly a fan of those but I'm bound and determined to make sure tomorrow is a good Monday. After all, I've had a lovely weekend with lots of puppy time as well as time to appreciate being a homeowner as well as some much needed fresh air. It really doesn't get much better than that.
Thus, I will make sure to carry that feeling forward, no matter how grey and gloomy Monday tries to be. Although, if it wanted to be sunny, warm and pretty outside, that would definitely help.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The rain has stopped. It’s now snowing. I sometimes forget that the seasons are a little schizophrenic in the Midwest and that even though it’s 60 degrees one day, the next it can be 30 degrees and snowy. I don’t know how I actually forget this but I do.
It definitely keeps things interesting, at least. You never quite know what the weather will do next. I still make the mistake of listening to Mr. Weatherman in the mornings but that doesn’t exactly help. He’s wrong at least 50% of the time.
Even with the rather varied weather we’ve had, this week has actually gone quite quickly. I can’t actually believe it’s Friday tomorrow which is a bit of an usual thing. I’m definitely not complaining that it’s Friday tomorrow. I’m a big fan of Fridays. I like Fridays as much as I dislike Mondays.
This Friday- tomorrow- is actually a significant Friday for me. It marks that day that, one year ago, I picked up a little puppy named Sookie and took her home. On Saturday, it’s the anniversary of the day that I went and picked up her sister, Rory, because it seemed so cruel to separate them. Also, Rory’s big, sweet eyes that seemed to say, “Pick Me! Choose Me!” when I got to choose between her and Sookie made me feel guilty because I didn’t pick her at first.
I remember being a little nervous as my mother and I went to Walmart to get some supplies for Sookie when she came home. When we went to get Sookie, it was a little unnerving to go down the muddy, unfinished driveway of the house where she lived and discover that she was living at an unofficial ‘dog shelter.’ There was a pack of scary dogs that roamed loose on the property of the old farmhouse and who chased my car down the drive, trying to bite my tires. I remember being nervous as I got out the car in case the dogs were vicious but they weren’t…they were just unruly. Then, when I went inside, I discovered that not only was there a Sookie but she had a sister and I got to choose which one I took home. I picked Sookie because she came to me and let me pick her up whereas Rory was easily distracted by the Maltese puppy in the room. At the time, I knew I was going to feel bad about separating the pair which was evidenced by my calling later that night after Sookie was home to find out if Rory was still there. She was but she’d been promised to someone else.
I was sad but Sookie and my first night together was nice enough. I had a writer’s conference the next day and I hated leaving my new puppy with her ‘grandparents’ but I’d already made the commitment to a friend that I’d go with her to the conference. While the conference was a bit of a waste of time, I got a phone call in the middle of a session that made it worthwhile: Rory’s new owners didn’t show up to pick her up and, if I was still interested, she could be mine.
I needed no further enticement. Back to the scary, dog-infested farmhouse I went and Rory came home with me. Now I can’t imagine every just having one puppy.
Now, one year later, they’re not really puppies anymore even though I still think of them as such. I can’t believe that I was worried about the responsibility of having a dog. I remember that even though I was excited about getting a puppy, I was also afraid that it would not only tie me down but that I would be a horrible pet parent.
I’ve found that one year later, I don’t feel tied down at all. Instead, I have these lovely, furry, snuggly additions to my life that have just become…part of my life. They’re as part of me and my daily routine as eating and drinking are. I wake up with at least one of them under the covers, head snuggled under my chin every day. I go home at lunch each day to let them out and, each time, when I come home from somewhere…anywhere, there they are, tails wagging, jumping up and down as if to say, “Where have you BEEN? We MISSED you!”
It’s nice to be missed and to come home to see those bright eyes and wagging tails. Even on the worst of days, having a dog to lick you on the nose and sit on your lap makes everything better.
My fear about being a horrible pet parent seems to have been a little paranoid. Since they’re both healthy, seemingly happy and alive after a year, I must have done something right.
Also, they seem to really like me so I figure that’s a good sign.
I feel like I should do something this weekend to celebrate our ‘puppiversary’. Maybe we’ll go for a long walk over the woods to check out the floods. Last time we went, it was pretty bad but with all the rain we’ve had, I’m sure it’s going to be worse now. Of course, they won’t know what we’re celebrating but I don’t suppose that matters. A walk will make us all happy and give us time to spend together and, honestly, what better way to celebrate is that?
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The problem with it being rainy is that it’s also muddy. This means that when the dogs come in from outside, they’re wet and either must be dried with a towel or go back to bed muddy.
We’re having a lot of rain in these parts lately. All of the rivers are swollen and nearing flood stage. My garden is a bit of a bog. There’s usually one area that floods when it rains but the ground is so saturated, it’s looking rather like wetlands out there.
I actually don’t mind the rain though. I find it soothing, particularly when it comes down heavily. It’s just that it seems a little unbalanced that we have so much rain at this time of year but, come August, we’re having a drought and praying for rain to satiate the parched garden.
Yet for now, the rain is nice. I like to see it splashing down outside. Perhaps it’s growing up on the rainy isle of Britain but whenever it’s murky outside and the windows are covered with raindrops, part of me just sighs with contentment that this is the way it should be at times. I like being driven inside by the wetness and I really like it at night when you can see the rain in the headlights of cars as they sloshily drive along the streets .
The rain appeals to my ‘inside girl’ nature. While working outside in the garden is lovely as is taking a long walk outside on a nice day, as I’ve said many a time, I am not an outdoorsy sort. My favourite activities have always been quiet, indoor activities. Even when the weather is nice, I find that I simply go outside to do the indoor activities such as reading and writing.
I’m actually looking forward to the weather being nice enough to sit outside and read. Last year, I found one of my very favourite things to do was sit outside after I’d mown the lawn in the evening with a cool glass of wine, a good book and the puppies chasing each other nearby.
Still, I’m not looking to the future because I’m not happy with the present. The rainy night means I can hibernate inside, pull the curtains early and spend the evening curled up with the pups even though it means we won’t get to take our evening walk. I’m finding that not only is the walking good to exercise Sookie and Rory but it’s also a good way for me to get exercise. I finally mapped out our normal route and discovered we walk over a mile each night. This is not bad going for a stroll around the neighbourhoods.
On these strolls, I’ve become a very nosy neighbour. I love to look at people’s gardens and houses and to get ideas for how I can landscape my own garden or add some detail to my house. We’ve walked so much that certain houses become landmarks- there’s the one that belongs to someone who is clearly a hippie or identifies with them as the house not only always has a VW bug parked outside but also a sign on the door that says “Hippies go around back.” There’s the house with the cute little statue of puppies underneath a garden bench. There’s the house with the good landscaping, tidy mulch and painstakingly-cared for garden.
Then there are the squirrel houses. These are the places where we almost inevitably find squirrels on our walk. The girls and I have decided that squirrels are dirty rotten cheaters. They come down from their trees, sit on the street as if daring my twin dachshunds to ‘come and get them’ and then they run. We chase them and the girls get excited. Then the squirrel goes up a tree and…game over because my dogs can’t climb the trees. We are of the firm belief that if a squirrel wants to taunt, it shouldn’t be allowed an easy out. However, squirrels appear to have their own rules including not being eaten.
Our evening walks are a great way to relax. This time of year, we don’t see too many neighbours. It’s usually just me, the girls and whatever dog barks at us from behind their fences.
It’s nice to live in a neighbourhood where it’s not only safe to walk but we have a nice route as well. Even though it’s not nice enough to walk every night- particularly nights like tonight when it’s rainy- it’s a lovely feeling to know that as the days get longer and the nights shorter, there will be more and more chances to get out, discover new things about the area and meet new neighbours.
For now, however, I’m just going to enjoy the rain.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My Tuesday began with a dream about zombies. It was a rather alarming dream in which I discovered that not only was there a zombie apocalypse out there but, also, I had been volunteered to join the fighters who were going to take them on. This lead to a rather alarming reunion with virtually every human being who’s played a role in my life that turned into a dance party. This, of course, was penetrated by the zombies and when I escaped to safety with all of the people I knew, it turned out we were actually already dead and we were to walk into the light together.
I blame this dream on a) my catching up on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” TV show. It has sat on my DVR for months. I’m finally watching it. It’s true zombie glory. If you like zombies. I do. I also blame it on b) the TV show “Lost” because at the end of “Lost”, the cast finds out they’re all dead and walks into the light.
I probably should have done the courteous ***SPOILER ALERT*** on the above paragraph just in case you haven’t seen “Lost” in its entirety yet and I’ve just ruined it. Yet, mean as it sounds, if you haven’t and still don’t want to be spoiled almost a YEAR after it aired, that’s not my problem. Also, it’s nothing that won’t have been spoiled by every entertainment magazine/website/blog out there.
Besides, I was talking about my dream which was an amalgamation of two TV shows as well as my own bizarrely twisted imagination. If you throw in the fact that the character of Bailey from “Grey’s Anatomy” was also in my dream and she joined us in the afterworld because she was killed by zombies while performing surgery, it’s an amalgamation of THREE TV shows. This goes to show a few things- a) How impressed you are that I used the word amalgamation without having to reach for a thesaurus to do so, (Ok, fine, I thought not), b) I let TV seep a little too much into my subconscious and c) even when you’re dreaming, thinking you and everyone you love is dead is a little scary.
By the way, I refuse to acknowledge that perhaps it also means I watch too much TV. I’d like to think I have a nice healthy balance of TV shows. On a week with no reruns, it’s probably six hours a week. Maybe seven if I watch the “Graham Norton Show” on BBC America on a Saturday evening. Given that each show has adverts and runs at approximately 42 minutes per show, even with Graham Norton, this means I really only watch 4.9 hours of TV. Really, in the grand scheme of things, that isn’t really very much when you consider how much I could be watching. Yes, I’m defensive. Also, I love TV, so there.
One more thing, Food Network doesn’t count as TV time. Now, if Bobby Flay had been one of the zombies in my dream or Mario Batali had his brain eating by a pack of zombies then you might argue that my TV time should be curtailed a little.
I digress. The fact is, I dreamed I was dead this morning. Being dead in a dream is fascinating because one part of you knows it’s a dream and the other is slightly freaked out when you wake up that you might actually be dead. Even when you awaken to the weight of a small dachshund sitting on your head and waiting to start licking your nose as soon as your eyes open, there’s still a slight moment of disorientation as to whether you’re still in the dream or not and are, in fact, still dead in the dream.
I’m glad I wasn’t really dead. Also, I’m glad that all my friends/family/acquaintances who moved on into the light with me in my dream are also not dead. That would be weird. Also, it would mean I was on a first name basis with Bailey from “Grey’s Anatomy” and considering she’s a fictional character, that would be rather peculiar and unrealistic.
Then there are the zombies. I’ve had a lot of dreams about zombies lately. This is actually what triggered me to actually watch “The Walking Dead” because I had a dream about zombies.
I like zombies. I like “The Walking Dead”. I think, however, it’s time to move onto another horror-creature that’s a little…less limited.
The thing with zombies is they really don’t do much but lurch and shuffle, look disgusting and eat brains, flesh or body parts. Sometimes, they grunt “BRAINS” a lot. Sometimes, they’re created by a virus. Sometimes they’re created by a supernatural occurrence. Sometimes, they’re just…created with no explanation given. Yet, really, there’s not much you can do with a zombie. They try to kill the non-zombie-still-humans. The non-zombie-still-humans form little groups to try to destroy the zombies. Yet, ultimately, when the world has experienced a zombie apocalypse, what’s the end result going to be, really? It’s the population of the world as zombies against a rag-tag bunch of survivors. Procreation can only do so much.
At least with werewolves and vampires, there’s still a human tie. They can think and feel and thus, have personalities. Granted, this is not always the case (see: Twilight) but the potential is there. Not so much with a zombie. If a zombie did have a personality, he probably wouldn’t be a zombie, would he? Because if zombies become reasoning, thinking things that live in a somewhat civilized manner, we’d call them a vampire. We already have a genre for that.
You might wonder why I’ve just spent 15 minutes randomly musing about dreams and zombies. The fact is…I have absolutely no idea. It’s Fat/Shrove Tuesday today (aka: Mardi Gras); I probably should have written about that or something else more meaningful.
Still, for today, you get one of my more random blogs. Feel free to chime in on your own thoughts about zombies. I’m happy to entertain the possibility that I’m wrong and they’re not nearly as limited as I think.
Besides, it might even mean another dream about zombies which you’ll get to hear about. Aren’t you lucky?
Thanks, as always for reading!
Happy Fat/Shrove Tuesday, happy Mardi Gras and watch out for those zombies (although it might be hard if you’re going to a true Mardi Gras celebration!)