Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Been a long time gone...

Okay, the vacation to Nashville is over with (it was a dream -- clean house! good booze! my parents taking care of the kids!), I've just completed my second day at my new job, and now I'm back. For a short time. I'm writing from home now instead of work, and it takes a lot more effort.

The new job just feels so right. Already I've done a good deal of writing, with a ton more coming down the pipeline. I wish I had an iPod to listen to while I was writing, but then again, I've never been the type of person who could concentrate while music was playing.* I even got a call from Meijer Gardens yesterday, and today, with them wanting to interview me. I wish they had called sooner, I would've liked to have found out more about the job, but I'm very confident this new company is the exact right place for me to be.

Slowly, I'm implementing Getting Things Done. I've heard the whole culture that's risen up from this system called "productivity porn" and that feels like the right description. Here's an article about how in Britain the NDP Press Secretary uses the system. Read and learn.

Tonight, I've promised Joseph a good boning. He deserves it, after not getting any since last weekend. Don't get me wrong, I know he can wait for me to catch up to the mood, but I'm feeling particularly...generous today. Don't ask me why, maybe it's the new job.


*god knows I tried

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Princess Chicken

I lay in bed this morning, listening to the baby gurgle and yelp and laugh, and I went through the usual feeling of dreading work, like the bottom of the tilt-a-whirl dropping out. Except this time I stopped myself, and smiled up at the cracks and spiderwebs. My second-to-last day. Relief.

For lunch I requested my "boss" take me to our favorite Chinese place, Yen-Ching, which we've pretty much abandoned since I've lost 25 lbs. over three months. (There really is no such thing as healthy Chinese food, even white rice is bad for you.) The restaurant is dark, with gilded molding running along every wall and corner while wild-eyed dragons dance in framed fabric art. Always, always there is a small old man who greets you with a wide smile and a sharp bow. He's the owner, you know from all the newspaper clippings hanging on the walls of the elaborate lobby. Newspaper clippings detailing how much he has given to Sept. 11 victims, or how he struggled to launch his business after immigrating from China. I always bow back, feeling both silly and proud at the same time. Hey, I once lived in Asia...

We brought along the third member of our social quartet (the fourth had an advanced Excel course), but it wasn't the same. Used to be we'd come to Yen Ching and gossip and complain and indulge but since I'm leaving, I just don't care anymore. My Princess Chicken tasted bland. I ate more than I would have to compensate for the tastelessness. However, I did find myself wanting another fortune cookie, the coconutty taste lingering in my mouth for longer than usual. But then it was over, and we went back to the office, and I spent the rest of the afternoon obsessing about how to implement GTD at my new job. I'm hoping it's going to change my life, like BFL did.

God, all these acronyms, it's like I'm back in the Army.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Runningwoman

I wasn't always a runner. In my Army days, I was the slow girl running 20 feet behind the formation, huffing and shuffling and looking like I was going to fall dead in the road within the next five strides. I failed the run portion of my PT test more times than I care to remember. I hated running like I hated the dentist.

But now I see it as an activity that is all mine. I run for me; not because it makes me size 8 jeans-ready, or so I can load up on beer and pizza on the weekends without feeling guilty, but because I am a warrior when I run. I am Darryl Hannah in Clan of the Cave Bear (crappy movie but you get the idea). No kids, no husband, no boss. ME. Kicking butt. Pushing my limits. It reminds me of who I really am: awesome, capable, apocolypse-ready woman.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Taxman Cometh...

I'm such a jerk, every year I say I'm going to get my taxes done early, and then I don't. Two years ago, we filled out our tax forms at work all wrong, and ended up OWEING a bunch of money to the IRS, the most horrible thing ever. So, I re-did all our forms, confident we'd get a modest check in the spring (don't want it too big, that's loaning the government out money, says my dad).

Except Joseph did a bunch of freelance work this year, and we spent every last dime that he brought home. That big whooshing sound is our tax refund being sucked down the drain from the taxes we didn't pay on that income.

So, as a loyal employee I'm spending my last days at this job doing my taxes online, except I'm having problems getting all the information I need, like how much interest we paid on our student loans. I keep checking my email for the pin #s I need to log on to the Direct Loans page, but NOTHIN'. Stupid hotmail.

As a result, I'll spend a few moments studying on the lameness of being 29 and asking my parents for money. Hey, they offered! And our last $200 is going to childcare, leaving us with $45 to fill our gas tanks up. *SIGH*

It feels like this will never end. Like we will be paying hundreds of dollars a year in bank fees for the rest of our lives because we're such money morons. Which really, we're not. We drive modest cars and don't go out to eat more than once a week, never go to movies or the bar, man, we should be like those old people who never indulge in anything and have giant savings accounts. Except we aren't.

I keep looking for something to blame, whether it's our house in a too-nice neighborhood, or the exorbitant cost of childcare. When we do our budget, we always have a ton of money left over, on paper, but it never works. Blah. Repeat after me: "We have our health. Our kids are well-behaved. The sex is..." oh, never mind.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

End of times?

Is this site a sign that the youth of today are going to destroy the world? God, this is terrible. Why do kids write this way? It's like those girl-women who wear low-rider jeans with their skin spilling out over the top like a disgusting backfat ice cream cone -- do they KNOW how awful they come across as?

And more importantly, where the hell are their mothers?

Cheer Up, Baby

This morning's drive to work was filled with thoughts of how to cheer my husband up. We're broke, which isn't a new situation, but usually there's an end in sight. Today, we're staring down the deep, dark well of financial despair.

He's ready to jump down the well; me, I ran two miles this morning which allows me to "let go" of things I would otherwise obsess about. I've tried the usual happy thought generators: we have great kids, no one has cancer, we're in no danger of losing any major property. But alas, today it's been for naught. So, I'm thinking of calling him and telling him:

  1. "I think we should hammer a homemade "For Sale" sign in our front yard, pawn all our belongings, load up the kids in the car and head for Oregon. We've got friends there, plus it's near the ocean."
    Or,
  2. "When you get home from work today, I'm going to corral the kids in their respective rooms, strip down naked, and jump up and down on you in all matter of positions for four hours straight." (He's on some medication for his back that makes this very possible.)

I think #2 will have the intended affect.

Speaking of nakedness, I'd love to get naked with this guy, figuratively. Former Army PR guy with a sharp wit and a certain casualness that reminds me of the guys I used to whirl around with in my younger days. Even imagining just a slow kiss makes me smile.

And today, I need to smile.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Today is my dad's 55th birthday, which means he was twenty five when I was born. I wonder what he felt when my mom gave birth to me. Certainly excitement, as I was their first child. Although 25 hardly seems old, my parents waited pretty late in life to have kids, compared to their friends. So when I came along, then my brother 22 months later, they were pretty well established. Both had college degrees, owned their own house and worked at promising careers. Lucky them.

Their story is a major contrast to the way Joseph and I have founded our little family unit. Eloping at 19 (after our wedding was cancelled due to my upcoming transfer to Korea), pregnant at 21, both of us attending college while Grace was in diapers. We were so, SO broke that at one point, I went down to the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) office to apply for assistance. I remember dressing Grace in her nicest clothes (Tommy Hilfiger bought by my grandfather's wife), me in my most classy and professional dress pants and sweater, hair neatly styled. After all the paperwork and rude social workers, I firmly promised myself I would never apply for government assistance again.

We're still broke, but at least we have our own house now. And I don't have to stay up all night listening for the repo man to come tow away our car*. I really try and keep my wants/needs lists very separate, and for the most part I think do a great job. But when you really need a new pair of pants, and you don't have even $20 to spend on a pair of pants, you really start to feel like the world's biggest loser.

Enough beating myself up. I'm leaving my job! One week down, one to go! Today I threw out a ton of files that have been rotting at my desk since before I started working here. Liberation! Out, you damn 1997 picnic survey! Hit the road, 1993 holiday gift orders!

I was clicking through blogger yesterday using the "Next Blog" button, hoping to stumble across something wonderful, when I came across something, if not wonderful, then at least moderately interesting. A Canadian teaching English in South Korea. Her kitchen looked just like my old Korean kitchen, but a little bigger.

That's it. There's my bloggage for the day. Read and be merry.

*What was I going to do? Run out and throw myself over the hood?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Today I'm going to start work on the old blogger standby, 100 THINGS ABOUT ME. Bear with me as I break it up during the day (although I am a lame-duck employee, they are still paying me; my moral compass just doesn't swing too far the other way).

  1. I joined the Army when I was 19.
  2. I did it for three noble reasons: to annoy my parents, pay for college and serve my country.
  3. I've found out through my own experimentations that love for peanut butter is contagious.
  4. I have a dog named after a WWII tank commander, Gen. Abrams (we call him Abe).
  5. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I cried for two days straight because I couldn't get a hold of my husband (I was stationed in Korea, he had flown home).
  6. I love candy corn mixed with peanuts.
  7. I keep my toenails painted bright red at all times, but my fingernails can go to hell in a handbasket for all I care.
  8. I nursed my son for 11 months, and enjoyed every second.
  9. I'm tall, but not too tall.
  10. I've lost 25 pounds since Jan. 3 using Body for Life.
  11. I won't buy a size 8 pants, even though they fit, because I'm afraid I'll gain some of the weight back.
  12. My combat boots are still the most comfortable shoes I own.
  13. I think Sheen from Jimmy Neutron is funny.
  14. My parents have moved more than six times in the past three years, because my dad was out of a job.
  15. My mom had an abortion before she had me.
  16. My younger brother works at a recording studio in New York, and gets to meet lots of famous people. For Christmas, he gave us a photo of him posing with Bill Clinton.
  17. My husband was a tanker in the Army.
  18. I met my husband in my dorm at college, not in the Army.
  19. I'm not going to list my favorite movies because I'm afraid they aren't cool enough for the blogosphere.
  20. Okay, here they are: About Love, Bull Durham, Jaws, Caddyshack.
  21. Tony Bennett's "Playing with my Friends" is in the CD player in my car. It relaxes me.
  22. I listen to country music because I love to sing along with the radio, and country is the best format.
  23. I am usually an atheist, though sometimes I'm agnostic. Either way, it doesn't really matter. I don't know, and neither do you.
  24. Although I'm an atheist, I should go to church more often, and bring my kids.
  25. Sometimes I pray, even though I firmly believe it does no good. Sometimes I just don't know what else to do.
  26. I hate it when country artists mention their religion in their songs.
  27. I'm a Democrat, though I'd vote for John McCain if he ran for president.
  28. My daughter has bright blue eyes. Mine are dark brown (I mean DARK brown -- a junior high boyfriend once called them "chestnutty").
  29. I named my son Jack, despite the fact that my name is Jill. I figure it will give him something more to defend when he reaches tusslin' age.
  30. The most my bank account ever has in it is $1200, and that's right after both me and my husband get paid. Usually it's more like $200. Today, it's -$93.35. *SIGH*
  31. We are house poor.
  32. I pay all my bills online, and have for years.
  33. My boss and I interviewed for the same two jobs.
  34. In 1994, I went to see Paul McCartney the night before my SATs.
  35. I graduated from a high school that was designed by the same architect who designed the Jackson State Prison. The prison had about 10 times more windows.
  36. I was the Features Editor for my high school newspaper.
  37. I once stole a canister of Mocha Almond creamer from work. It's the only thing I've stolen since I was four (unless you count the hours I've wasted surfing the Internet -- but I don't).
  38. In 2002 I won a trip to LA to see the Latin Grammys through an insurance company's website.
  39. I don't know how to play checkers.
  40. Caramel Delites are my favorite Girl Scout Cookie.
  41. I track how many calories I eat every day.
  42. I store pancake syrup in the cupboard.
  43. Sometimes I suspect my daughter was switched at birth.
  44. My husband's mom slept around for years on his dad. They finally divorced when his sister was a senior in high school.
  45. My husband's sister is only his half sister -- shhh, everyone knows but her.
  46. My husband's sister had a baby in November, and her husband is not the father. Everyone knows but the baby. Fate rears it's ugly head!
  47. For some reason, I want to tell complete strangers this story. It's so fu*%ed up!
  48. I badly want an MP3 player.
  49. I drive a very small car, because it's all we can afford.
  50. Joe drives a very large (albeit sh!tty) truck, because it's all we can afford.
  51. My six-year-old doesn't know how to ride a bicycle.
  52. I let my baby eat tons of Cheerios, because it keeps him from screeching while I make dinner.
  53. I want a bathroom sink with counters.
  54. Mushrooms sometimes grow in my shower if I don't spray it every day. COMPLETELY DISGUSTING.
  55. I am very ticklish.
  56. I recently began the application process for a job at the U.N. Then I came to my senses.
  57. I'm trying to be better at sex. Mostly, it just makes me tired thinking about it.
  58. I identify strongly with Hillary Clinton's (latest) view on abortion.
  59. Someday I plan on starting my own communications consulting business from home.
  60. I secretly want to have another baby.
  61. I know how to ride a horse, Western style.
  62. I was born in Oklahoma City, and the same nurse that helped birth me helped birth my brother 22 months later.
  63. My great-grandfather ran in the Oklahoma land run, and pulled up the only stake in the county that struck oil.
  64. I wish I could blog more about politics.
  65. I hate crying at work, but I've done it more than once.
  66. I lost my virginity on a whim, and have never regretted it.
  67. My high school friends and I still keep in touch, and though it's not often, we'd all be there in a heartbeat if someone needed us.
  68. My maternal grandparents divorced when I was eleven.
  69. I don't trust women who are too pretty and thin.
  70. Though I am not a celebrity-focused person AT ALL, I am FASCINATED by Jessica Simpson, and probably have a girl crush on her. As long as I can't hear her talking.
  71. I have had two lesbian experiences in my life.
  72. I never wear jewelry, except for my wedding ring.
  73. I don't let my kids eat candy, unless their grandparents give it to them, and then only on holidays.
  74. My husband and I are the best parents we know.
  75. I miss my mom, who lives in Nashville.
  76. I would move to San Antonio in a heartbeat if I could.
  77. I dream about my family in Oklahoma regularly, even though I only lived there the first three years of my life.
  78. I had an affair when I was stationed in Korea, and regret it daily.
  79. I have a hard time spending more than $25 on shoes, even though I love shoes.
  80. I love cookbooks like I love shoes.
  81. I can touch my tongue to my nose.
  82. My favorite animal is the elephant.
  83. The best feeling in the world is having a baby fall asleep on you.
  84. I can't sleep if the bathroom or closet doors are open.
  85. I don't garden.
  86. I have terrible fall allergies that almost make me drive off the road with sneezing every year.
  87. I think Panera Bread Co. coffee is better than Starbucks.
  88. I wrote a long, detailed (read: crazy) letter to Panera requesting that they bring back the Peanut Butter Banana bagel.
  89. Only two of my in-laws have a job.
  90. For the most part, I grew up in St. Louis, MO.
  91. Junior High was the worst time of my life, followed closely by the affair in Korea.
  92. My husband can fix anything, but can't pay a bill to save his life.
  93. I cannot not talk to my husband when we've had a fight.
  94. I get up at 5 am nearly every day to work out, so that I have enough time to help my husband with the kids.
  95. I once volunteered for the Million Mom March.
  96. Twice a year I go to a cabin "up north" for Girls Weekend, which is one of the best things about my life.
  97. I hate to gamble.
  98. Spending money on pajamas seems frivolous to me.
  99. I do all the laundry, and most of the dishes.
  100. I wish I could read books like I did when I was a kid.

Whew! That was theraputic. Now I've made sure there's no way in hell I can ever reveal this site to anyone I know...

Monday, April 04, 2005

I ate so much last night that as I lay in bed wracked with abdominal pain, I thought I might have damaged my digestive system. Yeah, I ate that much raw bread dough.

Shut up, there's something nostalgic and satisfying about eating dough. My mother made homemade bread when I was very young, and I remember the soft, salty putty forming to the roof of my mouth before a chewed it and swallowed it down. Except the dough I gorged on last night was store bought, leftovers from the thawed and kneaded dough Joe used for pizza crust. It's something of a tradition in his family to make homemade pizza. He even used homemade sausage as a topping -- lovely.

Okay, now I'm reading it again and I know eating dough is gross. But I'll probably do it again.

I accepted the new job on Friday, but was disappointed when salary negotiations fell through. No negotiations. Period. I guess the part that really burned my waffles was being told my military experience didn't count,

1.) because it was before I graduated from college and
2.) the job description asked for "corporate and/or agency" experience, not anything else.

This would be frustrating enough if I was a cook or a mechanic, but I was a Public Affairs Officer. My degree is in Public Relations. I've been a member of WMPRSA for years. That experience closely matches the rest of my experience at both an agency and at a corporate level.

In fact, the more I thought about it this weekend, the more I regretted accepting so quickly. But what the hell was I going to do? It's time to move on.

Thinking back, I remember how excited I was to get the offer from my current employer, how it seemed like such a huge leap forward after working for peanuts in the PR Agency from Hell. Now this new opportunity seems like a dream come true, despite the fact that they won't consider my military experience.

I'm sure once I start freelancing, leaving this next job will feel like that first deep breath of spring air. You know that smell -- wet, wormy, warm. Makes you want to kick off your new flipflops and sink your waxen, colorless toes into the dark mud. Makes you glad to be alive, even if you can't pay your long distance phone bill, your bedroom is a complete mess and you haven't even started your taxes.

My last day is April 13.