Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Calling Off the Crazies

If I thought work was unbearable last month there is no name for what it is now. You know how it feels when you've been on the phone with a loved one for just a tad too long and a strange pain slowly creeps into your ear and before you know it that entire side of your head is numb? Yeah, it's a lot like that, but for 8 straight hours Monday through Friday. I guess this is what happens when you're liquidating all of your inventory and you send email blasts to 35,000 customers and you made the insane decision to keep only 2 employees to handle the phone calls. The funny thing is, prior to the company letting everyone go, when I handled only my duties and not those of 4+ others, I spent an average of 20 minutes a day handling phone calls, and they were all made on my own accord. Those days are long gone, and I'm anxiously awaiting a time when I can say days like this are long gone as well.

By the time last Friday afternoon rolled around I felt an overwhelming urge to lob my cold water bottle against the wall as hard as I could. I could feel myself breaking down and as the phone rang and the messages in my inbox multiplied, I sat shaking in my cubicle, contemplating how much trouble I would be in if I could actually get my water bottle through the wall--I felt like I had enough pent-up frustration to do just that--but I figured it would actually get me in a lot of trouble, as well as blow my calm-and-collected-employee cover I spent the last 5 years trying to hide behind. Instead, I gained control of the shakes, marched into my director's office, and politely asked, "Any chance I can get Monday off? I think I'm going to crack."

Despite being given permission to take a day of vacation and pull myself together, I still came home in tears on Friday. I couldn't shake the fact that work was eating me alive--from the tips of my toes to my eye balls--and it was draining me of every ounce of energy I had, including what's needed to maintain relationships that will be there far longer than June 30th.

I broke down almost the moment I walked in the door and Jon couldn't possibly understand why I was doing this to myself for a company that's already shown me the door--even if it is down a long corridor--and I couldn't find the words to explain to him that it had to be this way--that I had no choice but to suffer the way I am--but now I think I couldn't find the words because there are none. There is no excuse good enough to explain why I'm letting a company suck me so dry in the morning that I don't have what it takes to look for a new one in the evening.

I decided then and there that I won't let it happen again. I have to take my own advice and admit that I'm only human--there is only so much I can do--and I have to be okay with that, as will my current employer. Not to say that I won't try my best, but I'm working on gaining a more realistic perspective of what my best actually is. My best is what I can manage without seeking vengeance on the purple office walls. My best is an acceptable amount of work that I can be proud of but won't leave me questioning my sanity at the end of the day.

I walked into work smiling this morning after a 3 day weekend, and the volume of phone calls and emails were so unbelievable that each time I walked past her office, my director would call out, "Aren't you glad you took yesterday off?" or "It's a good thing you took Monday off because you definitely would have cracked!" and each time I would genuinely smile and say, "I can't begin to describe how thankful I am to have had yesterday to myself."

She probably doesn't know how important that extra day off was for me, but I know that it helped me pull my shit together and come into work this morning as myself again. I've reclaimed my mind from the chaos that takes place inside the grayness of my 25 square foot cubicle and it finally feels more like a workspace than a prison.

Monday, April 20, 2009

With 8 Speed Options

I decided today that the one thing I hate most about rain is trying to find the proper windshield wiper speed. I'm convinced there is no happy medium between not being able to see through a wall of water and cringing as the rubber blade squeals against a dry windshield.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Inappropriate Table Talk

Jon: "Would you stay married to me if I became a bald, gay guy?"

Kate: "Bald? Yes. Gay? No."

Jon: "I can accept that."

Mother-in-law: "That's perfectly understandable."

A few minutes later...

Kate: "Are these beans or kernels in the rice?"

Mother-in-law: "Those are pine nuts."

Kate: "Oh. They're very tasty."

Jon: "I love nuts."

Long pause...

Kate: "I guess he won't be going bald first."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Free books heal all wounds

Last week we were given the go-ahead to pillage the company library where we store all of our sample books. I for one had been jumping at the chance to snag all of the titles I wanted but most of my co-workers weren't as openly excited as I was. That's why I didn't feel guilty for taking so many books that I had to make half a dozen trips to my car in order to take them all home with me.

I started by focusing on everything we had regarding nutrition and when I was pretty sure I had it all, I moved on to the Printz Award books and other attractive YA literature. By luck I found almost the entire Chronicles of Narnia set, and all of the Series of Unfortunate Events. You can't see it from the photos but I even snatched the I Spy books. They are near and dear to my heart because reading riddles and searching for tiny clothes pins hidden amongst the pages is a favorite past time with my mom.

There are 86 books in all. Some of them were practical choices, and others were spur of the moment Oh. My. God. Free. Books! selections. They've taken up permanent residence on my dining room table.

Should I find enough time in my life to actually read all of them I shall have enough knowledge in my little brain to become a Diet and Fitness Guru, Career Counselor, Financial Advisor, History Buff, Children's Librarian, and a Literary Genius. So, really, I should look at them as required reading, because I'm bound to find my next career in there somewhere.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

To all the fat haters

My biggest pet peeve with being so open about my weight loss is having people come to me with common nutrition information that they don't think I've heard or read about somewhere else, and more specifically with complaints about "ghastly" fat contents. It could just be that I'm an evil, ungrateful person, but a lot of the time I feel they're coming to me with information just to impress me but they're actually doing the exact opposite.

I can't claim to be an expert on weight loss, but I have lost 60 pounds in the last 10 months which makes me feel like I do have a general knowledge of what it takes to shed weight (albeit slowly but diligently) and I haven't done it by counting fat grams with the exception of trans fats. The first things I look for on a nutrition label are partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), high fructose corn syrup, and enriched flour, but the last thing I look at is the saturated and unsaturated fat contents. I'm far more interested in the total calories, protein, sodium, and carbohydrate versus fiber ratio.

Fat does not make you fat, overeating and sustaining a sedimentary lifestyle does. Your body needs fat to function properly. In my opinion, the only reason you should be hung up on fat grams when trying to lose weight is because you're avoiding trans fats as much as possible and getting more unsaturated fats than saturated fats. My logic has always been get the proper amounts of protein and carbohydrates in your diet and the fat will fall into place.

My main approach to losing this weight has revolved around not denying myself the things I really, truly want. My family is having a large, undoubtedly unhealthy dinner for Easter Sunday and am I really going to sit there and watch my family eat platefuls of ham and potatoes and buttery rolls followed by pie and chocolate bunnies while I nibble on a salad sans dressing? I don't think so. Am I going to work out harder for it and take smaller servings? Absolutely. I'm going to eat every fattening, starchy, creamy food they put in front of me and then I'm going to get right back on track again Monday with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and a healthy dose of fat-laden dairy products that make my body want to shed this extra weight. If I didn't allow myself the freedom to stop dieting on special occasions or sometimes even just for the heck of it, I wouldn't be able to sustain this lifestyle. Not to mention, the abundance of extra calories actually revs up my metabolism after running a deficit for a while.

I digress. My point is, you should not be afraid of fat grams. You should be mindful of fat grams, but a slice of pie or a candy bar every once in while is not going to turn you in to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Au contraire! It might actually make you more fun to be around.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hooked up

Tonight we donated our old computer to a good cause--my little sister's Twilight addiction. I guess she couldn't snag enough borrowed time from another person's computer to finish reading Midnight Sun which meant she desperately needed a computer of her own. We were happy to oblige, considering giving her the computer meant she would stop calling here at odd hours of the night to tell me how obsessed she was with everything Stephenie Meyer. She's gone so far as to tell me she doesn't know what to do with her life now that she's finished the Twilight series, so I also donated a few Sarah Dessen novels in hopes it will give her life some direction.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Snow, snow, go away

I know it was foolishly naive of me to think we could actually be rid of the snow before May, but I still want to throw the mother of all temper tantrums. The stores have entire section designated to swimwear for crying out loud. Hey, Mother Nature, get a clue!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How to be a rotten daughter

My dad is exactly one year and one day older than my mom, and even though I've had 27 years to get it right, I can never remember if their birthdays fall on April 3rd and 4th or April 4th and 5th. Every year I feel so guilty that I can memorize the birthdays of all my siblings, their spouses, their children, and the birthdays of all my in-laws, but I can never manage to remember my own parents. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the days being so close together since we always celebrated both birthday at one time while I was growing up, but that's not a good enough excuse for me. It's just wrong to forget your parent's birthday.

I decided I would get down to bottom of this mystery one way or another this year, even if it meant I had to come out and say, "Mom, Dad, I can't remember who's birthday falls on what day. Isn't that hilarious?"

I bought no sugar added apple pie and vanilla ice cream while I was out grocery shopping this morning--my dad is diabetic and they both love a la mode pie--with the intentions of dropping in on them with birthday wishes and a little something sweet. And how lucky was I that at least someones birthday had to have taken place this weekend?

Jon and I actually ended up going out to dinner with my parents, brother, sister, and nephew to celebrate, and relief flooded over me when half way through dinner my brother nonchalantly asked, "So, your birthdays were yesterday and the day before, right? I know they're in the first week of April but I can never remember which days."

To which my mom replied, "Nope, today is my birthday and your father's was yesterday."

Neither of my parents were hurt by our forgetfulness. Not that I expected them to be offended, but you never know.

I'm writing this now, not because I think it's an entertaining story (believe me, I know it's not) but because next year I'm going to know when my parents birthdays are, and I'm going be without a doubt because I left myself this note in April 2009:

Dad's birthday = April 4
Mom's birthday = April 5

Mystery solved.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Before and After

It started as a joke one night when my nephew stayed over. It was the first Spring after we adopted Macy and he noticed a nasty bundle of black hair that had gathered in a dark corner. He asked what it was and I said, "Oh, that's Macy's dog Fluffy."

I was unprepared for the onslaught of shedding such a little Cocker Spaniel could do, but I know better now, so every Spring she's taken in for a total shave down. Sure, sure, we should probably get her one of those fancy, professional Spaniel do's but she's far too messy (read: would sleep in the kitchen trash can if we let her) to manage something so nice.

Anyway, here's Macy's transformation this year:

from Shaggy:


to Sweetheart:


Have you ever noticed how the smile is always bigger in the After photos?