Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I'm sad my neighbors are moving.

My Guy is a jock. He loves, loves, loves sports, and he loves, loves, loves kids. So, he's helping a buddy coach his kindergartner's baseball team. I think they mostly practice listening and being where you're supposed to be. The rest is just gravy.

Getting to the practices is a challenge for My Guy, as they start at 6 and are about 20 minutes from our house. So, on practice nights, he'll come rushing home from work, change his clothes, and be out the door in a flash.

And so it was one recent evening. I was playing with the dogs in the backyard, and My Guy stuck his head out the back door. "Hi and bye!" he called.

The dogs and I walked to the part of the backyard by the driveway to wave (me) and watch him go (the dogs). But while we were standing there, I realized that The One True Ball was on the other side of the picket fence. See, the dogs have an uber-favorite ball. And they also believe that when people are walking down the street, these people would stop and play ball if only The One True Ball were available. So, the dogs push the ball under the fence and hope for the best.

I waved to My Guy and made a grab for the ball. I stuck my arm through the fence.

As I watched my husband drive off, I realized that my arm was stuck in the fence.

About half a second after I realized my arm was stuck, I also realized that I am a complete dumbass.

And about half a second after that, all 4 dogs crowded around me, wanting The One True Ball.

I threw the ball. The dogs ran off. I wiggled my arm. The dogs came back, all hot and panting and wanting me to throw the ball again. I realized that it was about 85 degrees out and I was face-to-face with panty, dirty, One-True-Ball-obsessed canines.

I got hot. I vacillated between thinking I could just crouch there for 2 hours until My Guy came home, or I could melt and die right there. I moved my arm all around. I realized for the first time ever that my elbows must be really fat.

"Can I pet your dog?"

A little neighbor girl was suddenly standing by the fence, and I inwardly applauded my lack of profanity-riddled tirade. I tried to act calm as the 4-year-old twins from next door suddenly appeared as well.

"I did something so silly," I said. "I got my arm stuck. Wasn't that silly? Anna, can you go get your mom?"

Three little faces looked at me in terror and amazement. Anna ran off. I felt like a zoo animal, and the dogs kept bringing me their damned One True Ball.

The little neighbor girl tried to hold my sleeve to see if I could pull my arm out of my little jacket thing, but she held it with about zero force. My request to see if she could step inside the open garage and grab the hammer I knew was right there was met with similar demurity.

Anna came back with no mommy. "Anna, did you go tell your mom?"

She wavered. "Umm ... Josh is gonna go get her."

Great. Her brother was gone, I was melting, and the dogs still thought this was the best game of fetch evvvvver.

So, I crouched next to the fence, and these little girls just stood and stared at me, and the dogs kept panting on me, and I kept throwing the ball.

And then I turned just a tiny bit. And my arm was free! Covered in splinters, but free.

Just then, my neighbor came running out of her house. "Cha Cha, did you have your arm stuck in the fence?"

Sigh. "Yes. I'm such an idiot. I just got it out - I'm so sorry you had to come out," I said.

"No, I'm sorry! Anna lies. And so when she came in and told me, I thought she was lying. I'm so sorry." She then turned to her daughter. "Anna, this is why you can't lie. Then people won't believe you when you really need help."

It was "Peter and the  Wolf" come to life, if the tale had been called "Cha Cha is a Dumbass of Epic Proportions."

Huge kudos to my sweet neighbor for not blinking an eye and acting as if a grown woman misjudging the size of her elbow were a totally normal, everyday occurrence.

And dogs? From now on, get your own damned ball.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

And yes, I need to do more yoga.

I'm having trouble remembering what day it is, so maybe this means I'm starting to decompress a tiny bit. It also means I don't feel like I have a whole lot to say.

I'm at my parents' house. Yesterday, my mom made potato salad. I took a nap. We walked the dog. It was a full day.

Today ... I scored a new job. Before I even knew whether or not I was going to get approved for severance, a recruiter contacted me out of the blue. I interviewed for a web writer position at yet another Fortune 500 corporate behemoth ... let us call it Mega Corporate Behemoth, for it has an entire campus with its own ZIP code. So, Mega Corporate Behemoth loves me and is bringing me on for a contract position ... and will probably want to hire me permanently in a few months.

This means I can buy the pants I saw on sale at Kohl's the other day.

It also means that my fantasies of sitting on my ass all summer are kaput, but that My Guy and I don't have to sweat about our finances.

It also might mean that I am hot shit, good at what I do, and that people want to work with me.

It's all a lot to process. Especially that last part, especially since I am From The Midwest, and therefore genetically programmed to downplay all flavors of personal accomplishment. Pride is a sin, you know.

And then there's the concern about whether I'm jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I'm hopeful that one of my main takeaways from ol' Corporate Behemoth will be that I don't owe any employer shiiit. Sure, I owe them 40 hours a week of my best efforts. But I don't owe them my life. They will kick me to the curb without hesitation, and it isn't personal. So, I need to remember that it's not personal for me, either. I need to keep it a job - nothing more.

Good in theory. We'll see how it goes in practice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More advice for all the single ladies.

My dear friend who's exploring Dating as an Adult recently posed a question:

What do I say on a first date when the guy asks me what my ex did to ruin our marriage?

At the time, I didn't have an answer that was even remotely valuable, and it bothered me. I've since given it some thought, and here's what my ruminations have produced:

Keep it light! Keep it gay!

All that to say ... oh, sister.

I think the real questions being asked here are, "How fucked up are you? Are you going to be a jealous psychokitty? Will your ex slash my tires? Do I need to rent a storage unit for your emotional baggage?"

Now, having been a bitter, pissed-off ex and having come out the other side with some semblance of emotional health, I think I have earned the right to comment freely on this topic. Because when I first started dating after my debacle of a break-up with Ex-Ex, my favorite, most passionate topic of conversation was Let Me Tell You How Horrible My Ex Is.

I did not realize at the time that this was a sign that I was so not ready to date.

Looking back, I was ready to date when I refrained from bringing up my ex on the first (or even second!) date. I gots your emotional health right here, bitches.

Now, if your prospective fella asks you about your ex on the first date, it raises a red flag. What if he's looking for a show-me-yours-I'll-show-you-mine ex comparison? If so, that means he's not over his ex and, in my opinion, is not ready to date.

But if he's trying to gauge your emotional health ... well, that's a tiny bit distasteful to me, but I'm kind of persnickety like that. But I think you win if you just come up with a glib, fun way to both answer the question and redirect the conversation. Because you are under no obligation to show him your divorce decree - now or ever. And you certainly don't want to air your dirty laundry during the wooing phase.

Enjoy the woo. Embrace the woo.

So, next time, dear friend, that you are faced with such a question? Here are a few suggested responses:

Oh, we're both much happier now. And I get to hang out with you! (don't use this one if the date has stalker potential)

Well, he decided he didn't want to be married to me any more. And, come to find out, I didn't want to be married to him, either. Things are really going well now.

(If you're feeling particularly snarky) Well, we just didn't have a lot in common anymore. He loved porn and golf. My interests were more focused on our kids. Now, we're both pursuing our bliss, and all is well.

(If the date's really not going well and you wish deep in your soul that you were in your pajamas, watching CSI) How did he ruin our marriage? Oh, he didn't. We're still married.

What did he do? His coworker. (OK, maybe this one is a bit too snarky to be light. But it's funny.)

Oh, that's a conversation for another time. Suffice to say that we're working together to raise our kids, and we're both happier. (Damn, this one sounds really mature.)

Readers, what am I missing? Suggestions?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just a teensy bit bitter. And confused.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Or something like that. It's Monday, and I'm not at work. Because I don't have a job anymore. Instead, I'm at a coffee shop - not because I'm a coffee drinker, but because I was really uncomfortable with the idea of not having anywhere I had to be. So, I loaded up my messenger bag and walked to my neighborhood coffee shop. You know, the one that has no sidewalks because all the neighbors drive their Suburbans to get there, even though it's less than a mile away.

Yeah. It was sort of like Sir Edmund Hilary's trek up Everest. Except not quite as cold, and without a Sherpa.

Today, all of my former cohorts at Corporate Behemoth are being bussed (bussed! in expensive charter buses!) to a hotel to learn from our CEO that insurance and 401K funding is being cut. They are truly being punished for sticking around.

I know that I'm so fortunate to have had my severance approved. I'm so fortunate that this was financially feasible for me and My Guy. And yet? Mentally, I am still at Corporate Behemoth.

The family that started the company basically now has nothing to do with it. When I look at what the sharks have done to the company and its loyal employees, I am indignant on the family's behalf.

I'm a little bit insulted that Corporate Behemoth shut off e-mail and badge access right at 5:00 on Friday for those of us taking severance. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I guess that's fitting, considering that we became invisible during our last 10 days. When everybody else went to a baseball game? We weren't invited. And those general team e-mails? We weren't included. Glad you valued those years of service, bitches.

I'm annoyed as all hell at our vice president, whom I have worked with for 2 years and who stopped by my desk on Friday, clearly because he felt he was supposed to, not because he wanted to. It was truly one of the most awkward exchanges of my life, culminating with him telling me, "Well, Faraway Town is a nice place to live."

"Umm? I live in Tinysuburbwood."

He just looked at me. "Oh."

What is it with people thinking that I live hell and gone away when I am desperately trying to hold on to my metro-area street cred?


And don't even get me started on the fact that I was basically the last person in the company to know that my position had been backfilled. And that my replacement friend was being included in meetings in my stead.

It should all just make me glad to wash my hands and start anew.

I spent last week busting my ass getting things as neatly tied up as possible. I spent the weekend listening to my sweet husband telling me to take a nap. And now?

Well ... now what?

I guess I need to give myself a break. I guess it's only natural that a touch of PTSD is coloring my very first day of unemployment.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The final countdown.

Thank you for your kind words and birthday wishes. They made my heart glad!

My sweet husband gave me my heart's desire: a pencil sharpener. I seriously love it. Hi, I'm a writer.

And my sweet book club brought me a completely delish birthday cake. I wasn't the only one who thought it was divine ... just moments after book club broke up, I turned to find Foxie Doxie standing on my kitchen table, licking the frosting off said cake. Not eating the cake - just licking the frosting.

I couldn't even be mad. It was adorable. And who doesn't love frosting?

Now? I will be unemployed in about 20 hours. I am exhausted, and am having trouble imagining what it will be like to be rid of this stress. See, they are back filling my position ... with my friend. I want her to succeed, but she is starting from scratch. So, instead of the "Screw you honkies!" sentiment that occasionally rises in my throat, I'm centered more on helping her. Writing everything down ... even if she isn't reading it. Ahem.

I'm drinking wine.

And, as is my custom, I'm having trouble eating. However, I've discovered the key to getting a sandwich down, and I'd like to share it with you.

French onion chip dip.

As a condiment.

Yes. For real.

Now, as an Iowa girl, I am completely dedicated to Anderson Erickson dips. There are no other dips in my life. But, if you don't live in the Midwest, I know you have to make do.

So, yeah. French onion chip dip. It's the very best on BLTs. But it's also awesome with, you know, any other toast / meat / tomato combo. Add some real onion and maybe a little cheese, and you've got yourself a culinary orgasm. Few people know this, but that's what Sally was eating in the diner scene in When Harry Met Sally.

And ... you're welcome.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today? Today, I lost my shit.

I was in control all day. The to-do list for leaving a job with some ounce of grace is hellishly long, especially when you basically built the team from the ground up, know stuff that nobody else knows, and are trying to set up your successor for some amount of success.

I was very matter-of-fact when the ladyparts nurse called to say that one of my hormone levels is a mere 1 / 3 of what it should be, and a trip to the reproductive endocrinologist is definitely in order.

I was poised at the kitchen table, doing some extra work while waiting for My Guy to get home. We were going to go to dinner at my favorite vegetarian restaurant and then go to an event put on by the local indie book seller. I was being productive.

And he was late.

He was late enough that we would be pushing it to get through dinner and make the event on time.

The event that we were attending to celebrate my birthday, which is tomorrow.

He got home and promptly spilled pop all over the floor.

I put the dogs in their kennels and then just sat in the car. Driving away from the house, I just couldn't help it. "I'm mad. I'm sorry. I'm just really mad."

"Babe, I had a conference call at 5. I had to be on it so that I didn't have to get on another call tonight at 8. I'm sorry."

"I know. I'm just - I'm just really, really mad."

And then I started to cry. Ugly cry. Gasping, sniveling, huh-huh-huh crying.

We ended up eating burgers sitting in the car at a park. I couldn't stop ugly crying. I just couldn't stop! There's so much change. There's so little control. And with all the people leaving Corporate Behemoth, there are lots of good-bye happy hours scheduled. Nobody is throwing me a happy hour. And it hurts my feelings.

I know that in a few days, I will walk away from the insanity, and I will focus on righting my ship, on getting these hormones figured out, and getting myself in order. But right then? I just had to ugly cry.

As we sat in the car, we watched a father and daughter play tennis. They weren't very good.

"Would you consider your tennis skills better or way better than those being displayed right now?" my dear husband asked.

This just made me cry more. "I went out for tennis my freshman year," I said. "And I was so bad that the coach told me I didn't have to come to practice if I didn't want to."

"That is horrendous. That's a great story, but just terrible," he said.

Another sob came. "I knooooooow! What a bitch! I was trying, and she was so mean! And I'm never going to get pregnant! And nobody wants to drink beer with meeeee!"

I might be a touch exhausted, and have just a tiny issue with proper perspective at the moment. This, too, shall pass.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Saying goodbye is ... easier than I thought?

I'm trying to be Patty Peoplepleaser at Corporate Behemoth. I desperately want to have all of my ducks in a row so that they will miss me when I'm gone, but not be completely up Shit Creek.

Well, maybe just a little up Shit Creek. At least completely bereft.

And it's hard to have so many people ask me what I'm going to do next, or fawn all over me, or ask why I made the decision. It's sort of like getting married - I'm glad I did it, but being the center of attention is stressful.

So, let's focus on some of the things I won't miss about Corporate Behemoth.

I won't miss having to beg, barter, steal, and flirt with the leering IT guy in order to get adequate technology to do my job.

I won't miss the politics. Flash over substance? Really?

And I won't miss the woman who complained in the elevator to the garage about how there aren't enough handicapped parking spots. I saw her get in her van with the permanent handicapped tag. And then I followed her out of the garage. Which means I saw her stop, get out of her van, and push a stalled car up the ramp in the garage. Yeah, you totally need that handicapped spot, honey.

So, I'm working through it all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What counts as foreplay at my house.

My Guy: Whatcha doin'?

Me: Lookin' for a good time.

My Guy: Hmm. Well, maybe I'll take you for nachos some time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Recluse no more.

My friend Richard: Cha Cha, you have got to get back to blogging. You're so good at it, and it's your passion! And you're so funny! When you have a gift like that, you have to do it. You make people's lives better with your blogging. So, just go home, take off your bra, settle down on the couch, and write, girl!

My dad: I check your blog every day. I'm getting really sick of reading about your umbrella.

And so it is.

So much to write about ... so, I'm just gonna come right on out and say it.

Corporate Behemoth is having massive layoffs and restructuring. Again. But this time? This time, you could volunteer to get canned.

I did. I am. I am getting voluntarily canned. My last day at Corporate Behemoth is Friday.

Holy shit, right?

I'm going to do contract work and freelancing, and maybe even some writing for me. I actually had a recruiter contact me out of the blue, so I guess I'm not completely unemployable. That's nice.

And a big reason behind my "take the money and run" voluntary severance?

We're sort of ... umm ... attempting to ... procreate. It's taking long enough and I'm ancient enough that there might be something going on (or not, as the case may be) in my ladyparts. The term "reproductive endocrinologist" has been bandied about. That's nice.


Just lots of bidness going down. I'm exhausted - I had less than a week to decide if I was going to apply for voluntary severance, and then had to wait a week to see if it was a go. Except that at 4:00 of the day when everyone was supposed to know whether or not their severance request had been approved, HR sent out an e-mail saying, "We have to do what's best for the company. We need another week."

Oh. What's best for the company. Nevermind us mere mortals whose lives hang in the balance. That's nice. Real nice.

I've been drinking. A lot.

And then I found out 3 days ago that it's a done deal. I know it's what's best for me and My Guy, but I'm at a bit of a loss. Who am I going to be now?

I went shopping today - because that's the smart thing to do when you're about to cut off your income source. I tried on lots of clothes but bought very little. I just couldn't quite put my finger on what sort of clothes I'll need moving forward. Who will I be?

Well, I'm pretty sure I won't be the lady I saw at Nordstrom Rack who was wearing hooker eyeliner, a white tank top that didn't cover her wow-you-almost-look-7-months-pregnant-but-you're-just-fat gut, and a permanent glare.

However, I might be the woman who physically beats up the mall kiosk guy who accosts women by saying, "I see you wash your hands a lot. Are you a nurse? You need this new lotion." Because I, personally, had a fantasy of clocking him with my handbag and then kicking him in the skull after he insinuated that my hands were haggard.

So, that's an option. I'm still figuring it all out.

I will probably continue to be the woman who needs an outlet for talking about the stupid stuff in my life. And this keeping-it-all-to-myself business hasn't worked that well. So. Here I am.