Category: feelings

not so much “Plan B” as it is “Plan 50 20”

Recapping key happenings that led up to my new job:

– In late 2016, with our contract expiration in sight, my employer began urging us to explore other options. This — along with a strong desire to part ways with my manager — propelled me from casually glancing at the “help wanteds” to actually updating my résumé and applying.

– I haven’t counted, but I guess-timate that I applied to an average of one opportunity every week, over a span of five months.

– With the bulk of my company’s work set to be completed by summer 2017, in late April I was cut to part-time status, to be in the office only three days per week.

– The week after I was made part-time was the first of four in which I had interviews. Those companies all suggested that we meet on my days off… although they didn’t know I was free on those days. And since I was interviewing on my days off, I didn’t have to use any vacation time, or burden my current employer with last-minute call outs.

– The first company I talked to — I’ll call them “ABC” — seemed like the ideal fit: I had good rapport with my two interviewers (who would also be my supervisors), and the work they described was almost identical to what I’d been doing for the past five years.

– I was applying for positions that I deemed “a good fit,” and from the multiple responses I received, I guess I chose well. After the interviews, I was convinced that any of those jobs would’ve been fine, even though none struck me as a clear, “This is IT!” Plus, there were a few disconnects in which the person setting up the interview and I evidently got off on the wrong foot. For example, one human resources agent asked me to call and let her know when I had emailed my application, but when I did a few hours later, her tone was distant, as if I was being pushy. (For doing what she asked! GRR!!)

– Throughout my search, I seriously considered changing career paths. I was drawn to a recurring ad for help at the library, but it was a minimum wage position in addition to being a long drive from where I live. Plus, I preferred to build on the experience I had, instead of starting back completely at “square zero.”

– Meanwhile at my current job, the good supervisor announced that he would be leaving in mid-May. I fretted, wondering what other positive, reasonable, well-spoken manager would be available to give me a reference.

– I took the other rejections in stride because I was counting on a job offer from ABC; when they sent word that they’d chosen someone else, I could see my last hope fading away. I pity-partied that apparently I require an opportunity with absolutely no competition.

– At the beginning of my job search, I started writing a list of my (many!) duties with instructions for my coworkers on doing them in my absence. I worked on it sporadically due to interruptions, not to mention frustrations about the ever-growing list, and how best to present it. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something I needed to do, to “do right” by the company and leave them with that information. In the fifth week of my part-time status, I put forth a concentrated effort and completed a serious first draft.

– The next day, ABC called again about a job opening I hadn’t seen: maintaining an archive (a.k.a. “library”) of technical documents. One of my previous interviewers thought of me and wanted to discuss it. What job seeker could resist such an invitation? Of course, I agreed to meet.

– The day of the interview, I began my traditional preparation, in which I describe how my experience meets their requirements. But as I looked at the job description they sent me, I could see why no one was applying; despite the job title, the duties they outlined were so technical that I didn’t even know where to start. In fact, I almost called and cancelled, convinced that I wasn’t the one for them. But I didn’t. I mean, we had already spoken, so surely they didn’t think I secretly had computer engineering skills, or something…? (And, heck, as I tweeted, “A long shot is better than no shot!”)

– Also, the day of the interview, I was late! Which is *so* not me. I’m generally very early for everything — except when it’s got life-changing implications. :slapsforehead: When I arrived, my previous interviewer came out to glare at me. I feebly apologized, and he graciously offered that he thought traffic was bad. I briefly agreed, we moved on, and no more was said about it.

– On the bright side, there was almost nowhere for the interview to go but up. And up it went — way up! The second interviewer was super-nice, and he shared that my previous interviewer “was impressed” with me. (I thought, “Um, so impressed that you didn’t hire me before?” But I immediately countered that with, “No worries — this job is better!”) My meager preparation added a key point or two to my answers. The interviewers even proposed that they could train me on what I didn’t know: I had wanted to suggest that, but I didn’t know if *they* would buy it!

– The next day — May 26 — ABC called and offered me the job. I accepted and we agreed I would start in two weeks.

A series of fortunate events? Sure, some people would say it’s all just coincidence. (Some people would say the same if a warehouse full of airplane parts exploded and produced a perfectly functioning airplane. 😉 I can attest that some of those “events” felt decidedly less than fortunate while I was in them, and I admit I slipped into despair, more than once. But I’m thankful that, looking back, I’m able to see the pieces come together, and I’m posting about it here to be a much-needed reminder for me to look for the big picture… or should I say, the big plan.

“…shall I speak at this?” you bet your sweet bippy

Recently, a coworker made inappropriate remarks, and although he was sent packing, the rest of us had to endure a crash course in sensitivity. As we sat in the course, I marveled at the hypocrisy of it all: a worker bee gets called on the carpet (and rightly so, from the few details that were provided), and yet, the main manager at our location gets away with his repeated angry tantrums.

Said manager, who was leading the training(!), repeatedly insisted that we should speak up if we see incidents of harassment. An associate took the opportunity to casually approach the topic of angry outbursts, and the manager’s response was dismissive: “Well, yeah, some people do blow off steam…”  Later, the associate and I agreed that such verbal abuse should be as off-limits as physical violence.

Lest anyone should think that my coworkers and I are simply too sensitive, I understand that, whenever people spend time together, there will be disagreements and moments of lost temper. But, from where I sit, the manager’s overreactions are so far, so unnecessarily far beyond that. No matter how calm his co-conversationalist remains, he can be counted on to dissolve into a contempt-filled rage, and when such an onslaught is directed at me, I’m left feeling as if I’ve been utterly stomped on.

Having more than once been the target of the boss’s aggression, not long after the meeting, I realized there would never be a better chance to voice my feelings. I caught up with the manager. “Continuing the thoughts in our training, for the record, when someone yells at me, I *do* feel ‘humiliated’ and ‘disrespected.'” He asked if he ever made me feel that way, and I responded affirmatively. I added that I can accept correction, and I can accept criticism, but “just tell me. No need to shout.” It was a very civil exchange, and he said he appreciated me letting him know. I was proud of myself for speaking up, and I felt I had made peace with the situation.

The next day, the manager joked(?) that I had “given him a complex.” Well, if that means I brought some enlightenment, that’s a good thing, in my book — and long overdue. Reflecting on his apparent surprise at my reaction to his shouting, I’ve wondered whether I should share two more for-the-records: (1) I don’t know of anyone who responds well to such unbridled anger, and consequently (2) I can’t think of a single situation that would be made better by it. (I truly boggle that this has never come up in his twenty-plus years as a manager.)

As I said, I’m proud of myself for taking the opportunity to speak up. Has it changed anything? It’s hard to say. It’s not as if there was an ugly incident every day, or even every week. In any case, even if the anti-harassment emphasis was just a show for damage control, to learn that I really can speak up is empowering. Who knows, if there is another incident, maybe I’ll call it out…without waiting to be asked.

those things I do, 2015 edition

Has it really been four years since I’ve written one of these? Hmm, I seem to recall passing thoughts of such a post each of the past three years, but more pressing to do’s got in the way. Truth be known, I probably wouldn’t have done this one had I not been on vacation from work this past week. Anyway! Here are some of the things occupying my time.

* enduring changing conditions at work. In January, the boss I’ve had for the 2.5 years at my current company retired. His former second-in-command took the reigns, and for several months, it was the nightmare I had feared. To say the least, the new boss is a micromanager, and his default state of impatiently oozing with sarcasm was only made worse by his promotion. I was to the point where I was regularly checking the job listings, because to think of staying indefinitely with that man in that highly negative environment was too much to bear. But I found out in September that our contract was only renewed until March of next year. Although the higher-ups express confidence that we’ll get another renewal, I’m not counting on that. In any case, I decided that – as things have calmed down a bit – I’ll at least try to make it through the end of this year. Can’t quit before I get all of my vacation and holidays, right? 😉

* mentally projecting myself elsewhere. From a recent letter to my friend Michele: “Thank you, thank you, thank! you! for the b-day graphic with Tom Hiddleston. If seeing the trailer for the movie you mentioned reminded me of him, the suggestion of running away to Bali with him has (happily!) planted him front and center in my thoughts. Plus it has been giving me much-needed mental escapes since I first saw the b-day graphic. Back at work on the second, I was so inspired that I did a Bali image search and changed my work computer background to support my daydreams. I imagine myself standing on that balcony, in that beautiful, exotic, romantic place. I’m looking out at the scenery; he’s standing behind me with his arms wrapped around me, and I feel so protected, and relieved that he’s taken me away from all the stress and bad mojo at work. :sighs dreamily:”

* chewing carefully. I’ve been having sporadic pain in one of my molars when I chew a certain way. During my dental cleaning earlier this month, I mentioned this pain, and in his inspection, the dentist spied a crack under the filling. Last week I went for a temporary crown, with plans to go back for the permanent in a couple of weeks.

* reading carefully and carefully considering my diet. I’m still dealing with the eye symptoms that started back in November of 2013. It (eye strain?) tends to flare up after long sessions of reading/computer time, and so I’ve continued pacing myself, taking breaks and cutting out “extra” reading. My side (gall bladder?) issues have also continued, but have also been pretty mild, and I like to think it’s because I’ve made a concerted effort to eat as nutritiously as possible… well, as is possible without spending a fortune of $$ or an excessive amount of time researching and planning exactly what “nutritious” means.

* making sure Aldi gives me the sale price. I’ve been going to the Aldi grocery store near work almost every week for well over a year. I’ve been loving their low prices, but recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in which the additional markdowns noted on the shelf don’t make it into the cash register. My response is to hold such items to the end of my order, and as the cashier reaches for it, I quiz, “Are these the ones that are (insert sale price here)??”

* desperately seeking new music. This time last year, the 80’s and 90’s music radio station that I’ve enjoyed for several years started to play Christmas music full time. Alas, when that ended, they changed their format to country music. My sister defaulted the living room radio back to the repeat-o-songs station we had previously, but their non-variety has irked me more than it did before. I guess, having heard some actual variety, I’m not ready to give it up. So I’ve been exploring other options. I’ve downloaded quite a bit of the free music Amazon has to offer, plus I discovered that we have a local jazz station. (Jazz is SO calming on my way into work. :big smile: )

* possibly closing in on a decent way to wear my hair. Years ago, I worked with a lady who shared that she would be going the next day to a hair appointment. With delight, she declared that she would then be “lookin’ decent.” That phrasing struck a chord with me: it sounded humble and yet attainable, although for me, the quest remains. But I refused to accept that the only styling option for my latest lackluster ‘do was a helmet-y mom bob, and I ventured to try some techniques that were brand new to me. And at least twice I have *loved* the results. Unfortunately, the aforementioned techniques involve a lot of dumb luck, and now the challenge has become replicating a love-able (read “decent”) look. Fortunately, I have a picture! I will call in professional help if I need to. And if my attempts in the mean time look a bit weird, I shrug happily that I like it better than my previous Bowl Head, and I put my hand on my hip, hold my head up, and carry on as if I meant for it to look this way. (For you Buffy fans, as a confidence-booster, I tell myself, “I wear the hair: it does not wear me.” XD )

* tried in vain to build a dream. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly on this blog, my long-time dream is to build my own home. Earlier this year, I took the first steps by talking to a builder and a bank, but I ran into a brick wall, and I’m sad to report that it wasn’t the one that I envision as a focal wall in the sitting area by the new kitchen. I was bummed out… devastated, actually … about it for quite a while, until I accepted that this simply wasn’t the right time. In retrospect, I realized that to continue the way it had been going would have meant settling. I definitely need to think more about what I want, and now I can do so more intelligently, with what I learned in this initial effort.

* waiting on people to do what they say they will. (Grr!) Before Memorial Day, we noticed that our roof was leaking by the chimney. A lot. (No doubt due to the fact that, while in the attic, you could look up next to the chimney and see daylight.) I contacted the roofer. Six to eight weeks later, a guy shows up and works on it. Still leaking! I texted the roofer again – as this seems to be the only way to get through to him – and he immediately responded with apologies… and then weeks went by with no word. I finally texted again. In early November, the guy finally came out again, and his patch job seemed to have worked… until my Mom just reported that she sees another leak. :pulls hair out:

* finally(!) getting back to website work. Much of my free time has been spent working on the new layout for my so-called personal site. I didn’t realize how much I had missed my website hobby, but I’m so glad to be back at it, even if I must do so gradually to avoid aggravating the eye issues mentioned earlier in this post. Actually, having to take my time on it has turned out to be a blessing, too, because it’s giving me a chance to consider my options for each step. Hopefully, if this continues, whenever I do finish it, I know it won’t be perfect, but I can feel as if the final project is complete, the result of a good effort.

shun the shame game

A few thoughts I wrote for my “inspirational” blog…

Shun the Shame Game

Maybe you’ve noticed an increase lately of reports – they sometimes masquerade as news stories – in which a person makes fun of another person’s weight. Often the person being mocked is a female celebrity who was formerly known for being thin. Such remarks have been tagged “fat-shaming,” and they range from the seemingly mild (“Oh, you don’t have to tell me you like chocolate.”) to the downright cruel (“She’s totally let herself go. It’s gross!”)

Maybe you’ve also noticed that these comments are not just limited to weight, nor are they exclusively aimed at celebrities. If you are almost thirty years old and single, then you are likely familiar with single-shame. If you’re over thirty, and single, and female, it can escalate to spinster-shame. Variations of the trend abound. You can be flub-shamed when you misspeak, fashion-shamed when you wear the wrong outfit, friend-shamed when you keep the wrong company…

And let’s not forget food-shame. Oh, no, I can forget that one. When I was in elementary school, one assignment we had was to write the instructions for how to do something. I chose to detail the steps for making a fried bologna sandwich. Hey, I was a kid from a lower-lower-middle class family in the South. It didn’t occur to me that bologna wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it certainly never occurred to me that something so simple could be so ill-received. But, believe me, I knew it after that day. I still remember the condescending look of disdain on the snooty substitute teacher’s face as she read aloud each of the steps I’d written. I was humiliated.

Looking back, thinking of that substitute’s response, I marvel. Really, lady? Really?? So you don’t like processed meat. Your opinion of it (a food!) is so extreme – and your estimation of the importance of this subject is so high – that you could not hide your contempt. A fourth-grader’s feelings be darned!

Isn’t that the essence of ____-shaming? “My opinion – NAY, my RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT – must be made known!”

But, wait just a mo… doesn’t that reek of intolerance? And aren’t we in America working to stamp out such narrow-mindedness? If that is truly our goal, we might do well to start by admitting that we all have such thoughts from time to time. Maybe it’s because, even though we might be quick to agree that there is no true “normal,“ we each have ideas of what normal looks like. And when someone strays too far outside of our standard, we might resort to shaming to try to punish that person into compliance.

Unfortunately, if change is the point, shaming doesn’t work. You can read more about that in the articles I’ve linked at the bottom of this post, or you can give it a Google. Or maybe, like me, you know it’s true from personal experience. I’d like to say that the bologna incident above was the only time I’ve been shamed, but that is *so* not the case. When someone launches snarky barbs at me, usually my first reaction is to get defensive. Maybe I make a mental list of the shortcomings I see in the would-be shamer, and I wonder who they think they are to call me out on anything. Sure, my feelings will probably be hurt, because we’re wired to seek acceptance. Perhaps I comfort myself by thinking that if they bothered to get to know me, they would understand why I do what I do. If the criticism becomes a pattern, you can bet I’ll start to avoid that person as much as possible. But I won’t change the shamed behavior. In fact, I might become more determined not to.

“But this person is just so ___. I’ve got to say something!” Well, remember that old adage: people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. If you’re just showing off, they’re not going to care. But if *you* care, let them know. Invest time in the relationship. Get to know the person. Perhaps, over time, you can help bring about positive change by your continued support and encouragement. Or maybe you’ll discover that they don’t need fixing, and they never did.

In any case, skip the shame game. Too many people are already playing – and no one is winning.


See also:

www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/26/205766456/hating-on-fat-people-just-makes-them-fatter

http://www.thenation.com/blog/174049/fat-shaming-all-around-us

older or wiser?

One of the 40 questions in the year-in-review meme asks whether you consider yourself older or wiser than in the previous year. As with pretty much every one of the questions, (I overthink everything and so) my answer flipflops between the two options. When my so-called ailments are acting up or I recognize that I’m reminiscing yet again about the so-called good old days, I definitely lean toward older.

Still, overall, I would answer “wiser”… I know, it surprised me, too! Sure, there are areas – oh, lots and lots of areas – where I just don’t seem to get it. And, in my opinion, most people just don’t seem to get me. Plus, lately I have Bad Brain Weeks (TM) with an alarming frequency. Despite all of that, I do think I’ve gained some proverbial ground, which I’m daring to call wisdom.

Arguably, the most important advance this year is having realized I finally feel as if I’ve found my voice. Since high school, one of my most frequent sources of frustration has been the perspective that no one is listening to me, so this is huge! A big part of my feeling heard has been being able to ponder, protest, and pour my heart out to my dear friend Michele, since waaaaay back in 2001. She not only listens but is also in many of the same boats I am, so her attentiveness is doubly appreciated.

I also attribute this feeling of finding my voice to all these years of running websites. Nothing fancy or earth-shattering. Simply writing my thoughts and making them available is, as writers know, cathartic. As I say on one site, “Even if no one reads every word, just knowing that they could makes me feel as if I’ve been heard.” Adding to that, the bits of feedback I’ve received – mentions in books about the fandoms, comments from site visitors, repeatedly making it onto the first page of Google search results – have been invaluable. People *have* noticed my efforts. My words. Me!

I’ve even come to see that my family does listen to me, even if it’s not always like I would prefer.

Another gain is that I have developed a strong sense of self. Actually, I’ve had that for several years now, basically accepting who I am. It’s like in that saying, “First, we worry about what others think of us. Then, we don’t care what they think of us. Finally, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” I am solidly – okay, usually – in the don’t-care-what-they-think category. No, I don’t aim to antagonize people by throwing our differences in their faces. (I remain one who hates to argue. I mean, what a pointless waste of time!) My default mode is to try to be a nice, likeable… albeit introverted… person because, sure, I would rather people like me.

Unfortunately, lately, I find myself around people who want to lift themselves up by putting others down. Surely you know the type: they heckle you by pointing out your quirks, or mock your mis-speaks in a desperate attempt to make themselves look smarter. I confess, I can be as quirky a person as you’ll meet on any given day, and so a nitpicker-type will have no shortage of material to try to use against me. Ah, but my sense of self triumphs more and more: the disapproval of such a person means nothing to me. Which is good because it occurs to me that if you start changing to please them, they’ll just find something else about you to hate on. And I equate their efforts to impose their own standards to the playground challenge of declaring that “last one there is a rotten egg!” When you’re a kid, you play along with such dares, because heaven forbid you be labeled a rotten egg. But as an adult, you reject that. “Why? Because you say so? Whatever!” Not to mention that I’ll now take my goofiness over their condescension any day of the week.

So, yay! I have one question answered. Thirty-nine to go. At this rate, it’s good that I started early!

Now, where did THAT come from?

Earlier this week, I was having lunch at my desk, as I often do. Boss #2 stopped by to contribute some work-related info (which is, of course, the downside in lunching at one’s desk), but as he turned to go, he spied my sandwich. He asked, “Is that ciabatta bread? Did you bake that?” Yes, it was ciabatta bread, but no, I definitely didn’t bake it… and even now, I’m curious as to what inspired that question. While I can cook, I’m far from being a culinary legend, and I consider bread-baking something done by unearthly people like Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart. In any event, I decided to take it as a compliment.

The day after the previous incident, I was at Wal-Mart (looking for more ciabatta bread for which I could take baking credit). A fellow customer gets my attention and queries, “Do you have any idea where I would find anchovy paste?” Something about the phrase “anchovy paste” really turns my stomach, but I rose above it and thought for a moment, trying to be helpful. “Might it be with the canned meats?” The lady responded that she hadn’t thought of that, and off she went. I was left to wrap my head around the fact that I – apparently – I look like someone familiar with disgustingly-named fish products.

Also this week, the water cooler at work would not dispense cold water, so I called our water-cooler-unit supplier. It would be the next day before the service guy could come out, but the office lady suggested that I “unplug it, wait an hour and plug it back in.” So… just so I’m understanding the situation here: I need to reboot the water cooler?! (FYI, I was desperate, so I tried it. Didn’t work.)

Last Sunday at church, everyone was meeting and greeting after the evening service. I stopped to shake hands with our newest deacon. After our hellos, he proceeds, “Now, your husband – does he go to church here?” I admit, that question took me so by surprise that I was completely at a loss for how to respond. Fortunately the pastor’s wife was one step away, and she informed the deacon that I don’t have a husband. Recovering, I agreed: nope, no husband. The deacon was all, “Oh, well, we’ll have to work on that,” and turned to speak to someone else. Was he embarrassed and trying to change the subject? I hope not. I don’t feel insulted; I just wonder what led him to think that I’m married, since he’s been attending church there for several years. I had recently posted a message at Facebook, welcoming my boyfriend to the site, and I tried to recall if that deacon was a friend there… but I don’t think he is, actually. :shrug:

Speaking of Jeff joining Facebook, it’s just another sentence in the story of a guy and a girl… in the age of social media. He joins FB back in April of 2011, finally tells me about it two years later, and then his dad sends me a friend request…? His dad’s a nice guy, and I don’t write anything at FB (or on-line, really, knowing that a FB friend with time on his hands could follow what I’ve posted there and wind up here :waves to FB friends:) that’s not fit for public viewing, so I accepted the request. But nagging thoughts emerged. “Did I take too long to respond to the request?” “Will he critique what I’ve written?” “What happens to our friendship status if Jeff and I break up??” Sigh. I’m not sure I’m cut out for the nuances of modern-day relationships…

In other news, I’m busy, busy, busy, as I keep finding things to do. Now that the growing season is here, yard chores constantly beckon, so I’ll have even less time for my fun computer hobbies. (:frowny face:) Plus, I’ve been trying to get organized around the house, because my severe case of “stuff-itis” is starting to stress me out. And at work, the projects keep piling up, so much so that I’m starting to identify strongly with one of my colleagues; she had accepted a position with more responsibility, and after being asked if she was starting to get caught up, she said with resignation, “I have the feeling I’ll never be caught up on anything ever again.” Sigh, again.

Grandma Doris, no more

From my recent letter to Michele:

Well, I need to be wrapping this up (I know, it‘s another Epic, lol) but I did want to respond to your comment about turning 39. I feel the same as you, that I truly do not feel like I’m pushing 40. I just can’t believe it’s really almost here! A while back, while watching Remington Steele, the Doris Roberts character was insulted that some bad guys grabbed her because they were looking for some grandmother. Doris was offended and explained, “I’m only 42!” (I think the joke was that she was *clearly* shaving off a few years, because one guy was like, “What?” and Doris’ look was one of, “That’s my story – and you’d BEST not argue!”) Still, just hearing her say that number grabbed my attention because it’s not too far away. I was like, “Is THAT what people think early 40s looks like?!” Shoot, I would’ve thought she was a grandma, too! I thought that *surely* no one would mistake me for that. I mean, I wear jeans and like superhero movies! THEN I briefly fretted, “Should I be more mature…?” Since then, I’ve realized happily that show was over 20 years ago. As you said, now “Forty is the new twenty.” If anyone doesn’t believe that, they can look at the way 40-somethings are presented on TV. Then: Grandma Doris. Now: Cougar Courteney Cox. We’ve come a long way. What a great time to be forty!

And a quote I found last year at brigidday.com:

I am on the precipice of turning the big 4-oh. I am celebrating turning 40 and will wear it like a badge of honor. I will not turn 40 in boy shorts. Instead I will turn 40 with wisdom I didn’t have when I was 20 and confidence I didn’t have when I was 30. To 40, I say, bring it.”