Thursday, March 15, 2018

AVP

About 5 years ago (maybe more, yikes, time flies), the company I work for was acquired by a pretty big company.  We merged into one of their subs.  In one of our first meetings after the acquisition, the guy who is the head of our division said something like, "titles are cheap.  If you want to be President, take it, anyone can be anything." And of course, I thought, hey, I'd like that title.  I'm sure he was speaking to the fact that the division we merged into was kind of VP-heavy, and we had a more traditional structure, but that we all need to be team players and get the job done without worrying too much about titles, particularly right after the acquisition. 


Anyway, I've been chugging along at work.  I think I'm good at my job, and I certainly put in the effort and the hours.  Ugh, lately, all the hours -- even overnight when I'm waking up stressed about cases.  Anyway, until about a year ago, one coworker and I each took about 45% of the cases in our program, and one other person took the remaining 10%.  All 3 of us work hard -- I can't speak to any of the other programs in our office, but I think of us in our little sub-group as hard-working and good at our jobs.  All 3 of us had the same title.  The other 45%er and I started at the company within a few months of each other, but then she left for a year or two and came back.  The 10%er is relatively new -- maybe started a year or two ago.


In our performance evaluations, we have to list short and long term goals at the end.  I've always put a title promotion as a short-term goal.  And now, well, not NOW, but in "relatively short order," I need to come up with a new short-term goal!  Because I'm going to be an assistant vice president!  Woot!  In many ways, it's a meaningless change.  My duties and salary will stay the same, at least for now.  But I'm super excited for the title, whenever it goes into effect. 
It might take a little while for the change to officially take effect, so I'm not really telling anyone until then except my boss and the head of our division know, and of course my husband, and of course my best running buddy, and of course the whole anonymous internet world (plus I guess the three people who could  potentially see this blog and know me in the real world).  But until it's official, my husband's super secret nickname for me is Assistant Vice President Elect. 


I've got to start pondering new short term goals to put in my next evaluation -- world domination? 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Putting in the Hours

What's kept me busy lately?

Sorry it's not well lit, it was late when I finished so it was dark. 

It's a map of the world -- not to scale.  Hawaii and Solomon Islands were right next to each other, and Australia was pretty close to Machu Picchu.  But it was a fun puzzle. 

Aside from the puzzle, just the usual, running and working, some travel.  The best part was last week working in Miami -- beats the usual Philly trip by miles! 

The Miami trip was weird.  It didn't go well work-wise, but at the same time, we left the door open, so maybe in the next week or two, we'll get it done.  But the extra fun aspect was that my husband's cousin and boyfriend also happened to be in Miami so I got to go out for drinks with them.  I felt mildly guilty because my boss was Miami-bound and had a horrible trip (flight posting a 4 hour delay, then cancelling, getting rebooked on a flight that posted a 3 hour delay (bad weather in Dallas), that had him landing around 2 am, getting to our hotel at 3 a.m.).  Needless to say, he wasn't exactly on time to meet me in the lobby to go meet defense counsel for breakfast!  He was so grouchy all day, I felt bad that I'd had such a fun night.

But running there was kind of sucky.  It was flat, but the temp was in the mid 70s at 5:30 a.m.!  Dallas has been up and down lately, typical February for us.  Run cancelled on two weeks ago due to a winter weather advisory, our group Tuesday run was around freezing (for me, that means tights and two long sleeves!), then the Thursday run was 66 degrees with 85% humidity, so shorts and a tank.  But going up the extra 10 degrees in Miami hurt, I felt like I was sucking wind!  But it was so pretty to get to run along the water. 

Views from the run:  City Hall, and along the water. 





The Miami skyline on my way home. 


We drove past this road, named long before the school shooting (which was the reason for the lowered flag at City Hall).  When we drove past the street sign, we asked about it, and defense counsel told us about Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whose claim to fame is largely for her work for the environment, getting the Everglades protected (the "river of grass"), but who also championed lots of other important causes. 


One cool part of my room was a full-sized fridge!  I bought beet juice for breakfast.


And I had a legit suite.  Separate bedroom, full kitchen, living/dining area, porch with seating for two.  Kind of fun, if I hadn't been gone working, running, or hanging out with my husband's cousin all the time I was there...

Friday, February 2, 2018

2018 Joy

It might have been just me, but growing up, my folks put a lot of restrictions on soda and TV.  We basically got soda once a week as I recall, and we could watch TV on Saturday mornings and most days after school, but we couldn't watch PG13 or R movies and we couldn't watch TV late at night.  In fact, we couldn't stay up late -- I remember getting caught reading in bed by flashlight so many times and getting in trouble (and then later, when I got to high school, getting caught on the phone after bedtime). 


So of course if I was at a friend's house, I would suck down gallons of soda, watch Nightmare on Elm Street, and stay up as late as I could. 

I feel like I'm perpetually at a friend's house now that it's 2018.  I know I posted about this before, but I am so DUCKING HAPPY not to have to check my voicemail every day I'm in the office anymore!  That was seriously a painful resolution.  It's now Friday morning, I'm sitting on a conference call, and my voicemail light has been on since Monday at 10:35 -- and best of all, I have no idea who the message is from!


I know, I know, I actually really do need to check it.  It's kind of part of my job.  But I feel like I'm rebelling.  Maybe I'll give myself through the month of January to recover from my 2018 resolution, and then I'll try to get back in the habit of not letting it sit for more than 2-3 days? 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Of a Certain Age

Things have been hectic.  Over 10 days for me in three separate cities, not a single night at home, a total of 6 flights (there was a connection).  Yow. 


But several things in particular were amusing at my father in law's funeral.  A few moments of levity.  Recording here to remember. 


By way of background, my mother-in-law came to the visitation but not the funeral.  She was fine at the visitation, totally not comprehending what was going on or why we were there.  She seemed to recognize him in the casket, but she didn't really have any emotion.  She also recognized everyone else -- her twin sister, her sons, their wives, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.  Her sister pushed her around and she accepted condolences. 


At the visitation, one of my husband's high school friends came up to my mother-in-law and re-introduced himself since it had been 30+ years... "Mrs. X, I'm Rich."  She said "Good for you!" 


Next up, someone was saying that it was nice that Louis (Lewis?) from the nursing home had accompanied her to the visitation.  She said, "he'd be a pretty nice guy if he were white."  Louis was standing right there!  As were the only 3 children in attendance, one of whom asked his dad what that meant. 


Finally, after the second visitation, my husband's nephew was leaving the funeral home with his kids, and his middle son (age 7ish?) said, "That was fun! I had a good time!"  Makes sense -- he was floating around talking to tons of people (very social) and everyone was happy to see him.  That gave everyone a hearty laugh. 


Guess all of those things can only be funny if you're over 80 or under 8? 


I have a feeling all of those things would have made my father-in-law smile.  It was nice to say goodbye to him.  In many ways, I give him credit for bringing my sweet husband into my world -- my husband learned Italian from his father, and I met him in an Italian conversation group.  I hope he's at peace. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

FIL

My father-in-law passed away this morning.  My husband and his brothers are all somewhat relieved I think.  My mother-in-law is oblivious.  She was in the room when it happened, and this morning, she woke up, they moved her into the chair, and then opened the curtain to the empty bed where my father-in-law has lived the last few years.  She didn't seem to notice the bed was empty, and hasn't asked about either her husband or "that guy in the bed over there" as she would occasionally refer to him when she was clearly forgetting everything about everyone.  We talked to her for a while last night to try to distract her from what was going on in the other half of the room, but it was pointless, she wasn't paying attention to the phone, she was saying things that made no sense, she couldn't answer questions or follow the conversation.  Although she did say she was thinking about starting all over, maybe she'd have a baby again!  Eventually though, she just set the phone down and my sister-in-law picked up, so we got to talk to her for a while.  They had asked my father-in-law multiple times if he wanted to go to the hospital where they could help him right away, make him feel better, etc., but he adamantly said no repeatedly.  He was ready, and it was time.  The last 11 years have been very hard on him, but I'm so happy that I've known him for 13 years -- that's two years of "normal" memories with him, before the sharp decline began.  I'm glad his suffering is over and he is at peace.  The world lost an interesting one today. 
12-10-32 to 1-19-18. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Signs of Senility

So I was in the restroom at work one day this week, and I was looking in the mirror adjusting a scarf I was wearing.  As an aside, a.) it's super cold right now, for Dallas, b.) my office is frigid in the summer and it is downright freezing in the winter. 


Anyway, I got the scarf tied the way I wanted it and as I was walking out of the restroom, where there are mirrors on each wall of the corner, I looked up at my face. It must have been the weird perspective of the different angle, but all of a sudden, my heart leapt because I saw my mom.  I swear, I had simultaneous instant feelings -- so happy she was there, but so alarmed that something must be very wrong for her to be in the restroom at my office more than 1,000 miles away from home.  Yeah, both those reactions were there before I realized of course that I was looking at my own face. 


There's a picture from our wedding day where I'm in the room where I got dressed, getting ready to go to the castle where we got married, and I'm doing this weird closed mouth smile that I usually don't do.  When I first saw that image after the wedding, I realized that I looked exactly like my mom in it.  And it's happened a couple other times where I've creeped myself out by how much I look like her.  But this is the first time I honestly for a milli-second didn't even recognize myself. 


I guess this explains why I've repeatedly put my husband in the uncomfortable position of demanding to know whether he thinks my mom is attractive -- I'm obviously going to completely turn into her one day.  Appearance-wise, that works for me since I think my mom is pretty, but man, it's creepy to see it happening before my eyes. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bipolar

I just want to lodge my official complaint for the record.


Yesterday morning, I ran in short sleeves.  The temp was in the upper 50s and there was a light breeze.


Today, it was 28 degrees and below 20 with wind chill.


What the heck? 


Thankfully, tomorrow's activity is not weather-dependent.  I'm attempting my first stair climb -- it's a quarter mile up apparently, 2424 steps.  A total of 3 trips up the most distinctive building in the Dallas skyline, Reunion Tower.  Can't wait!  My crazy boot camp buddy Megan is doing the half mile.  I'm hoping mine will be done in less than 25 minutes. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New resolutions for 2018

I haven't really committed to what my primary resolutions will be this year, but I'm going strong with several.  (I always wait until after the 12 days of Christmas are over to get started.)  I've got a list of about 10, a few of which (particularly financial ones) are repeats. 


But the best part of getting started with new resolutions this year is because I left work with this view on Thursday night: 


Woohoo!!  That's my voicemail light!  It's on and I DON'T CARE! 

Two of my big 2017 resolutions were work-related.  First, to check my voicemail every day I was in the office, and second, to do "more" of my own filing. 

Holy crap, checking voicemail sucks my will to live!  I hate it so much.  I'm sure the resolution was good for me, made me better at my job and all that, but I am so happy to let that resolution go.  I only missed 3 days I was in the office in all of 2017, so I'd consider that almost perfect.  Considering how much I hated doing it, I'm proud of myself for only missing 3 days. 

I'll keep doing some of my own filing this year under similar guidelines to what I used last year -- filing things if I can do some almost instantaneously with sending or receiving a message.  But on cases where emails are flying back and forth, or cases where I don't address an email the same day I get it, those still go to my assistant to do.  But it's not going to be a resolution this year, it's just more of a habit. 

My only work-related resolution this year is to stand for a couple hours per day on the days that I work from home (that's not even really work-related).  I've worked from home two days so far and have done it both of them. 

Does anyone know details on that whole "sitting is the new smoking" thing?  Like if I work from home from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. two days per week, if I stand for 2 hours right at the start, does that give any different benefit (and if so, how?) from if I stand for 2 hours mid-day?  And is there any difference if I do two separate 1 hour periods?  What about 8 separate 15 minute periods?  I read about it a while ago, and part of me thinks the least beneficial would be doing a 2 hour block right at the start of the day and then sitting the remainder of the day, and most beneficial would be doing like 16 separate periods of 7.5 minutes.  But is the difference in benefit minimal?  Or significant?  For this year, I'm just doing the 2 hours however it works out.  If it's right at the start and all in one block, so be it, but I'd love to know if I'd get more benefit (and how much more) by breaking it up more or doing it more mid-day. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Being A Big Help

For whatever reason, growing up, it seemed to me to be the highest praise when someone told one of my parents (or when my parents told me) that I was a "big help."

I've gone through phases in my life when I've been a big help to others more frequently, and phases where that hasn't been common.


For a variety of her own reasons, my friend and boot camp buddy Megan committed to do a day of community service each month this year.  We were talking about New Year's resolutions, and she mentioned that one.  Even though it wasn't my own resolution, I asked her to count me in. 


Because of our work and travel schedules, there were a few times she volunteered and I haven't been able to join, so I tried to add a few of my own opportunities as well.


Here's a list of how I tried to be "a big help" in 2017, along with a few pictures, though I'll mostly save those for Megan in case she does her own post (since this was her idea and all!):


January:  Tried to assist with the illegal detention of immigrants at the airport.  This doesn't really count because, uh, surprise, I have no immigration law experience, and by the time I got there, they didn't really need warm attorney bodies as much as they did the day before.  I'm glad I tried to help and that I at least got to express my support for the cause. 


 





February:  Volunteering with Megan at a fundraiser breakfast and auction for Back On My Feet, a personal favorite worthy cause -- a structured running program targeted toward individuals living in local homeless shelters.  I ran with the group very briefly but stopped primarily due to schedule conflicts (but also mileage needs and not liking hugs), but love helping the group in non-running ways.  As such, I was so happy Megan found the opportunity for us to help their fundraiser be successful.  Megan thinks I used my line "first ballroom on the left" (complete with charades) about 300 times (directing individuals arriving at the hotel to registration for the event). 


March:  Setting up for a church service and serving lunch with Megan following the service at a new development in Dallas that has small cottages that are given to chronically homeless individuals.  I got to meet Megan's parents for the first time at this event.  My husband did not enjoy the church service (there was a testimonial that bothered him), but the people we met at the lunch were great, very interesting. 


April:  Painting a kitchen at the police department.  I have zero painting experience, but it was a fun day, though messy! 


April part 2:  Working a shift with Megan at a Habitat for Humanity "re-store."  I'd never been to one of these, it's basically a big warehouse/store with building supplies and furniture/decorations.  The organization had just moved into a new location, so we mostly spent the afternoon moving chairs and other items that were already there or were coming from donors, and sweeping.  But other tasks included pulling nails out of wooden beams, setting up a display area for patio sets, being a listening ear for a site manager who was clearly strung thin -- so stressed, so much on her plate in advance of the grand opening, needing to unload, and being "in charge" while the director went to eat -- that was when we realized that we may have been the only adults present who didn't have to be there -- lots of people doing court-ordered community service!  I only asked one person how he came to be working the same volunteer shift as us (a kid who was moving beams with us), and he said, "teen court."  Oops.  I didn't press for details, but he volunteered -- a traffic violation he said, and he was irritated that he was sentenced to more hours than someone with a drug possession charge.  Anyway, it was a fun day and entailed some physical labor and sweat, which I know was good for me.


May:  Playing with kids at a boys and girls club.  I'm a sucker for board games, so this didn't even really feel like volunteering. 
June:  Working a water stop with Megan for a Back on My Feet race.  On a "surprisingly cold for June" day.  In the rain.  In the pouring rain.  Hard to tell you how much more fun it is to run in the rain than it is to stand at a water stop in the rain.  It was pouring and we were at a water stop that only served the longer race distance, so we didn't get a ton of runners, and we all huddled in a car (including some in the trunk) after we had the water set up while waiting for the first runners.  Brrrr! 
July:  Helping to serve meals to officers working the local fireworks show.  Thankfully, I was not in charge of the grilling.  It didn't seem to be going well at times, but fortunately, there was a fire station directly across the street...



July part 2:  Sorted part of a mountain of donated clothes with Megan for Muslims For Humanity's Dallas part of Helping Hand.  The piles we sorted into were kids summer/winter, women's summer/winter, men's summer/winter, Arab, Pakistani, bags, shoes (and along the way, throwing out anything stained or torn that we wouldn't wear ourselves).  The basic distinction between Arab and Pakistani that we were told to use was to put any brightly colored items (saris, etc.) into the Pakistani boxes.  I liked doing this, but it felt frustrating because it seemed we barely made a dent in the mountain, despite hours of work. 




August:  Working with Megan at a United Way event donating backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in need.  We first worked a registration tent, then helped with backpack distribution, then we got to enjoy the festival and play games with the kids.  We spent most of our game time playing Jenga with various kids, so fun!



September:  Babysitting with Megan at a church one Friday night.  The program, Rays of Light, is set up for parents to bring their special needs children (and any and all siblings!) to get a night out.  There is a police officer present to oversee, and two nurses to help as needed, and about 20 (?) kids, and volunteers for each kid.  The boy we worked with in his early teens and was pretty much non-verbal.  His favorite thing to do was pick up big legos off the floor and throw them back into the box, which we'd then dump out again.  He could do it all night long -- and eat baked potatoes!  I'm happy we were able to give his mom a break, and I'm glad we were both assigned to the same kid, he kept us on our toes!  I absolutely loved doing this. 
September part 2:  Volunteered for a couple shifts in the police wives' association tent at an event. 
October:  Worked with Megan and my husband's cousin who was in town for a visit at our food pantry.  Megan and I were assigned condiments which meant sorting through a big pallet box of condiments to check expiration dates, load them into smaller boxes, and then label and close the smaller boxes.  That was especially fun for her with a broken finger (only one at the time, she now has TWO broken fingers!).  After we finished the pallet of condiments, we moved on to canned goods.  My husband's cousin was on peanut butter duty -- unscrewing jars to make sure seals under the lid were intact, checking expiration dates, and boxing.  It was a fun afternoon for all of us and something I really enjoyed doing.  Our team of about 20 did 8.5 pallets, a total of 11,200 pounds, filling 521 boxes and making for 9,334 meals. 





November:  Volunteered at another water stop for a race.  It was a warm day and after filling all the cups before runners came through, I decided my time would be best spent while runners were passing holding out my gloved hands full of ice for any runners who wanted to grab some.  Lots loved the ice cubes to put in their mouths, or just run over neck, arms, whatever for a second.  It was a warm day for a half marathon! 
December:  Worked at a children's Christmas Party with Megan.  This was probably the easiest one of all.  Basically, we just played Monopoly all night!  The game started with two girls who were in seventh grade.  After a while, they got distracted and others took their places.  It was fun to see them count out change, and the vast differences in mathematical abilities.  There was one girl who seemed fairly young and when she landed on a utility (Electric Company or Water Works), she could right away do the multiplication to figure out rent in her head.  But another girl who seemed older used her fingers to add up what she'd rolled on the dice.  And another girl who was super fast at math and subtraction in her head, even for pretty big amounts (buying property), still used her fingers to count the dots on the dice.  They were all fun and sweet kids, easily excited, very enthusiastic and friendly.  What a joy!  The organization was giving out lots of prizes and all the kids got gift bags. 


Looking forward to being a big help again in 2018.  It's so good when you have friends who talk you into being a better person!