Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Actual Conversations

Random conversation of the day:

Scene - Parking lot

Co-worker: Hi, how are you?

Me: Good, how're you doing?

Co-worker: Fine, fine.  Listen, I've got a weird question for you...

Me: Okay....

Co-worker: Are you a Pisces?

Me: *blink* Yes. Do I want to know why....?

Co-worker: I'm a Pisces too. *walks away*

Annnnd end scene.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Really? Just...really?

Well.  Things had been looking up at work for a brief, shining moment when a moment is defined as a week.  A new lab manager started last week filling a void in staffing that had reached the 18-month point (and filling with rage a co-worker but it can't be helped if she doesn't take her meds).  Normalcy would return! Roles would be clarified! Bluebirds would sing and unicorns would poop rainbows and jelly beans! Nothing can stop us now!

Until the rumor mill started spinning that the new lab manager, in fact, became the old lab manager due to her declaration Friday afternoon that this place was old and dirty and she quit, good day sir.

*Allow me a moment, I'm still trying to get my head around this one.*

As is with most times, the rumor mill was correct.  I'm baffled by her behavior as I'm the one who showed her the plant and gave her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about this place.  In fact, I was the truthiest* I could be.  Coated no sugar, white washed no walls, gave it to her straight and she accepted the job.  Yes, this place is old and dirty and smells (and that's just the people ba dum DUM) but that's kind of our role: to make food flavorings.  Anyway, I still haven't finished processing THAT betrayal as I'm mostly hung up on how management decided to handle this.  Which is to say NOT AT ALL.

The folks on the shop floor gossip worse than the biddies in Leisure World. no secret.  So my understanding is that this went down Friday afternoon (I was off work...recovering), the whispers started almost immediately and by this morning no fewer than THREE production leaders accosted our Process Quality Manager in his office asking, 'Is it true?!?'  (Note if you will what is missing from this tale: any official communication.  This is important.) 

To recap so far: Friday = quit.  Today = Tuesday.  And we have daily department and plant meetings to share this type of information.  I finally asked the poor Process Quality Manager if it was true and didn't anyone think that by not making an official communication, we were kind of solidifying the impression of the technicians that there is no communication happening pretty much anywhere in this plant? And is Exhibit A as to why we scored so poorly on the voice of the employee survey last year?  Not to mention that the lab techs would be reporting to the lab manager and don't you think that they should know that their new boss left?

*Stops, rubs temples, breathes deeply*

I get it; the leadership team was blindsided and hurt by this.  But, it wasn't personal.  It just wasn't a good fit for her so she did what she needed to do for herself.  I'm okay with this.  What I'm not okay with is them knowing, doing/saying nothing and simply allowing the whispers to circulate unchecked.  Why should the technicians look to any of us for leadership anymore if we don't share important things like this with them. The last shred of our credibility as leaders has been torn free from dilapidated structure which held it aloft by the winds of whispers.  It's a snapshot of a larger systemic issue here; gossip and rumors take the place of real communication.  The gulf widens and the mistrust which fills it grows ever deeper.  I despair of any real change taking place, too often have we been played for fools.

I wonder if it's too late to pursue that football career after all.

*Please don't sue me Stephen Colbert!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Project 20: The Beginning

Because I'm nothing if not an overachiever of the highest order, I'm going to empower the denizens of the innerwebs to badger ridicule motivate me to the accomplishing of my next goal:  losing 20 pounds.  I'm pretty fortunate in that I'm fairly tall (5'8") and carry weight well for having no torso to speak of.  No, seriously, if you were to look up 'high-waisted' in the Dysmorphic Body Dictionary, my picture would be next to it.  (I totally made that dictionary up but you never know, it could happen.)  Why?  Why the need to lose weight when I'm fighting my husband off every night?  Well, it's...complicated.

When Noah was born, I was at my heaviest ever (just about 200 lbs).  I had gained roughly 30 lbs with him and was generally...blergh before getting pregnant.  Clothes were too tight, I didn't feel good about myself and being an 'older' mom (I was 35 when he was born, 38 now), am acutely aware how important my health is/will be to being an active and involved parent in the years to come.  I hate/loathe/despise clothes shopping for myself (for the kids? Bring it.  Just let me get my purse...) so there was the sanity aspect.  Then the money aspect mostly being in the 'we can't afford to get me a new wardrobe' vein so I better be able to wear what I have comfortably as I enjoy having feeling in my legs.  It's a thing.  But the troubling reason is that it will be something that I can control.  I know, this thought process can lead to disordered eating which is why I am reluctant to add it to the list but if I'm being honest with myself, it's a legitimate reason albeit not the primary one (see: money for reason number one). My thought process is that if I can get to a place where I feel better about myself and more confident, I will then feel more empowered to deal with the current issues that seem to beat me down on a regular basis.  Confidence breeds confidence and whether that means searching outside the company for the career fulfillment I've been lacking or finally advocating for myself, it's a win-win for, well, me. 

I've studied food science, in college I dabbled in teaching aerobics and I know that calories burned need to exceed calories consumed for any sustained weight loss.  My breakfast is a bowl of cereal (Raisin Bran Crunch - you know, for the fiber) (am old), lunch is a PB&J sandwich and a 100-calorie bag of mini-pretzels (not because they are 100 calories but because they are perfect lunch sized packages (am lazy) and sometimes yogurt or fruity and dinner is usually a protein, starch and vegetable (and cheese. Because everything is better with cheese.)  (And yes, I snack.  Chips and hummus, Triscuits and cheese and I've been known to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon. Mmm, peanut butter. And dark chocolate...anything. And beer. And wine.) (I should probably stop now.) So I know how to eat healthy, the foundations are there but what is driving this is that I breastfed nursed pumped breastmilk for Noah for 15 months and holy cow, I dropped another 30 lbs after the baby weight disappeared.  I was the thinnest I had been in years, dating to before my wedding.  I felt good and looked good.  I even bought a size 6 dress for the first time ever and rocked it at my parents' 40th wedding anniversary party.  But slowly, slowly, as the pump relationship ended, the weight crept back which leaves me here: vaguely dissatisfied, dreading shorts season. Which for some odd reason came early to the Mid-Atlantic this year.  (Mother Nature, this middle finger is for you.) And the extra skin round the middle courtesy of birthing a 9 and a half and a 10 and a half pounder which will never revert to 'normal' is a particularly lovely touch.

I have a lot of resources at my disposal: an elliptical machine in the basement, exercise programs sponsored by my work place, sneakers, an alarm clock and a Wii Zumba game.  I walk at lunch and carry the tech samples on foot rather than drive (unless it's pouring rain and/or there are more than four buckets because even I have got limits). I've got the food piece pretty under control, where I need help, dear pretty people of the innerwebs, is in finding the push to set the alarm for 4/4:30 am to get up and exercise.  If not for me, do it for my kids.  WON'T ANYONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

Here is it, the 'Starting' photo (I apologize for the big glaring corona where my head would be but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to turn off the flash on the camera:

It's a great baby bump. Too bad it's a food baby. I've named it 'Enchilada'.
 Starting Stats:
Pounds: 164
Blood pressure: NA (the RN at work wasn't doing her house calls today drat it all)

Oh goody, this won't be embarrassing at all.  Man I really need to think these things through more before committing to them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Operation: Reclaim the Basement

In the time-honored tradition of getting things done by making them public and then allowing the great workings of the innerwebs to shame you into completing the project, I will unveil our awful secret:  our basement might just be hiding Jimmy Hoffa.
It's actually much worse in person
Adding to our guilt/motivation is that we've been promising the kids for, oh, a year now that we'll get the basement cleaned out and convert part of it to their playroom.  Bonus for us: toys leave the main level so we can at least pretend that a Toys R Us didn't explode in our house.  Noelle reminds me of this promise every chance she gets so we have begun! We are having a giant family yard sale in a few weeks in which we will get rid of all of the baby gear and toys and clothes that my children will never wear again as they don't grow down.  Let's delve deeper into the carnage, shall we?
This is our storage area; at some point in the not so distant future I hope to actually be able to store things here in a semi-organized way.  The picture painted in my mind's eye of course is vintage IKEA because, well, WANT. 
The good news is that we have more toilet paper.
In this corner the idea is to get rid of the papers, downsize the desk and make is the office/exercise/scrapbooking corner. 

Oh HAI ancient virus-ridden desktop PC and various important papers.
I'm still not entirely sure how this is all going to come together; the details are a bit nebulous.  And the elliptical a bit...big.
Zombie exercise machines want to eat your sweat
This will be our secondary entertainment area.  See? The couch, TV stand and giant ancient TV are already in place.  Just add some display cabinets flanking the couch or the entertainment center and a home for the myriad action figures currently residing in the storeroom along with a hundred million boxes of comic books.  That are not mine. Ahem.

The black lump on the left is the ancient TV.  The couch...nevermind.
Look!  A bathroom!  What? You can't see it? Well, you'll just have to take my word that there is a full bathroom through the darkened door though it could lead to Narnia at this point and no one would even know. 

I really hope that it's not a potty emergency.
Wait, hold it.  THIS is the actual entrance to Narnia.  Or out of season clothes.  You never can tell.

Or, you know, vampires.  It could happen.
And now, the area that will house the kids toys, art supplies, doll houses, train tables, table and chairs, toy boxes, play kitchen and more IKEA organizing things.  The vision in my head is practically orgasmic.  No, I don't have the faintest idea what we'll do with the overflowing bookshelves/movies/CD towers.  Mixed media art? Or the world's largest pop culture yard sale.  THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS. 

What do you mean you can't get the full effect? It's like a tower of boxes is blocking your view or something.
Now, Internet, you have seen my shame.  I've laid bare my cluttered soul for your judgement and nagging prodding. My motivation wanes after beginning a project so I'm depending on you, oh wondrous citizens of the innerwebs, to keep me moving.  Guilt, reminders and cattle prods are all fair game*.

* You are on your own in sourcing the cattle prods however.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RTT: Cats and Boys and Movies, Oh My!

It's Tuesday so that means it's time to get random! We've got a lot of ground to cover so let's get to it.


My poor cat is on her last legs/lives.  She's an old lady and strangely enough, is eating more now than she ever has before even though she's skinnier than she's ever been.  She is undoubtedly quite sick but we just can't afford the vet bill to have her checked out, X-rayed and likely put down.  So in an effort to stave off the inevitable and save our sanity from the constant caterwauling for food, I've started feeding her second breakfasts and midnight snacks of meat.  This past week she has had well over half a meatloaf and today I found a baked chicken breast that I had been saving for some unknown reason so that shall go to the 'Shut The Cat Up' fund.  I'm actually debating defrosting some ground beef and cooking it up for her.  I might need some help as I've become a short order cook for a geriatric cat.

We are in the beginning stages of potty training with Noah.  He can sit on the potty but hasn't done anything yet.  This week he ran into the bathroom yelling, 'Go potty!' I was pretty jazzed so I followed him in there to get him ready when he stopped in front of the toilet, slightly bent his knees and concentrated.  'Noah, did you just go pee in your diaper?' 'Yes, Mommy.'  Sigh. At least he kind of has the right idea.

Noelle is alternately excited and nervous about starting kindergarten in the fall.  Mostly excited but nary a day goes by when we don't discuss kindergarten and what it will be like.  We've got her kindergarten registration in April and to show that they don't mess around with out of zone families, I have to bring my ID, the deed to our house and three pieces of mail showing our address.  I'm pretty sure that the TSA isn't as stringent as the county school system.

My husband did his fantasy baseball draft Sunday evening and it was still going strong and hour and 45 minutes into it.  I just suppose I'm lucky that he didn't have any interest in the NCAA tourney this year.  Our marriage may not have been strong enough to survive both experiences.

In a complete departure for us on St. Patrick's Day, rather than watching 'Waking Ned Devine' or 'The Secret of Roan Inish' (both excellent films I highly recommend) we treated ourselves to 'Leprachaun's Revenge' on SyFy.  Well, in the interest of full disclosure, he watched it; I immersed myself in a book/Twitter and occasionally glanced up.  This viewing method allows my very succinct review: kryptonite horseshoes defeat homicidal stunted Ents. Call me! I'm available for parties.

We've got tickets to the midnight showing of 'The Hunger Games' with some girlfriends of mine this Thursday and excited doesn't even begin to cover it.  This is going to be so unbelievably awesome that I might be able to stay awake til the movie starts without the IV of Coke Zero.

I really really really wish Gina from My Own Brand of Crazy comes back soon.  I miss her.  Lots.

Thanks for the hints on how to get banner/linky/widget thingies to work! I'm like a fiend now.  A FIEND.

Now you're caught up here, head over to Stacy's for even more random and I'll see you next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

And may the odds be ever in your favor!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm Here

Have you ever felt like you were a ghost, just drifting along, observing the world but not really a part of it? You see in rich, vibrant color, feel the pulse of activity around you, catch the voices raised in anger, frustration or high spirits but float amongst them, yearning for contact but knowing that no matter how much you scream, you will never be heard, left, unacknowledged until the fog lifts from their minds that you are needed until once fulfilled, settle again into the blanketing, muffling cloud.

To be constantly forgotten, marginalized, ignored, hurts.  To be seen in a narrowly defined capacity only is stifling; stifling to the body, the mind and the spirit.  It is exhausting reminding people that you are here, that you have things worth saying and sharing, that you are worth their time but as long as you fill your place in the machine of industry, hit your mark in the dark comedy of business, you can be brushed off, filed with the 'extras'. To speak your mind, to dare to step out of the carefully designed dead end trap of a role is to invite ridicule and scorn at your audacious intrusion.

Well you know what? I'm not invisible. Not anymore.  You do not get to define me, only I can do that and I've coasted long enough, handing that power off to others.  I'm here. I have value and worth, I am a strong contributor and so much more than you think. Enough feeling sorry for myself; it's time rip the blankets off, blow away the clouds and smog and shine like the bright star I know that I am. I'm here. I'm done with you making decisions for me, giving me a hollow consultation before doing what you want anyway.  I'm here. All  I want is what everyone wants: to be valued and heard.  You know what I do for this company, it affects the bottom line every day; you don't want to deal with the real me. You don't want a woman who has her own way of seeing the world, who finds the humor and absurdity in the mundane; you want someone who will keep her head down and just do the job.  I've done that long enough and it's time to take a stand.

Get used to it.

I'm here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Day In the Life

As Mufasa told Simba in 'The Lion King', '...we all exist in a delicate balance....' That right there is my work life in a nutshell.  It's a very fine, delicate balance, calibrated practically to the nanosecond and the smallest thing that has not been accounted for in the schedule throws thing into such a disarray that my mental organization can best be described by the water spout-cow-tornado scene from 'Twister'. When the cows start flying, you know that things are bad. (We won't even discuss the state of my office.  I'm surprised the Fire Marshal hasn't shut me down yet.) (That may be a thinly veiled plea for help but I'll never tell.) (Parenthetical abuses ahoy!)

What was before an uneasy dance with potential disaster has morphed full on to a daily WWE RAW or Thunderdome adventure of mind- and taste bud-boggling proportions. To wit:

7:15 - 7:30 AM: Attempt to leave house for the day with preschooler, toddler, accompanying book bags, lunches, jackets, toys, books, video games etc. Oh who am I kidding; if we make it out the door before 7:25 I count it as a major victory.

7:55 AM: Arrive at school.  Drop Noah off at his classroom, beg Noelle to go potty as she hasn't gone potty yet this morning OMGWTFBBQ, talk him out of the color game, tell Noelle two to three times to put the toys away FORTHELUVAGOD. Try to remove Noah from leg; rue leaving WD-40 at home.  Finally escape, play rousing game of hide-and-seek with Noelle in her classroom because 'find me' games are exactly what Mommy wants to play when she is running late.

8:05 - 8:15 AM: Leave school for work; hope that I can make the left turn in under five minutes.

8:10 - 8:20 AM: Arrive at work, go to trailer (klassy!) to taste and gather technical follow-ups.

8:30 AM: Make it to desk, see voicemail light on, curse creatively, scan email for crises....oh look, three so far today.  Wunderbar.  Debate getting coffee before....

8:45 AM: Daily stand-up Quality meeting.  No coffee.

9:00 AM: Daily Plant Meeting.  Still no coffee, presenter's head resembling giant coffee cup and/or danish.  Start muttering to self and rocking. Try not to snort at mind-blowing fuck-ups. Settle for gentle, disbelieving head shake.


9:32 AM: Run various reports, reply to emails, take samples to R&D as I'm really just a glorified gofer, get into groove until...

10:00 AM: Staff training.  Do not refill coffee

10:15 AM: Seriously regret not refilling coffee

10:30 AM: COFFEE *weeps for relief*

10:32 AM - 12:30 PM: pull (more) samples, reject things, curse online radio station for not playing Top 40 and being forced to endure classic rock.

12:30 - 1:00 PM: Get the hell out of the building. Deep, cleansing breaths. Walk rapidly around the park alternately composing witty and insightful blog posts and pointed, insightful responses to general idiocies encountered.

1:00 - 1:30 PM: Eat lunch, escape reality catching up on blog reading.  Try not to snarf beverage. Fail miserably.

1:30 - 2:00 PM: Assemble projects for afternoon, get started on set ups until...Crap!

2:00 PM: Second shift team meeting

2:30 PM: Begin project work, temperature of trailer approaches that of a sauna thereby ensuring the ultimate aromatic experience for my children in three hours.

4:30 PM: Reenter office, scatter technicians with smell, attempt to do paperwork.  Thwarted. Repeatedly.

5:00 PM: Leave office, get kids, leave smelly trail of destruction in my wake.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

For extra joy on Fridays, I pencil in at least two crises starting at 3:15.  It's our own special brand of torture.

Thankfully God invented weekends for catching up.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Therapy Reason No. 857

Call up your inner lounge singer and dust off your leisure suits because this time we are going old school Barry.  Manilow that is.

Her name was Noelle,
She wore the underwear.
She stuck her tongue out in the air
Shook her booty everywhere.

She was so gassy.
And it was nasty.
Mommy sang a silly song
And Noah farted along.

There was a big BRAPPPP sound,
Heard all through the town.
They got a whiff of it
And they all fell down!

My apologies to karaokeists everywhere for the damage inflicted upon this classic. (Hey, sometimes you gotta take the muse where you can.) (Is too a word. Now.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The only way to fight a phobia is to Spin it

Second Blooming

Into something completely ridiculous.  I'm not out and out scared of much but the one thing that tops my list is...spiders.  My reaction to spiders is pretty much straight out of the Ron Weasley playbook: paralysis, whimpering, running screaming in abject terror.  They are too much: too many legs, too many eyes, furry, deliberate all around the stuff of nightmares.  Though my nightmares generally feature teeth falling out and not being able to run but no matter.  Yes, they have their place in the great circle of life, they eat the bad bugs, the ones that carry disease and I'm very grateful to them.  I just want for the them to stay out of my house.  Nature belongs outside is all I'm saying. 

So this was my greatest fear until I read a lovely post by the very talented Jodifur about her recent cruise vacation.  It sounded amazing with nary a norovirus sighting in sight until...the picture of her son riding. an. alligator.  Yes, you read that correctly. Her son was riding an alligator on the cruise ship (everything was contained and handlers were within grabbing distance etc.)  And thus, a new phobia was born: of being stuck on a ship in the middle of the sea with alligators rising up and overthrowing their masters and gaining the run of the ship.  What should I call it? Revenge of the Reptile?

Because I watch way too many really bad SyFy monster movies, the seas around the alligator-infested cruise ship would be full of such eldritch horrors such as Sharktopus, Pirranhaconda and Gamera.  It's not a bad monster movie though until Eric Roberts appears as a boozing politico who just wants his cut of the new act and the only thing that can save them is a marksman shot into a helium tank/massive quantities of liquid nitrogen/opening a portal to the 10th dimension.

Perhaps I need a new Saturday night hobby. So, spiders it is.

Now head over to Gretchen's Second Blooming for less silly spins!