Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Enough bad news

Not mine; people around me.

In the last few weeks, here’s what’s happened:
  • My friend Jae’s stage 4 breast cancer has returned.
  • My friend Bev’s sister had a serious head injury.
  • My friend Andrew died from colon cancer.
  • My friend Debbie’s only son died in his sleep at the age of 26.
  • My friend Cean learned his wife has been cheating on him for quite a while.
I’m not superstitious in the least but that’s a whole lot of bad news. I’m ready for cream puffs, cartoon bunnies and flowers and maybe a bottle of wine. Who’s with me?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slightly aggravating

Yesterday we got home from a trip to San Diego—I had a big workshop there for our client and Kent cashed in frequent flier miles to go with me. The trip was fine, Kent got to see more of San Diego and we got to see more of each other since I didn’t lose two plus hours a day to my commute.

But when we got home, we heard the fridge dinging. It dings when the door is left open. Now I’d let our cat nanny know that we forgot to toss a container of blueberries and also one of cherry tomatoes and invited her to take them with her if she liked either. Instead, she snacked on them each day and apparently on Thursday, the door didn’t entirely close.

The temperature in the fridge was 58 degrees F.

So we had to toss over two dozen eggs, two unopened containers of sour cream, our buttermilk, the creamer for Kent’s coffee and the creamy salad dressings he prefers. Today we realized the mushrooms got disgusting too, so they’re history. We’ll also have to pitch a small amount of mayo left in the jar, plus I’m sure our cheddar cheese won’t last very long.

As Kent said yesterday, we should have just thrown away the food. It would have been a lot cheaper.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The value of small talk

Kent likes to brag on my ability to get people to tell me things, and I guess he’s right—they do. But honestly it’s just that everyone has a story and wants to tell it. I happen to like to hear the stories.

A friend of mine asked for help in making small talk and eventually confessed he thought it was too much work and he didn’t see the reward other than maybe not being seen as socially awkward. So this post is my answer to his complaint.

Sunday I l flew from Boston to San Diego and got the first class upgrade for the Boston > Minneapolis leg of the trip. That fact is important for two reasons—it determined the outcome and reduced the audience. I always chit-chat with the flight attendants and Sunday was no exception. As we were served breakfast, I asked the flight attendant (Rick) if he were going to eat. We spoke briefly and then he moved on.

Maybe 15 minutes later, he dropped a note on my tray that said:

List the 4 state capitals that start with the same letter as their states.

Well I was never very good at state capitals but I do enjoy puzzles so I started running through the list of capitals I did know. He stopped by a time or two to see how I was doing and to see if I were playing—and I was. He told me he’d played this game with a group of teachers on one flight and they failed but the Canadian sitting in the same section nailed all four without hesitation. Then he mentioned there might be a prize. Those who know me also know I’m pretty competitive so I worked even harder to come up with all four.

Long story short, I did name all four (and didn’t need to list all 50 states to get there), I had a nice diversion on my flight and walked off the plane with the prize from Rick—a pretty decent bottle of red wine.

No I'm not going to tell you the answers. You can either figure it out or look it up on Google.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Old habits die hard, I guess. When I wore glasses before (which I did as seldom as possible, I wore my contacts almost 100% of my waking hours), I’d look through the lenses for distance and under the lenses to see things that were closer to me (like a book or my monitor).

And I keep doing just that—only of course my eyes need the exact opposite help now.

I was also always very meticulous about keeping my glasses very clean and I’d always put them in their case when I wasn’t actually wearing them. Since I got super cheap glasses from WalMart, they didn’t come with a case. And I don’t know what the deal is but these lenses get dirty far more easily than I recall happening with any of my other glasses

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I can see clearly now

The rain has gone. No wait, that’s the song by Johnny Nash (which I love). But I can see better first thing in the morning thanks to my new glasses.

I started wearing glasses for nearsightedness at age 12 and moved to contacts just as soon as I possibly could persuade my parents to go along.

In 2004, and following my brother who was both far blinder and far more eager than I to shed his glasses, I had Lasik done. In 2005 I got my first ever unrestricted license and that DL picture is probably the best one of me ever, bar none. I was grinning like crazy, so incredibly happy to be done with glasses. I could have had my eyes corrected to binocular visions with one eye adjusted for distance and the other eye for reading (which Doug did), but I chose not to. Any time I’d had different prescriptions in my lenses, I got incredibly nauseous so I figured I’d deal with reading issues when I got there.

I got there this year. I’m wearing +1, which are the weakest you can get. I feel quite odd having them; getting reading glasses has always seemed to be one of those you are definitely getting older milestones. No matter how disciplined I am about diet and exercise, I can’t exercise or eat my eyes back to perfect vision. I guess it could be worse, I could be both nearsighted and need reading glasses.

But it’s been great this morning reading news online and writing this blog post without strain.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Me: You're going to think I'm too detail-oriented

Kent: Yes, yes you are

Me: But you know how the hot water lever on the bathroom sink is parallel with the wall? Well the cold water lever isn't and it should be.

Kent: ::eye roll:: That may be a much bigger job than you think. And you're not detail-oriented, you're obsessed.

Me: Am not! And it would just look better.

I ran some errands after that conversation and came home to take a picture of the faucet only . . . he fixed it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


The pressures I feel regarding what I’d do should Kent land a job elsewhere are not from him, they are primarily self-imposed. It’s all wrapped up in how I think a supportive wife would act etc, and also includes societal pressure. I do believe that women are socialized to make those sacrifices, and it’s sort of considered run of the mill when we do just that.

However, while we are socialized to build consensus, make compromises and so on, men face their own socialization issues. Kent’s a regular reader of my blog, and yesterday after saying the obvious, that he is not angling for us to move, he mentioned that he struggles with the pressure of the man being the bread winner.

If I recall correctly, this is the first time in his adult life where he won’t be able to support himself. In the 12 years I’ve known him, he was laid off once, but was called back after three weeks. And in his first marriage, he was the breadwinner by a large margin. On July 1, he won’t be earning money, although he will continue to receive a paltry unemployment check that doesn’t even cover the mortgage. So in addition to wrestling with the same issues I did while unemployed (because it’s a hell of a self-esteem wrecker), he’s also confronting the realization that right now he is not the breadwinner.

I know we aren’t the only couple to face issues like that—some of you are facing doozies of your own. I’ll take any hints you have on strategies that have helped you during these times.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hear me roar?

Quick back story which you can skip if you know it:

I moved here not quite two years ago (June 28, 2008 to be precise), without a job and with no prospects of finding one although I was optimistic. I shouldn’t have been—while I had some contract work in 2008, I didn’t get full time work again until four months ago. As anyone who read my blog over the last 18 months knows, that wasn’t the best of times for me.

To the main point:

Now I’m working in my field at a job I love. And Kent is unemployed.

This morning he told me he’s expanding his job search to New York City. In my rational mind, I get it. NYC is a huge hub for his field and hey, his severance package runs out at the end of this month. True to gender norms and despite my greater level of education, I still don't earn what he did. I'm at about 80% of what he earned pre-bonus AND my commute costs a lot more ($59 a month vs. $430-ish). That means we have a season of budget squeezing upon us, so we could definitely benefit from both of us being employed. (Note: the good news is that I’m doing better than the national income norm, about which you can read here but be warned it's a PDF. According to this PDF, 10 years post college, we women earn about 69% of what men do, and I attribute my 80% of his previous wage to me having earned that master's of science).

Yet I find myself feeling a little cranky about the situation. When I started interviewing for my current job, we already knew Kent was losing his. I told him then that if I took this job, I wasn’t going to move if he got a job elsewhere—to which he said he wouldn’t look on the West Coast (which he had previously, and which is also a good source of jobs in his field).

I know why I feel cranky—I suspect that he will get a job in NYC and then the pressure will be on me to move again. So I fear I’ll get stuck between two competing desires, neither of which is wrong. My marriage is beyond important to me AND I don’t want to crater my career again. I’m damn lucky I pulled things out last time. I’m also not really interested in being judged by others who would choose differently. And I’m faced with the pressure that generally speaking, it’s the woman who makes those concessions and trundles off into something less fulfilling so she can support her husband.

Kent—this isn’t aimed at you. If anything, it’s aimed at societal pressures. And they weigh on me greatly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Minimalism and me

I read several blogs about frugality and minimalism; the two topics often go hand in hand in Blogland, and I am interested in both subjects. I remember spending hours taking my sisters’ furniture from their Playskool doll house and arranging the pieces just so in the back of one of their toy pick up trucks—I loved the idea of a small living space. I’ve always been fascinated by the miniature and little and completely enjoyed finished the doll house my uncle made.

From Doll House

Some minimalist blogs can be a bit preachy and judgmental as though if I choose to have more things (or Stuff as it’s generally termed in these kinds of blogs), then I’m morally deficient. But I did find a minimalist blog that lets me look into that world without being judged that I’m not—nor ever will be—fully part of that movement.

Miss Minimalist wrote a post about the 100 things she and her husband don’t own. What I loved about the list was that she also included some of the reasons they choose not to have those items. That list also solidified for me that while I like living in little spaces and I prefer an uncluttered existence, I also need items that she and other, more purely minimalist people, would find burdensome. The clean bare lines of no curtains or artwork on her walls works for her, while I positively chafed until we got our curtains hung up last weekend. I needed that color and that bit of softening the curtains provided. Plus they helped with the acoustics in the room.

But I do enjoy her blog because she's not judgmental. She talks about what works for her and I'm free to pick and choose what works for me in my streamlined existence. Maybe that's the term for me: streamlined.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Close call

Boston (and Portsmouth, NH) got some heavy, heavy rain today. I got home and couldn't open the gate into the patio because so much gravel had been swept inside the patio. Kent had to come out and move gravel just so I could get in.

He said it was his turn today to see the lower level of the patio start to fill up and then yell "No, no!" at the water. The drain (which is by our door) had clogged with leaves and seeds and stuff so he had to clear it out three or four times so the water wouldn't back up over our door thresh hold.

I asked him if he really did yell no and he admitted he did.

If we flood again, I swear I'm just packing up the car and we are moving to NH.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The patio--just for you, Ben

As you can see, it still needs a lot of work but trust me when I say it looks better than it did two weeks ago.