Thursday, March 19, 2015

You say goodbye, I say hello

This image is of my calendar at work after lunch yesterday—Wednesday. We had a team lunch and as you can see, now my calendar is empty.

Tomorrow is my last day on this contract. I’ve had a great time, it’s been a completely enjoyable gig, the kind you always hope you’ll get when you’re self-employed but realistically know you probably won’t. It’s been especially nice after my last regular full time job, the one I quit in December 2013 (and still don’t miss or regret one iota).

Yesterday and today, people were coming up to me shocked that I’m leaving, that the contract is over. And to me that’s just the best kind of praise. I’ve done well for them and they’ll miss me. I can’t ask for more than that.

Now on to the next one (no, I don’t yet know what that will be—stay tuned).

Monday, March 16, 2015

I am not Imelda

One of the key principles in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the idea that my belongings, no matter what they are, should spark joy in me. It’s been illuminating to me to see what hits that threshold and what doesn’t as I go about my daily life and consider the stuff around me.

Shoes have long been a problem for me. I’ve written before that my feet are hard to fit: I have very narrow heels, a fairly narrow foot with a high arch, no meat to speak of at all on my feet (they are quite thin) and I have long toes. When I get my feet measured in a Brannock device, I measure a 7.5 from the back of my heel to the ball of my foot. Throw my toes in there and all of a sudden I measure nearly (but not quite) an 8. That’s in overall length. But if I wear an 8, my heels doesn’t stay in my shoes and the balls of my feet don’t hit the proper spot and then my feet hurt a lot. However—when I get 7.5s, my toes generally hit the end of my shoe. All the other parts of my feet are usually OK but not my toes. They hurt. Let me tell you, shoes that hurt my toes do not spark any joy in me at all.

I’ve tried so many brands—cheap, expensive, imported, American-made, all leather, all synthetic, all natural—you name it, it’s probably been on my foot. Most of the so-called comfort shoes lasted all of five seconds on my feet in stores. They are just too wide and I walk right out of them. Cole Haan with the Nike Air (sadly no longer made)? Marginally better. Kenneth Cole pumps? Loved them, they fit my narrow heels (a miracle) but ouch, my toes. Keens are awful on me, Nine West are too short or too long, never Baby Bear just right; same with Ann Klein and her brother Calvin; Kate Spade was a big ol nope (I made a then 12-year old happy with a pair of lovely blue patent shoes, so awesome but so painful to me); Naturalizers are dead to me, so are Toms (my heels won’t stay in them), Munros are heinously ugly but I tried anyway and no; Josef Seibel had limited success (booties, which are big but because they are booties they stay on, and a pair of leather lace up sneakers—but not their dress shoes). Anyway, you get the picture. I’ve tried, how I’ve tried.

This past winter, I’ve worked at a place with a very casual dress code. Officially, it’s a business casual environment, but that’s not what I’ve seen around me. Since I’m not an employee, I dress to fit in, which means I’ve worn jeans nearly the entire time and I’ve worn very casual shoes (from Land’s End and the only reason they work is that they are super snug across the top of the foot so they stay on my feet—all other reviewers hated that and called it a design flaw. Ha, says I!) rather than dress shoes. Those shoes don’t fit all that well either but they don’t rub anywhere, which has been really nice.

Last Tuesday I needed to suit up for an interview and wore a pair of nice Clark’s dress shoes—Clark’s aren’t known for being torture devices, and while not touted as a comfort shoe, these are pretty good or so I thought. After work that day, I realized that my toes hurt again; on Friday they were still sore and I decided that I really needed to try to find those mythical unicorn shoes, ones that work for my weird feet.

That’s what I did yesterday—I headed over to Nordstrom because I knew they would have options and even if they didn’t have the right shoe in stock, they could order it for me. I met my foot twin working there: like me, she’s got the narrow foot with long toes (as she said, she’s probably a 7 ¾ but of course that size doesn’t exist). I immediately found a pair of casual shoes that were ah-maaaazing. The color I wanted wasn’t in stock so we ordered those and they will be at my house this week.

Then I asked about dressy flats for work. She brought out an assortment of shoes at various price points and styles: one ugly-to-me pair, one pair I liked but were too short on my toes (and the next size up wouldn’t work, after this many years I can tell when it’s going to be that way) and a couple of other pairs that were nice enough but not my style. There was one box remaining and she sort of hesitated when I asked her about it. She said they were more expensive and mentioned the brand (AGL). I laughed because I’ve heard of the brand and yes, it’s pricey. But if I could get one pair of shoes that really work then I can stick with them and not buy six pairs that cost more than the one pair and don’t work, right? Right?? So I tried them on.

Readers, they were heavenly. Stylish and they didn’t hurt my feet.Timeless style too, the way I prefer. They are living in my closet now.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting my ears pierced—a family story

Last week, my granddaughter got her ears pierced. My daughter-in-law posted a video of the procedure—I guess any more places like Claire’s do both ears at the same time, only they were a little short-staffed so A had hers done one at a time. The look on her face just killed me. You could tell she was thrilled but at the same time, having that done hurts.

My 13th birthday cake
I was 13 when I got my ears pierced and I remember it well. I don’t recall asking to have it done, but that’s probably because I’ve always been so deathly scared of needles. Remember, I had lots of painful penicillin shots when I was a little girl so anything associated with needles meant pain to me, so it’s no wonder I dreaded any form of needle intrusion. My mom took me to the mall and I do remember she was acting a little weird, but I just figured she was spazzing about something unrelated to me. Not so—she knew she was taking me to get my ears pierced and I’m sure she feared I’d have a meltdown or something if she told me where we were going.

The nice thing about not knowing I was going to have my ears pierced is I didn’t really have a lot of time to get all worked up. I mean, I was definitely nervous but not outrageously so. I sat there quietly as the lady marked my earlobes and boom! My ears were pierced.

But there was a problem . . . you see, my ears are shaped differently, especially my earlobes. The lady had centered each hole in the middle of the lobe, but the earrings weren’t level on the sides of my head. After we got home, Mom realized that one earring was distinctly lower than the other. So she proposed that we take out one of the earrings, let the hole regrow for a week and then have Dad re-pierce that ear in the correct spot.

I did not want to do that, I can tell you. But I also didn’t want to have earrings that were never level and would always look wrong for the rest of my life. So I agreed, we took out the earring, and then I waited and got super nervous as the end of the week approached.

I believe I did well when Dad re-pierced my ear, but that may be a nice revision of history on my part. Regardless, today my earrings hang where they should even with my mismatched earlobes.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

32 years ago

Today is Ben’s birthday. Thirty-two years ago right this second (6:10 AM CDT), I was at the hospital and probably had already gotten an IV installed (ouch, hate those things) and was waiting for my scheduled c-section.

However, I knew that he wasn’t really ready to be born. You see, I knew the date I got pregnant (July 14), just as I’d known the date I got pregnant with Jordan (June 5). I went a full nine months to the day with Jordan so could reasonably expect to do much the same with Ben. That would put my due date around April 14. But I’d had an ultrasound to determine fetal age about halfway through my pregnancy with Ben, and based on fetal head size*, it indicated I was further along than that. So all the dates were shifted; my due date was moved to the end of March and the c-section was scheduled for March 14.

I briefly argued with the changed due date, telling anyone who would listen that I was due the middle of April, but remember I was young—just 23—and used to obeying orders from having been in the military. And the fetal head size indicated I was wrong. So Ben was born March 14 around 8:30 AM.

He was premature. He looked dreadful (my dad said he was an ugly little shit, and sadly that was pretty accurate), he didn’t really have much in the way of eye lashes yet and he was just super scrawny like a wizened old man (even though he weighed seven pounds, nine ounces). As my pediatrician said to me once I’d been moved back to my room, “He wasn’t quite done.” Well no, no he wasn’t.

Fortunately he experienced only minor breathing issues, some jaundice that took a couple of weeks to resolve and my goodness he slept. That baby was a sleeper. After Jordan, who never slept more than two hours straight the first six months of his life, Ben’s sleeping was a huge relief. By six months, you’d never have known he was that early—he had plump cheeks no one could resist, his eye lashes were as long as his brother’s (I’d irrationally worried about that) and he was such a snuggler. He’s that way with his own family today, and I love seeing how he is as a husband and father. It seems kind of silly to post on my blog that I’m proud of him, but it’s true and I’m glad I’m his mom.

*Turns out I have babies with big heads. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We drank the Kool-Aid

The Marie Kondo Kool-Aid that is.

I got the book and read it in January; I asked Kent to read it too because the book made so much sense to me. I didn’t ask him to actually do anything but he did, he completely sorted through his clothing and adopted her storage methods (he posted pictures on Facebook here).

I did a lot of thinking and planning before I actually did anything. Kondo’s standard for keeping things (does it spark joy) really worked for me. I end up getting things where they partially spark that joy or contentment—for example, I love the fabric or the color or the idea of the garment but the actual wearing of it is less satisfactory.

Case in point, I’d gotten a mock wrap dress in 2010 when I traveled 100% for work; made of some sort of super drapey slick knit that never wrinkled. The color scheme was slightly off white with a black/brown reptile print all over. I got compliments every single time I wore it but I hated it. I felt just completely wrong in that dress even as people told me how great it looked. I never once felt any spark of joy wearing that thing but it still took me five years to send it on its way.

The other category that’s been difficult to part with are the items I’ve sewn, especially the ones where I did a fantastic job with them. In some cases, the pattern itself just isn’t flattering (thinking of a skirt pattern I’ve made three of), or I ended up just not liking the final product for whatever reason (which is the downside of sewing, sometimes the style just doesn’t work). But following the KonMarie method, I’ve thanked those items for what I learned (how to line a skirt or a jacket, or how to insert an invisible zipper perfectly) and away they went.

What’s funny is using her method to store clothing in my dresser has resulted in a lot of extra room. In fact, I had to switch from rolling my clothes (which is what she suggests) to folding them in thirds and standing them on edge so I can see them. Otherwise I had a huge empty hole in the middle of my dresser drawer.

The thing I like the best about this method is that it’s not really an organizing method. It’s more a thought process approach. If I know how I want my home to be (in my case, peaceful and uncluttered, also easy to remove cat hair) and I dress for the life I have and not the life I think I might have, then it’s pretty easy to evaluate clothing and items. If they don’t work for me, or spark that joy, then why get them?

One of my two drawers; I had to fold bigger to take up room.
The other drawer holds undies and I'm not posting a picture of that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

34 years ago

Oddly 34 years ago, March 4 was also a Wednesday.

Pregnant, didn't know it. I
felt awful.

Anyway, I was pregnant, a week overdue and had a c-section scheduled for Friday, March 6. I'd have a series of very strong, regular contractions and then they'd just stop for a few hours. Being young and even more impatient than I am today, I hated that my body wasn't just getting things done.

Well 34 years ago in a couple of hours (say around 7 PM Central), I started having the same strong, regular contractions 10 minutes apart. And this time, they didn't stop after an hour. So we called the doctor and he said hey let's go ahead and get this party started. Off we went to the hospital.

But of course things take time, there's papers to be filled out, blood to be drawn, IVs to be started and contractions to be monitored. So by the time all Is were dotted and Ts crossed, it was after midnight before the c-section even started. Jordan was born around 2:30 AM (no I don't remember the exact time, sue me, I was having major surgery).
Jordan at five weeks

He clocked in at 8 pounds, six and a half ounces, was just shy of 20 inches and had the longest, darkest eye lashes you've ever seen. He has them still today and generally comments are always made about his amazing eyes.

I'm proud to be his mother. He's grown up to be a thoughtful, creative man and I'm so glad he's my son.