the long lost art of the coffee break…

IMG_7728Remember your first job? Way back in the days when you were younger. Perhaps more resilient. Maybe had less responsibility? My first job ever was as an “Appointment Setter” for a home security sales company. Yes, it’s just as glamorous as you might imagine. I sat in a room with 5 to 20 other folks making phone call after phone call. Being rejected, sworn at, and hung up on. And those were the good calls. Sometimes folks actually listened intently and engaged us in conversation – that was worse. It was boring. It was stressful. It was a little bit crazy. But there was one thing about that job which I still really appreciate.

We took breaks.

There was no option to do otherwise. The employer was exceptionally careful to follow the letter of employment laws, not necessarily the spirit. Our breaks were enforced. Every couple of hours we all hung up our phones and stepped outside. Mostly to smoke, because so many of us did, but sometimes we stretched our legs, ran next door to play a game of pinball, gulped coffee, made a personal call, or grabbed a snack. For 10-15 minutes every couple of hours the homeowners of the state of Oregon were free from our solicitous calls and we were free to do… something else.

How many of us still take that time. Step away from what we’re doing. Maybe to drink coffee, though I am fully able to do that while I work, but maybe to do something else. To check on the garden. To prepare a healthy snack. To play a video game. To stretch. To meditate. To write a poem. Eat an orange. Take a walk. Play with your pet.

I don’t know! If you absolutely had to take a coffee break, what would you do?

once upon a healthy diet…

A healthy diet means different things to different people. For some it means a careful balance of food groups. For others it means keeping caloric intake in check. For some it’s keeping their sodium intake down. Or sugars. For some it means cutting back on fat. Or cutting out animal based proteins. For me it means cutting out grains and processed sugars. Is that the best healthiest diet? I’ve no idea. But I do know when I consistently keep grains and processed sugars out of my body I feel better. Not just better. Good. My stomach doesn’t hurt. I have energy. I sleep better. I am able to focus. My joints don’t ache. My skin looks better. And by golly, I’m a nicer person.

But having a healthy diet and eating well takes a lot of time.

Before I started at Automattic I worked part-time for a distributed company which focused on the paleo diet. Working part-time AND from home meant I had all the time in the world for meal planning and preparation. And I had amazing new recipes that fit my healthy diet ideal thrown at me all the time in the course of my daily work. I was surrounded, virtually, by co-workers who ate the way I did. It made it so easy to eat well. Hell, it made it hard to eat badly.

Fast forward to now- I still eat better than I did once upon the time. It’s not like I’m scarfing down cheeseburgers every day (unless my guy and I go on a bad food bender… which… you know… happens). But I don’t eat properly. I don’t eat well. My daughter and I are both gluten intolerant. We both feel like shit when we eat it and so tend to avoid it. But it slips in from time to time. Mostly though I’ve just learned to find junk food that contains no wheat. Pasta, bread, cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goodies made from other grains.  And there’s a sushi place only a few blocks from my place so rice is a thing.

I’ve forgotten once again what it feels like to be healthy. To breathe easy. To sleep well. To fit into my favorite dresses. To not use acne cream at the age of 37. With all that in mind I’m giving the healthy eating another shot. October, usually a month of great indulgence, is going to be a cleanse of sorts for me.

No I’m not going on a juice cleanse. I’m not fasting. I’m not swapping out meals for liquids. Just cutting out those foods I know are causing me to feel like crap. Or trying to. So you guys take all the Halloween Candy. And the Pumpkin spice lattes. And hearty ravioli that so often mark the start of fall.

I’ll be over here eating this lovely pork chop with a side of brussel sprouts and sipping my martini. What’s that? Oh yes, I’m not giving up the gin. I want to be healthier not crazy.

perfect pants…

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  1. I hate shopping.
  2. I hate shopping.
  3. I greatly prefer sipping coffee to shopping.
  4. I never think “this would be a great day to try on pants!”
  5. My bestie is a crazy shopoholic.

Given the above facts one would think it unlikely I would spend my day off shopping, but item five sometimes outweighs items one through four. And after a quiet breakfast, some coffee, and a small serving of chocolate pudding we somehow wound up shopping. You see the breakfast joint we went to was conveniently located next to a shop full of fabulous eyeglasses. She’d been there so many times they knew her by name but she’d yet to make the crucial choice. So many glasses. So few decisions. Since it was right next to the restaurant we absolutely had to pop in. 17 hours and about 50 frames later we emerged victorious.

But it was still early. I had the day off. She had my attention. And I wasn’t hungry. And I was fully caffeinated. So it was off to a consignment store she frequents to look at… well I’m not sure what we were there to look at. A blue scarf? Some shoes? Perhaps a pair of neon pink sunglasses big enough to engulf the faces of a small island nation? We looked, we perused, we waded through rack upon rack of clothes. Panic set it. Calm panic, but panic none the less. I had an armful of clothing and was faced with the horror of trying it on. I was about to throw it on a rack and bolt when something caught me eye.

Jeans.

It was like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. After making it through a room full of tricks and traps our fearless heroine spies the golden idol, or in my case the dark wash jeans. Ignoring the skulls and skeletons (it’s nearly Halloween… there were plenty I assure you) and the bits of cloth, tiptoeing up to the coveted item. I pushed the hangers to either side freeing up space to turn the pants so I could examine them without freeing them from the rack. I had no idea what danger might lurk there. What could happen if I pulled them off. The ceiling could come crashing down. Or I could put them on and feel super frumpy. They might be too tight on my thighs. Or they might fit really well in the hips and ass but be way too big at the waist. Or just maybe a giant ball of second-hand clothing could come rolling down crushing everything in sight. At least 3 of those 5 things have happened to me in recent history.

I carefully removed them from the rack and escorted them to the dressing room hiding them amidst a pile of black and white tops and dresses. I dare not hope for a fit, I couldn’t get too excited. There were dresses here which would look great. And some tops that might be workable. But the jeans, they were too much to hope for so I didn’t.

But once I closed the door to the tiny room and slid the bolt into place all pretense was gone. I unbuckled my belt with haste, shoved down my jeans while kicking off my boots. I stumbled, clumsy and impatient. I stepped out of my own ill-fitting jeans as I unclipped the new unknown exciting jeans from a hanger, unbuttoned, pulled down the zipper slowly noting that it was lengthy… that means the rise wouldn’t be too low. I got excited for a moment and then caught myself.

Don’t hope. Don’t dare to dream.

I slipped into them, right foot first then left and guided them slowly up over my hips with no pull, then my ass with just a tug. I took a deep breath waiting for something to go wrong. It was all going right. Too right. I paused waiting for the inevitable pants failure and glanced down to the floor where the legs were gently pooling. In my bare feet that was to be expected. One final pull on the zipper and tuck of the button and they were on.

I did what one normally does when trying on jeans, I turned around immediately to stare at my ass. Fantastic.

Then checked the waist. No gaping.

And the thighs? No stretching.

OMFGHOLYCOWWTF these jeans fit me. And they look good.

I sucked in a shallow breath of air. Exhaled more than I inhaled. Gently lifted the tag pinned to the front pocket.

$8. Eight. Fucking. Dollars. For jeans that don’t appear to have been worn by anyone. Ever.

Remind me again why anyone pays retail? Eight dollars for the perfect jeans? Seems right to me.

it was a grand meetup…

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Once a year Automattic calls an all hands meeting. A meetup. It lasts one full calendar week from arrival to departure and it is many things to many people.

The one word standing out in my mind as I look back at the week I had is overwhelming.

o·ver·whelm·ing
ˌōvərˈ(h)welmiNG/
adjective
  1. very great in amount.
    “he was elected president by an overwhelming majority”
    synonyms: very large, enormous, immense, inordinate, massive, huge More

    • (especially of an emotion) very strong.
      “an overwhelming feeling of gratitude”

There was so much to take in, so many people to seek out, reacquaint with, and meet for the very first time. We worked, we played, we ate, we drank, we slept very little. We tried to make the world a better place, and if you think that’s me being dramatic you don’t know the people I have the honor of working with. I’m still absorbing the week I spent in Park City with the rest of my company. The projects and activities, conversations and laughs, meals and late nights are still sinking in. But while I’m starting to making sense of it all and settling back into my daily life at home here’s a look back at a few of the moments I was able to catch – there were so many I was too busy reveling in to capture. And now I sleep…

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You made it all the way through to the end? Does it look like fun? Did I mention we’re hiring?

polish and shine…

bootsAs I sat on my living room floor rubbing leather conditioner into my boots the smell of shoe-polish took me back about 30 years. Sitting on the floor of my parents living room floor, next to the fireplace, newspaper spread out in front of me as I polished my dad’s dress shoes. Dipping the cloth into the little tin full of thick black ointment. He wore suits for most of my childhood. Later on he was more casual but still in slacks and dress shirts. Sometimes a tie. But the shoes were always dark leather dress shoes. Practical but nice. Polished but not too shiny. And he never wore them on the weekend. And he never wore them in the evening. But Monday through Friday every week of the year – dress shoes. I started polishing his shoes at such a young age I can’t even recall when I began. It was a part of my childhood. It was a part of my youth. It was a part of my life. Even when I grew into a rebellious, sulky, asshole teen I would still sit on the living room floor and polish his shoes and then my own.

I hadn’t given it a thought in years, but now waiting for the conditioner to dry so I can shine my boots I know that it’s a memory I will never let go…

travel tales of a work at home cami…

travelsIn less than a week I’ll embark on a work adventure with 260ish of my nearest and dearest co-workers. Over the last 18 months I’ve been at Automattic some of my colleagues have become close friends. Some are still total strangers. None the less we’ll be all in one place for 7 days to work and play and spend time together. This presents some interesting challenges and opportunities. We’re a distributed company which means we work from wherever we want. We build our own schedules. We manage our own time. To some it might seem chaotic but if I’ve learned anything in my time here it’s that we get things done.

But how’s a hermit girl who works from the sofa in her pajamas more often than not supposed to prepare for 7 days jam-packed with company goodness? After I figured out where my kid will be and what she’ll be doing while I’m away. Once my travel plans are made and double checked. And I know that my guy will  be able to take care of my cats, probably better care of them than I do. And I have my favorite carry-on hard-case at the ready. And my travel size toiletry bottles are all filled up with my favorite products, not whatever brand happens to be sold in the 3.4oz size. After all that what becomes important?  It’s really not the big things at all. Here’s the top 5 list of stuff keeping me awake at night as I gear up for the Automattic Grand Meetup:

5 – Clothes. I work from home. By myself. Sometimes at off hours. It’s gross but there are days I totally forget to shower until it’s time to pick my kid up from school. I pretty much live in my pajamas or jeans and WordPress t-shirts. Yep. I’m wearing the latter right now. When I have a meeting here or a get together there I can get dressed. When I go out to a nice dinner with my guy, I’ve got an outfit for that. School functions, I’ve got that covered. But something about  getting up 8 mornings in a row and putting on an outfit I feel good in and am happy to run out and play and work with friends and co-workers is daunting. I was raised to believe that it’s important to dress appropriately for work. Now that means different things to different people and that’s a-okay. But for me it’s important that I make an effort and feel good. My wardrobe isn’t built for that though. Luckily my best friend who wears roughly the same size as I do is a clothes-horse. She came over with enough tops and dresses to cover me in cute without repeating an outfit for a full month. I picked some of my favorites and into the suitcase they go.

4 – My hair.  I haven’t seen my natural hair color since I was 15 years old. It’s been a gothic rainbow of colors plus a few shades of blond but for the most part it’s been black. More than half my life my hair has been drenched in color. I want it to look nice when I’m out and about. Fresh. Bright. Bouncy. Mostly because while I’m there the last thing I want to think about is my hair. I’m low maintenance with it from day-to-day but if the color isn’t crisp I feel like a mess. Last night I relaxed with my kid, watched tv, and let the box of blue-black do its magic on my hair and brows. I looked like a drippy super-villain for 25 minutes but I won’t stress about it while I’m away.

3 – Medication. 12 years ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It took a couple of years of trial and error with diet, supplements, and medication to get all squared away but my blood pressure is in check now. I only had enough pills to get me through half of the meetup and for some reason insurance companies done like to refill those prescriptions early. The hour I spent yesterday waiting to see if they’d approve my prescription for an early pickup probably elevated my bp enough that I could have used a higher dosage. Now I’ll just worry that they won’t let me through security with my collection of medication, naproxen, and vitamins.

2 – My phone. Not just my phone but my phone, my tablet, and my laptop. And my cords and cables. Also my backup chargers. I’m afraid I’ll leave something at home. Or that I’ll be the one person without signal at the hotel. Because it would be impossible to pick up a hotel phone and dial up my loved ones. Inconceivable!

1 – Elevation sickness. Ever since it hit me that we’ll be more than a mile above sea level this has plagued my waking hours. What if I get dizzy. What if I get a headache. What if I can’t sleep at night?! What if I can’t drink enough water? What if my head explodes? What if I fall off the earth or something??! My boyfriend pointed out the other night that I have a tendency to find the item which should cause me the least concern and worry about it above all others. It distracts me from worrying about the big things. Like what if a giant comet comes crashing down to earth throwing up enough debris to cloud the entire planet killing all the plants and dinosaurs? You know, if there were any dinosaurs around to kill. So I think I’ll just go ahead and worry to my heart’s content.

After all rational me knows that everything I’ll need to combat this potential minor issue will be waiting there for me when I arrive. Along with my excellent friends and colleagues who won’t care about my hair, or my clothes, and will probably have spare chargers and cables they’re ready and willing to share.

I’ll worry about those poor dinosaurs later.

 

dyeing hurts…

IMG_1897Call it what you will, vanity, existential crisis, rebellion, or something else all together but I’ve been dyeing my hair for the past 22 years. I started life out with stick straight white blond hair but by the time I was 15 (the last time I saw my natural hair at any length greater than 1″) it was a dull dishwater blonde. I hated it. My hair faded into nothing and I wanted it to shine. Perhaps because I wanted to shine.

Over the last two decades it’s been burgundy, black, orange, bright red, purple, bleach blond, bubbly blond, golden blond, chocolate-brown, auburn, and black again.

I’ve dyed it, my friends have dyed it, my stylists have dyed it. Once when I was still a teen my mom made me sit in a salon for 8 hours to have the dye stripped from my hair because she was so pissed at me for dyeing it black.

Since 10 years or so ago I’ve even dyed my brows and lashes (remember, I’m blond so my lashes and brows are too). In fact I usually know it’s time to dye my hair again when I have to pencil in my eyebrows. I had to do that the last couple of days. It’s annoying. It’s time-consuming. And it’s a pain to get right.

So this evening with the night all to myself after working a long day and making healthy dinner choices I decided it was time to dye my hair, eat some ice cream, and watch some tv. Simple, but a little indulgent. It should have been calm. Happy. Easy. A lovely series of moments with my feet up and my mind at ease. And it was until I made the one mistake that I’ve never made in all my years of dyeing.

Dye in the eye my friends, dye in the eye. Never take your contacts out while you’re tinting your brows. Trust me your life will be better for it.