Friday, September 5, 2014

101 Things I am Grateful For

101 Things I Am Grateful For

This is my 101st blog post. It hasn’t all been easy but, overall, it’s a pretty good gig. I wanted to do a little something to celebrate it, so listing 101 things I am grateful for seemed like a good way to go. For the record, these are not in a particular order of importance, just an order of when they come to mind.

  1. My husband, John. He is my best friend and I adore him.
  2. My nephew, Hunter, who is known as “MS” for the purposes of this blog.
  3. My family. Families are like blogs; they aren’t always easy to deal with, but the benefits end up outweighing the drawbacks. Particular shout out to my siblings, my nieces, and the nephew who mostly has escaped my smothering.
  4. My friends, who put up with and support me.
  5. My cats, who enrich every one of my days, make sure I always get out of bed, and provide plenty of blog fodder.
  6. The fact that I have mostly achieved all of the named things on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – which is a really big deal since a lot of people in the world don’t have things like shelter, safety, food, and clean water. I don’t want to be unaware of the things I am lucky enough to be able to take for granted.
  7. Living somewhere I can drive again – I have some anxiety about driving. It’s not bad in places like Eau Claire, or even the Twin Cities, but it was positively paralyzing anywhere beyond my own neighborhood in Northern Virginia. I-95 was largely a no-go zone for me, whereas it is almost relaxing to drive here. (Yes, even with the snow.)
  8. John’s job. Not only am I very grateful that John has a job that provides the financial and health related benefits that make our lives SO MUCH easier, I am especially grateful that he is doing something that he enjoys and cares about with people who care about why they do what they do. So much more than just a software company, John works at a place that cares about treating people well, helping them have a better life, and just generally being decent. It is a privilege to be part of the extended company family.
  9. Health insurance – as I just mentioned, I am grateful to have good health insurance. People get sick, and the associated health costs can really set someone on a path to financial debt. I am grateful that we have that added safety and security.
  10. John’s parents and sister. I already mentioned family, and they certainly fit there, but I wanted to take the time to make particular mention of John’s parents and sister. John’s parents have helped us out financially on more than one occasion. They also love their son very much, which I am grateful for. John’s sister is a kind soul who takes the time to show she cares about people. I am grateful for all of these things and more.
  11. My health – yeah, I’ve got some ailments that can keep life “interesting”, but my health is, for the most part, fairly good. I can move without pain, I don’t have to take medicine that makes me sick, and I am not in an immediate battle for my life. There are so many people who are struggling with so much more – people who would love to be as well off as I am. I understand that, and I respect their battle and survival partially by appreciating what I have.
  12. Modern Medicine – You know what’s a bummer? Polio. Measles. Rubella. Those things really put crimps in people’s days. So did leaches and other forms of “bleeding out the fever”. I’m rather fond of my asthma medication, my vaccines, appropriately used antibiotics, diagnostic equipment, and various infertility treatments. These things are wins, and they make the world a safer, healthier, and more promising place.
  13. My faith. I won’t tell you what to believe or not. Be a decent person and you and I will be fine. For my part, though, I do have a certain set of beliefs and ideas and they enrich my life a great deal, both spiritually and culturally. I am grateful for that.
  14. Sauna. Pronounced “sow na”, this is a critical part of my cultural identity as a Finnish-American. It is also just a good time. Sauna’s are great.
  15. Chocolate – I like chocolate a lot. I can be kind of difficult about where it is sourced from (see the previous post – particularly the part about my causes), but I am a big fan of how it tastes. I wish more people in the world could experience it – particularly the people who go to so much effort to harvest the cacao (again, with the causes).
  16. Cheese Curds – This list could easily devolve into a simple list of tasty foods. If you’ve ever had a State Fair style cheese curd, though, then you probably understand why they get their own point on the list. If you haven’t had such cheese curds, get thee to the Minnesota or Wisconsin State Fair, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium (where the Gopher’s play football), Hell’s Kitchen, or any of the other quality establishments that know how to properly deep fry cheese.
  17.  Since I’ve mentioned sports now – I am grateful for the Minnesota Golden Gophers (in all things, but especially Hockey), the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Wild, and the Green Bay Packers (sometimes you have to break a trend). More generally, I am grateful for hockey, baseball, football, and most sports in general to some degree or another. I’m not particularly good at playing, but I excel at being a fan.
  18. Goldy Gopher – friendliest and best mascot anywhere. There is no debate. If you want to say otherwise, reread previous sentence. Oh, I agree that many other mascots are fantastic creatures that bring joy wherever they go – particularly TC Bear, Nordy Wild, and Leo the Lion of ODU – but Goldy is, and always will be, my truest mascot love.
  19. WiFi
  20. Crayons, Markers, colored pencils, and every other medium that allows me to make pretty pictures.
  21. Understanding blog readers willing to wait a few days for the other 80 things while I clean my house, apply for a job at a place I really want to work at, and pack my bag for a quick road trip. (Don’t worry, MS is cat/house sitting.)

Thanks guys! I’ll come through with the other 80 on Monday, I promise! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why People, Including Me, Suck

John gave me flowers a couple weeks ago -- Buddy approved

I am Exhausting
I am not always an easy person to deal with. You’re shocked, I know. I seem like such a laid back, pleasant, happy-go-lucky sort of person. (Text may not always convey sarcasm so let me assure you that the previous sentence is, indeed, sarcasm.)

Nope, I am a pain in the ass. I know it, too. I have been known to get as angsty as a pre-teen girl’s poetry. I am loyal to about a thousand different causes, which often makes simple things (i.e. the Ice BucketChallenge, where I had to also promote clean water and sanitation by using recycled water and chunks of soap) a lot more complicated. I ruin Shark Week for everyone, use the Bechdel Test to evaluate every movie, don’t eat meat (which is super fun for anyone who tries to go to a restaurant with me), recycle virtually everything (cue my judgmental stare when you throw away your yogurt container), and have an opinion about just about every major event going on in the world. As if that wasn’t enough, a lot of my friends read my blog and have to ask themselves, “Is that about me?” (Pro-tip: Unless it is nice or I have flat out told you it is about you, it either isn’t about you or whatever I’m sensitive about is an amalgamation of a lot of things. Individually, your thing was small and not separately bothersome enough for me to tell you I wasn’t cool about it – which is to say not bothersome at all...) I also write run-on sentences and use words that are probably more complex than a normal situation calls for.

In short, I am exhausting.

I know I am exhausting. I’ve tried to change, but I just can’t. This is who I am, and if you’re one of my friends anyway, then I appreciate it. Thank you.

I could leave this post there, but that would be a very short post indeed. Instead, I will also say a bit about each of the things that people said I should blog about today...

How has Wisconsin changed since you were a little girl growing up in Highbridge?
Honestly, I’m not sure I could tell you. It’s not really fair to compare Highbridge at any time to, say, Eau Claire, Madison, or Milwaukee. Highbridge still isn’t even on a map (because it’s not really a town, just a postal reference). It’s just a space between Mellen and Marengo – two places that even most Wisconsinites would probably struggle to locate. Not much has changed there, but there is a newer gas station in Marengo and I think Mellen had some nice updates done to the school. The road my old house is on, however, remains unpaved.

Write about how you DON’T miss NDU.
I could write a bit about what I DO miss – some of the people, the nice office John had, the fact that Fort McNair is really pretty… As for what I DON’T miss, I could probably write a rant filled tome. I could follow it with another rant filled tome about all of the things I DON’T miss about government service or D.C. in general. As cathartic as that could be for me, though, I’m not sure that it would accomplish anything positive. I’m still (probably naively, given both my job prospects some of the ugly realities of public service) interested in serving my country in some worthwhile way. I think that NDU COULD do some positive and worthwhile things. They sometimes do, though I think that grows more and more rare and happens against all odds. I would like to see it fulfill it’s potential, but I don’t know yet how to write a critique of it in a way that is anything more than just the scathing complaints of a jilted former sort-of employee. If I can ever write constructive criticism, then I will. In the mean time, Tom Ricks seems to have the market cornered on anonymous, though probably legitimate, sniping. If, however, anyone, especially junior staffers, wants to use me for more anonymous sniping combined with ideas on how to make the situation better, just drop me a line. We can compile something of quality. It might not change anything (which you are already well aware of), but it MIGHT get me a little more blog traffic. I recommend we start with why morale – in general, and especially among the junior staff – is so very bad.

Why do you hate UHaul? You have alluded to this in past posts, but never explained why. Now I want to know.
Did you know that reserving a truck with UHaul is, apparently, just an FYI for them? It DOES NOT mean that the truck you reserved will actually BE at the location when you go and pick it up the morning of your long-distance move. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that said truck will be anywhere in the tri-state area. *I* DID NOT know that. I found out when I went to pick up a truck the evening before I had to have my apartment completely vacated, loaded into a truck, and ready to be moved several states away. UHaul’s response? They never said there was a guarantee, if I wanted to guarantee it I should have reserved the truck for about a week before I needed it, pick it up when it came in, and just pay for the extra days that it sat in whatever parking lot I could find to put it in. 

This happened about 10 years ago. Things may have changed. There may have been some weird error where these locations screwed up… and headquarters somehow never received my written complaint. I honestly don’t know. You want to know what I DO know? Penske guarantees that a truck you reserve will actually be there when you arrive at your scheduled pick up time. UHaul is dead to me.

[Write about] how everyone sucks at life and should crawl back in their holes and die.
This was from my friend Matthew. He is a Senior Manager for an NGO that focuses particularly on global health and development. One of the issues high on his agenda right now is figuring out how to effectively address the recent Ebola outbreak. It is not hyperbolic to say that Matthew's work helps save lives. What is preventing Matthew being able to help save lives? His NGO's travel manager not actually doing their job managing travel. Ever experience travel irritations? Had your flight cancelled or had some issue booking your hotel? Do you know how very frustrating that can be? Yes? Now add the knowledge that people’s LIVES are on the line. 

So, you know what? Matthew wins today. He wins the dubious honor of having every right to want to punch someone hard in the throat. I can’t book his travel, but I CAN validate his frustration. People suck. They suck real badly sometimes. This IS a perfect example of one of those times.

So, weigh in here folks – do you have an example of:
  • How I am difficult?
  • How things have changed over time in the places you grew up?
  • What bothers you about where you work and how you would recommend changing things for the better?
  • Moving nightmares?
  • Why people suck?

PLEASE share them in the comments or on the Facebook Page.


Note: I am toying with the idea of adding a signature to all of my posts. Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tired, Lazy, Dreamless and Aimless

Photo Credit: JoAnne Applebaugh (Blog Author)

I am really flipping tired. I had trouble waking up today and, right now, all I want to do is go back to sleep. My entire body feels tired, but my eyes are particularly interested in betraying me. They just want to close. The bastards.

I could go on and on about my sleep challenges, from insomnia to extreme fatigue, but that’s not really going to do anything about it, and I don’t feel like it is particularly interesting. It’s a symptom of my endocrine disorder. Sometimes it isn’t a problem, other times it is a very bad problem. Today is more in the “very bad” category, both because of the intensity and because of the fact that I have sh*t to do today. Couch napping is not an option.

Oh couch, you seductive minx.

I don’t look sick. I don’t always feel sick. I definitely don’t always act sick. I am not, by far, the sickest person that I know – I have friends who are fighting the sort of illnesses where doctors make estimates about “survival rate” and talk about stages of disease progression. I am not there. Not by a long shot. Not even comparable. Not even a little.

But, still, I am sick. It affects my life and it makes things a whole lot more difficult. It’s like walking in a few inches of thick, sucking silt – I can make progress, but it is a lot of effort that just exhausts me more.

There are two big problems with not looking (or always feeling) sick. The first is that it sneaks up on you and slams you to the ground when you do start to really feel it again. The second is that the people around you forget that you are sick at all. Not their fault, really. You can’t reasonably get upset with someone for forgetting that you are sick when you have a string of good days all in a nice row and you make your best effort all of the rest of the time.

It is frustrating, though.

Right now, my life is in serious disorder. My home is still highly disorganized and a lot of my things are still completely packed. I have yet to put together all of the new furniture I bought about a month ago now (more?). A bunch of my stuff is still on my dining room table because I haven’t the faintest idea where I could fit it. I’m not sure where most of my towels are.

I keep getting asked, “What are you going to do now [that you’ve moved]?” The answer is that I don’t know exactly. Yes, I want to do something. Wanting to contribute is part of my personality. I want to contribute to my family and to the betterment of the world in general but, no, I don’t know what form that will take. On days like this, too, I worry about being able to bring my A game to something (and I always want to bring my A game to the things I do).

Some of my friends have teased me (good-naturedly) about the fact that I have nothing to do and nowhere I have to be. That is, I suppose, technically correct. Nothing HAS to be done… but nothing will ever get done if I think like that. I don’t think that’s what they meant either. I think that they think that I should have had enough time to get things done by now. They are probably right. I moved in a month ago and I don’t have another “real” job. (I don’t think that anyone really thinks that my writing counts.) How is it that I am not done yet? *I* don't know, so why should they?

A lot of my friends would be done by now. I am actually a fairly type A personality, and so are a lot of my friends. They are the sort of people who get things done. I have one friend who can move from the other side of the world with her three kids and a dog and still have her house in essentially perfect order within a week or two. I am that sort of person when everything is going okay. Well, probably not THAT good. (I don’t really know anyone else who is THAT good.)  Close, though. I can get an awful lot done if everything else is okay. The truth is, though, not everything has been.

I am happy to be back in the Midwest. I am especially happy that I get to be close to MS and that John is working for a company that is both worthwhile and fun. The move was the right call.

Still, though, it is, essentially, admitting a failure of a sort for me. I had a dream about what I wanted to do, and I brushed up against it a few times, but now it is probably not going to happen. That’s not, actually, because we moved. It’s not like I left a thriving career in D.C. The fact is, though, that the sort of things I wanted to do are almost exclusively in D.C… or they would have been if they existed at all (but that’s another topic that, quite frankly, I will never write about on this blog, in a notebook, or in chalk on a sidewalk during a heavy rainstorm).

In short, it’s a mental adjustment. It’s something I need to process. I need to find something else to do, a new dream, but that is a lot easier said than done. It takes time – but the need for additional income is a right now sort of pressure. (At least we have ticket sales – does anyone want to buy some hockey tickets? Your purchase would come with the knowledge that you will also be helping pay for our groceries so, really, it’s a charitable donation of sorts. :) )

That would probably be enough to handle. The truth is, though, that there is more.

We found out the Friday before we left D.C. that our last round of fertility treatments didn’t take. I haven’t had any time since to deal with that. Even worse, it’s not like I could just launch into the next round and have new hope like I had been doing. Aside from having to find completely new doctors and waiting for one insurance to transfer to another, we found out that the new insurance (otherwise a pretty solid plan) has absolutely no coverage whatsoever for infertility care. They won’t even cover the oral medications, let alone the doctors or ultrasounds or blood tests or shots.

I am honestly not sure what we are going to do. I don’t even know IF we can do anything at all.

And now I am SO tired today. For no good reason beyond, oh yeah, I’m sick. I don’t really look sick, though – at least not with anything more than a bad case of adult acne – so everybody seems to just think that I am lazy and have nothing to do.

That’s all for today. It turns out that, for someone with nothing to do, I have a lot of things that need to get done as soon as possible.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dear People of Craigslist

Dear People of Craigslist and Facebook Virtual Yard Sales,

You probably remember me. Actually, no, scratch that, you probably have no recollection of me at all. I say that because, after all, 98% of you seem to always forget some combination of the following:

  • What time you scheduled pick up
  • The price we agreed on
  • The fact that I said that I would not deliver the product to you
  • The fact that I said that I would not help you load your car
  • The fact that you drive a regular, compact car -- not a TARDIS. (i.e your vehicle is NOT bigger on the inside and, no, that thing you want to buy will not fit)
  • The time you rescheduled pick up
  • Your cash – and, no, I will not take your personal check
  • The very clear directions I gave you
  • The time you agreed on when you rescheduled pick up for the second time
  • What you actually intended to buy from me

Look folks, I’m not sure who raised you. My guess is, though, that Mama Wolf would be very disappointed in your complete lack of decorum. There is such a thing as a “social contract”, meaning that there is an implicit agreement among civilized members of a society to behave a certain way in order to gain certain benefits. In this case, that social contract is compounded by your verbal or written agreement with me to purchase, say, a beach cart and chair for a bargain price.  I am not certain why you have trouble with things like basic time management, spatial reasoning, or the simple concept that I am not, under any circumstances, going to drive two hours to sell you a $10 item. Whatever your malfunction, though, someone needed to tell you that you are ruining a good thing for the rest of us. You need to shape up because, if you don’t, we’re all going to leave… and THEN where will you buy used Ikea furniture?



What do you think? Is there anything you would like to add? Are there any Craigslist/Virtual Yard Sale stories you would like to share? If so, please do so in the comments or on the Facebook Page.