Friday, March 30, 2012

Life in My Boardroom: Talking to Cats; Waving to Squirrels

 As if Mr. W didn't already think my behavior was peculiar enough, soon he will be finished with his film project and home with me every day where he will witness the new quirks I've acquired as a result of working from home.

It's funny because, although I miss my old coworkers dearly and genuinely liked spending my work week with them, there were lots of days I didn't want any of them to speak to me. Yet, now I find myself interacting with just about every other living creature that comes into my line of vision. I regularly greet Huckle, one of many neighborhood cats who frequents our backyard.

I chirp at and talk to this little guy who stops by the compost bin outside our dining room window to feast on gnats. He could actually be 2 or 3 different hummingbirds, but I call them all George. And they like it.

Isn't he the cutest—all puffed up and happy on his tiny branch? I will love him and cuddle him and call him George. Oh yes, I will.

Then there's the pesky but endearing squirrel (or seven) who runs along our fence every day. Sometimes he sits in the tree outside the sliding glass door and makes such a squawky racket I have to walk outside and ask him to keep it down. Other times, he sits on the gate outside the window where I'm working and yells at me until I pay attention to him. So I wave. Ask him to be quiet.

I haven't given him a name yet. My dad likes to shoot squirrels who come into his bird feeder with a super-soaker squirt gun. He may have conditioned me to not love them as much as my other backyard pets.

Mr. W regularly hears me sing songs to our cats (like if you change the lyrics to Lady Marmalade to "Gitchi gitchi meow meow dada, gitchi gitchi meow meow here, Mocha chocalata meow meow, Creole Kitty Maramalade"). And he's come to terms with that.

But I don't know how he'll respond to the way I run the boardroom.

Perhaps if I encourage him to wear his leopardskin loincloth around the house, he'll get in touch with the animal side of things a little more quickly...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do You Know the Sound of Your Own Voice?

When I was in counseling 5 years ago, one of the most interesting things my therapist shared with me was that sometimes people from the closest of families have a disadvantage in love and marital relationships. This was actually more than interesting—it was startling. Aren't the people from close families supposed to have a leg up when it comes to relationships? 

Well, in many respects, we do.

But when it comes to building a life with someone else, having close family members' voices continually piping up in the back of your head can sometimes silence your own internal voice and prevent you from making the kinds of decisions you would make on your own, with your partner. I struggled with this a lot when I started contemplating not having children. I heard and felt the influence of generations bearing down on me, telling me I should have kids. It was my duty. I HAD to do it.

And then my dad cut me a huge break and told me it was okay if Mr. W and I decided to forego children. Score one for Daddy Hetherington.

Unfortunately, his voice didn't shut down all the rest. I've had to learn to distinguish them all myself. And it has occurred to me that it's not just familial voices trying to steer my course—there are friends and even strangers expressing their opinions in there, too. Which begs the question: who are we all listening to when we make choices in our lives?

With all the shoulds crowding our heads, how do we know which ones are coming from our own instinct and which are coming from the people around us—friends, family, Facebook acquaintances?

It's so dangerously easy to tune into the commentary and opinions of others, whether in our airspace or in our own heads. And maybe it's okay to do so...until we lose our own authentic voices in the process.

Just because your grandmother thinks you should wear lipstick to the grocery store, does it mean you have to? Just because your friends from high school take spring break trips to Belize with their husbands and kids, does it mean you're inadequate if you don't? Just because Access Hollywood tells you Botox is the new black, does that mean you have to go get it?


Just as my therapist taught me I had to break away from the well-meaning dialog in my head to find my own internal voice, I want to tell everyone I know that they don't have to listen to other people in their lives to make decisions, choose their paths, feel right in their skin.

The only words you need to listen to are your own.

Kick the shoulds right to the curb.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Because NOT Doing Sparks More Regret Than Doing

A couple months ago, I had my nieces over for a slumber party and shopping trip to The Grove. As we walked toward the entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch, not only was I hit in the face by a wave of store cologne (seriously, when did retailers decide to start assaulting your nasal cavities like that?) I was also blinded by the fleshy six-pack of a young Abercrombie model standing near the doorway.

The nieces became squirrelly immediately.

There was a photographer standing next to the model and when she asked us if we wanted our picture taken with him, I knew the answer. I could have easily said "no thanks" and proceeded on with the girls in tow—they were pretty embarrassed and wanted to just continue shopping. But I knew the feeling of regret that would come with NOT taking advantage of an opportunity like that.

So we posed and smiled; the girls giggling nervously. The poor nineteen-year-old hunk shuddered when I put my arm around him and my frigid elderly hand made contact with his warm, muscular back.

I have the picture on my desk and it makes me laugh every time I see it.

When I was in high school, my aunt took my cousins and me to see a stage production of Grease. I can't even remember where we went or how old I actually was, but I do remember that when given the chance to go up and dance to 50s music on stage, I was to shy and embarrassed to go. And it bugs me to this day.

I hate having regrets.

It is this kind of life experience and emotional wisdom that propelled me into sewing caveman costumes for Mr. W's and my anniversary trip last weekend. I knew if I didn't do it, I would regret it for all eternity.

Aside from the uncomfortable mattress and overly stuffed pillows, the Caveman Room did not disappoint. With rock walls, floor and ceiling, and a leopard-skin bedspread, it definitely had a Flintstonian feel.

Behind the TV, we even had a lovely in-room waterfall. It would have come in handy the evening before (we were staying in a different room that night) when the couple two doors down from us screamed at each other and slammed their door a dozen times around midnight. We could have used the running water to drown out the sound. Or perhaps try to drown them.

I was most impressed by the two wood-carved clubs that rested in iron holsters on either side of the bed. When we first checked into the room, I went to the bathroom and when I came out, Mr. W was lying on the bed with a club slung over his shoulder.

The Caveman Room's greatest amenity, however, may be its motion-sensor waterfall urinal. The Madonna Inn is actually famous for its waterfall urinal in the main lobby. But lucky us, we had our very own.

In spite of his feelings of mortification and possibly sheer terror, Mr. W humored my craziness and agreed to wear his outfit (after a whole day of wine tasting). I think deep down, he knew if he didn't, he would regret it forever.

Although we took several pictures together, wielding our wooden clubs, here is the only photographic evidence I have been authorized to share:


As my mother would say, "TMI." Happy Friday! Don't not-do anything you'd regret this weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ooga Booga and Other Caveman Anniversary Sentiments

I am pre-writing and scheduling this so that it posts while Mr. W and I are on the road. See, I don't want him to know about the sneaky (and likely to be terrifying) surprise I have for our one-year wedding anniversary trip to San Luis Obispo this weekend.

Right around the time of our ceremony last year, Mr. W informed me that he had booked The Caveman Room at the Madonna Inn (where we got engaged) for our first anniversary. I cannot believe it's already time for the trip. The last 365 days have absolutely flown by. 

I made a joke back then about how The Caveman Room (yes, I believe it warrants initial caps) would not be complete without costumery. So I got to work figuring out how I could possibly construct a loincloth for my poor, darling, shy husband.

A couple weeks ago, I remembered that I had more than one article of leopard-print clothing in my Halloween bin in the garage. So I rifled through it one day, found a dress and a skirt (both velvet, tres chic) and cut and sewed them into proper caveman and woman attire.

Mr. W is probably going to have a stroke when I whip these out of my suitcase.

Even if I can get him drunk enough to put on the homemade Tarzan Banana Hammock, (again, initial caps totally necessary there) I will not be posting pictures. You all can just use your imagination.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taking Inventory

When I worked at the coffeehouse in college, one of my oh-so-important managerial duties was to handle the weekly inventory of pastries, coffee, to-go supplies and retail goods. My parents had purchased their very first PC at home, so I laid out spreadsheets on the computer and took them into work to make my task more official and efficient.

Sure, there were days when we would find ourselves devoid of blueberry bagels, or running to the store for more dijon mustard, but for the most part, me and my sheets kept everything well stocked and running smoothly.

Last weekend, I found myself thinking of those old days as I pored over our pantry contents and wrote up my grocery list. Again, I am the taker of inventory. With Mr. W working such crazy hours, it is my sole responsibility to make sure our kitchen runs smoothly.

But how about our marriage? Should we have an inventory checklist there as well?

I think the answer is Yes.

Next Monday is our one-year anniversary. I can't believe how quickly the year has passed, yet when I think back to that special day, it feels like an eternity ago. And when I open our relationship cupboards and start tallying up the contents, I'm happy to say we seem to be balancing supply and demand quite well.

If I take a step back and look at an even wider perspective of my life, I can see that I'm also amply stocked when it comes to family, friends, free time, creative projects, house projects, and new dining experiences. The travel column could probably use a couple more tic marks in it. And although exercise is happening regularly, I could certainly do more—particularly because my circle of activity every day exists within the space between our driveway and backyard. Money could use a little restocking, as well, but right now I'm willing to trade smaller checks for bigger chunks of downtime.

Just as the coffeehouse depended on me to keep it filled and functioning, I think I have a personal responsibility to keep my life full and humming with the things that make me happy. I'm the only one who can see when supplies are running low, and I'll only notice if I regularly complete my inventory sheets. Thankfully, I've learned how to keep track of them in my head instead of having to deal with those pesky Excel documents.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What We're Making: A Coffee-Cocktail-Table

You guys, all I want to do in this post is make dirty jokes. About Mr. W. And wood. 

On top of that, I'm watching Grease right now and singing "Beauty School Drop-out" as I type. Heaven knows where this post will go... 

Anyway, back to Mr. Wonderful's morning wood. Ooops did I just type that? I meant woodworking skills. 

Let's back up. 

For many years, Mr. W had a sort of sad-looking plain old black modern, cube-y coffee table that may or may not have been from IKEA. He talked for a long time about making a new table with a more stylish aesthetic, and this past fall he drew up a design sort of based on the Herman Miller Nelson bench:


Mr. W loves mid-century stuff and has made my love for it blossom, as well. (Avoiding a wood joke right now.)

Anyway, as part of his design process, he decided to go with walnut for the top. Which meant we had these planks of walnut in our guest room for about a month as they acclimated to the humidity in our house. Here's a before picture of the table pieces:

And here's the brown beauty after construction:

Although I didn't do anything instrumental in the building of it, I did help stain and varnish it. I love how each plank is slightly different. It's so pretty when the light hits it.

The first night we brought it into the house after it dried, I scratched it with a loose screw on the bottom of my laptop. I just said screw. And bottom. When talking about wood... I can't hold it in, I'm sorry.

It's definitely the most beautiful piece of furniture we have in our living room. Probably in the whole house. Mr. W sure is good with wood.

Now excuse me while I get back to Danny Zuko and American Bandstand at the school dance.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My 15 Minutes

Well guys, last night may have been my pinnacle. I may never again achieve the kind of fame I enjoyed 18 hours ago. Even before The Bachelor: The Women Tell All episode aired on the west coast, I was getting reports from friends on Facebook that they had seen me on their big screens. I had officially made it. 

When I arrived to my sister's house for her weekly Bachelor viewing party, and my niece brought out a sequined prom dress she had purchased (but intends to return), I did the only thing a proper celebrity could think of doing. I put on the prom dress myself and answered the door for some of the party guests. 

Then I posed for a picture holding the Bachelor Ben sign and chocolate rose my sister has handy at every one of her Monday-night events. 

Don't ask about the inexplicable mini Christmas tree on the right that's covered in Valentine's decorations. I have no answers for you.

Our group of viewers was watching the episode on a slight delay, so my only indicator that my dear friend SBW and I had made it on the close-up cam was a text from her that said "WOW" about an hour into the show. When we finally got around to that scene, everyone in the room cheered. I fist-pumped. It was glorious.

After several more sightings, I came home to find Mr. W perched on the couch fast forwarding through the show, looking for his starlet bride. I offered him an autograph, but he politely declined. 

Sadly, when I woke up this morning, I was back to being a slipper-wearing, cat-talking-to, home-working face in the crowd. My fifteen minutes were officially up.

The history books may not ever credit me with curing cancer or inventing calorie-free wine and cheese, but at least my Wikipedia page will tell the tale of the girl who got zoomed in on four times during Bachelor Season 16's Women Tell All

An endeavor most people would die to have on their lifetime achievement list.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Old Job vs. New Job

Just another day at the office... Just kidding. Those are actually Mr. W's feet. My mom knitted me
a pair of slippers and I made him try them on because he needs a new pair more than I do.
We could barely get them on and off his big old meaty ham hocks. Thankfully, they fit me just fine.

This week, I had dinner with my old coworkers and as we went around the table trading tales of our new positions, I found myself weighing the pros and cons of my current situation and my previous one.

In my new job, I get to write from my living room. I don't have a commute. I don't have other people annoying me with their quirky habits and strange bodily noises. I have ample time to exercise every morning and I can take a little longer getting ready if I want—all I need to do is set my laptop on the bathroom sink and it's like I'm right there in the office. If Mr. W sends me an IM asking me to put his laundry in the dryer or go find a bank statement for him, I can do it in a flash. I can sit next to my open sliding glass door and listen to the neighbor practicing piano. I can make myself smoothies after lunch. I can sing a song to my cat (although I probably would have done that at Yahoo! too). I can run to get my hair cut in the middle of the day. I can burp loudly whilst drinking my morning Dr. Pepper.

Oh and I should mention that all of the people at my new company are super nice. Everyone seems motivated to do a good job and keep the little agency running at top speed.

Yet, still I find myself missing the old gig.

At my old job, the people in my department were like family. I would share anything and everything with them, on a weekly or daily basis. I knew I could talk to them about the exciting stuff, the hard stuff, the silly stuff. And I thoroughly enjoyed their company (except when I was tired or grumpy and didn't want to talk to other humans). If I didn't have any work to do for the day, I STILL GOT PAID. It didn't matter that I was really only writing for 4 hours a day—I was getting paid for the entire day. And I had amazing benefits and a good retirement plan. I knew the client inside and out and felt comfortable voicing my opinion and asking questions when I didn't understand the reasoning behind something. I felt very safe every day at work (well, except for maybe that one day my wallet got stolen off my desk, but every other day was cool).

And maybe that's part of why it was time for me to go. Maybe this fish had outgrown her pond.

Mr. Wonderful has been working until midnight an 1 a.m. every night this week. One night as he was crawling into bed, he told me he missed me. I agreed tenfold and reminded myself that I should be thankful I don't have to work hours like that or catch up on every little To Do on the weekends. I may only be billing 15 hours a week right now, but what I'm lacking in compensation, I'm making up for in free time.

But I still miss my old coworkers.

Maybe Mr. W can pretend to be one after he wraps his movie and is home with me during the day. Or maybe he'll let me get a few more cats to keep me company...