Of wish lists and sequined outfits

One week from today is my 30th birthday.

Instead of putting down New Year’s Resolutions, I’m simply putting my intentions out there for my 30th year. As a friend of mine put it after listing all the things she wanted in a relationship, “it never hurts to ask”. So for my birthday (and beyond), my list of intentions:

  • Find an occasion to wear all the fancy clothes I got over Christmas.
  • Don’t stifle my passions in the name of practicality. If I’m physically and financially able, go for it.
  • Laugh more. Mostly at myself.
  • Put on some lipstick more often.
  • Don’t let the bastards get me down.
  • Work a little magic in someone else’s life.
  • Say “yes”.
  • Don’t interpret ignorance as hate.
  • Perform a “digital detox” at least once this year.
  • Keep the dining room table clean (this is far more difficult than it sounds).
  • Get the art print we bought last February framed.
  • Volunteer at least once this year with an organization that supports a cause I can get behind.
  • Soften the edges of my opinions when expressing them to someone else.

Also a viewing of “13 Going On 30″ is necessary. And Boy is taking me to a Monster Truck rally to mark my birthday. Vroom vroom!

XOXO!

Of fathers and the advice they offer

Lately when I’ve been talking to people, I’ve noticed a lot of “My dad told me…” or “He instilled in me…”.  After almost losing him this year, I’ve taken what he’s taught me more to heart than ever. Since I love lists, here’s a list of things I’ve learned from my dad.

*Dress for the job you want, not the job you have

*Be grateful for the small gestures. It still means that person cares enough to try.

*Pick your battles.

*Basic self defense.

*The ins and outs of the working world, especially our industry.

*Recognizing when I’m getting frustrated and when to walk away.

*If someone breaks my heart, no matter how much he likes said person, he wouldn’t give a second thought to killing them, burying them face down in a shallow grave, and making sure that person is never heard from again. ;)

*Don’t take the world too seriously.

*Getting older is required, growing up is optional.

*You can never say “I love you” too much.

*The strength to take a deep breath, get up, and keep going.

*If you insist on throwing things during a tantrum, make sure it’s soft and you’re not aiming at anything living.

*Graveyard humor (as it were).

*There’s no shame in sobbing into someone’s shirt (read: his)

*Know your flaws and be patient with yourself. Don’t let someone else bring out the worst in you.

*Laugh

Now is the time to start planning something ridiculously over the top for his 60th birthday. I’m thinking Vegas. ;)

XOXO!

Of years and reviewing them

Sorry I’ve been off the radar, fair readers. Nothing has blown up & no one has died. I just didn’t really have much to say.

Here’s my obligatory round up of 2014. I won’t go so far as to say it was the worst year of my life. It’s probably in the top five, though. So begins the breakdown, by month.

January:

Birthday month! I love birthdays, especially mine. I began the last year of the second decade of my life. And there were deviled eggs. On the flip side, I still couldn’t drive and this was with ClusterFlake 1.0. Thus, I ended up stuck in 2 cars over the course of give or take 10 hours. Even if I could drive, I still probably would have camped out at my office. That’s neither here nor there.

Final Review: Meh

February:

Found out my dad had the brain tumor. I also still couldn’t drive. ClusterFlake 2.0.

Final Review: Fail

March:

Was officially back on the roads! Yay! On the third, my dad had his brain surgery. Less that a week later, he was back in the hospital. This began Month One of his hospital stay. Being able to drive again bumps this month up from “fail” to “meh”.

Final Review: Meh

April:

Month Two of my dad being in the hospital. This was the time where my heart jumped into my throat every time I got a text message or my phone rang. This was also when my very first boyfriend died suddenly. I still don’t know officially what killed him, but it was either a heart attack or a stroke. He had just turned 30 two months prior.

Boy & I did go to Vegas this month. Again, that bumps it up from a “fail” to a “meh”.

Final Review: Meh

May:

Dad finally got out of the hospital for good. No more near heart attacks when my phone would ring or I’d get a text.

Final Review: Win

June:

The now infamous trip to Bonnaroo. In retrospect, it was pretty funny. At the time, not. at. all. It ate up 4 of my vacation days which I would have liked to use later.

On the other hand, my dad got to see his 59th birthday. That alone gives it the win.

Final Review: Win

July:

…It was a month.

Final Review: Meh

August:

Boy & I traveled up to Minnesota to visit my sister. We had fun watching life in the northern Midwest. Oh, shut the front door.

Final Review: Win

September:

The first day of September marked the last day of DragonCon. I didn’t have nearly as good of a time as I did in 2013. Otherwise, I have no use for the month of September. It’s the Tuesday of the year.

Final Review: Meh

October:

My dad, sister, Boy, & I went up to visit my dad’s side of the family. We had a blast, Boy got to see our unique brand of crazy, and we introduced them to Cards Against Humanity. My dad was also well enough to work Netherworld & even had a few standing roles (after a double hip replacement, it’s no small feat). We also had our biggest Halloween to date with 425 adoring fans.

Final Review: Win

November:

I was reassigned to a new boss, leaving behind my old one. This was a huge blow for both of us. Boy went with my family to see my mom’s side for Thanksgiving. It could have been a lot more boring, but I still wasn’t a fan. He had no problems with them. I’m unfairly biased against them after some particularly cruel comments my grandfather made regarding my tattoos. The end result was my refusal to visit them for the better part of 6 years.

Getting a new boss overshadows everything else in the month, thus a fail

Final Review: Fail

December (with 7 days left):

Still in the process of working out the kinks in my relationship with my new boss. I have to keep reminding myself he’s a 28 year old boy. He may look like he’s in his 40s, but looks can be deceiving. He’s very good at coming off as overly superior & a bit meglomaniacal. I let him push my buttons all too frequently. He did, however, manage to get rid of my (third) dead weight employee.

I did take the chance to get my old boss a Christmas present & write a card that came straight from my heart. I cried while I wrote it. I know that may sound silly, but losing a mentor is never easy. Obi Wan Kenobi, anyone? Sure, he’s not dead & we still sit 10 feet away from each other. It’s just not the same. I got a hug after he read it. Mission accomplished.

If you follow me on Instagram (RetroIndieQueen) you’ve already seen my Christmas present. Boy got me a kitten. She’s epileptic (yes, I’m a sucker) & the shelter was worried they’d have a hard time getting her adopted. When she was originally adopted out, she started having seizures and the original adopter brought her back. She needs her meds twice a day just like I do. She’s even on one of the same drugs. We were more than happy to take her in. As I write this, she’s snoozing away on the other end of the couch. Cassie has accepted her, even though she doesn’t want to play. She’s too old for that shit.

Conditional final review: Win

As can be seen from the above, this wasn’t my year. While nothing directly happened to me other than the driving restriction, it still took a lot out of me. Without any embellishment, my dad almost died. My relationship with my boss died suddenly in the metaphorical sense. I’ll be mourning that loss for a while. At least nothing major happened with Boy.

I’ll turn 30 in 17 days. I like that my birthday is close to the beginning of the year. It’s nice to be able to almost match a new year for the Julian Calendar with my own new year. One girl I know from elementary school turned 30 last weekend and posted about how “scary” it was. I’m looking forward to it. I’m grateful to say that I’ll see another birthday. Emily will never see her 30th birthday. She didn’t even get to see her 25th. Jeff saw his 30th birthday, but not for long.

There are lots of possibilities waiting for me in the next few months. Some are exciting and at the same time intimidating. I kept a promise to myself and followed through with my end of the deal. Whatever happens next is out of my control. It would be really nice if it panned out, though.

C’mon 2015, I know you have it in you.

XOXO!

Of the choices we make and the consequences they bring

Be warned: This entry is heavy. If you’re not having a good day, I’d skip this one.

Facebook is both a strange and sad animal.

As happens when we get nostalgic, I was tagged in a Homecoming picture from high school. There are 8 of us in the picture. Seven of us have spent the past decade graduating college, getting married, having babies, or just trying to figure out what the hell it means to be a grown up. The 8th person in the picture was murdered a little under 5 years ago by the married man she was seeing.

After looking at the picture, it made me stand back and survey where I’m sitting. I put myself in situations where I easily could have been seriously injured or killed. Through some minor miracle, nothing bad happened to me. I very well could have not seen my 26th birthday. I may not have been a stripper or a heroin addict, but my life choices could have led me down a similar path. I could have been just another headline. But I’m not.

I feel like I’ve spent most of 2014 in tears. In spite of all the pain and the moments where I gladly would have taken a bullet between the eyes, I didn’t fall back on my old habits. I didn’t drink. I didn’t scratch or cut myself. I refused to let that part of myself win. My greatest weakness can also be my greatest strength. I kept reminding myself that I’d clawed my way out of hell before. I’ve suffered. I’ve been bent. I never broke.

I firmly believe a lot of depressed people don’t give themselves enough credit. Even if you can’t force yourself to sit up in bed, you’re still breathing. You haven’t given up yet. You haven’t left the pillow over your face in the hope that it will smother you. It sounds silly to give your autonomic nervous system credit, but it’s not. It’s still doing its job. You’re not dead yet. Some days, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. I don’t believe in half hearted suicide attempts. I believe that there are ill conceived suicide attempts, but never half hearted ones. Raise your hand if you’ve tried something you knew was a bad idea and lived to tell about it anyway. I thought so. Give yourself the itty bitty bit of validation that you’re still breathing. As I said, a bullet between the eyes might be a gift from God some days. Other days, when the ol’ brain chemistry is normalizing, you can look around, take in all that you have, and smile.

Whether you’re fighting for yourself or someone else right now, hang in there. Keep converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. Sooner or later, you’ll find a door that leads to somewhere better.

*cue Gloria Gaynor*

You will survive.

XOXO!

Of being the one doing the talking off the ledge and 90 day time limits

I, of all people, have reached my moment of zen.

The transitional week is over. All the (virtual) paperwork has been done & we’re all officially reporting to J. Over the past week, he’s been trying to acclimate himself to our area. He managed to piss off my staff twice in 2 days. I’m the queen of putting my foot in my mouth, but he made me look like a shining example of tact. In all fairness, my staff had a right to be pissed. The powers that be wanted to make a change in the work hours. Currently the phone until is 9-6 & our area is 730-430. The powers that be wanted to move everyone from 9-6 for consistency. J told me this first & I knew it wasn’t going to go over well at all. I kept my mouth shut & let my staff speak for themselves. One has another job & the other is a single parent. The way J presented it was…less good. His reaction to their objections came off as dismissive. Ultimately, he agreed to see if he could negotiate different hours. The compromise was 8-5. That still didn’t go over well. Again, they objected. This time, he came across as just insulting. Instead of getting pissed at him, I let it go. It’s not worth fighting with him after less than a week. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

He eats, breathes, & lives his job. He doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone is like that. I got an email from him sent at 1 in the morning. I about fell out of my chair when I saw the time stamp. I spoke to my staff & told them to give it 90 days. If after 90 days, the schedule isn’t working out or they flat out aren’t happy, I would support whatever decision they made. Through all of this, I’ve been the calm one. The world hasn’t stopped rotating on its axis, but I had to check a few times to be sure.

The more Old Boss & I talked over the course of the week, the more I agreed this could be a positive change. I don’t think J is the asshole he came across. This situation has actually brought out the best in me. I haven’t thrown a temper tantrum. I’ve been the one encouraging everyone else to be open minded & give it time. I’m prepared to talk to J if I need to about how he keeps upsetting my staff. Y’all, I’M BEING A GROWN UP!

Yes, ponder that for a moment. My crippling self doubt hasn’t shown up at all. I realize this isn’t a personal affront. I’ve survived far, far worse than a management change. This is a mud puddle compared to the volcanic craters I’ve dragged myself out of this past year. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I feel like I should be pissed off, but I’m not. I’m accepting it for what it is. It spurred a much needed change. Life doesn’t have a reset button, but it might have a 6 second rewind button. That’s all I need.

In other news, I’m a dark brunette. Go new hair!

XOXO!

Of new bosses and the things that change will bring

This week brought a very unpleasant blow.

I won’t be reporting to my current boss any more.

There was a reorganization as happens frequently in Corporate America. Thursday morning, my boss told me that my group would be consolidated with the related phone unit under a new manager. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know just how much I love my boss. I literally had to walk away from my desk to go cry. After I cleaned myself up, my knee jerk reaction was “I’m quitting! I’m looking for a new job right. this. second!”. Not a very mature way to handle something like that, eh? After the shock wore off a bit, I was able to think a little more reasonably.

My new boss (J) is the guy I’ve mentioned being jealous of because he was promoted to a higher position before I was. Recently, I overheard him talking about the stress that said job is causing. I felt sorry for him and offered a suggestion he might want to try (Walk away from your desk to eat lunch. Sit in your car if you have to). I doubt he took my advice, but I shared it nonetheless. As I thought more about it, he seems pretty chill. If he gets flustered, he’s good at keeping it inside. I’m…not. There’s about 8 weeks left in the year. I decided to give it until then to see if we work out. If we don’t, then I’ll move on. If we do, yay! In the meeting where this was officially announced, he looked a bit like a deer in headlights. This is a change for him because he’s jumping into an area he knows almost nothing about. I’ve already been working on the whole “think before you speak” bit & I’ve resolved to do my best to help him out as he’s learning.

My staff was also cut as a result of the change. I went from four to two direct reports. The two I lost don’t relate to this new group at all. Of course, I took it personally. I was lamenting to my dad how, once again, I felt like a crappy manager. He offered up a cliche, but very solid advice.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

When I first started, I looked to the head of the department and did my best to emulate her level of sartorial choices. My (now former) boss’ boss never wears khakis and a polo shirt even though I see one of the CEOs sporting that outfit all the time. My wardrobe choices have relaxed into the level that most other people are wearing. I wore my version of a suit when I thought I would have to go in front of the other CEO (take two, they’re small). I felt good knowing that I looked professional. My boss complimented me on dressing for the occasion even though I didn’t end up going. I’d been putting off updating my work wardrobe anyway, so I took this as the kick in the ass I needed. I assessed my current wardrobe, made a list of what would fill it out, and went on my merry way. Now I have enough pieces to wear plenty of combinations of professional outfits during the week. My “casual Friday” look will elevate from jeans to J.Crew pants.

The second positive change is I finally asked if I could take another licensing exam. I’ve been going back and forth about asking. It’s a very specific exam only applicable to one department. I have to be willing to put a target on my back once I have this exam under my belt should they need another person in that area. Prior to my promotion, my boss had been strongly suggesting I try to get into that department. It would afford me a ton of opportunities to learn more about the business. I’m an expert in my little bubble, emphasis on the little, but don’t know much about how the rest of the company functions. I finally went to the head of the department, asked to take the exam, and she approved it. They foot the bill for study materials and the fee for the exam. If I fail, I’m on the hook for the fee after that. I know my competitive nature will kick in and I’ll want to keep my streak of passing each exam on the first try. In glancing at the outline, it’s fairly basic. They’ll just try to trick me on those “All of the following are true except…” questions. Sneaky, sneaky securities industry.

Even if I don’t report to my former boss any more, I’ll still have him as a mentor, a work neighbor, and even a friend. As much as I’m averse to change, perhaps this one will work out after all.

XOXO!

Of dead circus performers and overly sappy heroines: Review of “The Immortal Circus” by A. R. Kahler

I thought I’d mix things up a bit & review the latest book I finished. Be warned – there will probably be spoilers.

The premise had a lot of promise as a murder mystery nestled into a supernatural circus. It didn’t live up to that promise.

The heroine, Vivienne, joins this circus for an unknown reason. Her memory has somehow been erased & she can’t remember exactly why she joined in the first place. It’s narrated in first person present. Personally, I find that a rather irritable tense to read. It’s a challenging tense to work with & I’ve yet to find an author who could do it well. A. R. Kahler is no exception. Vivienne reminded me way too much of Ana from 50 Shades of Grey. I’m sure part of it was the tense because 50 Shades is also written in FPP. Vivienne also couldn’t shut up about how hot the male lead was (is?). Add some whips & chains and we’ve got the supernatural sibling of 50 Shades. Ew.

After 2 chapters, we’ve heard about how sexy Kingston is at least a dozen times. Yes, we get it. Now shut up and give us something vaguely resembling a plot. Take my hand if we be friends and I shalt not giveth thee a plot.  Kahler plucked Mab & Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream & plopped them down almost wholesale as the leaders of warring “courts”. Mab is the leader of the Winter Court and Oberon is the leader of the Summer Court even though he never appears in the book. Of the whole cast, I felt like Mab had the most development. That was probably because Shakespeare had done most of the heavy lifting to begin with. There are about half a dozen other named characters, but the most development they’re given are their positions in the circus. Even Vivienne, Kingston, and Melody (Kingston’s lovely assistant) aren’t developed enough to care about. Kahler is a relatively new author & it shows. If he’d spent more time building each character & less time on Vivienne wondering how she can get some Kingston action, it would have elevated the book at least one level. I can’t help but compare it to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. She was also a debut author with a similar theme. Even though the ending was a deus ex machina (love that term!), it was forgivable because the rest of the book was that good. Her setting was absolutely spellbinding. His was good, but not nearly as good as hers.

The Immortal Circus was the kind of book I had to force myself to finish. It was a hair under 250 pages which was do-able for me. If it had run 300+ pages, I would have put it down never to pick it up again. After I finished the book, I discovered it was released as a serial for Kindle. That explained the jarring endings for each chapter. It felt like someone trying to learn how to drive a manual transmission car on a hill. Always wear your seatbelt, kiddies. This wasn’t a “stay up way past my bedtime to read another chapter” book. This was a “throw it in my purse & half read it during my lunch break” kind of book. It’s a shame because it could have been so much more. I was left with no desire to read the next two. Guess the show will go on without me.

Final Rating (out of 5): 2.5

XOXO!