Road Trip!

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I just returned from a fantastic road trip to Chicago, which I took with my friend Nisha who is a rising senior in high school and explorer of colleges. By the numbers, this weekend I:

* drove nearly 1,000 miles
* ate exactly 1.5 slices of Chicago deep dish pizza
* sat 150 ft up in the air on the Navy Pier ferris wheel
* spent exactly 33 minutes dipping my toes into Lake Michigan
* devoured 1.5 slices of stuffed French Toast while visiting my cousin Jenna
* walked over 15 miles in three days, while touring both Evanston and Chicago
* bought exactly 0 shirts at Top Shop on Michigan Avenue
* told one very handsome barista that he had a gorgeous voice
* drove on exactly two sidewalks at Northwestern’s campus
* purchased two University of Chicago shirts (one for me, one for Nisha)

Fun times were had by all. We never ran out of things to discuss and laugh about, and we found two great possible colleges. We both learned that Chicago is a wonderful city, and savored every moment…even when our feet hurt and we were exhausted and/or sweaty.

Now, if only we didn’t have to return to reality.

We’re All Aliens

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We’re about a quarter of the way into our month with guests. And we’re having a wonderful time — it’s fun to see San Francisco and even America through the eyes of someone from a different part of the world. We’ve shared stories, laughed about cultural differences, and created good memories.

It’s also made me revisit a basic fact that I sometimes forget. We’re all aliens, walking through the world. Our understanding of our environment and especially others is partial at best. Our personal filters cloud our ability to see other viewpoints, and to communicate.

There’s so much that we don’t see, or that we simply infer. We have huge blind spots. We ignore things to simplify our lives, and we also make assumptions that can negatively impact the quality of our lives. And we often don’t even know we’re doing it.

One other observation is that the act of “unwinding” from stress and time pressure can change our perspective. As I’ve de-stressed over the past few months, I’ve been far more open to emotion, and connections with others. Photos of an old friend getting married made me cry – and connections with my friends have become so much more important.

It’s good to have this concrete reminder of our alien nature – that communication isn’t perfect, perception isn’t the same, and that we’re all speaking different languages with different context even if the words are the same.

Nanu, nanu.

Radio Silence

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Just because I haven’t been posting doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I drove to Oregon, went to a fantastic wedding, cycled at Crater Lake, and I rode in the rain. I’ve taken several waterfall photos. I hosted friends at our house, and cooked dinners for 6. I attended new sales leader training class, and met peers from around the world…we also drank a few beers together. I pulled together an account plan and started making customer contacts.

In other words, I’ve been busy with life. I’m in a cycle where I might not be posting much to Facebook or WordPress over the next two to three weeks, simply because I am occupied and my time is spoken for.

What’s on the docket for this week? On-boarding into my second account. A Wednesday redeye trip to Ohio to visit colleges with Nisha. More evening dinners with our visiting Danes. Some non-profit volunteering and a Women’s conference at work. And perhaps some unplanned adventures.

What’s missing? Most importantly, time on my bicycle and in the gym…as well as personal time to read and reflect and even write on this blog. Let’s hope mid-August brings a bit more time to engage in these activities.

Until then, please carry about your business.

Harrying Hummy

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We’ve had a hummingbird feeder hanging from our deck for about a year now, since we first moved into our new house. I find it fun to feed both the hummingbirds and the song birds – their chirping wakes me in the morning, and their nightly feeding rituals entertain me while I’m cooking dinner.

About three weeks ago, I purchased a new feeder and hung it by our sliding glass door so that it’s in easy view of our family room and kitchen. We’ve lured enormous amounts of hummingbirds directly to our window and often within 5 feet of us. It’s been amazing to watch their antics and their capacity to consume sugar water.

And then we were visited by Harry the Hummy. Harry decided the feeder was meant for him and no other bird. He screeches out warning chirps to any other hummy who approaches, and buzzes in hot pursuit if any bird comes too close to his personal stash of sugar water. He’s loud, he’s pushy, and Harry spends so much energy and time protecting “his” feeder that he barely gets to eat himself. I’m assuming he has a nest somewhere, but he’s at our feeder from morning to night.

It’s a job for Harry the Hummy, and I decided it was time to lighten his load. I took our feeder down to encourage him to move on, and it took him a solid 24 hours to realize his bottomless well of sugar wasn’t coming back. He finally departed, enabling me to put the feeder back in place so that all our birds could share the food.

And yet, today he’s returned. Harry the Hummy has a monkey on his back, and it’s called Wendy’s sugar water.

Why can’t we all just get along and share?

Adult Tantrum

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The moment when you realize that you’ve reverted to your Terrible Threes. The world is not going your intended direction, and you start to get a little huffy. As the pressure builds, you snap at your significant other. You stomp around the house a bit, ball your hands into fists and start to breathe hard. If you were a cat, you would be hissing. If you were a puffer fish, you’d be HUGE.

I had my adult tantrum last night….I didn’t want to cook dinner, and everything I wanted to eat was not within my diet. I was hungry and petulant, which is never a good combination. And there might have been a good dose of PMS-related hormones added in for incendiary value. It wasn’t pretty, and when the storm passed I apologized profusely.

My newest life goal is to minimize these moments…the temper tantrums don’t do anyone any good. They raise my blood pressure because I am not, in fact, a puffer fish. They make me look like a diva (in the worst sense of the word) and I deeply suspect that they stress out both Per and my cat.

Not my proudest moment, but owning up to it makes it real and manageable.

201st Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Commit the Adult Tantrum. Words to live by.

Childless Ruminations

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I’ll probably come back to this topic several times in different ways over the next several months. Most of my friends are either working on having their first kids, or their second kids, or working on raising the kids they already have. I’m really happy for them — the babies are cute, the toddlers are even cuter, and the older kids have captured pieces of my heart.

Meanwhile, I have a boyfriend but I’m in no rush to get married, and I just renewed my birth control prescription. If I could have gotten the 5 year prescription I would have — I have absolutely no plans for ditching the birth control.

So, what’s wrong with me? I should be in a rush to get married and have some kids. I’m 37, which means that I’m towards the end of my biological pregnancy window. I have a steady relationship with someone I really love. I even co-own a house with said boyfriend, where we have 4 bedrooms…which, if we tried, we could probably sandwich six kids into. Not that we could afford to have 6 kids in the Bay Area…but we’d have space for six little beds.

Let me tell you what’s NOT wrong with me. I don’t hate kids. I’m also not selfish to the point where I couldn’t imagine giving up personal time to be a mom. I have a strong relationship – I love Per and trust him, and he’d probably make a better dad than I’d be a mom. I could afford to have a kid or two — it would slow down retirement, but I could make the budget work. And, to my knowledge, I believe I’m capable of having babies (my Gynecologist seems to think I should be).

In summary, there’s nothing structural preventing me from having kids. I have the money, time, capability, and resources to become a mother if I should choose to do so. Sure, it might be hard and would require tradeoffs…but it’s possible.

So, what’s wrong with me? The short answer is that I am simply happy with my life as is. I’ve never looked at a baby or one of my friend’s children and wanted one. I’ve never dreamed of being a parent. And parenthood is resource intensive…doing it right takes tons of hours and commitment. I refuse to have a child just because I “should” or “everyone’s doing it” when I don’t really, viscerally want one.

I’ll just enjoy everyone else’s kids and be the cool aunt. And look for other ways to reach self-actualization. From a Darwinian perspective, that means I am absolutely a failed genetic experiment…but from a personal perspective, it feels like the right decision for me.

Going Girlie

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I’ve never really considered myself to be a girlie girl…I’m more likely to wear Tevas than heels, enjoy lycra and cotton over silk, and I often forgo my makeup outside of work. It’s always been this way, except for a blessedly brief spell in 8th grade when I’d invest 90 minutes a day in hair and makeup. I learned pretty quickly that I preferred sleep to curling iron and hairspray. In my 30’s, I improved on this trend by limiting my trips to the hairdresser to once per year.

I was the bookish Tomboy growing up, although I hated organized sports. In college, I was the female Engineer seeking to blend in. As a young professional, I was the woman working in manufacturing doing men’s jobs. I’ve never been unfeminine, but I haven’t really gone out of my way to flaunt my female assets.

Recently, I’ve been making a bit more of an effort to enjoy my feminine side. I’ve been wearing richer fabrics, more fitted clothes, using eyeliner and more lipstick…and in mid-June I even got a manicure. My nails are no longer bitten down to the quick, and it makes me more willing to think that hands might be something to show off, rather than something to hide.

These small changes might have opened the door for others to appreciate me more, too. I got called “beautiful” and “gorgeous” today by two complete strangers, in two separate interactions. The compliments made me glow. It’s not often that complete strangers say nice things.

I’m trying some new things. The ones that don’t take too much time could even stick…which might make me seem a bit more girlie than usual.

I’m not giving up the lycra, though.

Illusion of Choice

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I live in San Francisco, arguably the tech capital of the world…and perhaps the Universe. I have choices for where I work, and lots of job mobility thanks to both my training and my location. I was able to find a new job quickly, when I quit somewhat unexpectedly in April. Companies in this area offer reasonable health care, in order to compete for top talent.

Many of the people who work at Hobby Lobby, and many other substantially privately owned companies, may not have these choices. They might work in a more economically depressed area, or might not have the skills to have their pick of corporate jobs. They might work in retail and make minimum wage, or in the back office and make only slightly more. They might work in small towns with limited options for employment, or they might need a job that’s close to home because they can’t afford a long commute.

If the company offers health care, it should be good health care…not care that judges the individual for health choices. Covering Viagra and not birth control makes no sense, and excluding IUDs seems nonsensical. In the absence of universal single-payor health care (which I support), a minimal access to care including responsible reproductive health options makes sense. It enables employee choice — and if it allows an employee to prevent a pregnancy so they can contribute more hours to their company…so much the better.

The SCOTUS ruling this week troubled me. We are a nation formed under the ideal of providing opportunities and freedoms to our citizens — the freedom to make reproductive decisions, the freedom to manage your health care without corporate interference. Our laws should protect the weakest among us — those who don’t have access to broad resources, or job choices, or employers — and enable them to lead healthy happy lives to the extent that government can promote the happiness of its citizens.

I think we fell somewhat short of our goals on this issue.