Category Archives: misadventures

Loss of a Pet

I got home from the gym in a great mood. I went to the bird room, took Max out for some pets and to make lunch for the day, and then went back in to refill waters and food bowls.

I thought he was sleeping, then I went to refill his food and water and Max yelled and he didn’t move. I pet him and he didn’t move. I yelled for my boyfriend, “Cameron!! Cameron there’s something wrong with Pico!” he came running, started prying him off his doughnut, I started crying, and told me he was still warm. Pico was moving so slow, something was so wrong. I called my coworker and told her I’d be late that something was wrong with one of my birds.

I thought maybe he needed water so I filled a cup to the brim and we put his face in it, then we ran the shower and I put Max in a safe place and I called an animal hospital, where the automated message said to call “this number” for emergencies and I had to re-dial because I didn’t know I needed a pen. Still crying. Got the number, rinsed off, put on clothes that didn’t smell, and started driving with my baby in a hand towel.

Six minutes in to my ten minute drive, Pico stopped moving and he felt so hard and so cold and his eyes weren’t blinking and his tongue was practically laying out of his beak and I knew he was gone.
I started screaming and bawling and I called Cameron. I called him on the phone and I screamed his name and I begged him to pick up. No answer. Again. No answer. Again. No Answer. Crying, screaming, feeling hopeless stuck in traffic wondering how my bird could just leave me like this. We were so close, and he was already gone. He called me back, I yelled at him that Pico was dead and I didn’t know what to do . He said I still needed to go to the animal hospital. I did, and after about a minute they came back in and confirmed my worst dread; he didn’t make it. Cameron finished putting Max’s cage elsewhere and was on his way. I texted my coworker that my bird had died. I cried harder.

A nurse came out with Pico and I looked at her, looked at him, started crying and asked her if she could just keep him back there “‘Til my boyfriend gets here. I can’t, I’m sorry, I just can’t see him like this again right now”. And then another nurse came in and gave me a hug and told me that we had at least given him a good home. And then the doctor came in and I asked if she knew what happened and how we could find out why he was gone. She said we could do a necropsy and I told her that I’d make decisions when Cameron got there.

Then another nurse came back in and asked if I wanted his ashes back. I told her I didn’t know, that Cameron would decide when he got there.

All these people and all these questions and I just wanted to curl in a ball and hide and cry and I wanted Pico back and I wanted to be alone and I wanted Cameron and I couldn’t stop crying.

Cameron got there and I told him I was sorry and I cried a lot and he was so much stronger than me and he made all the decisions and we paid for the shipment for the necropsy and gave them our address for billing and then I cried some more. I went home, told my coworker I couldn’t come in, made an appointment for Max to be checked out, got in PJ’s and just sulked and cried. Cameron came home, we took Max to the vet, he was okay and I was so happy and still so worried.

A little less than a week later we got the necropsy results and they were inconclusive. We don’t know why he passed but they said  it wasn’t anything contagious or environmental; which meant Max would be okay. Except I have no closure. I don’t know why Pico was taken from us and without an answer, all I do it worry about Max.

I never saw Pico again. Then, a few days ago, Cameron came home with some packages. He lifted up a small brown box and said, “This is Pico.” and I cried some more. Then, yesterday, I looked at the 3″X3″x3″ cardboard box with postage stamps, picked it up, held it tight, and started crying again.

When Cameron got home I told him we couldn’t keep Pico in a box anymore.

He told me he was going to open the box and I told him I was sorry but that I couldn’t be there when he opened it, so he took it in the bird room, came out with a small silver thing and I asked what it was. He said, “It’s an urn. I’s Pico.” and handed it to me slowly. I took it and I started crying. He held me while I cried for a bit, then I looked at him and cried some more and I said “It’s so small. He’s gone.” and cried some more. I told him I don’t know what to do with him and started rattling off everything you can do with ashes from burying them to turning them into a diamond or a firework. And then I handed him back and he said “I think for now I just want to set him with his doughnut in the cage”, I said okay and he took the doughnut down from hanging, laid it on the floor of the cage and set the urn in the middle. I cried some more.

Even as I’m writing I can’t stop crying. I just miss him and I hurt and I’m sorry because I don’t know why he’s gone and I didn’t get him there fast enough and I could’ve checked on them before I went to the gym and maybe he’s be okay. I can’t stop blaming myself and missing him and being scared for Max and I’m just sad and miserable and depressed and I know it hasn’t even been two weeks but I don’t know when I’ll feel reminiscent instead of miserable.

I just hurt.
Maybe letting this out will help.

I love you, Pico. You were a good bird, a great big brother to Max, and a twinkle in Cameron’s eye. I miss you.

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Dieting: Mixing Two Diet Plans with a Twist

I have been trying to lose weight for about two months now. I estimate my weight gain is because I was injured and had to take a lot of time (6 months) off of my usual workout schedule. Also, potentially because I’ve been medically directed to skip the placebo week of my 28-day birth control packets; so I’m always on active pills which has been known to cause weight gain.
In either case, I’m usually comfortable at 115 lbs even with muscle (mind you, I’m a petitely framed 5’0″), skinniest is about 100, and for the two months that I’ve been trying to eat fairly healthy and definitely have kicked up my exercise, I’ve been stuck at a jiggly 125 lbs.

This changes now.
As of 1/30, starting with breakfast, I am on a diet; well, merging two diet concepts to make them work for me for long-term eating habit changes.

One concept I am working with is to cut carbs, which seems obvious. I plan to allow myself potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn (which I think is a starch, not a carb) on an infrequent basis but am cutting out the very obvious carbs like bread, carby/empty snacks like chips, candy, and the like.
I plan to keep this up very strictly for one month. When my month is up, I will decide how frequently to work these in.

Another diet plan is going vegetarian. Most diet plans that suggest people like me who simply refuse to go full vegetarian try cutting meat one day a week, maybe two. With my intended workout schedule of 5 days a week, I think it’s too risky and potentially detrimental to cut out meat. I realize there are protein substitutes but I need to uncomplicate my meals, not make them harder.
As such, I’ve remodeled this to cutting out meat for breakfast and lunch while eating a meat-hearty dinner.
I plan to keep this part of the diet up for longevity with maybe 3 exception meals a month after the first month.

I am also cutting out dairy where noticeable- like opting out of cheese on salads and butter when not used for cooking (ex, ordered my sweet potato requesting they not serve it with the usual butter).

Essentially, I will be eating fruits, vegetables, and/or eggs for breakfast and lunch and then a 1.5/2 serving helping of meat (or fish) for dinner with a single serving of veggies.

In case you’re interested in my actual food on this diet, I will be exporting my log from fitbit once I have enough data that it seems worth it.
In making my diet work, 85%ish of my fruits and veggies are canned, and my proteins are mostly going to come from ground turkey, sausage/brats, and chicken bought from Costco and then frozen until needed.
I bring a two cans of each (fruit/veggies) to work, freeze (in can) the fruit for 30-45 minutes so it’s cold, and if whatever we’re ordering doesn’t have a good option*, I eat my cans of veggies. My “lunch bag” – a tote- is pretty heavy, but I think it’s gonna be worth it.

(*I work at a doctor’s office so drug reps bring us lunch almost every day.
For money-saving purposes, if I can order something diet appropriate it just makes sense to order rather than eat from my own pocket … err, pantry.)

On Day 1 I explained to my coworkers my new diet- in much shorter terms of course- and am already catching praise for my willpower. So far I’ve already turned down crab rangoons (which are one of my favorites) and have walked by our candy bowls many times without grabbing any. I drink lots of water and when I need a sweet fix I have hot tea, sometimes with honey.

So here’s to my new diet still holding up, and hopefully a month of really sticking to the plan and a long term change for the healthier.
If you’ve got any tips on curbing cravings or recipes you think I should try, please comment below!

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Radical Schedule Change: days 3-9

See previous days and explanation here

Day 3: 1/25

Slept “in” til 7ish, went to a scheduled previously scheduled Dr’s appt before work and got told I probably have a viral infection. Needless to say, waking up early will be on hold until I’m better.

Day 4: 1/26

Still sick. I think yesterday was about the same as today. All kinds of miserable but no fever and since I have my own office, I’m not worried about making everyone else sick. Presenteeism (or showing up even when one should stay home) is a problem in most offices, but in this case, I shouldn’t still be contagious and I told my coworkers to steer clear of my office for the day, just in case. I also left an hour and a half early because my throat was so sore and my coworker said I looked worse than this morning. I went home, turned the heat up, and bundles up.

Day 5: 1/27

Slept it, took Nyquil, slept again, Netflix bined some Grace and Frankie, and napped a lot while eating soup and drinking gatorade. This whole waking up early thing isn’t happening for a while.

Day 6: 1/28

Still not better. I think I’m over the worst of it, but I slept ’til 8 and will let myself sleep in ’til 7 or so tomorrow.

Day 7: 1/29

Well, I’m not all better, but I’m hoping today is the last of it. I slept in ’til 7 and will try waking up at 5:15 tomorrow so as not to shock my sick self too much. I’m hoping a morning workout may also help pump the rest of this virus out of my body.

Day 8: 1/30

I woke up at 5:15, went to the gym, and got some things done around the house. I think  I was too excited to get back into things to realize I was still a little sick. Also had mad sneezes, like 20 per hour, after working out which is new. I was so drained when I got home that by 8pm I was ready for bed; which is not normal.
I also, however, had the world’s craziest day at work with a lot of personal errands to run, and barely had time to eat anything which probably didn’t help.
I’ve decided to sleep in tomorrow to recoup and try again Thursday.

Day 9: 1/31

Slept in, got up around 6:30 and felt a little under the weather again (stuffy/scratchy. Packed a gym bag and did some things around the house, will be waking up at 5/5:30 tomorrow. Still not sure how to tackle Friday since my mom flies in at 9pm and we’re going out when she lands, but I think I can still wake up at 5:30 and pull the night off. So maybe the aim for this week (well, Thursday and Friday pending I keep this virus at bay) will be 5:30 and then I’ll kick it up to 4:30am next week.

 

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Moving In Together

My boyfriend- Cameron- asked me to move in together and I said yes! It was an exciting decision (and also a little disconcerting).
Our official move-in date was Dec 20th (hence my small gap in posts which I sincerely apologize for.)

I’d never lived with a significant other before so I read up on anything and everything I could find about issues to avoid and how to plan and we’d talk about what I found. I love my boyfriend and in the months leading up to moving in together, I was worried about having relationship issues when we moved in since things were so great the way they were. Here’s a few things we discussed beforehand and how, a few weeks in, they seem to be working out:

  1. Finances
    Leading up to moving in, we discussed the obvious things: how much apartment could we afford and how would we be splitting it. Then I got down to the nitty gritty of roping in our restaurant expenses and keeping better track of our groceries and discussing how we’d share those expenses. We also talked about financial obligations already at hand (like my car payments and his GI bill potentially running out before he starts working – he’s a full time student and we may have a few months where he has no income, so we needed to save for that.) I use Mint by Intuit to manage my finances which meant it was easy to just show him my spending and budgets. We also set aside some money and started an Amazon list of what we’d want/need for the apartment (like dressers and maybe a coffee table)
    We tried putting him on my Mint, and it messed my budgets up too much and getting transactions into proper categories wasn’t working. I love Mint, and some couples have succeeded in using it, it just wasn’t working for us- I still use it as an individual.
    We then tried Honeydue – an app that’s specifically for couple’s finances. It allows you to define transactions as a one person, the other, or a shared expense and categorize them. In theory it’s great, but in practice I couldn’t categorize the transactions where they needed to be (like restaurants v.s. the generic “food” category). I asked if they have a web version (which tends to be more user-friendly when it comes to editing), they don’t yet, but I’ll likely try again when they come out with a website that translates to the app (which Mint already does).
    We opened a joint bank account to pay our joint bills, like rent, internet, and utilities, and are going to get a credit card for shared expenses like groceries. We keep track of all transactions to our bank accounts in an excel spreadsheet; incoming and outgoing. He’s an accounting major, which helps a lot.
    Anyway, we’re keeping track pretty well, separately, and we’re going to be setting him up a Mint of his own.
  2. Apartment needs, wants, and stuff
    It was pretty important to me that we have 2 bedrooms and I wanted a second bath but was flexible on that. It was obvious that my birds were coming, and all his tech, so we needed to consider where they’d go. He got full reign of the layout of the living room (his speakers and sound in general was the top of his list) and I didn’t want his desk/computer in our room – I had read that tech in the bedroom is bad for relationships.
    Our furniture merge was pretty simple – I had pretty much none and he had what I didn’t. We out his twin bed in the guest room, bough a queen and a topper for my half to make it a little softer, and a bed frame (literally a metal frame) that is pretty tall for storage space underneath. Living room got set up, things (even after a month, are still being put away, and we did have to buy some things (some floating shelves, the dressers). This really was not an issue, but talking about where we thought things might go made the move easier, even if things didn’t end up where we talked about.
  3. Petty issues and resolution
    I had read that some small issues, when not talked about or addressed to frequently, can create bigger problems. Laundry on the floor, lack of shared chores, mess, etc. We talked about chores, which after moving in were not an issue- we just both do dishes or laundry or whatever when it needs to be done because it needs to be done. We agree when it’s time to do a full on cleaning of the house and we just square away that day to do together, and we agreed, and have followed through, to say something when something isn’t okay and then we work on it together.We’ve had really great communication to begin with so we’re really lucky in that respect, too.

Then, there were the things we didn’t plan for.

First, our apartment had some minor issues: a hole in the bathroom wall under the mirror, certain outlets not working, our alarm system not being aligned quite right.
Then we had flooding in our guest bedroom that his mom was staying in. They dried it up, told us it was the dishwasher, told us not to use it, then they decided it was coming from upstairs. A few days later the leak was resolved, drywall was removed, mold was cleaned out, drywall was replaced and repainted, the garbage disposal stopped working, and we had a new leak into the guest bedroom. We moved his computer out, for good, into the space between the kitchen and living room and just had stuff everywhere because we still couldn’t put it away.

We did a lot of emotional checking-in in this state. A lot of, “our apartment sucks, but I love you and I’m still glad we’re doing this” and “are you doing okay? It’s gonna be okay”. It also helps that he was on break between semesters and his mom was there to help with all the maintenance multiple times a day every day for a few weeks.

I told him, multiple times, that I think your first apartment is supposed to suck, so you can see how you deal with it together. Those issues have now been resolved and we put the birds in the guest room, left his computer set up where it is between the kitchen and living room, the apartment is slowly coming together, and our relationship feels a little stronger just for going through what we have.

I’m glad we did all the planning we could, and I’m thankful for his strength and patience to help keep me sane and for our communication and love for the things we couldn’t plan for.

 

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Workplace Skepticism- A Useful Tool

I’ve made the mistake, in the past, of deciding whether or not I liked my job and workplace too soon. I’d have a great first few weeks and go “Yep, I love it. Everything is great.” and then things would go wrong, the shiney-new-toy phase would end, and reality, once sunk in, would feel like a huge let down and then I’d slowly become to loath my once-loved job/boss/coworkers/environment.

Assuming the first two weeks set the stage, I’ve found, has been a huge mistake. The first two weeks are like team sports tryouts, the weeks after that you’ll be tried in different positions, and then what the team really needs from you will become more apparent  and you’ll settle in; all the while ruffling others’ feathers and upsetting people who think they should be doing what you’re doing. They were fine before you got there, and yet here you are. They know each other, they don’t know you. Think stereotypical high school movies. Some will like you, some will not, but you have the opportunity to win everyone, or mostly everyone, over.

I’ve tried to do things differently. To say, “Alright, how deep were your rose-colored glasses today” and “slow down, Sally, it’s only been two weeks”.

I kept my opinions and reactions, in check as consciously as possible, and if I let something slide past my judgement-gates, I’d try to mellow them out later on and I really think it’s helped. I have a fairly realistic, after two and a half months in, view of my job and co-workers. I’ve tried to mentally catalogue things that have gone right or wrong, and conversations and social queues from my coworkers, and I think rather than hoping I’ll fit in, I’ve figured out how to fit in and how to make myself feel accepted. A lot of these skills come from having seriously tried to read “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. It really has a lot of great tools and advice. Putting it in to practice takes a lot of time, but I think this new workplace has proven that, while I’m not perfect at implementing the lessons, my at least trying has made me happier here than I may have been otherwise. (That, and, I really am good at my job.)

So, in reflection, I have shared a few things a little to readily, but not too much. I maybe judged a few people or reactions too soon, and I also gave those reactions and judgements second looks and multiple rewrites. I also, initially, stepped on a toe or two, but I bit my tongue a lot thereafter and did a lot of flattering and nods of acknowledgement and appreciation thereafter and have salvaged relationships.

In advice; everyone will like or dislike you immediately and then, after getting to know you better, may or may not change their minds and opinions of you. You will do the same, and being aware of this will make those changes, and decisions on what to and not to share, discuss, or bring up will be easier if you wait for a while, two months at least, before going too personal, religious, or political. The same is for the workplace environment and your work. Also, read “How To Win Friends and Influence People” and reflect, on each advice, how you may have applied that in past events. And then, every few months, do it again.

I urge you not to form your opinions too soon, of any aspect, and to do what you can to help shape others’ opinions of you as I find coworkers are the biggest part of work-happiness. A new work environment can be scary and exciting to begin with, and you have a strong ability to make it a happy place for the long haul.

 

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Another Bad Breakup with an Employer

So this one is new, and terrible.

I work[ed] for a DJ company part time to supplement my income (read more). My consistent shift was on Wednesdays and I actually kind of liked it.

They weren’t the most flexible with requesting time off, etc., but I never really had to ask for time off for a Weds night.

On the night my nephew was born, I requested the next night off as I was in another city and would be there well past 11pm, with an hour and a half commute back plus work the next day and no time to nap between. They said no. I still try to wrap my brain around this instance, but I showed up exhausted and did my job.

After about a year working with this company, I got a new full time job and decided that I no longer needed two part time jobs. I considered both of them, and I decided that I did want to keep one. The one I chose to keep was not the DJing. This was mostly due to the time commitment; it was a consistent weekly endeavor versus my other part-time that was maybe twice a month on a weekend and at my discretion.

On a Tuesday I gave notice that I would work the next two Wednesdays and would then need an address to turn in my equipment. This amounted to, technically, three weeks notice. Which, according to my “at will” clause and common standards, was completely in reason.
They emailed be back saying they would need me to work the next six shifts. I said that was unreasonable and that I would be willing to work the next three if they were really in a pinch. They said they’d “get back to me”. In my head, my gears are grinding and I am baffled; this is a resignation, not a negotiation. I let it go.

I posted on FB and Insta that “this company is always hiring and it’s fun” and to let me know if they were interested in me passing along their information. Nothing, not even a hint of my resignation.
I got a text- a text!- later that night stating, “Let me make it crystal clear, if you fail to appear at your assigned show, we will hold you to the terms of your contract that you signed to the letter. You are contractually bound to work the shows until we have someone trained and ion place to take them over. Please do not end this on a bad note. We have already begun the hiring process to try to expedite your departure, but you are required to fulfill your obligations.”

I was livid. That word might not even be serious enough. I called and screamed, frustrated, and one of my best friends. I told her about three weeks’ notice, their audacity to try to negotiate, their gall to text instead of email, and the mindlessness and unfoundedness of the text.
She asked me about this so-called contract and I couldn’t find a complete full copy of a multi-page document (I had a few pages missing) but I did have, signed same day and emailed at the same time, another document with my at-will clause. A complete paragraph stating the at-will nature of the position and the authority of either employer or employee to terminate with no notice and no reason required.
I emailed, like a professional and adult, with her review and then my boyfriend’s, in response to their completely inappropriate text, quoting the at-will clause, stating that I was willing to be flexible before but no longer, and that I expected and address to turn in my equipment.

I didn’t hear anything by a reasonable hour the next day and called an old friend who has been practicing law for some time. He sent them an email requesting a copy of the contract they were threatening me with. They, among many other negative and unnecessary comments, told him that I should have a copy and that they were CCing their legal team. He replied requesting the legal team’s contact information.

Never got the contact information. Never got a copy of the supposed “contract”.

Then they tried threatening me again, and brought up any intention of me not turning in my equipment, and noted how “flexible” they had been with my schedule and how disappointed they were in my actions. (Please note prior a distinct lack of flexibility and what I’m sure is at least gray when it comes to legality). I ignored these, showed up for my shows, handed my equipment over to a new DJ with confirmation from a higher up within the company to do so, had him sign for all of it, and waited for my final paycheck.

I haven’t heard from them since. I never referred any of my interested friends for fear of them having to go through this nonsense. I got my final paycheck and said “good riddance”.

A word of advice; keep a full copy of anything and everything you sign. Try, also, to have someone with a legal background look it over first. Better to avoid the fight at the end, even if you win.

 

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Breaking Up with an Employer: The Aftermath

In any relationship, breakups are hard; whether it was your choice to end it or not. Sometimes you stay friends and cheer on each other’s success, other times it hurts and any reminder of what was stings a little. Employer/employee breakups are no different.

We’ve all left jobs; you give notice or get laid off and there’s a million tips and tricks, how to’s, and what-not-to-do’s for when the breakup starts. There doesn’t seem to be, however, any advice or recognition of the potential pain of the aftermath.

In today’s world, most employees are on a networking site known as LinkedIn and we connect with coworkers and follow the company and subsidiaries or related companies, sometimes even before we’re hired. If it was not a good breakup- maybe notice was given and the underlying reasons were negative, or maybe it was layoffs and it hurt to be let go- it’s not so easy to stop social media from reminding us of those negative feelings.

It’s been 11 months since I was laid off (click here for background) and at the time I immediately unfollowed the company and unfollowed but stayed connected to most employees. The problem is, so many of these connections still had their previous employer so when I filtered and clicked unfollow, some of my ex-coworker’s weren’t included in my purge.

Now, ten months later, every once in a while a story about my old employer will pop into my feed because “so-and-so liked this” and I am internally queued to unfollow them. It’s finally hit the point where it’s just a small chore but for the first few months it would reopen the wound, if only a little.

For some people, staying connected with old coworkers is more important than purging from negative memories of a company. The people I became close with, I connected outside of LinkedIn because those people were not going to help my career path, it made sense to accept more of a personal connection. I didn’t want to “disconnect” on LinkedIn from old coworkers for fear of creating animosity; I have no ill-will toward them and if they need something, I’d like to be here. I just have no use for the stories of my old company, and most of the other employees from my old company either have a skillset and connections that won’t impact my career strongly, or I have enough other connections that keeping them in my back pocket was not worth also seeing the headlines. I also like to make sure my feed, likes, etc. reflect who I am and where I’m going.
I’ve left jobs where the breakup was pleasant, where I’d be welcomed back and have not wanted to burn that bridge. In those cases, this unfollow and cleanse was not necessary. But in a bad breakup like this, without significant benefit in keeping connected, it was necessary and I just want ex-employees from all sorts of breakups to know you’re not alone in the moving-on struggle.

I’m not sure I know how to clean up my feed any better at the start to avoid these long term reminders. I will say, the frequency gets fewer and further between, the pain goes away, and the “need” to do it turns into a mindless reaction. It’s a breakup, it stinks, and in the social media realm a clean break is harder if that’s the route you choose. It gets easier, though.

 

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