Something to be said for being single

Celebrate The Single Life | Joyful Days.

Neat blog article on the benefits of being single. A couple of things that resonated with me:

women becoming more highly educated and finding it harder to find their equal– Not only is it harder to find their equal, but education leads to better paying jobs, which leads to independence. Women may have needed men at one time to survive, but this is no longer true. Financial independence means that there is no longer a material reason for the trade-offs and compromises that women have traditionally been expected to make in exchange for survival.

making all my own decisions and traveling faster – true and true. It is both incredibly scary and incredibly liberating to realize that there’s no one you have to run that by or with whom you must compromise. This saves time, and everything becomes much more efficient – travel is only one of the many things that can be accomplished in less time when you’re unencumbered by a second party who has a vote.

Having a life and still being successful

How Women Are Redefining Work and Success – BusinessWeek.

Found this article in BusinessWeek and realized I had stuff to say about it!

They yearned for a path to success based on results, not hours clocked.”  This resonates with me because I have felt the pressure to stay online until the boss logs off, regardless of whether or not there was any work that was pressing enough to dig into MY time.  And yes, at my rung on the ladder, overtime is MY time, which I generously donate to the Firm on occasion.  How much and how often can be the result of a trickle-down effect.  If the boss is doing it, the worker feels some obligation to do it, too.  If the boss talks about having a life and leaves early sometimes to attend a school function, the workers will feel comfortable doing that too.

All of you who are The Boss, remember this – you are leading by example!  If you want your staff to be well-rounded and able to perform at peak, you must model the right behavior, the behavior that says it’s not only OK to have a non-work life, it’s mandatory.

burnout and the “enormous lattitude to move sideways, backward, in and out” – I might be one of the few downshifting success stories at the Firm.  Normally, one would have to change firms if they wanted to downshift, but I was fortunate enough to have management that recognized burnout didn’t mean I wasn’t any good to them any more.  It meant I needed to not work so much any more, to put some perspective back into my life, to have the luxury of down time.

So rather than try and get them to conform to rules and guidelines from the 1950s, we should listen to them, and let them lead the way for what this future will look like.” – I don’t see this happening in the current environment.  Jobs are not plentiful.  It’s not like the worker has another place to go, at least not easily or readily.  The worker will have to conform to the mores of the workplace, whatever decade those mores are from, or they will be fired and replaced with one of the thousands poised to step over the bodies and take their places.  In a less competitive environment, the workplace might very well need to conform, but as things stand, I think the workplace will continue to be “my way or the highway”.

additional expectations of the single rider – Yes, it happens.  We, the single and childless of either gender, are often expected to pick up the slack.  I’ve actually been told, “Well, it’s not like you have to pick up the kids or anything like that” – as if that’s any more legitimate than my own non-work priorities and obligations.

backlash against telecommuting – currently happening in my firm, and the reason I won’t be transferring back into the technology group any time soon (I’m currently in corporate finance).  Apparently, there was a moonlighting incident.  So now, in the tech org, all of the “outlyers” (yes they actually call us telecommuters that!) are slowly being brought back into the offices.  This incurs cost – real estate, phone lines, LAN connections all cost money.

Honestly, I view the moonlighting thing as a management problem, not a telecommuting problem.  How could you not know that your people aren’t on the job?  How can you not know that they are not producing the way they should be producing?  Still, management has become allergic to telecommuting, and removing this as an option is going to throw people back into imbalance between work and home life.  When I started telecommuting full time in 2005, I was able to reclaim four hours of my life a day.  FOUR HOURS.  A DAY.  Incredible, isn’t it?  I cannot imagine going back to that old life.  Ever.

Why Facebook = suckage

There is someone who friended me on Facebook who is unfortunately associated with a period in my life that was characterized by emotional upheaval and bad decisions that amounted to bad behavior on my part. I have huge regrets about the choices I made back then, which resulted in pain for someone I loved, who loved me. Casual reconnection with this person on Facebook has also served to reconnect me with those emotions. I would have much preferred to keep them in the past.

I’m aware that this would have happened as the result of a high school reunion too, but there’s a major difference. This stuff was MEANT to fade, and if it surges to the forefront again briefly as a result of a class reunion, well that’s a finite event that has a beginning and an end. The end facilitates the fading of these feelings into obscurity once more.

Facebook, however, has become a 24/7/365 reminder that I’m not his forever best girl, that there will be no “some day” for me – he’s been having “some day” with someone else for lo these many years. And regardless of whose doing that was – or perhaps because it was my own damned fault – it still hurts. It hurts as much as it did one night in the summer of 1979 when I realized, too late, what I’d done and what it had cost us both.

Since I’m otherwise enjoying Facebook as a fun and efficient way to keep up with my posse, I am loathe to abandon it simply because this one thing about it sucks. An unfriending might cause drama, which I’d rather not do. Barring those two options, I don’t think there’s anything I can do, any action I can take, to alleviate the situation, to push back the flood of emotions and stuff them back into the dark recesses of memory from whence they came.

Maybe this is one of those things that I just have to let suck until it doesn’t suck any more.

Listening to: Little Texas – What Might Have Been
via FoxyTunes

“Must see TV” of yore

“thirtysomething” to be released on DVD on August 25, 2009.

In the 80s, we had TV nights.  Early on, it was Wednesday Night Dynasty parties at the house in Saint James.  I’d come home from work, and there’d be people in the house already, making dinner and stuff.  I think like a bazillion people had a key to our house.  Later on, after the separation, it was Tuesday night Thirtysomething parties.  Even after Pooh and Rowdy moved so far away, the tradition continued with just me and Mikel.  At some point, we expanded the repertoire to include China Beach as well, but I don’t remember if that was on the same night or a different night. Now, that was some good TV! Nothing like those shows on the wasteland that is network television nowadays.

Listening to: Buffalo Tom – Late at Night

A song from long ago

sunshine“Daisy Jane” by America
I believe it used to remind someone of me.

Flying me back to Memphis
Gotta find my Daisy Jane
Well, the summer’s gone
and I hope she’s feeling the same.

Well, I left her just to roam the city
thinking it would ease the pain
I’m a crazy man, and I’m playing my crazy game

Does she really love me?
I think she does
Like the stars above me
I know because
When the sky is bright
Everything’s alright

Flying me back to Memphis
Honey, keep the oven warm
All the clouds are clearing
And I think we’re over the storm

Well, I’ve been picking it up around me
Daisy, I think I’m sane
And I’m awful glad
And I guess you’re really to blame

Do you REALLY LOVE me?
I hope you do
like the sars above me
how I love you
When it’s cold at night
everything’s alright

Does she really love me?
I think she does
Like the stars above me
I know because
when the sky is bright
everything’s alright.

post-Election Night ruminations

Last night was very emotional. I was surprised at myself by just how emotional I was when it became apparent that Obama had won the election. Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last from the same crap that hasn’t worked for the last 8 years. Obama’s crap might not work either, but at least the nation will not be a living, breathing exemplification of Einstein’s Definition of Insanity (doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results).

Of course I had to stay up for the speeches (bravo to McCain – he must have been gravely disappointed but he was a class act last night), and then I had to stay up and listen to the pundits pontificate about the speeches and analyze the voter turnout and wax poetic on all of the historic aspects of this election, the least of which was that a black man had attained the highest government office in the free world. There were statistics on first time voter turnout, on youth voter turnout, on voter turnout in general, on who of what color or gender or age or geographic location or (insert demographic of choice) voted for whom, etc.

You know what the best part of Obama’s victory is?

We don’t have to listen to Palin pounding her shoe a la Khrushchev any more. I think she is what did McCain in. She is freakin’ scary-to-the-right. She drove me to cross party lines. I took all the online quizzes and I was dead in the center between the two candidates. Palin pushed me, a quasi-militant feminist, over the edge into the Obama camp. She was a real mistake in judgment on McCain’s part. I’m not sure what he thought he was doing there. I wasn’t about to vote for him just because he had a woman on his ticket. She was the wrong choice.

I know that probably one or two of you reading this are profoundly disappointed this morning, but I’m going to ask a favor of you. Give him a chance. Pray for him. Pray that the entire country, both sides of the aisle, rolls up their sleeves to help him. It’s a freakin’ mess out there, and he’s going to need ALL of our earnest effort to help get us out of it. Pray also that no one screws this up for us by assassinating him before he even has a chance to try and unravel this mess that he is inheriting. Yes, I worry about that. It’s what we do to Hope in this country – we assassinate it. I am old enough to remember JFK, Dr King and RFK, so I can’t help being a little apprehensive.

I hope you will join me in praying that God will favor our country by keeping our new president-elect safe and sending him the help that he will need to lead us out of this quagmire and into the light.

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Formula: The Quest For Strawberry

from a Manic Monday prompt

Once upon a time, I lived on The Loverly Isle of Long, and I would get my roots done every 4 weeks with the PERFECT shade of strawberry blond. Not too blond, not too red, not too dark, not too light, the formula was the product of several years of trial and error with my hair stylist/colorist, Nancy. The final formula is comprised of three different shades from L’Oreal‘s professional line called Majirel, using 20-volume developer.

To say that I was obsessive about the appearance of gray brown roots is to understate the anxiety that would grip the core of my very being at the least whisper of new growth. I did some unusual things in order to preserve the color as much as possible until it was time to get it done again. I would refrain from using actual shampoo for 2 or three days after coloring. I used a conditioner called “Strawberry” every day (made by ARTec, which had been bought by L’Oreal). I would only use COLD water on my hair to discourage fading from heat, and would not use shampoo more than every other day. All of this, because red hair color shades are notoriously difficult to maintain. I did everything I could to ensure that the color remained fresh until it was time to beat the roots into submission once more.

Just prior to moving to Florida, I went to see Nancy for the last time and she wrote down my formula for me. Clutching this sacred slip of paper in my feverish hand, I also entered it into my Palm Pilot for posterity. Four weeks later, I walked into a local salon here in Southwest Florida, showed them the formula and asked them to replicate it.

Problem #1 – they don’t use L’Oreal Majirel and in fact, they never heard of it. When I said “L’Oreal”, they thought I’d been buying hair color kits over the counter in the supermarket. I had to educate them.

Problem #2 – I had to look at the color board and figure out for myself what might work. They were not at all willing to make a decision and then be accountable for it. Apparently, no one in this shop was the color genius that Nancy had been, and they lacked the confidence that goes along with such a level of genius.

Problem #3 – over the next two years, the stylists in that salon wracked their brains, played mad chemist, adjusted the formula time and again, but it was fruitless. They could not get it right. The color never looked even close to my old shade, and it also never looked natural. Sometimes it was too yellow, other times too burgundy. Yet other times, it appeared that my hair color had come from a box that said “Crayola” on it – amazing shades, but totally inappropriate for the hair of a grown-up businesswoman.

A “woe is me” post I made on a discussion board this past spring was read with sympathy by one of my Sanibuddies (that’s a buddy I met online who loves Sanibel Island as much as I do), who happens also to be a wonderful hair stylist and colorist. She had a vacation already planned for May, so I emailed her the formula and she picked up the supplies as soon as she landed in Fort Myers. Then one sunny spring afternoon, I drove out to the island to see her and she worked her magic. I cannot describe the happiness I felt when I looked in the mirror and saw my old familiar shade of strawberry beaming back at me. Yay!

We decided that I would figure out how much stuff I needed to do my hair for a year, and my colorist buddy would pick it up for me before she left. You have to be a licensed professional to buy the materials – I have no idea why that is but that’s the way it is. So she called ahead to put in the order before picking it up, and tragedy struck. One of the three L’Oreal shades required to make my color was discontinued! No more! THE END! I was horrified. After all this time struggling, to finally reach Nirvana only to have all my hopes dashed to hell. Not fair, not fair, not fair!

My friend did some research, consulted with some professionals and sent me a package when she got home. Inside the package were tubes of what she hoped would be a suitable replacement for the L’Oreal formula. The new company name was Pravana. I called Tootie and we made a Hair Day appointment. We were both plenty nervous. After following the proportions originally set out by Nancy all those years ago, it seemed like we had a ton of formula – too much just for a root job. So we decided that, since I was changing formulas, we might as well do whole-head, to avoid getting a stripe, and I made a mental note to halve the formula next time.

I will never forget leaning over the kitchen sink to wash it all out, and hearing Tootie remark calmly, “well, it looks exactly like a bright copper penny”. OMG, that’s not strawberry!, I thought frantically. What have we done? I could scarecely wait to see in the mirror, but tried to remain calm as the shampooing and conditioning proceeded. Finally, I was standing before the mirror with a comb in my hand trying to detangle. It was definitely REDDER than I was used to seeing after coloring, but it wasn’t horrible or unnatural. It looked even better after blow-drying; something about being wet had made it really bright, but the dryer it got, the better it looked. I took a picture with my Blackberry and emailed it to my Sanibuddy colorist friend, who by this time had long since returned home from her Sanibel vacation.

The next time we decided to have Hair Day, I discovered that althought I still had plenty of color left in the tubes, I didn’t have enough developer to get the job done. This is because we made so much formula the last time; if I had realized and cut it in half, there still would have been enough developer left. I had figured out that a tube of L’Oreal hair color is about half the size of a tube of Pravana. So when Nancy’s formula said, “half a tube of this and a quarter tube of that”, and I follwed it for the Pravana, it actually made double the amount of formula – and took double the amount of developer. A few emails back and forth with my colorist buddy, and we finally had a shopping list for a year’s worth of supplies.

So I sit here typing with 6 week old roots, waiting for my shipment. When it arrives, Tootie and I will have another Hair Day. What amazes me is that I have not fallen over from root anxiety yet, even though my roots are definitely beyond the point of screaming. The net result of this new formula is, as Tootie points out, the roots are not as noticeable when they come in. The contrast isn’t as sharp, so they’re not screaming quite as stridently as they used to. We’ve also discovered that after about a week and a half, the color fades a bit to where I want it to be, an extremely close approximation of the L’Oreal shade.

The quest for strawberry led to copper, and not without angst – but all’s well that ends well. These little trials and tribulations are necessary in life. They keep our minds occupied, and keep us off the streets and out of trouble!

I was going to abandon this idea, but…..

I was driving home from a shopping expedition this afternoon, approaching the I-75 overpass up on Colonial, and I noticed a bunch of construction on the other side of the interstate. Looked like hotels – wanted to confirm that and tuck it away for future reference for when Bro No. 1 comes with the family. He likes to dump the kids here and take himself and wife off to the hotel. I’m ok with that!

Anyhow, I made a right after going under I-75. Fairly new-looking road. I did see three buildings back there. One was the office of a home builder – probably their design center (it was fairly large). Right next to it, a new Candlewood Suites; however it does not have a pool, so I don’t know how Bro would feel about that.

And at the end of the court, a tall, broad building that says “NOVA Southeastern University” on the side of it. Lots of construction vehicles sprinkled around the unfinished parking lot, but the building looks like it’s nearly completed.

So I quickly call my home phone and leave an answering machine message for myself, so I don’t forget to find out what this is all about. Turns out theres a BIG campus of this school in Fort Lauderdale, but there are all these “distance learning centers” sprinkled here in Florida, and as far flung as the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Las Vegas. This is apparently one of those “distance learning centers”.

I found the page where they tell what programs will be offered here; one of them is Mental Health Counseling.

I was seriously thinking I wasn’t going to do this. I loved school; it also damned near killed me, seeing as getting my BA in Psychology coincided with the most difficult years of my career at the Firm, AND with my “other career” singing with the opera company on Long Island. I look back at those days and shake my head. How did I cram it all in? Where did I find the time? AND, I was still an ABC Daytime and HBO Sunday Night junkie back then too – I watched HOURS of TV in addition to writing papers and memorizing performances in other languages! Why did I do that to my life? What was I thinking?

But, you know, the initial supposition that originally led to my going back to school in the first place is still valid. I am not going to be able to retire the way my parents did. I’m eventually going to become obsolete at the Firm. I’ve had a good run, but my years of service are starting to add up to the point where I’m going to be entering that category of folks who are candidates for “early retirement” (translation: here’s some cash, get thee gone).

I’m going to NEED a second career.

My other choice for second career would be horticulturist at Disney. However, I’d have to move to landlocked Orlando – ok, there are worse things, but I’m REALLY enjoying being near the beaches here. You might have noticed. LOL

Well, they aren’t done building it yet, even. I can make the same deal with myself that I made for the BA. Be back in school learning SOMETHING by time I was 40. I went back when I was 39, in fact. So now, I can say, “be back in school for 2nd career by time you are 50”. I’m 47. I have some time.

Treading the fine line between "alone" and "free"…