Friday, September 30, 2005
Confessions of a Non Work-a-holic
To me, a work-a-holic is someone who lives, eats, and breaths work even when they are not there. It is a weird obsession that fills their every moment. Even if I wanted to be one, I would never succeed. I just don't love work and I don't have the desire to pour my life into it. The minute I leave for the day, that chapter is closed. I never discuss what I did or much about my projects. In fact, if someone told me that I could afford not to work, I'd be gone in a second and never look back.
Thinking about my life, I have to admit that I have never been the best student or worker. I take my responsibilities seriously and they are always completed, but I never felt the need to earn the best grade or go the extra mile. In school, I was always happy with a B. If I happened to exceed the teacher's expectations and receive an A fine, but I never made that my goal. My standards of work products are a bit high, but I have been doing this for a while and have it almost to a science. So, all I can do is improve on the quality, which has nothing to do with a love of work.
Therefore, I will never be the shining example of what employees should be. Perhaps, I am just too lazy or uninterested. So internet, I confess to having a certain amount of apathy. With a little lotto money, everything would be great.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
One Lesson on the Career Ladder
Yesterday, I got a call from a friend that is overstressed about being overworked and wanted some advice. Basically, this friend is working 90+ hours a week and feeling like the situation is getting worse not better. I have been in this type of situation before and you have to realize that some companies just run that way. Why pay 2 or 3 people to do a job that they can get one person to do? Hey - 2 or 3 for the price of one. There are companies out there that thrive on this cost savings even with the high turn-over rate. In my experience, they are usually small privately owned firms where the president personally interviews you and they aren't big enough to gain much of a reputation. Realizing that you're in that type of company quickly can help you make better decisions.
However, if you are like my friend and are not ready to throw the towel in quite yet, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the pain. First, it is important to become very aware of what tasks belong to your position. Chances are that some people are shifting their work to you because they are also under a lot of stress. You can find nice ways to avoid that extra work. I would start by making a long TO DO LIST. When someone comes with more work, say you'll be happy to do it once your list is completed and make sure they happen to see how long that list is. You can also say that you are so swamped that you'll try to help them in a few weeks if things improve. They must know that you know it is their work. Most people don't want to wait so they'll try to pawn the work off on someone else or do it themselves. If they are pushy, stand up for yourself a little more. This may eliminate some of the extra work, but probably not enough of it for you to have a life.
My main advice is RUN, RUN, RUN and learn for your experience! When you are interviewing for a position (especially in a small company) try to pick up on clues to see if they have a personal life or value family togetherness and the community. If they are overly excited about all of the projects they have going on and sound like this company is all about being a phenomenal opportunity to advance, think seriously about it. That probably means they regularly throw people into projects that are advanced beyond their experience and don't offer guidance. It is all about sink or swim. My experience certainly helped me climb the corporate ladder in the three LONG years I was there, but left me quite frazzled for at least 6 months after I left.
**Disclaimer** I am currently working for a small company that does not operate like this. Sometimes situations or projects come up in any company that requires extra hours, which is normal. However, if you are regularly logging in more than 50 hours a week or 90+ more than once every few months, seriously think about passing your resume around. -My motto is that I work to live, NOT live to work.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
My dad made it through surgery. The doctor was able to remove the tumor they were focusing on. He was amazed to find out that the tumor had grown significantly since the scan last week. They believe that this tumor was causing the paralysis in the left side of his body, so hopefully some or all of that will diminish. Unfortunately, they were not able to insert the chemo wafer because the space was too vast. They felt that it would shift around and probably damage some of the healthy brain cells. Now, he is recovering from another surgery and we'll see how it goes.
Last night, I found out that the strategy has changed for my mother-in-law too. They have determined that the chemo drug she is using has been very affective. She is going to continue with the chemo sessions every three weeks as long as her white blood cell count is good. It is borderline right now, so they are giving her shots to increase the level. Her doctor told her that their next concern is that the cancer will metastasize to her brain since that is common with lung cancer. Knowing what my father is going through, Steve was quite disappointed with that news.
Now, I plan to spend the next few days writing about happier topics or at least something different.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Big Cancer Fighting Day
With all of the commotion going on with my dad, I forgot to mention that today is my mother-in-law's last scheduled round of chemo. In a few weeks, they will scan her body again to see what kind of progress has been made. Then, they will come up with a plan for Phase II. I don't think they refer to this in phases, but it makes sense to me. Anyway, lots of good thoughts going around...
Dad Back in Surgery Today
My dad's wife took him to an appointment with the neurosurgeon yesterday. They decided to stick him back in the hospital to operate on him today. They will remove the dead tissue from his tumor and also the re-growth. After that, they will insert a chemo wafer. The wafer will dissolve in the brain over time and help stave off the tumor. Apparently, this direct chemotherapy has fewer side effects than traditional chemo treatment. He is expected to be in the hospital about a week and then move to a rehabilitation hospital.
If you are like me, you are wondering if he is getting fed up with all of these treatments. The answer is yes, but he still wants to fight to prolong his life. Hopefully, he can keep up this battle for at least a little while. I really want one last family gathering at Thanksgiving (assuming he is well enough). In all honesty, I don't want him to continue suffering unless he wants to. There will be a point when he doesn't anymore and we'll face that when the time comes.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Double Football Weekend
Friday night, a friend called my husband to offer him tickets to UM's football game for Saturday, with one stipulation. He could have the tickets if he promised not to take me. I know that this was out of concern for me, but it feels a little like I am a victim of pregnancy prejudice. To be honest, I can't get too mad because the temperature was going to be over 90 degrees. Also, the stadium doesn't have individual seats just benches with numbers that are way too close together for comfort. It is never a really pleasant experience, but I have been several times and would like the opportunity to decline. I would have let Steve take a friend. Instead, the decision was made without me. Steve told me about it and then called around to find a friend. Like I've mentioned before, we don't have many friends here so it wasn't easy. I guess there was some revenge because they were extremely miserable. Steve spent the entire 2nd quarter standing on one of the ramps towards the concession stand. During half time, he stuck his head in a bucket of ice cold water. By the time he got home, he was sun burned and exhausted. All this suffering went on while I enjoyed the game from the comfort of our couch with plenty of a/c.
The most surprising part of the entire incident was that it impacted his Sunday plans. He was so miserable that he decided not to go to the Dolphin's game on Sunday. Imagine that. His ticket went unused and we watched the game at home together. That was definitely nice for me.
My family and friends in Houston were very lucky to experience a hurricane that turned out to be further east and weaker than forecasted. For them, it was like a typical summer shower with a little more wind. Then again, I think they all slept through the worst of it. So who knows? Point is - they are fine.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Stuck in Houston
My dad & his wife couldn't get out of Houston. They set out at 4am, but the roads were already jam packed. After 4 hours, they only made it about 30 miles. He was really uncomfortable, so they turned around. They have recently moved to a house that is at the bottom of a hill, which isn't the best idea when hurricanes are involved. I have been quite concerned that his wife would have difficulty moving him should anything happen to their home. I guess she started thinking the same thing. She called a friend and they will be staying over there; at least they'll have 3 adults to move him if there are any problems.
I have many friends in Houston too and none of them were able to evacuate before the roads were bad. They are all stuck. So, I'll be sending prayers & good thoughts to my old home town all weekend. Thank goodness that Rita is weakening.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Since Hurricane Rita is turning out to be one ugly storm, Steve & I advised my dad's wife to flee from Houston. She was still trying to decide when we called last night. I just kept thinking about what problems could arise and how difficult it would be to deal with a man in a wheel chair. She decided to head to her sister's house in Dallas early this morning. Traffic was already a nightmare by 5:30am, so I am sure they are having a bad day. Plus, we heard on tv that Rita should still be a Category 1 when it gets to Dallas.
This morning, I got a hold of my sister. She is in Huntsville, which is about a 2 hour drive from Galveston. Unfortunately, she is stuck there. She should have listened to me about taking the car to college (her bossy older sister is right 99.9% of the time). I gave her some advice about riding out the storm. Perhaps, 6 years of living in Miami has taught me something. Thank goodness her dorm is on a hill.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Dad Not So Good
With Hurricane Rita headed for Houston, everyone has been asking me about my dad. He and his wife have moved pretty far inland (an hour), so the effects of the hurricane should diminish by the time it reaches them. I don't know if they are making any preparations for it. Actually, he can't be of much help. We are going to try to call tonight.
Unfortunately, his condition is deteriorating. In fact, mentally, he is quickly returning to his pre-first-surgery state. His last two visits with the doctor were not good. They don't think the radiation is producing the results they expected. Beyond that, he is miserable and frustrated. He spends his days & nights mostly asleep and can't stay awake longer than 20 minutes at a time. Plus, his left leg is totally useless. For now, he is still wanting to fight the cancer. I've heard that his goal is to see the new grandbabies that are coming. One down, two to go. That seems a bit optimistic, but we'll see.
Monday, September 19, 2005
New Baby Nephew
My brother & sister-in-law had their new arrival today. They got exactly what they were hoping for - a BOY! They are going to name him Amon Lawrence. By the way, Lawrence is my dad's name. I'm sure he'll appreciate that connection. I don't know too much about the baby yet, except that labor was only two hours. More details to follow.
I guess Steve & I will be celebrating the birth of our new nephew while we are locked up in our house/personal hurricane shelter tomorrow. Now that I see all the projects that need to be done, I think I'd rather go to work.
Hurricane Rita Coming This Way
As you may know, we have another hurricane (Rita) heading this way. In fact, we will probably have tomorrow off. Believe me, I am not trying to wish destruction on anyone, but a day off sounds wonderful. I have a bunch of stuff at the house I would like to work on.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Kick, Squirm, Kick
For over a week or so, I have been feeling strange twinges in my stomach. I wasn't sure exactly what it was. I thought it might be that my belly is growing faster or that everything in there is getting squished.
Last night, while sitting on the couch with my hand on my stomach I felt a really strong one and knew immediately that it was a kick. Lexi was really moving & kicking... well, until Steve tried to put his hand there to feel it. She stopped every time he did that. This morning, she started again when I got to work and has been doing it off & on all day. I'll be happy to let her exercise for the two of us, because it seems like she is doing a good job.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Summer of Seeing Old College Friends
To my total amazement, another old college friend contacted me to say that she would be in town. That makes two blasts from the past from old friends that I haven't seen for 10 years. Unfortunately, she was here on business so we didn't spend much time together. She did treat Steve & me to a wonderful lunch though using her per diem. I love per diem, don't you? She also brought us a baby afghan that she made and little socks. Lexi is getting spoiled.
Despite the short time, we had a great talk and caught up a little. The best part is that she had a job interview down here & might be moving. I don't have many friends here, so that would be great. Plus, she volunteered to baby-sit. Who can turn that down?
By the way, I know the photo didn't turn out well, but I wanted to include it anyway.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Another Info List About Me
Emily has selected me to carry on the info list challenge. So, here are some tidbits about me.
Ten years ago: I was just starting my senior year of college (yes, I'm that old). I was taking 18 credits, doing an internship, and jogging almost every day.
Five years ago: I broke up with a boyfriend of 4 years, moved into a cute little apartment, had a job I hated, and didn't know where my life was headed. Sounds sad, but I was super happy to be out of the relationship & moving on.
One year ago: My husband had just started working for the same company as me. We were paying bills and saving for a house. I also got to see all of my immediate family members at my baby brother's wedding, which ended in divorce about 6 months later.
1. Cheddar on Trisket crackers
4. Petite quiche
5. lately - EL Fudge Sandwich cookies (original)
Five songs I know all the words to:
1. "I May Know the Word" by Natalie Merchant
2. "It's Too Late" by Nanci Griffith
3. "Good Enough" by Sarah McLachlan
4. "Joking" by Indigo Girls
5. "Seven Years" by Natalie Merchant
Five things I would do with $100 million:
1. Pay off our debts
2. Help family members with some of their debts
3. Take a trip around the world (after the baby is born of course)
4. Buy a small island in the Caribbean to live on
5. Relax and enjoy life
Five places to run away to:
1. The Florida Keys - totally laid back
2. Our house
3. The beach
4. The mall
5. Any travel destination
Five things I would never wear:
1. G-string bikini
2. Daisy Duke Shorts
3. An outfit made entirely of leather
4. Clear plastic high heels (hooker shoes)
5. Nipple tassels ... bet you are all happy about that
Five favorite TV shows:
1. Sex and the City
2. Baby Baby
3. Kindergarten (on HBO)
4. Adoption Stories
5. ??? anything that catches my attention
Five biggest joys:
1. Positive pregnancy results
2. Our wedding
3. Quitting my last job (from hell)
4. Visits with family
5. Moving away from Miami ...ok dreaming
3. Digital camera
4. Hand held tv during hurricane
5. Kitchen Aid Mixer
Five people to pass this on to:
Last time, only one person did it - my sister, Paige
Monday, September 12, 2005
Long Legs Lexi
During the last ultrasound, we asked the tech for the latest estimated due date (since every time I go the date gets pushed up). The guy took one look at Steve, who is 6'6", & laughed. He told us that we can bet that our original due date is correct and that because of genetics our baby is going to be bigger than average. He wasn't even aware that I am the shortest one in my family. According to the overall measurements (crown to rump), Lexi would be due about a week earlier. Based on the length of her legs, she would be due three weeks earlier. In the next few weeks, when I start feeling her move, I don't think I'll appreciate her long legs. I will be feeling her kicks all the way up to my brain.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Rallying the Fam
My Aunt Barb (dad's sister) has started rallying their family in an effort to cheer up my dad. She wrote an e-mail to them about his exhaustion, depression, and frustration. Most of them are quite poor, so she asked them to write him letters, print jokes off the internet, make tapes of them talking or singing since he has difficulty reading, or anything they can do. She sent him a bouquet of flowers and ordered some funny videos for him, which should really help.
I have been trying to send stuff to him on a regular basis. Every week, I send a letter via snail mail. He has e-mail, but I never know if he'll be in the hospital or not. Plus, I figure he can read it several times if he forgets parts of it. Every month, I have been ordering some thing off the internet. Last month, I sent him cookies from Cheryl & Co (yummy). This month, I ordered a couple of Shakespeare movies. He used to have all of those memorized, so I hope it might help reconnect some of the wires in his brain. I can come up with ideas for a while, but soon it will be difficult. If anyone has suggestions, I would appreciate it.
I just hope he is well enough to come for Thanksgiving. It will be nice to have most of the family together at least one last time.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
The Latest Parent Update
I'll start off with the good news - Steve's mom is looking great. Actually, I think she looks healthier and happier than she did before she got cancer. She has lost some weight (fat not muscle). From what I saw, she is eating healthier. Before, she snacked on junk food all day, but did eat healthy meals. Now, she cut out most of the snacking. Like many female cancer patients, she is always wearing a wig or hat. She showed us her head one night & she is completely bald. Fortunately, she didn't lose her eyebrows or lashes. Steve & I are glad that we got the chance to see how well she is doing.
Her planned chemo sessions are winding down. She had one yesterday, she'll go back in 3 weeks and she'll be done with this round. Then, they'll give her another cat scan & come up with a new plan. Hopefully, one that gives her a little break from all of this.
My dad is another story. I finally got an honest update, by asking my sister, Paige. She saw him this weekend & was quite upset about his lack of progress. He is a lot like a stroke victim. Apparently, he spends his time in a wheel chair or bed. He has very little/no control of the left side of his body. The flap on the right side of his head is still disturbing to see. He also gets very tired & can't hold his head up for very long. However, she did mention that he is mentally more with-it.
My dad's wife finally got him out of the hospital a few days ago and it wasn't because he was getting better. The care was horrible. They would give him food, but nothing else. He can't walk to the bathroom by himself, so he would push the alert button. They just ignored him, so he would end up making a mess. Of course, they never checked on him so he was stuck that way until his wife would come and clean him up. -YUCK! God bless her! She complained to the doctors who finally released him. I feel sorry for her. They haven't even been married a year and she is in this situation. I know that we (his family) are very lucky. She is a tough optimistic trooper and we really owe her.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Miss Baby has a Name
We finally have a name for Miss Baby. It is:
We chose Lorena because it was my grandmother's name. Unfortunately, she died in 1991, but she was a special lady. Since Lorena ends with an A and so do a lot of other names, it took us a little while to find a first name we liked. Alexis won out. Her nickname will be Lexi.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
It is the Labor Day Weekend and I just couldn't leave a sad/paranoid entry while we go out of town. We are going to visit the in-laws in Port St. Lucie, so this will be a relaxing weekend. Besides, we finally got our cable and internet back so I am able to post from home. All in all, I am feeling pretty positive about life right now & not because of cable or the internet.
I finally got Steve to sit down and talk about names. There are two that we are thinking seriously about. I just have to get a hold of my mom. We have so many relatives with kids and I can't possibly remember all their names. We'd like a name that none of them are using, which is going to be tough. I would like to make this decision fairly quickly, so I can stop calling her Miss Baby. However, I can still enjoy shopping for her even if we don't have a name.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Like most of the US, the people of Miami are horrified by the devastation that Hurricane Katrina has caused Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Beyond the shock and sadness, there is also a growing fear. People are having nightmares about Hurricane Andrew and are realizing once again that things can turn really awful quite quickly. Even with the television and radio off, plant debris, missing shingles and standing water from Hurricane Katrina remind us how vulnerable we are. I am certainly not trying to compare our situation to theirs, believe me. We all know that we were spared this time.
However, there is clearly a mounting paranoia across Miami. Houses are being boarded up with hurricane shutters and plywood, water and gas are seen as precious commodities, and our love of electricity is growing out of hand. There are even huge waiting lists for generators and not just the kind you can pick up at Home Depot. I am talking about middle class families spending approximately $10,000 to have a permanent generator and a 500 gallon gas tank installed on their properties.
From the 4 hurricanes that hit Florida last year, we have learned that evacuation is not a good option down here. It takes about 9 hours to get out of the state when traffic is good. The last thing anyone wants is to be stuck in traffic when a hurricane is coming. Considering that Florida is a long thin peninsula, there are not many places to go. Plus, driving an hour or two might put you directly in the path, if the storm shifts a little. That happened at least once last year. We know that we are kind of trapped.
For the last week, I have been noticing some real changes in people. Even though our grocery stores are missing many of the normal items, shoppers are crammed in. People are grabbing whatever they can get their hands on. Gas stations are frequently visited so the tanks never get low. Neighbors are borrowing tools and shovels from us for strange projects. There is just a quiet paranoia here.
I am not trying to say this fear is entirely a bad thing. In a city, where people aren't generally friendly, they are lining up to donate to relief efforts. They are also preparing for the next big one to hit here. I have always believed that you can never over prepare for something like that. So, I am no longer going to listen to my husband when he laughs about my oodles of food, water, flashlights, candles, lanterns, and batteries. One day, it might be our saving grace.