Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happiness is..

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Obama pictures

Things making me happy today.

  • Grocery shopping without needing to use an electric cart or oxygen
  • Guiltless Pasta-Free Lasagna recipe I created for dinner that turned out totally YUM!
  • Looking at 1/2 cup of said Lasagna, thinking it won't be enough. Twenty minutes (and 20 bites later) being completely satisfied with just that much
  • Seasons 1 - 6 of X Files on DVD
  • Seasons 1 - 3 of Angel on DVD
  • Peanut butter toast (and being satisfied with only half a slice)
  • More energy, wait, I mentioned that, sort of, but it gets another mention
  • Teen aged children who talk to me and who sometimes listen when I talk to them
  • A happy healthy hubby
  • Great naps
  • Great sex
  • My new Sprint Wireless Internet card that came the day after I ordered it and is almost as fast as cable or a corporate LAN
  • The kind of relationship with my mom where we can really REALLY talk
  • A visit from Cara last week that's still making me feel good this week
  • Really great emails and phone calls from friends and coworkers
  • Meeting a 'old friend' face to face for the first time and finding that we click just as well in person as we did in cyberland
  • Being who I am today.
  • Being where I am today.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I tweaked a few things on the blog: updating my picture and my iPod Top 25. Interesting how much your music taste changes in the course of a year. Only two songs are still on the list from the first time I posted it.

It Was the Best of Times... It Was the Worst of Times..

Back to school.

I am enjoying my last two weeks recovery at home in peace and quiet. Beginning at 6:15 and ending at 7:30AM, my children trickle out the door, headed to their institutions of learning. I drag covers off, I push breakfast, I brush hair, I approve, or disapprove outfits, I ponder the meaning of 'rhetorical reasoning,' with confused teenagers. During the day, I can nap, I can talk on the phone, I can eat without exclamations of "ew!" or "can I have some?"

The downside: we've shelled out over $1,000 in the last two weeks. First, of course, is the published school supplies list, then shoes, clothes, etc. School supply list: it sounds so simple.. don't be fooled! Each year there must be at least one item on the published school supplies list that is next to impossible to find. In print it will seem so simple, listed as "red felt tip fine point marker, blood red only." Once you're on the hunt though, you realize this item might actually exist only the imagination of the teacher. To obtain this item you may be forced to drive 100 miles, trade a kidney or meet a dark stranger in an even darker alley. This is nothing compared to what happens next.

You've obtained that final, mythical pen or composition notebook. You've lovingly packed each backpack with exactly what each supply list detailed. You've purchased enough Kleenex, band aids and hand sanitizer to open your own hospital in a 3rd world country. You sleep the sleep of one content that she has accomplished the impossible; properly equipping five children, 1st grade to high school with all they need for school. One short day later, your peace is shattered.

One by one, your children walk through the door from their first day of school with looks of consternation and suspiciously 'listish' looking pieces of paper clutched in their hands. It is the 'secret/surprise' school supplies list, the one that teachers save until AFTER you've already purchased $500 in supplies the teachers said they needed! This list details exactly how much money you wasted as item after item you lovingly pursued and purchased is chucked in a box because "the teacher wants us to have a different one, Mom. I have to have it by tomorrow, Mom. Or else."

I swear, it's a conspiracy!

The secret school supplies list can ONLY be released after you've spent every penny you have on the things the school and teacher originally said they needed. The secret school supplies list MUST be purchased no later than the 2nd day of school or your innocent children will be locked in a dungeon and flogged with last year's moldy textbooks. The secret school supplies list contains items even MORE expensive and exotic than the published school supplies list. You and every other parent in your district wander, dazed, confused and downtrodden down the same aisles and byways you thought not to see for another year. You sell a kidney to obtain the graphing calculator, mortgage your home for those particular markers. Bloodied and bruised, you return home with the items which are taken off to school without a further comment. At last though, it's done. No more notes come home demanding obscure and outrageously expensive items never before necessary in any school setting.

You're done hunting, done spending...

Until Homecoming.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Big Show...and now?

July 22nd!! Can I say my rebirth day? I think I can, in some ways. I actually slept the night before the surgery. We stayed up until 11 to get me one last protein drink and 32oz of water since my surgery wasn't scheduled until 3:15. They wanted me at the hospital by 1:15.

  • 11:00AM the nurse and asked if we could head in sooner; Dr Chae was ahead of schedule! I was ready to go right that second but she told us to leave at 11:30. Would have worked out great if I hadn't forgotten my photo ID and insurance only to remember it about 10 minutes away from the house. Survived Homer-on-Bart style strangling from Cowboy as we turned around to get it. Amanda accompanied us; she and Cowboy would go to Family Night while I was in surgery.
  • 12:00PM check in to the hospital, weigh in; liquid diet has sucked 5 pounds off my in three days. Heck with surgery, maybe I'll just.....nah..never mind.
  • 12:20 inform surgical prep nurse that I am a 'very difficult stick,' she scoffs, as do they all.
  • 12:35 surgical prep nurse apologizes to me and admits that yes, I am actually a very difficult stick. I have three pokes for one IV line. Not so bad; my all time record was 14 for 2 lines.
  • 1:00PM Cowboy and Amanda come to sit with me a few minutes; Dr Chae stops by and is very efficient confident and business like. He promises to call Cowboy personally as soon as I'm out of surgery. Anethesiologist stops by, same drill.
  • 1:30PM I'm wheeled into the operating room where the technicians, anesthesiologist and I begin discussing Masterpiece theater...
  • 4:30PM Dr Chae phones Cowboy to say I am in the recovery room and doing just fine. I'm fading in and out but recal the recovery room nurses being gentle and kind, especially when the press that blessed PCA unit into my hand to administer the blessed blessed morphine.
  • 6:00PM Cowboy and Amanda come to my room to give me love and congratulate me but I'm still in and out and feel like I'm smothering; they turn up my oxgen. I think my sister in law tries to call but I can't talk to anyone; the nurse takes the phone off the hook.

I spent four days in the hospital, learning to manage my pain, trying to clear my lungs with that stupid repirizer. The staff were wonderful and attentive; just tough enough to keep me from being lazy but kind enough to let me rest when I needed.


  • Standing up and walking just a bit the same night as the surgery
  • Touring around the nurses' desk everyday,
  • Taking a shower, going to the bathroom without help and not throwing up once.

Sugar Free Jello tasted disgustingly sweet; I live on 2 tablespoons of broth 3 times a day but I wasn't hungry so it wasn't hard.

Cowboy brought me home from the hospital July 26th, driving as if I was made of spun glass (good because every bump kills me). He was up four times with me that night; I don't think he slept at all the first three days I was home.

I came home on oxygen because my resting pulse ox was barely acceptable and the minute I got up to move it plunged into "so not acceptable' numbers. I have a big machine that generates oxygen out of the atmosphere for home time and a portable machine with a back up tank for when I leave the house.

Amanda took on the role of dietician, nurse, CNA, hair washer and baby sitter. She now makes a mean protein shake and can figure up the calories and protein consumption for one day in less than 10 minutes. All the kids pitch in to help where they can; as the oldest, she's been absolutely priceless.

  • I make short journeys to the corner or down the street and back twice a day.
  • I have an external drain removed one week post op, the doc thinks I've lost at least three pounds since the surgery, tells me to take it easy but I don't have use oxygen when I'm just sitting now.
  • I think I'm losing between one half and 2 pounds per day right now. I know this sounds dangerous but after the procedure I've just had; it's normal. I take between 200 and 400 calories only on any given day.

My body is not hungry. Everything is swollen and the nerve endings in the new pouch are damaged; I can't feel hunger. However, I can think hunger. At first, thoughts of cheeseburgers, chicken or french fries just flit through my conciousness like weird dreams. The second I concentrate on them, my stomach burbles and I realize what a bad idea they would be. These thoughts are more frequent now, though, and a bit harder to deal with. I ran errands with Cowboy today (yay, out of the house for 2 hours, no breaks, in and out of the car and walking around) but had to flat refuse to go inside the pizza place to wait for his calzone with him. The idea was torture.

I would not say I am in mourning; I know I will have these things again, in small amounts. I would say though, that three weeks on liquids has gotten a bit old and the old noggin would really like some solid food to gnaw on. Good thing I only have a week to go before I go to soft foods; I'm planning chicken stew for the first night. Mmmmmm!

The Pre-Show and Red Carpet

I told you I'd try to come back but didn't make any promises. But am I glad I didn't; as you can see, never made it back. Here's what's gone down since we talked:

  • The week of July 13-19 contained three post op appointments and various sticks, pricks, prods and pokes. No issues though; I was cleared for surgery.
  • July 19 started on a clear liquid diet. Clear liquids means Sugar Free Jello, Crystal Light, SF Popsicles as much broth as you can drink (ask Dave Barry about broth and it's many attributes) and clear protein drinks or shots. Yep. That's it.
  • July 19th also happened to be the day of the company 'picnic' at the zoo. I put picnic in quotation marks because the company did not provide any actual FOOD for the occasion so I don't think it counts as a real picnic. No food at the zoo was OK in one aspect; no temptation. Bad in another; disappointed (and whiney) fam. Me? I'd prepared; I had two Isopure clear protein drinks and one protein 'bullet' (27grams of protein in 3.1oz of cough syrupy liquid). We arrived at 10:30AM. By 1:00PM the fam started eyeing my vittles. Figured it was time to go.
  • July 20th Cowboy and I drove to Wheatland to retrieve my oldest child; it's an all day trip basically. I prepared my little cooler of acceptable goodies. I'll say this: the clear protein drinks taste a little weird but they are very filling. If you are honest with yourself and can get past the 'head hunger' they'll keep you satisfied. They won't keep you from the urge to strangle your husband and oldest child as they chow down on Wendy's double cheeseburgers and large fries while the smell nearly kills you. Ok, I know they had to eat but it would have been great if they could have chosen that day to eat, oh, I don't know, fried scorpion or something.
  • July 21st was my last full day of work and I'm glad I went. I let the team know I wasn't shirking and my team in return, gave me tons of love and support. Clear liquids beginning to wear but then by midnight, I can't have ANYTHING so clear liquids should seem like a feast, huh? Yep.
  • July 22nd.... the day, I wonder if I'll even be able to sleep.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Have a Date...Wait, What?!?!?

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I had what was to be the first pre-surgery meeting with my Weight Management Specialist this week, post class. I was feeling less than successful too; Bill had a bad 'head' weekend last week, which resulted in being stuck in the house with a man with mixed mania/depressive episodes (think.... trampoline without any fun...boing..boing...boing). We were broke, so I wasn't able to stock up on 'OK for me' snacks for this time. The result was a lot of snacking and a couple pounds sneaking back. I hadn't quite finished flogging myself by the time I got to the group meeting.

We were expecting only our WMS to be present for the weigh in and check up on our progress. This meeting is a crucial step in the process to getting a date. We had to have 2 days' menu prepared for each of the three stages after surgery. We also had to have a good plan for fighting dehydration; the number one biggest cause of hospitalization and complication after surgery.

Mike, our WMS was there but Shannon, the program coordinator, was present as well. They told us they were splitting up the class because it was so large. Half of us went with Shannon, half stayed with Mike.

It turns out that I was in a group who had been determined as ready for surgery NOW and, against normal procedure, Shannon was ready to schedule us that day. She had cancellations and needed to fill them asap. I am so grateful to the other people in my group; they very graciously let me have the date I have.

Just so you're all aware, there's a higher power, there's a magic at work here. Repeatedly in my meditations, as I thought about, intended for my surgery to happen on the best possible day... one date appeared in my head. Hovering in my thoughts of the 'best possible' as far back as May; this date... is THE DATE she just so happened to have available.

July 22nd. *waits for it... first you'll say GREAT....then a couple seconds later you'll get a look on your face and say 'wait, what?!?!?! That soon?' I know this because that's what EVERYBODY who hears it does. Everybody except Bill but he doesn't count because he's insane anyway.

Yes, that soon. The Tuesday after next. I have 18 gozillian things to get done between now and then.

I feel pretty good about where I am in preparation where work is concerned: my FMLA and short term disability paperwork is done, my leave time is arranged and I have begun preparing my team to take over for me while I'm gone.

Home is another matter all together.

I woke up at 5:30AM today with the realization of just how much food is in this house that I'll have to get the kids to eat or something. It's stuff I buy for me now that I won't be able to eat for a few months (fresh fruit, fresh veggies, some low fat cheese etc). They'll be thrilled; they're always trying to sneak away with it anyway, which is maddening since most of the time they have something way better (and bad for you) available instead. I go on clear liquids for surgery prep next Saturday and won't get back to even 'mushy' foods for at least a month.

I wanted to bring someone in to do a top-to-bottom house-cleaning but now I think I won't be able to afford (or schedule) it beforehand. Guess we'll all be scrubbadubbing up until the date. Amanda is visiting her father in Gillette (and having a great time, I hear) but she'll need to be retrieved before the date. The original pick up date had to be rescheduled because now my pre-op appointment is on that day.

I need to pick up a bunch of tiny dishes and tupperware type items. The best way to make sure you don't overeat is to serve yourself the right size portions in the right size containers. Besides, it saves a LOT of wasted food when all you eat is a half (or less sometimes). We were waiting until we had a date to get them. Now we have the date but not the time we expected to prepare.

Finally, I have tried not to treat this time as a Feast of Defiance; eating everything I know I won't be able to have for a long time. I will someday be able to have those things again, in very very small doses, but I will have them. On the other hand, I have planned a treat or two into every week including a lot of these things. With the date so close, though... Well.. you tell me:

Do you think I can get Pizza, Wings, Cheesecake, Ice Cream, Death by Chocolate, Fried Rice, Sesame Chicken, Bagels with lox (and a TON of cream cheese), Cheese Fondue, Chimichanga and Corndogs into one week and still meet my 30 Weight Watchers points per day goal? Yeah. I didn't think so either. Oh well. I did plan a donut into Friday, and it was great!

It's SO SOON!! I'd stay to chat but, like I said, 18 gozillian things to do. I gotta go. BTW, I just found a new purpose for my photoblog. D'uh, what'dyou think?

I'll try to get time to blog before The Date but can't make promises. Wish me luck, please!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's it worth to ya?

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That's what it really comes down to, you know. What's worth more to you: the food or something else. I'm getting really good at making this decision.

Some days, the birthday cake is worth it. Some days shopping in a store that doesn't sell plus sizes is worth a lot more and the birthday cake. Of course, there are days when I know there's going to be cake, I make the choice to put it into my plan and I have it without guilt.

Is it working? I lost 7 lbs this week. You tell me.

BTW, looking for a fabulous, guilt-free super yum desert? Mix 1/2 cup fresh fruit (berries are my favorite) with 1 Jello Sugar Free pudding pack and 2 tablespoons Cool-Whip free. For even greater delight; freeze for one hour then eat.

Warning: this dessert can result in extreme food-gasms!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WTF??? and other moments

more cat pictures

All that navel gazing yesterday was really in preparation for class, where I truly expected to get on the scale and find I had gained a pound or two. I felt like I had a Black Hole Weekend: this happens when your gravitational pull becomes so great that you eat everything that crosses your event horizon.

You can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale to find out that I lost 3.2lbs. Imagine my surprise, yep. Probably not imagine the tears afterward. Not tears of Joy.. tears of WTF-ness because... well... WTF? I'm supposed to be learning to anticipate how my weight will have changed over the week and I could have sworn that I'd BLOWN it completely this weekend.

I sat last night and thought about it and.. .well.. I didn't really eat THAT much over the weekend and I did really well the rest of the week. But still. I'm supposed to be tuning into my psychic powers and stuff... and I can't even anticipate my weight? Fine witch I'm turning out to be!

If the witch reference isn't enough to warn you off.... WARNING! Blasphemous (depending on your point of view) material follows.

On a lighter note, out of the mouths of babes:

You know those stop lights with a residential street crossing onto a major thoroughfare, the ones that take forever to change for the person waiting on the residential street? There I sat yesterday, waiting to turn left. I looked to my right and noticed a crosswalk button. Hmmmmmm

"Shelley! Jump out and press the cross light button, it'll make the light turn!"

"Oh no, Mama, just wait a second. It'll go right...... now!"

DING! The light turns green.

From the back of the 'Burb:
"MOM! Shelley-Sue is Jesus!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Climb that Mountain; Ditch the Donuts


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Sometimes the people who are trying to be the nicest to you are the ones who hold us back most.

In my classes, we are supposed to identify our saboteurs; I'm sad to say that Cowboy is one and most of my coworkers are as well. They all love me, I know, but Cowboy says helpful things like "it's OK honey, you just can't lose weight like other people". He was shocked and confused when I practically clawed his eyes out for saying it. When I calmed down, I had to explain that the support I need from him most is to remind me that I can lose weight like everybody else: by eating less and moving more. The surgery will help me do the one for a while, it's true, but in the end, I have to work at this every day for the rest of my life.

My coworkers know how hard I'm working on eating right and preparing for the surgery but sometimes they still bring in donuts, cakes and cookies, sometimes with the reasoning that I should enjoy them now, while I still can. I'm determined not to mourn that way for food. I will NOT put on weight before this surgery. When my day comes, I will already be eating the way (if not the amounts) that I will be for the rest of my life. I know that after a year or so, I'll be able to have small amounts of sugar without getting sick. I've made up my mind to get used to that now, not wait for the surgery to force me to give them up.

I know that people who lose large amounts of weight, with or without surgery, plan most of their meals and spend a lot of time and energy making sure they have the right food available. I'm doing the same; packing lunches, planning ahead, grocery shopping for myself almost separately from the rest of the family.

It's working too... most of the time...

Sunday I did really well, saying no to cake and ice cream at my nephew's birthday party. Unfortunately, I went so long between meals that I was starving by the time we got home and overate that night. I probably saved some calories skipping the sweets but would have served myself better to have taken a filling, sugar-free treat to the party so I wouldn't be ravenous later.

Yesterday, some sweet but misguided people on my team were trying to talk me into eating a donut. I was laughing but I was serious about saying no. They eventually placed an entire box, open, on my desk in front of me. I could have cried from frustration. I know they mean well but I make a food plan every day and yesterday donuts weren't on that plan. It was exhausting sticking to my plan but I did it.

On the other hand, I did not walk last night.

I used up all my energy resisting Dunkin Donuts!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Story of my life?

more cat pictures

As part of my preparation for this surgery, I take a weekly class. We work on many of the skills and learn information we'll need in order to be successful. You can't just let them cut your tummy apart, give you a pouch the size of a golf ball and think all your problems will be solved. Many are just beginning.

We have homework every week. This week, we have to write out our story, specifically, our history with food and weight issues, what things we think affect our weight, our perceptions about weight loss and what it takes for us to actually take off the pounds. I love writing, even though I don't do it often enough here. I'm enjoying the project but doubt they counted on someone as verbose as I am. I'm guessing we won't show what's in our story to anyone; which is good. It's not a novel like to win any prizes but it's turning into a novel. What's come out of it so far has been interesting, though.

A few things I hadn't thought about until now:
  • My background is hugely food-centric. My dad has a Masters in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management and worked in the food service industry the whole time I was growing up. He even helped me apply for my first three jobs, all of them in the food service industry. I'm not saying this was a bad thing; it wasn't. I'm just saying food has been part of my life, not just as a means of survival but as a means of attaining the means of survival, for as long as I remember.
  • I've been binge eating since I was 13 or 14. I never thought of it that way, but there's not really any other way to explain a 95lb, 4' 11" girl eating a fully loaded double cheeseburger, large onion rings and Pepsi the size of a hot tub.
  • I've used food as a means of taking control of my life. and rebelling against... everything. When I ordered that double cheeseburger during lunch at school, I was making my own decision; my mom couldn't tell me no. When I bought candy and junk food with my first paychecks and then hid them in my room, I was controlling my life in a small way. I was a rebellious kid but I never snuck out, I never did drugs or drank. I ate instead. I never thought about it, but my unconscious decision's worked out as well for me as theirs did for many of my classmates who chose less legal, more drastic options.

I said two years ago I was on a journey to smaller pant sizes (and beyond). I still am; I may have gotten detoured but I think I'm back on track at last.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surprise. I'm back. And other surprises.

I am having gastric bypass surgery at the end of the summer. Surprise!

Nearly ten years ago, I started thinking about this option. I knew people who had it and did very well, some not so well. I noticed surgery wasn't a cure for addiction issues, emotional problems or low self-esteem. I sympathized with the what appeared to be incredibly difficult (and sometimes disgusting) side effects of a stomach (or pouch) the size of a golf ball. Sometimes I agonized with them while they struggled with the same dragons they'd been fighting all their lives.

Obviously, this decision wasn't a cure all. People I knew who were.. well, damaged going in, remained damaged on the other side. Damaged with a pouch instead of a stomach and maybe a smaller ass but still damaged. Someone I know who was an addict before is an addict still, still goes in and out of rehab on a regular basis. He's just an addict with a smaller pant size.

I spent years reading websites like and learning about patient's experiences, insurance company fights, private pay woes, weird side effects.... and amazing sucess stories.

I learned about the Lap Band, the duodenal switch, the Roen-y and everything in between. I had no insurance and we had no money. My ass expanded in destitution.

Things have changed, a lot. I've thought, a lot. I've researched, a lot. "A lot" has just lost it's meaning for me and now looks like alien.

I am doing this. I'll tell you why, piece by piece. In boring detail. If you want to know (or suffer from insomnia), stay tuned.

My First You-Tube

Well, actually it's Cheryl's first. Kindergarten graduation was last night.. with a little music program first. I love the way Cheryl's school sets these up, by the way: short and oh so sweet.

You can't hear the song, the video's jumpy (taken on a digital camera, not a video camera) but the point is... It's hysterical! Ok ok ok, if I can get geeky assistance and a song that I think goes well with it, I'll add some appropriate music. In the meantime, please enjoy Amanda's running monologue!

My favorite author, Janice Taylor says laughter's great for weight loss(check out her new book, please! I'm loving every second of "All is Forgiven, Move On") and she's absolutely right. Have a yummy giggle on me!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Our Lady of Valentine's Day Love

I get a weekly email from Our Lady of Weighloss, Janice Taylor's Kick in The Tush Club. After last night's navel gazing about my weight and eating habits, this was just the sort of Valentine I needed.

Check her awesomeness out!:

Motivational Musing The Greatest Love of All

St. Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and I want to remind everyone that the greatest love of all is self-love. That’s right … hug yourself, love yourself, and if possible, bestow multiple gifts upon thyself this St. Valentine’s Day! (gift links below!) Self-love and weight loss go hand-in-hand and thigh-to-thigh, if you will. I know how it feels not to like myself and to lead a life of compromise. It’s a big, fat drag. And now I know how it feels to like – even love myself. I promise you, it’s a whole lot better and there’s no pastry, chocolate bar, or basket of bread that’s worth it putting self-love on the back-burner.

Love is an art that requires conviction, faith and daily practice. Self-love is within you, always available – ready to comfort and embrace. Fully accept yourself this St. Valentine’s Day. You deserve to love yourself, no matter your size, hairstyle (I had the ultimate bad cut a few weeks ago and struggled with self-love.),or I.Q. (my brother was the smart one!).

Five Fabulous Tips on How to Exercise Your Self-Love

1. Write out a list of all the things you like about yourself. If you are short on ideas, ask a couple of good and kind friends. (Caution: steer clear of critical relatives.)

2. To get your day headed in the right direction, start the morning with a few self-loving affirmations. Write them first and then say them aloud. “My loving energy flows through me and out into the universe, connecting with all the Gods and Goddesses of love.” (Okay, a little over the top. I like a touch of drama.)

3. Every night jot down three things that you are grateful for. “I am grateful that I love myself.”

4. Praise and compliment yourself as often as possible. Criticism is soul crushing. Praise builds. “Wow, that chocolate smoothie I just whipped up was awesome". "I am great.” “And woo hoo! Girlfriend, look at yourself in those tight-ass jeans.”

5. Look adoringly at yourself in the mirror. Accept yourself just the way you are. No kidding, you are really fabulous. No need to wait. Love yourself NOW.

Thank you, Janice!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Whaddya Wanna Know?

My new job?

It's going fine. I like the work; it's different enough that I have a challenge. It's also familiar enough that I don't feel I'm completely starting over. The team has some.. er.. interesting dynamics. I got some great advice before I left my last department and I'm taking it to heart: lay low, learn a lot, keep your mouth shut and stay neutral.

Right now, the best part of the job is that it's 8-5, Monday through Friday. The whole family's enjoying it as I've worked some incredibly kooky hours over the last year. Unfortunately, the schedule's not likely to be quite as good after March 1st. I'll need to bid for my shift and I am truly low man on the totem pole. The good news is that they have people who really like weekends and people who really like nights. Most likely, I'll be home most of the weekend and in time to kiss kiddos goodnight.

What am I going to do?

Nothing.. and everything. Learn as much as I can, try to contribute to the team in as positive a manner as possible. Remember that I'm not there to make friends and that there are dues to pay everywhere you go. Above all, learn as much as I can and enjoy the opportunity to stretch my wings and make a bit more money.

My health?

In a phrase: diabetes sucks ass. Everytime I start feeling like I have a handle on what my numbers should look like, surprise! I'm wrong. It's becoming a me versus food sort of struggle. I feel extremely guilty about the numbers being off which causes me to get mad which in turn results in inappropriate eating behavior. The obvious result is that I then have even worse test results than before. My fasting blood sugars have yet to run in the numbers my doctors want. They added a second medication, trying to help.

What am I doing about it besides whining?

I give up something for Lent every year, even though I'm not Catholic. I believe in the excersise: self restraint and sacrifice as a means of purification and learning self control. This year, I gave up sugar sweets, particularly nightly desserts. At present, I get huge cravings for sweets after most meals but especially after dinner and before bed.

For the next 40 days, I am giving up anything that qualifies as dessert and a lot of other items that revolve around huge amounts of carbs or sugar. It's my choice, not my family's or my coworkers, so no whining if someone else wants a sweet either. It's my life, it's my choice and it's not their problem. I am allowing myself sugar free jello and gum for those times when the cravings get the best of me. I also realize that two huge sweet holidays come between now and Easter: Valentine's day and my birthday. Guess I'll have to find another way to celebrate.

So far so good; it's Sunday and no slips. My hope is that 40 days from now, I can look back on how it went and realize if I made it this far, I can make it all the way. Here's hoping.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cheap Entertainment

My new favorite for free entertainment on the web: The Wikipedia 'Random Article' Button

HOURS, even DAYS of useless (sometimes uncited or unreliable) trivia. Beware, though, I think the thing has a mind of it's own. One day, nearly 1/3 of my random articles were Judaica related, including on entry on a band that specializes in Hasidic Jazz fusion recordings of traditional dances like the Hora.

Not. Kidding.

Along the way, I've learned a TON and laughed often. Example: Frank's Mom

Tonight, it's Lithuanian History. Man, we're a duplicitous bunch!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Last Weinerschnitzel - The Sequel

The holidays loomed large in my future; I didn't worry over much about my job prospects as I played with my family at Christmas. My regular supervisor had worked with the sup P, from the other department in the past. In fact most of my current management team came from that department. Jen sent P a friendly recommendation for me. He responded that he planned to schedule interviews the second week of January.

As I waited, I worked hard to keep disappointment from affecting my attitude at work, telling myself what I'd learned over and over: everything happens for a reason. I hadn't gotten what I wanted but the Universe has a funny way of knowing what you need and sending it your way regardless of what you want. If you can be patient, things usually turn out OK. If you can be patient.

Sure as sunrise and taxes, the invite arrived the afternoon of the 7Th, dated for Wednesday. I took it as a good sign that the supervisor seemed to be as punctual as I try to be. I made myself take ten breaths before sending an acceptance... and squealing quietly to myself. Behaving like a St Bernard puppy might be endearing in a friend but it's not terribly professional; I'm trying to learn restraint.

I met my prospective management team; strong handshakes and direct looks into my eyes. Kind eyes, but very direct. A tiny voice in my head said "Forget the coaching, the articles, the advice. Tell them what you feel, really. Tell them what you know, truly. Tell them what you'd do, honestly." It didn't sound like that tiny voice that told me there are no calories if you eat a brownie standing up. It sounded rational and wise.

I took a chance. Within the first minute, I'd broken the cardinal rule of job interviews: they knew I have children and they knew how many. By the time it was over, I'd told them about the biggest mistakes of my career with this company, then how I recovered from it and ensured it wouldn't happen again. By the time it was over they were saying "when you start" as opposed to "if you come to work for us."

One last leap, I asked, 'has this been a good interview?'

'This has been the most surprisingly, unconventional interview I've ever had,' said T(that's not a typo, the manager's name is T, the sup is P). 'It's also been one of the best. When you get back to your office, you need to find out the first possible day you can come to us.'

Jen called me at home the next morning: 'they're asking for your salary information and release date. This looks good, Christy.' I wasn't even scheduled to be in for two hours.

Dan and P were engaged in er... vigorous negotiation over that date. Dan has a ton of projects going right now, my timing was bad. Still, he acknowledged I only did what he told me to do. Would have been nice if I'd waited, but he didn't tell me to wait. I was flogging myself even so; I hate thinking I let anybody down. He assured me I hadn't at all. That was the whole problem.

The day wore on and so did the battle. Turns out that Dan and P are more alike than I thought. They went back and forth, P wanted sooner, D couldn't possibly think of it till later. I felt like the last Weinershnitzel at Oktoberfest; a nice change! Instead of left over and forgotten, I was a hot commodity, a valuable asset. Knowing a bit about the two personalities involved, I thought it might have been more appropriate if they'd have a light saber duel in the parking lot, but also thought it might not be a great career move to suggest it. Finally, they came to a compromise. Still felt like a Weinerschnitzel: but one cut in half and without an offer letter.

Friday, I was entirely useless and single minded like a kid on Christmas Eve: WHERE THE HECK IS MY OFFER LETTER? People don't argue over the release dates of employees they aren't going to hire!

The offer came in the late afternoon and a thousand years later. I did a happy dance and embarrassed Debbie. A fair offer, a small raise, a real position, not Interim. Jen and Debbie pulled me away from the desk before I could reply "Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes." They were right, I needed to take a few minutes and calm down so I didn't gush. I called Cowboy and let him know it was safe to celebrate. I secluded myself in a conference room and celebrated myself.

Ten minutes later and much more appropriate I sent something bland, professional, upbeat but still affirmative. A round of congratulations from Dan, Jen, Debbie and others, then discussion of who could be brought in to take my place until the position is phased out.

Dan doesn't doesn't offer false praise and doesn't compliment lightly. When he remarks "oh, and good job!" upon receipt of a completed project, that is high praise indeed. As life returned to normal and I started my usual Friday evening duties, I asked, as I always ask him when I leave his desk: is there anything else I can do for you?

Yes. You can build a cloning machine and make a copy of yourself. Give the copy to them and then stay here so I can have the original.

Weinerschnitzels don't cry, but this one almost did.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

Before I go 'on with the Weinerschnitzel', I stopped by Caffeinated Librarian's blog this morning because I am up ridiculously early and I haven't read her pages in a coon's age. If you've never read her, please go do so now; she is exactly what she advertises herself as but better!

One of the posts on Libby's blog had a link to a political quiz and since it's that time of year, I thought I'd take it and post my results as well. The last political thing I posted was a very short fun-quiz type of dealy that showed me as the bleeding heart liberal. Other than that, I've avoided discussing politics here whenever possible. My reasons: I am a hopelessly poor debater and take the issues personally, and the responses from people who disagree with me very personally. My family and friends are the only people who know the details about my views, though, as in everything, I'm fairly transparent.

There are lots of old sayings but the warning about mixing religion and politics into casual conversation works for me. Blogs that talk about both can get big followings. There can also be big firefights in the comments section. I'd sure love more attention, but not that kind. If you want your blog to run that way, I say, go you. I don't, so I generally don't bring that stuff up.

On the other hand, several big things happened in my politics world this week. The primary results were interesting, but it's a couple much smaller items that stayed with me. They may be why I'm thinking about this stuff.

  • Governor Bill Richardson stepped out of the race for president. I have been following Richardson and quietly talking him up since 2005. Anytime one of my latino friends brought up their concerns about this race, I'd throw Bill's name out as someone to watch. Every time someone I'm close to would express concern about Darfur, I'd mention Mr. Richardson and his work in the region. I like the man as a person, for his background and outlook, and as a politician for his diplomacy skills and bravery. It's too bad that he didn't have the sort of money machine backing him that the big candidates do. I hold out a strong hope that he will find his way into a Democratic White House; I think he'd be a great VP or.. maybe better, a Secretary of State.
  • The best thing Hillary could have done for herself was to get just a bit choked up in front of a crowd this week. She looked more human than she ever has, and this is coming from someone who respects her a great deal. Now I wouldn't be the one to give advice on when to show emotions to anybody. I generally show far too much emotion and it has cost me dearly in my life. However, people need to know that the issues touch you, that it all means something to you. As a woman, that's an incredibly delicate balance. Hillary was terribly maligned when Bill was president. I felt it was almost criminal of him to let her be his scapegoat on unpopular subjects. That said, she often comes off as more mechanical than personable, so I applaud what others might be criticising at this moment. If Dan Rather can cry on TV girly, you can get a lump in your throat!

So that's it. That was my week in politics. Below are the results of my quiz, which tell me I need to read up on some folks:

85% John Edwards
84% Chris Dodd
84% Joe Biden
84% Barack Obama
81% Bill Richardson
80% Hillary Clinton
79% Mike Gravel
76% Dennis Kucinich
36% Rudy Giuliani
30% Tom Tancredo
29% John McCain
26% Mike Huckabee
24% Mitt Romney
19% Ron Paul
17% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Last Weinerschnitzel, Part One

I am Interim.

I really hate that term. It didn't used to bother me; everybody was Interim. I was simply more Interim, just hanging out to learn everything I could and fill in where I was needed. Unfortunately, Interim-ly-ess-ness will grate on you eventually and I am not the most thick-skinned of folks. By the middle of December, if Interim were fabric, it would have been wet burlap and I'd have been wearing it for pants.

Maybe you don't understand what I've been doing for the last nine months-- no more than 27 people on the planet really understand what I've been doing for nine months. I'll give you a BRIEF (yes, brief.. even I can be brief) overview:

We manage the traffic for three call centers. We decide what percentage of the calls each center will take at any given time with a goal of getting 80% of our calls answered in under 20 seconds. Very often, we make changes on the fly because what seems fairly predictable (a given number of agents ought to be able to take a given percentage of the calls) isn't. We assist management in scheduling overtime, meetings, training sessions and events in such a way that the 80/20 goal is met. That is job Number One.

Job Number Two is reporting on every possible number or statistic about those calls: how many, how fast, how many people left, how they scored on QA, how long they waited, how long they were in meetings, who is calling and what they want when they call. We then assist Dan to predict how many calls we'll get from where for what when we do this all again.

Job Number Three. Since we already monitor agent activity, we are often the first to notice inappropriate behavior. We are often required to investigate and provide evidence for disciplinary action. This earns us the reputation of being bullies, babysitters and big meanyheads. I have an opinion about this, but I said brief.

I love what I'm doing. Job Number One is tedious but rewarding when you get it right. Job Number Three is depressing but a fact of life. Job Number Two is what I live for. I am Mistress of the Minutiae and I like spinning these numbers all over the place and then making good guesses about what happens next.
But that's not why I love what I am doing. I love it because I get to work with the two D's: Dan, the Jedi Master, who has been my mentor and friend since I started at Sprint, and Debbie, who has a Black Belt in data management and is one of the most kind, giving and under appreciated people I've ever met. Dan and Debbie do not hoard knowledge; they are happy to work with others and share what they know. If you're an adult, you know what a rare quality that is and why, when you find two such people in one place, you make every second count.


My job is going away. Not today or tomorrow, but in the next three to six months. The center is going to a system which will eliminate the need for Job Number One, the primary reason for our existence. Dan feels that he won't need three people for Jobs Number Two and Three. In a few months, when it's mostly reporting and a tiny bit of investigating, my spot will be expensive and redundant.

I knew this was coming; I had lots of warning. However, I believe in fairies, magic beans and managerial miracles. I hoped. I hoped if I learned enough and was bright enough, helpful enough, enthusiastic enough, they'd decide to keep me.

They didn't. In December it was announced that there were two and only two people becoming Actual instead of Interim. I was the last Weinerschnitzel; cold and greasy, destined to be thrown away and forgotten.

Dan let me cry, which is completely unprofessional, and rant, which isn't much better, then put my problems right back in my lap. You know this was coming, he rightfully said, and no one made you volunteer to do what you've been doing. You could have stayed back, but you wanted to learn and I let you, with no promises attached and a clear expecation of the future. Now, what you knew was happening has happened, what are you going to do about it? Don't sit here and cry, get up and help yourself.

There was a job in another department very similar to what I'm doing and it's not Interim. Go apply, he said. Then he gave his own very precious time and helped me polish my resume and cover letter for submission as he has done for me on three other occasions. I sent off the packet, then got word that they would be calling for interviews the second week in January.

The Weinerschnitzel waited.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Smile, Darn Ya!

A friend of mine sent another friend (hope I can call her a friend) a sheet of scratch n sniff smiley face stickers inside a Christmas card.

This is what she did with those stickers. Warning: uncontrollable smiling ahead.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Nerd Search 2008

If you didn't read my MSN Blog, you might not be familiar with Nerd Searches. I haven't posted one in a while, so maybe an explanation is in order. After this, I'll begin to put them off to the side and you can check them out if you feel like it.

I come across weird things that trip my interest in everyday life, I'm sure you do too. For me, I must then go find out as much about them as possible. I read an article on MSN recently about a certain kind of whale that is believed to live up to 200 years. Off to Google I go, plugging in "Whales" and I end up spending three hours reading everything from Wikipedia to the National Cetacean Institute's website.

Today, I am reading (or re-reading as an adult, not under Mom's duress) The Once and Future King. I run across this phrase at the end of Chapter Six of "The Queen of Air and Darkness:"

(Plot Summary) Arthur has just announced that he intends to make Might work for Right by introducing a code of chivalry, making it popular to be good in hopes of winning over his detractors and uniting his country.

The magician stood up as straight as a pillar, stretched out his arms in both directions, looked at the ceiling and said the first few words of the Nunc Dimittis.

A new Nerd Search is begun: What is 'Nunc Dimittis?'

Inspiration from the Radio

Fridays I don't have to be at work until 10:30AM so I generally run a few errands before toddling off. It's been a gloomy couple of weeks but finally the sun is out. I left off my sunglasses and let it shine through eyelashes; a cheap and most effective cure for wintertime blues.

Big Yellow Taxi: it's really hard to screw up this song, no matter who sings it. Joni knows how to spin her words and chords. Shelley and I sang out loud together as we came home from the store.

Fire and Rain: JT never fails to cheer me up but especially those super hits. Did you know that his Greatest Hits album is one of the most continuously well sold of all time? More singing out loud as I drove to work.

If You Leave: I'm a product of the 80s. I can't hear OMD without bopping, singing and thinking of Molly Ringwald.

Combine sunshine, first thing in the morning productivity, these great songs and the newest from Starbucks: Skinny Mocha Lattes and my morning started off great!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Find a Reason

Apparently, I don't have my normal high-pro glow. People are concerned that I'm unhappy.. but I'm not. Really. It never hurts to think of reasons to be happy anyway.

Things that are making me happy today:
  • It's Wednesday, I didn't have to be at work until 9AM.
  • The children are still on Holiday break, I got to sleep in because they didn't have to be up for school.
  • Traffic was super light; I got to work 45 minutes early, which means I get to leave 30 minutes early tonight.
  • Smoked pork roast for dinner in my lunch bag.
  • I accomplished my entire 1st of the year to-do list before 2:00PM today.
  • New socks
  • Triple Grande Non-Fat, Sugar Free Cinnamon Dolce lattes that taste almost as good as the fatty sugary one.
  • Aynde made it to Owensboro safe and sound and she has a phone, at last!
  • The Mary Engelbreit desk calander I got for Christmas.. so pretty and I can frame the pictures or scrap book with them when I'm done
  • Working with D, someone who I 'get' and who 'gets' me, and with whom I get a LOT accomplished (nothing to make you happy like productivity!)
  • A fabulous note to Shelley from my grandfather, encouraging her to reach for her dream and touching her so much she actually cried.

Life is good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mama Christy Has a Project

There was a reason I asked Santa for a digital camera.

The one resolution I made this year was to participate in Project 365. Announcing:

Consider yourselves guinea pigs, by the way; I'm learning as I go.