Managing being a grown-up

This post will have to be short. I’m overdue for trying to get into bed already.

Which is why I’m writing this post, actually.

I’m finding it very difficult to stay on top of myself and my household. How do I get dishes done, and laundry done, and work out in an evening, and be in bed by 10:00? Actually, if that was all I had to do in a night, I probably could make it work. But throw in a quick trip to the grocery store, paying some bills, and packing a lunch for tomorrow and it all goes to hell.

And keeping up with having any kind of a social life, which to be honest consists of dance lessons and dancing for me, then I am never caught up.

My windows are filthy dirty. I have not fully vacuumed up the cat hair since she passed away over a month ago.

Most days all of this doesn’t bother me, but I’m getting older and I think I have to manage myself more carefully in order to stay healthy.

I’ve put on a significant amount of weight since February this year, and some of the things I’m trying to do to reverse that trend is not eat after 8:00 at night and get a good night’s sleep.

Well, today I had to eat at the dance studio between 7:50 and 8:10 before I drove all the way home. Then I had to stop at the grocery store, start some laundry, clean up the kitchen, check Facebook, read a few of your blogs, and now I’m getting to do my post.

I’ll be lucky to get 7 hours of sleep tonight.

Yikes. It’s not horrible, but I think I really do have to be more and more disciplined because the pounds are easier and easier to put on and harder and harder to take off at this point in my life.

Quiet house

My cat has been getting progressively sicker from kidney failure all year, and yesterday, I took her to the vet to be euthanized. Those are not the words I’ve been using when I tell people about this, but typing out “I put her down,” just seems weird.

It was tough to decide to do this because in a lot of ways she was still her lovable self, but in other ways she was clearly suffering. I felt much better about the decision when I did get to the vet’s office though. They could clearly see the signs that were making me think it was near the end for her.

It’s only been 24 hours, and the house feels entirely too quiet.

No kitty noises when I get home from work. No curled-up cat sleeping on the couch next to me while I work on my computer. No cat trying to rub against my legs after I get out of the shower.

I was thinking about how she would catch the corner of my eye just walking to her food bowl. She would jump up on the bed and purr and look for me to pet and pet her before I fell asleep. I’d come through through the garage, then the kitchen, and turn into the living room, and then she’d be coming to greet me.

This will take some getting used to.

But in the meantime, I will be finding lots and lots of cat hair to clean up.

Watching me work on my computer

Watching me work on my computer

Flashes of insight

I had an encounter with my boss last week. She sent an email asking attendees of a meeting I had run for their thoughts about the meeting. You could read the email in two ways. The first in a way asking for feedback on the topic of the meeting; the second in a way asking for feedback on how I ran the meeting.

I only assumed it was about the content of the meeting, but I was annoyed at her email because I should have been the one asking people to send their thoughts, if that even needed to be done at all. In other words, it was not her place to ask people to do some work because that would have been my place.

When I got to work that day, I asked my boss why she sent the email. She said she was trying to be helpful because I had been out of the office for a few days. I told her that it felt to me like she was trying to take over managing that project, and she said that was not it.

I thought that was the end of it.

She then came to me on Monday and told me that people near her office overheard my conversation with her and thought it had been inappropriate. I didn’t close the door when I talked to her, which I should have, but I really didn’t think it was loud or attention-grabbing. I admitted that I should have closed the door.

Today, I learned that it all stemmed from a meeting about a week before she sent her email. In that meeting, I had asked her to silence her phone because it kept beeping and having giving her notifications.

I would never have gone that far back to the source of the disagreement. So, really, she sent the email with a thinly veiled attempt to indicate that she wasn’t happy with how I ran the meeting.

It’s really funny, however, because now that I know that she was embarrassed by my request to silence her phone, I have a lot more insight into my crazy boss. If I ever need to confront her or ask her not to do something, I need to do it private. For her it’s all about saving face and maintaining the hierarchy. When I confronted her about the email, I was right, so if anyone had overheard that conversation, they would have known she did something wrong. She needs to save face, and now that I know, I mean really know, that about her, I will certainly be better equipped to maintain my sanity around her craziness.

Convincing ourselves

I’ve noticed a certain behavior among my friends and coworkers lately. I think it’s a perfectly human kind of trait, so it’s always been there, but in a work setting I think it’s actually a bit dangerous.

My boss, for instance, will get the start of an opinion about someone, and then over time that becomes the only thing she thinks about that person. One of our suppliers might not do something right, and then before you know it, they do everything wrong.

I was traveling this week with some coworkers, and a company that we work with was putting on a big show for their suppliers. There was a very good reason for what they were doing, but they also were trying to convince everyone in the room how great they area.

My two coworkers were somewhat impressed at the start of the meeting, and then by the end of the meeting, were really gung ho about the company. They almost lost their ability to critically evaluate what the company was saying.

I know there’s a big tendency among all human beings toward a confirmation bias. (I think Predictably Irrational is a good place to read about this.) I doesn’t surprise me.

And to be honest, I used the same confirmation bias is decided to write about this. I’ve been observing the behavior so much recently, so maybe I ignored situations where friends and coworkers were purposely looking for information counter to their beliefs.

I just find this behavior dangerous. It’s too easy to write off an employee without giving them a chance to improve their behaviors and skills. It’s too easy to decide you don’t like someone when maybe one or both of you were having a bad day at your last encounter. It’s ridiculously too easy to decide that a significant other is right for you based on a small sampling of their behavior.

And I’m sure we’ve all seen companies where the people at the top all agree with one another. They move from one company to another together. That’s too much agreement, and often closes off opportunities for the company.

I’ll have to try to keep my eyes wide open and to sometimes seek opinions deliberately different from mine.

Partner dancing and creativity

I heard a story one time from someone who worked in account management in an ad agency. This person originally wanted to be the one who came up with the ads, a creative. During his interview, he was asked if he created anything artistic, like drawing, painting, playing music, writing music, etc. The person did not, and so his interviewer steered him toward the account management role, which ended up working just fine for him.

But the story got me thinking. Since my primary hobby involves dancing, I had to wonder if partner dancing is creative.

Social partner dancing is quite different from the performance type of dances. We don’t choreograph a routine which demonstrates through the movement of our bodies what we interpret in the music. Choreographing dances is clearly creative to me; performing the dance may be too.

The movement and moves in social dancing are not planned in advance. They are figured out during the song through the interplay of the lead, the follow, and the music.

In that sense, I say that partner dancing is creative. The lead usually decides most of the content of the moves, but the lead will work with what the follow does in deciding the next move. The follow can hear something in the music and then interpret that with certain movements, and the lead can then work with that and do the next thing. The lead hears something in the music and starts a movement that the follow finishes, also coordinating the movement with the music.

But even though I believe this is creativity, it’s different from the creativity in the fine arts.

Here’s where I think it’s different. A sculptor takes the wood or marble and envisions the final piece. The sculptor works and works to make his or her final vision come true. Painters and composers do the same thing.

At the beginning of a song in social partner dancing, you really don’t know what the final product will be, other than a dance that fits the particular style of music. It would be next to impossible to have the same dance twice even with the same partner and same song. Just orienting differently on the dance floor and being surrounded by different couples means that the moves will end up different.

I have read that artists can feel a sense of “oneness” with the artwork they are creating. The creative process in a partnered, social dance is different; I don’t feel a “oneness” with any thing during a social dance, but I feel a call to be completely present in the moment. Other thoughts go away (most of the time), and the dance is created in the here and now. I couldn’t do it the same way again, even if I were the best dancer in the world.

I don’t know if the social-dancing creative process would be considered truly creative to a fine artist, but I think it is creative in its own way. I know that I miss it when I haven’t danced in a while. I truly enjoy the unpredictability of the whole experience. I’ll have to find some fine artists to see what they think.

Everyone should know how to throw

A girlfriend I used to work with posted a picture of herself on Facebook today. She’s wearing a baseball mitt on her left hand. This friend is about 10 years younger than me.

Her comment was that she had never worn one before but she would learn how to play for her sons. She would do anything for her sons.

I’m astounded that she never learned how to throw and catch a baseball or softball as a child. I’m astounded that doing so was only a boys’ thing in her mind.

Seriously, every kid should learn how to play baseball or softball. Not get good at it per se. But knowing how to throw and catch a ball is right up there with knowing how to tie your shoes, look both ways before you cross the street, writing complete sentences, and multiplying and dividing.

I realize that children who have moms who were sports-age before Title 9, might not have female role models for throwing and catching. But seriously, girls and women should know how to throw.

I played touch football for a few years in my 30s. One of the women on our team hadn’t been taught how to throw. She stepped forward on the side of her throwing arm. Parents, don’t let your children grow up to be “that teammate.”

Oh, and may no one ever have cause to use the sentence, “You throw like a girl,” as an insult anymore.

I’m doing this wrong

I’m really quite out of practice making friends. I always feel somewhat disconnected from the groups I hang with. Some of the girlfriends I have at work spend quite a bit of time with each other outside of work. I was unhappy seeing their escapades on Facebook, but it turns out that they enjoy drinking and didn’t invite me because of that. I guess that’s fine since I’m not into drinking recreationally, but there’s the separate feeling again.

Then there’s the dance crew. All of the women from the performance I was in recently are very young. I think the oldest is about 8 years younger than me. They are very friendly and they sometimes invite me to hang out, but it’s difficult because not only are they younger by a lot, they are also all in the city.

And there was the dance workshop in Ann Arbor I went to a couple of months ago. I did that all by myself, and while I knew people there from Chicago, I didn’t drive with anyone. I didn’t make good enough friends with anyone to invite myself to lunch or dinner with them. I even barely danced at night, skipping one whole dance altogether.

I registered for a dance workshop again that will require flying to get there. Last year, I did that workshop by myself, and it looks like I will be again this year too. Actually, I’m not sure if any of the local dancers who are still students of Former Teacher and Partner will go or not, but I probably won’t be hanging out with them anyway. Last year, when I did it myself, I came back and wished I had someone to talk about the trip with. It was the kind of experience that is magnified when it’s shared. So this year, I may be doing it myself again, but hopefully I’ll make even more friends. It’s the post vacation that will be a little bit of a letdown.

I just sometimes feel like I’m stumbling through my social connections against the current. Lately, I’m just making it harder for me to make connections.

Fleeting confidence

For the past two months, I was taking a dance class in preparation for a performance. There were 10 women in the class, and the performance was solo movement but with a group choreography. We performed recently and did very well.

There were a few mistakes. A couple of us missed some of the steps, but overall, the performance was really good.

I remembered almost everything. I really only forgot how to angle myself in relation to the audience at a couple of points.

But immediately after the performance, while the adrenaline was still coursing through me, I was very happy with the performance. It looked good; it was a high energy performance; it was a fun group of women to perform with.

We performed at a social dance event during the band breaks. So before and after the performance, I was dressed up and dancing with friends.

I even made sure to ask New Teacher dance. Last year, at this event, I was too afraid to do that. It was a good dance with New Teacher. I was relaxed and just having fun. I didn’t let any doubt creep in while I was dancing with him. There was a point or two in dancing with him that I wondered if I misunderstood his lead, but I shrugged it off and just kept dancing. I felt really good during that song, and New Teacher said it was really nice at the end. I’m sure it was professional courtesy on his part, but it was also, I think, sincere because I heard a bit of pleasant surprise in his voice. Anyway, I took it as a compliment and just added it to the reasons I was feeling good that night.

The teacher for our performance was talking to one of the singers from the band at a different time in the night. The singer was cute, and I noticed, and I noticed that I noticed. I usually walk around never expecting anything to happen romantically for me, so to even notice someone is progress for me.

I went home feeling really good. It sort of felt like I conquered my dance insecurities that I got from Former Teacher. I was really happy with the night, calmly and confidently happy.

But by Sunday afternoon, all of that had rubbed off.

I watched the YouTube video of our performance. I didn’t like what I saw, and I really saw only two things.

1) My arms looked terrible in the performance. I had worked for the last month and even during our practice Saturday afternoon to make my arms look good, and then all of that went out of my head during the performance and they looked terrible.

2) I looked big, really big. I was really unhappy with how fat I looked.

This post isn’t about whether or not those things were true. That’s really not what is bothering me.

What’s bothering me is that I let those two thoughts steal my confidence. It took less than 24 hours for the high to wear off. It took less than 24 hours for me to shrink back in on myself.

And I don’t know why. I don’t know why I couldn’t keep the confidence. What makes it all go away that quickly? Why do I beat myself up over my appearance? Why can’t I do a better job with what I eat? Why do I still feel like I’m not a good enough dancer?

Sigh.

A little bit of the confidence is back today, but only a little bit.

Holy crankies, Batman

In my last post, I mentioned how much ridiculousness there is at my job. Well, in the last few days it’s been worse. Just more and more craziness.

And, and now I can confirm, that my level of crankiness dramatically increases as the ridiculousness increases.

I was downright mad at work in the early part of this week. I won’t go into the details because they will only make me angrier today, but it’s been trying.

And I can’t wait until something changes. I’m not big on patience in the work place. It’s just one of those things that I’m not good at. The longer it takes for the bad parts to improve, the more and more frustrated I get. I’m not really able to wait it out until things actually get better.

But I definitely needed outlets this week. I made sure to work out on Tuesday night. Dance class and social dancing on Wednesday also helped. I also had an offsite meeting on Friday, and my crazy boss is now on vacation for almost a week, so that helped too.

I’m going to need to do something else for the crankies this coming week. I, me personally, myself, am moving my office on Monday because we didn’t hire movers to move everyone into their new offices. So that will be a day that tests me.

I’m just going to need big stores of self control and patience for the coming week.

On, an unrelated note, my cat is aging and becoming ill. She’s about 15 years old, and her kidneys are beginning to fail. I’m injecting fluids under her skin and we’re trying a low protein diet, so we’ll see how well she does on that. I’m not that great at the injections yet, but she forgives me very quickly after.

My nonsense tank is overflowing

Work has been full of craziness lately. Too much, even. And I’m almost at the danger level when the pressure builds up and can do nothing but escape violently, which will take the form of me saying something that equates to a career limiting move.

Speaking of moves, half of the floor I work on is going to be demolished and turned into cubicles. Yes, that’s right, my company is finally entering the 1990s.

So everyone on my half of the floor needs to move to new offices until the construction is finished. We have to move ourselves. Apparently, that’s how office moves happen in the year 2013.

Okay, fine, I can fill up my rent-a-crate containers and wheel them over to my new office. But I’m expected to still wear our professional dress. Yes, that’s right. Physically, we’re moving into the 1990s, but we still have to dress as if it’s 1983 at the office, even while we’re doing the labor that big burly men are usually hired to do.

And with the new office space is supposed to come a new way of working. There’s a special team going into the newly renovated space and we’re all supposed to work more collaboratively now.

Okay, fine, you do sometimes have to remove physical barriers to get people to talk to one another. But cubicles are not magic fertilizer that causes great work to sprout all by themselves.

And, since the company is changing focus a bit, our department head has held off reorganizing our department even though we asked him to do that back in October and November. He, probably prudently, decided not to drastically change our structure until he knows more about how the whole company will be structured since we are a support function. What he neglected to do was tell us he was waiting for this new structure. Instead, we’ve all be kind of annoyed and feeling like mushrooms since the beginning of the year. Seriously, how hard would it have been to just tell us he needed to wait a little longer.

There are more examples, but I’m working myself up into a tizzy over the nonsense. I need to cut my griping off now.

When I didn’t understand the logic behind something one of our clients did, one of my very first bosses said to me sarcastically, “There you go making sense again.” Yeah, I’m apparently unable to suspend the sense-making part of my brain, so I’m always reminding myself to turn off the logic when I’m at work, especially the company I’m at now. Sigh.