stay shiny

For the last year and change, I’ve been on a serious mission to lose some weight. I spent most of my teens and early twenties never having to worry about how much I ate or how much exercise I got, and by my late twenties, that started to catch up with me. It didn’t help that I went from having a job where I basically got three or four hours of walking in every day, to the much more sedentary office/car worklife that I have now.

Before landisdad & I got married, I decided to do Jenny Craig, in order to lose some weight, and that worked, but I got pregnant pretty soon after we got back from the honeymoon. I never lost all the baby weight I gained with the Bee, and after the Potato was born, I routinely topped the scales at over 200 lbs. I wasn’t very happy about it—as a younger woman, I was fairly accustomed to male (and some female) attention, and I missed that. But I wasn’t so miserable that I wanted to do very much about it.

Last year, around June, I started having a lot of lower back pain. I sort of decided (without the benefit of medical advice) that it was due to the excess weight I was carrying around, and I decided that it was time to do something about it. So I downloaded a free app from, and created a weight-loss program for myself. It basically works the same way as Weight Watchers, or other diet systems—you track your caloric intake and add in any exercise you do—and every week, as you lose a pound or however much, you get a slightly smaller caloric allotment.

It works great for me, because I am a data-driven, competitive person. I like numbers, and I like being able to see the direct impact, every day, of my food choices. One of the things that it made me immediately recognize was how many calories are in ridiculous numbers of salads in chain restaurants, due to the dressing and other non-vegetable ingredients. It also gave me an instant reward for exercise—hey–I can eat 150 more calories today—which is something that I personally find very motivating. The other great thing about it, from my perspective, is that there are no ‘bad’ foods. I can eat a piece of cake, or whatever—I just have to make corresponding choices at some other point in the week that balance it out.

So far, I’ve lost over 40 pounds, which is still short of my goal of 60, but it’s a lot of progress. (I’ve also gotten rid of the back pain—but that did eventually require a doctor’s visit and a month of physical therapy, because what I had is sciatica—the moral of this story being, don’t diagnose yourself.)

People have started treating me differently. I’m treating myself differently—I had to get a whole new wardrobe, and for the first time in a long time, I bought a bunch of skirts, and some skinny pants. I dress up more—I’m not trying to hide in a uniform of a loose t-shirt and jeans or capris the way that I used to do.

I’m not a big proselytizer by any means—but if you lose 40 pounds, it’s noticeable, and people will ask you how you did it. I tend not to talk about it a lot—after all, I could have just as easily failed at this diet—and I don’t think that I have any more will-power or whatever than other people do—I just managed to find a system that reinforced my desire to change in a way that works for my crazy brain, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. And I also don’t really want to talk about weight loss in a way that is at all judgmental, either in a positive or negative direction, really. There’s enough crap in our culture causing us to overeat, and move less, and feel bad about the way we look—and I don’t have any interest at all in feeding anyone else’s anxiety about herself. People will occasionally make nervous comments when they’re having a meal with me about how I’m “being good” and they should “be good like me,” which just make me very uncomfortable. I’m not interested in judging anyone else’s food intake (well, with the exception of my own children’s, but that’s a different thing altogether).

But yesterday I had a slightly odd experience where two of my co-workers started telling me that I had lost enough weight and I should stop. I was a little shocked, frankly, that they thought it was anyone’s business but my own what I weighed. I’m not in any danger of anorexia, or an eating disorder. The two of them had clearly been talking about me, though, and come to some conclusion about how I look, and that just pissed me off. Part of me wanted to say, “hey, back off, this is really my business,” but because they were being “nice” about it, I didn’t feel like I could (plus, they are two people that I have to work very closely with). The other part of me just said, “yeah, I appreciate your input,” which is probably just a different way of saying the first thing.

And then they kept going. It was extremely awkward, and I finally had to walk away to end the conversation, and I drove home from that meeting just recapping, over and over in my head, the many, equally rude things that I could’ve said in return, but didn’t.

Some days, it’s hard to stay shiny.


July 31, 2010. work. 5 comments.

a hell of a week

I’m having an up-and-down week. Or rather, a down-and-up-and down week. But I’ll be on vacation soon, and then it will all go away. Right?

There’s some sensitive family stuff going on, and it’s got me down (extended family, not the kids). There’s also the fact that two of my co-workers told me they’re pregnant this week–and one of them is likely not going to be able to sustain the pregnancy, due to some pre-existing health conditions. So I’m happy for the one who is expanding her family, and grieving with the one who may not be.

And there’s the complicated fact that, although my blog is still pseudonymous, some of you know who I am and we’re connected on Facebook. And some of the people that I’m talking about in this post are also on Facebook. So let’s keep this stuff between you and landismom, not you and that other chick. I don’t need a repeat of last year’s Facebook drama.

August 19, 2009. random other things, work. 1 comment.

dear everything

I’d like a minute to catch my breath. Can we work that out?

There are moments in my life that I’ve thought, ‘gotta step away from the computer and get some real life going again.’

Lately, I’ve been wishing for less real life, and more virtual life. More time to spend noodling around on the internet, anyway, as opposed to just reading my work email.

More time to spend blogging, and reading other people’s blogs. I can’t remember the last time I discovered a new blog (well, at least a new blog that wasn’t work-related–I’ve had lots of new work-related blogs to read this year!). I’m starting to feel like I need to investigate the world of middle-school blogging, since the Bee is going into 5th grade next year.

Seriously, though, I’m taking some steps at work to slow my life down a little bit, and I can’t wait until that starts working. Because it’s affecting my ability to be a good wife and mother, and I don’t like that.

We work to live, not live to work. Hard to remember sometimes, but worth it.

May 5, 2009. thoughtful parenting, work. 2 comments.

remember to breathe

I got a massage today, and it was good.

Last spring, when landisdad asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that the best thing he could give me was a deep-tissue massage. Instead, he got me 6. Love that man.

Last week, I was on the road for five days, and came back to the crazy, whiny kids that only a cloudy, not very pleasant fall Sunday can produce. Last month, for the first time ever, I exceeded my office’s mileage reimbursement cap. In addition to that, I’ve got people calling me at literally all hours of the day and night to solve problems, some of which are actual problems, some of which are completely annoying and wastes of my time. All that driving, and whining, and annoying have added up to a masterpiece of back tension.

Tonight, after an hour on the massage table and a glass of red wine, I’m feeling pretty good though.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I just might get through this.

September 24, 2008. work. 1 comment.

how did I get here?

Do you ever just look around your home and think, “where did all this crap come from?”

No matter how much I freecycle or take to Goodwill, no matter how many cans are on the curb on trash night, it doesn’t seem to make a difference at all. And of course, the problem (?) with booktrading is that I do it to get new books, so while it does get rid of books, it also brings new ones into the house.

We live in clutter. There is clutter in every room of our house. Some days, we de-clutter one place, but there has never been a single day that our house has been clutter-free.

It’s starting to get to me.

When I first started this blog, I was telecommuting, and working at home almost every day. At this point, I have an office outside the house that I go to about three times a week. Until recently, I shared that office, but for the last two months I’ve been alone in there. And guess what? My office is full of clutter too.

I tend to do a big filing in my office once every two months, and then my office will be neat for a day or so before the papers will start to pile up again. Even then, I have file boxes all over the place, as well as boxes of old lit and binders stuffed with training materials lying around, but at least the pile of paper recedes momentarily.

At home we’re good about getting rid of the mail and the old newspaper, but we still have stacks of unread magazines and other things lying around. We’re very bad at making the kids clean up their toys when they’re done playing. We’re bad at cleaning up our own toys when we’re done playing:).

How about you? Do you need a week to get your house ready for company, or are you compulsively neat?

January 23, 2008. family life, work. 18 comments.

aging in a democracy

It seems (knock wood) that we’ve made it through to the other side of our week of illness. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am!

And now, to my odd question from the last post:

As my regular readers know, in 2008 I will be working on matters electoral. One of the things that I’ll be working on this year is a project to encourage seniors (as in the elderly, not those about to graduate) to vote in what are typically called “down ballot” races–i.e. state elections in a presidential election year.

You may be surprised to learn (and indeed, may not care at all) that lots of folks go to the polls and only vote in the race at the top of the ticket. That’s a common occurrence, and is not just limited to the presidential election–if a mayor is at the top of the ticket, you can bet a bunch of city council races will have fewer votes, if a governor is at the top of the ticket, the attorney general’s race will have fewer votes, etc. I should say, I speak from my experience running elections in the U.S.–I have no idea if this is a behavior that is limited to my countryfolk. Perhaps all Canadians vote in every race, diligently researching the ins and outs of the candidates for City Council, perhaps all Australians seek out and interrogate the many candidates for local government before deciding who to vote for, perhaps there are actually places in the world where dogcatcher really is an elected office.

As part of my program, I have access to an unbelievable online voter file. It’s really kind of amazing, what you can get online these days. When I first starting doing election work in the early ’90s, the search technology that existed was pretty limited. I remember one field campaign I ran where I literally spent two hours a day on the phone with the data vendor setting up the lists for the next day’s precinct walking.

We’d do things like take out all the Republican women over 50 one day, and then the next, add them back in and take out independent irregular voters from 18-35. Every search had to be created by some programmer, and if you left out one variable, you’d end up with a list of 2 voters. Or 20,000.

Targeting in campaigns has always been a fairly specific matter. You may think that the mail that you’re getting from Joe INeedUrVote is generic, but more likely than not, you’re getting that specific mail because you are in a certain age range, are a certain gender, buy certain magazines, have a specific voting history. The voting data is public information–campaigns or parties may have to buy it from your secretary of state (or whoever in your state is in charge of keeping the voter rolls), and the other stuff is commercially available.

These days, I can write my own searches, create my own criteria, and spit out a report in a matter of seconds (minutes, if it’s a statewide list). I can decide to target gun-owning, super-voting Democrats who live in a household with a Republican, women aged 40-55, men from 30-55. I can mail to non-registered African Americans who live in a precincts that have a 70% or higher Democratic Performance Index. I check a bunch of boxes, and I’m good to go.

And I can find seniors who have moved, to try to re-register them to vote. Which leads me to the question I asked the other day.

It’s hard to imagine that I might someday not care about voting anymore. Yet my experience with talking to seniors on the phone about elections over the past 16-odd years lets me know that, yes, for some people, this becomes just another annoyance–or worse. I IM’d a friend of mine the same question yesterday, and she reminded me of a phone conversation she’d had with a senior during the 2006 election where the woman said, “Everyone I know is dead. I just don’t care anymore.” (The same friend’s answer to my ‘how old will you be’ question? “33”)

Is it fair for me to push that woman to vote, one more time? At some point, should your super-voter status get you an end-of-life pass, instead of a constant stream of phone calls urging you to vote for one candidate or another?  Am I being ageist in assuming that the very old just don’t care as much as those of us still in the scrum of getting by, and raising kids, and hanging out on DailyKos, and all that other, public sphere kind of stuff?

It’s a question that I’ll struggle with this year, as I look at lists of senior high-rises and nursing homes with polling places in the lobbies, and voters over the age of 95.

January 10, 2008. politically motivated, work. 8 comments.

gender-related question of the day

Do men get as much spam related to ‘female trouble’ as I get spam advertising V*agra?

Why do I receive so many offers for pills that will ‘increase my penis’ size in my work email account? Do spammers just assume that anyone who works is a man?

December 7, 2007. work. 8 comments.

web tools

Over the last week, I’ve discovered two new web tools that I’m pretty excited about: I Want Sandy and Jott. I hadn’t heard of either of them until recently, but I’ve been using them both for a few days, and I’m hooked.

Before I explain why, I should go into a little detail about the way that I work. It will also help you to know that one of my main goals in life is never to forget to do a single thing. It’s a sickness, trust me.

I tend to have a lot of projects going at one time. Every week, I attend a lot of meetings and am on a lot of conference calls–sometimes, I spend so much time going to meetings that I literally don’t have any time to do work in between the meetings. I’m often out of my office–it’s a rare week that I’m in the office all five days–and I do a lot of driving around.

Over time, I’ve developed a system for managing my work that goes like this: in every meeting, as I’m taking notes, I make a big circle in my notebook around any task that I either have to do myself, or that I have to make sure someone else does. Every Monday morning, I spend an hour going through my notebook and capturing all the tasks from the past week, and then going through all of my email from the previous week (which usually number several hundred) to see just what exactly I need to do that week. I write it all on an enormous pad, and I re-write whatever is carried over from the previous week.

I used to try to categorize all the different tasks by project, but I decided it was taking too much time to categorize tasks into specific work projects. There are non-work categories on my to-do list (‘personal,’ ‘PTA,’ etc.), but all the work tasks are just lumped into one big list (with one exception–the work I’m planning to do related to the 2008 election).

Like I said, it’s a sickness.

So why are Jott & I Want Sandy so great?

The way they work–and work together–is amazing. With I Want Sandy, it’s very easy to email yourself reminders of particular tasks or appointments. If I’m at a meeting out of the office, I can just blackberry myself a reminder of the things I need to do at the meeting. I’ve set the emails up to go to my Gmail account, and I label them “todo,” so I can sort them easily on Monday morning. If I’m driving and on a conference call (and yes, that happens way more frequently than I’d like), after the call is over, I can call Jott, and leave myself a message that gets sent to Sandy–which then emails it to me. The voice recognition software isn’t perfect–earlier today, I left myself a message about ‘gloves and mittens,’ that was interpreted as ‘gloves and wind?’–but I suspect that as I get more used to it, I’ll be more clear in my speech.

I doubt that my goal of completing every task is achievable–but using web tools like these gives me a better-than-average chance. Either that, or it just makes trying more fun.

November 29, 2007. work. 1 comment.


that I fell off the face of the earth for a while there. I was traveling out of town, and staying in a hotel where the internet connection in the rooms was requiring that you sign in every five minutes. Not particularly conducive to blogging (or work, for that matter). For the last few days, I’ve been in a different place, with a more consistent internet connection, but now my bloglines is ridiculously jammed, and I’m a little scared of it.

This is the longest trip that I have done away from home since I became a parent. I left last Tuesday morning, and am not going home until Wednesday afternoon. Landisdad brought the kids to where I was at the end of last week, but I ended up having to work a  lot more than I thought I would, and we didn’t get to spend too much time together. We did get to have fun on Saturday afternoon/evening, and then I had to leave again early Sunday morning.

The Bee stood at the door of the hotel room on Sunday morning and tried to block me from leaving with her body, crying, “don’t leave.” My body and luggage left the room, but my heart was on the floor in pieces, sobbing with my daughter.

Don’t get me wrong–I like traveling for my job (although being gone for a week is a little long). I’m at a once-every-four-years conference, one that I missed last time because the Potato had just been born, and I was on maternity leave. It was important for me to come here, and I’m glad I did.

But that doesn’t make it easier to leave my kids, or to leave my husband to single parent the whole time.

Especially when I emerge from a hotel conference room where I’ve had no cell reception all afternoon, to find a message from my daughter’s after-school program saying that she’s covered with a mysterious rash, and that they know that I’m out of town, but that they haven’t been able to reach her dad. And the message is four hours old.

As it turned out, landisdad had been reached, and had picked the Bee up and made a doctor’s appointment by the time I got in touch with him. The Bee went to the doctor last night, and it was diagnosed as a possible allergy or virus–but nothing serious.

I know that it wouldn’t have turned out any differently if I had been home, and there was a while last night where I thought about leaving early to go be with them–if it had been something serious, I certainly would have done so. But for just a minute, I thought back to that sobbing girl I left behind on Sunday morning, and my heart was back there, on the floor in pieces again.

September 18, 2007. work. 6 comments.

Workers of the World, Click Here!

Last year, I hosted a blog carnival on Labor Day weekend called Blog for Workers’ Rights. This year, I knew I wasn’t going to have time to do it, so I didn’t try. Here’s a good post on the topic, from the BlogHer blogs, though.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

September 3, 2007. work. Leave a comment.

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