How Soon is Now?

I’ve been going through another one of my famous career crisis lately. I have so many fantastic women in my life who are amazing at their jobs. And these aren’t just any jobs-I’ve got friends who manage communications for an entire state, run PR for major companies, run non profits, and have some pretty fantastic distinctions after their names. And the times that I fall into the comparison trap, I’m aware I come up way short.

I realize that there’s different types of success. I’ve got a good group of friends and family, a happy marriage, I’m in shape, and I’ve got a couple of furry dogs who love me. I may be missing that ideal career, but at my part time job at the YMCA, I get to influence people’s healthy choices. It’s great to be that boost of inspiration for someone to do one more rep, come to class when they’re not wanting to, or add some height to their box jumps. So on these times when I fall into the comparison trap, I try to remember these things and realize my success is measured differently than others-because it’s mine.

But it also makes me think about something else: why do we hold college immediately after high school as the standard education path? I can tell you that if I was an undergrad right now, I’d have taken a completely different path than I did. I’d have stuck to my guns, buckled down, and gotten that dietetics or food science degree. I would have had the life experience to know that quitting something because it’s “too hard” doesn’t get you what you want out of life. My little brother is putting off college until he’s sure of what he wants to do. In the meantime, he’s trying a few jobs, taking a few trips, and learning what he likes and doesn’t like. My husband is back in school, following his dream of astrophysics. Not what he was doing 10 years ago when he went to college fresh out of high school. Maybe the “gap year” thing common in Europe is a good idea.

I mean really, most of us look back at our 18 year old selves and wonder how we managed to tie our shoes. I think about that girl exactly half a lifetime ago (seriously-I’m 36) and she had so much to learn. She had no idea who she was, who she wanted to be. She got to college and just wanted to hide. I was terrified to speak up in class, wore big baggy clothes to blend in, and worked as many hours as possible to make the fact that I had no friends a non issue-I wouldn’t have  had time for them anyway! I abandoned the degree I’d thought I wanted for years because I didn’t really look into it at all beforehand. I had no idea how much chemistry went into dietetics. Ask me now, and I’d say “of course-and that sounds wicked interesting!” But then, the only college chemistry experience I had involved the biggest lecture hall I’d ever been in and a professor out to prove what we DIDN’T know instead of showing us what we could know. I caved. I ran. I didn’t realize that the classes would get smaller, that not all professors were like that.

I’m not saying we all need to wait until our 30’s to go to college-in the scheme of life, that’s unrealistic. By 30, we think we’re going to have it all together-married, kids, career well on its path…yeah. And then we get there and realize A) we have no idea what we’re doing and B) as much as we don’t know now, we REALLY didn’t know anything as bratty 18 year olds. I think a gap year would have really benefited me. Take a trip, see the world, hell-pay rent. Find your interests, your hobbies, the subjects you enjoy. Maybe the entire education model needs revisited, hell, I don’t know. But I think that pushing people to go to college straight out of high school is going to end up with a very disillusioned work force when those people spend 10 or so years in a career and realize it’s not at all what they want to be doing.

The other interesting thing about having a career in this day and age is that maybe, just maybe, one of your hobbies can become your income. Blog enough, say the right things to the right people at the right time, and it can become all that you do. Enjoy knitting, and open an Etsy shop full of cute hand crafted items. Like cooking? Start making craft beer and artisan cheese. There’s room for all of those things, and the market is growing. So never stop learning. Never stop exploring. Pursue your interests, go back to school, try new things. Teach an old dog new tricks-it could change the direction of your life.

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Thursday Things-October Edition

Thursdays always make me feel unsettled. This morning was no exception-I should have known the tone of the day when I changed my clothes five times before I finally got out the door. Got to work to find out that something I’d missed a setting on yesterday STILL wasn’t right. Super frustrating. Threw myself a mini pity party, took some ibuprofen to quell the migraine in my brain, and went about my day. And bit by bit, it got better-until I got to the gym. I’d been debating running vs using my current fave machine, the AMT trainer. Discovered when I got there that I’d forgotten a pretty important element in my gym bag this morning-socks! UGH. NO WAY I could run, but I could still use the AMT. And the only one that was left open for me was the one whose TV doesn’t work. ARGH! Good thing I’d brought my phone with me-locked in the wifi, queued up some hulu, and killed that workout. Took a brief shower, headed back to work, and kicked the rest of the day in the butt.

Tonight was my night to make dinner, and I could NOT decide what to make. Poked around pinterest and settled on this recipe. I was surprised how quickly it came together, and we were not disappointed with it! Light, easy, broccoli & shrimp.

General Tso's Sweet Chili Shrimp

NO pics from my attempt; we were too busy eating! Now, Jeff’s over in his office doing his homework and I’m sitting out in the living room, blogging and surfing the web until I’m tired enough to go to bed. I’ve had a lot of worry lately-Jeff’s in school so we get less quality time together, we’re dealing with a few financial setbacks, and things at work have been stressful. When you’re a worrier, sometimes the line between what’s real and what’s imagined gets a little blurry. You start out worried that maybe you won’t have extra money for your favorite treats, and before you know it, you’re convinced you will get your car repossessed. That’s a bit drastic, but you get my point-your mind runs away with things and makes them far darker than they need to be. Times like these make me remind myself to center. I’m starting small-a reminder to breathe when I need it, permission not to work out so hard it makes me puke (last week, seriously-but that’s a whole different story), a few yoga poses during commercials on TV or hulu. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get myself to a yoga class sometime soon.

Mike! Obligatory gif for closing-this sums up how I’ve felt at work lately:

pugsnotdrugs

What makes us tick

I have a weird schedule at work during the school year. My team is small, just 3 people. And none of us like staying till 5 (there’s an 8-5 shift or a 7:30-4:30 shift at our office). So during the Summer, one guy on the team stays late so he can carpool with his wife during the school year. During the school year, the other guy and I split the late shift. I’m a pain in the ass, because Tues & every other Wed I teach a class at the YMCA that requires I leave around 4:20 to make my 4:30 class. So I stay late Mon, Thurs, and every other Friday, and he takes the off days. Anywho, I’m also the one that reliably arrives to work the earliest, around 7. We’re not allowed to have overtime, so this means some day during the week I need to take a long lunch, leave early, come in late, whatever.

This past Thursday, I took advantage of a holiday where my Mom works to meet her for an afternoon hike at a state park. We got a great workout in and walked for over 2 hours, and had some great conversations. One topic flowed into the next, and we ended up divulging our “secret” interests in mortality. We both admitted to having done web searches for old photos of death, serial killers, dead celebrities, even a morbid interest in 9/11. I watched a documentary on the 9/11 attacks while I was recovering from my last surgery. My Mom told a story of how her second husband could not wrap his head around her interest in serial killers-she used to have TONS of books on Ted Bundy, the Green River Killer, and on and on.

It’s not a unique fascination. There’s a crime section of every newspaper, there’s Court TV, that crime procedural dramas last forever on reruns and the like. I know I had a fleeting interest in Sociology and Psychology when in college, though I settled for Communication Studies. The way we all relate to each other, the way our brains work, is a mystery to most of us. Most books we read or shows we watch have some semblance of relatability to us. We’ve all gotten cut off in traffic and yelled at the driver in front of us. I know I’m curious how that fleeting “hey, asshole!” moment in my brain can be the thing that snaps another person. What makes someone snap and actually take another person’s life?

I can remember where I was when we heard about Columbine. When 9/11 happened, everyone at work stopped. We gathered in break rooms, called loved ones in NYC when we could, and in my case, I remember my boyfriend at the time stopping by during his evening shift as a delivery driver just to give me a hug and connect because that day left us all feeling disconnected. Hearing about a mother snapping and killing her children, someone killing for love, for anger, for money….the reasons are multiple and I don’t presume to know much about them. But they fascinate me. And that brings me to the other part of the equation.

smoke

I’m also reading the book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” right now. It’s a book written by a girl who was fascinated with death as a child, especially after seeing a young child plummet to her death in a mall when she was 10. As a result, she worked in a crematorium for several years and wrote the book to relate her experience. It’s fascinating, I started it yesterday when I had a lunch date with myself. Does anyone else ever do that? Periodically, I get a craving to have a meal in public with a good book. I can’t explain why, but it just brings me pleasure. I think it’s because it seems decadent for one person to go out for a meal on their own. Anyway, I had a solo pho meal and it was delicious. The decision to bike there and back, however…don’t bike on a bellyful of pho, take it from me. Anyway, I digress. She makes a lot of points in the book about how society has moved from leaving their dead on the proverbial curb to hiding them in hospitals, mortuaries, and crematories. Also, I think all of us can remember the first time we saw a dead body. I don’t know that I remember my first dead body, but I remember the most important, and I saw him twice: my Grandpa. When I was about 12, he had a quadruple bypass. We all went to see him while in recovery, and I’d never in my life seen a human look so grey. It was terrifying. When he did pass away, around 20 years later, I did NOT want to see his prepared body. I’m of the mindset that what makes you, you, goes away when you die. I don’t want to be prepared. I don’t want to be on display for anyone. That’s not me. I’m already gone. But anyway, with Grandpa, it confounded friends and family that I Did NOT want to see him. People tried to get me to go up to the casket at the viewing, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t need to see him like that. At the church for the funeral, they had him at the back, and thus I couldn’t avoid it forever. It was so disconcerting to me-like a wax figurine. I don’t know how that sight could possibly be comforting to anyone. It’s just so strange to me.

This brings me to another point, question, whatever. Have you spoken with your loved ones about what happens when you die? Jeff knows, my Mom knows, even my little brother knows that I want cremated. I believe the exact phrase is “you burn me, don’t you ever put me in the ground”. I feel a bit strongly about this. I don’t want a gravesite. I’ve never seen the gravesite of my father. It’s in Texas, he passed when I was 5, and I just don’t feel the need to go touch a granite plaque where his body is. Grave Sites bring a whole different discussion for me, but I’ll save that for another time. Jeff and I aren’t sure what will happen if we die of old age, but we sure have a plan for calamitous disease. If one of us passes at a young age, the other is to travel the world and sprinkle a little in Italy, a little on this mountaintop, a little at that ocean. Hold some for yourself if that’s what you need. But make sure one way or another, we get to take all the trips we wanted to take together.

OK, so I like lunch on my own, books about death, and I google serial killers. Indulge me, friends: what’s your secret interest that nobody knows about? Make me feel less weird. And, to indulge our friend Mike, here’s a light hearted gif to bring my blog…wait for it…back from the dead! HA! OK, but it’s actually kinda sad. See, I’m convinced our dogs will NEVER DIE but Jeff doesn’t share my beliefs. We’ve had discussions about what kind of dogs we’d “like next” (pshaw, because Foster WILL LIVE FOREVER AND YOU CAN’T CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE) and we tentatively agreed upon a Shiba Inu. You know, of Dog-e-coin fame. Anywho, here’s proof that they’re just as smart as my Border Collie and we’ll never be free of the smart dog reign which is upon us:

shiba