Monday, November 30, 2009

Traditions

What are the holidays for if not shaking the dust off the favorite family traditions? In our family, for instance, a favorite tradition of ours is that someone (Katie*) will always get mad while we’re playing card games and storm off crying. See? Now that’s what family is all about.

This year for Thanksgiving we had some new family traditions brought into the mix, as well as revisiting some old ones. For the first time ever, we didn’t celebrate the holidays at home; my parents and brother actually flew to NC for a below-the-mason-dixon line Thanksgiving. Much to my father’s chagrin, there were no coon skin hats or sawed off shotguns involved.

But despite the new locale, many traditions were kept in place. For instance, Michael turned everyone out and played video games for 12 hours straight and Katie sat on the couch and read. No one said family togetherness had to involve interacting with each other, did they?

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My Fam: Social Butterflies.

On Thursday, the family had their “traditional” turkey meal down at Katie’s house in Charlotte while Matt and I spent Thanksgiving with his family in High Point. On Friday, my family descended upon our house for extravagant meal #2. (#3 for Matt + I, if you were counting. My skinny jeans certainly were.) Dad and I went and picked out a tenderloin together, which he and Matt did on the grill. I made a yummy warm spinach salad from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook and stovetop green beans with glazed pecans. Not sure whether those count as Yankee beans or not… stovetop = Yankee, but the involvement of butter + pecans = southern. Could it be that I finally found the green beans that please everyone? We’ll just have to call them Yankee Belle beans. After a near miss when we thought Teeter had run out of canned pumpkins, Dad made his traditional pumpkin pie which coincidentally I am having for breakfast today. Highly nutritious.

11 27 09 Thanksgiving 2009 117I will desperately try to refrain from posting pictures of everything I ate all weekend. I’m prone to do that, you know.

11 27 09 Thanksgiving 2009 119You’ll have spinach and you’ll like it, gosh darn it.

Saturday my mom and I got our hands messy making our family’s traditional cut out Christmas cookies. This is my Grandma Claffey’s recipe that my mom has been making ever since I can remember. However, this year I implemented a new change: I made Mom switch from margarine to butter. I think she was a little nervous, since she’s probably been making them exactly as Grandma’s recipe calls for, oh, 31 years and hey, it would kinda suck to mess up 4 dozen cookies just because I’m a little bit afraid of trans fat. (Ok, a lot bit afraid.) Fortunately, for me and everyone else’s arteries, they were delicious with butter.

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I mean, it’s butter. You can’t go wrong, right?

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My mom would probably like me to point out that after cutting out the first two dozen, I went and took a nap on the couch while she finished up the last two and then frosted all of them.

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Moms are champs, aren’t they?

My brother, Mom and I went to see Precious on Saturday night. (Katie had taken Dad back down to Charlotte for a flight to Florida for a golf trip and Matt was on call.) Precious was INCREDIBLE. I don’t think I can do it justice to describe it, so I’ll just leave at this: go see it. Don’t expect to feel warm n’ fuzzy after leaving it, but expect to be powerfully moved. Maybe the best film I’ve seen in 2009. Don’t tell Edward and Bella.

On Sunday I took the remainder of the fam back down to Charlotte, and Mom, Katie and I went shopping at Trader Joe’s. Not having a Trader Joe’s is one of two faults I consider Winston-Salem to have. (The other is Willard’s cabs.) I loaded up on Prosecco (duh), dried every-kinda-fruit-imaginable, tons of fish, tubs of hummus and the best roasted balsamic butter veggies in. the. world. Not kidding. (PS, I like food. Did you notice?) The rest of Sunday I spent sitting in traffic on I-85 and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

It was SUCH a great weekend having time to spend with both of our families. My favorite parts of the weekend were having Matt’s family over before we went to the big lunch and just having some quieter time with them, waking up every morning to have coffee with my momma and dragging my sister out to the field behind our house to do a photo shoot so I could practice using different camera settings. (She won’t let me post the pictures, but I might anyways. I’ll wait a day or two to see if she reads this.) The weekend went by so fast, but I have a feeling December is going to slip right on past us and we’ll be packing for Rochester before I know it! The holidays seem to do that to ya – take forever to get here, then just whoosh right on by. What’s with that?

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The Holidays: Party Naps Recommended.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkeys

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Nanta sent me outside to take photos of the menfolk. And what Nanta says, you must do.

Even if you feel a bit like Jane Goodall trying to blend in among a foreign species.

(What do you think they are all looking at?)

We had a delightful Thanksgiving day with Matt’s family. We lucked out and Matt ended up having both Thursday and Friday off, so we got to go down to High Point and spend the day with his family. His aunt would make Ina Garten cry into her hand-pressed linen napkins with her hostess and cooking skills. I can only imagine how long she spends getting ready for this flock to descend upon her dining room table.

After doing lunch with the family, we went and put on some pants with elastic waistbands and went over to our friends Matt and Donna for feast #2 with some of our other friends who couldn’t or hadn’t traveled home for the holiday a la intern year schedules. Feast #2 might not have had years of practice, but it was equally as delicious. I thought I was just going to have a bite of dessert, but I found myself ladling up a plate with mashed potatoes and gravy. (Soooo, that’s what happens when one uses real cream and butter eh? Mine are never QUITE like that…)

The night ended with the boys watching football on the couch, and the girls breaking into Donna’s stash of champagne to make impromptu poinsettia and getting irreconcilably giggly.

While my daily list of blessings is often long, it most certainly always includes giggling friends, loving and welcoming family and of course, delicious food. Especially when I don't have to do the dishes. Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The One in Which We Learn I Am Bad At Darts

Did you know that you actually have to aim the darts?

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Project Doorway

“Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time.” – Frank, Old School

Six years ago, that quote was just funny. Today? Funny because it’s true.

We had a busy weekend here in the Cline household with some projects around the home – most notably, putting a storm door on our house. This was Matt’s birthday present from both our parents. (See? We're Exciting!!) Although you should note when I say “we”, I technically mean “him.” If I’m being honest, my involvement in home improvement projects is usually fairly minimal. Trust me, this is in everyone’s best interest.

The install seemed to go very well, and we can now sit and watch the world go by our front yard. (Thanks Parents!!)

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Welcome to our house! (We saw you coming.)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

How appropriate that I finished my November newsletter, which was all about gratitude, just in time to send it out this morning… a Thursday! Researching and writing that newsletter has had me in total-gratitude-overdrive this month, and it has been so. very. good. I highly recommend dabbling in some gratitude work. As far as things that will rock your world, it’s a close second to a luscious glass of Pinot Grigio.

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you: the list got outrageously long this week. I usually jot things down in my phone’s notepad section all week when I think of things and with my brain turned towards THANKFUL, it seemed like I just kept adding and adding things. (And all these explanations… I am just rambling tonight, yall.) But there doesn’t seem to be anything I can edit it out…. so you’ve been warned.

Then again, do I ever write anything with brevity?

Onwards, to the list! Happy Things, Today/This Week:

  • The most delicious post-rain fall air today. Would have been perfect running weather, if I was doing that kind of thing these days. As it was, it was pretty good walking to the car weather.
  • MEETING RECRUITMENT GOALS! We started recruiting for our research study in October 2006. Our goal was to get 450 people by, roughly the end of November 2009. Today, we hit 454. We are DONE recruiting. You have no idea how incredible that feels.
  • Four hours after celebrating our recruitment goal, the proposal for a new pilot study slid across my desk. It’s a research study on weight management. I might have wet my pants with excitement. I may or may not have printed off about 15 different journal PDFs to begin reading. It was a good day in my job-world.
  • Health. I’m eating everything now, from oatmeal to salads to coffee. Believe me, it's been fun.
  • My hubby. I can’t even believe that he just worked something like 40 straight hours. He didn’t even complain or whine or become unbearably annoying, as his better half most certainly would have. All he did was request a Mellow Mushroom pizza, of which I was happy to oblige.
  • Family: I am really excited to spend time with all my wonderful families – Clines, Crowells, Claffeys – next week. I am so very thankful to have families who I love so much, and who I genuinely enjoy spending time with. The more I coach people who bring up family issues, the more I realize this isn’t always the case. I’m lucky to have been born into an incredible family, but I’m even more blessed to have married into one too.
  • Homemade pear honey, molasses, candy corn and 6 pounds of shelled black walnuts. Not a new MegEats recipe, just the random and wonderful things that clients and participants have given me this week. (Related: does anyone own a nutcracker?)
  • Time with girlfriends, both old and new. We had RSA Happy Hour this week at 6th + Vine, and I was equally thankful to meet some new lovely girls and for the time spent catching up with two of my favorite girls, Jamie + Donna.
  • That quiet moment at night when I turn off the lights in the house and the Christmas lights over the fireplace and loft twinkle softly. (Yes we have them up already.) There is just so much peace in that one little moment.
  • Heather. Those friendship where you each nudge each other to be a tiny bit better? We got one. Excited for her visit tomorrow and NEW MOON. (And I’m thankful for Edward, THERE I SAID IT.)
  • My dad. I heard Pet Shop Boys on the radio the other day and it actually made me homesick. Way to pass on the absolute worst musical tastes ever, Daddy.
  • Winos…. and the actual, OMG we’re really doing this planning that occurred this week in re: to our Wine Country Trip that we’ve been talking about for, oh, hmm, five years.
  • Emails from my seester. They make me laugh/smile/miss her outrageously. Please consider a relocation back to Winston.
  • Coaching. I am amazed and thankful that this dream I had seven years ago (gah! really?!) is becoming a reality.
  • How beautiful WFU’s campus is. And that I’m still a part of the place I love so much. (My love would grow infinitely if we could do something about the Lake Ontario size puddle that forms outside my office door every time it rains. Which has been, ohhh, the entire month of November.)
  • Rain. I’m gonna go ahead and say it: I like this rain, because we just seeded our lawn. Also, I am hopeful that rainy fall means snowy winter. And if you live in the South, you understand why I might hope for snow. Snow = life on hold. The mere mention of snow = life on hold. I. Love. Snow. Days.
  • A coffee date with two “graduates” on Tuesday, and a lunch date with two “grads” today. (By the way, ya’ll don’t have to order salads just because you go out to lunch with me. I eat fries, too.)
  • This moment right now: I am sitting on the couch writing this, my freshly bathed dog sleeps curled up in a noodle. My best bud sits next to me, charting. Jazz is on our xm station and the Christmas lights are twinkling. Our life is so very good.
  • Buddy. An entire good week in the crate! Good boy! Biscuit!
  • Keena (my intern.) Didn’t realize when I signed up to have an intern I was going to learn so much from her. (Philosophy major? Always has some cool thoughts.)
  • A compliment I received twice this week from two different people that I am tossing over and over in my head like a kid with a new baseball. One from a lovely friend and one from a complete stranger, but the same message: “you should write.” (I am writing, but I understood what they meant, and I want to. Bless you both for adding some fuel to that dream too.)
  • My mom. I could never, ever, ever, ever, ever grow tired of talking to my mom. I sure hope she feels the same way about me.
  • Verizon In-Calling Minutes. See above.
  • Passionate people. I’m really passionate about my things – weight loss/health, law of attraction, food – and I love reading other people’s blogs or talking to other people who get really jazzed about their thing.
  • Krankie’s Market. I love what they are doing. Direct farmer to consumer, all local.
  • The health of all my family members and friends. (Keep it that way, guys, mk?)
  • Driving in the wee hours of the morning today, I look over at the stop light next to me. An old man in a tweed cap, looking straight ahead, his hand absent mindedly stroking the head of a happy looking Bassett on the passenger seat next to him. The absolute picture of contentment, both of them.

Your turn. What tops your grateful list?

small fence

A windy path in Moses Cone Park; Blowing Rock, NC

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week(end) Update

Is it just me or does turning the calendar page over to November suddenly start making everything go by in turbo speed?  Maybe it’s the combination of more random things on the to do list (“must! put! up! Christmas! decor! NOW!) and more actual events on the calendar, but I swear there’s something about this time of year that just makes me feel busy.   In a good way, but in a “where did the week go?” kind of way.  Some highlights from this week:

Wednesday evening was Bunko nights with the ladies, which has quickly turned into Wine Drinking Night, since the dice hasn’t really made an appearance the last few weeks.  No one seems to be complaining.  We agreed we’d continue to call it Bunko night for the sake of our husband’s.  (Hi, husband.  I doubt you’re surprised.)  Jamie, this week’s hostess, is a Southern woman if there ever is one and hosted an excellent get together.  Not only was her house as sparkling as the cider in her fridge, but she had gotten together the ingredients to make caramel apples.  It was the perfect fall evening activity, and of course culminated in one of my other favorite activities: eating.  (Forgot to bring my good camera, so these come a la cell phone cam.)

PIC-0425 PIC-0426 PIC-0430

Thursday was my wonderful hubby’s 28th birthday!.  He had the day off, and I had a break in my schedule that afforded us the chance to go on a lunch date to our favorite restaurant, Village Tavern.  (See, I told you that EM resident schedule had it’s perks!)  VT has been our go-to for everything special in our relationship – everything from our first date to where we got engaged – so it was fitting that we were able to have a little birthday celebration there too.  I always laugh to myself when the waiters ask “Is this your first time visiting us?”  Once Matt and I counted out how many VT trips we had… and we estimated it to be in the 50s.  I would estimate I have gotten the grilled chicken salad 47 of those times.  Birthday boy had convinced me to give him his b-day present about 10 days earlier, but fortunately my mom had sent a package of cookies so there was still something to open on the official day.  Both parents went in together to get him a storm door, which I believe is due to arrive any day.  Yes, we’ve officially reached the age where Home Improvement gift requests top the list.  Happy Birthday, honey!

Friday was kind of a random day, as most Friday’s tend to be for me.  I woke up early and coached one of my private clients before starting my Wake day and coaching two more research participants.  I had a small break, in which I scurried over to WFU and got my swine flu shot.  Then I had four more Wake calls, and I did each one in a different place: one in Benson before deciding that was too loud (and weird; flashbacks galore), then retreated to the quiet but sunny patio to do the 2nd.  Then I realized I had to be across town at Starbucks to meet my coaching client at the exact time my 4th call would be ending so I did the 3rd call in my car.  That one ended early and I realized I was starving, so I dashed into Fresh Market and grabbed the most gorgeous Honeycrisp Apple and a this fruit and nut bar for lunch.  I did my 4th call in the call, and then walked into Starbucks a minute before I was due to meet my client.  Whew! 

11 13 09 Self Portraits 059Fridays = Phone Call Days.

11 13 09 Self Portraits 088Friday’s Lunch.  I felt compelled to snap it, no big surprise there.

Friday night we had a dinner for the emergency medicine department.  Like any event where you know approximately 1.5 people, it was a little bit awkward but I must say, I liked having faces to go with the names of the many attendings and other residents Matt talks about.  I always find it strange that I have no mental picture in my head of what Matt’s day is like for 8-10 hours every day.  My mom always talks about what a good feeling it is to visit us in all the various apartments, dorm rooms, homes we’ve had so that when we talk on the phone, she can picture where we are.  I feel a little bit that way about Matt’s life – I wish I could be a fly on the wall at work for just one day.  At the very least, getting to meet some of the people he works with and hearing the department’s updates (via PowerPoint, ohhhh academia…) was nice.  The dinner was hosted at Millennium in the Courtroom, which was a little bizarre since the last time I was there was our Chi Omega formal in the spring of 2002.  Guess who my date was? 

Saturday morning we got up early and headed over to tailgate with our friends Anne and Locke.  We had mimosas and Midtown pancakes and marveled at the fact that it was nearly 80 out in November.  I didn’t have plans to go to the game; Matt had tickets so at noon we parted separate ways.  I came home and put the game on TV and rolled up my sleeves for an epic house cleaning.  Our house had gotten to “Broken Windows” stage … a term we use to describe that point when things are so messy you stop trying to pick up.  You know how it goes… if there’s one T-shirt on the floor, what’s one more?  There was so much Buddy fur in the corners you could have knit a sweater with it and I can’t even speak about the state of our shower.  So I got to work cleaning and catching up on laundry.  Five hours later (five!!!), the house was scoured, scrubbed and shining.  I was proud.  And exhausted.  And there was six loads of laundry I had just dumped on the bed.  Sigh.  Really?  I debated leaving it there and taking a break, but decided the best thing to do was just get it over with.  I dove in, put a book on tape on on my ipod and folded…and folded and folded..  for another hour.  Then and only then did I declare myself DUNZO, and curled up with my reward: a DVR-ed episode of Glee (such guilty pleasure) and asparagus frittata.  I know it sounds like kind of a lame Saturday night, but looking around my house, I just felt such a sense of satisfaction.  (Jamie, I know at least you will understand.)

IMG_0480 After: Om-Inducing Kitchen.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling well-rested, with the buzz of sniffing household cleaners the satisfaction of my productive night still looming over me.  My November newsletter is bordering on overdue, but I’ve been procrastinating writing the articles for it.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love writing first thing in the morning.  I took advantage of knowing Matt would be sleeping late (having worked til 1 am) and cracked open Live Writer.  Not only did I crank out the two articles, but I wrote five others ones that I had been sitting on – blogs for MegEats that I had taken the pictures for and just not updated.  I always notice a jump in my blog view stats after my newsletter rolls out, but the work to get it out usually results in me not posting again until, well sometimes, the next newsletter.  I'm psyched to be sitting on some drafts now.  The rest of the day passed in a blur of other lingering to do lists items: getting my Christmas decorations organized, posting a few things on Ebay, editing and backing up the last few months of photos, walking the Spudster and my first run in over 2 months.  (It was bad.  Really, really bad.  You know that whole “use it or lose it?”  Yea.)  All I have left hanging out on my to do list is editing a PowerPoint for tomorrow, and then there’s a bath tub and a book with my name on it.  That seems like a pretty perfect way to end a busy, but productive weekend. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Mountain Weekend Edition


This. Is. Happy.

Happy Things, All Weekend Long:

  • This quiet morning with a nothing to do but write whatever comes into my mind, sip coffee (after 2 days of trying to figure out how to work an electrical kettle) and watch the rising and falling of my doggy's little chest as he slumbers contentedly on the floor in front of me
  • The way the sunlight streams through the leaves as it rises behind the house on early morning walks
  • Writing
  • The heft of the camera in my hand
  • Film camera
  • Having a sister who is a best friend too
  • Friends who have known you for almost a decade
  • Cooking and eating around a large table with a lazy susan
  • Pinot grigio
  • Crab bisque soup
  • Not having internet for 3 days
  • Sitting in a house that someone you know built with their own hands
  • A surprisingly warm November weekend
  • That it only takes 2 hours of driving to feel very far away from everything
  • Laughing so hard with friends (and family) that you feel like you might pull a muscle
  • Using vacation days
  • Small mountain towns

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nothing to Do

I'm sure they thought buying the trampoline would do the trick. But no, even with the trampoline, the fire pit, the tree house, the Nintendo system, the hundreds of books and movies, the big, rolling park next door and the offer to invite friends whenever we wanted, we always had the same complaint about going to our other house, a big, rambling farmhouse an hour away in a small Ontario town. There's nothing to do, we whined.

"Precisely," was the thought, that I'm sure now, was etched in my parent's mind.

It's a decade and a half later, and my husband is expertly maneuvering our car through the twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway as we head to his family's house in Blowing Rock. As we turn into our gravel driveway and see the low hanging roof in front of us, I find myself chanting a delicious mantra. "I have nothing to do."

It always comes full circle, doesn't it? When I was 14, I couldn't understand why my parents would want to leave everything behind for a weekend. I get it now.

I love the charm of the house itself, built by hand by Matt's industrious Pa the same year that my dear husband was born. Nearly every piece of furnishing inside has it's own story, whether it's the trademark lazy susan table Pa is known for building or the settee under the window that came from Nanta's mother's boarding house. On my first visit to the mountain house, Nanta walked me down the hallway lined with family pictures, carefully detailing the persons and events of each sepia toned moment. I felt like I should be diligently taking notes, wondering if I would ever be able to remember which handle-bar mustached man was the family's notorious horse-back riding physician or which 1920s bobbed sister was the one who wrote all the music. I quickly learned, on my next visit back, that Nanta would happily refresh me on the details. (Whether or not I asked.)

Trips to the mountain house over the last five years have included learning how to make red eye gravy without burning down your dorm room kitchen, trips into town to get Kilwyn's ice cream, rides in the model A car and late night, rambunctious games of Trivial Pursuit and Catchphrase that probably disturbed the nocturnal animals of the area. But it wasn't until this weekend that it hit me, that that point of going to the mountain house wasn't for the things we do up there, it was for all the things we don't do up here.

There's no internet. There are very few television channels and no DVD player or wii. There's no mall, no Wal-mart, no Target. There are but a few neighbors and upon waking in the early morning, there are no street noises to indicate whether it might be 4 am or 6 am.

The nearest Starbucks? Is 37 miles away. (Trust me, I looked.)

As soon as your wheels crunch on to the gravel drive, you suddenly feel far away from everything. I have always had a hard time doing nothing at all, but that is precisely the state of being I found myself deliriously anticipating all week long. For the first time ever, in my entire (albeit short) career-life, I did not bring a single piece of work with me on vacation. I did not bring a single project or intention with me. I brought two books, my computer to write, and my camera. I brought my dog and his leash. And about eight bags of groceries. I'm pretty sure we could not leave the house for days and be all set, calorically speaking.

This morning I awoke at 6, and took the dog out for a (brief and very cold) stroll. We came back in the house and I wrestled with an unfamiliar coffee pot, before I gave up and made tea on the stove. I briefly thought about going back to bed, and realized that I had the entire day free to take a nap at some point if I wanted. A nap! I love writing first thing in the morning, before my brain really has a chance to censor itself, but most days, I open up my computer and get caught up in emails or work projects and then the day is running. This morning, sans internet, I settled in with my tea and a blank word document. The sun rose over the Blue Ridge Mountains through the back window as my words settled into the place on the page, and I thought there really is no other place I'm supposed to be right now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Matt has his first week-long vacation this week and it’s turning out to be a great week for both of us. On Monday I came home to find an award winning yard, a totally organized garage, a really happy (crate-free) dog, a clean house and a beaming husband. Um, wow? I think I like the way this vacation is going. We settled in to cooking dinner together, having a glass of wine (my first in six weeks!) and enjoying the leisurely type of evening that I imagine other couples have who both work 9-5 jobs might experience on a regular basis. We actually do have a sit-down dinner probably three or four times a week, but often I’m cooking while Matt is finishing up charts or shortly after we eat, I'm getting ready for bed while he's putting on scrubs to heads out the door. Our weeknight routine is irregular at best, that's for sure.

Although I must say, I really don’t mind – and in fact, enjoy many aspects of – the ED schedule. For starters, Matt's never on call, and he’s usually home within an hour of when his shift is done. That kind of predictability is rare in medicine, and as much as I appreciate that now, I can only imagine how much more important that will be to me later on. Secondly, it provides us with a unique flexibility that other jobs don’t, especially with the work from home flexibility I have. For instance, while there might be a Friday night that he’s busy putting in central lines while I watch What Not to Wear, chances are sometime during the week there was a random Tuesday afternoon we were both home at the same time. Our time together may not be traditional, but for a medical intern's schedule, it's been pretty good. Nonetheless, he’s worked four very long months with sporadic days off here and there, so having a week’s vacation has been a blessing indeed. I know Home Depot is appreciating a man with free time on hands and projects to burn, as well.

On a related note, I had an eye opening moment yesterday in regards to my own vacation schedule. When I started at Wake Forest, my heart did a little backflip during orientation when I heard we got 25 days of sick/personal/vacation. 25 days? A gal could take a month off traversin’ around Spain with that kind of schedule! And, to boot, you can roll over up to half of that… in theory, accumulating 37 days of vacation in one year. Sounds great right? As it turns out, it’s been really, really difficult to use those days. Using vacation days means first finding the cajones to ask my boss for time off, inconveniencing 3 other extremely hard working people and mostly notably, coming back to more work then you left. Nonetheless, there are few things that recharge me more than traipsing around a new place with a map and my camera or a week at the beach with clams, beer and family and so I have done my best to take a few week long vacations every year.

Yesterday I worked on my PTO sheet for 2009 and found that even with a week in Myrtle in April and a week in the Dominican Republic in May and few Fridays off for weddings and other such revelry, I still I had 23.5 days left. 23.5 days!! As it turns out, I could probably much just stay home all December. I’m not sure what to do about this, since as I mentioned, burning through those days like rubber isn’t exactly encouraged or easily facilitated. But they’re my days yall, and if I don’t use at least 10 of them, I’ll lose ‘em.

To add insult to injury, I’ve also keep good records of how much extra I have worked this year. Let’s just say, I love me some Excel sheets. Last October, we had some personnel changes here at work. I won’t go into them here, but essentially a 3 man job became a 2 man job.. It was a very stressful time- there were a lot of tears, a lot of wine drinking and 4 letter words thrown around in my car in between parking spaces and garages. During the course of this event, I began keeping track of my hours in order to document how these changes had affected my work/life balance. I don’t have a punch in, punch out job – I have the kind of job where you do your work, whatever that takes. Sometimes that means reading food logs late into the evening hours, but it also means being able to slip out for doctors appointments or lunch dates without worry, or working from home on Fridays. But my job description does say 37.5 hours a week and I was curious to see with these changes, how close to accurate this was. I found that an average week for me, during this time, was about 50 hours. About 8 months later we hired a 3rd person, which greatly reduced my workload, but I continued to keep track of my hours. Mostly because I’m a little bit OCD and once I make me a good Excel tracker, I have a hard time cutting myself off from using it. In my Excel sheet, I had created a column to keep track of how many hours over my “full time” I went and how quickly those turned into extra days. Over the course of a year, and one month, I have worked an extra 33 days.

Now granted, when I plug in “6 am – 2pm” on my excel sheet, I know I’m not working a full 8 hours. I check twitter, I write wino emails, I go microwave my lunch and end up talking to a co-worker for 20 minutes about Twilight. These things happen. But let’s say – worst case scenario – I worked half of that. That means I worked extra 15 days this year. On top of my leftover 23.5 vacation days, I have nearly 7 weeks of “extra time” this year… just sitting on the back burner.

I’m not sure what to do about this… maybe spend a little more time on twitter at work? (Maybe write blog posts at work? Check.) Unfortunately, if I put my feet up and eat bon bons the person that comes back to haunt the most is me, and then my participants. There’s no “man” to take it out on… the bane and blessing of automonous work is that you get both the responsibility of your schedule, and the responsibility of your schedule. And I guess that’s the truth of many jobs where you don’t clock in and clock out. This is probably one of those realities of being a grown up that you’d rather just not delve that deep into, like compounding interests on mortgage loans or how laundry is never really done because even when the hamper is empty you’re wearing dirty clothes. File this under: Being a Grown Up Sometimes Sucks?

What I’m learning quickly here is that if I don’t respect and nuture my time, no one else is going to. Life is a zero sum game – where you think you’re saving time one place, you’re probably burning it somewhere else. So on that note, I’m punching out at Thursday at noon and I’m not looking back. Matt and I are escaping to the mountains for a weekend – our first and only trip to the montanas this year. I’m not bringing a single food log, weight loss chart or memory or a participant who had 3 apple pies for breakfast with me.

And that is what paid time off is all about.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Music on a Monday

For some reason, my ears just keep saying "more, please" when I listen to this. I loved Something Corporate and I had no idea that the lead singer had left SC and was now Jack's Mannequin until my buddy Zac clued me in. Now I can't stop downloading them, much to the demise of my dwindling itunes balance. But this song delights me the most. Enjoy.



Confess: What are you listening to right this very moment?