Friday, October 30, 2009

Ironically, It's Payday

Yesterday, I was excercising on of my very special talents, salary negotiations. Mind you, not for myself, for myself I would describe the process as anxiety filled and a bit bumbley. However for others, my advisement on such subject has helped many a few people seccure the pay they had hoped for v. the pay they were offered. Here's the basic rules:

1) Always try to get them to throw out a number first. They'll usually give you a range, of which the higher number is where you start your negotiations.

2) Have a number you want in your head - then add 20% or if you are a woman 30%.

3) If your forced to say the number first, always say a number HIGHER than what would make you happy. It's their job to offer you less, so go big and you'll settle at a figure that you'll be pleased with.

The exchange with my friend took place via Instant Message and as most all things reguarding money, we tried to tiptoe around the actual amount in question. At one point, sensing maybe I was off in my suggested salary price and trying to cover up what might have been a misstep I said:

Me: What do I know? I just freelance and mom.

He: What does momming pay?

Me: It pays in eyerolls and the occasional hugs.

The girls are out of town, so later today I'm going to try to gather up all those eyerolls and hugs and take them to the bank for a big deposit.

I remember when the girls were tiny babies and they moved from 3 naps a day to 2. And then 2 naps a day to 1. I would say to anyone who would listen, and even those who didn't --

Me: They've increased my hours but not my pay.

I felt so cheated.

I really think juggling kids and work is impossibly hard. I see how it could be easier for those that salaries permit them to have a fulltime Nanny - even and especially after children grow beyond babies and become kids with busy schedules and commitments of their own. Or those with family that can step in to pick up children when something unexpected happens like say, an 18 Wheeler Overturns or a cable snaps and closes The Bay Bridge. I often think that the hardest part of my day is when I leave work and rush like a madwoman to catch what ever public transportation gets me to the girls before the pick up deadline of 6pm. I feel envious eyes watching me leave work - usually a full 15 minutes after the time I've allowed myself to make the mile+ walk to the bus or boat. These eyes are replaced with dubious glares at the wall clock from the staff that run our amazing after school program. It's so difficult to know that your doing the best you can and trying to get it all done and the still yet, everywhere there are doubters.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Committed

On my huge list of to-do items that I keep postponing was the task of renewing my blog domain name. Realizing that it expires tomorrow, I hastely called up my good friends (with questionable taste in advertising but excellent customer service) at Go Daddy.com.

The voice on the other end of the line asked me for my ID number. A series of digits I have stored somewhere right next to all the other things I can never find. So he asked the next question, "What is your domain name?"

"Am I doing okay." I replied.

"Uh?" he paused audibly confused. "I didn't ask. Um, I need to know, what is your DOMAIN name?" he inquired again.

"Am I doing okay." I replied again. Stifling laughter and thinking this was the best gag of my day.

And a few questions and a series of different digits later, Am I Doing Okay.com is renewed for five more years. That's 2014.

All this and I'm good with math.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

News

So my desire that blogging lead to something bigger and better has somewhat come to fruition. Over the next few months, I'll be working on an exciting project that will allow me to get paid for all my social media experience. Hurrah! Unfortunately, I won't be going to Austin for Halloween like I had originally planned. I'm sad to not get the chance to see my bloggy friends and celebrate the birth of babies and see my mom. I'll miss my girls like crazy as I put them on a plane to fly solo for the first time. My biggest fear is after flying alone they'll never want to go on a trip with me again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Very Good Question

A few weeks ago the girls and I were forced to repeatedly use a Port-O-Potty. That's music festivals, for you. So as we struggled to escape the clutches of being a bit to close to everyone else's excrement, I doled out some hand wipes.

"Here, wipe your hands!" I instructed. "They kill 99.9% of all germs."

And then Hazel asked, "Mommy, what's the .01% of germs it doesn't kill?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Confusion On The Street Corner

I'm on the phone with my mom this morning when I hear her suddenly say:

My Mom: No! No, no, no, no, no. No!!!

I wasn't quite sure if she replying to whatever I had said or just spouting out answers. Luckily she went on to explain:

My Mom: This man just came up to my car window and asked me for a cigarette.

My mother doesn't smoke. As I'm mulling over the idea of this exchange in my head, she offers up an alternative:

My Mom: Maybe he wanted the marijuana.

My mom always (always, always, always) refers to weed as the marijuana. I find the idea of either scenario absolutely ludicrous. I begin questioning her about her location.

My Mom: I'm on the corner by the CVS. He looked drunk. He just came up to the car window and stuck his fingers up to his mouth in a "v".

That's when it all started to make sense.

Me: Mom, was he sticking out his tongue?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The State Of The Marriage

Last week, I stood in the expansive personal hygiene aisle of a big box store. Staring back at me were thousands of toothbrushes in every shape, model, make and manufacturer. Some spun. Some vibrated. Some offered to scrape my tongue. In every color imaginable, it was a rainbow of choices. But I wasn't there for me. Oh, no. Erik had casually mentioned that he needed a new toothbrush and I was on a wifely mission to make it happen. Flanked with our children, I gazed at all the packaging. It really all came down to the size and firmness of the bristles. Full or compact. And soft or firm. I made my selection, confident that Erik's and his teeth would be clean and happy.

That night, he noticed the new orange brush sitting on the edge of the sink. He picked up the toothbrush and examined the writing.

"Compact? Firm?" he questioned. "We've known each other for over 16 years."

I bought the exact opposite of the kind of toothbrush my husband prefers. And it wasn't the first time. I also make this error with toilet paper. Let the divorce decree show, I slowly tortured him by erroneously purchasing incorrect health and beauty products.

I felt bad about this mistake. How hard is it to remember simple details? Apparently, for me - impossible. Maybe I need one of those scraps of paper in my wallet but instead of sizes it has crib notes that say: Soft. Full. Northern.

Saturday night after a fun family trip to another big box store, my husband asked me what I was unpacking from one of the bags. I turned around with a new & improved box of odor & dirt eliminator for carpet & room. (Package design bonus points for positioning three ampersands on the same package panel.) From across the kitchen he held up a matching box. We had both added the same product to the cart.

"What fragrance?" I inquired. Remembering that I had mulled over the options in the aisle finally selecting one that conjured up images of an April shower.

"Spring Rain" he replied.

Yes! I celebrated to myself. At least we're still on the same page with smell goods.




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where'd the maid go?

I struggle with housework. I like to think that the me living in an alternate universe, lives in a very orderly, clean flat. (Apparently the me in another universe lives in London and she has found a signature hairstyle.) The real me, has all the abominations of an American hausfrau - clutter, chaos and three kids who don't pick up after themselves. (I included my husband in that count.)

I'm very good at coming up with a system. I just struggle with sticking to said system. A few years ago, everyone was responsible for a "room". One room. Every day, you cleaned your room. Erik had the kitchen. Lula had the bathroom. Hazel did the bedroom she and Lula shared. And I was in charge of the Livingdiningmasterbedroom. This prompted my mother-in-law to say, "You must be alot of fun to live with." And I really don't think she was kidding.

A few weeks ago, I tried the write-rooms-on-tiny-scraps-of-paper-and-pull-one-out-of-the-jar routine. I added one blank "free choice" slip. And one "computer" slip. Then I set the timer for 10 minutes. Lula pulled the "computer" slip on the first try and got to spend ten minutes playing games on disney.com. At that single moment in time, we both felt like I was the smartest mom in the universe. This game went along swimmingly for over 40 minutes, drawing different slips in ten minute increments. Just when every room was starting to show signs of cleanliness, we ran out of steam. Still it felt somewhat like success.

After barking orders like a drill sergeant one day. "Pick up those shoes! Pick up that backpack! Is that where your toothbrush belongs?" Lula explained that it was much more effective to write down exactly what needed to be done v. rattling off a list that was hard to keep straight. "Brilliant!" I trilled. (Using my alternate English accent.) Behold the Sunday list:


I'm particularly fond of #5, Talk Nicely. It doesn't do the laundry, but it makes the picking it up off the floor a lot less stinky.


Friday, October 2, 2009

A Perfect 10

Once I heard a woman describe her son and his girlfriend as a "10". After the initial Bo Derek image cleared my brain, she went on to explain that her son was shaped like a "1" and his girlfriend was shaped like a "0". Son = long and lean. Girlfriend = rotund. Thus, when they walked into the house together, she thought they looked like a moving number 10.

This year my husband participated in not one, but TWO Biggest Loser competitions at his office. The first was mostly girls and informal but he had great success losing close to 30 pounds. The second was testosterone filled and fueled with a $2K prize pot. Again, he managed to shed many pounds and placed second in the largest percentage of body fat lost category. The Miss Congeniality of weight loss competitions.

Erik has radically changed his lifestyle and eating habits. I mean, this is guy who used to order a Budweiser with a whiskey back, hours before the porterhouse. He's moved from a bigger Don Draper to somewhat of a Lance Armstrong without the spandex and while keeping his testicles intact. The chicken wing lover survived on veggie burgers and egg whites and popcorn. Last weekend he finished a 5K and then came back around to cheer me on lagging many minutes behind.

So yeah, I'm very concerned we might be looking like a "10". I've always had a fear of being in a Jack Sprat kind of relationship. I'm going to set my sights on us becoming an "11". In the meantime behold his before and after.



You can read about the GSP Hey Fat Ass competition here. His final posting is here. If you have the time, would you leave a comment on his post. I think it would be funny if got a bunch of comments from people he doesn't know.

Now excuse me while I go find a treadmill and some tofu.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sorry About The Thunderstorms Austin

Half the people who know me, have no idea how cool I am. (So cool, that I had retype the word cool 3x to get it right.) Right now, I'm licking my thumb and placing it near my rear and making a sizzle sound effect. I'm that cool.

I used to brag that I had the dubious honor of attending the Austin City Limits Music Festival every year. Every. Single. Year. Don't try and top me, because that first year - there were like three people there (okay 300) and I was related to half of them.

Then it got all popular. And crowded. And the lines, good grief the lines. And the heat. And the dust. And suddenly my ticket didn't have those special little letters: VIP on it. And my kids got too big to stick in stroller or wagon and push to the front of the stage. And they kept begging to play in the sand at the volley ball courts. Do you know how impossible it is to throw your panties on the stage from the volley ball courts - aka Austin Kiddie Limits? I tried once and they ended entwined around Clifford The Big Red Dog's head. Head's up - back stage with Clifford, not as crazy as you might think. He's all straight edge, organic kibble, pro-cat nap. Booooorrrrring.

So after Amy Winehouse cancelled in '07, I kind of lost interest. (Not true) I bought tickets for this year last October. But I felt a huge pang of disappointment when they announced the headliners and they turned out to be the exact same headliners playing the Outside Lands Festival right here in Golden Gate Park. I like to think every music festival is some special cosmic gathering reminiscent of the original Woodstock v. pre-arranged corporate scheduling sponsored money making event. Then I found out the amazing Hardly, Strictly, Bluegrass Festival was scheduled for the exact same weekend. Here's the thing about HSB - it is FREE!!! FREE!!! FREE!!!!

All my people will be there: Lyle, John Prine, REK, Emmylou, Old 97's, Steve Earle, Drive-by Truckers, Old Crow Medicine Show on and on. And even MC Hammer.

Before you go poking fun and asking some silly "would I like some country with my western?" jokes, let's remember two things. One, I'm from Texas. I'm more Texas than most of the people who will actually be at ACL this weekend. (Ironically, most of the out-of-towners will be from California.) Two, it's supposed to rain ALL WEEKEND LONG in the 512. So, I will think of you, while I'm drinking store bought beer in an ACL '02 koozie that I am allowed to bring into the park to my free concert surrounded by redwood trees and in return, I hope that the umbrella you hold over your head during Pearl Jam doesn't get struck by lightening or wielded wildly and ends up poking someone in the eyeball. Deal?

This does not mean that I will be disappointed if you buy me a T-shirt.