Tuesday, May 20, 2008

While I was at my parents' house, I wrote this.

I like that when we're home, we can spend a rainy Saturday morning at the art museum less than 5 minutes from our house. If we want to go out to dinner, we have a variety of cuisines, and restaurants within those categories that are excellent. I like that we live in a nice quiet neighborhood that's only a walk away from Husband's office (what used to be his office) and a major highway that can take us wherever we want to go. I like that we can walk to the grocery store, Target, two restaurants and a Starbucks without going more than 2 miles. Sam's doctor is 3 miles away. There's a big grassy park at the upper end of our street.

I really like living in the city.


a few days ago I hung wet clothes on a clothesline next to a cherry tree.

My toddler ran around and around on an acre of land and never came too close to anything dangerous.

He smelled flowers and rolled in grass and went in and out of shrubs.

He was free, I had sun on my shoulders, a sweet smelling breeze in my hair and I thought...

okay. Country life is nice.

Friday, May 16, 2008

While I was away, I made this list.

Pros of living with parents for over a month:

1. No rent.
2. They haven't asked me to cook or clean anything.
3. Three babysitters who cost nothing and are overjoyed with the job.
4. A dog!
5. A huge yard, full of colorful flower gardens and flowering trees.
6. My laundry is hung to dry on a clothes line! Ahhh...that fresh air smell.
7. People have been bringing me flowers to cheer me up during this tough time.
8. Women in my parents church knitted me a prayer shawl. In purple, because they know it's my favorite color.
9. I do love my parents.

Cons of living with my parents:

1. At least three times a week I want to strangle my mother. It passes, but it reminds me why I like her so much more now than I did when I lived with her all the time .
2. Mom, Dad and Sister are all slobs. I don't just mean clothes on the floor, I mean unidentifiable smells coming from somewhere in the kitchen and a half an hour search to discover chinese food that had been left out for a few days.
3. Apparently the lush, fertile ground makes this particular area of the country the worst for seasonal allergy sufferers. For a few days at the beginning of this month, Sam and I couldn't leave the house because our nostrils would seal themselves shut and Sam's tear ducts would start producing "goo".
4. Dog hair is all over everything. Sam thought it was edible for a while. Ew.

The Pros far outweigh the Cons, until we get to this:

I miss my husband.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thoughts from a Business Partner

Love and marriage are certainly not wholly rational things, but in order for such a relationship to grow, a certain amount of rationale is needed. I suppose that’s the core of empathy.

The best advice I can give to newly married people are things that I have found make a working environment a much more productive and pleasant place, regardless of industry.

1. Don’t argue angry.

When a client or employee faults on something, you’re frustrated. Obviously. However, it would be unprofessional to call said client immediately to discuss the fault. Anger isn’t rational and you’re liable to say things you don’t mean, things that will hurt your relationship with the client in the future. Also, your reputation.

What you do instead is figure out what it is motivating your anger. Is it a repeated issue, is it the result of deceit, or have you just had a really bad day and a careless mistake has set you off? You take time and figure it out. You write down your thoughts and what you feel the core problem is. When you have calmed down, you state your case clearly, and without damaging outbursts.

Now replace “client” with “spouse”. I know it seems like we shouldn’t need to write things feelings before we talk to each other, and we shouldn’t when we’re just talking about everyday things. However, in an argument, especially about something serious, there’s a greater chance that you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, or confuse them and (in your irrational state of mind) yourself.

Also, to look at it from a selfish point of view, angry people don’t win arguments. Calm people do.

2. Take notes on serious topics.

This ties back to #1, but it works no matter what the tone is. No one’s memory is perfect. When something big is discussed, when a subject that will require information to be saved, when legal matters may necessitate notes...TAKE NOTES! If there’s a risk you may be sued or need to sue, or even if you want to hold something in front of the client’s face and say “Actually, Mister Qwerty, you told us in our October 18th meeting that you thought this was an excellent idea. Remember?” (you show notes, client realizes and hopefully work progresses).

Does it seem lame to take notes when you’re discussing an upcoming vacation with the wife? Yep. Will you be glad you did when she asks you whose job it is to book the hotel room and you have paperwork to prove that you both decided that it was her job while your job was to call the neighbors about feeding and walking Sprockets while you’re gone? You will indeed.

3. After 7 p.m., emergencies only.

A good client does not call at 9 p.m. when some issue pops up that they have decided can’t wait another 11 hours. It’s rude, and you’re going to ruin someone’s relaxing night with their family. You’d hate it if they did that to you.

Don’t decide at 10.30 p.m. as you’re snuggling into bed or in front of the TV with your ice cream and slippers that it’s the time to bring up the fact that you don’t want to spend Christmas with your in-laws. Bad timing. You’re both tired. More likely to be cranky. You wanted to be sleeping in less time than it will take to resolve this.

Save it for another time. Say “Tomorrow over dinner, I’d like to talk about the plans for Christmas” (or write it down and tell them in the morning). If your partner has forgotten this rule and is an emotional mess, say “Vent if you have to, but we will not discuss this right now.”.

Obviously if your lawyer’s office just burned down, or you walk in on the husband shagging his personal trainer...exceptions. You may want to get some information clear immediately.

4. Be sure of your priorities, and their priorities.

When you discuss a project with a client, the words “We want” are used. This is how you know what to do for them. If the specifics are very important, make sure you state “this is very important to our company” and/or “completing project A by November 1st is our primary focus because of B.”

“I know you want us to go to Paris this Spring, but I think we should focus our finances towards saving for a house. Is that something we both want more than the vacation?”

If your client or spouse has different priorities, you need to know that. Knowledge is imperative to conflict resolution, but no one will know anything in your head unless you tell them directly.

5. Ask what’s expected of you.

You wouldn’t take on a project if you aren’t certain you know what you’re supposed to do. If you don’t ask, and you do the wrong thing, someone will get mad at you. You will get mad at you and you will realize that much time, energy, and possibly money will be saved if you suck in your ego and say “I want to be sure we both know that you want us to handle both the print and internet marketing for Superawesomefest.” or “Just making sure...you want me to listen right now, you don’t need solutions?”.

If the person you’re dealing with gets pissy at you for doing it, say calmly “I’d rather be sure now than wrong later.”

6. Tell them what they said. Tell them what you understood.

In a perfect world, everyone would say what they mean, and no one would have to analyze anything. Sadly, our race has been infiltrated with fear of rejection, fear of hurting people’s feelings, fear of failure, and that causes people to water down the power of their messages until they become so diluted you can’t figure out their point.

“You said you don’t want to go to the movie tomorrow. Is it that you don’t want to see that movie, do you want to just stay home, or do you not want to spend time with me?”

Very often, it is not the worst answer.

“You said you want to move the focus of the project from C to D? By that do you mean that you’re not pleased with our work on C, or do you think that D is going to be more profitable?”

Whatever they say, take it. If they’re not being honest, it’s their problem. You were proactive and involved. Expect honesty from them and give it in return. Blunt? Maybe. Hard to swallow? Could be. Better for everyone in the long run? Totally.

Of course, if they whine about it later, you can whip out your notes and calmly say

“But you see, Dearest Love, you told me that you did not want to go to that restaurant because you’d rather stay home. If you were really worried about spending the money, you should have told me so.”

“Miss Qwerty, I asked you if you wanted employee profiles on your site and what you said was “I don’t think Phyllis will like that.”

8. Do not use passive aggression or sarcasm.

All it will do is make you look like an asshole.

If both partners can commit to these, communication is so much easier and relationships are much more enjoyable.

And there’s more time for sex (in marriage).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Immature Giggle

Whilst buying a massive box of diapers today at BJ's Wholesale Club, I found two products so perfectly placed beside each other.

Trojan Condoms and Depends Adult Undergarments.

Hee hee hee hee.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

My gift to myself is letting my son watch two whole Thomas videos as soon as he got up.

While I lay on the couch with a magazine.