Friday, January 25, 2013

Your Earth ways are strange to me…

Can anybody explain this to me? Where “this” is “fashion sneakers”? WITH HEELS?!?!

Was zum Teufel?!

(Sorry the picture is so tiny – I can’t seem to make it bigger without making it so grainy you can’t SEE it at all!)

This is the kind of thing that makes me feel like a complete alien. I look at this and think, “OK, so, let me get this straight…”

Our species has cunningly designed footwear with an eye toward being fleet-and-sure of foot – for sports, for running, for walking, etc.

This footwear is, on the whole, comfortable and receives the enthusiastic approval of many podiatrists.

It has widespread acceptance as a go-to choice for everybody from actual athletes to soccer moms carting said athletes around to folks like me who wear them to the office an awful lot (largely to avoid the aforementioned podiatrists, who while being lovely folks on the whole get rather pricy in a hurry when one has bunions but insists on wearing heels that accelerate the time it takes for them to go from ‘unsightly but painless’ to ‘aaaaah, I can’t put any weight on my foot, aaaaaaaah!, the pain, the pain!!!’).

For bonus points, many of them are even machine washable (which granted is a noisy business, but after session #329 in the garden banging sounds from the washing machine is a small price to pay in exchange for not having what feels like the ground-up remains of the Rock of Gibraltar between your toes).

And those that aren’t machine washable are still generally of a material you can plunge into a sink of warm soapy water, scrub with a nice nylon brush, and then set in a warm place to dry. Hallelujah.

So naturally, somebody looked at this very popular, nearly-perfect thing we had created and said to themselves, “You know what this needs? HEELS. Plus buckles that don’t actually BUCKLE anything. And also they should be leather. Yes. That will be the perfect shoe.”

{…squinty-up puzzled-face…}

Sometimes, I really do wonder about this world I live in…

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Some or all or none or maybe it was five…

I took The Denizens to the mall today, because I a) had been told, many times and by various people, that they were “out” of wearable clothes and/or shoes, b) was finally confident that that big check I’d eventually received was fully through the system and not still in a state where it could theoretically still bounce, and c) had apparently lost my damned mind.

We can start this little adventure at get-outta-bed-o’clock, when I announced to the female Denizens that we were going to undertake this. I should have known right then what was going to happen, because they immediately all began talking at once…about the anime store, and the book store, and every OTHER store which does not carry clothes.

Hmm. So I assumed my best Mom Expression and said, sternly, “We are going to get clothes and shoes for school. I need you to think about and/or go through what you have, and figure out what is missing.”


Eventually, we got out the door. And then we got lunch.

During the playoff game.

On the bright side, the sound of my girls hyperactively singing various anime theme songs and arguing the fine points of fighting styles (arcane and otherwise) employed by various characters went unheard thanks to the fairly constant shrieks and groans from the fan-base.

Meanwhile, I was grilling them about what, exactly, they needed.

This met with limited success.

Apparently, my girls are completely unaware of what clothes even are, and are therefore quite perplexed by questions such as “how many long-sleeved shirts do you own?” or “Do you have shoes that do not let rain-water in?”

{blank stares} “Oooooooo, well, yes, except, I can’t wear the {pants, shoes, jackets, shirts, socks, etc.} because they’re {too small, have more ‘hole’ than ‘crotch,’ no longer have soles, etc.}”

{rubs temples}

“OK, look, new rule: If you can’t wear it for any reason, that counts as not having it…”

“Oooooooo. Well, then I don’t have any pants…”









THEN, we got to the mall, where we immediately went into JcPennys  Macys  Target  Old Navy  Barnes and Noble.

Where we proceeded to spend almost half of what I’d mentally set aside for clothes on things like…a Japanese dictionary for Eldest. A “read and build with Legos” book for Captain Adventure. A journal for Danger Mouse. The latest installment of Drama for Boo Bug. And a fistful of knitting/spinning/fiber-arty magazines for me.


This is my fault entirely. I know how I am. For me, walking past a bookstore is exactly like a recovering alcoholic walking past a bar at happy hour; or a former smoker standing outside with coworkers who are having a smoke.

That peculiarly delicious ink-and-book-paper smell is worse than crack for me. It suspends all common sense, my ability to perceive the passage of time, even my sense of purpose.

Upshot being: I should never, ever, ever say to myself, “Eh, let’s just cut through the Barnes and Noble on our way to where the clothes are.”

With most of the day now gone, but resolute, I herded my cats kids into the Mall Proper…even though by now, I was coming to the conclusion that there was simply no way any clothes and/or shoes would be purchased, since the feedback I was getting from my adorable offspring was nothing but confusion around the whole concept of dressing themselves, and that they were frankly puzzled by the whole question of “what are you lacking to clothe your nekkidness?”

By the time we left the book store, I had already rather scrapped the plan for the day…it was getting late, Captain Adventure was starting to look a bit strained by all the huff and bother (plus he had that Lego-book thing, which, you know…one really should be able to just rush right home to unwrap and get started when one finds such a treasure as that while out shopping…), and frankly I was starting to flag a bit too. (And had new knitting magazines. Not quite the level of awesome as the Lego-thing, but, pretty darned close.)

Plus I was getting a bit hoarse from hollering, “Stop yammering about {anime, Glee, ringtones, manga, art paper}, look me in the eye, and tell me: do. you. have. ANY. long-sleeved. shirts?!”

So I wasn’t entirely surprised when instead of a clothes store, we they somehow ended up browsing around the anime store going “Shriek! it’s a Hetalia poster!” and other embarrassingly geeky things.

Nor was I surprised to get home and realize that the count of new clothes was zero.

I…think…I’m just going to…hit the Internet.

It’s much quieter.

And a lot easier on my feet.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Different kinds of crazy

The last couple months have been a whirlwind of madness; even for, you know, us, it’s just been…devastatingly crazy around here.

The husband started a new job last week, after having been approached out of the blue by a former client of ours; this set off a lightning storm of rearranged schedules, car issues (since instead of working from home “almost always,” he now has to go into the office “always,” and the nanny is a) sharing a car with her SO and b) doesn’t have a four-kid-sized car to begin with), scheduling issues (suddenly neither of us are home by dinnertime) and so on and so on.

That kind of crazy.

The middleman between myself and the client started having increasingly bad (cough-cough) cash flow issues; what had started out as about a six week lag between “invoice approved by client” and “paycheck” grew slowly…yet inexorably…to eighteen weeks.

That kind of crazy, too.

Right around the same time the problem with the middleman became so glaringly obvious that even I couldn’t reason them away as being “timing issues” around when invoices were approved and when bill cycles were going through, the husband’s soon-to-be-former manager contacted me to say, “Soooooo…what are you up to these days?'” He’d tried to hire me back in February into a very similar position, but we’d been blocked by the whole ‘husbands and wives cannot work together’ policy; the offer being a very good one and the current situation pay-wise being a very bad one (shoot, even the pay rate was rather ‘eh,’ considering that it was less than I made on the W2 contract previous to it and was straight 1099 – so the burden of self-employment taxes, insurance, permits, blah blah blah, was entirely on me), I immediately made the no-brainer call and turned in notice to the client – my last day to be December 21.

That kind of crazy.

To my infinite surprise, they not only countered, but went to astonishing lengths to try to keep me – including fast-tracking an investigation that as it turned out was already underway into said irregularities. Within a week, I was receiving release forms from my former contract, had been told by the gentleman from the accounting team that they would be more than happy to offer me a very very slight increase in bill rate to go direct, said, “Eh, actually, I’ve got this other thing…” and was immediately told “Never mind. You can get the same exact thing they were getting. Now will you stay?” – which brought the nets up to a point where in terms of cash in my pocket the contract was suddenly a sweeter deal and turned my “I have made up my mind” back into “damn, now I have to THINK. Again.

That kind of crazy.

And of course the move to SCRUM has been exhausting and constant…as the ‘first among equals’ for our team (read: have to have my finger in every.stupid.pie we make) I have been turning in timesheets showing between 50 and 60 hours for the last month, solid. And it shows in my attitude, my red-rimmed eyes, and my blood pressure.

That kind of crazy.

I have been sitting on the fence between the two options since the holiday break (whiiiiiich I didn’t actually get, because since I wasn’t leaving yet while All This was going down, it became the perfect time to work on some things that have proven verrrrrrry tricky to get done thanks to things like ‘contention on the box’ and ‘ack, whaddya mean the server is down?!’), thinking and thinking and thinking until I wanted to scream with frustration.

Both things have their own charms, their own pros and cons. Emotionally I felt like the full-time offer was better; financially, the contract one was. For work-life balance, definitely the FTE…for being continually challenged, the contract…

Trying to choose between them was like trying to pick between two equally-loved flavors of ice cream…until the husband came home with the benefits information for his new job.

Ouch. More than double the premium and the deductibles…spotty prescription coverage…back to That Thing where trips to the pharmacy were $300, $400, $500 a crack…yeahhhhhhh, suddenly, that FTE position with the pimped-out benefits package is worth a lot more than it was a second ago…

So…this coming week is my last week where I am, and I’m going to be starting as an FTE at MegaBank shortly.

In related news, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much drama around something as simple as getting a new job.

And I’m very glad it’s over now.

Kind of like getting a shot, the lead-up was far worse than the actual jab.

This last week is going to be pretty crazy, though.

Can’t wait for it to be over.