Archive | February, 2013

My Two Cents on the Working Virtual Debate

So last week (or this week? maybe?) Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, made major ripples in the professional world when she released a company-wide memo to all Yahoo employees that reversed their previous position on working from home. (For the sake of words, I’ll probably only refer to it as “working virtually” through the remainder of this. It just means you’re working ANYWHERE – home, coffee shop, internet cafe – outside of an office which is paid for by your company.)

This was a shock to many, for a couple of reasons that I could surmise: 1) Yahoo had been very progressive on their virtual office policy, which lent credibility to the process that the rest of industry could follow, and 2) Marissa Mayer is a mom to a young baby. (She was named CEO while pregnant with said baby.)

I’ve read plenty of discussion on both sides of the fence, but I have to say: I feel like this is a huge step backward. Here’s why.

There’s already such a stigma on “working from home”. I am INCREDIBLY fortunate to have an employer (and a manager) who supports working virtually when necessary. Sick kids, having work done on the house, doctor’s appointments.. you just give notice in advance and you can work from home (or cafe or wherever there’s a secure network). But for some reason, and I know this because I’ve heard it with my own two angry ears, it’s considered “slacking”.

Now, look. “Insiders” at Yahoo claim that the virtual office policy has been abused by many employees over the years, and they say that it’s time for a revamp. I’m not saying EVERYONE is productive outside of the office. I personally know folks who catch up on the DVR, run personal errands all day, get their hair done, all under the guise of “working virtually”. But there are some of us – myself included – who are almost MORE productive outside of the office. I have uninterrupted time to work, and I can accomplish worlds more tasks in one day a week of working virtually than I’ll struggle to do in the other four days.

Reversing this policy is basically confirming that everyone who works virtually is non-productive, and that’s just simply not true.

This places an unnecessary divide on working parents and workers with no kids. Before I had kids, I had the coworkers who would leave every day at 2:00 p.m. to pick up kids, while throwing the rest of their work at me to finish. Hell, I have kids NOW and I still see this happen. And I’ll be honest – there are a lot of times that these people do this and it feels like a cop-out.

At the same time, your responsibility doubles (or triples or quadruples) when you have children. You not only have to schedule time for YOUR doctor’s appointments, but your kids need that time too. Working ten to twelve hour days five days a week.. just doesn’t work. (Trust me. I know this.) So you need a little flexibility. You just do.

So now there is the divide: how do you not breed bitterness?

You cannot assume that all workers fit any one model.

Some workers, sadly, are going to be inefficient no matter where you place them. I have spent many years – and not just professionally, but in other arenas as well – trying to fight the idea that working longer doesn’t necessarily mean working harder or smarter. Putting in a 12 hour day, for example, doesn’t mean you got ANYTHING done. Oh, you rehearsed until 2 in the morning? Then it’s perfect, right? (The only reasonable answer is YES.)

I know folks who religiously show up, five days a week, in the office and put in eight or nine hour days. They spend those hours at the coffee pot, flitting from office to office, and visiting everyone within ear shot. So everyone sees them, and you know that they’re there every single day.

But if you were to look at the products coming out, and where the actual sausage is being made, and you realize that they do little to nothing. (Except gather a paycheck.)

Now, that worker? Is not going to be efficient working virtually. But they’re not going to be efficient in an office, either. And to say that NO ONE can work virtually puts a lot of strain on people who 1) can utilize their time efficiently working virtually AND 2) need the flexibility from time to time. Also, your ability/need to work in a flexible situation will change as your life/needs change. Why box anyone in?

So there’s my thoughts. (Don’t even get me started on Ms. Mayer then having a nursery built into her office, because that BOTHERS ME MOST OF ALL.) What was your take?

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Oh, hi: I’m the Crazy Woman in the Cape.

So last weekend was kind of a tripping point for me. If you watch Intervention, they call it rock bottom; if you’re a Hoarders fan, it was my “feel it so you can heal it” point.

First of all: this is probably ALL going to come across as whining. I hate having to caveat things like MY FEELINGS before I type them, but yes, I know there are people who are SO ENVIOUS that I have the first world problems I do. I KNOW THAT. You know what? Doesn’t make the problems any less real, or my feelings any less valid.

(I always, always, always think of Temerity Jane, who told me this story at the 2011 Blathering.. she had written a post about being miserably sick while living in Washington D.C., just horrifically, terribly ill. I think it was a kidney infection on top of a stomach flu or something horrendous. She pulled over on the way to work and vomited on the side of the road or something and in the process, peed in her pants. When writing this post, someone actually commented, I don’t even HAVE kidneys, so I’d LOVE the opportunity to just pee in my pants! or something of that nature. I think of that kidney-less lady ALL THE TIME.)

Last week was a really, really hard week at work. And I’m coming to realize more and more often that when I say, Man, that was a hard week, people think that maybe I had one rough thing. No, more often than not, it means that I was at work by 6:30 a.m. and left around 6:00 p.m. (or later) and crossed NOTHING off my to-do list in the process. And a lot of my list was stuff that was time sensitive – school work, exams, work projects with deadlines, etc. So by Friday – which ended up being another 12 hour day – I was toast. And still had THREE exams ahead of me.

I looked at Bryan and I felt the tears well up. I can’t do this all, I said. I just can’t. I have too much.

He nodded, hushed the boys, and took them out to dinner to give me an hour’s peace.

I sat down at my computer and decided: I need to drop a class.

So I went to the page to do that, and you know what? It turns out you can unenroll! With one click! And that click seems to be non-reversible! As I found out in sheer panic when I didn’t mean to SELECT THAT. So, there. I spent about an hour freaking out, realized there was nothing more I could do at 7:00 pm on a Friday night, and was asleep when the boys got home.

… this last weekend? Was the most RELAXING weekend I’ve had in a year.

So while I’m still reversing my unenrollment, I have realized that maybe taking 13 hours of courses a semester WHILE working full-time is not the smartest way to do this. And while, yes, obviously, I’d like to get done as soon as possible, I’d also like to not cry all the time and lose sleep over missed deadlines.

(Also, I need to find a program that caters to REAL ADULTS who have REAL JOBS. One day, I’ll tell you the stories.)

So I’m down to two classes. Two manageable classes, in classes that I’m really honestly interested in. And I feel like a freakin’ weight is off of my shoulders.

Because sometimes, you’re Superwoman. Sometimes, you’re just a crazy woman in a cape.

(Learning to tell the difference is the challenge!)

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And Then, a Lightbulb..

As I was embarking on a wild goose chase today, sent on a fire-alarm errand that was completely unnecessary and took time away from my already insane day, I did something I NEVER do: I called my husband.

See, I know that a lot of married couples stay in touch during the work day. Bully to y’all. Bryan and I don’t. Our daytime correspondence is usually limited to a forwarded email (usually from a teacher concerning a certain 12 year old) and/or a text message to make sure SOMEONE has time to pick up Tony from daycare. Seriously, that’s it.

It’s not that I don’t love him, or that he loves me, because we do. But we are BUSY AS HELL.

Therefore, when the phone rings and one of us pops up on the caller ID? The world stops spinning.

As I was unloading on this poor soul who chose to marry me (and subsequently poisoned me with his sperm)(twice), I realized that I don’t do this often. Often, instead, I write.

And I hadn’t. In a long time.

And suddenly, I realized that I was missing my outlet. While I was trying to schedule down to the quarter hour, I put in no time for me. And it was making me a VERY UNFORTUNATE PERSON TO BE AROUND.

So, hey, y’all! How’re you doing? What’s new with you?

I thought I’d share with you the master combo to fighting itchy, dry, winter-pregnancy skin. As many of you know, pregnancy skin is pretty dreadful. Especially around the parts of you that are expanding. Add to that the dry, cold air of winter, and I was pretty much an indecent person, scratching myself in all sorts of inappropriate places in the middle of meetings. Finally, I gave up hoping that it would warm before spring, and I found this combo.

Dove’s Deep Moisture Body Wash is truly amazing. I didn’t think a body wash could be so essential in the dry, itchy skin department, but it has made a night-and-day difference. It’s incredibly creamy, but still lathers really well. And then minute you rinse it off? Your skin feels supple and moisturized. Even still in the shower. IT IS AMAZING. (Also, it’s a drugstore buy! You cannot beat that.)

I wandered into an Ulta some weeks back because I had a gift card to use, and there was a saleswoman on hand for the DermaDoctor line who struck up a conversation about my (very) pregnant belly. I had been eying Bliss Body Butter, but she asked me to try a sample of DermaDoctor’s KP Duty, which was initially created to help alleviate keratosis pilaris, which we might call “chicken skin”, commonly found on the back of your upper arms. (I have this most of the time, but it’s disappeared with pregnancy.) Y’ALL. This lotion. It’s pretty amazing. I use it from neck to hips, every time I step out of the shower, and it keeps me TOTALLY moisturized. I have not scratched myself inappropriately since I found this.

(But I feel like I may  have set the bar too high now, so Disclaimer: I may still scratch myself inappropriately in public, but it has nothing to do with dry skin.)

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A Front Recap

On the Pregnancy Front:

Yep, still pregnant. Feeling pregnant now. Exhausted ALL the time. Exhaustion that cannot be articulated; exhaustion that surprises me – even now – at every turn. I can’t let myself sit down when I get home after work, because ALL IS LOST if I do. No one will be fed, no cleaning will happen, and no homework will be accomplished. If I sit down, everyone better start gathering their supplies, cause it’s gonna turn Arena up in here.

Who’s hungry for spaghetti squash?

Also, I’ve reached the point that I believe is respectively referred to as “popped”. I know I’ll get bigger, but suddenly, people gasp in horror at the sight of me. Men ask, gently, “How are you feeeeling?” Women just look at me in utter sympathy (and fear). Tony is agitated because there is little room left for him to sit on my lap. I now catch myself waddling. For the polite in my office, there is now no more need to question is she? or isn’t she? because OH HELL YES, SHE MOST DEFINITELY IS.

On the Kid-Free Vacation Front:

Bryan and I had a ROUGH weekend some weeks back and at the end of it, we looked at eachother in horror at the realization that WE ARE ADDING ANOTHER VARIABLE TO THIS EQUATION. WE ARE SO STUPID. So we promptly planned two nights away, with no children.

In theory, we did this so I could have some quiet time to work on school work, possibly nap, and we could enjoy time with just each other. Bryan had a few clients to visit while we were traveling, and I was happy to accompany him.

YES.

In reality, we realized that we are BORING ASS PEOPLE without children. We have no direction without routine, we have no conversation without discussing parent-teacher conferences, and I don’t even know how to sleep properly without one ear lifted to the sound of creaking floorboards.

However, I did get one power nap in on Friday in front of a fireplace in a bed & breakfast and it was amazing. It snowed the morning we left and it was gorgeous. And any air that isn’t here was sorely needed in my lungs.

On the School Front:

I am having a harder time this semester settling into a groove with these classes. Which means at least once a week, there’s a frantic Oh my God, no one talk to me until after midnight because I’ve got to catch up! session, which is majorly productive and a great way to live! (I kid.)

At least once a week, I sit staring at my screen and finally drop my head to my hands and whisper to no one in particular, “I don’t think I can do this.” I feel like I’m so far behind the curve, and I’m in an institution that doesn’t seem to realize that “distance students” are often working adults, and maybe we need a bit of leeway now and then. Maybe having a deadline at 4:00 p.m. doesn’t really work for us, because 4 out of 5 days a week, I don’t even get to EAT because work is too busy.

But I can do it – maybe not at the perfect grade point average I’d hoped – and I will.

Also – it was suggested that perhaps I double my course load during maternity leave (which, HA HA HA!, sorry, no), but I’ve learned that since I’ll be on maternity leave, I technically have to not be in school that semester. So I’m looking forward to that.

On the Book-a-Month Front:

I did it! I finished a book in January! Like, the night of the 31st, but STILL! I did it! I finished Gone Girl, although the ending made me insanely angry. But I enjoyed the twists and turns and I’m debating sticking with the same author for February, since I’ve heard even better things about Sharp Objects. I am a little unnerved, though, because February is a short month.

On the Upcoming Week Front:

Sure, Valentine’s Day is next Thursday. But more importantly, next Tuesday? Is Mardi Gras. Which means FOOD, FOOD, FOOD. We’ve already indulged in King Cake around these parts (I even got cream cheese filled, which is MY favorite, but no one else will touch it), and I found a local hole in the wall down the street (DOWN THE STREET!) from me that serves boiled crawfish. THERE WILL BE SHELLS, OH YES.

Highly Recommend.

Next week also brings Lent, and I’m really struggling this year with what to give up. I could cheat and say “liquor and sushi”, since I’ve (in theory)(no, really, I have) given it up already because of the boy in my belly. But that feels like cheating. And I’m one of the folks who ENJOYS the challenge of Lent. Bryan and I usually give something up – I’ll have to think on that.

And, obviously, Valentine’s Day. The day that you’re absolutely shamed over if you don’t go above and beyond to declare your undying affection for the person you could possibly ignore/neglect for the other 364 days. The day where a bouquet of roses will cost you 4x the normal amount, but they’ll still die in three days. The day where you can’t get into any restaurant in less than 2 hours. I am not a fan of the day.

On the Let Me Ask You Front:

If you see a pregnant woman wrangling a child while waiting for a seat to open up at a restaurant, and you’re sitting there, taking up a table while checking your phone, having already eaten, let me ask you: would any judge in America convict me for coming over and licking you in the face?

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