My job is making me crazy. Or maybe it's not actually having a job, but still having to work. Or maybe it's having to reapply for a job that's not at all like what I do now, and that I don't want to do, but would probably keep me employed until I can find something else. Whatever it is, it's making me cranky and unhappy. And I'm doing much better than most of my colleagues.
As I was out walking in the rain on my lunch hour yesterday, and thinking alternately about how badly my rain gear failed and how much I love walking in the rain, I decided it was time to make a list. A happy list. So, in no particular order, here's my gratitude list for the week:
I got to walk in the rain yesterday. I had to cut my walk short because my cotton pants were starting to absorb too much water to keep moving quickly, but this is the end of the rainy season, and it was nice to get one final walk in the rain before the fall.
The Giants won last night.
I'm going to visit my family in August. I actually applied for a job I don't want, with people I don't want to work with, in order to keep my vacation plans. I'm pretty excited about a little slice of an East Coast summer.
The sun was shining today.
I walked suicides up and down the Lyon St. stairs tonight. And I executed my first ever pass of another runner on the way up. And he never caught up.
I'm two days from a three day weekend.
One of the flavors of the week at my new favorite yogurt shop was yellow cake batter. It really is as good as it sounds.
My friends surprised me with birthday cake on Sunday. There's one serving left in my fridge.
My job situation might suck, and my colleagues' depression might be contagious, but other than that, things really aren't too bad. My spleen rarely hurts anymore, and tonight I lifted the same weights, and did the same number or reps, that I was doing pre-mono. That makes me incredibly happy.
But enough about me. What's making you happy these days?
I'm not sure I'll make it to the local radio station's annual almost-free concert and fireworks show, but if I don't, at least I have a reminder of what a fireworks display over San Francisco Bay looks like.
Bay to Breakers is a San Francisco tradition - a 99-year-old tradition to be exact. It's one part elite road race, one part carnival, and about 100 parts drunken debauchery on the third Sunday in May. Residents of my fair city - the ones who aren't really racing, or at least throwing in some registration money to slowly stroll 7.46 miles across town, dress up and assemble floats and drink their way across the race course. Or halfway across the race course, until their floats fall apart and they run out of beer, and they're entirely too drunk to keep going. It's not all pretty, but it's still an awesome race.
Last year, I registered at the last minute, and, still not well enough to complete the entire race, met my teammates at the halfway mark and strolled slowly to the finish line. It took me well over an hour to walk about three miles. This year, I joined my teammates in running short sections of the race each time we met each other on the course. What a difference a year has made!
I got to the race start to find huge crowds of drunks and unattractive naked guys with a smattering of some serious runners, and a few walkers too. The lapse between gun time and my time over the starting mats was about 25 minutes, but I was able to watch some of the show and get hit by a few flying tortillas as I waited. Can anybody explain the tortillas? I just don't understand why people throw them around the starting corrals.
By the time I crossed the starting line, I think the winners were almost to the finish. I spent the first mile dodging runners, walkers, drunks, and a huge group of people dressed as bacon. I saw all variety of costumes, and a bunch of people wearing nothing at all.
I went into mile two feeling fantastic, and, having gotten all the tortilla remains off of my sneakers, was able to pick up the pace. I had to stop to remove my windbreakers, but otherwise I was able to sustain a comfortably hard pace, and approached the toughest point of the course - the Hayes St. Hill - feeling fantastic. I crested the hill, which is roughly an 11 percent grade over one city block, and looked back behind me to make sure I was at the top. I ascended about 200 feet in just a few blocks, and my first thought was "wait, is that it?" The hills I've been training on are much steeper over the same distance, and I wasn't too phased by the Hayes St. monster. I smiled and took a minute to survey the scene. The crowds along the sidewalk and hanging from windows and off of fire escapes were awesome. They were distributing snacks and drinks to everyone out for the party, and I think also to any racers who wanted 9 am mimosas at mile 2.5. Everyone was cheering and screaming and waving motivational signs. I'm pretty sure most of the city was out on Sunday morning. It was a little overwhelming.
As I descended the other side of Hayes St., I got a text message from my teammates. They were a few minutes behind me, and I expected we'd catch up in a few blocks. I walked towards the Panhandle and paused for a few seconds in front of the corner where, last year, I waited for my friends before joining halfway through the race. The girls hadn't caught up with me yet, but we met a few blocks later and I jogged with them into the park. We parted ways, and I continued my descent through the Park to the ocean.
My teammates, after stopping to stretch, caught up with me a second time about two miles from the finish. We jogged together for a few more minutes before I send them on ahead. We figured I would finish about 10 minutes after them, and they would be waiting, with our friends and a few backpacks full of beer, at the finish line.
The last few miles were nice. I maintained a pretty strong pace, got to watch the show around me, and thought a lot about last year's race. I crossed the finish line in 1:44:20, about seven minutes faster than my target. I averaged a 13:42 mile, and that's not including the running. I met and far exceeded all my goals for this race, and I did it without having to push too hard. I was in great shape to walk all the way home afterward, putting roughly 13 miles on my feet on Sunday. I think it's safe to proclaim this my comeback race.
If you want to see the rest of the photos, they're here.
That is indeed a photo of two shot glasses. Empty ones. Sitting on the bar of the establishment I celebrated my birthday in last Friday. One was for me, and the other for the bartender. But maybe I should start from the beginning.
I hosted a fabulous little gathering in one of my favorite restaurants. About a dozen friends hung out for a few hours, eating and drinking and having a blast. I'd left my camera in my bag for most of the evening, because I was having entirely too much fun to stop for photos. I also didn't really trust the neighborhood, and wasn't too sure my camera was safe hanging around my neck or sitting next to me at the bar. But at the end of the evening, we asked the bartender to take our photo.
He obliged, and worked hard for a minute or two to make sure we were all in the shot. Then he took a few, told us they'd come out just fine, and refused to give my camera back. Unless, of course, I did a shot with him. He pulled a bottle of tequila off a low shelf behind the bar. Shitty, bottom shelf, shouldn't have even been under the bar, tequila.
Now, I love a good margarita. But under no circumstances does straight tequila come within 10 feet of me. I HATE the stuff. I scream in disgust when my friends sip or shoot it, it bothers me that much. But he was holding my camera hostage. My. Camera. My camera is an extension of my right hand. I really cannot live without it for very long. I had no choice. I took the shot glass to the astonished looks of my friends, held my breath, and swallowed. YUCK!
Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale, though my throat still burns a little. We left soon after that - all of us fully upright and mostly functioning. Next year, I'll just ask another patron to take our photo. There's much less at risk that way.
The job, it sucks right now. Until we're officially issued pink slips, even though we know who has been eliminated, we're still working. Or at least showing up. Most of us, anyway. So I've been going to work every morning, but since half of my team has been laid off, I have very little work to do. But at least I'm there. Many of my colleagues aren't even bothering to come in. I don't think that's the right tactic, but I also can't really blame them.
Given my life the past two years, as hurtful as lousy as the last 48 hours have been, it's not that bad. Really - blinders off, eyes wide open, financial matters included - there are way worse situations for me to be in. And my opportunities know no bounds. I am, in comparison to some of my colleagues, a very lucky girl.
But last night, before I came to these realizations, I was just mad. Fighting mad. Yell at people and kick trashcans mad. But the gym's closed for a religious holiday, so taking out my anger on the weights and in the water wasn't an option. I'd missed my lunchtime workout to have lunch with coworkers, and I really wasn't feeling up for an evening walk. But with a race this weekend and half marathon in three weeks, I needed to at least get out for a little while.
I had low expectations for the first mile, knowing I'd hit a downhill and uphill, and knowing that I was overtired and really sluggish, and I was out on a full stomach. My first split was better than I'd expected, but not fantastic. My second mile was slowed by another hill, and yet still not bad. And by the time I was done, I'd walked 3.12 miles in just less than 46 minutes. I've been trying to break a 46 minute 5K for close to a year. I'd hoped to break 45 minutes, but had pretty much given up on that until sometime in 2011. But maybe I've got more of a chance than I thought, at least as long as I stay angry. Except all the walking made me feel much better. And I'm not sure today if I'd rather be angry and fast, or happy and slow.
So the tequila shots started flowing at 11 am. Being averse to tequila, I declined, but uncorked my bottle of red shortly after learning that, of our pool of 35 assistants, we're reorganizing into 21 positions. They're all welcome to apply for those new jobs, but the first dibs go to people with seniority.
One of my closest friends will be terminated with that system. But she's welcome to apply for a newly created position on my just demolished team. I'm also welcome to apply for that job too. Because I no longer appear on the organizational chart for the team I used to work with. We're thinking about staging a fight in the office kitchen one day this week, with fake blood and black eyes and WWF-style effects.
Even with preparation, and I had several hours (and a few glasses of wine) worth, I can't quite explain how this feels. Organizationally, after four years, I no longer exist. Poof, goodbye. I first learned through friends, then through my boss, just minutes before our team meeting. And then I saw it in the powerpoint slide. I no longer exist.
It hurts worse than always being picked last for sports teams during my elementary school gym class. But on the plus side, three of my colleagues also no longer exist. Several more friends and coworkers throughout the office faced the same fate today.
And there's nothing to say but it sucks.
However, I've had lots of other life experiences the past few years that suck way, way, way worse. And, while I've been "invited" to apply for another job, a job our executive director (upon meeting me for the first time today) assures me is "mine," there are no guarantees in this office. And nobody I can really trust, at least not anybody who proclaims to know the truth, or the way things will work out once all who have been laid off have actually left.
So I won't be applying for a new job. In fact, I won't be doing anything, not this week anyway. I'm taking the path I usually refuse to take, and I'm being stubborn. I'm digging in my heels and refusing to make any decisions, especially any that may effect my severance and unemployment benefits.
And I'll probably be nursing a hangover tomorrow. And perhaps offering shots of Bailey's for anybody who wants them in their coffee tomorrow morning. The final insult to this whole process is a full staff meeting tomorrow morning, during which we will learn who else doesn't exist on the org charts. As if today wasn't bad enough.
My cousin is throwing a party this weekend. Thanks to Facebook, I know that my sister and another cousin will both be in attendance. I will be 3,000 miles across the country, out at a party of my own, and probably having a blast.
But sometime between learning about my cousin's party and having a lousy day and a few other things, I started considering moving East. Back to Washington, DC. Closer to my family. I'd be able to see my sister all the time! I could visit my mom and brother over long weekends! I could reconnect with my cousins! My favorite band no longer tours on the West Coast!
By the time I got on the bus Thursday morning, I was pondering neighborhoods and what household items I'd sell and how I would move myself across the country. I even started browsing available jobs. And then I studied job qualifications versus pay level. And I started thinking about the things I don't like about the East Coast (winter and spring and lack of urban green space being at the top of the list) and I started to regain my senses.
My sister has her own life, and I know we wouldn't see each other all the time. The rest of my family is busy with their own lives, too, and we wouldn't spend all that much time together if I did live there. Most of my friends are no longer in the area. I'd have to start completely from scratch. And I've already done that more than enough times already. And, more than anything, San Francisco is just home.
But it's strange, because during the long odyssey of my grandma's illness and my dad's cancer and everybody dying, I never considered moving East. It's not where I belong. It's not where I'm happiest. It's not where I can be healthiest, and even my grandma understood that.
And then, tonight, as a friend drove me home from dinner in Noe Valley, the whole city sparkled and shone it's special, only at sunset pinkish glow, and the trees were waving in the breeze and the roses were the most brilliant colors, and as we hit the top of the hill I wondered how - just 24 hours earlier - I could have thought about being anywhere else.
I'm fairly certain the end of my job dismay is near. Either I'll be laid off, most likely by the end of next week, though, yes, I've been saying that since February. Or I may find a new job soon. Things are looking up, and even a layoff wouldn't be bad news. But right now, I feel like everyday is an uphill struggle - like my hike in the Makiki Valley the day after an eight-mile race. It was hot, and I had to climb uphill over roots and dodging rocks on tired legs. I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm hoping to see the first rays of it soon.
I started riding my bike again a few months ago. From absolute baby steps. From two miles at a time, with aching hamstrings and a sore rear for days afterward. I was walking up hills, but I was back in the saddle. I've progressed to a little four-mile loop. I'm not quite back to riding beach-side, but I'll be there eventually.
I've taken to riding in the morning because the wind is less bothersome and less cars pack the streets I travel. But today I had other things I wanted to get done this morning (read: job search) so I postponed my ride until this evening.
It was windy and cool, but the bike lane was pretty much empty and the sun was still shining. I turned around at the two mile marker and was pretty sure a friend passed me; she was heading West towards home, and I was heading East. From about the point that I saw my friend, I could see a woman ahead of me, weaving in and out of the bike lane. She was wearing a reflective jacket and helmet, and would ride straight until she hit an intersection, the veer sharply to the right, then swerve back to the left and back to the bike lane once she'd cleared the intersection.
She ran the risk of being hit by drivers stopping far past the stop line.
I watched her swerve and correct for at least seven minutes before I caught up to her. As I announced my intention to pass her, I turned to give her some advice to keep her from being hit, and looked her directly in the eye. And realized that I used to work with her. And that she's easily 75 years old.
I said hello, introduced myself (because we worked together only briefly, and wearing a bike helmet and sunglasses, she probably wouldn't recognize me) and offered my advice. She said hi in return and thanked me, and I lost her somewhere around the next intersection. She probably turned left to go home, while I turned right.
She may not have been moving fast, but she seemed to be pretty consistent. She also, at least when we worked together, swam a mile every morning. I want to be her when I grow up. Well, minus the sun damage. So I'll look 50 when I'm her age.
It's time to upgrade my work wardrobe. I've gone on two job interviews in the past month, and I'm really pushing the boundaries of interview appropriate attire. I'm wearing jeans to work way too many days in a row since they're the only thing that fits. I'm five pounds heavier than I was two years ago, and yes, I'm not in quite a sleek form as I was then, but I'm overall about the same size, and I can no longer find any pants that fit. ANYWHERE. Clearly, since my body hasn't changed all that much, this is not my problem.
The Gap stocks pants way too narrow for my normal sized hips. Old Navy pants are way too narrow for my normal sized thighs, and way too indecent for anybody who can't walk around with their ass hanging out all over the place. When I'm serious about training, I also cannot fit into pants at Banana Republic or Ann Taylor or Ann Taylor loft, because my quads become too big for the cut of their pants legs. And no, I am not bragging.
I can no longer shop anywhere I used to be able to rely on. And I'm not really excited about the idea of moving to a nudist colony, or about wearing skirts everyday, so I'm doing what I always do when I have a dilemma: I'm taking it to the blogosphere. Can anybody out there help me find some pants?
Writer. Marathon walker. Sometimes-photographer. Cyclist. Musician. Lover of cheesecake, San Francisco baseball, and comfy sweatpants. See Jane Run Ambassador. Team in Training cyclist. My philosophy? Life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines.
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