Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I'm Still Here ...

I took this job 5 1/2 years ago to escape a job where I didn't feel like I could grow, thinking it would be but a stepping stone on my way to Microsoft (which I turned down to move to the high desert in rural southwestern Wyoming), or Google, or any one of Fortune 100's best places to work.  I told my mother-in-law a few years ago that if were here in 5 years, something had gone terribly wrong.  And I had a couple opportunities to move up, to move to the East coast and be an "executive."  The truth, as I see it now, I'm not leaving anytime soon.  And everything is going terrifically right. 

I have discussed my travels and how they shape who I am, what I love, what I aspire to be.  Today, more than ever, I realized how right it is for me to live here right now.  My favorite co-worker in the world, who happens to be my boss's counterpart, and I trained together today.  It was a great day, mainly because I got to spend it with him.  I always learn something from him.  I admire him.  He's Hispanic, earned a Juris Doctorate at a time when Hispanics didn't get many opportunities to higher education.  He's inclusive, he believes in people, and he's one of the best leaders I have ever known.  But no one sings his praises - precisely because he is a great leader and doesn't shout from the mountain that he is great.  He is more progressive than the leaders I know.  He gives us the power to make decisions, he supports us, he gives us credit, and he reinforces us in the ways that we love.  I don't need high-fives, in fact, I find them insulting and pedantic.  He knows that being sarcastic at times is our best motivator.  He has an adult beverage with us, he's real with us, because he trusts us.  He's great, is what I'm trying to say, and if I could report to him, life would be peachy.  That's the background.  So we finished training at 2:30, "quittin'" time is around 4:00 for us.  I convinced him to take me back to the office so I could hang out with our co-workers, instead of knocking off early to go home.  How sick is that??  I was rewarded with hearty laughs, even at my own expense, and a happy hour that kept the laughter rolling.  You just don't have it better than that. 

The truth - I love the people I work with.  (Most of them.)  I would rather be at work with them, than at home without them.  My trusted HR cohort is leaving at the end of July, and I am sad.  Really sad.  I trained him, I helped develop him, and in turn, he's given me new perspective on my own views.  I will miss our talks during the day.  I'll miss our debates, which are really great banter.  And I'll miss the fact that we are partners-in-crime, co-conspirators in creating a better workplace, and that he can make me laugh almost as much as my husband does (I love to laugh - and it's one of the best attributes of my husband - he can always make me laugh, no matter how pissed off I am - making me laugh is far sexier than a 6-pack or a chiseled jawline, which do nothing for me).  Nothing gold can stay, that's become my comfort with his departure, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't suck to lose a good friend at work.  Our new guy is great, and is going to be a great confidant and co-conspirator, but it doesn't mean that this loss will be easy.  I love working with enlightened men.  I love that men support me and treat me as equals.  It's why I'm still here.  They make my work interesting and fun.  I laugh, because I am a staunch feminist, but there are a few managers at work who call me "cutie" or "sweetie" or a "super lady" - and coming from them, it's not derogatory, it's a high compliment, because they listen to me, they respect me, they are pulling for me, when they probably haven't pulled for women in the past.  So a sincere thank you - to all the men who have treated me like I belong and encouraged me to reach for my goals.  It's why I'm still here. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hot Tub Time Machine

I'll say it, "Hot Tub Time Machine" is one of the best movies of the millennium so far.  Of course, John Cusack is my favorite actor and really the only "celebrity" I really have a crush on.  Perhaps it's because he stays out of the tabloids, he seems more real.  His movies always make me laugh, and they are far more intellectual than he probably gets credit for. A smart and funny guy will always be more sexy and desirable to me than a perfectly sculpted arrogant one. 

So I went to bed early last night, as I am prone to do when I have the weekend alone.  I love laying in bed, watching TV, reading, and just enjoying the quiet.  I fought my inner introvert for years, I'm finally letting her rule the world for a while.  I had a fulfilling day of cleaning, laundry, studying, cooking, and the spa (balanced my Chakras, whatever that means).  This is me not being sarcastic - it was a really great day!  My dear husband called at 10:30 p.m. to say hi, and I love you, which is always a welcome disruption from sleep for me (likely the only person who can rouse my sleep at this point and not receive my wrath).  Even on a guy weekend, he deems me important enough for a quick call (this is why I can tell you that traditional "romance" is bunk, the smaller things are far more romantic and meaningful).  I found it difficult to fall asleep after that, and at midnight, after mulling ideas and thoughts and obsessions around for an hour and a half, I opened my Kindle to continue reading about women in the Congo, which then gave me some hellish dreams.  

Where is this leading?  Oh, yes, the 80's - yes, I have incredible leaps of connections, Hot Tub Time Machine takes three friends back to 1986, where Poison and Motley Crue truly rocked it, neon colors blazed the country-side, Red Dawn was an awesome movie, and that's me.  I grew up in the 80's and early 90's, a time of great independence for youth.  I am a true Generation X'er, I have no role models.  I never grew up as a latch-key kid, but there wasn't anyone I really looked up to for a model.  My parents are great, don't misunderstand, but the trajectory of my life is significantly difference than theirs, not better, just different.  I loved John Hughes' characters, I identified with them, and perhaps through these real characters, I realized it's okay to go my own way, to be my own person.  So back to role models.  The few women I look up to are highly intellectual women in their 50's and 60's, they don't have the lifestyles I crave, but they are wonderful women who give me inspiration.  But as far as making my way, I'm on my own.  Not sure why, but I am. 

This was an incredible twist of thoughts, but I wouldn't go back and change anything, because, as Katherine Hepburn once said, "If I had changed one thing, I would have changed everything."  I would never not want to be where I am today, with the wisdom and courage I've gained through some the bad parts. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Making a Difference

I read non-fiction.  Exclusively.  I am not a snob, well, maybe I am, but hear me out.  I have to learn, most of the minutes of my day.  I love TV, and I freely and unabashedly admit that.  Because I learn from TV.  I watch mostly reality and documentaries, Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, Travel Channel, NatGeo, Discovery.  I don't know when my aversion to fiction happened, but it did.  If it's not real, I can't learn from it, and I can't make a difference.  

My Kindle is my new favorite resource.  I've had some pretty amazing travel time lately, and that's my opportunity to read voraciously.  I have been pouring over woman's rights.  It started, as most great things do, with Oprah.  I watched a moving, disturbing, emotional account of women in trouble, serious trouble, trouble that cannot be avoided because of location trouble, and read Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn's "Half the Sky."  I was enraged about how women are treated in this world.  Sold into brothels, drugged and enabled into addiction, brainwashed to believe they are nothing.  I don't stop there.  I read Somaly Mam's "The Road of Innocence Lost" about Cambodia and the sex-trafficking there.  I'm on to Lisa Shannon's "A Thousand Voices" now, about the Congo, the worst place on earth for women, and I wonder what I need to do.  I have sponsored women through Women for Women International, but I feel so small and powerless.  I also know that atrocities happen in my own community, but they don't wind up on Oprah.  What can I do?  I can't travel to the Congo, like Ms. Shannon, I am paralyzed by fear, and I'm not that courageous, I'm afraid to admit.  I am humbled by these women, yet I am not willing to endanger my life to make a statement.  So maybe that is the opposite of courageous.

I do want to do something locally (think globally - act locally?), and maybe I can affect change in my own community.  Women are grossly underrepresented in occupations that pay big money, this is true in my own space.  And when women don't have earning power, they don't have power in their own families.  It's true.  Women bear the brunt of housework, of childcare, and they work full-time, but often don't make what men make.  This is a travesty and keeps women enslaved.  How can I help them go to college, despite the odds of being under-educated and overworked??  This is something I have to do.  I just have to discover the "how." 

I am an advocate for women's rights, because I have to be, because women are humans, and still without rights, we all suffer indignities, men and women alike.  But the suffering of women is something I cannot ignore.  I don't even know where to start, but writing it all down gives me the strength to try to find out.  Do something, even if it's small.  As Margaret Mead wisely said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."