Archive for August 2010
I heard a news story today that stirred up a lot of feelings in me. I’m still trying to sort them out… but this post is what I got so far.
The story was about a 67-year-old woman who disappeared 4 months ago, and was found under a pile of junk in her own home.
Her husband reported her missing, and was living in that house the whole time. Neither he nor the search dogs (which came looking for her THREE times) could identify the smell of her corpse over the smell of all the other crap she was trapped under. And these were the kind of dogs they used to recover people out of the 911 debris!Hoarding is a very real condition that affects thousands of homes in the United States. It is not pretty and it is very hard to overcome.
Why did this story stir me up? I still really don’t know… but you wanna hear what’s messed up about this whole thing? The first thought that came to mind when I heard the story was “I wish I got one month to clean up that house, and leave it in complete order.”
You see, there are certain little things that get to me and they are very hard for me to let go of. Call it borderline OCD if you like, but it’s a character trait that makes me the anal person I call “me.” My hubby Brian has tried to make me see that it’s OK to let some things go, but not very successfully.
One of my friends has mastered the art of living in a pile of clothes. She doesn’t hoard STUFF, she mostly just can’t organize clothes to save her life. She quite literally cannot see her own bedroom floor. I offered to help, and we got as far as identifying which clothes she would keep and which clothes she would give away. We never made it past that point. We scheduled a couple of appointments, but she always ended up canceling. It’s a frightening prospect to have to go through all of that stuff. It would be overwhelming for anyone… but simply and inexplicably exciting for someone like me.
I have often thought of starting my own organizing business. If any of you watched the latest episode of My Boys (TBS sitcom), you know that Kenny wanted to start a closet-organizing business. I loved how easily he set up his next step: “I’ll just set up a website and see what happens.” He organized one of his friends’ closet for before and after pictures, and he just went for it. It was that simple. I drooled the entire episode. What a dream.
Could I do it? I don’t know… maybe I’m just afraid of the confrontation aspect of the job. After all, you’ll have to get people to let go of things. It takes convincing and a lot of negotiations with the clients. I’m not sure I like that part of it.
If I decided to do it, when would I find the time? Maybe I could start taking small clients and do it on weekends… I don’t know… I’m afraid! I tend to jump into things way too quickly. Maybe I’ll put a pin on it and think about it some more.
It’s exciting to dream, isn’t it?
I just took the train to the airport for my flight to Texas this evening. That’s not strange, I have done this many times before, but this time I took a different route: instead of taking the Blue Line (subway) to Airport station and then the shuttle to the terminal, I took the Silver Line (bus) straight to the terminal.
First off, let me dispel the myth that it is faster because it drops you off at your terminal. It isn’t! At least if you take the subway you don’t have to deal with traffic, and the shuttle is a DROP OFF ONLY bus! The Silver Line bus picks up passengers, which makes it really slow to move on from terminal to terminal.
The one thing that I found kind of nifty was that the Silver Line bus goes UNDERGROUND for the first 3 stops. So it works almost like a subway, but it’s on wheels! See a picture below. I thought that was kind of cool.
Alright, wish me luck in my travels! Wow, I feel like I live on a plane lately.
Sometimes Enrique Montoya, my coworker, comes up with the funniest stuff.
This morning I got an instant message from one of our higher ups. The message said:
ina: hi B.K.
Two hours later, that was all there was in the chat window. Still nothing. Not wanting to pry about what he wanted, I left it alone.
Fully understanding that the “ho” was a simple “hi” typo, but not being able to let it go (which speaks to my maturity levels), I just decided to turn around and joke with Enrique. This is how it went:
ina: B.K. sent me an instant message at 8:41am. He said “ho” then said “hi”. I responded with “hi B.K.” and then he didn’t write again. Was he really just feeling the urge to call me a ho and say hi?
Enrique Montoya: You should message him back and write: “Pimp” and then “hi”
Enrique Montoya: Ho’s up, pimps down
ina: that would be appropriate workplace behavior… what did you call it?… a CLM? ( = Career Limiting Move) lol!
Enrique Montoya: yes, grasshoppa, you learn fast
Sometimes he really cracks me up
I am very satisfied with how I left things at home: cleaned the bathroom, washed and folded ALL the laundry, cleaned the general areas, tidied up my room (meaning the guest room, where most of my clothes reside), spent some time with Brian, and spent some time with Fred and Ethel’s baby girl (whom we’ll call Goldie Locks). It was just a great state in which to leave my daily life before abandoning it for a week.
I’m looking forward to seeing my parents, my sister Monica Geller, and her babies, whom we’ll call Hansel (2) and Gretel (4). It will be nice to hang out with them outside of regular holiday visits. It’ll be almost as if I lived there. I can’t wait!
Nothing much else to report. I guess that as my life unwinds to an untangled noodle there will be less and less to say… Until we start remodelling my basement! That will be an adventure in itself! So stay tuned
What do you do when things are just fine?
For the past 3 years I have been looking forward to something or been eager for something to end: getting married, buying a house, finishing school, coming back home from work travels. So what happens when all of those things come and go?
The answer may be all too predictable: new things take their place, right? But what happens when you truly reach the end of the tunnel or get through the storm, and all you find is peace and still waters as far as the eye can see?
I am there. I have arrived. No more school. No more work travel. No more commitments. I actually feel relaxed, as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. My friendship hardships have been positively resolved, and I truly have nothing to worry about.
The one thing that has the potential of ruining the moment: the reconstruction of my basement. But even that is something I’m very much looking forward to. Bring it on!
Today I’m at the beach with Brian’s company, and it’s quite the day for it. I’m relaxed, I have chocolate cake and ice cream in my tummy, and I could fall asleep any second in the shade of the beach umbrella and warmth of the ocean breeze.
May your weekends be as nice as mine,
PS: check out my jellyfish tattoo!
The past few weeks have been quite taxing on my schedule. I spent a whole week taking my very last MBA course (I’m done!!), spent a week in Norway for work meetings, and spent a week in Wisconsin for training. I got to be home this week, but I’ll be off to Texas to visit my family next week.
Warning: the following text is a summary of the plans for my week. It will be dry, boring, and it will make you want to shut down your computer at once. Enter at your own risk!
So what did I do with my one week at home, you ask? What any girl who just got out of school would do: fill it up with social stuff!
On Monday I ordered pizza with my wonderful husband, Brian, and went to bed early.
On Wednesday I was supposed to have piano lesson, but it was moved to Saturday, so I hung out with Brian. We ordered pizza again (I was too weak and tired to fight it) and watched parts of Back to the Future III (1990).
On Thursday I went out with Charlotte to a little hole in the wall, albeit ranked in Zagat since 2003, Algerian/Mediterranean restaurant called Baraka Cafe.
On Friday, today, I’m having lunch with Angela somewhere with a Restaurant Week Menu. At night, I’ll have dinner with my husband (low key) and then I’m off to sing my lungs out at Karaoke at Joy Asia in Marlborough with Tori Amos, Daria and Shakira.
On Saturday I have my piano lesson in the morning, then lunch with Miranda Hobbes (my good friend from high school who is a very professional fashionista), then I’ll probably stop by at a BBQ in honor of one of my college professors, and then I’ll hang out with Alicia Keys.
On Sunday my husband’s company is having their annual summer event, so I guess I’ll be putting my bathing suit and flip flops on and go meet his co-workers. Well, that’s a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever seen one.
On Monday I’ll pack.
On Tuesday I’ll leave for Texas to visit my family for a week.
As you can see, I did not leave ANY room for boredom. Somehow this has completely energized me. Especially the part about going to karaoke tonight. We were regulars at Joy Asia back in the day (pre-MBA), and it makes me feel that maybe I CAN get my social life back! It’s all falling into place so neatly, I can’t help but feel excited about this coming fall! Just me, my job, and a blank slate of a calendar.
I hope you all enjoy this weekend, and have good stories to tell for your own blogs!
Un Clavo Saca Otro Clavo: One nail drives out another (reference)
The “situation” with Alicia Keys was driving me out of my mind on Tuesday evening, to the point of not being able to enjoy my dinner and a movie outing with my friends Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. I’ll devote a separate entry to the movie Eat Pray Love (2010), as there is much to be said (little of which is good).
I woke up Wednesday morning with Alicia Keys on my mind. I made an executive decision to distract myself and not obsess over it. So I asked myself: what was I obsessing over before this issue came along? Ah, my issue with Charlotte!
My friend Charlotte and I have not been in speaking terms for a while. Mostly one-sided (mine). The parallel between the two situations was bothering me: Alicia Keys wanted to shun me from her life, just like I had done to Charlotte. Only, Charlotte didn’t really complain when it happened. It almost felt mutual. With Alicia Keys, I went full force on her to try to find out what was wrong and what I could do to fix it.
So maybe now was a good time to call myself on my hypocrisy and mend things with Charlotte. So, I spent all day obsessing about how to talk to her for the first time in 8 months.
I spent all day talking to friends: Enrique Montoya, Ellen DeGeneres, Monica Geller, Tori Amos. I had to make sure I was doing the right thing by breaking the silence. Unfortunately, the person whose opinion I cared about the most, my husband Brian, was not available for comment. He was in meetings all day, and my annoying constant calls were not going anywhere. I had to wait until we got home to discuss the situation.
There are MANY levels of psychology at play with my situation with Charlotte, which I won’t get into (mostly because they make me look really pathetic). All I can say is that my problems with her evolved from the moment I started thinking about it, until the moment I finally decided to make the call. It was actually kind of cool how my friends helped me piece it all together: how she feels, how her behavior can be explained, how MY behavior can be explained, how a deep conversation would go, how a lighter approach would work.
So I made the call, and we are having dinner tonight at Asmara in Cambridge. It’s this great Ethiopian place I fell in love with a couple of years ago. You had me at Mango juice.
So, like they say, un clavo saca a otro clavo (a nail drives out another nail). One obsession quickly took precedence over another. If my issues with one friend can serve some kind of purpose to fix another friendship, then it won’t all be for naught.
I’m hanging out with Alicia Keys on Saturday afternoon. Maybe things will be a little clearer then.
I think it was my sister, Monica Geller, who once gave me this piece of advice: you’re a table, and you need more than one leg to stay up.
Think of all your feelings, hopes and dreams as the vase on the table, the flowers, the plate, the silverware, the arts and crafts projects, the books you want to read. Now think of the legs as your relationships. You need more than one to keep your things on the table. You can think of each leg as a group (friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances), or as individuals (your partner, your siblings, your parents, Erin, Christine, Tori Amos, Alicia Keys, Angela, etc). You could have 8 or 9 legs, or more! The point is to diversify your support system in order to be happy, so if one relationship is in trouble you have other legs to lean on.
I am very very upset. A good friend, whom we call Alicia Keys on this blog, just blew me off for getting together for the third time in the past 3 months. I am sure there is a logical explanation for the trouble coordinating our calendars, but without an outright clear reason in sight, my mind is bound to embark on a self-bashing journey.
Possible reasons why my friend won’t agree to see me:
- I did something to piss her off
- I behave selfishly: I talk about myself too much / I don’t ask her about her life enough
- Neglect: I don’t call her enough
- I lack the self-awareness to list the correct reason on this list, which is a problem in itself
- She’s busy and getting together with me is low on the list
- She’s mad at me and doesn’t think there’s much point to discussing it with me
- She’s embarrassed that she has blown me off so much already and prefers the phone over facing me
- She has done something I may disapprove of and doesn’t want to look at herself in this mirror
- Something personal/private is really going on in her life and she’s not interested or inclined to share it
I’ve been on both sides of the equation: I have blown off friends, and I’ve been on the receiving end of a slowly dying friendship. Karma is, indeed, a bitch.
I guess all I can do is be patient. If I’m being blown off on purpose, it will be obvious when communications stop altogether. If the friendship is worth it and meant to be, our paths will cross again and things will be alright. Maybe even stronger than before, after the hardship.
On the other hand, it makes you wonder whether things could have been remediated by talking them out. All too often we let friendships go because we won’t talk about our issues. At the same time, it’s crucial to identify whether the friendship has reached a toxicity level that may be unbearable to at least one of the parties. That takes knowing yourself and knowing what you can and cannot change about yourself. It takes being honest and not victimizing your position.
If Alicia has decided that our friendship is toxic and the fundamentals that make a friendship work are just not there (such as mutual trust, respect and unconditional be-there-ness), then I’ll have no choice but to respect that. After all, friendships are a two-way street.
I sure hope it’s a fixable issue… I just won’t know until we talk again. In the meantime, I am just dying a little bit inside every minute that goes by.
I’m sure it’s nothing… I’m just blowing this way out of proportion.
I was asleep by 10 last night, but that didn’t help me get up at 5:45 as I had planned. My alarms went off in the wrong order (the backup alarm rang first) which threw me completely off. Also, I bought a new thermometer (I take my temperature at 5am for a few specific days each month), which is a piece of junk that won’t light up in the dark and which was rebelliously displaying my temperature in Celsius! It was hard to fall asleep after that. I’ll be returning it to Rite Aid. I might just order the exact same one I’ve been using for 2 years off the internet (I stopped using it when it stopped making beeping sounds and a new battery didn’t bring them back).
To add insult to injury, I have Red Sox tickets for tonight and the forecast says rain rain rain.
So I’m tired, lethargic and anxious about the uncertainty of my plans for tonight.
On the bright side, I’ll see my friends at work today! Unless they wimp out due to the weather and leave me all alone in the office. Wouldn’t that be the cherry on my sundae?… Or mondae, I guess.
PS: Picture credited to Jared at The Future Is Yesterday blog.
After years and years of hearing about Fantasy Football (about 5, to be exact), I have decided to stand up for my right to learn about football and figure out what the fuss is all about.
I am currently sitting in my next door neighbors’, Fred and Ethel’s, basement with 10 other guys and 1 girl, drafting picks for our fantasy league teams.
I expressed my interest late in the game, so I didn’t get a team in Fred’s league. However, I decided to attend the draft anyway and observe the dynamics of the game. While they all look through their books, print-outs and cheat-sheets, I went on my mini laptop and did an NFL Fantasy Football Mock Draft. These start every minute, and you can just practice picking members for your team with 10 other teams online. I did it just once, and this is what my team looks like.
I’d like to introduce you, for the first time ever, to the Norwood Nutshellls!:
|QB||Tom Brady||New England Patriots|
|RB||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos|
|RB||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears|
|WR||Hines Ward||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|WR||Robert Meachem||New Orleans Saints|
|RB/WR||Jerricho Cotchery||New York Jets|
|TE||Brent Celek||Philadelphia Eagles|
|K||Nate Kaeding||San Diego Chargers|
|Team D||New Orleans Saints|
|Ind. D||James Laurinaitis||St. Louis Rams|
|QB||Matt Schaub||Houston Texans|
|WR||Donald Driver||Green Bay Packers|
|WR||Vincent Jackson||San Diego Chargers|
|RB||Thomas Jones||Kansas City Chiefs|
|WR||Austin Collie||Indianapolis Colts|
|RB||Willis McGahee||Baltimore Ravens|
Sorry about the formatting… don’t know why it’s putting out those spaces there. But you get the idea.
Is this a good team? WHO THE HECK KNOWS??? I just wanted to make sure I got Tom Brady
I don’t know what the rules are yet. Fred and his manly manly friends were voting on the final rules of the league, which I did not understand at all. So I’ll wait for Fred’s email with the final rules. After all, I’m not really playing for money… just for the experience. We’ll see what happens.
I guess this is what life without school looks like. At the very least, I hope that this gives me a reason to watch sports with Brian.
Good luck to all REAL players out there
During the past week I spent every day in a room with 20 other employees of my company in one of the many leadership trainings we will experience during our careers.The foundation of the training was a personality test which we were instructed to take a week before the class, as we would be receiving a full report on the results on the first day. The test is called DiSC, and it measures a person’s generalistic style of approaching challenges.
D = Dominant
i = Interact
S = Steadiness
C = Compliance
Dominant characters like to feel in control, and are the people you can count on to take charge. They enjoy a fast pace environment.
Interact individuals are social butterflies and value relationships a lot more than reaching end goals. They are also in the “fast” category.
Steadiness people are detailed-oriented and like to take things easy. They are not super social, but they are very analytical. At the same time, they need the time to think about it and not be pressured.
Compliance workers are very focused on numbers and data. They will not make a move until it has been proven by policy, data or otherwise analyzed situations. This makes them slow in action, but accurate in detail.
It was not a surprise to me that I fell into the Dominant category. I was fully expecting it. What I didn’t expect was the rush of emotion that followed.
As soon as I was labeled a strong “D” I became the butt of every joke. Every time I did or said something (anything), others would point their fingers and say “D”!!! Not to say that I didn’t feed the fire myself. I joined them in the mocking. I just thought it’d be a lot more fun to make it a mutual mocking situation… meaning we both gang up on me.
Then it all started coming back to me. All the times in my annual review when I have been asked to “tone it down” or to “take a step back.” That’s years and years of people giving me the “feedback” that I have to change, and I’m just not good enough.
Needless to say, I cried my eyes out that first night. For as long as I can remember, I had always been encouraged to speak out first, to be decisive, to be determined, to not let things stand in my way, and to take control of my own life. It wasn’t until I joined this company that I have felt like my take-charge personality did not fit in. Like I was not good enough, and my intrinsic way to be was getting in the way of my own career. It’s as if I had been labeled with a big “PAIN IN THE ASS” sign on my back.
My manager assured me that they are not asking me to be someone else, but to be aware of how I come off to people and be able to control it. However, that is not what I am getting. What I am getting is action items like “don’t speak out first” or “ask more questions and give fewer statements” or “let others take charge and you take the back seat.” Sound reasonable pieces of feedback, right? After all, most people ARE that way: stay back, don’t draw attention to yourself, the less work you get the better, just talk when being asked to. My problem with this? I AM NOT THAT WAY!!! The reason I speak out first, raise my hand first, say my opinion first, is because that comes extremely natural to me. When you ask me not to do it, it creates an unimaginable internal source of stress and frustration within me.
I do think that it is important for a “leader” to understand how they come off and watch for times when they make others feel uncomfortable. Self-awareness is extemely important. I was hoping I wasn’t THAT bad, and fortunately a kind soul said as much: during one of the “go around the table and give your peers feedback” exercises, while everyone told me that I wasn’t doing a good job at asking more questions or speaking second, this one person did say “I just don’t see how your speaking first is hurting anybody — when you talk, we listen because you say things that matter. I just don’t see your style as abrasive or intimidating. You are fun, and not at all that bad.” You have no idea how good it made me feel to hear that. In a sea of criticism, a single beacon of light.
I guess this whole post is giving me away as someone who doesn’t take criticism very well… That kind of stinks, because I consider myself to be very self-aware and to be conscious of how I come off. I worry about people taking me the wrong way or being gun-shy around me. I try to handle those situations with velvet gloves. But for the most part, my decisiveness should be HELPING my job, not hurting it. Right?…
I did learn a valuable lesson, though. Sometimes I tend to shoot from the hip and make a 100% assertive statement without any real background behind it. I do that all the time, but it was never as clear as in this conversation with my husband:
Brian: I’m thinking of getting a treadmill. How much do those cost?
ina: Eight hundred dollars.
Brian: How do you know?
ina: mmmm… I don’t. That’s my guess.
By the end we were laughing so hard! He had been trying to get me to see that about myself: I make confident statements without fact behind them. It really cracks him up.This commendable trait to speak confidently even when I have no idea what I’m talking about eventually got my team killed in a desert survival exercise. That was an eye opener for me. We were supposed to decide a strategy to follow after our plane crashed in the desert, and we had to decide what to do with the supplies we had. I was SURE we should all move together safely towards the nearest road we saw before crashing, and that we should figure out how to get food by assigning a hunting party. I got into an argument with another “D” in my team who wanted to just send himself off for help, which I totally disagreed with as it would guarantee his death. In the end, we went with my way. It turns out that the one person in our team who suggested to stay at the crash site was right, but she was too quiet for us to even consider her opinion as a viable option.
That made me realize that even though I might be confident about my way of doing things, it’s very important that I understand all points of view before making a decision. This is sort of how it went:
Peer: we should stay at the crash site, and bury the shotgun because it’s dangerous.
ina: (trying to do reflective listening) So you think we should get rid of the shotgun because it might create a dangerous situation for us, since levels of stress may be high and we might kick into survivor mode.
ina: So how do you suggest we got food?
Peer: I don’t know, we could eat birds.
ina: And how do you plan to catch the birds?
Peer: I don’t know… maybe with something pointy?
ina: so you want to stay back and catch birds with the tip of the umbrella?
At this point her opinion seemed so nonsensical, that I got condescending and dismissive of her point of view. This made her feel self conscious and she shut down for the rest of the discussion.
As it turns out, the right approach was to stay at the crash site and to use the shotgun for digging or as a tool to build things. Food was to be disposed of and don’t even think of hunting, since food would increase the need for water in our bodies (humans can live 3 min without oxygen, 3 days without water, and 30 days without food). If we had actually worked as a team to investigate why she thought we should stay and why hunting wasn’t important, we may have gotten closer to survival. Instead, we were dead within a week.
It was all fun and games, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, and I really have to bring out more discussion rather than laying down the law.
Thanks for reading this far. In conclusion: I hate the fact I’m being asked to change, but if there is one thing I learned is that I don’t know enough to make decisions single-handedly. No matter how quickly my brain works in coming up with A solution, it may not be THE solution.
In the end, it was an enlightening week. Frustrating as hell, but definitely enlightening.
Sorry this one took a little while to come through… I have been in training all this week and never got a chance to tell you about the end of my trip!
So I stayed behind on Friday while everybody else took off for home. I woke up early to have breakfast with a coworker, and then came back to bed to catch up on some sleep. By noon I had gotten my sleepy butt out of bed and out the door to explore the town of Kristiansand.
The hotel was located right in the center of the action, so I just had to step out and start walking.
It was REALLY intimidating to walk around and go into stores where people are speaking a language you don’t understand. It was particularly embarrassing to stop at every clothes rack and pull out my cellphone to calculate the currency conversion. You have no idea how long it took me to finally figure out that I had to divide NOKs by 6 to get USDs. The next step was figuring out how to do div by 6 math in my head quickly! Turns out I couldn’t do it, so I just remembered that 100 NOK were 16 USD, so I just used 16 as my point of reference.
At first I couldn’t, for the life of me, find a store that had reasonable prices. Every store I went into had clothes I could have bought at Old Navy for a crazy $60 or more! I was very discouraged, until I found the wonders of VERA MODA. AWESOME clothes for AWESOME prices, even for USD conversion standards. See the store on the left of the picture above with the purple signs.
After my clothes shopping was done with, I refocused on finding souvenirs. Well, Kristiansand is not known for its touristic attractions, so I had to go into bookstores to find THE shelf that had the souvenirs. I did end up getting a few cool things, including an oversized pen that was SO much fun but I couldn’t think of anybody who would appreciate it as much as I did… so I got it for myself
Here’s a bit of Norway trivia for you: apparently there are folk stories that involve these freakin’ ugly dwarfs or elves or gnomes or something. They are the ugliest things you’ll ever see. How would you feel if someone brought you an ugly little gnome to put on your fridge from a wonderfully exotic place as Norway? They are just awful looking little dudes.
During my search for the perfect souvenirs, I walked around and found the center of town (see the church and fountain) and learned about the the historic Kristiansand fort (known as Fort Christiansholm – see picture). I also found out that some kind of volleyball championship was going on. I didn’t stick around to see it… but it was good to know it was going on.
Now, this is the craziest part of my lone stroll in Kristiansand. As I was taking some cool pictures (of myself), I saw a couple of Norwegians bathing in the freezing canal water and some tourists taking pictures of them. I thought they were funny and wanted to take their picture, but they were out of the water by the time I got my camera ready, so I went back to taking pix of myself.
As I was doing that, the 2 Norwegian dudes tried to bomb one of my pictures by jumping in a funny way behind me. The picture didn’t capture it, so I called them over and asked them to do that again. This time, we counted 1, 2 and 3! And this is what I got:
They were good sports. I showed them the picture afterward and they were very proud of themselves for such a funny outcome. I told them I would call this picture “Crazy Norwegians.” Now, that’s what I call a great travel story
On my walk back to the hotel I saw an exhibit of sand castles (or figures). They were AMAZING and very very large! Check these out:
I’ll close out the Norway trip with one last anecdote. I decided to have Mexican food for lunch. After all, Norwegian Mexican food HAD to be tried! So I found a little place called “Amigos” and ventured in. I had the chicken burrito. I was surprised that it came with a salad (you don’t see that very often). I was even more surprised when the check came. My burrito cost $37!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it wasn’t a fancy place, either!!!
I found out that taxes in Norway are CRAZY. That is the reason why they don’t tend to tip waiters or taxi drivers: they are already paying out the wazoo! Income tax is 50% and everything else gets also heavily taxed. It’s just crazy. No wonder I couldn’t find a store with reasonable prices. It almost makes me wonder if VERA MODA is making any money at all!
I’ll leave you with one last thing: a high fashion ad I saw through a store window. I just thought it was funny
Last working day in Lindesnes. This afternoon we’ll all head out to Kristiansand, Norway, in preparation for everybody’s early morning flight out of Kristiansand Airport. I’ll be staying in town for an extra day to get some shopping done and fly out on Saturday.
We spent most of the day in meetings and presentations. It’s not all bad, though, the conference room where we are gathered is a cabin-looking building located by the canal. Look at the picture of the view from outside the conference room’s door!
The meetings were not terribly relevant to me personally, so I was falling sleep. It went by fast, but it certainly gave me a long time to observe. As I looked around the room to a group of people who have been working together for more than 10 years, I felt a sense of fear. Fear that I would never feel comfortable leading a team that big and tight knit. I guess I just feel like you can never really be friends with your subordinates, no matter how open and friendly you are (as I pride myself to be). If I had organized the meeting, I would have not had as much fun as I did being a part of it. I would have been too stressed out faced with the realization that I do not belong in that peer-to-peer relationship they all have. I would be the one they could do without. The butt of the jokes. The one that is not liked, but put up with. It supported my long-time made decision that I would not be happy in a leadership position. It’s just too lonely at the top.
After the meetings we got in a taxi and headed straight for Kristiansand. It was a fun ride there, listening to stories and jokes from my coworkers. We even got into a discussion on some cultures’ traditions of having multiple wives, and how it is or is not the same as a woman having multiple husbands. It went something like this:
A man - It’s ok for a man to have multiple wives, but a woman with multiple husbands? That’s wrong
Me - Now, there’s a double standard
Man - It’s not a double standard! Think about it. If you got pregnant, and it’s the other man’s baby, why would I pitch in?
Me [for the sake of the argument] - Because you already agreed to a committed threesome relationship, and everything is everybody else’s
Man - No, it’s messed up
Another woman - I guess what I have a problem with is the fact that the woman has no choice in the matter in that marriage, and in such a culture her desires are not taken into account
Man [sincerely] - What desires???
Me [taking off my shoe and threatening to beat this man over the head] - WHAT DESIRES???? WHAT DESIRES???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
Everybody was laughing, and we couldn’t believe our ears!!! It made for a very entertaining exchange.
The hotel is right downtown, so I was pleased that I wouldn’t have to take a taxi anywhere. I could just walk out and do my shopping tomorrow. I was so excited for the next day to come!
At dinner time we joked some more, but we were tired for the most part. We went to this restaurant, which ended up being the BEST restaurant I have EVER been to!!!
Not only was the food great and the staff friendly, but when the night got cold, they had BLANKETS laying around for guests! It was a good blanket too! I was so warm and cozy, I didn’t want to leave!!! Best restaurant EVER!
The chocolate fondant dessert was to die for. It was a mini molten cake with ice cream. DELICIOUS.
Anyways, by the end of the night I was beat.
As I post this, it is midnight (GMT +1). I have to get up early to have breakfast with one of my coworkers before she leaves for home. I’m considering having breakfast and going back to bed… but maybe what I could do is get up at 7:25, and just brush my teeth and go downstairs. I can shower once she’s gone and then I’ll go out and explore.
Time for bed. Good night all!
I woke up to a massive headache, which had not let up since yesterday. I’m starting to think the fresh paint in the hotel room was the culprit. On top of it, my slightly leaking shower problem turned into a major flooding one. I had to shower in a different room. Not a great way to start the day, but they had a casual day of activities planned for the day, so something had to give.
We ended up at Vikingland, a fun little place where I got to dress as a Viking (willingly – see picture) and got to fight a real life Viking! I lost, of course. They also had archery and an obstacle course. I was particularly impressed at my wall climbing skills! At the place we had a great fish soup and birthday cake for one of our coworkers.
Afterwards we went on a lovely boat ride to the Lindesnes Lighthouse, the southernmost point of all of Norway. Despite feeling a bit queasy at times, I loved being out in the sea and had a wonderful time getting to know my peers better. I even found out that the General Manager of the Lindesnes plant is a descendant of real life Vikings! Incredible.
Then we went to a little restaurant walking distance from the hotel:
The restaurant used to be a barn and it was turned into a Belgian restaurant. I had the steak, but some had the reindeer. I tried a little, and it wasn’t bad, but I just couldn’t get past the idea that I was eating Rudolf.
Had the Belgian Waffles for dessert, of course, even though they weren’t on the dessert menu. The waiter couldn’t believe his ears.
Ended the night with a lovely walk under the stars across a rural/residential area of Lindesnes. I wish my husband had been there with me. It was quite romantic.
First day at work, and I already got chewed out. Turns out that people expect a lot more from my job than they actually get. I sent an email to my boss to tell her about the gap between expectations and reality, and my biggest fear is that she will come back saying that I am wrong and their expectations are actually true. Won’t that be a nice shot at my credibility?
We spent the day in meetings, and by the end I had a splitting headache. We did get to take a plant tour (see the picture – the coat says “Visitor” in Norwegian). I wish I could say it was fun, but I was so disappointed about the turn of events in the morning that I was just internally tantruming. I was tired, hungry, and extremely whiny. I wanted to just quit all this nonsense and skip right to shopping and sightseeing!
We were supposed to have an outdoorsy team building event tomorrow, but a storm is fast approaching and now we have no idea what they’re gonna have us do. Maybe stay in and play Monopoly I’d be happy enough to stay in my room watching Frasier episodes
Oh yeah, and remember how I said that my hotel is still under construction? See the picture of it below. I really wasn’t kidding!
For dinner, we ended up at a restaurant called Provianten in the town of Mandal, about 30min away from Lindesnes. It was a great place by the lake. Mmm I keep calling it a lake, but really it’s a massive canal that ends in the North Sea. Anyways, Norway is a great place for fish, even if Norwegians joke that pizza is their national dish Apparently they are serious about pizza around here.
I had the mussels appetizer and the spare ribs special. It was delicious, and I had a great time trading marriage stories with a few of my coworkers.
I did have a culture shock moment, though. I felt like an idiot, but I’ll leave the judgment up to you. While we were picking out items from the menu, I asked my coworkers whether they would join me in sharing the mussels appetizer. The Americans passed, they don’t like mussels, but the British and Norwegian ones were tentative. I thought it was the usual reaction of “I’ll wait to see if someone else would like to jump in, and if nobody does, I’ll speak up” – but my interpretation was completely off.
They asked me if I didn’t feel like I could handle a whole dish by myself. I said it wasn’t a matter of being able to handle it, I am just not used to having an appetizer all on my own. They said that, in the UK and Norway, for the most part, appetizers are individual dishes; unless it was Chinese food. And even then, they are absolutely disgusted by the possibility of double dipping.
Even after they told me that, I still asked if anyone would share with me. I was SO uncomfortable not sharing appetizers! In the end, I let it go on the account that my British counterpart, who had originally caved under my insistence, actually wanted to get an app of her own.
The mussels plate was definitely individual sized. Not at all like the portions you would get at Atlantic Fish & Co in Boston, which are meant for sharing.
Anyways, I felt like a total moron!
I am in Lindesnes, Norway. As I type this up on my phone, I’m sitting on a rocky deck watching the sun go down over a gorgeous lake right outside my hotel. I sit here all alone because I prefer it over being in there doing nothing. The rocks looked so inviting from my window that I had to seize the moment and take them up on it.
I came here to think and write about nothing in particular.
The wind is blowing my way and each gust is colder than the one before. Good thing I brought a thick windbreaker on the trip, even when the weather forecast called for temperatures in the 60s and rain. Fortunately there has been none of the latter.
A seagull just screamed behind me. Is that what seagulls do? They are no chirpers or tweeters for sure.
The air just feels pure. It smells like ocean.
I can see shadows moving in the lobby of the hotel across the lake. It could be the others gathering around for dinner. I guess I should go join them. I wouldn’t want to be left out.
To summarize my experience so far: I feel good about my jet lag: I’ve adjusted stupendously. The coworkers I have interacted with so far hate the fact that they have been dragged away from their busy lives to come to a senseless meeting in the middle of nowhere, and they can’t wait to be on the first flight out as soon as the meetings are over. Their Debbie Downer attitude bugs me to no end, as I have gone out of my way to stay an additional day and mingle with the rural Norwegian folk. The hotel WILL be a great place once it officially opens: it’s still under construction! There are no hangers, irons, blow dryers, internet or more than 1 TV channels. I feel like I am in an oversized concrete cabin in the countryside of paradise. No country music, though
Last weekend my husband, Brian, and I celebrated my newly found freedom (from class) by getting some McDonalds and watching Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
A quote from that movie has been bouncing in my head all week. This is what Jean-Luc Picard answered to the question “You don’t use money in the 24th century?”
“The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”
– Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: First Contact
I often fantasize about what it would be like to really think of my job as a calling, a duty, a source of satisfaction. I’ve often said that I know this (job) is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. For that reason, it’s hard to think of it as something I would do even if I weren’t getting paid for it.
However, that same quote also gives me hope for future jobs. New community, new goals, new management, new chance to prove myself. Maybe if I were to start from scratch, learning a new technology, a new business model, I’d be more open to brainwashing. I remember when I started working and I truly wanted to do a great job and be the best at everything. I’d give anything to feel that way again…
I wouldn’t be surprised if I found that I have already used that title in past posts. It just seems like we’re always waiting for something, doesn’t it?
I thought I’d be happy when I finished the MBA. Well, that day has come and gone, and even though I did enjoy the perk of having no homework to do last weekend, I still feel incomplete.
I’ll be happy in September when I’m done traveling and my calendar opens up to a world of possibilities.
Sigh… Even I know that statement is false and flawed in every way. I know this like I know the sun will set tonight. I will not be happy at all. I will be writing the next entry in the “I’ll be happy when…” series.
Does it ever end? Do we ever stop wanting a change and ever just admire our accomplishments and those things that make us happy to be in our own shoes? Do we ever even want that day to come at all?
They say that if they put all of your family and friends’ problems in a hat, you are most likely to wish you fished out your own problems. So, in a sick way, we want our problems all to ourselves: we know them, we’ve nurtured them, and we still have faith that we’ll overcome them some day. That’s why they call them YOUR problems.
So, let’s just put things into perspective: you are healthy, responsible, loved and successful. Savor that for a while before a REAL problem strikes and it gives you an actually valid reason to whine about.