Sands Through the Hourglass

Lately, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. On paper, my life is great. And I’m self aware enough to recognize that I am blessed to have everything that I need, and more than a few things that I want. Still, I’m unsatisfied.

At 31, I came to really grasp my own mortality. The knowledge that one day, my life will inevitably end has me asking myself, is this all there is? What can I do that will bring my life meaning and purpose? What are the things that will haunt me if I die without accomplishing?

“Father Time” by Alex Stone http://www.alexstoneart.com/

Heavy thoughts, I know. I guess my midlife crisis came early. But as a result, I just don’t have patience for things the way I used to. I’m much more aware of my relationships and the value that add (or don’t add) to my life. I’m heartily sick and tired of being everyone’s rock. The one that they call when they need a shoulder to cry on, but don’t contact when there is good news. The one that they call for business or legal advice, but don’t ask me if I’m doing okay in the wake of a death in the family. The one who keeps a level head and listens to everyone else’s crazy drama, but can’t get a word in edgewise the one time I need a listening ear. I’m the one who sends surprise birthday gifts, holiday cards, or at the very least can be counted on to call you and say happy birthday personally.

In the past year I’ve fallen back on all of that. Relationships aren’t tit for tat, but the exhaustion of almost always going the extra mile and almost never getting it back takes a toll. I’ve been told that some people just have a smaller cup to pour from, and they’ll never be able to give as much as I do and I have to meet them on their level. Well, fine. I hate being parsimonious with my affection, but what I hate more is giving resentfully. So I’m going to be selfish, until I can be generous again and mean it.

Then there’s my job. Civil legal aid is my dream job although you could argue it’s thankless. It certainly requires me to give a lot mentally and emotionally. But most of my clients are pretty darn grateful, and that helps. Maybe it’s because I tend to handle thornier issues (tax debt, fraud, bankruptcies, foreclosures) but a good 90% of my clients actually say thank you when I wrap up their case and are pretty gracious throughout the process. My job fatigue stems almost entirely from the dysfunction of my nepotism riddled organization. Nobody in an executive officer position has practiced law within the past 20 years. Our director of IT almost old enough to draw Social Security benefits and refused to cede control of anything but computer and phone setup for new employees, despite the fact that there are four other people under her who are more than capable of assisting with security, web development, etc. My job is funded by three different grants and it creates so much extra paperwork it’s not even funny.

On August 7, 2018 I posted on my Facebook the following quote: “I’m ready to become a bestselling author so I can quit my day job.” This morning, I stumbled across a beautiful poem by a high school friend of mine. We were both bookworms and aspiring writers. She followed her dreams and majored in English, did her master’s in literature at Oxford College in England, and just last year published her first book. As for me, I took the practical path. I don’t regret it because if I hadn’t gone to Georgia Tech, I might never have met my husband (or might have met him much later), and he’s been nothing but amazing to be around. Law school gave me a profession that will always allow me to make money on my own terms. But maybe the lawyer phase of my life should be coming to an end. One of my Mercer classmates quit her day job to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. And Toni Morrison, bestselling author and Nobel Prize winner, who passed away on August 5, 2019, didn’t publish her first book until she was 39 years old.

There’s still time. But not enough to waste.

Soundbites

I’ve been working on an issue-related blog post for a month now and I have writer’s block. Well, not so much writer’s block- I know what I want to say but I can’t focus long enough to say it. So I’m just gonna let it cook and come back around to it. In the meantime I wanted to get some other thoughts out into the universe.

On work: That’s actually going pretty well. I work in legal aid and it’s everything I thought it would be (for good and bad, lol). Every once in a while I run into a difficult client but on the whole, they’re easier to work with than some of my private practice clients because they trust my expertise and don’t question me to death. And even when I can’t do anything, people are just so grateful to be listened to and treated with dignity. I’ve had more than one person cry on the phone because they had lost so much (I work primarily with folks who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey). I am also up for transfer to a community advocacy position which is the job I’ve been preparing for my entire career. My interview is next week and I’m just praying I get it so y’all send some good vibes my way, please!

On wellness: Sleep is everything. I mean I’ve always needed my 8 hours a night but now it’s more about physically being able to get up on time rather than just being grumpy all day. My body will get its rest whether EYE say we have time to sleep in or not. I slept through my alarm all last week and fortunately, my boss was out of town and didn’t witness my egregious lack of punctuality. I’m working on winding down at night and being disciplined about my bedtime because I legit have things to do!

On politics: America is completely f*cked. And I’m tired of all these thinkpieces about how white men feel forgotten, and conservatives feel attacked, and racists don’t want to be called racists. Liberals have their own set of issues but I’d rather have people err to the extreme of political correctness and inclusion than the extreme of hatred and condemnation. You can’t disagree with a Drumpf supporter without them taking it as a personal attack because they are their politics! So where does that get it? We’re being held hostage by a combination of backwards thinking morons and selfish greedy rich assholes. God help us.

On social life: I read a long time ago that Capricorns age backwards–we get more fun and lighthearted as we age. And in my case that appears to be true. You had to practically bribe me to be social but now I’m going out, having friends over, and even enjoying the occasional glass of moscato or champagne. I was just very goal oriented when I was younger. I knew that I needed an education to get a good foundation for life. Now I’m at the point where I just have to keep from screwing things up, so I can relax a little. Fortunately I’ve come across some cool people and developing my own little circle of girlfriends.

On mortality: I guess your 30s are when things get real. I have a friend who just received a cancer diagnosis, and another good friend who lost their father this week. All I can do is keep praying for them, and checking in to give my support so that hopefully they don’t feel alone. That last part keeps me up at night because I found out recently that a friend of mine who passed away, actually committed suicide. I’m glad I found out after the fact because knowing up front would have made it so much harder to get over. I’m still not over it, but I’ve accepted that he’s gone enough so that this new information doesn’t send me into a grief spiral. I just wish he had reached out to someone, anyone. For the record, if you are my friend and going through a hard time, I’m here for you. I’d rather you “inconvenience” me than go to your funeral.

On Greek life: I love my blue and white but I love my husband and my free time more. I won’t lie to anybody. The die hard sorors will tell me “It’s only a couple hours a month to participate!” LIES. Chapter meeting is 3-4 hours on a Saturday afternoon, which we all know is peak weekend when everything happens! Let me know when y’all stop letting people hold us hostage to read the entire minutes from all 12 committee meetings. Between email and Facebook there’s no reason to go more than 2 hours. Then y’all wanna hang out afterwards when I was just here all day. Next thing you’re asking me to be on a committee which is a 2 hour conference call every month. I would go to the social events but my choices are a) go to the movies or the park with your kids (*shudder*) or pay $40 to go hang out in the VIP section of some lounge and still have to buy my own food and drinks. If I wanted to spend $50+ on a night out I could have met my bougie friend at III Forks, ate a gourmet steak and got into Grooves for free before midnight. And did I mention the dues which seem to go up every year? GURL BYE (*in my Funky Dineva voice*)

Who Lied To You?

“Who lied to you?” It’s just such a versatile question. Usually it comes out when I hear people’s ridiculous expectations for adulthood. I have low expectations from life. Some would call me cynical but I prefer the term pragmatic.

 

To clarify, I don’t mean that I’ve resigned myself to being unhappy. Far from it. My parents made sure I had a healthy self-esteem, and they’re very encouraging of me pursuing my career goals. They were also supportive of my decision to get married at a young age. But they never let me operate under the illusion that things would just be handed to me, that the world is naturally fair and just, or that I would never experience disappointment.

Some people think you should raise your kids without fear of limits, and I agree with that up to a point. There’s no need to tell 5 year old Johnny, who wants to be a movie star, that the odds of him just being able to make a living off  chewing gum commercials and bit parts like  “Guy at Bar #2” are slim to none. But 13 year old Johnny who just joined the drama club, got a part in the school play and announced he wants to go to Juilliard needs a reality check. Don’t crush his dreams, but he needs to be looking at community theater and acting lessons and open casting calls like yesterday. And if he’s not willing to give up quality time with his Xbox to work towards his dream, then maybe he’s just interested in acting as a hobby and should consider other career options.

So yeah, adulthood is expensive as f*ck. And stressful at times. But am I surprised that workplace politics are often reminiscent of grade school? Or that nobody congratulates you for cooking at home and paying your bills on time? Or that as a woman, sometimes people are more concerned about my marital/motherhood status than my job goals? No, no, and no. Shoot, sometimes when things go left I honestly wish I had an excuse to be mad. But (un)fortunately, nobody lied to me!

A lot of my peers also seem to be really invested in becoming known. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve never really wanted to be famous. Sure it would be cool, but (possibly to my detriment in this branding focused world) I’m more of a get sh*t done and let the chips fall where they may kind of girl. The only validation I’m seeking is my own contentment because the approval of others is a fickle beast. I don’t have time for it.

 

How to Lose an Employee

Every other week there’s an article about how Millennial employees are all lazy, entitled brats. Well, the truth is that sometimes the problem is a little higher up the food chain. Below are the best practices for running off anyone in your organization who wants to see it succeed…

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAjZAAAAJDM0ODQ0NjJiLTYyOGUtNDA4Yy05MmZlLTExY2RhYTA5ODgyZA

  1. Be unclear about your expectations.  Whenever possible, give out work assignments with competing priorities and no additional guidance. Sink or swim!
  2. Emphasize form over function. Reward low performing employees who milk the clock by coming early, staying late, and getting little to nothing done. Chastise anyone who leaves less than an hour after closing time, even if they’re high performers.
  3. Delegate, but don’t train. Why should managers do any work as long as there is a lower ranked employee around? Pile on the to-dos, but don’t show them how to actually do their job. They’ll figure it out and if they don’t– fire them!
  4. Never admit that management could be improved. If anything goes wrong, it’s always the underling’s fault. Deny any knowledge of a crisis. Always throw your employees under the bus, that’s what they’re there for after all.
  5. Minimize feedback. Don’t take the time to meet with your employees unless something is wrong. Never give them a chance to correct the problem early. Much better to ambush them with a 10 page dossier of shortcomings so that it can really sink in.
  6. Overwork and underpay. Pay the minimum acceptable wage for every position and don’t pay benefits. Who needs full medical and dental with Obamacare? Employee bonuses should never be expected. A new car for the CEO gives peons something to strive toward–it’s practically motivational.

Back to the Future

It’s 2015- the year that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future II. We’ve arrived, y’all. But while everybody else is worried about self-lacing sneakers, hoverboards and flying cars, I want to know where my Jetsons-style conveyor belt automatic shower/groomer is. Anyway, going into a new year always makes people ripe for reflection and I’m no different. Last year I was mostly concerned with getting my law license. This year, I really want a full time job (or a clear sign that I need to be putting my energy into entrepreneurship).  Other than that, my goals are fitness related but I’d rather expound on that in a different post. So for my New Year’s entry, I’m giving you a list of 10 things that could have been blog posts but weren’t. Enjoy!

1. I’m deeply uncomfortable with this new TMI world we live in. There’s a difference between keeping it real and oversharing. Just seems like nothing is sacred or private anymore (people take selfies on the toilet, for God’s sake). The desire to be their authentic is eroding discretion. Example:  S.ex is wonderful, but I don’ care to hear about bedroom gymnastics, or anything related to it, from anyone but my husband. You can be gay, straight, or humping a goat- I’m going to figuratively stick my fingers in my ear and yell “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” if you start spilling the details. Sorry, I’m a retro model.

erase

 

2. A lot of stuff gets lumped under the umbrella of shaming and intolerance. And I’ve lived long enough to know there is plenty of that out in the world. But there are times when it seems that folks just can’t handle it when others won’t  validate your life choices by agreeing with them. Part of being an adult is learning that

a) You don’t need the world’s approval for everything you do, and you won’t get it.

b) Sometimes the reward for living life the way you want, is simply living your life the way you want.

3. Freedom of  speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Sony learned that lesson when they got hacked and all the water cooler gossip they’d been emailing back and forth got out*. So did a bunch of people on this Tumblr when their racist antics got back to their employers. Some things are best kept to yourself.

 

10473455_1436310033320648_358834837612316159_n

4. Being married is boring sometimes. But so is life. You don’t kill yourself out of boredom so why kill your relationship? I think part of the reason people divorce so much is that we’ve got too many options (Tinder, Snapchat, Match.com) and too much time to think about them. 100 years ago there were no washing machines computers, tv,  or microwave ovens. The US population has more than tripled (from 100.5 million to 320 million) in that time so there are quite literally more options out there. At some point, you gotta learn to be happy with what you got, and make it work. And if you’re bored, here’s a hint: try being interesting and see what happens.

5. Sometimes you just have to let  it go. Unless you suffer from a mental illness like depression, happiness is a choice. Stop doing things that make you unhappy. Step away from the computer screen and dance to your favorite song, call a family member, hit that tree pose, whatever. People make changes when they get fed up. If you’re not at that point yet? Shut up and stop lying to yourself and annoying everybody else.

 

anigif_enhanced-buzz-20533-1367524246-6

 

6. “Friend” isn’t a word I use lightly. Friendship means we have each other’s backs. We tell each other the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. We can make mistakes and forgive each other. But most of all, we reciprocate. I have never been popular, and I’ve had a lot of alleged friendships that ended badly.** So I want to know that my friendship is reciprocated. We all get wrapped up in our hectic lives. But if I can look back a full calendar year and my only  contact with you was when you’re returning a call/text/smoke signal from me, I assume we’re not that close. You think about the people you care about most. If we’re really friends, at some point you should think “Hey, I haven’t talked to Lecie in a while, let me see what’s up with her.” Folks who are married and/or a parent get more leeway but at this point, most people I know don’t fall into those categories.

7. If you can’t afford hired help, being a housewife is hard. Balancing a budget, meal planning and grocery shopping, the neverending drudgery of dirty dishes, calling the bank/cable guy/insurance company to avoid bogus fees and keep from getting the runaround….not sure how I’m going to juggle once I’m working full time. As for the dishes at least, I finally said “eff the planet” and bought paper plates. Totally worth it.

8. Why do plane tickets cost so freaking much for so little? The widest economy seat today is still narrower than the smallest economy a mere 10 years ago, and boarding times have tripled. All so they can nickel and dime you with stupid up-charges. You’d think since fuel costs (probably largest variable cost for any airline) are dropping, ticket prices would go down. Nope. F*ck capitalism.

 

I could go on (rants #onfleek), but my word count is long enough as it is. Ciao!

 

 

*PRO TIP: By this point everyone should really know that you just do NOT talk sh*t via work email. Honestly, for the purposes of plausible deniability you shouldn’t write down your sh*t talking at all, but if you absolutely must, do it on your personal email, on your personal device, on your personal internet connection. You’re welcome.

**Yes, I know the common denominator is me. But given that I have very honest friends and none of them has yet to tell me that I’m an extraordinarily difficult person to make friends with, I think I just had a run of character-developing bad luck.

 

 

Being Human

From my Facebook page:

These riots didn’t happen in a vacuum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning them. But people are feeling angry and hopeless. For the past 200 years black folks have been trying to beg and plead our way to acceptance. The model of peaceful protest, Martin Luther King Jr., got shot in the head anyway.

What more do you want us to do? We change our diction; we straighten our hair; we starch and iron our clothes; we use our inside voices; we get degrees and move to the right neighborhoods. What happens? We get a pat on the head and our brothers and sisters who are too poor or maybe too proud to stamp out every sign of their cultural identity continue to be slaughtered in the streets and thrown in jail for offenses that result in no arrest or mere community service for their white counterparts.

THE GAME IS RIGGED. And in the age of information, a refusal to see the facts or connect the dots is willful complicity in the perpetuation of racism. Yes, racism. If you see a white man with a gun as a patriot exercising his 2nd Amendment rights, but a black man with a gun as a thug, you’re racist. Period. But you know what? Change is the only constant in life and you have the ability to break free of your mental conditioning. But most of you won’t because it’s easier to believe that black people are incapable, or choose not to succeed, than to admit that a large part of your privilege and comfort in life was built on the backs of slaves and continues to benefit from the blood, sweat and tears of black folks.

Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice.  What do they have in common? They were all gunned down by scared white people.

Fear is a monster. And I will never understand why it is so hard to see past brown skin to our shared humanity. We, too, sing America. We like to eat, drink, sleep and fall in love. Just like anyone else. So our voices are louder, our speech more colorful, our hair more buoyant and our features fuller. We are people first and foremost. Some of us are slowly starting to understand that degrees and the King’s English won’t protect us. Ever since we were carted across the Atlantic, the idea that we might one day rise up against our oppressors and exact bloody vengeance has taken deep root in their collective psyche. The truly sad thing is that most black folks don’t really want that. Nor do we want “special treatment”. We want TRUE equality. The kind that means a multi-syllabic, creatively punctuated name won’t get your resume tossed in the trash. The kind that means we can ask for help from a neighbor without fear that we’ll be shot in the face. The kind that means we can trust the police to serve and protect us too. The kind that means a black man in baggy clothes can be thought of as a hipster instead of a thug.

When will America get that there is nothing to fear? That love is more powerful than hate? That all we want is to be your countrymen in word, thought and deed?

 

black-lives-matter