Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kargas Inc. Company Newsletter

Kargas Inc. Newsletter. Volume 1, February 2010.

Employee of the Month Award.

This month we have decided to bestow the prestigious EMA to Evan Kargas (photographed above.) Evan joined our organization in June of 2008. After a rocky start, Evan grew to be a welcomed addition to the team. Evan has a positive attitude and a sunny disposition. With his stunning good looks, and his rare ability to adhere to the "less is more" rule of communication we feel he makes an excellent spokesperson for Kargas Inc. We have noticed a significant increase in interest in our organization since his employment and we are looking forward to his continued contributions to the company. We envision great things for you Evan!

A Note From Human Resources.

As many of you are already aware we are in the process of conducting a study of employee retention and satisfaction at Kargas Inc. We are excited to announce that the initial findings regarding retention are outstanding. We have in fact had zero percent turnover since the company's inception in 1999! This gives us confidence that we must be doing something well! The results from the employee satisfaction survey are being studied. In most areas employees seem moderately happy with the organization. A few areas have been identified for further study and improvement. Primarily we have noticed some communication problems between Senior Executives and junior staff members. The staff is reporting that while supervisors seem to listen to their ideas and opinions, there is often little follow through. Employees mentioned that all suggestions of moving the company's headquarters to Tanzania, or implementing a pirate themed dress code have been ignored. We want to assure the staff that the senior management values their input, and we will move forward on any reasonable suggestions. We are in fact seriously reviewing one employees suggestion for a no-vegetable policy. We will provide further updates as available.

A Note from Facilities:

We have had a recent increase in vandalism of company property. We would like to remind everyone that writing on walls, furniture and tabletops is strictly prohibited. There are serious consequences for violations.

Upcoming Events:

March 1: Brown Bag Seminar: "Nobody touched your cheese, just eat it"

March 19-28: External Auditors ("Nana" & "Grandpa") on site. Attendance during this period is mandatory, and good behavior is expected.

TBD: Off-Site Sr. Staff meeting. This event will occur at least once during the course of the month. Senior staff will meet at an undisclosed location in the evening hours to discuss company strategy over cocktails.

Mama got a job (sort-of)

So I got a job. Sort of. I didn't even have to interview for the gig. My dear college friend referred me to a woman who is running her own little virtual administrative support company. She lives in Israel, so it's a bit convoluted, but none-the-less it's a job. I get to work from home, which has it's pro's and cons. Pros, I can do the work from the comfort of my sofa in my slippers, with the kids running around. Cons, I can do the work from the comfort of my sofa in my slippers, with the kids running around. Get it?

There was a part of me that was looking forward to putting on the heels, getting on the BART and heading to an office away from the dust bunnies, the dirty laundry, and my two darlings. But there was also a part of me struggling to reconcile how my husband and I could both be away from home 40 hours a week and still keep this ship sailing.

My first project is a recruiting project, and quite honestly I am getting paid an embarrassingly low rate for my efforts. So low that I would hesitate to share it with a future prospective employer. But as I told my husband, who looked at me with raised eyebrows, you pay a price for working from home, when you want to, with your kids right there, and look at this way, no dry cleaning bills! I am actually excited about the work, and so far I like the woman that I am working for. I am anticipating approximately 15 hours per week, which should hopefully give me plenty of other time to take care of my mama duties, and to continue with my mama blog.

Wish me luck.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sick Day

Me: Boss I am sick. I am not going to make it in to work today. I'll be in tomorrow.
Boss: You can't be sick today. Who is going to cover for you? Besides you don't sound sick.
Me: Seriously I am sick. I can't come in. The staff doesn't want what I have.
Boss: Listen, the staff has been running around with runny noses since the day they were hired. You can't give them anything they don't already have. Get in here.
Me: What kind of crazy company is this anyways? Don't I get sick days?
Boss: Sure you get sick days, but if you read your employee handbook, you will see you may only take them in one of two circumstances. One-if you are actually hospitalized, or two on weekends if there is back up coverage and no major televised sporting events.
Me: That is ludicrous!
Boss: You signed a contract.
Me: I must have been out of my mind.
Boss: Not my problem. Your shift starts now stop whining and report to work this instant.
Me: Okay, how about we just charge this to my vacation time instead.
Boss: Ms. Kargas, I am going to ask you once again to refer to your employee handbook. It states very clearly that vacation time may only be taken in 30 to 90 minute increments weekdays after 6:30 pm or on weekends. Requests for vacation must be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance.
Me: (whimpering)But I am so tired.
Boss: That's okay. You can come in your pajamas. It's casual day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mean Girl

I admit it I can be a wee bit judgmental sometimes. I try so hard not to be, but it appears to be part of my nature. Perhaps judgemental is the wrong word. It is just that with ten years of experience interviewing people and determining "job fit" within a course of an hour, I like to think that I have learned to read folks pretty well. Within a few minutes of meeting a new person I can usually determine whether or not we have any chance of being friends.

But I try. I try to keep an open mind. Okay, so she is an attachment parenting fanatic who plans to breastfeed until baby turns four, and who spent the previous five years living in an yurt eating only raw foods and she turns her nose up to alcohol, she could be nice. But wait. She doesn't drink and I could never invite her over for fear that she would discover my giant stash of Oscar Myer hot dogs in the fridge. And, did I mention that she doesn't drink?

I know that I should try harder. Variety is the spice of life. We need to embrace diversity. It takes all kinds. You get the idea, and so do I. I try to live by those values, but sometimes, I am still, shall we say caddy?

Today is a perfect example. I was at the Y headed to the locker rooms for a quick shower, when I passed by the dance studio where they hold group classes. Some days it is salsa or hip hop, or it might be yoga our step aerobics. Today, I have no idea what they were doing. The group was comprised of the usual suspects, the retired and fit grandmas, the sleepy stay at home moms there to simply get away from their kids for an hour, and a few skinny spastic hard-cores dancing circles around everyone else. Some sort of Caribbean inspired music was playing, and the women were engaged in for lack of a better word, free-form "dance". As I watched, I tried to have the appropriate response. Good for them, there they are expressing themselves, moving their bodies, being active, dancing without any noticeable sense of self consciousness.

But then... was that middle aged white woman doing some sort of bizarre African variation of the electric slide? The evil thoughts started to creep in. Did that overweight lady with the face tattoo really think she was getting exercise by bouncing (ever so slightly) up and down with her hands clasped in front in prayer? Why doesn't that skinny blond just go for a run rather than race back and forth across the room flapping her arms? These people looked... ridiculous. Seriously. Every now and then someone would yell out a "whoop" of encouragement to one of her buddies. They would be better off to look at their dancing friends and tell them honestly to stop. They are embarrassing themselves. Don't they see that??

Apparently not. And good for them.

I'm the mean girl. I am the one who should feel ashamed.

But c'mon.....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cheers, a cliche

Shout out to the mamas...

To the mamas who never get a lunch break.

To the mamas who never go to happy hour.

To the mamas who never see free donuts in the break room.

To the mamas who never get a bonus.

To the mamas who never get a promotion or an "employee of the month" award.

To the mamas who don't get a shower without small hands grabbing at wet legs from behind the shower curtain.

To the mamas reporting to the gym for thirty minute workout, praying that the daycare center doesn't interrupt and beckon them back to the line of duty.

To the mamas who start the day before 7am but cannot seem to get a cup of coffee down before 9.

To the mamas who feel that their work is never done.

It's a tough job, and someone has to do it.... lucky for all of us... it's you. (and you and you and you.) So cheers to you, strong mamas. Kick back with a cold one, a stiff one, or a sparkly one. But, please just no sippy cups.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Staff Meeting

Continuing on the make believe track, stick with me here.

Kargas Inc: MANDATORY All-Staff Meeting.

In attendance:
President: Mommy
CFO: Daddy
Senior Staff Member: Zachary
Intern: Evan
Secretary: Bascom
Facilities Manager: Wiggum
Janitor: Flanders

Meeting notes:

Mommy: We have called together this meeting to address several pressing matters that I can no longer ignore.

  • First, the budget. As our CFO recently informed me, it is time for us to tighten our belts. We have been overspending, and honestly, this staff is simply not bringing in any income. Due to some government regulations we are unable to reduce costs with a staff reduction for at least 14 years. With the exception of the support staff, your jobs are secure, but we are all going to have to do our part. Our action items are as follows: 1) We are changing our cereal supplier. We can no longer afford the premium General Mill's "Honey Nut Cheerios", we have found a new vendor who is considerably less expensive. We will now be purchasing "Taste-O's" exclusively, effective immediately. 2) Previous plans for a team building event/incentive trip to Disney World have been scraped. Instead we will have a staff party at "Tot Land". This gathering is for senior staff and interns only. No support staff will be invited. Light refreshments will be served (remember the Taste-Os?). 3) Within one year we hope to seriously reduce our paper costs and will cease all investments in Pampers, Huggies or any related companies.
  • Second it has come to my attention that there have been some inter-departmental communication and cooperation problems. This is unacceptable. We are one company, and one team, and we must start acting as such. The primary concern stems from resource sharing. Due to the budget crisis, we simply cannot continue to spend, spend, spend. We will not be purchasing any additional bedroom, playroom or outdoor supplies until further notice. Our CFO and I will be working closely to determine when we are able to resume purchasing additional resources. In the mean time we are demanding your cooperation in sharing our current toys, art supplies and stickers. Disciplinary action will be taken to those who are not utilizing resources appropriately.
  • Next, we are having some serious scheduling issues. Primarily, the work day will begin promptly at 7:00am. For those of you who wish to report in earlier, you may do so, but please be aware that Supervisors will not be available, and facilities will be limited. (The kitchen does not open until 7:30am). As required by law, when working a 13 hour day it is mandatory that all employees take at least a sixty minute break. We will incur serious fines if nap/quite times are not adhered to.
  • Finally it is time to work smarter, not just harder. The CFO and I have spent hours reviewing our time management and have determined that a significant amount of hours are wasted on laundry and dish washing in this operation . We feel that we can be far more efficient. Going forward, all clothing items, with the exception of undergarments must be worn twice before being laundered. This means that I expect each and everyone of you to monitor your personal use of stain producing products such as ketchup, chocolate frosting, and finger paints. In addition, it is not acceptable to simply take dishes out of drawers for the sake of play. Dishes may only be utilized at designated meal times.

That summarizes my comments. I hope you will think thoughtfully about this discussion, and determine what you can personally do to make Kargas Inc a more profitable organization. Any questions?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Serves me right

My husband and I run on the weekend. That is what we do. Now when I say run, I should specify that I jog, slowly. But I go. Most Saturday and Sunday mornings I get out there and move my body for at least 30 minutes. I know, sign me up for the Olympics now. Sure, I could do more, and recently I have started to go the Y an additional two times a week to use the elliptical machine or the treadmill, yet I would hardly call myself an athlete.

So this morning I surprised myself. I drained my morning coffee put on my running shoes and peaked out my front door. Rain. Well, light sprinkling really, but it could have been an easy out. I could have traded my sneakers for slippers without an ounce of guilt. But instead, I shrugged my shoulders and told myself, how bad could it be?

At first it was quite lovely. Running in cool air with light mist on my face. All of the colors made more vivid with moisture. The streets were fairly empty, but I jogged passed cafes packed with the Sunday morning crowds of coffee drinkers and brunch lovers. It felt cozy to peak into a morning that I used to know pre-kids. As I trudged on the rain started down a bit harder. My hair was quickly becoming fully soaked. I passed by an occasional walker with an umbrella, and saw people rushing to their cars covering heads with soggy newspaper. These mostly dry people must have thought I was nuts. Or better. They probably mistook me for a dedicated athlete. One that could not bare the thought of missing out on a morning run. Perhaps they even believed it was a necessary part of a pre-race training regiment. Who else would be silly enough to be jogging, in an almost-down pour? I suppose if they looked closely enough they would see my lack of dedication. I was hardly prepared for such an outing. I was wearing moisture absorbing sweats after all, instead a more appropriate waterproof outfit. But let them think that.

A little over half way through the adventure, my clothes heavy and sopping, my head cold, my feet sloshing about in my sneakers, I realized that I had felt a sensation very close to crying. My cheeks wet with raindrops, my heart rate elevated, I could have been crying. I should have been crying. This was a miserable experience. One to never be repeated.

I wish I could say that I spent the rest of the day refreshed and energized from morning exercise, but instead I felt the twinge of a sore throat coming on and my eyes have burned so badly that I am starting to reminisce about a "Different Strokes" episode from decades ago, where Kimberly's hair turns green because of...acid rain. Could acid rain be burning my eyes out? Serves me right.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Performance Evaluation

So lets make believe a little. It's time for my annual performance review with my pretend boss.

KARGAS INC. Annual Employee Review

Boss: So Rachel, we have completed a 360 evaluation with your staff and coworkers. Quite frankly I am a little concerned by what we heard, particularly from your staff. Their comments were all over the place, making me question your consistency. For example one individual said "she is mean! She is always mean! She is so unfair", while the second employee appears to be completely content and enjoys simply saying you're name over and over again. I am concerned that there may be some favoritism going on.

Me: You don't understand. My staff is very immature and often fickle.

Boss: We spoke with a peer as well. He informed us that while he was generally pleased with your overall performance he felt you sometimes lacked attention to detail. He sited several instances when he had to go back and re-do work for you, like rewash dishes that have been put away dirty. His biggest concern was regarding your ability to manage the budget. He is afraid that you might not have a good grasp of basic finance and accounting skills. We are going to recommend additional training in this area.

Me: It's just that I need a bigger budget, and a new dishwasher.

Boss: The support staff is also complaining. They have informed us that you no longer seem to attend to their daily needs with as much attention as in prior years. Bowls go unfilled. Walks are significantly less frequent. You are not as "fun" anymore.

Me: I suggest we fire the support staff. I don't need them anymore. Listen isn't there any good news?

Boss: Yes. We spoke with OSHA it appears that the last major injury occurred on September 26, 2009. We have gone several months now without any serious incident. You are therefor passing all current health and safety regulations. In summary, we feel that you are performing at a satisfactory level, however we would like you take the necessary steps to get your performance to the next level. We would like you to invest time and effort into some career development. Here is your first assignment: Read "How to talk so your kids will listen, and how to listen so your kids will talk".

Until next year.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Sometime it really is the small things that make us the happiest. I don't know if I believe that the best things in life are free, because I am a materialistic shopaholic and proud of it, but in this case it was $12.99 puzzle purchased for Evan as a Valentines Day gift. It's just a little jungle puzzle with zebra, giraffes, elephants and the like. And actually it wasn't really the puzzle, it was the act of doing the puzzle. And it wasn't me that was doing the puzzle, or even the fact that Evan was doing the puzzle. It was Zack and Evan doing the puzzle together.

For those of you who do not know the continuing saga of the Kargas brothers, let me provide a little back history. Like most mothers I was very excited about the prospect of giving my oldest child a sibling. I anticipated that there would be a period of adjustment and that at 2.5 and accustomed to being the center of our little universe, Zachary may be a little weary about greeting his baby brother. We did everything we could think of in order to prepare our eldest for Evan's arrival. We read books "I'm a Big Brother!", we pointed out other babies "look Zack, Quinn is a big brother too!" We transitioned Zack out of the nursery and into a brand new big-boy bedroom, and my mother bought him a baby doll.

On June 12th, 2008 Zachary visited his new brother in the hospital. He arrived with a yellow rose for mommy, and he received a "present" from his new brother. He posed for a few pictures and then headed out of town with this grandparents for a few days to give mommy some time to recover from surgery and bond with the baby.

For the first six months Zack pretty much ignored our bundle of joy. Occasionally he would fetch a diaper for me or informed us that the baby was crying, more out of frustration than any actual concern for his little brother.

Then things changed, and it wasn't pretty. Words like "hate" and "stupid" were thrown around, every day for weeks I would pick Zack up from preschool and find him holding a bag of urine soaked clothing, another accident. Big brother started fantasizing about leaving Evan alone (in a rain storm) in Africa, or abandoning him on a mountain top.

All around me I saw older siblings protecting the family baby. Giving kisses and playing the role of parent to the infant. Not my kid. I didn't see a glimpse of kindness, for honestly, over a year. People kept reassuring me that it was a phase, that surely Zack would grow out of it, but I started to worry. Where had we gone wrong? Was I raising a heartless little boy?

Then, by some miracle things did start to change. It has been a slow process. Rather than saying he hated Evan, Zachary simply started telling me that he didn't love him. Rather than screaming any item Evan approached one of his toys, he started to share them. Eventually over the last two months, the boys have actually begun playing together, usually it involves Zachary shouting "Chase me!" while Evan stumbles behind his big brother giggling wildly.

And then... the puzzle. It was yesterday morning, and I was being lazy, drinking coffee, reading my email. I casually asked Zachary if he wanted to help Evan with his puzzle, so I could have a few more precious moments with my beloved Facebook. Zachary answered "Sure!" with actual enthusiasm. He sat down with Evan and started playing the role of big brother. "Evan, where does the zebra go?" he would ask in a sing-song voice handing him the zebra piece. "Great job! You did it!" he praised as Evan placed the Zebra in the correct location. Evan beamed. The praise of his older brother a well received surprise.

This went on for a good ten minutes. My heart melted. I abandoned Facebook and just watched. This, this is what I had been waiting for. This ten minutes felt better than I had even imagined. There they were . Brothers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

At what cost?

Honestly, I am not a risk taker. Clearly. To prove it, until my two babies were born I had never had a stitch in my body (knock on wood, spit three times, whatever one must to do to continue good fortune). So forgive me, but I am baffled by the Olympic "sport", luge. What is that? If it were not for the Olympics would anyone have heard of this activity? Where does luge occur outside of International competition? I grew up around snow, and yes a few of us may have gone out for some casual sledding at a near by "hill", but luge? Huh? Who thinks "hey I have a great idea! Let's go down a shear ice slope on a little sled at 85 miles an hour, with nothing to protect me but perhaps a little helmet?" And so, why are we all so terribly shocked when tragedy strikes as fate is tempted?

As the world watched, a 21 year old Nodar Kumaritashvili took his final run and headed at nearly ninety miles an hour into a steel pole to his death. The conclusion has been: the death was "user error", and not due to any fault of the track. My argument, what exactly does that mean? There is no room for human error on this death run? Are we not all human, and therefor capable of mistakes? Should we eagerly then send athletes into obviously dangerous endeavours for the sake of "sport" and entertainment? Is it worth it?

As a mother of two, I can tell you that no sport, no career no "dream" could be worth the ultimate sacrifice of my child's life, whether they are four, twenty-one or sixty. Achievement, recognition, fame, gold metals, all can add definition to life, but take it's place? I think not. I can tell you with complete confidence that I would much rather that Zachary and Evan grow up to be in middle management at the local Verizon Wireless store than die zooming down an Olympic track in pursuit of a once-in-a-lifetime gold medal.

So in case anyone was wondering I will not be signing Zack up for "beginning luge" next fall. And if we did live in an area with easy access to sledding I would probably be the mom who was strapping on helmets to her embarrassed kids before sending them down the bunny hill.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Me & My Valentines

I did the math last night. This February 14th will be the eighteenth Valentines Day that David and I have celebrated. Eighteen. More calculations and that means that the Mr. and I have been together for half of our lives. I met David October of 1992, when I was a mere eighteen years old. A teenager. Zachary is now closer to eighteen than I am.

I remember the first Valentines Day I spent with David well. I showed up at his dorm room to find a stuffed bear, I would later name Swanson holding a red rose ( 18 of us.) We had dinner at Paisans, a restaurant which has since been torn down and replaced with a parking garage, across the street from our dorms which have also been demolished.

It was my first real live out-to-dinner-I- have -a -Valentine, Valentines Day. Over the years we have celebrated the day in different ways. I trained the boy from day one that Cupid's Day was not one to be messed with. I do not care if flowers are more expensive on February 14th, I want them. I do not want to hear about how cheesy all of the greeting cards are, pick one. And he has obliged, and our Valentines Day's have been lovely. Until recently the holiday always meant dressing up, sipping cocktails and having a date night at a more expensive than usual restaurant. Steak, Sushi, tapas, always the restaurant was crowded and always the service was lacking, but I never cared. I always enjoyed the scene.

Once the kiddos arrived the nature and the meaning of the holiday changed. Now I have three Valentines. I shop for cards with puppy dogs and firetrucks. I buy the boys the same Russel Stovers chocolates my mom always got me. I greet them in the morning with heart shaped toast and pink cream cheese. David and I forgo the restaurant experience and opt for a quite evening at home. A bottle of wine. Home-made sushi. I no longer get flowers sent to an office, instead maybe supermarket flowers, but if I am lucky *maybe* I will be the recipient of a red construction paper heart with glittery stickers haphazardly glued on for decoration, handed over to me with sticky fingers and an eager smile.

How lucky am I?

I love each of you my three Valentines....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Valentine for the Haters.

I am one of those people who adores Valentines Day. Cellophane wrapped heart shaped packages of chocolates, red roses, construction paper valentines, sugary "conversation" hearts, I (literally) eat it up. I know this puts me in a somewhat unpopular group.

There are so many Valentines Day haters out there. Some of you have good reason, it's a lovers holiday, and for those who are not in a relationship it can be an unnecessary, over-the-top reminder of your single status. Back in my working days, I was one of those women who would be called down to the front desk because my annual roses had arrived. I was the envy of many of my colleagues, and the recipient of evil glares from the lonely hearts in surrounding cubicles.

Some of the haters call it a "Hallmark" holiday, a holiday created by marketers with the intent to sell. To that I would respond with two things 1) Florists need to make a living too. 2) Really, commercialism, how does that set apart Valentines Day from any other holiday? As if Christmas and Easter don't have their share of over-spenders. (Hello-Giant Target Easter Basket?)

But in any case in order to ingratiate myself with all of you anti-Valentines, I am going to go ahead and list my three WORST Valentines Days ever.

  1. 1997: Valentines Day in London. Romantic right? Wrong. I celebrated Valentines Day waitressing at the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory. We got in early and decorated the hip pizza restaurant with red checkered table clothes and candle light. I handed half-dead pink carnations to every lady that came in that evening. I served up heart shaped pizzas to a) couples who couldn't afford a night at a better restaurant or b) drunk groups of Valentines Day Haters. On the bus ride home at 2am, I got vomited on by the extremely intoxicated man sitting behind me. It was stuck in my hair. Not kidding.

  2. 1998: I wanted an engagement ring. Is there a better way to tell the love of your life "Happy Valentines Baby, I love you" than a sparkly diamond and a life-long commitment? I had it coming after all. David and I had been dating for six years. We had talked about it for crying out loud. I got my hopes up. That year I unwrapped....a cookbook. "Secrets of Fat-Free Italian Cooking" I kid you not. Yes, there was a fight.

  3. 2008: I was just about twenty weeks into my second pregnancy. I was hoping that I was having the girl that I had always dreamed of. An ultrasound scheduled for February 14Th, had to good luck right? The husband sent pink roses to the office that day. He gave me truffles dusted with pink sugar. I wore a pink shirt to the appointment. Two minutes into the exam, the technician announced "I know the sex!" If she knew that quickly, and that definitively, I knew too. She saw.... a penis. I burst into tears. I didn't want another penis. I wanted a girl. I cried through the rest of the appointment. I made quite a scene. At dinner that night my husband told me he felt as though he were at a funeral. I told him, he was witnessing the death of a dream. There would be no tea parties, no prom dress shopping, no wedding planning. Talk about melodrama. In retrospect, had I known that it was Evan who would be coming into our lives I should have been overjoyed. Hindsight.

So there you have it folks. My Valentines-Hating friends. See, even I have had a few duds.

Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not that kind of blog

No. My blog is not that kind of blog. Not the kind of blog where proud mama posts a bunch of pictures of her darlings and hopes that the world will ooh and ahh over the updates of juniors growth charts, the progress in baby's vocabulary and the overall adorableness of her offspring. Nope my blog is so much more than that. Funny stories, deep and thought-provoking essays. Right? Well perhaps not. At least not tonight. Tonight my blog is-look at these kids-are they freaking cute or what?? Come on now. I am one lucky mommy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sleepless in Berkeley

Is there anything worse than lying awake at 3am, knowing that you are wasting precious sleep time? Craving dreamland, but tossing and turning and letting your mind run over with the mundane details of your day?

I go through boughts of insomnia. Long nights and too many cups of coffee in the mornings. I usually fall asleep fine, but awaken for whatever reason at 1 or 2 and find myself wide awake.

A couple of nights ago it was all my husband's fault. He and his annoying coughing. And coughing. At 1am. He wasn't even sick. What was his problem? He got up and because he is a selfless person excused himself to the sofa, but it was too late. The damage was done. I spent the next three hours unable to get back to sleep.

I started thinking about my recent job search, and all of the frustrations and confusion wormed it's way back through the corners of my totally awake mind. I quickly attempted to shove those thoughts aside, but something far worse happened.

A song got stuck in my head. A children's song.

Hello Everybody so glad to see you,

Hello Everybody so glad to see you.

Hello to Evan so glad to see you.....

Stop that! Clear your mind Rachel. Focus.

Hello to mommy were so glad to see you too.

Think! Think of something else. Don't do this.

Hello to the daddies so glad to see you,

Hello to the nanny's were so glad to see you too.

Can't you count sheep or something? Meditate? SOMETHING?

Hello to the guitar so glad to see you,

Hello to the grandmas were so glad to see you too.

ARGGGGG! That is enough!

Then I hit on something. I started to think about my blog. I could write about insomnia couldn't I? I started to compose a post in my head. I am sure it was brilliant, but somehow when morning came it was gone, and this was the best I could come up with.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Yes, I am in a "funk". Down right bad mood actually. This post may end up embarrassing me at a later date. I actually do not even know what I have sat down to write. No plan. One of those situations when, if I were sixteen I would have turned up the Eagles and sat down with a diary and pounded out a heartfelt, sob-filled eight pages of whine.

Today, it was rainy again. And although I am quite unsure about my work intentions, I have been applying like mad, and have felt the sting of rejection. My resume has resulted in limited response. Today I was told by a perspective employer that they were looking for someone with more...stability. I get it. I get it. If you are looking for stability, yes, my track record leaves something to be desired. I won't waste your time by documenting all the reasons why I should be hired, but I should. I am a catch after all. For real.

With my job search stalling, I start to wonder, should I take my career in a totally different direction? What would that look like? What would I really want to do? A million years ago, when I was a Freshman at UW Madison, I thought I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. For whatever reason, my direction changed and I thought I would be a social worker. I ended up a recruiter. And I liked it. I like it. I like being a corporate recruiter. But, is there something else? Something entirely different? What would it be? I do love writing. But what does that equate to professionally? In case you have not noticed, I am not exactly a grammatical genius. I like people, but I don't think I am therapist material. What? A matchmaker? I love that show Million Dollar Matchmaker. But I am not an entrepreneur. A sales person who sells jewelry or Tupperware or makeup at parties? I don't want to work evenings and weekends. A preschool teacher? The pay is so low. Where does this leave me? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I have never known.

I am.... clueless.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I don't want to know.

I walk around carrying a $20 backpack from Target. I no longer carry a purse, or even my trendy $200 diaper bag. My ugly pack is more practical.

What is happening to me?

I wear running shows everyday. On a rare occasion, you might see me sporting a slightly more fashionable beat up pair of Sketchers, but mostly it's my dirty running shoes. I walk a lot after all. My heals just don't cut it.

What is happening to me?

I have been wearing the same pair of diamond stud earrings for two weeks. I have hundreds of beautiful earrings that I adore. With my short hair I really can rock the big "statement" pieces. But it's too much effort to pick out the right accessories, and I am in a hurry in the morning. So simple studs it is

What is happening to me?

I am looking forward with much anticipation to my first concert in ages. Dan Zanes. 11 am. Apple juice is extra.

What is happening to me?

I haven't been to a real bar in a couple of years now. Happy hour- that would be impossible. I don't even think I would take advantage of the specials, they only offer the cheap "house" wine at happy hour price, and I don't drink cheap wine. It gives me a headache.

What is happening to me?

I rang in 2010 at 6:30pm. It was a crazy night. There were party hats.

What is happening to me?

I consider goldfish crackers and honey nut cheerios excellent snack options.

What is happening to me?

I hear myself thinking "shut up or I'll give you something to cry about" (no I haven't actually said it...yet)


Do me a favor, don't answer that question.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Two Thumbs Down

If you are not the type who enjoys reading negative reviews on Yelp, let me save you the trouble, skip this post. I have in fact already posted my feelings about this horrible "business" on said site, but apparently I have not yet worked it out of my system. There is more to say.

The operation I am speaking of is Western Dental. It was time for Zachary's six month cleaning and we didn't yet have a dentist here in Berkeley. Zachary's previous dental experiences had been stellar. We went to an office (Highland Smiles) in our Denver neighborhood. It was modern and friendly. As soon as you arrived in the office you were handed a bottle of water. There was an area of toys for the youngsters. During your cleaning you were given the choice of watching a video or listening to an Ipod. Zachary of course selected the video. At the end of the visit he was presented with a bag containing a polka dotted toothbrush, floss, and some stickers. He also got to pick out a toy from the treasure chest. All and all a great experience.

Our experience with Western Dental on the other hand was in a word- miserable. I arrived for our 4:00 appointment with both boys. I had to park several blocks away and plug the meter (it is Berkeley after all). As soon as I entered the facility I knew I had made a mistake. The place was dingy, crowded and chaotic. People sat in ugly chairs that hadn't been updated since 1970. They looked...defeated, like they had been there for a very long time. I checked in with a receptionist who handed me a stack of paperwork to fill out. Pretty standard information, except they asked a lot of questions about how I planned to pay for my services and requested three personal references. References for me? Aren't I the customer? I skipped that part. We settled in and waited. I kept Evan happy by feeding him goldfish crackers. That worked for about ten minutes. The challenge was keeping him busy for the next hour. That is right, they didn't get us in until 1 hour and ten minutes after our scheduled appointment. I even had to take both boys back to the car to replug the meter. Not happy. Not at all.

As it turned out Zachary had a cavity. We would have to come back another day to get it filled. They got me an appointment for first thing Monday morning. They told we would be the first appointment so there would be no wait. Monday morning arrives. I had warned Zack about the needle, but felt confident that he would do okay. He has been fine with shots in the past. The shot of anesthesia didn't bother him much, however he became fidgety and squirmy with the dentist's hands in his mouth. The dentist got very anxious. The assistant announced she was feeling sick and excused herself for the bathroom. The dentist YELLED for "back-up" assistance, like she was in the middle of open-heart surgery in a scene from E.R. I was flabbergasted. The process took a very long time. The dentist seemed completely beside herself pleading with Zachary to please, please stay still. He is four for crying out loud. What exactly had she expected? She kept looking at me and telling me that we couldn't possibly let him go without getting the tooth filled, like I was considering fleeing. Perhaps I should have.

In the end the dentist told me that she hoped Zack would not get any additional cavities, at least until he was older. No kidding. As I left the office I checked out with the receptionist. They did not have a bill ready for me, they would have mail it. Fine.

Two weeks later, I receive a collections letter in the mail, not a bill, a collections letter. I owed $59.00 . That very same day I received not one, not two, but three messages from their collections department. It was after hours when I got the messages so I didn't call them back. Over the course of the next three days they called relentlessly, I could see by the caller ID history on my phone. Finally on the fourth day, I called back ready to settle this and be done with Western Dental for good. The agent informed me that I now owed a $30 late fee on top of my $59.00. Deep breath. I informed the agent that I would under no circumstances pay a late fee on a service that I never received a bill for, and that occurred only two weeks ago. He tried to argue with me for a few moments, but ultimately waived the late charge. (One small victory). I paid up and then vented to him about the whole terrible experience. The man listened with a bit of rehearsed empathy, but was clearly a collection agent earning $10 an hour who had a script and was sticking to it. I hung up frustrated.

That is when I headed to Yelp. (click on the link for a prime example of a recent review this poor excuse for a dental clinic received). As it turns out, I should have visited the site prior to dragging my innocent child to Western Dental. It was like feeding a lamb to wolves. The practice has a terrible reputation. Nothing I had to report was new. It had all been said before. Long waits, incompetent dentists, ridiculous billing practices. Now I know. So perhaps this post is as much a bash against the worst dental practice in America, as it is an advertisement for Yelp. Hurray for Yelp. It could have helped.