Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fourth Of July

I LOVE the Fourth of July. Growing up, we moved pretty often, but from when I was about 5 to 11 years old we lived in upstate New York on a small lake. Family would come out during the summer holidays and we would have cookouts, go out on my dad's boat, and have a great time. When I say "family" I don't just mean grandma; aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, EVERYONE came.

Fourth of July was no exception to this. We would spend days getting ready for this celebration. My mom is the biggest patriot I know. She would decorate the house until it looked like something out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine-Tribute to the Red White and Blue. The volleyball net would go up, mom would start cooking, dad would get the boat prepped. My sisters and I had the intense and laborous job of hauling wood for the bonfire. My sisters and I were about 8, 4 and 1 years old, so we typically came back with twigs. We skipped through the yard, dropped our 12 twigs in the fire pit and skipped back to find more. I'll never forget, one year I thought I hit the jackpot! I was in the wooded area of the neighbors yard on the hunt for twigs, when I saw a tree lying on the ground. Being 8 years old, it looked massive to me, but looking back it was more than likely a 6ft. long branch about as big around as I was. It took me, one of my sisters and the neighbor girl to help me carry it down to the yard. It, of course, was soaking wet so my dad couldn't use it, but it must have looked hilarious seeing three little girls dragging a ginormous stick down the driveway.

The neighbors would all get into the Fourth celebration. They were also prepping their boats, building bonfires, and cooking out. It was quite typical to roam from yard to yard tasting everyone's food and partying. (The pets on the lake, of course, loved this. The yard's became their smorgasboard, at least two of us kids would end up dropping our hot dogs on the ground.)

As soon as it started to get dark, you'd see everyone's mom running around lathering all the kids with bug spray. If we weren't being lathered with sun tan lotion, we were being lathered with bug spray. Sparklers were handed out and we chased each other with them, until my cousin Tim got poked in the butt with one. Then we were forced to stand in one spot with our glittering rods of death. After sparklers came the bonfires and the marshmallows. Then the fireworks. My dad prided himself on having the best fireworks display on the lake. I have no clue how much money my dad spent on fireworks for that holiday, not including the gas money to drive to Jersey to get them each year, but I remember the fireworks. They would go on for hours, and they were beautiful. Every year my sisters and I looked forward to Fourth of July, and every year my sisters and I look back at these being some our fondest memories.

Ryan and I are in Charleston for the holiday. There more than likely won't be sparklers or fireworks. Dad had to sell his boat and the antique boat has been in storage for years. Having a bonfire in the backyard will catch mom and dad's or the neighbors house on fire, and although it would create a July 4th that we woulnd't forget that's not exactly the memory we'd like to create. Even with the lack of the glittering rods of death, or "hauling wood", nothing beats spending a holiday with your family.

To all my readers, my friends, and our military, happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oh, Little Sewing Lady, How I Love Thee

The bride for the wedding in August called me...
"Steph, the dresses are here, you need to get yours and make sure the alterations are done in time. The place needs four weeks for alterations."
I called and set up an appointment. I warned Ryan before leaving. "Babe, I'm going in for dress alterations. When I get back I may not be in the best mood. There's nothing worse than being reminded that you're STILL not the size you want to be."

I went in this afternoon, the girl behind the counter got the dress and set me up in a room. "Someone will back to pin you," she said. I got the dress and shoes on. The dress fit as suspected. It needed to be taken in a little and taken up A LOT. I swear these dresses are made for giants, not 5'2" people.

The little foreign sewing lady came rushing around the corner, smiled at me and asked me to fill out a paper with my name, ect. She started pulling, and pinning. Fifteen minutes and three boxes of straight pins later she said, "Hold tight, I go get measuring tape!" Upon returning she said, "You look like Barbie doll!" My face softened and I replied, "Aw, thanks!" She was taking my measurements, upon which I notice that they have gone down (THANK GOD); she stood up and said, "Maybe you should do something to make yourself look not so pretty." She pointed at me and says, "Bride not like so much." In my head, I gasped, put my hand to my chest and exclaimed, "Little foreign sewing lady....I love you!" What I really said is this, "Please, the bride is tall, thin and blond, I don't have a chance." We both chuckled.

Regardless of whether she says that to every customer that walks through her curtain or not, it made my day. Oh the little things that can brighten our day...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

NO TIME...For What?

How many of us would all agree that there is not enough time in the day, week, weekend, life, ect. to do the things we want to do? I, for example, want to get my scuba diver's license. My sisters have theirs, I would like mine, we could take trips together. I would also like to be a writer. Not just any writer, anybody who rambles on napkins at a coffee house calls themselves a writer. I'm talking, a writer who writes and actually PUBLISHES and SELLS their books. I would also like to get my window screens that Thor destroyed, replaced, and fix my leaky gutters. Some dreams are much more realistic than others.

I was thinking last night-what do I really want to do? I want to travel, I'd like to live overseas, not for forever but temporarily, just to experience it. I'd like to live on a boat, and have a chef, and a cleaning lady. That boat could travel all over the world! I could do accounting or writing from the boat, technology makes that possible.

So then I got thinking, what job allows me to live on a boat that travels a lot, will pay me for doing accounting, and won't charge me living space. I thought a cruise ship, but their accountants don't go on the ships. They want them locked in offices punching numbers...bastards.

I told Ryan all this, and he looked at me and said, "Let me get this straight. You want to live on a boat that is gone a lot. You want to live on that boat with other people who have specific jobs to carry out. You want to be able to do your job on that boat, and get paid, without being charged for living expenses. So, you want to join the Navy?

Huh...that's interesting. I was thinking more along the lines of a house boat, not a nuclear aircraft carrier, but ya know, whatev. Forget the house boat idea! We should buy a beach house in Maine...or a ranch in the Rocky's...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Tangled Web We Weave

I talk about work people on my blog, I don't mention names but if you worked where I worked you'd know exactly who I was talking about. Our department is only six people and the receivables division is only about 25-28 people, so we all know who is who and we all deal with each other 8-9 hours a day Mon.-Fri. My boss has my blog address, and a lady in another area of receivables has my address. What a dummy I am. I have confined my work blog topics to this one teeny tiny little box.

Now don't get me wrong, I seriously doubt C (the lady in the other area of receivables) would ever say anything about my rants to the powers that be at that God forsaken company. She, as a matter of fact, sits one cube diagonal from me and says she appreciates my colorful and raw honesty. She too, is colorfully raw at times, we understand each other. My boss won't say anything to the powers that be either, she understands the freedom of speech and knows that sometimes ya just need to vent.

Regardless of whether these two women are caddy and like to spread gossip about me talking about people on my blog or not, you still don't want to unleash, ya know? I didn't realize how nice it was being anonymous until I wasn't anonymous anymore.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Blog Spin-off

www.exigentexperimentp90x.blogspot

My P90X "journal", if you will. Follow along if you'd like. I'll continue to post regular stuff on here. X-igent X-periment is P90X related only.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An X-igent X-periment-Day 1

I have a wedding that I'm in, in August. I also am embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit. For the last year I have tried everything I could think of to lose these last inches...nada, nothing, zip, zilch, zero.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away I was a personal trainer. This was 4 years ago and was short lived. After joining that career field, I quickly realized that the sales part and the people-never-showing-up-for-their-workout part was not for me. There was a lot more to it than just getting hired at a gym and helping people get the body they want. I did not enjoy it so I went back to accounting. I've never struggled with weight, I've always been in pretty decent shape. When I was a trainer I was in better shape. (You have to be, it's part of the job.) Let's be honest here, 6-pack abs are a son-of-a-bitch to maintain and you eat nothing but plants and protein (at least I had to if I wanted that rock hard body), so after moving back into accounting I didn't maintain my ripped physique. Over the years I've gotten soft, and I'm not proud of it.

For the last year I've been trying to lose these measly inches that I've gained. I've changed workouts, I've changed my eating, I used to be a trainer for God's sake, why is this not working?!?! I realize I'm not 21 anymore and your metabolism slows down over time, but this is ridiculous. No change people, none. It makes no sense. I started looking at other things, stress, sleep, supplements and prescriptions. I only take one oral prescription, birth control.

Now I know that some birth controls cause weight gain, but that normally happens immediately upon starting the birth control and most people only gain a few pounds. I've been on birth control for almost 10 years, and I've only started to gain in the last couple years. I asked around and did some research of my own. What your doctor doesn't tell you (as least mine didn't), is that the hormones in birth control cause your fatty cells to expand, especially near your hips, and bust. This in turn causes maybe not so much weight gain, but an increase in your measurements. Now, why the heck didn't I have this problem from the get go with birth control, why am I just now starting to see this increase? Well, my doctor was changing my prescription and upping my hormone level every year. I, of course, being 16, had no idea this could cause problems in the long run. I thought we were just trying to see which one worked best for me. In the last two years my doc has kept me on the same birth control pill and has just upped the hormone level. After talking to a pharmacist, the hormone level in my birth control was sky-high. I threw them suckers in the trash. Babe, we are just going to have to use other means.

Now, are the pills the reason I can't seem to lose the weight? I have no idea. I don't think they were helping, I think that they might have been a hindrance to my efforts and honestly it's really not good for a 26 year old to be on that high level of hormones, they might as well have been prepping me for menopause. As long as Ryan and I are careful not to create a junior or juniorette I don't see why I couldn't take a break from the pills and see if that might have been adding to the problem. I stopped the pills two weeks ago.

Wedding...August. I went to try on bridesmaid dresses so that I could provide the bride with my size. I won't say the size I had to purchase, it's really quite embarrassing. Even though it will need to be altered because it will be huge in some areas it's still embarrassing, and yes I cried. The girl helping me at David's Bridal thought that I was a dear friend of the bride and I was just emotional about the wedding. Nope, I'm pissed and upset about the size dress I have to get.

I have no idea if it's the pills, or the workouts I've tried, or my diet, or maybe just my metabolism is super slow now and needs a kick in the rear, I have no clue why I have not been able to obtain the results I want. I know that for a good eight months I've been frustrated and upset that I, being a previous trainer, can't even get my own body in shape. What the hell is wrong with me. I finally sucked it up, let go of my pride and asked for help. If I want to get in great shape again, be able to wear a bikini again without wanting to hide under my beach towel, and look at our friends wedding pictures without cringing, I need help. I purchased P90X.

Today is Day 1. The diet, it sucks. I'll be honest here. Diet is what I'll struggle most with. We've all seen the infomercials, about muscle confusion, and nutrition. Anybody who's into working out knows all this, and if you stick with it, it does work. The diet goes hand in hand with the workouts, and it changes as the workouts change. So basically, for the first 30 days you eat nothing but protein and plants. Today is Day 1 and I want potato chips. THANKFULLY, I'm a pretty determined person and I keep picturing me in that wine colored bridesmaid dress, the size I am now.

LUCKILY, Ryan's a house husband and he's pretty focused on helping me with the nutrition plan. As long as I can stay focused with breakfast and lunch and eat at the right times during the day, Ryan will take care of dinner. Dinner for us is the biggest meal of the day (yeah yeah yeah I know breakfast should be, but I get up hella early and Ryan doesn't eat breakfast, so we eat dinner together). Ryan did awesome today, he measured out my portions, paid attention to calories, protein, ect. just like the book emphasized. He made a healthy meal taste good. (Thank God dude because healthy food normally tastes like cardboard.)

I finished the first disc. Good lord I'm a weakling. Push-ups are my downfall. I'm not good at them, they kick my ass. The entire first disc was nothing but push-ups and pull-ups. FAN...(wait for it)...TASTIC. I'm still shaking, it's awesome. I picked up my water glass and almost dropped it.

If this program doesn't work, I'm doomed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Q&A

Lately they have been "promoting" a Q&A Day at work. Basically you get to sit in a big conference/auditorium room and listen to the owner of the company talk about the company and answer the questions that you have already submitted through email to the HR department. One of the guys that works a few cubes down from me asked if I was going to the Q&A. I smirked at him and said, "Hi, I'm Stephanie, I don't think we've met, I hate this place." He laughed.

It's no secret in our C quad of floor 11 that I am not very pro-Diablo Enterprises. Luckily for me, I'm damn good at my job and my sarcastic comments are thrown to the side. I honestly don't think that the majority of people realize exactly HOW much I loathe that company. I try to make light the intense passion of hate I have for Diablo Ent. We joke and laugh and I hear a lot of "Steph you're so crazy" and I typically respond with "Yeah, I'm really not joking guys", and they continue to laugh and walk away.

Because of my passion of hatred, it is now the running joke in the office that people will go to this Q&A day if I go. I laughed, gave them my best serious face and spun back around in my cube facing my computer.

In all honesty is the owner of the company REALLY going to answer all the questions submitted? Of course not. I have my fair share of questions, but there is not a doubt in my mind that none of which would be answered.
"Why do they only put idiots who have never done anything remotely close to the department they're supposed to be running, in charge?"
"How the hell could our financial books POSSIBLY balance at the end of every month?"
"Why are we paying people who retire in the beginning of the year a full years salary, but laying off other people who are very necessary in this company and overloading the rest of the work-horses?"
"Why can we not seem to come up with one damn policy for a certain subject and communicate that one policy with everyone so everyone is on the same page?"
The list goes on and on and on.

I'm pretty sure that people want me to go for the sheer entertainment value I would provide. I'm very animated. My facial expressions, my body language, all very theatrical if you will. I can see me sitting there, while the owner of the company feeds us some bullshit on how we're the best of the best and have been for the last 20 years, rolling my eyes and giving him the "we work here, we see what you don't, we're not idiots" look. So to avoid getting fired, I'll just sit at my cube and wait for the memo after the meeting, saying that everyone had a great time and all questions were answered.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Part Tigger?

It's been awhile since I've typed out a pet story. Earlier in my blogging days, my site was riddled with stories of my pets and their antics. Professional trainers, behaviorists, and time have been on my side (one of the few moments when time has actually cooperated). Thor will be two next month, Orion turned one earlier in the year and the cats both turned three about a month ago. Now that the puppy stage is well behind us and Bark Busters (professional trainers/behaviorists) has come in and taught US how to handle our animals, things are much smoother at our household. Thank God. Other than Orion's health issue, (which has increased drastically in the last 5 months), and Thor's constant desire to lay on the people couch, we haven't had any problems with them at all.

Blast from the past:
Way back when Thor was a puppy, I caught him chasing a squirrel in the backyard. As the squirrel ran up a tree, Thor tried to follow. He of course cannot climb trees and the squirrel got away. Thor however, being the persistent poop that he is decided to jump as high as he could to try to reach the squirrel in the tree. We have a 6ft. privacy fence enclosing our back yard. At eight months old Thor was able to jump high enough to have his head and shoulders clear the fence. When I told Ryan about this, he told me I was exaggerating and that it wasn't possible for Thor to be able to jump that high. I shrugged and said "Ok."

Recently:
I get home from work and Ryan's hanging out with the pups in the living room.
Ryan: So guess what Thor did today.
Steph: Did he catch another squirrel? I swear, our yard is like a rodent graveyard.
Ryan: No, no dead rodents. He almost jumped the fence.
Steph: Really? I seem to recall a certain someone telling me that wasn't possible.
Ryan: Yeah yeah yeah.

Apparently, the neighbors were having some work done to the outside of their house that day, so contractors were in and out of the yard next to ours. If you don't know much about the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, know that they are guard dogs. They were originally bred to protect the tribes in Africa from lions. They're incredible protectors. Thor is especially defensive about his yard, if you come near it he'll let you know that he's back there, and he will "F" you up if he doesn't recognize you. Well, he was doing his guard dog thing, barking up a storm at the neighbors contractors. Ryan got up to see what was going on and looked out the window just as Thor jumped up to see over the fence. Thor's head and shoulders cleared the fence easy. He didn't attempt to actually jump over the fence, he just wanted to make sure that those strangers weren't going to be messing with his yard.

Can you imagine what might have gone through those contractors minds?
Contractor dude no. 1: Dude we always get the jobs with the annoying neighbor dog barking at us.
Contractor dude no. 2: God, I know. Shock collars should be handed out with every dog purchase.
Contractor dude no. 1: OH SHIT! He just looked over the fence!
Contractor dude no. 2: No way.
Thor jumps up again.
contractor dude no. 2: Holy shit, you were serious! Hurry up man, I got a shovel, I'll cover for you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jury Duty Continued

Today we delivered our verdict. It's hard to sum up everything that has transpired in the last five business days. I can honestly say that although this was an interesting experience and I am happy to perform my civic duty and am glad that I was able to get the chance to serve as a juror, I hope that I do not have to serve again. From Wednesday of last week to today, it has been one of the most mentally and emotionally exhausting experiences I have experienced.

Now that the trial is over I can talk about the case. To sum up five days worth of information, the plaintiff fell from a 32 ft. extension ladder, she suffered critical and extensive injuries. She and her husband (who set up the ladder) were suing the ladder company. I am normally not one to be led my emotions, I try to be logical, and factual in my everyday decisions. I continued with this philosophy, as instructed by the judge, in deciphering this case. The other seven jurors and I underwent hours of listening to testimonies and poured over ladder schematics. I can tell you that I will never look at an extension ladder the same. All the evidence was in last night and we finished up around 6:15pm. This morning I drove to the parking garage leaning towards the ladder company in my decision.

After six hours of deliberation, the other seven jurors were also on the side of the ladder company. The husband did not set up the ladder properly as stated on the stickers on the ladder, instructing how to properly use the tool. I felt confident in my decision. In accordance to the law and the jury instructions we were given, we made our decision. The other jurors, also confident in their decisions. After our verdict was stated in the court room, the judge explained that if we would like to stay he would meet us in the jury room to talk and answer any questions we may have. We all stayed. We all had questions on why laws are the way they are, why certain things took so long, ect. He was very kind and took the time to explain and answer our questions.

Although I am confident in my decision, I was crying during the drive home. How awful for this woman. This active woman, who loved sailing, and Tae kwon do, she will never do those things again. Upon falling from the ladder that was not set up properly, she sustained significant injuries to her legs. She'll never walk normally again, let alone continue to be part of her bicycling club, or race her sailboat. I am not a sympathetic person. I am a very factual person, but hearing this woman's story and seeing the repercussions of her accident, you can't help but feel empathy towards her.

I have been on trial before as the defendant, but I was young and I don't think I fully understand the position the jury was in. All I knew was that I felt confident in my testimony and cross examination, and when the jury came out they ruled in my favor. Approaching a trial as a juror is so complicated. You have the lives of this woman and her husband in your hands. Your decision, as jurors, could drastically change their lives. Talk about stress and pressure.

It's interesting also how tied to the law and jury instructions, the jury really is. You don't see a lot of the jury on TV, but we had a whole packet of instructions and laws we had to take into consideration. It's definitely not as easy as saying, "Yep, it's so and so's fault." I had no idea there were so many "and's" and "or's" and if this occurs this other item is null and void, and if this occurs, this is considered substantial. Ugh, it's exhausting. I hope that this civic duty does not call on me again, or at least any time soon. As selfish as that sounds, the burden (for lack of better terminology) of verdict is much more heavy than I had anticipated.

No wonder they don't have "professional" jurors! I now understand why they have to basically force people and tell them that it's their duty to be part of a jury. I couldn't even imagine sitting in on a criminal case where someone was raped or murdered. I don't think I would handle that well.

Anyway, there's your somber thought for the day...