Little Birdy says Cheap, Cheap!

Time for a quick scolding. I promised myself that 2010 was going to be a year of frugality. And it started off great, I donated/am in the process of donating old clothes,  furniture and knickknacks.  But then I got a raise. (Yay!) But knowing that I’m going to make more money has me spending on a whim. Okay, a fancy dinner with A to celebrate and have some quality time together, before our lives are thrown into dishevel because of the semester, that I think is acceptable.

I’m even willing to let myself buy a hotel room for me and a girlfriend, M, in NYC (and ballet tickets). We haven’t seen each other in a long time and who knows when we’ll see each other again–M just moved to the west coast. Plus, it’ll just be more convenient to stay around all the places we plan to visit anyway. And I didn’t really have any other options, a few friends couldn’t house us. Not that I checked with everyone… . I can find ways to justify the splurge, but my reasoning is that if I need to justify it, it probably means I shouldn’t have done it. Sort of like a child who apologizes before they do something wrong. Oops.

But the spending spree really went too far yesterday when I was grocery shopping at Wegmans. I think must have spent $30 on four different cheeses. Mind you, I use to be the person that would buy cheese in the brick blocks to save a few dollars.  This is just unacceptable. I have no doubt that my dad–the king and my mentor of frugality–would be seeing red if he reviewed my grocery bill!

So, here’s to you Heather, a very serious scolding finger shake.

UPDATE: Funny, right after I wrote this I found this article in the New York Times: What Could You Live with Out? If you have a few minutes check it out. I particularly liked these bits from the article:

We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness,” Mr. Salwen told me, adding, “I can’t figure out why everybody wouldn’t want that deal.

Rather, the aim was to encourage people to step off the treadmill of accumulation, to define themselves by what they give as well as by what they possess.

Little Birdy says Cheap, Cheap!

It’s Complicated

It never seems to sound the same or be as important days later. I should always write something as soon as I need to. Now the ideas have spoiled and I have to question whether any of it makes, whether I still feel this way, while still dealing with the nagging undercurrents that started it all to begin with.

I’m just not getting the overwhelming sense from A that this is anything special or long term. I get that this is great now. I get that he loves me and I believe him. But I don’t get that this has a future. And if something doesn’t have a future, the rational side of me doesn’t think a special, intense, exclusive relationship is really the best thing for me to be doing. What I really want to know is what he thinks/feels and whenever I try to broach the subject I feel like he just tells me that he doesn’t think about it. But then again, maybe the fact that he doesn’t think about it, is the point. I guess that’s my concern, maybe I just don’t want to hear what he’s not saying.

Maybe we’re just not compatible. He’s been working years now on a singular goal, and he’s achieving it. He’s a great musician and will no doubt get better. And this is something I like about him, this is appealing about him. (But this is not what is special about him.) He’s so different from me. A couple of years ago I didn’t have goals. I had no idea what I wanted to do or how to do it. I still wonder if my work is just some pet project that I’ll change my mind about in a couple of years. I’m finicky, he’s not. At the same time, ambition usually has a price. He told me that at some point he might out grow what he’s accomplishing here, and that he would do whatever was necessary to become a better musician. And this makes me sad and fearful. I don’t contribute anything to make him a better musician–his sole goal in life–so, it feels inevitable that he would outgrow me. I will just be a fond memory of past times. What am I supposed to do just wait around until that happens? My self esteem plummeting because I don’t feel good enough. Should I settle for being his companion until he can pull some strings and make something better happen for himself? How can I be with someone who doesn’t have my best interest at heart?

And maybe we’re not even that compatible as a couple. I know he think he doesn’t have to coddle me when we’re out. But I don’t think he understands how isolating it can be when we’re out together and 90% of any given conversation that is going on is about music. I can’t participate. And yet he thinks I’m fine as he goes off to do something else or talk with someone else or be with someone else, for unknown and long times. And I try to be fine, but at some point I have to start wondering what I’m doing there, who am I there for when he doesn’t even spend that time with me. And on other occasions when I attempt to talk about things I’m interested in, I’m not even met with feigned curiosity. I’m just met with a conversation stopping–well, I don’t know anything about that. And what’s implied is: I don’t care about that. I have a pretty intense curiosity in general, but I also make it a point to ask questions about music and musicians because I know that having this little database of knowledge will help me relate to/know him just a little bit better. And I feel like he’s rarely ever tried to make that deeper connection with me, particularly when it comes to feminism and women things, something that is as critical to my being as music is to him.

I didn’t always feel like he didn’t take an interest in me. I just feel like we’ve reached a point where he thinks he knows me. This is a fatal point in a relationship, when there’s no more discovery, no more discussion. And he doesn’t know all about me, but I want him to know me. And more so, I want him to want to know me. Things he probably doesn’t know about me:

  • My first boyfriend used to keep me waiting for hours sometimes when we were supposed to hang out. He would oversleep or forget, and just not show up. This was pre-cell phones. I’d just be sitting and waiting for hours, feeling alone and rejected and not good enough. (Everyone in my family has at some point forgotten about me in a public place–except my dad.)
  • I did a lot of terrible things growing up that I’m not proud of. I consider myself to have been a bad person for most of my life. It’s why it’s so important to me to be good and do good now.
  • I got to meet Jon Stewart.
  • His parents giving me the photo lights was the first time adults ever encouraged me to do something I wanted to do. My parents used to scream at me to get off the computer when I was younger because it was too late. They never asked me why I was doing it. I think if they had encouraged me, I’d be at the top of the coding/web development industry. They rarely ever read anything I wrote unless I demanded them too.
  • If I stayed in Baltimore after my school finished, I’d want to move in with him. (No, this does not mean that I want to or am ready to get married. Is that the normal thing to assume? It just means I want to feel safe at night.)

I don’t think he knows any of that stuff about me, but that stuff is important to how I am and who I want to be. It’s a waste to think you know someone, people change too quickly to really know someone. At the most, you can only want to know someone. And this isn’t just about me. I want to know more about him too, but he doesn’t share very often. And I try to be okay with that, but to some degree, it hurts. If he doesn’t let me in to his life–past and future–how am I supposed to interpret that?

I remember in high school how senior year there was all this turmoil and drama between couples as they were trying to figure whether to stay together at separate colleges, or through the summer, or just to get it over with now and breakup. I always thought it was silly, because I figured it was an easy answer. If the answer wasn’t yes, we’ll try to make this work, what else was there? Why stay together if both parties aren’t committed to at least trying to make it work out through difficult situations? There seems like so many more reasons for people, who might really love each other, not to stay together–location, money, career goals, families–and yet, it only takes one simple yes to make none of that other stuff matter. One simple yes of commitment, of stating, I don’t know if this will work, but I want it to work, I will do what I can to make it work. My concern is that three years and counting, we should both know whether there’s a plausible future or not. When I had past boyfriends, I got to the point where I knew whether I wanted it to work out or not. And if he doesn’t know that’s okay too. If he needs time to figure that out, that’s fine, he can make that choice. But I can make the choice to not be missing out on someone else who thinks I am more than good enough, while he decides. And he’s speculated that this isn’t how he thinks about things, and okay, fine, but I need him to explain to me how he does think about it/feel about it. Because again, if he’s not thinking about it at all–how am I supposed to interpret that? I’m sure he’s thought about his future as a musician after all.

I feel like if we keep going the way we’re going, I’m the only one with anything to lose. Shouldn’t I be the one to decide when to cut my losses? Unfortunately, there’s a strong disconnect between what I should do and what I want to do. I’m willing to be pushed one way or the other, but I don’t want to let things keep on the way they are with all these questions and confusions and no answers and no communication. It’s not that I’m not strong enough to make the right decision–it’s that I honestly don’t know what the right decision is. I know I’ve had these bad feelings before, and now looking back on things, I’m glad that I hadn’t ended it/messed it up. I just don’t know. It’s all complicated. And I just want it to be a simple yes or no.

It’s Complicated

The First Day & The 9-5

Today’s the first day since my motivation kick that emotionally I’ve been all over the place. It’s not a bad day, just I know when something bad is going to start. I’m hoping getting this out of my head can keep my train on its tracks. Work has been a little crazy recently. Mainly, I just wonder what it is that I want in life and how I’m going to be able to achieve it.

One of my colleagues asked me if the boss had bought me off. It was a complete joke when he said it, but I couldn’t help second guess myself. Was I being bought off? Did I not deserve the rewards that I reaped? I stay organized, meet deadlines, resolve conflicts, etc etc. But then again, I’m certain I have shortcomings too. I can be anti-social, I can be condescending. And then self-doubt leads to irritation. Who does my boss think he is buying me off? And then it’s just a terrible cycle of assumptions that leads no where. So I want to give it a rest. I deserve what I receive. I hold myself accountable and I will in every way hold every other member of my team–colleagues and bosses–accountable. I hate to say that I’m on no one’s side, but it’s more important to me that I be fair and objective than jump on either bandwagon. Unfortunately, that leaves me occasionally in an uncomfortable and lonely position.

Similarly, one of the bosses said, you all are like school girls, referring to how we talk about what’s going on in the office. And it wasn’t until much later that I realized how offended I was by that statement. At the time, I just gave him a look and said it’s not like that. Because it’s not. It’s not that I’m trying to gossip–in fact, I make it a point not to participate in the negativity round tables that do occur from time to time. I talk because I actually care, about each one of my colleagues and how they feel about their jobs and the company. I care because their decisions will ultimately affect me. I just didn’t appreciate the remark for its gendered-ness (which has its own special significance due to the circumstances in our office), or for it’s negative connotations. Yes, I was the one brought this problem to the surface. Yes, I’m the one that initiated talks between the two parties. Wasn’t this the mature thing to do? Maybe I overstepped my boundaries? Maybe that’s why he spoke out of the side of his mouth. I don’t know. Again, another issue dropped.

On another note, that is still work-oriented but not my-work oriented. What’s the deal with the 9-5? I just don’t understand how with the vast types of technology that is in existence, why I still need to be tethered to a desk from 9-5? Or in my case 9-6. I really think this is the by product of an out dated model of work when people worked for companies/employers just to make a living. I’m part of that new generation where 20-somethings because online millionaires, where people are more determined to do what they love than what brings in a paycheck, when high schoolers are freelance entrepreneurs. Employers used to pay workers purely based on their outputs–on the amount they produced within eight hours. And that was fine when the primary industries of America were production based–agricultural, industrial, financial. But America is at a time where it desperately needs innovation and growth. We can’t compete solely with production–not when the populations of India and China soar, nor when their wages plummet. And yet, rather than pay people for the value of their work–people are chained to the old standards of production.

We’re all so plugged in nowadays that I don’t understand why people can’t just work 24-7. I know at first that might sound horrible, but really, for workaholics, what’s the real difference anyway? You’re still going to work 12-hour days, but now you get to do it at your leisure. Sometimes, I have an overwhelming desire to take a cat nap in the afternoon. Why can’t I take a 30-45 minute nap? (This also assumes I’m working from home or from wherever I want to be and not just an office.) Won’t I be more refreshed rather than forcing myself to continue at a pace that makes me ill and disoriented? Everyone in a company is an adult. The bottom line should always be get your work done, on time and at a high quality. Why do I need to be some place from 9-5? What’s the harm in letting your employees work on their own terms? Won’t you get more dedicated, more efficient employees? (This attitude is definitely a by product of college and university time, where students can simply miss all the classes but ace the papers and exams. They find their own ways to learn the materials that best suits their needs.) Why are we wasting everyone’s time taking attendance? I don’t need a babysitter. No good employee ever should.

My ideas are fairly free-flowing right now, bare with me and try to keep up. My question is–if I can do “all my work” or at the very least, if I am a capable employee who can schedule my projects and deadlines and meet every one of them, why do I need to be in a chair from 9-6? If I can do all my work in 20 hours, why do I need to be there for 40? Of course, the corporate response would be, okay work 20 hours, but you’ll only be paid for 20 hours. And this is the most insulting of responses. Because the quality and value of my work has not deteriorated, why would it be okay to pay as if it had? What are you really paying me for – the value of my work or the hours that you “own me”? What is the benefit of owning a person who does nothing? What is it that our clients are really paying for? Unfortunately, I saw this all the time at my government job. Hours and hours spent pretending to work, finding insignificant tasks to keep them busy but bring no meaning to the larger whole. It’s completely inefficient.(Oh gosh, and the factory job, that was truly the most inefficient I’ve ever seen a company. Reorganizing a single file cabinet does not take eight hours and I will not waste my time pretending to do so.)

I also find chaining a person like myself down only frustrates them. How am I supposed to spend those other hours trying to propel the company ahead if I’m frustrated? But lets look at the other side. Say my employer pays me for my work and I complete it in 20 hours. As someone who is passionate about the work they do, I am going to leave the office. But I haven’t left the “field” behind. I spend my free time working on new projects, finding new areas of inspiration, learning new skill sets, etc. Surely, the things I learn during my “not-work” hours would find meaning in my work hours. Wouldn’t these new skills make me a more valuable asset to a company? Wouldn’t my motivation and continued passion make me a more valuable asset to a company? Not to mention, as I better myself–take on freelance projects, give lectures, make contacts–wouldn’t it bolster the identity of the company that employs me? As I become more of a professional, more of a name within my industry, that could only lead to my company becoming more professional and more of a name in the industry. I know the company would be concerned–what if I get too big for my britches and try to leave? What the company doesn’t understand is that they have provided me with something far more valuable than any other job could offer and that is freedom. Why would I leave that?

Ultimately, this only works if the employee can maintain a quality of work and is held accountable by its work. I know my work ethic and I know I am that type of employee. And the employer has to trust that the employee has the only the best intentions for the company. If both sides can converge to a place of trust, it’s a win-win situation; especially, if compared to the situation of sitting at my desk with no “work” to be done, my passion depleting with every passing hour. I know this may sound ideal or unrealistic, as if flexibility and freedom are antithetical to capitalism (perhaps, they are?), but I won’t stop searching until I find a place like this. This is what I want in life. And I believe it’s possible for everyone to find what they want in life–it may not be easy, but it is possible.

The First Day & The 9-5

Miscellaneous Update

Nothing specific to write on. Just wanted to say that I’m still doing well. I had a really fun new years eve minus some minor annoyances. On the first, A and I went letter boxing for the first time. (Letter boxing is basically like a scavenger hunt. You get clues for a specific location, and you search until you find a box. Inside is a stamp with a notebook. You leave a stamp in their book and you put a stamp in your book.) You’re probably wondering what’s so fun about that? Well, it lets you be outside, explore a new area and smoke a pipe in the woods. Or at least this instance did:

Unfortunately, we failed. We made a lot of mistakes–we went into the park about 15 minutes before the end of sunset. We didn’t have a stamp. And worse? We didn’t even read the part of the clues that said: The park has experienced major renovations, and I [the letter box host] haven’t had a chance to update the clues. 12/27/07. 2007?! Oops! However, I will not give up. I will find that letter box in Double Rock Park, if it’s the last thing I do!

In other news, I updated the design blog. I’m starting a new series on letters I love. Nerd, I know. You can check out the first installment here: Brought to you by the letter…

I also put up my first items on Etsy. (I told you I was busy.) Want to check it out? Here it is. Want to buy something? Hey, even better. Don’t let me stop you. Ha.

Miscellaneous Update