Saturday, November 29, 2008

Buy Nothing Day

Today is Buy Nothing Day around the world. It was yesterday in the US, the biggest shopping day of the year being the Friday after American Thanksgiving. And since the economy is in the toilet, you'd think this would be an easy day to get behind.

I was all for it. I wrote up Buy Nothing Day yesterday in my email newsletter to 1200 moms (a weekly output of my side business encouraging them to take part. And I planned my shopping yesterday so I could get it all bought the day before.

So much for my plans. Yes, I bought fruit and veggies yesterday, but turns out we're out of eggs and milk, so I'll have to get some groceries today.

And I bought my son new runners yesterday (third pair in three months! I don't know how he manages it.), but forgot to repair the zipper on my other kid's jacket, so I have to go pay for that today too. Plus one of my kids is "desperate" for a pencil sharpener. That makes three stores I have to go to today.

Ah well, at least my heart is in the right place. I think it's a might unfair to expect a working mom to buy nothing on a Saturday. Maybe on a Tuesday next year?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thinking back to the last year of high school as party prep

Last weekend, some friends invited us to a house party. Yes, an honest-to-goodness house party, with chips and dip, a few kegs and even California Coolers. How do they get away with being grownups and throwing this high-school level party? They gave it a theme.

The theme here was wear what you wore your last year in high school (it was originally wear what you wore when you graduated, but it soon came to light that not everyone graduated in the traditional way, so they changed the theme). I graduated high school in 1985 (yes, if you're doing the math, that does mean I finished a year early. Smartie-pants here skipped fourth grade [social suicide by the way, but that's a whole other post. In fact, I think it's probably a whole other blog!]), so I searched for 80s clothes, and found myself tripping back to the early days.

Am I nostalgic for high school? Not in the least. It was nice to be young and not have ripples where my tummy used to be, but otherwise high school was not a happy-go-lucky time (see above re: social suicide). But I liked the clothes and styles when I was living in the 80s. Somehow they seemed fun and flattering. Of course now, with my retrospective eyesight, they look goofy and outdated. But boy, was it fun to dig out the leg warmers (no, I didn't wear them) and the shoulder pads (yes, I did).

I discovered that I actually had got rid of most of my 80s clothes. I thought I'd kept more, but being married to a man who tosses thing out as a hobby, it's hard to be a hoarder forever. But I did have skinny-legged jeans (not from back then -- the chances of my fitting jeans from then was so out-of-this-world -- heck, the chances of fitting jeans from before my babies were born is just as remote!), and I have a lovely blouse with huge shoulder pads (why haven't I tossed that yet I don't know!), So I tucked my blouse into my pants and pulled it out so it ruffled over my pants. Then I added a great scarf that has come back into style so-I'm-told, but one I remember wearing in a song competition in grade 11. And I found penny loafers in the back of the closet.

But the most fun part was the hair. I hated my curly hair in high school, and used to blow it dry so it turned out fluffy instead of curly. It gave the effect of big hair, which of course we wanted then. So I styled my 80s hair, added a bow, and I think I achieved the perfect look.

The real downer came when I got to the party. Because besides my husband, for most of the party, I was the oldest person there, and in this case we were wearing it on our sleeves (literally for all those 90s grads wearing their lettermen jackets from their private schools). Eventually a few 80s grads showed up, but the whole thing left me feeling:

a) old
b) glad it's not the 80s anymore

c) nostalgic for 90s styles.

And no, I didn't take a photo of myself dressed up, sorry.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ideological differences at work may be a problem

This part time job I've taken may not be the answer to all my problems after all. While I like the work and am growing more comfortable with the hours, I think my President isn't the kind of guy who can be comfortable with a telecommuting communications director. He's made a few comments lately that have me questioning how long he'll put up with the part time thing. He's from the old school, where everyone who worked for him served him, so despite being a nice guy, he likes being able to walk down the hall whenever he's in the office (which is less than half time in my experience so far) to ask a question, and is less comfortable with phone or email for that kind of thing.

So I'm starting to wonder if the solution for this company is really me, or if they really want a full timer. And now that the economy has tanked, even in our Olympic city, the job market has likely changed enough for him to find a full timer that meets his needs.

Then there's the ideological differences between us. I am generally a progressive, liberal thinker. I work for environmental causes, support all thing sustainable and generally lean away from conservatism. But this association is all about conservative, pro-business, anti-labour etc. While not every issue challenges my morals -- so far the biggest issue that might I'm okay with -- I can't see me doing this full time or long term when I don't agree with their ideology. And frankly, I think the President sees that too.

It's not that anyone has told me it's even close to over. I think we all think it's too soon to judge. And the personality fit so far is okay. I just think it's starting to come to light this week that my ideal work situation and their ideal communications situation may not be aligned in the long term.

So now what? Do I restart the blog as 41-now what? I'm a bit down about it all today. While I'm growing comfortable with the job, I'm also realizing that it won't last. So I'm back to the big question of what will I be when I grow up. And I have more questions now than answers. Plus, a year later my economic options are more limited than they were last year, which in itself raises more issues.

Perhaps I'll go back to my list of women in my field with more experience than me and restart my conversations with them, in order to gain more perspective and more clarity. The job isn't going anywhere in the next month or two, so I have a bit of a cushion to sort it out.

Or maybe I'll change my mind and decide this is the job situation for me, or even the employer for me. Or maybe they'll decide they like the challenge my ideals bring to their way of thinking, that having me around keeps them from "drinking their own bathwater" and offers an alternative point of view. Maybe they like what I have to offer skills-wise so much they work around my part time status.

Maybe... or maybe not...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Technology comfort and the generations

My baby boomer client today showed his ignorance and disinterest in all things new technology.

We were discussing how he can have more face-time (don't you hate that buzzword?!) with me even if I'm not in his office, and I suggested we can set up webcams and do regular conference calls, and he waved his hand dismissively and said "Carla, I'm too old for that kind of high tech stuff." He's only in his early 50s, but really has no clue. I'm seeing the generational technology gap first hand right here.

All the 20-somethings in the office spend a bit of time every day on their Facebook pages. So do the 30-somethings, and I admit to checking mine fairly regularly too. But this guy barely knows what Facebook is. He didn't know what Twitter was until he read an article in the weekend newspaper. He was shocked to learn about Blackberry Messenger today, even though he's had a crackberry for years and years. I can't wait until I bridge the idea of a podcast to him next month.

I think the nicest thing about working for him is that even at 40, he makes me feel so young. ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grey hair -- to colour or not to colour, my child asks the question

I have grey hair. In fact, I have many grey hairs. I also have many more dark brown ones, so overall my hair doesn't look very grey. But they're there, and they are quite visible.

As my son pointed out last night. We were sitting around the dinner table and he leans toward me, points towards the part in my hair at the scalp, and says "Gee mommy, you have a bunch of grey hair. Why don't you dye it?"

Good question, but still, who wants their grey hair pointed out?

I have dyed my hair before. Three times, to be exact, unless you count that time in high school when my sister and I did home highlights that turned the tips of my hair kind of burgandy in colour). I am not one to colour her hair. I've always liked my dark, full brown head of hair, and have always been one for the natural look. But last year when I turned 39, my hairdresser talked me into doing a colour. So I dyed out all the grey, and while I got a few compliments, mostly no one noticed. And no one said anything when the colour faded and the grey grew back in. I dyed it two more times this past year -- well, I turned 40 after all!! But they dye is growing out and the grey is growing in, and now someone has noticed.

Should I keep dying my hair to hide the grey? I guess I look younger without the grey, but I know I don't look 40, so does it matter? Should I stay a staunch advocate of the natural look, or use what humanity invented and hide the ravages of age?

Should I let my seven year old decide this for me?

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm an asset now that my childbearing years are over

When I was in discussions for my part time job, one of the guys said they liked the fact that I'm done having kids, since I won't be taking any more maternity leaves on their employ. At the time I didn't think much of it, but now that I'm here, I see his point.

I look around this office of about 20 people and there are about 10 women here who are expected to have a baby sometime in the next five years. Seriously. Imagine the turmoil when that starts happening!

The work here, outside of management jobs like mine and a few others, is mainly administrative, so there are a lot of women here between 25-35. A bunch of them are married, young, and three just bought their first homes last month. Three! They've all talked about "when I have kids" so you know it's on their minds.

So here we have it, another reason why a Gen Xer is an asset to a workplace -- my childbearing years are behind me! (and before you flame me telling me that women in their 40s have kids a lot, I know that, but I personally am done with having babies, and find that most women of 40 are also putting those years behind them.)

I wonder if Gen Y will be very different parents than us, especially when it comes to work-life balance? Hmmmmm

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's an old boys club -- but I don't mind

My part time job is for a construction assocation, so it should come as little surprise that there are a lot of 'good old boys' around here. Not really on staff, because most of the work is administrative, which means that most of our staff are under 30 and ethnically diverse. But the background players, the power brokers, and the president and vice, the two staff with whom I interact the most, are definately in the 'old boys' vein.

There's a lot of swearing, and not a lot of genteel language when we three sit down to chat, which seems to be most workdays that I'm in the office.

But I find I don't mind. And I find that fact surprising. I've spent most of my career dealing with language, and I actually find it pretty refreshing to be able to use four letter words, in context only, when I want to. And there's nothing degrading or derogatory in the banter with these guys. If anything, it's honest and respectful, in a sometimes joking kind of way.

I think the reason I'm comfortable with the environment is that it doesn't feel exclusionary -- I fit in when we talk in that manner. And the fact that they include me in their usual manner, makes me feel more a part of things here. Whodathunk I'd be happy about an old boys style of work?