Before I moved into my townhouse here nearly eight years ago I got rid of a lot of stuff so I wouldn't have to move everything - furniture, clothes I was sick of, books and knick knacks.  I didn't *think* I had a lot of stuff but it's amazing how things accumulated after 5 years in my old apartment.  It was time for a pre-move purge!

And while I was sorting through my stuff I noticed I have a love of spirals in my home decor!  Wrought iron spirals under the old glasstop coffee table. Wrought iron candlesticks with spirals and a leaf pattern woven in. Spirals on the sides of the plant stand I decided to keep and have still today. And there are some under a glass top side table I held onto as well.  Guess I was in a wrought iron phase too! I replaced some of the old, scary dark brown wood doors in my townhouse and realized I needed new hardware too.  What did I choose for my new bi-fold coat closet door?  Yup, a thick, brushed nickel spiral.  Once again, I zoomed right in on the details...the accessories. 

This is why I sometimes struggle and procrastinate when making big purchases like new furniture.  I can walk into a furniture store and not "see" any furniture.  Rather, I immediately notice the beautiful ivy topiary on a side table, or a gorgeous throw on a leather ottoman.  And look at those candlesticks and that lamp!  I've likely written about this before - guess it's just an odd quirk.

I thumb through a Silpada jewelry catalogue and what jumps out?  A gorgeous, chunky bracelet of linked spirals. Someday this beauty will be mine.  And in the same flash of a thought I remember my lifelong love of astronomy.  Gazing at the stars and learning the constellations.  All the galaxy types, including...the spirals. The largest spirals of all. And I learned our Milky Way galaxy is a spiral.  Our own ginormous neighborhood in the grand universe! We LIVE in a spiral!  I can thank my 3rd grade teacher for igniting this passion within.  I remember the flutter in my stomach all those decades ago when she announced we'd be doing a study unit on astronomy.  I didn't know why I felt all giddy - I didn't know anything about astronomy except I knew I liked looking at the stars and wondering, dreaming.  She struck a chord alright.

Mental downtime was top priority last night.  Work is moving fast and furious.  I love the pace but also need time to recharge.  And we've had a really bad flu bug going around our building - for the last two weeks I've had low energy, feeling a little nauseous and maybe slightly feverish.  I even missed our team potluck earlier this week [I had a huge batch of orzo pasta salad with fresh basil and tomatoes ready to share]. I was so exhausted and the thought of being around tons of food at that time was not a good idea.  When I lose my appetite I know I'm not well.  But thanks to technology any of us can work from home if we need to. Anyway, finally, FINALLY I'm over that and back more on my normal stance.  What was last night's mental downtime?  Bravo TV to the rescue...Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (these ladies are fabulous!), and easy comfort food:  bowtie pasta with a light tomato sauce and a blob of pesto, and a nice glass of pinot grigio.  Lit the 3-wick candle on my hearth and plopped down on the couch.  Ahhh. 

Later, I pulled out my DVD set of the Cosmos TV series. This TV series was shown on PBS way back around 1979 or 1980, hosted by the late, great Carl Sagan.  I remember watching this series Sunday nights with my Dad - I was a young teen and devoured every second of it.  And it was special bonding time with my Dad too as he was really into it.  "Billions and billions..." Sagan's signature phrase that's even crept into some mainstream speak.

Carl Sagan is a freaking genius.  And that TV series was soooo far ahead of its time.  Some of the theories, special effects and set designs are a little dated, but most content still holds up today.  I think I choked up when I learned he'd passed away after a tough battle with cancer back in the mid 90s.  I know I had him named in one of those Facebook "pick 5" quizzes that was floating around awhile back...something like "if you could pick 5 dead people to invite over for dinner who would they be?"  Who was on my invite list?  A wonderfully eclectic bunch:  Carl Sagan, Margaret Sanger, Jack Kemp, Carolyn Besette Kennedy and Johannes Gutenberg.  Do you know who these people are/were?  A couple may not be so well known...Sanger was a birth control activist in the early 1900s (talk about an uphill battle, hmm), and Gutenberg is credited with inventing the first printing press.  A movable type machine.  Probably THE most profound invention of our modern era.  Can you imagine the dinner conversations between those 5?

One of the Cosmos episodes talks about galaxies, the Big Bang theory, black holes, cross-dimensional time travel (do worm holes exist within our own universe or perhaps as links to others?) and other profound thoughts.  Funny how thoughts at work are a good-tired for my brain after a full week, yet thoughts about our universe, galaxy collisions, black holes, and trying to understand Tesseracts are to me...relaxing.      

The majestically moving galaxies...we'll never notice any such movement in our mere blip of human lifetime, but computer animation shows the profound changes.  A billion years can be demonstrated in 30 seconds.

The spiral galaxies twist and turn ever inward.  But what happens to the stars and planets (and life??) in their centers?  Is there an End to the spirals, or do they continue inward forever?  I guess THAT is what fascinates me about spirals.  What mysteries and secrets do they hold deep inside?

As Sagan so simply states the profound, "...the laws of physics apply everywhere."  This means a spiral galaxy with billions of suns turning, twisting inward...is exactly the same motion as water swirling down a lowly shower drain.



"...I think it's just full."

Sometimes I get inspired early in the week and latch on, knowing *this* - whatever it is - is going to be my post here in fivenineteen.  Or I might get a couple flashes or two and jot them down for later.  And sometimes the well in the head is empty and dry...and I wonder - what in the world am I going to blog about THIS week?  Sure, I don't NEED to write in here weekly - it's just a rhythm I've developed over the past few months and I like it.  And I hope whoever is out there reading this either by accident or on purpose likes it too.  Got something you want me to blog about?  Please let me know.   

Well...today, totally out of the blue, my friend C uttered that quip in today's title and I knew instantly that was it.

Downtime on Saturday. Let's give the ol' brain here a rest.  Hoo doggy it was a busy work week.  Stressed and rushed for sure - lots of virtual lint flying around with our team as we blast full speed ahead to an upcoming technology launch.  It's 11:30pm on New Years Eve, people, are we READY???  Are we SURE??  Exhilarating but also mentally draining.  I feel like a happy yet deflated balloon when I get home from work sometimes.

I slept hard until 9:30am this morning.  I do love to sleep in but when it gets that late I feel I'm wasting the day.  But I knew my body and mind needed it.  AND I knew I had to get my ass out of bed and off to the salon for a hair color appointment.  The Starbucks drive-thru near my house was backed up with cars overflowing onto the main road (kinda sad isn't it?) so I stopped at a grocery store's Starbucks counter to grab my signature coffee drink - a double tall nonfat latte.  Ahhh.  You know, I am not a "gotta have my Starbucks fix" person, but I do enjoy making coffee at home on the weekends (although, not Starbucks - I prefer Forza actually).  And now that I've kicked Diet Coke cold turkey going on over 10 months now, thankyouverymuch, I've switched to unsweetened iced tea on weekday mornings for a caffeine boost while I'm getting ready for work.  Lipton has cold-brew tea bags I just love.  I just plop one into a large Pyrex measuring cup with water, put it in the fridge for a bit and voila.  I swear I used to have a decent glass pitcher but it might be buried in a cupboard somewhere.

So I felt tired and looked suburban today heading off to the salon.  I decided to wear some black corduroy leggings I found online on a total whim earlier this year and paired them with black, zippered midcalf boots. A 3 Dots long sleeved white tee, my khaki with black sequins J. Crew tank top over that and a jean jacket.  I also rocked my Prada Gauffre hobo I haven't carried in quite awhile.  Oh boy, that bag is wonderful.  Ruched, delicious chocolate brown leather.  I wear so much black but realized this brown is dark so it can go with black just fine kindasorta.  For what I paid for it 3 years ago I really should be taking it out more often, ha ha.

After getting my hair color touched up (overall darkening of my signature blonde plus filling in the ashy brown roots that are ever increasly shot through with greys, yuck), I headed down to Orting.  Orting, Washington.  This is a small town of about 8000 or so and growing rapidly.  And right in the shadow of our famous Mt. Rainier.  What a beautiful drive to a beautiful town where a 14,400 foot mountain dominates the skyline on a clear day.  Fabulous.

I stopped by (well 'stopped by' after an hour drive, ha) to see my friends C and S for a quick chat and to pick up a PartyLite candle order from a few weeks ago.  Gotta restock on those wonderful votives!  C and S are so welcoming, warm and friendly.  I worked with C for several years and through him know his wife and family.  We've kept in touch since leaving the company we worked for and have helped eachother through the bumps of job changes with referrals and moral support. 

Their 6 year old daughter came by the kitchen several times to share things with me - her dolls, her soccer trophies, her super sparkly Halloween witch costume and on and on. Aww...I remember the buzz at work from C when he and S were pregnant with her and the joy when she was born.  And how wonderful to meet this charming girl in person!  What a sweetheart.  She also whipped up a purple paper snowflake for me with fringe trim and a purple "D" sticker on it in the middle (my first name initial).  Love it! 

Meanwhile, the 3 of us continued talking.  Sometimes I go off on verbal tangents, not knowing exactly what I'm going to say or what my point is.  Might be considered a quirk or flaw, but those that 'get' me can follow and respond...I think - ?  How refreshing is it to open up with those you trust about your doubts and insecurities.  How wonderful to just bounce half-baked ideas outloud in a trusted audience without feeling the risk of being skewered.  THIS I love.

So I started rambling about mental capacity and if it slows down into your 40s.  Does it?  Isn't this supposed to be a prime decade?  Why do I sometimes feel clueless after several work conversations where everyone else seems to get what's being discussed and I'm thinking huh??  No, that doesn't happen all the time but sometimes I cringe or giggle on the inside and wonder.  Do I jump in and say hey what do you mean by 'x', get fired up to go figure it out myself or just file it away for later?  Yes, yes and yes.  Gotta make split second decisions depending.

Is this a downside of the journey into middle age?  I might be wayyy off base but the way C and S nodded their heads (and we're all about the same age) I felt validated and a little relieved. 

Along with my eyesight and hearing not as sharp as they used to be, some weight gain and my ass dropping a few inches I feel like I've been dealt a sneaky hand since turning 40. 

Mental capacity?  I work amongst geniuses and powerful thinkers.  Do I/can I keep up?  Do I give off the perception that I do and contribute value to the team?  I sure hope so.  On days I have insecurity leaks I don't feel like it, but when that happens I remember how much I HAVE learned over the years and relish the fact that everyone else is probably feeling the same way too.  I am by default a supreme self-critic, so I try to give myself a break even though the corporate work culture does not - and I don't expect it to either.

I kept rambling outloud to C and S...is my brain frying - can I follow and keep up?  Am I losing it?  Am I feeling changes in my mental agility?

And then C piped in..."I think it's just full."  Meaning, the brain has no more room in the inn right now.  I died laughing.

That would have been perfect for our famous work Quote Sheet he and I used to keep on our office walls - capturing funny things people say.  Things that maybe weren't meant to be funny but sure came out funny. 

I think it's time to start up a new one.


A Political Shitstorm...with Balloons

Do I exaggerate just a tad here?  Perhaps.  But I like the title so it stays.

I work in a technology field where we're diving head first and full-speed into something new.  This is exhilarating one minute and panicky the next - and everywhere in between on the spectrum. There are moments I feel like doing happy backflips out of my desk chair and times I feel like punting people to the Moon.  And it's all good; it's just the 'normal' most all of us are used to, as crazy as it sounds.  Maybe it's like living somewhere with rapidly-changing weather.  Storms are guaranteed, but so is sunshine.

My prior job a couple gigs back needs a nod and thanks.  It lasted just 11 months (by design) but it probably was one of the best, more recent ones which continued thickening up that professional skin of mine to weather my new flavor of storms. 

And it also helps I used to work on this current company's campus from 1999 to 2006, so I have a ton of backstory and understanding of the overall culture, which really hasn't changed much even though the technology products certainly have.  Yes, I worked at this company starting right on the brink of Y2K.  And all those unknowns which now seem laughable and quaint - munching on Olive Garden lasagne late into the evening with a chaser of sparkling cider...with everyone waiting for the big 999 to 000 calendar rollover.

Where I'm based now is thick and bloated with memories.  It's the original group of buildings dating back to the early 1980s - a time when their location was considered The Sticks and these buildings were probably in the sticks of those sticks.  Heavy, solid hardwood office and conference room doors.  Worn, dated, threadbare carpet.  Walls banged up from countless furniture moves. Old school architecture.  How many now-billionaires used to walk these older buildings' halls or strolled the asphalt paths and sky bridges between them?

I walked a few of those hallowed outdoor paths with a peer of my manager yesterday afternoon during a break.  More of a not-quite-locking-horns discussion with intent to get things back on track.  Did we argue?  Yes, perhaps.  With a beautiful large fountain as background noise.  And I was so focused on our conversation I barely noticed if others were passing by and honestly didn't really care.

I have to stop myself here too.  Wasn't it me just a few months ago so hungry to get back to work?  And now that it's been about five months I'm back to venting about my job?  I have to laugh at myself.  I suppose we're only human.

Gotta love entanglement.  That's the gem of a term a sales VP I worked with would use to demonstrate how various engagements can 'entangle' one or many to where they are seemingly indispensable resources (which, in turn, means repeat business).  But that's a slippery, double-edged sword. 

My workload is now split three ways - each 'way' reports up to 3 different people in my immediate organization...my official manager, a peer of my manager, and their manager (my skip-level).  How do these tangled webs get woven so quickly?  And is this normal or is it just my possibly weird work style which brings this on?  I've been scratching my head about this for years for it seems to be a pattern.  Whether it's a strength or not I don't know.

As you might expect, this is a recipe prone for collisions.  Collisions I am used to navigating through with level-headed charm and hopefully a touch of grace and tact.  But be warned - the occasional F bomb creeps in.  Most people I work with know this.  More often than not, my style is 'court jester'.  Keep focused and work hard but take a moment for a laugh or a friendly rib-jabbing. 

It all boiled over recently about bunch of fucking balloons.  Part of our organization had an all-day event planned and somehow balloons seemed to creep themselves in as must-have decorations for the large campus conference room we had booked.  Nothing wrong with that, but in the end decor was not a priority.  This was an internal event - no outside press invited. 

I'd been head down getting an overdue report scrubbed and delivered on Thursday - a new report of which the overall strategy is still fuzzy to me but it was repeatedly explained to me it was urgent so I forged ahead.  The peer of my manager  stopped by and asked me to call a party shop to confirm if they took a certain credit card for the balloon order.  I'm sure the look on my face said it all.  Are you freaking kidding me?? I was head-down finishing another past-due deliverable, far more important than balloons, and now I'm being asked to drop everything and order balloons?  I'm glad a co-worker of mine was witness to this whole conversation (I share an office with two other women), for I pretty much recoiled and said um NO.  Find our team's administrative assistant for help with crap like that.  Come ON. I was tired of getting randomized about things that were far less urgent than past due reports.

I don't like playing the tattletale role but I had to share what was going on with my immediate manager.  So, we had an impromptu, private chitchat.  The look on his face was priceless.  He in turn went to speak with his manager about it and I can only imagine what happened from there.

I was tired.  I'm a terrible morning person and had an early meeting that morning and knew the morning of the all-day event would be an even earlier start. 

So that Friday morning I arrived at the large conference room - more for moral support than actual contributions.  I arrived a good hour before I usually come to work so I was still in a fog. The presentation team was putting the final touches on the PowerPoint deck and I could see it all on the large projection screen.  These are people I work with on a daily basis and I have huge respect for their knowledge.  And great personalities too.

Now. I simply cannot STAND making final teensy tweaks right before a presentation.  Everything should be scrubbed, proofread, previewed and rehearsed far prior, but obviously that's an ideal, not always reality.  But I won't kid you - that final tweaky behavior drives me absolutely batshit crazy.  I've seen it happen too many times - people freaking out over minutiae that in the end will be a split second blip viewing of a slide never to be seen again.  I've been on other project teams where laptops are mingling at the hotel restaurant tables with breakfast before we whiz off to a client presentation - in a town we're not familiar with and we're still figuring out where we're supposed to go and how bad the traffic will be.  Or where a fellow team member is sitting on the floor of a crowded airport terminal with his laptop, trying to finish up something over the phone while the rest of the plane is boarding.  I love an occasional adrenaline rush, but that is WAY too over the edge on a regular basis.

So when I saw the final tweaking going on yesterday morning and sensed the frustration in the room I said - in a rather loud voice - something like:

"Sometimes it's best to just STOP and LEAVE THINGS ALONE."  And then there was silence.  I hope it helped.  I know I felt better getting that off my chest.

The event went very well.  I was impressed with everyone's presentations and how we got started on time - and finished up early.  That is the perfect gift to your guests in my opinion...especially on a Friday afternoon.

Now, about that conversation in front of the campus fountain.  I'm still confused but I'm OK where things left off.  This won't be the end of head butting, but I guess in the bigger picture it's just a part of being, well, a part of this team.  I suppose I could have said earlier on I was getting frustrated and overwhelmed, but when we were past due on things that needed to happen quickly I chose to just suck it up and DO rather than bitch.  The bitching came later - and the random balloon request was the straw on the camel's back.  

It's confusing when someone tells me it's OK to say no to them occasionally...but then in the same breath tells me how upset they were when I said NO to balloon research.  Only certain no's are OK to push back on then?  HUH?  I chalk it up to people being tired and overworked.  And human.  So, I try to inject a little of my trademark grace and forgive.  But I'm not ready to forget.  We'll get to the bottom of all of this and come to a new agreement and understanding.

Oh, and yes there were balloons in the conference room.  And they looked great.


Dang, I Love Random Weekends

A few of you out there have actually read a few or *gasp* many or most of my posts since I launched fivenineteen in September 2009.

Somehow, my weekends end up just as quiet - or just as busy - as they are supposed to be.  It fascinates me how sometimes a jam-packed weekend is as relaxing as one with close to zero plans and a veg-fest on the couch or here with the laptop.

Those of you - all two or three of you - who read this Blog regularly - may remember over Labor Day weekend, for example, how I had zero plans.  This weekend was a whole different story.

And yes, it's a fivenineteen double-shot bonus weekend, for here's yet another post.

Majorly awesome school classmates reunion (girls night potluck)
I started posting awhile back about "the ones who really know you."  And we've expanded this 3 or 4 times a year potluck gathering outward - this past Friday we had 10.  10 of us who know eachother back to elementary school and junior high years, so ready to burst with conversation and laughter we never made it to the dining room table nor the wonderfully remodeled living room our hostess C has in her gorgeous home.  Nope - it was all about hanging out in the kitchen and the kitchen island with munchies and wine.  One of those amazing nights where "all of a sudden" it's midnight.

This, my friends, is food for my soul.  I come away from these gatherings so energized and refreshed!

Gym workout
I probably didn't get to sleep until 2am early Saturday following that potluck. I was so awake and happy it was hard to get to sleep.  I shamelessly love to sleep in on weekend mornings - but hopefully not past 9:30am or so otherwise I feel I'm wasting the day away.  I lounged around in the PJs and made some coffee - oh the delicious luxury of lingering.  I made a pot of Seattle's Best Coffee Henry's blend as it was on special at the grocery store.  Forza coffee is still my hands down favorite brand but I'm trying to be a tad bit frugal (despite the fridge and phone both putting my debit card into overdrive last month) by finding other brands which don't have that overly roasted bitterness Starbucks is known for.  And how awesome to pull those coffee beans from MY NEW FRIDGE/FREEZER.  Halle-freakin-lullejah! 

After a few cups of coffee and a light breakfast I hauled my ass down to the gym for 45 minutes on the treadmill (walk-run intervals) plus some free weights and side crunches with the fitness ball.  It's just a 5 minute drive from my house, and I have not been going as regularly as I was a few months ago.  Every time I get my bill I think, sheesh, just go!  The recent remodel/upgrade is amazing.  So I brought my iPod and just hit the treadmill for awhile, like I was doing when I was training for my first 5Ks last year.  It felt good to get back on the treadmill, watch some hockey on the CBC channel on the treadmill TV and rock out to my iPod. Too bad there weren't any hot guys - or any guys - playing squash on the courts in straight shot view from the treadmills.  I figured more people would be in the gym on a Saturday afternoon given the weather was yucky.

Lo and behold who should flag me down from the upper interior balcony but my past trainer, Bruce, who worked my butt off last year for a few months.  He's a great trainer and had the most creative, weird-ass but effective ways to change around the weight machines to isolate areas like triceps, hamstrings or pecs. And he introduced me to the medicine balls as well as planking.  I was so sore at work those next mornings I was probably walking around like I had ridden a horse all day.  Good stuff.  Hopefully I'll be able to carve out more time/dollars to have him train me a couple of nights a week like last year.  Middle age is a reality blast in both the face and body and I need to rebuild lost muscle tone in a huge way.  And -ahem- where are those Jillian Michaels DVDs?

Karaoke...and Country Music on a night out - combined
Collective gasp/faint anyone?  Here's the deal.  I love music - anything but country.  And karaoke?  Fugeddaboudit. Seriously.  I had a shitty experience at a work related function with alcohol-soaked karoake at a restaurant (as an observer, not participant) at an impressionble time just out of college and it really soured me.  I have a lot of great friends who enjoy doing karaoke but they know it's just not my deal.  And I love music but country is probably way down on my list of loves.

So how was this night different?  I changed my tune - no pun intended. This night was karaoke but backed by an aweome live band with a huge audience of 800 or so.  Not the pre-recorded karaoke with porn star rejects in the cheesy videos.  Yes, I have no opinions.

This was the final round of a country music karaoke competition at the Snoqualmie Casino, about 30 miles east or so of my suburb.  What a superb facility - and huge!  My friend T's boyfriend D was a finalist (wow!!) in this contest and it was absolutely amazing to be there.  It was my first time meeting him and he did a great cover of Guitars, Cadillacs (Dwight Yoakam as I learned).  It was fun being there even if I wasn't totally familiar with everyone's songs other than a John Mellencamp, Shania Twain or Carrie Underwood song that's more mainstream pop/rock.  And D took 7th out of 17 and got an awesome cash prize!  He has a CD and a music video out so he's no stranger to the industry.  It was wonderful to meet him in person and  cheer him on!

It felt great to brush off two things I don't normally care for - country music and karaoke - to support a friend and her boyfriend plus have a fun night out.  And a couple Tanqueray and tonics helped too.

Silpada jewelry
Can I do this - take this on as a side business?  How much freaking spare time do I have?  Am I crazy?

I love all the party-based home shopping lines - Tupperware, PartyLite, Pampered Chef, the list goes on.  I've probably hosted a few parties over the years and attended many more as a guest. And loved it.  The jewelry is fantastic.  Most of it is sterling silver based which is perfect for my skin tone. 

I met up with a consultant over coffee this afternoon and have a lot of reading to do.  We'll see how this pans out.

So when I mentioned I have a hockey game tonight to the Silpada friend I met with for coffee this afternoon she asked how old my hockey kids were.  How HILARIOUS to clarify that...it's actually ME that plays!  Not kids! Holy crap, how funny!  I haven't had to clarify this since I marched into a proshop 7 years ago with a list of equipment to buy - convincing the shop associate it was for ME, and not kids. Don't all middle-aged suburban blonde women around here play hockey?  

I love my new team.  We've got a ton of potential and played 1000% better than our inaugural game last week.  Nowhere to go but up! 

I had THE funniest Fail tonight in warm up. We were doing the typical "corners" drill, where you split into two groups in the corners and take turns skating out, catching passes and taking shots on our goalie to warm him up. Been doing this for years.

Well, I missed catching one of my passes but the puck was somehow at my feet and I thought I'd do a cool quick turnaround and continue toward the net. The turnaround was cool but as I started forward again I must have caught an edge because I went SPLAT belly flop on the ice and landed spread eagle . Dang, the poor girls took the brunt of the impact. Could be some bruises tomorrow.

And I broke a nail too later on.

That's a good game in my book...along with a few cool bruises.


It seemed so still...but was so restless, hectic and busy

I'm fascinated with corporate work cultures as a lot of you may know.  As a corporate worker myself, I dive in deep and do whatever I can to get acclimated, develop rapport and relationships and be productive/add value from day one wherever possible, but still in parallel try to hover above it all as an outside observer.  My work life has consisted of shorter-term consulting and contracting engagements since pulling the plug on a 7-year stint in 2006, so there's been a lot of opportunity to zoom in and out.

And, it's fueled my closet sociologist curiosity big time too.  Sigh...me and my virtual clipboard.

Over the last four years I've had the privilege of peeking under the hood into quite a few different companies...7 if you include both the companies themselves (plus their external clients if that was the focus.)  8 if you include the pro bono work I did earlier this year while I was job hunting - our team was working hard to get that fire lit - gathering kindling, gently shielding any possible sparks from rain or high winds to get a steady flame going.  Could it really turn into a paid work engagement?

In fact, the picture in today's post is a shot of one of the work spaces our team camped in earlier this year.  Our CEO had a really cool part-time office suite arrangement.  Rather than sign a full-time monthly lease he used a management company that sets up temporary, as-needed office space for small businesses worldwide, so we'd be stationed either at this location or more downtown depending. I see my purse on the chair at far left - we'd just come back from a quick lunch.  Yes, the never-fails-me Louis Vuitton Saleya with the Damier brown check exterior and amazing red lining.  One of my favorite interviewing and work travel handbags.  Perhaps I carried it that day to bring a bit more 'luck' to our mix. 

I did a lot of interviewing over the past year and while it's hard to describe - this is my first attempt 'saying' it in words - it utterly fascinates me how the same - THE SAME - place I stepped into as an interview candidate can flip from seeming so calm to an utter hair-on-fire 27-ring circus of madness after being there actually working and getting acclimated.

And I think back on the other places I've worked...some are super fast-paced while some - at least from my viewpoint - THINK they're fast-paced but really aren't.  Some places probably had happy dust flying around in the air ducts - people were so cheery and positive even when things were going to shit.  And other places with relative calm, steady-state operations, well, people found more time to bitch.  It's hard to express all of this in words, but the contrasts just fascinate me.  Maybe I'll keep working on this in future posts.

So, just how big is this new job "onion" anyway?  Right now the layers seem endless.

The same halls I walked as an interview candidate not knowing a soul save for the hiring manager I'd just shaken hands with are now full of people I engage with daily on TONS of open tasks, issues and challenges. And, hopefully time out for a good laugh to blow off steam.  Sense of urgency and sense of humor...those two rhythms burn deep in my being and I try to live them out to my best every day.

The same meetings I used to attend as a fly on the wall as a newbie are now chock full of things for me to do, develop, report on and present.  Long gone are those days of bliss when I was simply trying to follow discussions and understand the massive MASSIVE amounts of lingo and acronyms.  Oh, and learning the names and voices of those on the conference calls. The issues discussed used to mean nothing as I had zero context.  Now, casual comments or questions/concerns from the teams...now they are borderline keeping me up at night - or, more often than not - keeping me very busy during the day. 

I feel like I'm on a teeter totter that could start tipping either way...I remember the stress of not working for months and the unknowns waking up every day wondering if THIS would be the day that email or phone call would come through - The Next Gig.  And, fast forward nearly five months, I'm starting to feel the pressure.  We've got some major things launching in the near future.  Being comfortable being uncomfortable.

And so much has changed - my work tasks, my office location and a few faces have come and gone on the team too.  At this company, none of this is unusual in a relatively short timeframe.  In fact, if it wasn't happening I'd be concerned.  So when the stress starts to boil upward in me during the workday, I take a moment to close my eyes and remember, "you're getting PAID for this stress."  When I get frustrated with someone's behavior I take a moment to remember the same.

I rarely lay awake at night now mulling over open tasks or upcoming meetings.  That used to be a big part of my Sunday night routine in my mid/late 20s, especially when I was supervising teams.  Fast forward a few years and thanks to a little more wisdom plus taking up hockey, Sunday nights don't stress me out so much anymore.  Plus, being a little older and having been through - and survived - many varieties of stressful situations, I can take things in stride.  And as my Dad so wisely told me many years ago, "you'll feel better when you're there working the problem."  Meaning, don't worry about it off the clock.  He's right.

After all, we're doing great things on this team, but we're not curing cancer or ending world hunger.

Now it's time for another cup of coffee and time to plunge into the weekend.  Oh Monday, I see you in the distance - your time will come soon enough. 

For now, it's all about you, Saturday.


Hi there, I Really Like Eyeshadow

Perhaps it was my Mom's innocent, last-minute slick of red lipstick on me at age 4 or so before a dance recital.  Ever since, I've been fascinated with makeup.

And I guess I've come a long way from secretly applying makeup in the bathroom in junior high when Mom wouldn't let me wear it on a daily basis, haha. Sometimes she'd give me some huge bonus makeup collection that Estee Lauder or whomever was offering around the holidays and would let me wear makeup for special occasions like a party or night out.  By around 9th grade or so, I was wearing it daily and have pretty much done so ever since!

I'm just going with this fascination, addiction, obsession - whatever you want to call it.  I have no reason for where it comes from but it's been a lifelong joy.  Maybe it's partly because my eyes are fairly deepset and round, so I have a lot of 'room' so to speak of to experiment with eye makeup.

The pic here is my latest eyeshadow collection - believe me it's come and gone over the years but I'm very proud of it. I know, I know...it's a lot.  Well, actually this is pretty small potatoes to some of the other collections I've seen online and elsewhere.

So what do we have here?

On the far right are the 3 Urban Decay Books of Shadows.  Yes, I am proud to say I have acquired all 3!  The most recent NYC themed one just recently launched and after much debate I caved and purchased it.  For those who have not seen these books, they not only have a pull-out drawer of 16 shadows with samples of their 24/7 liners and Primer Potion, but also a decorative popup with a mirror.  Great fun - what's not to love about pop-up?  Didn't we all love pop-up books as a kid?  Not to mention the shadows are incredibly pigmented and gorgeous.  There are a few with a lot of shimmer and glitter and that can be a problem with 'fallout' onto your cheeks as it's called, but if you use a good primer such as Urban Decay Primer Potion or MAC's paint pots it really makes a difference.  Remember to pat on the shadow on the lid at first with your brush...don't rub or sweep it on the lid.

Urban Decay is "beauty with an edge," as their tagline says.  And, it's true.  Look at those shadow colors.  They aren't for the faint of heart.  BUT the great thing is that while many of them look very bright or intense, they're very layerable.  And I love to pair up a bright shade on the lid with a more neutral color for the crease or outer v of my eye.

Now, the Urban Decay Naked palette is at bottom center of the picture.  This one has been flying off the shelves and has been all a-twitter out there on the blogs and chitchat I've seen/heard.  And, without question, it ROCKS.  These shadows are some of Urban Decay's more neutral shades, and the case is a gorgeous brown velvet with a magnetic closure - perfect for travel or in your purse for touchups.  It also comes with a sample of their Primer Potion and a dual-ended 24/7 liner...one side is Zero (jet black) and the other is Whiskey (a rich brown).  The 24/7 liners are super creamy and perfect for lining the waterline (the area between your lashes and your eye itself), as they go on wonderfully without any pulling or tugging necessary.

The large, black, rectangular palettes at top and center are from MAC. I was a huge fan of MAC (and still am), long before Urban Decay started sneaking onto my radar, and, ultimately, into my wallet.  Hey, a little competition never hurt anyone. 

MAC also is known for dramatic and theatrical makeup, but if you scratch below the surface they are wonderful with great, basic neutrals too.  Again, I enjoy pairing up something more dark or dramatic with a neutral to temper it down.  I work in a corporate - and very casual - environment and my style is not what I'd call super trendy but a teensy bit of edge is fun.  MAC shadows come in individual black plastic pots with clear, plastic lids.  Awesomely bullet-proof for travel or just throwing in your purse.  The problem is, when you've got about - ahem - 50 or 55 of them, they take up a lot of real estate on your dresser. 

So, I purchased the black empty palettes you see in the picture and started de-potting.  Yes, this is an actual term...do an online search for "depotting MAC eye shadows" and you'll likely see quite a few results. It involves knives, a flat iron and purchasing some flat magnets to stick on the back of the shadow pans once they're depotted. Long story short it was a project, but I am very glad to have de-potted all of mine now into sleek, black palettes.  Going forward I will only purchase their pan eyeshadows - already depotted and magnetized - to just plop into that one palette that only has two lighter shades in it.  And, I have to say it, I only purchase MAC online or at my favorite MAC counter at the Bellevue Square Nordstrom, because those girls are fabulous.  The MAC store near me in Seattle...wayyyy too much attitude. I have no time for that shizz.

Oops, wait, I see there are a few MAC quads in there too.  One was custom (the palette came empty, the one that has the brighter blue/green/yellow shades in them...part of my de-potting project) and the other two were special edition collections...Spiced Chocolate (the browns/berries) from the Cult of Cherry collection, and Photo Realism (the soft greens).  The danger with pre-made eyeshadow quads is that there is at least one of the shades that is a total bust that you never use.  So, a waste of money.  However, these pre-made palettes are the exception so we're good there.

The 4-shadow MAC quad directly above the Naked palette is from MAC's Hello Kitty collection, which was another major hit in early 2009.  My quad is the Too Dolly quad and I really only use the light creamy shade right now (Yogurt, which is also in MAC's permanent eyeshadow collection).  Yeah, I fell for the cute packaging and all - rare for me but I admit it.  C'mon, it's Hello Kitty, people. What's not to love?

Let's see, what else do we have here...oh, just to the left of the Naked palette is LORAC's Color Me Couture.  It was a special offering from Sephora awhile back and I jumped all over it.  Never mind the gorgeous velvet and sequin packaging (which you can't see in this picture)...LORAC shadows are amazing.  In fact, I was seriously into LORAC well before MAC come to think of it.  As you can see, these shadows are rich, smokey neutrals and are just amazing to play with.  The dual-ended brush that comes with it is a little dorky (most are dorky with palettes like these - invest in your own wonderful brushes and skip the chintz) but the shadow quality is excellent and the shades are wonderful.

Above the LORAC palette are two Stila quads...one pre-made and one I built custom.  The Stila Original Smokey Eye Talking Palette is a novelty out there, as you press a button inside the palette and a pre-recorded voice tells you how to use the shades!  Love this!

I guess the smokey eye trend is still alive and well even after a couple or three years.  It's a very fun look, but it takes a lot of practice, good brushes, technique and blending.  I used this "original" palette tons of times when I was job interviewing over the last year or so...doing my signature "corporate smokey" look...meaning, a little makeup for punch/panache but not too dramatic.  And it was always a hit for work travel too.

The custom Stila palette (built from me choosing the shadows I wanted to plop into the magnetized palette) are more metallic neutrals and a wonderful shimmery plum shade that is great with my hazel colored eyes. I got inspired watching a YouTube tutorial by someone who has similar coloring!

And continuing upward in the picture are the two small Chanel quads, both from special collections.  I hate to admit I spent nearly $60 on these - apiece - which is less than I spent on the Urban Decay Naked palette or any of the Books of Shadows. 

Chanel, I expected more.  Your products rock - love the makeup primer, mascaras and perfume.  The eyeshadows, notsomuch.  These have been far too powdery and flyaway on me - disappointing for sure.

And beyond this there are many more eyeshadow brands I'm intrigued with...Kat von D, Smashbox and Makeup For Ever for starters.  I am a fan of their other products but haven't ventured into the eyeshadows just yet.

On the other hand, I've got enough to keep me busy for awhile.