Apparently alcohol is more important…

In my last post, I wrote about how ungodly terrible pregnancy has been, but I also wrote about how amazingly grateful I am that my little one is alive, healthy and is perfectly on track development wise. What else could any woman ask for?

When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately stopped consuming anything and everything that I even thought could be dangerous until I met with my doctor at eight weeks. Prior to confirming I was pregnant, since we had decided to start trying, I stopped drinking, besides the occasional drink at dinner, and I cut way back on my coffee consumption. So when I found out I was pregnant, it wasn’t hard for me to give up these things. No more alcohol, no more coffee, no more medications that weren’t safe, no more deli meat. Nothing. It was probably the deli meat that was hardest for me, because, well, who doesn’t LOVE sandwiches??? Don’t get me wrong though, there are times where I really wish I could have a drink, or a cup of coffee (really I am allowed a cup of coffee a day, but decided it would be healthier to just cut it out completely). There are also things that I love that I can’t have because of the danger to baby, poke for example, I love poke, it’s about the only raw fish I eat, but that isn’t in my diet currently and it kills me! Especially since all these new poke restaurants are opening up everywhere. Brie, I love brie, but soft cheeses aren’t safe, so no brie, no ricotta, no feta, no queso fresco. No caesar salad dressing, no salad dressing at all really because you never know which brand or restaurant uses raw egg yolks. That also cuts out any type of mayonnaise (not huge, replaced it with avocado!). This list of things I am not allowed to have could really go on forever.

For twenty weeks now, I’ve been without things I love to eat, either for baby’s health and safety or because of an aversion. Even through cravings, I have never once caved, I found ways to cope. Deli meat is only dangerous because of the way it is packed and how long it can sit around, it has a bacterial risk, so you heat it well, or you go to Subway and have it toasted (both ways my doctor approved), same with cheeses. When I first found out, I would give in occasionally and have a small cup of regularly brewed coffee until it no longer phased me to not have it. As far as alcohol goes, I have not touched it. Same goes for the medications I know I can’t have.

What kills me, is how some of the women in this world find it so terrible that they have to give up things because they are pregnant. The number of postings about people asking for advice on if they can have a glass of wine if they want… or a cigarette occasionally is just mind blowing. Then the debate begins (I stay out of it, just tend to read through them) on whether or not one glass of wine every few days could cause problems, whether fetal alcohol syndrome disorders can be caused by the occasional drink.

All I can think while reading these is, is it really worth it? I know some of these women’s pregnancies are unplanned, but the majority seem to be planned and to knowingly risk your baby’s health is just so beyond my comprehension. There is obviously some leeway here if you had a drink or two before you found out, but after you know, why risk it? Is alcohol really more important than the baby you are solely responsible for taking care of?

The part that really kills me, is the insensitivity these women have. For the first twelve weeks, it seemed there were one or two posts of women who lost their babies. It has dwindled down, but there are still posts every so often of women whose baby’s heart stopped beating. It just makes me think, is that one glass of alcohol really worth it? When so many women are left devastated and you are worried about having a glass of wine with dinner? Or a cigarette every now and then… I can understand slipping when it comes to food, having a sandwich, or having salad dressing…

…but is alcohol really more important than your baby?

Does anyone ever really tell the truth about pregnancy??

This has been a growing question of mine over the last few months as I am about to wrap up the first half of my first pregnancy. Now, I know the old saying, every pregnancy is different… but, can we be really honest and just examine the fact that almost everyone has the same symptoms, just varying degrees, some may have another symptom more often, or someone may skip one altogether, but when it comes down to it, there is a finite amount of symptoms that come along with pregnancy.

My first ten weeks were absolute hell. I will never try to hide that, I will never be one of those women who talk about how amazing pregnancy is. Yes, pregnancy is a gift, it is a miracle. There are thousands of women who struggle to have children naturally and I understand that and am very grateful for my baby. But, holy shit, no one told me how terrible those first ten weeks would be. I knew about morning sickness. I also knew that it was not limited to just the morning, but really, did it have to last 24/7 for ten weeks?? I really wish I was also exaggerating there also… it was dizzy spells, I would be looking at my computer at work and all of a sudden the screens would shift, or the words would start to do a wave pattern and I would find myself in the bathroom, trying to cool down and stop sweating. Best part? Never actually threw up. Just sat there, bent over a toilet wishing I would just get it over with, that I would just vomit and be done with the nausea for at least a few minutes hopefully, but that relief never came.

Non-stop nausea also led to a complete lack of eating. I just stopped eating. The smell of food cooking was terrible to me. If I did eat, it was cereal or raw vegetables that did have any smell to them. I actually lost ten pounds in the first ten weeks because I couldn’t force myself to eat anything. One night my fiance wanted to make me one of my favorite meals he does, simple sausage and peppers. As he started to cook, all I could smell was cinnamon french toast. Needless to say I did not eat that night. I haven’t had chicken breast since I got pregnantThere were nightly breakdowns, where my fiance would listen to me cry about how I couldn’t handle it and how I was a terrible person because all I wanted to do was cry and sleep all the time.

Next was the constipation. I’ve never experienced this before, pain that just radiated through my pelvis. I tried every over the counter remedy I could find that would hopefully help and absolutely nothing helped. Stomach pain, back pain, cramps… all wonderful side effects of constipation. The back pain was the worst, I would curl up in a warm bath (which in May, in Las Vegas is NOT so pleasant…thank you 100+ degree temperatures) and just do my best to not cry as my muscles as pulled and contracted and loosened in the most painful rhythm I have ever felt in my life. I was also so bloated that I couldn’t even fit into my normal clothes, even though I had lost weight, I was so bloated that the button on my pants actually broke at work and I had to go home during lunch to change. So. Much. Fun.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, like I was going to break and never find a way to fix it, I woke up one morning and didn’t feel like throwing up. Bliss spread through me as it became easier to walk and function like a real person again. Then terror flooded through me as I started to wonder if something happened, there was just nothing as I came to twelve weeks. Impatiently I waited for my 12 week doctor’s appointment and the ultrasound that would confirm that my fear was nothing but that, fear. Thankfully it was just fear, I had just hit what so many call the “honeymoon” phase of the pregnancy.

“Honeymoon” was definitely an exaggeration though.  Yes, the nausea was gone, but the back pain doubled as I started to gain a bit of weight back. Whereas in my first few weeks I wanted nothing but more sleep, I find that most nights I need a Tylenol PM (cleared by my doctor of course) to get myself to sleep comfortably, and even then I found myself tossing and turning. I am attempting to use these body pillows, but find that I need to change sides too often and just get tangled and stuck and find myself more frustrated and irritated.

The “honeymoon” has also included terrible heartburn, headaches, runny nose, swollen feet and ankles, slightly blurry vision and shortness of breath. Oh, did I mention I cry over stupid things? I cried the other day because we went to a late dinner ( I worked late that night) and cried on the drive home because I was tired. Even though we were heading home for the night, just started crying because I wanted to go home and go to bed. Yeah, that’s normal (insert giant eye roll please).

What I just wrote was a giant list of terrible things about pregnancy. On my 12 week ultrasound I saw it’s heart fluttering away. Four weeks ago, at my 16 week appointment, I heard my baby’s heart beat for the first time. My fiance couldn’t be there for the 16 week appointment, so I ordered a doppler to use at home, surprising him with the sound of our baby’s heart. It brought him to tears. It still brings me to tears when I hear it. It really has to be my favorite sound in the entire world right now.

As I am writing this, I felt the little jerk kick me so hard it actually made my stomach move, the first time there has been strong enough movement for it to be possible to feel it from the outside. Which made me laugh so hard and I just wished my fiance was home to see/feel it.

Friday I go for my anatomy scan, which will measure all the organs, make sure the little one is developing correctly, make sure the placenta is in the correct position, and what I am sure will be my favorite moment, we will finally find out if it is a boy or girl. So many people I know went for elective ultrasounds around 14 weeks and I have been the one to stay strong (and want to save money) and wait it out for the scan at 20 weeks. With all my heart I feel that it is a girl, even my fiance wants a little girl. I think we both will die of laughter if it turns out to be a boy (there will be no disappointment either way!).

The day I found out….

We were in San Diego for a quick getaway as well as my fiancé was testing for the Police Department. For weeks I had been feeling weird, never having been pregnant before, I had no idea that what I was starting to think was going on was true. I had been carrying a pregnancy test in my purse for days, hesitant to use it because what if I was wrong? It would be a waste of money and just another heartbreak if my period started. There I was, the morning after we had arrived, just waking up and no period, two days late. Two days may not sound like much, but since I went off birth control six months ago, I have had an absolutely regular schedule of 28 days, never early and never late, but I was on day 30, and there were no signs of my period. Of course, I had basic symptoms, I was a little bloated, my breasts were super tender, but it didn’t feel right, something about my body was beginning to feel extremely foreign to me. My bloating worse than I had ever had and suddenly I found myself to be extremely gassy as well. All of it added up to one thing, and as I woke up that morning, I knew it was time.

While my fiancé was nervously getting ready in the room, I slid the bathroom door shut and as quietly as I could I unwrapped the foil around the test. Now, of course, this was one of the hotels that just had a sliding barn door instead of a traditional door with a lock. All I could do was pray that he didn’t walk in while I was peeing on the test. As I finished, I hid the test in my purse which I had stashed in the bathroom the night before under some ridiculous lie and washed my hands. A few minutes passed, and I checked on him, he was busy watching TV waiting for room service breakfast to arrive. Nervously I grabbed the test and nearly collapsed as in digital words it read “PREGNANT.” My hands shook, and I could barely breathe as I tried to pull myself together enough not to blurt it out. He had a big day ahead of him, and I did not want to distract him from his big test. So I bit my tongue. When I came out of the bathroom, I hugged him and gave him a kiss, telling him good luck and that no matter what it was going to be a good day (little did he know!).

I dropped him off for his test and set to work waiting for the shops I needed to open to get the perfect items needed to tell him the good news. Out of pure disbelief, I found myself purchasing another test, which again read “PREGNANT.” My heart nearly stopped seeing it. For six months we had been trying to conceive with no luck at all. I know it’s not long, but we were becoming anxious about if there were medical issues or if we were completely incompetent at calculating ovulation, but there it was, in perfect digital letters on two different tests, taken hours apart. I was completely shocked and also excited to start my shopping adventure. Now, if you know San Diego, you know Seaport Village, one of our favorite places. Three years ago, we took our first vacation together to this very place, so it only seemed appropriate that I found the perfect gifts to tell him that we were expecting.

My first stop was a sock store, this may sound weird, but we have a thing for fun socks, so it seemed perfect. Wandering around I found the perfect pair, black with gray block lettering that said “Dad’s sock.” on one and “Dad’s other sock” on the other. Casually I purchased them and made my way to the next store, a mug shop. Again, odd, but it’s one of our things. I found the section that has those “Greatest Dad Ever” mugs and browsed through them, finding one that specifically said, “New Dad,” and had a stick figure of a stressed looking man on it with some perfect quotes. Again, I had found another great component and purchased it. Then it was time for my last stop, the stop that was most important, a year-round Christmas store. One of our favorite things is decorating for Christmas, we have so many ornaments that it is ridiculous. My original goal was to find one of those “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments without it saying boy or girl on it. When I discovered they were out of those, I was sad because more than anything I wanted an ornament (little did I know that my due date would be December 22nd).

I kept looking around, just seeing what they had when I saw it, two snowmen with their hands locked in front of them with the words, “We’re Expecting” painted across it. It was perfection. I purchased it and headed back to the hotel knowing I only had another hour or so before my fiancé was ready. Back in the room I pulled my purchases out and began to arrange them. I stuffed the socks into the mug with the lettering sticking out and then secured the ornament on top. I didn’t have anything to wrap them in so I settled for just putting them in a bag and figuring I would think of something.

Impatiently I waited for his call, and my heart raced when it was finally time to pick him up. It had been almost seven hours since I had found out and keeping it a secret was killing me. As I drove to get him, I was close to tears and was overly anxious to get to him. I waited in the car as he awkwardly changed his clothes in a parking lot and then got in the car and said hi to me with a kiss. I told him I had bought him a present and told him to close his eyes. He assumed I had gotten him one of the metal puzzles that he loved, but instead I handed him the mug. He opened his eyes and just stared for a second as realization dawned on him. He just looked at me and gasped, “Babe, are you?” As I just nodded and started to cry, holding two pregnancy tests in my hand.

He started crying then and lunged over to hug me. After six months of trying, we had finally done it. I was pregnant 🙂

First week survival

Well, not only did I survive my first week as an events coordinator, I think I thrived…maybe, possibly… who knows really to be honest, but I survived and that is what matters isn’t it?

Monday was a bit boring and well, anxiety inducing. I woke up way too early and by early, I mean whatever my fiance left playing on our TV woke me up at one in the morning and I couldn’t fall back asleep thinking about starting at a new job. So I focused on keeping myself calm, ate a good breakfast and then I was off. It was easy to start, fill out all the HR paperwork, and then it was desk set up, IT set up of my email and computer and then I was off. Thrown right into the fire, here is this contract and this contract and we need these from this venue and we need this deposit paid. No real training, no clear instruction just a lot of learning as I went. Considering no one told me I screwed anything up, I think I did everything correctly.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of each day, but I will say, looking over several websites that gave me tips on the best way to survive my first day, some seemed ridiculous and some were useful, but over the course of the last week, I discovered my own list of survival tips for your first day and week of school. So here it is.

1.) Be prepared for your first day, if you haven’t already filled out your HR paperwork, make sure you have your ID, SS card and direct deposit information with you. Don’t forget any other paperwork they may need for your position (certificates, diplomas etc…)

2.) Don’t wake up too early, like I did, I had time to eat breakfast, write an entire blog post, shower, blow dry my hair, curl my hair, do my make up and I still had an HOUR until I had to leave. You know what I spent that hour doing? Worrying. Freaking out, being an anxiety ridden mess until I finally got to leave for work.

3.) Leave ten minutes earlier than you think you need to each day, especially if you don’t know what traffic is like at that time, this way you can tell each day how much time you need exactly, especially if you need to pick up coffee, or in my case a smoothie, and you will still have time to get to the office, get your stuff put away before you have to start your day.

4.) Dress conservatively, especially the first day if you don’t have your handbook yet. In my case, I knew going in that my bluish/silver hair streak and tattoos were NOT going to fly, so cover them up. I got my hair stylist to return my hair to it’s natural color and that’s how I landed the job. After that it is all about what does everyone wear and what do I need to wear? My first day, I went simple, gray slacks, button up shirt, neutral color flats and then I observed what everyone else was wearing. Since then I’ve gotten some fun colored shoes, some more flowy blouses but I still know that I have to keep it covered up. If the job is worth it, so is the investment into the wardrobe that is appropriate for your job. Most importantly, bring a sweater, you never know what your office will be like, even when it is over 80 degrees outside, my office is held at 68 degrees, I was very grateful for my sweater.

5.) Be proactive with your training, if you find you have nothing to do, go find your manager and find out what you should be learning, even if it is just reading through old contracts, like in my case, or old files, at least you are not just sitting around.

6.) Move at their pace, whether you are a fast learner/worker or more slow, just move at their pace and then ask questions as you go, always try to make lists so you don’t have to ask about what you need to do multiple times and set up a calendar of all the things you have due on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

7.) Turn the phone off and put it away. In my case, I have a VERY strict NO phone policy when I am at my desk during work time. Which means if my phone is out, I am in trouble. Best way to remedy this, turn it off so you can’t hear it ring or vibrate. It’s actually liberating, I don’t feel as dependent on my phone, like I need to constantly check it. I turn it back on for my lunch, or if I take a fifteen, I’ll go call my fiance and just say hi, but other than that, I am no longer tied to my iPhone.

8.) Don’t get involved with the gossip of the office. My manager is close to almost every department because all departments pretty much have to report to the events department on what we need for specific events, so a lot of the time, other people wander into the office and just complain about things or other people. This was a HUGE downfall at my last job, everyone smiles to your face and then spits on you behind your back. This time, I don’t want anything to do with it, so I don’t say anything. I listen because it is always good to find out what everyone things of everyone, but I stay quiet and that is what I intend to continue to do. Gossip only breeds negativity and I quit my last job because of negativity and now I am not going to repeat that negativity.

9.) Read your handbook. Find out exactly what the expectations of the company are, the dress code, break policies, clock in/out policy, overtime policy etc, paid time off, holiday pay etc… That way, you know what your expectations are as a general employee, not just in your position. Reading my hand book, I found out that I not only accrue paid time off each pay period, but I also am granted a certain amount of “personal time” each year, “personal time” is if I have to go to the doctor, dentist, need to handle something one afternoon, I can ask for “personal time” which means that I will still be paid for the amount of time I miss that day. That means I don’t have to take a day off for a doctors appointment, only a few hours.

10.) Most importantly, you are new and expected to screw up. Don’t freak out, don’t try to hide it, just work to correct the mistake and ask how to avoid making that mistake in the future.

It was a long week, especially as I adjusted to the new M-F 8-5 schedule, but I was able to hold my own, figure things out and at some points even impress people around the office as I caught mistakes, took proactive steps and made sure that no matter what I seemed useful at all times.

I quit my job

That’s not a joke. The job that I said I was enjoying in my last post went from fun to chore to pure torturous hell in the matter of one month. Yes, you read that correctly, one month. What started this you ask? Well, I can’t talk about that yet. There is some legal stuff going on with that, but stay posted for the BIG explanation as for the past five weeks I have written down my life day by day to help me cope with what happened.

Anyway, back to the here and now. I was done. My boss and I were no longer on the same page and I was so stressed each day that it made the anxiety from the event that shall not be named (yes, I did just reference Harry Potter) so bad that I was constantly having to take more and more anti-anxiety meds and muscle relaxers. I spent a lot of time reflecting after the event, on my life and where I was and was I *really* happy or had I just accepted that maybe the best I could ever do was be content with where I was. Yes brain, you were correct, I had just accepted that I was content with where I was and what I was doing so that was okay. WRONG. Oh g-d was I wrong.

So what did I do? I started applying to other jobs, and when I say other jobs I mean I must have sent in about 100 applications. Yes, you read that correctly 100 applications. I was desperate, and I knew my boss was not happy with me any longer either. I was so miserable I just didn’t care, which was not good for me or their business. I didn’t say a word to anyone, I just kept the smile on my face, went in each day and did the bare minimum of work I had to do and then left. I was tired. I was done with the business, but then something else happened. I was at work and on Valentine’s day one of my employees called out. He was sick and sent me a doctors note and everything, it’s Valentine’s day so no one is coming in to cover his shift obviously, so we started calling clients to reschedule them. Most were understanding and nice about it, but then there was one who decided that because his plans were ruined that I got to be the focus of his anger.

Now, I was used to clients being angry and needing to vent, that is easy enough to deal with, hell, I need to do it occasionally too, but this man took it to a level that crossed all boundaries. Within minutes of the call being passed to me from my manager out front, I was called stupid, retarded, told I didn’t know how to do my job, that I should be fired and so should the employee that called out, that I need to get another employee to come in to cover and that I was even more of a retard for not having people on call on a holiday. I warned the man that if he did not watch his language with me that I would end the call, that there needed to be a respectful conversation. His response, “then end the call you f*cking c*nt.” So I did. I hung up and the immediately called my boss to tell him what happened. I gave my boss the man’s information and then thought it was over with.

A few minutes go by and my manager who had originally taken the call comes into the my office and closes the door because the man who had just been on the phone decided to drive over to us to continue. When he stepped outside to take the call from my boss I was grateful, my boss would send him on his way and that would be that. My front manager tells me he said similar things to her so she was uncomfortable being out front with him there. We both stayed in the office. When my boss called me back, he told me that I was to put credits on the man’s account and his wife’s account that in total probably equalled out to about $300. That was when I was done. I had told him what this man had said to me and my employee and instead of telling the client that he couldn’t speak to us that way, he let us become dirt. I equate it to a parent rewarding a toddler when they throw a tantrum, you give them what they want so next time they do it, they know they will get what they want again by throwing another tantrum.

It was at that moment I checked out completely from my job. I actually refused to talk to any clients, which I admit was NOT the way to go about it, but if my boss was going to treat me that way, then he could deal with the clients and I would just sit there and make sure the building did not burn down. Cue more applications being filled out. It is good to note at this point that my fiance is also having problems at his job, has been since before the ‘event’ took place so he is also looking for new employment. So me just walking out with no job lined up was NOT an option. Then it happened, I finally got a call back. It was for an executive assistant position, after talking with the HR woman about my salary needs, she decided I would be a better fit for a different position and would forward over my resume and would call me back. I kind of took it as a blow off, okay, they can’t pay me what I need to make, on to the next I guess.

But then, she called me back, they wanted me to interview the next morning. So what did I do? I went shopping and bought new business clothes (it actually felt nice to be professionally dressed and not just in a polo and yoga pants), I made sure to cover my tattoos and decided that it was time to ditch the lip ring after 8 years (RIP lip ring, you will be missed). I went in the next morning to interview jittery, it has been almost 2 years since I had to interview for a job after all, but instantly relaxed when meeting the HR woman and the woman who would be my direct supervisor.

After introductions were made, the HR woman laid it out very clearly for me, on paper I was perfect, the interview was basically just to make sure I wasn’t some psychopath. This made me more nervous, the entire job rested on my personality alone? Shit. Just kidding, it went great. They said they would need me to start immediately if hired and I told them I would quit without notice (not my usual style, but I wanted out of my current position). They made me sweat it out though, they had a few other people they were interviewing and would call me the next day. So I waited as patiently as I could, my interview was at 9am so I had a VERY long day of waiting.

The next morning I had just woken up and was starting to get ready for work (this would have been Friday, which used to be my Monday) and barely after 8am I got the call. I had the job and I was starting Monday at 8am. Holy shit. I did it. I got out, not only did I get out, I got a job that not only pays a lot more but that actually uses my education and passions as well! Next thing on my agenda, resignation letter. I made it as professional as I could and sent it off to my boss and then danced around my house as I collected anything I needed to turn in to work. I decided that that day would be my last, give me a few days before starting to relax and do some shopping for office clothes and what not.

Let me tell you, going in that morning was NOT what I expected. My boss was already there and he was not happy about my no notice quit. The conversation though was thankfully short, but instead of working that last day, he sent me on my way. I can’t really blame him, I was his only manager who knew everything back and forth, front and back. He could barely log into his own email without my help some days. I know they will be fine there though, they have great junior managers that I hired and trained that will keep the front working well. I am sure there is already crazy gossip going around about me there because that place thrives on that stuff, but I am so happy to be gone that I don’t even care about it.

So here I am, getting ready to do my hair and get ready for my first day as an assistant events coordinator, I get to travel around the US and Canada helping plan events…what does that all entail, I really don’t know yet, I guess I will find out in 2 hours when I start. But that is why I quit my job. I quit because I was tired of just being content and not being happy. The second I quit I didn’t have to take any medications anymore, the anxiety (other than the anxiety of starting a new job) went away, the pain went away and now I feel like I can really focus on myself and where I need to be in life.

Stay tuned, I will let you know how my first day went and hopefully soon I can tell you about the event that shall not be named.

Break time is over

I took a break from here for a very long time. When I say long time, it has probably been very close if not more than a year since the last time I looked at my blog. Why though?

It was time for a break. It was time to step away from all the problems I was having with life and just find where I was happy again. I found that. I quit my job as a social media PR specialist, and my side job as a nanny, stopped taking on freelance projects and even, for a good bit of time, stopped writing completely. I did not touch my blog, my stories or any social media sites and I must say, it was liberating beyond belief. Pressure destroyed my passion for writing, expectations killed my creativity and being part of an organization that cared little for individualism and free thinking turned me into just another robot on the other side of a computer for company after company, tasked with nothing but smashing long complicated thoughts into 100 characters or less, displaying no personality, but made to interact with companies clients, while pretending to care about what I was saying.

For more than 4 years I lived in that world, I hid behind a computer and slowly let my passion for words wither away until opening my laptop was a chore, no longer a joy, until waking up each day was nearly impossible because getting out of bed meant that it was time to go back to the computer. I would stare non stop at the screen on some days, willing myself to write, to put words on the page, to reconnect with the characters I had loved my entire life, but to no avail, my mind had locked itself up tight, unwillingly to tell my fingers what to do as it had for so long.

That is when I did it. I closed the computer, I turned off the notifications and I quit everything. I was angry, sad, unhappy and mostly, lost. I had watched as my love of PR work degraded into nothing but hatred and resentment. Stepping away from it all was probably the best decision I had ever made. Though it strained my fiance and I when I was no longer making as much money as I had been, our relationship grew stronger because I was no longer angry each day, I was no longer stressed over four different jobs with different demands.

Soon I found a job that though did not pay great, I was much happier at, and though it was not an easy few months, in just a short 14 months I went from entry level to manager and I love each and every day. About three months ago, I started writing again. One night, I was laying in bed, my fiance working overtime and my brain nearly exploded, words started spewing from my mind and before I knew it, I had an entire plot line roughed out and have been working to fill in the holes and adding and removing what needs to be.

It was liberating to walk away from everything, though I was afraid of what it meant for my family and our livelihood, it was something I had to do, it was something that would have led to a break down of my entire world if I had not done it. I lost the love I had for writing, I lost the creativity that I had used my entire life, but now, I feel it flowing through me again, I feel with each stroke of the keys, each time I open my lap top or iPad, each time I jot down little notes at work when inspiration strikes.

When I walked away from my blog and my writing, I have to be honest, I had no intention of ever returning, but here I am preparing to start baring my soul once more, only this time, it is on my terms, not because my boss told me I had to have a blog, there is no forcing words onto the page out of fear.

Now, there is only words, my thoughts, my passions and my creativity.

~SKG

Being Silent….

I read an interesting blog today, about how being a silent reader constrains the ability to gain traction in the blogosphere. It got me thinking, why am I so silent on here? I post frequent enough, I read enough and always give likes to posts that I enjoy, but very very very rarely do I ever stop and take the time to leave a comment, and thus have put myself into the category of silent reader, but as the writer of this other post asserts, did I unintentionally constrain myself by not becoming talkative on other blogs?

The answer to this is simply, yes, I did. Just maybe not for the same reasons that are pointed out by this other blogger. Working as a social media specialist for several companies (yay freelance work!) I write anywhere from 7-10 blogs a day for companies while at the same time responding to messages and comments and likes on those blogs. At the end of the day, I get to my own blog and find myself not only slightly unmotivated to write, but also completely overwhelmed by the amount of engagement I dealt with throughout the day and instead of engaging my readers as well as my fellow readers of blogs I follow, I casually scroll through reading posts that, though I find interesting, I am out of energy and commitment to blogging to write comments.

This of course does very unintentionally put huge constrains on myself as a blogger (at least, for my personal blog, my clients are set for life on engagement). The blogger of this post also pointed out that he (along with countless others) were very late to the blogging party and have thus found themselves in a sort of limbo, or in his terms, the cool kid tables and the not so cool kid tables have already been established. Where do you and I fit into this then? The people who enjoy reading blogs but decide writing comments is just not for them or do not have the time, or maybe you just don’t have anything to say really on the subject even though you did enjoy the post.

Limbo, that is where it puts us until we unequivocally make a change in our mindset to not allow ourselves to be labeled. I do not see myself as in limbo as to what table I will sit at, I see myself sitting down and starting my own table, of those who just recreationally enjoy writing blogs, reading blogs but not having to pressure ourselves into engaging other bloggers if we do not feel the need to. Of course, this does put us at a huge disadvantage when it comes to gaining followers and likes, because what better what to get noticed then to post comments to attract that blogger to you, and anyone else who reads and enjoys the comments may come along as well.

Do I need to break the mold to be a great blogger? No, not really. Does what I write need to be the most originaly in the world? Not at all. Do I need to comment on every single blog I read to start more of a follow? Possibly. Maybe not every blog I read, but I think it is time that I get up the energy to not only engage readers on my clients blogs, but on my blog as well. To do this, I’ve decided to not put off my own blogging until the end of the day anymore, from now on, my blog will be the first thing I do every morning. Whether this means writing a new post and engaging in comments on the blogs I follow or just the later of the two, I do plan to engage a little more for my own personal blog.

This does not mean that I will be commenting on every blog I read. That is WAY too many comments even for someone who blogs for companies professionally and responds to every comment (even if it is just a generic Thank you for commenting). It does mean that a few comments on blogs that I find really interesting is needed though. No one should feel forced to comment, no one should ever feel forced to do anything really, but if you like the post, leave a quick comment not just a generic like. If you enjoy the post give that person a follow also, I know I always follow back when I gain a new follower and I usually find that their blog extremely enjoyable for me.

Well, time to switch into professional blogger mode, hope you all read this and take the steps needed to stop being the silent reader and make your own voice heard and seen a bit more.

 

~SKG

Follow this link to check out the original post by The opinionated man

Why customer service and your bank account are in the red.

It has been an interesting few weeks for me customer service wise. I had a tiff with Apple over how their update of ios8 caused my fiance’s phone to crash midway through the update, forcing us to restore the phone. Of course, once we go to upload the back up of it, because magically (even though I had never touched the encrypted back up button) it has become encrypted. Luckily, my fiance and I were able to try almost every password we have ever used an found one that worked for it and we got his phone running ios8, and restored all his old information (though we did have to reinstall a few apps that for some reason did not store in the back up). The result of all this was a round-about conversation on Apple support chat (mind you, apple wants to charge people $19 just to talk to a support team online or over the phone. No joke, $19 for customer service), about how Apple created a password encrypted function but provides no way to recover the password if forgotten. Though they were able to point me in several directions to help find the password (none of which worked, and all of which I had explored before starting the chat), it still left me going “I am seriously glad this shit happened when updating so I did not have to pay $19 for some idiot to tell me he couldn’t help.”

In all seriousness though, when did it become a thing for companies to charge you more money to help with a product that they sold you originally? $19 for help with any apple product or service unless I want to clamor down to the nearest Apple store, (which for some people may not be a close though for me there are probably 4 within 20 minutes of me) with my device only to be told they cannot help me. $19 for some under trained kid to not only provide me with no answers to my problems, but to then just transfer me to another person when I have clearly surpassed his knowledge after the first five minutes of the chat. Customer service is the backbone of any company. Every company has customers of some sort, and every company provides services of some sort, but to really succeed you have to provide good customer service so that your customers keep coming back. Why on earth would I want to keep purchasing products or services from a company that charges me just to help me with those products and services. As a young professional who is looking to upgrade their computer and tablet soon, never in my mind did I think to stray from my beloved Apple products. They are easy, efficient and work for what I need. But why would I stay with Apple when if I have a simple question of how to find someone on my computer, or how to use a product on the my computer, I have to pay $19 on top of the crazy prices I pay for the products themselves. I have spent thousands of dollars at Apple. My Macbook pro was a $1200 purchase alone and now as I look to upgrade it (it is 5 years old at this point and gratefully still works wonderfully but it is time for an upgrade) I am contemplating if it is worth the prices I pay to stay with Apple only to know that if I need help in the future I will be paying even more money.

I think the worst case of customer service I encountered was earlier tonight. My fiance went and looked at his bank account only to discover that it was negative almost $300. Flabbergasted at the amount the account had fallen into the red, I struck out to investigate what pulled the balance down. I have had a bank of america count since I was in high school. I have dealt with their online chat a few times, mostly when I mess up, lose track of my finances and I am crawling to them, begging them to not charge me an over draft fee. They are usually very polite and nice and offer a refund as I have been a very good customer over the years and typically don’t overdraft. Lately though, there seems to be a rise in the number of times I find my account and my fiance’s account ovedrafted. Tonight was the last straw though, after seeing how in the red his account had fallen I began to look through the transactions and discovered a shocking trend. On my account, no matter what I do, if my account does not have enough money in it, no transaction will go through whether it is online, an automatic payment or in store. It will not approve the transactions. Tonight we made the shocking discovery that on my fiance’s account, automatic payments and online transactions will go through even if his account has a negative balance. Apparently, there are settings you must change on your account manually if you do not want these transactions to be permitted.

This was a shocking discovery as I had never heard of this, nor had I thought he or I would need to go and change settings in our accounts so that we would not be hit with more and more over draft fees for things we did not cancel because our accounts were low on funds. In the past, my account has always just declined the transactions from things like Hulu or Netflix if my account did not have the funds to cover the amount, just like it would in store if my account did not have the necessary funds to pay for the items I wanted to purchase. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a national bank would have such an unethical business practice.

What was even worse than this discovery? The actions of the customer service chat representative we dealt with. We dealt with two people, the first one was quick to explain that we had to change settings and then transferred us on, and that is where the fun began. Not only was it a rude, disrespectful and overall repetitive chat, I was accused of using “inappropriate language” and told that would not be tolerated. Now, while I may swear a lot in my day-to-day life, I never once uttered an inappropriate word, used any racial slurs of any kind, demeaned or defamed the person I was speaking with. I merely pointed out a few times that several banks have been hit with other law suits due to similar practices and that bank of america itself has been ordered to pay upward of $114 million dollars because of these types of practices, and that they are still in trouble with the federal government and are facing penalties of over $10 billion dollars because of the way they have conducted business in regards to mortgages and the federal bailout they received.

We requested numerous times the name and employee ID of the person we were speaking with along with his managers name and contact information. First we were told his full name, but that he has no identification number

“you: sir , please provide me your an employee id and the contact information of your immediate supervisor
Dominic: You can use this chat conversation for your reference. My Full name Dominic Pattinson.”
Having also requested the information of his manager, we were met with declarations that he was the last point of contact and that there was no one else. When we went on to press him for information on if he was in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america, we got this:
“Dominic: I am the last point of contact. I would not have a supervisor.
you: i find that a blatant lie
Dominic: You can use this transcript for your reference.
you: no sir
you: i have the right to know the name and contact of your higher up.
you: so you are telling me you are in charge of the entire chat division of bank of america.
Dominic: No, I am not.
Dominic: However, you can contact our Manager Mr. Sri Kumar Bagri.”
So we request this managers contact information, and we are met with:
“you: but you have a manager, which means there are people above you, you are not the last person.
Dominic: I am afraid, my manager would not interact with customers directly, so I am the last point of contact via chat channel.”
But, didn’t you just tell me that I could contact your manager? I then ask how I contact him, he told me to call the call center and ask for a manager, but that I would be connected to an immediately manager and NOT the one he has told us we could contact.

After hours of round about, deplorable customer service where the representative did nothing but copy and paste the same thing he had said before, over and over and over and over again, having been refused direct information for his manager, I was then told that he had made a final decision and that even if I called and talked to someone else I would be declined the refund of these unethical overdraft fees. I was taken aback by this assertion that no matter who I talked to, no one would help me, even worse, before I could even craft a censored response (by this point I just want to yell profanities at him) he then attempted to rush me off the chat by saying he had made the decision and that unless I wanted help with another matter he had done all he could do. I kept him on by saying I was not done discussing this issue, and while I was stalling by asking what had prompted him to make such a large declaration, an easy internet search pulled up the LinkedIn profile of his manager.

I simply said to “Dominic” that I had found the contact information and suddenly, there is someone else there whom I can speak with. Shocking? I think not. Having found the manager easily, I simply pulled the law card and inquired as if I was speaking to someone who was in the United States or in India (By law, if requested, you must be transferred to someone inside of the United States), also not shocking, none of the three people we had been directed to were in the United States, Samantha, Dominic and Ian (doubtful those are real names at this point) were all in India. Though there is chat support in the United States they were unavailable at the time of my chat. Maybe if Samantha, Dominic and Ian had not kept me occupied for over 3 hours going around in circles I would have been able to chat with someone who was in the same country as I am.

Best part of being transferred to “Ian,” This little bit of lovely information:

“you: and why can I not just speak with him?
Ian: The chat cannot be transferred to our managers, as we are the last point of contact over the chat.
you: Does he not have a phone number?
Ian: I can assist you with the contact number, however our manager is currently not available”
WHOA! I just spent THREE HOURS, yes, you saw that correctly, THREE HOURS(!), trying to get this contact number for the manager, was told I could not have it, was told it was not available, was told I could not contact the manager directly (while being told I could contact him) and it takes asking the third person to be given the information I want. I think my brain just exploded to be honest.

In the end, I am settling for a call back from someone in the United States within the next 24-48 hours as I highly doubt “Dominic’s” decision is the final decision as he tried to declare. Should be a very fun wait.

My fiance and I are considering filing suit against bank of america though due to the unethical practices of bank of america. I am sure this would not just benefit us, but probably others who have experienced the same problems with bank of america. If you have experienced this, then don’t sit there and allow yet another corporation to get away with gauging American citizens of their hard-earned money. Though we are told our economy is recovering, even those of us with full-time, well-paying jobs are struggling with the rising cost of food, housing and gas. The more people who come forward with these problems, the more likely it is that those affected will not only make monetary gains, but could warn not only bank of america, but other financial institutions as well that these unethical overdraft fee practices will not be tolerated by the banking customers any longer. I know that I will no longer sit back and be forced out of money I work extremely hard for.

 

~SKG

Why am I doing this to myself????

No really, why am I doing this to myself? I have thick, curly hair that is (for curly hair) extremely manageable. It is shiny and healthy and I take great care of it. So why, everyday, do I torture myself, take time out of my day to curl it? It is a long process sometimes, it is highly unentertaining to curl hair and I can only imagine what I could spend that twenty to forty minutes a day (not including washing and blow drying) doing! I might even be able to eat something more than a banana and a protein shake for breakfast if I just said screw this and went about my morning with the natural texture of my hair or blow dried straight.

I was curious as to who decided in the history of the world that holding a burning hot piece of metal near their very delicate flesh was a good idea. Come to find out that the art of hair curling is so old that it does not have an exact era it started in. It is filed under “Ancient World.” I can remember reading a book about the Trojan war when I was in middle school and it talked about how the women of Troy would curl their hair before pinning it back from their faces. Troy. Ancient Troy, which means Ancient Greece which means for probably 2,500 years women have been taking their straight hair and transforming it into bouncing, full curls and for what? I feel this all stems from that age old epigram that girls with straight hair want curly hair and girls with curly hair want straight hair (or, if you are cool like me, you have curly hair that you blow dry straight ONLY to recurl it….What is wrong with me?).

I have been contemplating this question for a few weeks now. What drives me (and other women) to spend so much time a day (probably around 10,000 minutes a year) curling my hair?

Is it for the wonderful wind in the hair look?

wind in hair

Who doesn’t want the fabulous hair of Loki????

Is it for the way the curls bounce with every move we make?

bouncy curls

Look at all the lovely bouncing of that red mane!

Is it for luxurious volume curls provide?

volume

If only curling your hair instantly transformed you into Beyonce!

Is it for the insane ability to twirl your curls?

twirling curls

Which not only gives off a sassy attitude, but helps keep your curls looking fresh!

I am assuming each girl has their own reason for why they spend such a crazy amount of time and money (curling irons are NOT cheap, nor is good hair spray!). Whether it is wind in the hair, an adorable bounce, the voluptuous volume or the sassiness of a curl twirl, curling your hair is a dangerous art! Seriously, no matter how many times I have curled my hair (every day for the past four or five years probably?) I always seem to nick myself with that iron someway or another every now and then. If you have never used a curling iron, or have one that does not show you the temperature, they are HOT. Mine goes up to 410 degrees, in comparison, most dishes that are baked are only baked at about 350 degrees.

Shouldn’t women who curl their often be used to the high heat and danger of burns though? Why would heat matter? Easy answer to this, we get bored while curling our hair!!!!

The number of times I have been like….

bored

hmmm…. What else could I be doing? Did I turn the coffee maker on? Are my bananas still good? Do I still have protein powder? What dress am I going to wear today? Where are my dogs? I hope they are not doing anything stupid? What was that sound? And the list could go on and on and on forever. I think my brain cycles through more questions and thoughts while I am literally tethered to an outlet in my bathroom than it does at any other time during the day! Ever have the feeling you left the oven on? Try dealing with that while holding an iron less than half an inch away from your head and NOT twitching.

That’s not the only thing that causes burns either! Curling my hair last week, I twisted to see what my fiance was doing, the cord for the iron knocked a flower clip for my hair onto the iron itself, without thinking, I reached for the flower and planted my right thumb directly onto the fully heated iron. Pretty sure I am NOT going to have a thumb print for a little while on that finger. Whoever coined the term “beauty is pain” was not joking around.

The other problem with how hot curling irons get? Some women believe they just crank the temperature on the iron up all the way and go at their hair without a thought about the damage to their hair. Heat is bad for your hair (hence the myriad of hair products that every woman should have), it is damaging, it breaks the hair and if you are not using heat protectors you can and will kill your hair. The other problem is how long you should hold the curling iron to your hair. Not knowing the right heat setting or timing can be bad…

….like, this bad

too long and too hot

Yeah, that is her hair still wrapped around the iron as she pulls away. If you have thin or fragile hair, use lower heat settings, if your hair is thicker and coarse than use a higher setting. It really is that simple, don’t just turn it on, crank it up and go at your hair like it doesn’t have feelings (yes, I know hair is dead protein, but it has feelings too!)

The other big thing is to know what your curling iron can do! SIZE DOES MATTER! (get your mind out of the gutter!) There are sizes and styles that do many different things. My favorite is a simple iron that does not have a clamp, this gives me a much more beachy look. I can control the size of the curls or make it a very loose wave and I adore the trend of leaving a bit of a straight tail at the end of the curls, gives it such a relaxed bohemian quality. As much as I love that, I also own a 1inch and 1.5inch traditional irons as well. The 1inch gives me the standard curls or I can go really tight and get ringlets while the 1.5inch will give me some large waves with incredible volume. Pick your iron carefully and don’t settle for just 1 iron, there are no laws against owning every size, shape and style of curling iron in the world. Check out Allure’s article on the 7 curling irons for every type of wave you want for more on what irons do what!

So, here I am, my hair in perfect curls, because the idea of leaving my hair straight literally gives me anxiety (Yeah, my hair is my safety blanket). But, it is also because there is something about curling my hair that just sends my confidence soaring. Having a bad day? It will go away instantly if my hair is perfect. I don’t care about my make up or my clothing, if my hair is in place than my day is on point and I am starting off good.

I just answered this burning question for myself. I do this because I love the confidence and attitude it gives me, which gives me the ability to be all like….

well duh

….Yeahhhhhh I look good and I know it!

 

~SKG

The dark side of this process and a little advice for those thinking of trying…

If it isn’t obvious by previous posts, I have been in the process of looking for an agent for my novel. A couple rejections and some possible interest has been received until today. I understand rejection, I understand the competitiveness of the industry. I understand it all. What I will never understand is the snobbishness and the blatant rudeness that seems to plague the world in every industry.

Today I received the most rude and snobbish rejection I think I have received in any industry I have ever been in. I will not divulge names or agencies as I believe it is in bad practice, a belief I almost destroyed today after reading this email. The basis of the email was a rejection, which is not much to be bothered by, but the condescending tone and word usage nearly sent me over the edge. I am a respect driven individual. I will always show respect to those who deserve and show me the same respect. This agent though obviously does not subscribe to the same practice.

I was told by this agent that my query letter was extemporaneous and I needed to spend time looking at sample queries. For those of you who do not know the word extemporaneous, it means that it was done with little preparation or forethought. First, let’s start at just the word use. I have a very large vocabulary. This is from spending hours looking in thesauruses for different words to use in my novels other than the basics, it is also from the intense studying I did three years ago when I took the GRE to enter graduate school. A consequence of this is I am often told that I sometimes come off as condescending or snobbish as I will use large words that many do not know the meaning of. It is unintentional on my part, it is just the language I am used to using in my everyday life and academic writings. I found myself in my friends shoes today when I read this email. I know what extemporaneous means, but the tone of the email was what made the word sound more like a cruel and humiliating laugh rather than a simple, “this letter needed some more work for me.”

Does this person think I did not spend hours upon hours looking over sample letters, reading blogs and websites and each submission page of agents to make sure that the information contained in the letter was not exactly what was asked for? I followed guidelines, I put the information that the agency asked for and I receive a response saying that I threw together a letter with no thought or preparation. I spend hours on my query letters. Maybe it is a personal thing with me, but I saw this as a huge disrespect to me. Would someone really think I would be so careless with something so important to me that I would send out a letter without thought? That I would slap together some sentences and not care?

The disrespect and condescending tone of this email nearly pushed me over the edge. For an hour after receiving it the small, ill tempered and irrational part of me screamed to write a scathing response email. I wanted to rip this agent apart, I wanted to educate her on how to treat someone who wanted for nothing but to chase their own passion. Luckily, I am not the ill tempered and irrational girl I used to be. Five years ago I would have sent a response email with no problem. Now though, I stopped and told myself that I would regret it.

Why would I regret letting out the frustration and anger and disrespect I immediately felt upon reading this email? This questions brings me to the second part of this post. Some advice on what I have learned so far in this process.

1. Don’t write a generic “Dear Agent” query letter and assume you can send it out to every agent. I read blogs and looked at samples and still find myself having to rewrite every time I want to send to a new agent. If it is generic, they will know! They are agents and they read for a living! They know when you are being generic and when you have actually taken the time to write a specific letter to them. Does this mean you have to spend hours each time you want to send a letter? Probably not. It means you need to read the submission guidelines for each agent and make sure that your letter meets their requirements.

2. Don’t send a letter that you are not 100% ready to send. If it doesn’t feel right yet, don’t send it! There isn’t a deadline on this. Don’t send it just to get it out there, if you do this then you knock that agent off the list of people you can submit to later after you are 100% happy with your letter.

3. Read sample query letters. Most agencies will have links to sample query letters they like. These letters will literally tell you what to write in yours. They wouldn’t link you to them, if they didn’t like them or they weren’t successful queries to their own agency.

4. Don’t be ill-tempered and irrational. The world is full of those snobbish, rude and disrespectful people. No matter what industry you are in or deal with, there will be those people. The problem is, you have no idea who that person knows. If I had sent a response today like my temper had wanted me to, I could have ruined any chance I have at finding an agent. Sending that one email to one agent could mean much more than just ripping apart one person verbally, it could have been viewed has me thinking I do not care about the opinions of people in the industry I wish to be part of, or that I think I am better than they are in some way.

Even though I have had this one bad email, all others have been respectful, nice and encouraging. Which I guess is my last piece of advice, don’t be discouraged. If it doesn’t work out, you can self publish and still get your story out there. Keep writing and keep trying.

 

~SKG~