There’s a real person here

I’m guessing the guy who sent me the disgusting message at work on Monday didn’t take a minute to think about how his words, emoticon, and “lol” would make me feel.

He probably didn’t expect me to cry in the women’s bathroom. He probably doesn’t know that I left early and my best friend at work walked me out, gave me several hugs, and was concerned that I was too upset to drive. He probably didn’t expect that I wouldn’t be able to get my schoolwork done Monday night because I was so upset and couldn’t focus. He probably didn’t expect that as a result of not getting it done Monday, I had to get up early Tuesday morning to finish it.

He probably didn’t expect that I would feel so anxious standing in front of my closet to get dressed for work and didn’t know what would be hideous enough that he would leave me alone, so I left my pajamas on and worked from home. He probably didn’t expect that I would end up with my laptop in bed and crying throughout the day because I felt so gross and violated.

When I went back to the office on Wednesday, he probably didn’t know that I would make a beeline for an empty cubicle downstairs. I opted to work without a mouse and monitors, just so I wouldn’t have to see him. He probably doesn’t know that I pinged my friend upstairs asking her to bring me my water bottle, so I wouldn’t have to go to my desk.

He probably doesn’t know that after I saw him sign off for the day, I ran up to my desk to reunite with my teammates and finally put lip balm on lips that had been dry all day.

Thursday morning, in a moment of empowerment, I went directly to my desk and settled in. I didn’t raise it up to stand as I usually do in the mornings because that would reveal too much of my backside to him. Instead, I made myself as tiny as possible and shielded myself with the back of the chair. I smelled the red rose on my desk. It was the sweetest smell. It reminded me to be courageous. Then I opened an email about an interview loop I was participating on that day and saw his name on the email, too.

He probably doesn’t know that I panicked. I couldn’t be in a room with him. I couldn’t make nice conversation with him and a young woman who wants to work here. My eyes filled with hot tears. Luckily, it turned out all right because we weren’t in the same sessions with the interviewee, so I just had to make eye contact with him as I was leaving the interview and he was coming in.

He probably doesn’t know that later in the afternoon, I wanted tea. I saw that he wasn’t at his desk, so I hurried to mine to get my mug and green tea bag. I considered going upstairs to the weird kitchen for hot water, but again, didn’t want to change my life because of this incident, so I went to the regular kitchen downstairs.

He probably doesn’t know that my heart raced ask I neared the kitchen. What if he’s in there? Is that why he wasn’t at his desk? He doesn’t know that I carefully peeked around the corner and breathed a sigh of relief when the café was empty. While pouring my water, I heard someone come in and tensed up. I carefully turned my head and again was relieved it wasn’t him. I hurried back upstairs to my makeshift desk.

He probably doesn’t know that today I’m exhausted. All the crying and panicking has taken a toll. Again, I stood in front of the closet wondering what I could wear on this hot day that wouldn’t encourage him to stare. I also have the feeling that it’s going to be a hard day because most of my friends at work who know what’s going on aren’t there today to run interference.

I just wanted you to know that there’s a real person on the receiving end of your words and actions. Next time take a minute to consider that.

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Bring back that excited feeling

“Are you feeling excited about anything?” Navani asked me the other night when we were texting. As I mentioned, I was feeling blue about a number of things, capping the night off with learning that my Papa had died.

At that moment, no, I couldn’t think of one thing I was excited about. Thankfully, as tends to happen, I felt more positive in the morning. Those anxious feelings gave way to more reasonable thoughts. Yes, things aren’t exactly as I’d like them to be today, but was I any closer in New York? No, that’s why I made a huge move to get me closer to my dreams. I knew it would be uncomfortable for a while. Now I’m in the uncomfortable. Here’s what I’m excited about:

  1. Writing a book! How cool is it to leave my job to write a book? Eveyone I’ve told has been so excited about the project. It’s huge! I’m really doing it.
  2. Magazine writing. I am taking a class now with an executive editor at Redbook. She’s helped me hone my ideas and write pieces to sell. She taught me the ins and outs of this market and what to expect. Let’s do this!
  3. Severance + unemployment. OK, it’s tough to work full time plus write a book and pitch story ideas to magazines, but when your life is subsidized with severance and unemployment, it’s a little easier (even if there’s an end date circled on your calendar.)
  4. Being surrounded by friends again. Have I mentioned how many awesome people I know in Western Washington? I don’t have a number to tell you exactly, but my tribe (to borrow Pam’s word) here is big.
  5. I’m excited to live in a space bigger than the shoebox I lived in in NYC. I’m all about living a minimal life, but man, it’s nice to have a bedroom with a door that can close. What a tiny luxury.
  6. I drove 1,696 miles by myself! I did it. 24 hours just me and Gatito. We’re a good team.

Back in time

 

Of course the answer was Munky.
Of course the answer was Munky. Clearly this is pre-Carlos (hair stylist Carlos) hair. Dang!

My phone started acting up, so I called Apple support, we pinpointed the problem: It reverted to an ancient account with an old email address I haven’t used in years and has since been closed. The support guy told me I need to get into that account to retrieve the password reset link.

So I attempted the challenge questions, but stumbled. What would I have listed as my favorite job between 1999 and 2003? What was my pet’s name? Did I even have a pet?

Finally I closed my eyes and went back in time to Bellingham and Olympia. Bam, bam, bam! Questions answered, link accessed, phone reset. And back to 2014, New York.

Should I go back to the super long, super dark locks of 2011?
Should I go back to the super long, super dark locks of 2011?

Full of anxiety earlier this week, I found a playlist I made when I was healing after a breakup. Hello, 2011. It was fascinating how the songs brought me right back to my Greenwood neighborhood apartment. I remember so clearly curling up in my green chair — it had a broken arm I wanted to fix — listening to Florence + the Machine. I stared out at the mountains in the distance, listening to Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.” On good days, I sang along to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Listening to those songs from New York felt all wrong. Click to a new playlist and back to 2014, New York.

 

Feeling crabby

Since learning my identity was stolen, I’ve increased my wine purchases, attendance at cardio boxing and developed an eye twitch.

I’m also sick of my hair stylist telling me I’m stressed. “It’s not good for your hair, baby.” I know! I know! It’s not helping my skin or mood either.

I feel like all the free time I used to have is now spent calling credit agencies, law enforcement agencies or sending copies of my birth certificate to said agencies. It’s frustrating the hell out of me. I just want this nightmare to be over.

So far it has cost me approximately 20 hours of my time, $50 of my money and no access to my own (stellar) credit. With no progress. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth hiring a lawyer to speed it along and try to recover damages.

But for now, more yoga classes, deep breathing and boxing class. More boxing please!

My identity

Empty space to be filled.
Empty space to be filled.

It’s ironic that while (very slowly) sorting out an identity theft situation, I’m taking a close look at who I am.

I’m taking a brand writing class, which is all about creating a brand’s image.

I’ve had a couple very eye-opening life coaching sessions. In the first one, I realized that my career isn’t top priority in my life. Yes, I want a fulfilling, challenging job, but more important is being close to people I love. And that closeness doesn’t necessarily have to mean geographically.

The second thing I learned is that my life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. I thought marriage and kids meant living somewhere boring, watching a lot of TV, eating at chain restaurants and never doing anything adventurous or traveling. Meh, no thanks!

Turns out life doesn’t have to look like that!

It got me thinking about things I do want my Candace brand to be. I started the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis

I thought about how people have described me:

  1. Gets things done.
  2. Always brings dessert.
  3. Is serious.
  4. Is athletic.
  5. Is reliable.
  6. Is independent.
  7. Is always up for anything.
  8. Sells herself short.
  9. Is quiet.

And how I’d like to be described:

  1. Is adventurous.
  2. Is creative.
  3. Is funny.
  4. Gets things done when it matters.
  5. Is fun to be around.
  6. Has a great sense of style.
  7. Brings out the best in you.
  8. Knows her shit.
  9. Will never let you down.
  10. Loves big.

To be continued …

Best Month Ever

It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s wrong, and when I do that, I write a post like this sad December one. When a polar vortex is hitting New York and I have the option to work from home, it’s easy to get stuck in my four walls. That’s not a good place for me.

But January changed everything. Maybe it was the week I spent in Hawaii. Or the fact that Seattleites have descended upon New York for the Super Bowl. Or the tons of good buddy time I’ve gotten. Or that I’ve been working out because I want to — not because I feel like I need Hawaii abs. Or because I’ve been very consciously eating better.

But I’m happy.

Pinch-me, is-this-really-my-life happy. My Seattle friend Tara likes to remind me to take the time to do things that I need to do. (I need to remind her the same.) For me, that means getting out of my apartment, going to yoga class, drinking green tea, listening to music and seeing friends. I did all those things in bulk this month, and I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m feeling much more like myself.

Despite two rounds of the polar vortex, I make an effort to take walks & take pics. This is FiDi.
Despite two rounds of the polar vortex, I make an effort to take walks & take pics. This is FiDi.
Someone put their fully decorated tree on the street. It's been there about a month now. Makes me laugh every time I walk by.
Someone put their fully decorated tree on the street. It’s been there about a month now. Makes me laugh every time I walk by.
I was so happy to be in Seattle for the Seahawks' Division Championship game. The city was bathed in blue & highlighter green.
I was so happy to be in Seattle for the Seahawks’ Division Championship game. The city was bathed in blue & highlighter green. #GoHawks
Tara gives Penny a high-five while mama Heather looks on. Love me some buddy time.
Tara gives Penny a high-five while mama Heather looks on. Love me some buddy time.
Brunch with my girls at Pike Place.
Brunch with my girls at Pike Place.
This was my backyard for six glorious days on Oahu.
This was my backyard for six glorious days on Oahu.
Ohana means family, and these two will always be my family now.
Ohana means family, and these two will always be my family now.
I've had so much fun carrying this flag around NYC.
I’ve had so much fun carrying this flag around NYC.
I went to Puppy Bowl Experience! Puppies!
I went to Puppy Bowl Experience! Puppies!
Giant slide in Times Square = Awesomeness!
Giant slide in Times Square = Awesomeness!
It's been two weeks of trash talking, but we still love each other.
It’s been two weeks of trash talking, but we still love each other.

I’m on Team You

When I went to therapy, my therapist and I talked a lot about “shoulds.” I went in talking about how I wanted to volunteer and advance in my career, get married and have kids. She asked me if I really want those things or if I feel like I “should” want them because my parents or society was telling me I “should” want them.

Game changer.

For the next few weeks, I felt like I was going through life questioning everything I thought I knew. Do I really want to go to yoga, or do I feel like I should? Do I really want to eat soup for dinner, or do I feel like I should? Do I really want to go back to school, or do I feel like I should? I love my parents, but I’m not going to make life decisions what will make them happy. Why? Because this is my life. I need to make me happy. They are responsible for their own happiness.

It was a great exercise in self-awareness. I still stop and think about my motivation. Am I running a 5K as a goal to make myself healthier to to brag about it on Facebook after? Am I going to school because I want to and it will make a difference in my career or to blog about it? I don’t want my life defined by selfies.

Getting clearer on what I don’t want helps me narrow down what I do want My former roommates used to joke that I couldn’t go on more than two dates with a guy. It’s true. If they weren’t who I wanted, why prolong the relationship? One and done.

I love being self-aware. I recommend it.

That’s why this New York Times headline caught my eye “How Many American Men Are Gay? Data analysis suggests that millions remain in the closet.”

How sad is it that when you type, “is my husband …” into Google, the most popular search is “gay?” Not being honest with yourself affects you, your wife and everyone around you. It breaks my heart to read that people are living in these fake relationships, most likely to please (or not disappoint) third parties.

And how sad is it that people so fear the reaction of others that they’re afraid to be their own true self? I’d love to live in a world where we stop judging everyone else for who they are. Gay, bi, straight, closeted, confused, black, brown, white, young, old, depressed, pessimistic, optimistic, active, sedentary, healthy, in denial, Seahawks fan, 49ers fan, you’re all right with me.

Thanks, Batkid!

Sometimes at work we cry at our desks. The worst day was Dec. 14, 2012, when we heard reports of a school shooting. We started getting reports of children killed. Soon we were seeing images of scared, confused children on TV and coming across the wires. The next couple days, we took turns stepping away from our desks to take a break from the sad stories and looking at photos of innocent 6-year-olds who were killed.

I remember watching an interview with a father who had to tell his 3-year-old twins that their older sibling was gone. All I felt was heartache for these families. How do you tell a child that they are safe at school when they’ve seen first hand that they aren’t? How do adults believe it themselves?

That story hit me harder than any news story I’ve ever had to cover.

But Friday’s might be a close second. By now you’ve all heard about Batkid saving Gotham (AKA San Francisco). It’s an amazing story of people coming out for good. Literally thousands of supporters came out to cheer a 5-year-old who conquered leukemia. What better gift can you give a kid than to let him or her know you are always on Team <insert name here>?

This is the kind of story that makes me love my job. It makes me feel like maybe my niece and nephews are growing up in a decent world. This is the rare story that made me shed the good kind of tears at my desk.

You outta know

I love the “things you didn’t know about me” posts going around Facebook. Not because I’m narcissistic and love an excuse to talk about myself (though that’s not untrue), but because I think it’s helpful to learn more about the people I love.

Granted the lists on Facebook are more hilarious than deep, but I still learned who used to play soccer, who dreams of moving to New York and what my friends’ pet peeves are.

The “what you should know about me” lists are a tool relationship therapists use. That’s why I love these lists. It’s such a safe way to voice your needs. Some examples:

“One thing you should know about me is I need some space to clear my head when I get home from work each day.”

“One thing you should know about me is that I don’t like to stay at the homes of people I don’t know.”

“One thing you should know about me is that I feel unsafe going in convenience stores.”

I think this could be amazingly helpful in workplaces, too.

“One thing you should know about me is that I respond better if you speak to me privately than in front of the group.”

“One thing you should know about me is that I like to know why you changed something in my work, so I can learn what I did wrong.”

See? Yes, it can be hokey, but it really can be helpful, too. It’s a completely non-threatening way to speak up – especially when you just say these things when they pop in your head in stead of out of anger.

But the surface stuff is fun, too, and it’s also fun to learn what my friends’ dreams are. Or what they thought their lives would be like at 30.

I’m cranky

Do you ever have those days when you ask yourself, “why does my life suck so much?”

That was me today. I know this is petty. People have real problems. I don’t mean to be all “poor me.” I was just having one of those days. Don’t read if you don’t want to.

I woke up an hour before alarm time to the sounds of Gatito puking on the floor, but I figured the mess would still be there when it was time to rise, so I dozed for the next hour then got up to clean it up.

I got ready for work, making note that I need to do laundry bad. I wish the drop off places would open before 6:50, or I could leave after 7:00, so I could drop off on my way.

I realized I was late, so I skipped taking out the trash, including the nice, memory foam bathroom rug that smells like cat. I washed it twice and left it out on the fire escape for nearly a week. It still reeks, so it needs to get tossed. Until then, it sits on the fire escape, and I use a hand towel as a makeshift bathmat instead of the squishy soft one. I can’t have nice things.

I walk as fast as I can to the train. I’m mad because I have to walk out of my way instead of directly to the station because of an incident on the direct path. It adds like 20 seconds to my walk. Plus it’s col out. Grrr!

I notice the injection site from the flu shot I got a week ago is hurting today. Why? It didn’t hurt all week.

I had to take a picture of me eating hummus for a magazine this weekend. My friend sends me one of her doing the same. She looks cuter than I did in mine. Now I don’t want mine published.

After work, I have a massage appointment I’ve been looking forward to. I get to the spa and give my name at the desk. The woman asks for my name again. She asks me to spell it. She asks for my phone number. “We have your profile, but no appointment for you.” Did I dream I made this appointment? I’ve never been here, so if they have a profile for me, they must have talked to me on the phone, right?

She calls a manager to help. The manager is confused and apologetic. They don’t have anyone to massage me because of the error. She looks at when she can reschedule me. It’s two weeks away. Now I’m really crabby, but what can I do?

So I go home and decide to use my jetted tub for the first time. I fill it and flip the switch on the wall. Nothing happens. I push a button on the tub. Still nothing. Now the tub I didn’t even want doesn’t work. I’m crabbier.

I sit in the tub thinking of all the reasons why baths are dumb. After two songs, I pull the plug and get out. My stomach is rumbling, so I cut some tortillas and pop them in the toaster oven to make chips. As I’m removing the chips, I burn my hand. In the process I knock a coffee mug off the counter. It breaks on the floor. FML!

I need wine. I want a Washington Chardonnay. I’ll go to Whole Foods and on the way home get pizza. I figure I might as well do my own laundry since my evening plans fell through. I gather up my stuff and head to the laundromat. There’s a sign on the door saying the hot water doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work today! I carried my stuff there, so I decide to wash it cold.

With my eye on the prize, I walk to Whole Foods and find a couple Washington whites. I stop at the pizza place and discover that the pizza guy who is always there is actually two pizza guys. Twins. That explains so much.

My day is turning around. Clean sheets, towels and cozy pants. A crisp chardonnay in my hand. So glad this day is ending better than it began.