Monday, May 31, 2010

modern family

I confess...sometimes I think I need a chart. I also confess that this might be pretty boring to read but its rattling in my head today.

I have a clear memory of sitting in ninth grade health class, in a room that was really part of the auditorium (the name is escaping me and driving me nuts...we had them in junior high and high school...if any friends of those days recall, there's a virtual cookie in it for you). The teacher wanted us to discuss birth order and we were to get into groups by our position: oldest, middle, youngest, only. I asked for help.

In many ways, I was certainly an only child (which is what the teacher decided...I think in part b/c there was only one only in the class). My parents divorced when I was two or three and I never lived with a sibling. My mom was my primary parent (by far) and I am her only child. I had both the love and the scrutiny that go along with solo-status.

But my mom met my step-father when I was around 5 and married him a couple years later. He had three kids. They never lived with us but they were definitely "present"...older and over-achieving and I knew that and felt challenged by it. I could stand up to them with smarts but not social skills or athleticism. So I often felt like a youngest and I don't remember not having them as an example.

Then again, maybe biology should matter. My dad had two kids with his second wife. I was jealous that they "had him" full-time which in some ways makes me an uber-eldest in the jealousy sense. I also put in my hours playing Thundercats and My Little Pony. It is so not relevant to this post, but half-siblings were a newish idea when I was little (not so much by my teens) and everyone always asked what in the world a half-brother and half-sister looked like.

So...only by home status and my mom, youngest by comparison and a shared residential parent, eldest by biology, middle if you count them all. You can add in two "new" sisters since dad's third wife has two girls, both slightly younger than me (another aside: my step-mom bets there's a picture out there of me and her elder daughter as toddlers...she worked with my dad's medical office when my mom, dad, and I were all in that town).

And those are the easy relatives. My step-father and his ex sometimes held joint events for their took my eons to figure out that the boy closer to my age was their step-brother on the other side. On the other side, I not only couldn't figure out that this guy was my step-mother's (second wife) half-brother, I couldn't even figure out his name (adults used a different nickname than my half-sibs did), Like I said, you need a chart.

It's complex. And I really wish I had a real, true sibling. I'd love to know more about who my half-siblings have become ('s complicated). If I wasn't already 20 when my dad met my step-mom, I think I could have been closer to her girls...they are very cool but by then I was in college, then law school, then adult-hood so I don't spend two weeks a year with my dad like I did as a kid. I am jealous of all my semi-siblings because they have "real" ones too. And I'm jealous of my husband's simple "two boys and a girl" family. I have seven siblings. And no siblings. I'm not even sure how to count parents (do exes count? does it matter than I didn't like her).

Then again...despite all the crooked lines...I'm pretty sure I have a slew of siblings and sibling-in-law that would be there if I needed them. Many moons ago, it was a step-brother who met me at the hospital when I had a bad allergy attack my first week of college...and I think any of the others would do the same. We may not know each other deeply, but we are still some sort of family.

Maybe the problem is that word: "Family". (another side: I refuse to put punctuation inside quotes in that type of usage...I may be grammatically wrong but oh well). Maybe there was a time went it made more sense, when things were more straight-forward. But today it seems like there are so many different forms that the word has become a bit meaningless. My family is complicated. Like any family, they could be fodder for many hours of therapy. In some ways, it wasn't the family I wanted. But there's loyalty and love and shared knowledge, even if it isn't the same as kids from the same household.

The only-eldest-youngest-middle kid should get its own health class group. Or maybe we should realize that some assignments don't make sense anymore.

Monday, May 24, 2010

the un-resume

I confess...looking for a shift in one's career can be a challenge.

As I continue in the job search, I find that my career interests fall into two categories. A few jobs that interest me are pretty natural fits for my resume. Others aren't. There are areas in which I am certain I could excel and for which I have great skills but for which my resume is not a "natural" fit. They are roles where I know my skills would be a great benefit but ones where I really need the chance to TALK about my skills before my resume is tossed aside. I'm a non-traditional applicant for these roles, not at all an on-paper match. I try to address this in my cover letters, owning the fact that I am not the candidate they imagined but then outlining how my skills and experience would be a terrific match. I think I could do it better in person since it really requires a conversation about my strengths and the job's requirements.

In that spirit, and to help me continue to build both my written and oral "selling points," I present the following thoughts on my skills...I think I've done something similar before, but it's my blog so I get to do what I want :)
  • Analytical & Reasoning Skills: As a girl, I loved books of logic puzzles. I kicked major ass on the LSAT (which involves a lot of logic questions). I did well in math, especially geometry...I totally LOVED proofs. I could rarely memorize rules but I could reconstruct them when I understood them. I do best on the Jeopardy clues that involve a "trick"..Jason totally beats me if it is a date or name or other memory-focused stuff but I win if it is something you can figure out or there's a hidden hint.
  • Writing: I think I write well and that I can adapt to my audiences. My parents say this blog is well-written...they are biased but I'll take it. These posts are pretty quick affairs, many under 15 minutes, and aren't the best example of my ability. I do find writing flows for me and I think I write pretty quickly. Since being home, I've also helped wordsmith some of my husband's can be a slow process (partly b/c I never studied his field) but I think I do it well.
  • Observation & Listening: In a big group, I'm often quiet. I am fine with this and I'm in on the secret shared by many other quiet folks...we see and hear and observe it all, both the spoken and the unsaid. A moment of job pride as a recruiter came when I rephrased what a candidate seemed to be looking for and she said I really helped her crystallize her goals, both the spoken targets and the underlying motivations, including some she hadn't fully put into formal words. I also warned my husband about the boyfriend of someone he knew...I wish I'd been wrong but I wasn't at all shocked when he hurt her. On the job front again, I also often served as an ear for angry candidates to vent (better they get their anger out with me than in a job interview).
  • Wit: I'm not a stand-up comic, but I think I'm quick and make amusing observations. I think this trait showed up fairly early.
  • Compassion/Respect: I can't watch the Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA ads...or even the Pedigree shelter dogs series. Animals probably are a more immediate heart-tugger for me, but people get me too. I believe in "ordinary" heroes and I feel physical pain when I think about people denied healthcare or human rights. I believe in respect and that true respect includes a helping hand, especially for children or people who are truly putting forth all they have. When I worked with gifted teens, I always told them they started with my respect...they didn't need to earn it but they could lose it. When I looked at firms as a law student, I watched how people spoke to you treat the folks "below" you says more than how you treat someone with power. On my last day as a lawyer, I went to lunch with two secretaries (another got booked up and couldn't come). I hope that was a testament to having treated them well (though that was also in my best interest, they could make you or break you!).
  • Hard-working/Commitment: I simply can't not work hard. My last job got frustrating in the tough economy when hard-work didn't always lead to results but I simply couldn't throw in the towel. I know I kept up a very high activity volume when compared to peers. I still reached out to employers and potential candidates, making contacts and efforts even when the likelihood of getting a new job order in was low. I might check my Gmail or read CNN for a bit, but I just couldn't flitter away a whole day...even when part of me wanted to do so.

Clearly, I'm a catch. Wanna hire me? I promise to actually proofread anything I write for you.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I confess...I really just had the first bullet on my mind but felt it didn't justify its own post so I'm going with mini bullet point rambles.

  • I have talented toes. I can pick things up with my feet (helpful when my back hurts and I don't want to bend). My husband once bet I couldn't type a whole sentence with my toes...I won and he wasn't allowed to bite his nails for a month (I bet he cheated). I can write with my feet too...big and sloppy but readable. I am most amused, however, by my ability to make my right pinkie toe dance and move independently of all the others. And by the fact that I can't do it with the left. And I'm wondering if you just took your socks off.
  • I am reading a LOT more since being home. I love books. In fourth grade, we each got little certificates on the last day. Mine said "Class Reader." We did a program called Book-It. Everyone else had to read two books in a month to get a sticker and a free personal pizza at Pizza Hut. I had to read five because two would have been a step back.
  • I love Crystal Light and generic equivalents but never buy the Lemonades or Teas.
  • In my bathroom, I have one tube of generic IcyHot. I have a tube of BenGay in a "miscellaneous" drawer. On the bathroom counter, I have a can of spray Freeze-It (a generic BioFreeze) and a tube of a gel BioFreeze generic. I am fairly sure this is not normal for someone under 60. And think I heard the maintenance guy laugh when he went in to fix our sink.
  • On some days, if i just scratch my skin (even lightly), I get a big red raised line. This is somehow related to my hives. It somewhat amuses me but I worry people notice. I'm also clumsy and bruis very easily. I wonder if people think I'm being beat up or something.
  • Ben & Jerry's Peanut Brittle is quite yummy. As is Hannah Teeter's B&J flavor, Maple Blondie. I'd totally be free of the few vanity pounds I want to drop if Ben had never met Jerry.
  • While I love Ben & Jerry, I hate Tom & Jerry. I don't "get it" or the other traditional Looney Tunes. But I loved Tiny Toons and Gummi Bears (bouncing here and there and everywhere).
  • When I was little, my mom once said "What makes you so special?" (in a joking voice). I said "Mr. Rodgers says everyone is special." I think they all knew fairly early on that I was an odd child. Thanks to a literal Seasame Street sketch, I also declared that, the next time it rained cats and dogs, it would be a good idea to go out to get a pet.
  • I miss knowing I can run. I never loved it, but it made me feel accomplished. But I am feeling stronger and I am working darn hard for it. I'm proud of myself for my hard work in PT.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

our bodies, our selves

I confess...I'm worried about saying this right.

It seems like one of many issues that cycles in and out of the media spotlight is body acceptance. This comes in several forms including a call for "real women" models, articles highlighting the role of retouching in photos, and advocacy groups embracing "fat acceptance." I always find myself feeling a wide-range of contradictory responses to these movements. I support them all. I support reality and love. But in practice...

The reality is, I'd probably rather the model in Glamour look just a step or two above average....and a step or two above me...especially in a piece about fitness. I want someone whose figure looks good but also attainable. And attainable without an army of trainers and cooks and dietitians and make-up artists. In a random article, I'd love to see a wider range of bodies. But many of my magazines have a health-bent and it just makes for them to show a healthy body.

And I think body love and body acceptance need to be balanced with a quest for health. I think the young woman from Precious is lovely and talented and I am glad she seems to love herself. But I also think that loving yourself should mean trying to keep yourself healthy. And, while fat and fit aren't the polar opposites that many presume them to be, obesity is rarely healthy. Thin isn't always healthy either....way too many women are "perfect" on the scale but have poor body composition either due to avoiding the weight room or to unhealthy dietary habits.

I'm not the role model here. I wasn't when I was heavier and paid no mind to downing fries everyday and multiple servings of dessert. I'm not now, when my mind sees things that aren't there and my relationships with my body and with food are fraught with difficulty. Health is more than just one's figure.

I want the world to embrace a range in our definition of beauty. I want women (and men) to love who they are regardless of the labels their bodies may carry...I want to be able to do that myself. But I also want us to be healthy. I don't want to hear about kids with "adult-onset" diabetes and heart disease. I don't want people to think fast food is daily food. I don't want to find that the shorts I bought in the "Girls" department (hey, they were for the gym and were $2 cheaper there!) are too big for me....yes, I got XL and I'm on the smaller side, but I'm an adult and have some hips and such that a kid shouldn't.

I worry about messages. If all we see is unhealthy bodies, it skews our normal. But it isn't any better for little girls to want to look like a runway model. How do we balance our messages?

More importantly: Can we love ourselves and still strive to be our healthiest selves? Is wanting to be healthier and to be our best selves in conflict with loving who we are?