Thoughtful ThursdayHow often do you feel like you have your shit together? I can’t remember ever feeling caught up in all aspects of life. No, that’s not true. The days before school would start in college: I didn’t yet have any homework on which to fall behind. My first job after college was one where at the end of the day I was done, and I’d go home and do something else like cook dinner or play board games with my husband. I think that was the last time. Once I started graduate school, there was always something more I should be doing. For the first couple of years, DH and I still played board games, until we both started working nights at home in addition to days at work. Ever since then, work-wise, we are never done, never caught up. For both of us, if we finish a big project, the next 5 are waiting. My field is such that even people who aren’t perpetually behind like I am still never really get caught up on everything; there is always more that you should have done yesterday, last week, last year. I love my work, but I do not love that feeling.

In other domains, I sometimes get caught up, and sometimes I am woefully behind. Bills and household stuff? Ugh. Sometimes I’m drowning in unopened mail, and sometimes I’m pleasantly up to date — until the next day, when that damned mailman comes back. And taxes, oh gawd, it’s almost April.

Laundry is put away as of today, but the sink is full of dishes.

There are minor domains where I am often behind but it’s not too hard to get caught up. Thank you notes, for example. I’m caught up right now, because there haven’t been any presents lately. I absolutely like getting presents, but sometimes they’re not worth the hassle of the thank you note. Today I noticed a housewarming gift we’d gotten a few months ago from a friend of DH, and I had this thought: “I’m so glad we’re not moving ever again — there won’t be any more housewarming gifts for which I have to write notes. Oh, but there are still birthdays and holidays, yuck.” What is wrong with me?

For more personal correspondence, I always feel like there are several friends to whom I owe long, heartfelt emails or hour-long phone calls.

Every 6 months I write posterity letters to Burrito and Tamale. I haven’t yet written the letter for their 3rd birthday. They turn 3 1/2 in a few days.

Blog and other online reading? When I was really sick and could barely move but could manage a few taps on the iPad, I actually caught up on everything. Now, my Reader once again has several hundred unread posts. That’s okay, I’ll take it if the alternative is being unable to walk nor use my hands.

Blogging? For today at least, I am caught up as of….. now.

Do you ever feel caught up? In what ways are you perpetually behind?

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Thoughtful Thursday: Tip

March 21, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayMy mother was a terrible tipper. 15% was her max, but usually her tip was closer to 10%. As a kid I’d calculate a proper tip and insist that she leave that amount; she’d often try to sneak a dollar or two back into her purse as we exited, but I always caught her and put the money back.

In restaurants I’m usually somewhere around 18% unless the service is particularly good or particularly bad. When the bill is small, though, I often bump it up. When it’s a place I go often, I bump it up. When I’m on an expense account, I really bump it up.

I’m not always a great tipper, though. I rarely tip maids in hotels: it just doesn’t make sense to me, I dunno. For people like shuttle bus drivers I tip sometimes, but if they’re unfriendly or make me lug giant suitcases onto the bus while they sit watching me I refrain without guilt. I’m an inconsistent tipper when it comes to picking up takeout and getting counter service: should I really be tipping the same amount to someone who does nothing more than hand me a bag as I would to a waiter who attends to a table for an hour or more? I didn’t even realize that anyone tipped on takeout until a few years ago when I saw a friend tip $15 on a $60 order — like many who have worked in food service in the past, she is an excellent tipper. Now, I might tip 10-15%, or if it’s a bakery or something then I toss in a dollar, maybe two, which might turn out to be 10% or might be 40%. If I’m putting the money in a jar, I try to do it when the person is looking, not because I want to get credit for tipping but because I don’t want them to think that I didn’t when I actually did. I totally get that wages for many jobs assume a certain level of tipping, but sometimes I feel like it’s all an extortion scheme. When I was in college, the student-run pizza place literally had a Shit List of non-tippers; after a few times, they would refuse to bring you any more pizzas.

I’ve been to many countries in Europe that don’t tip in restaurants, or maybe something small like rounding up to the nearest Euro. In Japan, you don’t tip at all, for anything. That is one of my favorite things about Japan, that people try hard because they want to do a good job, not because it might increase their tip. I believe in the free market economy, but sometimes it’s lovely to get good service because the person chooses to give you good service.

What kind of tipper are you?

Time Warp Tuesday: Luck

March 13, 2013

For only the second time I’m participating in Time Warp Tuesday, run by Kathy at Four of a Kind. This week’s topic, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day: luck.

For someone who doesn’t believe in luck, I’ve written an awful lot of posts about luck. IN particular, I draw your attention to this one.

Done reading yet? I’ll wait…

Okay.

Most of the post holds up, but the part at the end about my career situation has changed. After so many stomachaches and so many stints as a bridesmaid rather than a bride in job searches, I ended up at a job that’s perfect for me, where I plan to stay long-term, in a fantastic city, where I also plan to stay long-term. I wrote the Bridesmaid post the same week that I didn’t get a dream job and DH didn’t get his beyond-his-wildest-dreams job; instead, a few months later DH landed an even better job: more money, more prestige, better work. Both of us were very lucky not to get the earlier jobs, since it meant that we were available for, and open to, the jobs that we did end up getting. Bad luck became good luck.

Similarly, I might go so far as to say that we were lucky during those 7 years of infertility, since all of the heartache and waiting brought us to our children. Bad luck became good luck.

Will our more recent bad luck — such as my RA diagnosis and our unsold money pit house — end up working out for the best? Wish me luck.

Join the Time Warp!

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the MarchIntelligentsia.

#41: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#35: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#34: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#33: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#23: St. Elsewhere
#21: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#16: Sara from Aryanhwy
#15: Ana from Ana Begins
#5: Mina from Kmina’s Blog

Thoughtful ThursdayLast week’s discussion of our wild nights had an undertone of alcohol in my post and in most of the comments, but for me booze is not a necessary ingredient. On most of my wild and wild-ish nights, I have not had a drop to drink. Usually most of the people around me have had plenty, but I’m almost always totally sober.

I don’t need alcohol to stand on a stage and sing in front of a packed room. I don’t need alcohol to stand on a table and shake my ass (though generally I choose to shake my ass standing firmly on the floor). I didn’t need alcohol that time only a few years ago when I took off my sweater and stood outside a nightclub in my camisole to encourage the bouncer to let in my party more quickly. Sometimes, I have no inhibitions at all.

Which is pretty shocking to some people who encounter me in daily life, because often I seem to be very inhibited. Here’s the thing. I’m not inhibited, but I am usually very controlled, which looks the same — I choose my words and actions judiciously.

In graduate school, back when cardio kickboxing was all the rage, I brought an uninitiated classmate with me to a workout. In many ways we come across as similar, but we turned out to be wired quite differently. After the class, she made the observation that she and I approached complicated kickboxing sequences in opposite ways. When I wasn’t sure what to do, I paused for a few seconds to watch the instructor, until I had the steps down, then I’d join in. When she wasn’t sure what to do, she flailed wildly. She’s also someone who is quiet but not inhibited, who chooses her words and actions carefully — but when things get tough, she revs up and I slow down.

I’ve gotten more uninhibited since having children. Before, I would gladly get up and sing on a stage but I was sheepish about singing to a friend’s toddler when my friend was in the room. Now, I sing all the time for my children and I no longer care who else hears. Before, I tended to act like a normal person — a highly controlled version of a normal person. Now, I often use animated expressions, big gestures, and funny voices; I have become some sort of cartoon character.

How inhibited are you? How inhibited do you seem to others?