Wednesday, October 12, 2011

812 Notes for my future boyfriend.

In lieu of recent events, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the history of my love life.  I've always considered myself to be a pretty good girlfriend - I've had an excellent and successful history of growing and maintaining long term relationships, and I've generally always been the one to terminate things.  So, I always thought that meant I was happy.

I wasn't.

It's hard, I've always had hindsight bias - I've looked at the past and with one exception, I've considered everyone I've dated to have been a good person, and that the difficulties were merely due to differences in values or goals in life, not in irreconcilable differences in personality.  Now that I've grown a spine and decided to respect myself, I'm seeing how much I never did that before, and the toll it's taken on my spirit, my personality, and my life.

So, this blog is going to be egotistical and selfish and all sorts of things that will make me look like a bitch. And I'm not sorry about that.  I'm going over my weaknesses and mistakes so that I can learn not to repeat them.

1. I'm a mediator.  I grew up in a family of strong opinions and learned at an early age that it is better to be agreeable than to be heard. I'm not knocking my family here, don't get me wrong - but it was more important to me to just let everyone else make their decisions and roll with it.  Upside - I can be very easy going and can make due with whatever.  Downside - I can't make my own decisions about little things like what to wear or where to eat and I'm generally afraid to open my mouth about what I want and what would make me happy because I'm afraid it'll upset or anger whomever I'm with.  So, sometimes I need prodding.

2. I am afraid that everybody wants to hurt me. I've spent so long taking the blame for things - even things that aren't my fault - that sometimes I feel like I'm the repository of everyone's ills. I'm afraid to hold the people around me accountable for their actions, particularly how their actions affect me.  Because I don't want to hurt them or make them feel guilty or dislike me.  This festers until I'm so worn down that I'm dead inside.

3. I fight. Somewhere between keeping my mouth shut so people will like me and slowly dying inside, I fight.  So much so that I'm geared up for it and everything someone says or does makes me react suddenly and angrily and all that hurt I've been holding inside comes gushing out.  I'm terrified to trust anyone but because I don't I still have the insatiable urge to BE close to someone.  So it's like that itch, that terrible, horrible itch, that I can never actually scratch.

4. I secretly crave snuggles.  I didn't have a particularly affectionate family.  Not that we were frosty with each other or anything, but we were never particularly touchy.  Physical affection makes me nervous. Doesn't mean I don't love it though, just means I don't know how to ask for it or make it happen.

5. I give.  I give my money, I give my time, I give my effort, I give my heart.  I do everything in my power to make the people close to me happy. And I let them take, and take, and take, until there is nothing left to give and they're still unhappy and I'm miserable.

That, I think, is what this is really about.  I'm tired of giving.  I'm tired of losing myself piece by painful piece. It always starts off small - pretending to like things I don't, pretending things are okay when they aren't.  I cover it all up with the mask of compromise - I'm compromising because I'm in a relationship and that's what you have to do.  But compromise works both ways - I give and give and give but whenever I ask for something in return I get excuses and avoidance and shot down.

Not anymore.

I know I'm probably going to go through a bossy, demanding bitch phase while I'm adjusting and I'm sorry for whomever chooses to deal with me during this.  But I deserve someone in my life that is at least willing to pretend to be interested in my singing, my homemade jewelry, my awesome kitty cat, and my winemaking.  I want someone that I can have a real conversation with - that isn't just about them, isn't just about me, isn't just about work, and doesn't consist of 1 word answers.

812.  I don't want to be that person anymore.  I don't want to be this transient entity that morphs to match the needs and desires of everyone around me.  I want to listen and I want to be heard.  I want to be half of a whole, not Atlas and not the World.  And I need someone that wants that too - who can will stand up to me when I need it and who will give me the free reign to be myself and not just a mirror of who I think they want me to be.

And, whomever you are, I hope that's a journey you and I can travel together.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

812 Reasons I'm not dead yet.

So, I know it's been a while, but I'm not dead yet.

I did, however, implement the new "stop trying to change everything just learn from prior mistakes" method I'd discussed before.  And, other than a few people I'd already established that pattern with that I did have a hard time breaking, it's been extremely successful.

Now, the downside of that has been that people that were accustomed to "doormat Jenn" have had difficulty adjusting to "don't tread on me Jenn".  I've been accused of being a cold, heartless bitch; passive-aggressive and difficult; and selfish.  But, I've also been told that I'm tough but fair and that I push the people around me to be better.  And those closest to me have stated that I have a new brightness, energy, and that I'm just generally happier than I've ever been before.  And they're right.

Since I began casting off all that didn't serve me, cutting ties with ex friends, boyfriends, and acquaintances; I've managed to focus on me for the first time in a very, very long time.  Now, I've been losing weight, making more sales than ever, finding new, awesome friends and reconnecting with old ones; and getting more sleep than I think I ever have that wasn't depression induced.  So, clearly I must be doing something right.

However, I still am having trouble fully letting go of the past.  I've managed to destroy the feelings I had for people that were preventing me from moving forward with my life, but I've yet been unable to retrain my reactions to new situations.  I've been told:

1. It's like I carry around the past with me like a bag of ammunition ready to unleash.

2. That I'm still reacting like an abuse victim and I assume everyone is going to hurt me.

3. That I need to forgive people for the past and accept that people really can change and treat things as new.

So, that's what I'm still working on.  And it's a much bigger issue than I ever expected it would be - to actually trust someone not to let me down, intentionally hurt me, disrespect me, or take me for granted is intensely difficult and I've been a frosty bitch toward everyone in self defense.  So, I'm probably doing a fantastic job of pushing people away right now but the few people that are still in the circle of trust have been goodly enough to tolerate me. 

But, the best part about this entire thing has been that I'm no longer dead inside.  I was so numb for so long - just sick to my stomach of being hurt that I didn't even give a shit anymore about anyone or anything.  And I ended up letting a lot of people in my life I shouldn't have and let them all stomp on what was left of my heart and self esteem.  Through time, effort, and self improvement I've gotten enough duct tape and crazy glue to smoosh everything back together and you know what?  I think it's actually beating again. 

I'll still be very wary of people for a while yet.  I know that.  But I think I'm finally ready to move on to Goal #2:

Goal 2: Be willing to trust people again. Stop being a closed-off ice queen to everybody - I'm smart, successful, and not too painful to look at.  People will like me for me.  If that's not enough for them - too bad for them.

Overall though, I do have to say - cutting ties with the people that had been holding me back has been by far the second best decision of my entire life, with getting Smidgen declawed being the first.  I can look at the people around me right now and feel good - I'm surrounded by people that respect and appreciate me for who and what I am, I'm not lying awake at night trying to figure out how to make them happy, they care about me and in turn are helping me to learn to care for myself. And it's working - I'm happier, healthier, and more successful than I've ever been.  If I'd know how toxic a select few people were to me I'd have shut the door years ago and NOT opened it back up.

They say living well is the best revenge, but I don't even care about revenge.  I don't even care about them, period. That part of my life is over and done with and the new part has been fantastic :-).  So, here's to the future and all the fame, fortune, and good times it holds.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

812 Reasons change is only for hippies and underwear.

So I've been on a huge change kick lately. I'm single for the first time in since 2003, I've gotten more aggressive with my job and am working on diversifying my income. I've been working out again. Overall, I am vying to get my house in order. Both figuratively and literally.

Life has been testing me lately. Things have been exponentially harder than I had hoped they would be, but pretty much on par with what I expected it to be. The hardest part? Actually recognizing what is a change and what is just the same thing with a different face on it. I've had to start looking for warning signs and realizing when I'm heading down the same path again.

So, that leads me to the next point - do I need to find a different path, or do I just need to find a better way to walk it? If I keep coming back to the same road over and over again, maybe that's just the best route to my destination. So, can I strap on a new pair or shoes, avoid the potholes and pitfalls, and actually make it to the finish line this time? I don't know.

All I do know is that I continue to end up on this path, no matter from whence I start. But, like playing Super Mario Bros., enough playthroughs and I'll learn where to jump and when to dodge and eventually I ought to be able to save the princess.

So maybe change is overrated. Maybe instead of changing everything in my life I can just focus on doing what I'm doing better. This gives me a new goal - to start learning from my old mistakes instead of just continually making new ones.

Goal #1 - Self-Worth.

I tend to lower my standards to meet the situations and people around me. I always do that and I see myself doing it. I don't blame the people around me, I blame myself for having such a poor self image that I continually turn myself into a doormat. But then I still get upset when I'm walked on. This last month I've been working toward holding those close to me accountable for their actions. If I can lower my expectations to meet them, they can raise their efforts. If they can't then too bad - that is the time to cut losses. What I'm not doing is waiting till im miserable and then just starting the process over on someone new. I don't go into a negotiation without knowing how low I'm willing to go - why should people be any different? I get emotionally involved, I don't want to push people away so I tolerate and adjust my expectations to match what I can get. So that is my goal - to hold people accountable and to develop standards, and if they cannot be met and a mutually beneficial situation cannot be reached I will cut my losses. And stick to it. I'm worth it. Anyone that can't see that doesn't need to be in my life in the first place.

So, that's step one. Not a full remodel but a good coat if paint and a few new fixtures my metaphorical house.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Best Moral Orel Quote Ever

From the episode "Maturity"
Clay: I don't know what's gotten into you lately, young man. Our talks just don't seem to be helping.
Orel: But Dad - I thought I was doing what you wanted.
Clay: Why on Earth would I ever want you to take my precious alcoholic beverages?
Orel: Because you wanted me to be more adult.
Clay: Orel, drinking on a daily basis is not the only way to be an adult.
Orel: Well I tried not talking about my feelings, too.
Clay: Oh son, behaving like a grown up is many things. First and for most it means doing things that you hate doing.
Orel: Like what, pop?
Clay: Well like dealing with people who make you unhappy, being stressed about things you have no control over, working soul-numbing jobs.
Orel: Ooh
Clay: Then gradually as we endure these hardships and accept them as normal, that's when we finally earned the right to get drunk and be emotionally distant from our families.
Orel: Just like my father. I love you dad.
Clay: I'm hungry too. Let's go eat!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

812 Reasons I am under construction.

Yesterday was a rather intense day.  I got to hash out my strengths, weaknesses, and such with both an esteemed sales consultant and one of my product reps.  So, after being built up and torn down multiple times in one day paired with financial/professional worries and general road trip strain, by the time I got home I just couldn't brain anymore.

Having had a 4 hour drive back and a relatively sleepless night, I've had some time to obsess over my faults and gotten a fresh perspective what I do well.  But, in typical Jennifer fashion, I'd rather focus on the negative so I'm currently processing the criticism - once I've come to terms with it and begun making progress towards correcting them then I'll be able to look at the positives and enjoy the fact that at least there are a couple of things out there I'm doing right.

Most of the feedback I get about myself is either glowing praise (from friends, company representatives/other agents, and clients) or harsh criticism.  Now, I come from a hypercritical family so I don't take criticism very well - I take it very personally and it destroys what minute level of self esteem I may have.  Now, the two people I talked to yesterday had constructive criticism - it wasn't meant to be hurtful or insulting and it was at my request for my own personal growth and improvement.  So, despite wanting to make excuses and defend myself. I did actually listen and take these things to heart.  Of course on the way back I was talking to 'The Boyfriend' and he decided to jump on the criticism bandwagon too.  His wasn't as much constructive as much as it was deprecating and insulting though.  Which made me realize - my professional faults are very much carrying over into my personal life.  So it's going to be a war on two fronts to retrain myself.

Well, I did a lot of ruminating on what the sales consultant had to say and have been formulating my game plan. 

I’m gonna ramble here for a moment so feel free to stop reading now.

I did a brief inventory of my bookshelves and home and realized that I only had 1 book that was strictly about sales.  Now, I have a plethora of books about interpersonal communication, neurolinquistic programming, and conflict resolution – including my Dale Carnegie books and Napoleon Hill; but only one damn book about sales.  I own more books about winemaking that I do once a year and I can’t even sell but only one book about my profession that is supposed to be paying my bills.  Hell, I have 3 books about CLEANING.  Yes, 3 books about cleaning. 3 books about coffee and 1 about caffeine. I have an entire shelf of just cookbooks.  But the only book on sales that I owned was one that Dad had me order for him, he took a glance at it and said it was the same rehashed shit he already knew, and then told me to read it.

I didn’t.

So, why is it that I read every article I can find, hoard brochures and product literature, and obsess about knowing my products inside and out, but yet I do nothing to improve my skills as a salesperson?  I've gotten lazy.  Salesmanship comes easily to me so I've not done anything to really train and hone my skills as a salesperson.  But, I want to take it to the next level - not just training my agents on the product but training them on how to be fantastic salespeople.  So why have I not put that same level of time, effort, and dedication into working on myself? 

I'm an incredible singer.  But I couldn't give voice lessons - I don't know how to explain to someone else how to improve their voice.  It's just something that I do that I do well and comes easily to me.  Therefore, I don't even attempt to teach others.  Why should sales be any different?

I've trained coworkers before - but showing someone effective ways of demonstrating the features of a pair of sunglasses or what questions to ask to figure out what kind of coffee someone will enjoy isn't the same thing as teaching someone how to walk into the house of a total stranger and go over their health, their wealth, and their needs to determine what type of health plan is their best fit and how to build a dedicated, lasting customer service relationship with that client. 

I just kind of assumed that sales manager was the next logical step up from being a salesman.  It seemed logical that moving forward would mean moving in that direction.  But, you've gotta dress for the job you want, not the job you got; and I need to do my own self-motivated training if I want to get there. 

Things I learned:

1. Listen
2. Slow Down
3. You can't be good at everything.
4. Focus on what you are excited about, not what you could force yourself to be excited about.
5. Don't get arrested or run away from the cops.
6. Find out who the right person is.
7. Be consistent.
8. Don't bullshit.
9. Hire the right talent.
10. Don't get knocked up.
11. It's not what you've done, it's what you can do better.
12. Professional Cat Snuggler is not a job.
13. The coach stays on the sidelines.  If things aren't getting done right, he can't just throw on a helmet and put himself in the game. Neither can you.
14. Just be on time.
812. Don't look down your cohosts' blouse on national television.

So, I've got a lot of work to do.  Work that isn't going to pay off immediately.  Work that is going to be double plus hard because it is working on myself.  So, I need to tear down some old ideas and rebuild faster, better, and stronger.

And, if all else fails, at least I can rest assured of the fact that I do make a damn good cup of coffee.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marketable Talents

My job has been going through a tremendous amount of change lately due to healthcare reform.  In light of this, I've had to do quite a bit of soul-searching and have really needed to focus on what my marketable talents are.  So, I wrote to a sales consultant I know and respect to ask him what to do.  Clearly I must have made some kind of an impact because we're getting together for coffee on Wednesday.  So, with personal information edited, here is the letter I sent:

Subject: You've had 5 minutes of my time, now I want 5 minutes of yours.

Hey ### –

I know you’re the busiest guy in the world and you meet way more people than you could even hope to remember 30 years ago but I am vain enough to believe that if you met me again it might at least spark some recognition.  We’ve met at a couple of @$^**$#@@@^& seminars I’m a 29 year old female (I don’t know if I should refer to myself as a girl or a woman or what anymore) that likes to blurt out things like “blow shit up”.  We did have a chat after the last time and I told you the story about my friend’s nephew that took 12 hours beating down every member of his household (he worked the entire chain of command at least twice) until he finally got his way and they let him hook his Nintendo Wii up to the internet.  I still consider it to be the best lesson in “never accept a No from someone that couldn’t give you a Yes in the first place” and “never underestimate the power of persistence” I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, I wasted that time trying to remind you of who I was in the hope that it might convince you to keep reading.  The point, if I have one, is that I am finding myself in a unique (and by unique I mean slightly desperate) situation – (&%^@%^%*&^(*())@.  Being that I like things like food and hot water that puts me in a bit of a predicament.  So, for the first time ever, I think I need to job hunt. 

I’m rambling on like this to you because I’m hoping you have idea of how I should market myself.  I’m brilliant and talented and easily bored so I need something that is interesting and challenging that won’t end up with me having to move back in with my parents.  I just have no idea where to start, what to do, or what to look for.  I am afraid that if I just start sending out resumes to a bunch of companies I’m going to end up landing in a cubicle somewhere earning 30K a year and I know that I can do bigger and better things than that.  I’m sure I probably sound like a jackass but hey, there is a time for humility and it’s not when you’re in the middle of trying to sell yourself.

Jobs have never been an issue for me – I’ve always been hired just based on reputation and word of mouth.  So, this does give me an opportunity to auction myself off to the highest bidder like some kind of show pony based on my sales prowess and my Rainman-like Medicare knowledge.  I’ve always said there are 3 things I do GREAT and only 2 of them make money – singing and selling health insurance.  But, I figure I shouldn’t limit myself to that so I started thinking of other marketable talents that I possess.

Things I’m Good At –
Bringing energy and excitement into the thrilling and fascinating world of health insurance (yes, it can be done)
Product Knowledge/Development
Teaching and Motivating Others
Public Speaking
Pitching products/ideas
Travelling (I’m not married, don’t have kids, don’t own a home, and don’t have any high-maintenance pets)
Pretty much anything that involves having to think on my feet and work with people – for some reason, people tend to like me (I still can’t figure out why) and I tend to inspire confidence; so I play well with others.
Fixing wayward office supplies MacGuyver-style with paperclips and duct tape

Things I’m not so good at –
Cubicles/sitting at a desk 8 hours a day with my only view being a computer screen and a wall. I need some kind of variety/stimulation or my brain turns to moosh.  I’m a momentum person.  The more stimulating my environment the more productive I am.
Punctuality unless it’s for a meeting or something important.  Then I’m early.  If not, I tend to run about 2 minutes late.
Accounting.  I can do it it’s just not something I’m naturally good with.  Sometimes I get angry at numbers.

All I have is a $3000 car and a $30 cat (estimated retail value).  I’m not married, don’t have kids, and don’t have any high-maintenance pets.  So I am willing to move if necessary.

So that is my predicament.  Now, I don’t expect you to think for free – but as $$$ is a bit of an issue for me at the moment I’ve had to be a bit more creative in how to compensate you for your time.  Compensation is negotiable and including but not limited to:

Wash up to 3 of your cars
Clean up to 3 of your bathrooms
Help you dispose of up to 3 bodies

So if you have ANY idea of what I should do, please, either drop me a line, send me a text, or give me a call.  My cell number is ###-###-####

If you made it this far, your time and attention to my plight is GREATLY appreciated.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Shoes

So I finally got myself the Vibram FiveFingers Classics I've been wanting since 2008.  This was a momentous day in Jennifertown and I discovered that I have several friends that have been debating a pair of their own.  So here is my review of my experience with the shoes thus far:

  1. The ordering process was simple and even with ground shipping I got them in two days. 
  2. I love how flat and flexible they are and the fact that you don't have to wear them with socks.  I've recently went to Charleston, SC; and spent 2.5 days traipsing all over the town.  By halfway through day 2 I was already down to flip flops, having started with heels, moved down to dress sandals, and was now in my Reef flip flops as they were the closest thing to sportswear I packed.  I didn't want to bring sneakers because they take up too much space in one's suitcase and I refuse to check luggage.  Also, then you have to pack socks to go with them, and then you've spent an 8th of your total baggage on one pair of footwear.  I prefer slip on shoes for air travel as I like to make it through security quickly and hassle free.  These take up almost no space and I can easily see using these as my airport shoes from now on.
  3. I feel like spiderman in these shoes.  I swear if I weren't so far overweight I'd probably have Wall Climb ability now.  Or at least wall jump.  They're grippy and I feel more in tune with the surfaces under my feet.
  4. Simple design - I got the black/black in the classic design for my first pair because I wanted something that wouldnt' be too obtrusive in public for casual wear.  I feel I can wear these in sitations where sneakers wouldn't be appropriate but where I want something more than dress shoes or sandals, such as tooling around Charleston or some event where you have to dress moderately nice but will still be required to do some walking.
  5. Super easy to clean.  I don't have to worry about getting them wet or muddy or smelly as I can just throw them in the washing machine.  Just don't put them in the dryer.
  1. I have long toes and they have a slight curl to them.  My second toe is also longer than my big toe. I did understand that this would effect the fit of the shoes.  Having my toes straightened out in the shoes is a little bit of an odd sensation - not uncomfortable but it does make me "aware" of my toes in a way I am unaccustomed to.
  2. In order to get the toe length properly fitted, the heel is a bit loose.  Now I do actually have well defined heels, I know some people don't; but I have had issues with the back of the shoe sliding up and down.  I am afraid a smaller size would scrunch my toes though which would drive me batty, so this isn't enough of an issue to pursue.  I may get some kind of heel cup for them and see if that helps.  Had I gone with a style that has an upper or a strap I doubt I would be having this issue.
  3. My style has a cord that can be tightened in order to prevent slipping.  I can't seem to find the happy medium where it's comfortably fitted all the way around though - it seems too tight across the top of my foot and too loose in the heel when I tighten it more than a little bit.
Breaking them in:
  1. Day 1 I had some soreness and tenderness across the bridge of my foot due to overtightening the cord to keep the heel from slipping.  I wore them more loosely the next day and they felt much better.
  2. The sensation of having material between my toes is a bit awkward but I'm sure I'll adjust to it. 
  3. The backs of my heels are feeling a little bit tender and blistery.  I put some lotion on them and they felt better and didn't bother me on day 2 until I switched to some dress sandals that rubbed in exactly the same place.
  4. So far I've worn them on hardwood, concrete, carpet, and cement.  I've not done any jogging or rough terrain in them and am interested in how they'll feel.  They seem to be very tactile and give you very accurate feedback about the ground you're on, hopefully they are thick enough that it won't hurt too badly to step on a rock.
  5. The lack of padding is a concern of mine for jogging as I am a big girl, but as they allow your foot to fall naturally (landing with the ball of the foot first instead of the heel) I'm hoping this will actually help me out with the heel problems I've been having on my right foot.  Also, I'm hoping this will reduce shin splints I tend to be prone to.
  6. Walking in these is more like walking in heels than in flats - you don't walk heel-toe, at least not to the degree one would in sneakers.  I'm sure it's probably easier for women to adjust to these than men in that fashion.
In closing, I'm looking forward to wearing these as my go-to shoe for the summer.  If they live up to their expectations I do hope to invest in a second pair - probably one with a strap or upper - for the gym.  So thus far I'm enjoying them, if I could just work out the heel slip problem I think they'd be perfect.

The Daily Smidge

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Daily Smidge

This is a picture of Smidgen when she was about 3 months old in December 2009.  I was trying to wrap Christmas presents.  She was coaching.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Originally submitted at UncommonGoods

Slip into a pair of Freudian slippers for the ultimate foot therapy session. These plush, comfy slippers will keep feet cozy and supported, and Freud's red tongue will wiggle when you move your toes. Now all you have to do is lay down on the couch and talk about your childhood. Made in China.

No slip ups with these slippers.

By Jayelin from Middletown, OH on 2/18/2011


5out of 5

Sizing: Feels half size too big

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Durable Sole, Cute, Stylish

Best Uses: Lounging, Psych Class Presentations, Home

Describe Yourself: Style Driven

I bought my first pair in 2007 - one pair for me and one for a friend that was also a psych major. They were our instant favorites and we often wore them to class as the sole is surprisingly durable. After 4 years of hard wear & a couple of times through the washing machine, I had worn through all but the rubber. So, I just bought a replacement pair.

A must have for any budding psychologist. I even used them as the basis for my senior capstone essay on internal multiplicity, dialogue, and change. They've been a hit at school, at work, at friend's houses, family reunions, and even as after party footwear.

Only downside - on this second pair the tongue on the left side is significantly narrower than the right, I might send them back as it seems to be a defect. The original pair was a perfect fit and the right slipper is perfectly fine. I normally wear a 9 but both pairs I've owned have been size smalls.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Reason 812 why I love a good conversation.

There are very few things in life I genuinely appreciate as much as good conversation.  Not just small talk, but where the conversation becomes a living, dynamic part of the company.  Over time I've come to realize that good conversation does not come from good topics, but from good conversationalists. 

812 Attributes of an Excellent Conversationalist

1. They make their point and elaborate on it, but don't harp on restating it over and over simply with different wording.
2. They don't create filler just to lead and dominate the conversation.
3. Unless they point they are making or story they are telling is extremely important, they will let the topic derail and move onto whatever flows next.
4. This isn't small talk.
5. They do not agree with everything you say for the sake of agreement.  They will be able to elaborate on why they agree without simply restating what you just said.
6. They will not disagree with everything simply for the sake of being disagreeable.
7. They understand that disagreement does not need to result in conflict, anger, or a need to be "right".
8. They are knowledgeable about a myriad of topics. 
9. Even if they are not well versed in the topic at hand, they still follow and attempt to learn rather than force steering it into a realm they are more comfortable with.
10. They appreciate the value of educating, informing, enlightening, and sharing knowledge, opinions, and experiences.
11. They are not out to propagate their agenda or force you to their way of thinking.
12. They are not limited to 1 or 2 "go to" topics.  They do not turn every conversation to the same topic.
13. They understand that they are only the most fascinating person in the universe to their self - others may enjoy hearing about them and their life, but not all the damn time.  A good conversationalist can have an excellent conversation about anything, a bad one can have an excellent conversation about their self.
14. A good conversationalist listens.  A bad one is only waiting for their next opportunity to talk.

Excellent conversation fires up the mind.  It invigorates the soul.  Many of the greatest moments in my life have been centered around a night of talk - whether liquor fueled or not - with friends, family, or even people I'd just met.  Although it hardly holds a candle to face to face communication, I've even had excellent conversations via IM or other media.

I love the feeling when one can hardly even break away to go to the bathroom or get another drink because it's so difficult to break the flow of thoughts.  When the great philosophies of life end up scribbled on the backs of bar napkins.  When words get imprinted on the mind and thoughts upon the soul.  When the only thing that can drag you away is time or interference, not boredom or fatigue. 

Good conversation is inspirational.  It infuses the mind and spirit with thoughts that come alive.  It invigorates one's day with creativity and sends neurons sparking on all cylinders. It fends off negative ruminations and serves as a reminder that there is other intelligent life out there and that we can find it. 

Inspiring conversation is addictive.  Once you get a taste for it you just crave more.  Small talk and chit chat just don't cut it anymore.  There are so many things out there much more fascinating than what you've been doing lately and what's new in pop culture.  I want to know what sets someones soul on fire.  I've been reconnecting with some excellent conversationalists and I've come to notice that it's made me thirsty for more.  It's been a long time since I've actually been able to sit down and talk with anyone that didn't default to work or other life stressors.  And now all I can think about is when and where I'm going to get my next fix ;-P


Friday, January 7, 2011


I wanted to apologize for the 6 week gap in posts.  It wasn't because I got off to a running start then promptly ran out of material, it was because I was moving.  Yep.  Anyone that has moved before I'm sure understands what that entails, but just in case you didn't, I'm going to let you know the process this move took.

It all started when my twin brother moved to California.  Dad, Twin, and I all sat down and had a powwow in Dad's basement and after several rounds of Black Bush & Coke it was decided that I would buy Twin's house.  I was excited, my current house was in an iffy neighborhood and had some fairly significant flaws.  It had character, but the pro's of the character were outweighed by the con's of the flaws and neighborhood.  Also, Twin was leaving his house furnished, so other than some $$$ for a tv and soundsystem he was leaving, I was inheriting a lot of very nice furniture and appliances.  So, he got out of having to gut and sell the house, and I got a very substantial upgrade in my living situation.

Normally, whenever I've moved in the past, I've spent weeks boxing things up, organizing help, organizing a truck, and setting a day when I'd get everything done at once.  This was not one of those moves.

Firstly, the house I was moving into needed a lot of work.  As aforementioned, they left me a lot of fantastic stuff, which I very truly appreciate.  But with the furniture and the house came the clutter and mess left when someone has 1.5 weeks to move across the country.  So, I was essentially moving my full house into their full house.  Granted they got rid of a lot of stuff and I did too, but it produced a unique situation where there was the additional step of having to clean off a shelf or clean out a cabinet before having the room for my things.  So, everything in the house I touch I must make a decision about - keep, move, toss, donate.  Dust/wipe down/vacumn, then unload the things I wanted to put there in the first place.  It's been fascinating discovering the things that are now mine, sometimes finding things that I don't even know what they are, and possibly even discovering new uses for some items; but it does make everything into a 3 step process.

Secondly, don't ever move in December.  It's nearly impossible to find help.  I spent a month just moving over a carload at a time several night a week trying to work around Work, Church, Choirs, Holiday functions, etc.  Weather was an issue - trying to plan any help for big items on days when it wouldn't be precipitating or ungodly cold.  Salt and wet get tracked all over the floors.  Everybody is busy.  Money is tight.  Moving on a sunny, 70 degree day in spring or fall when there isn't much going on is easy.  Moving when it's 38 degrees out and you have to vacumn the mud out of the carpet in your old house before the sun goes down because you've already moved all the lamps not so much so.

Everything becomes a priority.  I tried to have a game plan.  I tried to get the new house spotlessly clean and organized before moving my things in.  I tried to take things one room at a time.  It didn't happen.  I was going to start with the upstairs (it didn't need much work) and then work my way down from there.  I was going to make my bedroom, the kitchen, and the family room all box-free zones so that I could be able to relax a little bit.  Didn't happen.  I had priorities, like minor fixes, painting, etc. that I wanted to get done before moving my stuff in.  Didn't happen.

I ended up just starting in the areas I was using the most - kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and working my way out from there.  Most of the cleaning I did already needs to be re-done due to dust and crud being tracked in on boxes and shoes.  All the deep cleaning - cleaning the furniture, scrubbing the floors, etc. turned into quick wipedowns and swifferings.  My kitchen table turned into two piles - cleaning products & stuff I don't know what to do with.  I can't find things like pliers because I "put them away" and I don't remember where "away" is.  Everyone that sees the house has a different idea of "what you need to do first".  Everything takes money. 

So, I've had to adapt a new philosophy on the house - "My priority is to not have a priority.  I'll do what I want to do, when I feel like doing it, until eventually the house is at least clean and everything is either where it should be or at least in a box on a storage shelf."  So far it's been working.  The upstairs is coming together, the main floor only has a few trouble spots, the basement still needs a lot of work but that is by far the least used part of the house, so it hasn't really bothered me yet.  When it warms up a bit the garage and decks will need some work, but as it's January in Ohio right now, hanging out outside isn't really happening. 

Internet hasn't even been a priority.  For some reason my laptop won't find any networks right now, so until I get that working or get my desktop set up (which involves getting the office set up, which involves cleaning the basement) my only home internet access is through my phone.  The Droid X does have a fantastic screen, but it's just not optimal for writing anything of this size when typing with thumbs.  Also, I work in front of a computer all day, so when I get home at night if I'm going to boot up a computer it has to be for something significantly more interesting than word processing.  Not having internet or cable is actually quite nice, I've been going through my dvd collection, reading books, getting things done around the house at a much higher rate than when I don't have my DVR holding all my favorite shows on standby.  I haven't even done any gaming yet. 

Overall, I'm happy to be in the new house and I am enjoying it immensely.  But it has taken quite some time to get it where it is and I know it will be a long journey to get the house where I want it to be, but I am to the point now where I don't spend half my mornings digging through boxes and bags to find something I need, I can cook a proper meal without having to go searching for something, and I can chill on the couch with a hot fire, a soft kitty, a warm blankie, a stiff drink, and watch House dvds without staring at boxes.  And for now, that works for me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

812 Reasons I Don't Have Kids or Dogs.

Lest you think this is going to be some kind of child/motherhood bashing blog post, it is not.  This is just a humorous look at my views of children and why I don't have any. - JLK

I've gotten to a point in my life where all of my friends are breeding.  Some intentionally, some not, some with a spouse, some on their own, some have kids that are already half-grown at this point.  I do not.

Things I am:
I'm 28.
I'm single.
I have a College degree.
I have a house.
I have a long term boyfriend.

The things that I think I would need in order to procreate:
A Husband (and not just someone that marries me, someone that would be capable of being a father)

I have none of these things.  That, in a nutshell, is why I do not have children.

But wait, there's more -

I feel that being a parent is more than just spawning a child.  I think that if you're going to do it, you need to do it right.  I do realize that things like time, money, and sanity will never be there in the amounts I would feel would be adequate prior to bringing a child into the universe; however, I also believe that if I wanted to get a dog, say, I would need to accept the time, effort, and financial drain that it would cause.  I'd have to make sure someone could put the dog out multiple times a day.  I'd have to budget for vet visits, dog food, time for yard cleanup and grooming, walking, etc.  I'd have to arrange for someone to care for the dog when I'm out of town. I'd have to accept that sometimes the dog will get into things, destroy things, keep me up at night, have accidents in the house, and although a lot of this can be minimized due to good training, dog will still have slip ups from time to time.  For those reasons and more, I choose not to have a dog.

So, if I can't handle the pressure and responsibility of a dog, why should I have a child?  Being a woman approaching 30, there is an excessive amount of pressure being put on me to settle down and have kids.  I've spent the last 10 years focusing on my schooling and career, building a nest (securing decent housing, having a decent car, trying to keep some money in the bank), and focusing in my mental, spiritual, and physical health.  Now that I feel like I'm finally getting close to achieving those things, the pressure is on.  Even my doctor is telling me that the clock is ticking.  Me? I didn't even acknowledge the clock until I was told my time is running out.  But, at the same time, I still don't feel ready.

I still have no deep maternal instinct driving me to have children.  I don't see that as a hole in my life waiting to be filled.  I have a boyfriend, I have a cat, I have a nice place to live and nice things - other than working on my singing career and working harder in my insurance career so that I'll have financial security, I don't see my life as missing anything major.  I've always felt that the first step to being a parent is to want to have a child.

As far as dogs go, I already have a cat.  She knows and responds to her name, she plays with toys, she chases her tail and plays fetch, and she gives awesome snuggles.  She also poops in a box that only needs scooping a couple of times a week.  The work to reward ratio is pretty high with my kitty. 

I am sometimes afraid that I'll change my mind later on and regret not procreating.  When all my friends' children are grown and they're cool and enjoyable to hang out with, when I'm old and feeble and have no one to take care of me.  But I don't think that justifies bringing someone into the world just to have someone to be responsible for me when I can no longer care for myself properly.  I think that's a greedy, selfish reason to have children.  Much like how people tell me I need to get a dog for security purposes.  It only costs $20 a month for security system monitoring, and my security system isn't going to go off every time a car door shuts across the street.

Maybe I'm just not big on kids because I don't know any.  There aren't any children in my close family.  When I am around kids, it's at a large family function where there are like 10 of them swarming around and it makes me nervous and uncomfortable.  I can't relate to kids.  Every now and then I meet one and it's quiet, well behaved, and cute.  I wouldn't mind having a kid if it were like that.  Most of the kids I meet are loud, obnoxious, annoying, and destructive.  Those are the kind that make me glad I'm not a mommy.  Kind of like dogs, I only know 3 dogs that just chill out and don't get into everything.  Those dogs are pretty awesome.  All the other dogs all bark and whine at everything, destroy objects and furniture, and intentionally use the house as a bathroom.  Those dogs make me glad I don't have one.

Now, with both dogs and kids, I do accept that a lot of their behavior is due to their training and upbringing.  If you set them on the right course early in life they'll not much stray from it later in life.  It is also possible that, with hard work and dedication, you can correct behavioral problems later even if they've gotten out of hand.  But, I know it's always easier to judge when it's not yours.  I know that with the amount of work that goes into children and dogs it's easier to just let them cry/bark and tune it out than to do something about it.  I know it's easier to indulge their fits than to council and rectify the behavior.  But, tis easier to resist the first temptation than to satisfy all that come after it, and children and dogs will both push for what they want, and eventually one caves to them and they get positive reinforcement for a negative behavior.  Then you have to work twice as hard to re-assert your authority. 

Being a parent is a full time job.  I have a full time job.  It's called work.  But, although I do tend to obsess about work in my free time, I do have free time to pursue my hobbies, volunteer work, organizations, or to just chill if I so choose.  With a dog, I'd have to either crate it, risk it running loose in the house all day and possibly destroying things, get a sitter, or take it with me wherever I go.  With a kid I'd be limited to the latter two options.  No more romance, no more relaxation, no more Jennifer time.  Even with a sitter I'd always have to be available for an emergency phone call.  I'd have to either quit my job or have the kid spend half its day with someone else.  I know I could do the "daddy takes the first shift then works evenings and mommy takes the second shift" thing, but then you're left with more of a business than a family.

I do believe a child should have both a mother and a father present.  I do not mean this offensively, I mean it as something that I have observed both through my psychological/antropological schooling and through experience.  I think that dual-gender parenting is a crucial part of a childs' development and without both parents present it leaves a significant gap in the childs' ability to develop relationships later in life.  I think both the female and male influence is also critical in the childs' development of their own personality and identity.  Now, I do know that a child can still grow up in a loving, secure environment with either a 1 parent family or with same-gender parents, and of course I would consider that to be preferable to growing up in a disfunctional or unloving family, but I do think that it is not ideal for optimal social development.

Likewise, dogs are social animals.  I don't think it's good for them to be home alone all day, even if they're not crated.  Cats are relatively anti-social animals, and yet when I come home from work my kitty is all over me with the "Oh my God where were you I missed you so much I just want to be a part of you" kitty snuggles.  We play games, we talk to each other, we hang out together - and I've heard from The Boyfriend that if he has to stop over when I'm not there, kitty gets all excited and does the same thing to him.  So she clearly seems to enjoy having company as she never got that excited about anyone coming home before when I had a roommate and a roommates' cat. 

So, I don't know.  Maybe it's because I'm self centered and want to live my life for me and can't be bothered with smelly, noisy things running around my house.  Maybe it's because I think that I'm ill-prepared for motherhood and would rather go without than create a life I do not have the capacity to be responsible for. 

Maybe I'm just scared of children because I have no exposure to them.  There are not many children in my family.  The ones we do have I only see sparingly.  My house is full of fragile, valuable, and pointy things.  I don't think Smidgen (the kitty) would be too fond of a child pulling her tail.  I've never changed a diaper.  I'm sure dealing with children wouldn't seem as scary if I were exposed to them more often, but I'm not.  I don't know what type of crying means what.  I'm a fraternal twin - I'm much more likely to have twins than a non-twin.  I could end up with two kids at once like my parents did.  Could I handle Double Trouble? 

I don't know. 

Is a kid an all-encompassing fungus that permeates every tendril of your being,
so you can hardly walk;
or is it just like having a fussy dog
that slowly learns how to talk? 
Could be that I am wrong
and a child is the best thing ever,
even better than if I had
a PS3 and a kitty cat fused together?
I'm still trying to decide
if I'm meant to be a mother;
or if I can live my life for me
and leave the breeding to my brother?