Sunday, August 28, 2011

Looking Busy

A long time ago in a law firm far, far away, I was a Litigation Paralegal.  Many of my fellow paralegals would talk about how busy they were.  They would eat lunch at their desk and always have some papers with them.  They may have been creating a deposition abstract or proof-reading an index of a document production.  They would work on these on their Metra train rides home.

This was in the early 90s, back before the days of connecting remotely to the office and working from home meant bringing a bunch of hard copy documents home with you. 

I've never been good at looking busy.  Either I have something to do or I'm looking for the next task.  Often when I finish something, I submit to my Adult ADD and surf the web or find some other activity to stimulate my brain. 

It's one thing to work through lunch in order to leave work early.  It's another thing to consistently work through lunch in order to just leave on time.  That is a sign that its time to look for another gig.  Working some extra hours during a busy season is one thing.  Having a busy season that lasts all fiscal year is another.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We're All a Little Screwed Up

What I learned this summer:  A couple months ago I got one of those calls you hear about and hope you never personally get.  A friend was dead and the circumstances were not known.  A few hours later it was learned, or shared, that Craig took a bunch of sleeping pills and washed them down with vodka, one of the hard liquors he wasn't very fond of.

Sometime this year, I also learned that a friend has an eating disorder.  She told me that she was borderline anorexic, though I've since learned that she's more bulimic.  Intuitively, she knows better but somethng inside is set to believe that every calorie she eats will somehow transform that too skinny to give blood body into a an overweight person.

I've always thought both of these friends had their sh** together better than I did.  The reality is that their Alpha Gene is set to On while mine is set to off.  While it gives me no comfort to know that their personal demons are of the same magnetude as mine, it does make me feel like I can give myself a little break and not be so hard on myself.

Confessions of a First Generation Pole:  Spearking of not being so hard on myself, this article sums it up neatly.

Knowing the language seems the defining line between identifying as Polish or American. ...For my part, because I’ve forgotten what little Polish I knew, the language barrier prevents me from getting Poles to see me as one of their own—I’m just another American.  [Source]
When I was growing up, I didn't like being called a Pole-lock by my Puerto Rican schoolmates.  So while I never denied being Polish, I certainly downplayed it and didn't embrass my ethnicity until my late 20s and early 30s.

I've tried to re-learn the language. My mom claims I did speak some Polish as a child.  However neither classrooms at Discovery Center or Rosetta Stone has proven successful, mostly because I don't have the discipline to do the Rosetta Stone on a beautiful summer day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I know this much about weddings

The Wedding is one day, the Marriage is, hopefully, forever.  This is the mantra that gets many a bride and groom through the planning stages of a wedding.  The Wedding Report, an industry publication, reports that the average wedding costs $29,000 in the U.S:

Here's what I've learned about planning a wedding and would tell myself if I could get in a Delorean and go back in time.

1)  Someone is paying for that wedding. Whether its you, the Bride's parents, Elmo or a combination thereof, if you think that you might possibly have some type of celebration to commemorate your marriage, start saving immediately -- even before you find your future spouse. 

Some people have parents who have put aside money for them. This is great.  However, your parents might get laid off before retirement or have some medical emergency and that money you were counting on is gone. Or your parents can only give so much money yet you want extras like chair covers, floor length table clothes
and a deejay who will show up.  These things cost extra.  Start saving.  Now.

The worst that can happen is you use that money elsewhere -- home downpayment, kickass honeymoon, Bourbon and strippers, whatever.

2)  Wedding Vendor Cartel and price fixing.  Wedding vendors want large non-refundable deposits upfront and they often incentivize you to pay cash.  After all, if you are going to pay $1000 for flowers but will receive a 20% discount ($200) if you pay cash, how can you refuse. With some of the vendors, you end up paying 80-100% of the cost before the wedding date.  The good part is you don't have to deal with it on your wedding day.  The bad part is, you are sweating bullets that everything will go off without a hitch.

3)  The Point of No Return.  When you add up the cost of a wedding versus flying to Vegas and having Elvis marry you, the difference is staggering.  Still there comes a point when you realize that even if you forfeited all the deposits and grabbed the next flight out to Vegas, you would still come out ahead cost-wise.

3a) The Real Point of No Return. Then you reach a point where you've hemeraged so much money and have little to show for it, unless you actually go through with the wedding.  This is the riskiest moment.

Say for instance, your wedding photographer skips out on your wedding because she went to a Rave the night before and woke up in some other city.  Sure you have a contract and can go through the long, lengthy legal process of getting your money back.  What you cannot do is get in that Delorean and go back and pick a more dependable photographer.  Your marriage is still legit though starting off on a stressful note, but your wedding is ruined.