Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life. Don't talk to me about life.

Life has suddenly become real again. As I embarked on a new career, everything seemed perfect. My spouse found a wonderful new job, I had a fabulous boss, and we bought a Wii.

Over the last few days, however, life is no longer the picture perfect image I always dreamed I would have. Don't get me spouse still has a wonderful job, my boss is still fabulous, and our Wii works just fine. The problem is with life itself.

Two dear friends have decided to part ways. I struggle with what that means for our Friday night gatherings. I struggle to imagine either of them without the other. I struggle with what to say to one who is happy and the other who is not.

My marriage is strong and I am head over heels in love. Everyday we laugh together. But I can't help but wonder about our relationship. If we ever decided to split up, who would move out? Who would be the one who was not happy? I often joke that I would move in with his mother because we have such a good relationship. He often jokes that he would stalk me because he couldn't live without me. Are these just jokes we say out loud to protect ourselves from the insecurities we have inside?

Saturday, July 18, 2009


This week has been...what's the word?...interesting.

First, I am officially down to two weeks of undergrad classes. This trek to get a piece of paper has taken 15 years, involved 5 schools, and covered 4 states. I apologize for the lack of posts, but I'm exhausted.

Now to the interesting part of my week. So, I'm hanging out in my office (cube) and I get an e-mail that a visitor from our sister company will be hanging out in the *real* office near my cube. I'm still new and I want to build some credibility so I introduce myself to this Senior HR person. We start talking about where he's from (Nashville) and where he grew up (Memphis) and it turns out that we went to the same freaking elementary school together. Cue Twilight Zone music. He was three years ahead of me so I didn't know him, but you better believe I pulled out my yearbooks to check it out!

Later that same day, I am checking Facebook (I am an addict) and I have a friend request...from my friend from elementary school! Not exactly sure how she found me, but WOW! Two people in one day...bizzare for sure.

To further emphasize how long it's been since I was at Ross Elementary, or any other school in Memphis, I received an invitation for my 15 year high school reunion.

This got me thinking about school and what I learned or didn't learn. As I was digging up my yearbooks, I decided I would document some memorable moments in my young educational career. My highlights are based on which yearbooks I still have, so please don't think that this is all I learned...

First grade: I don't remember anything. I just think it is funny that in my yearbook I wrote my own name above my picture. I also think it's funny that my hair has wings. (hehee wings - have a happy period.)

Sixth grade: This may be the first year that I was truly called a tomboy. In fact, I am pretty sure that this picture was taken after a rousing game of kickball on the field behind the school.

The only thing that I remember about sixth grade is that girls never got picked first in gym class and Steal the Bacon is the best game in the world.

Ninth grade: I have no excuse for that shirt. All I can imagine is that my tomboy tendencies never ceased. At least I brushed my hair.

This was my first year in a school where I didn't know anyone. Totally awesome.

Tenth grade: No comment about the outfit or the haircut.

Lots of firsts this year. First job. First D in a class (I still hate history). First time I well-you-know. (Sorry you had to find out like this, Dad, but surely you knew.)

Eleventh grade: Boo for SATs! Boo for college applications! Boo for no driver's license! Hooray for $4.25 an hour!

Senior year: My last year of high school is a blur. I mostly remember working in the mall, hanging out with J** and M**, and planning what my life would be like when I grew up.

I'm glad my plans failed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

For Better or Worse

I have experienced many firsts over the last two weeks and this seems the perfect platform to share.
  • June 15 - First time I used the gym in about a year. Don't judge.
  • June 15 - Also the first time I took a shower at work. Awkward!
  • June 17 - First day I wore jeans to work.
  • June 21 - First anniversary. Yummy Bonefish for dinner!
  • June 24 - First custom computer built for me.
Perhaps the best (or worst) first for me was that I discovered the first reason why marriage kinda sucks.

Here is a picture of my hand. Notice that weird black thing on my finger? Disgusting, isn't it? Well it feels gross, too. Still wondering what it is? It is a blood blister!! You may not be able to tell, but there are actually two of them.

Your next question is probably, how did you get them? And the answer resides in the best (or worst) first reason why marriage kinda sucks.

Today, my company held its annual summer picnic. We had a fun time playing mini-golf, hitting balls on the driving range, and pigging out. As we were leaving, I suggested we try the batting cages. After all, it's free!

We go to the wimpy one with the 18mph softball. It was broken, so we had to do the 45mph baseball. No biggie, right? Wrong. I wasn't paying attention to the sign and it turns out that the cage was calibrated for little league players. So even though I am short, every pitch was way to low. And after 10 pitches and 9 misses (I managed to hit one with the side of my hand and ripped my thumb nail), I ended up with two blood blisters from my wedding ring. I wonder if I can claim worker's comp...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My face hurts

I never thought I would be able to say "I love my job" about another company, but after one week at my new company, I can.

If you will indulge me for a few minutes, I will recap the top 10 reasons that I love my new job:

10. I have 24 hour access to a gym. The gym is not a cheesy hotel gym, but a huge space with machines, free weights, and Direct TV everywhere.

9. Every morning at 8AM Dunkin Donuts delivers donuts, bagels, and muffins to our cafeteria. We are on the honor system and pay 50 cents for each.

8. We can order our lunch online from Apple Spice Junction. The money is directly debited from our paycheck.

7. My co-workers wear snuggies at their cubicles when they get cold.

6. The entire HR department celebrates each person's b-day by ordering a cake of the person's choice. This week, I had a Strawberry Passion cake from Cold Stone Creamery and a giant chocolate chip cookie from Mrs. Field's.

5. Business casual is the norm. People can wear jeans and sneakers if they want to during the week, and everyone does on Friday. (I felt overdressed in my Crocs.)

4. We have summer hours, which means that every week until Labor Day, we are encouraged to take a half day off - morning or afternoon of any day during the week.

3. I don't have a specific start or end time. My colleagues and I are truly measured by objectives. Many people work from home, including a colleague who lives in Oregon and my boss who lives in Cleveland. (This means that if C and I move out of state, I won't need to quit my job!)

2. The Director of HR greeted me on the first day of work with a hug and said, "Nikol! I'm so glad you said yes!"

1 1/2. I went to the ASTD conference in DC. Every year, the entire department attends a conference some where in the US.

1. I can and will make a difference.
My face hurts from smiling so much.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A new leaf

Just a quick note about my little blog. You probably noticed a visual change. (And remember, change is good.) Since I am no longer unemployed (woot!), I thought it would be silly to continue writing about my adventures with unemployment. Instead, this blog will be all about my favorite subject - me.

And to keep you entertained, please take a peek at the following video.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stay classy Provident Bank

It's been over a week since I have seen my colleagues, or ex-colleagues and I find it interesting that I am feeling such a sense of loss. As most of you know, I worked in a satellite office where I would go for weeks without seeing or talking to some of my colleagues. Yet, now I have an undeniable craving for the camaraderie that we shared during our last few months together.

I have had the entire week to reflect on what my experience at Provident Bank has meant to me. I have been promising this post for weeks and I am just now finding the words that I want to share with my ex-colleagues, my friends, and the world.

My experience at Provident has been filled with hope, disappointment, frustration, excitement, but most of all growth. Provident will always be the place where I grew up. I have learned so much about myself at this organization. I learned how to be patient (although my husband may disagree). I learned how to be flexible. I learned how to be a professional.

In a recent Creative Writing class, I had to write about a "strange place." Instead of writing about a physical place, I wrote about the strange emotions I felt over the last six months - from the announcement of the buyout to the pending loss of my job, and the not-so-subtle hope that the acquisition wouldn't commence. As therapeutic as that activity was, I realized that so much of who I am was dependent on what I did.

I don't know when I became one of those people who always asks, "What do you do for work?" before asking, "What do you do for fun?" This past week has allowed me some time to explore my history - how did I become that person? And the answer is simple: I love my job, therefore, everyone else must love theirs, too.

Provident Bank, my colleagues, my friends, taught me that. They taught me to love my job, to love my profession, and to love who I am. Thank you.

**Lesson learned: I will always be a Provident employee.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's not you, it's me

As you know, I have been searching fruitlessly for a new job. Finally, over the last few weeks, I have been called, interviewed, and background checked by two different companies. I was fortunate enough to have two offers on the table. After a few days days of back and forth, I opted to take the job with more flexibility, autonomy, and exciting domestic travel. I'll soon be seeing the sights of Montana, South Dakota, Oregon, Mississippi, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas. (Trust me, Arkansas is a lot prettier than you think!)

I made my final decision on Friday afternoon and I realized that I also needed to turn down the other position. Before making the call, I rehearsed. I thought about what I would say, and I decided to thank the recruiter for renegotiating my salary for a $10k increase, for getting me in to see the head of the department, and for being willing to talk to me even though I never applied to her company. (My professor pushed my resume to them.)

I dialed the number and hung up before I finished. Why did this seem so much like breaking up with someone?

I have had my fair share of break-ups and as surprising as it may seem, I have been on the receiving side. I was given the generic lame lines, "We're in different places...This isn't working...It's not you, it's me." The last one actually made me laugh out loud during the conversation. Why do people even bother saying that anymore? We all know it really is you.

Considering the above, I forced myself to be thankful (which I was) and to be confident (which I wasn't). For those of you who really know me, you know that I don't like to disappoint people; even people I don't know. So I tried to think of something that would be gentle enough to say thanks, but no thanks. In other words, I needed to say, "It's not you, it's me" (but we both know it's you).

I prepared and dialed. After six rings, her voicemail picked up. My speech was smooth, confident, and genuine. Two hours later, she called me back. I stumbled over my words when I gave the reason that I wouldn't be taking the job. I settled on, "The other opportunity at the other organization is better aligned with my personal objectives."

Suddenly, a genius idea popped into my head. I quickly described my colleagues and their pursuit of the perfect job. Even though we couldn't see each other, I was sure there was saliva dripping from lips. She immediately wanted their names, but I refused. Instead my colleagues have her name and three have reached out to her.

In the end, all was well. She left the door open for me and I opened it for my colleagues. I hope everyone is able to find what they're looking for, because the truth is that a career should be relationship where you can state the true reasons for a break-up.

** Lesson learned: Stop lying - it really is you.
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