Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why I'll never get hired

A colleague recently passed along a job posting she thought I'd be interested in. I'm not looking for a job, but there's never any harm in knowing what else is out there that might be interesting.

The job my colleague had in mind is with a tech company that has been around for about five years. They're actually based in the city where I live and not in Silicon Valley. So far, the company is successful and growing. They have a product that, although not exactly unique, is proving to meet the needs of a niche market that has needed this product and is now fully embracing it.

I went to the company's website and read everything. I bought their product to become more familiar with what it feels like for the end user. I read articles about the company in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and other prestigious business publications. Everything I read was overwhelmingly positive.

Although the tech industry may, at first blush, seem like a radical departure from anything I do, it really isn't. The particular job I was looking at would very neatly pull together many elements of my rather broad skill set and diverse work experience. I got into working with refugees from a sort of sideways maneuver; it was never my intentional career path.

I kept rereading the job posting and I thought, "I am the total package. I can do this job. There will be a learning curve, but I know I am solidly qualified. I think. Maybe there's more to it than experience and a head full of knowledge."

I started researching similar companies across the country to see if I could get a better idea of what the personnel makeup looks like in these enterprises. The more I looked around and researched, the worse I felt. Most of the companies describe themselves similarly. There's energy, innovation, collaboration, work hard/play hard. Wait. Play hard? There were many mentions of things like employee foosball tournaments, cereal bars, in-office Pac Man competitions, monthly games and awards, and golly, just so much fun.

I'm not against fun at work; I'm just not used to it being such a prominent part of the corporate culture. It wasn't the prospect of fun at work that dismayed me. No, it was the photos of staff. Again and again, I came across pictures like this:

This looks much more like a sorority rush picture than a staff photo.

Nowhere, ever, did I see anyone who looked like me at any of these companies. For the most part, upper management looks like guys in their 40s wearing jeans and sweaters, and everyone else appears to be under the age of 30.

I don't buy anyone's logic that older workers don't understand or welcome technology, can't learn, aren't innovative thinkers, don't have a good work ethic (hey, we're not the ones playing foosball at work), and can't adapt to a rapidly changing technological landscape. Some of the most skilled and talented people I know saw their 40th birthdays long ago.

I didn't get the job at the tech startup. I didn't even get an interview. The job is still posted. I suspect that after looking at my resume and doing a little timeline math, my mad skills became irrelevant once my age became apparent.

I have no fewer than eight friends/acquaintances/former colleagues who should be employed but aren't. All of them are over 50. They are dynamic people with good minds and engaging personalities. Their collective accomplishments are impressive, relevant, and current, but no one will hire them. All of them agree that they've faced blatant age discrimination that is far from thinly veiled.

It doesn't matter that I'm smart, creative, sharp, insightful, entrepreneurial, and a strategic thinker. I am a short, frumpy looking, middle aged woman. If I were a sitcom character, based on how I look, I'd be the weird cat lady neighbor or the quirky gal in the file room. That is how people my age who look like me are perceived in the current job market. Age and a lack of beauty have never been such handicaps to being taken seriously.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Almost 1:00 a.m.

I got out of bed an hour ago. I couldn't sleep/ Sometime when I can't sleep, I come here and read my blog. I look at stats to see what other people have taken a look at. The top topics haven't changed:
  • Shingles
  • 45 Mercy Street
  • Shingles and pot
  • Blood spots under my skin after weight training
  • Painting the bedroom purple
  • Hearts will never be practical
  • Lilacs
These aren't even my best posts, but for whatever keyord search reason, they get a lot of hits.

I should be writing new things. I should be writing about my job, my nonprofit, my latent depression, the girl I've been mentoring for the last four years, overwhelming loneliness, how ADHD has been messing with my head, how I babble but have nothing to talk to anyone about, why I think I have early onset dementia, all of the bloggers I used to follow who closed up shop and I now really miss, my thoughts on politics, and why I still won't see a doctor unless I experience unbearable suffering--and not a minute before. those things. Those things that fill my head but that I can't write about because I can't focus.

The Xanax just kicked in. I need to give sleep another try.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Losing Sparkle

Sparkle died. She was a beautiful, amazing, and exceptionally intelligent dog. I was going to write that she died today, but I just realized that since it's 12:15, it's already yesterday that she passed.

Sparkle was sick for a long time, but she never let on until a week ago. Late stage cancer. She was already experiencing liver and kidney failure. She probably only had a few days to live, and she was in pain. She declined dramatically in the last two days, and today we made the difficult choice to end her suffering.

She spent today at the vet's office where she was allowed to wander freely, making rounds with the doctors. Everyone who works there took a turn taking her outside. Her two doctors both tried to tempt Ginger with treats and even their own lunches, including pot roast and ham, but she wouldn't eat a thing, not even a french fry. She hadn't eaten in days.

Frank and I have been crying for hours.

I can't sleep.

There's so much I want to say about this dog and why she mattered in the overall May Voirrey narrative. There was a very specific reason I adopted her, and there were plenty of times she was the reason I didn't kill myself.

Sparkle was a good friend. I want to write and write and write, but I really need to try to sleep. I learned a lot from this dog--the only one I've ever shared my life and home with. She was a red and white border collie, with one blue eye and one brown eye. She hated small appliances, squirrels, the lawn mower, and most of all, the UPS truck. She was afraid of water and couldn't swim. She loved tennis balls, frisbees, walks, sitting in the shade, and being groomed. Mostly, she loved Frank.

Even though I'm the one who adopted Sparkle, she was always Frank's girl, from the first week we had her. Oh, she and I were good friends, but she was wholly dedicated to loving Frank and being the love of his life.

Now she's gone. She died surrounded with love and while being hugged and petted. The house feels so quiet and empty. Life here will never be the same.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not to belabor the point, but

What does it mean to have a relationship with food? It seems odd to even articulate that--a relationship with food. Food should be nothing, like air. I don't think about my relationship with air. It's just there, doing what it needs to do without any thought on my part. Why can't it be the same with food?

I'm not a big eater, but I think about food a lot. I don't mean I think about eating, but rather I think about food strategically. What can I eat? What can I absolutely not eat? Is it OK to consume something? Did I earn these calories?

I've lost the ability to enjoy food. My thoughts and strategies around calories are so strong and have been for so long that even when I eat something delicious, any pleasure or appreciation for it is quickly replaced with anxiety and guilt. Did I earn that food? What will I have to do to offset the calories? How much walking is that? How much will I not be able to eat later because I ate this? How many calories did that have? Will it impact my carbohydrate load for this 24-hour period? Why did I eat that?

Regret and anxiety are the two emotions I most closely link to food. That's probably not normal, right?

I have a pretty good idea of what my basal metabolic rate is, so now I obsess over every calorie that goes beyond that. If my body needs only 400 calories a day to maintain basic systems, then I have to engage in activity that will offset every additional calorie I consume to have a net-zero calorie intake. It's exhausting. It's the reason I can't enjoy food. Whenever I eat, all I can think about is the amount of work I'm going to have to do to not store calories and gain weight.

This is a complicated and sad way to live, especially since at the end of it all, I'm still clinically obese with a BMI of 32. I have to lose another 17 pounds just to be merely seriously overweight.

I am in a rage about this. I haven't gone through menopause (despite my many jokes about it), I don't eat badly to begin with, and I move a lot at work. I park far away as a rule. I take the stairs. I drink liters of water every day. I am so angry and frustrated with my body, I feel like starvation or something like it is the only thing that will stop this disgusting turn of events. 

When I was working out so much in 2012-2013, in nine months of KILLING myself at the gym and flaring my fibromyalgia, I only ever lost 6 pounds, and even they kept fluctuating. 

In the end, I want to be like that chick who won The Biggest Loser and end up at 105. I HAVE EARNED IT and I feel cheated.

I will see this through or die trying.

And then it passed

I'm not hungry anymore. I think in the battle of mind over physical sensation, my mind is finally exerting influence as I want it to.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had mysteriously gained weight between November and February. A lot of weight, weight gain for which there was no explanation. It was particularly vexing since not only was my diet already quite healthy and balanced, I was already perpetually hungry. A few years ago, I talked to a specialist about that and she told me to just ignore that particular physiological response. She didn't want me snacking on anything, not even celery or broccoli. She told me to get comfortable with the stomach growling and hunger pangs because if I could ride it out, eventually, they would stop. The hunger never went away, at least, not until now. It has been a constant force I've been pushing against while I filled my head with logic, reminding myself of the calories and nutrients I had consumed were everything my body needed. There was never a physical need to add more, even if the hunger made me a bit nauseated. Just ignore it until it goes away, May.

The recent weight gain added insult to an already difficult and demeaning situation, but I was moved to make renewed effort to stop it because of Laurel's son's Bar Mitzvah. I need to fit in a dress for this special occasion coming up in a couple of weeks, but how does one diet when living on 1200 healthy calories a day does not stave off weight gain?

Enter Bob Harper of Biggest Loser fame and author of the Jumpstart to Skinny plan. It's a three-week, 800-calorie-a-day plan that is supposed to result in a weight loss of about a pound a day. That certainly didn't happen with me, although I was diligent in following the "Skinny Rules." I did lose 10 pounds, but I was hoping for the full 20.

Readers of Harper's book are cautioned not to follow the plan for more than three weeks to avoid shutting down the metabolism. It made me wonder how that works when the metabolic rate of the person involved is already so slow it mimics that of someone who is either dying or starving. So few calories seemed impossible, but there's something to be said for cups and cups of leafy greens and a little lean protein.

Some days, I don't even make it to the full 800 calories. The first week was hard as the hunger and fatigue were fierce, but by the end of the second week, something interesting happened. I wasn't hungry anymore. At last. I finally wasn't hungry anymore.

Food hasn't been interesting to me for weeks now, and I'm OK with that. There are two bags of sugary Popcornopolis popcorn sitting on my desk, along with most of a large collection of lemon petits-four cakes left over from a community outreach event earlier this week. They are inches away from me and each time I come back into my office, my thought isn't, "Damn, I wish I could have that." Instead, my thought is, "Damn, I have to remember to put these out for people in the office to enjoy." This is a milestone.

Frank was worried last night because I've been putting in some brutally long days, and in addition to a heavy work load, I've been working with a personal trainer at the gym. I got home close to 9:00 p.m. and skipped food entirely. Frank is worried I'm going to get sick, but honestly, my body could sustain itself for six months just from the visceral fat in one of my thighs.

I have stopped losing weight far too soon, but I am relieved that I am also no longer gaining weight.

How many people have you ever met who could work a lot, work out, consume 800 low-fat calories a day (that include almost zero complex carbohydrates) and maintain 175 pounds?

That's just one fucked up human body.

I plan to stay on Bob Harper's plan...forever. A near-total abscence of complex carbohydrates, lots of leafy greens, and egg whites every day. I can do this. I'm not hungry. One of two things will happen. Either I will eventually lose more weight, or I will die from malnutrition. I'm OK either way. If I can never be skinny--and I mean ribs-visible skinny, the American ideal--then I really don't want to live. The culture I live in is just too harshly critical of women who aren't waif-like, and I'd rather be dead than continue to be such an abject failure.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dieting again

Between November 2013 and  the end of February, my body mysteriously gained 20 pounds for no apparent reason. I don't feel like I, personally, had any part in this weight gain except to be the recipient of it. Certainly, I didn't start binge eating or drinking too much, or start snacking on sugary, fatty foods. There was no change in exercise. It felt like the weight came out of nowhere. I hadn't weighed myself since Thanksgiving, and when I finally stepped on the scale in February, I was, justifiably, horrified. The only time I had ever experienced something like this was when I was taking Lyrica and gained 50 pounds in three months. I had to stop this before it got worse.

I cut back my calories to a strict 1,000 a day, and then a week later, started on the Bob Harper "Jumpstart to Skinny" plan. It's a short-term austerity plan, but for me, I think it's going to be my forever plan. Participants in Harper's plan consume only 800 calories a day, consisting almost entirely of vegetables and very lean protein.  The plan is supposed to yield weight loss of about a pound a day, but of course that hasn't been my experience.

Some days I eat fewer than 800 calories. The most fat I consume is spray-oil from a can for cooking and a little bit of low fat salad dressing. My consumption of complex carbs consists of a slice of Ezekial bread every few days and about a half-cup of whole-wheat noodles once a week. So much spinach...There is so much spinach on this diet. Gagging.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. Yes, I exercise and as of this week, I started working with a personal trainer.

I've lost almost ten pounds so far, but my clothes don't fit any differently. Once again, I'm experiencing that secret, internal weight loss that nobody can see and that doesn't affect the fit of my clothes.

I need to fit into a party dress in about three weeks. At the moment, I can't get it zipped up. I'm discouraged, but this time, I'm in for the long haul on the 800-calorie plan. It's not that hard for me. Lettuce. The secret is lettuce.

Goal = 105. So, 70 pounds to go.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I want to die.

That is all.
I hate my life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Allie Brosh's NPR interview

Sure, you should read the summary highlights, but if you have 40 minutes, listen to the interview. It brought me to tears.

When Allie gets to the part where she talks about what her suicide plan was, I lost it. I had a plan a few years ago. It was eerily similar.

I was in the car with my husband when I heard this interview. Somehow, he seemed to understand me better after hearing someone else describe how it feels to be so void of emotion you don't want to live anymore.

Start to finish, this is an excellent interview. Listen and feel ALL the feelings!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm around. Just not here.

Do you miss me? I know you do. I do. There's so much to say, but so little focus. I'll be back soon. I promise.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I thought it was just me

Have you ever cried on a plane? I have and I've written about it more than once on this blog. As it turns out, not only am I not alone in this, it's not even uncommon.

I just read an article in The Atlantic that discusses this behavior and some of the explanations related to it. I recommend it. The article is insightful--and validating.

Why We Cry on Planes by Elijah Wolfson, The Atlantic

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Greetings from Pinellas Park

My mother had total knee replacement surgery last Wednesday. I've been here in St. Petersburg since last Tuesday. I don't go home until Saturday, but, holy fuck, I am exhausted.

My mother's house is a wreck. It's not that she can't take care of herself. She has always been a bad housekeeper, but when she became enmeshed in chronic pain, the clutter, dirt, and lack of maintenance became borderline hazardous.

The Home Depot near 22nd Ave. and 28th St. N. is like my home away from home away from home. I've been there a lot in the last week, and I know I'll be back before the week is over. I've also been to the Walmart on Park, a place I despise. My mom is currently in Edward White Hospital (which I keep calling Walter White Hospital) not working very hard at all on her rehabilitation. I leave on Saturday, Mom, step it up.

I am not an only child, but my life plays out as if I were. My brothers want nothing to do with this situation. If you've been following along on this blog, you know that this is the third surgery I've helped my mom through in the last five years. My brothers have been AWOL. After the first surgery--which I took off from work for without pay--my mom invited my niece to come visit and showed her the town. Me? I got to change the kitty litter and clean up vomit and find my own ride to the airport.

My family does not take me seriously. They see me as being someone whose job does not matter and whose personal life is irrelevant. This pisses me off.  I'm hoping my younger brother can come and take over for me since I'm definitely leaving on Saturday. I guarantee that if he does come down, my mother will laud him to everyone she knows, talking about how her son cleared his schedule to take care of her. Me? Well, that doesn't deserve mention. Everyone in my family just expects me to be available and step in when needed.

I resent this.

I need a massage. I need my husband next to me in bed. I need some help getting this disaster-area of a house into habitable condition. God, it's a pigsty.

I had some really good things I wanted to say in this blog post, but I'm on my third glass of wine, so the words are now muddled. Fuck it.

Here's a picture of the dryer vent tube at my mom's house. I thought I could smell the dryer exhaust every time I did laundry, and this is why. My mother never noticed any such thing. this pretty much sums up what my week has entailed.

I hate Florida. Lizards, snakes, toad, roaches, rust, rot, blech.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blogging on a plane…again.

A stream-of-consciousness post that is only a little about 9/11, my mother, or travel...

So, it turns out that Frontier Airlines now offers half-bottles of wine. Since I’m about to spend eleven days helping my mom after surgery—once again—I thought I would treat myself to this. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to drink when I’m in Florida, as I’ll have to be able to drive at a moment’s notice. At the moment, I’m very carefully timing my wine consumption so as not to finish while there’s still a lot of flying left to do, but not leaving myself in the position of having to swig down a lot of remaining wine at the last minute, either.

The light outside is rapidly dimming as we fly from west to east, into what is already night on the Gulf Coast. The sky below is a blanket of clouds with the occasional columnar formation that is probably pounding a thunderstorm on the land below.

I could sit here and post something about how resentful I am that my mother demands my presence in these situations, or how much I despise myself for always giving in, or how I know I’ll spend at least five days cleaning a house that likely hasn’t seen any housekeeping since I last took on the challenge in January, or what a truly entitled, ungrateful, and demanding patient my mother is.

I don’t need to write about any of that because I’ve done it all before.

We may be flying over the Gulf now, but in the dusk, all I can see is an endless stretch of slate blue. In a few minutes, there will be no way to differentiate between up here and down there. It’s a great metaphor for how I feel much of the time.

Sometimes I think I want to tell you my name. Not my pen name, but my real name. I‘ve never liked my name very much, but it’s still mine and an important part of my identity. I try to share this concept with the refugees when I struggle to pronounce their names. When I ask, “Did I say it right?” it’s not unusual for someone to say, “No, but it’s OK. You can call me that.” That’s when I say, “No. It’s not OK. This is your name. You’ve come here with little else, and the least we can do here is get your name right.”

I still can’t sleep. Maybe that should have been the theme of this blog all along: May’s Insomnia. If anything, the situation has only gotten worse. On a good night, I get six hours of sleep, but never six hours in a row. I should be psychotic by now. Instead, I’m gaining weight and losing mood points. Always losing mood points.

My wine is almost finished, but there’s still an hour of flight time left. My alcohol consumption is outpacing this fine Boeing aircraft. Maybe it’s an Airbus. I didn’t really pay attention during the safety briefing.

OK, here’s something I’ve never told anyone. I always buy a cocktail on the plane, regardless of the time of day. I also always eat a two-pack of Resses’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s my ritual. The ritual seems even more necessary tonight, when it’s September 10, just a day before September 11. I allow myself these treats when I fly because I don’t take commercial flight for granted.

When those planes crashed on September 11, my parents called me that night. They had never really embraced my change of profession from cable corporate superstar to social worker for the refugee population, but on that night my mother said, “We’re just so relieved you aren’t traveling constantly for work anymore. That could have been you. How many times have you flown out of Boston or toward DC, or over Pennsylvania? It so easily could have been you.”

Until she said that, I had not personalized the tragedy. She was right, though. I used to travel on a near-weekly basis when I was a corporate soldier. Ever since then, I have made a point to enjoy—truly enjoy—a cocktail on every flight, regardless of the hour, and to savor my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a true indulgence. If my plane ever goes down, damn it, I will go down having tasted pleasure and appreciated it on my tongue.

I usually fly Southwest. It was a bit of a jolt to get settled in and realize that Frontier doesn’t have onboard Wi-Fi. What the fuck? I’m composing this post in MS Word and I’ll upload it later. Still…Seriously, Frontier?

If they had WiFi, I’d have been on Twitter the whole time. Instead, I’m trapped here with a head full of thoughts because although I’m willing to pay $14 for a half-bottle of cheap chardonnay, I am too cheap to pay $5.99 for onboard television. It’s possible I’m trying to prove to myself that although I may have an alcohol addiction, I can still say no to television, goddamnit.

I tweet under my own name, or at least, something so close to it, there’s no actual masking my identity. About 100 people follow me on Twitter, and I’ve never figured that out, really. I only know six or seven of them. The rest? Who knows.

Are we there yet, are we there yet, arewethereyetarewethereyet?

No. We are not.

I wish I could sleep. I wish I could feel better about going to Florida. I wish a lot of things.

OK then. I am officially out of alcohol and attention span, but not flight time. Sigh.

There is one more thing I do when I fly, and it just occurred to me to share that, too. In the last 15 minutes of the flight, just before they tell you to turn off your electronic devices, I watch a video on my laptop. Yes, a video. It’s just as good and important as the cocktail and peanut butter cups. I watch the 2008 Matt Harding dancing video. It’s necessary.

I’ll try to write again tomorrow. I’ll be spending the day at Bayfront Hospital. See you then.