Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Still Hate The Dog.

I hate the dog.

I used to love him but the winds of change began blowing while I was pregnant and became an F5 tornado during maternity leave. His neediness and disregard for personal space were once charming, but grew more annoying at the same rate as my stomach and became unbearable with a newborn in tow. In the past few days my feelings have reappeared with vengeance. While I like two word blog post titles, "Dog Hate" or even "Dog Hate II" leave the reference open to anyone's hate and any dog, but I want it to be crystal clear that both the dog and hate to which I refer are mine.

I hate the dog. Let me count the ways.

1. He spent most of the 12 hour drive to NY standing in the 'wayback' (a nifty name my brothers and I came up with circa 26 years ago) of the wagon. SPORTwagen. Not mini-van, not a Cutlass with faux wood, people, a SPORTwagen. This critical, not because the distinction is important for my self-image and personal brand (it is), but because the hatchback space in a sportwagen is not large enough for the dog to stand up straight. He didn't care. He bowed his head and blocked my view. Jackass.

2. While standing and incredibly stoned on doggie Prozac, he managed to breathe heavily over my mom's shoulder for at least three of the twelve hours we were car-bound. I told her to punch him in the face, but she refused to resort to violence in front of her grandson. Instead, she gently pushed a map in his face when he got too close and leaned forward to eat her sandwich lest he swipe it. He was lucky I was driving and unable to reach him.

3. He tracked down the lone spot of raccoon poop in my parent's backyard and rolled in it. I understand this is standard practice for a dog, but he never actually catches his prey after rolling in its scent. He's like a 40 year old former high school football star who thinks he should still be starting as quarterback. My mom promptly hosed him down and literally washed away his dreams.

4. His giant head banged open my bedroom door this morning at 6:22am. The trouble I'd taken to morning-proof with dark blankets over the windows was all for naught. The baby started crying at 6:23.

5. There are few vacancies at the NY kennels this week and with no room at the inn, I may have to bring him to the Cape with us. The baby's first beach vacation will also be the dog's first beach vacation. There better be frankincense and myrrh when I arrive.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Riddle.

Pretend for a moment you are headed to the Cape this weekend for a vacation, you have a seven month old, a perfectly staged house on the market, a husband who currently spends the week in Dallas working and searching for houses, a smelly Golden Retriever, a dog walker who is conveniently out of town for the next several weeks, and a neon "No Vacancy" sign at every kennel within 30 miles.

Riddle me this: what the eff do you do?

We are going to figure this out together by playing Standardized Choose Your Own Adventure, a fun, new game that is a hybrid of the last SAT question in the math section and the Choose Your Own Adventure books that we read growing up and now frequently cite at work when things are going haywire in a, "Is this choose your own adventure day?" manner. Come on! I can't be the only child of the 80s doing this.

Question 1:
Your dog has nowhere to stay and is the reason you have to vacuum twice a day. It's also getting weird to keep pawning him off on the neighbors during showings. They are cat people.

A. Pay the high school girl next door $500 a day to watch him while you're gone.
B. "Accidentally" leave the backyard gate open.
C. Remove him from the situation.

You choose C. You are just going to get him out of the house. Onto the next.

Question 2:
Great decision! Now you have to decide where your dog goes. Do you:
A. Move him down to Dallas early and put him in long-term doggie daycare.
B. Send him to summer camp.
C. Tell the lady across the street it's time to put her money where her mouth is. All these years she's been telling you she wishes she had a dog as nice as yours. Now she does.

You choose B. The dog is going to summer camp, also known has your parent's house in Upstate NY. Please continue.

Question 3:
Dogs love camp! Great choice! Now you just have get him there. Will you:
A. Drive him there.
B. Give him the legally allowed number of doggie prozac pills and put that pup on a plane.
C. Put an "Upstate or Bust" sign around his neck and wish him well.

You choose A. Brave woman! Did you forget you have a baby? Keep going.

Question 4:
In addition to a huge, smelly dog whose body blocks your view out the car's back window, you have a seven month old who needs to be fed, changed, and generally amused frequently. What do you do now, genius?
A. Cancel your flight, book your mom a one way ticket down to you, drive back to NY with a full house: mom, baby, smelly dog.
B. Cancel the whole damn thing. This is confusing!
C. Teach the dog to prep and serve bottles.

You consider C, but choose A. Thank God for Grandma!

Question 5:
All good things, including vacation, must come to an end. How will you return home when it's over?
A. Leave the dog in NY and fly back.
B. Just never leave NY.
C. Some combination of A&B.

This is obvious. You choose C. As a rule of thumb, always go for the combo answers; more adventure per letter! You have a moment of clarity before choosing C in which you realize there is no good reason for you to stay at your on-the-market home, by yourself, with a baby and grosses of dog hair that must be vacuumed daily for showings. It's NY or bust for you, the baby, AND the dog. You will summer there and make several househunting trips to Dallas and a few back to your hopefully-sold house to close and move! Outstanding!

Might you be moving in with your parents and jamming a pack 'n play into your childhood bedroom next to your CD player and swim trophies? You bet, but consider it another adventure that most who are not 16 and pregnant will never traverse!

Thanks for playing! Please mark your calendars for the next round which will we'll play in mid-late August called, "How to Fly the Nest and Move to Dallas With a Dog and a Baby."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mom Moment.

Mama’s Losin’ It


I'm a new mom. Do not read that like I said it using a goddess-like tone. I didn't. I only put it out there because it sums up life today. I'll be justly punished with 8 zillion digital ads for Mommy-work-from-home scams and tips tolose belly fat. Thanks Google+, whoever you are.

For the nine months I was pregnant, I didn't think anything was really going to happen. Oh sure, I had loads of showers, built a precious nursery, and picked out a cute little boy name, but I just couldn't imagine myself as someone's mom. Had I delivered a Cabbage Patch Kid, I would have thought, "Ok. This makes sense."

Like a jackass, I told many people before I had him that I didn't have a maternal bone in my body. When he arrived, I cooed at the bundle in my arms and ate my words. In a surprise twist, I filled the maternal requirements pretty naturally and in the past seven months I've experienced many poignant, "Oh $hit, I'm a Mom!" moments.

My daily appointments with the milkman (aka the hospital grade pump) made me feel all mom-like with a touch of cow mixed in.

Tearing up as I left my computer on my office desk and walked away from my Marketing Director gig right after explaining the differences between the "Snap 'n Go" and Travel System to a pregnant co-worker made me well aware that motherhood was upon me.

The indifference to bodily fluids all over me and overwhelming love thing were another two signs that mommyhood had arrived in all its filth and splendor.

However, the day I knew there was no going back; that there was no understudy for my starring role as Mom was the day I could recognize my bruises.

Now, bruises are NOTHING new. In my younger and more carefree days, it was commonplace to wake up covered with them.  Black and blue splotches were markers of a good night.  Whether stumbling home, falling off tables whilst trying to dance, or tripping down ice-coated stairs at my chilly New England college, the left-behind bruises were usually the starting point for my roommates and I when trying to piece together the previous night. I say piece it together because we could never remember how we got them. What 19 year-old can??

Fast forward a decade or so. When my husband arrives home from Dallas on Fridays, he takes stock of the house and what's changed. In addition to noticing there was no food in the house, he also noticed that the lower half of my body looked like it had lost a street fight.

"What happened to your toe?" he asked while aiming a disgusted look at my right foot.

"Broke it," I responded using as few words as possible, only wanting to eat my ice cream and get in bed. TO SLEEP you pervs. I'm alone with a seven month old all day. What do you think is on my mind?

"How?"

"Dancing."

"How?" he asked again with more intrigue.

"I had the baby and I tripped over the coffee table and had to catch myself so I didn't fall holding him. Caught myself with my toe."

"Huh. Be careful next time." Sage advice from the man who knows almost nothing about The Hours from three to six in a house with a baby. You'll do ANYTHING.

"Is that a bug on your leg? It looks like a leech." I stopped eating my ice cream now aware we were having a conversation that required more than a few grunts.

"Nope. It's a cut."

"From shaving?" I laughed, maybe a bit too loud.

"No. I was getting the big ass stroller out of the trunk with one hand because the baby was in the other and it swung into my leg before it hit the ground. It was surprisingly painful."

"And what about all the bruises on your calf?"

"I wrestle the stroller every time I use it."

"I thought it was supposed to be easy to use."

"Yeah, well, Chicco failed if that was the objective." Now proud of my battle scars I pointed to a big purple one on my hip. "See this one?" I asked.

"That's huge!" my husband said.

"I know," I said, my eyes aglow, "I walked straight into the wall one night. Totally misjudged the angle leaving his room and slammed into it at full speed."

"Remember when you used to get bruises from falling off tables and dancing on bars?" he asked.

"Nope. I never remembered those injuries." My eyes got wide. I stopped eating my ice cream, just for a moment, and looked at my husband who was now the one laughing.

"You're a MOM."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Supply Chain.

Supply Chain is, perhaps, the worst function a CEO must manage. I fear taking on this accountability has gotten me into a bad spot. Read on.

Supply is a wily function, always looking to point the blame back at anyone and everyone else for the supply mishaps that occur on a daily basis.

Ask them if you will have enough widgets for your promotion and they respond, "Well, you give me the forecast and we'll supply it, so you tell me."

Tell them your promotion is going to blow the doors down and they say, "I'm not sure about that. We could end up with millions of dollars in extra inventory and a huge write-off if you're wrong."

Convince them the promotion will do well and the widget-makers need to ramp up production and they say, "Uh-oh. I don't know if our widget-makers have this kind of widget-making capacity. Can we aim to do worse so we don't run out while we're on-air?"

Meanwhile, you sit on the other end of the phone, tearing your hair out ready to call the widget-factory yourself if you could just finagle their number from your Supply Chain partner's rolodex, which is guarded by Argus. Oh no, he didn't sail off into mythological history with the rest of the Greek Gods, Supply Chain purchased him.

When my husband arrived home on Friday and opened the fridge, the half-used bottles of Dijon mustard, eggs, string cheese, take-out boxes, and pickles were disappointing. "Soooo, what's going on with the food situation?" he asked.

"Baby, I responded, "I manage Supply Chain. We're about to move out and I don't want a write-off situation."

Now, please note that for years my husband and I worked at the same company and oftentimes on the same projects with the same people. We frequently talk like cross-functional partners. When discussing baby names a year ago we aligned against managing to the middle for fear we would end with a mediocre name on which we'd both compromised. We'd seen too many ideas get chipped away at until they were unrecognizable kernels of former gems. We vowed this would not happen with our child's name. Passion was a requirement regardless of the passion's direction.

I've digressed.

My husband responded with, "Yeah, but you don't want to run out of product, either."

"Hey, I got it covered," I responded. "I'm CEO and managing supply is my concern, ok?"

"Fine, but if we run out of food you're fired."

"You can't fire me. You're not on the Board."

Fast forward to yesterday when we went on exciting Father's Day trip to the grocery store. As we loaded the car, my husband said, "So is theft one of your supply chain strategies?"

"Just because I don't work anymore, doesn't mean I've resorted to stealing," I shot back.

"Actually, you have." He pointed to the chicken on the bottom of the cart that I'd forgotten to put on the grocery conveyor belt.

I know you want me to say that I went back and and paid for it. I thought about writing that I did, but that would be false and while I may be a thief, I am no liar. Come on. Wouldn't you have done the same? Ok, maybe not, but this is a judgment-free zone so keep it to yourself. It was raining, the baby was crying, and we were parked far from the entrance. Kroger won't go belly-up without my $6. However, this is concerning because three weeks into my new leadership position and I'm already headed down an ethically-questionable path many CEOs have trod, ripe with esoteric financial dealings, floating interest rates, balloons, busts, and jail.

As far as I can tell, the only upside is that Martha Stewart spent some time imprisoned and came up smelling like roses. I still read her magazine and her fellow inmates now know how to fold fitted sheets and decoupage their cell walls!

The morale of this story, though, is stay away from Supply Chain. Even if you get all arts and craftsy in jail, you still end up in jail.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Self-Appraisal.

I'm in the mood for a self-appraisal! You know, that thing you do at work when you put your amazing feats of the past year on paper in a way that downplays your awesomeness but also makes it clear that you ACHIEVED because, dammit, the rest of the morons on your team didn't do anything. You want so badly to check the "above target" box but play it safe with "on target" lest your boss use it as an example when he cites your high sense of self-worth as an area of opportunity, which he will tell you is 100% inappropriate for the office, but which everyone a few pay grades above also seems to suffer from. When you finally sit down for the review your boss says, "I have some great news...you're above target!!" and all you can think is "God dammit. What does it take to get Significantly Above Target up in this piece? I'm a hi-po! Does that count for anything?"

Just an FYI, if you've never had this train of thought, you might not like me.

So, back to today's self-appraisal. I'm going to go ahead and give myself a Signifantly Above Target on my Homefront Management of the past week. I'm not doing this because the CEO can do whatever she wants, but rather, because I earned it.

My husband, who I do love, went back to Dallas on Monday. I remained with our six month old, our mini dinosaur (aka the Golden Retriever), and our soon-to-be sold house. During naps, after bedtime, and sometimes with him strapped into the Baby Bjorn I whipped this place into a Dwell cover contender. It involved managing the handymen doing the odd repairs we should have done years ago, thinning every single room out, painstakingly choosing the books to display on bedside tables and in the nursery, transforming my husband's office from Sportmart to Indiana Jones' research library, touching up my office so it looks like a cross between a writer's haven and cozy book nook, and scrubbing like an ugly stepsister who doesn't have a hope for the shoe.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you're saying, "Annie, the results are what matter."

Today, the realtor's photographer came over to, as his occupation suggests, take photos. "This place looks amazing!" he said upon entry. Upstairs in my office he yelled down to me, "I LOVE this blue room. I can just imagine curling up with a book here."

I wanted to say, "Pssssht, this old place? I used to manage a $200 million business (Holy hell, just did the math on what I managed. Were the people I worked for NUTS?), these rooms were nothing."

What I said instead was, "Thank you," because it was, perhaps, the most difficult job I've ever encountered. At every turn, I asked myself why a prospective buyer would think, "This house will make my life better!" From every angle in every room I questioned whether or not the hopeful house hunters would exclaim, "This is the missing link to my utopian lifestyle!" If the answer was no, I plowed on until the answer was "Yes!" in every single room.

It will either be the 'Make Way for Ducklings' / 'I Love You Forever' book combo in the nursery or the 1950s black and white photo of my grandfather as a radio announcer in the entry that will seal the deal. If not, they are excellent Golden Retriever tumbleweed distractors. Don't even go there. Tumbleweeds were out of scope. I am still Significantly Above Target.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Home.

Yahoooooooo!! The day I arbitrarily chose as my new blog launch day has arrived!

Cel-e-brate good times, C'MON!

Don't have the energy? Me either. Since accepting the Household CEO role, I've purged, cleaned and staged the house to go on the market on Friday.

I'd hoped for a witty, insightful and thoughtful launch post but hope is not a strategy.

I am, however, going to have a launch party right now. As soon as I shower, I am going to go downstairs, grab a Skinny Cow ice cream (dinner) turn on my DVRed Teen Mom episodes (Tyler & Catelynn visit Carly and Amber's in rehab. Ah-maze-ing.), and tap into the box 'o wine.

Oh God. When did I transform into a midwestern housewife? Thank God we're moving to Texas.

Monday, June 4, 2012