Sunday, January 01, 2023

Hello 2023

Happy New Year! 

I have had such a bad run of success with New Year's resolutions/intentions/goals that I decided to try something different this year. I wrote a list of all the things I'd like to improve upon. I did this quickly, without thinking too much about it. I figured this would get me the list of things that are most on my mind. Then I looked at the list to see if there were any themes. And there were - three themes emerged:

- Own my age

- Make healthier habits

- Enjoy life more

My plan is to try to let these three themes guide my decisions in 2023. Petunia wanted a specific "wellness journal" for Christmas. My sister and I got our wires crossed and both bought it for her. I was too lazy to take the one I bought back, so I gave Petunia the cash and kept the journal for myself. It is not at all what I'd have picked if I went shopping for such a thing, but it will do. I needed something like it to track my diet and sleep as I try to identify possible triggers for the supraventricular tachycardia episodes and so I will use it for that and also for setting monthly goals for my three themes. We'll see if that helps me actually do the things I want to do this year!

What do the themes mean? Well, owning my age is the category that encompasses things on my list like "find a new 'uniform' now that my old one isn't so flattering anymore" (my "uniform" is my go to easy type of outfit - I had one for casual and one for work. Both need updating.) Making healthier habits is probably self-explanatory. It includes things like "do something active for at least 10 minutes every day" (I feel so much better, physically and mentally, when I do this!) and "decrease my alcohol intake" (it crept up in the lockdown phase of the pandemic and I never did a post-pandemic reset - now is the time). Enjoy life more has things like my ever popular "take more walks on the beach" and "read more" - but also "actually do all the things on our family fun list" (our performance in 2022 was abysmal). 

We'll see how this system works. Maybe if I do well with it, I'll be shopping for a wellness journal of my own next December!

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Goodbye 2022

I've written so infrequently here that I can't do the type of wrap up post I used to do, where I picked my favorite post from each month. I don't know if I'll ever get back to posting regularly. I enjoy writing but I am not sure what I want to write about here these days. Perhaps that will become clear in 2023. I just read through the few posts I did write this year and it was nice to review them, but more and more things need to be left out of my public writing because my kids are big and my career is changing... and so even writing sort of anonymously there are things I feel like I shouldn't share. Sometimes I think I should just get a journal, but I know from many past attempts that it would not get used much. 

Anyway, I felt moved today to look back at the year.

In January, Petunia got covid and we spent a week with windows open and masks on. She recovered uneventfully and none of the rest of us have had covid yet, as far as we know. I have to go on two work trips in January and I half expect that one of them will bring my covid-free streak to an end. However, when we started the school year in August with no mask mandate I was sure my kids would both get covid soon, and that hasn't happened. So what do I know? I'll wear my mask on the planes and hope or the best.

I also learned that the occasional weird heart incidents I had were supraventricular tachycardia. It is, in the words of my cardiologist, annoying, not life-threatening. I've had a few more incidents this year and am slowly getting to the place my cardiologist predicted I'd get to: more annoyed by the incidents than creeped out by the cure (an ablation). So far, I've just been trying to remember to carry metoprolol with me everywhere. However, it isn't an instant fix and I am not particularly good at the vagal maneuvers that will reset my heart without the metoprolol, so the annoyance factor is growing. Also, the metoprolol pill is just a little bit too big for me to swallow without water and so technically I should also carry water with me everywhere. 

The year was dominated by my career decisions, at least in my own head. I am glad to have the decision made, and am happy with how things have turned out... but still not 100% sure I did the right thing. Time will tell. Or at least, time will march on and the path I'm on now will continue and the alternative one I chose not to get on will drop away.

I turned 50 this year. I celebrated with my sister and my closest friends in Big Bear. It was lovely. I do not find it bad to be 50, but yesterday I came across this McSweeney's article about wearing tunics and had a good laugh. I had just been thinking that perhaps it is time for me to start shopping at Chico's. "How old am I? I'm tunic years old."

I was thinking of starting to shop at Chico's because I've failed to lose the weight I put on in the lockdown year and although I have plans for a healthier 2023 (of course - every new year I plan to adopt healthier habits, and sometimes it works) I doubt I'll slim down enough to avoid the need to shift my style to the tunic years. I'm surprisingly OK with that, too. 

I've been thinking about how little we actually know about what a woman's weight should do throughout her life. Everyone struggles with weight gain around menopause and maybe there's actually a reason for that. Maybe we're putting on weight to get us more healthily through our older years. Of course, my fondness for cookies, ice cream, and beer (not necessarily all at once) exacerbates any natural trend and so while I wish for better data on what normal actually is for women as we age I will also make my annual attempt to develop healthier habits. 

This year, I bought a rowing machine and for awhile I had a good 2-3 times per week habit going. That got disrupted, but I still row at least once most weeks and I still like the machine. 

Last night, we did the "family wii tournament" that Petunia had put on our family fun list for the year, and while I sucked at Mario Cart and broke a wine glass playing tennis (our living room is just not big enough for a four person game!) I had fun with the dance game. Petunia said I should do that instead of rowing, and I told her that I like rowing but that maybe she and I could have weekly dance tournaments, too.

This year saw a surprising amount of travel for me. In February, we spent the long President's Day weekend at an AirBnB in Desert Hot Springs. There was the birthday trip to Big Bear and also a family vacation to New Zealand - our first time seeing my in-laws since December of 2018. In October, I flew to the UK for a work event and then on to Berlin for a conference. It had been a long time since I'd done any serious travel on my own and it was good for me to have to find my way around London and Berlin without my husband's freakily good spatial sense to rely on. I had a good time. In early November, I had a very short visit to NYC for an interview (one of the job options I ended up not taking) and then Mr. Snarky and I had a weekend in LA for a concert. I jokingly called that short stretch of time my great cities of the world tour.

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Arizona with my family. We no longer all fit comfortably in my parents' house, so we rented an AirBnB nearby. I enjoyed being able to walk around downtown Mesa - it has changed a lot since I lived there, and is actually now a place I could encourage people to visit. If you ever find yourself in downtown Mesa, be sure to get empanadas and also check out the new fry bread place nearby.

My parents came here for Christmas. It was wonderful having them here. I took the week between Christmas and New Year's off and powered through a list of some of the things that have been sitting undone most of the year. My desk is now clean and we finally took the last of the kids' Lego (and 6 bags of other things) to the thrift store.

It was a pretty good year, all things considered. I am hoping for 2023 to involve less time thinking about my career directions and more time just enjoying the damn good life I have. I hope you all have a happy, healthy new year, too!

Sunday, December 11, 2022


I finally made my job decision. After much agonizing, I decided to take the promotion at my current company. It was a really hard decision, and I don't think I'll ever really be certain it was the best decision, but it was the one that felt most right. I decided it gave me the most chance for growth and also for feeling like I have true ownership of something. 

The interviewing and deciding process was a weird experience. I realized that the last time I'd had to really choose between career options like this was when I took my first job out of graduate school. All my previous moves had either been forced by layoffs or driven by a really strong need to change due to something outside work. This was purely a job/career driven thing and it turns out that made me really uncomfortable. That's something for me to think about! 

Anyway, the decision is made and I'm settling into my new role. 

One downside of this decision is that I don't get to take a few weeks off between jobs. I was going to use it to take care of some things around the house. Instead, I will only have a little over a week that I can take off around Christmas. Hopefully, that will be enough time to get some of the long-standing items off my to do list and also have some true downtime.

Another decision I've made is to move away from using Twitter. It is sad, because there was a time when I learned a lot from Twitter. I will miss the way it would show me new things to think and learn about and how it helped me find smart people to learn from. But that Twitter has been fading for awhile now, and the latest events there have made scrolling my timeline feel unpleasant. So I'm pulling back and I think I'll eventually delete the app from my phone and then lock and ignore my accounts.

Before I stop using it altogether, I need to develop new habits for finding and reading news and other things of interest to me. I've been trying out Post, and I think it has promise but it is not a full replacement yet (I'm there under my real name - if you are on Post and want to find me and cannot, send me an email and I'll send you the account name). I've considered reviving my Tungsten Hippo tumblr account and seeing if that has some of what I miss about the old Twitter. But I'm also going to be consciously less online. I'd like to write more longer things, here and elsewhere. I'd like to read more books and magazines. And I suspect spending less time online will also help with the "clear some long-standing items off my to-do list" goal.

I actually have more things I'd like to say about the "read more books" goal - but I have publishing royalties to pay, chores to do, and a school career week presentation to prepare and show to Petunia so that she can confirm I will not embarrass her terribly... so I'd best get to those things. I won't be tweeting out blog post links after this one, so if you want to make sure you don't miss my occasional ramblings here, I'd recommend setting up an RSS reader, just like we all used to do back in the pre-Twitter days! I use Feedly and like it, but I'm sure there are other options.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Almost Thanksgiving Thoughts

It has been awhile! I, like many people on Twitter, have been watching Twitter the company self-destruct. Or, more accurately, be destroyed by their new CEO. I said on Twitter that the place to find me when it goes belly up is here, because I may actually just pull back from social media altogether. There are things I'll miss and things I won't miss and I'm not in the right headspace to go set up someplace else right now. Everyone seems to be heading to Mastodon but I may not go anywhere. We'll see.

I don't much care if Musk destroys Twitter, but if his ego and over-reach also manages to take out Tesla I'll be pretty mad. Not so much for me - we can buy a new car if we need to - but for the fact that Tesla still has the best charging infrastructure and that's what we need to make the electric transition. People who think than range doesn't matter need to drive from San Diego to Phoenix sometime and see what range actually means! Mr. Snarky is much more sanguine and figures that if Musk's chaos reaches Tesla, their board will replace him or they will get bought. He's probably right. I don't have the mental space to give much thought to that right now, either.

Almost all of my mental space is being consumed by a career decision I need to make. Everyone who matters knows this is going on (even my boss and my boss's boss and my boss's boss's boss... long story how that happened but it involves beer) and so I decided I can write a little more about it here.

So, as I mentioned in the last post (several months ago)... I stopped saying "no" when people reached out to me about other opportunities and I ended up with 4 different possibilities. I got pretty far with all of them - one went away after a final interview and I can't disagree with their decision not to proceed based on where my head is at right now. Another I decided wasn't a fit, even though a few years ago I would have jumped at it. I am left with two really good options and (because of the aforementioned long story involving beer) a really strong counteroffer from my current employer.

Reader, I have no idea what I'm going to do.

Like NONE. Ask me on a different day - hell, ask me in a different hour - and I have a different front runner.

All three options in front of me are good. The offers all involve a significant pay raise and substantial equity. The potential equity upside on all of them is good and on one of them is sort of mind-blowingly huge (that one is also the least likely to pay out, of course). 

This is an amazing situation to be in and I don't for a minute take it for granted. I've been out of work with no offers before and this is by far a better situation. I am so fortunate and am already charity shopping to figure out where the guilt check goes once this is all sorted out.

Still. I have no idea which offer I will take and that is stressing me out.

I have asked for and received a little extra time to make this decision from all three parties. They all know I have other offers because once the aforementioned situation with the beer put me into a radical transparency situation with my current company's senior leadership I figured I might as well extend the same courtesy to everyone. Everyone has been gracious and understanding and I actually truly believe they all wish me the best no matter what I decide.

(Back to that WOW. I AM LUCKY feeling)

Sooo... anyhow, that's what I've been up to and why I can't get my head around finding a new home on social media or much of anything else right now.

Also, the great bra search continues and I have determined I was wrong about what size I thought I was and if I get stupidly rich from any of these options in front of me maybe I should start a bra company. Seems a better way to blow a fortune than sinking a social media company because my feelings were hurt, but then I'm no tech genius so what do I know?

I hope you are all well and I'll let you know how it all turns out in the same oblique minimal details way I've written this post!

Monday, September 05, 2022

Labor Day Thoughts

 Happy Labor Day! It is a much needed long weekend for me.

My work situation is still muddled. Back when I was actively angry about how things had gone at my current company, I stopped saying "no" automatically to people who contacted me on LinkedIn. That didn't lead to much right away, but I think word has gotten out in the industry that things are unsettled at my company, because in the last month or so I have some several much higher quality contacts and now I've got three potential different options to explore. I am trying to decide what to do about those.  I have had a couple of phone conversations about each but haven't sent a resume in for any of them. I am also trying to decide if I should also start a proper job search. 

There are signs my current company will sort itself out in the mid-term, but I'm not sure if I have the patience left to wait for that. On the other hand, there are some things I really like at my current company and some financial incentives to stay.... But on the other other hand, I think I could boost my salary by a fair amount if I move, particularly if I pursue one of the opportunities that would give me a significant title bump.

I need to decide what to do soon. The uncertainty is creating tension that has settled in my shoulders and neck (ouch) and I just in general do not like how it is making me feel. But I also don't want to make any hasty decisions. So it is a bit of a conundrum.


We are in the midst of a heat wave here in Southern California. It is hot enough out that even I, the former desert dweller, don't want to do much outside. Luckily, our heat pump, solar panels, and home battery mean that it is nice and cool in our house all day and we still contributed energy back to the grid during the peak hour 4 - 9 p.m. period yesterday.  

I tease my husband for the way he optimizes our home energy flow, balancing charging the car and charging the home battery... but I can't argue with the results.


I, meanwhile, have spent the last four weeks trying to find bras that fit. (Warning: bra talk follows. Stop reading now if that is of no interest to you!)

You may not think the bra fit problem and the energy optimization problem are problems of similar complexity, but let me assure you that in fact the bra fitting problem is harder. I have been fitted in multiple stores over the years and the results have been multiple sets of expensive bras that are not comfortable. I used to have a "go to" style and brand that I could buy on Amazon for ~$25, which, for a woman my size, is a freaking miracle. Unfortunately, the pandemic weight gain made those not fit... and so I embarked on my most recent round of bra searching. 

I tried Third Love and Cuup but I eventually realized that their supposedly smart fitting wizards led me far astray. I finally found a bra that fits via the fitting quiz on the Montelle site, which is measurement based. And even then, the bra that actually fits the best is not the size the quiz told me I was, but that size's sister size. (For those who don't know, once you're over a D cup, measurements do not map to sizes in a standard way - you need to know how the particular brand sizes it cups. It is very annoying.) 

I also found the information on very helpful - particularly this article about where your underwires are supposed to hit.

I think I have finally landed on the right size - I am up both one band size and one cup size from my old go-to, but it retrospect that old go-to was probably one cup size too small. And I think I am actually up a half a band size, because the bra fits best on the middle hook not the loosest hook. 

So, that's a happy outcome, but because it took so long and because I generally need to wear a bra for several hours to know if it is truly going to work out I now have a handful of unreturnable, expensive bras in the wrong sizes. I am thinking of trying to find a domestic violence shelter to donate them to. But I also wonder if I should hold on to a couple in case my size changes again. 

Also, I still don't have a new go to bra style, just a firm idea of what my size is. I still have to experiment with different styles to find the best one. 

I can't believe the amount of mental energy I've put into bras recently. I look forward to being done with that!


And now I should log out and go finish my chores for the weekend. I hope those of you who also have a three day weekend are enjoying the extra day off!