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Politics as usual

I didn’t get a chance to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address live last night. As with so much of my news, I read it online. I just read the transcript of the SotU address, and I continue to be impressed with President Obama. He took an opportunity to make his last SotU address one to remember. He tackled the political issues of the day with thoughtfulness and insight. I’ve seen a lot of criticism about his speech online today, and it saddens me. Not that people criticize him or what he said, but that it is done with such hate and vitriol. I am tired of having our President called an idiot, tired of having his patriotism and commitment to this country called into question. President Obama is one of the most educated, eloquent, and thoughtful presidents we have had in a very long time. It’s okay, expected even, to criticize what he has to say and disagree with his politics. But to denigrate his accomplishments and integrity because you disagree with him is vile. Yet it has become pervasive in our culture.

My friends and family represent a full cross-section of the political spectrum. I have Bible and Constitution thumping conservatives, Ayn Rand spouting libertarians, FDR loving progressives, Marxist socialists, and every flavor and variation in between represented in my Facebook feed. While some would argue, I in fact fall a very little to the left of center. Those who call my political opinions and stands to be ill-informed are flat-out wrong. I read and listen to every opinion posed, and try to see beyond the rhetoric and vitriol to see the value in the proposal. Sometimes I don’t find much value, but the difference is that I do not assume that the person espousing the opinion is stupid or hateful or hates this country. I wish I could say the same of every person whose opinions I am exposed to.

I know enough history to know that the polarization of politics is nothing new. Nor is the vitriol and hatred spewed at those who disagree with the speaker. There have been times that our country was as divided politically as we are now, and the political rhetoric was just as vile between the political camps. I also know that those periods historically have also preceded some pretty nasty violent times. So I don’t have to like it, or accept that it’s inevitable, just because there is precedent.

What troubles me more than the vitriol is that the various political camps cannot even agree on the most basic facts, which means finding common ground is nigh unto impossible. That we have media outlets deliberately distributing untruths as true facts is both damaging and indicative of where we are as a country. When the attitude is factored in that if you don’t agree with me that you are trying to destroy America, it guarantees that the divide will only worsen. Ultimately, it is not a good thing for our country, and certainly not for interpersonal communications.

I don’t expect that anyone will change their minds because of what I write, but my hope is that I might get even a couple of the extremists in my circle of friends and family to stop and think. I love America, and want to see the country grow and succeed. If you believe that I am stupid or ill-informed because of the things I believe will help the country and my fellow Americans do just that, or worse that I want to destroy the country because of them… then I have to wonder why you would want to have anything to do with me. Is it because you think you can “save” me by educating me, or getting me to see things your way? Or do you think you can out-shout me, or intimidate me into supporting your opinions? Either way, you must not think much of me as a person. You certainly have no respect for me based on that position.

I was taught that conservatives and liberals all want the same thing – to live in the best country on Earth with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That they simply disagree on the ways to make that happen. When we start assuming that those who oppose us are evil, or at the very least stupid, we lose what makes us a great nation and society. What will it take to get back to the place where we can disagree without the hate and vitriol?

I usually try to find an upbeat way to end my posts, and today I just can’t.  So I’ll leave it here, and hope that the comments posted will revive my faith in my fellow humans.

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Interviewing is like dating

Dating is a necessary evil when trying to find someone you want to be with the rest of your life.  It’s not always awful, sometimes it’s a lot of fun, but mostly it’s stressful and sometimes it’s flat out awful.  Interviewing is a lot like that.

First there’s all the people who don’t bother to even acknowledge your resume’ or application, just like the people who don’t bother to respond to your chat message.  To be fair, just like online dating, I burn out on responding to people who obviously didn’t take the time to read my profile.  For the first two weeks of job hunting, I would politely respond to the recruiters looking for travel nurses in the ER or the ICU.  My resume and profiles on all of my online job sites clearly states that I’m looking to get out of bedside nursing.  I got tired of it and quit responding because they’re not bothering to read my profile, and I don’t have time to deal with it.  Back when I was online dating, I did the same after about a month of responding to the people who obviously hadn’t even read my profile: teenagers and people with opposite values to mine.

Then there’s the people who get me all dressed up for an interview (first date) and things seem to go really well and they say they’ll get back to me (call).  Then several days go by with no call or email (or text).  And several more.  Then it’s counting in weeks.  I go over every minute of the interview (date) in my mind, wanting to figure out what I did wrong.  Eventually I have to decide that they’re not going to call.  But for Pete’s sake, I put on PANTYHOSE for you (got dressed up for you), the least you can freakin’ do is drop a girl an email (text).

A few first interviews (dates) turn into second and sometimes third interviews (dates).  I get my hopes up, start imagining the way things are going to be.  I imagine decorating my office space, and meeting my new team.  (Okay, I’m not imagining house decorating and weddings on my third date, but you get the picture.)  And then days go by without any word.  I make excuses in my head…  someone’s out on vacation (busy with work), had an emergency come up (had an emergency come up), or any other reason why they haven’t called except that they didn’t really like me.  A few more days go by, and then I start worrying and going over every minute of every interview (date, phone call, text) in my head, wondering what I screwed up.  Occasionally someone will send a letter or email (text) and let me know it wasn’t me, they picked someone else (it’s not you, it’s me).  Mostly there’s no word.  Again, I’ve put on PANTYHOSE for you (dressed up), MULTIPLE times, the least you can do is call/email (text).

But then, every once in a while, the right one comes along.  The third interview (date) ends up with an offer (more dates, and maybe more) and things work out in the end.  I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted an offer for a new job in Healthcare Information Technology.  This is a fantastic opportunity for me to move in a new direction with my career.  I’m now thrilled to be out of the job hunt, and off the dating market.  Life is good.

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Wedded bliss

So this happened.

marc & tracee kiss

I’ve gotten married three times now.  (Third time’s the charm, right?)  It’s  interesting to compare the three events, at different stages of my life.  None of them have worked out the way they were supposed to.

This ceremony was supposed to be a big church wedding with a fabulous reception, in July.  That didn’t work out, and now I’m glad.  It wasn’t a botched elopement like my first wedding.  It wasn’t a failed blowout (with the accompanying debt) like my second wedding.  It was low-key and impromptu.  We had the opportunity to get most of the Mister’s family in from out of state, so we invited close friends and family to join us.  We took about 5 minutes before the BBQ was served to share our vows with the people most important to us.  It was goofy, imperfect, and completely “us”.  I couldn’t ask for more. 

While there was a little pressure in coordinating the few things that needed coordinated, it was really fairly stress-free.  A slight case of nerves while Munchkin and her BFF were doing my hair and makeup was probably unavoidable.  However once the Mister and I were front and center, everything was good. 

If things had gone according to the original plan, we’d have racked up quite a bit of debt and the associated stress would have most assuredly triggered a flare of my rheumatoid arthritis which isn’t even under control yet.  So, as seems to be the case in my life, the Universe was looking out for me and while I didn’t get what I originally wanted, I got exactly what I needed.

Next will be the odyssey of changing my name for the last time.

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Nest isn’t empty yet

My daughter is now 18, and says she’s not a Munchkin anymore.  But, since I only was blessed with the one kiddo, she’s Munchkin forever in my book.  She’s really a great kid, for which I’m grateful.  I don’t know how I’d have parented a problem child.  She’s been a good student (graduated Magna Cum Laude from high school), participated in lots of extra-curricular activities, and has been working for the last year for her gas and spending money.  Good kid.

I wasn’t exactly surprised when Munchkin announced she was moving into an apartment for college with a roommate – even though we live in the same town her university is in.  She’s an independent cuss, and I was the same way when I was her age.  Couldn’t get out of my parents’ house fast enough.  I told her I supported her moving out as long as she had the finances covered.  Plans ensued, donated furniture started accumulating in my garage.  (Though to her credit, Munchkin and Mister cleaned the horrific garage in order to make room for the furniture storage.)  Mister and I started planning the re-arranging of the house so that we’d each have our own office space – and each would double as guest rooms as well.  I started really liking the idea.

Then as things happen, the budget creep started for the girls.  The “all inclusive” apartment ended up not including electricity.  They would need high speed internet.  Munchkin wants a truck which guzzles more gas.  Then the roommate’s parents objected to the apartment complex as it was older and not in the best neighborhood.  Munchkin started realizing how many hours she was going to have to work at her multiple part time jobs in order to make rent, and started stressing about it.

Long story short, Munchkin will be with us at least her first semester of college, and likely through her first year.  I support her decision because it is the best choice financially, hands down.  She’ll have a chance to settle into the college routine, have a better history with her jobs to know what her income is.

But dammit, I wanted my office/craft room!

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Good enough

I finished the last assignment for my last course of the summer semester in my graduate program.  I struggled with letting it go and calling it done, because I knew I could have done better.  I’d met most of the requirements for the assignment, a certain number of posts to a discussion group, but hadn’t backed it up with enough research as I normally do.  I didn’t really have anything else to add, but I could have found something to research and posted more.  My posts hadn’t been fabulous, but they were mostly okay in my book.  There was no reason for me to struggle with this, it was done.  “Half-assing” it, my overall grade dropped from a 94% to a 93% so I guess good enough was really good enough.

Being a perfectionist can be helpful in some areas.  After all, I’m a nurse and I don’t think many of my patients would be okay with me “half-assing” medication safety and administration.  It has been a good thing for me when I was a data warehouse analyst and programmer.  “Good enough” really doesn’t do the job when you’re dealing with financial and insurance data.

Being a perfectionist in every area of my life has proved counter-productive, however.  Trying to perfect my resume’ meant it didn’t go out to some jobs soon enough.  Wanting everything organized perfectly as I’m trying to clear clutter meant the clutter didn’t get cleared.  Trying to remove every error in a knitting project means it will never be done.  There are a lot of things in life where “good enough” really is good enough.  Some cleaning is better than no cleaning.  Getting the assignment in on time but not up to standard is better than 50% off your grade.

The wisdom in life is learning which is which.  That, I’m getting better at.

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Wait, I’m an adult?

I’ll be 46 this year.

I have to pause to let that sink in.

I don’t feel that old.  I wonder sometimes how many other people feel like they are perpetually 17.  You remember, that time when you weren’t really a kid anymore, but you weren’t really an adult?  When everyone around you seemed smarter, prettier, cooler, more “put-together”, while you felt dorky and awkward and completely unprepared for the real world?  Maybe it’s just me.

I have always felt like “the kid” in the office, even after I built up almost two decades’ IT experience.  Then I switched careers to become a nurse, and was definitely the “newbie” though I apparently don’t carry myself like one.  The ink was barely dry on my license when I had people telling me I came across like a seasoned nurse, and they couldn’t believe I was a new grad.  (That was probably the biggest compliment of my career.)  I never felt like I was “adult enough” (whatever that is) for marriage, parenting, home ownership, independent travel, or whatever came up.  I always felt like I was faking it.

So now I’m on what statistically is the downhill slide.  Chances are, I’ve now lived over half my life.  That’s sobering.  The party’s not even over yet, but I can feel it coming on.  I’m not trying to be morbid, but them’s the facts.  Health problems have started becoming a major focus in my life, and I’ve known for years that the warrantee period was over for my body.  Having to deal with problems I’ve always associated with “old people” makes me start wondering when the hell I became an “old people”.

After all, in so many ways I feel like I’m just now getting the hang of this “life” stuff.  I believe I have finally found the right life partner for me.  I have finally figured out where I am going with the rest of my career.  I’ve successfully raised a kid, now that she’s heading for college and her first apartment.  It’s like I finally got everything on the right track and I’m ready to start my life… but wait, it’s mostly over?

It’s okay, really.  If this is the half-way point, then I have another four decades or so to live the life I’ve finally pieced together the way I want.  That’s a long time.  There’s also no guarantees any of us will survive the day, something I’ve known intimately since I was a young teenage Paramedic.  So it’s about making the most of every day and not putting important things off.

It’s also realizing what you’ve squandered.  What the poor decisions of your past have cost you.  Making the choices to clean things up so you can have the best experience of whatever is left.

I’m not sure I like this part of life.  It’s a lot to deal with when you still feel 17.  But, it’s also not like there’s another option.  So it’s up to me to make the best of it.

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