there is something wrong with me, ups and downs

In which I am my very worst self

I spent last week at a conference. I went last year too.

The content on the whole is great. They have amazing keynote addresses (which this year even managed to be on topic) and amazing tech presentations. The breakout sessions turned out not to be as relevant to our role but they set up a “garage” area that was more in our sphere and that was cool.

Don’t I sound positive, after the fact?

It was great… it’s great BIG. Estimates varied from 12-14000 attendees.

All in all the event is too big for me – I feel lost in conferences with several hundred attendees, let alone several thousand. And they had growing pains of their own, little nitty things that added up to not a great experience.

Things like asking the people who were in for Training the day before the conference to get there 1-2 hours before we needed to be there, and then not letting us into the training rooms on arrival because they were still being set up.

Things like simultaneously asking everyone to come in and register a day early to get better positions at the concert night, causing a huge rush during training registration and sessions.

Things like having that rush correspond with not just 1 registration line but also separate lines for swag and concert entry. The entire facility was just a sea of snaking lines, and that was just the prelude to the event itself.

Ostensibly the theme of the event was Breakthroughs but I would say the real theme was lines.

My second day (the first day of the event proper) didn’t go much better. The coffee reception didn’t exist because we all needed to queue up for keynote seating. (I didn’t grab the awful hotel coffee because I was headed over to the reception).

No. Coffee. For. Me.

That line:

  • Had us standing on a concrete slab for over an hour (my back and feet in agony before we were done.
  • Didn’t have any separators to keep people in queue, so later arrivers were able to swoop in and get ahead of people who’d been there longer, waiting.
  • Didn’t guarantee a place in the keynotes because they had either oversold the conference or not set up enough seating inside. I got in, barely, and ended up in one of the farthest back rows, with easily hundreds of people still behind me. Some of them ended up in an overflow room, watching the event via streaming video. They were not pleased.

Continue reading “In which I am my very worst self”



Time zones and daylight savings, then Thanksgiving and the official start to Christmas shopping season. Seasonal decor to render things festive.

Leaf raking and the introduction of a sharp back pain that is all new. Oh Lord, have mercy.

And then the return to my early hours commute. The early rise not as much of a shock as I expect, though the drive feels longer today (heated seats a blessing for my still-sore back).

But the rain won’t come for hours and the temps will be above freezing then, and a lack of ice and snow is a bonus and a boon.

Fluorescent lighting in the office is sharp and stinging – especially juxtaposed against the dark of the morning – but the office is quiet and calm in these early hours, and my eyes have time to adjust to the unfamiliar brightness.

Things to do, a blessing for me and a way to bless my clients – even those that irk.

It’s official: I’m back.


Back to work

A funny thing happened while I was away.

The earth moved around the sun. The seasons started to change.  The 5:30 am commute kickoff happens in the early morning now, not in the final throes of night. 

There’s light on my drive. Before I reach the second half of the drive, there’s a massive blinding ball of it, actually. 

The big yellow one is the sun. (Brian Regan)

Apparently the rest of the world has some kind of solar alarm, because the roads are busier even though it’s still so early. 

It’s a shock to the system to revisit these early mornings, but I think I’ve needed that, to get back to normal again. 


Still recovering

The alarm goes off at 6am, on my second day back to work, and I turn it off and turn over…

But I don’t have an alarm set for 6am. My alarms go off at 6:15 and 6:45 (do I want a full workout or an abbreviated one before work?) I am thinking of the strangeness of this phantom alarm, and then asleep again, and then fighting off my actual alarms, and then waking at 5 minutes to 8. On a work day. I usually log in by 8am on work-from-home days.  

I think maybe I’m still out of sorts with the travel. And the downpour that sounds like my white noise app probably isn’t helping. 

Can I go back to bed now?


Rising Sun

I started making Wilmington a regular (more or less) thing in the New Year. It was a shock to the system on two fronts: (1) I had spent virtually all of the prior year working from home (the occasional meeting in NYC, NJ, PA, or DE notwithstanding) which meant my commute that year was basically “walk down the hall,” and (2) the short commute and private home office meant I could go from bed to office in minutes if I needed to. So I could -if I wanted/needed to- sleep in, and still start earlier than anyone else on my team. 

I never had to be up dark-and-early. 

On Wilmington days, the alarms go off before 5, so I can be on the road by 5:30 at the latest (so everything I need gets packed up, set up or set out the night before). 

When I started making this trip, the days were short. The “morning” part of fivethirty in the morning was strictly hypothetical. Black sky with stars equals night, by my reckoning. Ninety-odd minutes later when I pulled into the office lot, it would still be dark

Like, really dark. Can’t see any landmarks dark. Need those footpath lights to keep from falling dark. 

But the seasons turn, and pretty soon it would be almost dusky as I reached the office.  

And then it was dusky as I crossed into Delaware, grey pre-morning at the office. And today…

Oh lovely day, oh gracious and glorious God…

Today the sky was dusky as I crossed the Susquehanna, and I watched the sun rise as I drove, and the sky was painted and the sun rose red and it was well and truly day by the time I reached the office. 

Daylight savings is coming next week to throw the morning out of kilter for a few more weeks. But this morning was simply beautiful. And I’m thankful for it. 

Also, thematically, I recently earned my Japan badge on #Fitbit. Land of the rising sun, you know. 


Too tired

I wonder if I’m fighting something off; yesterday I felt like if I had taken an extra long blink in the afternoon, I’d have fallen asleep and awakened next week. By 7:15pm I felt like it was midnight already and only made myself stay up long enough that my body would let me sleep through the night. (Because I was afraid if I went to bed at 7:30 I’d wake up at 10:30 from a refreshing nap, and mess myself up for the 4:55am Wilmington alarm.)

Not. Enough. Coffee

The early to bed served; I woke ahead of the alarm today, thankful and hopeful and…. headachy and tired. 

Ugh. Up. Go. Move. 

It turns out my outside light has burned out, but fortunately 2 of my neighbors have left theirs on, and I can see my way to my car.  

Technically the commute is easier today than some; it’s not pouring rain or dangerous crosswinds, but it feels harder today. I know tired driving is a hazard, and the headache isn’t helping. 

I make it to the office without incident (thanks be to God) and grab some more coffee and more aspirin… it’s going to be a rough one!

@Fitbit, @WiiFit, Fitness and Other Temporary Obsessions, today has a theme song

A day in the (workout) life

An eclectic musical journey

Before I went to bed last night, I ran down to the laundry room for a fresh pair of workout clothes. If today were an Office day, I would have left them in the main floor bathroom, so they’d be easy to change into on arrival from the office (on Wilmington days I’m already getting up before 5 to get on the road; there is simply no way I can get up earlier to fit in an early workout too). But today is a Work From Home (WFH) day, so I put them in the upstairs bathroom – wishing that my 2 year old Fitbit Flex had an altimeter to track my stairs – so they’d be in easy reach for me first thing.

(If I am already changed for working out, I am much more likely to actually do it. Not sure why “I’ll need to change” is such a big barrier, but it seems to be nonetheless.)

So, here it is morning, and the WFH Day alarms start going off at 6:30. I got enough sleep, on paper, but I still find myself fighting it for 10 minutes. Then I drag myself into the bathroom for all the early morning ritual ablutions, and change into my waiting (@1SturdyGirl) workout clothes.

I’m moving slowly still, just 10 minutes to 7AM at this point, and only have a handful of my hourly steps in so far. I am going to miss the first hourly goal if I don’t get going. It isn’t always possible to get all the hours in – meetings and such intervene – but I’ve really been trying lately!

I go downstairs, start the coffee, and turn on my iPod, flipping for something upbeat – Christian music will lift my spirits but it rarely lifts my feet, and dear God how much of my life have I spent pining or heartbroken when there’s all these dismal ballads and laments to wade through? I switch from shuffling All Songs to a playlist with some attitude, and boom, I’ve got my morning beat:

One song and 250+ steps later I have my 6AM hourly steps in with a few minutes to spare, and I am feeling awake.

Time for my workout. I realize I forgot my socks; trek upstairs (stairs!) to get them and then it’s time to get going!

Down in the basement, I have my workout area waiting for me. I log into my @WiiFit account, and pull up something to watch on the DVR while the system checks me in with a basic body test. (Apparently today I’m leaning slightly right.) I already know I don’t have any in-person morning or lunch appointments or scheduled deliveries, so I can go straight from workout to office if I need to. With that little extra time, I scroll over to one of my predefined workouts, about 45 minutes’ worth, and get started…

Sun Salutation to stretch, Ski Slalom to ease me into moving, then Jazz Dance, Advanced Step, and a 30-minute Run (short strides of necessity in the basement), then a few others to cool down.  It’s not the hardest workout in the world; I don’t really even feel like I worked up a sweat…

Still, when I’m all done, WiiFit tells me I’m halfway to today’s calorie-burning goal, and my Fitbit tells me that I’m more than 5000 steps (or half my steps goal) into my day.

I’m also on day 5 of my pretend #FitbitAdventures NYC marathon, and coming down the home stretch. Honestly, the marathon bores me; the NYC marathon photos don’t do much for me in general; I’ll be back doing virtual Yosemite hikes (or hopefully some other new adventure they introduce in future) but this was the last Adventure I hadn’t done yet and it will be good to put this one in the “complete” column.

If it was a weekend, I might keep going, but it’s not. Now it’s quarter to 8, I have a work day ahead of me, and I want my coffee… badly. I go up to the kitchen (stairs!) pour myself a cup and go up  (stairs!) to throw on a tanktop and head to the office to start my day. Usually my team won’t be online until 9 (unless my boss is also working from home), but I like to get started early.

At 8:15 I’m already deep into sending and responding to emails, but I suddenly remember that it’s a new hour, and I need my steps… my iPhone has my playlist handy so today I shuffle to I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and have a quick dance party for one (which I repeat again just after 9AM because it’s what’s handy and I have to get the steps in quick before I have to get on a call.)

If this was an Office day, I would just circle my half of the floor to hit the hourly goals, a quick walk every hour – but at home it’s a little harder to make a defined 250-step circuit – it’s not that big a place, after all – so I try to work in a 1-song dance party every hour, if meeting schedules permit.

I set a timer/alarm on my phone for an hour away. I have an older model Fitbit, so not only doesn’t it track stairs (alas when I do so many stairs!), it also doesn’t remind me to move; I have to remind myself. And I do need the reminders, because otherwise I get so deep into whatever I’m working on that I could easily forget to move at all for hours at a time.

During the course of the morning I will need to go grab another layer of clothes (once I’m all cooled down, the tank I put on over my workout clothes isn’t sufficiently warm for all the just-sitting of the day), and of course there will be at least a couple of trips up and down (stairs!) for caffeine, while I work on this report.

For the 10 o’clock hour, I get my jam on, and my 250+ steps, to Kate Voegele’s No Good:

About mid-morning I check my schedule and my energy levels; to determine how I’ll be spending my lunch: eating, showering, working out again, or just working through. Today, I am thinking it will be the 11AM steps (at more like 11:30), a shower, a quick bite, and maybe the start of a load of laundry (stairs!) In the mean time, the howling of the neighbor’s dogs tells me that my mail carrier is making her rounds. (Stairs!)

Then I wrap the report for review, send a few more emails, delete the piles of junk mail that have come in over the last few hours, and dig into something else on my desk…

At 11:30, it’s time to break for lunch and my steps… I’m skipping through the shuffle for something that feels right: P!nk, Taylor Swift, INXS, Bruno Mars, not that one, no, maybe later, nah… oh, here we go, The Vogues:

That doesn’t quite get me to the 250 steps, but before I can hit repeat, ABBA comes up, and that feels like a good fit for the mood too… in no time I have Dancing Queened my way well past my hourly goal (and within 350 steps of the end of the marathon Adventure)!

Then it’s time to grab a shower, figure out a lunch plan, and get myself back to my desk!

45 minutes later, I’ve had my shower, hauled a bucket of water outside (stairs!), started a load of whites and workout clothes (stairs!), and while my Lean Cuisine heats (dang, I’m getting hungry now), danced my way to the end of the Marathon and my 12 o’clock hourly activity goal (to Maroon 5’s Wake Up Call – wouldn’t this have been perfect at 6:30AM?)

That’s a lot accomplished in a short break, and I’m up over 8K steps for the day  but it’s time to get back to the workday grind…(Stairs!)

1PM hour… I look up from the document I’m reviewing for my hourly steps… I skip past the GoGos, Mariah Carey, and Rixton, and decide on Poker Face by Lady Gaga.

For 2PM, I’ve made good headway on the day’s projects. I run down for water (stairs!) and then I am ready for some Taylor Swift, to Shake It Off

By now, I am really closing in on my 10,000 steps for the day.  Less than 500 to go!

I also remember mid-hour that I left laundry in the washer that I should go rotate into the dryer. (Stairs! You know, I do believe I’ve gone up 14 flights today, all in all. And the day isn’t over yet!)

Then for my 3PM steps, the afternoon is starting to feel a little punchy, and I think I’d much rather hear Word Crimes (by Weird Al) than deal with Blurred Lines

I enjoy that one so much I would do it twice, just for the joy of it. But work awaits, so I have to get back to it. Well, maybe just one more time…

(Buzz Buzz Buzz … there goes my step alarm; I’ve hit 10,000 for the day!)

By 4pm, I’ve passed my daily steps goal, but I still have a few hours in the day to try to hit 250 steps. I flip though my list, but I’m just not in the mood for Katy Perry or Train at the moment… oh, but Blow Me (One Last Kiss) from P!nk gets me moving (sorry I can’t find the version without all the language in a video format).

And then… ah, 5PM hour. Let the weekend begin!

I still have hourly steps to take though, and I already played 5 O’Clock World earlier. But you know you’ve been working too hard… to Take Your Time for a little SOS Band seems like the thing to close out the day…

And that, my friends, is how I hit all my Fitbit goals for the day. Not to mention, wrapped up the actual WORK work. Win!

@Fitbit, Fitness and Other Temporary Obsessions, flotsam, there is something wrong with me

Random observations

  • Everyone’s rush same-day requests come on Fridays. And everyone who wants a meeting needs it to be on Mondays. What is with that? (How about we just switch the weekends up, and take Tuesdays thru Thursdays off, in that case?)
  • If companies would broadcast some kind of dance music over the loudspeakers for the last 5 minutes of every hour, no one need ever miss their 250-step activity goal for that hour. Continue reading “Random observations”
flotsam, there is something wrong with me

I need a roof for my cubicle

Twice a week (on paper: holidays, vacation, bad weather and other business travel notwithstanding) I sit in the Wilmington office. It’s a quiet work environment (relative to other offices, not compared to working at home). There are 2 people who sit near me and if the ventilation system didn’t rattle and make that metallic squeak overhead (makes my teeth ache a bit) it would be kind of nice here…No snifflers! No slurpy-crunchers of apples! No chewers of mints or nibblers of sunflower seeds in shells. 

My misophonia is not killing me here, and I’m so glad. So. Glad 

Oh, but the lights. I am not used to these lights!

You’d think these nice bright lights would be great because low light is that much harder on my aging eyes. 

But no, not so much. 

Too bright. Too fluorescent. Too much. 

All I need is a dimmer. Or prescription reading sunglasses. Or a roof for my cubicle!

At least I remembered my reading glasses, because it’s always a bad eye day in Wilmington. 

But there’s no sniffler. Win.