Thursday, June 25, 2015

It Hurts My Feelings

In April I bought some size medium cropped stretchy athletic pants online from Nordstrom. I have actually worn these pants to yoga classes and to the gym. I like them. Subsequent to this purchase, whenever I go to the Nordstrom website, I get plus-size athletic clothes popping up in the "you might also like" suggestions on the website.

There is nothing wrong with wearing plus-size clothing. Bodies come in all shapes, sizes and states of greatness. However, as a five-foot-three-inch, vertically-challenged lady who struggles with mysterious* weight gains and mysterious* weight losses at times, I'm sensitive to labels like plus-size. It hurts my feelings when the Nordstrom website suggests plus-size clothing to me based on my size medium purchase history.

Dear Nordstrom,

Heads-up! Your stupid algorithm for "you might also like" items is broken. Get your best coders to fix that mess now. If you're going to imply that size medium is plus-size, you might want to create a section of tiny sizes called "find a support group for your eating disorder that we at Nordstrom, and other retailers, fuel daily."

Your former customer, Jenn

* It's no mystery. My weight gains and losses are often linked to job stress and/or job absence. When I'm busy I forget to eat. That behavior is as unhealthy as eating junk food. Bodies need healthy fuel.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Humpday Pick-Me-Up

Press play & enjoy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tempted to Go Home Again

I made cupcakes this past rainy Sunday: vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and strawberry jelly filling topped with sparkle sugar. Feeling fairly proud of my effort, I posted a couple of photos to Instagram. A former coworker commented that she missed me & my delicious treats. Not wanting to keep ALL the cupcakes for myself and my expanding waistline, I decided to drop off extra cupcakes for some of my favorite former coworkers.

When I went back to visit my former employer, west elm, yesterday it felt like going home in a good, familiar, welcoming way. I won't lie. I miss it. I miss the physical space that is west elm Austin. I miss the energy and familiarity of my former coworkers and of the store in general. After working for eight months at a different retailer (hereafter known as Employer B) that was an awful fit for my personality and personal style, in a drab poorly-lit space with ugly fixtures, inconveniently located at the corner of Urinestink Avenue and Noparking Street; going back to visit west elm provided a stark and refreshing contrast. From pulling into the designated, clean, security-patrolled, free parking garage adjacent to west elm, to basking in the abundant natural light in the store with modern fixtures and wish-list-worthy merchandise, the store greeter had me at "hello".

When I worked at west elm, I was infamous for bringing baked treats to share with happy, hungry and appreciative coworkers. When I worked at Employer B, I brought homemade treats only once. One coworker said she was mad at me for trying to make her fat. I'm afraid she was less then half-joking and more than half-mad. (Also, she was not fat at all.) Another coworker pointed out one cookie (out of thirty-six cookies) that looked slightly burnt on one bottom edge, then after the cookies sat for two days, the majority uneaten, he said that the cookies were stale from the moment I brought them to share. (The cookies were freshly baked the evening before I brought them and not stale upon arrival.) Another coworker said I must have hosted a party where I originally served the cookies and not invited him. He started demanding to know if anyone else went to this imaginary party. (When I hosted a real party at a later date, he was not invited.) 

I relay these contrasts not to say that west elm is, or was, a perfect or even near-perfect employer. A friend who has worked there for over three years still cannot get the full-time hours with benefits she desperately wants. Another friend gave me the I-can't-say-what-I'm-really-thinking eyes when she mentioned recent staff turnover. I remember the crazy 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM shifts that led me to seriously seek employment elsewhere. I remember the on-call employment situation that made budgeting my time and my expected income difficult. I remember that one work-bully at west elm whose controlling actions now seem so mild in comparison to the work-bully I encountered at Employer B. (I called it quits at Employer B for a number of reasons: one being the presence of a work-bully on the tiny staff. This work-bully waged psychological battles bent on mutually assured destruction. The second I figured out that seemingly innocent conversations with work-bully would end in hurtful gossip, mean-spirited innuendo and outright lies, I disengaged as much as possible.)

When a west elm manager brightly enquired yesterday if I wanted to work there again, I suppressed the impulse to look deep into her eyes and exclaim too loudly, "Yes, please!" Instead, I took a breath and told her I might want to come back part-time in the fall when I go back to school. And in that moment, I sincerely meant it. When mid-August rolls around and my travel calendar calms, I may still mean it. Also, my poor feet may be healed enough to withstand working retail again at that point.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The End of My Blonde Ambition

This past week, Janie Lulabelle Mae, the resident 1952 House sweet mutt, needed a diversion from vigilantly alerting us to the AC-repair-superhero each and every time he entered or exited the 1952 House or the back yard where the outdoor AC unit sits. (Sorry about all the barking, Aubrie. Thanks for fixing the AC!) It was too hot for a walk, so I coaxed Janie into my car for a field trip. (She does not love riding in cars. No, not even with the windows down.) We stopped at Bark n Purr first, where Janie selected a chewy stick thing. She charmed the employees and traded a trick for a treat. High-five! Then we took the long way to Sonic for some ginormous diet limeades. Janie got treats from not one, but two carhops! She's just that awesome with the begging eyes.

While Janie basked in her treats and attention, I looked around at the other vehicles parked at Sonic. Every one of them had a blonde lady within 10 years of my age behind the wheel. All the blonde ladies had shoulder-length or longer hair. Some vehicles had children on board, some didn't. Most vehicles were SUVs (a.k.a. less convenient, less comfortable mini-vans) with a couple of Subaru station wagons thrown in for variety. My MINI Cooper with its racing stripes and contrast roof was a bright, shiny, different thing amongst the vehicles. My big mutt dog sitting in the front seat next to me was different, and totally endearing apparently. I like being different in a sea of sameness. So why have I spent so much time and money to get the same hair as all the other ladies parked at Sonic? This blonde hair stops soon.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Vacation Destination Grab Bag

Chad and I make it a priority to have at least one date night each week. I made a grab bag of possible dates for when we're feeling less than inspired with ideas. These 20 or so, possible dates are each written on folded slips of paper that live in a bag near my desk. I'm high-tech that way. The date options range from walkable neighborhood restaurants, to new-hotness restaurants not in our neighborhood, to "pick a movie and go see it". (In the age of Netflix and On Demand it's a pretty hard sell to make us leave the house for screen time.)

I applied this same technique to vacations recently. I'm a notorious over-planner and over-researcher, and often tire of the notion of chosen vacation destinations before we ever make them a reality. Instead of planning out our next few big/nice annual vacation options, I've thrown them in a bag, each written on folded slips of paper.

1. Seattle, Washington (again) & the San Juan Islands (first time)

2. Hawaiian Islands (Maui probably)

3. Belgium (likely a Rick Steves guided tour)

4. Scotland (maybe a Rick Steves guided tour, maybe a DIY itinerary)

5. Niagara Falls (both the U.S.A. and Canada sides)

I'm done with weighing pros and cons, and trying to perfectly plan. We're going to leave it up to the grab bag next time.