One Monday Can Wipe Out A Weekend…

So imagine you’re doing a jigsaw puzzle.  A nice one, that will have a beautiful panoramic picture as your finished product.

Maybe the puzzle looks like this - pretty, but that water would take weeks.

Imagine this puzzle has approximately 10,000 little bitty pieces.  Picture this – you are sitting at your “puzzle table” on a Friday afternoon. You’ve been working hard all week getting the puzzle ready for the hard slog ahead – you’ve sorted the pieces into colors, found all the edges, have a comfortable work space set up. So you leave the puzzle table, ready to start work on Monday morning. When you come back to your puzzle table – not only are all of your pieces mixed back up – you’ve suddenly got the impression that the pieces may not all go to that puzzle – or that the picture may not be the right one – and in any case, the pieces have been rescrambled, and hopelessly confused. You’ll have to start again.

That’s kind of how today left me feeling. I had a beautiful weekend – filled with farmer’s markets and sunshine; sewing and painting; laundry and yardwork. The kind of perfect balance between productivity and relaxation that lets you believe that you actually do have your life under control, and that you are not the kind of girl that spills ice cream on her face. In front of the new boss.  (long story). After waking up from the kind of deep peaceful sleep that has you wake up in an actual good mood – before coffee!

Leo does not always take good pictures. But he had a good weekend too!

And then I got to work.  I love my office.  I love my job – but today was crazy. The first hour was great – said hello, checked my email, got all organized, good to go.  The second hour was good too – a really constructive conversation that moved a relationship forward in a really positive way. After that – all crazy. The meeting I ran for two hours totally missed the mark in terms of outcomes. Stuff that should have taken 10 minutes took 40. I went in intending to gain clarity, and left alarmed at the confusion I am sensing. I just sent a panicky email to my bosses – hoping that they will either a) talk me down and tell me I’m crazy – a la Taylor “Brianne, it’s the second day. It can’t be that bad already.” or b) tell me my instincts are good and then tell me how to fix this problem. (Probably to the tune of – you’re right, your instructions are not clear.  You’re going to have to admit you made a mistake and then fix it). Ah well.

In other news – I am particularly proud of myself in that I have been taking better care of myself in many ways.  Beginning at about 6pm on Thursday – I have not had one particle of wheat. I did not go to the food court today. I ate a fresh peach with my breakfast and did not die.  I ate a large salad as part of my dinner, with no allergic effects.  I have eaten two tomatoes over the last two days. All this to say that I am really making an effort here – to not have one cheat meal over the weekend is quite an accomplishment, and it will be interesting to see if I make it through the week.

I will have to remind myself that all is not last, that one bad meeting does not make me the embodiment of my worst nightmare, and that “tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it”.

I leave you with a picture of my beautiful city – taken from a rooftop at sunset.  Ah, Milwaukee – you always make me smile.

August Sunset - Astor Rooftop


Successful Weekends Lead to Successful Weeks…Right?

Relaxed. Relieved. Exhausted. Excited. Anxious.

Maybe not the best mindset to have on a Sunday evening – but I did have a nearly-truly restful weekend!  I drove over to Madison on Saturday – which would have been great except for 1) A bad accident that blocked the interstate (hope everyone is ok); 2) Construction which had the interstate down to 1 lane for 10 miles for no discernible reason; and 3) my car doing the annoying engine-revving hiccuping thing again.  Sigh.

Then – colcannon with mom – yum! An Irish specialty with mashed potatoes and kale.  Also onions and butter galore! Sooo tasty.  Then we went shopping around, and I made my long awaited trip to Penzey’s Spices.  Replenished my stock of Bicentennial and got some Southwest and garlic power.  No, this is not a paid advertisement. Went to Kohl’s and left without buying much of anything, although I do now know the type of kitchen knives I want – since I am down to one steak knife, and one broken-blade butcher knife. Then the best part…

2011 Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival!!!  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have almost nothing good to say about the last five years I lived in good ol’ SP.  The Corn Festival, however, is one completely undamaged and unspoiled memory. Yesterday was simply another page in that book. Got there with mom and Drew around 4pm – loaded a tot with as many ears of fresh boiled corn as we could carry – and dug. in. I know I ate two ears – which is a lot for me. Drew ate a lot! There were mini donuts involved also – and giant bananas with dreds.  But I digress.  After some tilt-a-whirling around we took off (it looked like rain) and headed to Takumi for sushi.  Which was actually not that good and kind of overpriced. I always loved Takumi because it seemed cheaper and better quality than Ginza, at least, but I was mostly unimpressed last night. Ah well.

Today was donuts and coffee followed by movie and popcorn.  Mom and I saw The Help which I had read last spring. I was not expecting much from the movie – given that the book was kind of fluffy, and the reviews said it didn’t go deep enough, but I actually thought it was well done. Sad and funny and scary in equal measure.

But now it’s nearly 10 here in the Brew City. The house is clean, the dog is asleep, and I am beginning to think of the busy week ahead. It’s goal setting time in the Real World and I’m still playing catch up with all there is to learn here. I am starting to think that 1 year is a more realistic onboarding period, as I see no end to the questions I have in mind.  Also having a brand new manager – M – starting his journey alongside me.  We have a high stakes phone call with national managers on Thursday, and I am starting to have that panicky “night before the final” feeling…

Off to bed, perchance to sleep…

On Family

What a great three days!

Branches of the Family Tree

Saturday – Woke up “early” (ok, late) and packed up the dog and some clothes and drove to Madison. It poured rain from Johnson Creek to my mom’s house – which made me glad I learned about driving in torrential downpours when I was in Louisiana! Got to my mom’s new place – which is super nice on the inside! And had the grand tour. Also, a banana.  Mom went to help Drew move 3 boxes (read: carload) into her house until his new place is ready. Then, mom went to work, and Drew and I went to Target and Qdoba.  Just a nice, rainy Saturday.  After I dropped Drew off, I made dinner – during which time I learned the following things:

1) If you want the toaster oven to work, plug it in.

2) If the salt seems to be stuck in the jar – you probably shouldn’t turn it all the way upside down with the lid off, and

3) If you wait until the last minute, you will overcook the chicken, and undercook the rice.  (this is why youre


Sunday – Family Reunion!

My mom’e family has a reunion in Token Creek every other summer – and it seems that every second reunion (4 years) all the out of state folks make it in! I saw everyone I like except for my Uncle Bret – who is holding it down out in Oklahoma. Or possibly China.  But it was great – my mom, my brother, my favorite cousin, and I hid out near the cupcakes. It was so great. Even Drew had fun!

Drew "having fun"

Current most favorite little cousin - E

Monday – Extended “Family”

If family is people you care about, who you look out for, you can add the family of my former student C to my list.  C’s mom contacted me about a week ago – to see if I would help her get some clothes for the kids for school. Really? You want me to go shopping? No problemo. So, with my reimbursement check in hand, I did my best to support the economy and buy out the children’s section of Target.  Now, I am afraid of how much the shipping is going to be – and a little worried that I may have gone overboard. I just really like buying presents! There were so many cute things! This is not even including all the things I put back! Ah, well.


Champagne Taste, or why the “Staycation” was invented…

I was informed today that I have over 100 hours of accrued vacation time at work. This is partially due to the fact that when I met my “three years of service” deadline, they gave me another week of vacation.  My new office quite clearly values vacations (at least three have been taken by various team members in the six weeks I have worked here).  All of this would be awesome except for these facts:

1) I just started a new job, with a responsibility level about 5 times what I am used to.  To say there is a learning curve is putting it mildly.

2) I moved back to my “home state”, meaning that I live an hour away from most of my family and friends – I no longer need to carve out a week, I can see them whenever – and do.

3) At least 60 hours of this vacation time must be used before October 1, or it disappears forever. This is messaged as some kind of threat, I believe. I don’t get it – time doesn’t “disappear”, and the same amount of work will need to be done regardless of my vacation status.

So, out of curiosity, I plugged some dream destinations into Kayak.  I thought I was supposed to get all my travelling done in my twenties, which I did, what with travelling around the country and studying abroad in London, but hey – I’m still single and childfree, so why not.  I believe that to be some kind of qualifier for random, willy-nilly travel.  Here is what I turned up as far as airfare ALONE:

Edinburgh, Scotland – 1200 round trip

London, UK – 900 round trip

Rapid City,  SD – 409 round trip

Bangkok, Thailand – 1500 round trip

Jo’burg, South Africa – 2200 round trip

Sydney, Australia, 2000 round trip

NYC, NY – 194 round trip (a great price, I realize, but a vacation should mean going somewhere new, right?)

None of this includes hotels, trains, cars, sightseeing, food, etc, etc.

Based on the fact that in the last six weeks I have financed two separate moves and school supplies and clothes for four kids (long story), I think this “vacation” will need to be a “staycation” if it happens at all.  Also, I haven’t checked my credit card balance in 2 weeks!  Gulp.  Then there are the other logistical barriers, such as:

1) I vastly prefer to be alone, but that said, even I would get sick of just myself in a new place for a week.

2) When I come back from said “vacation” there is a week’s worth of unanswered email, undone laundry, and unaddressed action steps.

3) Travel longer than 10 hours means kenneling my dog (which he loves) to the tune of 35 dollars per day (which I do not love). Which equals additional stress, knowing that if he gets kicked out for some reason and I’m overseas, they could not even contact me.  I f I go somewhere drive-able, I have to take him – and I love him very much, but a vacation should not involve picking up poop, IMO.

With love,


So I Started A Blog

Hello out there?

I’ve been thinking of writing a blog for awhile now – I read between 15-20 blogs per day, some that are personally interesting, some that are just dramatic, and some that I learn from. So I decided to get in on the fun! If you stumble across this blog, I guess you could say it’s my random musings and ramblings about the last 10 years of my life – my twenties. I wanted to call it “exit 29” but that’s been taken.

A bit about me: I live in Milwaukee, WI which is a bit of a homecoming for me. I grew up in the Madison suburbs, moved to the Rosebud Reservation where I taught for the best three years of my life, moved to New Orleans and worked for an education non-profit for three years, and have just moved back to WI six weeks ago. My twenties have been a crazy ride – and I want to spend this year sorting them out, and getting ready for the next adventure!

So – if you’ve stumbled here, welcome! And pardon my craziness as I figure this whole thing out!