just go for it

I had a dream last night: I was working at a grocery store, and my (female) boss wanted me to stay on for another full shift. I explained that I couldn’t do so at my current pay rate (which was $7.16 in the dream), but that I would be happy to work as many hours as needed if my hourly wage was doubled. My manager talked to the company, and came back with a letter stating that they would increase my wages by 10%. As often happens in dreams, my job nonsensically changed from cashier to being part of the advertising department. As I looked at the average wages for the ad dept. and realized that I was woefully underpaid, my manager asked me (inquisitively, not meanly) why I wouldn’t just accept the 10% raise.

This dream stuck with me. I first woke up from it at 5, but remembered it clearly when I woke up around 8. What struck me the most was the way I was implored to just take what I was offered, and not ask any questions, particularly in light of the changed duties and higher level of responsibility. How typical. Women often don’t ask for more money or negotiate their starting salary, and often, when they do, they’re penalized. (Versions 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) In the dream, I was confused that anyone would want me to work for so little, but second-guessed myself when my manager asked why I wouldn’t just take the raise as offered. I had a hard time explaining to her why an extra $700 a year* was not an acceptable trade for all the extra time I’d have to put in.

As I sit here on the cusp of applying for jobs, I have to continuously remind myself not to “settle,” and not to apply solely for jobs I feel I’m qualified for. I can’t tell you how many tabs I had open for jobs that required only an associate’s degree (and offered less than what daycare would cost). It’s not that I’m better than these jobs. It’s that I often don’t look beyond these jobs, and am at risk of getting such jobs and being bored and underpaid within 6 months. I imagine that many women put themselves in this position, and compound their mistake by going from one ‘comfortable’job to another.

When I left my most recent position, I was fed up with not being challengedI need to remember that frustration, and rethink my application strategy. As Sheryl Sandberg cautioned in Lean In, if I take a job I’m 90-100% qualified for, I’ll master the job quickly and won’t have much left to learn. In my last job, I was tapped as an “expert” contributor to a panel for process improvement when I had been in my position for slightly longer than a year. Comparatively, my husband has been in his position for 2.5 years, and still comes home to tell me about a new process he’s learning. Incidentally, he was only about 50% qualified for both of his most recent jobs. What’s more, I goaded him into applying for both, scoffing at his protests that he wasn’t qualified enough. I need to apply that same critical eye to my own reasons for “why not,” and just go for it.

Applying for worthwhile jobs is a tough gig. It takes a lot of time, patience, and internal pep talks (particularly when you don’t feel entirely qualified). But the alternative is to have no job at all, or worse: a job that neither challenges nor excites you.

 

*Yes, I’m aware that the math doesn’t add up. It was a dream. 

dear ejv

Dear EJV,

Happy father’s day! You should know that I would never have married you if I didn’t think that you’d be a good dad. But to say that you’ve exceeded my expectations is a laughable understatement. The love you have for our boy is palpable, and he clearly brings you more joy than anything else before him (even the Shadow!). He loves you more than anything… when you walk in the door after work, he can barely hold it together long enough for you to take your shoes off. To say you’re his favorite person is not quite enough: it’s more like he’s a tiny crackhead, and you’re his preferred drug.

Anyway. Thank you for being my baby daddy partner in crime. I’m truly enjoying this whole parenting thing with you (guess we must be doing it wrong). Thanks for your patience, your dedication to making us laugh, and dealing with the crap (ha!). If our kids end up being hilarious and a little bit weird, we have succeeded. Can’t wait to have a whole gaggle, I hope they like hippie shit.

Love,

H

banana bread

We’ve had very (very) ripe bananas on our counter for the last week, and I’ve been threatening (promising?) to make banana bread the entire time. So today, while the boy entertained himself for a while, I baked. And boy, did this banana bread deliver. It’s the best I’ve ever had. (Not that I’ve had banana breads from everywhere or am some sort of connoisseur, but it’s pretty damn delicious.)

Here’s the recipe– I used this one as a starter.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (microwaved to liquify)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 4 medium bananas (very ripe, mashed with a fork)
  • 2/3 cup pecans (I buy them whole and break them into pieces)

Optional (for sugary crust)

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/8 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. It should be frothy and thick when you’re done.
  3. Combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, chia seeds, flax seeds, and cinnamon in separate bowl.
  4. Add buttermilk to mashed bananas, stir.
  5. Add half of dry mixture and half of banana mixture to egg mixture. Mix well.
  6. Add remainder of dry mixture and banana mixture to batter. Mix very well.
  7. Fold in pecans.
  8. Pour batter into pan. (I used a round cake pan, but a boring old bread pan would work too.) :)
  9. (Optional: combine sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in small bowl. Sprinkle mixture across top of the batter: make sure to cover all corners/edges.)
  10. Bake for 50-60 mins.
  11. Let the bread cool for 15-20 mins.
  12. If you went rogue and baked it in a cake pan, cut into nice pie slices.
  13. Try not to eat half the loaf.

I’m not much of a baker– I greatly prefer to cook. When you bake, you can’t improvise (to the same degree as when you cook), and I like to taste and adjust as I go (something I’m obviously not going to do when baking). But ever since my dad introduced me to baked oatmeal, I’ve been playing around with other ways to bake with oats and various hippy things (chia seeds, flax seeds, alternatives to sugar (though nothing artificial), coconut oil, etc.). Thus far, it’s pretty damn delicious.

dear ned

Dear Dad,

Happy birthday! I know that you don’t care much for fanfare on your birthday, so I won’t embarrass you. But I’d love to take you out for a beer. Jason and I found the perfect place to celebrate with you — there’s a bar on the lake, and people can pull up on with their boats or jet skis or whatever they have, and have a beer or two. On the weekends, there’s live music on three or four different patios, and I’m sure you would appreciate that there’s a variety of cuisines to sample. The first time we went there, we commented several times on how much you would love it there. We can even introduce you to a few Texas brews, though between you and me, there’s no comparison between Wisconsin and Texas beers.

See? I’ve come a long way from the Berry Weiss days. (I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to your “don’t fruit the beer” rule at first.) I didn’t realize this for a long time, but you (and what you taught Jason) have greatly influenced my beer drinking ways. These days, Jason and I often split a beer (just like you taught us), and grade them on an A-F scale. Thankfully, we haven’t encountered too many Fs, but my discerning taste now labels many of them in the B-/C+ range (average, decently made, but nothing special). The Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout has been our favorite this year– we bought many of them at Costco over the winter, and even enjoyed some at the Beer and Chocolate tasting we went to in February. (It was hosted by Ginger Man, another place I think you would love.) You’re welcome to join us for one, though with the weather steadily getting warmer, maybe the Sam Adams Cold Snap would be more appropriate.

Rest assured, we do more than just drink beer these days. I don’t know if he told you, but Jason passed his most recent actuarial exam. I’m so proud of him– this was a tough one, but after some setbacks, he endeavored to persevere, and was rewarded for his hard work. I think he finally understands your life better: working hard in his career, while making sure the kid(s) have what they need, researching new restaurants, foods, and festivals for the weekends, and making sure that his family goes to church regularly. He’s not just a good provider for our family, but he’s a fantastic dad and a great husband. We can trace so much of his dedication, involvement, and humor back to you, and our kid is very, very lucky to have the two of you in his lineage.

Speaking of, your namesake is a treat these days. I wish you could meet him. I have a feeling he’s going to be the exact mix of smart, curious, and wildly energetic that makes some little boys so destructive. I’m sure that you could give us some advice on how to channel that appropriately. Maybe over a beer?

Until next time,

Harriet

dear little one (v)

Dear little one,

Today, while you were napping your little heart out, your dad came home for lunch. As we do often, we talked about the past, and our plans for the future. In this iteration of our usual talk, we discussed going to Amsterdam with you sometime in the next few years, and looked up resorts in Portugal that are both family-friendly and near the ocean. We also talked about how we were lucky enough to meet one another so early in life.Though we’ve seen one another make more mistakes than either of us care to acknowledge, we also have dozens of great memories from the last ten years.

Like the time we stood outside Gordon Commons, and the wind blew the leaves around us in swirls while we hugged. At the time, I remarked that I felt like we were in a movie, the cliché ending where the lovers embrace while the camera pans all 360 degrees, before doing a close-up on the kiss.

Or the time we went to a dance club just down the street from our apartment. I left early with your dad’s keys, and when he was leaving, he saw my purse hanging in the coat check. After arguing with him for a bit, your dad gave the bouncer $20 for my purse. Once your dad was outside our apartment, he realized that the haggling was not in vain, since I was already home and deeply asleep (some day you will understand). His chivalry saved him a cold night on the porch.

There were many times we walked through new snow on campus, the whole world muted by the soft, white flakes. (That first thick snowfall is the only thing I loved about Madison in the winter.) I’d call your dad and say, “Let’s go marching.” We’d start walking, not knowing where we were headed, and taking turns picking, left, right, or straight. We’d talk about our plans for school, and the people in our lives, and later, when we both knew we’d eventually get married, we’d talk about our plans for a family.

Just before you were born, we also went on many walks. These walks were similar: we’d discuss our plans for work, and you, and our marriage. We’d plan for the future while reminiscing the past. We rarely walked the same loop, because I read somewhere that taking a different route when walking/driving somewhere familiar helps ward off Alzheimer’s. These walks were punctuated by the heat, but we pressed through to burn off the nervous energy. We were so excited that you were coming, but we knew we’d have our hands full.

And boy, have you delivered. You’re full of attitude. You’re all smiles, as long as you’re entertained. Boredom rivals hunger for what aggravates you the most. You want to hang out with me, unless I’m holding you and dad’s in sight. And as I predicted as soon as I could feel you moving around, we’re in deep trouble the minute you can move on your own. You’re a lot of fun, and a lot of work, and I’m so very glad that your dad and I had all those years (and walks) together before you arrived. We’d be in over our heads otherwise.

I love you, little one. I look forward to walks with you, whether here or in Amsterdam.

Mama

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