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Posts Tagged ‘misc thoughts’

For those of you who are not Mad Men fanatics, this will take a bit of ‘splainin’.  Pete Campbell is an Account Executive/Partner at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price – a fictional 1960’s ad agency.  If you’ve watched all of the seasons of Mad Men, Pete’s slimy ways have probably made you feel uncomfortable or dirty at least once – possibly twice – an episode for the past four seasons.

Here’s the thing about Pete: Pete knows what he wants and he goes after it.  He doesn’t always take a path that you or I would prefer – he sometimes turns to manipulation or blackmail – but everything he does is because he wants to be The Ad Man.  The other thing to know about Pete is that he is an account executive (basically a client schmoozer) who fancies himself as a creative.  He is NOT a creative.

That all being said, here are my thoughts on Pete:

On Trying Too Hard: Pete wants to be an Ad Man. Desperately.  He “acquires” all of the things that he thinks he needs to portray the image (wife, apartment downtown, etc), he reads all of the “right” books, he does all of the networking.  But at the end of the day, he often just comes across as trying too hard.  It’s awkward to watch and difficult to like.  It conjures up at least a half dozen memories of stupid things I’ve done or witnessed other people doing.  I think about my first presentations when I worked in advertising or remember terrible sales pitches someone delivered to me.  I shudder at the memories. And I watch Pete and think, “Am I trying too hard? Am I making myself into a person I wish I could be or am I becoming a person that I am meant to be?”

On Taking Shortcuts: Pete regularly tries to find shortcuts, but his shortcuts always come at a much-too-high cost.  Sometimes it’s his own integrity that takes a hit, and sometimes he even jeopardizes family relationships for the sake of authenticating his place in the ad world.  I’m all for taking risks, but the things he’s willing to risk sometimes seem too great considering what he is hoping to accomplish.  How often do I sacrifice a long-term item for a short-term goal?  What are my trade-offs?

On Being Authentic: Pete says a lot of crap to get what he wants and hides a lot of things he does.  There are a lot of things Pete sweeps under the rug, including affairs and a baby with another woman.  Watching his character operate, the amount of baggage he’s carrying around is almost palpable.  It’s like he’s teetering, on the verge of falling over under the baggage’s oppressive weight.  And yet, if you asked him, he’d probably ask, “Baggage?  What baggage?”

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So… Frank is a Pilot.  This means he is gone for days and days.  It also means that we experience much of our relationship over the phone.

Example conversation:

Emily (E): Sooo, what else is new?

Frank (F): HMmmmmm.

Long pause.  You have to be ok with long pauses when carrying on a marriage via phone.  You have to give the other person a chance to “buffer”.  Buffering is when their brain catches up with their mouth.  The reason that their brain and mouth get out of sync is because they are playing Bejeweled Blitz online.  (Darn you, Mother, for showing us that game!)

E: Yeah?

F: So, yeah, well, I’m still listening to that zombie book on CD.

Background info: Frank has a love/hate relationship with zombies movies/stories.  While he hates, hates, HATES being scared, he can’t help himself when it comes to Zombies.  He’s like Bubba from Forest Gump, “There are zombies that run fast, zombies that run slow, zombies that swim, zombies that dance and zombies that can be frozen and thawed…” and an hour later, I’m drooling on myself, stabbing myself in the face with a pencil and wondering if I, myself, am a zombie…

E: aaaaaaahhhhhrrrrrggghhhh.

F: Whatever. So anyway, zombies –

E: No, that was me gagging at you.

F: Oh, so you weren’t making a zombie noise to scare me?

E: No!  I was groaning that we are STILL talking about zombies.

F: Well, cuz zombies make that moaning noise, so I thought you were trying to scare me.  Well anyway –

And he’s off and running on to his next part of the zombie adventure.  Something about under water zombies that getcha when you’re swimming.  Which, unbeknown to Frank, gives me a whole new arsenal of things I can terrify him with…

Not only is this a zombie, but it's also what I look like when I'm listening to Frank talk about zombies...

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framing

I had some posters in college that I bought at hole-in-the-wall poster store on Belmont near the El stop.  We liked to go in this store to just poke around and find funny or interesting artwork or kitschy posters.  It was the kind of store where they let you sift through their posters for hours and never bothered you about it.  Just a few shops west of the poster store is the locally (perhaps nationally?) famous restaurant Ann Sathers (yuummmmy cinnamon rolls!) and across the street is Igor’s Dungeon (tawdry sex and drug paraphernalia).  While I was in school, I bought 4 posters from this poster store.  The posters were Romeo and Juliet, Jack Vettriano’s the Singing Butler, the VJ Day Kiss and another with a couple hugging at the train station.  These pictures hung frame-less on the walls of my apartments in college for several years before I moved home after graduation.

When I was moving home, Mom asked me if I had any artwork that I might want framed.  I hesitated when she asked and had to think about it before I remembered these four posters – I guess I hadn’t thought much about framing the posters.  I mean, they were the posters that I sticky-tacked up to the wall in my college apartment.  They were the posters that were part of a bigger wall-collage of sorority paddles and random pictures with friends and inspirational quotes.  I had never thought about these posters as art, but when my mom asked me if I had any artwork, I thought, “yeah, I guess I do!”

My mom does an excellent job decorating, but I was still surprised at what an awesome job she did picking out frames for the posters.  While I would have done something more ordinary (and well, lets’ be real – plain) – she picked out these gorgeous ornate frames.  The pictures that I looked at for years on my apartment wall looked COMPLETELY different in the frames she picked out.  They went from being college dorm-room blah to grown-up chic in less than five minutes.  I smile whenever I look at them because they reminded me of something very important:

How an image is framed changes how you see that image.  We talk about this concept in our culture a lot using phrases like “Perception is reality” and “Attitude is everything.”  The way the pictures were framed changed how I interacted with the pictures, where I place them in my current home and how others saw them.  Artists play with this concept by taking ordinary objects and “framing” those objects differently so that the ordinary objects are perceived as art.

I talked in my previous post about the different themes running through my life right now and that definition is one of those themes.  When I think about how I am defined, I realize that the context is just as important as the content.  I am well aware that the same word in different contexts can mean so many different things.  The question, “Why?” can be insulting, intriguing, lamenting, fatiguing and energizing, all dependent on how the question is asked.

I have a lot of different contexts that I exist in.  Sure, I am a wife and a family member and a friend and a coworker, but what kind of person do I want to be in each of these contexts?  I mean, yes, there are things that will be consistent in each area – I am a Christian in all of these areas.  But what kind of wife, family member, friend and worker do I want to be?  And how do I feel about how each of these categories is shaping up?

I like to say “yes” to everything.  It has been an epic battle for me to say “no” more often.  I think when I was younger, it was probably wise to say yes to a lot of things so that I could have a wider experience, but perhaps it is time to become more selective, picking the projects and paths that are of more interest to me.

I lamented the other day that there was nothing that I am passionate about.  I feel that have spent so much time trying lots of different things that I never really specialized in one area.  Today I was thinking on this topic a little bit more and a few patterns of behavior are emerging that give me a few clues about more dominant personality/skill areas that I could work on.

So yeah.  I know I started rambling, but I guess in a nutshell: I’ve got a lot to work on.  And I will probably write more on this because I feel like I didn’t say everything I wanted to.  But it is late and if I don’t go to sleep my context tomorrow will be viewed through sleep deprived eyes…

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We ate sugar.  And lots of it. We hosted a cocktail & dessert party and even though we had quite a turn out, our friends are neither the lushes nor the sugar-holics we hoped they were.

Seriously people – if you don’t have to unbutton your pants so you can breathe after a party – did you really have a good time??

We also slept a lot.  A Lot.  Like, more than I thought was normal or possible.  And it was DE-LISH-US.

I have no regrets.

Except about how much sugar I ate.

And how I haven’t gone back to my sugarless lifestyle… I mean… SOMEONE has to eat all of the left overs.

Ahem.

I have also developed an addiction to online Boggle.  You know, the game where the letters get all mixed up and you try to find words in the jumble.  Yeah.  I love that game.  I play it to the exclusion of writing.  Which means there are a LOT of thoughts bumbling around in my head, longing to get out… but then I just ignore it and keep playing Boggle.

Like I said, it’s an addiction.

I also watched an entire TV series called Life.  Sure, it was only 2 seasons long, but it was AWESOME.  And I loved it. Although, ironically while watching Life, I was the one who was desperately in need of getting a real life. Who cares though –  it was something I could get away with while FK was gone.  You know, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him…

But I think the HUGE pile of unfolded laundry in the basement may have been a tip off.

Although, I was able to drag my lap top around, playing the aforementioned TV show while cleaning the house.  So, you know, I was in the clear for a while.

It’s just that I never made it down to the basement.

Or the giant piles of laundry.

You know how you have those emergency pairs of underwear at the bottom of your drawer?  They are for emergencies because they are SO unattractive, that if seen by others, they actually cause an emergency.

It was a dark time in the K-House, but I will say, I spelled a record 60 words while simultaneously watching Life on Hulu. And cleaning the bathroom.

I’m pretty much amazing.

Yup.

Toot. Toot. (my own horn)

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Ok, in no particular order:

1.  I am running again.  Well, jogging.  Very, very, very slowly.  At this point, it’s as much for my physical health as it is for my emotional health.  I find that when I run, I am able to process things better and have more energy.  So I am committed to running/jogging/moving my booty every other day.

2.  For anyone wondering about my sugarless lifestyle, yes, we are still sugarless in the K House.  I have to say, there have been quite a few moments of weakness, but we are proud that we haven’t caved.  The only sweets we had were for FK’s 30th birthday.  Hey, that’s a pretty special occasion, right?  So we busted out some cinnamon bread pudding and homemade whipped cream.  Soooo good.  I was worried that it would become some kind of gateway drug – you know, leading to other sugary delights – but we stayed the course and did not venture any further into Candyland.

3. There have been lots of different themes floating around in my life.  I want to write extensively on every single theme, but right now is not the time.  Here are some highlights:

a. Definitions.  I’ve been wondering a lot about how to take control about how I’m defined, both by others and more importantly by myself.  This concern is on a personal and professional level.  Personally, I’m not afraid of being defined as someone who has had a very difficult time having children, but I AM afraid of being defined as ONLY that.  And maybe “afraid” is the wrong word.  I think if people only saw me for this trial, that would be a very limited way of looking at me and that I, and others, would miss out on the bigger picture of what God is doing in my life.  I also think about this a lot professionally, too – the woman who did my job previously really only focused on one particular area, whereas I’ve branched out and brought an entirely different skill set to the game.  I’m concerned that my success is being defined only based on area, without taking into consideration all of the other things I’m bringing to the table.  I have ideas on how to resolve my professional dilemma, but it’s a little bit more difficult to resolve the personal side of things.

b. Attitude. I’ve been battling attitude a lot lately.  For a great many reasons, it’s been particularly difficult for me to keep my attitude in check.  The running is helping with cleaning out any emotional overload, allowing me to refocus my energies when I feel myself slipping into a swirling vortex of sadness.  I think it’s a difficult one to balance, though, because I do believe that I need to be where I am, and not rush through it.  Said another way, I’ve spent a lot of my life checking things off of lists.  I like to do that.  But living a life of checking things off of lists sometimes means that I rush through things to just to get through the list.  A conversation I had tonight reminded me that life is really a series of processes and experiences, not a neat and tidy notebook of lists with check marks next to each item. Discontentment is being in one place, but believing that I should be somewhere else.  I kind of wonder if I would be more content if I just said, “Ok, this is where I am today, and that is ok” – with an understanding that I would not be in this same emotional place forever.  What does it look like to live a more contented life?  Hm.

c. Fluidity. In 2004/2005, I was working a lot of hours.  A lot of hours.  Even when I was not at work, I was mentally at work.  My brain was constantly thinking about things going on at the office; looking for solutions to problems I was having.  It doesn’t help that I worked in advertising and our world is inundated with ad messages.  Even if I didn’t want to take work home with me, it was everywhere.  But when I look back at that time and remember trips we took or things we did, I don’t remember the pervasiveness of work.  I just remember the fun things.  It’s amazing how my brain can edit out work and make my memories into a nice, clean 30 minute montage.  So why do I bring that up and what does it have to do with being more fluid?  Well, I realize that I have a selective way of remembering things.  I remember the joys of the simplicity of life being young when I feel overwhelmed.  But when I really remember what it was like to be me in second grade, I also have to remember that I was totally overwhelmed by simple things then (which were not so simple to me at the time).  I remember lying in bed one night, tossing and turning because I forgot to bring a worksheet home from school.  I knew I would get a “zero” for the assignment.  I finally went into my parents room really late at night (probably 10 p.m.) and told my mom what I was thinking about.  She laughed and told me about times when she felt the same way. The adrenaline from worrying about that worksheet left a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth.  The same taste I get even now when I realize I forgot something or am on a tight deadline.  We edit our memories.  Things do seem better in the past and more hopeful in the future.  Life is constant change.  People are born, people die, people move away, people move in… The sooner that I am comfortable with the idea that nothing is permanent in this life, the easier it is to roll with the punches.  I was not born as a person who is comfortable with being fluid, but over time I’ve come to be better with it.  I think being married to a pilot has expedited my personal growth in this area.  Let’s not go crazy though – I have hardly mastered being fluid and I still love a good check list, but in the realm of things I cannot control, learning to be fluid has been an excessively helpful trait.

So yeah.  Just a few thoughts.  No particular order.  More on some of them later.  Or maybe not.  Well, you can be 100% assured that I will likely talk about running and sugar again.  I’m predictable like that.

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is nothing sacred?

I don’t have a dog.

I used to have a dog growing up, though.  Her name was Missy and she was a Keeshound (medium sized fluff ball with a curled up tail).  When I was younger I would take dear Missy for walks.

It was just me and her.  Walking along.  She really liked it.

Girl dogs do enjoy sniffing things, but they don’t have to sniff EVERYTHING.  That’s what’s great about walking a girl dog.

Those days of walking Missy were before the dawn of pocket-sized cell phones and PDAs with Tetris. (oh, Tetris, how I love you!)

In this golden age of face-to-face communication, we would just walk along in blissful silence unless we happened upon other people walking and enjoying the sunshine.  Missy was happy, I was happy.

I spent the time thinking about things, of course.  I’m not sure what my 13 year old brain was concerned with – perhaps I thought a lot about my next great pair of stirrup pants.  (thanks Mom!)  But the point is: I spent time with the dog, focused on doggie-type things and not rushing off to the next great thing.

Yesterday driving into work, there was a man who was barely walking his dog.  He was moving very slowly while his dog walked circles around him.  The guy was very focused on a cell phone conversation that he absolutely had to have RIGHT there.  And I thought, “For Pete’s sake – is nothing sacred any more?  Not even walking your dog?”

What’s more, yesterday was a windy, cold blustery day.  There have been times where I’ve called my husband while walking from the office to the car and he’s always said, “Where in the world are you? I can barely hear you – it’s like a wind tunnel!”  So this gentleman walking his dog, who couldn’t wait 15 minutes to have a phone conversation, probably wasn’t having a very intelligible phone conversation anyway.  What’s the point?

I see the cell phone taking precedence over lots of things, not just dog walking.  So many simple joys, like taking children to the park, are dominated by a need to talk to someone else, somewhere else, via cell phone.  Several times, during time spent with groups of friends or in meetings at work, people have spent a good 20 minutes making a phone call to talk to someone else.  You can’t send a clearer message to the person who took the time to be with you face-to-face than taking another call.  And I get the occasional important phone call.  And I get answering a call to tell the person that you are busy and if it’s not an emergency, telling them that you’ll call them back later.

I must confess, I do check my BlackBerry for messages.  I mostly do this when my husband is out of town and I am just checking to see if he sent me details about a trip or if he landed somewhere safely.  I know I need to put the Crackberry down, though.  I’m working on it.

I guess a goal that I have for myself this year (aside from working out more, eating less, blah blah blah) is to be more present where I am:  to take in the details of the world around me and to listen better to the people I am with and be more engaged in conversations in person.

And hey, if you want, I’ll walk your dog and pay attention to it.  I might even dig up an old pair of stirrup pants for the occasion…

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While my life mostly consists of work, there are other interesting things going on!

This weekend:

Friday night I have a retreat for my small group. We are going to the Summerfield Suites in Schaumburg.

Saturday, I am going to the bank and then I am going to do stuff… not sure what yet… anyone want to do stuff? Then Saturday night Frank and I are going to do something, but we’re not sure what. Possibly Jamie’s sister’s birthday. Hm. We shall see how coherent both of us are.

Sunday Frank and I go to church at 5:30 at Christ Church of Oak Brook. At first I thought, “NO WAY! A church at the MALL??? What an awesome idea!” But I was wrong. Oh well. This is still a nice church and I really like the pastor, Danny White.

That’s it for now!

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