So You Want to Be a Travelling Consultant?

There were several reasons I decided to take this little carny show on the road. The first was that I was working way too many hours and was on call all the time and I thought if I was going to do that I should probably get paid enough to put aside some money for my daughter’s eventual therapy (since I am a bad mommy and work for a living). The second was that I was tired of having to be invested long term in the myriad little day to day problems of EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. IN MY DEPARTMENT. So I should mention here that I am a “good listener” <freaking sponge for people’s problems> and probably too sympathetic <human doormat>. So taking a promotion that put me in charge of a department of IT people may not have been the smartest move I ever made. And finally, I reached the moment when I COULD travel. That moment came when I had two kids at home but one was almost 16 and the other was almost 19 and driving. Before that, I could not have left them at home for any amount of time without a paid chauffeur and chaperone.

So let’s say you have this crucial crossroad, for whatever reason, and are now considering taking a consultant position. (And by “consultant position” I do not mean “bent over so as to make it easier for your employer to metaphorically give it to you without asking.” That would apply to most any employment “opportunity”.)

Here are some things to consider:

1.) What is your support system and is it good enough?

2.) How old are your kids? Do you have a significant other that can take up the slack at home?

3.) How long can you go without a paycheck?

4.) Do you have a backup plan?

Personally, I struggled through all of these questions and am still in a panic over numbers 3 and 4, because I suck at saving.  My backup plan at the moment revolves around committing a felony that would land me in a lovely semi-private room with a new “wife” but free healthcare.

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Nom Nom – Sorta

I travel for work…like four days a week away from home. So that is a whole lot of my life. And yeah, it’s kind of exhausting, and I have to be all professional and shit. Which is also exhausting. And I have friends who do what I do for a living who fall into the “I can eat up to $65-70-75-whatever worth of food a day and it’s paid for so let’s do that” category.  Mostly those are guys and they mostly can get away with it.  Those fuckers.  A few are women who worry me and who are developing their own gravitational fields on account of their sheer mass. (It’s physics, ya’ll.)  But mostly we girls are on a never-ending quest to eat healthy on the road and yet not face a side salad with lemon wedges and dressing on the side every night.  And a lot of us only have access to a mini fridge and maybe a microwave at night. And some of us maaaay prefer that two full glasses of wine worth of calories be saved each day for dinner.

So here is the deal.  I use sites like Urban Spoon and Yelp and I try a new place for dinner every week that I travel.  I don’t order fried cheese and beef (I want to but I don’t).  And I don’t eat dessert.  But I do drink a glass or two of wine with dinner cuz it makes me happy.

And mostly I just stop at a grocery store on the way in from the airport and I stock up on things that are chosen for their ability to fill me up without a bunch of fat and calories and I eat those for breakfast and lunch.  And snacks.  And guess what?  It kinda works.  It is a plan in progress.  This week I bought fresh cherries and blueberries and raspberries and some plain Greek yogurt.  Also some little carrots (which I consider more of a building product than actual food but it keeps well in the fridge) and a pre-packaged salad with a calorie content of 210 and some sliced turkey with Wasa wafers (the cardboard kind that taste absolutely craptastic but you can eat three of them for only 70 calories).  And mustard for the turkey.

And when I get home I will cook healthy stuff.  And I work out at least 3 and usually 4 times a week.  This seems to be preventing me (barely) from bulging into the next pants size up.  If I want to actually LOSE weight I have to give up the wine.  This is why dieting makes me cranky.

And I still get to try out great new restaurants and live a happy life.  So wish me luck.  I am hanging on to these size “?” pants for all I’m worth.  Bon appetite Bottoms up!

I’m giving up and adopting 17 cats

Right, so I work out at least 4 days a week and usually 6.  I pay to get the gray roots removed.  I don’t eat sweets or pizza or pasta or really anything that tastes too good.  I don’t drink NEARLY as much as I want to.  Why?  Because I am OVER 50, that’s why.  I am holding on by my freaking fingernails here.  I am high maintenance but self-maintaining.  If I can’t do it myself or pay a hairdresser to do it, it doesn’t get done.

And so far, so good.  I feel fairly confident that my friends and colleagues, who are always genuinely shocked when they find out I am over 45, are really being genuine.  I haven’t given up.

Until today.

Until I saw this…this THING.

Image

In case you can’t tell from my fabulous photo, this is my leg.  And that ugly thing there is an effing SPIDER VEIN!  It is borderline VERICOSE.

Since my late twenties, when my mother asked me if I HAD to wear my skirts that short, I have maintained that my legs from about mid-thigh down are the only parts of my body that have withstood the ravages of time and gravity.  And now this.

So that’s it.  I officially give up.  I am going to go buy a whole bag of Snickers bars and a muu-muu and start collecting stray cats.  Fuck it.  I’m done.

Note to self

For Mother’s Day, I bought some very fresh halibut just flown in from wherever one finds fresh halibut. I live in the desert so I paid roughly the same price as one would expect to pay for an hour with a high end hooker in NYC on a holiday weekend. I grilled it on my George Foreman grill – the big one on the patio that plugs in and that is awesome. It was a thing of beauty. Angels wept at the delicate taste. My guests showered me with praise. I drank three glasses of champagne because I deserved a reward for my mad skills. This may be why I forgot to then clean the grill. I came home today, a week later, and went to the grill to throw some steaks on for dinner. I opened the lid. The stench lifted like a greenish cloud of horror with a side of skank sauce. It smelled like a week-old dead hobo in the toilet on a tuna boat. Holy baby jeebus fucknuts! Note to self: wash the damn grill next time. Like, immediately.

Big Scary Orange Ball in the Sky

The first year my grandparents moved to Chino, CA, I was about 9 years old. It was the early seventies. We drove there, my parents in the front seats and my little brother and I squabbling and snarling for mile after mile at each other in the back seat like a couple of irritating Chihuahuas. Fortunately for my parents, I have an amazing ability to fall asleep while travelling, especially in a car (even if I’m driving, which is not awesome). So as we came over the hill into the city of Los Angeles, proper, I was just waking up. It was about 10 a.m. and I thought I must still be dreaming, because what I saw was like something from the cover of one of my Dad’s sci-fi paperbacks. The city with its spires and vertical lines was foggy and faded, a-swirl in a beige soup of smog. Above the misty city was a sickly yellowish-brown sky, and hanging there, like a giant big bloated peach, was a deeply orange ball so large that I just stared at it, agape. It did not occur to me that this could be the sun. That is not what the sun looks like. You can’t stare at the sun. I finally collected myself enough to ask my parents what it was. “That can’t be the sun,” I thought, when my dad said it was. “You can’t stare at the sun!”

“Don’t stare at the sun,” my Dad told me. “I don’t think it’s safe.” He seemed almost as confused as I was, but it was probably just him quietly freaking out because he knew this was an alarmingly unhealthy thing.

The following couple of summers I saw that sight many times, although never again did I get that same weird, dissociated feeling like I was on another planet. That was just what the sun looked like in Los Angeles. My grandmother did her best to keep us busy so we would cease our squabbling, and in the middle of summer in Chino, CA, that mostly meant going to the public pool. But there were several weeks during those summers where we just sat, lethargically, at the edge of the pool, rather than swimming. This was because the air quality was so bad that we COULDN’T HOLD OUR BREATH UNDERWATER.

When I turned 20, I went to visit my aunt and cousin in Malibu, and took my portfolio, and got a job in an engineering firm in Los Angeles. The big orange ball in the sky, the bizarre sun of my youth, was gone. There were bad smog days, but they were nothing like the days when I could not hold my breath long enough to dive into a swimming pool. The Clean Air Act had started to take effect, and while there were still days in Los Angeles with smog warnings, those days were fewer and less dramatic.

I was thinking of this today when I heard the news that the Republicans had again blocked confirmation of a head of the EPA. This is not because they object to Gina McCarthy’s credentials. They don’t even pretend to object to her qualifications. It is because they do not want there to BE AN EPA. It is because they want corporations to have no regulation AT ALL. It is because some people refuse to believe that science really exists and that the sun and the earth and the universe are all part of a delicate balance of science and beauty in a very complex system. It is because these people are either willfully ignorant of how dangerous it is to breathe that crap or they can afford to go elsewhere, taking their bribe money from the corporate lobbyists and using a little of it to fly somewhere cleaner. Until there isn’t anywhere else to go.

Why we named him Miguel

Miguel

When I first got divorced (the first time – keep up, people), I had all the guilt of a newly divorced mom about how I was depriving my child of a picture-perfect family and childhood, that she was now from a broken home, that maybe I should have stayed longer, blah blah blah… My daughter, being a very smart and SNEAKY five-year-old (the smart ones are always sneaky), saw this and pounced on it immediately, begging me for all of the things she dreamed of – chocolate topped the list – but she begged the longest and the hardest for a dog. Ironically, she did this with puppy dog eyes.

I told her that “as soon as Mommy can afford a place with a dog door we can get a dog, but that may be a long time.”  Naturally, the two years went by, somewhat painfully, and in fits and starts, but eventually I found myself moving boxes into the townhouse rental that had a dog door.  And there was her adorable and sneaky little face looking up at me with a tiny trembly lip and potential tears in her eyes. And, not for the first OR last time, I could think of absolutely nothing to say that would stop the juggernaut that is my daughter and my mother when they put their hard-as-lonsdaleite (Google it) heads together.

The next thing I knew, the three generations of us were driving home (from the first place we had looked) with a little golden puffball that barked. So cute and so fluffy that my daughter was already going through the top ten puppy names on every seven-year-old’s go-to-puppy-name list. I envisioned having to tell every person I met for the next 10-17 years that my dog’s name was Cutie McSparklePuff.  And all I could think when I looked into his little ridiculously cute face was “He looks like a Fabio.”   As usual, I took the scenario much further than strictly necessary, and pictured myself, a lonely middle-aged woman with a plastic cup of merlot, cut off shorts, and flip flops, running through suburbia shouting “Fabio! Fahh-bee-yyyo! BAD BOY!” This was potentially worse than introducing Mister McSparklePuff.
Now I was panicking, as the tiny and adorable voice in the car seat continued to rattle off names that were increasingly sickeningly sweet and adorable and multi-syllabic…I could see where this was going. And I HAD TO STOP IT.

“MEE-GELL!” I shouted.

Silence from the rest of the car.  “Umm, Miguel. Miguel is a cute name and he looks like a Miguel, don’t you think, honey?” Now there was full-on sweat pouring off of me. My mother, who, despite her ganging up on me about getting a dog, is actually very supportive, sensed my desperation. “Yes, he DOES look like a Miguel,” she said thoughtfully. “What do YOU think, honey?”
I held my breath…Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease…

“Yes,” my little sprite said as she gazed with love into his little bug eyes, “Miguel.” It was the start of an amazing love story.