yes, I am supposed to be in the ladies restroom

I’m in Orlando right now at a Talent Management conference put on by the Society for Human Resource Management. There are about 1500 people, give or take, people that work in or near the human resources areas of their companies.

A thing in HR is diversity. I mean, it’s important. There are studies and articles and full on natural conferences devoted to the issue. Diversity is an amazing thing and the only thing that it can do is good. REALLY GOOD. 
The bummer is that HR professionals, as a whole from my experience, aren’t all that excited about it. There are always diversity specialists and folks that want to focus on inclusion. Those people are my favorites. It’s just not as prevalent as it should be right now. 

That’s why I’m annoyed right now. 

Here’s a picture of me and my grandma from a few years ago. Let’s first look at my grandma. She’s the most adorable thing in the world and the best ever. Not really the point of this post, but I just like everyone to know my grandma. 

  

Now let’s look at me. Short hair. Usually spikey. No makeup. Maybe some chapstick. Argyle. Sweater in neutral colors from Kohl’s or maybe Target. Jeans. Probably sneakers or other sensible shoes.

Side story: when I was younger, one of my grandmas once told me the boys were going to like my chest. (Don’t bother saying anything about how wrong that was because I will kick you.) Fast forward many years and while the boy thing didn’t pan out, OTHER THINGS CONTINUED GROWING. Point being: when you see me from the front or the side, I have things that females have. I have enough to share, if anyone wants to negotiate this. 

Back to this HR conference where HR people should have some elevated knowledge and awareness of those around them that may be diverse. Now picture me again right now: button up shirt, argyle vest, gray pants from the ladies department at Kohl’s and, as always, sensible shoes.

In the 1.5 days I’ve been at this conference, I’ve been called sir three times and had two people ask me if I’m the right restroom. I’m not counting the lady that I held the door for and watched her look at the sign on the door and looked back at me twice. 

Where are these people from? Have they never seen queer women? (Side note: if I’m stereotyping by physical appearance, I’m the only one that’s visably a lesbian.) Do they not have cable where they’ve watched one episode of the Ellen DeGeneres show? 

Two points to this post. 

  1. Do better, HR folks particularly at this conference, in recognizing diversity of all kind. I know it’s scary but we’re out there and you need to accept that and be nice about it. You’re different than me, but I open the door, pick up things you drop and say “please” and “thank you” to you.
  2. Tell me again why we don’t need gender neutral restrooms. I was born a female and still identify as one and yet I’m questioned about going into the right room to pee. 

101 things in 1001 days v3

I’m a real list maker. It makes me unabashedly happy when I can check something off of a list. I used to cross things off my list so aggressively that I couldn’t see what was underneath the ink and all the scratching off the list would bleed into the next page. Now, I’ve picked up a new method where I draw these tiny little squares next to each thing I need to do and, let me tell you, when I get to put a check mark in that box, it is GLORIOUS. More than anything, it’s an ADHD coping skill, but it’s the most rewarding coping skill in all the land.

And that’s why every 1001 days, for the past 2002 days, I’ve put together these lists of 101 things to do in that time span. I never finish them all, but it’s fun to… keep written track of my failures? It tends to make me think more about the things I do and I get to compete with myself in a way. I like competing. Even with myself.

So for the third attempt at this, I give you 101 Things in 1001 Days: Version 3. Ready, set, go!

the beginning of riley’s story

Back in 2004, I took a trip down to Jordan, Minnesota, with a friend of mine so she could visit with a litter of puppies. I was along for moral support, because I lived in a house with two roommates, already had the daunting responsibility of taking care of two tortoises and also didn’t really like dogs all that much anyway. They pee on things, smell bad and their hair gets all over the place. Even their food smells bad. No thanks. But I will, however, take a mini-road trip down Highway 169, look at the two puppies that were remaining and take pictures of them because anything that tiny is cute, whether it’s going to poop on my shoe or not.

My friend decided one of the puppies we met was destined to be hers. The other one was this guy:

LOOK AT THAT FACE. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen in your life?

I couldn’t get that wrinkly, pink-nosed face out of my mind for one hot minute. I some how struck a deal with my friends that had adopted his brother. I don’t know how it happened, but TWO WEEKS after not being able to get this puppy out of my mind, I was making a deposit on him. My incredibly generous friends were going to let him live there until I ended up in a dog-friendly apartment and there wasn’t any type of time constraint at all. Hello, gigantic amazing and fortunate gesture that I could never possibly repay.

After a few months, I finally found a place of my own and, since then, we’ve only been apart a few days at a time. From apartment to apartment and from house to house, this guy’s been my consistent since about three years after I moved to Minnesota. He’s been with me through job changes, deaths, moves, pain, successes, failures, relationship mistakes, love, adding to our family and a baby. He’s logged thousands of miles in my car with me and fooled people into thinking he’s a vicious guard dog.

He’s some kind of master of escape which leads him to becoming the master of disaster. He stays in a gigantic kennel when we’re gone, which is held together by an extra carabiner and multiple industrial strength zip ties. Otherwise, he’s been known to open cabinets and knock cans of food out of it, open cans of wet cat food and eat the contents, examine everything in every trash can and lock himself in the bathroom. Evidence from 2005:

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Riley, who’s never bitten anyone or anything in his entire life, has a hatred for mailmen that runs deep through is veins. He sounds like he might come through the window anytime a mailman would approach the house. And once he did. It didn’t help matters that the mailman was a jackass and yelled and barked at him every day. (Nice hiring decision, USPS.) Straight throw the window. Busted that whole thing out. Then ran around the house in a panic turning our whole first floor into what looked like a murder scene from Dexter. Wound up with a ton of stitches in both front legs and had to wear the cone of shame for a long time. He used that cone like a battering ram and everyone had bruises on their shins to prove it.

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Our maillady at our hold house pushed the door open on accident once and then ran down the sidewalk screaming that Riley bit her. Except… Riley’s eight teeth are the size of Chiclets and SHUT UP. HE DID NOT. (Rumor has it she did this to everyone in the neighborhood. So, again, improve your hiring practices, USPS.)

This dog. He spent a handful of training sessions with a pit bull that had some severe dog aggression. Riley was there because he’s Riley. Dog near me? That’s cool. He got to sit for an hour and eat Vienna sausages out of my hand. We fostered over 50 dogs and cats and he was the sweetest, gentlest thing to all of them.

My grandpa calls him Rilo and, once, we surprised them with a visit and let Riley go to the door first. My grandpa didn’t say hi to the rest of us for at least half an hour. My grandpa also watches the Weather Channel so he knows what the temperature is at Rilo’s house. He’s also taken to calling him One Eye recently. Weirdo.

If someone doesn’t immediately fall in love with Riley when they meet him, then I’m pretty sure their soul is dead and their heart is a dirty piece of coal.

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His time is limited to less than two weeks due to a tumor in his chest that’s causing fluid build up in his entire chest cavity. To go with that, there’s an enlarged prostate, a bladder that just won’t empty and some pretty rough arthritis in his spine and down into his back legs. I don’t want to lose him, but I won’t be selfish with him in any capacity. He’s never been selfish towards me and has given me 10.5 great, great years. I’ll honor him by making sure he can leave the physical world with dignity and without excruciating pain.

I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my time with Riley. My friend Angie said it best today. He’s been a constant through years of change, my rock through a lot of good times and bad times and he’s earned his place in wherever it is that dogs go when they’re not sleeping on my couch anymore. In my mind, he’ll meet my grandma and my grandpa. He won’t have to worry about my step grandpa breaking his ribs because he pets him so hard. He’ll have unlimited soft tacos with no lettuce from Taco Bell, puppy cups from Dairy Queen and puppuccinos from Starbucks.

He’s a good one. There won’t ever be another one.

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here’s 2015

I only do this every year when Chele does it, because that’s the only way I can remember to do it. Thanks for being my blogging reminder, lady!

What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

  • Drove from Minneapolis to Key West
  • Mistook a dog barking for a chicken
  • Went to Disney World and Universal Studios
  • Saw manatees in the wild
  • Bought a house (!!!)
  • Celebrated my son’s 1st birthday
  • Watched the 18 year old graduate high school and head off to college
  • Got a snow blower (hey, that’s a big deal for a Minnesotan!)
  • A bunch of really intense work projects that increased by knowledge by one billion
  • Took a baby massage class
  • Went to something called MOMMYCON
  • Got my hair cut at a barber
  • Watched the Lynx win the WNBA Championship in person
  • Missed a flight
  • Saw Salt n Pepa live
  • Camped in the back of my car

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?

Nope. I never make any.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Cindi and Adam, a handful of pretty great co-workers, probably some people I’m forgetting

Did anyone close to you die?

My friend Angie’s mom, who was a complete mom to me growing up. That was hard.

What countries did you visit?

USA. USA. USA. Amelia’s getting her passport in 2016, so that will hopefully change.

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Travel. Gym time. Self-care. Mindfulness.

What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My son’s first birthday. The week I drove almost 2000 miles. Our Disney vacation.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Raising Ozzy. I mean, I managed to do my part in keeping him alive. I’ll call that an achievement. Lots of work stuff. Buying a house.

What was your biggest failure?

Man, I dropped my wife’s brand new phone in the parking lot of Animal Kingdom the second day of our Disney vacation. TOTAL FAILURE.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nah. Weird virus thing a couple of weeks ago was about it.

What was the best thing you bought?

Our house.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

My wife’s. Always my wife’s. My grandma’s.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Ugggh. So many that it really bothers me to think about it. I don’t know if having a kid makes you more critical of people and the way they treat others, but it really did for me. People that treat others with disrespect appalls me and depresses me. Be nice to each other, you guys. Be truthful to those you love.

Where did most of your money go?

OUR HOUSE. Pictures of Ozzy.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Our house. I wasn’t super excited when we started looking, but once someone told us this house was ours, I was SO excited. Helping Jenni and Matt move was exciting, because I got to be a part of their super awesome adventure of moving to Key West.

What song will always remind you of 2015?

I have a 9 minute commute now and I can’t remember the songs I heard this morning. SO NONE. Maybe the theme song to every Disney Junior cartoon or the soundtrack to Descendants. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) Fatter or thinner: Somehow close to the same.
b) Richer or poorer: A little poorer, because listen, liars, it’s not cheaper to buy than it is to rent.
c) Happier or less happy: Happier.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Spent alone time with my wife. Traveled. Spent more time being present. Tried new things.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Focusing on other people’s issues when they don’t directly impact me. Not walking away from relationships or conversations earlier opposed to later.

How did you spend Christmas?

In Sedalia, making two visits a day to the hospital to visit my 91 year old grandpa who broke his ankle on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t the Christmas I had planned, but it was my Christmas and I loved every minute of it.

Did you fall in love in 2015?

If you’re with someone and you don’t fall in love every year, you’re doing it way wrong. Yes. Yes, I did.

What was your favorite TV program?

Bloodline, Transparent, VEEP

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I try not to hate because that’s a terrible word. Plenty of people who I dislike, but it’s not their fault they happen to be turds.

What was the best book you read?

Gillian Flynn books. I don’t know if it was because it was a gigantic break from school or what, but I just liked them. I also read books by Jay McLean and Shae Scott, both self-published authors on Amazon and it was like straight candy reading their books. Very much needed during school!

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2015?

I got nothin’. Really.

What did you want and get?

There wasn’t anything I was really yearning for. I wanted a happy year and, for the most part, it was.

What did you want and not get?

FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.

What was your favorite film of this year?

We didn’t see a lot this year… baby and all. We opted for binge watching TV shows at home instead of movies.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 37, which doesn’t bother me one single bit. I get weirded out when people freak out about their age. You can’t stop it, dude. Accept it. I think we went to Lemongrass as a family, but I was still in major sleep loss mode for the first few months of the year.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Unlimited paid parental leave. Get with the program, America.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

Biz casz during the week and cargos/jeans and t-shirts/thermals off the clock. Ain’t nothing changed about that for years.

What kept you sane?

Family. Therapist. Medication. Two different stints of ocean time.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

People that aren’t dicks and stand up for what they believe is truly right.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Racism. Guns. Refugees. (Please see above recommendation to be nice to each other.)

Who did you miss?

Jenni and Matt. My family in Missouri (gets harder when your grandparents get older and you have a baby that everyone loves). My grandparents that have passed.

Who was the best new person you met?

Uhhh. I can’t really pick one, I don’t think. Our realtor was pretty rad. Probably some new co-workers could fit the bill.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

Do you. Always do you. It’s hard to understand that when you’re young, but you’ll get to a point – maybe when you’re 12 or maybe when you’re 80 – that it finally feels good to do that.

downsizing our christmas shopping this year 

Before you get too proud of us for not being all about material things and not spending money on gaudy wrapping paper and deciding not to send out Christmad cards, hold on a sec.

We travel to Missouri for Christmas each year, with our boys and our dogs. We upgraded our car a month or so before Oz was born and that was one thing we kept in mind when car shopping. Last year, even without the teenager in tow, we had that damn thing packed to the gills. This year, the teenager is scheduled to travel with us, SO EXPECT GIFT CARDS, FAMILY.

I LOVE to buy things for people. All the time, for any reason. I have to be careful around the holidays or I’m likely to go broke buying coffee for the people behind me and buying dinner for the old guy that’s eating by himself. My point in mentioning this to reiterate how seriously difficult it is for me to not want to buy the people in my life ALL of the things.

This year, we’re trying to stick to a four present plan of attack for the boys like this review by TechTage:

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

I’m sure you’ve seen it on the Internet, but sometimes the Internet has really good ideas, guys! Whether or not Ozzy needs a 3-in-1 tricycle is yet to be seen, but what does he know? He’s 13 months old. He knows the toilet seems like a great place to splash in and we’re currently hiding the remote in the Christmas tree to hide it from him, so I’m not giving him a lot of credit right now.

Always being away from home for Christmas might lead to some logistics related questions when it comes to Santa, so we’ve had a talk with that creepy old guy and he’s going to drop presents off in Sedalia in a smaller dosage. And no oranges. Please, Santa, don’t leave your rotten fruit in my kid’s stocking. Citrus and his digestive system aren’t friends yet. Give it some time.

We adopted people through the Aliveness Project again this year. This is at least the 11th year I’ve done it with Jenni, with the adding of spouses, friends, etc over the years. This is the first year we didn’t have a giant group shopping trip for it, so it was a little bit of a different vibe. And this was one area of Christmas where we didn’t scale down. We got to buy for five single guys this year, which means are dining room table is full of things like dress shirts, a flannel shirt, jeans, sweaters, gloves, hats, a toaster, baking sheets, wooden spoons, spatulas, pillows, and pillow cases. Those were the things they asked for which are the things they should just have and not worry about asking a charity for those.

We also tapped into the fun things they listed, like a book about a pro-wrestler, some DVDs, random Latino music CDs and a PlayStation 2 our pal Art is parting with for a pittance. We still need to buy a couple of winter coats this week before dropping everything off, so if you know of a crazy good deal somewhere in coats, pass it along!

(I don’t know where this post was going. I started it four days ago.)