January Goals – Week 1 Summary

I made it through the first week in January and honestly it started out super weird and kind of terrible. A bunch of crazy Trump supporters broke into the US Capitol building earlier this week. People were killed and now Trump might be impeached (again). As I was watching this unfold all I could think to myself was, “And I decided to stop drinking this month??”

In spite of feeling really overwhelmed by the news this week, I did manage to stick to all of my January goals! Some of them were really easy and made me feel proud of myself for accomplishing, but other ones are proving to be pretty difficult and I’m just hoping they get easier throughout the month.

Stick to my calorie count goal six days a week – I’m proud to report that I’ve only exceeded my calorie goal one day so far this month, which was yesterday. It was the end of a long and stressful week and I knew I wouldn’t be having any drinks, so instead I had three slices of pizza and two cookies for dinner. Interestingly, yesterday was the first day that I really struggled with this goal. During the week I’ve been pretty content sticking with my preplanned meals and I didn’t feel deprived or overly hungry. I was a little bummed, because the pizza sounded SO good, but when I ate it I found that it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be. If I’m going to splurge I want every bite to be amazing! But I knew going in that I would have some days that I would go over my calories, and one day in every eight isn’t bad at all.

Weigh myself every day – I confess that I did NOT want to do this on January 1st. I knew that I’d been eating poorly over the holidays and that I wasn’t going to like the number I was going to see. I definitely didn’t like it, but I’ve been faithfully weighing myself and recording the number as soon as I get up every morning. It’s interesting to see how my weight fluctuates day to day, especially when I add in strength training workouts! As of this morning, I’m down three pounds on the scale, but I fully expect to see more fluctuations over the rest of January. What I’m really excited to see is the number on February 1st.

Drink more water – this has been the easiest goal to keep so far. I actually love water and between my morning tumbler, my hydro flask, and my evening LaCroix waters, I’m definitely staying hydrated!

No alcohol – this one wasn’t too hard until last night, when I found myself wanting a few drinks really badly! I think my cravings stemmed from a combination of feeling really stressed out all week and because it’s become a habit to have alcohol with dinner on Friday nights. I was tempted to give in and cheat, but knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I quit this goal so easily. Instead, I opened a LaCroix water and texted a friend of mine who is also doing dry January and told her I was having a tough time with it. She agreed that it was hard for her too, and we got through it. The fact that this is hard for me just reiterates to me that it’s a good thing for me to be doing, but I’m really hoping next Friday night is easier.

Average 7,500 steps per day each week – the main struggle I had with this goal was the weather this week. I’m used to the drizzle that Seattle is famous for and I’m pretty used to walking in it, but there were multiple days this week where it was windy and absolutely pouring rain. It was too gross out for walking. Luckily, I was able to balance those days with the nice long walks we were able to take when the weather eased up, and I actually ended up averaging over 8,000 steps for the week.

Monthly Goals for January

Happy 2021! It’s the first day of a brand new year, and I dearly love a fresh start. To kick off the new year, I’m making my goal list for the month of January.

Stick to my calorie count goal six days a week. This gives me one day where I can have a higher-calorie meal, but also gives me motivation to start working to building healthier habits. At the end of the day, losing or maintaining weight is all about calories in/calories out, so tracking my food every day will help me to be more cognizant of what I’m eating.

Weigh myself every day. I know some people think that this is a destructive habit, but for me it’s useful. I love data and I think it’s super interesting to see how different meals impact what I weigh the next day. And I won’t be hyper-focused on the day-to-day changes, but the changes from one month to the next.

Drink more water. I always have a 20-ounce tumbler of water next to my bed so I can drink water first thing in the morning, and my goal is to fill up my 32-ounce Hydroflask while I make my breakfast in the mornings so I can drink it throughout the day.

No alcohol. Bill and I have committed to participating in Dry January with some friends, and I think after the holidays the break from drinks will be a welcome one.

Average 7,500 steps/day each week. I’m putting this as an average daily number each week because while I love getting out and taking walks, I also know that January tends to be very cold and rainy and there will be days where the weather is just too gross to venture out.

Resolutions for 2021

Today is the last day of 2020.

At times (mostly in March, which felt like it lasted a whole year on its own), it felt like this year would never be over. And now, here we are at last, about to bid adieu to 2020. Although the beginning of a new year will certainly not set everything right again in the world, I am hopeful that having a new president here in the U.S. and the growing availability of a COVID-19 vaccine will move us in the right direction.

I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions last year and I’m seriously glad I didn’t, because it helped me give myself grace to just do the best I could to get through the more challenging parts of this year. I’ve decided that I’d like to make some this year, though. I recognize that they are cliché, but I’ve always enjoyed making New Year’s resolutions in the past and I think they’re a good excuse to set some goals to focus on. And, it’ll be interesting to look back on them at the end of 2021 to see how far I’ve come!

Set monthly goals. I think the first step to long-term accomplishments is to start with smaller goals, so I am resolving to start each month setting goals for myself to achieve that will get me to my overall goals for the year. Tomorrow I’ll post my goals for January.

Continue my good fitness habits. For most of 2020, I did strength-training workouts four days a week and walked anywhere from five to seven days a week. I’m planning to start 2021 by committing to continue this trend, and I have my work calendar blocked for a lunchtime walk every day to help me stay motivated to do it.

Make better eating habits. Although I made strides in improving my health by being active in 2020, I didn’t do a good job of eating healthy with any consistency. I really want to do better in the new year. By the end of 2021 I’d like to be able to say confidently that splurges are a treat and not a routine, and that I eat healthily more often than not.

Make daily entries in my gratitude journal. For the last few years I’ve kept notebooks and jotted down a few things each day that I’m grateful for, and while I’m fairly consistent about doing it I’d like to make it a daily habit in 2021.

Read two books each month. I used to be such an avid reader, but now I find myself just wasting a lot of time scrolling social media when I could be enjoying a good book. At one point I was reading a book a week! I’m hoping this goal will get me reading more and hopefully will also inspire me to write more.

Be kind to myself. Nobody ever accomplished goals because they were being mean to themselves and so I want to work really hard on not thinking negative things about myself and to instead show myself love and grace while I work to improve things I know I can do better.

Here’s to 2021! We made it!

10 Good Things in 2020

This week we will be saying a very gleeful good-bye to 2020, which I think most people can agree was NOT the best year ever by a long shot. And even though there was a lot that made me sad and broke my heart this year, there was also a lot to be grateful for, and good lessons to be learned. So in that spirit, I decided to make a list of 10 good things that happened to me in 2020, so I can close the door on this year with positive reflection.

I got to spend the last six months of Oliver’s life working from home and seeing him more. Prior to 2020, I commuted for hours each week in horrible traffic and my workdays were long. But in 2020, I worked from home exclusively beginning in March and that has allowed me to spend a lot more time with my sweet kitties. Although losing Oliver was by far the worst thing that happened to me this year, getting all that extra time with him when I otherwise would have been at the office meant SO much to me. I think he loved having Bill and I around more and the memories we made with him this year bring me so much comfort.

I practiced gratitude. In the early days of the pandemic and as it has worn on, it’s easy to focus on all the things we’ve been forced to give up, but I choose instead to look at how much I still have. I deeply miss spending time with friends and family, but we’ve found many creative ways to see each other either in socially distanced ways or virtually. I feel such a deep appreciation for all of the blessings in my life and I make a point to spend time every day just to reflect on those things.

I reassessed my priorities. Although I loved my life prior to this year, I admit that the day-to-day was busy, exhausting, and relentless. Being forced to stay home made me realize exactly what things bring me the greatest happiness, and what things were really just clutter that didn’t especially add to my life. Even when things do go more “back to normal”, who I am and what I make time for will be different.

I got to enjoy my home more. Bill and I bought our condo in 2018 and I’ve probably spent more hours here this year than we did in the first two years combined. It’s been an adjustment having our home also serve as our gym and our office space, but we’re making it work, and I am extremely grateful for this place.

I improved my financial health. Having more time on my hands gave me an opportunity to assess our monthly bills and to restructure them, including refinancing our mortgage to get a lower interest rate and save a ton of money per month. I also paid off my credit card and car and am debt-free (minus the mortgage, of course) for the first time in my adult life. Paying off debt was a huge accomplishment for me and it gives me so much peace of mind to finally be out of the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. My goal going forward is to set a little money aside every month, so that by the time I need a new car I can either pay cash for it or put down a big down payment.

I stuck to a workout routine and got stronger. When our gym closed, Bill and I knew that we couldn’t just sit around or our mental and physical health would decline rapidly. We committed to getting up before work and exercising four mornings a week (on Fridays we get up and do our housework so that the house is clean going into the weekend). We also made a habit of taking daily walks – we started off going after work, then switched to lunchtime walks as the days got shorter and colder. Although it hasn’t been a perfect practice, we’ve been extremely consistent and I’m really proud of us. I feel stronger and healthier because of our efforts and I’m excited to continue our routine in 2021.

I became less high-maintenance. I was one of those people who wouldn’t leave my house without my hair and makeup done, and for work I would usually have on a dress or a nice sweater and slacks for the office. Now I have my “nice” leggings that I wear as part of my workday outfits, and I’ve only worn makeup a handful of times since March so my skin is better. My hair is longer, healthier and shinier because I rarely heat-style it anymore. There are definitely days where I feel plain but for the most part it’s nice to have a simpler routine.

I got to eat In N Out for the first time in years. Bored and needing something pandemic-friendly to do, Bill and I drove to Oregon in November, waited in the drive thru line, and thoroughly enjoyed a lunch of In N Out Burger while sitting in our car in a Target parking lot. It may seem silly to drive four hours each way for a fast food burger, but I’m still a SoCal girl at heart and wow did it taste good!

I discovered a love of cooking and made new dishes I was really proud of. Growing up, my mom did teach me the basics of cooking, but she didn’t really enjoy it the way she did baking and our family wasn’t particularly adventurous when it came to food, so cooking was more a chore so you didn’t starve than a fun activity. When I got older and did find a love of trying new foods, I still wasn’t inspired to try and learn to cook things (in part because my boyfriend at the time, who was quite talented at cooking, was also quite talented at being unsupportive and was very critical of my efforts when I tried to make anything, so I learned quickly not to bother). Although I have since discovered that I’m not actually a lousy cook and taught myself some basics, this year was the first one in which I really found how much joy I get in making a nice meal. My friend Jeanette got me a really nice cookbook for Christmas and I’m already bookmarking the recipes I want to try first.

I got to see beautiful new places in Washington. Bill and I love to travel and were a little sad that we couldn’t take any vacations this year, but we made the best of it by planning and taking day trips in the car. We spent time on the Olympic Peninsula, drove up north for a picnic lunch overlooking the very beautiful Diablo Lake, and saw the abandoned Vance Creek Bridge (to name a few highlights).

Quarantine 2020 Pt. 2

We’re back on lockdown here in Washington state, with numbers of COVID cases climbing higher than they ever were last spring. It seems like the shutdown won’t be as bad this time;  a lot of businesses that were closed altogether last spring are allowed to remain open at 25% capacity, and a lot of places are already set up to offer curbside pickup and alternative purchasing options. But it’s still a tough hit to places like restaurants that can only be open for outdoor dining and takeout, and gyms and movie theaters that can’t be open at all. It makes me worry for my friends who are back on unemployment again, and it makes me worry for all of the places we love that were already struggling this year. And although right now the lockdown is only supposed to last until December 14th, if a lot of people go against guidelines and have big family gatherings for Thanksgiving and the number of COVID cases doesn’t drop, I don’t feel confident at all that the date won’t be extended out.

I see people on social media saying that the lockdowns shouldn’t be happening because they hurt small businesses. Others counter that without the lockdowns we won’t be able to stop the spread of the virus. To me, it seems like we’re in a position where the lockdowns really are necessary, but I can’t help but feel resentful toward the people who resist wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines because I feel strongly that we wouldn’t be in this position now if everyone had taken recommended precautions. I also am aware of the reality that there are a lot of businesses that barely survived the first round of quarantine that may not be able to make it through this one, and that people who are back on unemployment are struggling both financially and emotionally. We’re in a tough spot with no easy answers…and it didn’t have to be this way.

I’ve been feeling beyond burned out and, pandemic aside, part of that I’m sure is because Bill and I haven’t had a full week off since August 2019. Since then, we’ve taken some long weekends but not a full week of vacation time. When we first started working from home last March, we delayed taking much time off because at the time we didn’t realize just how long life would be different due to the pandemic. Now we know that we won’t be traveling anywhere too far from home anytime soon, and the latest update we have from work is that we won’t be returning to the office until at least the end of June. And so, we decided to take next week off even though we can’t really go anywhere. I want to get started on my Christmas shopping, as I have vowed I’m spending money locally this year and not on Amazon, and we have some house projects we’d like to do. I’m hoping the time off helps us to feel refreshed.

I’m trying to hold on to hope. Hope for a COVID vaccine and a return to something resembling normal life, hope that our new US president will restore empathy and rationality to the country, hope that this is as bad as it gets.

The Evolution of My Feelings on Social Media

Right now, I have a very love-hate relationship with Facebook.
I still remember the morning that social media entered my life. It was 2005, and my then-boyfriend and I were house-sitting for his parents, and it was back in the day when I was still working weird shifts as a 411 operator and had a random weekday morning off. Alone in the house, I made myself some coffee and sat down at the computer in their den to check my email. I had an invite from a friend to some website called Myspace. I had no idea what social media even was, but as I curiously set up a profile and began searching the site I discovered that a lot of people I knew were also on it. People I worked with, people I’d gone to school with – the majority of them also had Myspace profiles.
For years afterwards, I really enjoyed Myspace. It was so frivolous and entertaining. You could customize the backgrounds on your page and select a song that would play when anyone visited it. There was a section where you could publish blog posts, which was how I first got into blogging. And on the bulletin board people would fill out random surveys and silly quizzes. I never got tired of the site, but over time fewer and fewer people were actually using it and it got a lot less interesting. By 2007, pretty much everyone had stopped posting on Myspace and migrated over to Facebook, and not wanting to lose touch with people I followed.
Facebook has evolved a LOT since I first joined it. The ‘On this Day’ feature that lets you see your posts from the day’s date in prior years is a humorous reminder of what the experience used to be: the reactions to posts was limited to liking (at first you couldn’t even comment, people would post on your wall and you’d go post on theirs to carry on conversations). The post feature always started off with “so-and-so is” so all our posts followed that pattern and the older posts are always such gems as “Veronica is getting ready to go to Costco”.
Ahhh, simpler times.
Now personal posts are actually rare and my Facebook timeline is filled with people sharing articles they find interesting, mixed in with some photos of pets/kids/the trademark homemade banana bread of the pandemic. There’s a lot of squabbling. People who don’t even know each other call each other snowflakes and libtards and all sorts of other stuff in the comment section of an article shared by the New York Times. I wish there was a way to hide comment sections so I couldn’t even see them. I’ve made a habit of keeping my friend list smaller, because over time I feel less like knowing the opinions of people I worked with fifteen years ago. It’s not because I don’t like those people anymore, it’s that it’s impossible to maintain emotional connections with so many people. There’s a theory called Dunbar’s number that says that human beings are only capable of maintaining a maximum of 150 connections at once. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad to have a thousand Facebook friends if that’s how you want to use social media, but for me it’s overload.
I have accounts on Instagram and Twitter too, and neither one of them ever makes me unhappy like Facebook does. I think that the reason for that is probably partially because of the way I use it and because I have fewer friends, people who I tend to be closer to, and so it bothers me more when people I love are hateful, narrow-minded, racist, or when they behave badly online. In the past I scolded my dad more than once after he left rude complaints about his service on the Facebook page of the company I worked for, reminding him that I didn’t appreciate him doing that because the company literally paid all of my household bills and that he could let me know he was having a problem and I’d get him in touch with someone to help him.
It probably seems like I just hate Facebook now and should deactivate my account instead of complaining about it, and I actually did do that but only lasted about a week before I got sucked back in. Every single day, someone would ask me if I’d read or seen something on Facebook and then I’d remind them I didn’t have an active account but I was missing out on the things that I actually did want to see, like photos of my friend’s new puppy and an invitation to a Zoom happy hour. I like those aspects of Facebook.
For now my compromise is that I’ve deleted the app on my phone but left my account active and set up email notifications if someone tags me in something or invites me to an event, so that I don’t miss anything but am not tempted to mindlessly scroll and find myself wound up either.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing those Myspace quizzes, though.

The Past, Present, and Future of Normal

Not for the first time in my life, I feel like I am living through history in the making. Years from now, kids in school will learn about 2020 the way they now learn about the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, and they’ll try to imagine what it was like to be alive for events they either were too young to remember or weren’t alive to experience at all. They’ll hear about the COVID-19 pandemic and learn about how different countries around the world responded. They’ll memorize statistics about how many people got sick, how many died, how many businesses ceased to exist. They’ll learn about protests against police brutality and racism, and I can only hope that they’ll also learn about how real change came out of them and how police were made to be better trained and better held accountable and that as a whole our country took a hard look at systematic racism and began a years-long effort of policy and social changes that moved us closer to real equality in America.
Even though there’s so much upheaval and uncertainty right now, we still go about our daily lives. It’s strange to be simultaneously engrossed in updates on the pandemic and on protests, and to also have normal daily tasks to focus on like picking up groceries or finishing a report for work. I think about how it must have felt to be alive during other historical events, like World War II. The war is raging and all you want is for life to be more like you remember it before the war, more normal, but even though what’s playing out is terrible and hopefully ultimately makes things better the normal that you remember is gone forever. That’s how I feel now, like the “normal” I knew before March 2020 is never coming back.
It’s exactly the same understanding I had as I watched the footage of planes flying into towers when I was seventeen years old. Things will never be the same after this. 
Right now, normal is working from home and mostly interacting with my family and friends digitally rather than in person. I have a select few people outside of my own household that are in our little circle now, people that I feel reasonably comfortable seeing in person. We’ve gotten used to making plans with friends that let us follow the social distancing guidelines: meeting up at a park, or in someone’s yard, or in the adorable gazebo in front of my condo building. Normal is washing my face masks as part of laundry day, then putting them in their individual Ziploc bags and stowing them in my purse so that I always have a fresh one at the ready if I am out and need to run into a store or if there’s a crowd of people where I wasn’t expecting one to be. I own enough of them now that I have a variety of colors and I know which brands fit best on my face. Normal is really weighing the risks of doing things that I used to not even think twice about, like whether it’s a good idea to get my hair done by a stylist or go to a store in person rather than ordering from their website or whether I feel like I can appropriately social distance on the deck of a favorite restaurant or if I’d be safer just getting my food to go and eating at home.
When my husband and I set foot into our lovely condo for the first time, on a Sunday morning two years ago, I instantly fell in love and knew it was where I wanted to live. At the time I had no idea just how special the place is, how grateful I’d be for this open and comfortable home that is now also serving as our work spaces and our gym. Bill and I are able to both do our jobs without interrupting each other, we have a nice-sized deck that lets us enjoy being outside together and also gives us the feeling of doing something fun and different when we opt to get takeout and then eat outside as a treat for ourselves. Sometimes I feel a little cooped up, but I guess that after being at home most of the time for five straight months that feeling is normal.
And so, we’re grateful and we’re making the best of it.
I have no idea what “normal” will look like, post-pandemic. Will wearing masks in public just become part of everyone’s routine? Will I ever really go back to working in an office building, or am I home for good? What I hope will happen is that people won’t forget about this year, forget that it became a luxury to enjoy a glass of wine on a restaurant deck or to hug a friend or to go to a party. I hope that we’ve discovered what’s really important and that we’ll live differently because of this.

(Caren) White Bread Only

Not surprisingly, it seems that the only topic really on anyone’s mind is the pandemic or topics surrounding the pandemic.  It feels like the quarantine is making people even dumber than usual, like people who don’t realize you ought not use the bathroom while on video chat, but honestly are stories like these that shocking coming from a country that had to be warned by Lysol not to drink their cleaning products? There have been some truly heart-warming stories of people helping each other and a bunch of stories that make me feel like humanity is literally the worst (people protesting the quarantine, I’m looking at you). But every now and then, even in a pandemic, a story comes along that is just so crazy that I spend a solid half hour fact-checking it to make sure it wasn’t made up.
Today we’re going to talk about Caren White (and yes, that’s her real name, which is just too perfect), a woman from New Jersey who is mad at all the people who are baking their own bread now instead of leaving the yeast and flour for her, and decided to scold the lot of us via a since-deleted article on Medium. Don’t worry, the Internet heroes of the world got screen shots, which you can see in this post. The crux of Caren’s request to see all our managers is that now everyone is baking bread and so there aren’t any ingredients left for her to bake bread and she feels that this is incredibly unfair. Best I can tell, she seems to believe that people are baking this bread, taking photos of it to post on social media, and then either tossing it directly into the trash or lighting it on fire, because she doesn’t for a second contemplate the possibility that we might be, you know, eating it.
You see, Caren doesn’t eat store-bought bread like the rest of us savages, and she can’t fathom why we’d suddenly rise like a lovely loaf of sourdough up to her food social status and decide to make our own. In her mind, the people around her are just bored IG influencers who don’t stop to think or care that her children might have to have their organic peanut butter and home-canned jelly sandwiches on Wonder Bread like barbarians.
I can only imagine what it’s going to do to her one day when her son (who I’m very confident is named Kyle) comes to her and stares her boldly in the face while declaring that from now on he’s only eating frozen corn dogs and drinking Mountain Dew.
Before deleting herself off the Internet forever, or until the backlash dies down, or whatever, Caren had the final word by declaring she wasn’t surprised by the response to her post since we’re all a bunch of entitled assholes who need to learn to share. Which is really sort of a perfect sign-off for her, because what could be more of a Karen trait than thinking other people are the entitled ones?
 
 

Fun Ideas to Pass the Time in Quarantine

Although it depends somewhat on where you are in the world, odds are you’re in quarantine right now as we experience a pandemic. My company put out orders to us to work from home a month ago, and in the state of Washington the stay-at-home order from our governor was just extended through May 4th. Work has definitely been keeping me busy, but two months (or maybe even more) is a long time to be at home.
For anyone like me who is suddenly finding themselves with more time on their hands, all this time at home can get boring, so I thought I could help out by coming up with a list of fun and easy ideas to do while in quarantine. I encourage everyone to try them all and report back on the wild success of each one.
Give yourself a makeover. Just because you’re not going out doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to look fabulous! Now’s the time to give yourself that haircut your normal stylist always discourages because “that really just wouldn’t go well with your face shape” (as if a Mohawk doesn’t look good on EVERYONE). It’s totally okay if you don’t have nice scissors, just go get the ones from that block of knives in the kitchen. It’ll be fine. If you’re doubting your own abilities, you can soothe those nerves with a few alcoholic beverages first. You’re going to look so pretty!
Sign Up for Nextdoor and become your neighborhood’s unofficial sheriff. Depending on the positioning of your home and windows, investing in a pair of binoculars (that you ordered off of Amazon, NOT that you bought in a store…but you know that!) may be optimum. Watch your neighborhood like a hawk and immediately take to the Internet to report any instances of walkers who aren’t maintaining six feet of distance, people riding bikes on the sidewalk, or any other mayhem you observe. Be ever-vigilant. Ignore any haters; or, even better, accuse them of being toilet paper hoarders. You do not need to know if this accusation is true because it’s the Internet and you can say whatever you want.
Create a YouTube channel and post a video of yourself reacting to the movie Frozen. Then share the link on all your social media accounts so that your family and friends can have a lovely time watching you croon ‘Let it Go’ while tears flow uninhibited down your face after you’ve consumed a bottle and a half of Merlot. Trust me, you will become super famous and everyone will love watching it. I suppose this would be a good moment to give the disclaimer that I’ve never actually seen that movie but I’m still confident in this idea.
Call your mom and confess all of your more sordid secrets from your teenage years. Mom will have a blast hearing that crazy story about the time you told her you were sleeping at Janet’s house, but really you were getting drunk on Smirnoff straight from the bottle and puking in a field. Note: if you still live with your mom it might be a good idea to skip this one.
Play a game of Monopoly with those you’re quarantined with. It’s the wholesome game that never ends badly.

The Break Room Dolphin Needs a Home

“Someone left a dolphin in the break room.”
“Huh??” is the only reply I can think of. I’m on the phone with a project manager at work, and the subject of this particular phone call is not exactly what I was expecting. 
The PM continues. “Yeah, a stuffed dolphin, in the break room on my floor. They left it here the same way they leave their leftover food out for people to eat. But it’s a stuffed toy.”
I consider this for a moment. What motivates someone to pack a stuffed dolphin along with their lunch box, ultimately with the goal of discarding it in the office break room? “Are you sure it’s been abandoned?” I ask. You never know. Maybe whoever it belongs to brings it every day as a lunch buddy and they didn’t realize that Flipper had been left behind.
“It’s been here for a couple of weeks,” the PM confirms. “It has a sign on it that says ‘Free’”.
“People are so strange,” is all I can muster, because again, I’m rather at a loss for words over this. It’s not unusual to find ‘help yourself’ signs attached to items in the break room, but normally the giveaways are leftover sandwiches from a lunch meeting, or fruit from someone’s garden. Stuffed toys up for grabs is definitely new territory in our office.
“And, V, it’s….it’s kind of dirty,” the PM continues, a hint of disgust in his voice.
And because apparently my cubicle is turning into the island of misfit toys, within ten minutes of hanging up the phone the PM comes bounding down the aisle, clutching the stuffed dolphin by its dorsal fin (I’ll have you know, I wrote ‘dorsal fin’ but then Google’d it to make sure that the fin on the dolphin’s back really is a dorsal fin and it IS, so go me). He’d wrapped a paper towel around it first so he wouldn’t actually have to make contact with the dirty fuzz and risk getting whatever diseases it may be carrying. The thing was decidedly grubby, but not so much so that a trip through the washing machine wouldn’t set it right, which you’d think a person would do before bringing it into their place of business and offering it up as a giveaway.
I  have no idea what to do with this stuffed dolphin I’d been presented with but my boss jumps into action, grabs it by the paper-towel-clad dorsal fin, sticks it into a cardboard box, and closes the lid. For ambiance he affixes a paper printout of a beach to the front of the box, I guess so that the dolphin will feel as though it’s been returned to the sea.
I suppose I should feel good about the fact that we gave the poor dear a home…but when I walk by the box I notice that he’s starting to smell just a bit and I wonder how long we’ll have a dolphin in a box in our row. All signs point to for the rest of my career, with any lingering smell being blamed on someone’s lunch.