Random Friday Off

Yesterday, I found myself with a random day off from work, which gave me a chance to do some things I’d been wanting to take care of but haven’t gotten around to doing after work. The weather here has been much warmer than usual for June, so I wore a simple black dress (with pockets!) and some sandals instead of my now-typical casual look of leggings or jeans and a t-shirt. It felt nice to look nice.

My first stop was Comstock Jewelers in downtown Edmonds, to drop off my wedding rings for their annual rhodium replacement. Comstock is a family-owned business that’s been in Edmonds since 1978, and I like to think that my grandfather Not only do I love that both of my rings came from a local jeweler (that was really important to me when we started shopping for engagement rings what feels like forever ago), but Comstock is fantastic and my rings always look amazing when I get them back.

After I’d dropped off my rings, I walked over to Rogue, a little boutique store that I love. I wandered around the store, enjoying the feeling of shopping at my own pace without worrying where I needed to be next. I decided to treat myself to two new pairs of earrings that caught my eye and liked them so much that I put them on as soon as I got back to my car.

Even though there was nothing particularly special or exciting about these errands, I felt so peaceful and happy while I walked around downtown. I like it here and I feel so lucky to live in such a great place, and even just popping into a couple of local shops and smelling the fresh popcorn as I walk by our movie theater is so enjoyable to me.

Later in the afternoon, Bill and I got to video chat with my parents while my dad opened his Father’s day/birthday gifts from me. They’re headed out on a month-long road trip, and so they won’t be home for Father’s day or the birthday that Dad and I share in July. I wanted to make sure that I got his gifts to him before they left.

Our evening wrapped up with my brother and sister-in-law coming over for dinner and games. I made a big salad, and bought cheesecake that I got from the PCC Community Market here in town.

I’m living exactly the life I wanted for myself and I never want to stop soaking it in and feeling grateful for it.

Figuring Out My WFH Style

Now that I’m officially working from home full-time (at most, I might start going into the office one day a week at the end of the year), I’m trying to address something that’s been on my mind for awhile – my wardrobe!

Working in my company’s corporate headquarters, I would wear dress pants and pretty tops or dresses to work each day. I rarely wore jeans and only own a few pairs of them, all of which I bought secondhand.

Before the pandemic, outfits like this were my normal office attire.

For the last year, I’ve pretty much lived in Victoria’s Secret leggings and oversize sweaters or t-shirts that I got on clearance from Target. When the weather got warm last summer, I bought three sundresses from Old Navy to wear for work clothes. I kept my purchases minimal, because I had no idea what my long-term working situation would be like and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on more casual clothes if I was going to return to an office environment.

Now, though, with my situation looking more permanent I feel like it’s time to figure out what my new, more casual style is going to be. I don’t really want this tee and leggings look to be all I ever wear, but I’m still trying to figure out what I do want.

What I want to know is, whatever happened to fashion blogs? Ten years ago, the Internet was crawling with twenty-somethings eagerly sharing their outfits with the world. Now it seems that no one has written an outfit post since at least 2019, and all those old blogs might as well have a stray tumbleweed bouncing along their once-frequently-updated homepages. Maybe they’re stuck in the same leggings-and-oversized-shirt funk that I am?

To try and get inspired, I packed away my sweaters and winter clothes and brought out my summer things from storage. While some of my dresses are definitely in the “formal” category, I do have some that I think I can dress down with a jean jacket, a sweater, or some sneakers. I don’t love wearing shorts, so hopefully being able to wear some of my dresses styled more casually will get me through this summer as I transition to a WFH style.

But if anyone knows of an active fashion blogger these days, send me the link!

One Year in Quarantine

It’s been a year now since Washington state went into lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some ways it feels like it was so very long ago since things felt remotely normal, and in others I can’t believe I’ve actually spent a year of my life working from home, barely seeing friends, and hardly ever wearing pants that aren’t largely made of stretchy.

I felt a little sad thinking of this anniversary, of the year of normalcy lost and the months stretching out ahead of us until Bill and I are eligible to receive the vaccine. We’re both healthy and we work from home, so we will likely be some of the last people who can get it, which I’m very grateful for even as I feel a growing impatience to regain some of our old life. It can be easy to feel like I’ve lost a year of my life, but I try not to think that way and instead think about what I’ve gained. Having so much stripped away made me realize what really matters to me and what things I want to include in my life going forward. And I can recognize that I definitely took things for granted, like being able to go out to eat in a restaurant, or going to a movie in a theater, or seeing a band live. There were times I had tickets to shows and didn’t end up going, not for any real reason other than that I was tired after a long day of work and decided I wasn’t up to going back out once I got home.

My hope is that we can find a new way to live, where we go back to the things we used to love doing with an even greater appreciation for them, and where our priorities reflect the lessons we learned in lockdown. Although I do miss some aspects of going to work in an office, my stress levels are a lot lower now that I get more sleep, regular exercise, and more time because I’m not sitting in traffic every day. I get to spend more time with Bill and with our cats Ernie and Saturday, and having more family time means the world to me.

Last Friday night, Bill and I went with two of our friends who are in our little quarantine bubble out to a winery. We were able to do a wine tasting while still following all COVID guidelines, outside in the fresh air. It was one of the few outings we’ve had in a year and it was the first time we’ve gone anywhere with friends since last March (although we do see these particular friends at least once a week now, either at our house or theirs). It was a simple thing, but it felt SO good to go and have fun doing something we enjoy and sharing an experience with people we love. I will never take things like that for granted again. I won’t allow myself to.

I’m not saying the past year hasn’t been one of the hardest years of my life. It definitely has been, for many different reasons. I have been reasonably unscathed in comparison to people who have lost their lives, their loved ones, their health, or their jobs – or a combination of these losses – because of COVID. Watching helplessly as so many people suffer has taken a toll on me. I want to help, but all I can really do is keep following guidelines and wearing my mask and keeping my butt at home when I can. It isn’t much but it’s what I have to offer. And when it’s my turn, I will get my vaccine, and I will keep following all guidelines as long as I need to. And hopefully by this time next year things will be a lot more like the world we remember, but with a lot of lessons learned.

We’re not done yet, although it feels like there is a lot to be hopeful about.

Beauty in Simplicity

A fond memory I have is of my weekend routine when I was in my early twenties. I lived alone, and for the first time in my life I had a job that gave me weekends off. I liked to get up on Saturday morning, start laundry, and go to the gym to work out. From there I’d do my grocery shopping and run any other errands I had, and then return home to finish the laundry I’d started and to clean my little apartment. Although the place was nearly 900 square feet and spacious for a one-bedroom, it didn’t take much more than an hour to thoroughly clean it. I don’t love the experience of cleaning, but I do love the finished product. I would put on music and light a fragrant candle, so the experience wasn’t unpleasant. Once I finished, I’d take a shower and get ready to go out either on a date or with friends. Sundays were usually just spent relaxing at home, reading a good book or catching up on TV shows while I snuggled with my cats on the couch. It was a simple life, and a very satisfying one, at least as far as I was concerned.

Even though that was over a decade ago, I still remember the happiness I felt during the time in my life when I had that little routine. I know that I am a person who finds the greatest joy in simple pleasures, and I like that about myself. Having more things, even when they’re nice, just increases my anxiety. When I moved out of that cozy apartment and into a lovely, brand-new house a year later with my then-boyfriend, I thought that living in that lovely home with him would increase my happiness. Instead, I found myself feeling very stressed out – by the high price of the mortgage, by the tensions in my relationship with him once we were living together, by feeling very trapped in a job I had grown to hate but that paid me well.

Longtime readers of my blog know the rest: I ultimately left that big house in California and that relationship behind. I’ve learned that I crave an uncomplicated life and have spent the last several years building just that. My relationships with my husband and my friends are loving and free of dramatics. The home Bill and I share is much smaller than that first house I owned, and I love it so much more. Our little place is cozy and comfortable.

My routine these days looks different now than it did in my little apartment, but in many ways it’s the same. I like to get up first thing in the morning and exercise before work. These days my workouts take place in my living room and not in a gym, but I still feel just as accomplished when I finish them. Because I work from home now, I have more free time that was once spent commuting and I can put on music, light a scented candle, and clean the house during the weekday (and now I have Bill’s help!). Our condo is spacious for a two-bedroom but we’re able to do a pretty thorough cleaning in about an hour. On Fridays on my lunch break I pick up our groceries curbside, which is a lot quicker than doing the shopping in the store. Weekends are a relaxing time for us; we can sleep in, and watch movies or go for a drive or take a long walk together.

It’s a simple life, and a satisfying one.

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 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.

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.
 
 

I Would Like a Pony

For years, when I’d have meetings with my boss he’d wrap things up by asking me if I needed anything from him, to which I consistently replied that I would like a pony.

Now, I have no idea what I would’ve done if he’d actually produced a pony at any point over the years. My friend C has ponies and through her I have learned that they need lots of attention and space to roam around and do pony things. You cannot keep a pony in a cubicle and I already have cats at home and there is no room for any more animals. I think on some level I was just issuing my boss a challenge to procure something for me that was unprocurable; he was not ever going to be able to fulfill my request and he and I both knew it and I like to think I was letting him off the hook by not asking for real things like a raise or better insurance that were also not procurable at the company we worked for but that were a lot more reasonable to expect him to give me, thus making things uncomfortable for both of us if I were to ask for them. And so, every month we’d meet and every month when he’d ask me what I needed I’d reply that a pony would be nice.

This was at the point in my career where I was working in customer relations handling complaints that were filed against my company with regulatory agencies, which I still look back on as the best time in my professional life. My team consisted of six of us hourly kids, our boss, and an analyst who did reporting and also has mad Photoshop skills. To work in anything regulatory when you’re on the being-regulated side of things requires a certain sense of humor, but throw in customer complaints and if you can’t find ways to have fun you’re going to burn out real fast. Our team indulged in a fair share of mischief, and when you put together eight smart people the pranks are next-level.  I don’t think anyone would be surprised to learn that my slight fixation on ponies worked its way into those pranks, like the time that I went to Kmart and bought a bunch of pink My Little Pony wrapping paper and proceeded to wallpaper my coworker Bob’s cubicle when he took a vacation day. Now, before you feel too terrible for him, know that he got his revenge by dumping fifteen pounds of dried rice in my bottom desk drawer the next time I went on vacation.

Eventually, not being able to get things like raises and better insurance led me to take a job at a different company that did offer such things. I missed an opportunity when I took my exit interview too seriously and forgot to mention that I was disappointed in the lack of ponies I had been provided throughout my tenure there. C’est la vie, I suppose. At first I continued the joke of asking for ponies from my new bosses, and although the odd request did get me some laughs I ultimately got tired of it and have since stopped using it. And so I can take zero credit for what happened when I attended an all-day training class last week and….was given a pony.

Oh yes, I was given a pony. At work. 

The ponies were a part of a team-building exercise in which the training class attendees were split into groups. Each group was given its own pony, and the point of the game was to answer questions about the training material correctly in order to “run a lap” of a “derby”. The group to complete ten “laps” first would win the race. My group did not win, but I felt as though I had won the grand prize when we were told that a person in each group could have the pony for their very own. Much to my delight, I wanted it very much and the others in my group wanted it not at all and so the pony was all mine.

His name is Al CaPony.

I considered naming the pony Sarah Jessica Parker as she has quite the horse face but was informed that I was being mean to say that and so. Al CaPony.

And this just goes to show that dreams really do come true.