5 Things I Wish People Understood About Working From Home

The business world is all in a kerfuffle this week after Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s CEO, told all employees working remotely that they either needed to come to work in the office or quit. This is interesting considering the fact that so many businesses are offering their employees the ability to work from home at least some of the time.

What’s the BFD, Marissa Mayer!?

Don't be like that, girl.

Don’t be like that, girl.

I work from home, and while I occasionally wish I was around other people during the day, I can’t imagine going back into a rigidly structured environment again the way I did when I was teaching — having to be there at a certain time, having an agenda for the day (that never stuck past first period anyway), not being able to leave until a certain time, having to frequently wear pantyhose and heels. For the record, in case you’ve never gone outside to scrape ice off of your car before 7 a.m. while wearing a skirt when it’s 15 degrees outside, it sucks. This is but another of the many reasons I feel so fortunate to be able to work from home.

This conversation about working remotely is kind of timely for me as I’ve been realizing a lot lately that I’m not sure people really get what I do all day. I don’t mind helping people out, but I do mind when they want me to run all over the place for several hours in the middle of the day. “Can’t you just do your work later?” they ask.


So with that in mind, I’ve come up with my own little listy-poo here of things that I wish people understood about working from home.

**Please note that, as always, what I write on this blog is a lot of tongue-in-cheek. Any resemblance to any of my friends or family members is purely coincidental. When I mention my actual family members, that’s not a coincidence, though. Or is it? All references to my dogs are 100% accurate. Got a problem? Please address all concerns to Vanilla Ice (né Rob Van Winkle). He’ll solve it.

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Don’t Strong-Arm Me (Or, Why Mary Tyler Moore Made It Look So Easy)

Image via Wikipedia

The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Image via Wikipedia

It must have been somewhere around the time I was in third grade — when the Disney Channel was something you had to pay for and my parents got it for us for a year — that I fell in love with The Mary Tyler Moore Show. With our Disney Channel subscription, I feel like we also got better cable and therefore access to channels like Nickelodeon, which turned into TV Land at night (the details are fuzzy and could be a story of revisionist history). Regardless of whether it was at night on Disney or at night on TV Land, I remember lying on the couch in our basement family room, waiting for The Mary Tyler Moore Show to come on.

There was something I just loved about it, and looking back, I think it was Mary Richards’ independent nature. My third grade teacher (also favorite teacher and the one who most inspired me to become an educator) was the first I’d had who wasn’t married. She lived in an apartment a few blocks away from my house, and something about Mary Richards reminded me of her. I imagined that her apartment looked just like the one where Mary lived: the 60s-style living room that was a few steps lower than the rest of the apartment surrounding it, a tiny kitchen where she made dinner for herself and a friend who, in my mind, looked exactly like Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper’s free-spirited character).

Over the years, I watched this show any time I saw that it was on. When I got a Hulu subscription a few months ago, I sat and watched seasons at a time. And that’s when it hit me.

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Your Situation is Probably Not Just Going to Change Itself

Situation Word Cloud

Click to enlarge the fancy word cloud for this post.

WordPress has recently notified me that it’s been three years since I started blogging here. I decided it would probably be a good idea for me to commemorate that by writing a new post. Something … er… commemorative would have maybe been good, but I feel like we accomplished that 20(!?) posts ago with Frank’s 100th Post Extravaganza.

So let’s talk about something else, yes? I’ve recently become acutely aware of an awful lot of people who seem to want their situations to change, but don’t really want to do anything about it. Sure, we all know those people who seem to have an innate ability to fall into shit and come out smelling like a rose, as the saying goes. But for most people, that’s simply not reality.

I don’t know about you, but it drives me up a wall when someone wants his or her situation to change, but just isn’t willing to put in the effort to pull a Mariah Carey and make it happen. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to blend into the background, but even I know there are times when being passive/ambivalent isn’t going to do you any favors. I can think of three reasons people might behave like this:

… And There’s Reason to Believe


Like many people in my generation, I’m sure, I get really fixated on this song at the end of every year — ever since 1996 when I was in 8th grade and it came out.

Fun fact! Adam Duritz, the lead singer for the Counting Crows, dated Courteney Cox in the mid 90s (before she found David Arquette on the set of Scream). The letters that she’s reading in this video are actual letters that Adam Duritz wrote to her.

So anyway, the end of every year kind of feels like such a precipice, doesn’t it? You make it through something and you think, “Okay. Time for some changes!”

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Keeping the Faith?

Guess who’s back? (Tell a friend, tell a friend, tell a friend.)

I’ve been gone for what feels like forever and I feel totally guilty about it. Suffice it to say that there has been a lot going on in my life lately. This past weekend was the first one I’ve had with no obligations since…. mid-May, I think? Possibly even April.

And of course during that first free weekend we lost power.

If it makes you hate me less, please know that I thought of you often. I even sat down once to write something, only to discover that Frank was having some WordPress issues and I couldn’t see anything I was typing. It was 3 a.m. I was tired. I gave up and went to sleep.

I hope you’ll forgive me and continue to come here and read our posts. Although things are not yet totally settled for me and there could be some more major shaking coming up soon, I’m going to do my best to update regularly again (also, Frank has at least three book reviews he wants to do because his face is sick of sitting in a drawer). And I also hope that you will stick with me as I ease my way back into writing here.

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Great Advice! … Not. (Worst Advice Ever!)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

You’re talking to a friend about something — a problem you can’t figure out or something that’s bugging you, maybe — and after pouring your guts out, they blink at you and say…

“Just don’t think about it.”

Excuse me? What?

I love my friends, but that’s the worst advice of all time. And I absolutely can’t stand it when someone tells me to just not think about it.

When I was little and not feeling well, I’d say something like, “Dad, I think I’m going to throw up.” His response?

“Just don’t think about it.”

So I’d try not to think about. But actively trying not to think about it made me think about it even more. Go figure. And you know what? I always threw up anyway.

The thing is, most people aren’t hardwired to just not think about it. Or maybe men are hardwired to just not think about it. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what I do know, and it’s this:

Telling someone who struggles with depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder “just don’t think about it” is just about as effective as telling yourself to stop blinking or telling Lady Gaga to be normal. It’s a lesson in futility.

Still, for a while I tried to heed this advice, as it seemed well-meaning at the time.

I could tell you all about how that went, but instead… I (mostly) drew you some pictures!

Things To Do When You’re Just Not Thinking About It

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Social Media and the Validation of Existence

Life’s been kind of funny lately — putting people in places I would never expect to find them, prodding at the void left by people I hoped would be there forever, presenting me with some interesting career opportunities (among them — I just got my first experience teaching adults about social media last week, and it was overall a pleasant experience). So I guess in a lot of ways, my see-saw is balanced enough.

Comme ci, comme ça.

I’m a very stressed out person. When it came time to vote on senior class superlatives in high school, I was one of the final contenders for “Most-Stressed Senior Girl.” In the end, I was edged out, but stress still has a way of shutting me down. At the same time, it soothes me. I like being busy and I like the odds being stacked against me. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I can cross something off of my to-do list or when my emails are down to 0. I’ve been called an over-achiever. Really I’m just trying not to let my mind overtake me.

Most of all, I love when my mind is so occupied that I don’t have time to think about the things that are bothering me. And that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been keeping myself so busy that I can’t wait to go to sleep at night, and in many cases, I never remember my head hitting the pillow (impressive for someone who’s been dealing with insomnia on and off since fourth grade).

However, a combination of the nap I took earlier (owed to the fact that I’m sick for the fifth time in eight weeks) and paranoia (some shady characters who are known to steal things for drug money were caught looking in the windows of my car and discussing what is — was [it’s all been removed] — inside) has me awake now.

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A Dying Practice: Please Read This Post. Thank You.

When I was a small child, my mother, greatly urged, I’m sure, by my father’s mother, made quite sure that I had manners. Sure, my four-year-old brain may have interpreted “Only speak when spoken to” a bit too literally, perhaps, as I was a very quiet child.

My dad’s side of the family is notorious for being hot-headed and temperamental. When it became clear that I had, at least to some degree, inherited his temper, I was immediately taught not to swear. This was drilled into my head such that, at the tender age of eight, after my six year old sister caused me to lose my last life playing Super Mario Bros., I threw down the controller, turned to her, screamed, “BASTARD!” …. and then immediately ran for my life.

I hid in the dark between my bed and the wall while my mom kept saying things like, “I don’t know what happened to my sweet little girl.”

By the age of nine, I was answering the phone saying, “Hello, _________ residence. Renee speaking. How may I help you?”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — The Golden Rule — was enforced at Sunday School (dad’s church), as well as CCD classes (mom’s church). Yes, adding to my education in manners was a double-dose of weekly religious education.

“Always offer to help your friends’ mothers if you’re staying for dinner.”
“Always shut the water off while you’re soaping up your hair if you’re showering at someone else’s house.”
“Always remember to thank your host.”

And always, always, always, ALWAYS remember to say “please” and “thank you.”

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A Living Suicide

When someone dies, we mourn for the life lost, sure, but more for ourselves.

For our loss.

We inherently understand that we’ll never see that person again. We’ll never talk to them, joke with them, hear them laugh or see them smile. We’ll never have the chance to be there for them again when they need us.

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Frank’s 100th Post Extravaganza!

Dino image: http://clipartist.net/2011/11/11/

Well, holy crap. Welcome, All Ye Friends of Frank, to the 100th Post Extravaganza.

What will this extravaganza entail, you ask?

That’s an excellent question. And I’m going to be really honest with you, [insert your name here], I don’t really know. I’m going to make it up as I go.

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