Soul Mate?

I have been thinking of this question for sometime now – mainly because I am questioning whether two people are ever really “soul” mates. I think like most women out there when I made the decision to get married, I weighed the pros and cons and balanced out his negatives with his positives and decided that he complements me in more ways than not. I think, like most people out there who get married, I settled for this man because well, for one, he asked me to marry him, and things were better than not with him. I saw having children with him and he was a really good guy. Of course, I loved him too but I never really saw this man as my soul mate.

Which leads me to ask the question, what really is a soul mate? Is it someone who fulfills your dreams? Someone you see eye-to-eye with on everything? Someone who completes your existence? Would life with this person be perfect in every way? I wonder about that from time to time. Hollywood gives us sappy movies like “Serendipity” and we think, Hmmm… is there really such a thing as soul mates? Are they born or made or is it just timing?

I personally do not think there is such a thing as soul mates. I have girlfriends I just get along with better than others. Does that make them my soul mate? After all, no one can complete you except yourself and no one can really have a perfect life. They can just have more fun with someone over another- the same thing applies in a marriage. The person you marry is not necessarily your soul mate but rather, someone you get along with better than you would get along with someone else – someone you can share things with that you would not with others, or someone who just complements you well. I do not think in a marriage things will always be perfect but is it possible to find someone who thinks a little more like you, shares more of your values, or can communicate like you do; that someone who is always “in sync” with you? Sure. But remember that same “sync” may change as time goes on and the partner changes. So, is there a true soul mate for everyone out there? My theory is that there are just people, male and female, that come into our lives at a certain time in our lives when we need them and attract them, and things just … click. So we befriend them, or in the case of timing for marriage, marry them. How you choose to define “soul mate” is up to you. I describe my soul mates as everyday people who are more than ordinary and sometimes, if the timing is right, and your personalities mesh, truly extraordinary.

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Rats, Rats, in the workplace?

Working for the man, you learn a lot about office management, good contracts and bad contracts. Recently, the powers to be have decided to enter into a new contract for our office cleaning services. “Clean” being the operative word. Since we switched companies and this new contract came about, the office has been anything but clean. In fact, the office in an uproar over a new recycling policy. Don’t get me wrong- I think recycling is great! But whoever came up with this contract was smoking something not so good while drafting the requirements. Basically, we have to bring in our own trash cans from home and liners. Under the contract, the “cleaning” crew only takes your recycables from the unlined grey wastebaskets in your office. For example, a Starbucks coffee cup (if rinsed out properly) can be recycled. My snotty Kleenex- not recyclable. A soda can (if soda is dumped out in its entirety) is recyclable, my lunch tray with residue of beans and channa masala, not so much so. Now, if I cleaned it out, it is a plastic and that can be recycled but seriously, who has the time to go rinse out their frozen lunch tray? Forget that!

So, I have noticed a trend in the office as a result of this new “cleaning” contract and recyclables requirement- namely, no one recycles. It seems too complicated and no one empties their trash can more than once a week which causes the obvious issues: foul odors, gnats, and just general nastiness. The cleaning crew refuses to take our trash bags because that is not in their contract or requirements and they do not want to start a bad trend. The entire office is in uproar and I am concerned about a more important issue that rears its ugly head around summertime here- rats. I kid you not. We get rats in our building and with the extra trash laying around and the recyclables going into an unlined can, will that attract more rats and if so, how long will the problem go on? Will our powers-to-be take some action? After all, we are the client and without us, the client, they would not have a contract with the “cleaning” crew. I am certain that someone will have to write the Rocky Mountain Times or Denver Post to get it the attention it deserves but ‘til then, I better go take the trash out – it is after 4pm and I have an hour or so left in the day to get real work done – your tax dollars hard at work. Oh, and if I kill a rat, is it recyclable? I am guessing not but I will put it in the unlined can and see what happens.

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The Tug of War of Time

I took a personal day yesterday because frankly, I just felt like I needed to spend more time with my daughter and wanted to get things done around the house. Well, I could not get anything done around the house or work on things but I did spend a lot time with my girl- it was fun. But I got to thinking how in the world women experience this day in and day out and do not go insane. While I love my daughter, I also have a need to exercise my intellect and need social interaction with an adult. While my daughter can provide hours of scintillating fun it is not the same. I had a great new respect for women who stay at home but as I return to work today and the drudgery and mundane-ness of it all, I realize that I miss her a lot. It is quite a tug of war for working moms – stay at home? Go to work? What should we do?

I have a new fear that has set in for the last month- am I missing out on my daughter’s life? Will I look back at this time and have serious regrets on missing out on her life? When she no longer needs us and is off on her own, travelling across the country and world? Will I look back and have regrets? Conversely, if I quit my job and cannot find a job in another few years, will I have some other regrets? What if I quit a good job with good pay and then, realize I did not want to be at home? All these questions weigh on my mind daily. I am sure they weigh down other working moms too. They are legitimate concerns. I feel like the best of both worlds would be to ask to go part-time. I do not know if my employer will permit this. Also, currently, I am not a permanent employee so asking could put my status in jeopardy so, I am starting to slowly resent my employer as well. I feel like time is so precious and it is flying – my daughter just turned 10 months old.

I find this tug of war between home and family and work is quite normal among most working women but I also wonder if dads feel it too or are societal norms such that they do not feel those same pressures that women feel? I hope in this tug of war, whatever happens, my daughter wins!

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The 40 hour work week- a thing of the past or alive and well?

I heard a commentary on 850 am yesterday as I was heading home. Essentially, they were asking if anyone still worked from 9 to 5- remember, the movie? The question was who gets in at 9am and has the opportunity to leave at 5am. Most employers, they felt, expected employees there by 8am, 830am at the latest and most did not get off of work until well after 530pm. Afterall, if you took an hour for lunch, that would make for an 8-hour day. The topic for discussion was 40-hour workweeks and whether that was even common anymore. One DJ stated, if you get your work done in 30 hours, why would you work the 40? And, conversely, if you are super busy, you may even put in 60 without blinking.

I did not have enough cell minutes to call them and tell them that I had a great job! I currently have a job where my hours are 9-530pm and I am able to keep these hours. It is quite nice because in the morning, I can get our infant daughter ready for daycare, pack her bag, and then get some much needed things done around the house like clean or even have time to get things done on the computer and internet since I do not have internet at work. I wanted to call in and tell them that I think it is because of the lack of internet and technology at my office that makes for a 40-hour or less work week. If I had constant e-mails pouring through and access to technology, I think I could easily work the 50 to 60-hour work week. I also would not have time to get to know my colleagues. Essentially, if we had internet and E-mail, that would take up my entire morning. Then, I would still have to pull my normal workload- research, reviewing contracts, and new cases and trying to coordinate with folks on the phone. Add to that the internet where let’s face it, oftentimes, it is overwhelming to do research. Right now, I have limited resources and like a limited menu at a restaurant, sometimes, that makes the choices much easier too – I can only have salad or pasta- hmmm… I will go with pasta. I only have a legal search engine with limited capabilities so I can only go and find limited things and then write my legal opinion based on what I find. There is no google where I could go on researching for days. On the internet, the sky is virtually the limit! Then, I would probably spend the last few hours of my day writing replies to E-mails, filing e-mails in the appropriate folder by subject, organizing my Inbox, and figuring out where the day went.

Needless to say, technology, while very useful to have, can be the bane of one’s existence as well. With or without technology, my personal belief is that jobs should not consume so much time that you miss life and your kids growing up. You should take time to do a happy hour or early dinner with your loved one, get home in town to take your kid to the park, and take a day off to go ski without a wireless device in tow. If you have a job where you spend more than 60 hours a week, I hope it comes with great benefits and a retirement plan. Finally, no job is worth missing out on the most important moments in life. For me, I choose to make less so I can have a life. I do not think the 9 to 5 is gone – I just think people self-impose extra work on themselves. I think individuals choose to work more instead of choosing to live in a smaller home in favor of less work. People choose to have the fancier car and what loses out? the kids and family, of course. For me, the lifestyle of working more than 40-45 hours a week is just not worth it. Sure I have tough weeks, but I choose to make less so I can go home at the end of the day not at 2am when my child is asleep. For now, I will enjoy my 40-hour work week and when needed, put in more time when needed too. I say, “for now” because you never know when things will change and we all have to remain flexible to change. And as you scroll through this blog at work, just remember that the luxury of having that internet can also be taxing on your soul.

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There are two certainties in life: Death and Taxes

As I thought of the statement above, I was thinking to myself – death would be a welcome thing as people work on their taxes. Every year, I have done my own taxes and frankly, used to enjoy it. Crunching the numbers, finding a deduction here or there, adding up things, and multiplying. Using Tax Cut and other software makes doing your taxes easier but it still does not take away the marriage penalty, the penalty for being middle income and mildly successful in life, and of course, it does not take the pain of just …. Doing your taxes! So for the last two tax years, we have taken quite a hit. In 2006 because I did not claim the right exemption and as it turns out, last year, despite only working 9 out of 12 months, still not claiming the right exemptions. For a person with an AGI of only $XXK, paying a $XK tax bill is quite a nightmare. Despite maxing out both our 401Ks and taking over $XXK in deductions, it seems that being married to someone who roughly makes the same and investing our money wisely is not a good thing – for the IRS and the Federal Government, being a middle income, jointly filing married couple is a penalty in and of itself. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself lucky for owing rather than receiving a $XK refund. I would feel cheated if that were the case.

Needless to say, I have decided to raise my arms up in defeat and have done the inevitable – consulted an accountant – several of them and am looking for someone to do my taxes this year and every year hereafter. Sounds nuts but I cannot take it anymore. It seems like I am searching for an accountant I can talk to and ask for financial planning advice and someone who will project what we owe and then do the heavy lifting. With a full-time job during the day, and at night (the baby) and the weekends (the baby), I think it is time to turn over these mundane tasks to someone who gets paid to keep me out of trouble and who knows the laws. After all, you would not want to represent yourself in a $20 million lawsuit would you? Oh, wait, you’re not as dumb as Heather Mills so you probably would hire a good lawyer. Back to the topic of accountants. Shopping for a good accountant requires some leg work – call some friends first. They are a good resource because if they use someone good and have for years, chances are, they are doing something right. Then, meet with them to make sure the personalities at least somewhat mesh and then, of course, hand over your $ and let them do the rest. I cannot believe I have raised my hands in surrender but it is time…. It was a good long run doing my own taxes and I may still yet crunch the numbers myself and see what a difference (if any) an accountant makes but I would rather spend the 40 hours I can spend doing taxes with my daughter. I spend enough time away from her as it is. Happy April 15th and hope you do not owe $XK or even XXK, conversely, I hope you do not get a refund bigger than $3K or you overpaid in 2007 my friend. Remember in, 2007, interest rates were still pretty high in savings accounts and money markets. Go ahead and give your money to the IRS in 2008 – we may be in a recession before long. In life there are no guarantees – we may all lose our shirts in the market or in securities or even in this housing market, but rest assured- you will be guaranteed to still file your 2008 returns by April 2009, and the world will continue as always. Cheers!

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