21.1.11

In which I chat with the President and CEO of My Bank.

In this exciting new age we can publish our own op-eds. Each of us are important people with our own bully pulpits on the Internet. We have opportunities to speak out and be listened to on any matter.

We are such powerful influential people, and we have a right to think highly of ourselves. We are just like Dooce (whose series of op-eds about her washing machine brought a powerful company to its knees).

The other day I wrote a thoughtful post about recent changes at My Bank in America. (I still have a little money invested in America. Because I care.)

As I expected, I soon received a call on the phone. It was My Bank--the Office of the President and CEO. Now that’s priority customer service!

President & CEO: Hello, Ms. Ryan. This is Michelle G____ from the Office of the President and CEO of My Bank. I'm responding to a piece you published in a "social media outlet".

Me: Uh, thanks for taking the time to ring me, Madam President. Please call me Juli.

CEO: You are a valued customer. We do understand your concern about the account fee and the increased balance requirement.

Me: You do?

CEO: But we need to raise your fees as a result of the new banking regulations.

Me: Shouldn’t you tell me before you make changes to my account?

CEO: Yes, we should. If you had just looked at the fine print on your statement online.

Me: (contrite) I never look at my statements online. I just check my balance periodically. It isn’t easy to find my statements on your website.

CEO: Is there anything else?

Me: (after a pause) I found my statement. It says the minimum balance requirement won’t change.

CEO: Well, there is more fine print on a statement that is no longer available for viewing online.

Me: Wow. I’m so ashamed. If only I was better at managing my money.

CEO: On your statement is where we let you know about any changes to your account.

Me: I believe you! Why would you mislead me?

CEO: But I will waive the current service fees effective on the next business day.

Me: (tearful) Oh, thanks so much. I just wish I had known about these changes earlier. I could have saved even more money on fees. I mean, I know it’s not a lot of money to you. And banks need to make their money too.

CEO: Thank you for your kind appreciation. And thank you for choosing My Bank. We do appreciate you ignoring your statements. Not to mention the bailout.

Me: You're welcome. Have a great night!

Dooce got a new washing machine. I got My Bank to waive my service fees. Power to the people of the Internet!

19.1.11

Am I really having a midlife crisis?

Colin Firth joked about his midlife crisis when he picked up his Golden Globe for best actor.

Firth said: “To get to this stage of your life with your dignity and judgment intact can be somewhat precarious. Sometimes all you need is a bit of gentle reassurance to keep you on track but right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson.”

On Twitter women swooned.

Colin Firth's announcement is really a strange coincidence. Because I think I'm having a midlife crisis.

A midlife crisis happens between the ages of 40 and 60. (I am young, but I am gifted.) It was first identified by my good friend psychologist Carl Jung (whose theories also are behind the Myers Briggs Personality Test).

But what happens in a midlife crisis? I googled and found a handy guide online.

*Unhappiness with the lifestyle that had provided happiness for many years.
No. I'm happy with my lifestyle. My unhappiness stems from NOT wanting to change my lifestyle. I want to stay home and continue working on the novel that I won't publish.

*Boredom with people who had interested you before.
Yes. This is normal, right?

*Feeling a need for adventure.
Yes. But I've been feeling a need for adventure since I was nine years old.

*Questioning choices you have made in your life.
Yes. Why do I choose the wrong men? What was I thinking when I decided to be an English major? Why didn't I buy more coffee?

*Confusion about who you are and where you are going.
God, yes. But this is not new. I have always been confused about these things.

*Anger at spouse and feeling tied down.
Yes. I don’t blame Adam for my feeling tied down. Just for a lot of other stuff.

*Unable to make decisions about where you want to go with your life.
Sobbing. This is obviously the new tag line for my blog.

*Desire for a new and passionate intimate relationship.
No. Absolutely not. If I am ever released from my marriage, I don't want to be shackled to a man again. Unless he is very rich, has no family, and is suffering from a terminal illness.

To sum up, nobody has a clue. Psychologists especially have no idea about how to live life or what it all means. Midlife crisis fail.

For more self-help, navel-gazing, and use of a blog for therapy, refer to other articles in this series, such as Am I neurotic?

16.1.11

Judging vs. perceiving

My timeline on Twitter recently had a thread about the Myers Briggs personality test (MBTI). Have you taken this test before? You can find versions of it online. It's an interesting way to look at different personalities and value systems.

I am INFJ, which means I am Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. (I am quite Perceiving though.) Only one percent of the American population is INFJ.

The judging and perceiving processes have to do with our relationships with the outside world. A judging style approaches the outside world with a plan. A perceiving style takes the outside world as it comes. All people use both approaches to organize their thoughts and make decisions. But one style takes the lead in the outside world, and the other style governs our inner world.

After my last post—I really think I'm having a midlife crisis—my mother said I'm too hard on myself. This is true. I need to have more compassion for myself.

"And more compassion for others," Adam said.

But it's also my personality. It’s just how INFJ's are. We are driven perfectionists who always doubt we are living up to our potential. We expect a lot from ourselves and from others.

Which type are you?

14.1.11

Enjoy the silence.

I want to tell you what is going on with me. I want to confide in you. But I am afraid. Yes, a little afraid of what you will say or think.

And I am afraid to say things out loud. Because saying things out loud makes them real. If my thoughts are just in my mind, then I can pretend that I am daydreaming. So I am still in denial about these things. I am silent.

I am on the cusp of making some changes. And cusps can be uncomfortable places. At some point a leap of faith is necessary. And I don’t want to bungy jump off a bridge, or jump out of a plane. I may act as if I am spontaneous, but it takes me ages to make a decision.

It is easy for me to romanticize the past. I have a fickle memory, and I gloss over a lot. There are memories of the past that I want to avoid. So I have learned how to ignore them. I can move around them. This is what I do.

There are obstacles in my future. I am sure there will be good things too. But the obstacles seem cumbersome.

I don’t think this is about being positive, or looking at things in a brighter light. My FIL says I should think of obstacles as opportunities. But my obstacles are more like enemies that need slaying. Maybe I am being overly dramatic.

Obstacles are challenges. And I don’t want to be challenged. I don’t want to be the knight in this story. I want to be the damsel.

And so here I perch, summoning all my courage for a leap of faith, while I hope for a Deus Ex Machina.

Image source: Wikipedia

In summer it is difficult to be anxious and depressed. It is work. Gloomy winter weather lends itself to depression. But complaining in summer is just churlish.

I have forgotten what this post is supposed to be about.

Today I sat in the sun, and I ate a ripe juicy peach. Its juice ran down my arm, and my son stunned me again with his kindness. Maybe this afternoon we will go to the beach and swim in the sea. Or instead we will play cards, or we will play with his train set.

I feel weighed down by responsibility and kind of pessimistic about my outlook, but I am so grateful for my boy. He is wonderful.

How are you?

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Edited to add. Maybe I am not really afraid of what you think. It is more like I am shedding a skin, and I feel raw and vulnerable. It is confusing. Change was easier when I was younger.

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Edited again to add. Uh-oh. I think I was too vague. This post is just about my feelings and my crumbling marriage and going back to paid work. You know. Life. But things are OK, and I am sure they will get better. I AM FINE.

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Edited again to add. You probably won't believe this, but I didn't even intend to publish this post. I clicked the wrong button. IT WAS LIKE FATE.