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Oh So Many Complaints February 2, 2011

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The past week has been very trying when it comes to my efforts to complain less. A few things that have caused incessant complaining are:

• Anything that tries my patience. Last weekend, my husband and I waited for over 20 minutes in the express line at the grocery store. We were only the fourth people in line, but the person in the process of checking out when we got into line was there for about 16 of the 20 minutes. People ahead of us and behind seemed equally perplexed as to how buying 15 items or less could take so much time. I have to report that whining about it to my husband did nothing to lessen the irritation I felt.

• Driving. Really there are no specifics here, I just found that every time I was behind the wheel, someone in front of me was doing something that was flat out dumb—going 12 mph in a 40 mph zone, driving down the middle of two lanes, or slowing down when approaching a green light. Why? Why!?!

• Housework. I complain (mainly inside my head, but sometimes to my husband) about how cluttered things always are here. Since I can’t manage to find the time to de-clutter, I have been rolling my eyes at the stack of mail and shredding on the stairs, angrily kicking at the pile of shoes on the hall rug and glaring at the crumbs on the kitchen floor as if they are going to wipe themselves up. Needless to say, this isn’t helping anyone or anything.

Despite my shortcomings, I did have an insight. I found that as I started complaining more frequently, I was generally crankier than I had been during the previous weeks when I had managed to tone down the ranting. And when I say complain, I mean about things that aren’t really worth the effort (like those above). I know that there will always be difficult things to vent about or that need to be discussed with others, but the mundane complaints don’t seem to serve much of a purpose since getting them off my chest did nothing to lessen my irritation.

But here we are, about a month into our challenge. Personally, I feel like complaining about who’s going to have time to write a recap about how the first 30ish days have gone, but I think I will just leave that to Amber (either writing the post or  complaining about having to write a post—whichever she chooses 😉

 

Complaints hurt the ones I love the most January 24, 2011

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Oh complaints.  Thus far, I’ve learned to complain less out loud and am finding a path to workplace happiness (or perhaps complacency) through complaining less.  But outside of work, it is still a complaint free-for-all.  The small stresses of my day, those that I think I have rid myself of, come bubbling out in the evening.  Meaning those that suffer most are the ones I truly love and want to spend time with – those commonly known as my family.

Why is it that we behave so poorly around our families?  I find this phenomenon in my one year old daughter.  She is a happy child and around people she is this tiny being filled only with cheerfulness, laughter, adorableness and wonder.  My daughter is the kind of kid that my single friends ask to babysit.  It’s amazing.  But at home, with just the three of us, other traits emerge – grumpy, angry, frustrated, upset, etc.  She should have all of those feelings.  What I find endlessly fascinating is that even at her young age she knows that in public you have to act a certain way, even if that isn’t how you really feel.

I digress.  The point here, if there is to be a point, is that I am still struggling daily (ok, who am I kidding moment-to-moment) with ending the complaints at home.  I complain that I cannot always be expected to work all day and then get a nutritious/tasty dinner on the table in 30+ minutes.  I complain about chores and never having enough time/money/stamina for all of the things I should be doing let alone all of the things I need to be doing.  I complain about not having enough time for myself.  And lately, the doozy, the complaint to end all complaints is not knowing what I want to do with my life.

OK, it’s going to get real here people, stop reading now if you just wanted light-hearted comedy.  I am 30 and a wife and mother and employee and friend and daughter and cook and maid and laundress, etc.  But who am I really?  What do I want from my life outside of these roles?  I know I want something, but what?  And who has the time to figure all this out?  In movies (which are obviously the best way to judge your own life) people go through this crisis, have some sort of spiritual journey, figure out their path and then the movie cuts to sometime later and they are successful in their choice and happy.  I complain about not having that.  By far the craziest of my complaints, no?

And what was the point, you might ask, of my taking you down this dark road into my psyche?  Hold onto your hats – the point is that this, the doozy complaint – is what drives all the tiny, silly complaints of each day.  It is the engine that drives my frustration that makes some idiot slowing in the intersection during a yellow light too much to bear.

Where does this epiphany leave me?  Damned if I know, but I’ve got some laundry to finish and some blood orange caramels to make.  Gotta run…

 

Epic Complaint Fail January 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomorecomplaints @ 1:54 pm
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Last week I had a major setback in my attempt to stop complaining. I was getting ready to head out and meet a friend for coffee — and by getting ready I mean I had checked the metro times, put my boots on and was about to walk out the door — when I realized I didn’t have my wallet.

Now I didn’t panic in a “Oh no, where is my wallet?!” sort of way. I knew exactly where it was — in my husband’s coat. That he had worn to work. Great.

Why was my wallet in my husband’s coat you may be asking? Well, here’s the back story: when we go out I often ask him to put things that I have brought into his coat pocket since they have zippers and my pea coat pockets are just open. This is something he finds incredibly annoying (he wanted me to make that very clear).

Last Tuesday we went to an NBA game and I gave him my wallet and keys. Apparently I had enough foresight to ask for my keys back when we got home from the game, but the wallet slipped my mind.

So, back to the moment of complaint, I was on my way out the door, but since I did not have my metro card, driver’s license or credit card I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to my meeting. I hadn’t left myself enough time to walk as it was only a few minutes until I had agreed to meet my friend — and it was simply too cold for walking anyway.

I called my husband — who did indeed have my wallet — and after I ranted about how impossible it would be for me to get to my coffee date, he calmly suggested I just take $20 in cash and buy a fare card for the metro, the balance of which I could add to my card later. That was, in fact, an excellent idea. Thankfully I remembered to grab two $20’s since a girl can’t buy an iced mocha with a metro fare card.

In the end, everything was fine, but the shock of things not going how I had planned in the moment pushed me over the edge. When I called my husband from the coffee shop to tell him everything was okay and I was sorry for freaking out, I promised him that I would blog about my step backward. And that I would clearly state how it was not his fault that I was without my wallet.

I’m hoping that next time things don’t quite go the way I had planned, I can keep my cool a little better. Experiences have shown me that things tend to work out in the end even when a wrench gets thrown into the plan.

— Annie

 

Are internalizing complaints doing damage to my organs? January 15, 2011

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Annie is onto something – are internal complaints just as damaging?  I’ve found that this experiment is forcing me to internalize my complaints as well.  And I wonder – are these complaints that do not escape my lips going to poison my organs and lead to a shorter life?  Perhaps someone out there needs to obtain a grant to do some research on this.

My major complaint this week was, funny enough, having to post to this blog!  I complained (unlike very disciplined Annie) out loud about having one more item on my to-do list. While writing this I am finding that the irony of this is quite nice indeed.

The other smaller complaints that I was able to keep in my head were – like Annie (my complaint soul-mate) about people driving.  I am susceptible road-rage sometimes when driving.  Not to the point of being dangerous to myself and others, just in a verbal way.  Since moving to California, I’ve learned to stop giving people ‘the mitten’ – which is giving people the bird while wearing mittens.  It could lead to all sorts of bad things.  But I digress.

On the upside of all of this, I am finding that at work I am getting better at turning my complaints into outrageous accusations that make me laugh and then disappear from my psyche – thereby stopping any possible internal organ damage.  For instance, while my boss was busy handing over the usual slew of last-minute work on a Friday afternoon that needed to be done right-this-moment, I said to myself: “Self (that is how I start conversations with myself so as not to create any confusion), I think perhaps this person starts these tiny fires on purpose just to watch me put them out!”  And then I imagined my boss starting literal fires, watching me run around putting them out and everyone having a good laugh.  Which made me laugh, and then all my frustration disappeared.  The only downside I can see to this method of complaint-coping is that laughing out loud in public for seemingly no reason might lead to pointing and whispering.  But as a mom, I am finding this is something I need to get used to anyway.

-Amber

 

Complaining on the Inside January 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomorecomplaints @ 7:33 pm
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After a full week of trying not to complain I have a question — if I think a complaint, but don’t actually utter any sound, is that the same thing as complaining?

Example 1: I am driving along behind someone who starts breaking when approaching an intersection with a green light. I can see from the countdown in the crosswalk sign that there are only a few more seconds of green light remaining, which causes me to think something like “What the hell is this numb skull doing?! Go! Go! Go!”

Example 2: It’s January. It’s DC. It’s cold. I work from home which typically saves me from having to endure too much of the chilly weather, but I also attend an exercise class Monday through Thursday from 6–7 pm. This means I have to leave the house each evening. It also means that on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the winter months I frequently think “Oh, man, do I really have to go outside? I have to leave the warm, cozy house for the dark chilly outdoors?” and then sigh heavily. And even though I am not speaking it, the thought occurs in a totally annoying, whiny voice.

I know in my heart of hearts that these thoughts are equal to verbal complaints. Spoken or not, the sentiment is there. Now only time can tell if I my attempts to limit my complaining will have an impact on internal complaining as well.

— Annie

 

Work – where my cup of complaints sometimes runneth over January 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomorecomplaints @ 6:11 pm
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Oh work, the necessary evil for those of us sans trust fund.  Luckily, I only had two days of work this week.  Don’t get me wrong – there are days, sometimes many in a row, that I like my job.  But I’ve found that my job tends to be the largest source of complaints in my life.  That’s probably not too uncommon.  So, two days of work.  Not a lot of time to build up frustration and overfill the cup of complaints that sometimes runneth over.  I did keep track of the items that brought out the complaints on those days.  And here they are – in true listing style.  You know how much I love lists, or if you don’t yet, you’ll figure it out soon enough.

Work-related complaints:

  • Commuting

My husband and I commute together; our offices are separated by a bridge and a few miles of freeway.  Low and behold, the road by the bridge is now closed – until March.  So my 2 minute drive from office to office becomes a 10-20 minute drive (on top of the rest of the commute time).  First thing in the morning, this got the complaint well filling.  I suppose I should point out that for the past three months there has been an electronic sign stating this bridge is closed.  The bridge, however, was not closed during these three months thereby lulling us bridge commuters into a false sense of security.

  • Last-minute tasks due two days ago

I very much like the people I work with, that being said, I am not a fan of things being constantly done last minute.  I am a planner, a list-maker, an organizer, a person who looks at my calendar to see when things are due.  My top work pet peeve?  My number one work complaint?  Being handed a project days or sometimes hours before it is due by someone who has sat on the project for days, even weeks.  This happens approximately 3.5 times per day.  And I complain about it.  Mostly to myself.  My only complaining saving grace is my ability to not complain to the people I should not be complaining to, hooray for me!

There are other tiny complaints that occurred (such as choosing to wear a skirt on the coldest day of the year – also the day we drove the truck in and I had to climb up to strap our daughter into her car seat that I am pretty sure is similar in security and complication to something they use in the space shuttle) but those are the two largest and most recurring of my complaints from the short work week.

Things I cannot complain about from my two work days?  Lunch at my favorite Greek restaurant, getting a fabulous cheese ball recipe, and a few peaceful hours of no one demanding I put on their shoes, make them a snack, clean up from dinner, etc.  I love my family, but I also sometimes love sitting at my desk with only a looming deadline ahead of me.

-amber

 

It doesn’t count when you are sick, right? January 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — nomorecomplaints @ 2:37 pm
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In my previous post I mentioned that I had caught a cold and was trying my darndest not to complain about it. However, if someone is rude to you while you are buying medicine for said cold it doesn’t count to complain afterward, right?

It all began yesterday morning during my morning walk with a friend. Normally we just kind of roam around the neighborhood, but I actually had a few errands I wanted run since I was out and she kindly agreed to come along with me.

What started it was that I had items due at the library on Monday which I returned, but there was one little hitch. I hadn’t actually put the DVD inside one of the cases. Oops. So I needed to walk by the library and pop that sucker in the after hours box on Tuesday morning in order to avoid getting a fine. Since the library happens to be right next to the drugstore, I figured buying a decongestant was probably a wise choice.

I headed to the cold medicine aisle, where they keep a variety of cards for all of stuff you have to get from the pharmacy counter these days. I selected one and walked back. There was no line. And there was a girl standing at the register, but she was counting change. Now, I had no problem waiting while she finished, but a friendly “I’ll be right with you” would have been nice. I spent a few minutes just standing there wondering if she had seen me, despite the fact that my friend and I were having a conversation directly in front of her.

When she finished counting she finally looked at my with a super lovely “what do you want” expression on her face, so I handed her the card and said I just wanted a box. After a fleeting glance at the medicine shelf she retorted “We don’t have any” in a way that implied I was an idiot for even asking.

Well, just a though, but if you don’t have it, maybe take down the cards? But I kept that witty retort to myself and asked if there were any similar options.

“Yeah, back there,” she said, gesturing at the wall behind her. There were a number of shelves and they did have medicine on them, but since the pharmacy area is raised up and the medicine I was interested in was on the top two shelves I wasn’t able to actually see the options, which I politely mentioned. She huffed over to actually look for me and I finally got a box of decongestant. But our fun exchange had not yet ended and she gave me the third degree about not signing the electronic thingy fast enough (why not just tell me “please sign the electronic thingy”??) after which I was able to go on my merry way.

I said thank you and got a sort of “yeah, whatever-ish” response. Needless to say, I crumbled once we left the store and complained about all these things. I mean, this clerk had really pushed me past my “being nice while feeling like poo” limits. But I am admitting it and that is the first step toward complaint recovery, right?

— Annie