Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Check mate

I like playing to occasional game of chess. I’m okay at it and use absolutely no kind of formal strategy. It actually amazes me that there are defined plays and moves for the game. If you know the moves and see that your opponent is using a particular one – then you know what’s coming, right?

So, I’m a bit more of a maverick player. I look at my next one or two moves and hope like hell that my opponent doesn’t read it on my face.

I’m trying the same idea here at work. I’m through moving my pawns one space at a time and put them out there, not really caring whether they get pegged off on not. I’ve decided to start using the “important” pieces, the ones that make you cringe if they are lost.

The knight (the horsie) is a weird piece because you just never know what the player is up to when they use it – they can go this way or that. You would assume that there is an attack planned, but you just can’t tell…

I’ve set up a meeting with Mr. Starfish to discuss my future in my job. I’ve termed it “reverse” development since they ask us to lay out plans for what we want to do over the year for development, but I want to know what he sees me doing for the next year, two years, and even further.

I know this will throw him since a) I avoid talking to him one-on-one and b) he probably hasn’t even considered my future. I’ve given him a day’s notice so that he can have time to ruminate and write a six page email about it.

I think he will come up with nothing. He will double-talk me to tears and I will leave with no answer.

And that, believe it or not, is my plan.

I want to then be able to go one higher than him and say, look – I talked to Patrick and asked him this burning question and he had nothing to encourage me.

I’m not sure where it will go from there (remember, I only really look at one or two moves ahead), but I will reassess my plans when I get to that point. I’m not concerned that Patrick will figure out my game plan…I’m sitting waiting for him to realize that it’s 2007.

I suspect that I will get somewhat of a similar response since my boss appears to be cloned from his boss, except without the fat-blocking gene. Then, do I go to another level or do I just sit back and see what happens.

I do know that one point I will get tired of tiptoeing and the Queen will come out - then its game on. It may be primitive as far as strategies go, but it can still be effective.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

House of Mirrors

One of the weirdest attractions at local fairs is the House of Mirrors. Standing outside it looks so completely easy that you don’t even want to waste your time (and coupons) on it. You stand there and watch a bunch of people bump into walls that are obvious (to you), but apparently not to the people inside. Where’s the challenge – isn’t it common sense?

Invariably one of the kids wants to go through and so you do. Once inside it starts okay, but then you get a bit over-confident and start speeding up and not really paying attention to where you’re going. Suddenly your face is pressed up against a window and you feel like a loser. And it’s likely that the people standing outside watching are thinking the same thing.

I’ve come to realize that raising my kids is like being in the same mirror maze. You would think it’s based on common sense, but suddenly wham! there’s something you didn’t expect. Whether it’s an inexplicable meltdown, a sudden change in mood, yet another food aversion, or just too-much-energy to deal with on a Monday night…it all feels the same.

The funny thing about mirrors though is that they reflect. When you are wandering in the maze, it’s not only frustrating to get stuck, but also having the joy of seeing your confused face from fifteen different angles.

There may not be a group of strangers watching me fumble my way through things at home and our outings are generally pretty calm - so, I do have some protection there. However, I do have two dynamic mirrors that not only show me what I’m doing (by doing the same thing), but also by showing me how my response looks.

In my arsenal of mom weapons is The Look. Although I try to reserve this for good, it can slip out when I’m tired, exasperated, or at my wit’s end.

I know it is effective because it generally stops the offender in their tracks – this is good when they are about to do something that will rank high on my What Not To Do List. It’s rather humbling though when you see someone’s shoulders and face drop when The Look is misused.

With great power comes great responsibility. (Who new that Uncle Ben was such a wise man?)

Mirrors show you a lot about yourself and it’s not all pretty - like those horrid dressing room mirrors with the crappy lighting that make you look lumpy and pale. However, you’ve got to look past the toothpaste spots or, if you have a young girl in the hosue, lip gloss lip marks.

It might be more important to focus on what your eyes might be saying than whether your crow’s feet have deepened. How about the clenched jaw? Or the creased forehead? Your make-up may be flawless, but that means squat if you look like you’re about to rip someone a new one.

I’m not suggesting smashing your mirrors any more than I would suggest losing the House of Mirrors at the Fair. Seven years of bad luck aside, mirrors serve a purpose: they let you take a quick check on what things look like.

I do my best not to see myself in my kids – they are their own people, with their own idiosyncrasies and quirks. However, I can see is me reflected on my kids – how my actions and words look and sound.

Here are my keys to navigating through the damn House of Mirrors (which is a loosely veiled analogy for parenting):
- take your time
- keep your head up and use your hands so you don’t smack your face into anything
- don’t follow others, they may not know where they are going
- don’t worry about the people outside who may be watching
- it’s not a bad thing to check what you look like in the mirror (once in awhile) – you might be surprised by what your facing is saying

With all this in mind, next time we hit the Fair, I will give the House of Mirrors the respect it deserves – it’s not so easy and it certainly can be a challenge. Of course, there’s still a chance of looking like a dork.