Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have a Heart, Teach

A 9-year-old kid (not mine) raised her hand in class one morning and said, "Mrs. Smith, I need to go to the clinic. I'm sick."

Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot and watery. She couldn't breathe through her nose. Her face was flushed a dark pink. The kid looked sick.

"Suck it up," responded the teacher.

The little girl had to wait until lunch time, when the class was in the cafeteria and she had access to other school personnel, to ask to go to the clinic. The teacher on duty in the cafeteria took one look at her and immediately excused her to go to the clinic. At the clinic, they determined she was ill. Her mother was called and the girl was sent home sick for the day.

The point: What's up with this teacher? Who says "suck it up" to a kid in fourth grade, especially one who's clearly under the weather? I mean, at least say something like "Try to hang in there, okay?".

What's with the tough talk? The teacher needs to take an empathy pill and drop the militant tough-guy approach. This is fourth grade, not boot camp.

Or am I just too soft-hearted?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Solemnity

If anyone is still stopping by here, I bid you greetings!

Hi!

I've been absorped first in a school project which took a couple months (because it was interesting to me and a fun diversion and because I could) and now I'm absorped in a different sort of project, which is still kid-centered, but not as fun.

My showing up here today has to do with vocabulary.

Does this sound right to any of you?

"We all solemnly dislike her."

My immediate reaction is no, that's not right. It sounds like you regret not liking her. It sounds like the act of disliking her is a sad, mournful thing you are not exactly enthused about. In other words, it sounds like you dislike that you dislike her.

But I just looked up "solemn" and basically it means serious, mirthless. So, maybe "We solemnly dislike her" is equivalent to "We gravely dislike her" or "We take it very seriously that we dislike her."

And just so you know, the "her" is nobody I've taked about before. And the "we" is nobody you know. And my paranoia knows no bounds. Hence my solemn attempt to keep things anonymous and vague and irrelevant to anything of substance in my real life, leading to many months of silence here.

We solemnly dislike the need to watch what we say while blogging. Solemnly, dude. No kidding.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I just pulled a muscle answering the phone

Yikes! August is almost GONE and I have only posted once this month so far? Yowza.

I say August doesn't count. In the blogosphere, there are only 11 months in the year.

And yes, I really did just pull a muscle in my back by reaching over to answer the phone. How sad is that.

I've been wallowing less, focusing on work (including housework) more. Things are pretty good.

I even mowed the entire lawn last Saturday!!! Which is a First Time In My Life event. My dad only let my brothers mow the lawn when we were kids, which was the last time I ever even thought about doing such a thing. But marital maintenance includes yard maintenance, it turns out. Who knew! (I do, now. Just call me Gud "Yes, dear" Nuff.)

Anyway, I'm about to go to some social thing and I was wondering: does caffeine help you be more pumped about cocktail party chitchat? Would quickly downing a can of Coke (or Coke Zero) immediately before departing for said socializing event help minimize my butterflies, while I wait for my post-arrival glass of wine to take effect? Just wondering.

Pathetic? Why, yes! Warranted? Yes, again. I want so badly to be the one smoothly working the room. But alas. I am much more inclined to pass the time sitting in a corner quietly evaluating everyone's choice of shoes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'd Rather Not Comment

I just got a call on my office phone. It was someone calling to ask my opinion of one of our service providers. The first question: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend our service to another potential customer?"

Me: Uh...[pause]...Is this anonymous?
Them: No. This is not anonymous.
Me: [silence as I think about the people whose feelings might be involved]
Them: It is registered in our database with your customer name, so no, it is not anonymous.
Me: ......................
Them: You don't have to do it.
Me: Whew! Really?!
Them: Yeah, that's fine. You don't have to.
Me: Yeah, okay, good. That sounds good. Thanks.
Them: Okay. You have a nice day.
Me: [quick interjection] For what it's worth, I think you're doing a great job! I mean, you personally. On this call. I'd give you a 10. If that helps any.
Them: Well, no, not really. But I appreciate that.

Friday, July 31, 2009

On my mind

Quick list of stuff:

- I'm absolutely fascinated by the whole Gates-Crowley-Obama gathering at the White House thing. Lots to say, but little time for anything more than: yes, there's a teachable moment here, and it is this: if you're a cop, maybe you could show some restraint; and if you're not a cop, maybe you better show some restraint. But disorderly conduct is definitely a discretionary call.

- Q has a high fever that won't go away, and a throat too sore to talk, so she's whispering "I love you" or signing it with her made-up sign language, usually after whispering, "Is there any pie left?"

- The volume level in the house is greatly reduced (see second point above) and it's really, really nice. So a part of me wonders, how can I make this more commonplace? Not the sore throat part...just the silent part. Can pie be the answer?

- Project at work is keeping me busy, keeping me up late, keeping me focused. Things aren't so bad. I guess. For now. Feeling more empowered, but kinda disinterested, simultaneously.

- No other distractions, for those of you following along. (I wasn't late, so I wasn't super worried. It's just that things change as you age, including the way your body heralds certain events. So, it was different, in a way that reminded me of how things felt when I was pregnant with Q. So, I waited, because I wasn't late. And I waited, but wondered. Then, it was beginning to seem like, maybe I was late. Maybe this was exactly what it was the last time I felt like this. After more than a week of kinda wondering, I finally took myself to the store. I kid you not: an hour after I got home from spending the money (around $15), about half an hour after peeing on the stupid stick (there, I said it), then, I wasn't late anymore. WTH? It's like my system wanted me to blow cash on this question. Talk about annoying. I was like, "Seriously? You decide to show up NOW? Why not two hours ago??! WTH?!!" Such are the joys of womanhood.)

- Leo is completing his first full week of work. He leaves earlier in the morning than I do. He dresses better than I do. He is looking good to me. I like it! He goes to sleep earlier, too. And he doesn't beat me to all the household chores (because he's at work and just as unavailable to do them now as I am), so I get to do more without feeling like I have to race him. I like it! And when we see his first paycheck, I bet you can guess how I'll feel: I will like it!

- We have a second-hand piano and I've been practicing on it, wanting to show my folks that they didn't waste time and money on my childhood lessons. So, I played "Morning Has Broken" from my Adult Piano Lesson Book over the speaker phone for them yesterday, and they sounded truly impressed and really touched (it's a favorite song of theirs). That was fun.

Monday, July 27, 2009

French penpal?

With both of us working again, we are focusing on paying off bills as soon as possible. Once we've managed to get rid of one or two of them, we will be able to increase our contribution to our savings account. Leo even mentioned that we could earmark a certain portion for our vacation.

He was talking to me on the phone when he said this. I was driving. My heart did a little pause, then beat really hard, as I followed his comment with this question:

Me: What vacation?
Him: For next year.
Me: C'mon, I just want to hear you say it. A vacation to where, exactly? (slightly holding my breath)
Him: Paris.
Me: Ooooh, that is so cool (I am still proud that I didn't squeal out loud when he said that word)

Now, does anybody have suggestions for how Q can get an online penpal who lives in France that is not a pedophile?

I think it would be cool for her to start to learn a little French, and cool to have someone to meet should we ever get over there. Another kid, preferably. Am I crazy to even explore this option?

Of course, this is more fantasy than anything else. It could well never happen. I've learned to accept that things often don't play out as you'd hoped. C'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Save Me, Pandora!

Music, sweet music, is the only thing that will get me away from blogland and onto my feet. I turn to you, Pandora, as the source of my energy and focus. The network will run better on Monday because of you.

Sometimes I wish I had billable hours. Then I'd not be able to get away with this crap, where I come into the office to get work done, and I waste time reading and commenting hither and yon, like there are thirty-eight hours in a day and I can spend four to five of them on the web without consequence.

-----------

Ah, the Pandora, she mocks me. She plays "Back on the Chain Gang" to laugh at me, then she plays "Should I Stay or Should I Go" to mock my pain on so many levels (should I just leave the office now and go home for dinner (Leo has already called for a status check), should I leave this profession, should I quit blogging, etc.). Pandora...she's a cruel mistress.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What was I saying?

I have the mental capacity of a gnat.

And the attention span of a...a....um.......anyway, I gotta work this weekend. Hope my brain makes a reappearance before then.

Plus, something weird is going on that makes me wonder if...if...um...how do I say this?...if Q will remain an only child, if you know what I'm sayin'. Probably nothing to worry about. But something weird is going on. That's probably why I'm so distracted, eh? That's a pretty distracting thought.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Random Wednesday - Censorship Then and Now

Let the Random References romp freely!

Anybody else out there ever see the full version of the 1976 made-for-televsion movie Sybil, starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward? I saw it. The whole thing. The original. Complete with kitchen scenes and piano playing moments (and if you saw it, you know what that's about).

I saw it when I was around 8 years old. Nobody saw it with me.

It was on tv. It was like the Saturday Afternoon Matinee movie on tv.

It was on tv again recently. Guess what? They cut the second half. They rolled the credits at the midway point, completely denying today's generation the privilege of the kitchen scenes.

My reaction: why was I allowed to see it back in the '70s? Why did they show the whole thing back then? (I just googled it, and discovered that the original television version was over three hours long. No wonder they didn't show the whole thing this time around!). And where were my parents? How come nobody stopped me from watching it? WTH?

Dad was probably working and Mom was probably doing laundry.

Not that viewing it totally screwed me up. But still. That is some messed up stuff, watching child abuse for free on tv in my parents' living room by myself, my 8-year-old self.

To be clear: as a made-for-tv movie, for what it is, it is excellent. I am a fan. Sally Field was excellent in Sybil. That's not what this post is about.

What this post is (partly) about is summed up by one reviewer's observation: "How these scenes got past broadcast censors in 1976 is a mystery."

It's also (partly) about the fact that I don't think they'd be shown today.

How funny, don't you agree, that tv censorship today blocks stuff like the second half of Sybil, but shows extremely adult-oriented content (sex and violence and horror) in movie previews (for instance) during primetime viewing periods?

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Okay, You're Okay

On my way back from the bathroom just now, while passing someone in the hallway, we traded the obligatory, "Hey! How are you?"

I meekly replied, "I'm okay."

To which she replied, "Just 'okay'?" in a nice way, then added "Gee, I hope it gets better." (also in a nice way).

Which made me decide, hey, okay is pretty good! I'm glad to be okay. Okay is good enough (and gudnuff is okay!).

Then I thought, "In fact, I couldn't be better!" Which made me pause. Really?

No, not really. Can any of us truly say we couldn't be doing better? If your answer is yes (or should it be no? confound these negatively-phrased queries of mine!)...the point is...if you couldn't be doing better, then this is your best...it doesn't get any better than this. Really?

Why not?

And that, dear reader, is my point for today. Okay is good enough. But there is always room for improvement. Which you can work on some other time. Today, I'm okay with being okay.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

If I Didn't Have A Kid...

...I'd be at the gym right now. Instead of pacing around, trying to figure out what to do with myself while Q and her little friend enjoy their playdate in the back room with the Wii.

My pacing is more virtual than physical. I spend a lot of time (really, it's a shameful amount of time) reading Magic Cookie's archives and writing draft posts in response to them because comments have been turned off.

Leo is out of town this weekend, which explains both why I have to stay here with Q and why there is a friend of hers on the premises. When Leo is around, it's just the three of us - no little friends interrupt our weekends ordinarily. There's something about Dads and other people's kids. I remember being at my friend's house when I was Q's age, and the dad was never around (even on the weekends), or if he was, everything was sort of hushed and uncomfortable and you kinda knew you should go home soon.

Guess what else happens when Leo is gone? The dishes don't magically reappear in the cupboard! The laundry stays where I left it. In a way, it sucks and reminds me how little I do on a regular basis around here. But, in a way, it's awesome, 'cause things actually stay where I put them, and I remember (mostly) where I put stuff. In places that make sense to me. And it's good practice for me to get back on top of things (like running the dishwasher and emptying it and making the beds, etc.)

Well, I've decided that Q and I will go for a bike ride together after the friend leaves. That's the cool part about her getting bigger. I need to celebrate the good stuff about that.

In the meantime, I can imagine what else I'd be doing if I weren't babysitting. Like, studying. Or at least reading for pleasure (as in, a real book. TMI ALERT: yes, I'm tackling Team of Rivals two-pages-at-a-time during bathroom visits. I expect to be done reading it by this time next year). Or at some event with other grown-ups somewhere. Or at somebody's lake house. Maybe it would be MY lake house, because that's where I might have put the money that went into daycare and day camp and clothes and parties and hair accessories (I swear this house eats ponytail holders. Or else the cats are eating them). Also, I'd probably not have any cats (I got them because Q has no siblings and what is she supposed to say, at 5 years of age, when asked "Do you have any brothers or sisters? Do you have any pets?" No, no, no. It sounded so lonely and made that getting-to-know-you conversation rather bleak. At least she can talk about her cats, right?). Maybe I would be getting back from running a 5K. Because I would have gone to a doctor and had my knee looked at five years ago instead of just ignoring that crunchy sound in my left patella that still creeps me out and must be related to the sharp pain that accompanies running or walking up hill or up stairs. And in this kid-free fantasy I'm currently enjoying, I am also about eight years younger but farther along in my career, AND, I'm a Director on the Board of This and That, AND I have an award or three lauding my Community Service hanging on the wall.

I will close with something from Magic Cookie's archive, a song by Jonathan Coulter, about how kids ruin your life. And how wonderful it is that they did.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm Spooked, Are You?

A number of things have me running scared lately, such as: The disappearance of nd (noo duuuuck), which lingers like morning fog in the back of my bloggy brain. (so it's blog fog...the fog-like ghosts of blogs past/passed, whatever). The fact that I have told someone from my Real Life the url to this spot. The fact that I posted an easily googleable thing that might actually be looked for by family members which could lead them straight here. I am spooked. I am wondering how hard it is to start over, and how I would go about it.

And I am missing people. I miss Hyphen, even though she's still around, just not as much. And I miss nd. And I miss ambimb. And I'm questioning this whole blogging endeavor, wondering whether it might actually be a mojo-blocker for me work-wise. I'm momentarily paralyzed. Like, movement will catch "their" attention (and by "their" attention, I mean the people that I don't want to find this blog). So, I've been frozen for the past week. And did y'all read A Lawyer Mom's excellent post about blogger liability and not-so-free speech?

Fear sucks.

(Thanks to Hyphen for unsticking me!!!! Muah!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Good news, I think

We are a dual-income family again! I'm so happy for Leo. The time off was starting to wear thin for him. I'm sad for me, 'cause now I really can't slack on the housework like I have been with him home all the time and constantly putting things away. Well, we need the money, and he's glad to get out of the house again, so it's for the best.

So Mr. Househusband (Mr. Wife?) is leaving, and I will miss him. It was nice while it lasted. But probably only because our money hadn't fully run out yet. I expect Mr. Grumpy, whom I do not miss, to arrive in about three weeks.

But who will be at the front door to hand me my martini and the evening paper and my pipe and slippers? And take the roast out of the oven ten minutes after that? And ask me about my day?

Monday, July 6, 2009

If you give a host a hug...

I'm compulsive about two things: straightening tangled phone cords and hugging people hello/goodbye.

Most people are not compelled to do either of these. Yes, the hugging thing is especially problematic and often one-sided. No, I'm not in therapy about it. Yes, I've read The Five Love Languages and it's clear that Physical Touch is a big deal for me. But most other people? Not so much, it turns out. So, I'm often hugging people who clearly weren't expecting it. But it's often too quick to deflect and they just go with it out of a sense of polite graciousness.

How do you break someone of a habit like this? How do you get her to think twice next time?

You have her show up for a pool party and compulsively hug the host who just spent 5 hours working on his lawn. And is still "dewy" from the exertion. And hasn't had a shower in two days. And is much taller than her, so that her head gets wrapped in his t-shirt for about two seconds. Which is two seconds longer than either of them were looking for.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin is a flake

She's quitting her job as Governor of Alaska. For a laundry list of muddled excuses. What other interpretation is there, other than outright flakiness? I mean, really? What I really want to know is, how many other governors have quit prior to the end of their term? And for what reasons?

Maybe It's The Heat

Just a short post to note some changes. Firstly: New Duck has killed her blog, it seems. This is my first experience with such a devastating loss. I miss her terribly. It makes blogging feel like a looooong layover at a bus station or something, and you get to know the people next to you, but then they have to go their separate way eventually.

Blogging has its painful sides, to be sure.

As for me, I can't seem to gather my mojo for anything fun or interesting on my own blog, and I know it's been rather sucky lately. Luckily, I've found Suburb Sanity to help inspire me. And while I miss New Duck, I'm thanking all the others on my sidebar for still going strong. I love you guys!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I dreamed about Obama last night

WTH? That was a new experience. He somehow had recently become the CEO of our company and was so new to the place that he still didn't know where all the departments were located or how to file his paperwork, etc. This was at the headquarters of a national organization, and in the dream I was like, "Huh? Why would Obama take a job HERE?" My duties involved operational support, and in my corner of the corporate world, we seldom saw anybody from the front office (I'm throwing terms around as if I use these everyday. What IS a front office, anyway?). When he sort of accidentally explored his way back towards my part of the operations (it was some industrial/textile type place...again...wth?), I suddenly became all flustered and bumbled everything and dropped stacks of papers and basically was a total dork while he was taking a tour of the facilities to meet all the staff and he graciously acknowledged me and I was mortified by my incompetency in front of him. It bemused me and ticked me off too, 'cause I was damn good at my job, and I knew it, and I knew other people knew it...except for him.

I never dream about celebrities or politicians. I don't seem to dream much at all, lately (that I can recall by morning). What the heck was I doing dreaming about Obama? And as I type up this post, I see all kinds of parallels about him being in charge and being new and not knowing all the details of how the place was run. But I'm a supporter of his, in my waking hours, and I get kinda bristly when people make cracks about his competency or lack of experience, so that just makes it all the weirder that my dream would highlight those qualities/circumstances, like I'm internalizing the perspective of his critics, of the people who disagree with his ability to lead.

In the dream, I made sure to put his time sheet in the right slot (I just happened to be walking by and noticed it lying there on a table...other people's timesheets were nowhere in my job description, so this was a totally gratuitous act on my part), because he had not known to put it there and it was probably not going to get processed if I didn't take care of that for him - which just furthered my annoyance that I was behind-the-scenes competent and in-front-of-The-Boss-incompetent...but I did it anyway. 'Cause I'm nice like that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Dislike You! I Really Dislike You!*

*A twist on the 1985 Oscar acceptance speech by Sally Field, Best Actress for "Places in the Heart," after having won in 1980 for "Norma Rae": "I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" But usually it's misquoted as "You like me! You really like me!"

............................

Leo sent me 8 tips for liking someone better (or disliking that person less) this morning. It was his way of helping me deal with some stuff at the office this week. And by "stuff", I mean:

There are 2 "consultants" at the office working on this project (the project that got in the way of my Master Plan to study for the June LSAT. My husband's unemployment got in the way, too, sort of, but anyway...).

Yesterday I was terrifically frustrated with one of the consultants in particular, and of course, Work Husband was there to add to the misery. (And no, I'm not talking about the kind of frustration that we all crave once in a while, the kind that makes you rub up against doorknobs or sit on top of a washing machine during the spin cycle. I'm talking you-are-really-pissing-me-off frustrated. And "Work Husband" is just not capturing the essence of our relationship. It's more like how you would feel about an ex-husband. Does Work Ex-Husband make sense? 'cause that's what he is.)

I was so annoyed/frustrated/angry by the time I got home, that I kvetched mightily about it to Leo, who just really doesn't want to hear much beyond the first 300 words.

Still, trying to be supportive, he sent me the article. What I liked most, though, were the comments.

You'll see that several commenters disagree with the author's advice. I love them for that.

Here are two of my favorite responses:

"I prefer to not like them. If I try to like them, then I'm stuck tolerating their obnoxious behavior. I'd rather not :)"

"This has to be the dumbest article I have read in such a long time. Why isn't it OK to dislike someone... We don't have to like everyone!"

This is why Trannyhead's weekly rants are so popular, I presume. Because it feels good to vent, and it feels good to know that I'm not the only person sipping a strawful of screw-you cider.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A House Divided Cannot Stand Itself

So for some reason we watched Song of the South last night, a bootlegged version with Japanese subtitles that Leo's uncle gave us yesterday. My mother-in-law was here and watched it with us. There was a heated discussion after we watched it about the film's general offensiveness and why people had urged Disney not to make the movie in the first place. Leo's Mom got quite upset with us for criticizing the film. She kept saying it was a story about a little boy and about the rich oral tradition of storytelling among the slaves on the plantation, and we kept saying it was unnecessarily cheerful about plantation life and of course it's offensive to depict that period of time as pleasant and desirable and that only white people (like her, like us) would wonder why anybody would object to the film. I tried to shift the focus. I told her, imagine a film that was set in the sex trade, and some nice old woman (forced into a life of prostitution), too old for tricks but with a kindness of character, was the one telling the stories to the little boy - the grandson of the pimp/matron of the house - how would she (my MIL) feel about the film then? Would she still insist that we were missing the point? Or would she think the film was offensive?

She got very grumpy. She pointed her finger at me and said, "Have you read Team of Rivals?" (which she loaned to me about three months ago). And I said, sheepishly, "I'm just up to Chapter 3." And she looked me dead in the eye and said, "Read Team of Rivals!" and went into her room and shut the door. This morning, she immediately began packing her car very purposefully.

I see her point, too, of course. She's saying, well, that's how it was, why try to lie about it or hide it or deny it happened? Why couldn't there be some good things to say about that time, and why not celebrate the folk stories of Uncle Remus featuring Br'er Rabit, Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear?

Uh, because, really? Was plantation life really like that? You were there?

Anyway, I can't have this discussion and not link to Cracked's list of The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters.

Race in America. Whew, what a loaded issue. I'm a northerner, raised in the Midwest, schooled in the Northeast. My husband grew up in Orlando, a place I tend(ed) to view as non-regional, or uniquely regional (can central Florida be considered its own cultural region of the US?). His parents? Multi-generational non-land-owning southerners. Rural/small town, deep south kind of southerners. A fact I didn't fully grasp the significance of for quite a while. My husband speaks with a similar dialect to mine. He speaks it whenever he's around me and when he's around my family, that is. When we're around his family, suddenly it's "y'all" this and "y'all" that. It's boiled peanuts and collards. I am reminded of the scene in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" when they first escape and are eating the horsemeat-stew-about-to-spoil with the southerner's relative and he's recounting all the bad things that have happened to their extended relations. It often feels like I've just walked into the filming of that scene when I'm around them. The lesson I've learned here is that when you go on a date with somebody, and the guy totally blasts his family and has very few nice things to say about them, it would be wise to take him seriously.

Also, I just need to say that Leo's mom is a sweetheart. She is the very personification of The Giving Tree. She was upset by our disparaging reaction to her perspective of the film, and totally ready to hit the road this morning. Then we discovered that Q woke up with a raised temperature, sore throat, stuffy nose, and MIL stayed all day, went to the store for food, cooked some split pea soup at Q's request and typically does everything she possibly can at the slightest indication of being needed. We all have so many facets to our makeup. I try to stay on the positive side of things. But I'm also going to put up a fight when it comes to opening Q's eyes - and my own and Leo's and my MIL's - to the damages of racism and the dangers of remaining blind to it due to white privilege. If pointing out the inherent racism of Song of the South means that my MIL gets upset enough to cut her visit short, so be it. Clearly she's defensive about it, otherwise why would she be THAT upset?

She's right, though, that I need to get back to work on Team of Rivals.

..........................

Addendum: She just said to me that thinking about black/white issues is painful for her. She said she remembers a black guy she worked with at a library when she was in her early twenties (about fifty years ago), and that he was trying to explain to her that the military was his only real option. She said she didn't truly grasp at the time the import of what he was saying to her. She said, "People can be living right there, in the middle of it, and be blind to what's happening. I'm bothered by that aspect of Southern culture. And there's no way to be free of it. The only way my sons can be free of it is to marry someone outside the Southern culture. And the grandchildren...they need to be kept away, too."

That is deep, people. That is huge. Think about what this woman is saying, about her own heritage. About her children's legacy. That's some pretty powerful stuff.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Work Husband Defined

One of the search terms that brings people to this space is "Work Husband". I tend to throw terms out there and seldom bother to define them, but this one deserves some effort, because how I define my Work Husband is not, apparently, the accepted norm.

According to a CNN article (which I found via this WorkItMom.com article), there are seven signs that indicate that you have a "work spouse", such as:

1. You depend on a particular co-worker for office supplies, snacks and aspirin. Yeah, he's good for stuff like that.
2. There are inside jokes that you and a specific co-worker share. Only that he's a PITA and we are often openly irritated or possibly hostile toward each other. Which is not funny-ha-ha.
3. You can be bluntly honest with this person and his or her appearance, hygiene or hair (and vice versa). You're comfortable enough to point out that the other's hair is sticking up - or that someone's fly is down. Yes, I'm bluntly honest because I'm not terribly concerned with upsetting his freak of an emotional ecosystem. He's a 6-foot-2-inch three-year-old capable of ridiculous self-indulgent tantrums.
4. When something eventful happens at work, this co-worker is the first person you seek out for a de-briefing. Hell no. I seek to avoid contact with him, in fact. He's a back-stabbing manipulative snake-in-the-grass and I wouldn't trust him for a second, including, I wouldn't trust him to relay the gossip he knew in anything other than a self-serving manner that would probably screw me somehow.
5.At breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks, your closest co-worker knows what to order for you and how you like your coffee (and vice versa). He only drinks Diet Coke. Yes, he could probably order for me.
6. You and your co-worker can finish each other's sentences. Good lord, if I didn't step in sometimes, he'd STILL be talking, seriously.
7. Someone in your office knows almost as much about your personal life as your best friend or real-life spouse does. Okay, absolutely NO. I put up barriers a while ago and am proud to note that I've maintained them. In fact, they've gotten even stricter within the past six months. These people are NOT the people to share anything with. That's why I have a blog! Seriously.

Yet, he is still my Work Husband, if you ask me. Mostly because of this: "Work spouses often complement each other in terms of skills, abilities and their approaches to work. The two of you can make a very productive team." We can and often do make a very productive team, while also a VERY contentious and tense team.

But mostly he's my Work Husband because, much like my Real Husband, he isn't going anywhere and I have to figure out how to live with him. Isn't that marriage in a nutshell?

Birthday Fail

I made my daughter cry on her birthday (the actual birthday date was yesterday). I feel like such a schmuck. She was not out-of-line to be hurt and upset. She could have used her words a little better, which would have curtailed some of the events that hurt her feelings, but some of it was undeniably mea culpa. The twist of the knife is that instead of serving as an advocate for her, I trivialized her feelings, then I started talking to somebody and truthfully kinda forgot about Q for a span of 5-10 minutes. Not a big deal under non-birthday circumstances, one might argue. She spent those 5-10 minutes alone, huddled on the floor of the backseat of our car, sobbing. The car was parked in the parking lot. We were with friends. We had just left a restaurant. Another, much littler girl, had been chasing and pestering Q as they ran around the parked car and wouldn't stop when Q told her to stop, so Q sought refuge inside our parked car. The littler girl kept trying to get into the car to continue the game, but Q had locked the door. I had the remote entry clicky thing and I kept unlocking the door, because I (mistakenly) thought they were both having fun with this. Until, when I opened the door to let the little one "get" Q, Q shouted "STOP, MOM!" at me with utter frustration and anger and pulled the door shut again. The little girl (almost 4) then started mimicking Q, yelling at the top of her lungs into the nearly empty parking lot "Stop Mom!" over and over again, and the other mother and I laughed because it sounded funny to have a little 4-year-old saying that. (Reading this after the fact, I don't understand why we thought that was funny, and why we didn't tell the little girl to stop.) And of course, the more we laughed, the more the 4-year-old said it, with a big ol' grin, looking cute and so pleased with herself. I was totally focused on her. Q? Q who?

Boy I feel so stupid now. Because of course Q heard it as the little girl mocking Q, and maybe she was, and why I was not tuned into that, I don't understand. If anybody present were to have acted as Q's advocate, it should have been me. Instead, I contributed to the actions that hurt her feelings, and then, I walked over to the other person's car and talked to her for those 5-10 minutes, totally not tuned into the fact that Q was still inside the car, alone, ignored, dismissed. I was sharing something personal with the other mom and totally focused on myself. When I walked back over to my car, that's when I saw Q huddled on the floor, and I knew instantly that she was upset and probably crying about something. I still didn't know what or why. I finally cajoled her into opening the door, and she was all hot and sweaty and tearful and her face was red and puffy from crying. It wasn't until we were alone together on the drive home that she fully explained the many things that upset her. Plus she said she'd been waiting to hear me say "Happy Birthday!" like I had when I woke her up that morning, and I never said it again, apparently. Plus she was super-tired, but of course, she didn't want to hear that.

I balance these facts against the just-worked-my-tail-off-to-throw-her-a-party fact. My conclusion is: forget the party next year, especially if it doesn't fall on the date of her birthday. Focus on the day itself. Start preparing her for what birthdays are like as a grown-up: on the actual day, you get maybe a free cupcake and a smile from restaurant staff, at best. I call my newly adopted birthday policy: The Unspoiling of Q. Is such a thing possible?

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Know It's Not Me

It's not me who turned lunch into yet another wtf-fest. It's not me who started melodramatically shuffling papers and stamping them together loudly on the table and sat back in the chair with arms folded across my chest with a wounded pride sniff.

This guy has some serious issues. Even my placid, well-meaning boss told him, "There's no need to emotionally react to this." It's not me who feigned innocence, who feigned nonchalance while pulling off one elephant-sized pouty-pout extravaganza. Where is this coming from?!

Try as I might to distance myself from what's going on across from me, the repercussions are acute. Everyone at the table is affected. My boss and I are both still trying to shed the wtf-ness of it from off our shoulders. But it stays with you, like a dark cloud. I sorta want a stiff drink right now. Or some emergency yoga, some deep-breathing exercises.

We're all left feeling like we just watched something very upsetting, like we took part in some very upsetting episode, but it's unclear exactly who did what to warrant such behavior. Where did that come from? Was it me? Am I such a bitch, is my bitchiness so deeply ingrained in me that I am unable to recognize it anymore? What did I do to upset him so? Am I that bad??!

No, by gawd. No. It's not me. I know it's not me!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Party Over Heeyah

I have survived another birthday party for Q. I am exhausted. It was fun. It was hectic. It was a slumber party. Keeping the number of guests to a minimum helped. My proudest moment was when she burped "Mary Had A Little Lamb" for the enjoyment of her guests. Such class.

Post-party, Leo's cleanliness habit kicked into full swing, and he guided all three of us through an exhausting purge session of all of her toys, gadgits, gizmos and accessories. We filled a trash bag with, um, trash basically, and we have two piles of things for Good Will, and a LOT more closet space now. Leo is very disciplined about getting Q into the habit of purging at Christmas and birthdays. If she gets a present, she must make a home for it, which usually involves removing an older object.

Pre-party, I cleaned the back porch, which never ended up being used or really even seen by most of the guests. But I worked up a fantastic sweat cleaning it, had to take a couple of breaks, used about an entire roll of paper towels and have conquered mold and mildew and cat hair.

We are enjoying our house even more now. Again, it's all about the discipline. For me, that usually requires inviting someone over before I find the necessary motivation.

I'm too tired to make this post interesting or funny. And tomorrow is going to be a challenge. Work Husband is in town. I gotta get some rest, 'cause having him in town is never very pleasant after the first hour. And nobody at work is gonna give an iota of empathy about the fact that I cleaned and cooked and hosted and sweated and fretted at an intense level all weekend long. This is where it really truly feels like I'm working two jobs and wonder how a day off might ever be possible. I just thank god that Leo is here to help me. Without him, I would be looking at one crazy mess of a house right now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stalked By My Own Blog Post

So I post that picture (which I think is totally cute and fairly haunting and am now a bit hurt that nobody made a single comment about the picture itself...I thought people always commented about pictures...?) (not to take away from the thoughtful, funny and very much welcomed and appreciated comments that I did get prior to my whining here - thank you Hyphen Mama and CatrinkaS!) and I'm thinking about my childhood and what it meant to be a doctor's daughter, the pros and the cons, both then and now.

Well, then, Leo calls me just before 5pm today to say we got our carpets cleaned and they were still wet and let's just go out to dinner since all of our furniture is in one massive pile in the kitchen, leaving us with no where to sit until the carpets dry.

Okay, fine, so I meet Leo and Q in the parking lot of where we're going for dinner, and hey, there are my parents, too. Leo likes to invite people along on such outings, and that's fine with me. And I'm feeling all nostalgic about my parents, because of yesterday's post and also because of the comment I left over on Bea's blog about growing up as a doctor's daughter. I'm feeling especially nostalgic about my dad, and I give him a big kiss on the cheek as we walk into the place and I tell him I'm proud of him and he is both tickled by the show of affection and the flattery and also kinda wondering if maybe I've been drinking before dinner.

There were a whole bunch of people there, at this place we were eating. We ate in the back room, because the big front room was occupied by An Event. With a lot of little girls, like mostly between 4-10 years old, and their parents, and the girls are in party dresses and looking semi-formal and very pleased to be there. Guess what was going on, y'all?

It was the Doctor/Daughter Dinner for the local medical society! How freaky is that?!!!

And I don't talk about my blog to my folks, so I had to keep my astonishment on the down-low until I could sneak away tonight and tell you guys about it.

Seriously, that is kind of a funny coincidence. I mean, I have really not talked about that part of my life on here ever before, and then the day after I finally post about it, BAM! there's a whole room full of people living out the post I had just written, experiencing what it's like to be a doctor's daughter. Celebrating that very thing, no less.

And who else but my fellow bloggers would appreciate how much that would affect a person who had just written about being a doctor's daughter on her blog the day before?

Of course, I had to say something about how they never had one of those in that little town we lived in back in the day when I was the cute little doctor's daughter. But Dad said, yes we did, and I took you, and he wasn't even upset, he just said it very matter-of-factly. Well, Mom didn't recall it at all either. Then Dad said, "Yes, I took you and you wore a mu mu." At which point I was certain he was pulling my leg. But no, Mom backed him up on the mu mu thing...told me it was yellow and orange and I looked cute in it. Said she was surprised I liked those colors.

I was only 7 or 8, or thereabout. I WAS NOT FAT (that came later, with puberty). So why a mu mu?

Because, I have the great misfortune of having grown up in the '70's. When things like mu mus were in fashion. That's why. And it sucks. Because wonderful memories like that one get ruined by words like "mu mu". Ugh. The shame.

But anyway, see? I totally love my Dad (and Mom) and I'm still totally impressed with his incredibly sharp memory and no one, NO ONE, can beat that man at Trivial Pursuit and at 75 he still remembers what I wore to the Doctor/Daughter Dinner and he has earned every bit of goodness that he has gotten in this life. And more. I just wish, as I've made painfully obvious to anyone reading this blog, that I were one-quarter the person he is.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Doctor's Children



That's my oldest brother with the stethoscope, checking out my my other brother. I wasn't born yet.

I had forgotten this picture. It's hanging in the hallway at my eldest brother's house. I happened to be over there on Sunday and snapped a picture of it with my phone. You can see me taking a picture of the picture.

My father was a physician. He first went to dental school, graduated, then went to medical school. My mother was a Registered Nurse, which "in those days" as she likes to point out, often, "that required a four-year degree." Not one of my parents' three children grew up to be doctors. Or lawyers. Or stock brokers, accountants, professors (ahem) or dentists. Or any other well-known white-collar category. All three of us are in the IT field in one way or another. Well, both brothers are business owners, with varying success. I'm sure I don't give either of them the credit they deserve.

I struggle sometimes, with who Q is, with what Q is capable of, compared to what I project onto her, what I think she is capable of, what I think she should be capable of, who I think she should be or could be or might be. Like, I think she might be a smaller version of my mother-in-law, sometimes. I see parts of myself in there, too. And her patience...that's Leo, for sure.

What were my parents thinking of their eldest when they took this picture? And how does it feel now, at 75 years of age, with that little guy nowadays pushing 50 years of age, to reconcile today's reality with yesteryear's unknown potential?

They would say, we are happy, we are healthy, we have our own families now, that's all they ever wanted for us. I'm not sure I believe them. But I understand. I look at Q, and I love her, and I accept her (most days).

Somebody recently said, kids (families, in fact) are a crap shoot. That is so true.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

So...discipline...yeah...

June 1, I was all gangbusters. But my gangbusters busted me. I stayed at work doing real work things until 3am. Things I coulda shoulda woulda been doing last week, last month, if I weren't blogging all the dang time. So I finish something that I had promised would be done by Tuesday, with quite a few other projects thrown in (and a wee bit of hulu watching, while I wait for updates to download, to install, for servers to reboot...good lord, the wasted minutes! this is my life I'm watching slide by on the 63%-complete-status-bar...hulu made it tolerable)...anyway, I finish just before 3am and walk my lonely self to the parking garage, looking over my shoulder every so often.

Then of course, because I promised him I would, I had to stop at the store on the way home and buy Leo something for his morning workout/bike ride...at 3:30AM!!! I am too nice, really...I mean, really, c'mon, that goes in the above-and-beyond category, don't you think?

So I'm shopping because once I'm in a store, the shopping/hunting gene thing must be fed by at least 30 minutes of browsing the warehouse-size aisles, dodging anyone I might make eye contact with, certain my car is being vadalized as I seek out quality onion bagels (there were none).

So I get home around 4am. Finally get to sleep around 4:30am. Don't ask me how this is possible, but my feet are the first ones on the floor, at 8:30, this morning. Leo is still asleep, and so is Q, as I make my coffee. I have to go wake up Q, who is all smiles and hugs and absolutely a little smitten kitten about seeing me again (since I didn't come home last night until after she was asleep), so that part was super nice.

But now it is June 2, I'm still at work (finally got here mid-morning), and I have yet to exercise even once this month (or read my $%^$*@ book!).

Well, there are about three hours of daylight left. Where there is light, there is hope. I am visualizing me walking around our neighborhood, at the very least, after dinner, or maybe before. And if you can dream it, you can do it, right?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hello, June!

I did it, people. The first words I uttered on the first day of the month (at around 1am last night) were "Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit". Does anybody else do that? It's something I learned in high school: if the first thing you say is "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" on the first day of the month, then you're supposed to have good luck all month long. I haven't managed to do that in years. Hmmmpf. We'll see if June turns out to be a good month or not. Lord knows I have plenty on my plate and I could certainly use some good luck in the next three to four weeks!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm Putting It In Print

This is the first year that Q will not be spending the entire summer with the after-school camp folks. Since Leo is home all day twiddling his thumbs, we're keeping her home with him except for a week here and there. Should be interesting.

As for me, the work project is headed into full swing starting tomorrow with a kickoff meeting. It's the first time my Work Husband has ever worked with a real Project Manager and I'm looking forward to him seeing a more professional approach to things. Should be interesting.

I've also slooooowly been gaining some weight back, so I am going to try very, very hard to be disciplined in both my eating and my exercise. I will try to do a midday workout at my gym, and read Team of Rivals, five days a week (Monday through Friday). This clashes with the work project kicking into high gear, and may force me into a pre-work exercise schedule (shudder!) rather than midday, but one way or another, I AM NOT BUYING THE NEXT SIZE UP! The best tool to avoid wrong-eating is sleep. Sleep is the best friend of the calorie-conscious. Getting plenty of sleep, plus working longer days while the consultants are on site, plus adding another hour and a half for working out results in some rather fuzzy math. Should be interesting.

Q and I signed up to go on a weekend camping trip to a Girl Scout camp in mid-June, with the other Girl Scout leader (whom I really like) and her daughter. Anybody remember Sally? Yeah. Should be interesting.

Tomorrow is June 1. I'm going to get my game on, people.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is It A Promise Or A Threat?

This post is primarily for my own informational purposes, however, any comments that might serve to enlighten me are always welcome.

--Yes, I'm beating a dead horse. It's what I do. You can watch if you want.--

There's a big difference between defining what a promise is versus defining what happens if a promise is broken.

A promise is a promise.

What happens when a promise is broken is NOT a promise.

So, is "assumpsit" a promise, or does "assumpsit" mean a promise has been broken?

I think the term is used to argue that first of all, there was a promise to do or pay something. That promise is pretty much a simple contract between two parties. Basically, assumpsit is establishing the existence of this assumed contract. Then, I guess farther down in the case, it is argued that the simple contract was breached. But I don't think the term assumpsit, in and of itself, has much to do with stating that the contract was not upheld. I think the breaching part is separate from the assumpsit part. But you can't accuse someone of breaching a contract without first establishing the existence of the contract. So that's where assumpsit plays its part.

It's just confusing when you read that assumpsit is an action. An action, to the uninitiated like me, sounds like something you charge somebody with. Like murder. I mean, why bring an action against someone for making a promise? Well, no, that is of course not the way it works. The action is brought for breaking the promise. And yet, an assumpsit itself is not the breaking of the promise, but the laying out of what was understood to be promised in the first place.

Strange that breach is not part of the name of the action. I guess that the breach part is a no-brainer, doesn't need to be part of the name of the action, even though that's why the guy went to a lawyer in the first place. Unless I've got it completely wrong, and that's certainly possible/likely. Or maybe it's a historical thing, and they don't use assumpsit anymore. I mean, in today's world, who HASN'T heard of breach of contract? The Smother Brothers certainly have.
.......

Which reference you rely upon can make a big difference! (duh!)

Compare the definition below (from http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Assumpsit)

ASSUMPSIT ("he has undertaken," from Lat. assumere), a word applied to an action for the recovery of damages by reason of the breach or non-performance of a simple contract, either express or implied, and whether made orally or in writing. Assumpsit was the word always used in pleadings by the plaintiff to set forth the defendant's undertaking or promise, hence the name of the action. Claims in actions of assumpsit were ordinarily divided into (a) common or indebitatus assumpsit, brought usually on an implied promise, and (b) special assumpsit, founded on an express promise. Assumpsit as a form of action became obsolete after the passing of the Judicature Acts 1873 and 1875. (See further CONTRACT; PLEADING and TORT.)

with the definition given previously in the comments from the preceding post (from http://definitions.uslegal.com/a/assumpsit)

"Assumpsit is an express or implied agreement to perform an oral contract. An express assumpsit is where one undertakes verbally or in writing, not under seal, or on record, to perform an act, or to pay a sum of money to another.

An implied assumpsit is where one has not made any formal promise to do an act or to pay a sum of money to another, but who is presumed from his conduct to have assumed an obligation to do the just and fair thing. Common or indebitatus assumpsit is brought for the most part on an implied promise. Special assumpsit is founded on an express promise or undertaking."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's "assumpsit" mean?

Being obsessed with people's career development, especially my own, I read blog archives. They are a great way to watch the progression, the transmogrification (btw, if anybody has any pull with Transmogriflaw, please ask her to post an update, or start a new blog, or get permission to post an update about her, even, maybe?). This kinda sucks because I totally want to comment on somebody's observation from three years ago. I feel like I'm hobnobbing with ghosts.

So, define "assumpsit". Who cares, right?

It's a word. And it matters. I love that it matters. I love that a WORD matters. I love that Prof. Warren's first utterance on the first day of her 1L class at Harvard is something along the lines of "Explain what the first word in the case means." And the first word is "assumpsit".

Sigh. (...the kind of sigh where you smile and gaze up longingly at someone, like a real dork, exactly the kind of dork that should be beaten up on a daily basis, just as Tranny says.)

Of course, it's easy to love from a distance, with nothing at stake personally. As long as she's asking somebody else, it's wonderfully thrilling. Not that I'll ever meet her (she'd chew me up and spit me out if she even bothered to breathe the same air as me) or step foot anywhere near HLS, nor do I deserve to, but still...aaahhhh...that is cool. I must remember how cool I think that is. I must remember how much I love words, and how much they matter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

9 Reasons For Leaning Toward Law

For Reason #1, see the previous post. For most of what I'm talking about in this post, go check out Cee's post over at Starting To Melt about career direction, professional motivation and the passion that drives us.

Then check out the comments, because half of this post is contained in her comment section.

Or...to ease your clicking burden, I guess I can reprint it here:

"Your post, and the comments contained here, [are] a big, big part of what makes the idea of being a lawyer appealing to me (OH...I just posted Reason #2! Rock on!) It's people like you that make people [like] me LIKE people like you. And want to be one of you. And work shoulder-to-shoulder with you. You're smart, dedicated, articulate, ambitious, educated, focused, determined, [disciplined,]...plus you understand the whole working mommy thing, along with all the other commenters here...why wouldn't I want to be a part of that? Why do people ask me why I want that? Better to ask: Why would I NOT want that? Why would I NOT want to be a member of that team?"

So! There you have it. Reason #2: Because I Want To Be One Of Those Cool Chicks!

I want to be among smart, focused, educated, intelligent, disciplined, ambitious, articulate wordsmiths. I want to be respected by them, to work with them, to go to gatherings with them and I want to argue against them and I want to be influenced by them and inspired by them and I want it to matter to my bottom line. I don't want to be just a groupie.

Reason #3: I want wordsmithing and analysis to be a part of my paycheck.

And then here comes Reason #4 (yes, I totally hogged up her comment section, essentially writing this post...sorry Cee!):

"...You know where you say "Last year...I loved the crazy complication of litigating construction defect claims" and the other stuff you got to do/learn/try? Now, after [gaining] some experience and the confidence that comes with it, you find yourself thinking, "So what?"...well...

Yeah. Exactly."

Reason #4: I don't want building a test server to be a part of my paycheck anymore. (That totally gets the big "So what??!!!") Although that is really more of a reason to leave my current job, and not so much a reason to go into the legal profession in particular.

And while I'm on a roll, here's Reason #5 (but my current job does this already, sorta...this is more along the lines of "Why did I leave my Ph.D. program?"...well, because...see below):

I want to have the problem presented to me, I don't want to have to be totally creative and frame the question out of thin air, as academicians must do. I want the question to come to me already fleshed out, with an accompanying set of applicable rules and precedent just waiting to be matched to it. And I will be the match-maker. Or that is part of what I suppose I might be able to do as an attorney.

Reason #6: Intimately Knowing (and personally possessing some agency within) The System

I want to know more about The System, things like Civil Procedure, Estates and Trusts. I want to be INFORMED, to feel like a true grown-up who understands how things work. This knowing-the-system thing was actually one of the reasons Obama briefly mentions for his motivation for going to law school in Dreams From My Father.

Reason #7: Working With People

I want to have to talk to people as part of my paycheck. Yeah, go ahead and laughingly answer "Oh, poor naive gudnuff...you say that NOW..." But really...I want more face time with people, either with clients (meh...not a LOT...clients are clients are clients...I already provide a service...I know what clients are like...) or with other lawyers. Ideally, I'd like to work on a team. But I realize that is not very likely to happen.

Reason #8: Flexibility, Professional Options

Do y'all see what Cee is proposing? She can go in so many different directions professionally! I guess I could sorta do that in IT, too, if I loved, loved, loved the work. I could voluntarily help people with their computer problems, I guess. Well, HA! That's a laugh. Just ask my mother. Her printer stopped working, and the only way she got any help was, Leo took pity on her. Sorry, Mom. Unless you want to pay me, oh...$200/hour...then MAYBE I'll drag myself over to your house to look at a stupid printer problem. Of course, there's an hour's charge, minimum, even if it only takes me ten minutes to fix it. Why? Because I so don't want to do this anymore! And don't get me started on your complete inability to grasp the concept of a file system.

Where was I?

Reason #9: The Benefit Of The Doubt/Recognition/Respect

If you're an attorney, people assume a lot about you. They assume that you are literate, for instance. (They often assume you are an asshole, but I'm one of the many converts who has learned that that's not always so and I'll be happy to continue showing people the fallacy of that belief if I were to join the profession.) They assume you are smart. They attribute to you all kinds of abilities and aptitudes that might just as well apply to any member of the citizenry. Yet other non-lawyer citizens must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt their own astuteness. I guess this bugs me. I feel like, because I tell people I'm in IT, they don't see me as a possible wordsmith. For once (okay, maybe two or three times?), I would LOVE to see how people react to you when you say the magic words, "I'm an attorney" or "I'm a lawyer" instead of "I'm a computer network engineer".

Seriously...what is that like, saying those words? And which one is your preferred phrase? And why?

Okay, that's all for now. Feel free to poke and prod me into providing a more coherent defense of my desire to switch from IT to law. I'm highly doubting this really answers why. Did it?

Should I duck and cover now? Am I going to get blasted?

With Enough Crumbs, You Get a Cake's Worth of Crazy

Somebody threw me a crumb yesterday, and I cried, people. CRIED! Tears brimming over my bottom lashes, to be gathered into the absorbent fibers of my sleeve. Why?

(...well, partly because I was alone in my kitchen at the time and knew it was safe...?)

Pathetic!

Because I was given the slightest bit of validation as to my worthiness by a fellow blogger.

Pathetic!

Is this what I've come to? Is this what Good Enough has come to mean?

Settling. You settle. You accept. You lower your standards and your expectations. You take what you can get. You give up hope of better. This is your life now. This is gonna have to be good enough. Accept it. Try to accept it.

And then you cry like a baby when somebody tosses you a crumb of respect, of consideration.

"Maybe I'm better than this?" THAT is my trip wire. And I've been gingerly raising one foot at a time (for fourteen years) and stepping ever so carefully over it and around it, ever cautious, trying hard not to tug on the line, not to trigger the ensuing avalanche of thwarted ambition from firing in my brain and ricocheting off the thousands of nooks and crannies of my gray matter.

So what's the alternative? I have a couple of friends who have insisted on never settling. Now they have less than I do, in terms of what's most important to me. And I feel sorry for them.

I'm in a bad place, people, as you can clearly see.

But I will continue to seek ways to rise above (while struggling mightily with how to implement them without sinking the boat that carries our family, our house, our stability).

OMG...I think I'm about to post, officially, Reason #1 for wanting to go to law school:

Because I want better than what I've got. Because, dammit, I'm better than this.

OMG...does anyone actually come out and SAY IT like that? Is anyone else stupid enough to openly admit their pretentiousness? (insert maniacal laugh here)...on the freakin' INTERNET, no less??!? (Not that I can find...except maybe for No Reins Girl...and she makes it work for her, and I admire the hell out of her for it, too).

Oh, jeebus, mary and joseph, I am a head case.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Wednesday

Crap...it's Thursday, isn't it? Well, anyway...
...I just ordered a copy of my undergrad transcript.
WTH?
I had no idea, even two hours ago, that I was gonna do that today. Or do that ever again in my life, period.

Hmmmf. Go figure.

Look what else I played around with today:
http://studentdoc.com/law-schools.php
Amazing what a difference one or two points can make!
And the debt at my local state school is not as high as I've been thinking it'd be.

Hmmmf. Go figure.

There's a major project at work that will kick off soon and there was no way I could keep my paying job AND do a decent job of studying for the June LSAT, so I had to toss the June LSAT goal in the trash can for this year. Today, I dunno, something sorta snapped and suddenly I found myself ordering copies of transcripts and figuring out what kind of minimum score I'd need for the local law school. Not for the June LSAT. Just...for whenever. If ever. Whatever!!!
I'm like an animal who's ready to chew off its paw to free itself.

BTW, I talked to a BigFirm lawyer (Texas for law school, now working there) about a month ago. Here's a picture of us talking:
.................

LagLiv, CM, PBB, dgm...what big teeth you have!

Where's MY margarita?

The pushing that I saw at the picnic? That happened long after the jump rope incident. The pushing happened, I've concluded, because my kid wasn't tuned in to what the group was doing.

They were playing 4-square. I was too far away to hear anything. What I saw was everyone shift position except for Q, who just stood there with her gaze locked on some pebble or bug or who knows what. So everybody shifts positions. Q doesn't move. Doesn't know she's holding everybody up. So the kid (unfortunately the same one that kept pulling on the jump rope) reached over and gave Q's shoulder a little shove. Basically, a kind of, "Hey buddy, wake up and take two steps to the left already, we're trying to play this game here and you're holding everybody up."

I see Q respond to being pushed with the good ol' side-to-side head-shake thing, in that let-me-tell-YOU-a-thing-or-two attitude, because after all, who likes to be awakened with a shove?

But people...what are the kids who are playing with her supposed to do? It has got to be exasperating to deal with an inattentive playmate. And then to be told off because you tried to get her to tune in? Sally walked away with her arms crossed and sat on the edge of the playground, and I don't blame her.

Yes, I obsess about this stuff. But just ignoring it is not the answer. Letting the kids "go work it out" is not the answer. What in the world do THEY know about "working it out"? I think that's kind of dumb, frankly. And irresponsible of the adults.

In short: unsupervised play time? Not such a great idea.

You can't have the adults pooled at one end of the park and have the kids too far away to intervene in a moment's notice. Hyphen-Mama got it right in her comment about the parents who just go sit on a park bench and yap away, essentially leaving their kids unsupervised.

I'm not saying you stop the kids from falling down. I'm not saying you stop the kids from interacting with each other. I'm saying, you have to BE THERE. You have to HEAR what your child said, what the other kid said. You have to SEE what happened and how. And as things turn ugly and poor choices are made, then you intervene as necessary.

But what sucks about this? While you're still on kid patrol, the other parents are kicking back, building rapport, getting friendlier with each other. And you're at the other end of the park, alone with the kids. Like you're the lifeguard on duty.

How many lifeguards on duty actually look like they're having any fun?

Monday, May 18, 2009

If You Cry, You Win

Things I've recently learned:

Conflict Resolution is a misnomer. You don't "resolve" a conflict. Conflicts happen. Things go wrong. People make poor choices. Girl scouts fight over a jump rope.

The point is not that you can "fix" the elements that went into creating a moment of conflicting desires. The point is, once those desires have crashed against each other, what do you do?

So, Cindy brought a jump rope to the picnic. Sally tried to take it away from Cindy. Cindy told Sally to let go. Sally and Cindy ended up pulling on opposite ends of Cindy's jump rope. Cindy told Sally the jump rope might break because Sally wouldn't let go of it. Sally still doesn't let go.

Then Q yelled at Sally to let go, says Sally might break Cindy's jump rope.

Sally and Q end up in a physical altercation.

Q's mommy ends up buying books about Conflict Resolution on Amazon.

Q needs to learn how to cry. The person in tears wins everybody's sympathy. Sally is good at crying. And then pushing Q when nobody's looking. Nobody, except for me. I saw it.

Q was pissed. Q said nobody was helping Cindy, so Q helped her. Q was standing up for a friend in need. Due to tears, Sally was seen as the victim and Q was the bad guy. Q was very angry that she was now the bad guy, when she didn't do anything wrong, she just stood up for a friend.

Mommy is hating girl/youth/group dynamics.

--------------
What DID I do, in actuality? I told both girls that they are both nice, sweet girls, that Sally is not mean, and that Q is not mean. I told Q that she is not an adult and is not the one to fix the problem. I told Sally that you don't keep pulling on a jump rope that's not yours. I made them say sorry to each other, which each delivered with an accompanying eye roll.

Friday, May 15, 2009

If this were a tweet, I wouldn't have to title it

This should be a tweet, but screw that.

This is me feeling good about the following things:

........(1) I have gone to the gym twice in two consecutive days.

........(2) I was on the treadmill for over an hour each time.

........(3) I have read a chapter of Team of Rivals each time.

........(4) Lincoln kept a messy office. I feel so validated by that simple fact.

The advantage of using twitter for shtuff like this is, you don't have to think of a post title. Tweets are title-less.

Suddenly, I see the allure.

Parking Lot Epiphanies about Facebook

Facebook is weird. For a LOT of reasons. I am kinda thinking of leaving it, but probably won't. Mostly, I really like being mentioned on the news, when they say the fastest growing demographic of people joining/using Facebook are people over 35. Ha! That's me...talkin' 'bout my generation.... So, apparently I get jazzed about being a follower.

Today's Facebook rant is (mostly) about people who go missing from your Friends list.

I saw a mom at school drop-off today, and it dawned on me that I hadn't noticed any of her FB updates lately. Not that I check FB frequently or consistently. I go in spurts of checking it and spurts of completely forgetting to check it. Anyway, a few months ago, she had posted about tattoos or something. Well, I saw her that morning several months ago, and I said, "Now you've got me thinking about tattoos!" or whatever and she laughed and said something about drooling over this one guy or whatever.

So, I see her today, say hi to her as we pass each other, no biggie. As I walk to my car, it dawns on me that, oh yeah, I haven't noticed any of her FB updates recently. That's weird. She used to post a status update twice a day or more.

I check FB, and yep, sure enough, she has disappeared from my Friends list.

Which means, she must have removed ME from HER friends list. Right? Isn't that how that works?

I wouldn't know. Once I add you, I keep you. I don't know anything about removing people.

[Added Bonus: Here's a Rant-Inside-A-Rant!
I do know about blocking people. I've blocked some people, who were never on my friends list. My block list is something I update consistently. It just keeps growing, person by person. Like, yesterday, I blocked my boss. And that Work Husband guy. Can't believe it took me THIS long to figure out that I should block them. Duh! I wanna block Work Husband's real wife, but it won't find her, for some reason, even though she is on other coworkers' Friends list, big as day, front and center. Whatever. Facebook is stupid. Where's their 800 number, anyway? Stupid Facebook.]

This lady's disappearance from my Friends list brings the total count of Disappearing Friends to 2 for me. As far as I know for sure. There may be others that I'm just not remembering.

I'm trying to take a page from my husband's book and not take it personally. Perhaps she's decided to prune her FB world down to close friends, or long-distance family relations. No biggie. She has the right to tweak FB to her particular needs. The most we ever do anyway is say hi to each other at school. I have mentioned to her in the past that I think it'd be fun to get together for drinks or something. But she's of the Stay-At-Home-Mom variety, with three kids 9 and under, and I'm of the Works-FullTime-Outside-The-Home-Mom variety, with one kid, who's not available to help watch HER kids when she needs a break or to run to the store or whatever. In that regard, friends-wise, I think my variety is at a disadvantage. I just am not as available to put in the time to cultivate the social ties among other moms, especially those moms that I've been passing in the parking lot for the past 4 years. But still, after accumulating 4 years' worth of acquaintanceship, you'd think it'd be possible to have a margarita together at some point.

Which brings the discussion back to Facebook. Facebook allows me the chance to be linked in a little more to the PTO-ers, to the parking lot chatterers who linger next to their cars in their sweats and flip flops and ponytails as I swing my car past them on my out of the parking lot to get to work. I watch them wistfully just for the time it takes me to arc my car into the exit lane, wondering what they're talking about, what meeting they are dissing somebody for, what groups are their kids in that mine isn't that would cause them to have that much to discuss? Or are they just lonely, just needing to connect? And how can I join them? Alone in my car, I focus on my commute and listen to Morning Edition instead of joining them. And think, well, I can kinda join them, via Facebook.

So, I sent the friend invitation, she accepted, and then two or three months later, she disappeared. No margaritas for us, it would seem.

As you can tell, I don't have a high number of friends on my Friends list, so yeah, I notice when someone goes missing....well, I will eventually notice. Give me a month or two and I'll figure it out one morning in the school parking lot.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don't Take It Personally

Somebody keeps placing their phone on hold, which blasts new-age, groovy music onto the call for the rest of us to deal with. After three days of this, it was time to identify the one responsible, to avoid future occurrences. My assumption was they had no idea they were causing problems for others.

I thought it was a certain person, and finally said so. The guy immediately yelped, "It's not me!" To which I immediately replied, "Oh, sorry!"

Then the trainer guy says I'm "picking on" that person, who happens to be male. In fact, it is said I am picking on "men", that it is now "the girls against the boys" and that, because another female admitted she also had thought it was that same person (because he seemed to disappear from the call when the music came on), the trainer guy claimed we were ganging up on that guy.

Wha? Where did THAT come from?

How did this become a gender-based discussion?

Am I too insensitive? Or are they just too sensitive?

Meh. I am so sick of IT people. I want to belong to another group of professionals. The kind that doesn't use "irregardless" as a word without flinching.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fortunately, Unfortunately

I just wanna go home, hang out with my kid, before another growth spurt chases this incarnation away and she becomes a new person, again.

By the way, I'm in class all this week.

Fortunately, it's available online and I didn't have to chance catching H1N1 via mass transit travel.

Unfortunately, I have to sit here and listen to my speaker phone ALL.DAY.LONG.

Fortunately, there aren't any (major) technological glitches so far.

Unfortunately, not being able to whisper to the person sitting next to you, "Pssst, what page are we on?!" kinda sucks.

Fortunately, the instructor tells so many personal stories, I don't think it matters WHAT page we're on.

Unfortunately, there's nothing to stop me from playing Word Challenge on Facebook during lecture time, since he reads each slide anyway and I can listen to him just fine.

Fortunately, my Word Challenge skills are getting pretty hawt, baby.

Unfortunately, there's a test at the end of this training, and it's not on Word Challenge.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Memo From My Quads

To: gudnuff
RE: Bike ride on Sunday morning

WTH??? You never ask for anything, you sit at the kitchen table blogging, you sit in your car, you sit at your desk...and suddenly, you expect us to power you up hills on rough pavement with a major head wind, for a 25 mile bike ride? Are you serious??!?!!

Be advised you will be hearing more from us about this for the next several days. We may articulate our complaints into the evening hours, even if you are trying to sleep. In fact, we may end up screaming at you, unless you drown us out with Advil.

The next time Q has a sleepover, we highly recommend that you and Leo choose something other than a 25-mile road ride for your child-free activity. Or at least give us a little more heads-up. Go for some smaller warm-up rides a couple times in the week ahead. That way, we won't fail on the last major hills and Leo won't have to push you up the hill, riding beside you with his hand on your back, powering both of you up those hills.

Yes, we know that you had a crush on your own husband by the end of the ride. But really, you basically outsourced us. You'll be hearing from our union rep if that happens again.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Filler, filler, chicken killer...wha?

I don't have much to say at the moment. Leo is kvetching about my hours on the laptop ("You've been on that thing for what, four hours today? Are we gonna have to limit your laptop time? Hmmmm?"). Q is at a sleepover for the night, and Leo and I are stumbling around trying to think of what to do with ourselves without her. We are a bit askew.

I'm posting this because I don't want the previous post to be sitting at the top of my blog like it's important or something. So basically, this post is just filler. And I'm in a hurry. I have to get off the laptop and onto a bike to go for a ride with my husband before the sun sets to prove to him that "us" time is as important to me as blogging.

Marital contentment hinges on decisions like that.

Friday, May 1, 2009

CBS vs. Smothers Brothers

In a jury trial, if the jury blatantly hands out a wrong verdict, can the judge be the judge of whether the jury was nuts?

Let's say I shoot my husband dead and it's captured on video tape.

For some reason, the jury says I'm not guilty whatsoever.

Can the judge basically judge the jury's verdict as being just plain wrong? Just throw it out?

That's been on my mind ever since I watched Pioneers of Television recently and they were highlighting Variety Shows. Specifically, the half hour I watched was focused on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

In short, it was the 1970's and The Smothers Brothers kept pushing the envelope on what was "appropriate content", using satire to target racism, the President of the U.S., and the Vitenam War. Wikipedia does a much better job explaining all of the details if you're actually interested.

Well, CBS cancelled the show. The Smothers Brothers sued CBS for breach of contract.

Apparently there was language in the contract (or was there? this is the part that's unclear to me) about the tape getting to CBS by a certain time, and the Smothers Brothers were violating that part of the contract that stipulated that the tape was supposed to be delivered to CBS within a certain period of time. CBS needed time to censor/edit the tape before broadcast time.

So The Smothers Brothers sued. And they won!

I was shocked.

Apparently, so were the CBS lawyers.

Does anybody study this case in law school? Is this a famous case, or does it not rank as worthy of discussion? Just seemed to me to be a blatant abuse of power by the jury. Couldn't the judge say, hey jury, you're full of it, I'm throwing out your verdict 'cause obviously you're not paying attention whatsoever to what a contract is or what the language stipulated.

I thought I heard ('cause I remember being surprised) that just 'cause a jury says you're guilty or not guilty, that utlimately, that is just a recommendation that the judge does not have to base his ruling on. The judge can overrule a jury. Is that bs? Or is that possible?

What Other People Think

Q's solo performance in the school talent show went well. She sang "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" by Selena Gomez (who plays Alex on the Disney Channel's show Wizards of Waverly Place). One person (in my family) questioned the appropriateness of the song. -OK, he didn't question it so much as his eyes popped out and his jaw fell open in shock and disbelief.

Being a proud mama, I thought he was blown away by her talent.

Um...no, not so much.

He thought she was being a hoochimama. An 8-year-old hoochimama.

I wonder how many others (not in my family) shared this concern? (And so what if they did? I dunno...I'm in a weird place today. All paranoid-feeling and whatnot. Meh.)

I struggle to defend the song and Q's choice to sing it. As far as I can tell, it seems pretty basic: stop discouraging me, stop belittling my efforts, start taking me seriously. Well, it seems I'm not the only one with this interpretation. The folks at commonsensemedia.com seem to agree. Which actually made me feel a lot better.

I'm not going to embed the video. I don't like parts of it (okay, I don't like where Selena is singing to the camera through the legs of that other lady...seriously, what is the point of that? who came up with THAT idea?...). Because of those shots (and a few other fleeting poses here and there), the video walks that strange border between straightforward self-expression and the exploitation of the hyper-sexualization of young girls. (pretty fancy-pantsy, eh?) Or maybe it's just me.

What IS the hyper-sexualization of young girls, exactly? I'm trying to sound all edumacated and whatnot (are you buying it?), but that phrase has me perplexed, bemused and bewildered. It brings up images of Jon Benet Ramsey, of 3-year-old Beauty Queens with lipstick and hairspray and heels. THAT I understand as hyper-sexualization of girls. But what about adolescent girls like Selena? What about girls in their tweens? What is considered sexual and what is just basically fashionable?

Well, anyway, what do you guys think? Here are the lyrics.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where is Generation Z?

As April, my beloved birthday month, draws to a close, I am a year older and my tag needs to be renewed. But what I really want to talk about is:

Did you know Gen Xers are old enough to have kids, and did you know that Gen Yers are old enough to be out of college and working in an office where they are annoyed by Gen Xers having kids? According to Penelope Trunk (whom I seem to like a lot lately), "Here’s something Gen Y really hates: when Gen Xers bolt out the door early to deal with their kids."

Funny how the people most annoyed by kid-related-issues-interfering-with-work seem to be those people closest to being kids themselves. Until they get pregnant. Yeah. Cosmic justice, baby.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: Take Your Child To Work Day

The night before Take Your Child To Work Day (TYCTWD), I was on the phone with my very good friend from high school. I told her that Q would be going to my office with me the next day for TYCTWD. My friend said, "Oh, fun! Are you going to take her around and introduce her to everybody?"

Which brings up Misconception #1 about TYCTWD: This is the first time the child has visited the parent's workplace.

For about 80% or more of us working parents (I'm willing to bet), our kids have already been to our office, probably more than once. In Q's case, my sweet little one has been here more times than I can count. She knows where every candy dish is located in the building. She knows who is glad to see her and who isn't. I've had this job for over six years. Do you really imagine that there has never been a situation which required me to both be at the office AND watch my kid, simultaneously? There are "Teacher Planning Days", for example, which means the teachers work on that day, and the parents work on that day, but the kids do not attend class. So, what to do with the kid? What if you don't have someone who sits around waiting for this one day out of every three months to watch your kid for you while you go to work? What if you actually have work to do? At the office? Yeah...you take your kid to the office, where they annoy you and others, and you try your best to get through the day without screaming at them in front of your boss. Fun for all.

Misconception #2 about TYCTWD: The working parent is available to focus on the child's learning opportunities throughout the day.

The thing is, sometimes, in spite of blogging, complaining, pretending to care or pretending that you don't care, etc., most of us really do have certain job duties that we have to perform, nearly every day. And they aren't always things we can schedule as we'd prefer. The day I brought Q in for TYCTWD, I had a conference call scheduled for 1pm. What was I gonna tell the other six people on the call? Let's do this some other time 'cause I have to figure out how to keep my 8-year-old fully engaged or at least busy with work-related activities throughout the day? We have financially-determined deadlines that aren't going to change. So Mommy was on the phone. The call started at 1pm. The gabby guy didn't stop talking, mostly off-point, until after 3:30. Where was Q? Nestled on the couch in the main suite area, reading her assigned book for the week. Waste of her time? No. Mommy get her work done? Yes. Everybody happy? Yes (sure, why not, I guess so). Good use of TYCTWD? No.

Misconception #3: TYCTWD is the same as anytime child goes to parent's work.

TYCTWD did not "exist" for Q last year. Although, again, Q had been to my work several times last year, it was never for the official TYCTWD reason. In fact, the actual day of TYCTWD, I wondered why so many other parents had brought their children to the office. I felt like, well, crap, what did I miss? Did I not read a flyer (yet again!)? Well, no. I had missed nothing. Because nothing was sent home for Q, because last year, Q was in 2nd grade. Q's school only permits 3rd-5th grades to participate in TYCTWD. So this year was her first year officially partaking of this activity. It was a big deal to her. Because it was an official school assignment for her, and she was proud to be involved in it.

Misconception #4: All that down time made the day a joke and a waste of child's time.

This one's for me. This is the lesson I learned. There WERE opportunities for Q to learn. I taught her some things about how computers connect to the network. I made her setup her own laptop. I took her into the computer systems room and explained what would happen if I just happened to unplug this wire right here. Mommy's phone would start ringing. Do you know why Mommy's phone would start ringing? Because without me, they can't use email or get on the internet, etc. At which point, I was proud that she already had experience with her own gmail email account and knew her way around a laptop, etc. It meant something to her. And by the end of the day, I even had her finish the final touches on that computer in the empty office from earlier in the day. And she wrote a note on the whiteboard, letting the person know she could now do this neat thing on her computer that she'd been asking for. Whoopee. Yay. Q learned. She was involved. She had a sense of accomplishment. She is not jaded yet.

And then we went home. She wrote about it in school the next day. I found it interesting that the teacher/school does not do a public sharing of what each kid experienced. They just wrote quietly about their experience, and turned in the paper. Interesting. Only the teacher gets the benefit of the cumulative knowledge of what each participating student did at the respective workplaces. Not sure that that is the most effective use of TYCTWD, either.