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!