3.12.2014

last

Years and years ago I sat in this office.  Not this exact space but this exact building. I sat in this office and started a blog.  And I blogged and I blogged and I blogged and I did it mostly all on company time because when I started this blog I was pregnant and between pregnancy and child rearing there wasn't much time at home to sit on a computer and get much of anything done. 

Not for me at least.  I've never been able to manage multi-tasking technology with parenting.  If I'm doing one I'm doing very poorly with the other.  I've been guilty of doing poorly with both.  I think most of us have.  Parenting during this tech age is interesting.

Just like Southerners use the "God Bless" when they really mean the eff word I use interesting when I can't think of anything nice to say.

I used to write more.  Now things are so busy I can't sort out what to write and what to just let settle into nothingness.  Things seem so boring and hectic.  Life is pretty boring and hectic for most of us I think.

I started working for this company in October of 2001.  It wasn't what I wanted to do.  I took the job for the benefits.  I had slit my hand open a month before and that set me back financially.  I was waitressing and lost time from work.

I definitely didn't take it for the pay.  My first bi-weekly paycheck was less than I made in a typical weekend at the bar.  I cried all the way to the bank.  That's not a colloquialism, that's the God's honest truth.

The people I worked with were so bizarre.  They still are.
The people you work with are probably bizarre too.
Why can't everyone just be normal like us?

My first job here laid me off in less than a year but I never missed a day of work between jobs.  I went from being a case manager in a program serving people who were just getting out of homeless shelters to being an Intake Coordinator for a Welfare to Work program.  Both were field jobs, and I worked in people's homes.  The big difference was that the homeless people were living in houses and apartments that were up to a code specified for subsidized housing.  Welfare to Work folks just lived.  In houses more beautiful than mine and houses you'd never imagine held addresses outside of a third world country. A few years of doing the intake work and I was promoted to Supervisor.  An office job.  I held it for a couple years I guess.  Mostly because I got pregnant with Jacob and I didn't want to be out in the neighborhoods for all that.  I'll never supervise social workers again.  I'd rather have a caseload of clients than a caseload of high-needs workers plus their caseload of 25 or so clients.  And sitting at a desk is no good for me.  I'm not an office worker. I started this blog while I was an office worker. I needed something to do with all of my energy.  A week after returning from maternity leave with Jacob I was laid off from that program, but the very next day I reported for duty for the job I have now.  Today.  But not tomorrow.  I've been a Program Analyst for a City funded parenting program for nearly eight years.  It's my job to keep up on current research and Best Practices and be sure they are implemented in the field. It was a field job but I didn't have to work in houses.  I worked at social service agencies and schools and hospitals and health centers and libraries and shelters and rehabs and and and.  I have sat through thousands of hours of parenting classes and probably thousands more of continuing education courses.  I'm a Parenting Professional for another four and a half hours.  Then I'm not.  Just like that.  I'll just be a regular mom with a regular job.

Tomorrow I start a new job.  One that has nothing to do with anything I've ever done before.  One that has everything to do with what I wanted to do when I was fresh out of school.  Community and clinically based research.  I earned my graduate degree in 2001.  Everything I learned is probably obsolete.  But that's okay.  I'll learn again.

I might go back to school in a few years.  My new employer will pay for it all, that's part of the benefits package.  As long as I don't want to go to law school, medical school, or earn my MBA.  I don't want to do any of that.  I might not want to do anything at all.  And that will be okay.
I was raised to believe that University education is everything.  So I went and I went and I went and then when I was done I still felt like I wasn't good enough.  Thirteen years after being out of it I don't feel like University is everything, and sometimes it's nothing at all.
But the boys will go.
Because I believe that they will be better off with a degree.
And I'll be better off if they go where I work because it will all be free.
Unless they want to be medical doctors, lawyers, or earn their MBA.

I've learned more at work than I ever did at school.  We all do.
There is bound to be some major crossover into the new position even though it's something different.  I was hired for my work experience.  My specific work experience.
Not my education.
That made me feel good enough.

2.27.2014

work

You guys, I did it.  I got a new job.  A new job at a new place in a new field.

It's right downtown and across the street from the school where Jacob will attend grades 5-12 which is just two and a half short years away.  And near the subway.  And in a place where I already have a few friends working.

It's at a Major Philadelphia University.  With tuition reimbursement for me and my family and other benefits.
It involves real medical science.  With medical doctors. 
And flexibility. 
And room to grow.
And science.

I really need some hard science in my life after 15 years in soft science.  In a place where I'm done growing and in a place that's cutting back on the flexibility. A place that's changing and leaving people like me a little uneasy with the changes.

My new supervisor is a doctor and a mom and a genius and a really nice person and she's seen me on stage but at first she thought she recognized me because I look so much like Amy Adams.
I get that a lot.  People think I'm Amy Adams at least once or twice a week, especially if they are drunk.  If I wear makeup or comb my hair the people think I look like Isla Fisher.  It's really hard to tell those two apart.  If I ever get famous and need a movie made about me, I hope Isla plays me because she's the prettier twin.

She liked me on stage.  She thought I was smart and funny.  She thought my whole team was smart and funny.  I miss my whole team. I miss getting on stage. Soon that will change.  April at the latest.  But doing something completely different than I was doing before.  I've taken a Storytelling workshop and I have another one coming up in a little under two weeks and then I'm just going to do it.  Just going to get up there and do it because all the classes in the world won't get me ready as well as putting five or ten minutes of stagetime will do.  Just me up there on stage.  All by myself.

I'm coming out of my comfort zones. 

I'm not going to be the expert of anything at my new job.  No one will think I'm the best around.  No one will defer to me for the right answers.  I liked being a point person, for a time.  I'm over it.  I want to blend in a little bit more. I want to learn something instead of teach something.  Be monitored rather than monitor. 
But it's scary.  Good scary.

The boys are just fine.  Nicholas is walking all over the place and starting to talk.  Milk, book, horse, clock, dog, cookie, cheese, hi, bye, mama, dada, Jacob, light, eat. Not that you'd be able to recognize many of those words but I can.  He does cute animal imitations like flapping his arms and saying "twee twee" when you ask him what a bird does and making his arm like a trunk and spitting all over the place when you say elephant.
Jacob earned his yellow belt in judo recently and will start competing soon.  School is as good as second grade can be when you just aren't in love with your teacher and some of the kids are real jerks.

The good thing about teachers is that you only have them for one year.  Unless you are me.  I had the same man for four years of elementary school.  Sometimes he was just my math or science teacher but he was always in my life.  He was the angriest person I have ever met, and I have seen anger many many many times.  I see him on Facebook and he's a Christian now, which I guess is supposed to make everything all better.  He was scary and cruel except when he wasn't.  Then he was wonderful. 
I'm not comfortable with people like that no matter how wonderful they are when they are wonderful.  No matter how much Jesus is in their hearts thirty years later.
The bad thing about teachers is that you only have them for a year.  I'm sure I had some good teachers but no one that stands out anymore. Some that I liked more than others, sure.  But no one that totally blew me out of the water.

Holy crap I can't believe I have a new job lined up.  A research job at a University.  This is like my big girl job.  I can't wait. 

1.31.2014

new year

Every day my guts say "write!" but my schedule and my motivation say "just kidding!".

Work is steady, but who knows for how long. Through June for sure.  Through December maybe.  Through June 2015 hopefully.  This isn't a new thing for me, I wish we would just know how long this grant will last.  I have so many irons in the fire right now and I know I need to sit down and pull some out.  My biggest fears remain the same.
1) Financial ruin
2) No healthcare

Money come, money go. Sometime fast, sometime slow. I'm not a proud person and I don't mind waiting tables.  In fact, I prefer waiting tables to anything else I've ever done.
I always said that when the Affordable Health Care Act is up and running I'm going to run right along with it and start doing what I love.  Unfortunately for me I need to find something that I love which pays about what I'm making doing what I do now.  I enjoy my work but I've been due for a change for years now.  Pregnancy and its resulting baby put a monkey in that wrench these past two years but we've hit that sweet spot where Jacob is willing and able to do a whole lot for himself and he loves school and Nicholas is little enough to not know he's not getting picked up earlyish and big enough to keep himself entertained until I get there.

There are so many things that I worry about that are clearly vestiges of the person I was thirty years ago.  The child I was. No one is going to be forced to move from house to house to house. There will always be food in the kitchen. No one is going to be punished for eating too much of the food. No one will have to worry about clean clothes that fit well. No one is going to forget to pick up my children. 

I won't have to move from house to house to house.
I will always make sure there will be food in the kitchen.
I won't be punished for eating too much food.
I won't have dirty clothes or clothes that don't fit well.
I won't forget to pick up my children.
They won't be a nuisance to the caregiver that was supposed to go home a half hour ago.
They will be fed and clothed and loved and sheltered and gathered because I am the one responsible for those things.

If only I can summon bravery, I'll be all set.

Dave and I have a few ideas.  A plan that may be set into motion.  It will take time and guts and money and energy and blood and tears and sweat.  And a good amount of blind faith.  We'll see. 

***

Ugh, how about that Affordable Health Care Act, right guys?  Right?

On my end of things I've only seen people benefit from it.  Anyone who "lost their benefits" will actually be benefiting from the new benefits. And that's quite beneficial for them.  If I turn on the news I will hear that this isn't the case everywhere.  If I turn the channel, I will hear that this is the case everywhere. I don't turn on the television very often due to this phenomenon.

Of course in my field we are all very pro-AHC but I work closely with several people/agencies of faith and some of them are totally hung up on this birth control thing. 

My argument is two-fold.
1) So you're saying that you can't trust your co-workers, employees, and their dependents to uphold the virtues and values that you hold true, or you're saying that you can't accept people making decisions that you wouldn't make for yourself?  Because I'm a little hung up on that one. You do you boo. Don't worry about everyone else. 
2) You don't think that God is stronger than birth control? Because I know what happens when you put Vaseline on a condom and I'm assuming that God is at least stronger than Vaseline.  So what's the difference?

I do understand that people don't want to pay for anything that goes against their value system.  I speak with my wallet.
I don't shop at Wal*Mart.  But that doesn't mean that I think that Wal*Mart shouldn't exist because I know that Wal*Mart fills a need in our society.  What is that need?  I don't know.  But sometimes I duck in there because I really need some sunscreen whilst in Florida and if you've ever been to Florida you know that there aren't many options outside of the local Wal*Mart.  There is seriously like one Wal*Mart for every seven Floridians.  I hear it's like that in other parts of the country too. 

Some of my tax dollars go to programs that I don't agree with.  But I still pay my taxes because those programs employ people (yay employment!) and there is bound to be someone whose life is made just a little bit better by that program.  Even if I think it's stupid or enabling or ineffective or goes against Best Practices or whatever.  Because I stand by the belief that we all need to make a few compromises to serve the greater good. 

I don't compromise my morals and values, but sometimes I compromise my dollars.

***

I've been doing well.  The kids are doing well.  Jacob got straight As again this quarter and is reading a grade and a half above grade level and will soon be testing for a yellow belt in judo.  That's good news.  Nicholas is finally being moved from the infant room to the toddler room at daycare.  He's 14 months old and walking but not talking.  Or sleeping much.  Sometimes he hits other people.  With his hands.

I haven't been onstage in three months but that will change soon.  Our now-defunct improv troupe won Best Improv Group in the Philadelphia comedy awards again this year.  I wasn't there to accept the award because I never thought in a million years that lightening would strike there twice and I had something else to do that night.  Shame on me. 
I'm done with improv and moving on to Storytelling.  I'll do a workshop in a couple weeks and another one in March and I hope to hit up a couple shows in the meantime and by April I want to be on the bill of some show, some where.  I think that's do-able. 

I'm excited and nervous. 
I feel those feelings behind my shoulder blades and in the nape of my neck.

12.23.2013

Eve Eve.

Christmastime without Santa is proving to be quite liberating for us all.

Jacob, who knows for certain this year, unlike every other year when he just couldn't quite sort it all out logically except for the days between Thanksgiving and New Years when he was afraid not to believe, is absolutely tickled with his little truth.  He loves listening to his friends talk about Santa and thinks it great fun to play along.  I wonder how many of them are playing along too.  Especially ones with littler kids in the house.  Jake can't wait until next year, when he can play Santa for Nicholas.  I might ask Jacob to put Nick's gifts under the tree tomorrow night.

Jacob knows the presents are in the house, in my room.  The entire front of the house has never been such sacred ground.  I've never gotten so much privacy in my whole life, he's very respectful of the doorjamb and wouldn't dare stick a toe past the threshold.

The tree is up, lights are on.  No ornaments.  I think we might skip them this year, especially with Nicholas.  Ornaments are a cause of stress for me anyway.  They are always so uneven and so mismatched and so precariously perched.  I like a lighted and otherwise bare tree, and haven't had one in years.  Maybe we'll make (another) paper chain and string that around. Probably not, with all the baking that has yet to begin.

I make amazing cookies.  I cut the sugar by at least one-third and substitute whiskey for vanilla extract.  I keep meaning to make vanilla infused-whiskey and I even have a vanilla bean for that exact purpose but it never happens.  Maybe I'll make vanilla bourbon for New Years and invent some sort of vanilla Manhattan.  That sounds good.  Right now.  At 9 am.

Nicholas is starting to be a real human boy these days.  Still not walking, although he's perfectly capable.  He prefers to crawl or walk on his knees, and they are turning into leather.  Words aren't really his thing, though he has a version of clock, cookie, kitty, Jacob and maybe a few other things. Mama is used for complaining and Dad is used when happy.  Of course. Those are all of Jacob's first words too.  Funny how they are the same and different. Nick keeps doing the Itsy Bitsy Spider fingers thing and is thrilled when other people know what he's doing.  Pretty soon he'll be out of the baby room at daycare and into the toddler room.  I have no doubt a few habits will be picked up.  And broken.  Like hitting.

I don't know if Jake hit, and his daycare lady would have never told me if he did because things like that weren't an issue, they just were and they were dealt with and that was that.  Nick's daycare doesn't seem to mind, and they do what I do when he does it- put him in the playpen without toys for a minute- so I don't really take issue with any of what they are doing.

In-home daycare and daycare center daycare are two very different animals.

I have a lot of things going on in my personal life, all good things. I'm gearing myself up for a career change.  FOR REAL THIS TIME.  I love what I do, but I'm afraid the money isn't going to be there in the next year or two.  After I finish this post, I'm going to take a good strong look at my resume.  I'm starting my own side business.  I'm calling it Liberty Studio.  There will be Reiki Healing and Crystal Healing and something that I'm calling Holistic Coaching because I hate the words Parent Coaching and Life Coaching and workshops and classes and it's going to take awhile to get it up and running but I'm having fun with the process and hoping for at least a small clientele base in the new year.

I just typed "caseload" up there.  See?  I need to get away from this field.  I'm starting to get jaded and exhausted.

I don't do well when I'm tired.

12.06.2013

week.

Winter is here.  You know how I know?  Because I'm wearing the same exact thing I wore yesterday.  To work.  And I slept in it.  My teeth are brushed and my underwear and socks have been swapped out, but everything else is the same. It's just not warm enough in the mornings to motivate change or showering or much of anything else. 

It's not even particularly cold outside, I think we're up near 60 all week long.  But I'm still wearing my giant sleeping bag coat that's rated to -20 degrees.  I'll never understand what that means considering that I'm freezing in it when it drops below 40.  I think I have an internal regulating problem.  The problem is me, not the coat.

Thanksgiving came and went, we spent it at home in our pajamas. No friends or family to help us eat down the turkey.  December is for friends and family.  Thanksgiving is for bulking up a bit to fill in the winter clothes.  The turkey is all but gone (or frozen into stock) and the sides have all been eaten.  The fridge is just about empty.  Pies were store-bought this year since no one came over to judge.

Cherry, blueberry and pumpkin.  All long gone.

Nicholas' birthday passed without much event either, though we'll be having a cake for him when we do our annual giant holiday party.  He won't know the difference, and it will be nice to have everyone present and accounted for.  Jacob cried on his first birthday and hated the cake.  Nicholas was a little scared of the candle and the singing but ate every crumb of his cupcake.  Nicholas is an eater.  He's up near the 100th percentile in height and around the 80th for his weight.  He's a big boy.  He eats more than Jacob most nights at dinner.  And Jacob can really put it down.

***

All that up there was from yesterday (Tuesday) morning.  Something must have happened and I hit save and never got around to finishing the post so I'll try again today.

This morning was better.  I showered.  But I didn't get coffee.  No worries, I thought.  I can make it a day without coffee.

So I got into work and I sat down at my desk and I turned on my computer and I reached over my shoulder and tried to find the seatbelt and for some reason I couldn't grab it so I got for reals angry and I reached back with my other hand and said (aloud) what the heck? and then I realized that my desk chair doesn't come with a safety strap.

And then I got a cup of coffee.  Work coffee.  Dranken for medicinal purposes only.  It was left over from yesterday, punishment for being one of the first ones into the office most days.  On a good day it's the worst cup of coffee you'll have all month.

I forgot my planner at home.  I'm a paper and pencil sort, and I just can't function using outlook or google calendar or whatever kids use these days.  I know where I'm supposed to be this afternoon, but I am thinking of cancelling because the weather is nicer than expected and I'm scheduled to be in a (bad) high school and I'd be getting out with the kids and it's a long walk to the subway and the bus up there never comes and the last thing I want to deal with is all that.

I know that's not the attitude I'm supposed to have.

I forgot my planner at home because there was a meeting of the newly-formed Melrose Civic Association.  That's my neighborhood, now it has a name and a Civic Association.  Dave and I and our friends Frank and his wife Andrea started it a couple months ago and we meet in the Public Library on the first Tuesday of the month.  We've got a few of the neighborhood businesses heavily involved and a good group of concerned neighbors coming out so it's a nice thing to be spearheading.

I get to head up the Greening Committee.  Trees for everyone!
And something else, but I forget now.  I have it written down somewhere.
A lot of people from South Philly hate trees.  Because "they bring the rats".  Or squirrels.  Squirrels is what we call them once we are north of Washington Avenue.  And they create yardwork.  Sweeping fifteen square feet of sidewalk in front of your house is really hard for some people.

***

And that up there is from Wednesday morning and something must have happened and then Wednesday happened and now here it is Friday.  I just accidentally typed Tuesday and Thursday up there because I don't remember what day it is ever.  I've had coffee this morning, but the first pot I made had no coffee in the basket so I just made a pot of hot water but that was easily remedied because it was 5am and I didn't have to leave the house for two and a half hours.  Nicholas sees fit to wake up any old time he feels like it.
I still didn't get a chance to shower this morning.  But I changed my clothes. 
All of them.

I'm so tired.  Everyone everywhere is so tired, so I won't complain about it.

Dave and I went out for a couple drinks the other night and ended up getting a deal from hotels.com on a schmancy room that we bought for sleeping purposes.  An expensive nap.  We made the decision to have drinks instead of going to a movie because I "didn't want to pay for a nap".  Well.

I don't do well in theaters.  That's a lot of sitting down for a long time and it's loud and it's cold and I hate the smell of popcorn.

I do very well in fancy hotels, once I've scanned the room for bedbugs.

I scan for bedbugs everywhere I go.
I'm scanning for bedbugs right now.

11.27.2013

Wednesday

Some time ago- a week a month a day, I have no idea because my time compass is off- I was sitting in a room full of reasonably intelligent people pretending to do the Sudoku but really listening to their conversation.  It was about the LAX shooting and then drifted to the DC Naval Yard shooting that happened awhile back.  But they didn't say LAX or DC, they just said "the shootings at the airport and the naval yard".  And how scary that is that something like that could  happen so close to home and how one lady's son works as a screener at the airport and that could have been him getting shot and another woman's husband works down in the naval yard and oh my god!

They didn't realize that these things didn't happen at the Philadelphia Airport and the Philadelphia Naval Yard.  I piped up when I caught on that they thought this happened in their own town. If you listen to the news with half an ear, every single story is SO IMMINENT!! and SO LOCAL!! and CREATES A THREAT RIGHT HERE IN OUR OWN BACKYARD!! And who has the time or the attention span to listen to the news with two ears anymore?  Remember back when if  you didn't get home by five or if you couldn't stay up until 11 you just didn't get the news for the day?  And everyone managed to survive not knowing what happened in all the obscure corners of the world?

Remember that Mr. Rogers quote that went around after 9/11 about looking for the helpers in the background?  The pictures on the news are shot close-range and high-def and there is no room for helpers.  They are cropped out of the shots. We aren't watching the helpers anymore, so they've just cut them out.

The other morning there was a story on our local news about a woman who lost control of her car and ended up in the river and she and her 46 children all died by drowning right there in the river despite efforts to recover the car (it may not have been 46 children and maybe everyone didn't die and every time someone drowns in the river all I can think is: Great.  Now tiny pieces of those people are going to end up in my drinking water).  But it didn't happen here.  It happened in Minnesota.  Or Michigan.  Or somewhere with an M that doesn't even effing matter because I don't know her and that's not even news, that's just a god damned unfortunate story and at no time ever did they make it clear that it didn't happen in one of our rivers and I thought it did until I went to work and saw the national headlines.

Everything bad that happens in the world is so viral and the people spreading it feed on the fact that our brains work to make everything relevant and local and it's making us all so hyper aware and hyper vigilant and hyper paranoid and reclusive and full of suspicion and mistrust and ill will and caution and all sorts of other nasty things.


This Knock Out game thing that is scaring the pants off good citizens everywhere is making life unpleasant.  Old people and white people are all jumpy.  I almost got sucker punched by an extremely well-dressed and slightly built young man in his twenties yesterday when we both rounded a corner at the same time down there near the bus station.  He was on guard and we nearly crashed nose to nose and he raised a fist before realizing that I'm probably the least threatening person he will see all day and then he apologized and then we laughed and wished each other Happy Thanksgiving and went our ways.

I love the days before Thanksgiving when we can just wish each other Happy Thanksgiving and we don't have to worry about political correctness.  We don't get that treat again until December 26th when we can shift right to Happy New Year.

I'm not afraid of getting knocked out even though I'm the whitest girl ever traveling through not-white neighborhoods most days per week.  Most people don't get knocked out.  Billions and billions of Americans don't get knocked out every single day.  One or two might possibly get randomly punched.  That's pretty good odds.

This year I'm thankful for good odds, for having the sense to know that we are safer than the media wants us to we think we are, and for the ability to surround myself with the helpers in the background.