Friday, January 30, 2009

Are you a soap smeller?

I was remarking (and when I say remarking I mean complaining) to someone in the ladies' today that the soap dispenser wasn't working right. And then I chattered on way too long blah blah about how isn't it amazing how these little things make a surprising impact on your day, like if the soap dispenser in the ladies' isn't working blah blah (don't worry there's one of three dispensers that work so I can still wash my hands and keep my public health degree, yay).

And she was all, yes you are weird to let a soap dispenser affect your day, loser, but do you ever smell the soap after you put it on your hands?

And I was all, what?

And she was all, the soap. I put it on my hands (ed. note: from the ONE SOAP DISPENSER THAT WORKS) and then I smell it. Every time. Do you?

And I'm all, no.

But I figure this is like a THING. Like you do it or you don't. Go on, tell me. Do you smell the soap?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bread and the meaning of life

I baked bread yesterday, filled with fantasies that I would do it ALL THE TIME if I didn't have to bother with this pesky employment hoo-ha. Which reminded me of my karate instructor Larry, who is AWESOME, who told me that some famous thinker type said that if you bake bread every day for ten years you will understand the meaning of life.

And I was all, wha....?

But then I haven't forgotten it since, OF COURSE. I'm determined. Once I have the meaning of life, I can SELL it to a pharmaceutical company. And then quit my job and sit aroung all day counting my piles of gold coins. Right?

After baking bread every so often for a few years, here's what I have in my half-assed pursuit of the meaning of life, which I do on and off until I see an interesting bug crossing the sidewalk, and then I do that instead.

I think there's something in there about practice. Doing something every day you must get pretty good at it, no? Sticking with something and such. I'm not NECESSARILY the great authority on this particular topic.

And something about actually doing it. Because it turns out that me thinking that I will make bread does not actually produce a loaf of bread, despite my vivid imagination.

And something about staying attentive to the process without needing to control it. Because yesterday I forgot that my bread was rising and it went like an extra hour. Ooops! (Guess what? Didn't matter.)

But also something about mistakes. Because seriously? Homemade bread is pretty good, even the ooopses. It's all good. And for the real disasters, there is always French toast.

And then there's something about fellowship, because where would I be if I kept all of my flawed bread to myself? Headachey, thirsty, tired and full of guilt, that's what. But shared with people? The best. And they love it! And they adore you, just for a moment! She makes bread.

And I think there is also something about the physical stuff. Being present and letting yourself be soothed by a mindless task. Kneading bread by hand? The best.

And there is probably some deep lesson in cleaning up the slimy dough and flour afterwards, but I'm not there yet. Maybe something about cleaning up as you go.

And I'm probably missing the point entirely. Of life. Look, a bug!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The burn unit I'm not walking around

When I was a student a million years ago in North Carolina, I worked in a hospital. I also failed one of the questions on my comprehensive exam for my master's program and had to retake it. Oh! The humiliation! You may know I have a bit of a flair for the angst, so I was angsting all to some random coworker, and in what I'm now sure was an effort to shut me up she said, whenever I start to feel like that I just go take a walk around the burn unit.

Her point was that it could always be worse, etc. Absolutely right. But I just couldn't help thinking of those people in the burn unit, lying there so everyone else would feel better.

I'm not going to lie, life is hard these days. It's this work thing, and this mommy thing that is singing so loud and clear to my little heart and the work thing is just sort of burping a little money into my checking account and skipping over my heart entirely. And that's a bunch of crap, that burn unit thing, eh? Life is hard, it's hard. I'm high-functioning and thankful, yes. It could be worse, yes. I'm blessed beyond measure that I can even SAY it's hard, that I'm safe enough to do so. Heaven knows that hasn't always been the case. But that doesn't really make it not hard, and--more importantly--doesn't solve the question about what I do about this blog while it's hard. Do I go all histrionic and complainy? Do I take a hiatus? Do I get all comedienney? Just post photos of our new president?


[I tried to illustrate the daily heartbreak I experience by posting a video of Hugo saying no bye bye mama. Not. Not. after counting to five! And saying Obama! And Mama Obama! It didn't work. It was cute though. Gosh, he's cute.]

Oh well, how about some observations of office life, since I've been putzing around universities for the last five years? Like how baby carrots for lunch are just as popular as they were the last time I was employed. And how microwaving plastic grosses me out and lunch meetings gross me out on many levels--not least because they are not really lunch breaks at all, but MEETINGS, and then I have to deal with the baby carrot and microwaved plastic eaters. It was all thanks to that patient I worked with who had very serious cancer and swore up and down it was because she had microwaved plastic for years.

On the good side, intranets with photo staff directories and links to where each person sits? Awesome. Starbucks debit card thingies? Awesome.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President and Mrs Obama usher in new era for Nora's pants

Well, didn't I just spend the morning indulging wasteful pie-in-sky fantasies of hope and change (not to mention my patriotic streak). Mmmmm, yum. Yes, the inauguration was lurvely. We spent the morning watching the festivities on Pacific time. We were all, look, Hugo, that is our guy! And he was all, this guy! Red tie! And though his language is not quite there, I'm pretty sure he was all, get over it mom. White presidents are so turn of the century. It's no big deal, okay? Now about this green play dough.

You can read about it all over the WORLD. How AMAZING it is, how amazing WE are, that we have elected this person to serve at this moment in history. We get an A+ for all that, and the world seems to know it. Blah blah.

But here is the only place you can read about another milestone that happened today. And that is that I figured out how to wear a *!& belt.

I rarely feel called to blog about my body, because embarrassing! boring! But in my real life, my BRICK AND MORTAR life, I have been having a little issue with my pants lately. Something about post-childbirth changes or The Way They Make Jeans Now or something. I try not to look too closely. It's just all very odd, but I can't seem to get my jeans to stay on. The two-belt-loop hitch-up has become such a part of my life that I had gotten kind of used to it. But it really has been a little stupid lately. Sledding and cold air and snow getting where it shouldn't and such--a cue to action.

So there's me getting all Jeff I have to DO something, my pants won't stay on. And he's all, why don't you get a belt? And I'm all, what? And he's all, a belt. And so yesterday, while honoring Dr King through a day of service IN MY HEAD I actually took Hugo to the MALL (why I put myself through these trips to the mall I will never know) and of course it took me like four laps around the department store to find the belts because what is a belt anyway? And I finally picked one out, sure that this was NO WAY the answer to my problems. The answer was surely more COMPLICATED and likely involved me having to quit my job (yay!) and become a jeans designer.

But guess what? I wore it today for the first time, and it worked. My pants, they stay on. I'm brilliant. So I figure it is all related to the new era of responsibility and our First Lady who is taking the fashion world by storm. And how was I going to get busy with my part of remaking America if I couldn't keep my pants on? I ask you? Not very well, that's the answer. So now I'm ready.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nora says stupid thing, Chapter 896

So there's this woman at my job, she's one of my mentors--she is pretty intimidating, like maybe she has a lot of brothers or something. She works really hard and is pretty much always in control of any situation. I really don't know her very well, but I'm pretty sure she could beat me at just about anything, including thumb wrestling.

And there's me, in the midst of an actually serious and real-life crisis this is NOT the first day of the rest of my life I cannot do this job. Inappropriately falling back on humor as usual ha ha. It's 4:30 on Friday what am I still doing here hasn't anyone left yet? And my 3:30 meeting has just ended and I print a grant out that will be good "background" for me to continue to miserablize myself with even more work and I run into her at the printer. And I'm all, see I printed it out (it is worth noting here that I did NOT promise to read it over the weekend, but was a cheap way to look like a TEAM PLAYER whose biggest weakness is that she WORKS TOO MUCH.) Anyway, I'm all, I printed it! Do I get a gold star? And she's all, yes, but I never got gold stars as a child for having a clean room and my sister always got lots of gold stars. And I'm all, ha ha, have a nice weekend.

And she's all, and now I don't tolerate mess in the house and my husband wishes I was more like my childhood messy room self.

And I'm all--you know, to the person who is practically my BOSS, who I don't KNOW very well, who may actually be my exact opposite, and who has never before experienced my pathetic attempts at sparkling wit--I'm all, that sounds like one for the therapist.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Whiny Princess McWhinypants

Not once but TWICE! I have written big things in the last few days and then deleted them by accident. This working crap is not good for my constitution, not in the least. See? I said I would faint.

First this nice young man who is in love with my cat asks me to write down my STORY, because he is thinking of going to PhD school himself. And I'm flattered to pieces so I take all this time writing down my JOURNEY to graduate school and how it FELT and how I had so much ANGST and wanted the whole job thing to be so RIGHT and the answer to EVERYTHING like inner peace, loneliness, sexism, you name it. Then I LET IT ALL GO and decided I would have a GOOD LIFE no matter what even (especially) as a spinster cat lady and it was all COOL and then oop there came a fellowship so I went for it because who wouldn't want to live in Seattle for awhile? Kind of like an ADVENTURE and less like a CAREER move, which is biting me in the *ss a little bit now since apparently research PhD's are like some kind of national resource and the Federal gubmint actually tracks us like for LIFE and oh hai taxpayerz thnx fer payin fer mah skool. Obligation, giving back, blah blah. How about I give back in the form of the awesomest kid on EARTH? And make those taxpayers (or maybe a small table of their representatives? Like the Obama family?) some SOUP?

So I wrote the tome, my MEMOIR, which I'm sure he would have recieved uncomfortably with the too much information effect I seem to have on men as though I had offered to show my stretch marks or something--but I WROTE IT--and then in some fit of rushing away from my computer to soothe a waking baby hit "DISCARD" instead of "SAVE" and now it is gone forever into gmail heaven with all the other deleted emails. Prolly did him a favor but still. Crap.

And THEN I wrote this other thing, for bah bah WORK, all these thoughtful edits and deletions of the word utilize--THAT is a public service indeed-- and spent the whole afternoon on it--and let me just say that there is no evidence that my workplace is of the slacking off variety! Wha..?--and then I saved it and closed it and was about to email it back to the sender then uh oh I realized that I had been editing the thing right from the email and not from the properly saveable location so it was (as Hugo says) all gone! Bye bye!

And this is all not to be (too) whiny but mostly to say that I think all these deleted works are a SIGN that I am not meant to be doing any writing except in my blog and for that I should receive lots of money, adoration, and grapes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What are you doing for the inauguration?

The cashier in the grocery store today--the only adult I have spoken to all day besides Jeff--said she is hard at work planning her inauguration brunch. Trust me to have my head in the sand until a day before and start tuning in around noon, but thankfully she told me that our great Michelle Obama's lovely husband will be sworn in at 8:30 am Pacific time on the 20th. She's all, I think everyone is taking the day off. Everyone I invited has asked to bring someone. (It is not worth mentioning, but I will, that she did NOT invite me.)

And I probably couldn't take the day off anyway, what with my new job and not having EARNED enough time off yet. However, I could probably cash in on some of the FLEXIBILITY I have and come in late. Bake a coffee cake, slurp some extra coffee, blubber like idiot etc. How does it work? He gets sworn in at 8:30 and then goes right to the podium? I'm getting a little choked up thinking about it.

I think I was actually living in DC when GWB was inaugurated and I think there was some kerfuffle about a few people trying to go to the Mall to watch, but mostly I think I just had a normal day. It's all fuzzy. But this one? THIS? Must watch. It's all historic and stuff, yes, but this man can give a SPEECH, people.

And watch, because Michelle is probably--and I really think this is quite likely--going to hold up a sign saying Nora, we need you in the White House to co-head the Work/Family Balance Sucks In America And Universal Health Care Would Take Care of A Lot of The Suckiness Initiave, but only two days a week so you can be with your family and write your blog. Hurry!

So how will your routine be different on January 20? Or not?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

There she goes again with the baking fantasies

Not like anyone writes checks anymore, ha ha, but I did actually get the date right on the one I wrote this week. I think this means I am OLD but not yet beginning the decline. Happy 2009!

Since I was here last I had a nice vacation to the mountains, snow! Blizzard! Sledding! and then my dad had emergency surgery on Christmas Day, and me being the worst daughter on earth talked to them early in the morning Merry Christmas love you bye and then pranced back into my no-cell-phone-bars vacation hideaway and didn't get the call that my family had all spent the night in the ER and hospital transfer in an ambulance and everything being good and loyal family members without any word from me, The One Who Knows About Medical Things. (He should make a full recovery.)

And then there was more snow and more flights and oh! We met this family in SeaTac airport who had been there snowed in for four days with two boys, you know back when Seattle shut down because we don't know what snow is and have no trucks. So they went out to the parking lot and built snowmen and played video games in the USO lounge until the Red Cross brought them toys and one of them grabbed a big fancy toy garbage truck and then Hugo found him because of the garbage truck radar he has and they all played happily and got on our plane with us.

But then I got all woo-woo, which is really not so hard for me to do but sometimes I can get caught up in peanut butter sandwiches and diapers and such and so get a break from all that crap but up there in the mountains it hit me kind of hard so I was all look, an eagle, it's a sign, and look, I'm snooping in my in-laws' bookshelf and here's a book I think it's a SIGN meant JUST FOR ME. And then I made Jeff all you know DEAL with my woo-woo and made him read the silly marriage book and then he went and built a robot with his uncle and his uncle gave me more hugs than he's ever given me in his life so I think they all think I am GOING THROUGH SOMETHING probably because of my father and my new job but they all also think I'm a good mother so I'll take it. And then Hugo got his very own enormous green garbage truck from great-grandma with a mechanical dumping thingy and a GUY who doesn't really fit in the cab and it was all very exciting except we had to ship it back instead of carry it. It was THAT big.

And then we got back and I started my FULL TIME JOB this week, what is up with that? How do you people do it, this working thing? I used to, back when I just had myself to worry about a million years ago. I LIKED it, I THRIVED. But heavens! I am no longer cut out for this. I know I wrote a dissertation and all but that was playtime. And this is a pansy job, in the grand scheme. It's still technically training, and lots of working from home and flexibility and such. But I may still faint.

So back in the woo-woo now, baking fantasies coming on strong. And kind of tired. I know, I know, TRANSITION, give it time, blah blah. I had the uh-oh feeling at a first day of a job once, and this wasn't like that, except it kind of was. I'm determined to make it till the first paycheck because hi ho that's what it's really all about, no? So ask me again when I'm rolling in a (small) pile of $100 bills--my eyes will have turned to dollar signs and I'll be making the ching ching sound (do cash registers still make that sound?) I'll be all working is the best thing ever. Baking fantasies are for pansies! Now someone go bake me a scone and I will throw some cash at you! Be gone!