Sunday, April 26, 2009

There she goes again with the work thing

I am reflecting about gender and work. Partly because of my own career angst (it is starting to bore even me, by the way) and partly because of the very cool series of interviews at Motherscribe, in which I participated and then read everyone else's answers to the ones I was too chicken to answer, like about sex and stuff. I know. But it's very cool, these interviews that JCK is doing. Thought provoking.

I'm remembering how I heard on some radio thingy how when men negotiate for jobs they demand more money, and country club memberships and season tickets and such, but women negotiate for like laptops and home internet so they can actually work more.

And then there was my friend's boyfriend (now husband) who was laid off and would only apply for jobs that would be a promotion from the last one. This guy was not someone who I would think would be Mr. Hardball Negotiator, but guess what? It worked! He was unemployed for almost a year and then got a job as a director of a whole thingy. He just thought that's what he deserved--imagine!

And then there are my graduate school friends who are off doing Big Fancy Jobs now, and here's me turning down all kinds of things like that, well not really, just sort of not pursuing things at that level. The "all kinds of things" that I am turning down are things for which I am overqualified, things that I'm offered mostly because I'm selling myself at bargain basement prices. Because of that silly invisibility thing I have--you know, work makes me visible and real and is therefore a privilege and bah bah we don't talk about pay here. It is rather silly.

And then I'm thinking about what it would be like if I was a man negotiating for a few years or more of part time work so I could be with my family. And how probably no one would blink if I demanded a huge increase in my base salary so I could do less work for almost the same money--and how everyone might think it was SO SWEET and STRONG and such a SUPPORTIVE spouse instead of thinking I had fallen off the career wagon or gone SOFT you know the HORMONES. (I have no evidence that anyone actually thinks this about me, I should say, but in my HEAD there is SOMEONE who does.) And of course--this is the Big Thing--no one would doubt I would be able to easily return to full time work when the time was right. No one would say things like you are making some REALLY IMPORTANT choices here, Nora. You are at a real FORK IN THE ROAD.

That's pretty much it. That's what I'm thinking about tonight. There you have it, my thinly disguised sexism is now out in the open.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who knew?

Seriously, you'd think I don't ever talk to anyone except in the grocery store. My life--charmingly real or hopelessly loser-ish? You decide. No, I will. But I digress.

So yet another post that begins, so I'm talking to the cashier in the grocery store. She's one of my FAVORITES. She is always excited to see Hugo, though I'm pretty sure she doesn't remember his name because she always says, hi, guy! And that's totally cool with me because she is great. Anyway, she was all, he's gotten so big! And he's all, I'm TWO! I'm going to the BEACH! And she's all, this is my fifth year here and I never knew that part of my job would be watching kids grow up. And I'm all, yes, I remember you from when I was big and pregnant. She totally didn't, but she was polite. And I'm all, I was sort of a pain at the end there, I always asked for help out to the car with my groceries.

And then I see the guy that used to help me out to the car. You know, the ones that bring in the carts and help pregnant ladies with their bags? Wearing a reflecty neon vest for the whole shift because they spend so much time in the parking lot? And I'm all, ha ha me and that guy were buddies there for awhile. And she's all, oh him? Did you know he's a multi-millionaire?

So apparently this guy made a ton of money in manufacturing or some such, and then he retired, and then was widowed, so came to work taking groceries out. He even tried to quit for awhile and go be a man of leisure in the southwest with the golfing and whatnot but that didn't last long, and now he's back. He takes good care of us, she's all. We need him and he needs us.

I'm just so in love with this story. This is, like, a STORY, you know? Someone should write about it. Maybe I should have been a reporter, the end.

Monday, April 13, 2009

MWF, 35, seeks local friend

I've had this post brewing for weeks, months even. But it's not gelling so I'll just say what it was going to be and be done with it. The idea was to put a personals-like ad up for a friend. Isn't that clever? I was going to be all, I'm so friendable and such but now I work mostly from home and take care of my baby and my really good friends are all far away and I need a new one bah. Bah. Bah. But it was a trick to appear like good friend material without appearing NEEDY. Or like a LOSER.

And then I was all, what do I want in a friend? Who would I even advertise for? Someone who lives nearby, yes, that would be great. That is The Thing, really. Someone with children, maybe--just for scheduling ease and general life-phase sharing. But then she would be all distracted and my gorgeous son might not be the center of her world. Imagine! Someone whose partner works late like mine does, who can share the deceptively slow 4-8pm window. Communal toddler-friendly dinner once a week? Someone whose partner is into hanging out with my nerdy husband once in awhile (did I mention he's building a robot in the basement? And that he's a musician?).

Someone who can somehow not make my parenting angst worse. Someone who can walk onto the playground with me and help me not feel like I'm back in middle school with a piece of toilet paper hanging off my shoe. Someone who can help with the thoughts of school creeping slowly, unwelcome, into my head--either shared denial or telling me what to do could work. See? My new friend might take many forms.

In my head, my new friend and I discuss all the things I talk about over phone, email or chat with my friends who are far away or busy. Except this would be in person, see. We will talk about the cruel joke that is work/life balance--always a favorite. Extra points for a shady past! Cooking, the more legumes the better. (Also the more cheese the better.) The things that don't make it into how-have-you-been-things-are-fine-here catchups with my faraway friends. We played scooters on the sidewalk yesterday. Time to go to Target. I hate Target. And there's the house-cleaning thing. We OF COURSE will clean each others' houses. We will meet periodically for happy hour. We will gasp, oh my god, this is my life, and we will both know what that means. We will just, you know, BE there. In person. That's what we will do.

So okay, I think Oprah said that thing about throwing it out there and then it comes back, like a boomerang or something. So now I'm done with this silly thing and now a nice new friend will come out of the woodwork. Shazam!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Put a watch on 24

So I go to a new dentist today. The disclaimer here is that I have VERY NICE TEETH. Everyone says so. And that I am a reasonably responsible user of oral care. First cleaning in a year, no cavities in about ten. My old dentist, he was fine, a Dr. Welby type. Small operation, lots of small talk, easy breezy. Sort of like a midwife of oral care, my teeth were doing just fine but he would be there if something went wrong. I can see the hollyhocks growing out the exam window. They're putting up a Starbucks next door. Are you from the east coast? I can tell by your teeth. It's the water. How is your son?

Then my insurance changed. Ha.

The new dentist is really more like a dental EXPERIENCE. Multiple receptionists and free herbal tea and such. Possibly the prettiest person I have ever seen ushers me in to the second room on the left. Takes a zillion x-rays. I kind of can't stop looking at her because she is so pretty. I read People magazine while waiting for the doctor to come in to do my exam (Poor Rihanna!). After which he will leave and I will go to the first door on the left to get an actual cleaning, by another person who is neither the doctor nor the pretty one. It's all very complicated. All blinding in their white coats and such.

So the doctor comes in--hello, I'm Doctor P. And I should have known right there I was in for it. Do you have any CONCERNS today? No, just cleaning, please. And he's all, well, let me EXAMINE you. And that was the end of that.

He interacted mostly with the pretty one then. I can't say I blame him, she was stunning. Three, three, two. Canine. Three, two, two, four. Then to me: you've never HAD one of these pokey thingies where I poke this INSTRUMENT at your gums and then say a bunch of numbers that the pretty one writes down?

And I'm all, no.

And he's all, are you happy with the way your teeth look?

And I'm all, ummm, yes?

And he's all (to pretty) has she had ortho?

And she doesn't know. So to me: Have you had braces? And I'm all, yes.

And he's all, do you still wear your retainers? And I'm all, no. Are you kidding? Since 1991? And he's all, did they tell you it was a LIFETIME DEAL to wear your retainers? And I'm all, no. And pretty one is all, My ortho never told me that either. Except she is perfect so clearly her ORTHO was better than my ORTHO who I thought was just fine until TODAY.

And he's all, you might be a candidate for the invisible braces. Because it looks like there is some slippage here.

And I'm all, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (except I'm just like that in my head)

And he's all, to pretty one, put a watch on 24.

And he's all, OK, you are what we call MODERATE TO HIGH RISK. You have TWO cavities. It is either snacking or you are drinking too much soda. Or you might just be one of those people who gets cavities. And anyway you are AT THAT AGE when these problems start. But other than that, NOT BAD!

And then he's gone, leaving me with my botched ORTHO job and my deplorable eating habits and I haven't even had my damn cleaning yet and I've been there an hour already.

And then I meet Sadie the cleaning specialist, it even says it on her white coat, RCS or something, I don't know. I'm making that up but it did have some letters. And she's all nice and stuff, really, until she gets out her instruments of SCRAPY CARNAGE and starts talking about the DEBRIS in my mouth. Seriously, she said that. DEBRIS. You'll want to take an ibuprofen later, she's all. I keep thinking I GOT IT ALL and then I go in and there's MORE!

So I am deflated. I miss Dr. Welby, except he never screened me for TMJ or gum disease and he quite possibly missed my budding cavities. On the other hand, he also did not put watches on my gorgeous teeth or try to get me into BRACES or accuse me of (horrors!) snacking. And my teeth hurt. Now where's the Easter candy? The end.