Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday Morning

The Tuesday morning after having Monday off seems to combine all the horrors of 2 Mondays...

This one was no exception.

For 3 reasons:

1. Waiting 3 hours for my muffler to get fixed with a 5-month old who has learned to screech like a T-rex.

2. The guy in the mechanic shop waiting room who wanted to talk about God for 3 hours and who, when he asked my name and I told him, said, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet..." Thanks, Bill Shakespeare. That makes no sense in the context of our conversation. In fact, I think it's actually offensive.

3. Skipping breakfast, stopping at Dunkin' Donuts, and getting the usual Dunkin' Donuts guy
     3a. forgetting my muffin
     3b. having DD guy chase me down yelling "muffin" "muffin!!"
     3c. having DD guy blush and say, "Uhh... I'm not calling *you* muffin."
     3d. me saying, "Yeah, I didn't think so."
     3e. him saying, "oh."

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Formally Request Removal of the Reply-All Button

Okay, it's been two weeks! Time for me to tell The Email story.

We work in a typical office/cube farm. We're discouraged from socializing too much, so my coworker and friend (M), who sits on the other side of my desk divider, and I will shoot each other the occasional email to share our goofy commentary about the office happenings. This particular chain started like this. The names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Me: Ugh, I haven't been tracking my project hours at all for the last 2 weeks. I think I need a session with [Time-Tracking Nazi].

M: Ohh, you need a session allll riiight...

Me: Yep. And Good Lord! [Loud Talker] just said to someone on the phone, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to talk over you..." Really?

M: Ha! [Lunch Stealer] just cleared his throat when he saw me take out my breakfast! I know he wants me to share my food! Is it lame that I don't want to share??

Me: So not lame!! Have you seen me with pop tarts! [attached pic of ferocious tiger]

M: Ha! I know, right?! And what's up with all the coughing in here? It's like a TB ward. [Sick Girl] just coughed up a lung, and [Sick Guy] needs it! You know him, the guy I called Jeremy for the first two weeks he worked here.

As I was reading her last response, I heard her gasp and say, "Oh. My. God." I jumped up and peeked over the divider. "What!?" Her face was bright red and panicked as she whispered, "I accidentally copied everyone!"

Simultaneously, I heard a buzz of voices rise above the cubicles as coworkers received the email. It was the same buzz you hear at Bingo night when someone calls a full-card, jackpot-winning Bingo -- one of shock and annoyance.

I started sweating, and I could feel my heart pounding against my ribcage. "You... What?!" I quickly sat down at my desk and re-read what I had written.

M stuttered, "I, uh, couldn't remember that kid's name... (Jeremy??) So I added the company distribution list to check. I forgot to remove it!"

I kept reading, skipping her emails, only concerned with what might get me in trouble. Though I did mention [Loud Talker], the rest of my emails were pretty tame. The whole string could have been much, much worse. If I remember correctly, in one of our email chains from the previous week, the term "crack-whore" was being thrown around pretty loosely...

Still, we went into damage-control mode. M and I apologized in person to those we offended. Most had a good sense of humor about it, even [Lunch Stealer].

The worst part is that I'm a Supervisor. Way to set a good example. We decided to be proactive about it and meet with my manager. We went into her office. She asked us to sit down and gave me a look of disappointment. Then she said she had to step out to use the restroom quickly.

M and I were now alone. I turned to her, tears brimming my eyes. "I'm going to cry! I can't believe this... I am going to cry! One look of disappointment, and I'm going to cry."

M stared back at me, shocked, "No you're not!"

"I am. I will. I know it," I said, as my manager came back into the room.

"Listen, ladies..." she began with a stern voice. That's all it took for me. Tears started falling down my face. Since I was a child, I could take almost any form of punishment. Except the old "I'm disappointed in you." "Why are you crying?" she asked.

"I guess I'm just embarrassed," I blubbered. God love her, she actually got up and gave me a hug. Maybe this is why I cry. It's hard to punish someone who's clearly already punishing herself.

M kept her edge as usual, and said confidently, "Listen. We're all adults here. Sh*t happens. Can't we just put this behind us? I sent out an email apology."

"What did the email say?" my manager asked.

M replied with frustration and impatience, "It said just that! 'Sh*t happens. Sorry guys.'"

My manager seemed unimpressed. "Ok, well at 2pm today we're having a staff meeting, the one about inappropriate email usage..."

Crap. Forgot about that.

"I think you should formally apologize at the start of the meeting," she continued. I could handle that punishment. M and I agreed and went back to our cubes.

As I sat down at my desk to lick my wounds, M poked her head over our divider. "Dude! What the f*ck was that?? You were all 'Puss in Boots,' and I was 'Donkey.' Hee-haw! Hee-haw!"

"I don't know!! I can't help it."
"Well, what's wrong with me?"
"What do you mean??"
"I didn't cry like that."
"You're normal."
"Maybe I have no remorse. What does that say about me?"

"I think that you care more than I do. You just rebel against feelings of remorse, fight against it and get pissed off. I cry like a baby worried someone won't like me. I'm pretty sure I don't give a f*ck about hurting their feelings. What does that say about me?"

The whole experience was very liberating for me, right down to the public apology. I just did not care. I said what I felt, and everyone knew it. Yep, at 29, I still occasionally do some childish things. This is who I am. Good. Great.

In the meeting with my manager, M joked about bringing Ellie in the office to lighten the mood, and my manager said, "I don't think Ellie needs to see her mom in this moment."

I didn't respond but later thought, "Really? Why not? This is exactly what I want her to see... That it's okay to make a mistake, that it's okay to cry about it, that you have the strength to make it right, and that it doesn't matter what people think about you."

Oh, and that "this too shall pass..." This week an employee was escorted out of the building, and amidst the drama, our little email chain was long forgotten.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Project Life - Week 18

I'm exhausted, but this is important! Must document! Can't believe I'm already up to Week 18!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Weekend!

Ahh, the weekend has (almost) arrived! Let's see what I can accomplish:
1. Clean Entire Apartment
2. Laundry!!
3. Complete Last 3 Performance Reviews!
4. World Peace
5. Rest

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

15 Dreams

Why does it seem like, the older I get, the more my soul dies? Ha! That's a depressing thought. I just remember being so full of dreams and love as a teenager. Sure, this could have something to do with discovering the Beatles in my parents' record collection and becoming head-over-heels obsessed with that old-rock beat and All-You-Need-is-Love mentality. And of course, 15 is ripe for first loves and daydreams, butterflies in her stomach, blue skies, blue jeans, nail polish, and John-Lennon-esque camouflage jackets, in my case. Imagine that.

My 15-year-old self was definitely a ditsy head-in-the-clouds kinda gal, but she was smart too. Has anything changed, ditsy dreamer? Oh yeah, my soul is dying. So, lately, I've been trying to resuscitate it, because it seems that... 15 dreams, and 29 should be old enough to do something about it.

In hopes of preserving my precious, goofy, dreamy soul, I thought I'd reminisce with my 15-year-old self and see if I could find her lurking behind a box of old Beatles memorabilia in the garage that is my subconscious. "Where are you!?"

Here you are, curled up in a corner reading Hills Like White Elephants.

15: "Um, Duh!! Of course Jig should have a baby! Who wouldn't want a baby?? How do you know you don't want a baby until you have one? Of course it's hard, and your life gets flipped upside down, but the love is worth it. You can do this, Jig!"

28: "Pregnancy is terrifying. I never knew how hard a miscarriage would be, the stress of getting pregnant again, coping with my anxiety escalating, panic attacks. I'm not strong enough. I need you, 15."

15: "Oh. My. God. Calm down. Your husband is wicked cute and super supportive." I dreamed of him, at 15. He looked like Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid. The resemblance is uncanny.

29 (and 1 baby): "Oh, 15, you have no idea... You couldn't even know this love. It's an earth-moving kind of love. It came slowly, (It had to break through some dead soul synapses.), but it came like a train, unstoppable."

"Or did you know? It almost feels the same."

I've decided that, despite some moments from my teenage years that I'd like to forget, 15 is pretty smart. So now I'm dying to know what else she could teach me.

So here is the start of my list of things 15 dreams, and I promise to try to make them happen:

1. Meet Paul McCartney.
2. Go to England (to meet Paul McCartney)
3. Get Married
4. Have a Baby
5. Read to Her!
6. Sing Her Beatles' Songs!
7. Visit the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park
8. Buy an Old Farmhouse with a Fireplace and a Reading Nook (Or just a house... No, not just a house! You compromise, 29!)
9. Write Music
10. Write for Fun! (Pesky School Papers!)
11. Breed More Dreamers!

And of course, Don't Stop Dreaming, you little, daisy-picking, ditsy, dream machine!

More to come!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Okay, so...

Per my Photographs and Memories post below, I'm okay with the fact that I didn't get any real pics of mine and E's trip Saturday.

There were so many firsts for her--first mommy/daughter day trip, first daytime ferry ride, first shopping outing with the girls, first time all 4 generations have been together on my mom's side.

And did I take any pictures? Nope. I was slightly overwhelmed... Though my mom insists that E could most-definitely, without-a-doubt travel 5 hours to her house, I knew just the trip across the lake would be a challenge. My Mommy Gauge is pretty spot-on... you know, the same gauge that tells you how full a diaper is by the sound of it filling up. I know E's carseat limit is 1 hour and 15 minutes--and the last 15 minutes consists of [bearable] whining and sobbing. After that, it escalates. The entire drive took an hour and a half plus 15 minutes of screeching, but we made it!

I got an early start at 8am (at E's best travel time) planning to get back home by 4 or 5pm at the latest. My mom planned on being there at about 11:30am. Then we were going to head to Gram's together. I visited with my aunt a few hours. Then we got a call from my mom that she was running late. She didn't arrive until 2pm! By that time, E was fussing, but she was being a good sport after a half-hour nap and some toy distractions. At home, she would have taken at least a 2-hour long nap, but I crossed my fingers and hoped she'd be on her best behavior as my mom arrived, and she and my aunt decided to go out to lunch.

I put E back in her carseat, and off we went to the local pizza shop. I kept her in her carseat while we ate. The health-conscious ladies chose salads. I had had salad for dinner the night before and didn't want to double up on that much roughage before getting back on the ferry. Want to know what it's like to use the ferry bathroom? Just sit on a bucket in a canoe at Typhoon Lagoon.

As E started to fuss, I got distracted and opted for the next logical entree: the "Original Deluxe Nachos". As soon as it arrived, I knew I had made a horrible mistake. I haven't even eaten anything like this since my gallbladder surgery. The nacho chips were barely peeking out under a mountain of cheese, olives, tomatoes, onions, and taco meat. I nibbled nervously. Meanwhile, Ell decided to give me a visual warning, a dark omen, if you will, about what nachos do to my system... by completely pooping her pants (and carseat). Good grief.

My aunt suggested I take her to the restroom to change her. They had no changing table or counter space in there. I had no choice but to clean her up on the bench Mom and I were sitting on. Mom helped, God bless her. Her "it's just poop" attitude and extra hands made it all better.

Now that she was all clean, Aunt Mary offered to hold her. She held E in front of her, sitting her on the edge of the table. I try to tell people--E comes with only one disclaimer: She is not your typical 4-month-old. She's already very skillfully grabbing things, trying to eat them, and jumping/wiggling when you least expect it. Without warning E spotted the glasses of ice water on the table and... "Waaant!!" In one motion, she grabbed for them, knocked them over, and drenched herself and Aunt Mary. I know there's a God because, though E had just pooped through her onesie and all up her side, her pants had no poop on them. I still had a spare pair! "This is the time of miracles..."

We paid our bill, left a big tip, and left. As we made our way out to the car Mom turned to me and said, "Want to go to Target?!" I thought, "Really? Why push our luck?" But nothing keeps the Strange gals down--especially when Mom promises to buy us some much-needed baby gear! Aunt Mary opted to go home and change out of her wet clothes.

We got Ellie in my car, and Mom decided to ride with me. As we were pulling out of the pizza place parking lot, I saw what looked like a pile of laundry in the grassy ditch on the other side of the road. I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery, so I jokingly said, "Haha! What is that? A body?" My mother giggled and said, "No..." But as we pulled out further onto the road, we could see jeans, socks, shoes, and in them: legs! Feet! I almost drove right across the highway and into the ditch as the figure rolled over and sat up, grabbed a newspaper and opened it, propping it on his knee to read. My mom concluded that it was just a truck driver taking a break. I don't know where his truck was, but Mom and I got giggling about it, and I finally relaxed a bit.

We drove to the mall, and Mom bubbly talked about which toys Ell would need to stay entertained at the 4-month-old stage. As we pulled into the mall parking lot, it hit me. This was the mall Mom always took me to when I was a baby. We couldn't afford much, but we'd just walk the stores and have lunch at the food court. Target is now at the far end of the mall, where the department store, Hills, once was. This mall was our special place, our escape, our girls' day. Now I was in the same place, with my daughter. I loaded E's carseat onto the stroller base, and as I pushed her toward the entrance I looked at my mom with a big grin and said, "This is fun!"

Mom picked up some much needed items for E, we waited far too long in line for coffees at Starbucks, and we finally went to visit my poor, sick grandmother! I purposely only wanted to spend about an hour there, as to not overwhelm her with the excitement of the baby and all, but I wished I had spent a little more time with her after our hectic afternoon.

Gram perked up with us there, and we had a nice visit. Though she's definitely in pain with some large kidney stones that will require surgery, she's doing okay and still alert and smart as ever. She's become close with her neighbor, Jean, who's been helping care for her. They live right next door to each other in an apartment building for independent seniors. Jean insisted we stop by to show her the baby. Ellie's famous among the seniors... We scooted next door before I left, and Jean, a sweet, little, Italian woman, welcomed us into her apartment. It was immaculate. The June-Cleaver generation in all its glory. Old furniture, beautiful old paintings on the wall... and a massive flat-screen TV. Woah, Jean. -Must have been a gift from her kids. We chatted for a few minutes, her soft, squeaky, submissive 1950s voice cooing over the baby. Then she said, with a twinkle in her eye, "Do you know that babies love to fight? Even at her age, 4-months-old, they'll fight." She paused, grinning, then said cheerily, "I like to watch!" and broke into a fit of giggles.

Mom and I glanced at each other and got laughing so hard we could barely breathe. I shared some of E's day care stories about baby kicking matches, and we headed back down the hall to Gram's.

It was now 6pm! I knew we'd be hitting E's carseat limit right about at her bed time (which happened exactly as I predicted, but we made it home okay).

As I was leaving Gram's, I remembered all the times she took us to Bingo as kids, and all the times we misbehaved in front of the senior ladies, like the time my cousin, Kyle, came back from the bathroom and yelled loud enough for all to hear, "Grandma!! Somebody pooped in the urinal!".

This is the woman who helped raise us, all 8 grandkids, after raising 6 kids of her own. I still hear her voice as clearly as my own mother's, "Kyle!! Are you crazy?! Be quiet! Watch your cards, you'll miss your bingo!!" But more than that, I remember her looking back down at her own cards and trying to hide a smile.

I came back from my daydream, and said, "You know, Gram, when you're feeling better, I'd love to come over and take Ellie to Bingo." I wanted to give her (and me) something to look forward to, but I know that she knew I was worried about her. She got that old sparkle in her eye and said, "We will. I've fought through a lot worse than this you know."

She laughed, and I knew what she meant... She's survived illness, surgeries, etc., and also the Strange family. (And so can I!)

P.S. I never got sick on the ferry, but I did consider pulling over on the side of the road and taking a nap in the ditch.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Project Life - Week 16!

Four Generations

Dear Mark,
Oh, good grief... it sounds like it's going to be a typical gathering of the Strange family...
I called Mom at work, because I thought I may not get to talk to her tonight... she's actually not sure she's going, but said that if I'm going, she probably will...
Before I got a chance to tell her my plan to go, she went off on a long story about how she can't afford the trip and about Gram's health... I guess they're all worried about her, because she's not taking calls from the kidney specialist now. The doctor or specialist said she has a kidney stone that's 8 centimeters wide... which I can't imagine is humanly possible. Grandma said she thinks she already passed that stone (which is why she's not going to the doctor/hospital), but my Aunt Mary said that if it really is 8cm wide, there's no way she could pass it and that if she does pass it, it could kill her.
So, they're all convinced Gram is on her deathbed, about to pass a 3-inch-diameter kidney stone.
[This is my family. This is what I will probably become. Are you prepared?]
I'm quite certain it's 8mm, which is still probably dangerous, but a tad less dramatic. Anyway, Mom wants to go visit her Saturday to try to convince her to go to the doctor. Aunt Mary has been trying to push Gram to go all week with no luck and has washed her hands of the matter. Uncle Dave is the next on Mom's call list, because they think he'll talk some sense into her.
Mom said if I leave early, I should go to Aunt Mary's first, then she'll get to Gram's about noon and try to talk to her about it before I get there. Then I can come over about 1pm, (just in time for Ellie's cranky I-don't-want-to-nap routine).
Mom: So, do you think you'll come?
Me: Ugh... Well, I... um. As fun as you're making this sound...
Mom: Hahaha!!
Me: Yeah, I'll be there.
Here I am thinking this will be a nice, 4-generation family photo opportunity. It sounds like an entire day of madness, plus I'll probably have to add an extra page to document it in my Project Life book which sounds like a big headache to me.
It may make for a great writing opportunity, though! I'll do it... for the blog!
Dear G,
That's some pretty impressive dedication to your blog. I hope your readers understand the sacrifices you're making in the name of posterity, hehe. I certainly hope that it's an 8mm stone and not 8cm. 8cm would be about the size of her kidney…I'd be surprised if she could move at all…though I suppose anything is possible.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Photographs and Memories

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what's a memory worth?

I've been asking myself that question a lot lately, as I work on Project Life--creating a scrapbook-like page with weekly photos of Ellie's day-to-day life. I'm documenting everything from her first smile to the less-than-glamorous spit-ups and diaper changes. I have at least one photo from each day of her life, 1500 total since she was born four months ago. She most likely recognized the camera lens before my face.

I probably have about 200 photos from my entire childhood. My mom documented the "big" moments, and the events I can't remember on my own are spread out for me in brown albums, 4 x 6 cropped memories of my first birthday and first Christmas--real moments captured in light, onto film, mail-ordered, and hand-delivered.

Then there are the memories with no photos, like one from the year I turned 15. I stayed at my cousin, Dani's, house late in the summer, and she and I would escape to the tall grass at the back of her parents' property to talk about boys and other "grown up" things. In my mind, there's an image of her sitting on the ground in front of the tall, brown grass, the sun setting behind her. She was literally glowing. Strands of her long, black hair fluttered in the wind, catching the sunlight. It was the moment we stopped playing Barbies and climbing up to the treehouse. She was a year older than me, and I watched her become a beautiful woman in that moment, knowing that I was changing in the same way. I remember it as the exact second I knew I wasn't a child any more. I can step into that memory any time and relive it. Even now I feel the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze warning of winter. I can look up and see the gray sky and down to the blade of grass I'm twirling in my hands.

What if I had a photo of that memory? Would it be as beautiful in pixels? Evoke the same feeling framed? I don't think so.

Yesterday, I was playing with Ellie, and she grabbed my hair, pulled my face close to hers, giggled, and said, "Mama!!" for the first time. My instinct was to run for the video camera, but I didn't. I stopped, smiled down at her, and took it all in--her baby grin, her dimple, her expectant look, the sea of baby blankets stretching out on either side of her, the tulle curtains behind her diffusing the light as it fell on her face. (In my brain), I saved it, backed it up, and made it my wallpaper for the next few weeks.

So what does it all mean? Am I going to stop taking photos and put Project Life aside for now? No way! I love my scrapbooking time, and I want Ellie to have photos of the moments she can't remember in vivid detail. I want her to see how much I love her and love to watch her grow week by week. But it does mean that I'll probably set the camera down more often and enjoy my baby in real life.

And I certainly won't regret the times when I miss that "one perfect shot," because I know my memory of it will be just as beautiful if not more so.

Dollar a Day

Me: Ooh, Ellie loves this song. I want to download it before I leave, so she can listen to it in the car.

Mark: You know, I've been thinking... We buy a lot of little things like that--a song for a dollar, the candy bar I bought yesterday, a cup of coffee. If we passed up those little things, we could save a dollar or more a day.

Me: But I'm getting two songs, because I thought that if I was buying one song, I may as well buy two. Ha!

Mark: Makes sense. (eye roll)

The moral of the story: A penny saved is a penny... your wife will spend on something shiny and cute!