Sunday, October 25, 2009

Too many things to do that I just don't wanna...

I have a huge stack of "thank you's" from my daughter's first birthday party that have yet to be mailed, several still to be written, and laundry - clean laundry - seems to be everywhere in my house except in the places it belongs. My house looks like it was hit by a cyclone with a warped sense of humor. I finally got an article published today, but it is the first in a month and it took forcing myself to sit at the dining room table for two hours to get it out.

It is so strange: I don't know if it is just me, but is seems whenever I am successful in one area of my life (ie. my present focus on working out and weight loss) I drop the ball in other areas. I don't know if it is just a lack of discipline or my undiagnosed ADD, but while I am a great cook, have been cutting fresh produce and making great meals, logging my food (except this weekend which I have now declared an almost unabashed wash) and working out, it seems virtually impossible to get all these other things accomplished. I should be writing and publishing, I should be working harder than I am to find a job, I should be, I should be, I should be....

Ack. I am sitting here, writing this, watching my husband industriously folding baby clothes and I just want to sigh: the batch from last week is still sitting half in and half out of the basket at the top of the stairs.

At some point, I think you just have to forgive yourself, and hypothetically I accept that even if my deep-seeded guilt does not. My house is messy but my friends all know I love them; my laundry is wrinkly but my kid knows I adore her and my husband's lunches are getting made. The fish are even being fed. And today? My cousins read my blog and said nice things. Today I'm feeling like maybe I'm enough... well, maybe almost enough. I still think I have a psychological laundry problem. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ACK...Still awake!

I am sure I must have at least been dozing earlier when I heard the kiddo crying over the baby monitor. I bounced up, ran to her room and sure enough the baby was standing up in her crib, crying, looking accusingly at the light coming from her closet. Anyway, calmed her down and put her back to sleep but now I've been awake for over an hour!

I've checked email,Facebook,Twitter and have even gotten a new high score on Brickbreaker - the ghostly light of the crackberry casting odd shadows on the head of my sleeping husband: my brain is in "on" mode and will not shut off.

My mother would suggest that I get up and clean something; this little device has thus far prevented such silliness but not sure how long I can really hold out. Even the pug is snoring soundly on my feet: my ankle is vibrating!

So, as I lay here, blogging in bed in the darkness I've gotta wonder - what the heck ever happened to counting sheep?! This modern age is a little nutso - only thing I've not done is text my friends to see who ELSE can't sleep!

OK...I give up. Goodnight world - or rather good morning. Goodbye for now, Crackberry. I think I am gonna try a book.

confessions of a would-be career gal

Ok. I have a confession to make: now that I'm a bit over the "lost my job" mind games and self-pity (I acknowledge openly there has been some of that) I'm really kinda digging' the SAHM thing. I know I shouldn't; I can't really afford it financially and I really do feel I have something valuable to contribute to the work world - but right now I'm truly enjoying being with my baby, the pug, and even the cooking and cleaning!

While I am in no danger of becoming the next Betty Crocker, I admit feeling a bit conflicted. I feel like I'm "supposed to" being going crazy at home, and while I do admit to some isolation -I'm also not feeling the ridiculous amount of stress and anxiety. I am enjoying the simplicity of things - I am productive - I write, I am still looking for jobs etc but also working out and walking - really walking - for the first time in a year. I feel a bit like I am finding myself again in the midst of all of this.

So yes, I know I need a job and have no intention of scaring my husband otherwise - but I would not trade for the world this time I am getting with my ever-changing little girl. Today, I am content...and even happy. The career gal in me winces a little, but the earth mama rejoices.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Puggy update

BTW - Loki the Wonder Pug is back to his old self, has been seen by the vet, and given a clean bill of health. He's back to stealing the collanders, demanding attention, and generally getting into all the puggy trouble he can. I could not be more relieved!!

Up to my eyeballs in appetizers

I have a tendency to over-promise but I hate to under-deliver. I promised to make both bruschetta and a pasta salad for my sister's daughter's 2nd birthday party today, and it makes me laugh a little when I go back and look at how I handled such things.

Rather than buy the pre-made stuff, I spent about 3 hours last night hand-chopping roma tomatoes, peeling whole garlic cloves, and snipping my own fresh basil to make bruschetta. Why? It's actually pretty silly I suppose but I bet I am not the only one: my mother is going to be there and I want her to be impressed with my cooking skills. For whatever reason, even at my advanced age, I am still trying to impress mom. Mom, I should mention, does NOT impress easily.

The thing is, the approval rating I think I am going for is not likely to be given. I *know* I'm a good cook; I do it pretty naturally and have a good idea of what flavors will go together well. Why am I not just comfortable with that? Years and years of training, methinks.

In any case, I have several hours to go and the food is actually prepared and ready to go. I even (for once) have the present packed and ready, and have sent the husband off with baby to grandma's for an hour so I can take a real shower and focus on my own appearance as well. I am going to call it a win...and try to let go of the results for once!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

the ramifications of guilt

How it is that I'm blogging, under covers and next to a sleeping husband to the sound of a snoring pug comes down to one terrible word:guilt. It haunts me.

I mentioned in a prior post that I dropped my pug the other evening while trying to carry both him and a baby. I was in pain and exasperated-and frankly upset that I'd been yelled at, but what I didn't mention were the pained yelps and the accusing look from my dog when he landed.

I can say it was him or the baby; I can say I could no longer carry them both. But the fall hurt my dog in some fashion and I think he is holding it against me.

My pug has been know to hold it for 12 hrs - he does not, as a rule, ever poop in the house. That night however, he left seemingly strategic surprises for me in both my daughter's room and the kitchen. While he seems to be walking fine and has been given extra treats and trips outside, he still does not seem the same. Even while I'm petting him I get the sense I'm either being given the cold shoulder, or that my pug is sad. And I am miserable thinking about it.

A dog is just a dog and a cat just a cat, but when I feel guilt it is the pure and unriddled Catholic kind that burns like hellfire and overtakes your dreams. It's gonna be another long night:while the pug is snoring away I am pretty sure I will not until I am absolutely sure the pooch is ok and that he's forgiven me...and then maybe I will be able to forgive myself.

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Comedy of errors: how to juggle a baby, a pug, and an angry neighbor

I thought I would share this simply because it was such a comedy of errors that I suppose if it hadn't happened to ME I would see the humor in it: as it stands I'm still licking my wounds.

To give you some background, my daughter is standing and even jumping, so we lowered the crib bottom to ensure she didn't somehow escape the safety of her baby jail. This is fine and all - however, as I somewhat vertically-challenged momma, I can no longer readily reach the crib bottom. A few nights ago when my daughter woke screaming and clambered into my arms sobbing for whatever reason, I attempted to reach into the crib to locate her pacifier. Not only did I failed utterly in this mission, I also wrenched the hell out of my back: so badly that I ended up flat on my back in bed.

So..moving forward,...the evening of my confinement after my kind MIL had left for the day, I let the pug out to go potty. Usually, he is a good pug and stays close so on occasion I stupidly neglect a leash; this day of all days he chose to travel 6 yards away, running away from me. Like a lame cow, I gimped with the baby on my hip trying to catch him and encourage him to come home; I did not have a poop bag, and my attempts to actually grab at him were continually evaded. Finally, corralled somewhat towards home, Loki made a beeline for the neighbors flowers. I followed, tried to get him away, nudge him with my feet, swear - to no avail.

And then...the neighbor comes out. Here I am, standing with gigantor baby in my arms, looking like the 3rd ring of hell with my uncombed hair, bare feet and mismatched jogging clothes (aka whatever was close when I got out of bed) and this giant man comes out, looking down at my now-urinating pug.

"You are standing there letting that dog pee on my flowers??!!! For Christ's sake!!"

I apologized profusely, tried to tell him - look buddy, this wasn't anticipated, and I can't grab him and hold her...and that this was an accident, etc. etc...I left out that my back was by this time killing me. He glared, shook his head, and went back into the house swearing at me under his breath.

And still, the pug would not come. Finally, I took a deep breath, bent down (bad idea) and scooped the pug. Now carrying 20+ lbs on each hip, I make it to my yard and drop the pug. He still won't go onto the porch - I end up putting the baby down in the grass, grabbing the pug and running him to the deck (figure of speech entirely - more like oddly waddled) only to find that the sliding glass door was locked. I was about ready to scream in frustration when my husband opened the door, took one look at me, the pug, and the baby sitting in the yard happily clapping and shook his head.

Wordlessly, I handed him the pug, retrieved the baby and passed her off too. I grabbed two poop bags, went and made my way across the other backyards, retrieving Loki's leavings...swearing never, EVER, to let this dog off-leash again and wincing the entire way... the angry neighbor watching my lumbering progress from his kitchen window. I admit it; behind my back I flipped him the bird.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the goodbye cat

My mom is a somewhat fierce and decisive creature at times. After years of giving my cat a home when I could not and, I think, a lot of cat-happiness and freedom, mom decided the cat had to go.

And by go, I mean now. And by now, I mean the cat was gone before I had a chance to give her her things - little goodbye cat goodies that I'd purchased for her that I thought would make the transition easier...or at least quell the stomach-knotting guilt I feel about the situation: sad that I've not been able to take her with me and shame that my mother saw my leaving the cat at their house as an abuse of her kindness.

I just don't have words. I rarely got to see the lil thing but she was my friend and roommate when I lived alone in the city. That cat slept on my pillow and always tried to comfort me with her purrs when I was upset. If she were here now perhaps she'd curl up around my head and try and lick my tears. I know it is lame and childish of me knowing that she is going to a good home, but I find myself utterly distraught nonetheless.

I cried when I had to put my cat Byrne to sleep - but at least with him I held him to the end. This goodbye feels like it was stolen from me somehow; I did not even drive her to her new home myself - and wasn't given the option.

My sister has given me the address etc. and I will get the supplies to the new owner soon. I may even get to see Willow one last time. But emotionally I still feel that last car ride should have been mine and I am heartsick. I should have been the one to look her in the eyes and apologize for the abrupt change in lifestyle and had the opportunity to explain on the drive down why I couldn't take her...and tell her how foolish I feel and that I still love her.

So instead I will lay here in the dark and tell it to her and hope she hears it. Love ya Willow. You are a great cat and a most excellent mouser, and if I had my way you would be here with me now hogging my damp pillow. I'm so damn sorry kitty. Please be happy.

Aw hell. Here I go again...

baby finds her voice.s.

I have been officially unemployed for two weeks now. I have had, however, very little time to consider myself or my status - or indeed to do any writing at all. My world has been chasing the tornado that is my 10 month old daughter whose development has literally skyrocketed in a few short weeks - as has her discovery of self-expression.

Suffice it to say, the self-expression bit has not been all smiles. The least little thing - the end of a piece of string cheese for instance - has been resulting in howling storms of tears.

I must admit some of her new-found voice is intriguing. The coos of triumph when she successfully opened the cabinet; the victory cheer as she crawled on top of the sweaterbox - these were all very cool to watch. But when I took away the retractable dog leash, the only way I can describe her noises were "banshee -esque"...and I am running out of Advil.

I could not be more in love with my little girl. She is the coolest thing, bar none, that has ever happened to me. I also admit that my mom was right: genetics have passed onto this creature the boom of my own voice - I may have finally met my match!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baby goes up but won't go down...

In day two of my at least temporary attempt at being a Stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I've discovered that the timing of my situation with the newly-found skill sets of my 10 month old daughter just may potentially drive me out of my mind.

Syd is all sunlight and laughter and giggles. She is crawling like mad, and learning all kinds of skills - and I am SO PROUD (really, I am, it's sick). Monday, however, she learned to stand up both in her playpen and in her crib...and has not gone down since.

I am sitting in the living room as we speak, listening to her babble. It has now been at least 1/2 hour, and she has not gone down. (Yep. Just went it to check. STILL STANDING!) We are in a stalemate: I will not take her out of the playpen, and she will not lay down in it. I checked her diaper, I know she has to be relatively full; I believe I am being tested.

::20 minutes later::

I tried lying on the floor next to the playpen; nothing. I tried patting her on the belly while she howled, nothing...kept pulling herself vailiantly up to battle again with the cage. My kid could give Rocky a run for his money. Finally, in almost tears I went into the kitchen, called my husband and made him listen to the howling. I expect it has been at least an hour at this point. I hang up the phone, sigh heavily, and start going through the process of making a bottle to see if that will help, only to look over at the playpen...

poor little thing has given up. She's on her belly, dead asleep.

I'm not sure it's a victory, but I am glad one of us can konk out. My head is pounding from the screaming, and I must away to the Advil. I may even take a nap.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On men and work-life balance...among other things.

So, today is my last Monday in my current role. It has arrived, is passing somewhat peaceably, and I am trying to do all that I can to a)make and leverage business contacts, b)apply for job opportunities and research companies online and c)recreate myself into someone who knows a bit more about the modern age, i.e. social media marketing, Twitter, Digg, etc. I've become an enterprising little bee trying to learn how to adapt and evolve predominantly for the purposes of survival. In the back of my brain however, I am also thinking about party planning for my daughter's first birthday, figuring out what I am going to make for dinner, and mentally trying to schedule a hair appointment.

It's a funny dichotomy: I have two completely different personas that only meet in the middle by the happenstance of need. I have an enterprising and solutions-oriented mind and a head for the analytics of business processes (or at least its talent acquisition) and yet in my personal life I am far more the sardonic philosopher and earth mum focused mainly on my family and relationships. I guess it comes down to - "you do what you need to do, be who you need to be". Combining two different sides of yourself can sometimes result in true identity issues; keeping them separate for myself at least, is almost impossible. I am a one-woman juggling machine and invariably, the balls of career and life get confused.

I bring this up because a good friend of mine, Molly, brought up to me as a good writing topic the fact that you never ask men to talk about work-life balance. In pondering this (and subsequently watching my husband) I've concluded she is right. There is a huge difference between the ways that men and women operate when it comes to their personal lives and their careers.

My own husband, a good egg entirely, seems to compartmentalize the work and life elements of his existence fairly well. He works when at work, and is a husband and dad at home, and rarely two shall meet. He does not ever really seem to get stressed or have trouble focusing on his job when things are going on in our personal lives - and he readily shifts personas as needed. Far less emotional than me, he does not sit at his desk and wonder what the baby is doing and if she's happy. He does not make lists in his head of household talks or plan the groceries. While professionally he is in a management role, at home he is more than happy to let me steer the ship. He will help execute and will do the laundry, garbage, etc. when it comes to our home life, he leaves he planning/worrying/remembering bits to fall on me unless absolutely forced to do otherwise.

You'd think that in this economy, that has to be changing, doesn't it? More men are staying home and taking over the childcare etc. while mom goes out and earns a living. In my own family, I worked more hours a day than my husband, meaning he technically had more time with the baby than I did. One girlfriend leaves her house at 5am to complete an hour+ commute and her husband works from home; another has 6 month old twins and works full-time while her husband is not working. Doesn't that mean our husbands are picking up an even greater share of those responsibilities?

Not necessarily. It may just be the company of superhuman mommies that I keep but every working mother I know, regardless of the hours they put in the office, still seems to spend more time than their spouses trying to find time to do everything. Of the situations I described above, every one of those mothers is the one getting up at night with the baby. The mom of twins routinely feeds both babies simultaneously, not out of innate skill but of necessity. My commuter friend has not been able to get to the gym even twice a week to work out but her husband still managed to go to hockey games several nights a week. And somehow, it is a misguided logic we tend to be willing to accept.

I think a couple things are happening here. First - it is relatively well-accepted that women are built as more emotional creatures. We look at how things interact with each other, we are concerned about relationships. Without making it sound too warm and fuzzy, we're not taught to put ourselves first and often find ourselves either naturally or socially put into caretaker roles. We are not trained to think selfishly - even when perhaps we should. My mother could be cooking 8 things, still shout orders, and make sure that we got our homework done: from an early age I was taught to do and think about multiple things at once. We act where we see a need; men don't seem to notice the need until we point it out explicitly.

But I think we also maybe set ourselves up to some degree. When our daughter was born, for example, I was worried (as he'd not ever been around babies) that he would not be willing to handle diapers a la #2. I made it clear to him at that point that as far as I was concerned, that task was his - and it has been. When I finally got frustrated at always being the one who wakes up for the baby and was past the point of exhaustion, I finally told him that I resented his ability to sleep and told him straight out that he needed to start helping. Well, for the most part - I still get up with the baby. But to give him the credit he deserves, I also now wake my husband up and send him downstairs at least for the bottle. I've started being very clear in asking for help and making him accountable for some of what needs to happen on a daily basis, and to an extent that has been successful.

So maybe part of the work/life balance man/woman thing is genetic: maybe we as women are built a little differently and able to handle multiple tasks at once. Maybe part of it is emotional, and men don't have the same level of relational maturity that we do - maybe we expect them to see what they need instead of telling them. And it could be in some ways we are setting ourselves up by making assumptions about their inabilities and not holding them accountable for their share of the mental load.

Regardless of what the cause though, I know several sleep deprived women that will likely reading this while they're stuck in traffic commuting this evening - trying to fit in some reading before they get home and try to get 1000 other things done before tomorrow. If you are driving behind one of em, give em a brake. :)

Here are a couple of interesting articles I found on this topic:

Newsweek: Equal Stress?

MPR News: Men Feel Conflict in Work/Life Balance

If you have any ideas, advice, or article suggestions, feel free to comment, email me at this address or Tweet Me on Twitter! You are why I write and I want to make the time you take reading my stuff worthwhile. I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Sunday before the Monday of my last work week...

Actually ended up at this park today in Bartlett - had been looking for a picture for my article and ended up taking this photo on my Blackberry phone while my husband and I sat in the car and ate Dairy Queen.
I'm not supposed to be eating Dairy Queen; this also should not have been my third visit in as many days. As it happens, I am even allergic to ice cream and all things dairy, and there are consquences of an ugly nature that shall not be detailed here. The sad fact of the matter is I've been pretty stressed out, and while the ice cream doesn't really help, it seems to be my go-to (bad Julie) in times of relative emotional chaos.

This is the last Sunday before the Monday of the last week of the job I have held for 3 years. I feel a bit awful about it: while I am grateful my company gave me a head's up that their organizational changes were going to leave me out of a local role (I could keep my job if I had been willing to re-locate myself to Dallas) it has been in some ways like a month-long wake. I have felt for the past 20-odd days like I am dealing with an imminent death in the family, and getting up and going to the office, regardless of my gratitude for the paycheck, has been a little rough. To add to it, until Friday none of my internal customers knew I was leaving, and I've had to really try hard to be as professional as ever in the best interests of everyone concerned and for the safety and security of my severance package.

I've read in a million places that the workplace is no place for tears: there is truth in that. No one respects them for the most part - emotions are not supposed to be part of the corporate landscape. Even when life hands you some very odd twist, it is critical that you not let your fear or anxiety show. I'm naturally pretty emotional, but have earned over the last few years especially that for your job you need to learn the discipline of keeping the personal segregated from the career side of the house. The cumulative effect leaves you sometimes feeling a little schizophrenic.

In any case, I guess I can say here at least that I feel a bit like I'm attending my own wake - and that I'm the only guest continually showing. And that's okay. Even though I know that some of the managers I support are probably sad to see me go, at the end of the day the business continues and you do what you need to do in order to adapt and flex with those business needs. They will continue to move on about the business of being part of a global company, and I will simply...move on.

The positive side of this story I guess is that as an odd happenstance, it's gotten me writing again. My little side line of an article on the Examiner; my forays onto Twitter: change is once again forcing me to grow and expand and learn, and maybe that's not all bad.
If you have any ideas, advice, or article suggestions, feel free to comment, email me at this address or Tweet Me on Twitter! You are why I write and I want to make the time you take reading my stuff worthwhile. I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Start of Things...

My name is Julie. I 'm a Chicagoland Native, and I write for the Chicago Careers and Workplace Balance section. It struck me that there would probably be things I'd like to share about myself and my life that may not be article-worthy but still worth writing.

I'm a wife, a mom, and a career girl with two mortgages. My world revolves around a husband, a pug, and a baby daughter, and I try to balance those things (with varying degrees of success) with a career. I like to think that I'm intelligent and capable, but I definitely have my weaknesses too. Over the last 8 years or so I've had a corporate career in Human Resources and Recruiting, but I've also ventured into IT, the legal world, and sales over the length and breadth of my career and feel you never stop reinventing yourself. I get by with heavy reliance on a great (if wacky) family, a lot of advice from a fabulous group of friends, and a sense of humor that manages to see me through most situations.

In finding myself about to be one of the 11.3% unemployed in Cook County I've spent the past few weeks looking not only for new employment opportunties but also ways in which to expand my horizons a bit. I've started writing for and loving getting back into writing in general: even though that's where my degree is it is only now that I seem to be really doing something with it. I've also been learning about social media marketing, Twitter, and a whole host of things out there that are changing the way we do and talk about things - it's all pretty interesting.

In any case, I will likely repost some of my Examiner articles, but wanted to provide myself another forum as well to write, to learn, and to get feedback and ideas. Hopefully, someone out there will read it and like what they see. Welcome to my tiny little messed-up and goofy world!
If you have any ideas, advice, or article suggestions, feel free to comment, email me at this address or Tweet Me on Twitter! You are why I write and I want to make the time you take reading my stuff worthwhile. I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Ventures

So...I've started a new venture as an Examiner at I am almost afraid to be excited about it, but it certainly beats being consumed with worry on my pending unemployment.

It is a strange thing: I've always wanted to write and always enjoyed the process - it's more been the lack of creative story lines etc. that have kept me from attempting much more than commentary or the odd short story or just random journal-writing. I'm psyched, but it also leaves one feeling pretty vulnerable: to have a little bit of yourself out there all exposed is terrifying.

I'm actually having fun! I don't know how long this will last and I am trying not to look too far ahead but it is a strange feeling to be enjoying what I am doing for once, even if thus far I think I've earned all of $1.97 doing it.

Still hoping for that big lottery win!

Anyway, here is my favorite picture from my article today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Shot I Missed

Have you ever had a critical point in your life where you know had you taken another path you might've ended up in a completely different world?

A long time ago, like, in 2001 - I had the opportunity to interview for a comedy writing job at the gaming company Jellyvision, makers of "You Don't Know Jack!". I had written an application letter as though I were doing so from prison - and I wish to God that I still had it today because I think it was actually pretty good. (It got a response at any rate!)

In any case, I had just taken a job as a recruiter when Jellyvision called and offered me the opportunity to interview. In what had to be the biggest mistake of my career, I turned down that interview, thinking it went against the ethics of interiewing for one job when you had just accepted another. Also, in all truth, I think I was a little scared.

I still think there is a certain line that you should not cross in taking a new job. You should not just jump and take "anything". You should have respect for your new company and your new position. You should make your job choices carefully and moves thoughtfully.

That said - the next time someone gives me the opportunity to interview for a dream job, well, let's just say I am, at the very least, planning on showing up - you only get to live this wacky life once (at least I'm pretty sure) !!!

Some Things Fall Apart...and Some Need To.

You get up in the morning and get the baby a bottle, dressed, etc. You find a tie for your husband. You squeeze in a shower but cannot manage to get it dried as well. You kiss baby and hubby goodbye, jump in the car, negotiate traffic and are in the office by 8am to start your work day.

Your work day ends around 7pm. You drive home, kiss husband, grab baby, try and shove as much love, attention and nurturing as you can in a 2 hr time slot. Baby goes in the crib, the laptop comes out and guess what? You are working again.

While I cannot say that this is truly living - it wasn't, I can say that working as hard as I did to try and make myself recession-proof ultimately did not provide the payoff I'd hoped. Through no fault of my own, despite the number of hours worked, I found out last week that as of August 7th I am out of a job.

There comes a time when you need to start looking at the way you are living and the prayers you are praying. It's funny - that very morning I was "Hail Mary'ing" my way to what end, I don't know. I was praying for something - some kind of respite. Then to actually have it happen on that day - well, to say the least, I am floored.

I work in HR. I know what it is like out there - each of my days is like reading another list of stories that ended poorly on resumes. I had made it through several rounds of RIF's already at my company, and was counted on to help keep the faith of our staff at large...communicating only a positive message to my hiring managers, etc. Ironically, I am now held to an agreement not to tell anyone that this time it is ME losing the job...and I can keep the job that I have for an additional few weeks in exchange for my silence.

I do have a sense of humor - I do see the irony in this. I do believe that things happen for a reason, and that this occurrence is probably some response to my prayers or lack of movement as well. Seeing Sydney and the thought of actually getting to spend some time emmersed in watching her grow is exciting, as is the prospect of a few weeks off. Heck, maybe I can actually work out or garden?!

But OH THE FEAR!!! I've looked at what is out there, I've started networking, I've already tried to start the creative juices running. I have even looked at maybe doing something different, something I love more with more creativity and freedom involved... it is a fight between my hope and my anxiety on a daily basis.

Today, hope is winning. That said - I never want to put myself in this position again. Work has gotten far too large a portion of my baby's life and taken too much of me away in the past nine months...without even the reward of stable employment. In the end - I had no control over whether or not I kept my job at all. Next time is going to be different.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Death and the Elderly

I keep thinking about this, and have concluded that I do not think it must be very fun to live to be very old.

My gram is 93, laying in a bed in a hospital with a morphine drip, no longer here in any real sense of the word except for a physical presence lying there. She cannot eat, drink, swallow or talk. She doesn't seem to know anyone is around in any true sense of the word. She is, for the most part, a shell with a few still-functioning parts.

I don't get it.

I believe in a loving God. I like and try to believe we are all here for a purpose, and for a reason, even if that reason is unbeknownst to us. I believe in miracles, and that God can and will intervene in our lives at certain points. I'm not sure at all, however, what God's stance really is on death...and at what point He intervenes, or if He lets this part up to us.

Aside from being hit by a bus, illness, and other tragedies, what or who is it that determines when we ultimately pass from this earth? Is my gram in there somewhere looking out from this tiny body? Is she a spirit that is able to somehow hoover and watch us as we come to sit, to keep her company, to pay our respects? Is it her decision - is she staying for a reason - or does she get a choice in the matter? Is it just Gram being stubborn again or has the Dear Lord, in His busy schedule, perhaps forgotten? Is she here for one of us? I know they say that God calls us home when it is our time - but if that is the case, why are there folks like Gram that would likely, were they able to verbalize such things, hanging around when they probably would have preferred a good card game in heaven to this...this slow and mindless ceasing?

I watched my mother leave yesterday to go sit by her mother's bedside, hurting for her. My aunt is there almost daily for gram. I, who have not been to see my grandmother at all yet am heading out there this evening. My cousins, I am sure, will all manage to get there as well. This is what you do when you are part of a family and I come from a particularly loving one so I am sure there will almost certainly be someone there to guard and watch over this tiny little remnant of what my grandmother once was.

I am way too human to understand this. Death is too big to try and put into a little neat box for me...I am one of those people that does a lot better when there are better explanations and reasons for things, and yet a good portion of the time we get neither. People seem to leave far before their time, and sometimes long after, and too much of either is just so very hard on the ones they leave behind. None of this makes any sense, especially when it just seems totally random.

I guess, in the end, all we can do is try to be there for one another and honor each life as best we can for as long as we can. I don't think anyone should die alone, and I am grateful that my grandmother has so many people to go through this last transition with her. I want my chance to say goodbye. That said, I pray she finally gets to go Home soon where she can eat candy again (Heaven must have it, right?) and be able to laugh and sing and dance and get rid of this old, tired body that is no longer a suitable home for a spirit as bright as hers.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Teeth, Part Due

Just as a quick follow-up to my last post - sadly, my assessment was correct. I have the beginnings of an abcess for which the only cure is a combination of antibiotics and, in a week or so, a root canal.

On the positive least I got some Vicodin. :)

On Teeth

My mouth and I are not what you would call close...if it did not reside within my head I doubt we would ever spend time together. I am sure I don't appreciate its kindnesses half enough - letting me speak, giggle, sing, eat are all things that it does well. I probably do not treat it nearly as well as I should - I could do a much better job flossing and brushing, I could wear a night guard to protect it from the havoc my jaws create from their constant night grinding. I could polish them and go for ultra-white bleaching treatments for that movie-star like glow (my sister Denise is a dental rep and constantly looks like an ad for good hygeine).

That said, I am not convinced any machinations on my part would make much of a difference. My teeth are utter garbage. They break, they stain, and every time I go to the dentist it seems that he (I am sure gleefully) manages to find 2-5 other new places in my mouth to rip open.

I am in pain - quite acute, actually, at this very moment. I was up most of the night with throbbing gums and aching molars. My head is about to explode off of my shoulders. I am not totally sure, but from my experiences thus far I expect I either have an abscess or an infection or some other horrid thing. It hurts to eat or to bite down in any way. My jaw is tingling; sharp jolts of electricity are pulsing up the side of my jaw towards my ear. I am hot-sensitive, cold-sensitive, and just-sitting-there-sensitive as all hell. The Advil I've been gobbling like Chiclets isn't doing a darn thing to help.

I know what is going to happen. I am going to go into the dentist chair, and they will ask which tooth hurts. I will not know the answer - the pain is rather all over the place. I will be x-rayed, I will have my tooth banged on with some kind of hammer thing (the test is simple - when you jump high enough they know they've hit the right tooth), I will scream, and they will pull out the big drills. I will then have to pull out my wallet (not nearly as big) and pay a ridiculous fee for all of this abuse and go home looking like a chipmunk.

I admit to being a bit of a drama queen from time to time. I admit to the occasional hyperbole. But it is also the case that I view the dentist with even more dread than I view dusting (which I despise). I hate the ridiculous masks, the smell, and the outrageous outlay of capital. I hate the taste of the cherry(not) topical numbing liquid. I hate that every time I leave, I just know that I will be back again soon.

Dear mouth, you have spoken (screamed, actually) and I am listening. I am going. But I will let you know I am doing so with great protest, and under duress. I hope you take great comfort in knowing that in the 5 trips I have now made to the dentist since December, I will have managed to pay for his vacation to Maui - and likely blown away any chance for one of my own or yours. I hope you're happy.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Emotional Layer Cake of Rough

Have you ever had one of those days where every time you turned around you felt like somehow you were being hit with something else that just knocked you emotionally?

I knew that when I got up this morning that I would need to get out of the house extra early in order to conduct some interviews for my job. I'm not feeling well - I have still have this cold - and I did not sleep much last night. I rummaged through the closet trying to find something to wear that didn't look disastrous, finally managed to get my Medusa hair to lay a bit more straight, pulled my things together and only upon leaving the house realized that I still needed to get gas. I walked into the office with 3 minutes to spare. I felt ugly, fat, and ill-prepared to do what I needed to do. These days, many days, trying to feel put together and confident at my job is simply not happening.

My baby, Sydney, is ill for the first time in her short life. It is just a cold - we verified that with the doctor today, but even the sound of her raspy little breaths when I woke this morning just tore at me. I work full-time - I don't have the option of staying home with her (otherwise I would jump at the chance) - and the thought of her dealing with these strange things going on in her body, the tiny coughs, the heaving of her little chest trying to push the air through - I just hated it. She is a smiley, happy baby by all accounts, and she is handling her first illness far better than I am. The guilt - first, that I probably gave her the cold, second, that I can't be there for her to cuddle her through this - has been eating at me all day.

On top of all of these speaking to my mom today, I learned that my 93 year old grandmother is starting to decline rapidly. She is a little tiny bird of a woman, not too cognizant of what is going on around her - she has lived far past that point in which the future, or even the present, matters and is lost somewhere in the reaches of her mind and in the past. She is dying. It is not this part that made me sad - I believe in my heart that it would be a blessing for her to go and be with the friends and loved ones who have gone before her. It is a combination of the guilt of not having seen her as well as my mother telling me that my grandmother had stopped singing. You see - as long as I can remember, my grandmother has always hummed a little tune. She may not know who we are, she may not know where her teeth are, and she may have flushed her hearing aid down the drain...but this tiny piece of her has remained a constant. She's not eating by herself anymore, the moments of clarity seem to have disappeared...but the thing that makes me the most sad is imagining the little bird without her song.

So - it's been a long day. I'm home from work now, home with my husband, and peering at my snuffly little smiley baby (now sleeping). I am glad to be here. That said, I am glad that this day will soon be behind me. There is only so much a heart can tolerate in a 24 hour period, and mine needs quiet and rest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She Rocked Our World - Aunt Judy Baker

Today marks a devastating loss to this world - it is the 10 year anniversary of the death of the best auntie in the whole wide world.

I come from a somewhat large extended family on my mother's side - my mom had 4 brothers and sisters, and the fallout from that has been quite a number of cousins, etc. They are all pretty cool people and I love them dearly. That said - the rockingist auntie that ever rocked was by far my aunt Judy.

As the somewhat reclusive, awkward niece with no real feel for social conduct, I never really felt much like I fit in as a kid. Most of my cousins were great at sports, amazing at art, and seemed to understand instinctively how to kid around and talk with each other - I was the one who hid in spare bedrooms and behind furniture reading a book. My feelings were hurt easily, and the best I can do to describe my childhood would be "awkward".

My aunt though - well, she always made me feel pretty special. I felt like she got me - she understood my strange sense of humor, she stood up for me with some of the older kids, and when she did correct me she managed to do it in a way that always felt like she was just watching out for me.

She told dirty jokes to my dad and could always be counted on to whisper them to you later (after a certain age). She smiled with her whole face. Judy had the warmest brown eyes with a glint of wicked, she threw herself into everything she did, and she made friends with anyone who was lucky enough to meet her. Everyone liked Judy Baker.

Judy was my mom's best friend. One of my last memories of her was the time that she and my mother made Thanksgiving Dinner together and they had had a bit too much wine - and my mom had started cooking a pot with nothing in it. Neither one could stop laughing. Every time they got together it was as though they had never been apart - they talked on the phone constantly. My mother, who lived 60 miles away had a lifeline in Judy - she was her secretkeeper, her sanityminder, and her staunchest supporter. The only time I can remember in my entire life where my aunt yelled at me was when I said something critical of my mother - that was not something she would tolerate. "Your mother loves you more than you will ever know. Don't take that for granted or ever say a bad word about her to me."

Aunt Judy was truly the glue for our family. She was the one who mended fences, who navigated our genetic stubbornness with grace and accepted all of us just the way we are. Ten years ago today, she passed after 6 awful months fighting lung cancer. She did not deserve the death she suffered - she deserved a feckin' parade straight into heaven. I know she is there now, looking down, and I pray that I may be even half the person she was - half as brave, half as courageous, half as loving - and if I achieve that much in this life I will have considered myself a success.

Aunt Judy, if you're up there and listening, I'm toasting you sweetie. Thank you for watching over me. I miss you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pugs and President's Day

Today, I am home for is a holiday, my pug needs me (okay, really, all he needs is a good pillow), my baby needs me, and this cold is still knockin' me about.
That said...I was thinking about President's day. I was wondering, with all of the strangeness of today's politics, what they will say about this particular era.
It's just such a difficult time. While the inaugaration seemed to inspire everyone with a new message of hope at the chance for some change, I watch my local politics in Chicago go to hell in a handbasket. Those we elect to be leaders have proven to be nothing more than a disgrace, my state is a laughingstock...and I can't help but feel some of it mars even the new presidential glow. They talk of saving the economy and making things better - but frankly, this is the scariest I have seen the environment around me in my 37 years. People are scared, people are mistrustful, people are wary.
As a new mother, I honestly wonder what is going to happen. I pray to God that the world is a better place - a more improved place - by the time my little daughter has any idea of what a President's Day is. I hope Obama brings some true opportunity with his administration; I hope that we are able to heal some of the wounds we've managed to create.
In all of this time of stress, and worry...thank God for Pugs and babies and all of those things that make it all just a little better. In the meantime, I will be thankful for the day off and the time to, if not appreciate much else, play with my silly dog and cuddle my sweet, sweet child, and appreciate the day off properly.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'll take the Ice Blue One, Please...

So, in the world of capital expenditures, we seem to have shelled out a lotta dough in the last year. We have a condo we were unable to sell and therefore decided to rent - we have not replaced every appliance in that place. A few months ago, we had to replace the furnace and air conditioner, and on Tuesday of this week, the dryer croaked.

I could go off at this point about my financial worries, how upset I am that we have to put out the money, etc. but I expect anyone in the same position would say about the same.

Instead, I will talk about my Kelly Ripa-inspired Electrolux Washer Dryer Lust.

You may or may not have seen the Kelly Ripa commerical where she has the lovely, ginormous laundry room with the beautiful teal, front-loading shiny steam washer/dryers. It makes her life easier! She can get so many things done so quickly it is all a blur, with time left over to bake cookies for the children.

I'm sick. I admit it. The commercial has gotten to me. Somehow I am sure that if I had that exact washer and dryer, my kitchen would be clean, my house would be immaculate, and I could make chocolate chip cookies that provided not only healthy, calorie-free nourishment for my family but also the time to sit down and enjoy said cookies with them. Additionally, I would be adorable and tiny like Kelly Ripa.

When we arrived at the dent and ding appliance outlet store, the price for this item of laundry lovliness was a mere $1368, after a $500 discount. This price was for not both machines, but the washer alone.


With a heavy heart, I chose a decent front loading Maytag set at a more reasonable price. Kelly Ripa I am not. The perfect life, I have not. That least my washer and dryer match, and while not shiny perfect teal - they are at least, blue. :)

This is my very personal blog - may I have another Kleenex please?

My husband, who I don't think really even believes I am attempting a blog, suggested the 2nd part of my title today. I have a GOD-AWFUL cold with a ridiculously drippy nose. It is truly vile - my nose is red and swollen, my pocket is full of soggy, dirty get the picture.
I look, feel, and sound gross.

Anyway, I told my husband he couldn't read what I was writing because it was "deeply personal" and only afterwards realized what the hell I just said. I wish to God I could chalk that one up to the cold meds, but sadly I haven't taken any.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Drool - The Best Valentine Ever

Okay, I am watching my husband with my 4 month old little daughter, Sydney (our first). She has in her mouth some sort of combination teething toy/light-up music thang. Part of it is in her mouth, the lights are going on and off, and drool is coming out both sides of her mouth (we think she may be getting a tooth).

I am utterly in love with this blue-eyed, mostly bald nordic-looking baby. She has the most amazing smile and laughs from the deepest part of her belly. Her eyes crinkle at the edges and when she grins dimples show in her cheeks.

Honestly, I can't think of a more genuine, more real, more constant feeling of love than that I have for this tiny (well, ok - she IS almost 16 pounds but still) creature who is all innocence, laughter, and wonder. She breaks my heart. I will do anything in the world to make her smile, want to cry when she cries, and even when she poops up to her armpits (which she routinely does - for some reason she is scatologically challenged and only does this once every day or so) I am grateful for the opportunity to make it better.

I think God gives us children so that when we have lost some of our own innocence and wonder with the world, we can see it anew through their eyes...even when our own are tired, and red, and glassy with lack of sleep.

I am sick with a bad cold, worried about the mighty dollar, and it is ugly/nasty cold outside. That said, it is my first Valentine's Day with Syd, and that alone makes it the best one ever.

(Lord, I am cheesy. Ah well. Tis V-day, after all.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Facebook Crazy

I concluded, last night, amid my crazy-arse dreams that I needed another vehicle for expressing my thoughts. I have a jillion and two thoughts running through my head at any one time, and finding the proper audience for these can be challenging lest I appear even more of a total nutcase (which, I probably am) to the general public.

I have no kung-fu in my background, although I do have a pug whose origin is a foo-dog. The name just came to me and I am keeping it.

So...that said...Facebook. Okay, I admit I am a junkie...and apparently a bit competitive. I have basically been accepting each and every facebook invitation to be "friends" that is out there. I am friends with people that tormented and hated me in high school...have even *requested* some of those friends... I am friends with the girl across the street that wrote on my head as a child. I am friends with my sister's friends. I even requested the "friendship" of a girl who stole my boyfriend in high school (not that he was all that great) because I wanted to see what she was doing these days and because I was sick and tired of her showing up in my "people you might know" list.

When I saw that a girlfriend of mine who joined Facebook in response to my inviting her had more friends that I did, I immediately started going through my friend's friends to see if there were people I had missed and started furiously adding them to my list of the 'chosen'. I have, for the most part, not dumped any of these folks that I profess to want to know more about...with the exception of one woman I've deemed even more crazy than I am who kept inviting me to events at her church and posting conspiracy theories on an hourly basis. But still -like 'em, abivalent to 'em, dying to know more about 'em - I am friends with a ton of people whose names I have not mentioned or uttered in 20-30 years - some of whom took great delight in posting our "adorable" grammar school class pictures together. I've been wholly accepting of all of this nonsense in the attempt to feign some semblance of popularity.

But last night - I finally received a friend request that I refuse to accept - from a girl I was friends with at one time in my twenties, but who stole my playstation when she moved to Memphis . She took my TOYS!! I am "ignoring" her. A girl, after all, has to have some standards. :)