Sunday, March 30, 2008

The glorious weekends

There's only one way to be on a weekend when you get to spend good lazy time with the boy and my husband: happy. Though technically, my husband didn't get to be lazy because he was both sick and working. But he was here, we all were together here in our home, and I found this weekend, and last weekend too (in the pic), restful and healing.
I hate to admit it, but I love snow. Even old spring snow. I know everybody hates it, but I love it. It's bright. And I really love it. And I'm allowed to love it and say so too. Even in almost April. The clean stuff, mind you, not the stuff at the side of the road; more like the stuff on lawns and in parks.
I took a walk at lunch the day after the last big storm. It was sunny and unbelievably bright and beautiful. I love how my boots feel in deep, fresh snow. Makes me feel like home. Although... whatever you do, if you live in S. Ontario, don't look at Posie's March 28 posting. Avert your eyes.
Anyway, this glorious weekend, we lazed around, played games -- made up on the spot, of course -- we went to the coffee shop (twice!), we watched two episodes of PW both yesterday and today, and -- bought new living room furniture.
Re: that. It's fun to take the good part of the j*b, which is the being paid for it, and use it to replace our 20-year-old floor-model-in-the-first-place couch. We get it in only four weeks.
As for Earth Hour, we lit candles and turned out the lights, and used our emergency wind-up lantern, which kept turning off, freaking Charlie out; and I can't blame him for it because it's not nice to be left in the dark during story time again and again. As for the bulk of our neighbourhood, participation was rather pathetic, and with the curtains open, we really didn't need the candles and lantern; there was so much light coming from the school and the arena and the surrounding apartment buildings. Maybe it'll get bigger next year.
Charlie wanted to know why we were doing this, and I did not enjoy trying to explain the "why" to my sweet sensitive and slightly scared little boy.
But all in all, it was a great weekend, and I feel up to "it" (I don't want to type the word j*b though, and I don't have to) all again, even on a Sunday night. Some days it's just so easy to make Charlie laugh and life is fun and the fun is effortless. This was one of them. What we're having right now -- and I'm conscious of it -- is the good old days.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Funk redux

Redux: I love that word. I'm definitely having good days and bad days, funkwise -- today being a good day. And so far that day last week was the worst.

My husband’s being v. supportive, and while I'm not planning on quitting anytime soon, he's totally supportive if I decide to, which is actually very helpful in making me less trapped. And feeling trapped is one of my major issues (other than hormones).

Physically, at the office I am rather trapped. I'm in the corner of an L, with people on either side of me and a little round meeting table is right behind my chair; people keep leaving the chairs pulled out (which, don't worry, I keep pushing in), and I'm always dodging them whenever I get up to go to the printer. Plus I see no daylight, especially when the two people in the outer offices have their doors shut. (I just put up a little mirror; I can catch a bit of daylight now out of my left eyeball).

Funny what seems like a little thing can turn into a huge thing when you realize you have to come here every day, and the idea that I could be coming here for YEARS just piles up in my brain sometimes. I remind myself though that in the working world, people's desks get moved rather frequently, so you never know.

Every day now on the bus when I pass the stop where I "had to" get off, I think, hmm, I'm okay and I don't have to get off. But the fact that I did actually get off and go home last week makes me feel freer.

I'm giving it 3 months to start with. Then I'll give it another 3 months, etc. The major thing is that it’s good money, and we need it. Of course, the fact that the money’s good also makes me feel more obligated to not quit.

And today, the weekend lies ahead. Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The divine Ms. Z.

Now here's a great broad with a blog: Antonia Zerbisias. She used to write a media column (& blog) in the Toronto Star, and now is blogging again, ostensibly to chronicle her chase to get fit and lose weight, but actually most often writes about key women's issues -- which she also does her newspaper column.
Women's issues. Sound familiar?  We've got to get back to talking about them. It's all about us. Check it out.
She's got the issues and the wit. And if you write to her, she always writes back.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Three things that made me happy

Oh yeah, the tears keep coming here and there, but I'm having a much better day than the last few. The fact that it's a holiday is definitely a factor. It's a happy day (even though holy-day-wise it's technically supposed to be a sad day) because:

a) I'm having leftover beef stew made by my husband -- beef stew on Good Friday! I feel like Frasier running with scissors! and

b) Charlie and I coloured Easter Eggs today, discovering at the last minute that the eggs we had were brown. You can still colour them -- they look cool. I'm posting a pic (I've done it before!); I'm not crafty and the eggs actually look sketchy from an asthetic point of view, but I still like the look of them. You don't need a special kit; all you need for each colour is a cup of hot water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, and 6 to 8 drops of food colouring, and you're set. And

c) I found a DVD yesterday of both seasons of Pee-Wee's Playhouse! Oh the joy! And Charlie and I just watched two episodes, and he laughed hysterically at "Say it, don't spray it." And, yelling "GAAAAH" at "door", the secret word of Ep #1, and "fun", the secret word of Ep#2. After all these years, I still have a great love for Pterry. "Pee-Wee, Mr Kite called me a baby!" I watched it quite faithfully way back when it was first on in the mid-80s. I was just out of school, and new to the city, and lived in a rooming house in the Annex; my friend Bert (from high school in our hometown) lived upstairs. Every Saturday morning at 9:30, we kept our appointment with Pee-Wee. And we were always dutifully sad when the end-of-the-show signal music would come on, and PW would raise the iron and get out his scooter, and take off through the door -- "GAAAAH".

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What kind of umbrella would take care of this kind of rain?

Part of me thought this adventure in being an employee again would be a bit of a gas. I could earn a regular salary, do a job I knew I could do, enjoy the security of benefits, chat with colleagues, and then at the end of the day poke fun at the corporate weirdness that so many people put up with every day. 
But I'm having a problem this week -- I'm at the end of week seven of this endeavour -- and I don't know what to do about it.
What would you do if you woke up in the morning feeling a little off, maybe a little flat, then you got ready for work as usual, but then as you were putting on boots, and hunting for tokens, you started having tears, and getting all choked up? 
What I did was figure, no big deal: I'm having a bad day. Some mornings are harder than others, that's all. Some mornings leaving my son is extra hard, and some mornings, like the one I had a few days ago, simply leaving is extra hard. It happens; no big deal.  
Everybody feels this way every now and again. So I compose myself, wash my face, get my good-bye kisses, and go. I run down the stairs, pause to stuff the tears back in with a hankie, then zip over to the bus stop and have a short chat with the little group of fellow commuters. Usually on those slightly tougher mornings, by then I feel better.
Not always, it turns out. I kept getting choked up. Tears just fall out. But again, smartened myself up, told myself nobody's looking at me, and after all it's cold, so a red nose isn't so noticeable. I got on the bus, and thought, I'm okay. But then my mind went to where I was going -- to sit at my desk in close quarters to my twentysomething colleague, who doesn't turn her head when I come in and typically grunts in response to my hello/good morning. But really, she's not that bad; I don't seriously think I'm weeping on the bus because a colleague isn't a morning person. And I like my work. All this is going through my mind. I take a deep breath. And tears just fall; my glasses are splattered. I can tell I'm going to start sobbing.
I have to get off the bus. I can't stand there balling for krissakes on the bus. I feel foolish, and decide I have to get a) some air, and b) some privacy ASAP. So I do. Then walk home. On the way home I decide I'll just take an aspirin, eat some breakfast and wait til the big dark cloud passes.
Anyway, it pretty much worked. My husband, as usual, was supportive and sympathetic. My son, as usual, adorable in his jammies. Oh, I know I'm also stressed because my son is sick again; it's stressful for every parent. I went to the office in the afternoon, and it was mostly fine. I got choked up again once or twice at my desk, but this time, I was able to stuff it back down, and nobody was looking at me anyway.
Not sure what the problem is. It could very well be menopause, or peri-menopause, which is what you call it when saying menopause makes you feel too much like a granny. If you google the symptoms, you'll find that every odd annoyance -- and every normal annoyance -- a woman can feel can be attributed to peri/meno. It could be just that I am the fragile flower I so strenuously long not to be.
This copious-tears-before-work thing doesn't typically happen in my freelance life. Probably because going in to the office is not every day, and you get a psychological rest from the grind, and you remain one removed from the politics and the hierarchy, and you don't feel like you're owned, and you don't feel trapped. You do, sometimes though, feel like an outsider, second-class citizen, and one late cheque away or one prolonged illness away from disaster.
My plan: I'm hoping to haul my bike out next week. I'm in need of those exercise endorphins. They could be the umbrella I'm looking for here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Now here's something weird

The Perfect ***tainer. You always hope someone's reading your blog, and dread it at the same time. Like maybe the someone who's reading your blog will turn out to be a hater or even a relative you just wrote about. Anyway, not sure how they found it because I don't really know how this all works yet, but a contain*r company, touting themselves as The Perfect C*ntainer Company, has a link to my post that talks about my son saying all the red lights on the 401 would fit on a single conta*ner. I guess they have crawler programs, and they found the word (which I'm going to change right now). Nothing against things that you put things in, or the companies that make them, but it's just a bit too weird to have that as my first big link.

In other news: bigger news, actually. My brother's sister got married not long ago, with my brother as an usher, and my parents, who are not the bride's parents, as guests at the family table. I typically read several blogs by adoptive parents, chronicling their family journeys. Here's ours.

My brother has me, a sister and a brother, and we all grew up together with our mom and dad. He also has a fully blood-related sister (the beautiful bride of recent) and brother (his best friend) and birth mother and birth father. We adopted Christopher when I was about eight, and he was less than a week old. Back then, there was no question of open adoption -- it was against the law, or something like that.

I was initially upset that our new baby wasn't a girl, but then my mother reminded me I wouldn't have to share my room, and I was happy. Happy at how beautiful adorable funny and amazing my baby was.

People over the years have asked how we managed to adopt a baby so easily even though there were already two kids in the family. We got to the front of the line because we accepted the placement before he was born; others on the list did not want a baby of sex/health/issues unknown. We all figured that if mom were pregnant, we wouldn't know the sex of the baby anyway, and we'll find out soon enough. Also why we got to the front: baby was expected to be born in the summer. People wanted to go away on summer holidays and not have to stay home to wait for the baby. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. So we lucked out because the others on the list were weird (my 8-yr-old point of view).

He knew he was adopted from early on -- did I come from your tummy, Mommy? -- and whenever the topic was handled (and mis-handled) on "very special" sitcom episodes, he'd get very quiet, and sometimes sad. But otherwise in our day-to-day lives, the topic frankly didn't come up much. He always planned to try to meet his birth mother -- that's really all we were expecting he'd ever find -- when he turned 18, and omigod, he sure did, finding out in a beautiful letter, that a few years after he was born, she and his birth father reunited, got married and had two more kids.

It practically blew his mind. Ours too. And, as I've found out years later getting to know his sister (he calls her his sister because after all she is his sister), that it certainly blew her mind to find out she had a big brother. He met with his birth parents (I drove him to their meeting), and found them to be very nice, decent people. He got a few questions answered, but not all. Then for years after, he wasn't up to handling communicating with them -- too much potential obligation -- until he became a father himself. Then -- wow!

Today, many many years later, he is friends with the blood family, and our parents are friends with his birth parents, and in particular, the two mothers like to compare notes. Our brother is friends with Christopher's brother, and I'm friends with his sister. I talked to our parents on the weekend, and they said they were made to feel like full family, and were seated at a 1st-tier family table.

We all feel lucky -- his birth family is a bunch of nice -- very nice -- people. Our mom too is sensitive to Christopher's birth mom's original loss of him, and his birth mother is very sensitive to our mom's possible feelings of -- you're trying to take away my baby!

Omilord, we did have those feelings too. He had a sister! More of a sister than me! Over time (a fairly short time), I realized he's still my brother, and you can't erase our childhoods, and even tho he's close with her, there's always enough love to go round. I guess it's like having a bunch of kids -- it is possible to love the next one as much as you love the first one. Also helping is the fact that she's totally sweet, and his blood brother is his closest friend -- they both agree that if they had in fact grown up together, that might not be the case.

I have a close friend who's mom to a young girl adopted from Asia. She gets upset with couples on the fertility rollercoaster who refuse to consider adoption. But, from my perspective, everyone has to realize that adoption, while it is wonderful, it is complicated, and you have to be prepared to be not just a parent, but an adoptive parent. Your child's going to have questions, and you're going to have to face them, and face the possibility that you have to let them go running into the arms of their first parents, leaving it up to them to come back. It was hard. But we are so very, very lucky.

A word on my funk. I'm thinking it's hormonal. And possibly sleep deprivation related. Hormonally induced sleep deprivation. Also: I'm leaving behind my childbearing years, and even though we didn't plan on another, and adoption will always as far as I'm concerned be on the table, this peri-menopause thing is making me really sad.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hello darkness my old friend

I've been in a funk. The kind of funk that lies just below the surface a lot of the time. The kind where I could cry real tears in a second if you wanted me to. Now that it's Saturday again though, the funk lifts, like it did last Saturday. Comes back Sunday afternoon; goes til Friday night.

I do like the job, I do. It's fine. The people around me are (so far) quite nice, and do things like ask if I want to come with them to the cafeteria across the street at lunch, or, let's go to Winners, stuff like that, which was totally missing from my last fulltime gig.

I even feel comfortable with the work, and the subject matter is okay -- not particularly meaningful, mind you, and that could be part of the problem. The cubicle is dark and crowded; that's not good. But the pay is.

I miss having more easy unstructured time with my boy, like we were able to have this morning, with lots of snuggles and little kisses. Sometimes I can't get over how beautiful he is. It's just wrong that I can't put my hands on his little shoulders in the middle of the day from Monday to Friday.

Funks don't make great reading, but I'm very much in one. Bring on da noise, I'm in a funk.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Policy and reality

The recipes. I'm still loving going through my husband's great-aunt's recipes; she passed away almost six weeks ago, and I am the new caretaker of her wonderful recipe collection. I love how well-used they are, how organized and orderly they're laid out in her binders and boxes, and I love the marginalia, e.g. "Mary", "Alice", and sometimes, "GOOD", and occasional corrections. I'm going to try to upload an image (my first try).
Policy and reality. A few days back I was all irked at the company's harsh and pathetic bereavement policy, giving you three paid days off if you lose a spouse, parent or child. Next day, a woman in my office got a call about her very ill dad, told the closest manager, and left the office within about 3 minutes of hanging up the phone. She hasn't been back in the office since, and nobody's bat an eye, everybody's covering for her, and, I'm quite sure, nobody's counting days.

It makes me feel much better that the official policy seems to be nothing more than a thing that's written down, and that's all.

In other news: In the car tonight on the highway home from visiting some out-of-town friends, Charlie (who is roughly 3 3/4)asked us, "Do you realize that all those red lights out there fit in one conta*ner?" I said, wow, how do they do that? "It's a magic c*ntainer."
First, I was loving the use of the phrase, "do you realize", which is new to him. But what I did realize is that he'd been listening to my husband talk earlier in the afternoon about a theory that concludes that the entire human race would fit in the space of a sugar cube if you squeezed out all the empty space (99.999% of the volume of ordinary matter is empty space; massive distance between the nucleus of an atom and its electrons, but don't quote me). I didn't think he was listening, but he picked up the information, and put it into his own magic container.
I'm kicking myself. One of the friends we were visiting is expecting her first child soon, and she was saying she'll probably feel guilty when she goes back to work, and I, stupidly, said, "oh don't worry about it (or something like that), you'll feel guilty no matter what you do." Gah! That's exactly the kind of glib thing I'd sometimes hear from well-meaning-but-asinine people when I was pregnant, which usually just made me mad later (then I'd feel guilty for being so enraged at someone so seemingly well meaning). I have to make it up to her.
Ennisclare. A sign on a building on the way home tonight saying "Ennisclare" reminded me of my lovely trip to Ireland not long ago. I was trying to think when exactly that trip was. Guess what -- ten years ago. I was all choked about turning 35, so I took a trip to visit friends to mark the occasion and cheer myself up. I swear it still feels recent. As for taking a trip to cheer me up about turning 35, it worked. It was so much fun, and I used it as fuel for a long long time afterward, going on a decade. Reminds me at the time what my mom said when I told her facing 35 seemed "like I was on the edge of an abyss!" My mom's answer: "Guess, what? Next year you get to turn 36!" I find her remark a lot funnier ten years later than I did at the time.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The subway

Here’s a weird thing. Sitting in front of me on the subway this morning was a young man I couldn’t take my eyes off. Couldn’t figure out why. A few stops on I realized he looked very much like my dad, not the dad of today, but the dad who’s in my parents’ wedding photos. The fellow looked so young and sweet, it made me smile. I’m sure at a certain point the guy noticed I was looking at him, and I really wished I could tell him why.

Then, I got off at my stop, and in front of me where two men, about 40, identical twins, which always freaks me out (sorry; it just does). One was wearing glasses; the other was, I bet, wearing contacts.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Facing employeehood

Sad policy. I was checking something on the company website today, HR stuff, and stumbled onto info about "paid bereavement leave". Since we had a death in the family not that long ago, and I had lunch with a good friend who very recently lost a good friend, this kind of thing is much on my mind.

Guess what you get if you lose a spouse, parent, child, or other dependent relative who lives with you? My first emotional guess, though knowing it's probably a pipe dream is, oh maybe four weeks, maybe at reduced pay; I mean, they top up mat. leave for awhile at least, to 80% pay. How bout this: three days. Three days paid leave. Then you're back at your desk, typing away. Maybe they give you a box of klennex, I don't know, though it would probably mention it in the policy statement.
The other part of it, as always. God, I miss my boy, and I miss spending time with him. I only get him now at the end of the day, when he's tired, and I know for a fact I'm missing so much of the fun stuff, and he's at such a cute, funny, amazing age, and I'm off elsewhere.

Yeah, I know I'm making a living, and all that, but the whole point is that is weird, and mothers should be able to do that and also be with their nice little kid, and not miss his endlessly amazing stages.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The hierarchy

I'm stewing about my new fulltime job. It's going well; really well, in that so far I like my co-workers, and I'm thankful to be working on stuff that's not about RRSPs or foreign investing or mutual funds, and the pay is good, and all that, but the set-up of the fulltime employee in general really bugs me.

I don't like the hierarchy. The woman who works at reception was upset the other day because one of the higher-ups had sent her an email, saying "just do it," after she'd explained things to him like, this particular thing was not her job, he was not her boss, she could direct him to the person who was responsible for doing said thing, but then he says, "just do it." I felt a flame of rage on her behalf.

The big thing about freelancing that I think I'm going to miss the most is the ability to say NO to dumb requests. I imagine you can say no, in theory, in a fulltime employment situation, but the higher-ups have more power than you, and they can make it so you lose your job, or at least make you feel like you're about to lose it. I hate this.

It also irks me that my boss, her boss, her boss and her boss are all probably younger than me, or close in age. And also that my boss's boss's boss is already showing signs of making people miserable by abusing her power, requesting (demanding) that things be redone, just because she doesn't like the "angle", or something equally capricious.
In other news: my son's fever seems to have gone down, and my husband's flu also looks to be better today. Me, I'm tired, and I sure as hell don't feel like going to work tomorrow.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Last one standing

My husband has been sick for a week, with a very, very nasty flu. It looked like he was getting better, then he got much worse, then a little better, and now just a little worse today (he's also working here, from home). Last night, right after I got home from the office, Charlie got sick, as in the whole nine yards of kid-sick. He's just perked up now, in time for us to feed our Wallaby on facebook. I'm so relieved he's a little better.

That means everyone around me, both at home and at work, have had the bug. Except one.


I'm going to wash my hands.