Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thanks to Martha for my first award!

The attendent rules:
Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with "Honest Scrap." Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. Then, list at least 10 honest things about yourself.

1. I tend to speak without thinking
2. That's why I tend to find writing easier
3. I am unwilling to dye my gray hair because I'm too cheap to get it dyed every few weeks.
4. I watch too much TV
5. I don't really watch TV, since I'm usually reading a book or on the computer at the same time
6. I read a lot of books, but I only really absorb the plot lines of the one I find meaningful or really enthralling.
7. I frequently get books from the library that I've read before and don't realize - until I get a few pages in.
8. I wish I could travel more
9. I never used to get angry, but now I have a much hotter temper.
10. I am a dog person, but allergies prevent me from having pets. Maybe someday.

Thanks also to Martha for The Lemonade Stand Award

And the final tag from Martha:

Instead of saying where you live, what state your hair is in, etc. you will share bizarre little things about yourself. Maybe you have some guilty pleasures, maybe you have some OCD that you desperately try to hide, whatever the case may be this is your chance to spill it. Let's all remember to be honest, not to judge, and to have some fun being able to embrace our oddities and laugh at ourselves. Thought this might be a nice mid-week tension reliever.

1. I don't like for my food to touch, unless it's supposed to touch (like a casserole, or pasta and sauce)
2. I occasionally alphabetize my CD collection.
3. At work, my desk top is a mess, but my drawers are neat and organized
4. This is a carryover from my childhood. When I was told to clean my room, I would shove everything in the drawers to get it off the floor.
5. I have a semi-irrational fear of touching wild birds, as my mom once told me that they carry disease.
6. I like to sleep late, but am incapable of doing so.
7. It makes me crazy to watch forensic stuff on TV.
8. I am somewhat prudish around most people, but around certain people I can be quite raunchy. I find this to be odd.
9. I think I'm losing my hearing, little by little.
10. I do not like sand - because you just can't get it off.

As usual, I'm tagging and awarding anyone who reads this!

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's all relative

My sisters-in-law have sent me most unusual emails this week. First, the one that just had a baby sent me a note to tell me about the baby. I sent her one back, congratulating her, telling her that we'd like to stop by sometime, and asking if there was anything she needed. She responded by saying "Thank you for offering to get us something. i could really use a hamper (i like the wicker ones either white or honey color). Her room is eventually going to be bright colors like pink & green." Now, on the one hand, it's nice to be able to get something that someone actually wants. But, on the other hand, that wasn't exactly what I was asking. I was thinking more in terms of, you know, bread and milk, or a package of diapers. But, I had intended to get a gift for the baby, so why not a hamper? At least I can be fairly sure it will get used.

My other sister-in-law is doing some sort of fund raising effort for the Amer. Cancer Society. My husband's dad had esophageal cancer this year, and seems to have beaten it. My sister-in-law, K, is a passionate girl, and always has a cause that she's working on. So, she was soliciting donations for her effort last month. This month, she was pissed that no one had donated and so she sent out a chastising email, telling us all how we should be supporting her. I am of two minds about ACS. My dad had Rheumatoid Arthritis, and when my mother contacted the Arthritis foundation for help, they told her there was nothing they could do for her. This was way before the internet, so this was supposed to be how you found support and information before blogging and Dr. Google. So, I have a rather cynical view of these societies and foundations. I'm sure they do some good, but I'd rather support charities that I know are actually serving people directly, like the Red Cross. In addition, I do not like the Amer. Cancer Society, because I'm pretty sure they were the source of my favorite telephone solicitation call:

I was living at home after my dad had passed away, and I worked evenings. One day, the phone rang and I answered it.

Me: Hello?
Telemarketer: Can I speak with Mr. or Mrs. Smith?
Me: (Clearly they don't know us, or they would know that Mr. Smith has been dead for over a year) They're not home right now.
TM: I'm from the Amer. Cancer Society, and I'd like to send some information to the Smiths.
Me: Well, I don't think they'll be interested, but feel free to send whatever you like.
TM: OK, I'll just need to verify the address.
Me: Like I said, I doubt they'll be interested, but go ahead and verify the address.
TM: What is the address there?
Me: If you're verifying the address, shouldn't you already have it?
TM: Well, we just have a list with names and phone numbers. We don't have access to the list with the addresses. That's kept separately.
Me: Well I'm not giving you the address. You can call back when you have it, and I'll be happy to verify it then.
TM: This is very important information, and I know the Smiths will really want to have it. So I will need to verify the address.
Me: Look, lady, if you're verifying the address, then you have to already have the address. I am NOT giving you the address. You tell me what you have and I'll tell you if it's correct. That's what verifying is.
TM: I told you, I don't have access to the address list.
Me: Well, I'm not giving you the address. You can call back when you have it.
TM: Fine. I WILL call back and I will tell Mr. and Mrs. Smith how rude their babysitter was and you WILL be fired. *Click*
Me: ...

Me: Hello Mom?
Mom: Yes?
Me: Did you know I'm going to be fired?
Mom: WHAT?!?!? (For God's sake you just got that job, what are you talking about)
Me: Yeah, the dog's going to be very disappointed that I won't be able to babysit him anymore.

Mom did not fire me from babysitting the dog, in case you were wondering.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Multiple personalities

I've been reading a lot about the inherent conflicts of motherhood. I've read the posts from those who do not yet have children, and how they resent being told how free they are (or appreciate that freedom but are willing to give it up at any time). I've been reading about people who have concluded their fight against infertility and wonder whether this will redefine who they are. This has made me reflect on my quest for children and how much of myself I've sacrificed.

I'm not a terribly ambitious person. I have a relatively great pays well, it's very secure, the work can sometimes be interesting and exciting, and mostly I am in charge of what I do every day. I also have evil coworkers and managers who try to manufacture evidence to progressively discipline people in order to either make them completely submissive or make them quit. I take that back. For one manager, even being submissive is not enough. You must actively recognize his greatness on a daily basis, or you make yourself a target.

When I was 34, I decided to take the LSAT and apply to law school. I got in, and it would have cost about $20K/year for tuition. Since it was night school, I could have kept my job, and we could have afforded the tuition, but my husband was opposed to the expense. As I said, I'm not terribly amibitious, but my main motivating factor for not pushing to go to law school was that I knew I wanted to have children. It would have been a waste of resources to start law school, because I would probably be having a baby before I graduated.

Once I finally did get to the point where there was a pretty good chance that I could have a take-home baby, I was pretty happy to have my job. I had lots of sick time and vacation time stockpiled. I could work part time for a year. They were required to provide me with a place to pump breastmilk. At the time, my husband worked with me. He had gotten so fed up with the evil people that, when the baby was about 5 months old, he started looking for new jobs. We both applied for the position that he has now. When I went for the interview, I saw that it would be a great job...if I didn't have a child. Everyone there was ambitious and dedicated. Everyone spent a LOT of time at work. But it is a contract position with the US Government, and some other company could win the bid for the work at any time. It did not provide the security I felt we needed for our daughter.

I would have loved the job. It involves cutting edge technology. It involves national and worldwide security issues. It is high-impact but low profile. But I could not fully devote myself to it, because I was 100% devoted to something else...mommyhood. Plus, the attraction of a 6 figure salary was outweighed by the need to keep a stable home and be near family. Putting the needs of your children first is a no-brainer, but it is extremely challenging to put aside your career options to do it, especially when you are going to continue working.

I didn't really take in that I might be losing my identity until our daughter was 15 months old and I took her to daycare. Overnight, I became S.'s mom. I was not Mrs. Whatever, I was not A, I was S.'s mom. I was simulatneously freaked out and offended by this. My first thought was "I am not just S.'s mom. That's a great thing to be, but it is not my whole being." Then I wondered (because my husband was saying something similar) if it was becoming my whole being. But it's not. I still have interests. I still have the same hobbies that I've always had.

Yes, I have made some sacrifices that I would not have made if I did not have S. But operating in her best interests does not change me. I might swear a little less, but that's only when she's around. I might go out less than I used to, but I'm basically a homebody anyway. When she's an adult and moves out on her own, I will not find myself lacking in things to do. Yes, I'm a mom, but I'm not only a mom. Although I am pretty focused on becoming a mom to another baby...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Names, names, names

In keeping with what is now apparently a family tradition for this generation, my SIL named her new daughter something that ends in -a (or -ah). There are 4 girls now, and they all have names like Diana or Viola (but not those, of course). It's kind of odd, and if I remember correctly, yet another SIL intends to name her daughter (if she has one) Mya.

I have issues with names. I'm also a bit of a hypocrite, since my daughter has an unusual name, but the blame rests entirely with my husband. But it does make me cringe a little when people alliterate their children's names. Like my grandmother...who had 3 daughters. All their names start with Mar... Like my oldest sister...who has 3 children whose names all start with M. For that matter, my oldest sister also chose my name. Her name starts with A, and my next oldest sister's name starts with J. Then the next sister is also a J. When I was born, my sisters were sent to stay with my aunt for a few weeks, and there was a letter from my oldest sister urging my parents to pick another A name (with a list of suggestions) so she wouldn't be outnumbered. Maybe that's why I have issues with names.

In the course of my work, I look at a lot of names. At one point, I found the worst name ever, but it was so horrible that I've completely blocked it from memory. One of the names that tickled me the most was Ruby Mae Cabbagestalk. I don't know why I think that's so funny, but there it is. I recently saw on The Smoking Gun the guy named Dalcapone Alpaccino Morris (they refer to it as the best Scarface tribute). One of the guys in our office compiled a list of the most unusual names he'd encountered. While some are not that unusual to me, there are a couple of standouts, such as Vassey Vernon Von Hoosier III (because once is just not enough to saddle someone with that name) and someone I've seen a time or two, Quliac Halfacre.

My question is this: What's wrong with traditional first names, with traditional spellings? Don't you waste enough time in life without having to spend half an hour spelling your name over the phone for every customer service call? There are at least 2 more common names by which my daughter will likely be called, because her father fell in love with a word and decided to make it a name. (In my defense, I had only agreed to it as a middle name, but then when we decided on a first name the flow of the names was better when they were reversed. Also, there is an actress who has a variation of her name, so it's not completely unheard of.) Personally, I don't want my child to stand out for anything other than her own accomplishments. If you get a chance to read Freakonomics (by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner), it has an interesting section on names.