Nostalgia and other thoughts

I’m waiting on various responses before I can get some big tasks done, so I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on a couple things.

First… I was walking in to work this morning, listening to Fleetwood Mac and it hit me that we used to listen to “Rumours” on the bus to school each morning back on Vancouver Island.  It was the 70’s – don’t ask me what year, because I was a kid and we didn’t measure time by things like “years,” rather in the increments of time between being at school and being out in the world having our kid adventures.  I know it was probably spring, although, I suppose it could just as easily have been fall.  The ride was long enough that we got to listen to at least 1/2 the album before we got to school.  And it was on cassette.

Between that memory and looking at the school where Bren will be going this next year, I find myself remembering the fun I had as a kid.  I wish Bren could have the kind of freedom I had.  We played on the beach for hours almost every day.  We wandered through our little fishing village, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, with no thoughts of worry for our parents… well, none that were communicated to us at least.

Ah, interruptions took care of that thought.  It’s nice though, to remember the past and how there were parts of it that were worth while keeping in my “memory boxes” as Bren puts it.  There are parts about living on the island that I miss, even as I know that there was a great deal to NOT miss about it. 

That’s a story for another day, though.

Less than 2 hours until my interview.  I have no preconceived notions about what to expect.  I don’t feel a sense of pressure to pursue this with all “guns firing,” but I do want to go with an open mind. 

A funny note.  I bought shoes last night.  I found some great ones at Fred Meyer (don’t laugh, I love their shoes).  My feet were swollen and today they are 1/2 size too big.  I can’t win.  I’ll get some insoles to help, but this is sad.  I love these shoes and I think they didn’t have them in 7 1/2, so I’m stuck.  They are comfy and with some insoles they might just fit.  Otherwise…  gah.

The refund from our old landlords has finally shown up.  And not with us.  I think those landlords were a bit nuts.  We gave them our forwarding information OVER AND OVER.  Still they managed to screw it up.  Mind-boggling.  Seriously mind-boggling. 

If they can’t deal with us properly, what are they like for the property owners??  It makes me cringe.

Still no emails back.  This is funny.  I guess it’s time to tackle some of the other small things I need to clear off my desk.  

No worries.  Everything happens for a reason.  It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of today.  It’ll be interesting to see what the next couple of weeks brings.  Less stress would be nice.  But I’m not going to hold my breath over it.

Cheers from a mildly optimistic moonfire.


Interview tomorrow, relief?

Often times, we know when it’s time to let go of something, that it’s time to move on and start on a new path.

I’m there right now.  Some folks think that getting a raise will make an unpalatable situation all better, but that sweetness only disguises that you’re still swallowing crap.  I’m ready to stop now.  The first step was submitting my application last week, but then I got smart and followed things up with an email to our HR department.  It turns out I didn’t even need to go through the work of submitting the online application.  Because it will be a voluntary demotion, all I had to do was send out my resume to the two departments with the current openings.

I have an interview with one of them at 4pm tomorrow.  One of my friends, here in our building, knows the person I’m in contact with and says she’s really nice.  What a wonderful thought!!

The upside to all of this is that my new department will get the benefit of my years of experience here on campus, plus a really decent skill set.  All I’m asking in return is a happy work environment and some leeway when I have to travel to Portland for my grad classes.  Ok, and some leeway when I have to deal with my children.

I’m asking a lot but I think I have a lot to offer. 

It’s possible, although I’m not counting on anything at this point, that I will have some relief from all this stress by the middle of May.

My birthday is May 18th.  It’s the last birthday of my 30’s.  I think that would be a spectacular birthday present.

For the record, I’d be losing $1-$2 per hour with this demotion.  It is ABSOLUTELY worth it.  If I’m faced with a choice between the continuing stress here and more money (they want to get this position promoted) or a demotion, with less stress and less money… I’ll take the tighter paychecks.  Tonight I need to think about how I want to present myself and what I want to say.  I need to be positive, upbeat and honest, all without shooting myself in the foot.

Yes, I’m leaving for reasons that are negative.  At the same time, I’m not leaving in a huff.  I’m leaving because I honestly can’t give these guys what they need and want.  As I told my boss this morning, I’m worn out.

Everything has it’s season.  This one is done. 

Time for the next story to be written.


The end of the month blues

We’re continuing to fight the various illnesses that seem to be endlessly circulating through town.  It’s a toss-up as to what will do me in first, fatigue about work and stress, or fatigue from fighting with illness and the impact it is having on our kids. 

Bren is having issues.  I suppose there is no other way to put it.  His method for coping with stress is to have outrageous fits.  We’re trying to help him deal with things, but truthfully, I’m so worn out that I know I’m now unable to do much for him.  We’ve been seeing a great doctor since January, but just when I think we might be moving past these outbursts, along comes a big one.  I talked to his pediatrician last week and it was reassuring, then he spent Sunday afternoon in a rampage of emotion.

Todd didn’t get the sleep he needed.  I felt completely lost.  The baby was bewildered and upset.

Bren still doesn’t seem to have fully recovered.  He was ok last night, but some evidence of it showed through this morning.

I’m lost.

Got to work this morning and there was a lovely card from my department.  They gave me a gift of money – much appreciated, as they know things are tight for me and my family.  It makes me feel guilty for wanting to get out of here.  I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t prompted by the basket my mum sent me.  (and yes, she’s the best…)

The funny (or sad, depending on your perspective) thing about it all is that the card was more than enough.  Actually, just the words “thank you” would have been plenty for me.  It’s amazing how that will do the job. 

But the issues are still here and I am waiting to see how things come out in the next couple of days.  My boss is tackling the issue that pushed me over the edge last week.  I expect the fall-out from it will be awful, but I don’t have any further resources (mental, emotional or otherwise) to deal with it.  And I shouldn’t have to.  I think that is what bothers me even more.  The “order” I got last week was completely inappropriate and not a bit unethical.  When I questioned the situation I got spoken to in a manner that I will not accept. 

This is the uncomfortable part about being considered a “peon” in the office.  I have latitude about the types of behavior that I will accept from my principals, ie, my faculty, but really I am the bottom of the foodchain here and it seems to be understood that I’m held to their whims.  For the most part, I exercise my rights to ask for what I need whenever possible, but the rest of the time it feels like my requests are lost in the air.

These are common complaints from administrative support folks.  I’ve heard it all before.  We get requests that are sometimes almost laughable… one friend, in a higher level position which is not supposed to be clerical, was asked by her incoming boss to read all his emails for him.  I’ve actually got it relatively good compared to others in my building.  Some of the expectations placed on them are minor irritations that can be dealt with by having a sense of humor, others are onerous and even, at times, ridiculous.  There is definitely a sense of “class” distinction, with those who are in support positions viewed with less than those sitting in the offices, with their advanced degrees.

I’m not lumping all folks together.  I have some faculty in my department who are seriously underpaid for the contributions they make.  And I certainly don’t view all support staff as free from criticism, myself included.  It’s just that there are days when I wonder if I can stand being a part of this system….  and last week was a time when the answer was no.

I’ll recover.  Maybe I’ll get an interview.  Maybe I won’t. 

In a few days the baby will be 1 year old.  I hope our second year brings better things than the first.

It’s something to look forward to, anyway.

Clambering down off my soap box and returning to the grind…

Illness, version 10.1

Bren is sick with yet another bug.  On top of trying to heal from having baby teeth pulled, he is recovering from conjunctivitis and then he picked up a virus on top of that.  It explains (partially, at least) the fits and the misery.

I’ve had it at work.  Yet another instance of faculty and their pain-in-the-ass insistence that they are somehow entitled in ways beyond that of the rest of us.  Between the stress at home and the stress at work, I am shutting down.  My fatigue is overwhelming and the weepiness, combined with the apathy and numbness, have all dragged me into the dirt.  Let someone else deal with this.  I’d rather take a pay cut and give somethings up than stay in this mess. 

I was told to “make things up” on a form that has to be certified by her.  This is NOT in my job description.  I’ve puddled along with her, thinking I’d deal with it but the truth is, I’m sick of it.  I’m sick of her adding to my load with no thought whatsoever. 

My anger and my apathy are mixing into a toxic combination that needs some release.  My ability to do my job well has been gradually declining, as the stresses have taken their toll.  I keep wondering if I’ve ever been doing a good job here or if I’ve just been limping along. 

My chief complaint is that the administrative side is left floundering.  Poor training, ineffective policies and no procedural guides – at least nothing that could be considered a true procedural guide – it leaves us struggling to do our jobs right.  We aren’t given what we need, but we are often told what we are doing wrong.

And this is sad as I do love my department.  They are funny and sharp, with good hearts.  I am worn out and need something where I can reduce my stress.  Graduate school is important for me and my family.  Failing there is NOT an option for me. 

If I stay here I will just keep grinding myself into the ground.  I really don’t think I can do it anymore.

No matter what happens, things move slowly here.  I question how good my score on the test was anyway.  It certainly didn’t reflect what I believe I have to offer the position I applied for. 

I don’t know really.  I just need something where I can function.  I wish I could work as a data entry operator, but that pay cut would be too steep.  So I’ll hang in there for now.  I won’t leave until I find something that makes leaving worth it.  No.  It won’t be a promotion.  It’ll likely be a demotion of some sort.  But we’ll see what happens.

sick and tired of being sick and tired,
moonfire (more like a flicker than a flame)

Not super mom

I lost it last night.  The pressures and the exhaustion finally caught up with me and I was done.  Bren is having difficulties, ranging from behavioral to medical right now (the medical are minor – recovering from pink eye, fighting a respiratory bug, recovering from having the teeth pulled, but the behavioral are worrisome…).

Everything piled up on me and I finally broke.  Work stress, home stress, children and husband stress, all contributed until I finally had to shut down.

Not the best way to deal with things, but I’m not made of steel.  Yesterday was a mix of numbness and tears, and that was just me.  People kept wanting to talk to me and each time was just a bit more energy that I couldn’t spare.  I tried to hide in the copy room at work and the damn machine jammed so bad that I had to get help with it.  I’m sure I’ll laugh about that some day down the road.  But not right now.

I love my family, but sometimes I want to stop them all and tell them that mom is running on empty…  Not food, not money, not love – just my energy as a whole.

It is ironic then, waking up this morning at 3am and coming down to get a drink, that I turned on the computer to distract myself and there it was, an article about the highs and lows of being the modern mom – all based on a poll of 2400 other moms.  So much of what came out of the poll echoed what I am feeling – the worry, the frustration, the fatigue, all countered by the love of being a mom.

My mum and I have talked about this before, agreeing that the information overload now makes the worries sometimes overbearing.  I can’t let my son play in our yard, for fear that he’ll be grabbed.  There are safety recalls, news stories, and instant 24-hour updates on what to do or not to do.  And the younger moms have it even worse than us older moms.  There is criticism, constant and overwhelming, coming from everywhere.  At least we older moms usually (note, I say usually) have a bit thicker skin and more confidence in our abilities.  I can’t imagine dealing with all of this and being in my early 20s.

Yes, there are trade-offs that we’ve gained and I don’t belittle those.  I also love being a mom.  It is the hardest, but best, job I’ve ever had.  BUT I will say this…  I got my latest issue of Self magazine and was actually slightly pissed off.  The cover article was about the “Happy Life of Jennifer Garner.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I like her acting and I’m glad she’s found happiness, but this is about the last thing I care about these days…  I am sick and tired (literally!) of reading about wealthy and/or famous women and their post-baby bodies or their wonderful lives.  I know they work for those things and they have a cost, but there is nothing about their lives that is reflective of what real women go through, day to day.

I read the article, mostly out of morbid curiosity, given that the title on the cover pissed me off so much.  It was fine, but I still came out of it with this sense that today’s media is completely clueless.

Ok.  That’s perhaps an understatement….  They want to sell us things and tell us “helpful” information, but I wish, just for once, that someone would come up with an HONEST magazine, one that tells what real families are going through.  And maybe, just a bit of information on how to hang in there.

So now it’s 3:50 am and I need to go back to bed.  The alarm is going off at 6am so I can get my boys ready for Gramma to pick them up.  Brennan will be tired and non-compliant, while Aidan will squawk at me for a bottle while I try to change him.  Maybe, if I’m lucky, I won’t get a phone call from either Todd or the grandparents telling me that Bren is having another meltdown…

Last night I didn’t get my cuddle time or my “I love you too, mom.”

I didn’t get a snuggle with the baby while I gave him his last bottle of the night.

There wasn’t book time or a word game.

Today is a new day.  It’s starting out quiet, with me by myself.  The media says I’m supposed to get some time for myself.  Does 3am count?

Signing off, one very tired moonfire.

The Shrinking American Cupboard

The most disturbing part of this article for me (besides the thing as a whole) was the line “…giving their children soda because it’s cheaper than milk…”

My household has felt the impact.  We began trying to eat healthier, using the Great American Detox Diet as our central source for ideas, but between being scheduled to the eyeballs and the cost of the healthy foods, we had to set it aside for the time-being.

Now though, even regular pantry items are getting steep.  I must admit that I’ve been a bit cavalier about food prices up until recently.  We have food in our cupboards and fridge, so I didn’t worry about it too much, even as I watched our budget get tighter and tighter.  That attitude is gradually shifting for me, though.  I am becoming more aware that we have to make some changes in our lifestyle.  Gas dollars don’t stretch as far… food dollars are getting us less…  and wages aren’t doing enough to offset it.

On top of all this, the state (our employer) is going to raise our employee portion of insurance. 

In terms of real dollars, I make less now than I did back in 2001.

What a sad thing.  And the impact of this problem is felt most at home, since shopping is a rare event for us.  We’ve driven the same cars for over four years and will continue to do so until they can’t be repaired anymore.  We rent because right now it’s actually cheaper than buying.  We live close to work and school and we walk when we can.  Extras have been pruned, but I see even more pruning coming.

We’re the lucky ones too.  I can’t imagine being able to feed our family on less than we are making now.  There are employees who work at our university who can’t even afford to eat on campus because they make so little.  The classified staff have pitched in to create a fund to help out those staff making the low amounts, but I have to wonder how they make it at home too.

I’ve got a short-list of charities that we support and the Idaho Foodbank is on there.  I’m thinking that perhaps it might be time to think about how I can stretch that dollar a little bit farther…. I bet they are going to need the help.

Cheers to all on this cold April day.  I hope your larders are full and your families are healthy,

Ahh, here we are on a Monday

I am sporting a new hair cut (that I love) and some new clothes to fit my chubby, post-baby body.  I needed to look better at work and I think I’m on the path.

This cold/sinus thing is still hanging in here, but it’s starting to give up the ghost a bit.  I have confidence that it will be out of my system soon.  At least that might be wishful thinking on my part.

The kids are doing well, but I feel like I’m letting them down with the house being so messy and the yard not being cleaned up.  I hope I get some energy together, as I’d like to get a few things accomplished.  I’m not asking too much, right?

I was talking to another mom today and we both agree – it’s really hard being a mom.  It’s exhausting….  It’s living in a state of worry…  It’s hoping that you’re doing the best for your children.  I find myself questioning how I’m doing all the time. 

It’s a beautiful day today – slightly overcast, warm but not hot, and there’s a breeze.  I could handle it staying like this for the rest of the week, but it’s going to cool down quite a bit tomorrow.  I’m struggling to figure out how to dress the baby.  I don’t have warm weather clothes in his size and the weather is so changeable anyway.  It’s kind of making me nuts.

Well.  I need to keep this brief.  I have to process book orders, finish travel paperwork, and clean up my desk.  At least SOMETHING in my life will be cleaned up!

I hope everyone is having a great day.  I know I am!