Yes, Virginia, There is Such a Thing as ‘Too Much Coffee’

This morning, baby woke up to feed at 2 a.m. and, as is her usual pattern these days, just needed a little top-off to get her back to sleep, so she was back out within 10 minutes. Me, on the other hand, could not get back to sleep.

At all.

So when it came time to get up, I stumbled into the kitchen to get the coffee that I so desperately would require to make it through a workday. I poured a gigantic mug full and drank it, and packed another mug for the road. Drank most of it en route.

When I got to work, I poured another cup.

And now I feel ill.

In Which I Discover the Effects of Living in Arizona Too Long

My Better Half™: “Her little dimple is SO cute!”

Me: “She has a dimple?! Where??”

My Better Half™: “Right there!”

Me: “Oh my God, she DOES! It IS cute! How have I not noticed that before? Do you have a dimple?”

My Better Half™: “Yeah, over here.”

Me: “Do I have a dimple?”

My Better Half™: “I can’t tell if that’s a dimple or a wrink-le…”

Me: “What?? A WRINKLE??”

My Better Half™: “uh, nothing…” <walks away>

Note to Self: More sunscreen and moisturizer. Daily.

Unfiltered Thoughts: Websites that Should Exist

Sites that follow up on flash-in-the-pan news stories that caught my our collective attention but about which I have heard nothing since. Remember the kid from UCLA who joined the Libyan revolution? Well what the hell happened to him? Did his parents beat him senseless? Is he back to life “as usual” in LA as a student?

A website where you can post the subtext behind all-too-polite resignation letters. Like the chick here who was demoted a couple months ago who resigned abruptly with: “I just wanted to send a note to you that I wish each and every one of you Much Success and Happiness  personally and professionally and certainly Much Success  to the organization overall, best wishes!” C’mon. Really?

Caveat: These might already exist. I just don’t have time / energy to investigate whether they do.

Winter Hibernation?

It’s funny how the universe gives you exactly what you need. The night before last, I woke at 2 with baby, and couldn’t get back to sleep. At all. Which meant I had been up for 16 hours straight by 6 p.m. last night. After we picked baby up from daycare, we went home and she was fussy, so we put her down, and here’s what unfolded:

6:30 – asleep. Totally, utterly unconscious.

40 minutes later-

Me: “I guess she didn’t get a long enough nap this afternoon.”

My Better Half: “mmm.”

30 minutes later –

Me: “Jeez. I guess she was super tired. Do you think she’s getting sick?”

My Better Half: “Nah, just sleepy.”

1 hour later –

Me: “Do you think she’s…okay?”

My Better Half: “just tired.”

2 hours later:

Me: “I just checked on her again. Do you think she’s, like, getting sick or something?”

My Better Half: “She’s just tired.”

3 hours later:

Me: “IS SHE OKAY?”

My Better Half: <eyes rolling>

4 hours later:

Me: “Uh, well, I wouldn’t so much call it a problem as totally out of character for her. She’s, um, well. Sleeping.”

My Better Half: “ARE YOU CALLING THE DOCTOR?!?! GET OFF THE PHONE!”

Gettin Dumber by the Minute

I was cleaning out the garage and, faced with the inevitable question of “will I ever need this again?” I increasingly find myself unequivocally saying “nope. No way.” Especially when it came to all my grad school stuff.

I quit grad school in 2008, and in retrospect and with the benefit of hindsight, it was the best decision I could have made. While it was a difficult decision at the time, I now wish I had made it sooner. If only because I could have gotten on to the more important things in life.

Like reality tv.

The only regret I have? I seem to have suffered intelligence attrition. I started reading some of the stuff I’d written for my dissertation, and man, I was smart! I just don’t know WTF any of it means anymore.

My Childhood Home

My parents sold my childhood home today. Sigh. It had to happen. It just makes me all nostalgic for all those memories. Using the clothesline for a GI Joe zipline (Yes, I was a tomboy). Playing in the backyard, the tire swing, the “forest” down the road, and the field behind the house. Staying inside on snow days and watching the snow fall through the enormous dining room windows.

I guess this will have to do for whenever I want to revisit that place.

 

Monday’s Off to a Good Start

As is often the case, I had no time for a shower this morning, but I ran the shower anyway to get my hair wet & steam my pants (because I had no time to iron either). And when I turned on the shower, I thought that there was a strange funk to the water. But whatever. Continued to get ready. Came out of the bathroom to grab coffee and get the baby ready and I thought, Actually the whole house has some strange funk to it.

Me to My Better Half: “Do you smell something?”

My Better Half: “No.”

Me: “Are you sure???”

My Better Half: “Yeah. What am I supposed to be smelling?”

Me: “Almost a moldy smell mixed with poo.”

My Better Half: “Definitely not.”

We get loaded in the truck, drop the baby off at daycare, stop for gas. While My Better Half is pumping gas, I still smell it. I roll down the window: “Does the whole city smell??”

My Better Half: “uh, no.” [eyes rolling]

I roll up the window. I smell my shoes – did I step in poo? No. No poo. I smell my sweater – did I get some nasty diaper action on my sleeve? No. Nothing. I smell my pants.

DEAR GOD. It’s MY PANTS. Since we are too far away from home to turn around, I just febreze myself before I get out of the truck. That should be fine, right?

Too Cool for Cool Tunes

My friend Doug once famously said, “I’m over trying to be cool anymore. I’m too old. I just don’t have time for it. It’s fucking exhausting.” It’s funny because it’s true. Especially when it comes to music.

I happen to live in a really kick-ass part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. My ‘hood has the best independent bookstore in the valley, great restaurants, and one of the remaining independent music stores.

Wait. What was that last one? Did you just hear the needle scratch sound effect too or was that just me?

I almost never buy CDs anymore, and obviously I’m not alone. I remember being seriously annoyed when I had to replace all of my tapes with CDs to maintain and replicate my collection of tunes. Then I was annoyed again when everything went to iTunes, but I sighed and dutifully went about uploading all my CDs so I could listen to my music on my iPod. And then I went to eMusic, but am now considering dumping the whole iTunes world altogether in favor of Pandora & Spotify. Why? Well, Pandora is like the independent radio station the friends who used to make me mix tapes and introduce me to artists & tunes I wouldn’t have otherwise known. And in today’s musical landscape, it can be hard to separate the How did I live before I knew about these guys (think: Foals) from the Don’t even try to tell me THIS SHIT is ‘music’ and so help me God, if you do, I will unfriend you (I’m looking at you, insipid Ke$ha). And Spotify to replace the idea of iTunes and the record store – giving me access to my shit 24/7 without me having to deal with the upkeep. But, lest you think I am contemplating this shift without exasperation, I give you an audible “harumph.”

I am Officially Old™, because I am too tired to keep up with good music. So please, please. Don’t ask me to switch platforms again. I am done.

All This Thinking is Counter-Productive

Yesterday’s work day was simultaneously one of the best and worst work days ever. Our network was completely down (and remains largely down today), giving me a very limited subset of tasks I could work on. Simple tasks that I blew through in just a few minutes. So I basically goofed off on the web all day.

I feel guilty about that in the sense that I know I’m not getting paid to just goof off. But I also feel guilty about it in some other, more profound way. That I don’t give a sh*t that that’s how I spent my day.

After months of un- and under-employment in 2010 and 2011, I finally landed this job. And I was, and continue to be, grateful for that. Even more grateful for the fact that I was more than 6 months pregnant when I started here. And that my workplace is so accommodating and understanding of the new rhythm of my life. Like needing some time to adjust to the schedule of getting to work with pants on. I have a lot to be thankful for: I have an amazing boss. I make a decent living. I have benefits. But I don’t love my job. I don’t love the line of work I’m in. It just doesn’t excite me or inspire me. If it’s too much to ask to do work that you’re really designed to do, that you are enthusiastic about, that provides the work environment and work style you desire, and at which you are driven to excel, then honestly? I’d rather just be home with my baby.

Having nothing to do but idle time to pass away in my cubicle yesterday was not a good thing because it sent me down a path of re-examining my career and life path yet again. I sat there in my cubicle thinking. And while thinking may be dangerous, it’s all I could do. Well, I mean, besides watch youtube videos of dogs.  Or babies. Or dogs and babies.

The result of all that thinking was a deafening cry inside my head: I want to be productive. I want to work hard. But I want to work for myself. If nothing else, if I worked for myself, woke up one morning, and the network was completely down? I wouldn’t sit there and stare at a blank screen all day like an automaton. I’d go out and live life. Read, nap, go for a hike, take a scenic drive. The possibilities are endless. Bonus: a little break would have reinvigorated me for when it was time to work again.

Coincidentally, I happened to read a blog post last night by someone who talked about losing his job suddenly and needing new work ASAP, who wrote “All I need is to be working with smart passionate people, flexible hours and the ability to work from anywhere. A cubicle is my death. I’ll take it if it’s all I can find, but I’d prefer to work from home and fly anywhere for meetings/face to face time.” Well said, my friend. I work in a cubicle, though that, in and of itself is not the problem. The last museum I worked for, I worked in a cubicle and worked with some of the most talented, funny, amazing coworkers friends ever. If we could have run away to found our own creative firm offering our services as a web designer, writer, graphics/visual artist, and editor, I totally would have. Except that we would have needed insta-clients, and lots of them, because all of us have piles of bills to pay.

Some of it has to do with the stupidity of playing working by the rules. Whether it’s that I have to show up & sit here in a cube for 8 hours even though none of us can get to a single work file, or that I can’t install Flash because I don’t have Admin user privileges even though I produce Flash videos for my job, or that I can’t listen to music on my computer even though I work at a music museum, whatever the workplace is, it has inane, inexplicably dumb rules. I want to live life by my own terms and work by my own rules. Work when I’m ready to work, rather than staring at a blank screen trying to get motivated because I haven’t yet had my coffee and had to be at work at 8:30 even though I’ve been up with a baby since 3:30. Or that I didn’t get to bed with the baby til 3:30. Cuz everyone knows, if you work from 11-7, your quality of work is just total sh*t compared to the quality of work you produce on no sleep between 8:30-4:30! Write about topics that I’m interested in, rather than digesting & regurgitating the most boring information to a general audience. And produce deliverables that match my expectations of high quality rather than pass off “meh, it’s ok, but at least it’s on time” stuff because of someone else’s constraints.

That could be the biggest thing. There’s nothing more frustrating at work than having to compromise, or even abandon your vision. That’s been one of my frustrations with everywhere that I have worked since grad school: not being in control over the quality of the work products I deliver. In grad school, I was in total control over the quality of my research sources, the level of my analysis, and the craftsmanship of my writing. But working for someone else is a whole different story. It’s awful to have a product “represent” you that you don’t feel is the type or quality of work you do best. Because I have worked only for nonprofits, I’m always on a shoestring budget, but I don’t always know the external constraints. Like when your boss tells you you’ve got a $25,000 budget for an exhibit, and you spend $4,000 only to be hauled into her office and told that you’ve “gone over budget.” How? Because she was working on the assumption that $22,000 of that “budget” was for your own salary. (And you were working on the assumption that budget = money one can spend. Because that’s what the word means). Or how you get “voluntold” at work to produce a professional instructional video in 3 months but you get told by the videographers that they can’t work you into their schedule in that time frame, so the best they can do is hand off some B-roll footage and let you work your own magic. When you’re in control of your own product, you know what’s within your abilities and limits and don’t overextend that by taking on projects and agreeing to ideas that compromise your vision. And you’re clear on the rules of engagement.

Here’s the thing: I feel like I finally deserve to find work that works for me. Until this job, I spent my work life trying to make a career out of museum work, and it’s just not there to be made. Museum work is tireless, thankless, and undervalued. It demands a lot of your time, your efforts, your patience, and your resources, but does not deliver equivalent opportunities for personal and professional growth, upward mobility, and, most importantly, work-life balance. Sure, you can rise through the ranks. Either incrementally and over a long period of time, working your way up in a large institution where you must summon the patience to spend years doing menial work that inexplicably demands a Master’s degree waiting for a vacancy for which you have been groomed over time to materialize. Or you may rise through the ranks at a tiny institution well before you are equipped with the skils, abilities, leadership, and network to tackle the frequently insurmountable problems of a small and increasingly irrelevant institution. I gave both a shot, and neither path worked out for me.

Then, when I was laid off by the last museum, I spent my time scrambling, trying to find any job that fit my existing skill set, hoping things would work out for the best. And the side effects aren’t shabby: a steady job that uses the skills that I learned used in museums – research, writing, editing, teaching, and a little design  – a decent paycheck with benefits, and the best boss I’ve had since 2006.

But I want more. I don’t want to try to squeeze myself into a new career that doesn’t fit me exactly right. All that thinking time yesterday reaffirmed that I’ve got to figure out how to make my next work move be to work for myself.

Productivity at Work

Today, all of us at work are offline because our login/password files have been hacked. So until they assess the damage & repair whatever it is that needs to be repaired, we are offline. Which means the only things I have access to are my desktop and the interwebz.

If it weren’t for the interwebz, I would have stabbed my eyes out by now. Back to streaming Netflix on my phone, I guess. Nah, that would be wrong. I’ll play Angry Birds instead.

This is going to be a loooong day. Not a bad day, just a loooong one.