Good friends are hard to find

Yesterday I was lamenting about the difficulty of making new friends at work (among other things). Here’s a perfect example. I have a coworker who I’ve often thought should be friends with me. So I followed what I think to be normal make-a-friend protocol: I introduced myself first, I have since chatted with her from time to time, sometimes at great length, I’ve IM’d her, and discovered tons that we have in common. We’re both from the South, she used to work in the same field as My Better Half and so we know some of the same companies and people, she loves all things food, and she has a kid just a hair younger than my oldest. So over time I’ve tried to transition our workquaitance into more of a friendship and…it’s gone absolutely nowhere. I’ve stopped by and asked her out to coffee: no, thanks. I’ve invited her to things that I get invited to with other moms: no, thanks. I’ve asked if she wants to check out the farmer’s market or go to this photography exhibit sometime or: no, no, no. Always no. So I basically gave up.

Today I stumbled on her blog. And I can’t decide if I feel even MORE rejected because I’m seeing how much we really do have in common (likes: coffee breaks, walks, babies, photography, baking, and cocktails) that’s making me seethe with rage at her successful blog, or if it’s just her smug-ass tone. The whole thing reeks of “look at me and my cute little family effortlessly identifying and then seamlessly achieving all our life goals one by one!” tone. It’s really hard for me to relate to, either because of the current uncertainties that underpin our lives at this moment or because I live over here. IN THE REAL WORLD where life can be HARD and can’t be photoshopped to perfection. And/or because I’m bitter as all hell that someone else seems to have achieved my perfect blend of working as a writer and still having the time + energy + spousal support to devote to one’s own personal creative outlets.

So I needed a gut check and sent the blog to my BFF without commentary.

Her: huh. So why *aren’t* you friends with her?

Me: I dunno, ask her. I’ve made an effort for a year now, and gotten shut down every time.

Her, five minutes later: I dunno, she seems a little…smug?

Me: YES! THANK YOU! I wasn’t sure if it was just that I’m having a hard time relating to her perfect little life or seething with jealousy and/or bitter?

Her: Well, then file me under: bitter as sh*t too.

And that’s why we’re BFFs.

As If I Needed Another Reason to Work for Myself

There is an issue at work. A bathroom issue. The first time I encountered it, I decided to just hold my breath and deal with it because I really, really had to pee. I thought, Yikes! Someone isn’t feeling well today.

Unfortunately, time has proven it’s not just a “today” thing. It’s become a recurring issue.

To say it’s foul is not nearly strong enough. In fact, it’s as if an aged gorilla from the zoo ate some bad cabbage. When I really have to pee, I think, “Well, I could just rush & hold my breath…But then if anyone comes in, they’re going to think I’m the culprit here. And I AM NOT.”

So I’ve resorted to using the bathroom on another floor.

 

Spreading the Good News

Starting my new job has been an exercise in juxtapositions. I feel really good about having been chosen for a good job, nevermind having been chosen when I was 7 months pregnant. And I came in with the usual first-day jitters, but I wasn’t as nervous as I was for my last (very recent) new job because I felt so much more secure knowing that my boss (and her boss, and HR, etc.) all knew from the outset that I was very pregnant and that my maternity leave was all arranged before I even set foot in the door.

But I also found that my coworkers were not informed of my condition. And when I think about it, why should they have been? So, we have a new person starting today and the top thing you should know about her is that she’s almost a mom. Nope, can’t see that email getting sent. But I guess that’s along the lines of what I expected because my new coworker’s question designed to confirm that I was, in fact, as pregnant as I appeared, threw me off balance. As did the glances my new coworkers stole at my belly when we were introduced (as well as the outright stares). Hey, my eyes are up here. So in some ways, I was totally at ease about starting a new job and meeting new people – those who already knew about the Baby. And in other ways, starting my new job was way more awkward than I expected.

I mean, they don’t feel comfortable asking me about it when we get introduced (and I don’t blame them! I wouldn’t know how to broach that subject) but I’m also feeling super uncomfortable and self-conscious that people are so obviously caught off guard for their new coworker to be so very, very pregnant. I don’t know how to transition from “tell me about what you do here” to “…so I’m due July 4!”

Once again, I find myself forced to revisit the notion of how to tell people.  In this instance, it’s telling people with whom I have no relationship (yet). I mean, was I supposed to arrive with a sandwich board that said “Hey! Thanks for the job! Taking bets – boy or girl?!” In some ways I think that would have been easier.

But it also makes me to reflect on “telling” people I don’t give 2 sh*ts about.  An example?  My boss from the museum that laid me off  last fall (who did nothing to save me from the axe) found out I was pregnant.  Evidently, she overheard someone talking about my baby shower and chimed in with, “Oh! Whew! Cuz I saw her when I was driving around a couple weeks ago and thought, um, she looks a little…uh….ok, so it all makes sense now. I’m so happy for her!!” I really do appreciate the good wishes – it is sweet how a Baby who hasn’t even been born yet brings out the well wishes, and they are genuine and heartfelt. But I have no personal relationship with my former boss. But a better example of how I grapple with this would be summed up in one word. Okay, two.

F*CKING FACEBOOK.

Doing a pregnancy announcement via a status update seems so self-absorbed, and more importantly, inauthentic to how I want to tell people, which is in person. The “hey everyone, look over here! I’m a have me a BABY!” announcement is just such an impersonal call for attention. Try as I might, I can’t come up with a way to phrase this announcement in a way that is genuine to me wanting to share my good fortune to those who might care without sounding like a shameless self-promotion. And that’s just not my style. Because if there’s anything I have loads of, it’s shame, people! The only ways I can think of to phrase it that don’t strike me as shameless self-promotion might be too subtle. I hate vaguebooking status updates so I don’t want to post something that people have to guess at. And if I’m anything, it’s not cutesy, so changing my profile pic to a pacifier, booties, or a stork just seem gimmicky. As a result, I’ve come down on the side of: not saying anything on Facebook for now. Especially since I’m not terribly active on Facebook. I often go weeks (months?) between status updates so it seems particularly egocentric to pop on only to give such a major announcement in order to gather my laurels and dash off into the ether again. I have friends on there who are really only ‘friends’…or, more accurately, acquaintances made long ago, and I could care less if they are up-to-date on my life. For real friends? If they’re local, I do get the great pleasure of telling them in person & seeing the look on their faces & getting hugs & all manner of well wishes.

For folks who I adore but who aren’t local? I guess email and/or skype will have to do. And for those I adore but who don’t keep up well via email (on their part – I am a GREAT emailer, people), it seems terrible to send a “Hey! Haven’t talked to you in months / years, but guess what?!” note. So I go back to: I guess I will have to post something on Facebook. I just don’t know what the hell that will be.

F*CKING FACEBOOK.

Update:  A month after this post, I posted a picture of my pregnant self on Facebook for all to see. Folks started rushing in with all kinds of love. Except for the folks who hadn’t gotten a personal announcement (either in person or via email/skype/phone). They expressed shock before expressing good will: I had NO IDEA! WHA?!?! etc. So I go back to my good old-fashioned uncertain unsteady, self-conscious self. Um. How was I supposed to handle this? I didn’t realize there was a protocol for those of us who aren’t super heavy FB addicts who post all personal declarations and self-absorbed crap. Can someone direct me to it?

<crickets>

Okay, then. I rest my case. I drew the line as best I could: those who needed to know knew before it went up on Facebook.

Unfiltered Thoughts: Advice for Working With a Pregnant Lady

I just started my new job a few days ago, and unlike at the interview, now I am obviously showing. I’ve made the switch to maternity clothes and I definitely look pregnant. My new coworkers seem to be really quiet and maybe even shy, so I’ve been keeping to myself, using my lunch hour for a walk since it seems like everyone here just kind of eats at their desks by themselves. Today, one of my coworkers approached me and said, “So….when are you….uh….” and then made a motion of ‘pregnant’ across her belly. And when I said “I’m due July 4” she said that she’d be winning the office pool, then. Because that doesn’t make the I-just-started-a-new-job-six-months-pregnant-lady feel awkward. At all.

So a bit of advice to those of you working with a pregnant lady, whether she’s a new coworker or not:

  1. Do not have a behind-her-back office pool about when she’s due (or if she’s even pregnant).
  2. Do not eat fish at your desk. Or cheeseburgers. Or anything with onions. In fact, stick to foods that produce no odor, or EAT IN THE KITCHEN or GO OUT TO EAT.
  3. Do not act jealous when your new coworker’s upcoming maternity leave is announced. That six weeks that sounds like “vaca” to you, moron? That’s for her to recover from squeezing a baby out her hoo-ha, and bonding with the little baby. And btw, she might feel bad that she’s not getting the 12 weeks that other new moms get at ‘real’ jobs under FMLA.
  4. Under no circumstances should you ask “Are you sure you’re not having twins hahaha?”

I’ll post more as they come up, but that’s a good starting point.

Welcome?

I started my new job today, 29 weeks pregnant. Last I saw them, I was not obviously pregnant. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but at the final interview, I was still fitting into my regular clothes without any problem. Now that I’m fully third-trimester, I’ve all of sudden had to replace my wardrobe overnight. I had to rush out over the weekend & get one workweek’s worth of maternity clothes – 2 dresses, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and one pair of jeans. There’s no doubt now that I’ve got a rather fashionable bump (thanks, Old Navy!).

Once again, I was nervous about the awkwardness of starting a new job while very pregnant, but two things were working in my favor: (1) I just started a (different) new job 2 weeks ago so that experience is still pretty fresh and (2) my new boss knows from the outset that I’m very, very pregnant (unlike my last job). As a result, I’m feeling quite warmly welcomed to my new job – they chose me even knowing that I will soon be gone for maternity leave –  and now that the awkwardness of getting through my second first day on the job in just two weeks is over with, I am relieved.

Until my new coworker approaches me and asks “so when are you, uh…” and then makes a motion of rubbing her own belly in lieu of finishing the question. I smile and say “July 4” she responds with an overly loud “I KNEW it! I told them you had to be about 30 weeks pregnant!”

Um, thank you, I guess, for your uncertainty about whether I’m just locally fat, but seriously? You guys couldn’t just, well, ask? Is there some sort of betting pool?! Scratch that welcome feeling. Now I just feel self-conscious as I waddle out to my car to go home.

Awkward

Note to Self: If I’m pretending not to eavesdrop on the conversation one cube away at work, I also don’t get to LOL at what was just said. Oops!

Twitwit: Quitwit?!

Today was possibly my best, and most unfortunate, day at work. I found out Twitwit had done something “for” me, as in taken the initiative a) to determine I wanted it done (by her freakishly inaccurate powers of mind-reading) and b) doing it, followed by c) neglecting to mention to me steps a and b. When I told her I was pissed, she became really defensive. Hit a nerve, did I?

Guess so, because only five hours later I watched Twitwit be escorted by the Boss from the building. Evidently, she had been given notice and decided to take preemptive action. By quitting. Effective as soon as she could pack her stuff in her office. Class act.

For an instant I thought, Oh Shit! I’d rather put up with her than cover her stupid work until we hire someone else. But then I realized that since she had left, I had finally relaxed, too. Bottom line is, I’d rather pick up her slack than put up with her.

So the good news? I no longer have to endure Twitwit’s antics. The bad news? See: good news. Until now, every day work had the promise of revealing a new Twitwism. Sigh. I guess now I’ll just have to mine the mentally unstable transsexual assistant for gems to put a sparkle on my day.

Did Twitwit Set me Up?

Today was the museum’s first special event that I had to work. Special event is code for fundraiser, by the way. And also “special” in that, ahem, special sense.

My sole responsibility was to pull together a mini-exhibit. Just an exhibit case or two with some things that Twitwit had arranged to borrow for the event. Except it was like pulling teeth with her. I couldn’t get a list of what objects were coming, any photos of the loaned items, forms to document the loans, what the objects’ dimensions were, or anything else. She brushed it off every time I asked her, reassuring me that it was just “some stuff, nothing major.” Okay. Kind of makes it hard to write and create exhibit labels and copy, decide what visuals I will need, and which cases I’ll be using. I tried my best to convey to her and to my boss that I really, REALLY would need to know the details. The Boss’ response? Work that out with Twitwit, I don’t know what’s on its way over. Gee, thanks.

The worst part about it was that Twitwit told me the woman who was lending these items had been out of town for weeks and would be returning only on the afternoon of the event. Even though it would be tight, I had to figure out a way to pull this off. This is, after all, my first chance to make an impression on not only The Boss but also the museum board members, volunteers, and guests who were all paying to come to the event. An exhibit, even a small one, is a very tangible and outward expression of my capabilities and skills, and it was really important to me that it be done well.

So I spent the week researching the topic, devouring everything I could get my hands on. I made arrangements to borrow items from folks other than Twitwit’s Batman-esque lender as a Plan B. I wrote the text, printed, mounted, and trimmed all of the labels. I made scans of photographs and reproduced archival items to enrich and contextualize the items that would be displayed. But despite my best efforts and advance preparations, the mini-exhibit could not have been worse.

When I arrived at work early this Saturday morning, I found out that I was expected to somehow magically move all three exhibit cases from storage to the exhibit display area all by myself. Neither The Boss nor Twitwit had arranged for any help, even though I had been led to believe that hefty volunteer manpower would be made available to me. So Twitwit and I heaved all three cases into place. Then I proceeded to spend the next few hours carefully placing the backdrops for the cases, inserting the object mounts and labels and the graphics and text panels. Because I did not want the contents of each case to be disturbed before the arrival of the objects, I went ahead and secured the EXTREMELY HEAVY vitrines to the bases. And then I waited for the lender to arrive. And waited. And waited. As the afternoon was drawing into evening, I ran back to my office and retrieved my Plan B items and began assembling the displays using what I already had on hand. Unfortunately, I only had enough objects to fill out two display cases but with an hour to go until the event’s start, nobody could be bothered to help me remove the final exhibit case, and so it stood empty as I tried to figure out what to do.

Twenty minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, Twitwit called me to say the objects were here. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I hurriedly tried to place what I could in the cases, but the public began to filter through the exhibit, so I had to abandon my efforts. In the end, the third exhibit case stood all by itself, completely empty. For all I know, no one else noticed the empty display case. But I knew it was there, and I felt humiliated that I had failed to complete my task adequately and furious that the event had such poor advance planning.

At the close of the evening, Twitwit approached me with a woman, the lender of the objects that had arrived with only 20 minutes to spare. I said “Oh, Thank you for lending us your objects. I guess your flight cut it pretty close, huh?” And she looked at me puzzled. “What do you mean?” I said, “I understand you’ve been out of town and didn’t arrive until this afternoon, but I really appreciate you making these items available to us, even amidst your hectic schedule.” Her reply? “Um, I got in a few days ago.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever know if Twitwit knowingly set me up to fail, or, as I suspect is more likely, she’s simply so disorganized and irresponsible that she unintentionally misled me, but lesson learned. I’ll be making my own arrangements as Plan A from now on, rather than relying on my coworkers’ (mis)information and the Boss’ utter lack of support.