DO NOT OPEN ANY CLOSED DOORS

How are things going after five weeks of employment, you ask? I know you didn’t. You know I don’t care.

We are surviving, not necessarily thriving. Which I’m ultimately ok with.

Towards the end of last year, before I started, I signed us up to host a ‘cottage gathering’ brunch with our church’s new pastor. I knew having the house presentable would be a challenge, but decided it would be a good motivator to make the house less pig-sty-esque. Said gathering was yesterday at 10am. Chris and I started cleaning yesterday at 7:45 am. I warmly greeted our guests at the door saying, “Make yourself at home, but DO NOT OPEN ANY CLOSED DOORS, because I recently rejoined the work force and the parts of my house you can’t currently see are a COMPLETE AND TOTAL SHIT SHOW.

I’d like to tell you I didn’t really say SHIT SHOW at a church gathering, but why bother with such pretense. I did try to kind of bleep myself. At any rate, it was super extra classy on my part since the event had been advertised as kid friendly.

I’d also like to tell you I had the menu fully under control, but in reality I had to text my children’s godparents, AKA lifesavers, and ask them to bring pretty much everything we needed. Thankfully, somehow, in the past 15 years of leisurely eating bonbons I managed to surround myself with lots of salt and light folks, at least two of who will essentially cohost an event with me with little more than two hours notice. For the million times you’ve saved our behinds over the years, thanks Jeanie and Larissa!

And, perhaps my most genius moment of the weekend was when some of the kids who attended our event came and asked me where the toys were. I immediately started pointing them to the bin of DOGGIE toys. I somehow managed to catch myself and say, “Oh, I bet you mean toys for KIDS.”

Oh Mylanta.

We then arrived at an awkward few moments where I thought about it and had to say, “I don’t think we have any toys anymore.”

Wait, what?? Seriously. None. Are my kids 40? How the hell did I reach this point?

These nice boys kindly bailed me out. “How about some games?,” they asked. AHA. That I can do. I fished out a couple, then they discovered the joys of playing fetch with a small dog, which they did for quite some time.

I think it was ultimately a nice morning for all involved. I also think I’m pretty damn lucky to have gracious and accommodating people in my life; and I do not for a second take it for granted.

The one and only semi-presentable area of my home.

Insert Clever Title Here

This dark fuzzy photo has very little to do with this post, other than I’m in Mexico with 2000 of my closest friends. And I don’t like to do a post without a photo, so there ya go.

Long time, no write.  

Which will likely be the way it goes for the  next few months. As planned, I started a 40 hour a week job on January 6th.  I’ve already waxed poetic about the job search process. I didn’t love it, folks!  But, I seem to have landed in a good place. My boss has already graciously let me come in late one day so I could go to the DMV to renew my driver’s license and leave early on a different day so I could go watch E ski.  Both good things, because driving with a valid license seems beneficial; and because my daughter got *freaking first place* amongst the JV skiers at said race. I taught her everything she knows. Obvi.

My boss also graciously let me have this week off.  A REALLY good thing. Because I’m writing this from Mexico.  It’s the fourth straight winter I’ve spent a week enjoying days by the pool and nights listening to amazing artists knock my socks off from a venue featuring an ocean backdrop, amazing food and drink, and a truly lovely fan base.  I’m grateful on many levels. And feel like taking one week for a warm weather restorative vacation after every three weeks of work would make for a very manageable work-life balance. Alas, reality bites. Except it mostly doesn’t.  But it kinda does.

The job is good.  Figuring out how to get everything done while working full-time is, not surprisingly, challenging. To write this is utterly silly, because none of it is news to anyone.  I am among the fortunate: I have a spouse with work schedule flexibility. He can plan his life such that he’s able to be home by 4:45 and get the girl to ski practice. And drop the skis off to be tuned and sweet talk the people in the shop into getting them done in time for the next race. And my son can make a mean sausage casserole, so once every week or so, he makes dinner.  Also, thank sweet baby Jesus for grocery delivery.

None of this changes the fact that the learning curve has been steep over the past three weeks.  I think it is safe to say folks in my family thought I didn’t do anything during my days at home since said home was never ever spotless and the laundry was rarely all folded and put away and the kitchen island and often the dining table were constantly covered in the minutiae of our lives.  And And And. I feel like maybe they kinda get it now. Did I get EVERYTHING done when I was at home all day? No. Is that the same as getting NOTHING done? Also no. The laundry piles grow bigger these days. The number of dishes in the sink often feels exponentially higher than it used to. The crap piles and piles. 

Sorting through the historically gender assigned crap, the ‘woman’s work,’ is complex.  Perhaps even more so when mom’s been at home for 15 years and all that woman’s work has fallen to her.  Not because she’s weak. Not because her husband’s an ass. Simply because it was necessity. It’s all about time.  I was the one who had time to do the laundry (even if I didn’t always get it folded and put away). I was the one who could spend Monday morning’s sitting down and making a meal plan and grocery list for the week. I was the one to fill out the permission slips, make the appointments, make sure the bank account didn’t overdraft when the bank expected there to be money in there to pay the mortgage, write out the schedule for the week, make sure everyone had rides to practice (which admittedly seems straight forward, but talk to me when you have two hyper-scheduled kids who frequently need to be in two different places at once and a husband who travels 12 weeks a year), answer the strings of texts when the drama queen daughter was experiencing crises. And there were, and still are, constant crises when raising teenagers.

I would like to tell you we’ve distributed all these tasks evenly amongst not only Chris and myself, but also our very able teenage children.  I would also like to tell you I have had zero meltdowns during this transition. But if you know me at all, or have read even one post before today’s; you would immediately and understandably call bullshit if I were to make those claims.  

My husband is amazing, and he works long and hard to give our family an amazing life.  He also very frequently immediately walks to the bed when he gets home from work (or taking the girl to ski practice these days), lies down, and watches a show or plays a game on his phone.  I don’t know if I would say I begrudge him this wind down time at the end of a day, but I do not deny envy. Perhaps those are the same thing. I could look up the exact definition of begrudge, but who has time for that shit anymore?  When I walk in the door, I sometimes take time to change into a pair of sweatpants, but frequently simply chuck off my shoes, hang up my coat, and work to get dinner on the table ASAP. And after dinner, make at least a half-assed attempt at cleaning up.  

Does it feel like I’m throwing my husband under the bus? Yes, I know it does.  And it’s completely unfair. In addition to being the ski taxi, he frequently drives at least one kid to school in the morning.  And does a kajillion other things. He is no more or less deserving of down time than I am. The fact that he is sometimes better at claiming it cannot be entirely blamed on him.  Dammit.  

But this past Sunday morning, when I opted out of church because the house was too far gone even by my low cleanliness standards; and was unloading and loading the dishwasher, wiping down all the countertops, trying to sweep up at least one of the hundred layers of dog hair off the floors, getting things arranged to be away from home for a week, skipping breakfast, drinking WAY too much coffee and ultimately working myself into a jittery, hangry, stark raving BITCH– I unleashed hell fire and fury on him.  He’d have been fully justified if he’d have simply left for the day and let me stew in my own psycho bitch momma juices.  

He didn’t do that.  We are not relationship experts, but we ARE pretty good at dealing with one another’s bullshit and tantrums. Which is good, because let’s face it, change is the only constant; and neither of us is any damn good at dealing with it.  

This change is ultimately a good one.  I am feeling very appreciated both at home and at work, which is definitely something I had been missing in recent years.  But, it is change. There is much to figure out. And we will figure it out. And if I’m having a conversation with you in the next few weeks and simply lay my head down on the table and fall asleep, It’s NOT narcolepsy.  It’s exhaustion. A good exhaustion, but exhaustion nonetheless. Here’s to labor, invisible and otherwise. Now, I’m gonna recline this poolside chair and take a nap.

Looking Forward to My '20s.

I’m not sure I got it right, but please note the placement of the apostrophe. It might be significant (i.e. I’m not about to enter my 20’s).

I think Mark Zuckerberg is kind of a hot steaming pile of doggie doo, and I have more frustrations with Facebook than 45 has enablers (that’s a lot, one of which may or may not be that Zuckerberg waste of space); and I frequently dream of completely axing my account. This list of reasons for not axing my account is much shorter, but apparently carries more weight. It’s entirely possible there is zero logic in this scenario.

Now that I’ve gotten a wordy disclaimer of sorts out of the way, I’ll tell you I’m spending NYE day in a Toyota dealership while my car is serviced; and I’ve killed some of the time by looking at my Facebook posts from 2010. Because, apparently we’re on the cusp of a new decade. And now I’m going to shove some highlights of my lil’l trip down memory lane down your blog reading throat. And, ultimately I’m grateful to be able to look back to 2009/2010 and see where my mind was. Social media oversharing for the win… who knew?! I still think you’re complicit garbage, though, Markie Z.

Chris and I had less weight and more hair in 2010. Possibly because we trained for a marathon, or enjoyed significantly higher metabolism, or drank more reasonable amounts of wine and whiskey in those days, or spent a lot more time running around after kids.

Speaking of kids, are you kidding me with this?

It’s entirely possible, hell, it’s a freaking done deal: I enjoyed a lot of things about parenting elementary aged kids. Much about life was simpler. Bad decisions, both theirs and mine, carried a lot less weight than they do these days. They were too young to know how stupid I am, but old enough to wipe their own asses. In many ways it seems like the golden years of parenting when I look back.

And yet I really have no need to rewind to those days. I’m not terribly sentimental about this mom life, and have never found myself to be terribly nostalgic about ages and stages we graduated from. And it’s not hard for me to imagine writing the same damn sentence 10 years from now. My kids are figuring out who they are and what they think is important. It a process filled with attitude, angst, and frustration. It’s not often pretty, but there is magic in being able to loosen my grip and let them grow into themselves.

There’s also magic in not having to escort them into the chalet and break into a sweat while wrestling on the damn ski boots and ensuring no flesh be left exposed like I did in 2009. And not having Christmas programs and Santa visits to squeeze into schedules already bursting at the seams. And being able to enjoy two cups of coffee in solitude before the roll out of bed on Christmas day. And actually being able to listen to the sermon when I sit in church. And, and, and. I could blather on and on and on. Despite the usual tone of this blog, teenagers ain’t all bad, y’all!

As is my tendency, there isn’t a lot of point to this post. I’m sitting on the cusp of 2020. My kids are both in high school. My husband is transitioning between jobs. On Monday I’ll go to work after 15 years of eating bonbons. There is much I don’t understand, and the upcoming decade (like every other before it) will bring changes and events I could never begin to fathom on this December 31st. I appreciate having the ability to be uncertain and content at the same time, because 10 years ago that was not the case. Happy New Year/Decade my friends.

GUESS WHAT?!

No job yet. Did I fool ya???

Last week I continued my shameless self-promotion, speaking ad nauseam about how qualified and virtuous I am, via in person interviews and phone screens.

This process, y’all. It’s a roller coaster. Roller coasters don’t usually make me puke, but this one may.

Three weeks and change have elapsed since I submitted my first application and resumé at the end of October. I was clueless enough to think I’d be working, or at least scheduled to be working, by Thanksgiving. Have I mentioned I haven’t done this for awhile? And last time I did, I was applying in a field with a significant labor shortage?

Last week I participated in my first ever ‘behavioral interview.’ Thirty minutes of ‘describe a time when…’ questions. Interviewer did not have my resume or the job description of the position I was applying for. It would seem my ‘behavior’ is bad, because I received the ‘we are considering other candidates that we feel are the best fit for the position’ email a couple of days later. I miraculously resisted the urge to reply to lovely young HR representative and say, “Hey, no hard feelings. Your rejection sentence has an extraneous ‘that’ in it. So clearly your organization is completely beneath me anyway.”

The organization I was interviewing with has apparently decided these behavioral interviews are a good assessment tool. I have decided they are a waste of everyone’s time. In the organization’s defense, I was a shit show in that interview. In my defense, very little (perhaps nothing) about it would have demonstrated aptitude for the job; even if I’d aced it.

On the phone screen for a different position, after about 15 minutes, the lady interviewing me said, “I’m guessing this position will be filled internally.” So I guess she was just calling me for funsies. I am pretty damn fun to talk to on the phone.

I am NO damn fun to talk to on the phone.

I received an email a few days later saying the position had been filled internally. At this point in the sequence of events I was on what you might call a low point of the roller coaster ride; or perhaps the point in the journey when I would actually toss my cookies. Which is silly, because I knew both of those jobs were quite a stretch. Nonetheless, I was convinced these two rejections meant there were simply no employers on planet earth who would be interested in actually hiring me.

I am relieved to report I have not been rejected for every job I’ve applied for. Just most of ’em. Five days ago I had what I felt to be a great interview, for a clinic job I’d actually like to land. After which I was told they’d make a decision after Thanksgiving.

Ya wanna know who has lots of patience? Sub-par job seekers. Make up your damn mind, folks.

Today I had another interview that went very, very well. It’s a good sign when the interviewer wants to talk about Croatia for 10 minutes. A very, very good sign. And, he told me he’d have an answer for me by Friday.

I’ll probably jinx myself, but I’m feeling very good about my odds of having an offer in my hands by happy hour on Friday.

BUT. Of course there is a BUT. I hate BUTs.

While the position pays well, is within 10 minutes of my house, and the people I’d be working with seem great; it’s seasonal. Assisting a CPA during tax season, four to six months a year. On many, many levels this is a good thing. I could be on the sideline of every summer soccer game. I could go to Croatia with my family. I could sit by the pool and eat bonbons all day.

But, I don’t have a pool. And since my husband is between projects, it’d be really nice to have health insurance. Or at least make enough to pay for it. And, by my calculations, working four to six months at this pay scale won’t cover it. Which is TOTALLY FUCKING RIDICULOUS.

I had been doing a little better with my language. But I feel like this scenario deserves expletives.

All indicators point to the fact that on Friday I’ll either need to decide to take the seasonal job which won’t pay enough to cover health insurance for my family of four OR hold out hope for the clinic job, which is year round and comes with benefits. But, of course, it is certainly plausible I could turn down the seasonal job and then not be offered the clinic job.

So there ya go. A lot of news that’s really no news at all. I’m going to go take some deep breaths now.

And maybe have a glass of wine.

THE CYCLOSPORINE LEVELS ARE ALL WRONG

The job search chronicles, part II

Last night I dreamed I had a job. I never really have ‘good’ dreams.

I was back in the hospital lab on the university campus I worked in before devoting my life to laundry folding, et al. Initially, things were going ok, but then I realized the method I was using to test cyclosporine levels was the very same one I’d used 15 years ago. Problem is, right as I was in the process of leaving that job, a new test method was being developed for testing cyclosporine levels. For better or worse, my OB decided to induce labor before I had a chance to be instructed on the new protocol.

My supervisor was gently reminding me I had been using the outdated method, and then she said, let’s go to coffee; we can sort all this out when we get back. Way, way WAY back when I worked the day shift, going to coffee was a thing; so it seemed like a good idea. I thought I might even get one of those tasty egg and cheese on an English muffin sammies I used to enjoy on occasion.

I don’t know if I ever got a sandwich. Or coffee. Next thing I remember, I was headed back into the lab; but when I opened the door it wasn’t the right room. So I opened a few more doors, and none of them were where I was supposed to be.

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If you’re wondering what happened to the supervisor I’d gone to coffee with, join the club.

I wandered and wandered and wandered, and somewhere along the line I realized I had no idea where I was. Nothing looked familiar. I couldn’t even find the building I was supposed to be in. I started getting nervous. My surroundings were becoming more and more unfamiliar. Hours were passing by. I REALLY needed to get back to work and figure out the damn cyclosporine levels.

I was so rattled I called Chris to come and help me. And bless his heart, he tried. But I was too lost. I fell into a sobbing heap and asked him to simply take me home. I called the lab and talked to my co-worker Kathie from many, many moons ago. I was trying to explain it to her, but I was bawling. And it made no sense anyway.

Also, at some point I was riding in a helicopter. Don’t ask me. No idea. I’ve written about my dreams before. Rationality has little to no role in them.

Unrelated to anything occurring in my deep REM states, I currently have a rash on various parts of my neck and chest. And the left side of my neck is hella stiff. Which is fine, so long as I limit myself to staring straight ahead.

Needless to say, the job search continues. And apparently I’m in a super healthy mental and physical state about my re-entry to real life. Anxiety-riddled dreams, rashes, stiff necks- these are all signs my attitude is right where it needs to be, dontcha think?

Last week I did four interviews/phone screens. This week I have three scheduled. One of which will be broken into two sections and last 75 minutes. One of those sections is a ‘behavioral interview,’ where I’m told I’ll be asked questions like, “Describe a time when…”.

I think I’d rather have my wisdom teeth removed. I can’t, because I’ve already done that and it was awful (dry sockets and a solid week of misery). And yet, I’m thinking it sounds better than having more interviews.

And honestly, if I’m applying for jobs that require jumping through so many hoops; I can’t help but believe I’m aiming a bit high. It’s so nice that my old buddy, crippling self doubt, is walking this job search with me.

It is, of course, not that bad. And I believe it’s all going like it’s supposed to. But it is tedious and exhausting. And I cannot help but question whether or not there couldn’t be a more efficient means of staffing the world.

I also cannot help but be bitter about how hard it is to be a new mom in the work world in this country. What if, just what if, quality childcare was affordable? And what if I could have had six months of maternity leave instead of six weeks? That question could be hyperbolic. I don’t remember how many weeks of leave I had. All I know is that when it was time to put the scrubs back on, there were very few nights where eight hours of uninterrupted sleep happened. I was tired. My boobs often leaked. The pumping room, once I finally got ahold of the person in charge of it (at least 10 phone calls, I kid you not), was a five minute walk from the lab I worked in.

Of course, all this was manageable (and likely would’ve been more so had I been taking care of my undiagnosed anxiety at the time, but who’s got time to go into that?). But I was in a place where I could quit my job, and it just seemed so much easier. And then I blinked twice and 15 years had passed.

There is, of course, no way to know if things could’ve played out differently. I am where I am. It is what it is. And all that other nonsense. My less than pleasant memories about being a working mom to young children could very well just be me wanting to blame my current discomfort on something. In fact, I’m certain that’s what’s happening here. Because I had exactly zero intentions of writing about maternity leave when I sat down here.

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The Job Search Chronicles

Hi. My name is Anne and I’m looking for work. I haven’t had a job that utilized either of my two science-y bachelors degrees in 15 years. I’m uncertain as to whether or not I want to use them in my next paid position. I’m ambivalent about working full-time versus part-time. And if you ask me about salary expectations, I will likely fall into a catatonic state. Professional references? Did I mention I haven’t worked in 15 years?

I’ve had some meaningful and educational volunteer work along the way, but truthfully, the only thing I’ve ‘leaned in’ to in recent years is the washing machine. So I could move the wet clothes to the dryer.

I like rescue dogs, coffee, books, food, wine, piña coladas and walking home in the rain.

What I’m telling you here, is that I am UNIQUELY QUALIFIED to be your next employee. It’s possible I forgot to list scathing, self-deprecating sarcasm under the special skills section on my C.V.

This process, y’all.

The last time I really went through it was the summer of 2000 when Chris and I had relocated to the Twin Cities. I was applying for laboratory technologist positions, and doing it by sending actual hard copy resumés and cover letters. And using fancy-ass paper to boot! And despite the fact that I was sending all that paper IN THE MAIL (I know, who can believe that shit?), it really felt like my phone started ringing the minute I dropped all that fancy paper into the mailbox. COME INTERVIEW TODAY. And I frequently did. I was offered an interview for every position I applied to. And I went and did something like five of them. And they all offered me positions on the spot. Because I was a truly exceptional candidate. Or it might have been because there was crazy shortage of clinical lab scientists at the time and organizations were desperate for labor. But probably it’s because I was an exceptional candidate.

What I’m doing now bears oh so little resemblance to that experience. In a good way, I think, but holy hatboxes, there has been a learning curve.

LinkedIn. Indeed. ZipRecruiter. Good golly. Also, I’ve somehow ended up working with two recruiters. Which is just super fucking weird. One has actually been very helpful. The other has made me want to change my phone number. QUIT CALLING ME, CHAD. Seriously, his name is Chad. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but QUIT CALLING ME, CHAD.

Chad did get me to my second interview yesterday, which was for an entry-level position at a lab where they perform thousands of drug screens everyday. When I say ‘entry-level,’ I mean no degree needed, and having two degrees? Definitely overkill. But I wanted to apply for at least some jobs I knew I would get an offer for. So I ignored all the warning signs (ZipRecruiter headline didn’t match the job, annoying Chad based in Oklahoma, a commute entirely too long for the pay scale of the job) and interviewed with Becky. Interview went swimmingly, Becky was very friendly as she showed me the sad break room that smelled of spaghetti and desolation at 10:30am and the specimen handlers staring blankly into space as they assigned the required 65 accession numbers per hour.

Less than an hour after leaving the building, Chad was at it again. Texting, calling, asking me to get in touch. I’M DRIVING, CHAD. To my next interview, no less. Eventually I got a text, complete with a smiley emoji, from him saying I’d received an offer. When I finally had a minute to talk to him on the phone, he told me I had until 4pm to accept the offer.

I’m gonna have to give this one a hard pass, Chad. Thanks for your help.

Am I being too hard on Chad? Definitely. Do I care? Definitely not. Worth noting, an hour after I talked to Chad and turned down the offer, I got a call from another rep at the same agency telling me I was a perfect fit for the job I’d just interviewed and received an offer for. I don’t remember his name, but I’m gonna call him Steve. I JUST INTERVIEWED AT THAT PLACE, STEVE. GO TALK TO CHAD.

Oh, and Glassdoor. Can I talk about Glassdoor?? It goes something like this: Find a job you’re moderately excited about, apply, get an interview, look up the company on glass door to find out the company owner is a mob boss. The work environment is toxic. I saw and experienced sexual harassment on a repeated basement. Alllllllllrighty then. Still learning what to make of Glassdoor.

Still being early in this process, I have plenty of other tales I could tell. It has mostly been good. Thanks to some quality help with my resumé from lots of smart people, I’ve been able to generate interest from a variety of career sectors. I’m grateful to be in a position where I can take time and be somewhat picky and really, really should not complain. But who wants to read that noise?? If you’re looking for that, you’re reading the wrong blog. But, still, you should totally hire me.

My candidates won. I got a shitty job offer for a position I don’t want. Not a terrible day.

Relentless

It would seem the number of posts I can write about the relentlessness of parenthood is infinite. Perhaps because parenthood is infinitely relentless.

And, if you’re spineless like me, you make it infinitely harder on yourself.

This past Friday, I folded like a dang card table when my kid begged me for a one night reprieve from his current grounded status.

Friends, when these kids of ours were mere pups; their dad and I attended countless hours of parenting classes, and I’ve read some books, and have just enough chutzpah to assume I’m intelligent to an average degree. So when I caved on Friday, I was armed with ample knowledge that giving in was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.

Right good fella that he is, my son took it upon himself to prove to me what a bad idea it was by making a series of super shitty decisions within less than 24 hours of my parental judgement lapse. Oh how I’d love to share every sordid detail here, but alas, I’ve likely already said more than I should.

Why, if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that caving was the wrong move, did I do it? Well, my reasons are plenty; but ultimately they are not reasons. They are excuses:

  • Junior’s persuasion and debate skills are well-honed. THIS is the thanks I get for placing my kids in a high achieving school district.
  • I was standing on the frigid sidelines of our third soccer game of the week. I was cold, my brain was frozen.
  • Chris had been gone all week. I was weary of being a responsible adult.
  • He agreed to clean his bathroom and in exchange for leniency. I am a total and complete sucker for a clean bathroom.
  • He also made some promises regarding church attendance sans complaining that sounded awfully damn appealing.

Short of it being someone’s dying wish, though, I can think of no good reason for not standing firm. Because there simply wasn’t one.

I dropped the ball, made a mistake, effed up. And ended up looking like a fool.

My attitude about being made a fool? Decidedly not a healthy one. I hate it. I’m embarrassed. I don’t like making mistakes, especially, when I know better. I’m a big believer in others, particularly strangers, deserving some grace; but don’t typically feel I deserve it myself.

This is an issue which is sure to get worse for me before it gets any better, for the consequences of parenting mistakes seem to become more and more significant as the years go by. Fallout from parental lapses, combined with the incompletely developed brains of teens could easily result in a criminal record. Or worse. I can’t even go there. Which is why I need to grow a spine.

My kids are in high school. My days of having meaningful day to day influence on them are numbered. So I’d really, really like to be better, make fewer mistakes, and increase the chances of turning out human beings who can function in the world as good people.

Factoring in my ineptitude and the state of the world, it feels as though the odds are not in my favor. Relentless, I tell you. This gig is relentless.

GUILTY.