Wednesday, October 06, 2004

By popular demand 

I'm not going to say I'm back, because that would be misleading. But I'm getting lots of "WTF?" email, so just wanted to take five minutes to say I'm alive. And well. Just busier than I've ever been.

The new job is amazing, but I'm either in a meeting or taking home work most days after 5. Finding a new work-home balance is a constant struggle, and I'm still figuring out how to do it. E-Scout was an easy thing to let fall by the wayside. And my guess is until things settle down, it will continue to be lower on the priority list. Right now, I'm just trying to make it home in time to spend more than an hour with my kid before she goes to bed. Once she does, I'm throwing in a load of laundry, trying to have a meaningful conversation with my husband and getting through the work things on my to-do list I didn't have time for during the day. I haven't finished a book in weeks. I'm not keeping up with personal email. I barely have time to answer the phone.

So where does this leave E-Scout? I don't know yet. It filled such a need for me when I was in a job that wasn't satisfying. And it's not that I don't have a place for it now, I just don't have the time. And because things are incredible, wonderful, amazing at work, the urge just isn't as strong.

To all three of you who've been regularly checking (and commenting and emailing), thanks. I've got a whole slew of things I want to blog about, and I suspect I will. I just can't promise when. I did take down all the sidebar stuff, because that took so much time. I never wanted to post when I couldn't keep that list updated, and hunting down all the links and stuff took a while. Knowing that I can now just pop in and write a quick update will make it easier.

I'm still here. And truthfully, I've never had it so good. I just need each day to be about five hours longer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


My walls are bare. My shelves are half empty. And I'm dying to listen to Once More With Feeling, but of course it's in my other office.

Straddling two jobs is weird.

There are still some last-minute things to wrap up for my current job, but not many. I've done more work this summer than I have in who knows how long to make sure I didn't leave anyone in the lurch. And because I'm anal, I've spent days upon days writing "how-to" documents and wondering if my file organization is going to make sense to a new person. On my to-do list today: Labeling Eckerd envelopes full of photos. Sure, I know what all those events are. But the person-to-come-next won't. Why I care? Good question. I want to be thought well of by someone I've likely yet to meet. (Unless, of course, it's one of the countless people calling me these days. Who knew quitting would make me so popular? Every time my phone rings, an acquaintance starts with, "Congratulations!" and quickly segues to, "So, how much do you make?")

Most of my to-do list, though, is full of things for the next job. About half of my week is going to be spent walking from a meeting over there to an empty office here. This should be the week I wear all the snazzy capris and sleeveless shirts that won't be suitable once I'm the Person In Charge of a staff of 40 students, but because of all the meetings, I'm in all my brand-new Important Person clothes instead. Harrumph.

And I'm nervous about the whole Important Person role, anyway. Without getting into many details about the new job (because we all know how dangerous that can be), I'll just say I'm going home. Back to the place I grew up as a student. And not to be a student there, to be a professional who's supposed to have all the answers, is a little daunting. In my interview, I said, "It's a good thing all you people have known me in the 10 years since I started here as a student. I'd be afraid you picture me in the cutoffs and half-shirts I wore then." With a glint in her eye, my boss-to-be replied that "(Name inserted here) remembers."

It's home, but it hasn't been for years. My new office is one that I spent a great deal of time in as a student. It's incredibly odd to be on the other side of the desk. An alum, someone I knew way back when, was visiting yesterday. We ended up chatting in my new office, me all official behind the desk, my paltry knickknacks lonely on the shelf.

I've spent five years at this desk. There's a drawer that can only be opened with the tip of a pen and the flip of a wrist. Right here, three years ago, I mastered the art of scrolling through blogs with one hand while using the other to hold a giant cow-making suction cup to my breast. And I spilled the precious milk only a handful of times, really. Usually when Omar made me laugh.

I'm not nostalgic about this job, per se. I've done all I can here; it's time to move on. But the building. It's one of those gorgeous collegiate gothic styles, with polished wood and marble. Brick tiles. High ceilings. Bas reliefs and sculptures perching in alcoves. And I'm moving from this majesty to flecked green floors and brown walls. My office is nice, with a window and all, but the building itself ... It might not be known as the ugliest on campus, but it's pretty high on that list.

But talk about nostalgia. Adam and I met in the room my office opens onto. Most of my lifelong friends were made there, over pizza and proofs. It's where my mentors, the folks I most admire and respect, taught me how to be a professional.

And I'm soon to be one of them. A peer. In charge. With all those young faces looking to me for guidance. Part of the campus hierarchy.

Wish me luck.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Spread it around 

I'm weepy over at DotMoms today.

Friday, August 13, 2004


Emma nearly broke my heart one day this week.

We were at the library, normally a favorite place. But she'd announced before we left the house that she didn't want to play, just to check out books and come home. She's still getting over her cold and hadn't wanted to do much besides stick close to me that day, so I wasn't too surprised.

Still, she dutifully told the librarians about her trip and refused to leave my side, even when one of them talked for a good five minutes about her airline preferences. The gerbils were only three feet away, but Emma didn't check them out as she usually would. She stood right beside me.

True to her word, she hung close as I started to look for books. Soon enough, though, she was distracted by a train table and I went on with the search.

Usually, I have to drag Emma away from the library. She loves playing with the other kids, putting together puzzles, typing away on the keyboards and building with the Legos. She begs me to ride the dragon or to accompany her to the big-kid area for a crazy game of checkers. ("You can only move on the black squares, honey.") Though it is a place I feel really safe, I keep a close eye on her. Though pretty dutiful to stay near if we're at the mall or grocery store, the library is like home. She's comfortable there and will wander off to find an activity bag on her own if I'm not careful.

So every minute, minute and a half, I pop up from my book-finding crouch to be sure I know where she is. And I'd just done that -- she was driving beads on wires like they were roller-coaster tracks -- no less than 60 seconds before. And when I stood up to do it again, I see her coming around a shelf, face pale, eyes filled with tears.

The library was quiet that afternoon, and I was pretty sure the one other child we'd seen was gone. I couldn't imagine what had hurt or scared her.

"Mommy, I thought you had left. I thought I was lost."
"Honey, I was right here."
"I didn't know where you were. I couldn't find you."
"I wasn't far; I was just behind this shelf. You were playing with the beads."
"But you were gone. I was alone."

I ended up having to hold and rock her for about five minutes. She was crying in earnest by then, hiccuping, about how I was gone, she was lost. And then she said it, the sentence I can't stop hearing in my head: "I thought you were gone forever. And then I wouldn't have a mommy any more."

I still don't know what scared her. She'd taken some prescription cough medicine that day; maybe it was making her feel wonky. And we'd been talking about how her Mommy Days are almost over; the big drawback to the new job is that I won't be able to keep my at-home day with her. She seems to have taken the news well; she'll have an extra day with her adored sitter. I figure the other shoe will fall a couple weeks after she realizes we don't have that alone time anymore. But maybe it's already affecting her.

We talked in depth about what to do if she can't find me somewhere, how the librarians were right there to help, how she could call my name. And that I'd never leave somewhere without her, even to check out the books (which she said she suspected I'd gone to do at one point). But it was an hour or more before she was really all right again. I had to carry her, along with the huge activity bag, a tote with 15 picture books and three novels, to the checkout counter and on to the car. The whole ride home was filled with accusations; "I know you were close, but you shouldn't have left me, Mommy! You should've taken me with you. I told you I didn't want to play." "But Emma, you were playing." "And then you left and I was lost!" "Emma, you weren't lost. I was right there."

For whatever reason, though, she was convinced. And heartbroken.

It makes me dread the day I truly disappoint her.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


You know you're old when your hangover rolls around before bedtime.

Guess I should've known better than to have two Swirls before 7:30 last night. For non-Normanites, Swirls are a deadly concoction from the Mont: frozen sangria mixed with margarita, shot with a healthy dose of Everclear. They induce merryment immediately and malaise soon after, if you're me.

Happy hour, my ass. I was giggly at 8 and had a headache by 9. Granted, part of that blame might lie with the series finale of The 4400, which couldn't have been much stupider. I don't think I cared about it enough to still feel queasy this morning, though. So I'm going with the bartender. Damn you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Thousand words 

As promised, Adam has put photos from our trip up at Emma's site. And yes, I know, we desperately need a new digital camera. The years haven't been kind to this one. (You should see the tape holding the batteries in. Especially now that it's sandy.)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Home sweet home 

There's nothing quite like returning home after an extended vacation. Emma acts like the house is a giant toy store -- all of her things get pulled out, exclaimed over and played with. And the reunion with her cats and dog is like they've been off at war and made it home safely. It's a joy to watch how happy she is to be home.

The last few days of our trip, she made it quite clear she was ready to go. We saw an early star out one evening, and her wish upon it was to "be back in Norman." She was constantly worried about her animals, the stuffed as well as the living, and how they were missing her. We delayed our return by about five hours, volunteering to bump off our Phoenix-OKC flight for great reward from Southwest. Em was none too happy about it, and we spent a few hours like we were homeless, wandering around a Phoenix shopping center to kill time. Emma woke up that last morning with the beginnings of a cold, and as I dosed her with newly purchased medicine sitting outside a grocery store with nowhere else to go, I felt quite strange. But for the $200+ an hour we were making by hanging out a while, it was worth it.

I was ready to be home, too, but not just for the sake of being here. I start a new job two weeks from today, and as the vacation wrapped up, I became increasingly anxious to get back and get to it. As I was expecting, the offer came while we were away. It was both liberating and quite odd to resign from San Diego.

I'm returning to my roots on campus and couldn't be more happy about it. It's a big focus shift from what I'm doing now -- I'll be working really closely with students, serving as a mentor and adviser. A little daunting, to say the least, but incredibly exciting.

The trip was exciting, too. Disneyland's claim to be the happiest place on Earth just isn't that far from the truth. We crammed a ton into our one day there -- rode all but one or two of the rides we wanted to, and most of them, Em rode with us. Her favorite, by far, was Dumbo, but she also braved the Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (which really isn't scary at all if you don't realize ghosts are spirits of dead folks). She also got to meet Ariel, from the Little Mermaid, which made her day. We're still talking about the fact that Ariel greeted her with "Hi, princess" and told Emma she'd see her in the ocean sometime. Beyond thrilling, I tell you.

We did learn, finally, that Emma has her limits. She's a routine-oriented kid, as I know I've said 101 times, but when her schedule gets off, she just keeps on rolling. She's never been one of those children who sleeps in strollers or dozes on a parents' shoulder. But she hit her wall after NINE hours and 17 Magic Kingdom attractions. We'd just had dinner, and she and Adam's mom were planning to adjourn to the hotel so Adam and I could visit the handful of rides Em was too small for (and check out California Adventure). Emma had the choice of one more ride or a treat, and she picked the latter. We were headed to find ice cream or something when I heard her muttering from the stroller. I leaned down to ask what she was saying, and she told me, "I don't want any more." When I assumed she meant she didn't want a treat, she corrected me strongly before collapsing in my arms. She was done. "I don't want ANY MORE."

Adam and I, though, apparently hadn't had enough, as we stayed for FIVE MORE HOURS. We headed over to California Adventure, which closed at 9. It was new since our last Disney trip. Two really good rides in there -- Tower of Terror and Soaring Over California. We explored the park a little and went back to Disneyland for Indiana Jones, which had our longest line of the day. We didn't have to wait more than 20 minutes for almost everything else -- we didn't even get to try out FastPass, because most of the attractions weren't using it. The lines weren't long enough to justify it. After Indy, we sat -- and boy were my feet grateful for that -- for an hour or so to wait for the much-recommended Fantasmic. And it was quite cool, with giant Disney characters (the basic plot is Mickey battles Disney witches), fireworks, water and light shows, boats, music and more. I was pretty chilly by then, though, and we were close enough that I was constantly in a fine drizzle. Brrr.

I had plenty of time to be chilly in the coming days, too. San Diego was amazing, but the temperatures could've been 5-10 degrees warmer. It was perfect for window shopping but a bit cold for the pool or the beach. Still, we made the best of it. We adore Coronado Island, where we stayed. We made beach trips every day but one (it was cloudy and gray), visited La Jolla to see the seals and tide pools (story later about the seal controversy), had lunch on the deck at the Del, a ferry ride over to shop at Seaport Village and lots of time to laze around. I read seven books on the trip and we rented two movies (see the sidebar for details). We also played a lot of Go Fish, Emma's new favorite game, and Uno. Adam and I even had a couple of dates -- we visited Horton Plaza to see The Village (Ad figured out the twist very early on) and grab a quick dinner, with a stroll through the Gas Lamp District while sharing a giant Ben and Jerry's cone after. Sweet. We also visited a friend of Adam's from high school and found time for a meal out at Island Pasta, one of our favorite Coronado restaurants.

Plus, as I said, the beach. We're all still finding sand here and there, and I'm peeling in a couple of places. I have a killer tan, I have to admit, but I got scorched here and there. Note: Don't forget the back of your knees when applying sunscreen. And check to see that this year's suit offers as much rear coverage as last year's. If not, those cute white spots are going to fry. Invest in some hair/scalp sunscreen. By the end of the week, I was just rubbing SPF 45 down my part every morning, to no avail. I may look like I have dandruff this week.

I'm sure I'll be telling specific trip stories as the week wears on, but this is a decent overview. It was wonderful. We're exhausted, though, even having the weekend to recover. We're all still on Pacific time, so rolling out of bed this morning wasn't easy. And though I should be glad Emma's cold waited till the end to show up, we'll be dealing with that all week. I'm guessing the preschool dropoff tomorrow could be interesting.

The whole trip will be chronicled in photos on Emma's site soon enough, but I can't resist showing a few of my favorites here.

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