Thursday, October 14, 2010

School Days

One of my favorite books to read is the Oxford English Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes edited by Peter and Iona Opie.  I realize that it sounds weird, but go and check out this book.  It is fascinating.  Each rhyme is researched.  The Opies found no connection between Ring Around the Rosie and the bubonic plague.  Rain Rain Go Away is traced back to ancient times.  If I had to pick a job, I would love to have had theirs.  They basically researched and studied the child to child transfer of rhymes and games and well as the sociology of the playground.  Have you ever watched kids play or make up games?  Their rules and standards of behavior are incredibly complex.  If you ever have a chance to read The People in the Playground, that is another fascinating read. 

I was an elementary music teacher for six years.  I always thought I would end up a band director, but in my junior year I was connected with the Kodaly (pronounced co-dye) approach to teaching and my world opened up.  The approach included researching folk music, which meant researching actual field recordings and the history of a song.  I loved it.  I spent hours in the library.  It was heaven.  Eventually, the stress of teaching in inner city schools and dealing with constant funding shortages made me reconsider my career choice.  When you teach small children all day an office job can look pretty appealing, even if you don't get the summers off.  So, I left.  Almost randomly I chose HR as my new career, enrolled in graduate school for an HR degree to help my career and I was off.  When I started having kids, I knew that going back to teaching music would be financially risky, so I did the grown up thing and stuck with Human Resources.

Five years later, after taking one or two classes at a time and the equivalent of two years off to have kids, I am looking at my last year of school.  I was not meant for business school and trying to do it while working full time and raising two small children has almost put me over the edge.  I fantasize about quitting or getting a letter from the dean saying that there's been a mistake with my credits and I get to graduate next semester. Oh, the joy!!  None of that is happening.  In fact, this semester has been......I can't think of the right word.....torture.  My working group for class has been a nightmare which culminated last night with one member dropping the course two hours before our project was due without turning in his work. 

I think my anger comes from a resentment of my own choice.  I look up at my bookshelf and see my Lomax collections and that is what I want to study, not benefits and compensation.  Don't get me wrong, there is a lot about HR that I like, but the satisfaction that I felt when I was teaching just isn't there.  Life is basically on hold until I finish this degree and then I can go back to reading things that I like to read.  I can finally put together baby books for my kids, learn to sew, and start working out again.  I can have my life back.

I'll tell you one thing - as soon as I graduate I am throwing one hell of a party and you are all invited. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

35 and Counting

I used to really look forward to my birthday, but the past few years have been different.  I guess the biggest change is the fact that I have two small children that take up pretty much every piece of my time and energy.  The other factor is that as you settle in to family life, your priorities change and so does your social life.  Happy hours are no more and weekends are planned around a trip to the zoo, and that's ok.  In fact, it's wonderful.

I don't know if it was the number I got hung up on or all of the "I thought my life/career/whatever would be different" thoughts that seem to appear around this time, but I was sort of dreading this birthday.  Last year I was still in my early 30s.  Now, I am entering my late to middles.  I get called "ma'am" a lot more than I used to and no one asks for my ID when I get a drink.  There is no use pretending that I am young.  Now, I'm "relatively young". 

The day itself was a total bust.  The company I work for was processing employees who were being laid off, so it was a very somber day in HR.  Along with my employer, some of the biggest space program contractors were laying off in the hundreds. Everyone had their head down the whole week as the sadness of what is being done to our human space flight program started to hit home.  I was not surprised when my boss and co-worker both forgot my birthday.  I was actually kind of glad. How can you have cake and balloons as you tell someone how to apply for unemployment?

Thankfully, it got better.  M was given two tickets to see the Astros vs Cubs (my favorite team) and the seats were very fancy at club level.  He also booked a night at The Inn at the Ballpark, which is directly across from Minute Maid Park and very nice.  We could practically touch the stadium from our window.


Everything at the hotel was baseball themed, including the coasters!


The seats weren't so bad, either.

The Game

It was a beautiful night and watching my Cubbies win with the roof open made for a perfect evening.

My parents came to town and watched the kids overnight so we could stay and we both woke up feeling a little less stressed and a lot more relaxed.  It's amazing how just one night away can give you the breather you need. We needed that time for us.

The next day we went to our friend Dom's house who, as usual, cooked all day and roasted two turkeys.

One was smoked with pear stuffing

Pear Stuffed

The other was oven roasted and chili rubbed.  Yes, it was amazing.

Chili Rubbed

There are certainly things I wish were different in my life.  I wish I was done with grad school and I wish I had time to really unpack and get the house in order.  Hell, I wish I weighed ten pounds less than I do.  What if I got all of those things?  Would I just wish for more?  The present is where I should try to spend most of my time.  There will be days that utterly suck, but there will always be joys within those days.  I will still have hugs and kisses from my kids, laughter with M, and white wine in the fridge.  I can watch TV on command for heaven's sake.  How bad can life be?


Not bad.  Not bad at all.