Category Archives: Working Mom

Stone Code Killer

One day, for 10 minutes, my job seemed dangerous, scary, and fascinating to my kids.

I was a dry, hot summer night.  The only respite from the heat was the cooler air in the basement.  Luke was lying on top of his covers reading, and Jack and I were snuggling (the kind of snuggling where you try not to touch too much, if at all), and reading a bed time story.   My phone rang, interrupting Magic by the Lake, and I answered it.

It was a co-worker in India and he said, “HI Megan.  We are working on blah blah blah customer’s ticket and you requested that the database be taken out of archive log mode, and the backups turned off.  But the backup is currently running.  Should we wait, or…”

I handled it. Then I hung up and looked at four wide eyes staring at me.  Because what the kids had heard was:

“This is Megan.  Kill it.  Just go ahead and Kill it.   Thanks, goodbye.”

I had to admit I enjoyed the stares.  I was intriguing.  Maybe dangerous.  Maybe what I do is illegal.  Maybe immoral.

Then explained was telling someone that it was OK to kill the backup.  It’s like pulling the plug out from the light instead of turning it off.  Kill the lights!  It’s like turning the wii console power off in the middle of a level instead of saving your progress, exiting the game, and then turning the power off with the remote.   Or it’s like… oh nevermind, my job is back to being boring again and I just put everyone to sleep.

It was fun while it lasted.

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Post Mortem

I made a mistake last week.  For the period of about 1 hour, there were some people who could not access some information.  It wasn’t the worst mistake in my career, but it may have been the dumbest.  I made the mistake and then I left the house, and I found out about it about half an hour later at the grocery store.  There is now a checkout clerk, and a bagger who have heard me swear, and seen me panic.  As I rushed home to fix the problem, I imagined myself getting fired.  I imagined crying, and then coming to understand the situation, then slowly feeling a sense of liberation and happiness.  I realized I was wasting my life, and if I could make this kind of mistake, then all this work has been for nothing.  It’s all over, I need to return the piano*, and become poor, but fulfilled in some other career.

I got home, put the ice cream away and fixed the problem.  Then I cried and cried.  Boo hoo hoo.  I made a mistake.

Monday I talked to my boss and suggested that he fire me.  He said no, and that people make mistakes.

He also said that I have some sort of crazy guilt thing, and that when I say I am a recovering Catholic, I should maybe focus more on the recovery.  Long story short, this is my confession.  I made a mistake, people.  I am sure I don’t need to point out that I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I see the humor in all of this, or else this blog post would be a lot funnier.  I mean, it’s not like the time I thought I was going to get fired because I accidentally told my boss he was “the worst” because I got my IM chat windows confused.

Remember when you used to watch E.R. and someone accidentally killed a patient and then they had to sit through an inquisition where they relived the terrible nightmare, second by second, and explained all their actions?  I had to do that.  I was glad that I had the worst allergies in 10 years, or possibly a terrible cold because if I started crying, I could cover it up with a sneeze.  After I wrote up the postmortem, I had a talk with another co-worker about how to explain what happened because all that came to mind was, “I am so dumb, and I totally screwed up.”  The correct thing to say is, “The cause of this problem was human error.”   I compromised with, “I made a typo.”  The customer said, “Mistakes happen, I get it.”

So, I survived.  And not only did I survive, but the mistake that I made did not lead directly, or indirectly to anyone’s death.  So maybe this career has some things going for it after all.

* We bought a piano.

427

This post is about 420, but since it’s a week late, I am calling it 427.  I live in Boulder, and last year 10,000 people gathered on campus to smoke marijuana at 4:20 pm on April 20th.  This year, the police and school closed the campus to all but students, checked ids, rode around on motorcycles, blocked every intersection and got the crowd down from 10,000 to 300.

And guess what else?  I was required to take a drug test sometime between 4/20 and 4/24.  I love irony, and I hate waiting in lines, so I went to the lab on 4/20.  The boys were both home that day and they had been fighting, so I made them come with me, as a form of discipline.  Those boys hate to run errands.  But they are naturally curious, so they wanted to know what was going to happen.  I said, “You’ll sit in the lobby while I pee in a cup in the bathroom.”  BORING!  So I thought a little harder and I said, “Well, actually I don’t know.  Maybe they’ll take some of my blood to study, or some of my hair, or scrape the inside of my check, or put me in an interrogation room with really bright lights and give me a lie detector test.”

Then I shrugged and said, “Who knows?”

Jack has said he wants to be a scientist who works in a lab, or a doctor, or make movies, or write stories, so he was excited to go to the lab.  We walked in, and the guy asked for my paperwork, which I did not bring because I had all the info on my fancy phone.  This caused a lot of eye rolling and scowling to happen, while I read 8 numbers out loud instead of killing a tree so the guy at the lab could read 8 numbers off a piece of paper.

Next, I left the boys in the lobby and went  into a room a few feet away.  This room had one of those chairs that you sit in to have blood drawn, and needles, and vials, and a bright light, but no lie detector test.  I started to wonder if I was going to have my blood drawn after all, and I was also wondering if the boys would be interested in seeing such an event, or if that would scar them for life, and also, was it a good idea to leave them in an empty waiting room that at any moment could be full of suspected drug users such as myself? (Note, my drug test was a work requirement, not some sort of court ordered thing.)

So I said, as the guy with the elaborate neck tattoo was snapping on some rubber gloves, “Oh!  Am I going to have blood drawn?”

And he sneered, “No, but I am not touching your URINE.”

And that is when the experience of having to pee in a cup became really awkward.

I think I just stood there, stunned, for several moments, with my mouth hanging open.  I didn’t bother to explain that I wasn’t asking about the blood because of the gloves, but because I had worked my imagination into a frenzy.  Plus the first thing that came to mind to say was, “I was just asking because I thought my kids might want to see how blood is drawn.”  Because, I realized, that sounds crazy.

Then he handed me the jar and said, “The bathroom doesn’t work, so head to the one at the end of that long hallway.”

I walked past the kids with my jar, and past a lot of offices with big windows that looked out into the hallway, and then I walked back with my jar full of pee.   And I  was a little sad that my ironic story of the 420 drug test became the embarrassing story of a sneering lab technician that assumed I thought my pee was worthy of being touched by his bare hands.

Baseball Mom, Baseball Pants

Upfront Disclaimer:  I have no complaints about doing laundry in general.  Dave and I have a pretty egalitarian marriage, in which I completely do not feel that I do all the chores, or more than 50% of the chores.  So I am having a hard time with this blog post because I want it to be about how annoying it is that laundry detergent commercials are targeted to women, and how annoyed I was that all the information about the laundering of baseball pants was directed at me.  But in real life I  do the laundry.  And Dave wasn’t even at the baseball meeting where they talked about the pants.

So what is going on with me?  I am writing a blog post about how I feel about writing a blog post about laundry.  Meta-MetaMegan.

Let’s start at the beginning.  I have always been annoyed at the way laundry, and cleaning products in general are marketed towards women.  Like waaaay back when I could first articulate a thought it was, “Why does the TV woman have to do all the laundry and cleaning?”  I was going to explain the whole thing – but come on.  Who doesn’t think those commercials with the one dimensional mom whose emotional life ranges from mock-exasperation-at-her-family-of-stain-generating-knuckleheads to pure-joy-at-the-removal-of-a-stain?  Plus, it’s already been done, and better than I could do.

So here we are.  I married a great chore-doing husband, my life is perfect, I only watch TV on netflix and the DVR so I don’t even see commercials anymore.  In fact, when I tried to find an image for this post, all I could find were scary pictures of some man with oxyclean.  And yet.  And yet…

When Luke was ordering his baseball uniform, I was giving a very long, very intense lesson on the laundering of the white baseball pants.  My eyes glazed over, I went to another place in my mind where I am someone other than “baseball mom in charge of laundry”  and I contemplated responding with, “Um yeah.  Thanks.  Laundry isn’t really my “thing” if you know what I mean.  I have a very challenging job, I read, I sometimes write.”  And, “Why are you telling all this to me?”  (Reminder:Dave wasn’t there.)  Instead, I mumbled “Oxyclean?  Got it.  Your wife drip dries the jersey?  Good to know.”  Then I proceeded to joke about the laundering of baseball pants for a month, and laughed and laughed about it.  And by that I mean, I became obsessed with whether or not I would win at getting the pants as white as possible.

At some point during all this, Luke tried on his entire uniform several times and was unable to stop smiling the entire time he wore it.  Dave mentioned that maybe the pressure to maintain the baseball pants came not from other moms, but from the kids.  Laundry obsession went up to 11.

Game time came this past weekend and I made Luke hand me his pants as soon as we walked into the house.  I rinsed in the sink, then made a paste of oxyclean and put it on the stain.  Then I started making dinner (more women’s work!  Disclaimer – I love cooking, and Dave does more than I do, and he does the grocery shopping.)  Then I googled “white baseball pants” and read a million things about what to do to get the stains out:  rust cleaner, carpet cleaner, dish soap, zout, oxyclean, some purple thing, bleach, etc.”  For every blog comment about what worked, there was one that said, “that didn’t work at all for me.”  And every once in a while someone would say, “The kids want their pants to look dirty!”  Big relaxed sigh.  Then Luke popped his head in to see if I had any luck getting the stains out.  Wash, rinse, repeat! I decided to forget everything I read online and just go with what I had been told in baseball pants meeting.  Oxyclean.  I may have thrown in some Palmolive for good measure.  I may have started to hallucinate from the fumes.  I may have  reached some sort of inner peace, but that is only because I try to turn chores that I don’t want to do into opportunities for meditation.  I read a lot of magazines, and according to Oprah and Real Simple, I need to be meditating, and I like to multi-task.

The only instruction I didn’t follow was to soak the pants overnight in oxyclean.  And that is because our bathtub doesn’t hold water for that long because the drain won’t stay closed, and all the other sinks are required for hand washing or cooking, and I can’t figure out how to soak something in the front load washer.

Long story short, the pants are perfect.  Me on the other hand?  I am a mess, but I win at white baseball pants.  This week at least.

The Pancake Story

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You know when you volunteer to bring in food for a class party and you get there, and there is a ton of food and you know the kids are just going to take a bunch, eat some, and then a lot of it is going to go to waste?  And then you think, “ugh.  What a waste. And who brought donuts?  And can I silently judge that person and eat one of the donuts at the same time?” Then there all these moms standing around, and you know there is work to be done, but you can’t quite figure out what you are supposed to do?  Or all the easy jobs are taken and you don’t want to do the hard or complicated or boring ones?  NO? Is it just me?

Big redacted section on the reason for this particular breakfast and why I thought the idea wasn’t that great and why I volunteered to make whole wheat pancakes.

I volunteered to bring in pancakes for a class breakfast.  And in my mind, I  was one of many parents who would be bringing in pancakes or something.  I didn’t write down the date of the breakfast for some reason, so I was glad and horrified when I got the email saying to be at school on a certain day at 7:45am to start cooking so all the food would be ready for 60 kids by 8:05.   (Side note – there was one other mom cooking pancakes that day.) Between when I volunteered and when the day arrived, I found out I would have work to do between 8:00 and 8:30, so I asked if I needed to stay and help, which I am sure was expected, but I thought I could shirk it because there would be so so so many other volunteers, but at least I was planning ahead when I said, “I am going to make the pancakes at home, and how long exactly do I need to stay and help because Mondays are crazy at work…?”  I didn’t hear back.

Now, I would never complain about Dave, especially on my blog, so this next section is really about me, and how awesome I have become after 14.5 short years of marriage.

I tried to pawn the pancake helping duties off on Dave.  There was a miscommunication.

Monday morning, we had this conversation:

Me: Here are 80 pancakes.  I don’t know how long you’ll have to stay and help out.

Dave: I don’t have time to stay and help out.  I have to work.

Me:  But when we talked about it, I said, “I have to work Monday morning.  I can’t help out with the breakfast.” And you said, “Why don’t you let me handle everything?”

Dave: Yeah.  That’s what I said.  And then I said I was sure I could drop off the pancakes.  And then you said. “Well if all I had to do was drop them off, I could handle that.”

Me: Yeah.  That’s what I said.

And scene.

Well actually, then we argued about whether or not he should take a half full bottle of syrup “just in case.”

Then Dave left to drop off 80 pancakes and 2 kids.

I sat at home working.  And thinking.  I thought about how I was extremely worried about how 4 teachers could possibly manage to feed 60 kids pancakes.  What if there were no other parents to help?  WHO WOULD WIPE DOWN THE TABLES AFTERWARDS?  Of course, maybe the tables wouldn’t be sticky if there was no syrup? I started to imagine myself getting really mad at Dave, and then I thought, who cares?  A younger MegaMegan could have been angry for weeks about this.  But really.  Not worth it.  I have officially grown as a person.  When Dave got home, I found out which moms were there and I txted them my thanks for covering for me.  Those moms know what to do at class parties. I probably should buy them each a glass of wine.

So now that I am so mature that I can recover from a miscommunication/argument in less than an hour, the next step is to not be a freak show in the first place. But that would make for pretty boring blog posts.

 

Should I Shower?

I have been mostly working from home these days, and I have found that it decreases my ability to blog.  I am not out in the world having hilarious things happen to me, or brainstorming with my writing partner, Laura.  But I do spend a bit of time every day trying to figure out if I should shower.  And that shower decision making process was so cumbersome that I decided to make this handy decision tree:

Full size at this link:  Should_I_Shower ?

 

 

 

Interesting

So, as I said, I quit my job.  Maybe once, a million years ago, I thought that some place was going to be “so screwed” when I left, but I don’t feel that way now.  Life goes on, work gets done, it’s no big deal.   But I have to say, I have really mixed feelings about what is going on during my last 2 weeks.    I am being replaced by a temporary consultant and two full time positions.   The entire organizations project list is being restructured.**   I suppose, it would be normal to either not care, or to feel gratified that someone realized I was doing the work of 3 people.  But mostly, I feel annoyed.    I am going to try to turn this into a learning opportunity about setting priorities.

 

** Part of this is that the other person that quit the same day I did was my boss.   I get that, but really, they are only replacing him with one person.