Thoughtful Thursday: Connected

February 23, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayMy new job comes with two email addresses, and I am supposed to choose between the two addresses, which means choosing between two different systems. One part of my decision process is how easy it is to access the accounts outside the office: from a web-based interface, forwarded to my personal email account, or from my phone. One account is way easier to access inside the office, and the other is way easier outside the office.

These efforts to get myself connected outside the office beg the question: do I even want to check my email when I’m not officially “working”?

Pre-kids, I’d check my work email a couple of times each night and a few times each weekend day.

Now, if I’m working from home I’ll check it a few times, but otherwise I often don’t check at all when I’m not at the office. Most things can wait, and if they can’t, I still don’t particularly want to deal with it. I don’t have my work emails sent to my phone, on purpose.

To some extent I want to manage expectations: I don’t want to be someone that people expect to answer right away, day or night.

Seven years ago, when most people had regular cell phones but almost no one had smartphones, one of my coworkers lamented her husband’s new Blackberry: “He brings it to bed! He checks his email while we are in bed! Who does that?!?” Now, almost all of us do.

Which is why I’ll check my email at night once or twice, and I’ll forward it to my Gmail as long as I set up a filter, but I draw the line at push notifications. My work-life balance isn’t going to reach equilibrium if I let people keep zapping me all day and all night.

Oh, and I try really hard not to let anyone at work have my phone number. Don’t call me, I’ll call you see you at work tomorrow.

How connected do you like to stay to your work when you’re off duty?

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Open House

February 19, 2012

At the nursery school Open House, we discovered that two classmates were born within a week of Burrito and Tamale’s birthday.

One of those dads said, “I guess a lot of us were gettin’ it on around New Year’s!”

What I said to him: “Actually, they were preemies.”

What I thought immediately: “Well, now I know one couple in this room who definitely isn’t infertile.”

What I realized later: “My egg retrieval for IVF #2 was on New Year’s Eve.
I’m pretty sure there was no ‘gettin’ it on’ within a month of New Year’s.”

Thoughtful Thursday: Workspace

February 16, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayI have now officially started my new job. When I arrived, the boss immediately apologized because my office is nowhere near everyone else’s. My team includes two bosses, who each have their own offices with windows, and a woman who directs a subsection of the team. Then there are 4 underlings who all work in one huge room at one big long L-shaped desk that takes up two walls of the huge room. Then there are various people who come in sometimes and sit at the L-shaped desk or at a conference table. And then there’s me. I am neither a boss nor an underling. My work requires more concentration and quiet than the underlings’, so the bosses wanted me to have my own office. But, there was no room in the team’s space, so they found me an office on the other side of the building, which has a few (very quiet!) people who work on different teams, several people who appear to have an office assigned but spend all of their time somewhere else, and many creepily uninhabited rooms. Hence the apology.

Personally I am more than happy not to sit at a big group desk — I try to work well with others, but I do not want to be chatting all day, nor do I want to listen to country music while I work (WTF?). It’s a little annoying when I need something not to be able to catch a boss when they happen to be walking by, and instead have to send an email and wait several hours for a reply. The two minutes it takes me to walk from my office to the team’s space is a good ergonomic break from sitting, so that part doesn’t bother me. There are no windows, but I don’t expect windows as a non-boss, particularly if I’m getting a solo office — a few years ago when given the choice between a dark tiny solo office and a huge beautiful shared office with wall-to-wall windows on a high floor overlooking the entire city, I jumped at the dark tiny solo office. Having my own office is by far my preference, but my new office is so large that one or two other people may join me in the future. Who knows how that will go.

Over the years I have had officemates who became dear friends, officemates that remained strangers, and officemates that became enemies. I have shared space with people I adored and people I couldn’t stand. I’ve had coworkers who helped me accomplish my best work and those who made my work much harder. I’ve been with people who wouldn’t shut up, people who chatted to a pleasant extent, and people who basically never spoke to me.

If you asked all of my past officemates, they’d collectively probably put me into almost all of the above categories.

What kind of workspace would you want to have, if it were up to you?

Time Warp Tuesday: Car

February 8, 2012

For the first time I’m participating in Time Warp Tuesday, run by Kathy at Four of a Kind. This week’s topic: an old post you like which got few comments the first time around.

First, please read the post I have chosen:
Car Trouble

Done reading? Good.

I wrote this post within my first month of blogging, so it’s understandable that it did not get many comments.

The reason I chose this post, though, my children never did sit in that car after all — though not because my infertility lasted longer than the car’s natural life, though it was close.

That car saw me through all of my appointments for the RE, for acupuncture, and eventually for the OB and perinatologist. That car drove behind the ambulance when I was rushed to a tertiary care hospital to prevent the babies from coming way too early.

In a blog post more than a year later, I alluded to the car’s fate very obliquely: “A loved one almost dies in a car crash.”

The car that crashed was the same car I’d bought for the purpose of having babies, and the loved one was DH.

Everything about the crash indicates that he should have died or at least been critically injured. Instead, he walked away (okay, limped away, but that got better eventually) almost unscathed, thanks to that car and its fantastic safety features.

When I had the car, mostly I liked it fine and even called it by an affectionate nickname, but occasionally I got mad at it. Now, I only sing its praises: the car sacrificed itself to save my husband. For the rest of my life, it will hold an extra-special place in the garage of my heart.

Join the Time Warp!

Thoughtful Thursday

Oops, I only managed to post one Thoughtful Thursday in January, so everyone who commented on that post is a member of the February Intelligentsia. It was a particularly difficult question, though, so you earned it.

#28: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#24: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#24: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#20: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#16: Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy
#12: Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair
#12: Tara from Turkey In My Oven
#11: Ana
#10: just-gave-birth-to-a-marvelous-daughter St. Elsewhere
#9: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#3: Sara from Aryanhwy
#1: soon-to-give-birth Celia from Breeder Beware
#1: Chickenpig from Better Full Than Empty
#1: Sam from Communique
#1: Two Kayaks from As Big As the Sky

Thoughtful ThursdayThe reason for my silence last month is that we are now in our new digs. We are here. It was not easy.

One thing I really sought out in choosing this house is that it is in a neighborhood — a true old fashioned neighborhood, the kind that doesn’t seem to exist anymore, where the owner of the market knows everyone by name, where almost every dog owner we have passed has paused to introduce Burrito and Tamale to their dog.

As for my actual neighbors, the previous occupant of this house gave me some advice I have found to be true, “The neighbors to the south are really great. The ones right behind you have lived there forever, they can refer you to any sort of handyman, plumber, etc.” And that was it. She specifically did not mention the neighbors to the north; I don’t yet know whether they are neutral or bad.

It’s funny that I should seek out a neighborhood, given that I am not very neighborly. In our old house, we barely interacted with our closest neighbors — not that I didn’t try, but after the 4th no show to a party, I stopped sending invitations. When I ran into the neighbor a few months ago, she said, “Your baby must be so big now!” More than two years after they were born, she did not know I had twins.

In the house before that, we interacted with only one neighbor. He was extremely neighborly, but he never got our names right. Never. Each time we’d see him (almost daily), it was a fun game to see what he’d call each of us.

My mother, on the other hand, was beyond neighborly. She knew every person on the block, and she’d fill me in on all of the minutiae of their lives over the phone. “Doris’s daughter got a new job.” “Ethel’s son came over to do laundry again. He never sees his mother unless he wants to do laundry.” “The kid next door was mad at me because I only bought 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies from her, but I have 4 other Girl Scouts I have to buy from!”

I like the idea of neighbors. In practice, though, I don’t enjoy small talk, and I’m not great at feigning interest in others. I like having someone that I could call to borrow something in a pinch, but I rarely do the work to foster the relationship beforehand. Presumably as Burrito and Tamale get older, I will appreciate having kids around with whom they can play, and adults around who will keep an eye out. If a neighbor ever asked me to do something neighborly like water their plants while they were out of town, I’d gladly do it, but no one ever asks. When it comes to favors for me, I rarely want to impose on anyone. Maybe all of that will change, now that I live in a real neighborhood.

What kind of neighbors do you like to have? What kind of neighbor are you?