Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Note: This is a quick post - I have a few in the hopper that keep growing, so I think a couple of multi-part series posts will happen soon.

I've been enjoying a strange version of baby fever.

On the day before a cousin of mine is scheduled to be induced (Best of luck, Mollie!), I've been thinking a lot about what we in our little household call "OPBs" - Other People's Babies - and how much I love them. Are you, or someone you know, having a child? That's great! Once said child has reached that stage where he or she can hold his or her head up, I'll be happy to babysit. Need someone to hold your 5-month-old for a moment while you do a quick chore? Count me in. Snuggly 10-month old? Yes, please. I will sniff that fuzzy little head with glee. Have a toddler? I am ready for goofy dance parties at any moment.

This morning we rode the elevator down to the first floor with a woman and her two sons who looked to be about 5 and 3 years old. The older boy had a small bike, and he explained with excitement to my husband that "We're going on an ADVENTURE with our BIKES! It's going to be SO SUNNY outside!"

We both smiled and told him it's a great day for an adventure. As we walked out of the building, we talked briefly about how our own someday Far Off In the Future babies will hopefully be so cute and enthusiastic about the great outdoors and bicycles, but those are conversations about Theoretical Events that will happen A Long Time From Now, whereas other people's babies are already birthed and fed and clothed by someone else! How convenient!

I'm fairly certain where the real craziness for OPBs got started: another cousin's redheaded son was born this past June, and he's one of the first babies I've gotten to really watch grow up. People, babies grow fast. Dude was just an intimidatingly delicate lump in late June, but by August his personality was really beginning to present itself. By the time I saw him a few weeks ago at a family party he was sitting up, quietly playing with my hands, reacting to the room around him, and - most striking - keeping tabs on his mom. Anywhere she moved in the crowded room, his gaze would follow.

That constant awareness of his mother's presence tells me that those "Other People" are pretty critical for Other People's Babies, and seeing the obvious bond that little guy has with his mother is both fascinating and daunting. When I think of the level of responsibility being a mom entails, I get a bit anxious... which is why I'm happy, with another new little cousin to hang out with in the very near future, to rest on my laurels as Cousin/Auntie/ Family Friend Schmei for a while longer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


One of my favorite bloggers, JD Roth, posted today about being happier , and it got me thinking about my own happiness.

I tend to be pretty happy in October: the weather is cooling down; I can go back to my daily uniform of "whatever pants are clean and a sweater I haven't worn yet this week", which makes getting ready for work a snap. Football is on TV on Sunday nights, something that I've inexplicably come to love the last few years. Stores are selling pumpkin-flavored treats. The leaves are changing. I can start making chili again. Classes have started up, and I do find a sense of purpose in my homework - especially this quarter, when both of my classes are quite interesting.

One conspicuously absent part of that list? My job. Monday through Friday, I roll out of bed and take a shower and make coffee and get dressed and walk with my favorite guy to the train stop and I kiss him goodbye and I get on the train. I work nine-ish to five-ish (or six-ish or seven-ish) in an office downtown and then I take another train home. As much as I talk about and complain of my job to whoever will listen (read: my long-suffering spouse), it didn't manage to make it into the making-Schmei-happy list. Which means I need to spend less time doing the job, and less time thinking about the job when I'm not there.

I should be fair: In general, and as recently as last week, I enjoy my coworkers. They're smart, they're doing good work for people who need the help, they are generally funny and often polite. Sometimes one of them will show up with donuts or something, just because. A few of them are folks I can see staying in touch with after I move on. But the job itself does not make me happy.

I need to re-read that sentence to myself every day. My job does not make me happy. And so I should take the advice of Boppa, my grandfather-in-law, and give it no more than the 35 hours a week I'm contractually obligated to give it, and then spend the rest of my time doing things that will, actually, satisfy me. (Baking bread? Happy.)

This job I have - and that I have now had longer than any other job - is a means to a check for rent and a tuition waiver for my master's degree. Because it's helping me avoid homelessness and helping me get an M.A. that I can use for getting a job I really love, I suppose this job may contribute to my long-term happiness. But that doesn't make it worth stressing about.

I can't quit yet, but I can quit making it the biggest part of my life, especially since it's a time-suck that makes me feel like I'm treading water. I've been making small steps toward at least making the best of it: getting off the train a stop early and taking a mile walk before heading in to the office; making note of the cool buildings and interesting people in the city (and telling myself "you'll miss this when you live in the sticks"); heading around the corner at lunchtime to get a salad at the health food store (something I'm sure I really will miss when I live in the sticks). I just need to add the step of leaving at five o'clock on the dot every day no matter what.

So blog? Try to keep me honest. It's in writing now. I will leave my job 8 hours after I get there, every day, and I will take breaks during the day, and I will complain less about it when I'm at home.

And that's enough resolutions for one day. But it could help make me happier.