Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Go figure

I just had to get this one down.

I was dropping off Son at daycare this morning (later than late) and he was all excited about getting in on story time, since it was "If you give a mouse a cookie." He looooooves those books. Anyway, the teacher had to take a break to round up the wandering toddlers, so she came over to say good morning.

She also had an interesting observation. Apparently, Son is proficient in identifying numbers, but in Spanish only. Hunh? If you hold up a flash card with a number five on it, he'll happily tell you what it is in Spanish. Ask him to do it in English? Nope, he is still getting them a bit mixed up. The closest thing to bilingual in our house is the dusty German dictionary from college next to the good 'ol Merriam Webster. But still. I must ask him to count for me tonight. I can barely understand his English some days, so Spanish should be a real kick!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How about something new?

I'm tired of talking, thinking, or even somewhat contemplating my job crap. Tired. Manager's last real day is tomorrow, and then all hell will break loose. I've had four, count 'em, four conference calls today. My last one is in five minutes. Well, at least I can't say that I'm lacking for anything to do.

So, I have noticed that I have been remiss in sharing the cuteness that is Miss Thing, aka BabyA. I have to admit that we have been guilty of the sin of not taking half as many pictures of the second child as the first. I don't take all of the blame-Husband insisted on buying the bazillion dollar SLR camera, and I'm almost afraid to take it out of the case, let alone use it. These were taken by my mom before "the incident" between she and Husband. I'm still not quite up to talking about it yet. Put it this way, I don't know if Husband will ever go with me back to my parents. I'm not quite sure how any of that will ever work. Sigh.

Here are the two culprits together. I can see a resemblance, but they are certainly different in some areas:

Here is Son with his all-time favorite-"yightening!" The kid just about had a coronary when he saw this thing. Our picture turned out better than the one that we paid $5 for, but hey, at least they allowed us to take our own pictures (thank God for radio station interns that haven't met legal yet!) and Son has something in his room that makes him all smiley.

Finally, here is BabyA in all her glory. I have some better ones where you can see that smile that can light up a room, but I have to wrest those off of the memory card in said bazillion dollar camera. 'Nuff said.

Well, my calls are over, and I have six agreements to edit when I get home tonight. But I must tend to my loverly children for a couple of hours before I deal with monster software vendor. Gah.

Friday, February 22, 2008

and the beat goes on

Thanks to those that commented and offered their wisdom on my quandary. It's still an ongoing issue, and doesn't appear to be anywhere near resolution. I found out earlier this week that an agreement of sorts has been reached. The "co-conspirators" have been asked, and agreed to, give GC two to three months to fix the situation. By "fix" I'm assuming make a decision about how this group will be managed and configured. I'm assuming (ignoring completely what that can do) that will also mean that my fate will also be decided at that time.

I haven't yet submitted my resume to the other two companies, and at this point, I don't know if I will. If anything, the situation here will be much more clear by late spring; at least I hope so. Husband's resounding lack of support for any change hasn't been helping either. That irritates me to no end; I've supported several job changes, and even a different job outside of his career path in order to make him happy. While maybe it was easier then because we didn't have human kids (we had the dogs, but hey, they don't go to college and require much beyond food and an occasional bone or collar), and even then, Husband was the secondary wage earner, but why can't I be entitled to a little consideration too? I know that he's scared that by changing we may lose the stability that we've had for so long, but at what point does my sanity figure in? He doesn't see me as a competitive person at all so I think that it's hard for him to understand that I still have that fire lurking below the surface. I also think that he doesn't think that I'm very good at what I do-even thought I've been good enough to help him with some agreements, he tends to silently endorse his mother's "she's not a real lawyer" mentality. I've told him that I've wanted to talk about this, and his comment that I hadn't really even included him in my decision to look elsewhere was right on. However, when he consciously avoids it, I think that he forfeits his vote. That's what its like to be married to a poli sci major. However, the thought that this will fly in a marriage probably is misguided, at best.

So, we managed to avoid the topic all weekend. I avoided all thought of it after getting off of the phone with my brother on Friday night (he would get a $1000 referral bonus if I would actually get hired at one of the jobs-fat chance, but let him have his dream). Then, this morning, it all hit me again. That jittery, way too much caffeine before the big final type of flutter inside. The just on the brink of an anxiety attack feeling. (Note to self: must call doc to see about upping that dose.) The main instigator called to let me know that the requisition to replace my manager had been approved. I didn't check to today to see if it had been posted yet internally. Part of me is scared to, because it just might give me the answer to my quandary, and I'm not sure if I'm ready for that. If it 's a posting for a director level position, then it would seem pretty clear that I'm not in contention for it at all. If it's just for another attorney, then I may still have a fighting chance. I'm pretty sure that I want to at least explore the option. I'm just hoping that the option hasn't already been pulled.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm feeling more than a bit out of control, and when it comes to work, I hate that. I also hate the fact that I'm getting talked about (or, more painfully, not talked about) when it comes to the future of this group. This kills me. Old manager K is out of the country this week at some far-flung "team building event" (read: boondoggle in a really beautiful place) so I'm not going to hear anything from him. NewManager isn't talking either. I just want an answer, dammit, that's all! The sooner the better, because it may take me a while to lick these wounds. I just have a bad feeling about all of this.'s going to be a looooong couple of months.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What to do?

OK, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Admittedly, I have what could be termed a rather full plate-2 young kids, a job that is more demanding than I want or care it to be, and just trying to hold myself together in spite of it all can be a full time occupation if allowed. I'm not even sure if anyone really reads this thing, and despite the fact that I have repeated to myself over and over again that I'm not Sally Field at the Oscars, and that this is just supposed to be my place to vent and rejoice as the situation calls for (albeit in a public forum), I'm wondering if I'm not just another boring voice contributing to the overall din of the internet. Am I just another one of those self-indulgent idiots that just types to read their own prose?

So, if you're out there, I could really use some chiming in on the situation I'm about to explain, because, quite honestly, I'm more than a bit in a quandry. The sad thing is, this is really one of the least of my problems, but it is the one that I can actively work on by myself and find some conclusion. At least I have some control-that's not the case in some of the other things that have been going on. But I digress.

As I mentioned a while ago, we've had a substantial shake-up in my department at work. I had thought/hoped/prayed that things would settle down and that we could all get back to just doing our work. The work loads are large-someone in a firm would most likely blanch and fall over. In a nutshell, we have waaaaaay too much to do to be engaged in high school theatrics. Apparently, I'm the only one who views it this way.

So, last week we were all in the same place for the first time since everything happened, including NewManager. He's still trying, with very limited success, at pulling all of this off. I don't know if he has any idea about the tumult going on around him. If he does, he's pulling the most adept acting job in the group. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that I'm wrong on that point. Regardless, one of the co-conspirators, DL, had been talking to me prior to the meeting, and kept telling me that a "bombshell" was in the works, but that honor and a promise to the third party to keep quiet prevented him from telling me what it was. I shopped around some theories, but none of them seemed very plausible. We have a small cast of characters here, soI couldn't for the life of me figure it out.

All was revealed to me by said third party on our last night; he's leaving to go join our former boss in Europe to take, what is in essence his dream job, working for someone who is very respected in our field. He's lived abroad before, his wife is European, and he wasn't interested in staying here to see what happens. I should have known that this was the case; he's usually not one to cause waves, but he had been pretty quiet, even for him, since this all broke open. I can't blame him. It is a great opportunity, and after being passed over for the job that NewManager has (at least provisionally for the time being), he didn't see the point in staying.

All of this will cause me considerable grief. Since our coverage areas were in the same technical area, but simply split up, I'll most likely end up with all of his cases. The portfolio isn't huge, but since I already have the second largest chunk (which should scare everyone, by the way) of the entire portfolio, adding more is not something either I or my admin are looking forward to. Secondly, he has substantial responsibilities in the support of a new business effort. This particular business unit is a challenge, and is still very much in flux. They are a conglomoration of small companies that we have acquired over the past two or three years, and to say that they aren't used to having in-house legal is an understatement. Honestly, it could/would be a lot of fun to handle-I like the challenge and getting in on the ground floor to help shape strategy and put processes in place. However, if piled on top of everything else that I have to deal with, it comes down to being stretched too thin-to the point of tearing.

OK, so it comes down to this. When I was in California, I told the head of the legal group about my concerns. I hope that he took me seriously, since I usually am the one that puts my head down and trys to make the best of whatever situation I'm in. One of the concerns was that with this change, the career advancement/growth that my manager and I had talked about was probably going to be hitting the skids. I've always had a problem with touting myself-I'm a great advocate for others or for a cause, but for me, not so much. The head of legal, K, told me that he had considered that I might fill the empty director's spot that NewManager had vacated. Part of me was thrilled, but the other part is worried that I won't be allowed to really manage the group, that NewManager, since the site used to be his baby, will micro-manage me into ineffectiveness. Oh, and the kicker? One of the other attorneys who is at that site has already said that he doesn't think that I deserve the position, since he's a far better lawyer than I am with more experience. In my defense, he may have more years, but since NewManager doesn't delegate anything, OtherAttorney hasn't seen half of what I have. It hurt to hear that. On top of some of the other things that I've been dealing with lately, it was enough to push me into a sniffle-fest on the drive home. What the hell do I have to do? Not like I'm not insecure enough about my abilities.

The other option is the director's position that will open up when my current manager, D, leaves. He's at another site, but if we could fill his position with a another lawyer, it wouldn't be a problem for me to take that spot and stay where I am. To me, this makes the most sense-I have a familiarity with the clients, and they with me. I wouldn't have to change technology focus (which I would have to in order to take NewManager's slot) and it would really be an easy transition. However, I'm not overly hopeful here. An email went out from NewManager today announcing D's departure at the end of the month, and that the powers that be were "analyzing" what the next steps would be. I wasn't in the office today, since I was home with BabyA due to a daycare lockout (she vomited twice yesterday, and she had to stay vomit-free for 24 hours before she could go back), so if anyone tried to get hold of me, they were out of luck.

So, what is my quandry? Well, it can be broken down to a couple of different things:
  • do I even want the job? It will require more time and effort, and I'm struggling as it is. However, part of the struggle has been from a lack of motivation. Why continue to bust my ass when I don't ever get anything resembling an 'atta girl? You can only continue to give for so long. It may be different if I can actually control my destiny, at least to some degree. It would also be fun to have a chance to expand my skill set with some new challenges. However, it may also mean more travel, which is not something I am prepared for right now. I know that we could make it work, but my babies....
  • what if I don't get one of them? There are a couple of openings at other companies in the metro. I've also been presented with an open door to work from home and write for one of my outside counsel. One of those deals where I work as much as I want to make. I'm just not so sure that I have the discipline to do that. There is also the down side of no benefits. I've been self-insured before, and well, it sucks.

I guess it comes down to having really been thinking about what I want-40 is looming, and what have I done? I used to be a rising star, and then things stalled out. Did I get complacent? Does it even matter anymore? I don't want to be absent from my kids, but there will be a point when they don't need me that much anymore, and then I'm afraid that when I look up, I'll be beyond the point of making anything of myself.

I just don't know what to do. Some of it is out of my hands, and that is the hardest thing to handle. I plan on kicking the tires on the other positions at the different companies, if anything to brush up on my interviewing skills (if I can even manage to get an interview-most places have a hard time with with me not having an engineering degree, one of those things expected from a patent attorney. I still think I'm doing pretty darn well as a self-taught engineer, thank you.). I just don't want to continue on continuing on. I think I may deserve more than that.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The great adventures of Chronicle

As I may or may not have mentioned before, I have to travel for work the first week of , this month. While exciting to some degree, it also comes fraught with a bag of mixed emotions and challenges. Since I’m only going to have bits and pieces of time, this will end up being an entry that covers several days. If anything, I’ll have this as what I hope is an example of my worries being nothing but that-worries

The first stop on the fun train was getting both Son and BabyA packed up for a full week at Grandpa and Grandma’s. My mother, in an uncharacteristic show of charity (or motivated by fear for her grandchildren) volunteered to take them both while I’m gone. Husband’s work can be erratic-the joys of being in a 24/7/365 industry-so there were concerns about how he was going to juggle getting kids to work and handling any emergencies that would come up. I wish that we could say that it doesn’t happen often, and at this property it hasn’t been as frequent as at others, but it still does happen. An employee that doesn’t show up for an overnight shift, the water isn’t working, the boiler is broken. You name it, it has happened.

Anyway, it just wasn’t going to be the most practical solution. Husband loves his kids, no question, but he is a little, er, challenged in the juggling multiple screaming children with widely different needs. He can handle Son for the most part, although the whole being two thing can be a true test. He hasn’t done much in the way of care for BabyA. Partially because she intimidates him a little, and partially because when we have to divide and conquer, the one who is the food source defaults to the consumer.

Since BabyA isn’t even five months yet, I’m in no position to start solids with her, and I have no desire to wean her yet. So, that entailed me freezing almost, get this, two and half gallons of breastmilk for this week. All in uniform, glorified ziplock bags. Despite the rather impressive (at least to me) number, BabyA will probably still need at least a little formula along the way. I started giving her one feeding a day last week, and while she didn’t eat all of it, she didn’t have any adverse reaction, so I think that we’re safe.

My parent live a good 175 miles away from us, so this weekend was a blur of driving, unpacking, last minute instructions, and me almost flipping out in the car as we were leaving. Mom wouldn’t come down to Suburbia, since she’s terrified of driving in the metro, and I don’t think that either she or Husband would survive together for that long. They barely tolerate each other as it is. Once we got back on Sunday night, it was a mad dash to the mall to pick up some last minute things, watch the best part of the Super Bowl (with a beer!), pack, do a last load of laundry or two.

We managed to get out the door and to the airport at a semi-decent hour this morning, and I was at the gate well in advance. I have only missed one flight before, and that was due to mechanical failure-the car that we were driving overheated somewhere before the Eisenhower Tunnel on our way to Denver. Just a s note, if you are ever late to the Denver airport, just re-book the flight. It’s a nightmare.

I also managed to get my pump through security without a whole lot of hassle, which I was very grateful for. I’ve only flown twice since Son was born, and both times there was no need for a pump. I was actively weaning the first time, and the manual pump that I have was fine. The second time, I was very newly pregnant with BabyA, and it wasn’t even an issue. I did get a separate x-ray and swab, but it was handled very well by the TSA. I had been envisioning getting some creep who, not knowing what it was (or knowing darn well), would demand that I show how it worked. Again, my rather creative fear manufacturing at work. Hurdle #1 over-I almost skipped to the gate.

I also got to add to the list of interesting places where I have pumped. Let’s see, there was the bathroom at my CLE course (to their credit, when they had built the bathroom, they put an outlet and shelf in the handicapped stall, but still), the empty conference room where I had a retired judge walk in on me (which took some effort, I had propped a large chair against the door that couldn’t be locked), and a vacant jury deliberation room at the courthouse during jury duty. I can now add the bathroom of the MSP to San Jose flight. So, somewhere over South Dakota, I asked the flight attendants if it would be OK to tie up the bathroom for 10-15 minutes, and they were OK with that. I had been watching to see if there was a high volume of use, and I was pretty sure that I timed it right.

I went and did my thing, even though the plug-in didn’t work (grrr). Thank God the two year old batteries in the battery pack still worked. Due to the noise of the plane, no one could really hear it. If I hadn’t been, um, attached, I don’t think that I would have known that it was on. We did hit some turbulance while I was in there, so my overactive imagination started to worry about getting bounced around unceremoniously in the bathroom, milk everywhere! Didn't happen, but I'm sure if anyone had seen me trying to brace myself while perched on the toilet and pumping would have either laughed or been horrified.

After working so hard to freeze as much as I could, it was painful to pour almost nine ounces down the drain, but there really wasn’t any other option. Of course, when I emerged, there was a line waiting for the bathroom. I’m sure that the guys were wondering what the hell was taking me so long, and what’s with that enormous purse?

In the end , it wasn’t that big of a deal. The other nursing mom in our group elected not to attend the meeting, since she was sure that she couldn’t make it through the entire flight from the mideastern U.S. to the west coast. I have to admit that it irked me more than a little. It is one thing to ask for some accommodations (a break in the schedule, which I got in the mornings but not in the afternoons), etc. But to miss the entire trip? Not so sure. It’s that tightrope that we have to walk; do you want to do anything that makes you appear to be less because you are a woman, or force the powers that be to recognize that their entire group is not made up of middle aged men? I haven’t been able to find a good answer. It’s sort of like trying to deal with the later parts of pregnancy. In order to take care of yourself and your baby, you have to slow down. Your body screams it at you. However, how do you handle that in a workplace that is primarily men, without having to deal with the repercussions of the thoughts that you aren’t “pulling your weight.”? I guess that it bothers me that Colleague said to me that there was no way that she would pump in an airplane bathroom. I guess that I just looked at it as doing what had to be done. It’s not like the milk would be consumed anyway. Pump, dump, and be done.. Its crappy that we have to make those kinds of choices, and I don’t want to be here, but it is what I have to do. My family depends on me for the bulk of our income. There is a good chance that I will be in a position to move up a position or two in the next couple of months. I have to do this, not just for me, but for them too. Oh, and the glass of wine with dinner may help, just a little.

It’s been a interesting few days. Solid, networking, even something close to pleasant. Really. In the end, the event organizer managed to get me a room that is literally 30 yards from the meeting room, so running back to pump during breaks has been easy. Yes, I was worried about how I was going to do this, but so far it hasn’t been more of an issue than it has been at home. I just hope that BabyA decides that I’m still OK instead of a bottle. I've missed our nightly bedtime rendezvous-I miss her, period. I talked to Son this morning, and if I wasn't so sure that I was going to be too tired to do it, I would almost consider landing at home on Thursday night and getting in the car and driving up to the two of them that night. Sanity will prevail of course, but I can't wait to hold them both again.

Well, I’ve just ordered room service, since dinner was far from satisfying. The food was good, but since it’s Ash Wednesday, and I’m Catholic, well, it didn’t go too far. I’m still avoiding meat, but I thought that since I’m near the water, the crab should be OK. Certainly will be fresher than what I can get in the middle of the freaking continent.

OK, not so sure that it was worth $15.95, but very yummy none-the-less. Other things are afoot, and I really need to hash them out, but that should go in a different entry.