Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What I had done during my spring vacation.

Passover is over, and with it the longest non-pregnancy related vacation I had taken in four years, or maybe even more, it was so long that I don't even remember. It was nice. However it made me think about my parents and their standard three-week long vacations back in Russia. How did they stood us that long without losing their cool completely eludes me...

So here are the things that I had done during my vacation.

1. Cleaned. I don't think I have cleaned that much in a while. I had to constantly wash those darn dishes to the point where my housewife's eczema returned. At least this time it makes sense that I got it. Before I would get it just thinking about cleaning without actually doing it...

2. Ate matza and lots of it, and actually enjoyed it! (The trick is to drink to avoid a week-long constipation after the seder...)

3. Visited friends and had family over. That doesn't happen often. My kids finally got to see their cousins, first time in six months, even though we live relatively close to each other. And my folks got to see the kids without being the official babysitters.

4. Went to the Bronx Zoo,

5. Went to the Bronx Zoo. No, this is not a mistake, we actually went twice. Despite our most earnest pleas, both DD and DS were considered too wild to be accepted by the Zoo; the administration was worried about the animals' safety.

6. Discovered that I am much more materialistic than I used to be. I ogled every Baby Jogger double stroller and Honda Odyssey on my path. I want both of these things for a while now, but it never bothered me before. But when confronted with the avalanche of observant Jews everywhere we went during the holidays, many of whom possess both of the things I want, made me crave both the stroller and the car a lot more than I ever thought I would.

7. Looked for a new apartment, unsuccessfully, sigh...

8. Looked for a new car. Hubby finally admitted that it was time to retire ours. Found out in the process many, many interesting things; for example, that many people can't count, and car dealers take advantage of this mercilessly.

9. Was not dreading going back to work and was very relieved to find out that one of my friends felt the same way too.

10. Didn't update my blog. Sorry, just too busy! I am sure you understand.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting to know you

I had a fair number of interviews in my life. Every time I interviewed, I got asked the following 7 questions, and always wondered if there were anyone on the face of the earth who answered those honestly. And since people interviewing me were also interviewed at some point to get their position, didn’t they know that they are being fed PC BS? Why bother then asking these questions? Can’t guys in HR come up with something more creative and less conducive to lying? Just once in my life I would like to go on the interview where I really don’t care about the outcome and give them real answers. And then tape interviewer’s reaction.

So here’s the list of questions and answers, both politically correct (PC) and real, but never said out loud, at least by healthy people. Real answers are not necessarily representative of my views, just something that is reasonably unexpected to hear during an interview.

So here it is:

Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
PCAnswer (PCA): I hope to be a productive and invaluable member of your team and contribute to the well-being and advancement of your department and organization.
Real Answer (RA): (If one is career-oriented) Worst-case scenario: I get your job. Best-case scenario: I become your boss. Most likely scenario: I move on to something much, much better.
(If one is not career-oriented) I hope to not get fired for falling asleep on the job, hope that in five years my medical insurance will still cover a decent portion of my medical costs and my teenage daughter won’t make me a grandparent.
(For family-oriented folks) I hope to have two or three (more) children and expect you to cover my maternity/paternity leave, give me flex time, accommodate my every request and still promote me.

Q: What does your desk look like?
PCA: It is reasonably clean and organized by files in alphabetical order.
RA: I haven’t seen the surface of my desk in about two years, but I think it was brown or black…wait, maybe cherry oak?

Q: What is your biggest strength?
PCA: I am goal-oriented, I get things done no matter what, I have never missed a deadline, blah, blah, blah…
RA: I am smart.
Alternatively: I am very pretty and not averse to dating my boss.

Q: What is your biggest weakness?
PCA: (Do not reveal your actual weakness, even if under duress or physically/psychologically tortured. The trick is to say that you are so good, it’s bad.) It is hard for me to leave the task half-done; I am perfectionist; I am too punctual or too organized. (You can actually admit to the following, unless applying for managerial position.) It is hard for me to delegate, but I am working on it.
RA: There are so many that if I listed all, we would have to order in dinner. However, I am so smart, that you would be willing to overlook all of those.
Alternatively: Excessive flatulence and overactive bladder.

Q: What is your biggest accomplishment?
PCA: I worked on three projects simultaneously and finished them all in time. Afterward, I got an award/bonus/promotion/thank you from the boss for my hard work.
RA: Being able to multi-task. More specific? Being able to blog, pay my bills, make doctor’s appointments, talk to teachers, do on-line shopping, be in touch with my friends and family during work hours AND get my job responsibilities done.
Alternatively: Not falling asleep during the budget meeting.

Q: What is your ultimate career goal?
PCA: Become CFO or whatever is the highest title out there in your field.
RA: Winning the Oscar. (Huh?) Yes, my ultimate goal is to a write a book that becomes a best-seller and ultimately makes it to the big screen, and I get to win the best book-to –screen and screenplay award. If that doesn’t work out, then winning the Oscar for my poignant performance in the movie about the every day struggles of fat women. And then snubbing the Oscar award ceremony to protest Hollywood’s promotion of eating disorders and amoral and unhealthy life styles.

Q: Do you have any questions for me?
PCA: Is there a limit on unpaid overtime you are allowed to work?
RA: 1) Are you hard to work for?
2) Why should I work for you?
3) Do you give free coffee to employees?
4) Are you as boring as you sound?
5) What happened in your childhood to make you love accounting that much?
6) Who told you that this comb over looks good? And what’s up with that tie?

If you answer honestly, though, do not be surprised if the interviewer tells you this:
PC: Well, it was a pleasure meeting you and good luck in your job search.
And what he really would want to say, but can’t because he has to be PC: OMG! Get out, NOW! I hope to never see you again, psycho!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring is in the air!

I was getting really tired of the cold. I love winter, but I love real winter, i.e. with snow. Not necessarily lots of it, but some and on a regular basis. This year winter seemed to be snowless and endless, and it seemed really unfair. All the cold and no fun. Winter jackets in April were starting to annoy me, and I began craving change, any change.

Well, be careful what you wish for. While all I was hoping for was maybe a new pair of shoes and purse to boot, life proved to be a little more creative. Two weeks ago we decided to move (AGAIN, might I add), and it seemed like I would be changing jobs. Last week was VERY full of excitement: we saw an apartment we really liked (and it was only the second one we looked at), and I had a job interview that went really well (and I wasn't even looking for a new job). My adrenaline was pumping, life seemed beautiful and exciting.

And then I crashed: the apartment we loved was taken by someone else; my column in our department newsletter was rejected; after the initial excitement wore off, the new job opportunity that seemed so good didn't look this way any more; and Pesach cleaning began. To top it all off, I went clothes shopping... I don't know why I did this to myself, since this is a sure recipe for depression, and I was already not in the greatest spirits. Long story short, lots of changes and changing (in the dressing room) = depressed SubWife.

As I was lying in bed this early Tuesday morning, exhausted, but unable to fall asleep, thoughts buzzing in my head keeping me awake, I slightly cracked the window open. And then...almost everything changed! I smelled spring in the air, and heard birds chirping, and felt much, much better. After all, the apartment that we have is not THAT bad, and the job that I have is pretty good, and Pesach cleaning will get done like it always does. Change is good, but if it doesn't happen, life is still good! And Spring is finally here!

I took a deep cleansing breath, filling my lungs to the fullest with warm, flower-scented spring air, and felt completely rejuvenated.

And then I started sneezing, and sneezing, and sneezing... Yep, spring is here...

Monday, April 7, 2008

It's not you, it's me, REALLY!

Last Thursday I had to buy shoes for DD. She claims that all of her shoes (except her dressy shoes, which I am trying hard to preserve until Passover in at least semi-decent shape, and which she tries to find any excuse to wear) were too small. All three pairs got small almost overnight - what a coincidence, expecially given the fact that she was anxious to wear her dressy pair! On the other hand, she grew a lot during the winter, so it was reasonable to assume that her feet grew too. (The exam to see how much space was left between her big toe and the shoe proved inconclusive.) So I ran out during lunch and bought her a pair.

When it was time to go home, I ran out quickly because it was getting late, and the work didn't seem to diminish. It always happens when we close the month, and sometimes the only thing to do is just to run; otherwise, it is tempting not to leave a task half-done. As soon as the elevator door closed behind me, I realized that I left the shoes behind. It started the whole dilemma: do I go back to get the shoes or not? On the one hand, it was very late already, I had to run a lot of errands, and even five minutes would make a difference at this point. On the other hand, if all of her shoes were too small, I didn't want DD to suffer another minute. Quite often my indecisiveness drives me mad. At times it seems that decision-making takes longer than taking either one of the options available. And many times, the dilemmas are solved by an insignificant event.

I was deep within my thoughts, when all of a sudden the elevator doors opened four floors below mine, and guy walked in. Ta-da: here was my event. (WARNING! WARNING! YOU ARE ABOUT TO WITNESS THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF A CRAZY PERSON. YOU MIGHT GET SUCKED INTO HER CRAZINESS. IF WEAK, SICK OR OTHERWISE UNSTABLE, STOP READING NOW! Ok, I warned you...) Since the elevator didn't go all the way down to the first floor, I would not waste as much time going back to the office and picking up the shoes (Hitting that floor number button myself and not going all the way to the first floor, would've never occured to me). I made a run for it just as the elevator doors started closing, and caught a glimpse of a guy who entered the elevator. His entire body and being wordlessly screamed, "I am not a rapist! Why are you running from me?" I think that not even for a minute he considered that I simply left something in the office. (To give him credit, from an objective person's perspective it didn't look like it either.)

So here's the lesson that I (tried to) learn from this whole thing: when someone behaves badly/erratically/seemingly crazy, chances are it's not you. They are not upset at you, you didn't do anything wrong, you just ended up being in the wrong elevator at the wrong time.

P.S. The bag with the shoes was left lying next to my door on Friday and during the entire weekend, forgotten until this morning. So in the big picture, my decision didn't make much of a difference.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In defense of Stepford Wives

Former Governor of New York Spitzer is out of the office, but is still continuing to make ripples. One of these ripples is my disagreement with my many friends over what to think of his wife. To be more precise, what to think of her decision to stand by her man during the two press conferences, when Spitzer admitted the wrongdoing (press conference #1) and later resigned (press conference #2). Here's what I think:

1. In the most ideal world men wouldn't cheat.

2. In the next to most ideal world, I would like for justice to be dispensed in the public, timely and prime time show-worthy manner, which boils down to one of these three scenarios:
a) wife not showing up for press conference;
b) wife giving her own press conference;
c) wife coming to the press conference and in the middle of "I am sorry I let you down, my voters/family/state/America" hits him over the head with something very heavy, preferably made of a sturdy metal. Without legal or any other consequences.

3. However ideal world is not here yet, and there ARE consequences to our actions, however justifiable they might seem. Here are some of the reasons why Spitzer's and other wives might have made their decisions to stand by their me:.
a) Most of the politicians' wives do not have careers of their own. They are taking care of their families and their husbands' careers, which works out nicely if the guy doesn't stray, but makes one very unmarketable in case she has to fend for herself after the divorce.
b) Conduct during marriage and subsequent to legal separation matters during the divorce proceedings. If these women are planning to divorce and take their hubbies to the cleaners (as they should b/c they gave up their careers for the careers of those straying jerks), they better appear supportive during hard times, appear where they have to appear and look the way damage control specialists ask them to look.
c) Women who do say something and hold their own press conferences (remember Donna Hanover?) look bitter and receive even less public support than the wives standing by their hubbies.
d) They have kids, and women do all kinds of unimaginable things for their sake. Making her children's father look even worse in public might seem gratifying personally, but might not be in the best interest of the children.
e) Did it ever occur to anyone that she simply might love the jerk and hopes to work things out? That maybe they were going through a rough patch in their marriage? (Doesn't justify his actions anyway.) That maybe a vow to stay together "for better or worse" actually means for better OR worse to her? Slamming the door might seem like a brave thing to do, but almost always staying in the hard situation and trying to make things work takes a lot more courage, stamina, self-control and determination. A lot, lot, lot, lot more than leaving.

In a nutshell, this is what I think: Spitzer's wife is no fool, neither is she a weakling. Those do not go and graduate from Harvard Law School. Those also don't marry and stay married to successful (up until recently) politicians. She knew what she was doing (unless she was in complete shock, which is also quite understandable) and why she was doing it. And while most people would like to have the satisfaction of seeing her get even with hubs, ultimately it is her decision. And in my eyes she doesn't deserve any less respect to being with her hubs during press conferences.

He, however, should be shot for embarrassing his wife the way he did. And he should be hanged for asking her to be next to him when during his apologies and resignation.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Good Night

Last night my son refused to sleep. He wouldn't cry or whine. He would just babble and giggle, trying to tell me something over and over again, but I couldn't understand what. Surprisingly, I didn't get annoyed and actually enjoyed our interaction figuring that these moments of complete and absolute cuteness are so rare and fleeting... (My new found wisdom made me think that I am aging faster than I thought...) I spent about an hour waiting for DS to fall asleep, when I just gave up. SubHub (introducing new term, hehe) was supposed to be home any minute, so I decided to straighten out the house before his arrival and let him put the baby to sleep. Unlike me, he has little trouble putting kiddies to bed. He doesn't have to be in the room, to hold their hands or rub their backs, to constantly pick up their water bottles or yell beg them to lie down. He just gives them one look, and they fall asleep out of sheer fear respect for their father. The only downside is that he comes home so darn late that his talents are not as usable as they could be.

So last night I took the baby out of his crib and asked him to be quiet b/c his sister was sleeping. We were about to leave the children's bedroom, when my baby went to his sister's bed (I was sure for some mischief), looked at her sleeping and adjusted her comforter. I was floored. He's not even two yet!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fool on the hill

Well, today is April Fool's Day; therefore, it is appropriate to post something - well - foolish. Thankfully, my life is full of foolish episodes, so as long as I live, I will have plenty of material, G-d willing.

This entry refers to the dream that I had two nights ago. Since I am woken up several times each night, dreams are a rare treat. However, when I do remember my dreams, sometimes I wonder why I miss them so much. So here it is, in its full absurdity, hilarity and embarrassment.

The dream starts with me standing in my kitchen in the middle of the night. My apartment is pretty high up, I think on the 15th or something like this floor. I am being alerted by the strange noises and realize that it's my co-worker. He climbed the fire escape ladder all the way from his apartment, which is a few stories below mine, and is now climbing into my kitchen through the open window, wearing only a pair of boxers. I ask him what brings him to my house, to which he answers, "I need to use your bathroom. My wife is in ours for the past half hour, and I am so mad at her! And I don't want to wait any more." He then proceeds to my bathroom to take a shower. (You would've thought he could wait for that one, right?) As he is walking barefoot, I realize how dirty my kitchen floor is and apologize profusely. He looks at the floor with a slight disgust, but doesn't say anything to criticize or to calm me down with obligatory "It's OK." The dream ends in him disappearing in the bathroom, and me frantically sweeping the floor in complete embarrassment. I desperately need to wash it too, but the mop is in the bathroom...

There are so many Freudian levels in this dream that it's not worth exploring them in this post. (And no, I am not in the least attracted to this co-worker.) I will make one comment though: maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel if at least subconsciously I chose sweeping floors over calling the cops. Maybe neatness and organization are slowly creeping into my life. Only time will show...

P.S. I had a meeting today that involved this colleague and had to excuse myself in the middle because I could not stop giggling. I know, very professional.