#MicroblogMondays: Fifteen

MicroblogMondaysToday marks my 15th anniversary at my organization.  Wow. When I started here in 2000, I was not yet 23. It was my second full-time job. 9/11 happened while I was here. I got married. I started and finished grad school. I struggled with infertility and celebrated D’s birth.

I’ve worked in 4 different groups and had 8 different supervisors.  I’ve changed positions pure IT and web development to my current role of knowledge management and market research. I’ve been a manager for 6 years. I’ve been through three re-orgs and two rounds of layoffs, 7 offices and three buildings. And a new name.

In 2000, I had no intention of staying 15 years or inkling that I would. I’ve gone from being one of the youngest employees to being one of the long-timers. Sometimes I feel silly when I tell people how long I’ve worked here – isn’t that passe now?

It has definitely had its ups and downs as any job does, but I like what I’m doing and the people I work with. Our mission still resonates for me, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Fifteen years. Turns out I can retire in 16 years, but who’s counting?

Ch Ch Ch Changes

When I walk into work tomorrow, my org will officially have a new name. My org is 60 years old, and this will be its 3rd name but I have only known it by its former name for 15 years. I’m anticipating taking cheat sheets to meetings so I get it right.

Tomorrow we also officially launch our new website. This is the first website in 15 years that I have not managed or overseen. 

And in mid-September, we will transition from our home-grown reporting system to a more robust CRM platform.  I didn’t build the home-grown system, but I was responsible for nurturing it over the last 15 years.

I could make all of these changes about me and how it feels a tiny bit like I’m being erased, but that is foolish and myopic. Change happens. It comes whether we want it or not. And it is often bittersweet.

That’s what I leave you with: change is bittersweet, yet inevitable. Maybe it is its inevitability that makes it bittersweet. Change and the march of progress don’t care about feelings or length of time served. They are unsympathetic forces that just happen.

I think that is supposed to make me feel better?

Who Gets to Play with the Purple Legos?

This week is the last week of summer camp before D starts 1st grade next week.  He was supposed to end the summer as he started it with a week at Lego camp; instead, D is attending camp at our local YMCA this week.

These Lego camps are put on by a franchise that uses theme-based plans and kits with Legos for educational play. Blah, blah, blah…basically, the franchise running these camps is not sponsored by Lego, and these camps are not official Lego camps. These camps are being offered at one of the city parks and rec locations, so we signed up for the camp via the parks and rec summer camp registration site.

A little over a week ago, I received an email from the local franchise owner telling me that D could attend the afternoon session but not the morning session.  The afternoon session was on space.  The morning session was building and crafting with Lego Friends, including making jewelry and origami. I knew D would enjoy the space session in the afternoon, and I knew that he would enjoy the morning session with the Lego Friends theme (he has one or two small Lego Friends pieces). Yes, it was being marketed to girls but did not specifically indicate girls only (at least in the description I read on the parks and rec site). Needing coverage for most of the day since I work full time, I had signed him up for both sessions.

The session the franchise owner told me D could not attend was the Lego Friends-themed session.  He said that it was marketed to and restricted to girls only. I emailed back and forth with the franchise owner to be absolutely certain that he would not let D attend.  The answer was an emphatic no.  I was initially irritated because damn it, now we needed to figure out something for that final week of camp and we were getting ready to go out of town.  But I was also irritated because I have mixed feelings about the Lego Friends sets.  I get that the sets are a (misguided in my opinion) attempt to make Legos attractive to girls, but why do girls need cutesy Legos?  Why does Lego assume that the ordinary primary-colored bricks are uninteresting to girls? I played with regular Legos as a child, and I even had a Lego space set. And it does seem a bit insulting to have sessions on space, pirate ships, minecraft, catapults, etc. for the entire summer and then have one “girls only” session to introduce girls to Lego’s girl-themed sets.

Also, the other Lego sessions were open to any gender, and girls had attended the sessions D was in the first week of camp. Why couldn’t a 6-year-old boy whose favorite color is purple not attend the Lego Friends camp?

We decided to withdraw from both sessions, and I emailed both the franchise owner and the parks and rec representative about our decision and why we were so disappointed. A few days later I received a polite email from the parks and rec representative telling us that they had decided that in the future, the only Lego sessions they would hold would be those open to both genders. Victory? or screw up?

I have mixed feelings about the situation. I feel like I was trying to game the system a bit because really, I needed some place for D to go for the entire day and I knew the Lego Friends session was focused on girls. However, I really dislike the message it sends that girls need cutesy pink and purple Legos in order to be interested in building and engineering, and that boys can’t like cute stuff and girls can’t like kick-ass catapults. And it really struck me since this happened around the same time Target decided to remove gender labels in the toy section.  But this article makes good points that Lego Friends aren’t dumbed-down sets and how Lego’s traditional sets have clearly been targeted to boys.  If girls enjoy the Lego Friends sets, isn’t that OK? Does it have to mean anything more? What is a gender-neutral toy anyway? If we applaud little girls playing with the supposedly “gender-neutral” traditional Lego sets, why can’t a little boy enjoy playing with Lego Friends?

What do you think?

At least D is enjoying YMCA camp and in a few days, all of this summer camp mess will be over.

 

Trip or Vacation?

It’s almost the end of summer and we’re at the beach for our second week of the summer. Daniel starts first grade in two weeks, and I’m at a loss for where the summer went.

It’s been a good week…mostly. We’ve had good weather except for yesterday, allowing us to visit the aquarium. Awesome fish, yet Daniel was mostly interested in the gift shop. We’ve had good food although it has been takeout because we don’t feel like battling the crowds, waiting, noise etc.  I was bitten again by noseeums, and my left arm and feet look like I have some flesh-eating disease. And today we dealt with the surliest 6-year-old; you’d think it was torture being at the beach.

Have you read the HuffPo post on Vacation or Trip? That pretty much sums it up.

But the view isn’t bad and it could be worse: we could be at work!

  

The Memoir

I found out today that someone I met and befriended our freshman year of college and was friends with for several years later is publishing a memoir. A memoir that begins with her arrival at our college.

Uh oh.

Her story is realizing she was attending a college not right for her, meeting THE BOY, becoming pregnant, and marrying this boy. Some really bad things happened along the way, including a hysterectomy after the birth of her second child and that child’s death from surgery to correct a heart defect a year later. The point of the book is her descent into darkness, bitterness and despair and how she pulled herself out of it.

There is a lot more involved in that story as there always is. I’m curious how she tells her story. What – and who – she leaves out. There were some not-so-great things that she did to me during freshman year and especially the period before my wedding, which happened at a critical point in her story (she was a bridesmaid). She wasn’t in a good place then. She wasn’t a good person then. I was probably less sensitive and empathetic than I could have been.

She and I ended our friendship in 2001 but reconnected on Facebook (of course) a decade later. I forgave her. She forgave me. We apologized. We aren’t friends again, per se, but we share memories and friends.

I realize that she is telling her story, and in telling a story, you whittle and shape it into its tightest, most concise form. I can’t decide what bothers me more: will I be included? Did I make the cut? Did I matter at all in her story? Or will all of the peripheral details, people and ugliness be left out? Putting words to the page crafts a version of reality. Can my memories compete against her written story? Or are they defeated and negated?

It’s her memoir after all.

ETA: we downloaded the book, and I’m halfway through. Thankfully, this was a lot of sturm and drang for nothing. She spends about half a page on college and moves on. Other events were not mentioned at all, and it was fine.  It is a compelling story, and she is a good writer. 

Forgive me my freak out over it, but it is truly a weird feeling when someone you know pens a memoir!

Here’s the link: The Journey of the Black Heart

#MicroblogMondays: You Never Can Tell

MicroblogMondays

Several years ago – I don’t even remember when exactly – I planted bulbs for spring. The following spring, a few came up, bloomed once or twice, and then died off thanks to the over-zealous squirrels who think our yard belongs to them.  In subsequent springs, we would often have one or two bulbs that would shoot up and tease us, but never bloom and finally wither.

That was the case this year too.  We had an impressive-looking shoot that was a lovely green but no hint of any flower to come just as the year before and the year before that. When we were packing the car for the beach two weeks ago, I commented that I wondered if it would ever bloom. Jimmy said he didn’t think so, and we shrugged and left for the beach.

And we returned from the beach to find this:

Blooming flowersWe were so surprised! And of course it had to bloom while we were gone, but we were still able to enjoy it for another week.  I don’t know what made the difference this year. I know sometimes bulbs can take a while to flower. We have received a lot of rain this year too, but I don’t know if that contributed. All I know is that I had written off this plant, and it proved me wrong.

Politics of the Swimsuit

This morning, a 2014 piece by Jessica Turner titled Moms, Put On that Swimsuit, came across my FB feed. 

Turner’s message to mothers is good and necessary: put away your vanity and body issues & play with your kids at the beach or pool.

No quibbles there. 

My issue with the piece came when Turner started to help women – mothers only – accept their less-than-perfect bodies because the “imperfections” like a soft, stretched belly and larger thighs are the leftover evidence of pregnancy and childbirth.

Ouch. I hate articles like that because they fail to acknowledge the experience of women who build their families without the physical acts of pregnancy or childbirth. So even though I am a mother, my extra pounds are just fat? I have no justification for it according to Turner.

I’m probably reading way too much into her piece and allowing my own history to influence my reaction, but it is difficult in a society in which conversations about motherhood are dominated by the physical parts.

And what about non-mothers? The child-free? Are they supposed to have perfect bodies since they weren’t ravaged by pregnancy and childbirth?

How about we change the piece to this:

Dear women, you are beautiful and wonderful the way you are. You wear whatever you want at the beach or pool because you are a human being with dignity and deserve to be at the beach or pool regardless of appearance, parental status, income, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. You are a human being and that is what matters.

We are much anticipating leaving for our first beach vacation of the summer next weekend. It’s been a long time since I was a size 6 18-year-old who prided herself on being close to model height and weight. I weigh more than I’d like and dread seeing family and friends who knew me when – and I have no excuse for it other than food and age. But I will be rocking my Land’s End tankini with the skirt bottom and I think I will look pretty damn cute! I’ll still be the palest person on the beach, but that’s OK. I’ll slather on copious amounts of sunscreen and build sandcastles with Daniel and play in the water.