Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Culture Shock - The 'Burbs

Okay, we moved and are kind of settled. Humming along in some semblance of a routine. But hello, culture shock!

West Philly and the 'Burbs are two very different worlds.

It's funny because I grew up in the suburbs, so it's silly to call this culture shock. On the other hand, I've never lived here as an adult - always, always lived in big cities - so there are so many things I never noticed as a little kid going about my kid-business. Some differences are big important stuff, but most differences I've noticed so far comprise little stupid stuff, like what people wear.

West Philly
Economically and racially diverse
Walk around the corner=restaurants!
Lady commuters: heels, sandals
Teeny urban gardens - cukes, thyme
Walk everywhere, actually. Can I emphasize this more?
Apartment mailboxes with teeny mail keys
Leaning out the window, front porch


Um...Racially diverse
Walk nowhere to get waited on. Transit and car 4eva
Lady commuters: flops, sneaks (I reject this. Flats.)
Sprawling lawns & beautiful gardens with everything
Stoops, corners, parks Porches, median strips, parks
Backyard! Front Porch! Back Porch!

Oh I love you both, West Philly and the 'Burbs. Is there some way I can combine you two into the perfect neighborhood? Why must I choose?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Moving Day

I love this freakin' town. I went to college here, and by the grace of God and my husband's hard work and fancy brain full of book smarts, we ended up getting to hang out here for a few years. I'm excited about moving, but packing has been sentimental. You know, "Mike was sitting over here when he got his job offer," and "remember when we put up our first adult sized Christmas tree by that window." And don't get me started on the baby memories: first sink bath, first tub bath, first food, first tossing sippy-cups off of her high-chair, etc., etc., ahhh.

Still, the process is cathartic and important. We need to move, we're moving to an awesome place with terrific family and friends, and it's been a great ride. I don't believe in "closure," but I do believe in wallowing in your thoughts for a little while as a way to help get through a busy, life-altering situation. So in honor of our big move today and tomorrow, and before we lose our Philadelphia internet forever, here are the top five things I won't miss about Philly, followed by the top five things I will miss:

WON'T miss

5. Nutty drivers
4. Our new wingnut U.S. Senator
3. Working from home every day
2. The terribly-maintained roads in my poor, neglected nabe
1. The Philadelphia Parking Authority

WILL miss

5. T-Mac and Sarge and watching the Phils on cable
3. St. Mary's Episcopal Church and the fellowship of its terrific parishioners
2. Clark Park, including the delightful Farmers Market
1. All the people I've met and grown close to in the past two years. (You know who you are.) I'll see them less often but I know I will correspond with them, travel to see them sometime soon, and think of them fondly every day.

Pharewell, Philly.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whose Time Is It Anyway?

I'll be blunt: I wish 100% of my time outside of 9-5 Monday through Friday were my own and my family's.

Before having a baby, I was kind of a live-to-work person. I thrived on working hard and being competitive at work. Now, I'm about 50-50 work-to-live/live-to-work. I am still driven to work hard, but I like to get everything done in 40 hours a week when possible to maximize my time with my daughter, and I have no need to prove my might to anyone at work anymore. I stress out when work demands that I take calls during the two hours a day I get to play with her. I groan at calls to my blackberry on the weekends.

I have tried to make my baby schedule clear to everyone I work with, but I can't expect my colleagues to memorize my schedule and sometimes I get sheepish calls on off-hours, or non-sheepish ones. Recently I had to choose between rocking my daughter to sleep and joining a conference call. I ended up doing both, and handling it superbly if I do say so myself. I still felt consumed with mama guilt and work guilt even though I was doing both things.

Sometimes I have to put my foot down and ignore a call or refuse a conference call invitation. The underlying message is: whose time is it anyway? The idea of "company time," being paid for a service you're delivering and the hours you put in, is obsolete. White collar jobs do not disappear when we go home at 5, 6, 7. We are Blackberried and emailed to the hilt, and it's up to us to determine what we can tolerate and what we're willing to risk to draw that line.

I came across a depressing little trend piece about the "workcation" where you basically go somewhere and work, maybe hit the pool for an hour and go out to dinner.

No. Absolutely not. This is not okay with me.

This whole work-life balance issue has been on my mind a lot lately since our own vacation is behind us. I am no psychologist, but I believe that the human body needs time to rest and recharge, and I'm not just talking about going to sleep. Humans need to retreat from the workaday world for a while, hang out with family, get lost in leisure, let someone else cover a client or a project. We can reciprocate with our fellow employees when it is their turn to get lost. A slogan for the 8-hour work week was 8 hours work, 8 hours rest, and 8 hours what we will. 8 hours what we will every day! Nice, right? In reality, it's likely something like 11-hours work, 6-hours rest, 2-hours stressing about work, 2-hours commuting, 3-hours what we will (preparing and cleaning up meals, and watching a Phils game, basically).

When I go on vacation, I like to disappear. It may not be possible for the project I'm currently assigned to, so I may need to take a few calls and do a little computer work, but I say a firm "no" to the idea of going to a beautiful destination and ignoring your family and the view. It's just not for me, and I don't think it's healthy or fair. Life is too short (and childhood too precious) to spend vacations with your mind (or your parents' minds) in constant contact with work.

And it's really hard to insist on that that these days with all the ways in which employers use advances in technology to creep in on our personal time and insist that we all be accessible 24/7, and at the same time laying people off and not creating any jobs. It's a risk. It may cost me my job, but I say "no." No to "workcations." Yes to claiming my own time, determining for myself how I spend it, and hanging out with my family on my own time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

As Blog Is My Witness, I Will Never Go Hangry Again

In my quest to be healthier, I've found myself hungrier. My problem is simple: overeating. Calories in, calories out.

Obviously I can't eat as much as I would like to, so sometimes bad things happen. Spefically this: when I get hungry, I get angry. Hungry and Angry. You know. "Hangry." Suffering from - hanger?

I get soft. I lose my mojo. I get lightheaded sometimes, which is how I know when I really need to eat. But mostly grumpy.

Fights are picked. Barbs are tossed. Soft household objects are thrown. Oh, what am I doing talking in the passive voice, I am the one doing these things. Who suffers? Me and anyone around me. Mike, coworkers, small woodland creatures - you name it.

It's okay to be hungry for a little bit. I can't possibly cover this concept better than the fabulous Sheryl did a while back.

I need to find a way to control this, and I am putting this out to all four of you readers out there - I will find a way to get my emotions under control as I get healthier. I believe that willpower is a muscle and the more I exercise it, the better I will get at it. When I start feeling rage, I will sit down and count to ten. Or do square breathing (in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, out for four seconds, hold for four seconds).

No more (wire?) hanger(s)! EVERRRR!