What’s yours is mine

So, remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that Geoff might be getting fired? Well, it’s happening. Only, he’s getting laid off, with what will most likely be a big severance package. And – here’s the really funny part – he already has a new job. No kidding. He got the offer letter last week and he’s accepting it today. He even gets a big, fat signing bonus.

I know, I know. I sound awful. It’s not that I don’t feel lucky for this good fortune. I do. It’s not that I’m not happy for Geoff, because I am. Like I said before, he works hard. I’m glad that he has a great reputation that travels well. I’m excited for him for this new opportunity. Truly, I think everything will work out for the best for him.

But I’m jealous. I want what Geoff has. I want the recognition, the extra pay, the opportunity. I want an easy transition to my next phase of life. More than that, I want the necessity. Why would it be so much easier for me if I needed to do it for money?

Geoff did make me an offer yesterday. He promised to help out with the kids over the next few months before he starts the new job so I can work on my writing. He told me to take some of the extra money and hire a sitter during the day so I can write. He said something about being my benefactor. I’m thrilled and scared. Of course I’m taking him up on it.

Oh, and have I mentioned how much I love him?

I think I want to join the military


I like adventure. I want to travel.

I’m not afraid of a little danger. I like to be tested.

I’m good at following directions. I know my place. I respect authority.

I want to help people who need it, and I want to make the world a better, safer place.

I want to be a hero for my kids. I want them to know what I’m capable of.

I want respect for what I do.

I like cold, hard, gritty reality.

I think I’m tough enough to pull it off. What do you think?

Now you see it, now you don’t

There’s a chance that Geoff might get fired today. I really wish that I were joking, but I’m not. If you know me, know him, then you probably want to laugh anyway. You’d know how crazy it sounds. Geoff gets promoted, not fired. In fact, he has been promoted twice in three years. You’d know – without me having to tell you – how hard he works and how much he accomplishes. He’s a doer. It’s a challenge to find him not doing something even in his free time. Imagine how much he can accomplish when you throw money into the mix.

If you know Geoff, then you know what a nice guy he is, how agreeable he is. He rarely ever gets angry. It’s one of the things that I love most about him. You’d know that he’s really smart and that he has an uncanny ability to teach himself anything that he wants to know. You’d know that he is an innovator, always thinking of ways to make things work faster, more efficiently, no matter how small.

So, if you knew all of these things about him, would you believe that it would ever be possible for someone to turn all of Geoff’s skills, all of his gifts, against him? Could you believe someone who cast a light in such a way as to make his attributes look like flaws? Would you buy it that he is a liability, not an asset to his company?

Well, it happened.

How, you ask? Well I’m not positive, but I have a suspicion that emotions are to blame. I could go into the gritty details, but I don’t think it really matters. Suffice it to say that emotions are like a magician’s bag of tricks. In one set of hands, a dove flies out of a top hat. In another set, the top hat holds a cloud of gloomy black smoke. It’s a simple illusion, nothing more than a manipulation.

Just remember, not everything is as it seems. I’m half hoping that he does get fired today. Maybe it’s just the kind of motivation that I need to find my way back to the workforce. Maybe we can use the time off and severance money to take a trip. I hear Hawaii is nice this time of year.

Postscript: Geoff just texted me — he’s still employed. Whew. I think.

Maybe I should be a receptionist

She had four different bottles of perfume in her purse. She used to do her makeup at her desk first thing in the morning even though she was pretty enough without it. First, she’d pull her long dark hair into a ponytail. She bubbled. She was recovering from a bout of lung disease and had given up smoking a few months earlier, but can’t you just see her sitting cross-legged at the end of the bar, a glass in front of her and a cigarette in her hand?

She was, what, maybe five years older than me? She hadn’t been to college but was thinking about starting. She was an excellent receptionist and everyone – lawyers, paralegals, clients – liked her, even me. She wasn’t my first girl crush, or my last. I never admitted anything to myself, just kept an admiring eye on her and took a lot of mental notes.

I worked hard that summer, the one after my sophomore year. I earned the money to buy my first car. I had just moved in with Geoff, into his crummy college apartment, and I was thrilled. I cleaned up that slovenly law office. I set to work in May determined to earn enough to buy myself a car by August.

I used to get to work before anyone else. I’d wait outside, reading, until the office opened at 7:30. Subtracting time for lunch, I worked ten-hour days, five days a week. I received time and a half for overtime. I milked every minute out of each day. I started out organizing and relocating all the files that lined halls, which made a good impression. I made a lot of progress in the first few weeks. I wanted everyone to know that I was doing a good job, and it worked.

By the third or fourth week, I slowed down. I bided my time, I chatted with my receptionist. She had a lot of first dates, and she did hang out at the bar. She was interesting. Sometimes she let me fill in at the phones for her while she went to lunch. I wish I could tell you that I did as good a job as her, but I didn’t. I was shy and uncomfortable. I didn’t bubble. I still wore the wrong clothes, had the wrong hair.

Nevertheless, I stuck it out. I worked my ten-hour days until August when the office manager told me that they couldn’t afford my overtime anymore. By then the office was immaculate. I was fine with it – I had $3,000 in the bank and a waiting boyfriend. I cut back to four days a week and bought an ‘83 Toyota Tercel with a manual transmission, which I learned to drive in one day.

The last few weeks, I put some money in the bank for gas and insurance payments. I bought some cute outfits and took some long lunches. A few of the lawyers asked me to stay, to not go back to school, but I refused. I liked my receptionist and as much as I wanted to be like her, I didn’t want to end up like her with a dead-end job and no degree. Do you know what I mean?

Breaking the rules

I’ve been thinking a lot about rules lately, and I’ve been breaking more than a few. Sadly, even some of what I write as a blogger breaks some of the rules of my marriage. Last week, I read this article by Molly Crababble on money and success. She contends that to accomplish anything above and beyond the marriage-big-house-two-and-a-half-kids pipe dream, women have to break the rules. I agree.

In her article, Molly Crabapple talks about how artists in particular have to transgress established norms. Artistic success, she says, depends on “doing the ambitious work everyone said you weren’t ready for, then getting mocked and rejected for it, until, slowly, the wall began to crack. You could never do what you were supposed to, never stay quietly in your place.”

I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re new around here, one of my reasons for blogging is that I want to return to work. I want to work as a writer, and I want to write creatively. My plan is to start with writing about myself and move on to separate characters. I find myself in a unique position: well-educated, with some decent experience on my resume, and with several years away from the workforce to raise my kids. Not to mention that I have a certain level of financial freedom.

Since I stopped working full-time when my daughter was born, my husband’s opinion has been that it doesn’t pay for me to work. Truthfully, by the time we pay for childcare and our ridiculously high tax bracket, there would be very little money left to make my efforts worthwhile. This is the “official” reason that I stay at home full-time. It doesn’t include my strong desire to be at home with my kids when they are little, to start them off with a strong emotional attachment. It doesn’t begin to cover all the fun that we’ve had together over the past seven years, and it certainly ignores all the skills that I’ve learned as a mom.

Stepping out of the workforce has given me clarity about the pros and cons of paid employment and what I really want out of a job. I want to do what I love. It’s a sacrifice to hand over part of your life to a manager. I’d love to have the freedom to write as I like, indefinitely, without any consideration of pay. But I think that’s impractical. And honestly, I think it will serve my marriage well for me to once again receive a regular paycheck.

So here I am, on the cusp of changing nearly everything about the daily structure of my life, of my kids’ lives, of Geoff’s life. I want to savor this time as I transition from full-time to part-time mom. But I’m constantly reminded how much I have come to expect of myself in this unpaid role. It’s nothing short of perfection. I am used to filling my days with taking care of my family’s needs, with making their lives special and fun. I do love that job, with all my heart. But I just can’t do it all anymore. And to change, I need to break the rules.

To write this blog, which I hope to craft into a portfolio, I need time away from my kids. Rule #1 broken. I need to hire a sitter during the day, which means spending money. Rule #2 broken. I need to make time to do what’s important to me, and I need to do it before I take care of anyone else. Rule #3 broken. This is unfamiliar territory, and I only know that to succeed, I have to make up new rules as I go. Do you think it’s easy to make up new rules? Does it sound like fun? Maybe. But it’s also hard, like running uphill. Sometimes a nice life, with enough money, a loving husband, and three cute kids, can act like a trap.

I’m going for the impossible here: I want to have the family and a job that I love. Do any of you have an axe I can borrow?