Thursday, December 31, 2009

My year in review.

I’m kind of envious of ol’ Dooce, who can take pretty pictures and stick them together with a hip soundtrack to tell you about her fabulous year. I’m a shitty photographer and wouldn’t know the first thing about trying to make an appealing slideshow out of them, so the best I can do is toss you a few snaps and summarize the year as: “I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.”

I pretty much operated in a sleepless blur this year, the constant hum in my head pierced only occasionally by a particularly adorable laugh or some woman telling me her child slept through the night at 8 weeks. I feel like I have yet to completely emerge from the cottony fog that descends at childbirth and, from what I read, seems to lift from most women by about the 3rd or 4th month (presumably in conjunction with their kids learning to sleep through the night). By then, other mothers are writing sharp exposés in magazines, bending into skinny yoga poses and otherwise getting back to their hard-charging selves. Any mental acuity I have is exhausted by my job and making sure nobody eats the cat food or sticks a fork in an electrical socket, so that when night rolls around the best I can do most nights is to pour myself a glass of wine and fall asleep during the 9 o’clock news. Somehow, though, when my mom pointed out at Christmas that I am the happiest she has ever seen me, I can't find it in myself to deny it. If I believed in a god, I'd say I've been blessed. The only things I don't like about my life for the most part I have the power to change (apparently you just have to live through the whole toddler thing).

Still, there's some room for improvement. I’ve got my humor writing class starting in January, in an attempt to recapture an ability that I think used to show up on occasion in my writing. I’m trying the 300th “it’s not a diet, it’s a way of life, and one I can see myself following forever” eating plan in an attempt to lose the remaining 10 or 15 pounds I can blame on Ian, Alex and Haagen-Dazs. And most importantly, I want to have more sex.

“Er….,” you say, but come on. It’s incredibly easy to let parenting become a life led in parallel with your spouse as you each attend to the seemingly endless needs of the smallest additions to the household. And not to be crass, but it’s become clear to me that sex is the most important way to ensure that your marriage (or “my,” if you prefer to think this doesn’t apply to you) remains strong. I think there is something of a chicken and the egg problem here, since to generalize grossly I’d say men need physical intimacy to feel emotionally intimate, while women often need the opposite. But the end result is the same – if you’re not having enough sex with your spouse (whatever “enough” means for you both), you are likely losing out in the emotional intimacy arena as well, even while you still share quick shoulder rubs and discuss the day’s news over a mutually appreciated glass of your latest favorite wine. Plus, you know, I’d really like to be in a position to stop caring about whether my friends with small children are telling the truth when they say how often they sleep with their own husbands.

So there’s more sex on the agenda. If you’ve ever met my husband, I think you’ll agree this is not exactly a hardship; it just requires a conscious decision to remember that it’s a lot more fun to shag than to clean the kitchen for the 5th time that day. I’m not sure how one can get so bogged down in the crappy minutiae of life that that most simple fact gets lost in the shuffle, but so it can.

I hope your new year brings you lots of happiness!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Workity work.

It’s funny to watch the dynamic between coworkers on opposite sides of the table during a negotiation. If you met these people at a social event, would colleagues be huddled together making snickering asides and taking a generally confrontational tone toward each other, or would they be trying to bond over the canapés?

I have a different perspective today than usual. Somehow, the cardinal rule of face-to-face negotiations has been broken and I find myself seated smack dab in the middle of the customer’s team at the opposite end of the room from my own. This leaves me alone to face all questioning solo, and to sit quietly to overhear their whispers.

There’s not much more to say about it than that, other than that if you are a lawyer you would be taken aback by the subpar level of lawyering going on in this room, and I don’t mean my own. Santa’s not going to bring me any presents for saying something so nasty, but since of course there is no Santa I’m not going to lose too much of my precious four hours of interrupted sleep per night on that.

In other news, I have been working frantically to be able to get out of the office for the next two weeks. I’m not sure why it’s always so that the week before a vacation is especially awful, but at least I will have our nice, relaxing flight to North Carolina on Saturday to cap off the fun. Just three seats filled with four people: two rigid and mortified adults and two squirmy, bellowing, and likely pooping children. I’m prepared to cast aside any self-satisfied, TV-free parenting for the day (or even more so than other days) in favor of hours and hours of Elmo DVDs, if it will help to keep things calm. That and one opiate-like pacifier and hopefully our only concern will be keeping Alex entertained. Which I can’t even imagine – what the hell are we going to do other than let him stand on our laps and bounce forcefully up and down? For three hours. I can’t imagine he’s going to snuggle in and snooze. I have been living in terror of this day for months now.

But work: this year we were asked essentially to write our own evaluations; to provide what we think are our strengths and weaknesses, etc. I loathe that kind of exercise because (1) I don’t love to brag about myself (no, really), and (2) especially when I don’t really buy what I am saying. All that normally makes for a pretty weak self-evaluation, but for some reason I decided it would be a good idea this year to follow up my short, sweet self-endorsement with the suggestion that the time was nigh for a promotion. My boss told me a few months ago it would likely be a couple of years until I was considered for the next level of bureaucracy in this middle-management hell, but I figured, what man would sit around and take that as God’s law? So I decided to more forcefully request a seat at a new table of drones. After all, there is no partnership in a legal department; just that same corporate jockeying for the brass ring of the meaningless vice-presidency playing out in shitty office spaces across this great land. If you’re going to bother to go in-house, you might as well play the same pointless game as everybody else. If anything, it’s almost like your average unpleasantly ambitious lawyer’s wet dream – “sure, you were promoted to partner, but that was only the once. I’ve been promoted TWICE.” Of course, then you start talking $$ and you realize that two promotions doesn’t get you much more in the end than cold, wet sheets.