about
Alisa. 37. New Hampshire. Married for almost three years to this wonderful, funny, smart guy. Previously married. Went through in-vitro fertilization to have my five year old magical son Keegan. Stepmother to the charming Isabelle (6). Gushingly in love with our baby boy Harper(1). Policy Wonk and dreaded bureaucrat. Lover of fine cuisine, honeybees, truly romantic moments and the underdog.
cooking
Curried Beef Short Ribs

Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.

Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.

Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds ...continue reading

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Miles of Smiles

Add two more business trips to the plan:

Vermont in May
South Carolina in October

In Which She Slaps Herself For Being Ambitious

Work consumes my days so I don't want to waste too much free time talking about it.

Today I actually had the phrase,"You can rest when you're dead" go through my head several times. I don't want to be that person.

I ran into my equivalent position in another section today and she is four months into her job and said it just got better. She said sometimes she gets home, stands in her kitchen and cries. I wish I could but I never cry in front of Keegan. And if I save it for later it won't come out. I had this similar experience with the divorce last year. I don't have any more business trips until August so I am hoping that helps me get more organized. Then again Harvard starts next Wednesday.

It's a good thing my personal life kicks ass or I'd be in trouble.

Out of Office

Quick note: I am off to CT for the next two days. I am on the board of directors for a health association so we are having our Spring mtg. I am running late already because I had a mtg. here first. Back Fri for a fun filled weekend. This is trip number two, four more to go!

One Armed Bandits

Greetings from Reno. Internet access is very pricey so I haven't been on but once per day. I have been very busy so not missing it that much. I spent my time reading your sites and answering emails instead of posting. Reno is glittery and kind of depressing. It's redeeming feature is that it is so close to Lake Tahoe. The hotel is a casino and filled with people plopped in front of slot machines smoking away. Not exactly promoting public health. But the conference has been excellent. Lots of innovative programs and ideas springing to my head. This morning's keynote speaker was a Lakota indian doctor who practices at a tribal clinic. His whole talk is basically applicable to every underserved individual in the US. Something shocking I learned was that american indians have a lower rate of diagnosis of cancer but a higher rate of death from cancer. The reason? Poor integration of healthcare services which keeps them from being able to access services in a timely fashion. He said things which will stick with me throughout my public service. Things that have made me even more excited about studying ethical health care delivery in the US at Harvard this summer. "Bad policy kills people."
I have been trying to stay on east coast time but it is difficult because after the day's events I want to socialize and so we're out to the equivalent of 1am for me. And then I try to get up at a regular time but that it is hard when it only says 5am on the clock. Tonight we're going out to dinner and then dessert at some gelato place. I fly back tomorrow and it will take all day so I don't land until midnight.

The Travel Season Begins

I am leaving now to drop off Keegan and head to the airport. It will be 82-88 degrees in Reno this week and no rain. Good luck to those of you who will still be stuck in the flooding. I have my pedometer with me so I can keep up with my pledged miles. Plus it gets me out of the hotel and I will explore Reno (for what it is worth).

Basket Of Eggs

Okay kids. My final interview is tomorrow afternoon. I hope the panel has a nice satisfying lunch, no one gets their orders wrong and no one gets the turkey sandwich. I need them full, happy and alert when I walk in. I have gotten lots of encouragement from co-workers, colleagues and friends. But I'm still not treating it like a slam dunk. I've got competition and that makes me want to be at the top of my game. My suit is laid out and my plan is to go to bed early so I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I also have a full morning planned so I won't be sitting around and psyching myself out. I don't know when they will have the final selection done but at least all the parts I have any influence on will be over.

Little Tiny Suits

It's bring your child to work day. The minimum age is four so no Master Keegan this year. It's music and movement day at school on Thursdays which he loves anyway. I don't normally have him on Wednesday nights and Thursday mornings so it felt weird today. I wanted to have him extra since I will be going away on vacation. I miss my Wednesday nights with Sammy though. He'll be all grown up by the time I see him again.
I am having lunch with my friend R. and her kids after they finish their tasks. She made them little notebooks and workpapers. And they have meetings and an offsite visit later in the day. Too cute. It's actually pretty quiet in here considering there are kids all over the place.

Hemming And Hawing

Last night I went down to see Erika and Jay and Sammy. That Sammy knows how to treat a girl. I had steak & cheese, onion rings and a beer. Simple and oh so good. I can't believe how much he has grown in just a week. He has actual baby chub on cheeks. He was eating like a champ while I was there and just chilling and checking out his world. Erika and Jay were great as usual. I was there for a little over two hours. I try to limit my time so they can have a chance to wind down from their day and do a bedtime routine. After I got home I hemmed my pants and headed to bed.
Today I took all of my pep talks and well wishes from everyone and tucked them into my head. I am wearing my new suit and I feel good. I had my interview around 11:30 and I think it went well. I try not to focus on "the right answers" and just focus on "my answer" to the best of my ability. After I was done I critiqued my answers and I didn't leave much out that I wanted to say. The interview questions were really good and touched on a majority of the things I wanted to convey. So now I wait until they are done interviewing the others to hear back. It will probably be a few weeks. But now I can focus back on work.

Random:
There is a person in the parking lot here who's license plate is "neo." There is another person who's plate is "oracle." I am really hoping that some day they park next to eachother.

Stuffed

Had my usual Wednesday night date tonight. Down at Sammy's house. I was out of work early today so I headed down and then we grabbed dinner. Once again Jay and Erika were the ideal team. And Sammy was cute as a button and made all those irresistable squeaks and whimpers. Let's all say a prayer they get some sleep tonight, k?
Speaking of sleep I should be in dreamland by now. But I needed extra time to wind down tonight. No bad stuff, just stuff. Work stuff. Grandparents stuff. Mom stuff. Remembering to live for today stuff.
Keegan is with Tom until Friday because his parents are in town and I wanted them to have extra time with Keegan. So two nights in a row without him. Weird. Not that I haven't found many things to fill the time. Tomorrow night I am shopping for an interview outfit and new shoes. May the fashion gods smile upon me.
Meanwhile back to why I should be asleep. I am presenting tomorrow at a conference. Twice. I really should stop volunteering for stuff. It is only 40 people so I'm not thinking that I will be nervous. But then again it is in front of people who may have a say in my candidacy if I make it to a second interview. The good news is that they don't know I applied so hopefully they won't be watching me with their scrutiny glasses on. But then again it does give me the opportunity to show my stuff. Oh and of course I'm wearing a new outfit and my lucky shoes.

Call Me Cynical

The career panel last night was fun. It was interesting for me to hear what other people are doing with their degree as well. Almost all of them are pursuing PhDs. They advised me not to wait too long before going for it if that is what I decide to do. I think I might have gotten a couple of students to consider working in government.
I spent this morning updating my calendar with the business trips I have scheduled so far. I am assuming that I will be attending all of the conferences since I don't have a new supervisor yet. Take a gander at the exciting locales.
May - NV
June - CT & NJ
Aug - MN
Sept - ME
Oct - ME

My desk calendar came from the state correctional industries and has their other products listed on the sides. I can see buying signs, farm products, print shop and office furniture from them. But information technologies? I don't know if I really want them setting up my network or database and archiving my files. Not that I have anything top secret but still. I don't have that much faith in the rehabilitative proficiency of our correctional system.

Little Black Cloud

I spent the morning cultivating this dark cloud and grumpiness. Try as I might I keep getting cheered up. Keegan was in an awesome mood this morning. My friends always have the ability to make me feel better either by doing something directly to me or relaying good things that are happening for them. Some lingering things at work are being accomplished. My co-workers are perky. People I have phone calls out to are calling back and saying "yes" when I resigned myself to them responding "no." Oh phooey.
I spent lunch time working on my Harvard application, requesting transcripts and trying to squeeze all the things I want to tell them into less than 500 words. Am I so lame that my resume and transcripts always make me feel good? I like looking back over the last decade and seeing my professional and academic journey laid out in a nice little document. They really should allow you some place to chronical the personal stuff. Shouldn't you get extra points for raising a child and carving out a single life all without losing it? I wish they had an interview component, I always loved interviews. Oooh or a presentation with powerpoints. Holy crap I have turned into my father. The last step before turning in the application is choosing the one course I would like to take. So many options, all so interesting. How do I pick when any of them could be completely amazing? Of course in the back of my mind I am trying to not get too excited in case this summer isn't my year to go.
See there I go ruining my foul mood. Damn half full.

Another Thing

Because my life isn't crazy enough, I have decided to apply to Harvard. Just for a summer program. The odds are against me but I'm going to give it a whirl anyhow. Prepare to celebrate with me or console me. We'll all know in April.

Waste Management

Why does everything have to balance out? Are you allowed to have all good things? Because while my personal life rocks, my professional life is killing me. Picture me on top of a landfill and every time I move I slip downward and every time I crawl on top again more trash gets dumped on top of me. Yup that's me in my cubicle the past three weeks. Not coincidentally the exact time since my boss left. It's almost a joke that every time I leave my space to get a drink of water or god forbid pee, I come back to a zillion post-its and phone messages stuck all over my chair and monitor. I have stopped even looking through my inbox. What's the point? Like the half naked girl running through the woods in low budget horror movies, I know what's coming so why not act oblivious?

A Fond Adieu

My boss' farewell lunch was today. It was well attended and even though he hates ceremony I think he enjoyed himself. We gave him the State of NH carved out of granite (because we're "the Granite State") with the State seal on it. I made some speech about how not only is he leaving a void but we should focus on the things he built and how those things are here in all of us and to remind him of how significant that it is we got a really heavy gift. I don't know, I made it up on the spot. I do my best work on the fly. But it was nice because some of the hospitals were there and I was glad they could see that I am not just the Robin to my boss' Batman. And my answer to the question "What are you going do without him?" Has now been replaced with my answer to "Are you going to apply for his job?" I've shortened it to about a minute. I've picked his brain as much as I can for now. And I'm a little in denial about how much more responsibility I am taking on until they fill his position and probably for some time after. I also plan on calling him tons and I've talked to his new company about giving me unlimited consulting with him in order for me to let them have him. In short I think it is actually a good time for this to happen because the holidays keep me from dwelling on it too much.

Three Bumps

I previously mentioned some bumps during the last week. I decided to finish birthday week celebration before tackling them. Last Wed when I came home from getting my elbow done there were three police cars next door. It wasn't until Thurs. that I found out why. Three of the four townhouses in the next section over were broken into. During broad daylight around noon. They apparently kicked the back doors or windows in from the deck level. They skipped the one in the middle because Creepy Doctor's girlfriend was there at the time. Not only did they take things but they wrecked the places during. I feel so bad for my neighbors. One of them has had family or friends staying with her ever since because she feels weird alone. Her bull mastiff was apparently not able to scare them away. So now when I come home I expect to see my place wrecked. I don't care if they take things as long as we're not home. And apart from installing an alarm I don't think anything will help. I didn't think I'd need an alarm system in this house.

Are Walls Overrated?

Apparently we have been getting too rowdy in our cubicles. The head honcho's secretary sent out a "Cubicle Courtesy" reminder. These are my favorites:

Privacy
Don't "prairie-dog" over the tops of cubes or peek in as you walk past each one. (Why do you just take ALL of the fun out of my day?)
Keep your hands off a cube dweller's desk. Just because there's no door doesn't mean you can help yourself to their paper clips. (Cube dweller, tee hee.)

Talking
Don't talk through cube walls or congregate outside someone's cube. For impromptu meetings, go to a conference room or break room.
Don't bring clients to your cube to meet with them. Go to an office or conference room.
Don't yell across the "cube farm". Get up and move to the other person's location.

General Noise
Work out an arrangement with your neighbors to take lunch breaks at different times. This will give each of you some quiet time in your cube. (Yeah right.)
Eat quietly. Avoid gum-popping, humming, slurping and pen tapping.

Smells
A good rule of thumb is to never eat hot food at your desk. Food odors can bother your hungry or nauseous neighbors. (So the salmon I am eating right now is bad?)
Perfume and cologne should be avoided in a cubicle arrangement. Your neighbors may have allergies.
Keep an air freshener handy. (I am afraid to ask.)
Keep your shoes on!

Working Space

Since I am freshly back in an office environment and new to the world of cubicles, I find myself without the basic knowledge of the veteran dwellers. You know, cubicle etiquette, the unwritten rules and regulations. ie. design, decoration, lack of doors/ceilings/real walls, noise levels. For example how do you disturb someone hard at work(?) with their back to the cubicle opening? I have taken to saying "knock, knock." But I feel like an idiot.

A Case of the Mondays

Greetings from the wonderful world of the employed. This will be quick as I have exhausted my lunchtime catching up on other people's blogs. Some of whom I was blocked from by our internal system. Interesting, I wonder what criteria it is based on? I'll just have to leave those to at home viewing.
I have spent the morning reading a pile of documents on my desk. I am alternating between delight and horror. Delight at all the cool stuff I will get to do and quite a bit of trepidation about the immense responsibility I have. It is so much more daunting when you can screw up on a major level.

PS Even if you aren't cold in the morning bring a jacket. Odds are you'll have a fire drill and end up freezing next to your new coworkers. Lots of cute firefighters showed up, so it wasn't all bad.

Back In The Rat Race

Well kids here I am sitting at my computer, at my desk, in my cubicle. That's right, I am one of you again. A bonified member of the working world. Well, paid working world that is.
Keegan is happily at daycare. I know this because I called to check on him. I can see immediately that I will be needing to plaster my walls with his photo. I miss his smiley face.
The job is going fine, after all it's my first day. My co-workers are out of the office today so I am reading giant notebooks and reports. This will be a very interesting position and I am sure I will enjoy it. Right now I am overwhelmed with all of the things I don't know. I have two meetings setup for me today to get acquainted with other groups and learn about the library. I honestly couldn't tell you in a nutshell what I will be doing. But suffice it to say that I will be helping improve the available healthcare, particulary to rural populations. And by extension I hope to positively effect change in people's daily lives.

PS There are a few established walking trails here which can help me with training for the 3-Day.

PPS It will be crucial to avoid the bowls of candy on virtually every cubicle. I forgot what that was like. Junk food everywhere. I will attempt to focus all my cravings on the innocent apple I bought for an afternoon snack.

Yeah Baby!

So my second interview actually happened today. Once again I wasn't nervous until I got in the car and then when I walked in the room I was fine. They were both beaming at me and I was getting a good vibe. So I met the supervisor and she told me my interview notes and references were excellent. Then she asked me a few questions about specifics on facilitating discussions and how I would handle certain situations. I figured I would go and then hear later. But she offered me the job right there. That's right, you read that correctly, "she offered me the job." Inside I was bopping up and down and doing the cabbage patch. On the exterior I was cool and collected, as if I got offered great jobs every day. They told me that they wanted to get me back in because they were afraid of losing me. And also how the group is full of really dedicated, smart and nice people. I am so excited. We discussed some particulars and the rest will be setup later. I start on Oct. 29 which gives me plenty of time to get ready and transition Keegan into daycare.
Although I have mentally spent my first yet to be earned paycheck five times over, honestly it is still sinking in that I really got it!!!

Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

More Hoops

So here is the deal with the job status. I called on Friday morning because I was tired of waiting and they did encourage me to call if I hadn't heard from them. It turns out that my contact person is on vacation until mid-October. I was surprised and irritated by this news. I am not sure if their plan was to leave me hanging until that time. I left a message for someone else to call me back. They did call back at the end of the day and I got the message after going on a lunch date and running errands. They want me to come in again for another interview. I don't know what else they want to ask because I felt like we covered everything. But I think they want me to meet with someone else and maybe that person will give the final thumbs up.
I was just disappointed because I was thinking they would call and offer me the job and then the financial pressure would finally be off of us. Also Friday was Tom's birthday and I really wanted to get good news so I could get a him a nice gift. Instead he got the bargain basement version of a birthday: dinner at home, homemade cake and a well meaning card. Atleast Keegan was able to get a card too and he signed it himself. Poor little guy fell alseep before we lit the candles and I sung to Tom. I am pretty sure his wish was for me to stop singing!
So I will call back on Monday and schedule the second interview. I need to find a time that works for either my mom or Tom to miss work. I really hope this is it for this process. The next call should be them offering me the job!

PS My brother told me to focus on the positive that I am still in the running for the position. I hate it when he has a point!

If Wishes Were Horses

The last two days I have been checking my answering machine with trepidation. I am supposed to hear about the job I interviewed for and it has been two weeks today. I was out all day today and came home but there was nothing. :( I felt pretty confident but now I am nervous. My plan is to call them tomorrow because they had said to call if I didn't hear from them.

Please let me get it, please let me get it, please let me.........

Helpless

Oops. Can't sleep yet. I popped over to Erika's and read these posts. I know I have the hormonal excuse but thinking about what she wrote makes me cry. I am sad because we used to face the stuff with the kids together. And now she's on her own. And sad because if you could see her in action you'd be sure she deserved a medal. Sad because hearing her thoughts in my head I know exactly how she feels. You love the work and you love the kids. But doing the work takes an emotional toll. I feel guilty because inside I am relieved to not have to be in the thick of it right now. That in the middle of all that pain and need I have the luxury of living inside my little world. Guilty because I know I should be out there doing what I can. Because I can. Because for some reason I was given the ability to be at my best when everything around me is at it's worse. It seems selfish to not be using that ability and not be using the skills I acquired over the past 6 years. I thought it was the paycheck I missed and the feeling of daily purpose. But let's face it, when it comes to being needed I am a junkie. That is why I miss work. I miss being there when the kids needed me, and when the staff needed something in a way only I could deliver. But life went on for all of them. And to be honest it did for me too. But I miss them. And sometimes it easier to not be there at all. And I know that now Erika is wrestling with the same thing.

Damn Integrity

I have been struggling with an ethical dilemma these past few days. I found a job I would really like to apply for. It is part-time in a school setting and the work would be healthy for during a pregnancy. I had the cover letter all mentally composed. Then I thought, "How do I interview and not tell them I'm pregnant?" This is assuming they even call me for an interview. And I know that legally it shouldn't be an issue. I even believe I could walk in and they wouldn't be able to tell. But I would know. And I would feel like I was tricking them somehow if they hired me. So I decided to apply anyway. If they call for an interview I'm going to be upfront and honest. Not start out with the announcement, but work around to it after they are dazzled by my personality. It's probably dumb but I can't do it any other way. Either they want to hire me for the 5 months I have left or not. What do I have to lose by giving it a shot?

Labor Force

I was talking to a neighbor tonight and she said is taking unemployed people an average of 5 months to find a job. Great that means I'll get my job offer as I am going into labor. Do you think they'll mind if I am six weeks late for my first day? Yeah, I thought so.

P.S. I just got my social security statement and I have worked almost every year since 1987. That was my sophmore year in high school and I earned $90. When I retire at 62 they are going to pay me $895 a month. Woohoo bring on the dancing girls! That is of course if you actually believe there will still be social security by then.

Half Empty

So I'm back to being unemployed and without a vacation to use as an excuse. I looked for jobs today but didn't find anything feasible. I saw a position in my field that had a good location and good hours. The problem was it is an "intense therapeutic environment" and I know what that means. It means teens with mental illnesses or behavioral problems. Which ultimately means the very real possibility of having to restrain them. That doesn't bother me, heck, I did it for 3 years. But not while pregnant. I promised myself when I finally got pregnant I wouldn't do any work that might be dangerous. But all the jobs I've seen openings for are for that kind of work.
That leaves the idea of working outside the field. I don't have a clue where to start. I was grocery shopping and they were hiring. I briefly thought it might be cool and non-stressful to do that for a while. Then my mom reminded me that standing for long periods of time are not a good idea while pregnant. And I am only going to get bigger from here on out.
Back to square one.
And I wouldn't mind so much. But even though I will get extended unemployment benefits, the money ain't great. And up until now I have always defined myself by what I do. It's my reason for being; to contribute, to help people help themselves, to make an impact on my community. And my best friend is embarking on this exciting, albeit scary, new chapter in her life. My day consists of being pregnant, planning dinner and scrubbing toothpaste debris off the sink.
C'mon it was about time for one of my pity parties wasn't it? I keep looking and waiting for that next opportunity to drop into my life.

Farewell Bologna & Cheese

My summer job ended this past Mon. That's right I relinquished my plastic gloves and hairnet. I turned the kitchen back over to the food service professionals. I was glad to have the job and it was a great feeling to feed all those kids. But it wasn't the least bit challenging and I missed the presence of co-wokers. I am definitely not a "stand alone" kind of gal. Right now I don't have another job lined up. I have been looking, which is progress. I naively believe that the right thing will come along when I need it too. So I am back to my overnesting housewife duties. And as of now, the Lunch Lady has left the building.

From Under A Rock

All is not well in Lunch Lady Land. Over the past weeks I have noticed food missing. A packet of cookies here, a granola bar there. I mean it's thoughtless but no big deal. So my theory yesterday was to put the open boxes into the refrigerator since it has a lock. Case closed.
This morning I walk in all happy and skippy. It is not until I start setting up for the kids do I realize something is wrong. An entire case of Oreos was gone. That's 120 packs, a total of 240 cookies. What kind of scumball steals from a free lunch program? Who takes cookies from kids who would otherwise go hungry? I hope Karma gets that person. I try not to wish violence on anyone. But I hope that at a minimum they get a tremendous tummy ache and at maximum they fall off a curb and skin their knees. The sad part is that they will never get how terribly low their actions were. Poo.

Hairnets And Gloves

Okay my worst nightmare happened this week.

Erika's camp counselors referred to me as the "lunch lady." It's not bad enough that Tom has been calling me this all week. But that was a joke. Now I have apparently fully assumed that identity to the outside world. Don't get me wrong, it's not like there weren't signs:
The going to sleep at night mentally visualizing and counting juice boxes. Do we have enough?
The waking up in the morning and my first thought. "It's Thursday it must be pita pockets."
Perhaps it was on Wed. as I stood demonstrating the fine art of the "Fluffernutter" sandwich. The secret is all in how you spread the bread my friends.

Well atleast Adam Sandler has already written my theme song. It also explains why I now refer to Tom as "Sloppy Joe."

Fluffer Nutter

What I learned at work today:

1. If you refrigerate marshmallow fluff it gets really hard. Therefore making it impossible to spread without destroying the lovely white bread.

2. Kids will do almost anything for a snack pack of Oreo cookies.

3. I am actually using math to figure my food order. Crap. I shouldn't have killed those brain cells in college.

Ham & Cheese On White

Aaah... second day went much better. The kids I work with are sandwich making machines. And I really love being around teens again. Amazing how you start to miss the little buggers.
The mean teacher from yesterday is now getting her lunches from another program. She actually caught me before I left today and apologized. I'm trying not to hold a grudge.
On the way home I had to stop and get five pounds of shredded cheese to get through tomorrow. Otherwise I should be golden. I was such a good girl I treated myself to lobster bisque for lunch!

The Sun Doesn't Shine

To all of you wondering about my first day at work:

It was HORRIBLE.

It started with 200 bologna & cheese sandwiches and ended with a summer school teacher yelling at me that her kids didn't have any food. She actually said to me, "I know it's not your fault, but it pains me to see my kids suffer without lunch."
Of course I was super polite and bit my tongue. Turns out I am not responsible for feeding her kids at all. Someone else should be yelled at. I'm not holding my breath for an apology tomorrow.

Hey, it can only get better from here, right?

Venus In Retrograde

Remember those 1950s shows where the mom eagerly greets the husband at the door? She asks him about his day and hangs on every word? Well, The Feminine Mystique taught me that those women were just dying for interaction with the outside world.
I am one of those women. I have been unemployed 3 months, 9 days. In the beginning it was a novelty to have all that free time. Then the preparation for and involvment in IVF kept me busy. Now that we have acheived pregnancy, time stands still. I have become bored. I schedule my day around meals and when Tom gets home. This is sad.
If you knew me you wouldn't believe it. I am one of those people who has to have an impossibly busy life. I schedule events months in advance. Heck I am already planning for next Christmas. I thrive on pressure and deadlines and chaos. Oh how I love chaos. Now the key is of course I love structure. I worship consistency. So I like to find a work environment that is the direct opposite. I then throw myself into my job and the staff to whip them into an organized frenzy. I realize that this is an illness. And I'm okay with that. I am a stress and crisis junkie. Why else would I choose a career working with teens? But I digress.
Tom informed me today that I need to get out and interact with people. This comes from me pouncing on him when he gets home. Tom doesn't like to interact with most people but he recognizes that I do. Those have always been our roles: He is the moody, brooding, loner. I am the friendly, funny, people lover. It works for us. But now the roles are reversed. I am actually interested in his "cubicle world." I can tell you about everyone he works with, their nicknames, significant others, drinking habits and living situations. This is not healthy. So is with much enthusiasm that I announce to you today:

I need to find a job!!!!!!

PS This means that instead of merely fulfilling the most basic expectations of my unemployment claims, I will now start an ACTIVE job search. It probably won't be full blown until after I start my summer job. But I am already planning my three prong attack.

Hairnets And Gloves

With all the excitement I almost forgot my other news. I got a job for the summer. It is with a non-profit in the same community where I used to work before being laid off in March. (Wow, I can't believe it has been that long.) It will be twenty hours a week from July through August. The position is running the summer lunch program in Lowell. I will oversee the teens making around 200 lunches a day. Then they are distributed to the summer day camps and recreation programs. This way all those children who get free lunch during the school year won't go hungry this summer. It should be a fun time with minimal stress. Loving that.
The other aspect of the job is to promote the Plant A Row program. It asks local farmers and home gardeners to plant an extra row this growing season. Then the extra produce is donated to the local food pantry. It's a nice way to get delicious fresh produce to the elderly and homebound. Last year when I worked at the center my teens actually produced a commercial for the program. So that will be airing on cable access channels too.

Wage Earner

I got a call about a part-time job for the summer. It's at an agency that Erika and I have done volunteer work for. I am supposed to meet with them this week. I'll keep ya posted.

Representin'

I worked today. No really, outside the house. I am helping start a project that is funded through the center. The idea is to extend our streetworker outreach and cultural programs into some of the neighborhoods. Our current streetworker team wear mostly black. I want to call mine the "pink team" and hire all females. I kind of like the idea of having my own posse. The neighborhood association gave us a desk in the local police substation. It's too lonely though so I'm hanging out back at center next to Erika. Plus the desk leaves me with my back to the door. Not exactly comforting. I am going to get a t-shirt that says, "No, I'm not a cop" on the back. And a baseball cap that says,"Call 911." That will cover most of the questions I should get while being there alone.
But I am glad to be helping out for now. Basically I will lay the foundation and help hire the permanent staff member. Then bow out gracefully and disappear into the sunset. It works out well because it's actually nice now to not be working full-time while I am going through all the IVF stuff.

It's My Perogative

Yesterday was my official last day at work, although I will do a few hours next week to wrap up. We had already planned to go to a co-worker's house and hang out. Even though I was over it after last weekend I brought stuff for chocolate fondue. I never actually got to make it. We had that much fun. So much I called Tom at 11pm already knowing there was no way I was making home. We talked, laughed, danced and sang until the wee hours. You've got to love the ratio of only three girls with all those boys.
Right after they dedicated and sang a song to me (which one I can not for the life of me remember), they made us sit in a circle. I had to sit in the middle and they began what is called "throwing of the roses." An exercise where each person takes turns telling the person in the center positive things. I am not the kind that likes to be the center of attention, but I loved hearing it. They were so serious, looking right into my eyes and saying all the things you forget to tell people in the day to day. Then they gave a me a picture taken Thurs. night. It had most of the staff and a lot of the teens I am particularly close to in it.
When the serious stuff was over we lightened the mood again with more retro 80s hip-hop. "Wild Thing" by Tone Loc anyone? I made it to 3am before I completely crashed on the aerobed.
This morning I showed Dirk how to make pancakes with letters and shapes in them. Poor Sovanna had to do all those dishes. I made little silver dollar pancakes for his almost three year old daughter. Then I packed it up (not much since I hadn't planned on staying over) and drove home. Don't you feel that showers are especially refreshing when you've slept in your clothes? Don't get me started on brushing my teeth. Yum minty.

Two Hours Of Work Left

I have two words for you.

STINKY CHEESE


PS This may shed some light on why I was laid off. Ha, ha.

Their Voices

Okay here is part two before the day is over.

Left Dartmouth and descended into hell. In the form of four snowplows blocking all the lanes and going 20 mph. This went on for miles and miles. The roads weren't even that bad that far north. They usually stagger themselves so that motorists may pass if they chose to. This went on until we merged with another highway. I got by and a few miles down we hit a dead stop. As we inched by I saw a car completely flipped over in a ditch. The driver was out and seemed okay. How scared must she have been? I kept pressing on to the Mass border and my ultimate destination. The Young Women's Creative Writing poerty reading for Women's Week.
I did make it and only 10 minutes late. We started late anyway to see if others would come. Erika had the table setup with fresh flowers and yummy snacks. She MC'd the evening with style despite that she a killer stress bomb day. I felt crappy that I couldn't have been there to help.
The girls were wonderful, shy at first but then got their courage up. I always feel so proud to hear them up there shining. The reading ended with Amber reading the poem she wrote for me. It was the first time I heard it read by her. It was even better that way. Then Erika had a surprise. She got the staff to each write a few lines and then put it together into a poem about me. I loved it. I loved it as a single tear fell down my cheek. I drove my mom home from the reading with the smell of the bouquet they gave me permeating the car. To be loved and appreciated is the best feeling in the world.

Grasping At Straws

I have not had a good day. I wrote an entire entry about it earlier. I forgot to save it and it is still up on my screen at work. That pretty much caps it off.
There have been a few bright spots. One of the girls gave me this beautiful dream journal made of homemade paper. So incredibly sweet of her.
A reporter came to interview us about the effect of the budget cuts. It's only Comcast Cable news but it will show throughout New England. I hope they air it, people see it and they get it. I don't even know what will help now. The teens they interviewed were very eloquent and I am proud of them.
We had one of our girls come in today upset. In her second trimester and they cut her off MassHealth. It's free people, it's for those who cannot afford to pay. Erika tried to navigate the bureaucratic phone system to see what we can do. She will try again tomorrow. This girl is high-risk and now on bedrest. Talk about kicking you when you're down.
Waaaaah...where is the good news? Come on gimme something here.

Adrift

Poor Tom, I walked in the door crying last night after he thought I was fine an hour earlier when I called. Trying to be supportive, he told me. "I know you want to save the world, but you can't."
"I know, but I atleast wanted to save my little piece."
Erika has a great analogy. Except now that I am laid off I feel like I'm on a tiny rubber raft by myself trying to paddle back to the island but the current keeps pulling me out.
Okay no more sad, only happy thoughts for the weekend. Like how awesome and supportive my "blog buddies" are. Thanks for your comments!

Blurred Vision

Back when I did at-home family counseling it was not a rare thing for me to drive home crying. I never showed emotion in front of them, but I soaked up all their pain and anger like a sponge. I would cry my way home and then go right back fresh the next day. Since working at my current job, the going home crying thing has occured very rarely.
Tonight even though I had a great time taking the kids to the Vagina Monologues, I cried my way home. Maybe it was my headacheor hunger, or that I'm tired having been at work for eleven hours. But my phone conversation with my mom didn't help. It's not her fault that sometimes she becomes the conduit through which depressing thoughts flow.
It started with me telling her about the latest cuts in funding. Today I found out the governor has cut funding for the At-Risk Youth Summer jobs program. Someone else told me they heard that public swimming pools funding has also been cut. So I'm telling her all this and what the consequences will be. And I hear myself talk about the crime rate, drug abuse and pregnancy rates skyrocketing.
Then I realize what I am saying, that these life changing events will be happening to my kids. The ones I see everyday, the ones I care about deeply. They will probably get hurt, hurt others, hurt themselves and otherwise suffer because of the lack of opportunities. These amazing, loving, talented kids who are so eager to be loved, supported and feel successful. That is when the tears started for me.

On to topic #2, my family. More specifically my brothers both of whom live in Virginia. They are aware of this blog but do not read it (that I know of). My mother proceeds to tell me that she talked to my little brother (who is actually older than me, but the younger of the two). It is important to understand that he has a history of making really poor choices in the romantic relationships department. Mom got the update on his latest venture. Suffice it to say that they met during an on-line game but never in person. My brother has proceeded to build an entire future around this relationship. This fact caused me enough stress to spend an entire therapy session on it a few months ago. My therapist helped me identify that my brother has a gambling addiction, he plays with the highest stakes. His heart. I decided at that time to let go of my stress around this. While I love my brother, I can no longer afford to tear myself apart over his life. Tonight my mother told me that they are moving in together, once again they have never met in person. No date has been set. It's like watching a heroin addict with a needle poised over his vein. This can not end well. And as a family we will once again watch him plunge to the depths of despair not knowing if he will make it back. As much I try to not get sucked in, this news made me cry harder.
During this same phone call, my mom told both of my brothers about my being laid off. They had a minimal reaction beyond asking what I was going to do next. Clearly they haven't any idea what my job meant to me. Were there any concerned phone calls when I arrived home? No. Perhaps I will hear from them tomorrow, I hope so. My mom does not know that I cried. This is what I do, keep a brave face for my family and do the hard stuff below their radar.
It's funny that I can give other people advice on how to navigate their relationships. But when it comes to my own, I always start at square on.

Candle At Both Ends

I am writing this from work. I had to come back here after my training tonight to finish some spreadsheets. I was supposed to go out to dinner with Erika, but I gotta do this instead. And frankly she was wilting quickly. She was in this boat last night. Same funding source different pain in the butt project. So I left Worcester and promptly sat in dead stop traffic because of the Phish concert. Now you are thinking, shut up Alisa finish your work so you can go home. My sentiments exactly.

This Is It

So a funny thing happened to me on my way through life. Well, not funny actually. Tuesday I had to look into my Executive Director's eyes as he told me that there is no money to fund my position. That basically I would be leaving the job I love and the place I love. I had become the latest victim of the federal and state budget cuts. A state of shock propelled me through the rest of the day. I started crying as soon as I got in the car to go home. That is how I spent the evening and most of my night. Except right before going to sleep when I put a bag of frozen green beans on my eyes to prevent them from getting puffy.
So we have enough money to pay me for two full time weeks or four part-time ones. I will be staying for the four weeks. Frankly I don't know what else to do. I never looked at options because I didn't want to. People keep telling me that it will work out for the best. I want to believe them but I can't really see that just yet. I can't even be that angry about it any more. How do you blame a whole society that doesn't understand the value of our work and therefore is unwilling to invest in it? Who exactly do I call and yell at?
So in the past few days I have been thinking about how it feels to leave and what it has meant to work there. I ended up with a list of what I love about it. Here it is in no particular order, except the first one.

A Moment Please

I need a moment to regroup from something that happened today. Remaining true to journaling, I want to post about it but I am not ready yet. So if I'm quiet for a while that is why. I will still be around reading all my faves (see links).

I really don't mean to be mysterious.