Overheard

All of the people who used to eat alone at lunch in high school have spread their wings, taken flight, and now work at my company.  Myself included.  I work in pharmaceuticals, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are not one but two cars in the parking lot that proudly display the bumper sticker “Honk if You Passed P-Chem.”

It also shouldn’t be a surprise that I get to overhear some very odd conversations in the kitchen and in the hallways, but I recently heard one that was particularly special.

I was walking down the hall and saw two male chemists who – I am going to guess – are working at their first job after graduating college.  They are both very young and awkward.  The kind of kids who have had to work to develop their social skills enough to be able to stare at YOUR shoes while the talk to you, instead of their own shoes.

They both were holding trading cards and one of them talking about what powers the cards had.  I’m not sure what they were but it must be the latest version of the Dungeons and Dragons cards that the teenaged boys I knew in the 90s had.  I remember being privy to a very similar conversation about those cards and what “manna” is and why you want to collect it and trying to keep an interested look on my face while my brain drifted away, lulled to near sleep by counting all of the fucks that I did not give.

I was remembering this and starting to roll my eyes as I passed these twenty-something boys in the hallway when the one that was talking stopped in mid word and asked the other, “Did you have eggs for breakfast?”

The second guy shrugged and said, “No…?” and waited for an explanation.

Then the first guy offered none and instead turned back to the cards.  “So like I was saying…” he picked up again.

At that moment in my mind I stopped walking, turned on one heel, went back to where the boys were standing and hit each of their foreheads with the palm of my hand.  Then I would have taken the cards away and said, “You can have these back when you get laid.”

I didn’t do those things, of course.  I don’t think HR would have looked favorably upon it.  Which is too bad.  It would have been the best thing that happened to those boys since those warm days in high school, when instead of hunkering down in the corner of the lunch room trying to look as small as possible, they could take their PB&J outside and eat it under a tree.  Those were the days.

What do you do When Live Gives you a Lemon That Looks Like a Middle Finger?

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I spent the last couple of months thinking I was going to get fired from my job.  I’ve worked at the company for almost thirteen years, which is – for all intents and purposes – my entire adult life.  I was in a bit of a panic, as you can imagine.

Last week I finally got the call.  I am being retained.  I have survived one more round of Corporate America’s Hunger Games.  It a relief and I’m glad that I won’t have to rent out the house I just bought and go back to mowing lawns and babysitting, which was pretty much what I was doing before I got this job.

It’s good news.  But I’m feeling pretty wiped out.  First, the stress has taken a toll.  And I have a bad case of survivor’s guilt over the people who were not so fortunate.  But most of all, I am rethinking some of the plans that I had made for myself in the past few quarters.

In particular…

This time last year I was breaking up with a man I thought I was going to marry and have kids with.  We had been together for close to two years and he had told me that he decided that he didn’t want to have children after all.

I decided that I didn’t need a man to have a family.  I make a decent living and I can make it work.  It might even be better than co-parenting with someone like this man, who thought he knew what he wanted but was never going to come through and distract me from the parenting experience by filling me with resentment.

I decided that the plan didn’t need to change, even if it was just me.  I sold my condo.  Bought a house.  At one point, I flirted with the idea of going to the sperm bank for my 37th birthday, but then I found out that I might be losing my job, so I put a pin in that part.

I managed to squeak through this time… but it was a near miss.  In David and Goliath, Malcom Gladwell talks about how the experience of a “near miss,” like being in London during the German air raids and having the house next to yours bombed, can actually embolden a person.  They feel like they went through something so completely extreme and survived and they feel more confident that next time their luck will hold.

This experience is not having that effect on me.  I don’t feel secure in my career.  If I had to scramble and move into a friend’s basement and take a job cleaning houses for a while to make ends meet, then that would have been fine.  But what if I had a kid?  I feel bad enough putting my dog through a lowering of station.  I just don’t think I can do it.  It just seems so incredibly selfish.

This was kind of what I had in mind when I started this blog about “making lemonade.”  The romantic part of my life didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean I need to give up on all the life experiences I wanted to have, right?

Do you feel like I’m asking you to feel sorry for me because I didn’t get fired?  Because that’s not my intention.  I’m just feeling a little down and I’m trying to articulate to myself why that may be.  It’s probably just the release of the Adrenaline.  And a touch of PMS.  Also I found another grey hair.  I have the first-world-problems blues.

Nothing to do but to go back to the kitchen and make up a new recipe for lemonade.