Back To Work

Today was my first day back at work in six months.

It felt very weird to be back, but I was happy to chat with all my colleagues again. The best part of my company and job is that I truly enjoy spending time with my coworkers. I like them all so much, and they’re so much fun. To me, this is the most important thing to a happy work life.

Being apart from Edith was less difficult than I’d feared. I was so busy and absorbed in what I was doing that I really didn’t have much time to think about it. The day went very fast.

All in all, it was a smoother transition than I’d anticipated.

Market, Splash Pad

Today, the baby and I went to a market in the park down the street. There were a bunch of booths with the sort of stuff that is always at markets and that no one ever buys — beaded jewelry, leather wallets, a knife sharpening station, jams, a depressed-looking 20-year-old white guy in an empty booth with an insurance company logo on it for some reason. Also, a roster of musicians played on a stage at the end of a big plaza. When we got there, someone was playing the accordion, and when we left, it was a cover of “Friends In Low Places.”

“This is the first of probably one hundred thousand times you will hear this song,” I told Edith. “And I am really sorry.”

Everyone waved at Edith and said what a cute little boy she was and how they wished someone would carry them around in a baby carrier like hers.

After that, we came home and then in the afternoon, we tried out a little splash pad thinger I had bought for Edith. I set it up under the trees in the back yard, and then I got into the middle of it with her. But for some reason, I hadn’t really thought that it would be, like, really wet. I don’t know why or what I was thinking. I was operating on like four hours of sleep. So I was in my baggy cotton jumpsuit, and obviously within one second, I was in a sopping wet baggy cotton jumpsuit and freezing. Meanwhile, Edith was mostly confused by the whole thing. She didn’t understand what we were doing or why we were doing it. She looked at me kind of morosely as the water beaded all over her.

So we got out and after a flurry of soaking, dripping jumpsuit/cold house/screaming baby shenanigans, we lounged around on the back porch admiring the splash pad as if it were a water feature, which was much more interesting to Edith and more relaxing for me. We’ll try it again another day and I’ll wear a bathing suit like a rational person.

So that was my last day of parental leave. Tomorrow morning, I go back to work. I mean, I’m not actually going anywhere, technically, but mentally I’ll be off.

Brunch

This morning, Edith and I went out in search of brunch. We visited the nearest of approximately one thousand Mexican restaurants and sat on the porch and I had some substandard migas and Edith looked around. She is just the happiest, best natured baby. When I take her places, she is chill as a bean. Every time I looked at her, she gave me a big, sunny grin, and otherwise, she was content to take in the scenery.

Did you know that there are places in this country where one can still smoke in the outdoor sections of restaurants? I did not, but I am apparently living in one. It was like revisiting the most disgusting aspect of 2003. However, it wasn’t very crowded and I only got a single whiff of cigarette smoke before whoever it was put it out, and then later when I asked for the check, the server told me that someone had already paid it, so there are also advantages to rural living. I would like to tell myself this is evidence that I am still attractive, but more likely a good ole boy saw a single woman with a baby and assumed we could use the help. Either way, I’ll take it!

When we got back on the road, a little green lizard scampered across my windshield and hung ten on the hood, face into the breeze. I was worried she (I say she because I think it was a green anole and the males have a pink dewlap which this one didn’t) would fly off, so I stopped in a park and tried to nudge her into the grass, but she kept running into my hood, so we just took her home with us. She made it safe and sound and hopefully doesn’t leave any family behind in the restaurant parking lot. I don’t think she’s the one who paid my tab, but I suppose it’s possible.

Walks

Each morning before it gets too hot, Edith’s nanny takes her on a walk around the neighborhood. While they are out, I pace from room to room, wringing my hands and thinking about all the ways that Edith might be killed on her walk.

I pretend that I am not doing this, because it is insane. Next week and going forward, I will have to work while they are on their walk, and that might help a little bit.

But I’m starting to get a sneaking suspicion that this (endless, heightened, ludicrous anxiety about my child coming to harm in some way) is just how life is going to be from now on. Which…sucks? But also, I’m not sure that I wasn’t warned.

Garage Door

Yesterday, everything was finally finished at my old house and it was ready to be photographed and listed, and then my mother tried to open the garage door and it slammed itself open and closed repeatedly for a minute and then fell apart.

I was apprised of the situation through a series of cryptic texts:

“Did you happen to lock your garage door when you were up here earlier? Unrelated, do you know of anything one can do to a garage door that might, say, cause it to spontaneously explode? Theoretically? Not asking for any particular reason! Just something I’ve been musing about re: garage doors in general and certainly not related to any garage doors you might personally know of, and that might or might not be partially to totally fucked at the moment!”

Upon hearing the news, I sank into a state of resigned catatonia because I quite literally could not even. I sat around not evening for about an hour, while my mother got a garage door company with the right door in stock to agree to do a rush job and replace it this morning.

So everything was fine!

My particular brand of anxiety is such that the more things that go right for me (or even just fail to go terribly wrong), the more I feel like I am racking up some cosmic debt whereby I will have very bad luck later to balance out the good luck I am currently enjoying. This is a really fun way my brain destroys any bit of enjoyment I might get out of life, because if bad things happen, I am obviously unhappy about the bad things, and if good things happen, I cannot enjoy them because I feel I am “using up” my good things quota and will surely experience a run of terrible luck later. I have been very fortunate in my life thus far, and so I am always terrified that something truly godawful is looming over the next horizon to even out the score. Intellectually, I realize this is nonsense, but I hate myself, so I can’t stop feeling like this in my viscera. And of course, being a parent now, that grim sense of foreboding is a thousand times worse.

However, the garage door is fixed, so my karmic reckoning is delayed for one more day.

Parental Leave

I wrote a bit yesterday about the end of my parental leave, and this morning, I read this piece on the topic at Popular Information:

Absent federal legislation, most private employers are not offering paid family leave to their employees. At present, just 19% of Americans — mostly high-wage workers — have access to paid family leave through their employer. A 2012 survey found that nearly one-in-four mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth. (The Family and Medical Leave Act, which became law in 1993, only provides unpaid leave in certain circumstances.)  A comprehensive paid family leave benefit is outrageously popular across party lines. A 2018 survey found that 84% of Americans support a paid family leave policy “that would cover all working people who need leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child; their own serious illness or injury; a seriously ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family member; or to deal with the effects of a deployment or injury of a military service member.”

I really don’t see why we can’t get this done; everyone else has.

Last Week

I go back to work on Monday.

I am incredibly lucky to have a job that provides six months of paid parental leave. I am incredibly lucky to work from home. I am incredibly lucky to be able to afford an in-home nanny when I go back to work so that Edith can be here with me, and I can see her throughout the day.

I know all this. I’m unbelievably lucky, and I have no right to complain. Our country is cruel to mothers and babies (and to fathers and other primary caretakers as well). The lack of parental leave is appalling. No one should have to put their newborn into daycare and return to work while they’re still bleeding, and no one should have to choose between putting food on the table and having excellent, reliable, safe, attentive care for their children. Everyone agrees about this, and yet nothing changes. I don’t understand why. I guess it’s because our politicians are useless, and/or because some people think private corporations should pay for these things rather than taxpayers and that all the people who don’t have a job with a private corporation should go fuck themselves.

Regardless, as lucky as I am to have all this, and as privileged as my situation is, the idea of not being with Edith all day anymore is still so painful I can’t think about it. And on the other hand, I feel like if I have to go one more day without talking to other adults and using my brain, I’m going to implode.

I don’t know what the ideal situation would be. I guess as always it would be to be independently wealthy and not have to make any decisions based on income. But short of that, this is about as ideal as it gets.

Michael K. Williams

I’m the sort of basic white bitch who still thinks The Wire is the best television show ever made. It’s not perfect, but it’s literary. I think it’s a contender for the great American novel. And Omar Little is indisputably the best character of a roster of amazing characters (runner up Stringer Bell, third place Bubbles).

Williams did a bunch of other good stuff, too (I especially enjoyed his Community appearance), but Omar was a career defining role. It’s sad that he has died so young.

COVID/Bricks

I had my first ever COVID test today. I had woken up with a headache and a sore throat the last couple mornings. I think the issue was really just a combination of post-nasal drip and being roommates with an infant, but our new nanny is starting this week, so I wanted to be sure. This morning, I felt totally fine, but I already had the appointment so I went anyway. It was very easy — there was a truck in a parking lot and you just walked up to the window, showed your ID, and they dropped a test packet into the slot. In it was a Q-tip which I swished around in my nostrils, then put it in a tube, and then put the tube back in the bag and dropped the whole thing in an open trash bin next to the truck and got back in my car. It took like two minutes.

After I got my COVID test, I drove the hour up to my old house to relocate some piles of bricks (that I had never noticed but which would apparently be off-putting to house-hunters) from the yard to the garage. It was very hot work, so I turned the sprinklers on, and so then I was wet and hot.

The other thing I did was root through a trash bag from the big outdoor trash bin to locate a blaring smoke alarm that my mother had thrown away without disabling, apparently not realizing how smoke alarms work.

So, just a super glamorous day all around.

But I’ll also admit this: before I started hauling bricks, I went into the house and lay on the couch for an hour in the quiet, and finished a novel I’ve been reading, which honestly made it all worth it. It wasn’t even an especially good novel, but my reading of it was uninterrupted. Hard to imagine I used to do that all the time!

Scorpion

At some point I heard an anecdote or read a story or something about someone who put their foot in their shoe without looking first and there was a scorpion in it and it stung them and they died. It was one of those little bits of information that stick in the mind.

I keep an old pair of shoes in the garage to slip on whenever I need to take the trash out or something, and I don’t always shake them out first, but every single time I put a foot into one of them, I think “maybe this is it.”

Of course, I think “maybe this is it” about a million things; if I indulged every bit of paranoia that flits across my mind with an actual ritual, I would live in a state of constant paralysis.

Anyway, since moving to the Southwest, I had yet to encounter a scorpion, until yesterday. I was moving a big pile of broken down moving boxes from the living room into the garage and as I carried them through the house, a scorpion fell out and waddled away. I squished it, but two things: one, it was REALLY difficult to squish. Like, I stomped it multiple times and finally had to grind it with my heel. Those things are tough. Second, it was IN THE HOUSE.

Now, as a lifelong singleton, I know how rare my lifestyle is: everybody couples. That scorpion has a partner. At least one. It might even be poly. What if they are everywhere?

I had this idea that scorpion stings were highly toxic, but I googled it, and turns out they’re almost never a big deal. They’re just painful.

Still, though.