The Locker Room

I work with a group of frat house boys. Not literally, but certainly figuratively. Every conversation is speckled with expletives and raunchy stories of days gone by. There is an abundance of booze and drunkenness and unbelievably uncomfortable conversations in the evenings. There seem to be no boundaries when they are together. But, it is different for me. I am criticized for either being too engaged, or not engaged enough. It is perplexing.

I spent a few days out of town recently at a team meeting, and ended up sick, as happens when you have no immune system. I didn’t want to go out and play the last two nights and was criticized immensely for it. “Be a team player” “Your co-workers feel like you are distant” “The team dinners and off-time are critical to forge a bond that is needed in this job” and yet told “Be careful what you say” “Don’t get too personal with your co-workers” “keep your distance”. I don’t know what to do with this advice except laugh and call it a double standard, and little bit of bullshit.

This company is male abundant. Most technology companies are. This isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that this is one of the few times I feel a different set of rules apply because I am a woman and not a man. It makes me feel vulnerable and lacking control – something I have tried very much to avoid in my career.

Admittedly I do not currently have much of a filter when it comes to sharing. I tend to just be me. It is uncomfortable for some people, and I suppose I “get” that. But I do understand politics and business how to behave around customers.

What escapes me is a solution. I can get very good at what I do so that the other stuff doesn’t matter, grow some tougher skin, keep my mouth shut, or move on. Money is such a little whore though – and I really like having it so moving on isn’t all that appealing. That makes other fun options less intriguing (like becoming a writer or construction worker).


Sleepless Nights

I lie awake in bed, waiting for the cellophane haze of the Ambien to surround me. I notice that I am always tense; my shoulders, back, neck, hands. My attempts to relax are useless, as if my mind and body have no real connection. I remember a period of time when my brother and I were much, much younger and he was faced with sleeping issues. He would try tensing every muscle and then relaxing them each one by one, trying to teach his body to relax. I have tried this. I have tried meditation. I have tried baths, candlelight, exercise, chamomile tea, reading, television, sticking to a schedule, complete silence and darkness, wine, Benadryl, Trazadone, Tylenol PM, Unisom, ditching all caffeine. And yet, sleep eludes me.

The rare times I am able to fall asleep unaided by medical intervention, I am awake after only a few hours as if I have been asleep all night. This of course leads to three o’clock death march later that afternoon. I am constantly thinking about how to get more sleep. I Google insomnia and read about how it is all psychological, all the while wishing my head were screwed on right. The same advice is everywhere – follow a schedule, get up if you cannot sleep, try not to worry about things before bed, keep a journal, do not drink alcohol or caffeine, get exercise and eat well, stop worrying about not sleeping because it won’t kill you – unless it does.


Because I Told My Therapist I Would Write More...

I wish I knew then what I know now – knew the things I would encounter, the emotions I wouldn’t understand, the advice I would CRAVE. I wish I had queued up a million questions for my mother and forbade her to die until she answered every single last one of them. I wish I had listened to the stories of what I said when I was three, five, eight. I don’t remember those things…the ones that seemed insignificant to me – I was trying so desperately to grow up, not to relish each painful, demoralizing moment.

I see the other side of the coin now. My kids will ask a question, display a behavior, act out in some way, and it makes me pause. I wonder what that means in the grand scheme of their character. I wonder if it is learned, experimental, natural… Did I do that? Was I like that? Were my brother and I like that? How did our mom LET US LIVE PAST 5?

In the car today, after picking up the boys, we were inundated with non-stop noise from both Roark and Cole. They were not saying anything – just trying to get a moment’s notice – some validation that we missed them, cared about them, cared about one of them more than the other one…something. And they clearly were not getting what they wanted. It escalated quickly, causing me to go crazy for 5 minutes of silence which was never to be experienced. It was almost as if they were feeding off of the frenzy of mind-madness I had brought home from work with me. They saw a weakness and went for it. The torture implement was their non-stop noise and poking at each other. All through dinner, all through errands, all the way to an hour early bedtime because I may have killed them if they were awake for one more minute.

I sit here now thinking about what happened… about the testing and trying that the boys put us through and I wonder where I will ever get a leg up. At what point do they decide it isn’t fun to mess with parents anymore? At this point, it is 9:30pm and I am just diving back into hours of work, and by now, I have no patience to think clearly through anything. I just want to veg, go to sleep and not dread tomorrow.


They Just Don't Care

I find myself annoyed with the boys more than I think I should be. They fight, they test me, they complain constantly, they know no other volume than AS LOUD AS THEY CAN TALK/YELL. I don't know if it is that they are five, that there are two of them, that they are boys, a combination of those, or if it's me. God, don't let it be me...

Spend an hour in my home and you will definitely hear one (or all) of the following):
  • Take that back in the kitchen
  • Cole, CUT THAT OUT
  • Roark, we don't use bathroom words when talking about people
  • Quit kicking your brother
  • Don't tell me NO!
  • Go to your room.
  • I will NOT ask you again.
  • Use your inside voice please.
  • If you don't use your inside voice, I will put you outside.
  • No - You cannot go outside.
  • Dude, stop yelling. I am right here.
  • What did you JUST SAY????
  • Leave that alone.
  • Put that back.
  • That is not yours.
  • Go to the bathroom before you wet yourself. Good grief!
I have a sticker system (bribery) that I use when they are respectful and kind all day. They are not getting very many stickers lately. They also don't appear to care. I am beginning to think that five year old boys have a type of dementia that renders them unable to associate behavior with punishment/rewards. They also seem unable to remember ANYTHING I tell them for any length of time. Or...they just don't give a damn. How do I make them give a damn?