Thursday, January 12, 2006

Working Class

There are aspects of being back in an office everyday that I had forgotten. Like the strange habits of women in these types of settings.

The office where I have been working for the past six weeks is all female. It takes up an entire floor, and the bathrooms are inside the office suite. At one point, there were men there, but they have since moved on, so the men's room is generally useless. Despite the fact that no men are there, only one woman actually goes in there. I went in, but just couldn't bring myself to use it.

The women's restroom is on the opposite side from where all of the offices are. It has two stalls, which makes things very awkward when any one of the six of us are in there. You do not want anyone else to come in. If someone else is already in there, one of us immediately leaves or finds a way to keep busy in order to avoid eye contact. It is unspoken, but generally understood that only one person should be in there at a time. If two people are there, the overlap is very temporary.

I don't think there are any consequences for violating this unspoken rule. But who wants to risk finding out if there are?

Another weird thing is that no one really eats together. The office is so small, and everyone is seemingly on her own work schedule, so lunch is a very individual thing. I have tried to get a feel for the lunch patterns, but I have concluded that it is a solitary thing.

And since no one eats together, the office tends to be very quiet. All of the time. Really quiet.

And women in offices tend to be very weird. In larger offices, there are alliances and cliques, but in a small office, there can only be duets or trios. So far, I am part of a duet. And since the office is so very quiet, she is probably the only person I talk to about anything other than work. She said that she was pretty lonely before I arrived, so that makes me feel pretty good.

I've made a friend. We visit about once every two hours in each others' offices. I look forward to those visits.

I have a dot-org email address again, although I found out about it by accident. Apparently I've had it since my second day. And I have DSL, which means that I can surf the Internet, answer emails, draft documents, and talk on the phone all at the same time. I have a direct phone line, and I probably have voicemail, but I haven't figured out how to use that yet.

Today, I found out that the building where the office is located shuts down at 5:00 and that you need a special key card to simply ride the elevator after that point. Of course, the office does not shut down at 5:00. In an office full of women lawyers, the office never technically shuts down.

I have yet to find the cheapest place for lunch, although I have found one of the best. It is a cafe a block and a half down, but they run out of food by 1:30. The coffee at the sushi place is decent, although there is a Starbucks right across the street. There is a Subway next door, along with a greasy spoon where I can satisfy my cravings for fried food as necessary. There is an open park where I might eat lunch outside one day.

I'm signing off now. I've got to get up early tomorrow...and it is past my bedtime.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

I have co-workers again, and it feels wonderful. Even though it is a temporary thing, it has brought me back to life in a way. I'm happy!

And in the midst of my usual January blues, that is a BIG DEAL!!!

This warm fuzzy glow got started when I received a Christmas gift from one of the women in the office. I was touched, because she had just met me three days earlier. I almost cried! I was so moved that I got up early the next morning (by 6am, which is totally out of character for me) and I baked cookies. I haven't baked in years.

Then for the first time in three years, I actually attended an office Christmas party. I enjoyed every minute of that as well. I don't even remember what I ordered, but whatever it was, it was delish.

I have conversations with people nowadays. And these conversations are about important stuff. And other people actually share my outrage about varying topics.

I am no longer an island.

Money means more when you start earning it again. I ate out for lunch the first few days because I had my own money to spend, and it felt good (now I am back to being frugal so I bring my lunch). I actually had enough money this Christmas to buy presents, and that feeling was better than any present I could have received.

I started back to wearing perfume. I've had unused bottles on my dresser, so now I spritz a little on every morning. I've been wearing makeup again. I did that anyway when I was teaching, but now I make an effort to put on a face every day now. On the clothes, well, I am working on that. I don't want to dress up everyday, but I have been pulling some outfits out from the back of the closet.

I don't really miss the routine I had developed while working from home. I do miss my show, "As Time Goes By," but now that I have seen every episode three times, it was probably time that I moved onto something else. I had already gone through other TV phases--court shows, talk shows, makeover shows, soaps, and then the Brit-coms. Cable added a little more variety, but I would have tired of "Law and Order" reruns.

I can't explain it. This feeling is overwhelming. I am just as busy and over-scheduled as ever, but I am enjoying it. Maybe I just needed the right combination of activities in my life.