a little bit more about me

My name is Beth and I accidentally have found myself living in Arizona but I'm originally from Tennessee. My education is in history and anthropology, which means that I know a little about a lot of things and can hold my own at a cocktail party in mixed company. I work in museums, doing all sorts of things ranging from researching and writing exhibits to cataloguing absolute wickety wak. I love comedy, baking, photography, my daughter, dogs, and above all else, napping.*

* 2013 edit: Oh yeah, and my new son too.

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    Entries in blogging (6)

    Friday
    Sep052014

    Good friends are hard to find

    Yesterday I was lamenting about the difficulty of making new friends at work (among other things). Here's a perfect example. I have a coworker who I've often thought should be friends with me. So I followed what I think to be normal make-a-friend protocol: I introduced myself first, I have since chatted with her from time to time, sometimes at great length, I've IM'd her, and discovered tons that we have in common. We're both from the South, she used to work in the same field as My Better Half and so we know some of the same companies and people, she loves all things food, and she has a kid just a hair younger than my oldest. So over time I've tried to transition our workquaitance into more of a friendship and...it's gone absolutely nowhere. I've stopped by and asked her out to coffee: no, thanks. I've invited her to things that I get invited to with other moms: no, thanks. I've asked if she wants to check out the farmer's market or go to this photography exhibit sometime or: no, no, no. Always no. So I basically gave up.

    Today I stumbled on her blog. And I can't decide if I feel even MORE rejected because I'm seeing how much we really do have in common (likes: coffee breaks, walks, babies, photography, baking, and cocktails) that's making me seethe with rage at her successful blog, or if it's just her smug-ass tone. The whole thing reeks of "look at me and my cute little family effortlessly identifying and then seamlessly achieving all our life goals one by one!" tone. It's really hard for me to relate to, either because of the current uncertainties that underpin our lives at this moment or because I live over here. IN THE REAL WORLD where life can be HARD and can't be photoshopped to perfection. And/or because I'm bitter as all hell that someone else seems to have achieved my perfect blend of working as a writer and still having the time + energy + spousal support to devote to one's own personal creative outlets. 

    So I needed a gut check and sent the blog to my BFF without commentary.

    Her: huh. So why *aren't* you friends with her?

    Me: I dunno, ask her. I've made an effort for a year now, and gotten shut down every time.

    Her, five minutes later: I dunno, she seems a little...smug?

    Me: YES! THANK YOU! I wasn't sure if it was just that I'm having a hard time relating to her perfect little life or seething with jealousy and/or bitter?

    Her: Well, then file me under: bitter as sh*t too.

    And that's why we're BFFs. 

    Monday
    Dec022013

    Gee, Almost a Year

    It's been almost 11 months to the day since I last posted here. Here are the posts you would have gotten had I not been too lazy to compose my half-formed thoughts into intelligible rants & raves:

    • R Babies Us? R They really?

    In other words: I have had nothing to say for awhile. 2013 has been a roller coaster ride. We lost our dog to cancer, we took an extremely rare vacation (where vacation is defined as a trip of your own choosing - as in not for a wedding, funeral, or birth -  that is used for something other than to fulfill family visit obligations), our daughter turned 2, we had a baby boy in September, we saw an actual movie in the theater (GASP!), and we are knee deep in academic job search hell. In other words: business as usual!

    Friday
    Sep212012

    Where Have I Been?

    I don't know. I haven't actually *been* anywhere. Didn't go away since May for the summer. Or anywhere, really. I've just been working sitting at a desk in my cubicle. And getting sick. Repeat.

    I've been on 6 antibiotics since the spring, but I'm still fighting a chronic awful sinus infection (and periodic bouts of strep throat) that make me feel lousy. Just not lousy enough to stay home, but lousy enough to not be able to keep up with all my normal routines. Between working full-time sitting in a cubicle 40 hours a week and being sick full-time and taking care of Baby, who is now a toddler by the way, I haven't had time to do anything else, like post here or watch an entire season of Breaking Bad. (Which, thanks to the immediacy of our web culture, has already been ruined thanks to the presumption that if you own a DVR, you must not use it because it's fair game to discuss it freely and openly within 24 hours of its original airing). So while you can talk to me about Breaking Bad, what you cannot do is stop by unannounced and ask to come in to my house. I will cockblock you at the door and get rid of you as quickly (and politely) as possible so you cannot peer past me to even so much as glimpse the absolute wreck within.*

    *This is not to say that My Better Half™ has not been keeping up way more than his fair share of things at home. He has been, as always, a tremendous support in all the cooking, cleaning, diapering, feeding, and everything else that goes into being an all-around awesome partner. But still. He's only one person.

    While I haven't been anywhere, my mind has been wandering. I've been thinking more and more about finding another job until I can figure out a way to work for myself. But the thought, which used to be a polite little occasional rap on the door, has become a deafening roar. It's like there's a mob armed with pitchforks ready to break down the door and storm the castle. I can accept that I have to work full-time to provide for Baby (and support My Better Half™ while he finishes grad school). But if I have to be in a cubicle 40 hours a week, I'd much rather be doing something that keeps me busy, at a minimum (though it would be nice if it also kept me interested). I got offered this job when I was laid off and knocked up. I accepted the job because it seemed like a good fit - it made use of my existing skills, it was at a university where I figured I'd be around bright people, and it seemed like a place where I could learn a few things. It's hard to learn anything when, after a year and a half, I've had 2 short-term projects. And I am around bright people - my boss remains the best boss I've ever had...but she's no longer my boss, and she's leaving soon. And I've realized that what I love about being in a university setting is the students, and I don't work with them at all. As far as I can tell, my job seems largely to consist of showing up 40 hours a week to be available in the event that someone needs something that only takes me a couple minutes to do. So I read blogs. And this morning, I read this post by (Not) Maud, in which she writes that she used to keep herself busy at work by reading blogs because she had nothing else to do. This part really sums up what I think is at the heart of my dissatisfaction with work:

    "I'm not the only overeducated underused employee that ever existed, so I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who ever did this. I'm not the only person with a degree in English to find herself sitting behind the receptionist's desk or waiting for someone else to schedule a meeting so that she could update a handbook that nobody would read anyway. On a global-economy scale, that's a lot of unharnessed energy."

    Damn straight. I have a ton of unharnessed energy, and I am more than ready to harness it and put it to work for myself. Not only will that be much more satisfying to me, but I also would be able to spend more time on the things that matter to me - Baby, My Better Half™, and napping, for starters. Bonus: If I worked for myself, I think I would be better equipped to carve out the time I need to get a few weeks rest because this nickel & diming my time off to rest isn't helping me get over months of being sick. I've made a plan and I'm going to keep myself accountable to it.

    Friday
    Apr272012

    long time, no write

    It's been forever since I was here. 

    26 days to be exact. 

    In part because I have been alternating between sick and swamped at work, leaving me neither the time nor the energy to sit down in front of a computer at home. But mostly because in the moments I did find the time to write, I found I didn't have anything to say. I was spent. You can't force inspiration. It just doesn't work that way. You can't sit down, put on your inspiration cap, and tell yourself "Time to write....now what are we going to say today?" Nothing worth writing or reading comes of that. 

    But it's also a balancing act, because there's the pitfall of falling into thinking that because what I have to say isn't brilliant or perfect, I have nothing worth saying at all. 

    There's all kinds of advice out there about how to break through writer's block, but, for me, there is no surefire cure, other than carving out some time and space away from the computer, but only while giving myself the permission to take a break, so that I'm coming back to something I enjoy, and not trying to escape something that's become a burden.

    Saturday
    Mar172012

    FAM Turns 6!

    Today is the 6th birthday of my little blog. I can't believe it's actually been six years. Sure, it came off the tracks a lot during those six years. When Funky-Ass Monkey wasn't online, it was because I was grappling with being overworked, an all-time low of energy thanks to Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, and all manner of other things. Things like blog identity crisis. All I blogged about early on was how much life in PHX sucked. Well, that, and how museum work is was awful. Things that are still part of my life experience, but not what I wanted my blog to be centered around. So when I brought it back in 2012, I carefully curated and removed posts - not because I'm ashamed of them, but because I've learned a lot about what I want my blog to be and where my boundaries lie in terms of what I'm willing to share.

    But the most challenging obstacle that prompted me to stop blogging and simultaneously regret that I'd stopped blogging was crushing, debilitating doubt in my writing abilities, an ever-present hypercritical voice inside my head that said that I should quit. Because I didn't have anything good to say. Because I wasn't funny enough, distinctive enough. Because I wasn't good enough. And then beating myself up because 1) I wasn't good enough to "be" a blogger and 2) quitting my blog made me a quitter, because I was abandoning my dream of being a writer.

    What I didn't know then that I know now is that the best therapy for me was that I should write. Because it's how I unravel my thoughts. It's how I get what's in my head out of my own way so I can move on. And it's how I can move past being hypercritical and way too hard on myself. In fact, blogging in particular helps me to see that my writing doesn't have to be perfect before I hit "publish." That I can be okay with letting my writing go and not constantly tweaking and reworking, revisiting my drafts over and over again, only to find new things that need to be "fixed" each and every time. It's one thing to constantly strive to improve. It's another to never move forward because you are your own worst critic. I finally decided enough is enough. I could either keep revising and revising in pursuit of elusive perfection...or I could just start to accept my writing for what it is and let good enough go. What I found is that publishing my posts, even or perhaps especially those that weren't perfect, is the very act that let me carve out the space to find new inspiration. Staring at a draft over and over with a hypercritical eye didn't help me get any better. Actually writing and hitting publish is what will help me hone my craft and improve. But another important reason I've returned to blogging is: It's what I like to do. It took a long time for me to realize that simply enjoying blogging is reason enough to do it. So I made it my New Year's resolution this year to blog every day so that I wouldn't forget to make time for myself and something so small that brings me a lot of pleasure. And while I haven't quite achieved a post a day, I am proud of all the days that I have managed to post. And I feel my creative mojo trickling back little by little.