Tag Archives: friends

The Halloween costume I almost didn’t wear

We skipped celebrating Halloween last year. No, really- we were those people who hid in the bedroom with the lights out, and whenever the doorbell rang, I held my breath until I heard the footsteps fade away. I knew the kids couldn’t hear me breathing anyway, but somehow that abated my guilt.

This year, we resurrected the Halloween party we had two years ago, down to the same costumes. We also invited friends from different social circles (e.g. John’s entire department and my ex-colleagues) who ended up chatting and, I think, enjoying each other’s company. I still remember my friend Robyn praising our 2012 bash, saying she loved how we invited people from various parts of our lives who didn’t know each other, but who all got along. It’s damn hard to make friends when you’re an adult (or maybe it’s just me?) so I like opportunities to throw strangers into a room and see what happens.

We had a really great time, which always surprises me about parties. I don’t really like large gatherings and feel the need to take a nap after talking for more than 10 minutes, but good company and good food put me at ease. Seriously, friends went out of their way, bringing gorgeous caramel apples and chocolate cake and pizza and…the list goes on. I tried to refrain from turning into my alter ego, DJ ADD (if we were at a party together in college, you’ll remember my tendency to change songs after 30 seconds), and let Spotify do the work with a cheesy Halloween playlist. Not even mine. I’ve become lazier about parties, abandoning the obsessive cleaning beforehand (well, to an extent), and even buying a dessert instead of making one from scratch. No one complained.

I was also dreading the party a bit because of the costume factor, even though I love dressing up and putting on layers upon layers of eyeshadow. John and I were zombie Germans two years ago, and again laziness drove the decision to recycle those costumes. But my dirndl is now at least two sizes too small, a result of loosening my iron grip over food intake, not setting foot in a gym for 3 months, and, well, an affinity for dipping chocolate in peanut butter. When you have to pay outrageous prices for Reese’s in this country, you go to extreme measures for your fix.

I try not to let it get to me, because I hate the pressure on women to look and act a certain way and I try not to buy into all of that (anymore). But squeezed into that dirndl, I couldn’t help compare myself to those cumberland sausages I was serving. I was paranoid that buttons were going to pop off. I thought, how was I ever that small? Oddly enough, I didn’t feel small, then. That’s body dysmorphia for you.

Anyway, I put my faith in German craftsmanship and trusted that my top would stay buttoned, and luckily it did. I let insecurities slip into the background as I gave John some smokey eyes and teased my hair into oblivion, and welcomed friends into our teeny tiny apartment (seriously, it was a little like a clown car, but doable). As for next year, I think it’s time to retire the Gretel get-up and wear something that fits, and not feel bad about it.

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For lack of a better title: My new job

It’s officially my second week at [insert name of big university publishing company here]. Friends and family have asked me the usual questions – what do I do? Do I like it? And which part exactly of publishing do I touch?

I think I’m drawn to jobs that sound straightforward on paper, but are actually kind of complicated to explain. And yet I’ve come full circle, and find myself in a role much like the one I landed straight out of college – Admin. Assistant. It’s pretty different (in scope) compared to the first time I found myself in this type of job – much more document management and many more meetings to arrange around insanely-busy schedules, but the groundwork feels familiar and I really enjoy it. My (extreme) attention to detail is both a blessing and a curse, as I submerse myself in the why, how, and did-I-dot-all-my-i’s of my daily workload.

I’m happy to be part of an organization devoted to literature, research, and education, so I feel inspired to be a better admin. assistant this time around. And there’s much to learn; for instance, I’ve never worked on a PMO (programme management office, in this case) and feel challenged to wrap my head around MS Project workbooks and change management processes. As to the question of “which part” of publishing I do, I suppose the easy answer is people. Divisional infrastructure, risk management, and other business-y terms might be a better description, but the core of it is: look at how departments are currently doing things (hierarchy, IT and process support, etc.) and help them do things differently. Well, help my boss help those departments do things differently.

So, I get a high-level view of how things work here, and that’s pretty cool.

Other perks: cheap cappuccinos, a gym in the basement (did a ViPR class today, which was fun) and an in-house library. Not to mention a slightly shorter commute (by 5 minutes, I’m slow on my bike) and walking distance from John’s office. He likes the cappuccinos, too (and burger-bar Fridays).

This past weekend, I got together with my former co-workers, and hope to keep that going as my previous job increasingly becomes a distant memory. The people were (are) great, and Oxford is small, so I feel I can actually maintain those connections. What I won’t miss is the ride up Rose Hill (and possibly a few things I liked to grumble about on regular occasion to anyone who’d listen).

I should wrap this up because I have a deep conditioning treatment* dripping down my face and into my eyes (ouch), but as a last note on this subject, I feel like this is the most “career”-ish job I’ve had. Maybe it’s just a result of getting older, but it could also have something to do with aligning my love of literature and knowledge with how I pay my bills. It’s a nice feeling.

*Homemade science experiment: mix equal parts warmed coconut oil (one of the few oils that penetrates the hair cortex, rather than just coating it) with a moisturizing conditioner (conditions, duh) and add a small blob of raw honey (an effective humectant/emollient) and massage into your hair. Secure with clips/bobby pins. Leave in for a few hours (or until you get sick of it dripping down your face) and wash hair as normal. Shiny!