Changing the rules

In everyone’s life there are periods of lesser and greater stasis. For example, when you are a parent to an infant, nothing stays the same and nothing can be relied upon. The minute you’ve figured out how somethings works and what you’re supposed to be doing, it changes. On the other hand, I just went through a period where things were chaotic within well expected and known bounds. Lots of activity, but little change. I knew what I needed to do, even if I didn’t have enough time to do it all.

Then I switched jobs.

It’s funny, but so far it’s not the job that has me on my toes, it’s the commute. The bad news is that the commute is rather worse than I was hoping for. For those of you in the area, I’m trying to get from Stoneham to just south of the Children’s Museum in South Boston. The best option I’ve found so far is the 354 Express bus. It stops less than a mile from my house, and then goes directly in to State Street. From State Street it’s a mile’s walk through the city to my office. (Almost exactly. The horizontal distance is 9/10 of a mile, and then I climb five flights of stairs.) Walking, it takes me 15 – 20 minutes depending on how I catch the lights. Optimally, this would be a 40 minute commute. However, when the traffic is bad (which it often is, in my narrow survey), it can take me more than 80 minutes to get in to work. Driving, I get caught in the same traffic (although I don’t have the 20 minute walk), with the added disadvantage of not being able to take the carpool lane. The T was my first plan, but here would be all the steps in that: 1) Drive to Malden station (15 min?) 2) Park at parking lot 3) Walk from parking lot to T (5 mins), 4) Take Orange Line to Downtown Crossing? (China Town, NE Medical Center?) 5) Walk from there (.5 of a mile?). That’s a very multi stage commute, and also rather expensive, paying for parking and a T pass.

So, hrm. The good part is that when I spend 40 minutes on the bus, I get to do a lot of reading. It’s also a good napping environment (based on my comrades in bus), because there are no stops. I get off when the bus stops, along with almost everyone else. The bad thing about a bus commute is you live in constant fear of being late. That and the straight up time it takes.

With the actual job bit, I’m still in the “reading documentation” phase. I thought I’d gotten through most of the extant documentation in the company, but someone just showed me the repository where all the previous documents created by my group are kept, so I now have plenty to keep me busy. In my early analysis, however, everything seems like it should work out nicely!

Kindergarten is a bit like starting a new job, with the context switching. You are presented with new problems that your baby days had not prepared you for. For example, my son came home with a pledge form for the “Jumprope for the heart” fundraiser. I actually remember this one from MY days in grade school, back when I rode a brontosaurus to school every morning (uphill both ways barefoot!). They’ve watered it down. When I was a kid, people pledged per jump. So $.02 a jump, and then you jumped as many times as you could and ended up collecting $1.20 before you gave up. There’s no such incentive for hard work in this one, it’s just a straight “Give us money form” (now with convenient web links!). So what do I do? Do we personally just sign up for the t-shirt level? Do I offer this tremendous opportunity to the suckers, uh, I mean, grandparents of said children? Aunts and uncles? Blogosphere? What is the etiquette here… the cross between being a good PTO parent, a good citizen, and not completely obnoxious?

I still haven’t figured this one out, but would be curious what you think.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

4 thoughts on “Changing the rules”

  1. Ah, Jumprope for the Heart. I don’t think I (read: my folks) ever got anyone to sign up for that one when I was a kidlet, and I’ve only gotten more crotchety about that sort of thing in my old age. Hmm. If Jack were old enough, this might be a good opportunity to have a discussion with him on how we choose our charities in our house: never via door solicitations and only A) on our time and B) after extensive research of the charities in question. And then help him choose the charity he wanted to give to and go in and jump the rope with an empty sign up sheet without shame? I dunno, something stubborn and counterculture while at the same time working to build the sense of both community service and personal responsibility for helping society.


  2. maybe I should just set up a drawing acct. and save myself the trouble. With 3 of the boys this trend has a few years to run. But they are sooooo worth it.


    1. We’re really constrained by school. Grey can’t be dropped off earlier than 8 am, and must be picked up by 6 pm. So it has to fit in that 10 hour window. Bleh.


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