The Blurry Edges

It's 2am and I nurse the baby while staring at the glowing screen of my iPhone, doing research for a grant. I piece together a 15 hour work week in 15 minute chunks. It all works out, except when somebody won't go down for their regular nap, or wants to be held all night, or gets a fever.

Wednesdays, I drop Mark O off to "have lunch" with M, so I can meet with my reading buddy. He doesn't much like to read and pesters me to buy him candy from Ms. Princess, who sells it outside the cafeteria door. Is it good that I come? Will it make a difference? Push him towards success in school? Or maybe just bring a little happiness to his day? I don't know.

I pat myself on the back for making it to a last minute meeting. I park Laurel in the corner with her headphones and portable DVD player and tell them, "I have 47 minutes." Everyone laughs and coos at the baby. He comes everywhere with me, mostly asleep, but sometimes wide blue eyes open up to stare at the ceiling. I keep gummy bears in my pocket in case I need to bribe Laurel to do something quickly or quietly (she is, by nature, neither).

I do a lot of work for free. It's tedious, but crucial, to be the squeaky wheel. Phone call here, email there. Document everything. It's balance; you have to be mostly polite and friendly, with a carefully measured dose of bitchiness so they don't ignore you.

Learn to say no, and call people out on what they didn't do that they said they would. Pause 3 seconds after delivering that line, and then smile. A genuine smile, to disarm them and let them know that you aren't looking to get them in trouble. You just want a safe crosswalk for your kids. You just want to keep junkies off your porch. You are asking for something completely reasonable.

Hanging fliers and knocking on doors to rally neighbors for a zoning hearing is both altruistic and selfish....we got robbed 3 times in the first two years we lived here and it's a lot of work to keep the drug traffic to a minimum. We make a game of it, "I Spy the next phone pole..." and Laurel runs ahead, blonde ponytail swinging wildly from side to side. She greets our neighbors, hands them fliers, doesn't ask questions about the houses we skip on purpose.

Pumping in my house while the babysitter watches the kids downstairs feels weird, but helps me to separate the "work" from the "home," even as all the edges blur together.

I have this belief that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, at exactly the time I am supposed to be here. At 27 I was poised to land somewhere else with a fancier business card. I walked 2,000 miles instead. It would be nice, I sometimes think, to have been more career-minded. Maybe I'd have a better salary now, some tenure, a 401K. But these days I'm struck by how "enough" this feels. I have enough.  I am enough. This is enough.


Anonymous said...

You have set off on a career that is needed and necessary, which most of the rest of the world chooses to ignore. Carry on valiant daughter.

Anonymous said...

Sure are.


Anonymous said...

You are simply amazing Katy!
I feel exhausted just reading your blog sometimes. I don't know how you do it.
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