Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Yanks

When I have a sick boy and a girl with a broken hand at the same time, the temptation to call my boss and tell him I'm ready to be a stay at home mom/writer again is intense.  

Added to the maternal nurturing thing is the fact that the boy is behind in his math and I love math.  (Yes, you read that right.)  When the boy asked for help the other night I was in math heaven.  Right now he's working on trig.  Because my mind grasps math and creates fantasy, I introduce him to the concepts in a way that he finds appealing and we both find entertaining.  

These were guarded secrets, and some considered them magic, I tell him.  I think, in a way, they really are magic.  

Together we reveal the mysteries and use them to solve problems that matter, problems he can imagine having to solve in other contexts.  It's great fun.  Every twenty minutes to an hour he'd hit a stumbling point and come upstairs with his book and paper in hand and I'd start to grin.  Okay, yes, maybe it's wrong for me to enjoy his struggles, but then again, when he can't see a solution that's a learning opportunity.  He'll understand the material that much more deeply if we have to arrive at the Aha by a roundabout way.  And I think he secretly enjoys it when he doesn't get a problem too, because he knows I'll make finding the solution entertaining.

With the girl hurt I can teach her too.  She's plenty independent, too independent in some ways, and I can show her how to accept help without feeling weak or stupid.  She worries about being weak or stupid.  I can show her how to do things for herself, so she's accepting help (the teaching) without sacrificing independence (doing the work for herself.)  

And of course there's the writing.  After a long short story dry spell where I'd decided I'm too lousy at short stories to waste my and others' time with them, I'm back to working at short lengths.  I started on them again mainly as a way to keep from going crazy while editing. Too often  I let myself get distracted by writing a first draft on a new novel during those times when I'd rather scrub toilets than edit.  Also, I was intrigued by the Writers of the Future contest and wanted to play.  I'm constantly amazed how disruptive a part time retail schedule is to daily writing.  I write maybe an hour or two a day, as opposed to 4-8 hours a day, even on my days off.  That's just not good enough.  I want to be more productive than that, and still have time to eat and sleep.  (I can hear a familiar voice saying 'sleeping and eating is for the weak!  Heh.)  What's the holdup on my days off?  Catching up on chores, gardening, and spending time with my family, because I don't get to do those things, or do them in a very limited fashion, on work days.

Sometimes I feel guilty because I have the luxurious option of quitting my job if I really want to.  I believe that's kept me there longer than I otherwise would have stayed.  As everyone there knows, I've made no secret of the fact that I'm basically on my way to Australia (to quote from the brilliant "Support Your Local Sheriff.)  But like the character from the movie, I'm still in town, still working despite the fact that I signed on to be holiday help for the 2006-2007 season.  Like other retail jobs the turnover is high.  I've seen a lot of employees come and go, and I've gotten to know the long term employees pretty well.  It's definitely a great place to work, and I feel loyalty toward my coworkers and the business.  It's just that right now the tug to get back to my 'real' life  has turned into a series of hard yanks.

I doubt I'll make a decision any time soon, but if my boss has any senses beyond the traditional five, he'll definitely get the feeling that I might pack up and head off to Australia after all.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Lucky you.

In my pre-college school days math was the only subject I had to put any effort into, and it was also the only subject that I simply couldn't nail down. In college it was the only subject I put any real time into, and it was the only subject ever in which I earned an F (two, actually). I can do calculations without any trouble; in general (i.e. pre-calculus) physics I was always the first one finished with my exams, and I aced them all. Even now I tally up scores almost entirely in my head at work, faster than my invariably calculator-using coworkers and with rarely any errors.

But when the math gets abstract my cortex just shuts down. It's weird. It was so bad that I once went to the math department office at OSU to drop a math class, and I couldn't remember the math teacher's name or when the class was held. My brain just shut down on me the way it always did during the classes and tests. (The secretary had a good laugh at my expense, that's for sure!)

Must be a psychological thing. I guess I'll just have to stick with languages and music.

Carissa said...

I use to call myself a Math Atheist. I didn't believe in it. And so it took three (yes three!) tries at two different universities to pass basic level algebra. And then I went on with my math-free life happily.

And then I got into management in retail and learned the joy of working with numbers. I think it was because I was working with concrete rather than abstract numbers. I could physically count the money, tally the inventory, track our sales. Whatever the cause, I've been converted. I'm no long a math atheist. And I've been considering picking up a basic algebra book to see if I can figure it out, and then move up to geometry, which I failed at miserably in high school, and on to trig, which I took one look at and dropped the class fast.

Yes, I'm indeed a convert.

Kami said...

If you ever need any help with algebra or trig, I'm your gal!

The Moody Minstrel said...

Well, Carissa, I just picked up a really good-looking integrated algebra review book, one designed for adults in a sort of "Algebra for Dummies Who Didn't Get It the First Time" format. Let's see if I can be converted.