Thursday, October 30, 2014

A housekeeper, again

"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" - what Sterling would say if he could talk.
After a nine-month hiatus, I went ahead and re-hired a housekeeper. It's a woman this time, not a man like we had for a few years. She came for the first time yesterday, and all at once I am so, so grateful to have somebody else clean the whole house at once, but also reminded of the reasons why I don't like having a housekeeper.

In February, after I graduated, I went back to cleaning my own dang house, with the girls' help, of course. But since I've gone back to work, and since Sterling is in that lovely stage of development where all the cabinets must be emptied at all times, shelves must have their contents in a constant state of disarray, and anything tidy and in order must be knocked down until no stone is left upon another, I was overwhelmed with housework. Overwhelmed. It never ended, and at times I felt like there was an endless sea of cleaning stretched out in front of me with no hope of relief, not even from podcasts.

So I hired an assistant. She'll come once a week and clean the whole house. I almost weep with joy when I think of someone else taking out alllll the trash cans in the whole house, and all the bathrooms being clean at once. And the floors, the FLOORS, the bane of my existence. I have a testimony of tile, but dear goodness do grand expanses of it take a toll on me, vacuum-and-mopping-wise.

And yes, I'm thrilled, but now I'm back to feeling awkward at having someone else in my house while I try to get out the door to work. I also have high standards when it comes to cleaning - if you are going to clean something, clean it well, am I right? Just ask my poor daughters - and there are a few areas I hope to have the courage to talk about with the new housekeeper. Sloppy cleaning work is like nails on a chalkboard for me, truly.

I hope this blog post doesn't make me sound like a horrible person. But the way I see it, she's my employee. If I were paying her to file documents or write reports or teach a class and I found her work substandard, for sure I would talk to her about it and ask for her best work.

I seem to be hot and cold on this issue. I felt so relieved when I stopped a housekeeping service back in February, but life circumstances change, and now I feel so relieved to have somebody to help me. We'll see how long it lasts this time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My week in media

Here's how I mark the passing of the days in media consumption.

Sunday: WWDTM; The Amazing Race.

Monday: Downton Abbey (aka my favorite day of the week).

Tuesday: This American Life.

Wednesday: Catch up on Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class, plus other miscellaneous podcasts like Freakonomics or Radiolab.

Thursday: More catch up and also wish that the new episode of Serial would just be available already (dang time zone difference means that new episodes don't show up until overnight for me).

Friday: Serial. WHY can't I leave this show alone and let a few episodes build up so I can binge-listen?

Saturday: Movie BS with Bayer and Snider and How to Do Everything, unless it's not up yet, which it often isn't.

How do you distinguish one day from another in media consumption?

Monday, October 27, 2014

My first Good Old Days

Before I tell you about my weekend, let me emphasize that during most of our year in Syria, church every Friday was our only exposure to English speakers. And during most of our year in Syria, there were only four people at church besides Jeremy and me. Two of those four people were also in Jeremy's classes at the University of Damascus. It was a perfect storm of getting to know those two people (and a third who was in the class but not at church - hi, Hannah!) really, really well.

That was ten years ago. And last weekend, we got to go visit one of those friends in Abu Dhabi, since that's where he just moved. It was the first time in my life that I sat down and talked about the Good Old Days. I didn't even know I had Good Old Days. But apparently I do, and they were in Syria, and they were with these people who I got to know so well there.

I've been thinking about it since this weekend, and I think there are several essential elements to Good Old Days.

Awesome adventures
Awesome people
Closer proximity and/or constantly in each other's company
Clear-cut start and end to all of the above;

followed by

a distillation/separation period of, apparently, 10ish years.

But one thing is still missing, otherwise I have a few Good Old Days - my time as a student in Japan, and my freshman and sophomore years at the BYU. And that is:

Sitting around as grown-ups talking about it all.

A litmus test to determine if something is really Good Old Days is whether any and all discussion about it is borderline annoying/boring to people (such as spouses and kids) who weren't there during the Good Old Days themselves.

Our time in Syria with Sterling (and Steve and Hannah) meets all these conditions. I think this means I have my first Good Old Days!

Big Sterling meets Little Sterling

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24th, outsourced

An A to Z of Noah Webster's finest forgotten words. [HT Kaylee]

When a woman conceals the first trimester of pregnancy, who is she trying to protect? I have Feelings about this one. I don't disagree with anything the author says in her article, but personally, I don't like being pregnant and I don't like it being anyone's business but mine for as long as possible.

This Last Week Tonight video has the usual sprinklings of profanity (f-bombs are bleeped; s-bombs are not), but I think it's worth a watch (if you can't bear it, there was a (IIRC) profanity-free This American Life episode about the same issue a few years ago: this one). Oh, the issue is native battlefield interpreters in Iraq and Afghanistan risking their lives to help US troops, and then being denied entry to the US even when their lives are threatened for their trouble.

I hope to re-read this article about fathers' relationships with their daughters during their growing-up years. It has a lot to think about and discuss.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kidnapped by North Korea?

I meant to post this months ago: here is the best article I've read to date about David Sneddon, a former co-worker of mine who went missing in China in 2004. It's a long article, and you might start out thinking you won't possible read the whole thing, but you will. Because it's a heartbreaking and haunting story, and the outlandish theory it presents - that David ended up being kidnapped by North Korean agents - is one I happen to believe in. At the very least, I don't believe that his disappearance is as cut-and-dried as Chinese (and occasionally US) authorities have made it out to be.

Every time I hear about an American being detained in North Korea - Kenneth Bae, Matthew Miller, Merrill Newman, Jeffrey Fowle - I think of David. I saw the news last night that Jeffrey Fowle has been released. The headline said only that a "detained American" had been set free, and for a moment, before I clicked through, I thought it could be David. It wasn't. Not this time, at least.

David's family continues to make efforts to find out anything they can about his disappearance in China. Today, they were able to secure the support of the entire Utah congressional delegation in petitioning Secretary of State John Kerry to further the investigation into David's case.

I am heartened by this development and I hope it leads to more developments, and more answers. David, his family, and his friends deserve it.


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