Friday, February 23, 2007

Earth Team

I teach about 25 high-school age kids 3 days a week in an afterschool program. It is an apprenticeship program that pays the students $10 an hour to come and learn about the environment. Or, rather, $10 an hour to build snowmen, watch "unconvenient truth " and, as the following video depicts, to go ice-skating.

The younglings are a lot of fun and a pleasure to work with.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

America rules

an effort to counter increasing anti-americanism in europe.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

atheists and amsterdam

According to the general public (who I hate), atheists cannot be trusted in office. They're less popular than 72-year-old Mormon homosexuals who've been married more than 3 times, allegedly.

Atheists don't stand for or believe in anything. And if they don't believe in God then they don't have morals. What's to stop them raping, murdering and torturing? Godless scum.

Coming from the UK, which is more secular than the US, I was immediately struck by the increased relgiousness of the people here, and often surprised by the hard time atheists got. It's the other way around in the UK. Something else I noticed here was how much you guys dislike the Dutch and the French. I know you guys think the French are pussies but I never understood why you hate the Dutch so much.

Someone please enlighten me.

Dying wishes

Oli and I have just been chatting and he's pointed out that:

"If I die...unexpectedly, I mean...I want you to, besides scatter my ashes on Brokeback Mountain, if I have unfinished videos, I want you to make sure they're finished. I mean maybe you could master the art of iMovie or Final Cut Express and finish them. That would be ideal. But if the funeral arrangements were just too much and the memories too painful for you to go through the footage, then, just have Ben do it."

Ben = Ben Milner

Monday, February 19, 2007

New baby

We received our new 15" Mac last Thursday and here's an example of the wacky things you can do with the built-in camera (I hope everyone understood that my use of "wacky" just then was strictly sarcastic).

I'm sure Oli will have more in the near future.

PS - The first weekly "Game Night" at Brian, Colin and Jay's place was excellent last night. Well done, all.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A major award

For those A Christmas Story fans, you'll know that when I say I received a major award at work today, I mean a lamp in the shape of a fish-net-stockinged leg.

But lamp or no lamp, I did get an award at work today: The WOW Award.

I was doing work as usual at my desk when at 2pm a mass of 6 people with balloons, bells, flashy pins, a certificate and a photographer walked in whispering to me, "We're here for Angela. Where is she?" I told them I was me and then everything went into slow motion, like when a crime takes place or you're in a car accident.

Bells started ringing, a gold star balloon was thrust into my hand, I was pinned and handed a flashing light-up UIC star that can clip onto things, like an iPod shuffle. "You've received a WOW Award!!!" Co-workers from throughout the building, about 20, popped out of doorways and crowded around my desk. It seemes that everyone was hanging around waiting for this crew of dementedly happy people to come get me, I mean, award me. The award crew read the things that our director of development and my boss had written to nominate me, I made a few witty comments and then we ate cake. A photographer took my picture and a group shot for the UIC News. One of the assistant deans even came in on her day off with her husband and two kids just to witness this spectacle and give me a box of incredible chocolates. I wish I had pictures of this bizarre but very pleasant hour.

Lesson learned: If you work hard, someone just might give you a balloon and take your picture every couple years.

(I really did enjoy my co-workers' show of appreciation but couldn't help making that last obvious joke.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lily's 1st birthday pics

Some pictures from Lily's 1st birthday.
Colin's got some, as does Cassie and Jay. Check 'em out!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Depressingly honest feeling splurge

Sorry it's been so long...

Basically, on my end, work has been in a most ridiculous state of affairs. I haven’t read anyone’s blog in over two weeks (Gasp!).

I’ve had a problem with being over extended at work for a while. This problem is infinitely exacerbated by the fact that due to space and money constraints, I sit at the dean’s office front desk. There isn’t money for a receptionist, so I do that on top of everything else I do. Everyone walking past thinks I must just be checking emails from my pimply boyfriend because they think I have time to talk for hours, answer every question again to them personally even though I have created a website with the answers to those questions and emailed the link to everyone who needs that information, and that I know where anyone in the building is at any point on any day. Anger and frustration.

On January 31 things compounded when one of our professors found out that a certain non-for-profit was going out of business and had several databases of information on tax increment finances in Chicago over the last couple decades. Some of this info could a) be quite valuable to her research and b) be quite damaging to a certain mayor we all love and adore. The non-for-profit would go out of business on Feb 1 and the info would probably fall out of public hands. Our college recruited the UIC Library and College of Education to help and we had a day to get a behemoth like the University of Illinois to cut and deliver a check so we could get and protect the goods in the most legal way possible. Despite fancy learning, professors and deans don't know how to buy things through the uni system (understandably, they are doing other things) and weren’t sure of how to keep this all legal, so I spent 9 hours making magic (a legal $7000 check) happen. That was good, but then yielded a week of follow-up work in addition to my regular work and the 3 wasted hours a day that I spend answering random questions that people ask simply because as they walk by my desk they think, “Hey, maybe Angela knows.” The problem is, I often do know, so they just keep asking. If I only had a door.

I'm glad we've managed to protect state data from the hands of politicians and shady organizations that might inherit it, but mate, I am tired. Work is killing me.

In addition to this drama, I keep getting larger and larger projects handed to me while still having to take care of everyday building things (like the heat in our building not working today and every one of 700 employees coming to my desk and asking "What's up?" because the email didn’t say enough.) I am desperately trying to put together the monthly college newsletter and a new PhD student guide, prepare for the monthly meetings I run, work with a graphic designer to redo the signage in the entire building, and fix the little problem UIC has of not properly keeping track of how much grant money they’ve been awarded in the last fiscal years…It doesn’t help that my college has lost major administrative big-wigs, shifted staff, and have a few employees who no one wants to give certain tasks to. Speaking of certain employees, if I have to listen to another negative comment about all the reasons why he can’t do his job well, I just don’t know what I’ll do. The reason I can’t do my job efficiently is because I’m doing his job, too, and he makes exactly twice what I make. Twice.

From the time I get here at 7am to when I leave at 4pm (I have an hour class in there somewhere), my mind is racing and I am operating on hyper drive. Trying to remember what I am working on, each thing every person asks me to find out as they go by, where I left off in my project before I was interrupted. I often am in the position of racing to complete or fix something before a donor or UofI administrator arrives because of the employee described above or because of other factors. While I am repeatedly complimented on my good work and told that I am appreciated, it can just be too much. Add in working on Oli’s immigration paperwork, keeping track of our immunizations, trying to figure out what our health insurance situation will be in Europe, writing thank-you notes, picking up prescriptions, going to class, doing my homework, receiving calls from my family, and I think you get the idea that my body, brain and soul are being fried on a daily basis.

Frankly, if one more person comes by my desk today and asks me something in a tone that says, “My getting this information is so much more important than anything else is to anyone else in this world, and I don’t care that you’re on the phone or hurriedly writing a memo or figuring out a student’s immigration paperwork,” well, I might just leave and go home and play with Lily and Oli.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what this is about.

I have a great boss who doesn’t want to see me overwhelmed, who I can vent these frustrations to and can work out real solutions with, but at the end of the day, even though I know our college does great work for its students and various communities throughout the city and world, I just don’t care as much about anything here as I do about everything at home.

I want to write thank-you notes to people who gave Lily birthday presents and write thoughtful messages in them and not see them as a chore. I like corresponding with people in a thoughtful way and I wish everyone from our wedding had received a thank-you but the fact of the matter is there wasn’t time for me to do it. I want to go to the grocery store with Lily and pick out healthy food and ask Oli’s mom and my dad how they make the things they make that are so delicious and good for Seeley bodies. Then I want to make those things, and even though they’ll probably suck the first time, I want to try again! Most importantly, I want to be a bigger part of Lily’s development. I only see her 2 hours a day on weekdays. That is ridiculous. What kind of world is this where parents only see their children 2 hours a day and that’s ok? How do single parents do it? How do the world’s working parents do it and not cry all the time from being sad and away from their babies? Even though I know I do well with Lily and we have a great bond, I feel like I don't have enough time to be a good mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc.

I am overwhelmed with the lack of time adulthood has brought with it. I’ve become worse than ever at taking care of myself and I’ve been eating terrible foods, foods that I would never have thought of having when I had first returned from Barcelona. But my body no longer craves the fruits, veg and whole grains it used to; now it wants doughnuts and Little Debbie peanut-butter bars. I feel extremely distant from my family. Even though they only live an hour away, there isn’t time on weekday evenings for us to visit because rush-hour traffic turns an hour drive into a two-hour one. On weekends, we’re all busy and can hardly coordinate a day to spend together, and when we do, we all just sit at home and find it difficult to connect, but at least they get to see Lily play. I love my family and I miss them and I want to be able to do things together outside of the home so they can actually get to know Lily, and we can actually feel like people who know each other, not just people related by blood.

Oli and I had a long conversation last night after Lily’s fantastic friend birthday party and today I had a good think on the train to work. I’m probably going to have to just get through work until July 27, but otherwise, I need to prioritize. Oli says I should focus only on eating and sleeping, but I think I have to add spending meaningful time with family to that list of extreme priorities. As far as friends go, I think that’s a highlight of life right now. Sunday mornings at Small Bar are great for us Seeleys and everyone has been so great about Lily’s b-day and in general, we just have a lovely group of friends who take care of each other. It will be hard to move away, but I think many are planning moves and other lives in the next few years and we should probably just enjoy this moment of togetherness while it lasts.

Anyway, beyond all that, I think I have a fun little project I’ve come up with that will help with the family thing. Perhaps I will have something to show y’all in a few weeks. Or maybe I will end up spending all my time on eating and sleeping and this little idea will get pushed to the wayside for a while. Either way, I’m sure you’ll know what’s happening in this brain and body of mine if you tune in here from time to time. In the meantime, know that I want to quit my job.

Friday, February 02, 2007


“Have a nice day,” the Starbucks lady told me as she handed me my peppermint hot chocolate.

“You too,” I said through a broad smile as I turned to leave and took a big first sip, scalding the interior of my mouth beyond recognition.