The Gift of Cash

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. Giving cash (or often, gift cards) shows you don’t care. You don’t feel like taking the time or trouble to pick out a “real” gift.

Let me tell you a thing.

Once, years ago, a friend had been trying to find something to give me for Christmas. I was in rough financial straits at the time. It seemed silly to give me something useless. I had bunches of books and movies already, and also he didn’t know what I might want. (This was in the days before Amazon wishlists. Or at least, before I had one.) I had just moved from a good-sized house to a tiny apartment, so I had no room for anything more than I had anyway.

Anyway, as the situation dragged into January and he got to feeling worse and worse about it, he finally handed me $50. He told me I couldn’t spend it on bills–I had to get something I wanted.

Friends, I went to a discount home store and bought myself some curtains. My little white box of a living room got curtains, and my new place became much more homelike. My daughter’s room got purple sheer curtains, and I got to stop worrying about how she never remembered to close the blinds before changing. My bedroom got bright red blackout curtains–so I had a pop of color AND some additional darkness for days I got to sleep in. I even bought a little curtain for the …

Continue reading

Standard Operating Procedure

I’m office manager at a school for children with autism. That title may be a little misleading, as I don’t really manage the office. I am the office. Just me, little old me, and the director, who couldn’t find a pen if it was in his pocket (it usually is, and it’s usually not his) and who generally has about seventeen things going at once, none of which in any way involves following those pesky ~rules~ set up by HR or Payroll or Accounts Payable.†

With any school, it’s important that no matter who is sick or absent or distracted, things keep going. When you’re talking about a school for kids on the spectrum, it becomes a bit more imperative. Breaks in routine are Not. Good.

So recently when the boss was telling someone how I’m awesome, that I’m office manager, receptionist, nurse, occasional janitor, sometime maintenance tech, and all the while somehow manage to keep him mostly in line so HR doesn’t come hunting him with torches, and that without me the whole school would fall down–I appreciated it, but I also decided it should not all depend on me. I’m human. I get sick. And sometimes I need a vacation. So I started collecting my checklists and notes on how things work into a Standard Operating Procedure Manual. Kind of like this except not so formal. So if I ever needed to, you know, not go to work, the entire school wouldn’t fall down while I lolled around …

Continue reading

Happy New Year! Or Something.

Due to a scheduling issue, Siri Paulson is busy being awesome elsewhere. So you get me again this week.

Are you sick of reading about resolutions yet? Have you blown yours already?

Come sit by me. Have some ice cream.

I understand, and I don’t, the thing about starting a new life in a new year. I’m optimist enough to believe we can change our lives with determination and courage. I’m cynic enough to think if I can’t do it any other day of the year, the 1st of January isn’t looking so great either.

So I make decisions. Proclamations. Plans. And I expect they turn out about as well for me as they do for many another, and we all sitting around thinking of the things we could have done if we’d just gotten around to them.

Yeah, me too.

Have some more ice cream.

So anyway. I’m trying something a little different. Because I love my phone and gladly submit to its technological dominion, I got an app. It’s called 7 Weeks, and the idea is to track the habit you want to build for seven weeks–that’s when it becomes a real habit, supposedly.

So far I’m only doing “write every day” and “watch the money.” And really, I have to decide what I mean by “watch the money” because if I’m just watching while I happily spend it all, that’s probably not going to be helpful.

Anyway. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve got my to-do lists, …

Continue reading