Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Why you oughta Watch Out

So my office buddy saw the title of this blog and asked about it. And I realize I haven't ever explained it, even to my co-bloggers. So here is the story.

For some reason I end up doing most of the minor household repairs. For example, last weekend I took the back off the washing machine to see if the pump was cracked. (It wasn't; the pipe was blocked. I fixed it with Drano, which means all the work taking off the back was totally pointless.) Anyway a couple of years ago I fixed the track for a sliding closet door in our old house. My husband acted impressed. I revved my Makita and quipped, "Watch out for Mama with the power drill!"

So maybe there's some subtext there about gender roles and stuff. Whatever. I like the power drill.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

55 Pages of Style

University editorial style, that is.

Working for a start-up research university, I see a lot of firsts. My wonderful husband is the first student admitted to UC Merced. We are the first UC campus pursuing a designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. We're finishing the hiring of the first 60 professors and getting ready to admit the first 1000 undergrads for this fall. In short, it's awe-inspiring to be here at the start of what will surely become a great institution. I say that without irony--everybody is working so hard and feeling so aware of the desperate need for a serious institution of higher education in this area. We are truly a campus with an unprecedented mission.

For the last several months I've been working on a first that's a bit tedious but still cool, if only for the sheer power of it. The University Style Guide. I'm the author of the first edition! I know ... only a true editorial nerd would find this cool. But think about this: Faculty, staff and students for the next several years will be using my document (55 pages, first draft completed today) to guide their communications. I have a say in how we speak about powerful entities and people, how we refer to the near-sacred mechanisms of higher education, and most interesting of all, how we speak about sensitive issues like disabilities, race, sexual preference ... even reproduction and adoption.

I wonder if we are going to be the only university with an adoption section in its style guide? Cool. See what a power trip it is, being an editor at a time like this? Seriously, it is awesome to have a chance to voice some beliefs that are important to me because of my family situation as a transracial-adoptive mom. It's great to be able to lay down some thoughts about speaking and writing in a sensitive way, and have some confidence that those thoughts will be read and considered, maybe even adhered to, by a community of people in the future. (I wonder if this is a little taste of what it feels like to write scripture?)

I'm aware of the problems with becoming the word police. Especially in the "Sensitivities" section, I've tried to state these as the main rules:

Don't bring up information that's not relevant to your discussion (like mentioning a person's sex or race when it's not important to their job).

Ask the people you're writing about how they prefer to be referred to.

It's been interesting for me to write some things I'm not sure I agree with 100%. One suggestion is not to refer to "the gay lifestyle, because there is no one gay lifestyle." I believe there is a difference between gay and lesbian people who are sexually active with members of the same sex, and gay and lesbian people who by their own choice are not. And I believe that's a lifestyle difference, in fact I think it's the lifestyle difference I think most social conservatives are referring to when they say "gay lifestyle."

But that definition isn't accepted by most gay and lesbian people or by social liberals. And as a general principle I do believe in people's right to define the language used to speak about them. So that suggestion stands in my style guide. I want respect for my self-definition and my definition for my family. So of course I have to give it to others.

I have a meeting with some colleagues tomorrow to discuss my draft. I know it won't really end up as UC Merced Style According to Ana. It shouldn't. Just let me bask in the power trip while I can.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Another food post

I am too mentally tired out to do a deep-thinking post, so let's go to my happy place. Food. Oh, food. I made the best dinner last night. Here it is.

Cider-glazed salmon
4 small or 2 large salmon steaks, washed, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 c apple cider
1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard
1 tsp dry ginger
2 tbsp brown sugar (I used Sucanat, an organic sugar I've been experimenting with. It has a nice molasses flavor.)
Cooking spray

Spray large skillet and heat to medium-high. Set salmon in pan to brown.
Meantime, whisk together remaining ingredients in small bowl to create your glaze.
Turn salmon. Pour glaze over the top.
Cook, covered, until salmon is firm. Remove and plate.
Deglaze pan with more cider--maybe 1/3 c. Reduce to a scant 1/4 c. Drizzle over salmon on plates.

capellini with gorgonzola and baby peas
Cook a package of capellini to al dente. Toss WHILE WARM with crumbled gorgonzola, 1 tbsp olive oil, baby peas, and salt and pepper.

roasted root vegetables
Peel and dice 2 turnips and a bunch of beets. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, and rosemary. (I used dry but fresh would be better). Spread in single layer in pan and bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until soft.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I love my job. I mean I really love it.

I can't think of a more fun or exciting place to work. There is always, and I mean always, something going on.

This week I did press releases on a major astronomical discovery and a book publication. Brainstormed taglines for the university's opening year. Wrote a chapter in the style guide (I'm going to write another as soon as I finish this post). Had lunch with a reporter (Thai, YUM) and pitched a story idea about the first student clubs on our campus.

My job is--in short, bad English--WAY fun! My kids are happy, things are peaceful and good. In many ways I think we are ALL better off than we were when I was a mom at home.

It makes me a little sad to think that in a few years when DH is done with his Ph.D. and maybe a postdoc here, I will be giving it up and moving. But I know I will. It's kind of weird that I don't even question that. And I know it's largely because it's his job, not mine, to work to support our family. It's really kind of nice to know that we won't have conflict over that. Otherwise it would be easy for me to start to resent being uprooted to follow him.

But by that time we will probably (I hope) have two more little ones in our family. And it will be wonderful if I can spend some time as a stay-at-home mom for them like I did with Sam and Abe. And maybe next time around I will actually be good at it and enjoy it like I enjoy my non-mommy job.

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Do you have a side gig?

I am starting to think I have too many. Besides being a university communications person and a mom (two main gigs) I am a freelance writer, a funeral singer and a youth leader. Today between 6:50 when I woke up and 7:50 when I left the house I had to search for a freelance check, call the funeral home director and gather supplies for Mutual tonight. Not to mention feeding, dressing and medicating myself and two children.

Pant, pant ...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I cooked something yummy

I was so proud of myself. I got home at 5:45 the other night and by 6:15 I had a beautiful, gourmet-looking, faux-Thai dinner on the table, invented out of my own brain. Here's what I did.

Chicken with Peanut Sauce over Flat Noodles

Thaw in microwave:
1/2 lb chicken breast tenders

Bring water to boil to cook:
1 pkg egg noodles (that's the part that is really not authentic Thai but it's what I had around!)

Use fabulous new chef's knife (which I got from my mother-in-law for Christmas) on:
4 green onions, white and green parts, cut in matchsticks
1 small bell pepper, diced
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c frozen petite peas

Whisk together: 1/4 c crunchy peanut butter (I use a natural kind with no added sugar; I think it's better)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 small spicy pepper, such as serrano, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced, or 1 tsp dried ginger

Dice chicken and marinate with:
1 tbsp lemon juice
sprinkle of salt

Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in skillet or wok on high heat. Stir fry chicken until no pink parts remain. Add green pepper; stir and cook 30 seconds. Add other veggies and peanut sauce. Heat through; veggies should all be tender-crisp. Serve over noodles.

My kids did not like the chicken & sauce but nuts to them. They had plain buttered noodles and loved it, and all the more good stuff for DH and me.

Monday, January 03, 2005

If I'd only known

I just spent a week in my old life. Glenny worked quite a bit over Christmas vacation and I was home with the boys. We decided to keep Sam on his meds over vacation, because transitioning back to them after Thanksgiving proved to be a bit of a bear (recurrence of side effects that had faded).

So I have to say, if I'd known it could be so easy and fun to be a SAHM, I would have been a lot more hesitant to go back to work! Of course I still would have had to do it ... financial realities and all ... but oh my gosh! My kids PLAY now, instead of bugging me all day long to entertain them. It's so cool! My parents visted for a few days last week and they noticed it. We are talking hours spent calmly building with LEGOs before a crackling fire, elaborate setups of superheroes and empty boxes ... it was normal, it was peaceful, it was fun. I read two books and learned to crochet.

It was a real vacation. I'm so thankful!