Jeanenne is my assistant. Of sorts. It was unclear what her job was when I hired her. She is sort of the nanny, but I don't really need a nanny. I am with the kids almost 100% of the day. You might wonder how I can do that and still have a job. The answer is that I don't do anything else. So, for example, the kids broke the flyswatter and I wanted one right away before I died from fly annoyance.
I called Jeanenne, and who knows what she was doing, but she stopped whatever it was, and bought me a flyswatter and drove it to my house. She is my big city same-day service in Darlington.
The first half a year I lived on the farm, Jeanenne realized that what I really needed though, was a tutor for how to act in the country and a shoulder to cry on.
When the Farmer told me to leave, it wasn't the first time, but it was the worst time, and I took the kids to her house. Just for dinner.
When things calmed down enough so that I knew I was staying, she helped me create an org chart of who is related to who in the area (everyone is related somehow) and she even kept me abreast of essential gossip like which husband found his wife in bed with another guy. (Note about the country: In the city, gossip is the term for rumor and trash talk. In the country, gossip is confirmed truth.)
Once I was here long enough to know who I want to be friends with (I love the school principal, for example) I did not need Jeanenne for social navigation.
But I needed her for stuff like going to the DMV, and taking the kids to Madison when I couldn't handle doing the drive three days in a row for my six-year-old son's dance recital rehearsals. (Hip hop. By the way. And I know I'm really old when kids are learning dance routines to the Beastie Boys.)
And, now that Melissa is gone, Jeanenne has started taking pictures.
This one is my older son at the pool. But, don't worry, Melissa still has her hands in the photos on this blog. She edited the photo. So, it's official: it takes four people to write a blog post on my blog. I have me, the writer, plus my copy editor, a photographer, and now a photo editor. I'm just letting you know, in case you think you want a blog like mine. You probably don't. Mainstream media dominates blogging now, and my little site of four people masquerading as one is nothing compared to say, Pioneer Woman's site as two, full-fledged web agencies masquerading as one person.)
This is all to say that what Jeanenne does really well is to adapt to the reality of her job. She never says, “That's not what I was hired for,” (which, by the way, is one of the five worst things you can do to kill your career.) She never assumes that her job will continue unchanged as reality changes around her.
Look at this photo.
We eat three meals as a family, at the dinner table, every day. I cook all the meals, and most of the time I am cooking all farm-rasied food, which is the case in this photo. Pretty nice, huh?
Here's another thing I could tell you about this photo. The meat is corned beef because the farmer made a deal to split a cow with someone who took all the good parts of the cow since they figured I don't know what I'm doing with cooking a cow, so the bad parts were so bad that all we could do was make corned beef out of them.
And I could tell you that I don't eat meals with the family. I can't tell if it's Aspergers (most people with Aspergers like to do something while they eat — so sitting with other people eating is always unpleasant.) Or maybe it has to do with bulimia (I was hospitalized for it and I never seem to shake the sense that I should only be eating stuff I can throw up.) But either way, scientists have found that hunger makes people feel better, so maybe I'm on the right track.
I could also tell you that I had to fight forever to get those plates. I didn't even want these plates. I lived with my grandma growing up because my parents were total fuckups and my favorite dishes of hers were white and pink with blue flowers. I used them for my sweet-sixteen birthday party that was formal and stuffy in a way that only a girl living with her grandma could have. But I loved the dishes and when my grandma asked me what jewelry of hers I wanted, I told her I wanted the pink and white dishes. Besides, I knew the good jewelry was going to my grandma's only daughter. It turned out the pink and white dishes were going to the only daughter as well.
So I moped for fifteen years, or maybe my whole life, that I lived with my grandma because my mom didn't want me but I was never as important as my grandma's real daughter.
When I saw that my dad inherited the other dishes, the blue and white dishes, and his new wife didn't like them, I asked for them. The dishes go well at the farm.
You could see that in the picture. Or you could see our perfect, farm-family life.
This is true for everyone. Everyone can look perfect or they can look terrible. And it's true for every job, as well. Every boss. Every co-worker.
It's a pretty safe bet that we all live our lives somewhere between the perfect and the terrible. And nothing is really really good always. But there is still sometimes. Because the really really good parts exist only in brief moments.
So when you think you need to switch jobs, or switch cities, or switch spouses, or switch any of the other bazillion things that you might feel are not as good as they should be, remind yourself that your job, your family, and even your dinners are probably pretty much the same as everyone else's. And remind yourself to enjoy those brief, really, really good parts.