Tuesday, July 26, 2011


What I should be doing right now is packing, but clearly I'm feeling rather deficient in the motivation department. There's a pile of pre-selected, pre-stained clothes sitting on a heap on the floor, ready to be packed...I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet. They're our "Grover clothes." We're going camping in Grover, Utah—which is in southern Utah—which means that our children will spend approximately four days rolling around in red dirt.

We don't bring nice things to Grover.

I'm taking time off of work again, and I'm rather excited to do this. Tomorrow is my anniversary with this job—and aside from the six days I took off when we went to Nauvoo I have worked through every trip and every holiday the whole year. I know we're lucky to get to go on trips and we're lucky to have jobs, but sometimes having a "portable" job is a bit of a drag because it means that when you're on vacation you're not really on vacation because you're still working.

I worked today, for example, even though most places in Utah were closed. I worked the whole time we were "vacationing" in Arizona. I worked on Christmas. I worked longer hours to get ahead before we went to Canada and then worked longer hours to make up for the time I lost while we were there. I worked on Thanksgiving. I worked during the Anderson family reunion in October.

There's no internet in Grover, though, so this time my job isn't portable.

That means that after the kids are in bed I won't have to scramble to finish working (and doing everything else I can't do while they're awake). I can play games or read or write or just do nothing if I want to.

Taking time off work sounds kind of magical right now. Even though I've already logged my hours for today I find myself wondering what I would have done with those hours had I not been working.

Would I have planned dinner better?

Would I have already packed?

Would I have managed to do the laundry without Andrew's help?

Would I have taken my kids to the park?

I don't know. I haven't been feeling very efficient with my time lately because I haven't been feeling well lately so chances are I would have done little (or nothing) productive.

Working from home is kind of weird—it's something that is hard for people who don't work from home to understand. Like the fact that it's an actual job. That I had to be qualified for to get.

So often when I say that I work from home people ask if I can hook them up. Now, I'd love to dance around handing out jobs, but I don't own the company and am not in charge of hiring. This is a job that I applied for, after being tipped off by a friend about its existence. I submitted a resume, I had a telephone interview, I went through training.

It's an actual job. I have coworkers. I have a boss.

Sometimes we have meetings via conference call and my children burst into the office and then someone sitting in their own office listening to the racket in my office says, "What is that? It sounds like...whining."

And I say, "Oh, that would be my children. Sorry. They weren't supposed to come in."

And then I have to shoo them out because I'm in an actual meeting.

What was my point? Oh, yes. I have a boss. Who I report my hours to. Who I ask for time off from. Who hired me. Who expects things from me.

When people find out that Andrew works for BYU doing type-setting for Arabic texts they don't say, "Oh, can you get a job for me there, too?"

Somehow because he works in a concrete place they understand that he's not the boss and cannot hire others. Or they understand that they might not be qualified for his position (on account of they most likely don't speak, read, or write Arabic). Or they understand...

I don't know what they understand but they understand something about his job being competitive and tangible and real.

I want to know why, then, when I say, "I work from home. I'm in lexicography."

And they say, "What's that?"

And I say, "Oh, I work for a dictionary company."

They feel like they can say, "Oh! Can you set me up doing that, too?"

How is it they think they would be qualified to be a lexicographer if they don't even know what lexicography is? What is it about working from home that makes my job seem uncompetitive and intangible and fake? Why is it that because I work at home my job is automatically thought of as something easy or unchallenging?

Perhaps it's the way I say it. My mom seems to think I don't explain it well enough (I picked up on this because she said proudly, "That's not something everyone does, you know!" when she overheard me explaining my job to someone). But how do you explain what I do to people who aren't as interested in words as I am without boring them to death while explaining it? I mean, I find dictionaries fascinating but others I know don't find them quite as.

And why do I feel so melancholy?

I think I'm just tired from being up with a feverish Meme half the night.

Anyway, I'm excited to go camping and take some time off work. There's something satisfying about taking off one of my hats, putting it on the shelf, and walking away from it. Usually I feel like I'm juggling too many hats and feel like I'm on the verge of dropping one or another. For the next few days my juggling act will hopefully be a little simpler and I'm looking forward to that, though in reality camping is a lot of work for parents, isn't it?

Oh, well. A change is as good as a rest.


  1. I totally understand. I hate saying I work from home because it sounds so lame, and people seem to automatically assume I stuff envelopes for a medical supply company or something. Not that there's anything wrong with THAT job, but it's not what I do. I work in my field and I get paid good money for it.

    When I had the job you have now, I described it in extreme layman's terms as "editing the thesaurus." It was the best way to describe it correctly and broadly.

    Keep on keeping on, Nancy!

  2. I'm glad you won't have to work in Grover and we can just play games all night :)

  3. Yep, working from home is a whole different kind of work. And I think you just can't understand it until you do it. I'm glad you get to not do it for a little while - THAT is the best part of a real job. Taking time off.