Weirdness from my office

There is a downside to working from home, all by myself. Some might say that it’s causing me to become even stranger than I already am, but those people are hopefully not within stabbing distance, because I have a mug full of dull pencils and I’m not afraid to use them!

[Not that I ever use pencils. The children do. They use them until the leads are actually LOWER than the surrounding pencil barrel, then they return them to my mug and feign ignorance when my attempt to scrawl a phone number on my scratch pad yields only a faint squeak of wood against paper. “It wasn’t ME,” they both protest, looking around in confusion. Perhaps while I was working here, alone, all day, EVERY DAY, a gnome snuck into the house and ATE THE PENCIL LEADS. That must be it.]

Anyway, sometimes while I’m sitting around here by myself, I begin to realize why people maybe shouldn’t spend most of their lives alone.

* * * * *

This morning I made Otto a sandwich, while I was packing lunches, and then I remembered that he had A Thing today and didn’t need a packed lunch. So I put his sandwich in the fridge for ME to eat for lunch. No biggie.

And then when I got hungry, today, I pulled it out and ate it. Mmmmm… turkey salad.

It was 10:30.

It’s possible that if I was in an office with other people I might’ve realized it wasn’t lunchtime. I’m just sayin’. (In my defense, I didn’t eat breakfast today. But still.)

* * * * *

A few months ago, our portable phones started dying that kind of slow death that only portable phones can. The batteries started only holding a charge long enough for a person to say, “Hey, how are you? Oh wait… hang on… the phone’s beeping at me, I need to… hello? HELLO?”

So, being logical people, we bought a new set of phones. I got one of those fancy 5-handset deals, because when you hardly ever use the phone, it’s important to have a lot of them, apparently. And the new phone has DECT something and broad-spectrum something else and it never beeps to indicate it’s losing the signal, even if I’m out in the driveway or down back or whatever. It’s FANCY!

And then a couple of weeks ago it started. The phone would ring, and the handset here in the office would play dead. The display wouldn’t light up, you couldn’t turn it on, and you’d have to run into the next room to grab a working handset to actually answer the call. Then—because all the handsets are interchangeable—you could switch the handsets, thinking you’d outsmarted it, for the next time. But it soon became clear that the only handset that up and dies when a call comes in is the one CLOSEST TO YOU, and no amount of arranging the handsets or the bases has addressed this problem.

I can only conclude that my personality is so magnetic, I have actually broken our phones.

* * * * *

So I cleaned up my office for a television interview a few weeks ago, and I THOUGHT my desk was fairly tidy, for that, until I saw the clip. Then I wondered if everyone who saw the segment thought I was some weird hoarder, based upon the state of my desk hutch, which could most charitably be described as FULL OF CRAP.

So now I’m doing another interview next week, and logically I know that I need to empty out my ENTIRE desk and actually organize it. But if I do THAT, then I have to also tackle the book shelves, and if I do BOTH of those things, I’m pretty sure I will lose the will to live.

I mean, I don’t know where any of this stuff came from, even. All I really NEED for work is my laptop. And my little “Thou Shall Not Whine” sign. That’s it!

* * * * *

I love getting product samples in the mail, and thankfully my various jobs mean that the UPS guy probably thinks I’m one of those eBay addicts who lives in a maze of boxes. But lately I’ve found myself deeply confused by some of the things I’ve received. To wit:

— Writing me a three-page introduction letter about how all-natural and eco-friendly your product is when it arrived here tucked into the corner of a box easily five times too large (which was then topped off with a metric ton of packing paper) rather misses the point.

— I am never going to be thirsty enough to want to drink something intended to taste like a flower. When choosing a flavor, ask yourself if this is something a person would want to SNIFF or something a person would want to TASTE. Dude, there is no market for DaisyDrink. NONE.

— It is not that hard to put a piece of tape over the top of a lid. Honestly. It’s quite simple. Yet no one shipping me things in liquid form seems to have cracked this particular code, yet. Go figure.

* * * * *

The best part is that usually I rant about these things under my breath, to myself. You know, because I’m the only one here. But then this whole blog thing allows me to PRETEND I have coworkers to share it with, by telling you.

And if you stand around the water cooler and talk about what a weirdo I am, I don’t even have to walk past you and pretend I don’t know you’re doing it, the next time I need more coffee.


  1. Kath

    I work in an office with lots of other people. If I bring a sandwich for lunch I eat it by 10:30. I don’t bring sandwiches anymore because once I’ve eaten the sandwich then I have to buy lunch at lunchtime. It’s not your fault, it’s the sandwich that beckoned you to the fridge!

  2. Leandra

    Dude, I totally got chills thinking about the wood of that pencil scratching across the paper. How can you let your kids do that to you?!?

  3. Shannon

    I work at home too (childcare provider) and I have no sense of time most days myself. When you are dealing with very small children and babies, one diaper change flows into the next, or one show flows into the next and the next thing you know the kids are crying because it’s lunchtime and then naps, and by that point I’m usually realizing I never actually had any breakfast, and boy am I really hungry!! (I did have a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning, it was really good!)

  4. MomCat

    Solitude worked for Emily Dickinson. Wait…what are you wearing?

    “Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.”

  5. StephLove

    In re the phones: my grandmother could never wear a watch. Something about her body magnetism would cause any watch she wore to stop.

    p.s. Eat your breakfast tomorrow.

  6. exile on mom street

    Are you having actual conversations with yourself?

    If it’s just muttering, I think you’re still in the safe zone….

  7. Debora Silkotch

    StephLove — I’m like your grandmother that way. It usually takes a few weeks, but watches never keep running for more than a month or two on my wrist, no matter the quality. It’s weird and frustrating, because I’d love to be able to wear one.

    Mir — The 10:30am meal is called “second breakfast” and it’s absolutely acceptable. :^)

  8. Megan


    Not long ago I sat doing work with a real actual pencil and a genuine piece of paper and I a) spent a split second trying to copy and paste something and then b) after walking away from the table for a few minutes wondered if I should go nudge the pencil so the irritating screen saver wouldn’t come on.

    Apparently the digital me has now taken over everything. Particularly what I used to like to call my brain.

    I realize this has nothing to do with your actual post (which I enjoyed – look! I can be Topical!) but you did say pencil up there and that’s excuse enough apparently.

  9. elizabeth

    regardless of breakfast, I always get hungry at 10:30. I could set my watch, honestly. left to my own devices I would move lunch up and insert a snack at 3-ish but I have a fine group of cube dwellers around me on weekdays to keep me in line. weekends mess with me though.

    as far as the pencil thing goes, set out some sticky traps for those gnomes. they are tricky little bastards and love pencil leads above all else.

  10. Em

    Hold on a second. Your kids RETURN the pencils to your desk? How do you get them to do that? I’m thinking of getting a chain like at the bank.

  11. Erin

    Oh man. I totally hear you, Mir. I’m a grad student who’s home pretty much all day every day (except the few hours I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays). It does get sort of weird. Today, in fact, I had the “Is 10:30 too early for lunch?” debate, too.

  12. Ani

    As someone sitting in a largely empty building and muttering to myself constantly…I hear ya!

    Which is why I asked for an iPod docking clock radio for my office, so I can chat with it instead.

  13. Lucinda

    I always eat at 10:30 too. Even when I eat breakfast. Maybe it’s part of the fine print in the work-at-home contract. But then I usually don’t eat again until about 2. Usually…

    And the phones…well all of ours (all 3) end up in one room. Usually the office. Unless my husband has them in his pocket. In the garage. That’s helpful. Yes, he has big pockets.

  14. The Other Leanne

    I love pencils, but that sound of wood on paper makes me cringe.
    There is nothing better at work than a good sandwich at 10:30 a.m.
    I am still in my jammies.
    I’m so glad no one can hear me when I’m here all day by myself.

  15. Randi

    But just imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have the kids? You’d sleep until noon, work until 11 pm, tivo all the good shows, get to eat whatever you want…oh…wait…damn that sounds kinda good!

  16. Courtney

    I had to go sharpen my pencil after that. I used the electric pencil sharpener, if you had one of those on your desk they might use it, they’re fun, they might fight over using it, and you may find yourself going through pencils more quickly, but they’d always be sharp.

  17. Jessica

    I work in an office and I have to tell you.. when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at home and the sandwich is calling your name from the fridge at 10:30 or whether you got up, ran around like a maniac to get the kids up, fed, dressed, packed up to go to grandma’s house, drove through nasty Michigan traffic and it took you an hour to get to work instead of the usual 20 minute commute, only to get to work and be so exhausted you can barely see the screen straight and realize you not only forgot to eat breakfast, but forgot to brush you hair as well and there’s lint all over your pants. Talking to myself in the comfort of my home and pajamas sounds rather appealing in my opinion.

  18. Barbara

    “why people maybe shouldn’t spend most of their lives alone” – now there’s an insight I need to think about – after I go out – I’m late to go interact with others. In person. You’re welcome.

  19. divrchk

    Someone might have already asked this, but is your phone in the office plugged into a socket that is controlled by the light switch?

  20. sumo

    That Mir is such an odd SHH! Here she comes…. oh Hi! Did you enjoy your brunch? How’d the Carnation go with that? Oh, right, it was Daisy. No thanks, I’ll pass. OK, buh-bye!


    What? No – I said, “nice job”!

  21. Amy

    I work with a group every day and we generally start discussing lunch at about 9:30, if not earlier. We are generally out the door at 11:30 for lunch, but have left as early as 10. So, I think you’re completely normal with your 10:30 lunch.

  22. elswhere

    I don’t think it’s just working at home; I get hungry every day at 10:30, no matter what. If I’m home, I might hold off till 11 and then call it lunch. (I just did, come to think of it.) If I’m at work, I’ll take my 15 minute break at 10:30ish if I can. If I have to grit my teeth and wait until my lunch break at 1:00 I find that the patrons somehow all become very difficult to deal with and it takes every bit of focus I have to be professional and polite and helpful.

    When I worked at a school, it finally dawned on me, after several years of extreme crabbiness while supervising lunch recess in the library, that I should bring a string cheese to eat every day at around 10:00. It was amazing how much easier the lunch recess kids got after that.

    The moral of the story is: Morning snack! It’s not just for preschoolers any more!

  23. keyomi

    i am that way about sandwiches too! its not you. They do actually make me eat earlier than i am supposed to.

    All portable phones have that kind of life…they just want to die on us! I loved the product sampling part and the last part of this post! very cute! and too funny!!

  24. Summer

    I also work from home.

    Yesterday I ate a chicken salad sandwich at 10:30. Not just any kind of chicken salad sandwich, either — mine was made with wasabi mayo. Nothing goes better with coffee breath than wasabi.

    Here’s what needs to be on my desk, for me to do my job: my laptop, my phone, a note pad, a pencil. But in addition to that, I’ve got papers galore, sunglasses, gum, a measuring tape, a Lego vehicle, and a construction-paper book labeled “The Story For Bats.” And that’s just the stuff I can SEE. (Actually, now that I think of it, the pencil is missing. I’m blaming the author of the bat book.)

  25. Lori

    I work in an office and the few times I’ve gotten my stuff together far enough in advance to actually make and bring my lunch, I’ve eaten it well before 10:30. And then had to buy another lunch around 2. Which was clearly not beneficial for my pocketbook nor my waistline. Now I buy my lunch everyday. It’s just the fiscally responsible thing to do!

    Anyhoo, if I worked from home, I would undoubtedly be wearing sweat pants and stuffing my face all day long. And I have a theory that if you only wear sweat pants, eventually you’ll only FIT in sweatpants. So if you can wear regular pants and only eat a sandwich at 10:30 on the odd occasion, I consider that discipline!

  26. JennyM

    Aiieeee! That sound! The (hunches shoulders and closes eyes) wood on paper sound! Erg.

    DaisyDrink sounds hideously awful. Like, FeetDrink, or something.

  27. Daisy

    DaisyDrink? I’d call that coffee!

  28. Lynn

    10:30 lunch time is perfectly appropriate according to our school districk.

    My son eats “A” lunch at 10:30 at his high school. Of course he has a second lunch when he gets home ~ school lets out at 2:07 pm.

  29. Jackie@agsoccermom

    I am with EM, how did you get them to return the pencils? Even dull ones would be good some days.

  30. Motherhood Uncensored

    It’s the styrofoam peanuts in the eco/natural/organic packages that get me.

    Okay, so you were reusing them from someone else. It doesn’t matter. The disconnect between your product and it sitting in a big mound of styrofoam is enough for me to pass.

  31. barbara

    OMG I had that SAME phone! It has to be because mine did that too! I actually returned it because I’d only had it like 2 weeks and it was NOT cheap!!!! I already had a broken one, why did I need ANOTHER broken set of phone! Mine only had 2 handsets though, but it did the same thing!
    I think it was this one!
    I did like the idea of free google info….

  32. Debbi

    I’m with Amy, my office starts the lunch email around 10:00 am and then we spend the morning figuring out where to go and complaining at 11:30 that we are starving. So we think about food all morning! Maybe eating at 10:30 will actually make us more productive! …..nah… ;-)

  33. Catherine

    I work from home and also have to go out and inspect claims. On the days that I am home all day by myself I swear The things I do or eat LOL. (now mind you I am pregnant so I kind of have an excuse right now) But I got up this morning, Made Eggs and potato’s and scarfed it down. Then I looked around for an hour or two (Ok I worked LOL) then I was hungry again so I went and ate a half a bowl of cereal (the kitten got into it while I was on a conference call adn thus I never finished it off)
    Then around noon I got hungry again and made a bowl of spaghetti O’s. After that I worked for three or four hours..and ate an apple and then a banana. Then around six pm..I had to have lasagna. I honestly do NOT eat that much when I am out inspecting claims. But something to do with being 30 feet from the kitchen causes me to be drawn in there.

  34. Brigitte

    Back in office world, I could never bring nice healthful snacks to keep in my desk, because they’d be all gone by 9:00 (I started at 7 or 7:30). Then I still needed a lunch at lunchtime.

    Perhaps you need a fake desk somewhere for interview purposes only. Keep it covered with a sheet (in case the kids pile stuff on it) and when the interviewer is coming, whip off the sheet (and all piled-on stuff) and Voila! Professional-looking office space!

  35. margie

    i love love a sandwich for breakfast. the best. even tuna.

  36. Michelle

    I want the job with all the free stuff coming in the mail. How can I get in on THAT?

  37. Andrea

    My son does that with pencils too and it drives. me. nuts. I mentioned it to his teacher at our conference and she nodded and said that she asks him to do a “pencil check” sometimes. Perhaps Santa will shower all of our houses with some dandy electric pencil sharpeners??! Wonder if wantnot will find us a deal on those in the next few weeks? :)

  38. Brigid

    Wanna-be watch wearers – my mom had the watch problem with battery watches, but then switched to a wind-up watch and it works fine, as long as she remembers to wind…
    I eat every day at 10:30. No matter what. And again at noon and sometimes again at 2:30. I live by the graze all day method so I don’t get crabby. No one likes to be around a crabby-pants.

  39. Amy

    Anything that runs on batteries dies a slow death near me – my cell phone batteries die so quickly that I actually have to get them replaced every 4-6 months. I can’t wear a watch (and the watch that I wear ONLY WHEN RUNNING died after 4 months….) I can’t use my laptop without having it plugged in, or it, too, will stop working.

    I may have to look into a wind up watch.

  40. frogmama

    Be grateful you work from home. At least your weirdness is solitary. My boss is making a bunch of us dress up as reindeer for our office holiday party. It’s times like this I’m happy my son isn’t old enough to ask “Why is mommy wearing antlers to work?” And I second the grazing, like Brigid mentioned. Though that can easily translate into an all-day-eatathon. Haven’t worked out the quirks yet!

  41. Linda Sands

    Hey. 10:30 IS lunchtime when you get up at 4:30. Just sayin’.
    And yes, most days I can convince myself that I was made to work at home- alone- in sweat pants… until I can’t make deadline, and then I call people and tell them it’s all their fault I spent 3 hours internet shopping for motorized coolers. Last week I managed to sell myself on the idea I should be single and live in a treehouse in Belize– still trying to sell the hubby on that idea.

  42. Lori N

    This is why my husband & I – who both “work from home”, now work from our local coffee shop. both of us, on our laptops, sitting across from each other…now if I want a sandwich at 10:30 I have to pay for it. But I do get free refill of coffee all day – and I shower every day now too! woo hoo!

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