Finding a Voice

Saturday, August 13, 2005

bat girl 2

If this were a dream, what would it mean?

I came over to the office to do a bit of work one Saturday and to play around a bit on the computer. I had been here for a couple of hours and had heard a couple of knocking sounds, so after a trip to the ladies' room I closed the door to the outer office/sitting area.

A few minutes later, I detected a suspicious swinging motion in the corner of my eye. Sure enough -- a bat in the sitting area. There goes the skin crawling again.

I maintained a certain amount of composure while slamming my office door as fast as possible, jamming my middle right finger and breaking the nail.

Breathe. Breathe.

Call Kim.
Laugh nervously when her son answers.
"Why are you laughing?" he asks hesitantly.
"Because there's a bat in my office!"I squeak.

Kim laughs.
She asks her husband for advice.
He says look it up on the internet.
So I google "how to catch a bat."
I find a how-to node by that title on
The node opens with a disclaimer:

"To begin, I should mention that this writeup is about how to catch a bat which has mistakenly wandered into your domicile. Unlike how to catch a snake, this is not about how to acquire a wild bat for fun and profit."

Dashed hopes. I had considered keeping the little guy. Only he didn't look so little, swooping around with his wings spread wide.

Cogito advises 4 easy steps to catching a bat:

Step 1. Wait.
Wait until the bat stops flying around and goes to sleep somewhere.

Step 2. Gather Supplies.
Recommendations: a container (clear tupperware is best), a cover (cardboard, or better, something clear), and gloves.

Right. The first two I have, but the latter? How am I going to get out of here to find gloves? Really.

"Any other protective gear is optional. Use as much as you need to feel comfortable." Fortunately, I wore a hoodie today, so I've got that covered.

Step 3. Trap
That's the verb, not the noun. Trap, as in, to trap the bat. Trap the bat. Yeah right.

Step 4. Release
Assuming you've caught the bat.

Kim suggested putting a garbage can over my head. No. We agreed that I might need help. "Call Gwen," she says. How vindictive. Gwen, if you recall, is the one who laughed hysterically at my previous bat incident and then commented about it on my blog. For what it was worth, I tried to call Gwen. But she didn't appear to be home. The ringing and ringing of her phone was lulling me when suddenly arose a bat into my office. How did he get in?!?! I screamed (of course), dropped the phone, fell to the floor and pulled my chair over top of me. I crawled under the desk, fumbled with the phone and was relieved to find it still ringing ... no answering machine!

I called Carol and tried to get calm. The bat had parked upside down in my ceiling (which is like a giant waffle ... ah, 1970s architecture). Preening, he looked very small, innocent, and ominous. Carol suggested covering my head, which I had already done, having serendipitously worn a hoodie that day. Then she suggested calling Kathy who has successfully removed many bats from the dorm she directs. Before the call ended the bat took flight again, I shrieked again, it landed on and crawled under the overstuffed chair. Whew! I got out of the office while I could and called Kathy who came over with just a toque over her hand.

I had left the doors wide open on all the offices in my space and the bat was nowhere to be found. Oops. It could be hiding anywhere really.

After searching a bit, we noticed something flying in the lounge again and then saw it flying in the foyer, so we opened a couple of outside doors and called to it. Of course I cringed a lot ... and tried to be brave (i.e. not scream). It swooped out and that was the end of that.

Kathy said bats don't bother her, but a snake would have been another story. For me, a snake would have been nothing!

Have I mentioned that bats make my skin crawl in the creepiest way?
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 6:48 PM 13 comments

Saturday, August 06, 2005

clean sweep week!

Student Families has a furniture shed. (This is the group of students I am now responsible for, under the heading "Student Households" because it includes singles, too.) The shed was so packed one could hardly move in it. Couches and hide-a-beds were stood on end just to fit them in. There was garbage mingled with the usable things, but nobody could get in to sort through it.

Recently our facilities manager, Doug, informed me that he's going to clean out all of the furniture in his rental units and put it in the mini-rink. He invited me to do the same with the furniture shed. Students can come to the mini-rink at the beginning of the school year and take away whatever they need. At the end of the first week of school, we will salvage whatever is worth keeping for the furniture shed and the rest will go to a dump. The idea is such a relief to me!

So I organized a crew to clean the furniture shed this morning: 6 women and 4 men. It was hot this morning and the men hauled away at least 5 truckloads of furniture (I didn't count). The women stayed in the shed--which was cool to start and stayed shady at least--where we sorted dishes and linens and other household items. There were some pretty disgusting things there, but fortunately no dead animals or moldy food! We packed 4 "starter kits" for new families, especially internationals, so that they'll have something when they first arrive. A starter kit includes dishes and other useful kitchen and household items packed in a 21 litre clear Rubbermaid container. We'll get the starter kits back, of course, when the family leaves or gets their own household goods. I'm excited about being more organized for serving our new families in this way.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 2:27 PM 2 comments

Friday, August 05, 2005

receiving help & encouragement

Today I purged four filing cabinet drawers. Diane reminds me that I am working through 10-15 years of accumulation and it can't be leveled in an afternoon. So I still have 6 or 7 file boxes to sort through, but the filing cabinet drawers are empty and waiting for throughfully selected items to go in them. Diane and I working on a color coordinated filing system for my various categories of interests and responsibilities. I'll go to Staples this weekend for a couple more colors.

(The only color that's out of bounds for file folders is grape, because it reminds me of childhood flouride treatments and I gag when I see it.)

All day Wednesday and this afternoon Diane kept saying, "I'm so proud of you," for throwing things in the garbage or recycling or give-away/return pile, or for hanging in there when I just wanted to quit.

My friend Kim wrote this to me:

Hey about the'll feel free I think. Talk about experiencing will. You're not going back Colleen, it seems like life/career is taking you further away from allot of that stuff you are saving. Ideas change.. new resources appear....and you move on. don't agonize over throwing some stuff away. If you find that you are..start another file or two.
I'm so glad it's happening, I wish I could come over and do it for would be easy for me, although I'd still recognize all the great potential.
I'm proud of you.

And my assistant, Natasha, rubbed my shoulders and neck for a few minutes at 4:00. Ah.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 5:52 PM 2 comments

procrastinating the final sweep

I feel like I've hit the same wall I always hit: papers, papers, papers. In fact, I can organize other people's stuff, and I can reorganize furniture, etc., but controlling papers and filing is my biggest block.

However, my life coach was very encouraging yesterday--he noted that though I'm a right brain person, he sees me starting to "embrace the beauty of your left brain"--the part that thinks logically and helps me stay organized and thus freed up for the things that are my real calling. The difference with hitting the wall this time is that Diane Exner is coming back this afternoon for about 4 hours to help me set up a good filing system. So this morning my main job is to purge papers. I don't actually have to organize them, just purge, purge, purge. Sigh.

And drink coffee.
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 11:12 AM 0 comments

a woman's ladder

Once a woman has climbed the ladder of success, she shouldn't push it away so that other women can't come up.

- Madeleine Albright
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:33 AM 0 comments

vietnamese english

A friend bought a coat tree yesterday. It had this note in it. I laughed and laughed and laughed. It helped that it was midnight.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:18 AM 1 comments

Thursday, August 04, 2005

me and the clean sweep

I decided that my professional development investment this year would be hiring an organizer. You know, like "Clean Sweep."

This quote clinched it:

"I found I was really good at getting things done in the shortest number of steps," she says. "Back in the '50s, they used to be called efficiency experts. I just kept doing it on a larger level." And what she found was this: "The further you got away from an individual, the less trying to organize things mattered." In other words, each individual's level of organization was the key. "Somebody, some person, was always the monkey wrench. "The biggest bang for your buck, as far as a company is concerned, is to organize the individual."

So on Wednesday, Diane Exner arrived at 9:00 a.m. and left at 6:30 p.m. Our main concern is my office, but we also had to consider how my office integrates with the other two offices, two storage closets, and student lounge area. It was a HUGE job!

We're still not done, but my office has been purged, most of the books have been moved to my new "library" (formerly a storage closet--I hear they use closets as offices at the White House), and the space feels cleaner, and calmer.

The catch: there are discouragingly high piles of files and papers and magazines in the lounge area. Oh me oh my. Diane is coming back tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 and I am supposed to do significant purging before then. Groan. This is the hardest part.

Watch for the before & after photos ...
posted by Colleen McCubbin at 11:04 PM 0 comments