Thursday, April 21, 2011

It’s A Miracle

For anyone who has noticed my absence, I’m sure it seems a miracle that I found my way back. But that isn’t the miracle I speak of. While I might have had something more substantial in the miracle department to share, had I stuck to the 40 day miracle program, I did not. I stopped around day 10. But my miracle is big for me. I just don’t want to get your hopes up, about being impressed, because I know you’ll be disappointed.

I was at the grocery store checking out and the clerk was ringing up the strawberries I was buying. He pointed to one of them and said what I thought was how good that one looked. I’m terrible at small talk so I babbled on about agreeing with him, and what a good buy they were, and he just kept looking at me like I had lost my mind. So I shut up. When I got home and unpacked them I took a better look and saw there was one strawberry in the bunch that was bad and realized he must have been pointing out the bad one, which explained why he thought I lost my mind when I went on about how good it looked.

So my point, my miracle, is how I automatically saw only the good. Normally, one bad thing and I’d be all over it. It felt so good to be able to see that my mind is finally starting to change and focus on the positive. When I first started trying to change the way I saw the world, it was a lot of work. I was constantly seeing the negative and forcing my mind to let it go and focus on something good about a situation. For a while, I literally didn’t think it was going to happen. I thought the people who talk about saying things that aren’t true because your  mind will believe the lie and it will eventually become true weren’t right about my mind. This is one thing I was so happy to be wrong about. I’m sure to some it will seem like a small, stupid miracle. But I think its a sign of good things to come.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome Back Ulcer

For the last two weeks my boss has been on vacation. I was pleasantly surprised when he took my ulcer with him. Friday he came back, and you guessed it, so did my ulcer. Now I’m aware my ulcer wasn’t actually healed during this time, but it is safe to say the stress that irritates it is directly linked to my boss.

There were several factors that contributed to my stress on his first day back:

1) I want to take some vacation time and had to put my request in to him. This might not seem like a big deal, except it has been in the past with my boss. Details of my vacation conflict can be found here: Vacation SmackDown!

2) Things tend to break when my boss is around and apparently when he’s coming back. The microwave got wind of his return and had a major malfunction. And like our previous office equipment strikes, tale told in All The Breaks, it just needed to be unplugged. Consequently reminding me of my need to take a vacation.

3) We resumed some of the fun games we play in our office. The ever popular “guess who I’m talking to” always keeps me on my toes. Please check out: Ain’t Got The Look if you need a game refresher. Also pulled out was the recently discovered “do you know the answer.” For a review of that one, please check out: A Second Opinion.

Somehow I made it through the day, but found my technique of reminding myself there were worse situations (outlined in Six Degrees of Worse), wasn’t effective. Apparently my ulcer isn’t fooled into thinking this makes my situation any less stressful. It only recognizes: Yes, you could be the one he’s yelling at and threatening to fire. Yes, that would suck even more, but less suckage does not equal less stress, ergo less ulcer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Approve This Messsage

In my quest for self-acceptance, I’ve turned to Louise L. Hay for help. In her book, “You Can Heal Your Life,” she has a great “I Approve of Myself” exercise.

The exercise calls for you to repeat: “I approve of myself.” Shocker? Probably not. What is, the number of times instructed to say it: three to four hundred times a day.

It only seemed like too many times until I thought about the amount of dialogue that goes on in my head everyday. That realization left the three to four hundred times a day seemingly accomplishable over my lunch break. But I don’t think Ms. Hay meant for me to treat it like a tongue twister.

According to the book, saying “I approve of myself” is a “guaranteed way to bring up everything buried in your consciousness that is in opposition.”

Trust me, Ms. Hay, my negative thoughts don’t need encouragement. They already run through my mind on an endless loop. I hardly notice them. They have become the background noise forever influencing, even if I don’t hear them.

So I’m making an effort to say it. Yes, I feel ridiculous. But, seriously, what started out as funny became sad. Because when you listen to yourself say the good, you’re still listening when the bad comes after it. And I’ve come to realize how hard I am on myself.

And some of the catty comments that talk back are true. So all I can say is, “Even so, I still approve of myself.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Six Degrees of Worse

I’ve been reading about two tragedies recently that have given me a new perspective. Pretty much everyone is aware of the first one, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the friends and family involved in this devastating event.

The second came from reading a book, The Natashas: Inside The New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek. While woman and girls being trafficked is hardly a new tragedy, it has gone on for too long. My heart goes out to all those woman and girls being subjected to this every day.

All of our technology in the world can’t prevent horrible events like the earthquake and tsunami. But, at least, when we find out about it we come together and try to help make a difference. Whether it’s through well wishing, prayers and condolences or donations to organization like the Red Cross. On the other hand, woman and girls being held against their will and forced to be sex slaves isn’t out of our control.

The news media is quick to bring us the latest bad news.  I’m not an avid news viewer, but I watch enough that I’m aware of the events that get the most coverage. So one thing I learned from this book is not all tragedies are splashed across the news. Maybe it’s just me, but I was completely unaware of the horror these woman and girls go through everyday.

So what’s being done? There have been laws passed and politicians who have made some great speeches about putting an end to it. But unfortunately laws and politicians don’t change things. That is evident by the length of time this injustice has gone on.

To give you an idea of how long I’ve provided a few resources below:

The Coalition Against Trafficking of Women was founded in 1989. They are a non-governmental organization promoting woman’s human rights.

The Natashas: Inside The New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek, was published in 2004. This book was well written and extremely eye opening. Anyone interested in learning more information on trafficking would do well to read this book. Mr. Malarek published a sequel in 2009 entitled, The Johns: Sex For Sale and The Men Who Buy It.

And most recently, in February, I heard of Amy Seiffert, who is trying to raise awareness on trafficking by wearing the same dress for 6 months. The money she saves by not purchasing new clothes she plans to donate to help The Daughter Project, a non-profit organization started to help those who have been trafficked and help prevent it from happening in the future. 

Mrs. Seiffert got some coverage on the news in February, but the focus was on how she was wearing the same dress for 6 months. They made sure the public was aware she was planning to wash it during this time, because these are the issues that are important. I’m sure this wasn’t what she was hoping would be discussed during her few minutes of airtime.

I, myself, would have hoped for a discussion on the actual problem she was trying to raise awareness on. In addition it would have been nice to know where she was posting details of her journey. And also a place where you could get more information if you wanted to help.

So I did some searching and found her blog: where she is covering her journey. She is on day 118.

But there is hope. On March 7th, CNN launched The CNN Freedom Project. According to them: “Throughout 2011, CNN’s reporting will expose the horrors of modern-day slavery, highlight the growing efforts to stop the trade and exploitation of human beings and amplify the voices of the victims.”

Who can stop this injustice if not laws and politicians? The public. As long as the public is okay with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” way this situation is being handled, it will continue to thrive. I’m not sure what to tell anyone to do. Hopefully the CNN Freedom Project will make the much-needed difference. Sometimes the first step that makes the biggest impact is just plain old awareness. So please tune in here.

I know this isn’t my normal, light-hearted, SHORT post. But unlike many I’ve written before, this one is really important. And while I’m in my 9-5 hell feeling overwhelmed, it gives a new perspective to consider. Many have heard of the whole idea that we are six people away from meeting everyone in the world. Well, I think we are also six events away from experiencing the worst things in the world. And my worst day at work is several degrees away from the two tragic events I spoke of here.

What is also true is there are plenty of situations that go in the other direction. It is important to keep a perspective on the difference in those degrees too. The whole point in life is to enjoy it, so I should keep in mind how many degrees I’m away from having the best day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Surviving Being Burned

Burned by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast is the seventh book in the House of Night Series. I'm am continuing to enjoy this series and can't wait for the next book.

In case someone who reads this is interested in checking out the series, I don't want to put the details of what book seven is about and ruin the surprises found in books one through six. So here is what the series itself is about, as written on the House of Night website:

House of Night is a thrillingly engaging book series that follows 16-year-old Zoey Redbird, who gets “Marked” by a vampyre tracker and begins to undergo the “Change” into an actual vampyre. She has to leave her family in Tulsa and move into the House of Night, a boarding school for other fledglings like her.

It’s within the school’s walls that the heart of the action takes place as Zoey meets new friends, finds love, comes to terms with how her life will be different now and begins to realize her awesome new powers.

With that out of the way, I will say while reading Burned I thought about how life often times tries to break you. No matter if you’re a vampyre fledgling battling Darkness or a customer service rep battling Darkness (although he prefers to be called boss, well actually, he prefers President, but that is a whole different post).

More often I find it is fighting the challenge that causes a break in you rather than the experience itself. The problem is I’m among those who hate the whole idea behind the quote:

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles R. Swindoll

Actually I only hate the idea when I’m in crisis. When everything in my life is flowing, I can hear that quote and say, “Right on!”

But what good is it if you can’t think that way when you really need to put that quote into practice? Well, I don’t have an answer. At least not yet.

In the meantime I’ll band-aid my crisis by saying to myself: “I’ll survive this too.”

Those words usually pull me through until I can get back to stomaching quotes like:

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” - Wayne Dyer

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oh Ice, Why Do You Slip Me?

In typical Sunday tradition I’m dreading work tomorrow. And while I am just dreading going, in general, I’m especially dreading seeing the condition of our parking lot. All winter it has doubled as an ice rink. Until this week when it finally thawed. Yesterday it rained and then snowed again, Ugh! The roads weren’t icy so that is in my favor, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.

So what does my boss do to prevent us from slipping? He tells us to be very careful, it’s slippery (another nugget). Most people use salt, not my boss. We have salt, but we don’t use it. I’m not sure why. But I have my guesses:

1) He thinks it gets better with age. Its been there over 7 years. Maybe he figures when he finally lays it down, the ice with instantly evaporate.

2) He is holding onto it expecting it to increase in value. So when he drives our business into the ground, he can go into the salt business. Which would only work if #3 were true.

3) He believes it will multiply. After everyone is gone for the day, it does it magic thing and makes more. Last time I looked the bags didn't seem any plumper, but I don't have my boss’ keen eye.

4) It is not a bag of salt, but a memorial for all those who have slipped before.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Real Nugget

One of the guys from the factory is on vacation this week. He called this morning and asked if he could get his paycheck today. I didn’t ask, but assumed he was probably in the area today and wanted to get it early to save himself the trip tomorrow.

I called my boss on the phone to ask if it was okay. Granted my boss is sitting probably not even 20 feet from me. But calling him isn’t laziness on my part. No, the phone provides a cushion against the verbal assault I am in constant fear of having laid on me every time I approach to him.

So I called him and said, “Factory Doe wants to see if he can pick up his check today.” To which my boss replied, “It’s Thursday.”

My boss is forever offering me these nuggets of knowledge.

I’m not sure how he expected me to respond. I imagine he wanted me to thank him for clearing that up. And then immediately go back to the silly worker and pay the knowledge forward.

But instead I said, “Yes.” Silence. Until finally he said, “Ok. That’s fine.”

Flash forward to Factory Doe showing up for his check. My boss comes out to see him and says, “Hey Buddy, how’s your vacation going?”

I wanted to answer for him with: “It going too damn fast, for heaven sakes, it’s Thursday.”

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tempting To Wish For

Tempted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast is the sixth book in the House of Night series. I love these books. In my opinion they are a fun read.

One of my favorite things in it is the tattoos. They appear as a way of letting you know you are on the right path. How great would that be? Not the tattoos-all-over-your-body part. The part about being told you’re on the right path.

Instead of a permanent tattoo, maybe I could just have a message appear on my arm or something. Like if I do something good, “Yeah, way to go.” Or, “Keep up the great work.” Since the messages would fade, I would need to take a pic to show my naysayers. It would be the only way to fully bask in the I-told-you-so.

But then there would be the moments when I wasn’t on the right path. I’d probably need to know about that too. Of course, anyone would prefer just not to get a message, but it wouldn’t be as effective as if I got, “Hey dumbass, what the heck were you thinking?” Or, “Duh, like, you couldn’t see that one coming?” Now lets hope those naysayers I previously was quick to show the positive too, aren’t around for these. Because, yes, they would take pics to later pull out the next time I tried something.

In case someone who reads this is interested in checking out the series, I don't want to put the details of what book six is about and ruin the surprises found in books one through five. So here is what the series itself is about, as written on the House of Night website:

House of Night is a thrillingly engaging book series that follows 16-year-old Zoey Redbird, who gets “Marked” by a vampyre tracker and begins to undergo the “Change” into an actual vampyre. She has to leave her family in Tulsa and move into the House of Night, a boarding school for other fledglings like her.

It’s within the school’s walls that the heart of the action takes place as Zoey meets new friends, finds love, comes to terms with how her life will be different now and begins to realize her awesome new powers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Venting A Miracle

Venting, as in the incessant bitching about one’s problem without want for a solution. It happens to be a daily favorite of mine. So you could imagine my delight when I found out it was known to produce miracles. Not migraines, there was no blasted auto-correct error here, I really meant miracles.

Now I’m not saying “Make Miracles in Forty Days” by Melody Beattie says to do this EXACTLY, but I can read between the lines. The book says, “list the incidents and events that come up for you by writing about the events and feelings that you are the least grateful for.” Sounds like complaining to me.

I haven’t a clue why doing this breeds miracles. Maybe it falls under the squeaky-wheel-gets-the-oil rule. Except there's a catch to this complaining stuff. You have to write that you are grateful for all the things that piss you off.

So as an example, last night I wrote on my list: I am grateful there is 1-3 inches of snow in the forecast tonight. I look forward to driving in it tomorrow. And the pain I will surely feel in my chest after partaking in the granny-hunching slow drive.

Which brings me to my “it works” acclamation -- we didn’t get 1-3 inches of snow! 

Okay, so I didn’t want it to snow last night and I vented about it. And sure we didn’t get but a pinch of snow. That doesn’t mean I’m going to say I made that miracle.

No, all I’m going to say is -- in lieu of sending me monetary gifts, please donate to your favorite local charity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is My June Bug Showing?

Last night I had a nightmare that a June Bug flew into my hair. I’m sure this is of little interest and I only bring it up because of what it means. After consulting my dream dictionary and cursing because I wasn’t happy with what my subconscious had to say about me, I decided it was best to surrender.

The dream book had this to say about hair, “an outward manifestation of your thinking, thoughts, ideas and attitudes.” A step further, because the June Bug was tangled in my hair, had me looking up tangled under hair. It said, “indicates a strong need to take time out to correct this.” So what do we need to correct, obviously the June Bug, which is a “symbol of erratic, unpredictable behavior.”

So basically, I need to correct the fact that mentally I’m an unpredictable mess. And guess what, this isn’t the first time my subconscious has tried to approach me about this problem.

In a previous dream I was told, by people I have come to consider my dream guides, if my life had a theme song it would be “Hot and Cold” by Katy Perry.

Okay, lets all just hold on, take a deep breath and step away from the PMS soapbox so we can think about this a moment.

Maybe the part that needs to be corrected isn’t what I would first expect it to be. Certainly on most days I feel overwhelmed because I move through my time without a plan. I tend to go along with whatever the universe sends my way. And, of course, it’s frustrating when I feel like I’m moving in circles. Mostly because I can’t tell whether I’m circling towards something or away.

But the dream probably wasn’t to get me to change my chaotic, unpredictable ways. No, the point was to stop me from fighting it (because as you can imagine, the swatting going on in my dream wasn’t me trying to pet the darn thing).

I’ve had plenty of chances to have a calm, predictable future. But I rejected those jobs and people because those stops weren’t for me. Not because they weren’t good, they just weren’t good for me. After a while, instead of trying everything I thought I should do, I decided I’d do what I wanted most. I want to be a writer.

So, where does the best creative grass grow? I’m hoping to find it on the other side of fighting the unknown. And through acceptance, maybe I’ll find peace too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Girl With The Flaming Pants

On the cover of my copy of “The Girl Who Played With Fire” by Stieg Larsson was a quote by Entertainment Weekly, “A gripping, stay-up-all-night read.”

This would have been the case for me, if I were equipped with the ability to stay up all night and read. I cannot, however, I did stay up late. I won’t elaborate on my definition of late so as not to embarrass myself by revealing just how late it wasn’t.

I’m sure everyone has a “played with fire” story. So I’m not saying mine is unique, but I’m planning on sharing it anyway.

I was visiting my second cousin...

Note: the fact that she is my second cousin really has no barring on the story. It is only included so later in the story when I mention her mom, my first cousin, there is no confusion over why I’m calling her my cousin and not my aunt.

Okay, so I was visiting my second cousin and we were in the closet, because there is no better place than dark and confined to play with fire. Well, we weren’t really PLAYING with fire. We were utilizing it because the book said if you wanted to talk to dead people you needed a candle. And, honestly, it wasn’t doing much good unlit. Now it might not have done any good lit, but I will never know whether a spirit would have answered my call because we were interrupted when the book we were reading over the candle caught fire. Of course, we were holding it too close. It was our only source of light.

While we didn’t plan to start the fire, we were prepared. We had the foresight to bring a glass of water with us. Of course, we didn’t have the adult wisdom to realize it wouldn’t do much good. Not because the glass couldn’t sufficiently put out the fire when it first started, but because panic leads to running away instead of using the water.

Thankfully my first cousin was home. She was quick to react and put out the fire. I can’t say how she did it because the post traumatic stress of being trapped in a closet while it was on fire, even if only a tiny one, was enough to block out what happened afterwards. I suspect she stomped it out, but I like to think she used our water.

If you noticed, I used words like “we” and “our” to evenly spread the blame. I’m sure at the time of the scolding, I wasn’t so eager to use those words. The truth lies in some “imaginary box” the PTSD created in my head. I probably pointed out it was her book on fire. And only because she was a good kid, who honestly didn’t get into trouble. And while I wasn’t a bad kid, me being part of a fire in the closet wouldn’t have come as a big surprise. So I’m sure my pleas of innocence was met with the response, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Anyway, onto stuff about the book.

While reading this book I had to wonder... what was up with all the stuff about the math? Perhaps Mr. Larsson thought Lisbeth Salander could do for math what Rockstar’s do for voting (with Rock The Vote). Even I, who needs calculator assistance with basic math, was dreaming of cracking a few formulas after the super-cool, kick-ass Salander did it. I’m so swayed by peer pressure.

Further speculation about why Mr. Larsson inserted the math stuff had me coming to the conclusion that he wasn’t just talking about an unsolvable math equation. Maybe he got down and philosophical on us to say, “Hey, sometimes we are going to come across unsolvable life problems.”

I guess I’ll never really know whether I’m right. And don’t worry, I won’t be hiding in any closets with candles trying to conjure up his ghost to ask him.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rich Snow, Poor Snow

By now, many have seen pictures from the great blizzard of 2011 that hammered the Midwest last week. As I shoveled (and shoveled, and pulled something, and than shoveled some more) I thought about my boss’ comment on the blizzard:

“It could have been a whole lot worse,” he smiled.

It had me wondering what blizzard he encountered. It certainly wasn’t the same one I was still digging myself out of three days later.

Of course, Mother Nature doesn’t recognize prime real estate so as snows falls, it falls the same at my house as it does his house. It is only after it has landed that the distinction between rich snow and poor snow is made.

Now you might think all the frigid wind here has frozen part of my brain, and you might not be wrong, but I do believe snow is handled differently for the rich folk. And I say it with the confidence of someone who knows rich garbage is handled differently, so why not rich snow?

Garbage, I'm seriously going there. For me (and most everyone else), a big truck drives around the neighborhood and takes the garbage away. They are loud, they throw the cans around and they tie up traffic. All of which is unacceptable in my boss’ rich hometown.

And because the little patch of earth my boss’ garbage sits on is worth more than I make a year, his demands are met. His trash is taken away by men driving golf carts. Garbage men, no that isn’t a throwback to the eighties. At least not for the rich. For them, the garbage man was just there the other day. These men throw the rich waste into a trailer the golf cart pulls. It’s quiet, orderly and easily passable by drivers.

But wait, it gets better. I know, it doesn’t seem like it could get better than real men hauling garbage away in golf carts. In the rich downtown area where they have industrial trash, well golf carts would just be silly. Instead they have a fleet of their own exclusive garbage trucks. These trucks are white. Yes, white. And clean.

Back to the snow. Not so different from our loud, dirty garbage truck is its sister, the loud, dirty snowplow. Now I’ve never witnessed snow removal in rich-ville, but I imagine it is sort of mythical. Like snow elves come out, gather snow and skip away. They leave it all even, clean and beautiful.

I also believe these snow elves maintain the snow. Come on, you’ve seen the snow on the side of the road in your area. If it ain’t brown and nasty looking than you aren’t living with poor snow. Do I really need to say the rich aren’t subjected to having to look at that? At least not from their home!

And before you start thinking keeping up the snow maintenance is a big job for the snow elves, let me tell you something about the rich streets. See I think in addition to having street sweepers, they have street washers. I’d like to picture a modified Zamboni driving down them keeping them clean, but that would be taking it to middle class.

So maybe their streets aren’t as dirty as the ones I take to get home, but they do have some dirt. I mean, they have us (the collective poor, middle class) driving down their streets in our ten year old cars. I’m not sure what shocks them more: the dirt spread by our cars or the fact that cars still drive after two years.

Anyway, we don’t drive down their streets out of spite -- not usually -- we have jobs to do. Who else is going to mow their lawn, clean their house, wash their laundry, raise their kids?

So the dirt thrown up on rich snow by my people needs to be dealt with. And by dealt with, I mean either: a) fresh snow is sprinkled over it giving it a pretty, just snowed look, or b) if fresh snow isn’t available, well, I suspect they would take to some white spray paint for the same outcome.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Exclusive Advice: Read It!

A Vicky Hill Exclusive!, the first book in the series by Hannah Dennison, was a fun read. I could instantly relate to Vicky from page 2 when she knocked on her boss’ door and he yelled, “Who the hell is it?”

Except the question of who isn’t a concern of my boss. He only cares to know what you want. Thankfully he has never yelled, “What the hell do you want?” Although it is implied in the one word he does ask, “What?”

While reading this book, my inner voice developed an accent. I’ve never traveled abroad nor do I know anything about the different dialects spoken in Europe. I just know two things: 1) they exist and 2) my inner accent is probably not even close.

I read during my lunch so when I report back, my accent is hard at work. This is fun for me, except when my mouth decides it wants in on it. One of my favorite words in the book is “Blast!,” which comes up a lot with all the trouble that is trying to make Vicky its BFF.

Once I actually yelled, “Blast!,” which I guess was better than either of the four letter words I prefer. But my accent was so horrible my favorite coworker didn’t understand me. It really does all work out for the best sometimes.

Maybe it should have been a lesson not to read it during lunch, but I couldn’t resist. And the next time I came back from lunch it just so happened someone with a real accent called me. I’m not sure where he was from, but his accent was the soul mate to my accent. And when we hung up I couldn’t help but wonder if he actually called me “luv” or if it was my imagination.

I love coming across a good mystery and this book had it. You can count on me checking out the second in the series, Scoop!

And because there are better people in the world suited to sum up and review, I chose fictondb to give it to you:

The debut of a new series set in the sleepy English town of Gipping-on-Plym, featuring ambitious but bumbling investigative journalist Vicky Hill, who'll do anything to get that front- page story...

Vicky Hill has two goals: escape the never-ending boredom of funeral reporting and find the right man. Then a tip leads to what might be the scoop of a lifetime. There is a bizarre connection between three grisly chicken corpses and the unusual death of local hedge-jumping enthusiast Sir Hugh Trewallyn. Suddenly, it seems that this quiet market town harbors more than its fair share of secrets. Vicky's hoping it might be hiding some available men as well. But as she opens Gipping's Pandora's box, her own secrets come back to haunt her--even as her rival at the paper, sexy, unscrupulous Annabel Lake, tries to block her at every turn. Can Vicky rise to stardom before someone writes her obituary?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Second Opinion

My boss likes to get a second opinion on most everything. When it comes to the new girl he might be blatant about it, by right out asking my favorite coworker and I the same question he asked her earlier, but only after she’s gone for the day. But when it comes to getting a second opinion on something my favorite coworker or I say, he’s a little sneakier. I guess out of respect for all the years we’ve put into our job.

So what stealthy tactic does he use when it comes to us? I use to think my boss either a) couldn’t remember who was working on a project, b) didn’t care who was working on it, or c) just assumed our brains were somehow connected so he could ask either and we both should know.

In some case it could be any of the above. But in most cases I’ve come to believe it is his way of checking up on us. He wants to make sure our stories match. So he plays dumb. He won’t ask the same question to both of us, but when one isn’t around he’ll ask the other one like he didn’t know or needed an update.

Like so: My boss will ask me the status of an order he knows damn well my favorite coworker is handling. By asking me, he knows I’ll have to do some checking. When I come back with my answer, he’ll make sure it matches my coworker’s earlier answer. As long as our stories match it’s all good.

In some cases when our answers don’t match -- which only happens because I’m checking on something I have no idea about and how are you expected to always answer correctly on something you aren’t working on -- well, in those cases, my boss will pipe up and reveal the answer my coworker already gave him.

In those "she said, I said" moments, all I can say is well, she’s right (and I want to say if you already knew then why the hell are you wasting my time, but I don’t because he’s paying me to waste time). After that I usually wait around for my coworker to resurface and I relive the whole ordeal through whispers and throat chocking gestures, and after all that, then I get my own second opinion when I ask her if I’m crazy or is he an...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Object Worth Reading

Steve Martin’s latest book, An Object of Beauty, wooed me with its art world setting. I often romanticize the art experience when I think of going to an art museum, which this book inspired me to do, but which I refrained from because I know how it would turn out.

When I envision a trip to the art museum, it plays like a movie montage through my head. I see myself marveling at all the great paintings. But two things actually happen:

1) I never “get it,” because there is no osmosis at work there. Being in the presence of these great works and the people who could appreciate them don’t help me.

2) Similar to the five minutes or so it takes to watch a movie montage, I can get through a section of the museum and I’m ready to go. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate art. I just don’t have the patience for it.

So if it wasn’t the paintings the book talked about and the astronomical amount of money people paid for them that drew me in, what was it about the book I like? It was the people and the functions these paintings gathered. I would love to experience it, although, I fear I might be romanticizing this as much as I do the art museum.

Thankfully there is no prerequisite to read this book, well you might think literacy would be one, but where I see you point... I tell you there were also pictures in it. They were of the paintings referenced in the book, so maybe it wouldn’t be a contribution to someone not reading the text.

But getting back to my gratitude of not having to know art to enjoy the book. I’m sure maybe someone who does know a thing or two about paintings might enjoy this book more than I, but I don’t know those people so I can’t confirm.

Perhaps I’m just doing it wrong, and I say this because Steve Martin said this in a Los Angeles Times interview about the first painting he ever bought:

“I found that it wasn’t until I spent time alone with it that I had any kind of communion with it.”

Okay, if you know where I’m going here then you’ll know it only leads to jail. Because even if I bring a printed copy of that article to the art museum, I don’t see them finding me wanting to spend alone time with their paintings as anything other than illegal.

Anyway, I’ve provided a real review written by Publisher Weekly below. I couldn’t in good conscious only leave you with my recommendation which would go something lame like: if you love art or love the idea of art, maybe you should read it.

Publisher Weekly Review:
Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale. Lacey Yeager is an ambitious young art dealer who uses everything at her disposal to advance in the world of the high-end art trade in New York City. After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, she manipulates her way up through Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings," sleeping with patrons, and dodging and indulging in questionable deals, possible felonies, and general skeeviness until she opens her own gallery in Chelsea. Narrated by Lacey's journalist friend, Daniel Franks, whose droll voice is a remarkable stand-in for Martin's own, the world is ordered and knowable, blindly barreling onward until 9/11. And while Lacey and the art she peddles survive, the wealth and prestige garnered by greed do not. Martin (an art collector himself) is an astute miniaturist as he exposes the sound and fury of the rarified Manhattan art world. If Shopgirl was about the absence of purpose, this book is about the absence of a moral compass, not just in the life of an adventuress but for an entire era.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ulcer? Oh, And I'm Surprised?

Saturday night I was visited by a sharp pain in my left side. After a trip to the medical center Sunday afternoon, it was theorized to be an ulcer. An actual diagnosis can only be done with a scope by a gastroenterologist. I can live with the speculation because I’m not loving the idea of getting a scope down the throat.

When the pain hit, I honestly wasn’t thinking ulcer. In hindsight it seems so obvious. I won’t say it was a wake-up call, mostly because it’s so cliché, but also because I already knew I needed to change. What the ulcer did was let me know I’m sucking at the change thing.

Now the thing you don’t want to realize while you have an ulcer, given the whole “need to eliminate stress” thing that ulcers require, is just how old you really are. Because that was what I did while being driven to the medical center and it didn’t yield stress-free results.

See, I was still questioning whether I was overreacting. It’s a good one to ask before dropping at least a grand just to walk into the medical center (because my insurance sucks). If the pain was being caused by something life threatening, yes, I’d pay any amount of money to fix it. But, no, I don’t want to pay $1000 to hear I have gas.

As I looked really deep at whether going was the right choice, I was thinking with a 20-year-old brain. That was when I realized I’m closer to 40 than 20. A 40-year-old isn’t considered a hypochondriac because of a sharp pain in their left side. No, a 40-year-old, would be asked what took her so long to decide to go?

At that moment my ulcer knew it could sit back and relax. It wasn’t going anywhere with a mid-life crisis brewing. All the medicine and diet restrictions won’t do me any good if I’m indulging in the ridiculous.

My worry that me as “a 40-year-old stuck in a 9-5 hell” means anything more than me being “a 40-year-old stuck in a 9-5 hell” is ridiculous. It isn’t a prediction for my whole future, it’s a definition for now. And it only has to stay that way if I decide I don’t want to change after all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Opinion, Glad You Asked

Usually when an employee gets a review, their supervisor fills out an appraisal sheet on them. But that would be work, so instead, my boss is having us fill out our own appraisal sheets. I don’t have a problem doing this and plan to give myself the highest mark in each category.

Oh, it’s not what you think. Sure I think I do a good job, but the biggest reason is the other options leave me no other choice. Let me share a few examples:

In the “Quantity of Work” category...

The above average box says, “Produces a high quantity of work. A thorough and careful worker. Seldom slacks off.”

Why would I select above average and admit I slack off sometimes?

In the “Knowledge of Job” category...

The above average box says, “Thorough knowledge of job and procedures.” While the outstanding box says, “Thorough knows and follows correct procedure.”

By selecting above average, wouldn’t I basically be saying I’m a rogue worker who knows what I’m suppose to do, but does the job how I want?

In the “Dependability” category...

Here there is the issue of attendance and punctuality. You’ll need some facts first, in 2010 I missed two days of work. I’ve been on-time, except for maybe a couple unavoidable times when a car accident had traffic all backed up. And if you looked at my attendance for the whole of my time there, you could probably count the days I’ve been absent on one hand.

So here are my choices: 1) above average = rarely absent or tardy. 2) outstanding = excellent attendance and punctuality.

Don’t they seem like the same thing? Wouldn’t rarely absent or tardy be considered excellent? To me, excellent is not perfect. And if the form meant perfect, the form should have put that.

In the “Working Relations” category...

Of course I’m going to select outstanding with the words, “loyal worker” under it. I don’t think I need to say more.

Now given what I've told you about above average, soak in what it says about it under the “Overall Performance Rating” -- “Represents a high level of achievement. Employee clearly demonstrates ability to excel in job-related tasks.”

I think that's overly positive. I remember above average as: Sometimes I slack off, I know my job, but choose to do what I want, and I’m not what you would call loyal.

Geez, dare I look at what's under the category marked average.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who Looks Like The Idiot?

I'm not one of those grammatically capable people. And if you've read any of my previous posts you are probably thinking, don't we know it. It's not an ambition of mine to be good at it, even though maybe I should be better than I am. Especially since I will purposely avoid using sentences where I fear my grammar is so bad, I would offend my grade school teachers.

That out of the way, my boss sent me an email this morning to ask: "Do you know whom this person is?" The person in question is not important, what is, is his usage of the word "whom." I think it's wrong. Just going to put it out there. I think it should be: "Do you know who this person is?"

I had nowhere to turn, so naturally, I turned to Google. When I put in "Do you know whom this person is?" Google brought up search results with the note: did you mean... "Do you know who this person is?" because that is the results were showing you, moron. Thankfully, they don't call you a moron when they show you other result options otherwise I would get that A LOT.

Now I'm not saying Google is a credible source, but I'm feeling a little more comfortable with my position on this issue.

The second part of my vent... I thought it was a pretty presumptuous way to ask it. I mean, why couldn't he just ask: "Do you know this guy?" If we were a company where people could actually communicate with voice instead of email, he wouldn't be walking over spouting "Do you know whom this person is?"

Does he need to show me his superiority, his higher degree of education, his bigger bank account by acting like he is all refine? And I'm the idiot who would say, "Anyone hear of this dude?"

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Interrupt This Blog

I interrupt this blog to introduce you to two new blogs I started yesterday. For fans of 925 Hell, don’t worry, I will continue to post here as I always have.

I hope you'll check them out:

If Blogging Burned Calories

My attempt to stay healthy while engaging in an activity, blogging, that is less than physical. I hope you will join me as I try to transfer some mush into muscle. And keep off those extra alien pounds that are waiting to jump on me from cyberspace.

2011 Preview: Tips for health and wellness. And a series: Tune-up Tuesday.

If Barking Burned Calories

My dogs are overweight and I’m to blame. My challenge is to get them to lose weight despite not being able to walk them outside on a regular basis. I’m going to share how I do it all with you.

2011 Preview: Alternative exercise options, product reviews and recipes.

And finally... 2011 Preview for 925 Hell:
  • My Gold list revealed
  • Outdo Yourself book reviews
  • Odd Alpha Day - New Series!
  • And, of course, more tales from the working front lines
I hope you’ll tune in because I think 2011 will be a great blogging year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

That's My Gold

Goal setting has never been successful for me. Not saying that I haven’t achieved things, but I’ve done so with a last minute, I hope I get the desired result, effort. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

Before judgment is passed, let me assure the world: I’ve tried! I’ve read books and articles to learn how to set goals, but it didn’t take. To date I haven’t been able to apply what I’ve learned in actual real life situations where goals are needed.

All that said, I have learned not to fall for the popular tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve accepted it and moved on, maybe one day things will be different, but 2011 will be goal free.

But all this doesn’t mean I’ll be flying through 2011 completely on a whim. I’ve come up with something that I believe will work better for me. Instead of making a list of goals, I’m going to make a list of things I consider to be gold.

My Gold is a list of valuable things at my disposal to help me in my quest to accept where I am in my life right now. Its purpose is perfectly summed up with:

“Grow where you are planted.” --Proverb

My Gold will also be flexible enough so as I grow during the year, it will continue to be serviceable.

I’ll share My Gold in future posts, so stay tuned!