Friday, December 15, 2006
No errands. No concerts. No exams. Nada.
And it’s not just because it makes things busy and a bit hectic, but also because it messes with my sleep. I’m tired and the result is that pretty much everyone around me pays for it. Our schedules are messed up and I forget that it’s probably easier to just cut everyone some slack instead of trying to plow forward.
At this point I would like to offer up an apology to those around me who have had to deal with my moodiness. While I don’t really plan on doing anything about it – I feel the need to say I’m sorry.
When I’m tired my mind goes a bit mushy – I get a bit more sensitive and, at this time of the year, that’s a dangerous thing. Christmas songs make me tear up on the ride in to work, I choke up reading The Littlest Angel, I worry that I’m forgetting someone on my gift list.
Once again, I have decided to not send out cards – for no other reason that I just didn’t make the time for it. I can be honest about that – I won’t make some lame-ass excuse and say that I’m protesting the ever-increasing price of stamps. But, this decision leaves me with a bit of guilt ever time I open a card that someone sends to our house.
I do enjoy Christmas and look forward to the holidays, but this week has taken a lot out of me and it has left me feeling like it looks outside – grey, blah, and muddy.
I have been listening to many of my co-workers talk about their upcoming extended holidays and while I’m not really jealous (it was my choice to use up my vacation days), I do envy them the time off. Some time away from this place would be a good thing. A very good thing.
So while it no fault of theirs – I simply don’t want to hear about it.
Anyhow, I’ll keep watching the skies for that snow – it always seems to brighten things up make you feel like you’ve been given a brand new blank sheet of paper that you can do anything with.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Most kids stories have two levels: entertaining and teaching. While the kids picture animals talking to one another, parents are hoping that the messages are getting through.
Go at a steady pace, work hard all the time, size doesn’t matter when it comes to rescuing lions, and so on.
It’s from these stories that we get great expressions like: slow and steady wins the race.
Here at work we have expressions too, like “single piece work flow”.
We try to apply this theory at home. It means don’t take out a new set of toys until you’ve put the ones you are finished with away. It also means, finish what you’ve started. And to me, it also means, if you took it out, you put it away – I’m not your maid.
Apparently this lesson isn’t learned by all. For instance, my boss (oh come on, you knew this was coming.).
He has taken it upon himself to learn how to do a type of analysis. This is a one-person job and should only take a few hours to complete.
In a twisted version of Henny-Penny, the hen who wanted all the other farm animals to help make the bread, my boss recruited the assistance of many associates to help him get this report done.
And who will prepare and test the sample for me?
And who will jot down notes while I dictate them for me?
And who will do more material testing for me?
And who will help me figure out what design it is?
And who will help me write the comments?
And who will help me calculate more information?
And who will enter it in the computer for me?
And who will proofread the report for me?
And who will do the second proofread the report for me?
And who will tell me where to put everything when I’m done?
At the end of the three weeks it took to do the reports, there were about seven people involved.
I suppose as long as he was walking at a steady pace and holding the scissors with the pointy end down, it was all right.
Now if I remember the Tale of the Little Red Hen correctly, she only let those animals that helped her eat the bread. Does this mean that my boss is going to add all of our names to the report? I think not.
So for god sake people, teach your kids the basic lessons in life.
Let my boss be a warning to all of you who wonder if it’s worth it.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
How are else do you explain the burst of laughter when Jack accidentally said “ass” instead of “gas”?
I mean, I found it funny, but then I’m not charged with running the country.
It is refreshing to see them not take themselves so seriously, but in response to his question on whether he should take the comment personally or not…
…yes Stephen…you are an ass.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The way I see it, this is happening to the US’s social conscience. There have been many signs that things are crumbling – the most recent being the whole OJ thing.
I didn’t want to waste even thirty seconds on that guy, but under the circumstances – I will. The man is completely narcissistic and doesn’t need anyone to talk about him – he does it for everyone, but for the grace of some unnamed god, this has been temporarily stopped.
I take it as an amazing sign that people are waking up and realizing that they do not have to put up with this crap. It would be simple to say – don’t buy his book, don’t watch his show, but it had to go further. He would benefit from “pretending” that he killed two people that, in all likelihood, he already has. Disgusting doesn’t even scratch the surface.
It would be equally amazing to think that News Corporation decided the same thing, but the truth is that they were bowing to public pressure and the almighty dollar.
So be it.
If holding out on them gets something worthwhile done – then let’s all feign headaches and say “Sorry Rupert, tonight you’re sleeping on the sofa…”
So, with recent changes in the government and the heaving of certain deadweights (Dummy..oh I mean Rummy) – it would appear that people are becoming aware of the fact that things have been going to hell, with their leaders driving and the media taking pretty postcard shots of it all.
I realize that there is so much more than needs to happen before a significant improvement will show up on the radar screen, but it has to start somewhere…
People have been spoon-fed information for years and it would appear that they may become frustrated with the either the pace of feeding or the food. You can always complain to the cook, but we all know what can happen to your food when it goes back to the kitchen.
Grabbing the spoon doesn’t imply that the food will be any better, but at least you can put it down and stop eating you feel sick to your stomach.
Monday, November 06, 2006
This goes beyond reality TV shows. The people there aren’t looking for self-fulfillment and solutions for their problems, they are looking for the attention they desperately crave and validation that they are unique…. just like everyone else.
There is only so much Dr. Phil can do for you in a 60 minutes session (minus commercials) in front of a live studio audience. Please don’t act surprised when you feel like a fool.
And this also goes beyond the water cooler gossip. That stuff is kind of interesting, particularly for some of us who don’t spend the bulk of our day walking around and talking. It’s a quick way to get a hint of what’s going on in other departments and even the cubicle next door.
Of course, how true this information is questionable, but the entertainment value is pretty high.
No, I’m talking about people’s need to tell you EVERYTHING about what is happening in their lives. And I don’t mean general snippets, but all the gory details.
Does it make you feel better to purge – probably for a moment or two, but the truth is that you’ve only managed to spread the issue, not resolve it.
I should add a disclaimer – I truly believe that you should talk to people about your feelings and/or issues. Family members, close friends, and even a therapist, if need be. It is nice to have someone to bounce your thoughts off and sometimes have them say – "I know how you feel". It’s reassuring and a necessary sanity check. I am fortunate to have a small group of people that I feel I can turn to.
Unfortunately, some people (many, it would seem) feel that the general population is their support group and blab all to everyone. No distinction, no tact, no consideration.
This morning I heard a song that I don’t really like. It’s a bit annoying, but I do like an expression they use: "poisoned rationality". This, to me, describes what more and more people are like. They talk about anything as if it’s a cake recipe.
They list the skeletons in the closet as if they were reading off a grocery list. "Oh yeah, I was anorexic in high school too, and then I got past that, but had to deal with my addiction to crack. Fortunately I met a guy who helped me kick that, but then he kicked me too – I had to get a restraining order to prevent him from coming near me…since I was pregnant…."
Sure they are facts, but that doesn’t mean you have to share them.
At every possible moment.
Oh I know, I’m a "hold my cards close to me" kind of person, so perhaps I’m too much of an extremist to comment on the blabbermouths out there. Some might argue that it’s not up to me to decide who can say what and you’re right…and it’s also a damn good thing.
I’m all for freedom of speech, but I’m a bigger supporter of freedom to not have to listen to most of the speech out there.
If I don’t like a TV show – I switch the channel or turn it off. Don’t like the song – ditto.
Until there is a remote that allows me to switch people to mute – I either have to listen or walk away.
More and more, I’m walking away. Or at least not taking the conversational bait like, "boy did I have a crappy weekend…" or "…you wouldn’t believe what my brother who just came out of the closet is putting our family through…"
The powers that be are concerned that we are growing up de-sensitized to violence and sexual images because of how present they are in every aspect of the media and our lives. I would argue that the same could be said about the concept of privacy. The idea that someone should keep their personal and/or family issues within the family is an archaic idea – that’s so old school – talk about it – get it out in the open – go on TV and tell a quasi-sympathetic reporter all about.
And why should you share your story?
Because there are thousands out there who are experiencing the same thing and could learn from you?
Because there are millions of people out there who have nothing better to do on Monday night and there isn’t much else on TV. The sitcom is apparently dead and there are too many Law & Order, hospital, and CSI shows to choose from.
And to bring is back down to the average person level. People would rather hear about so-and-so’s latest stress leave than to discuss ways to improve the wellness program.
Try talking about politics at the coffee machine and unless you make a Belinda Stronach/Leaf Blower joke…the conversation fizzles away.
Should the war on Iraq continue? Hey – they plan to hang Hussein.
Mine is not a new perspective on the state of things, but a rather tired one. However, I’m invoking my right to say what I want and if you don’t like it – may I suggest that you click that little x in the top right-hand corner.
(But, if you’ve read this far, then you probably won’t.)
So people, check out the latest list of fashion dos and don’ts: skin is no longer in.
Modesty and leaving something to the imagination is cool.
Showing your butt-crack is now considered tacky. So is talking about it.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
However, I think it’s necessary to comment on my state of mind and how things are going with me. The answer to both of these is the same – “crazy”.
This place is driving me nuts. We are working on improving employee engagement and the company is using the oldest trick in the book: drive everyone’s morale into the ground and then work on improving the conditions. This way, the end result may be actually be lower than the initial mark, but we all feel a hell of a lot better.
We had a meeting to kick-off how we are going to tackle these issues. It’s important at this stage to have a little friendly competition, so informal teams of the old versus the young(er). This practically guarantees witty banter like – “do your job and suck it up” and “but I want more from job”.
So after the incredibly de-moralizing hour and half, we slumped out of the room and dejected headed back to our cubicles.
And now the fun begins. Now we start to slowly rebuild the department. It will start with the slow rumbling of people uniting a joint cause – one I like to call Project Mutiny.
Great ideas will get tossed around. Ideas that were suggested months ago, but that didn’t any second thought because they were not part of a forced agenda.
I’m hoping that my suggestion that we need to have training for management will be taken seriously – I believe that no matter how skilled you are with a keyboard, your people skills may be limited to pushing people’s buttons. Apparently CTL+ALT+Delete doesn’t work on re-booting people.
Watching a train wreck is something you uncontrollably drawn to do, despite how painful it may be. Being part of the train wreck is just as painful, unless of course you’re the person shoveling coal into the fire and singing:
"I was riding on a train that wasn't bound for glory
Riding on a train, the train was bound for hell
Riding on a train that wasn't bound for glory, that's for sure
Riding on a train that's bound for hell "
(Hell-Bound Train - Love and Rockets)
Then it’s interesting.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Of course there are the obvious comments where people make fun of the policy, but for the most part, people see the value in it.
The one concept some people, including myself, have trouble with is "ignoring others".
Now I don't mean ignorance - the company apparently has no qualms with that. What they don't want are associates to intentionally ignore people.
The issue I have with this is that I live to ignore people. I have to ignore people.
You'll recall that we have a problem with wanderers at my work. The people who spend the bulk of their day wandering around talking to others. I do my utmost to ignore these people - sometimes subtlely (like pretending I didn't hear them talking to me) to blatantly (not turn away form my screen and stop typing while they stand in my doorway).
Technically speaking - I can't do this anymore. Or at least these people could complain about me doing these things - should they notice that I'm not paying them any attention - which I'm sure most of them wouldn't (notice that is).
Today was a true test of this as more than a few co-workers decided to see how long I could hold out before I either walked away or started to work while they talked to me.
I'm proud to report that I made it through, but it's a really good thing that no one here can read minds.
I'm all for creating a safe work environment where no one feels threatened, harrassed, or isolated, but not at the expense of my sanity.
Ask me to tone down the swearing - done.
Tell me to stop telling raunchy jokes - done.
Force me to stop pinching my co-worker's ass - done.
But, for the love of god, don't take away my freedom to ignore people.
Like oxygen and chocolate, the ability to tune others out is vital to my ability to get through the day.
I saw a saying for a T-shirt yesterday that would be perfect for work - should I want to choose the quickest route to getting fired - it said, "I see dumb people". Ha!
The other one I liked, which would likely have the same consequence: "My parents said I could be anything I wanted - so I became an asshole". Double Ha!
So - in addition to showing up every day, doing my work, and developing my skills - I must now add another item on my To Do list:
Sing it with me..."R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me...."
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I mentioned to A. that this is one of the best books that I've read. His response - "this week, this month, or ever?".
Okay - maybe I've been reading a lot lately. That's not a bad thing, is it?
So, highly recommended on my list is "We Have to Talk About Kevin", by Lionel Shriver. I actually had a really, really hard time getting into this one, but it was worth the persistence. I won't try and critique it - I won't do it justice, but it's bound to be one of those love it or hate it choices.
It's an interesting persepective about a topic that's becoming disturbingly mainstream and blasé - school shootings.
The whole process of reading it was like Life of Pi (another highly recommended). I couldn't get into it either, but it was a great book. However, people either liked it or they didn't - there was no wishy-washy about it.
So, my short-list of recommended books (and I'm leaving out a lot of classics since it may appear that I'm throwing them in for posterity):
(and the list is in no particular order)
We Have to talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Wicked - Gregory McGuire
Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
The Stand - Stephen King
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
different Seasons (short stories) - Stephen King
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time - Mark Haddon
The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales - J. Scieska & L. Smith
I like a crap load more than this, but these are the ones that I would select as representative of my favorites from a number of authors. Some I like that I'm pretty sure others would find "whatever". My interest in Josephine B is likely more than most people.
So, take it for what it is - a snapshot of what I like now. The list will likely morph over the next litte while (possibly next week, according to A!).
So, go for the old standard if you like - or take a chance and go for the chef's recommendation du jour.
Friday, October 27, 2006
First, I did co-op interviews yesterday. I had five interviews scheduled, but my fourth was a no-show…or so I thought. The interview was scheduled for 25 minutes and after the student hadn’t shown up after the first 10 minutes I wrote him off.
I decided to review my notes while I waited for the last interview candidate. Suddenly there was knock on the door and there stood a lanky guy wearing clothes that he probably slept in. He apologized for being late and justified it by saying he just found out about the interview 10 minutes ago. Riiiight!!
Ten minutes later, he’s walking out the door after a very brief, very bland and uninformative waste of my time. He was totally unprepared and uninterested in the job. When I left my ranking at the main desk, the woman asked me about him and I told her that I would have had a better opinion of him if he hadn’t showed up.
He’s not going to go far with that attitude.
Second thing, a neighbour of ours – who happens to be the father of Dash’s friend – pulled a doozy. His son is whiny, manipulative and bordering on social misfit status. He manages to get himself into many predicaments, but it’s NEVER his fault.
We’ve received a few phone calls suggesting that Dash is the source – of course your son couldn’t possibly be responsible for cutting up his shirt with scissors, Dash made him do it. Of course your son couldn’t possible have taken other kids toys – they were all given to him. Now that they are in different classes, they’ve probably had to find a new kid to blame.
So when the tables were turned and one of their precious son’s Yu-gi-oh cards was “stolen”, Daddy comes to the rescue. Daddy-o decides to stop off at the culprit’s bus stop yesterday morning to confront him.
Now the kid who took the card is a Class A shit disturber – no arguments from me there, but he is nine years old and doesn’t need some other kid’s dad showing up at his babysitter’s (when his parents aren’t around) to ask for the suddenly vital trading card back..
I don’t agree with this tactic since it’s very intimidating and this should go through the parents – or at least have them aware that he plans to talk to their son.
The kicker is that Daddy-o is a police officer and he chose to show up for the interrogation in uniform. I think this is horrible and a misuse of his authority status. Shit or no shit – this kid doesn’t need to be intimidated, in front of other kids, by a parent – never mind a police officer.
And the parent of the year award goes to….Constable Holier Than Thou.
The third thing is the issue surrounding the ad that Michael J Fox did to support a US candidate who backs stem-cell research.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that MJF has Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed with it in 1991, which means that he’s had it for 15 years. I’m not a doctor, but I think that the disease and its symptoms get worse over time – not better.
So when some dumb-ass US radio personality decides to attack the ads, saying that MJF was “overacting” or had intentionally under-medicated himself during the ads to exaggerate the shaking, I get really pissed off.
First off, no one and I mean no one insults Michael J Fox.
He and I have a long-standing, uncomplicated relationship. I have adored him from afar for many, many years and he does not know I exist. It works beautifully.
Secondly – why would he fake it? He HAS the disease.
I doubt that it was a ploy to show his range of acting abilities. Last time I checked, shaky-Parkinson-men are not high demand roles.
I bet Rush also thought Christopher Reeves was a lazy sympathy seeker too. (“What’s with the breathing tube? Gimme a break…as if falling off a horse would be that bad. Stop with the gasping and broken speech thing and just say what you want.”)
At the end of the day, I was furious with that state of mind that some people are aloud to have. What a waste.
The ironic thing was that yesterday morning I went through Respect in the Workplace Training (Sensitivity/Harassment).
And it’s a good thing that within this bubble environment I can rely on my co-workers to be model citizens (or at least pretend to), because things seem to go to hell out there in the real world.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
On the way to the hill, a guy (let’s call him Steve) sitting in front of me, turned around and starting talking to me and my friend. Steve was joking around, but I remember he said and/or did something relatively harmless by today’s standards, but it freaked me out.
I don’t even remember what it was; however, I do remember that it was suggestive and to my prudish grade eight ways (again, compared to today’s standards) I was offended.
A lot of my friends at the time were boys and while we were at the hill I told one of them what had transpired. He (let’s call him Jake) insisted that he would sit with me on the way back and although I said it was necessary, I was relieved. On the ride home Chris quietly told me, “No offence to you, but I almost wish Steve would try something again so that I can punch him out”.
I was secretly thrilled.
Here was a guy who was willing to fight for my "honor" and I didn’t even ask him to.
Now my protector never became more than that...although, I did have a small (secret) crush on him and physically he set my standards for future boyfriends (tall, thin, and blond).
Side note: that was a big mistake.
Since that memorable winter evening, I have had a few experiences when a guy has became my knight – not slaying dragons, but threatening annoying “admirers” to back-off or offering to beat the shit out of someone that has hurt me.
The best thing was that in all of these instances, it was self-motivated – not me pleading for them to save me.
Whether there’s a damsel in distress inside all of us females or if it’s just me – I can’t help but get a bit a of a thrill at the thought of someone willing to do battle for you…not because they like to be an asshole and beat people up, but because they want to help you.
Now some may say that these guys probably had an ulterior motive for wanting to help me out – to impress me or even get on my good side (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). For the most part, I disagree. Rarely were these my boyfriends, but more my friends, co-workers, and friends of friends – guys that were looking out for me.
While I would never wish for something to happen that would require one of my knights to come galloping in – it was reassuring to know that somewhere there was one of them out there – polishing his armour (hey, whatever turns your crank) and ready to help me out.
I consider myself an independent person who is capable of taking care of my self in most situations. I can speak up, stand up, and walk off in some crappy scenarios. Really though - who wants to slay all the dragons by themselves?
I can think of a handful of guys who I could count on (not expect) to defend me if I was in need. And I’m not talking about taking the fall for me if I screw up intentionally. I’m talking about when bad (or annoying) things happen to good people.
I do need to clarify something here. I'm not referring to the Prince Charmings of the world - the guys who feel it's their role in life to go out and save fair maidens - for a price, of course.
If there's only one thing to learn from all the fairy tales out there..."happily ever after" means you and Prince Charming are expected to hook up.
(Don't kiss the frogs!)
It's the Karate Kids, the Peter Parkers, and the Jamie Mackenzies that I'm talking about. The seemingly "guys-next-door" who step up when they are needed.
I know, I know...these are fictional characters, but there are real guys out there that fit the bill. The thing is, they wouldn't even want to be named - if I were bold enough to do so.
A lot may have changed since my grade 8 ski trip, but isn't it nice to know that although some feel chivalry may be dead (or dormant), there are still some knights out there.
Friday, October 06, 2006
What is it with engineers? Why do they feel the need to remind everyone that they are one?
I work with a few and consider it a hazard. There’s the constant refrain of, “…that’s just how engineer think about things” or “…I’m an engineer, I like numbers and graphs.”
Big fuckin’ deal.
I’m a woman, but I don’t say that I prefer to receive my reports on perfume scented paper. Nor do I say, “I’m a psych major – I prefer all analyses to refer back to your childhood.”
The fact that you took engineering through university is highly admirable. The fact that you can’t move past the ring and diploma displayed prominently on your wall is not.
My theory is that there is some type of modified metal used in the rings that engineers so proudly wear. Very quickly after graduation, it releases something into their bloodstream that causes the following possible side effects:
- Obnoxious behaviour
- Intolerance of anything that may be “touchy-feely”
- Social awkwardness
- Spontaneous bouts of smugness
My first real experience in the presence of an engineer, well okay engineer student, was during university when a previously nice guy (attending Queens) spat on the school jacket of another friend because he went to Western, in the engineering program.
Apparently saying, my school is better than yours wasn’t strong enough a message.
My mom was briefly married (shudder) to an engineer. Actually, he wasn’t a full-fledge engineer – he was a wanna-be. He wasn’t secure enough to admit that he had only a “college diploma” (gasp) and compensated by spouting bullshit every time he opened his mouth. He knew everything about everything that was mechanical, chemical, or otherwise engineering related. In short, he was an ass.
Now I’m sure there are exceptions out there.
No doubt, there are pockets of engineers that are socially aware. They realize that they are privileged to be so educated and to have the opportunity to have such good jobs. They are skilled at designing, drafting, creating reports, AND working with non-engineer people.
These exceptional engineers feel as comfortable talking to a person as they do a machine.
They are capable of picking out a coordinating outfit that does not include a shirt and tie.
In short, they are probably gay, which practically guarantees that you will never see them out of the closet.
A gay engineer?! Isn’t that like a conservative hippy.
I might appear that I’m engineer bashing, but I’m not. They certainly are useful and with a few tweeks and adjustments they could be a good lot of people.
So if in a few years one of my kids comes home and announces that they have decided to become an engineer. I will do what any loving parent would do – accept them for who they are and then wonder what the hell I did wrong.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Sometimes the best thing you can say is “I’m sorry”. Even if it’s not 100% true.
Last night on my way out of the office, a co-worker that I affectionately call Hatchet-Face, commented on an email I had sent out.
Background: I recently assumed responsibility for the ISO system in our department and just guess who the previous owner was? This person is slowly being phased out, which I would normally feel bad about, except that she should have retired about ten years ago.
She should be helping with the transition.
It would seem that she is hell-bent on letting me make mistakes and not in a “fly from the nest baby bird” kind of way. She seems to take pleasure in letting me know what I should have done AFTER I’ve done it.
And that’s what happened last night.
As I got ready to leave the office, she made the helpful comment that I should have included additional information in an email I had sent out.
Why? Because it’s what we’ve always done.
I responded, in a more than slightly edgy way, that I haven’t always done this job and that I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants.
She got a bit nasty and mentioned that I’ve been using the system for x number of years and should be familiar with it.
Yeah I’ve used it, as a user not an administrator.
Big difference and she of “ultimate ISO omnipotent power” should be aware of this. She has lorded it over us for years about how big a responsibility and how much work it is to maintain this system.
Apparently, that only applies when it’s you.
So I drove home talking to myself. Well, actually, I was talking to her, but I don’t think she heard me. I was pissed off.
I hate ending a day on a bad note, knowing that I’m going to stew over it most of the evening. And I did.
I vented and formulated my argument. I edited it to remove words like “immature”, “hag”, and “pain in the ass”. I was fully prepared to come in and let her have it. Enough of this tip-toeing around her bullshit.
Then early in the morning I realized that I would still need her help and that it wouldn’t do much good to blow up at her. I wasn’t willing to overlook what happened, but realized that I shouldn’t resort to her tactics.
So first thing this morning I apologized for snapping at her. Note: I did not say I was sorry for WHAT I said, but rather HOW I said it. Huge difference.
She did admit that she was bothered by what I had said and mentioned that if she had my home number she would have called me. I cannot imagine what I would have said to her if she had called me last night - likely I would be apologizing for more than a snippy remark. I might be having a meeting with the department head and HR.
She did appreciate me coming to her this morning and “clearing the air”. She feels that she’s always been very helpful and that my comment and tone wasn’t warranted (?!).
Translation: apology accepted - you were wrong and I was right.
So now, I have to gear myself up to dealing with her again, but I suppose I have to put away the boxing gloves away and find some kid gloves to wear. These may be awkward at first, but at least I’ll keep my hands clean.
And hide any fingerprints I might leave.(As for the Hatchet Face reference: that's what Stymie called his mean ole stepmom on The Little Rascals.
Totally amazing coincidence - I went looking for pictures and I put Hatchet Face into Google Images...the third or fourth image was of a women who had almost the identical name of the Hatchet Face I work with....really, really eerie!)
Monday, September 25, 2006
What’s a girl to do?
Option 1 – turn around and continue along the path that I’m already on. It’s not that challenging terrain, the animals are harmless (they leave me alone), but I have a feeling that I’ve been circling past the same spot again and again. Not to mention, I last saw the Trial Guide squatting in the bushes looking for a four-leaf clover.
Option 2 – take the other trail that, although similar to the one I’m on, is at least heading in a different direction. New sites, new terrain to cover, and a new Trail Guide.
Option 3 – sit down, have a snack, and wait for inspiration
Generally, I alternate between Options 1 and 3. (Hey - never underestimate the power of reflection and good snack).
This time I’ve opted for door number two.
I have an interview tomorrow for a job within the company. Although it’s not my dream job, it’s oriented slightly more towards the direction I want to go. Besides, I don’t think I can continue to work where I am, particularly with the boss that I have.
Well, I suppose I could, but I don’t want to.
I could go on and on about him, but that would be giving him more thought than I care to. Forget Valdemort – my boss is the true “He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named”.
His name encompasses all that is evil in management: laziness, uselessness, and ineptitude (to name just a few). If only I had paid attention in Dark Arts class.
So tonight I will prep myself (“No really – I have no weaknesses” “Handling conflict? It’s my way or the highway – no conflict there”) and do my best to get to bed at a reasonable hour – something that I have been very unsuccessful with for the past three nights (A’s working nights).
It’s likely to be a long walk tomorrow…got be well rested.
Wish me luck.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Now most of those who know me know that I don’t like shopping, especially for clothes. But once in a blue moon I get the urge to check things out. In NYC apparently shopping is the thing to do. There were a number of other things I wanted to see and experience before heading into yet another clothing store, but I did anyway. My mom was in search of shoes and god help us; we were going to find them.
Anyone who goes in search for a particular item knows that you will NEVER find it when you are actually looking for it. You will find it when you have no money, no time to try it on or a pile of excuses in your head. So, we wandered from shoe store to shoe store will no luck. We finally hit on one where I saw a pair of red shoes that really caught my eye. They were flats, nothing flashy, but I really liked them. I even tried them on and still liked them. I checked out the price (gulp) and was still liking them. But I didn’t buy them.
My mom, despite the fact that she was the one shoe shopping, insisted that she buy them for me, but I didn’t want her to. She had insisted on buying almost everything else and I became a petulant teenager, insisting that I could buy my own things. Rather than seeing it as a mother trying to "treat" her daughter, I took it as a dig that I couldn’t’ possibly take care of myself.
So I refused and said that I didn’t really like them that much. But I did.
Four months later I still think about those shoes and I have looked around for a pair to replace those that I saw, but as I mentioned earlier – you can never find them when you are actually looking for them.
So should I have given in and just let her buy them? No. But I do regret not buying them.
Now to be hung up on a pair of red shoes that I saw in NYC, on today of all days, may seem very shallow. Of all the significant events and sights in that particular city, it may seem like I’m focusing on a power struggle in a shoe store.
Not really. I’m pointing out the whole concept of regrets.
I’m imagining that five years ago there were many, many people thinking – shit, why have I been so friggin’ stubborn about things. You cannot convince me that there weren’t any people with regrets that day. Maybe it was in vain - after all what’s done is done, but I can imagine that many people were sitting there thinking, "I wish I had…"
So, it’s fine and dandy to say you have no regrets for what you’ve said or done, but like mistakes, I think regrets are important. How else are you going to be reminded that you’re learning. How else are you going to learn that you have to ask yourself – "am I going to regret doing/ not doing this?" Regrets can serve as a reminder and a warning.
I’ve done things that I’ve regretted. I know, I know, it’s because of these things that I am where I am and I have what I have, but maybe I would have ended up here anyway and could have avoided some things or enjoyed others. I can accept that they happened and that they were because of my choices, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t look back and think – "I really should have done that differently".
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m happy about most things I’ve done and even some things that I thought were mistakes, which ended up being good things. I look back on those and smile. From the other things - I have learned. Mistakes and regrets are inevitable – the key, in my opinion, is not to dwell on them. Use them as reminders for future situations, but then keep moving.
So yes, they may have just been a pair of red shoes, but it could have been something much more important and not as easily replaced. I can kick myself for not giving in on the pair of shoes, but I cannot imagine what I would be feeling if I had let something more significant and life altering go by - for the sake of pride.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Function: noun2 : the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection
This is word that comes up a lot in my conversations. I’m not entirely sure what my stand is on it. I think it’s a completely overused (and misused) word, like “Ironic” (sorry Alanis).
Two people bumping into each other in the washroom is not a coincidence – you both had to go pee – that’s nature, not coincidence. Bumping into someone you haven’t seen in ten years and were just thinking about – now that’s what I would label a coincidence.
But is it?
Now Celestine Prophecy followers will recognize that no, in fact it wasn’t a coincidence. It was fate, karma, or whatever they called it. In their mind, there is no such thing as a coincidence – everything happens for a reason and hopefully you will be aware enough to realize it. I’ve read The Celestine Prophecy and find the principles very interesting and reassuring. To know that there is some design to all the seemingly random things that happen in you life means that it’s not all for not.
Of course, like most interesting ideas – it goes too far.
(I’m not really sure that I’m going to start squinting at people to try and see their “auras”. If it looks like I’m squinting at you – I’m not – I’m glaring. And if I’m glaring at you, I really don’t give a fuck what your aura looks like.)
So back to coincidences. I love the chill I get when I’ve been thinking about someone or something and then something happens that seems connected (see definition). Unless of course it’s someone or something I don’t want to see or have happen. But then is it considered a premonition or a sign of the apocalypse?
Could it be that we are able to pick up on other people’s wave lengths. Not mind-read (although my kids think I can…”how did you know I ate the last cookie?”), but get a sense of the non-obvious things they are thinking about.
And if that isn’t enough, while copying the definition for the word coincidence, I decided to check the “Word of the Day”. It was picaresque. This meant virtually nothing to mean until I read the definition.
picaresque • \pik-uh-RESK\ • adjective : of or relating to rogues or rascals; also : of, relating to, suggesting, or being a type of fiction dealing with the episodic adventures of a usually roguish protagonist
The fact that I stayed up until midnight reading the second book of “episodic adventures of a usually roguish protagonist” Outlander series seems a bit strange, n’est-ce pas?
Now like most horoscopes and palm readers, the coincidences may be so vague that almost everyone can see something that relates to their life. I seriously doubt though that most people can legitimately use picanesque in a sentence on a given day.
Coinci-dink? I think not.
Of course, there’s the problem that people may start to rely too much on the fate/destiny angle. Sometimes things just happen and there is a reason, but it has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Like this whole Canjet flight cancellation thing. It was a big shock and piss off when I realized that my flight s to Halifax and back were cancelled. Initial attempts to fix the problem frustrated me when it appeared as though I was going to have to take the refund and cancel my trip. I did take the refund, but was able to re-schedule my trip to another weekend. A weekend that was much better than the original one. A weekend that would allow me stay a bit longer and with much less hassle. This improvement would not have happened if the airline hadn’t cancelled its flights.
Now, as important as I think I am, I highly doubt that the forces behind the universe decided to put a bug in some airline executive's ear and start a chain reaction that would eventually see the stoppage of scheduled flights….all so that I go make an unforeseen change to my travel plans. This would be considered a coincidence, not destiny or fate.
I can pretend though.
(Thanks to the "wind beneath my wings" for the inspiration for and title of this entry)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Issue: a hand painted sign:
Life is a long trail
Ride a good horse
Pretentious co-op student: What is that suppose to mean…life is a trial?
Me: It says trail not trial…life is a long trail, ride a good horse
Pretentious co-op student: It doesn’t make sense.
Me: Yes, it does – it means have fun while you’re alive
Pretentious co-op student: Life isn’t a trail…it’s a state a being
Pretentious co-op student: It isn’t a trail – the sign doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I don't really like fish. Let me rephrase that - until recently, I didn't like fish. I now enjoy salmon. And tuna, but that's really chicken in a can (just ask Jessica Simpson).
Unfortunately tonight we had battered Atlantic sole (which was mistakenly grabbed instead of Atlantic salmon). Mashed potatoes are great - they are hard to screw up and I have no issue with them. It's the combination of the patates and the fish that did me in.
About four years ago I went to a conference in New Orleans. The actual conference was from Monday to Wednesday, but I decided to take advantage of the situation and fly down on Saturday, with A. The city is absolutely crazy and amazing. You could get lost there. I mean you could just forget that there is a world outside and decide to stay - that is if you can manage to limit your time on Bourbon Street. During our short stay we checked out a number of things and did a lot of walking around. Of everything that I remember about the trip, the one that stands out seems like nothing special.
It wasn't the 3-for-1 Happy hour that goes on every day at all the bars on Bourbon Street. (Side note - this is a bad, bad thing)
It wasn't the amazing community of plantation styled mansions that we toured through on a trolley car. (I saw Anne Rice's house- woo-hoo!!)
It wasn't the endless number of alleyways that weren't just used for displaying art, but all seemed to have courtyards at the end with gardens and fountains.
It wasn't the absolutely amazing deco of the buidlings (I was in love with the "lace" balconies) in the French Quarter.
It certainly wasn't the conference.
It wasn't the Audobon where I got to touch a shark and saw the teeniest seahorses ever.
It wasn't this really cool piano bar where two pianos faced each other and played any request that was made. The two women seemed oblivious to the fact that there were about a hundred people watching them, that is until the song ended and they looked for a new idea. I don't think you could have stumped one of them. Although they primarily stuck to "oldies", I'm sure I could have yelled out "China" by Tori Amos and she wouldn't have paused longer than needed to move her fingers to the keys.
It was a little sandwhich shop that I had probably walked by ten times and never noticed, until my last evening in the city.
To backtrack a bit - the conference was dull (read: technical) and I did my best to follow, but it was long. What made the days even longer were the in-house lunches with fellow-conference guests. The conversations were slow and boring. The agenda boasted that "traditional Louisiana" lunches would be served. Uh-huh.
On the last day, lunch was battered catfish with mashed potatoes. I will remind you that at this time I did not like any fish, but was game to give it a try. Hell, when in Louisiana, eat what Louisianians do. After one bite I knew my opinion of fish had not changed. I ate my mashed potatoes, but was still hungry. Unfortunately there was absolutely nothing else. No buns, no veggies, no salad. Nada.
A smarter person might have left and gone to buy something, but I was tired. I get homesick when I travel alone and A. had left two days before. I didn't feel like hunting down something else, so I ate (choked down) the rest of the fish.
I felt sick to my stomach for the rest of the day. In fact, when a few of the other people in the conference asked me to join them for dinner at an Emeril restaurant - I passed. I had no appetite and just wanted to crash. I went for a walk and finally spotted the sandwich place.
Why I went in - I don't know.
The place was small, but bright and clean. Sandwiches were not pre-made and I suddenly felt hungry. While I waited for the owner to make my food he chatted with me. I must have looked like crap or down and out (and I certainly felt that way) because he was very "motherly" to me (it came VERY naturally to him).
Another customer came in - presumably a regular - and while the highly delusional man ranted about not getting his welfare cheque and trying to find work and blah, blah (I zoned out), the owner just listened. The guy never ordered anything and the owner never asked him to leave. Eventually he did and the owner just smiled at me and said something about the guy having a hard time and just needing to vent.
The place was an escape where this man made a good, but completely forgettable sandwich. It's what he didn't charge for that made it worthwhile. I kicked myself for not finding the place sooner, but then I probably wouldn't have appreciated it as much.
That night the fish finally swam upstream and I slowly started to feel better. I was worried that I would have a relaspe on my early morning flight, but luckily all stayed down. After that I couldn't even smell battered/fried food without getting nauseous and certain combinations of spices still make my stomach flip.
Despite this choice ending to my trip - I kept thinking about how nice the sandwich shop man had been to me and likely to everyone else that went in it. In a city where things can get blurry and unsteady, he went out his way to be perfectly clear.
And tonight, a piece of battered sole reminded me of all of this.
I guess eating fish is good for your memory.
Friday, August 18, 2006
How many times have you heard someone say that are a good listener? Pretty often. Most people consider themselves good listeners (myself included), but I would argue that most people aren’t (myself included). We do listen, but half the time we’re thinking about what you’re going to say or how this relates to you.
This is where the story began – with the co-worker commenting on how his “coach” turned all his comments into, “well let me tell you about me…”. In fact, my boss does the same thing. So do many other people I know. (See, I just turned the conversation around to me!)
I was floored by the situation. The whole concept of a coach is to listen, offer personal experience and guidance, but then turn it back to the person being coached and relate to their issues.
It would be like going to a therapist and saying – “you know, I’m having serious issues with my partner…” and the therapist says, “well, you think that’s bad…my husband is so difficult to live with…and so were my first and second husbands…let me tell you what I had to go through..”
Methinks the coach needs coaching.
Why is it so difficult to sit and listen to another person? Sometimes we just don’t want to, but many times it’s like everything around us is making it near impossible.
In a society that seems to abhor inactivity, sitting and talking – particularly on the phone – is a no-no. You should be doing something else - maximizing your time – and, above all, be busy. Why else do people feel the need to talk on the phone when they are walking down the street, driving, making dinner, doing laundry, and writing reports…
At work, if I decide to make a (*gasp*) phone call, I feel like all the lights in the room suddenly go out and a spotlight shines on me. Sitting at my desk and talking on the phone is like a red flag telling everyone who walks by – She has nothing else to do. I feel the need to strategically place papers on my desk and glance at them when I’m talking.
Nodding is important.
And keep laughing to a minimum.
Once in awhile I just don’t give a crap and I turn to face the window. This means that anyone walking into my cubicle will see my back. Most people, with the exception of our high school summer student, understand this as a do not disturb sign. The fallout is that I’m not really giving the person I’m listening to my undivided attention. I can’t possibly be taking in everything they say if I’m busy pretending to look busy.
Anyone with kids or who has tried to talk to someone with kids knows that distractions are inevitable. Trying to pretend as if one of your kids didn’t just chase your other child through the living room, swinging a plastic baseball bat, isn’t easy. So forgive me if I ask you to repeat what you just said.
I’m bad with the distraction thing when I’m talking, but I would like to think that when it comes to the important talks – job interviews, coaching sessions, heart-to-hearts that I’m not only going to hear what you say, but I’m also going to listen to what you’ve said.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I believe in trusting your intuition. I don’t always practice this idea, but I think it’s can be very accurate. Whether it’s choosing which cashier line to get in (this is where I frequently fail to heed my gut warning) or meeting a new person.
However, why are we able to make these judgments about people? It can’t be based solely on physical appearance. I’ve met some people that appeared “normal”, but my instinct told me they were assholes. And I was right.
Then there is the handful of people that I’ve had an instant dislike for. Actually, I can’t even say dislike since I didn’t know them. I instantly found them repulsive. Seriously. I didn’t want to be near them, I didn’t want to look at them, and I certainly didn’t want to talk to them.
Call it the age-old chick-egg conundrum, but whether I found them to have weird mannerisms because they were creepy or whether it was the combination of all the weirdness that made them creepy…I don’t know. They often have a weird/annoying laugh, they seem to stare just a little too long (and often), they try just a bit too hard to be funny/helpful/smart. Overall, they are just socially awkward.
There was a guy who used to work here. He gave me the creeps – his Dahlmer look, his attitude, everything. I didn’t have to work with or near him, so I didn’t give him much thought (just a wide berth). One day I had Violet in at lunchtime. She was about 3 or 4 years old and obviously very curious about everyone and everything. She was looking all around the lunchroom when Mr. Creepy walked by. Immediately she leaned into me as if she was afraid and whispered, “I don’t like than man”.
She had never seen him before and I had never told her about him.
Could the two of us be wrong?
I think not.
I’ve worked with a few other choice people and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they not longer work here. It supports the idea that they are just not cut out for working with other humans. I’m sure somewhere there’s a successful slaughter-house or private dump that is thriving under the direction of these individuals.
Sometimes I feel bad for my assessments, but then I have to think that the gut-feeling or intuition that we have has to be a defense mechanism to protect us from the bad people in the world. How many people have had bad experiences and said, “I knew something was off with him/her”, “Something didn’t feel right about the situation”, “I knew I shouldn’t have gone into that dark abandoned house where five people had been killed the summer before”.
Come on, rejecting your instincts is the whole premise of horror movies. Go camping in the woods where there’s a witch. Go into the basement where you know the killer is hiding. Walk down the dark alley wearing a skimpy outfit…(oh wait, that’s also the premise to whore movies…). Nothing good comes from ignoring your gut-feeling.
So now I have the dilemma of having a creepy person as a boss. Avoidance works most of the time, but there are times when I will have to talk to him.
In his office.
And that freaks me out more than any gore and suspense filled movie. Somewhere, someone is whispering – “Don’t go in there!!”.
Oh wait – that’s my gut talking.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Every once and awhile I wake up in the morning and pull the covers back over my head. I just know that any kind of interaction with other people is going to be difficult. I can just sense my impatience and frustration. When birds chirping in the trees annoy you – you know it’s going to be a tough day. Strangely enough, this happens to me every month.
This was my frame of mind the other day. I muddled through the day trying to do minimal damage to those around me (namely the kids). I even found myself staring at the massive trees surrounding my house, trying to calm down. I started to think of what these trees would have endured in the sixty some odd years (I’m guessing) that they existed. Seasons, storms, insects…but then they didn’t have to put up with whining saplings. “Mooooommmm…he’s got more sunshine than me.” “Tell him to stop put his branches in my space.” I can imagine the response – “So help me, if you don’t stop complaining, I’ll get an axe and cut you down myself!”
So much for inspiration from Nature.
I survived (and so did those around me) the rest of the day. The next day the alignment of the stars must have been more favorable as I didn’t feel the need to flip out on anyone. I went to get my hair done, which has a secondary benefit of letting me catch up on my Cosmo reading. Good thing – I had almost forgotten about that “one move proven to drive him wild”…this mag is a truly a rag, but it’s like candy…okay in moderation.
There was an interesting little article on how to get ahead in your career and no, it had nothing to do with that “one move proven to drive him wild”. It was a myth-buster kind of article. I only remember one part and only because it was related to something I’ve been brewing in my head. The idea is that we shouldn’t be so concerned about making a five-year plan and sticking to it religiously.
I like things to be planned. I like to know what’s coming around the corner. I’m a relaxed and competent driver until I'm in a new area and don’t give me any kind of directions (or warnings) of where I should be going. The idea of a five-year plan sounds like something I should be enthusiastic about. And I was.
The problem with this idea is it becomes a crutch and an excuse to not take chances. It’s a good reason to postpone doing things (that’s not until year three, sorry) and it’s just too neat and pre-packaged. Don’t get me wrong, people should think about what they want and try to figure out how to get there, but not at the expense of missing out on opportunities.
The whole concept of living with a safety net is something I’m starting to question. I don’t mean I’m canceling anyone’s life insurance policy. But you might start to live with the attitude that if your job (for example) doesn’t work out – then I’ll just leave. I’ve talked to many people who say the same thing about their work, their relationships, and even their whole situations. If this doesn’t go the way I want it to – then I’ll bail. The key to this is to have a Plan B (the fall back job, the post-marriage set-up, the travel to Europe trip). The trouble is that people start to invest a lot of time in planning Plan B. More time than they are investing in improving the current situation.
What if you did your job with the attitude that I will do my best, even if you’re looking for a new job. Why create a self-fulfilling prophecy by doing crappy work and having people re-consider why you were hired in the first place. Act like there isn’t a Plan B.
The same goes for relationships. A number of years back I decided to get rid of my safety net. I decided that as long I contemplated what I would do IF something happened that I was operating with the wrong frame of mind. When you get rid of the safety net, you’ve increased the odds that you’re going to get hurt if you fall, but the thing is you can’t assume that you’re going to fall.
So - I equate the safety net with a five year plan. It will keep you safe, but it may also keep you from appreciating the experience. If you’re always looking towards what’s coming next then you may miss what just happened.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
But her personality didn’t have the cash
“She Ain’t Pretty…She Just Looks That Way” – Northern Pikes
I love these lines.
I hadn’t heard this song in forever and then yesterday I found myself singing along with it during the car ride home.
I know a few people that this might have been written for, but some of them don’t even look pretty. It’s amazing how much a nasty personality can make a person look bad. And, I don’t mean someone who’s having a bad day or is tired – I mean the inherently nasty. Those people who feel they are truly better than others, but can only achieve this by cutting everyone else down. And they do so every waking moment of their lives.
I’m sarcastic and I’ve toed the line of bitchiness, but I don’t think I’ve intentionally crossed over to the Dark Side. To me sarcasm is a type of humour (although one that is not universally appreciated) and a defense mechanism.
The nasty people that I know love to be the center of attention and will do (and say) just about anything to shock their way into the spotlight. Thinking of sparring with one? Just be prepared to climb down into the gutter. I’ve experienced the competitiveness of one such nasty person who just cannot let it go. She has to have the last word and odds are it will only have four-letters.
I should add that women do not hold dominion on nasty. There are some guys out there who qualify very easily. They are usually related to the nasty women (again, in my experience).
Thursday, July 27, 2006
This was very cool to me. Maybe it wasn't so cool for the person sitting behind the desk - half way around the world. He was understandably nervous, but did well. His first language is German, second is French, and he did the interview in English.
Out of everything, what impressed me the most was that this person was willing to travel here for an internship. He's from Germany, did some schooling in France, and now looking to travel to Canada for experience.
Hell, I don't even want to commute across the city for a job!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very comfortable staying in my part of the world. I would like to get out and visit different countries, but the idea of transplanting to a new country and culture for a year is scary (to put it mildly).
However, I almost did.
Way back when (the year I graduated from high school) I had the opportunity to be an au pair in England. I almost went – I agreed to go and starting telling others what my plans were, but when it came time to finalize things I bailed. I won’t even begin to make excuses – although I did at the time (I didn’t want to delay starting university, I was leery of what my role would be, I didn’t really know these people….blah, blah, blah).
Truth be told – I chickened out. I do not regret not going, but I do wonder how it would have been. I wish I had taken the chance and gone or at least had a better reason for not going. At this point in my life, it would not be impossible to go, but it would certainly be more complicated and affect more people.
So, I have to admire someone who is willing to take that jump when they have the chance. I don’t mean jump on a plane every time the real world comes a’calling (like many of the globe-trotting people I know – seriously, if you’re looking to find yourself, check in your backyard first), but those people who are willing to go somewhere new with the purpose of learning and working.
I am not sure if we will hire him, but I am certain that if he is given the opportunity – he will not pass it up.
I think there was a lesson in there for me.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Most mornings I stand in front of my closet and let the voices in my head help me choose my clothes. I should add that the voices belong to my fashion crew – I don’t try to copy any one of them, but do draw inspiration from them, based on my mood that day.
For the most part the Hepburns (Audrey and Katherine) do most of the talking, but occasionally Molly Ringwald whines that I have not worn anything remotely funky and that some colour would be nice. Then Laverne (Delvecio) pipes up that if I’m not going to add an “L” to my shirt then I should at least tie a scarf around my neck (oh, and chew lots of gum).
Then there are the days when all the stars align and the voices agree on one thing.
The black dress.
The Hepburns like it because it’s simple and classy, Molly likes it because no one wears a black dress to work mid-week, and Laverne calls it the “wiggle dress”. And there in the corner, Betty Boop is winking one of her enormous eyes and giving me the rocker’s bull’s horns.
This dress generally comes out for parties and weddings, but thanks to the magic of accessories, never looks the same. Occasionally I will feel the need to wear it for no other reason than I feel like it and/or need a boost. That was yesterday.
You see, like Jim Carrey in The Mask, wearing it does something to you. Suddenly I feel like I should wrap a scarf around my head, put on dark glasses, and go off driving through the countryside in my sporty little MGB. Only a young Gregory Peck beside me would make the moment complete.
Seriously, though - it is a total attitude adjustment. It is not a short or strappy little thing – it is a classic style, but it has “sass”.
I went looking for images of black dresses and found this article. I’ve cut out the blah-blah historical reference and left the meat of it.
The History of the Little Black Dress by Julie Moore
Every woman looks great wearing it, and every woman has her own. It is the default date ensemble when it is one of those “I have nothing to wear” days. In fact, it is so popular, so necessary, and so much an institution in women’s fashion that we had to ask: “Where did the ‘little black dress’ come from?”
To properly understand the fashion environment necessary to produce such a simplistically fabulous necessity for any wardrobe, we must visit the 1920’s. As women shed their long, layered dresses, cut their hair and enjoyed the fast-paced party life, society slowly became more accepting of women baring slightly more of her shoulders, back, and legs. The coveted silhouette of the era was generally very slender and youthful.
First introduced in 1926, black was previously considered to be a color reserved for funerals and periods of mourning. Truly simple and sexy, Chanel’s design was a sleeveless sheath cut just above the knee. She could have never predicted the immediate and lasting love women would have with her simple, chic black dress.
As Chanel was quoted, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Whether a woman’s little black dress cost $50 or $2,000 her intention is the same: to look effortlessly classic and appropriately sexy in just seconds. While most of us cannot afford to buy Chanel’s breathtakingly beautiful pieces, we can certainly wear our trusty black dresses with the modern, sophisticated attitude she possessed.
Anything that encourages attitude must be a good thing. If it makes you feel confident, good, or powerful then wear it! But like Uncle Ben (from Spiderman not Minute Rice) advised, “…with great power comes great responsibility”.
How do I apply this to my whole ode to the black dress (and can you believe I have managed to create a link between Coco Chanel and Spiderman)? The dress should be used in moderation. Wearing it all the time makes it common and reduces its effect on you (and others).
Part of the mystery is having people guess why you are wearing it and the answer shouldn’t be – “because it’s Tuesday – Tuesday is wear the black dress day”.
For the most part, the voices have not let me down – on the days I’ve ignored them and worn the workplace equivalent of a sweat suit I felt drab. I’ll continue to consult them and as long as I can keep Cyndi Lauper buried deep – I should be safe.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
We had a wicked storm last night with all the trimmings of thunder and lighting. I generally don’t mind these – I’m not a fan of thunder, but I deal with it – however both kids woke up.
There are many things that I have little patience for when it comes to the kids, but I will not give them a hard time about storms. I remember all too well how scared they made me when I was younger. How could I possibly tell them to suck it up?
So - there were four in the bed and the little one said, “Did you see that one? That thunder was super loud! I think it’s getting closer! Wow!”
From 2am until 3am we had two very different coping styles to contend with:
A held onto my arm and would squeeze it every time there was thunder…every little rumble…this prevented me from drifting off and caused my right arm to go numb.
E gave us a running commentary throughout the whole storm. Talk about nervous chattering.
The thing I found funny was how quickly we revert to things we did as kids. I realized about half way through the storm that I was “counting how far away the storm was”.
Flash of lightening…one Mississippi…two Mississippi…three Mississippi…then thunder. Okay, it’s getting closer/farther way.
Some things you just never outgrow.
As I lay there, I thought it had been a long time since we had either, never mind both, kids sleeping in our bed. They grow up amazingly fast and while we do encourage them to be independent, it is reassuring to know that even the forces of nature are no match for mom and dad.
Friday, July 21, 2006
I noticed my boss leave at lunch with his briefcase. He did mention casually that he might take the afternoon off, but never came by to confirm this. I suppose that he was in a bit of a hurry...which is why he left his office light on....and his laptop open (but not on). I verified the calendar and yes, he had decided to take vacation.
I like to be helpful, so I went down and turned his office light off and closed his laptop.
Out of professional courtesy.
I mean, what if someone thought he was still in the office? Honestly, that's the way it might appear. I know he wouldn't want anyone to think he had just snuck out - so I did my bit to help him.
I'm not going to say anything to him. No doubt he would be grateful, but I don't want to embarrass him.
It does feel good to help others.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
...and not just because it’s something lacking at my work, but also because of my own experiences.
E is in a weeklong summer camp at an outdoor YMCA camp not far from our house. I pass the camp every day on my route to and from work. I am familiar with the camp because I went to a few Leadership Camps there during high school. The whole concept of a Leadership Camp is not unlike some of the initiatives that my company has (Leadership Training, Green Belt/ Black Belt Programs) – only in high school, immaturity was expected.
These camps had groups of people from every grade. Cabin mates and teams were assigned, which eliminated the clique factor. You were likely to have people that you never spoke to before in your group. It was cool. There were outdoor adventure activities, lots of team-building activities, and some stuff that obviously wasn’t too memorable. Late night cabin raids, watching unlikely couples hook up, and campfires were highlights.
To me, the best was that as a grade nine I was hanging out with the gods (grade thirteen students). At no other time did I interact so much with the oldest kids in school. I would have been fourteen and they were seventeen /eighteen. By the end of camp, we were all “friends” and had shared a great time.
I looked up to many of these people and saw that behind the coolness, they were normal. It would have been like sitting down to have a chat with a famous actor – only to find out that they were not much different from the rest of the world. Some of the most popular were total jerks and some of the most intimidating ones were the nicest. I also saw that the guys I had crushes on lost their shine when you saw them piss and moan about the smallest things.
Sadly, the following Monday, these same “friends” would walk by me in the hall without any kind of acknowledgement. It was my Breakfast Club moment. We only had Leadership Camp in common and when it was over – so was the bonding. I will admit then when I went to the Camp as a grade thirteen I likely did the same. I do not remember any of the younger people who were there, but perhaps I had an impact on them.
I also had a glimpse of how far some of the people in my grade would go to try to fit in with the older crowd. I have always had a knack for catching the subtle things people do when they think no one is watching or listening. I manage to catch the look that one guy gives to another when a certain girl walks in. I see the irritated gesture that a teacher makes, while smiling and answering a student’s completely retarded question. So at camp, I was able to see some of the hypocritical behaviour that went on between the campers. The grade ten, who was trying desperately to fit in - and thought he or she was succeeding – I saw the eyes roll and heard the comments from the older students.
So, once again, where am I going with this?
Think of the people that you know that are in a leadership position. How many times have you questioned their ability and whose ass they kissed to get where they are?
Now think back to high school and the people you knew – not just your friends – but the other people, particularly the older and sometimes popular ones.
Now is it making sense?
Odds are they have not changed that much since the days when they cut down the unpopular and when they were only friends with those who dressed, acted, and thought as they did. Back then, they had to put up a front so no one found out that they sucked in school or that they were completely insecure. They blamed the teachers (and got their parents to bail them out), they blamed their parents (who turned a blind eye), they copied other people’s work, and intimidated those under them.
Some people grew up. Some did not.
Some of the people that did not grow up are in positions of leadership (note that I did not call them leaders).
I know a few of them.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
We’ve been living at our house for almost four years now and things are finally get into a groove. There has been a lot of fixing, replacing, fixing again, moving around, re-designing, and maintenance. We’re finally down to fixing and maintenance.
One of the areas that I take care of is the garden. I like to pretend I’m able to garden, but the truth is I’m just good at weeding. When we moved in the gardens were completely wild. At one point they must have been great, but they hadn’t been taken care of for about two years. Since there were many other things to take care of, I left it the first summer. The next summer I started thinning it out and realized there were plants hidden underneath others. The third summer, I got nasty and yanked out all but some of the foundation plants – those that I really liked and that I knew would do well. This summer I finally have a good start at the garden I want. The plants I kept are thriving and I’ve added a few new ones that I’ve liked. The key is that all the plants in the garden are what I want and it’s much more motivating (and rewarding) to water and weed.
Where am I going with this?
I’ve realized, without giving it too much thought, that I’ve done the same thing with my “support group”. My friends. I’ve never had a big group of friends, but it’s smaller now than it ever has been. The strange thing is that I do not think I’ve felt better.
Over the past few years, I have been weeding out the people in my life that did nothing but add stress and negativity to my life. I do not mean I completely cut ties, but I have slowly pulled back. I pulled away from many friends and family members and kept the core group of people who I know that I can depend on completely. They are the same people who are whispering positive things in my ear.
I have a friend who reminds me of how far I’ve come (since she knows what I’ve gone through)
I have a friend who reminds me of what I’m capable of and encourages me (because he knows and believes in me)
I have a friend who reminds me of my parenting successes (because he tells me so)
I have a friend that encourages me to stay true to my perspective (and loves food as much as I do)
I have family members who are always willing to help me – no matter how snarky I get
I have a best friend who sticks with me – no matter what happens
Everyone needs people around him or her that are positive. Now don’t mistake this for insincerity. You need genuine compliments and support, but you also need people who will call you on it if you’re being an ass.
There are a few acquaintances that I chat and hang out with, but very few that I would call immediately if I had something good/bad happen. Or if I needed advice. Or if I was in need of a boost. The point is, when I call one of them I know what to expect.
I could repeat a cheesy mantra all day (“Gosh darn it, I’m a good person” or “Damn, I look good today”), but sometimes it’s nice to know that others think that too.
So rather than looking at my garden as a mass of plants – I’ve decided the enjoy the individual plants. They get more attention and I appreciate them much more.
Friday, July 14, 2006
1 : to find fault with : CENSURE
Now I don't want to tell anyone how to do their job, well that's not true, I do want to tell many people...but I won't. I know what I believe are good managerial qualities and what are not. I see countless examples of what shouldn't be done. In fact, I'm thinking of pitching it as an idea for a new show, "What Not To Do if You're a Manager". What I need are two catty, bitchy people to call these managers on their managerial faux-pas...oh wait, I'm in so that leaves only one opening to fill.
The number one "what not to do" thing this week is blaming others. People screw up - it's true. The ball gets dropped, the lines get crossed, heads get buried in the sand (or in other people's asses)...whatever the reason, it happens. What shouldn't happen is a manager saying to other managers (or anyone for that matter) that something didn't get done because of so-and-so messed up.
Yes they screwed up, but you are responsable for that person. It is your job to ensure that that person knows what to do, when it's due, and whether it's on track.
A second type of blame is the kind of blame that just doesn't make sense.
Like this example: a manager accepts an invitation to attend a brief meeting at 1:00pm. Focus on the word accepts. He then walks in to the meeting 15 minutes late - as it is ending. His excuse, well it shouldn't have been scheduled so close to the lunch hour. But, but, but....you knew it began at 1:00pm and you accepted this and agreed to be there at this time. Don't blame the person who took the time to schedule the meeting and send out invites.
Second example ( oddly enough it's about the same manager) has the manager stumbling around trying to find work for a summer student to do. This student, up until this morning, was helping one associate. The work was completed. Now the manager is ticked off because he was not advised that the student was out of jobs to do. Why wasn't he told? He is not prepared to deal with this - someone should have warned him.
Okay. Take a deep breath.
The student finished the work yesterday afternoon at 4pm. It is now 8am the next day. What kind of frickin' warning should he have gotten? Should we have called him last night to advise him?
Please, please, please keep it in perspective. You are not prepared and it's not because someone didn't tell you that the student was doing his job. It's not because the concept of finishing work that is started is foreign to you. It's not because others are able to manage the student. You are not prepared because you are unorganized and unable to manage people - don't blame this on others.
We start this blame game early on ("She did it!" "He made me do it"), but most of us outgrow this tendency and start to take responsibility for our actions. Like these words that I'm typing - I could say that the devil made me do it or that my manager's ineptitude has forced me to do, but the truth is that I made the conscious decision to share these thoughts.
So, despite what Milli Vanelli told you, you can't blame it on the rain - be prepared to get wet if you don't listen to the weather forecast, look out the window, and bring an umbrella.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
1. Fair does not mean equal
2. There is almost always a positive angle to a situation
3. You always have a choice - you just may not like the choices
4. You can be mad at someone and still love them
5. You don't have to like everything that someone does
6. Candy and ice cream should never become "bad" things - enjoy them
7. Saying "sorry" is a start, not a finish
8. Don't be in a hurry to rush to be older - you don't get a chance to re-do being a kid
9. Being a kid is a stage - not an excuse
10. Make mistakes and learn from them
11. Don't be afraid to ask for help
12. Before you ask for help - try to do things on your own
13. Sometimes you're going to be better than others at something - don't apologize for this
14. Sometimes others are going to be better than you - deal with it
15. Don't lie - it's not worth the trouble
16. Doing the right thing all the time is overrated
17. Don't apologize for your moods and feelings, just don't take them out on others
18. Get use to dealing with people you don't like (classmates, teachers) - there will always be people you don't like
19. It's okay to be bored
20. Make sure you do a few things that will be cool to tell your kids about
21. Don't be quick to drop your friends
22. If you have to be talked into doing something - it's a sign that it may not be worth it
23. Aside from driving or drinking alcohol, there's no right "age" for most things...go with your gut
24. There are plenty of doctor and lawers out there - don't think you have to be one too
25. Don't stop reading
26. Don't believe everything you hear, especially if it's gossip
27. Stick up for your friends and they will stick up for you
28. Don't stop asking questions (even if it drives us nuts)
29. If you start something - try your best to finish it
30. If you are part of a team then other people are counting on you to show up
31. Being smart is a good thing - don't pretend otherwise
32. Clothes and hair colour are meant to be fun
33. It's okay to look up to someone, but don't try to imitate them
34. The only person you can control is you - if someone gets mad, that's their choice - you can't make them be mad
35. Don't blame others for things you do - they can't make you do things
36. Your family doesn't just include people you are related to
37. Make a list of things you want to do and try to cross things off
38. Learn to enjoy being quiet
39. Don't put off doing the hard things - they don't get any easier with time
40. Getting older is not a bad thing - if you play it right, you can still be a kid inside but get to do adult things
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Today's topic is a list of "What Not To Say to Me If You're Within Arms Reach"
1. "Fine" (it is not an answer to a question that requires more thought)
2. "Whatever" and roll your eyes
3. "I know" after I remind you to not do something - after you've just done it
4. "I don't want to hear about it" (and mean it, when I want to tell you something)
5. Use the term "The Wife" in any sentence
6. "deal with it"
7. Talk extensively about a topic you know nothing about (unless you proceed your thoughts with "I don't really know anything about this, but...")
8. More than two acronyms in one sentence
9. "I know I've been complaining about problem X for years, but I'm still going to walk away from the opportunity to solve the problem..."
10. "I'll call you when I send the email"
11. "I've sent you an email - did you read it yet?"
12. "It's imperative that we get this out this week and our entire business with this customer depends on it, but just do what you can..." (it's one or the other people)
13. "That's not my job"
14. "Price check at cash #4" (when I've already played cashier roulette and guessed that you are the most efficient cashier)
15. "whatever you want to do" (when I know there's a good chance you are not going to like my decision)
16. "doesn't matter to me" (see #15)
17. anything that implies that your time is more valuable than mine (see post on wanders)
18. "Ma'am" (by anyone)
19. "Sweetheart, honey, darling, dear" by anyone other than my husband or people 70+ years old
20. "I had no choice" (you ALWAYS have a choice)
No doubt there are many, many more - but that will be enough of a purge today.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
When I called she recognized my voice right away, which I took as a good sign. Then I asked if it was a good time to talk- she has three kids and her husband is away for 4 months on military training - so odds are something is going on. For the next ten minutes she told me about the salad she was prepping for a playgroup picnic the next day. That expanded into a rant on some of the moms in the group ("who brings Timbits to an International-theme potluck?!") and then, after all this, she said, "hello".
It didn't matter that it had been months since we had spoken or got together. There was no hint that I hadn't called in awhile and no excuses were made as to why she hadn't called me. What a complete relief to talk (listen) to her.
She's an amazing mom, a very intelligent person, and a very loyal friend. I've know her since grade 8 and she's been with me through all my highs and lows and I've stood beside her during hers. She remembers what I was like before success went to my head (ha ha) and I remember when the group of boys following her were older than us (although not much more mature than the ones she has know). We lived and breathed 90210 and friends together. We were bridesmaids at each others weddings.
Seriously though - she's my hero. The woman has been through so much and still manages to shrug it off and say, "if that's the worse there is, then it's not too bad". The first week her husband left for training, her youngest got an ear infection, her middle child had stomach flu, and her oldest was found to have pneumonia. Oh and she does daycare for 5 kids. All in the first week. Her comment - "yeah it was hell, but she figured it could only get better". Seriously - I would be making a phone call that would go along the lines of - get your ass home right now or I'm sending you papers.
I like the fact that I can say, "you what he's like" when I refer to my husband and she does know. She likes that I know all about her ex, so she can bitch without having to give me the background.
After an hour of talking we planned to get together in the next few weeks. No date was set and there was no pressure. We'll get around to it - we always do. What's a matter of weeks...
So when I look at all the BS here at work and roll my eyes because of the inane emails I get, the complete lack of direction in my group, the hypocrisy of the company's principles, the bizarre things my co-workers do - I have to think, if that's the worse there is, then it's not too bad.
Friday, June 16, 2006
My (cubicle) neighbour is a very predictable person who likes routine and lives by his schedule. He finishes work at 3:30pm. Not 3:31pm. He is locking up, Febreezing his work shoes and shutting down so that he is walking out of the office at 3:30pm.
It is not unusal for him to drop off a report for me proofread at 3:25pm, with a request to leave it on his desk for the morning. I'm okay with that. I like helping out and I've taken out stocks in red pens since I've started doing this. So last night, when he comes rushing into my cubicle (remember, it's 3:25pm and there's a 5 minute looming deadline), I wasn't surprised. But surprise me he did.
This month is safety month at work. In addition to refresher courses we have been given weekly activities, like crosswords, to work on. This week it was a word search. I don't really find these challenging so I didn't do one. However, my neighbour did find it challenging and was taking it seriously.
Last night, I was asked if I could do my neighbour a favor. Not just any favor, but a really big favor. He had struggled to get the word search done in time, but he missing five of the words and the deadline was tomorrow. He said he worked on it during his half hour lunch break, but couldn't quite get it all done. I am confident in saying that it probably took him the entire day to get where he was. Unfortunately he would be out of the office and not able to submit it. He was willing to let me put my name on it and would share the prize - should he win.
Yup - he asked me to finish his word search and submit it for him. It took him 3 minutes to tell me this. It took me 3 minutes to find the words - while he stood in front of me. I still submitted it for him since he had to leave and making the slight detour to the submission box would have put him past 3:30pm. I did not add my name to it.
Thinking about this still cracks me up and what cracks me up more is that I can picture my manager sitting at his desk struggling over the same word search.
His comments, what I've read so far, are that anyone born post-1970 is considered part of the Generation Y/ Next/ X/ whatever. To summarize: we all have many characteristics in common, one of them being a distrust and hate-on for the baby boomers and their lifestyles. Many a thing he's written had me nodding in agreement, but then he starts to describe the life of post-1970s and that's where the lines get blurry for me.
You see, I am post-1970 (Gen Y), but I don't still live at home (b/c of student debts), I have never moved backed in with my parents (b/c I've been laid off), I'm in my mid-30s and married 12 years (not just thinking about it), I have two kids (and am done my family, not starting), I've worked at the same company for 8 years (not moved around every year or so), and (here's the big thing) - it's all been by choice.
Now, I'm not slagging anyone for their choices in lifestyle. Okay, maybe I have a hard time with the still living at home thing. But for the most part I don't seem to fit the mold. I know there are a lot of other people with similar circumstances to me, but most are almost 10 years older or in living in Louisiana. Getting married at 22 and not pregnant - what?!
We are supposedly the most educated, particularly tertiary education, generation ever- I do fit in here.
We are the most technologically advanced generation - I'm a little behind here. I like new developments, but I'm not at the front of the line waiting for it. I like things to become mainstream before I consider buying it.
I've only had a cell phone for about two years, but it does not have web access, take pictures, or text message.
My internet at home is (*gasp*) dial-up
I have only one phone and one tv in my house.
I was initiated to the Internet after I had my daughter (going on ten years now) and I was looking for some new-parenting advice. I came across a virtual "playgroup", which sounds incredibly cheesy now, but was a god-send then. It was posting boards for new moms and it was grouped by the month and year your baby was born. This meant that you were talking with people who had kids the exact same age as yours. This was an amazing source of information and reassurance to me. The sad thing was I didn't know a single one of those women and would likely never meet one. I didn't know anyone my age that had a baby and the neighbours that did have babies were light years away in terms of lifestyle and attitudes.
When I read a schedule of a "day-in-the-life" of the author, I recognized it as similar to many of my friends and so completely different from my own. So, what happened? Did I fall off the generational turnip truck?
I am working on becoming a more aware and responsible person. I would like to move from the uninformed to informed category when it comes to politics and global issues. But at what cost? At the cost of bashing boomers (hey, I don't like a lot of what they have/ are doing, but they are a product of their upbringing...have it all...take it all...)? At the cost of rejecting anything that smacks of being endorsed by previous generations?
All this and I'm only on page 40...must be a good book.