Shaken, Not Stirred

I have just finished cleaning up… I don’t know… how many ounces are in a magnum bottle of vodka?… off my kitchen floor. Along with the glass in which it used to be held.

This is how that looked.

I haz a sad.

                                I haz a sad.

It’s basically how the week went, embodied in the cruel denial of all those drinks that now occupy space in my dish towels, grout, and the area under the refrigerator I can’t reach.Twenty dollars’ worth of probably-not-high-quality-but-eminently-drinkable freezer-stored distilled fermented wheat (not potato) byproduct is now seeping into every crevice it can find and getting the housebugs drunk instead of getting in mah belleh whenever required. It was the only alcohol I had in the house, since I broke up with the wine club over its refusal to come to my house because some law meant it couldn’t cross state lines, so I always had to go pick it up somewhere else. Made me feel dirty.

This week, you guys.

I feel sure that you will all understand that at least half the reason we blog is because it gives us the freedom to write what we choose in the manner and time we choose. Though writing is a significant portion of my professional life, I am nonetheless constrained to write the way my professional superiors feel is best. And I understand that, even though a web feature piece I felt strongly about and constructed with a real-life character and real-life conflict set up by said character got dismantled when the web content manager (who is great at copy editing and proofreading, but not so good at recognizing how to tell a story) banished the character to the sixth paragraph in favor of literality and deleted entirely the quote that set up the conflict which would be resolved throughout the rest of the piece. A piece, now, that resolves a conflict to which readers have not been introduced.

My VP approved the edit because my version “was more New Yorker, and the edited version is more USA Today.” I get that. I get that the audience for which I have to write is not necessarily the audience for which I want to write, and her observation was valid and one that I will keep in mind going forward. But it was nonetheless disappointing in light of all the time and energy I had spent developing, crafting and writing the piece, and in the way I had interviewed the subjects in pursuit of that concept—a concept, I should add, that the web content editor had known from the beginning.

Add to that a major publication blunder, a bunch of misplaced frustration heaped onto my shoulders by others, a raft of relatively unimportant but highly time-consuming tedium and some internal personal oodginess, and you have a week of Suck that leaves yours truly feeling torn between fair questions about ego vs. effort and unfair assessments about worth.

There was some good news. Some Best Possible News that redeemed the week at least in part.

Amanda’s first restaging scans since her Stage IV metastatic triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis came back showing significant reduction in cancer activity.

It is the best possible thing she could have heard. It means, for the first time in four and a half months, she can breathe. She can, for about two more months, stop worrying that the chemo wasn’t working.

It makes me feel a little silly about being mad that my vodka bottle shattered and ruined about 20 future cocktails.

Still… if anyone needs me, I’ll be over here…sucking on a dish towel with my hand in a jar of olives.

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Like Taking Wine From A Baby’s Mama

I’m still getting used (I just tried to spell that “youst.” True story.) to the holiday festiveness of my new job. Today was the office Christmas party, complete with a baked goods contest and a white elephant gift exchange. Yes, a Christmas party. There was food that didn’t come out of a vending machine and by “party” I don’t mean merely “group of people working at the same time and eating simultaneously,” which is what “office party” meant in my old career.

Unfortunately, the white elephant exchange made me slightly violent, which may have spoiled the festivities a bit for me.

I didn’t participate in the gift exchange because I
         A) forgot about it; and
         2) didn’t go buy something for it.
So I got to watch, which was perfectly fine because I had already totally beasted a game of holiday-themed Taboo in which my VP, who had apparently never heard of nor played the game before, had totally bombed. She’s very competitive, so she was kind of pissed about it. Then she said something about hating angels because they’re dead babies. Which made me reevaluate my entire concept of what angels are. And made me plot to decorate her office with angels.

It was kind of a weird party.

Anyway, there were some pretty nice gifts in this exchange, including a bottle of sangria, a bottle of limoncello, a bottle of Bailey’s and a bottle of merlot. And I was sitting next to a coworker who is exactly no days away from her due date to deliver a child that she, quite frankly, looks terribly uncomfortable lugging around internally at this point. Friday she thought she was going to have him because he was breech and the docs decided to try to move him, but since that comes with a risk of elevated fetal stress, they also planned to induce her if there was a problem. She had gotten all psyched up to deliver, one way or another, and then she got to the doc and found out he’d flipped to head-down position and now she just has to wait him out. 

The woman needs a drink. Is what I’m saying.

So it was pretty great when she scored the bottle of sangria in the gift exchange.

But then Marty, having been relieved of his original gift and stuck with a stuffed school mascot, came over and took the wine away from the pregnant lady.

I did not make that up.

Marty is kind of an ass on a regular day, so if anybody was going to do this, it was going to be him. He’s affable enough, but he’s a blowhard and he is also, by virtue of a weird inter-divisional galactic hiccup, my client. For the most part we do just fine with each other, but it’s crap like this that makes me realize what a spazz he really is. 

When he triumphantly swiped the sangria from Ellen and replaced it with the stuffed school mascot he didn’t want, the entire room groaned as if to say, “Wow. You just did that.”

The game continued, with my artsy friend Dwight enamored with his Circle of Wetlands Creatures Holding Flippers Around a Candle candle holder (he walks to work and we had decided he should light the candle and then walk slowly home in the dark with it as though it were some sort of hippie-nature-commune-of-one parade for peace) and my boss struggling to open a package (the entire room watched him for what seemed like an endless three full minutes as he battled a curling ribbon without success). Something like seven people later, I was still stewing about Marty’s low move. Work Husband Rob and I schemed. Non-participants ourselves, maybe we could get someone to collude with us so Ellen could get her bottle back.

 “Psst. Donna,” I whispered across the table. “Donna! Donna!” 

Donna turned.

“When it’s your turn, are you willing to play along and take Ellen’s mascot so she can go get her sangria back from Marty?”

Donna winked. “Sure.”

Hehehehe.

Like thirty-two rounds later, it was Donna’s turn. “Gimme your mascot,” she said to Ellen with a smile.

“Go get your wine, girl!” I said.

Interestingly, though Ellen has had some trouble walking lately, she did not have any problem wobbling the length of the large conference room to get that sangria back from Marty, to the hoots and applause of the rest of the room’s occupants.

But two rounds later, another coworker (one who is not an ass), took the sangria.

You guys. What the hell?

These were childless men taking the sangria from the pregnant woman, by the way. Because of course.

So Ellen went trolling and found the bottle of merlot, which she swiped from the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. And everyone applauded, including, by the way, the new guy who just started in the web department two days ago. 

Content with her merlot, Ellen situated herself in her chair again in whatever position was possibly less-than-miserable.

Two rounds later, we came to the end of the game… the part where the person who picked the first gift gets last dibs. Well, guess who had picked the first gift.

You got it. Marty. Marty, who, after several rounds of vindictive communal swiping in retaliation for his dick move with the sangria, found himself saddled with a bag full of stupid gag gifts.

“I swear to God,” I said to Ellen and Rob, “if he comes over here looking for that wine, I’m smacking his hand.”

The rat bastard came back and took Ellen’s merlot.

I smacked his hand and it had no effect.

You would think that, the first time you swipe a bottle of wine from a dilating woman, you’d learn to read the room. The faces of all persons gathered for Festivus reflected the same thought: “Really asshole? Really? Twice, you’re going to do that?”

You know what, Marty? Noted. Noted.

I looked at Rob across the table, rolled my eyes and said, “It’s really a wonder that he’s still single at the age of 46.”

But there was salvation at hand—as there always is on Christmas. Remember my friend Dwight, with the woodland creatures candle holder? He won the award for Best Baked Good in the blind taste test. Said award was a bottle of pink bubbly, which seemingly would suit him really well, except for the fact that Dwight has a deteriorating spine and is on medications so hard-core that he may be in violation of a few laws. Which means he can’t drink or he’ll die.

So he gave his bottle of bubbly to Ellen.

SCORE! Take THAT, Marty!

Naturally, I had a meeting with Marty right after the festivities were over. I was so seriously annoyed with him for being a douche rocket that I could barely speak. (I am apparently a little too invested in this matter.) But then as the meeting really got rolling, I started putting out a few ideas and he loved them. After a while, he told me I was on a roll.

“You know what?” he said. “Here. You win this for your ideas.”

And he handed me the bottle of merlot he had stolen from Ellen.

I played it cool. I didn’t want him to know what I was going to do with it. I acted like I didn’t really want it. I left it on the table between us, half-sure that he would take it at the end of the meeting. But wouldn’t you know… he picked it up off the table and handed it to me again. “This is yours,” he said.

And I walked that bottle of wine right over to Ellen.

Girlfriend went home with the merlot and the pink bubbly.

Hurry up, baby boy. Mama needs a cocktail.

All Class

I went to a kind of fancy luncheon today to honor some amazing people who either give literally millions of dollars to truly worthy causes or else find ways to get other people to do it. Since I was there for work, I had to put on a nice dress and do my hair special and wear hose—pantyhose, you guys—and act like I know what I’m doing because I was around a lot of seriously important work people.

This was after I had to color my dress because I apparently spontaneously lactated bleach. Coupla little bleach spots on my still-paying-for-itself black wrap dress, smack on the right nipple. I don’t know how it happened because I don’t buy bleach for laundry and I don’t clean in my expensive black wrap dress. Sharpied that shit. Totally worked. I win.

Fortunately, I got to continue that classiness when I arrived at the luncheon. It was one thing when I had to pretend to be fine standing in a circle of deans and VPs and the president and the provost. Some of those folks are actually on my client list. I’m sure they were wondering why I was there, the answer to which is that our fundraiser folks are also on my client list. And the whole reason all of us were there is that some of the people being recognized were people whose efforts had, in one way or another, benefited our institution. So let’s eat!

Lunch was a lovely cold salmon filet with what a colleague kept calling “frizzy salad.” Also known as frisee salad. And in his defense, that stuff is hard to eat with any degree of grace. I know because of the number of times some of it wound up hanging out of my mouth when I tried to take a modest forkful. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I cut it up. I think frisee lettuce regenerates.

Also I kept slamming my knee into the table leg and disrupting everyone’s place settings. And I spilled my iced tea, which I don’t even drink. But that’s kind of okay because another colleague knocked over the whole little baby pitcher of coffee creamer.

You can’t take us anywhere.

I had to look around to see if it was acceptable for me to put my dessert plate on top of my lunch plate when I was ready to inhale my individually sized chocolate mousse cake with strawberry gelee. Somebody else did it, so that made it okay. I briefly entertained the notion of grabbing one of the cakes that was at an unoccupied seat at the table, but I managed to control myself at least that much.

I always feel like such an ass at these kinds of things. I’m supposed to appear sophisticated and worldly but most of the time I’m like, “Can anybody tell I Sharpied my boob?” and “Do I have frisee in my teeth?” It’s like I’m 12. Here I am all gussied up and working professionally for nearly two decades and whatnot, and I can’t seem to figure out how to not be an unimpressive jackass.

I managed to conduct myself with some degree of aplomb while I handled a few interviews after the event, though I did drop my phone/recording device twice. Also, do you ever have the problem where you’re at a thing and people are offering a hand to shake and you’re holding your sunglasses, phone, event program, pen and umbrella all in your right hand? And then you have to switch everything to your left hand just to be able to reciprocate the proper greeting? Why don’t I just learn to hold everything in my left hand? Why am I an unimpressive jackass?

Also? The people at this function are amazing. Ah. May. Zing. I welled up four times, and the only reason it wasn’t five is because I draw a line at crying about 17-year-old Girl Scouts because get on with your life, sweetheart. But with all the giving and all the selflessness (and I guess there’s an argument to be made that if you’re a gazillionaire you’re probably not entirely selfless but you’re still giving it away to refugee camps in Burma and the like), I felt super-inspired and super-uplifted and super-jerky. Again, obviously I’m not a gazillionare, but still. What do I do for the refugees in Burma? Nothing.

Also my underwear was on inside-out.

Again.

 

Lesson 2 of the Week: I’m Not Really A Bitch

I know I can be difficult. I spent my entire childhood (through age 18) hearing on a regular that I was stubborn, argumentative, bull-headed, etc.

This mostly came from my Irish father. I have no idea from whence I inherited these traits…

Anyway, I got it, okay, Dad? Yes. I can be a pistol. And therefore, I tend to overcompensate as an adult by being as easy-going as possible. That includes trying to be fair a lot. “Fair” is a big word in my head, and not the way adolescents use it when protesting basically anything they disagree with.

I want people to like me. I want certain people to really like me.

So I found myself in a bit of a pickle mid-week when I got a voicemail from Rick at work.

As you know if you’ve been playing the home version of our game, Rick was the first guy (oh, also last guy) I dated after the Jack Debacle, and therefore I got to practice some of my new rules.

Rule #1: Stop Being Too Fair/Nice

At work Tuesday afternoon, I’d sent Rick an email with the link to an article in the local paper that he needed to see. It held legislative ramifications for work, and that’s his area. He replied to my email saying he had read the article and thanking me for sending it.

Swell.

Wednesday afternoon I returned to my officle from a meeting to find a voicemail from Rick.

“Hey, it’s Rick giving you a call. Give me a buzz back when you get a minute…” and then he tried to say something and stumbled over his words and then finished, “Ugh, gah, sorry – I’m so out of it from being in the hospital. Um… (deliberate pause for effect)… yeah, so give me a ring when you get back. Thanks.”

I wish you could see the face I made, but it was something like this:

Whatever.

Whatever.

So I called him back. He said he had called to thank me again for sending him the link to the article. Come on, dude. You already thanked me via email like 22 hours ago. And you could have just thanked me in the voicemail. I didn’t save your job or help you escape from entrapment in a crevice. It was just a link to a story. No, what he had really called to do was tell me about how he’d been in the hospital for two days. The “thank you” lasted exactly as long as it took you to read it. The story about his hospitalization took like 15 minutes.

And it’s not that I don’t care. I do. I’m truly sorry that he was feeling so awful and that it turns out he’s either got IBS or Crohn’s Disease. I empathized as much as I could while thinking he was being an attention-seeker. I know some other people who have those conditions and it’s pretty miserable when it’s flaring up, and I don’t want that for him. And yes, it also sucks that he has kidney stones and may not be so fortunate as to have them broken up by ultrasound, thereby necessitating the other, far less pleasant procedure. I displayed, I think, an appropriate amount of conversational concern.

But listen, bub. You might be hot. And I might still like you. And if we were actually friends, I would have been very concerned and probably would have come to visit you. But I am holding fast to my policy of not caring about your life beyond our building, precisely because I still like you, and therefore could do without caring too much and getting all wrapped up in yet another game of “Fall For The Emotionally Unavailable One! Yes! Do It!” For the first three weeks after I found out about Jack’s engagement, I found myself looking for excuses to come see you in your office or call you about something, but you know what? I didn’t actually do it. Because even though it would have made me feel better about myself, it would have been manipulative and self-defeating. And I don’t play that.

Anymore.

Also? I don’t tell you anything about my personal life anymore. I don’t seek you out for storytime so I can feel like you still care. So stop it. Your girlfriend was with you, right? I thought so.

See? Difficult. Possibly unfair. Old Me tried not to be that way.

The next day I turned to find him standing near my desk. “Hey!” he said. “Just uh, bringing you two invitations to the grand opening of the new building on Monday…” (he held up and then handed to me two invitations that my division designed, thanks – and why two? This isn’t a gala. It’s a workday event. It’s the least grand opening of anything ever.)

I looked down at my desk calendar and pointed squarely at the blue ink in the Monday box. “Yep. Right there on my calendar,” I said.

“Oh, great! And…uh… also I wanted to tell you that I’m going to send you the link to a live camera we have now of the construction going on over on that side of the grounds,” he said, pointing in the direction of the area. “So if you guys want to write up a story on it or anything…”

I was approximately this expressive:

Then I realized it and remembered to move my eyebrows or something, so I did as I replied, “Oh, uh-huh. Okay, cool.” Why are you here, exactly?

“Great,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Okay! Thanks!”

“Yep! Thank you!” I replied, consciously trying to insert the exclamation points.

And then he never sent me the email. Which is fine because I’m not writing a story about the camera. And I have a feeling he knows that.

And I felt kind of bad, you know? Like I was unnecessarily dismissive. I mean I really couldn’t figure out why he was standing in my officle that day, but had I been rude?

But then the most amazing thing happened. I told Brad the story, and I told Angie and Joey the story, and I told Sister 2 the story, and I told Mama-Friend the story… and they all said basically the same thing.

“Oh please. Eff him. How pathetic.”

You mean… you mean I’m not a bitch?

I’m not?

OMG I’m not! I’m not a bitch! I’m not difficult! I’m too nice! I worry too much about other people’s feelings and not enough about my own! This is amazing!

Wooooooo!

Wooooooo!

I totally win at Rule #1.

My Mental Exercises Should Be Sponsored By Mountain Dew

I’m evidently in a fasten-your-seatbelts-and-keep-your-arms-and-legs-inside-the-mindfuck-at-all-times kind of phase.

Most of you are familiar with the sagas of my mental musings… the stalker and the parents and the Jack and the Rick. It would not seem that they should all blend together and then get lumped in with my job, but somehow the elements of my life keep doing tricks worthy of X-Games entry and I’m all, “Oh! Well isn’t this an interesting development! Where’s the vodka?”

We had a staff meeting at work the other day to talk about some divisional goals. One of my boss’s suggestions was to increase awareness of our department and what we do by posting photos of ourselves, along with our names, professional contact information and a summary of our jobs, on one of the university’s websites.

Perfectly reasonable, really. As is legend for academic types, one must knock on their door, hand them a cup of coffee and personally tell them about everything, or they’ll never know, because apparently doing field-specific research renders them otherwise incapable of reading emails, looking at the front page of a university website or getting a text message to inform them of things like, “Yes, it snowed a little, but you have to work today.” So if you want to tell them what you do for them, you have to shove it under their noses and point their heads down.

I personally think it’s just smart not to circulate one’s name, workplace and photo around on the internet in general, if one is merely an ordinary citizen. But I blog anonymously, so of course I feel that way. My natural inclination these days is to tense up at the suggestion of my photo, name and location of employment being so easily available in a handy package, but I know there’s a degree to my sensitivity that’s largely unique because I’m the only real-life person I know who has had a stalker who went to prison for his actions and is now out. I don’t wish to inflict my sensitivities on others to a degree that might seem too far, in their minds. It’s actually a detriment, in business, to refuse this kind of PR. Still, when my boss, who knew nothing about my experience, made the suggestion, he happened to glance at me. He saw my reaction and I saw it register on his face.

So then I had to go into his office after the meeting and explain: he didn’t see me disagreeing with the idea or being critical of him. He saw my visceral reaction because I had a stalker.

Hate that guy. Keeps meddling in my affairs. Keeps making me feel like an over-sensitive attention whore who doesn’t want the attention. Very confusing.

So then what did I want to do? Well, I wanted to stop having a minor anxiety attack, for one. My anxiety level always goes up a little when I have to confront the stalker thing in any way, but the problem here wasn’t that; it was having to tell my boss a little bit about it so he would understand my response to his suggestion.

The other problem was this: I also wanted to tell Rick what had just happened. Not helpful. I’ve been telling myself and telling myself that I need to maintain a professional relationship with Rick and that’s all, not talking even a little bit about anything that pertains to personal lives. He asks me about how my weekend was and I’m like, Don’t ask him about his weekend. We don’t care about his weekend. That’s my intellectual awareness. My emotional awareness differs. Because of things like Jack’s engagement and my parents’ ignorance of why maybe my feelings about the stalker situation count more than theirs, I’ve found myself wanting to seek comfort from Rick. After all, this is the man I couldn’t help but like. This is the man who kissed like a dream and spent eight hours on dates. This is the man who sat with me for six hours in an emergency room, starving and covering me with cold compresses when I nearly passed out. This is the man who made my call for help for victims of crime a personal crusade.

Today, though, he made it the butt of a joke.

I had stopped into his office to talk with him about something that had come up in a meeting. He wound up bridging the conversation into whether I’d heard from his former boss, the state senator, to whom I’ve wanted to speak for seven months about further legislative proposals for victims’ rights. The senator, knowing he’d ignored several phone and email messages, had approached me after running into me at an event about helping him out with something in exchange for his willingness to listen to my ideas (though that’s not how he worded it, obviously). I made myself available. He hasn’t followed up. Rick wasn’t surprised and advised me on some other legislators I should approach.

He also, while conveying a story about something the senator had said, referred to his girlfriend.

Ah. Confirmation. He’s back with her.

Well, I had assumed that, hadn’t I? Yes. Yes, since the week before Mother’s Day when he made reference to going to see his mom, I had assumed that the reason he was no longer staying with his parents was because he was back with his girlfriend. This was the first official confirmation that I was right.

Dashed some of my hopes, though. I won’t lie. But it’s alright. I needed to know this for sure, and I needed  not to be the person who brought it up. I needed to be the person who didn’t react at all when he said the word “girlfriend.” With hesitation.

Yep. He hesitated. Don’t think I didn’t notice.

And then, minutes later, on another floor of the building, I nearly literally ran into him, and he said this:

“What are you, stalking me? You know there’s a bill about that in the senate.”

I think the look I gave him could have melted steel. “You should know better than to ever joke with me about that,” I said.

The apology landed in my email inbox two minutes later, sent from his phone before he even got back to his office.

Still, it felt like a betrayal of sorts. I mean, of course it wasn’t, but here I’d felt for two years like this man was my ally who understood. I never thought he’d make a joke about it.

Eh. Men are stupid.

When I replied to his apology, I made a point to say “thanks” instead of “it’s okay.” Because it wasn’t okay. But then I wound up mitigating my stern disapproval by saying that it’s already a touchy subject presently made touchier by recent repercussions.

He replied by urging me not to hesitate to let him know if I needed to vent.

You know what? No. You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to try to be my friend after making an insensitive joke just to try to make yourself feel better. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to lean on you if all it does is massage your ego before you go home to your girlfriend. You don’t get to feel reassured that I still like you.

In case you’re wondering, the insurance issues have been worked out and I’m going back to see Ali Velshi tomorrow evening.

What Women Want

This week I spent a workday at a conference for women leaders. They fed us twice and also gave us wine and goodie bags – and I don’t mean crap, I mean free makeup. We’re going to sort of blow by the fact that never in my previous 16-year-long career would anything like this ever have been encouraged, let alone funded at employer expense, and move straight on to how I pissed myself off.

So I go to this conference, at the invitation of my boss, who’s awesome, and along with several other women from the office. Lovely. We’re all divvied up so nobody is sitting at a table with anyone else from their respective organization/office. Fine. Except I realize very soon after I sit down that I’m judging. Not only am I judging the other women; I’m judging myself in comparison to them. This apparently NEVER ends in life. There was one woman at my table who I hated within two minutes of sitting down, even though she had not yet so much as moved by that point. Otherwise I was looking at clothes and jewelry and feeling frumpy (my wardrobe choice was sub-par even by my own standards) and cheap (said wardrobe came partially from Target – handed up from my sister – and my accessories were plastic).

The first problem, if I’m being honest, was location. The host site was very near Jack’s place. I generally try to avoid that whole area now because it’s an old haunt for me, and his ghost (and corporal being, as far as I know) is there. Gag. So already that’s in my subconscious. Like, as I was driving, I quietly thought that if I saw him running down the road, I might run him over. You know. Accidentally.

In addition, there were two women at my table (of eight) who were engaged and talking weddings. During the first discussion session right before lunch, the discussion leader (a fellow academic admin employee, but from another school) commented to the chick I hated that her being from a tiny town in Montana must have made it hard to find a future husband. WTF. Is that really what we’re talking about here? Wedding plans and lack of potential for mates in freaking high school? At a women’s leadership conference? Have we not evolved AT ALL?

From time to time, I was checking various things via my phone, as were all attendees. At one point I posted something to my Twitter page, which I only use for work-related stuff. While there, I quickly scrolled through the tweets from people I follow to see if anyone else was discussing the event, or anything related to where I work. Somehow, Jack showed up in the list. I don’t follow him; he must have referenced someone I do follow – I didn’t read his tweet, just scrolled quickly past when I saw his face and wondered how he got there. Then I wondered if I could block him from ever showing up again.

However, in my defense, I feel my instincts about the chick I hated were correct. To wit:
1. She was wearing a knit dress with horizontal stripes and didn’t look fat, so I’m pretty sure she was showing off.
2. She emptied the table’s water pitcher so as to fill her own Nalgene bottle from its empty status.
3. Twice.
4. During a presentation by a major player at a Fortune 100 company, she loudly demanded that he show the full Old Spice buff guy commercial instead of just the photo, and then muttered that one of their upcoming ad campaigns “sounds dumb.”
5. When the host started playing a Shakira song and told the room to close our eyes and dance like no one was watching, she did. Unabashedly. Mostly with her ass.
6. She chewed with her mouth open.
7. She reminded me slightly of Gwyneth. In that she was blonde with blue eyes and young.
8. She rolled her eyes a lot.
9. She laughed loudly at weird times.

So I’m completely justified, yes?

It’s frustrating, you know? Ironically, during the wrap-up, as moderators were working their way around the room asking representatives from each table to share what had been discussed between tablemates, my boss stood up and said that they’d talked about how nasty women are to other women. Yet another demonstration of how like-minded my boss and I are: I’ve been saying that for years – that women are who get in the way of women now. Yet I had spent the day judging, hating and feeling emo. And wondering whether any other women were doing the same thing.

I have to believe they were.

Because I’m crazy, but I’m not the only one.

I got a lot out of the conference, actually. Besides the psychological un-fun-ness of being in Jack’s neighborhood sitting at a table with a woman who reminded me of Gwyneth while listening to two other women talk about weddings and seeing Jack pop up randomly in my Twitter feed.

That was just a bonus.

What’s the Best Wine Pairing for Foot?

The second week of my new job basically involved me stuffing my foot in my mouth and seeing just how far I could shove it down my throat without vomiting all over someone’s desk, and other awkward occasions.

Don’t get me wrong – job’s still good. People are still nice. Me? I’m kind of an idiot.

My new immediate boss started Monday. It just so happens that, in the ongoing adjustment to restructuring our department, he wasn’t hired until after me. Not a big deal at all. But he has to get up to speed with how things are working so that he can then oversee how things are working. Pursuant to that, he had an informal staff meeting on Tuesday morning at which I opened my fat mouth and implied that I understood things that, being on my exact seventh day of working at the university, I, of course, did not, in fact, understand. This has long been a problem of mine. My natural air of confidence makes me seem as if I know what the hell I’m talking about, when in all actuality I’m totally making shit up half the time, and the other half I only think I know what I’m talking about, but I say it with such poise and certainty that people believe me. This is essentially how I’ve managed to convince anyone at all that I’m a grown-up.

And usually that’s harmless. But in this case, it ruffled the feathers of someone who’s been there way longer than me. Approximately 19 years, 11 months and 51 weeks longer. Because I thought she had new help with a client, and I was very wrong. She still does all the work herself. Yet I sort of came off as telling her she was wrong, instead.

On top of that, there was a covert kerfuffle over my title. Now, I can’t help what my title is. But I was hired with that title even though my associates, who do exactly the same job as mine, don’t have it. Naturally, they wondered what the difference was. They were told, before I arrived, that there was no difference. Joanne told them that. She hired me. She also told my immediate boss, Ron, that I have a leadership role over the others. Therefore, he kept coming to me for things, making me look like the new boss’s favorite. And she keeps talking me up like I’m the second coming.

Oh, please stop. It’s so nice to be valued and appreciated, but please, please lower the bar of expectation. I don’t know what I’m doing. You know that, right?

Then, last night, I went to a dinner in honor of some prominent graduates. Seated at my table were one such graduate and his family, along with two men I’ve met in the last two weeks – both clients I work with. The man to my immediate left was someone I hadn’t yet met. I asked him what he does within the university.

He’s the vice-provost.

Which is awesome, since the Office of the Provost is another one of my clients.

This was after I met the president of the university and couldn’t help but wonder if my v-neck was cut a little too low. Which I had been wondering all day. Which means the answer is probably yes.

In other news: Rick brought something up to my officle while I was in a meeting. I saw it briefly when I ran back to my desk to get something we were talking about. Then I wound up coming back to get what he’d brought, because we’d started talking about that. He’d stuck a Post-It note on it: “Sending you gifts (with a purpose). Enjoy.-Rick.”

I controlled the heart flutter, I think. Because it was just information on a construction project the university is doing. And a pen pimping said construction project. It wasn’t, like, roses. I did need the info.

But… I mean… the pen…

Anyway. I emailed him later to let him know his timing was perfect because we were discussing the very thing he’d brought to my officle while I was in the meeting. Then I asked for some quick information on the event he was attending. Except the event was the next night. “That’s tomorrow,” he replied, as I had known two hours before, but had forgotten. “Right now I’m stuck in traffic heading into the city for a dinner. If it keeps up like this, I might just bypass the dinner altogether.”

At first I thought nothing of it. Then I did some geographical calculation and realized that the city is south of the university, and the town where he’d been staying with his parents is north of the university. “Bypassing” in this case means continuing southward without stopping. And the town where he had lived with his girlfriend is south of the city.

So now I’m pretty sure he’s back with her. Which, by the way, is exactly what I have been telling myself all along, for the sake of my peace of mind. Supposedly. But I think he mentioned the “bypass” on purpose. Which I willfully ignored. Because this is a professional relationship. I will not wind up in the Friend Zone. And I will not ask questions.

After all the Foot I’ve tasted this week, I need to keep my mouth shut, anyway.

The First Week

You guys. I finished my first week of my new job.

First of all, did you know that you can work somewhere where people are all really nice and nobody is snarky? It’s true. I mean obviously it’s only been a week and everyone is probably on their best behavior and also really excited because wow, do I have a lot of responsibilities to take off their hands. I’m not complaining. I like being busy and I am going to know soooo many people. But no fewer than three officemates have told me I have entirely too many clients within the university. Like, triple what I should have, apparently? So that’s exciting. I’m looking forward to failing them all miserably.

I spent the week doing important things like having meetings with major players in university administration and also figuring out how the hell to work the phone. I couldn’t even log into a computer until Wednesday, so I was re-learning what it was like to write things out longhand and not be able to send email. I could place and receive calls, so that wasn’t a problem… I just didn’t have voicemail until Thursday.

I had to make a copy once. That was embarrassing. Here’s me, college-educated, working at a university, 16 years as a professional, and I couldn’t figure out how to make the copier go.

You need a code.

Aha.

But now? Except for not understanding why the printer that’s directly under my desk doesn’t print, and not knowing where anything I print actually goes, everything is up and running! I even figured out how to find someone else’s scheduling calendar in Outlook. In my previous career, there was nothing like this. I didn’t know computers had made it possible for me to see the scheduling calendar for literally every blessed person on staff at a university.

I find it a little creepy, to be honest.

On Tuesday, I asked the administrative assistant if we had any of those big desk calendars – you know, the ones with the big squares for each day so you can write a bunch of stuff in there? I was teased for not just doing it all in my phone, but my phone is always dinging and buzzing about something and I start ignoring it, so that’s not really the best way to go. Anyway, the AA told me she’d order me one.

Next morning. On my desk. “It’s not very pretty, but there wasn’t much of a selection,” she said apologetically. As if I need a pretty desk calendar. I’m still in shock I got something I asked for immediately and without question. I come from a place where they line-item veto $0.26 worth of staples on a supply request.

I did not make that up.

Oh! And I have an officle. That’s what I call  it. Hard C, like “cat.” It’s not quite an office because it doesn’t have a door, so it’s more like a cubicle, but bigger, and there’s a window! Remember how I used to work in a basement? Now I’m on the fourth floor with a window. Right there! Big ol’ view! Blinds I’m allowed to adjust whenever I choose!

And you know what else? I can be away from my desk for hours and nobody questions whether I’m doing my job. In fact, they assume I’m doing it, by being out, having meetings and getting familiar with campus. Which is exactly what I have been doing when I’ve been away from my desk, except for the four hours of my life that HR owes me for the timesuck that was orientation. Three people in this session, including myself, and it took four freaking hours. I’ve never seen so much PowerPoint in my life. And soooo much paperwork. Just to exist. Just to get on the payroll. At a state university, you have to fill out 427 forms and they can’t put you on payroll until they get allll  of them back. Including your retirement selection, your health insurance selection and your fingerprints. Yes, you have to be fingerprinted. Which should be reassuring since it is a place that shapes young minds.

Oh, but you can get into buildings and work and stuff before they find out whether you’re an ax murderer. You just can’t get paid until they’re sure you’re not.

On Tuesday, there was a breakfast meeting that featured actual hot food. Eggs, home fries, sausage, bacon… plus pastry, fruit salad, yogurt, coffee, water, juices… and the whole meeting was called solely so that the boss could thank everyone for working so hard. Apparently she does this every couple months.

What?

Previous career: there might be an email from the boss once every three clusterfucks saying how glad he is to work with such smart people, but that email would be lost in a shuffle of 4,281 other emails about how we suck. And on Fridays there might be a rumpled brown bag of bagels and schmears of cream cheese all over a table in the breakroom. Tops.

People kept coming by all week and asking how I was, how things were going, telling me how happy they were to have me there, and offering help all over the place while I get acclimated. One guy, the guy I share a wall with (he has an office-office) left me a donut while I was at a meeting, and then came back and confessed he thought he’d gotten me a croissant because I seem more like a croissant person and donuts are too pedestrian. (He’s right about my preference in pastry.)  I learned he had not gotten donuts and/or croissants for everyone. Just some people. He also threw a Ferraro Roche candy on my desk. Clearly he’s trying to butter me up.

Now, those of you who have been playing the home version of my particular game of life might be wondering, “But, thesinglecell… what of that man you dated, Rick?” Well, I had decided, on my first day, that I would go say hello. His office is one floor below mine and he did help a lot and encourage me a lot when I was up for the job. But he wasn’t around that day. I saw him Tuesday instead. We sat in his office and chatted for at least half an hour, mostly about university- and legislation-related stuff. The next day, he came up to my officle with a newspaper in his hand, to show me (rather triumphantly) an article about a national effort to accomplish something we had worked on together on the state level for victims’ rights. We had nothing to do with the national thing, but it did piggyback off of our thing, which was pretty cool, and he was totally excited about it.

And then on Thursday, one of his big projects landed on my desk. It falls under the purview of two of my clients. I needed to get more info, so I emailed him, told him I was now on the project and asked him for whatever pertinent facts he could provide.

“I”ll stop up in 30 minutes,” he replied.

Ten minutes later, he was in my officle. He could have just emailed me, but he came up. And now guess who’s going to the site visit and the groundbreaking for the project? Me. Also him.

We looked at each other.

“Who would have thought,” I said.

“I know,” he said.

See, I really was hoping to minimize the number of times I have to see him all dressed up in a suit looking incredibly hot and stuff. But noooo. Right from jump, we’re pushed together again, after two years of strange pushings-together that seem (to those of us who are hopeless romantics slash terribly cursed in relationships) fated to lead to more, despite inner turmoil that has already pulled us begrudgingly apart.

Oh, universe. You are just hilarious.

 

 

Working Staycation

Week off, day one. I was supposed to paint the front door today. It’s at the top of my To Do List. I’m kind of excited about it, because my front door is white and boring and I don’t do white and boring. Except for management meetings. *Rimshot!*

But Mother Nature (or, as I believe she’s called in my urban environment, “All Y’all’s Mama”) decided that, on Earth Day, she would throw down some irony and make it too cold for me to put a coat of latex-based fume-producing paint on the door.

Well-played, Mama. I see you your temperature fluctuation that prevents my ozone-damaging efforts, and I raise you whatever chemicals are in a Swiffer wet cloth.

Your move, lady.

This week is all about the To Do List, bolstered by my attempt to reprogram my body to go to bed early and get up early, so I can be ready to start the new job with grown-up hours next Monday. I got up at 7:30, my mind full of the list’s items.

As of 11:30, I had moved the car, put a load of laundry in the washer, and pouted about the door.

None of those things were on the list.

I also read the internet. Not the whole thing, but kind of a lot of it. I had set up a TweetDeck account so I can keep track of goings-on for the new job. So I read the stuff that showed up there, and do you know what happens when you’re done doing that? You have to read the stuff that’s shown up since you started reading. It’s never-ending.

And then I looked at the Bed Bath & Beyond website because my 20% OFF online coupon is WAITING, hello, are you going to buy anything, bitch? And I found Mister Steamy’s Dryer Balls by accident.

Image

Well, obviously that is either brilliant marketing or whoever came up with it has absolutely no idea what all those words put together will do to my brain.

So then I had to post that on my friend Alicia’s Facebook page because she’s dirty like I am and we don’t work together anymore so instead of being inappropriate in person I have to do it on the internet.

And then I had to look for some art that I’d seen a while ago for my upstairs hall, to see if the price had come down at all. Which it didn’t, but it reminded me that I wanted to check out the website for a woman I bought some stuff from at a wine festival yesterday (it wasn’t wine), because it occurred to me after I walked away that her stuff would look great in my upstairs bathroom.

I was supposed to be cleaning my kitchen, by the way.

Then I went to change the laundry from the washer to the dryer and found a gray plastic hose just free as you please in the washer. Which is funny because I don’t remember putting one in there to be washed. I had a good feel-around and even dug the flashlight out to see if I could figure out where this thing came from, but there were no openings I could see. And then I consulted the internet, which sucked unusually badly at getting me the information I needed. But in the process, I began to suspect this hose was part of the drain tube. Which means doing another load of laundry would be a verrrry bad idea. So then I had to call the place I bought the machine from.

He remembered me from the three times he had to come to my house because the machine wouldn’t spin. He asked if I was going to be home today and said he’d call me when he was on his way out. So then I had to take a shower. Usually he shows up, knocks first, then calls, while I’m in the shower.

He showed up without calling at all (but at least he showed up and at least I was out of the shower), and it turned out that it was a drain hose. Just not my drain hose. Apparently it was a spare that had been stored in the rubber that encircles the opening to the washer and worked itself free somehow during the cycle. No harm, no foul.

Oh, also? When I discovered the hose in the washer? I smelled the tell-tale sign that the cat had, for some reason, chosen to pee on the basement carpet. It was dry, so who knows when this happened. Now, can someone please tell me why a spray bottle of Resolve is completely inoperable once more than half the bottle is gone? Here’s a product made to be sprayed on things like carpets and furniture. Which means it’s got to be pointed downward. Why on earth, then, do I have to hold it straight up to make it go?

FIX IT.

Eventually I did clean the kitchen, and the floors, and finish the laundry. None of these things were on the To Do List. Oh, but calling the hospital for which my shrinkapist works and figuring out exactly how much money I really do owe them now that they’ve figured out who to bill first was. And I did that. Yay me.

Writing thank you notes was not on the list, but it should have been, and I did that, too.

And I paid bills. Also not on the list. But clearly something that must be done. Paying bills is a little terrifying right now because I am allegedly getting my final paycheck in the mail from my old job, which will allegedly include payout for the vacation days I hadn’t taken yet… but then after that I will not see a paycheck until June.

June, bitches.

Because apparently it takes the state a whole entire month to get you into the system.

Which reminds me: create website whereby I will make lots more money on the side was supposed to be on the To Do list.

So as of cocktail hour on Day One, three of the 19 things on the list have been crossed off, and four things that weren’t on the list got added and crossed off.

And then I remembered I need a screen for the kitchen window, so I added that.

Math sucks.

Your Life Is Important To Us. Please Continue To Hold.

As Josh Lyman once said in an episode of The West Wing called “The War At Home:” I’m on hold. I’m on hold. I’m in some kind of hellish hold world of holding.

Super episode, by the way.

So. I’m still waiting to hear from the university about the job. I’m not going to hear about it until at least next Monday, when Joanne gets back from vacation. She did email me yesterday, the first day of her vacation, to ask me for three references. I had already provided a list of three, two of whom are either recently retired from her department or currently working one floor below her in the president’s office. So I guess she wanted three more.

I could go for days, boss. Refer away. Or whatever.

But seriously? Make the call. You’ve told me you want to hire me, you’ve told me you don’t know why I didn’t get the last job I interviewed for there, you asked me for free advice, some of which you actually took, you sang my praises to Rick twice the next day… HIRE ME ALREADY. Or I’m totally billing you for that shit.

Meanwhile, I had to schedule the interview I don’t want, for the job I don’t really want. That’s because I had put my old and potentially new again boss on hold, because I was on hold with the university. And then when I learned I wasn’t going to hear from the university until at least the 25th, I couldn’t keep David on hold anymore. So that interview is Friday.

Which is Rick’s birthday. I had foolishly taken it as a vacation day, thinking maybe I’d make him a nice dinner. That was more than a month ago, when we were swimming along nicely. Cut to now, at which point I haven’t seen him in almost a month and didn’t hear from him between Friday afternoon and this morning. And all he can say to me anymore is, “Did you hear anything about the job yet?” Even though I have told him I won’t hear until next week. It’s like that’s the only way he can think of to continue some sort of contact.

I almost gave the vacation day back, but then I realized it would be the best way to go to the interview I don’t want for the job I don’t really want.

Since I turned my blog into an interactive forum on dating, I’ve been doing what it seemed most of you recommended: responding when contacted, but not reaching out. Which is really no different from what I’d been doing all along. So no behavior modification was necessary. Psyche modification – different story.

Therefore, I am grumpy as hell. Which, I’m told, hath no fury like a woman wondering what the eff is the deal with the seemingly endless procession of men in her life who can’t get their shit together with super glue, compounded by the nearly four-year search for a way out of a basement that didn’t include a spoon and a Raquel Welch poster, which is presently taunting her because it’s like she can smell the fresh air but she can’t get to it.

Or something like that.

Even Sam isn’t getting back to me. Days have gone by and nothing. I think he might be dead. I emailed him yesterday to ask. No reply. So it’s possible I’m right.

I’ve heard it said that God has three answers: Yes, No and Wait. I suppose it’s possible that I’m getting a bunch of Waits lately. But still, I would think God would have a better way to communicate. Burn a bush or something.

But tell me what the burning bush means first, so I’m not all, “It’s a sign! Wait… what?”