Friday, August 28, 2009

Who's With Me?

I always picture the guy in the movies...the guy pushed into leadership. Sometimes, he's an unlikely hero. Sometimes he is reluctant. Sometimes, he was born for this kind of thing, but in the movies, it is always the same--he's been put down or held down, and he's watched as the people he cares about are put down or held down. Finally, toward the end of the movie, he gives an inspirational speech decrying the wrong of it all, and declares that he's going to fight.

Then he says, "Who's with me?" and the whole place erupts in a loud battle cry. Everyone is with him.

After all, if they have each other and are united for a cause, there is nothing that can stop them. In fact, they don't really need to go into battle at all--truly they are free, at the very moment they decided it was worth fighting for. The momentum, and the energy is there, and, it carries them through the worst "the enemy" can throw at them.

Don't you just love the movies?

In real life, too, we rise or fall based on who, if anybody, is with us. Nobody wants to go it alone. You don't want to tell your boss you think they're insane, even if it is the widely held opinion around the office. If you ask "who's with me?" at the moment you decide to stand up and say something, even if you give an inspirational speech first, chances are, no one will raise a pinky, much less a battle cry...because you might get fired. Most people resign themselves to the "it isn't so awful" days at the office--more so these days, when there are hundreds of people standing around, waiting for you to screw up so they can have your job.

But what about those times when you have nothing to lose? What does it take to get you to do something, or say something? Do you keep waiting for the leader to emerge? Or do you know that the leader will be you?

Also, and this might be the deciding do you define "nothing to lose"?

I find that I am usually the first one to get pissed off enough to act. And yes, sometimes, I end up going it alone, which sucks.

OK, most of the time, I end up going it alone, and sometimes, it sucks. Honestly, at this stage, I'm so used to going it alone that I usually skip the formality of asking "who's with me?" and just assume that it's no one.

There are certain rewards that come with being that kind of person. When you have an effect, and create a positive change, you get to feel damn good about yourself, or at least I do. Also, if other people know that you were the one responsible for the positive change, they might say nice things to/about you....after the fact, that is...when they've got nothing to lose by agreeing with you.

Of course, there are also some risks, but I find that the risks involved with staying true to your convictions, in all but the most extreme cases, are no worse than the risks involved with, say...bungee jumping. Very slight chance of injury or death. 100% chance of exhilaration.

Which brings us back around to how you define "nothing to lose". Let me tell you a story--true story, and no, it isn't about me. A friend of mine is a relationship that I don't understand, at all. She doesn't get beat up or anything, but her mate is just mean. So mean to her that, well, if anybody ever said those things to me, even once, they could kiss my ass goodbye, forever--they might possibly even kiss their own ass goodbye, depending on my mood that day.

Many years ago, I told my friend that I thought she needed to leave--I told her that in my opinion, she was being abused and she should get the hell out of there.

She didn't.

Also, she didn't speak to me for about two years after that. I don't know if she wasn't "allowed" to speak to me or what, but, my guess is that the mate considered me a threat, which...I'm not sure how to take, but OK, fine. I'm a threat. A threat to your bullshit.

Fast forward over ten years. My friend is still with the mean one. She is a great person and gets her fair share of positive attention from lots of nice people who would love to go out with her, but...she's stuck on the "what have you got to lose" part of the equation. She is convinced that she couldn't make it on her own, or maybe that she's such an awful person that nobody but this meanie could ever love her.

But then, one day, the man arrived.

Enter one very cute, very smart, sweet and kind gentleman who, as it would happen, is CRAZY about my friend. He thinks she is awesome.

He's "with" her. He's soooo "with" her. And you know what? It's incredibly empowering. Finally, after 15 years, someone out there is making my friend feel like she could be happy. Really happy. Finally, she is examining the possibilities. Finally, she is accepting the fact that she is worth it.

The very cute, very smart, sweet and kind gentleman did not roll into town on on his fine steed and sweep her up and away from danger. They are not "together" as a couple, and they likely never will be--it doesn't appear to be his role. What is his role? His very presence has planted the seed of the idea, and is making my friend stand up for herself, even though she never had the courage to before.

She still has a long journey ahead of her, but the simple fact that she has started walking, is huge. That makes this goof-ball boy a very big deal--Divine Intervention--and way more of a threat to the status quo than I could ever be, no matter how much time I spend postulating on whether or not my friend is in a "good" relationship.

When I talk about inspiration on this blog, that is the kind of thing that I mean. Not just "oh, I saw that painting and it inspired me to decorate my whole apartment around it." I'm talking about, "I had an interaction with that person and then my whole damn life changed." There are people just walking among us who's role it is to force us to be that reluctant hero in our own lives--to bring us to question why things are the way they are, and, give us the courage to change if change is needed, by letting us know they are there--they are "with" us.

Sometimes, they do this in a subtle way--they might be the person at the office who is always nice to you, and you always feel good after talking to them.

Sometimes, they'll knock you flat on your ass with no subtlety whatsoever, usually at the exact moment the universe tells you, "Oh, by the way? Change of plans. Person X has now been introduced into the story line...." and just like that, you are shocked into wakefulness, with not a damn thing you can do about it.

This exact scenario has played for my friend, and for me, because this is the thing that happened to us both--she with her cute, smart man, and me with someone else. Picture being pushed off a cliff (don't worry, you have your bungee chords) into incredible exhilaration and excitement and googly-eye silliness and Happy To Be Alive-ness, peppered with heaping gobs of, "This is so fucking scary!" because they pushed you into believing you were worth it, and you do hate it sometimes and wish they would have just let you remain unconscious--it was so much simpler to accept things as they were and remain asleep.

It requires less action of you to pretend that everything is fine than to contemplate that maybe you deserve something better, whatever that "something" may be--especially if that "something" is...really nothing more than an absence of the bad thing.

One day after 3 years of influence from that particular muse, I woke and recognized that I had become the reluctant hero in my life. What had I done since seeing him, and speaking to him? Everything. I had changed my entire life--not necessarily because of the warm interactions we had, but because knowing he existed somehow made me think, "I can do better," so, I did better. He had no idea. He didn't know I kept a little picture of him that I took, where he was smiling at me, just to remind me to do better. I'm sure he still doesn't know, and I have no plans to ever tell him.

I put the picture away when I realized that I feel pretty damn good about myself. I had successfully saved myself from heartache that would slowly kill. Finally, I was at ease--better and stronger now than I was, and not content to sleepwalk through life, ever again. I survived having cried more tears than I thought my body could ever handle, as old perspectives, fairy tales and conventional "happy endings" were revealed to be untrue.

Amazing, days lie ahead. Who's with me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Totally Random Wednesday

  • NEW favorite real last name: "Barkuloo"  I'm so changing mine...
  • Corporate America is still not ready for employees who occasionally thrash about at their desks, to music only they can hear.  (Don't worry, I was listening to my mp3 player--I'm not hearing the voices just yet...)
  • Has anyone invented a zyrtek pump yet?  Just asking...
  • Yesterday, somebody in the office said I was "the bomb" and today, I just now, I heard somebody use the phrase, "cool beans".  Um....what year is it again?
  • And can we talk about the guy who works here who is NEVER without food?  I'm not talking about sitting at his desk and eating all the time, I'm talking about walking around with it.  I have seriously never seen him without food in his hand.  He likes the chips and the Mountain Dew...I'm just sayin'.
  • Today, my friends, is the day.  THE freaking day!  I've been waiting for this day for a long, loooong time...and perhaps, after you've been waiting as long as I have, I'll tell you why today is the freaking day...feel my pain, bitches!  And, delight in my absolutely and unabashed joy!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just Call My Name...

Just a couple of quick MJ notes...
First, do you think anyone is actually going to get arrested here?  I mean, every single person who assisted in perpetrating the fraud, the doctor shopping, picking up drugs for him, etc--all of those people should be liable, right?  Right? 
So....what do you suppose is going to happen? 
More importantly, will it change anything?  Will this be the push we needed to get a national database, so no matter where you go, somebody can look you up and say, "Ah, I see that you already have 27 bottles of morphine at home--guess we don't need to refill your prescription today..."?
Second...I just want to say, State Farm...?  It's too soon.  Seriously, it's too soon.  I don't want to hear "I'll Be There" in a product endorsement just yet.  In fact, in my humble opinion, the person who had the brilliant idea to use "I'll Be There" in a TV commercial should not be allow to speak for the next 8 or 9 months--we've seen what they are capable of doing, and find it disturbing.  When I first saw it, because of the production of the commercial and how State Farm is not mentioned until the end, I figured it was for some charity--Salvation Army or something.  I thought it seemed appropriate.  Then came the logo.  (And also, the cries of many Katrina survivors who will insist that State Farm isn't really "there" when you need them at all...)
I'm waiting for the moment when it is revealed that it was the family's idea (this would not surprise me) and then we can talk more about tacky.  Until then, I'll continue to be a little creeped out by State Farm.  Please yank this...

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Saturday morning writing...quite luxurious.  Lately, I've been plugging in during breaks at the office, which makes for a different writing experience from the preferred--if you're ripping through a thought during your lunch, being under the gun time-wise, it changes your whole brain.  I'd like to think, though, that it separates the men from the boys, so to speak...focus, focus, no attention to that looming project that you "should" be working on!  That project is dumb, anyway!  You'll feel much better writing!

I'm much more thoughtful at home, with coffee or some other daytime/nighttime appropriate beverage and access to cigarettes, so I have an excuse to walk away from it whenever I get stuck on a thought.

Like right now.  Excuse me, I'll be right back...

(And by "be right back" I mean, I'll change out of my jammies, put on some jeans, walk around the apartment half-dressed looking for a shirt, find one and put it on, secure coffee, locate keys, locate sunglasses so as not to frighten the neighbors with the morning look, put them on, then go out to the stoop, smoke, and return.  Then I'll re-read whatever it was that I wrote to try to figure out what it is that I'm going to write next.  Then I may check my Facebook and email.  Then I'm back.  And then I realize that since I'm still working from my netbook, that the screen is very small and I need to adjust the zoom so I can see what I'm doing.  THEN I'm back.)

At work, I guess you would say that I work in "spurts".  I get so bored, so fast.  At the same time, and, I'm not just bragging here, I do more in an hour than most people do in three.  Strange, but true.  I mean, even though I spend an extreme amount of time screwing around, you can actually see the top of my desk, which is some kind of anomaly at my office**.  People comment on it all the time--"wow, your desk is so clean and organized!"  Yes, yes, it is.  That's because I hustled my ass off to get the work done so I could spend 20 minutes with my phone, reading and replying to mobile updates from Twitter and Facebook.  See how that works?  

I realize that there are exactly NO jobs in Corporate America that advocate this type of work-style, so, in addition to the goofing off, I spend a fair amount of time worrying that I'm goofing off too much--the guilt feeds the hustle.  And while I'm hustling, I'm distracted by the sounds of my co-workers spending half their days "visiting" and talking about their weekends and such, which allows me to be comforted by the fact that the reason I get more done than they do is that my goof-off time is very focused.  I don't know the names of any of my co-workers kids, spouses or pets because all of the screwing around that I do is decidedly anti-social.  I give it my complete attention.


Saturday.  But for some reason, I'm still looking at this act of writing as "goofing off", even though this is my time, my dime.  I worry about myself sometimes.  I don't recall being raised with any extreme amount of guilt, but for some reason, I look around my messy apartment and the very act of sitting here at my computer seems incredibly self-indulgent.  I suppose it is.

I remember my ex once telling me that he thought that artists in general were "selfish", meaning, they could be doing something productive instead of writing, or painting, or sculpting or whatever--and I know I revisit this theme often, but I must say, Thank God SOMEBODY does this.  Thank God SOMEONE is selfish enough to write a song or and essay or tweet or whatever.  When the only sounds permeating your brain are the sounds of your co-workers, or even your friends, just talking about their days and nights, like there is nothing else happening in the world, and nothing is more important than how they feel about something, getting a mobile Twitter update from Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) that reads "Follow Friday? Look what it did or Robinson Crusoe -he died alone having sex with a coconut" is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Sometimes, when I find myself worried about the state of the world, I realize that it's because I'm spending too much time listening to people who are not funny, or that make a big deal out of nothing.  Here's an example...guy accepts a job in Minneapolis.  This happens every day.  EVERY f*cking day, OK?  Several times a day, in fact.  So no big deal.  Except this week, when it happened, everybody lost their damn minds.  Let me be perfectly clear:  It's not just that I don't give a rats ass about football, it's actually that I don't give a rats ass about whether or not you're famous, especially if you're famous for something I don't give a rats ass about.  Just remember, every Joe Schmoh who feels perfectly justified weighing in on what is essentially a private decision made by some guy and his family, is the same Joe Schmoh who will feel perfectly justified passing judgement on YOU.  

Of course, they are a powerful and vocal group, and, as made obvious at recent town hall meetings on health care reform, some of them carry guns.  

And a lot of them also want to know who you're sleeping with, and whether or not your apartment is clean.

You see...this is why we need entertainment.  This is why we need to poke fun.  This is why we need to HAVE fun.  This is why we need to hear the other perspective, look at that abstract sculpture that represents your face/your race, or hear that song about the chick who done him wrong--even if the subject matter has nothing to do with the things that get us all excited or wracked with guilt--it helps us to calm down and not worry about the messy apartment, or the quarterback, or whatever.  This is what an artist does.  So what if, when they wrote that thing, they weren't thinking about YOUR mental health so much as their own?  So what?  In the end, that "selfish" is the most self-LESS thing they could have done.

And so...I must close, and, yes, clean the messy apartment.  Much like my desk at work, however, I clean my apartment for the sole purpose of being able to "goof off" again later--to be able think about things that have nothing to do with whether or not someone I don't give a rats ass about would find my apartment too messy for their taste--to clear the slate, as I have so many other times this week already, so that my mind will be clean, and more important things can thrive....

** Yet another thing to be concerned about if you are an advocate of health care reform...I work at an insurance company, and I'm here to tell you that your paperwork is probably in one of many piles of paperwork on someone's desk.  Sorry.  Like I keep saying, if we had to actually compete in the free market, some of us would have our asses handed to us...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Like No One's Watching

This week I have said all of the following, plus numerous variations there-of:
"Why Not?"
"Nothing to lose..."
"It's not like I'm ever gonna see (these people) ever again" ***
I also ignored a lot of advice, shocked some people, did some "stupid" shit and threw conventional wisdom out the window.
I must tell you, I've never been happier...
Have an excellent weekend, all!
***Do you know how much I love that phrase, "It's not like I'm ever gonna see (these people) ever again" ?  I's not like anybody ever uses it for evil purposes, cuz, if you're being bad, you might end up seeing some of those people on your jury or something....which makes this a positive, cool thing to say/think, in my like no one's watching, as they say...

I've Come To Realize

1. That I steal Meme's with alarming frequency.  And that I encourage this behavior in others.

2. I've come to realize that my job(s)...
Actually doesn't allow for a lot of brain engagement by any of the people who work here, which is quite unfortunate...

3. I've come to realize that when I'm driving...
I talk to God a lot.  In between barking obscenities at other drivers, I mean.

4. I've come to realize that I need....
Nothing that I don't already have

5. I've come to realize that I have lost...
Nothing that I really needed.

6. I've come to realize that I hate it when...
People put on blinders and don't think about how their action or inaction affects someone else.  Comfort Junkies who only get off their asses in cases where they have to do that to ensure their mission to further sit on their asses.  Boo!  Hiss!  And while I'm at it, YOU SUCK!

7. I've come to realize that if I'm drunk...
I will most definitely smoke too much.  Too easy?  OK, how about, I will have a lot of deep thoughts that I won't want to share with anyone because they'll all just laugh and tell me I'm drunk.

8. I've come to realize that money...
Equals Energy, not power.

9. I've come to realize that certain people...
Just are the way they are, no matter how annoying it is to me, and no matter what I do, and that I just have to enjoy the good bits and ignore the rest, or they will forever make me crazy.

10. I've come to realize that I'll always ...
Be an unapologetic beefitarian.

11. I've come to realize that my sibling(s)...
Are a diverse, interesting, and hard working group of people with crazy-cool hobbies and whacky-fun spouses.

12. I've come to realize that my mom...
All but created this sense of humor--the one to which you are all being subjected to at this very moment.  Thank you, Rosella, Thank you... 

13. I've come to realize that my cell phone...
Is not nearly as awesome as I wish it was.

14. I've come to realize that when I woke up this morning..
That if I didn't change clothes and walk out the door IMMEDIATELY that I was not going to be able to reasonably blame "traffic" and/or "road construction" for my lateness.

15. I've come to realize that last night before I went to sleep...
That I was not going to get around to putting my jammies on or even get to the bed, as I drifted off to la-la land under a comforter on the love seat.

16. I've come to realize that right now I am thinking...
That surely there must be a way to make this meme interesting.

17. I've come to realize that my dad...
Is what you might call a "good ol boy"...

18. I've come to realize that when I get on Facebook...
That there many people there that I worry won't "get" the jokes.

19. I've come to realize that today...
 Is another day chock full of potential madness and fun.  Come join me, won't you?

20. I've come to realize that tonight...
I'm buying a vacuum cleaner.  And that the level of excitement in my life must surely be mind-blowing to a good many of you.

21. I've come to realize that tomorrow...
I'll be very happy that it isn't a billion degrees, and that I can move freely about the cabin.

22. I've come to realize that I really want to...
Finish with the pain in the ass stuff and get to the "livin is easy" stuff.  But also, that I'm not all that worried about it...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Well, That Was Weird... summarize:  The week started off crazy, and then there was a tornado.
I have heard no reports of injury related to the tornado, and have decided not to count the near heart attack I had while sitting miles away in my cozy marble and redwood office building, I started receiving texts from two teenage girls (mine) advising that there was a FREAKING TORNADO just a few blocks from where they were, home alone.
Because I am very, very old, and therefore have slow texting hands, I just hit "call" for the purposes of barking instructions at them, but nobody answered their phones. 
And...I would like to take this opportunity to thank my children for not answering their phones and causing that second near heart attack.  Someday, the universe will get them back for that.  Kind of like how my friend didn't answer his phone or return my calls for a whole week after the bridge collapsed.  Special place in hell, is all I'm sayin'...
The kids and I were able to connect with each other very soon after, though, and I discovered everything was OK at our house, but I was still rattled.  It was one of those moments where you look at whatever project you're working on and realize that it's rather pointless and unimportant compared to just being where-ever your children are, so, I ditched for the rest of the day.
All things considered, I found "tornado" to be a really great distraction, and obviously, I say that only because nobody was injured or killed.  Nothing for the rest of the month is going to seem like that big of a deal, so, that's cool, right?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Randomy Randomness

Just realized that SATURDAY is the last time I wrote anything, and that I didn't actually write anything.  DOH!
Today, I decided that I am changing my last name to...."Slorb".  No reason, it's just the muckiest last name I've ever heard that was real.
Sunday, I came thisclose to forgetting my mother's birthday, but you know how those things go--you're in the kitchen, thinking about what to cook, and invariably (for me, anyway) you get a flash of inspiration that is something your mother used to make, and in my case, on Sunday, that flash was followed immediately by an "OH F*CK!" and I put off cooking for an hour while I called my mother.  We ate dinner at 8:30.  How very metropolitan of us.
Last night, while I was sitting on the stoop, a woman walked by in a little black dress and high heels, holding two Styrofoam take-out boxes.  She stopped directly in front of me, bent to remove the high heels, said "Hi There", and was then on her way. 
Later in the evening, a gentleman named Scotty pulled up on his bike, proceeded to flip the bike over and advised that if he spun his front wheel, it would keep going for eleven minutes.  During the eleven minutes (yes, it actually did keep going for eleven minutes), he bummed a smoke and smoked it, gave us a history lesson about the street cars that used to run on our street, and then did magic tricks with coins.  Interesting fellow, Scotty.  Wonder what he's like when he's sober?  Probably not nearly so much fun...
The only thing I want in the whole wide world right now?  Potato chips.  More than sex, more than universal health care, more than a million dollars, right now, I want freaking potato chips, and I'm counting the minutes until I can bust out of here and go get some.  I'm not obsessive--I don't know what you are talking about.  You see....without a serious drug habit or drinking problem, I have the luxury of jonesing for random shit like potato chips.  For which I would kill, right now.  Instead of potato chips, what am I eating?  How am I keeping myself from killing those around me?  Full fat plain yogurt, into which I have dumped a sweetened orange, single-serve drink packet.  Psychotic cravings require psychotic stavings. T minus 35 minutes until potato chips.
There is a wave of crazy coming, I can just feel it.  For the rest of August, and perhaps all of September, expect nonsensical blabbering.  I may have to keep you out of the loop on a few things, but promise we'll catch up later...WEEEEEEE!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

War Stories

The health insurance industry is a complicated monster.  The simple act of looking up someone's account requires a security clearance, and, once you have the information up on the screen, well-honed interpretive skills, to decipher all of the gobble-dee-gook that you see there.  You have to learn a completely different language in order to work in it, and there are a lot of rules and guidelines--the complexities can be exhausting.  Most people who go to work for an insurance company go through a lot of training, because it doesn't matter much if you've worked in an office, or a were a playground monitor, or wrestled lions for a living--little than you learned in those endeavors relates to the things you will need to know to work in the health insurance industry.  There are days in which you do nothing all day but give people bad news, peppered just lightly with side projects in which you feel like you're truly helping someone.  
The other day, somebody in my office had to explain to someone that we would not cover a lot of the expenses associated with the policy-holder's miscarriage, because she hadn't been insured with us long enough at the time that it happened, even though she wasn't pregnant when she got the policy.  The rep leaned over to a co-worker and asked what was the most delicate way to explain this to the woman, since, that co-worker had to break that same news to other women on several different occasions.  The other rep explained her preferred method. 
We are so well practiced in the business of adding insult to injury that it breaks my heart.  In fact, we become numb to it, after a while, and I suppose it is much the way a soldier tries not to think about who lived in that building they just blew up.  What could be more heartbreaking than someone losing a baby?  Someone losing a baby and then having to be reminded of it when the mail comes, month after month, while they pay off the bill.
The days when this job is hard, when I really wonder what the hell I'm doing here, are the days in which I catch my co-workers acting as if the policy-holders should know this stuff--like, before anything happens, before they get sick, they should understand every nuance of their insurance policy just like we do--as in, Don't think about a new baby, just, think about your insurance. 
After all, that's all we do all day...
But we don't know this stuff, we consumers.  I mean, even though I am an intelligent person, I didn't know that my health insurance policy doesn't cover Emergency Sick.  Oh, it covers Emergency Maimed, but not Emergency Sick.  And only Emergency Maimed if you drive yourself to the Emergency Room--no ambulance.  It never occurred to me that I could not follow a doctor's explicit orders and expect a little help from my insurance company.  I found out the hard way, of course, when the bills started coming.
The ever-present attitude around this business, and, it's not at all malevolent, it just is, is that we know this stuff about your policy, why don't you
When people who work in insurance tell their stories--the "war stories" about interactions with customers, they usually have that tone to them--"duh, their policy doesn't cover this--I don't know why they are getting angry with ME..."
We forget.
We forget that the people reaching out to us might just be stunned that their insurance isn't paying--their doctor told them they needed it, so, they did it, thinking that their health insurance would certainly consider it a valid use of funds...and, yes, they are angry.  I'm angry because I pay $400 a month for health insurance for my children and myself, and you know what?  I've already paid more in premiums than what my medical bills add up to, but, that money can't be used to pay those bills--that money is just gone.  My shoulda-woulda-coulda brain is now thinking, "Gee, if I had only put that money into a savings account, instead of paying for health insurance, I could have paid this bill, no problem--instead, I get to pay for this, AND that.  What a complete WASTE of money that was!  How STUPID"  And I'm utterly embarrassed that I was so "stupid" to not read the fine print--$400 is a lot of damn money to a single mother--it is a significant percentage of my income.  I mean, my car payment is less than that, and so is my monthly grocery budget--and at least with those things, I get something tangible.
As we enter into this time in which all of what we do is being called into question, I hope we all remember, and I hope it's as harsh in our heads and hearts as it sounds right here in black and white.  I've seen what this industry is capable off, "good" and "bad"--so much CAN happen as long as we keep ourselves from being numb to the realities of what people are actually going through, case by case.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

And Then, There Was Some Stupidity...

...and I reacted in my usual way, feeling high and mighty, but, sadly, not able to stay above the fray.
Work has been crazy.  Crazy, like, "Hey, Shelly, we're gonna do this new thing!  It'll be GREAT" and then the new thing is implemented and I can't help but wonder why it is so much less great than the old thing.  Then you gotta put it through the grinder and work with it until you have a usable thing.
And then, it IS great!  But it takes a bit of work.
Still, this is better than when they implement a new thing and DON'T tell you that they did, in which case you have to pause for a "WTF?", regain your bearings and THEN put it through the grinder.
I'm still waiting for that thing to become great.  I'm not so sure it has what it takes.  We'll see.
I'm not really in a position to be in on the decision-making process, and it's not like I expect anything to be run past me first, I'm just a huge proponent of simple....makes things run smoothly and easily, for everyone.  I say, if you're going to do a new thing, explain why, at least.  I'm not against new and different.  In fact, I'm a big fan.  I mean, obviously there is a reason for every change--why not share that reason with the peasants?  After all, we're the ones dragging the freaking plows...I'm just sayin'.
So that has been my last two weeks in a nutshell.  And although I say that all of this crap is annoying (it is), it does engage my mind in some good ways--the problem-solver brain comes out and fixes everything, and it is incredibly energizing.  I am so uncomfortable with discord, drama, frustration and confusion--to the point that eliminating those things is almost compulsive, but I think the work is good and necessary, even if I'm the only one patting me on the back.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Signs From The Universe

These are the things I am pondering many questions, so few answers...

  • If you discover that you are alarmingly broke at the same time your ex tells you, "oh, by the way, I can't pay my half of _____ this week, so you're going to have to handle it," do you take that as a sign to remain calm and meditate on the situation, or, as a sign to unleash your as-yet-unseen rage toward said ex?  I mean, choosing Option Two would send me straight to jail, but the bright side of that bills to speak of.  (Yes, I'm kidding...relax.)
  • If you find yourself attending a succession of meetings in which, even though you are the lowest person on the totem pole, you feel like you are the smartest person in the room, what kind of sign is that? (I mean, besides a sign that I'm totally full of myself...)
  • If you continue to feel unlimited potential, and you're pushing hard every day, but your life and the people around you just aren't keeping up with your ambition, to you need a vacation?  Or do you need to smack some people around until you get what you want?
  • If you are attempting to log into your secure systems at work and your password isn't working and eventually you lock yourself out, that's a sign to go home, right? 
  • How about if your pass card doesn't work?  I mean...can I fix it so my pass card doesn't work?  That way I can't make it past the lobby, and will have no choice but to turn and leave.
  • If you're awake and it's 1:00AM, and you know the alarm goes off at 5:30, do you take that as a sign to just shut the alarm off and skip the whole Waking Up On Time thing, because you know that they day is just going to be a waste of yawny spaciness?
Feel free to talk amongst yourselves...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Version Of The Truth

I've been exposed to a lot of "versions of the truth" lately, and, I've been guilty of floating a "version" or two, myself.  

When someone gives me a "version" I invariably take it personally, like they are keeping something from me.and that everyone on the planet, except me, is in on the joke.  Logically, I know better.  I mean, the only reason I don't tell someone the truth is because I know they won't approve, and then they'll stop talking to me over something I think is no big deal.  I'm just not a big fan of drama, so, I skip over some non-essential detail.

However, when asked a question like "What did you do last night?"  The answer depends on who's asking...for some people, the answer is, "Not much--hung out with _Some Person_ ."  For others, that same evening went like this: 
"Oh my God, it was freaking HILARIOUS!  _Some Person_ came over, and we had a couple of drinks, and of course, she wanted to go out, so, we called a cab and they sent a freaking stretch Town Car, so we rode to the neighborhood dive in the back of a RIDICULOUSLY nice car, with the dude opening the door for us and everything, and when we got there, all of the bartenders took one look at us and said, 'oh shit, _Some Person_ is here..."   We proceeded to get just stupid, then _Some Other Person_ showed up to haul our drunken asses home, and when we got back, _Some Person_ started stripping out of her clothes to put her jammies on right there in the living room, in front of everybody!  AND the curtains were open!  Anybody walking by would have gotten a hell of a show..."

For the record, I've never had a night exactly like that, but all of those separate things have actually occurred on various occasions...within the last several months.  I have some funny stories, what can I say?

There are people that I know who would hear that story and laugh their asses off.  There are also people that I know who would hear that story and decide that I am dangerous and reckless and an awful person, even though I did nothing illegal, didn't cheat on anyone or "assist" anyone else in cheating, didn't lie about my whereabouts, and kept myself and others safe the entire time.  Those people, who still can't get over the "drunken nonsense" aspect of the story, are the ones who get the "not much" version.

I wonder why we do that?  I wonder why I do that?  I mean, besides the fact that I consider myself one of the more boring people I know, you'd think we'd be in a better position to know who our real friends are if we'd just be entirely honest, the entire time.  

OK, I'm definitely NOT the most boring person I know, which is the reason why there are two versions of that story.  

I know, I know...we just don't want people to think ill of us--some of us more than others.--and unfortunately, you can't count on anyone having the same sense of humor about things that you do.  Perhaps they have a relative that died of alcohol poisoning, and the whole drinking thing just isn't funny, at all.  Or something bad happened to them, even though they thought they were being "safe", too.  Or they live with an alcoholic, and don't see anything funny in that story, at all, having lived the Not Fun side of it, many times.  It's amazing how differently two people can look at the same thing, and why.

There are occasions when, upon meeting an acquaintance of a friend, that friend will clue me in, in advance, with something like, "OK, they don't know I smoke..." and I run with it--not a big deal on a limited basis.  There are also occasions in which a friend simply WON'T introduce me to someone because they've told that person some things about ME, and that person disapproves, so, the friend ultimately pretends they and I are not that close.  Or worse, they told them some complete bullshit about me, in which case, they don't want to be caught in a lie when their new friend meets Shelly The Honest One.  It happens.

All of this Being Less Than Entirely Honest stuff creates some interesting situations.  Personally, I'm not a big fan of juggling a lot of different "truths", so, I work very hard to keep it to a minimum.  I'm certainly not against pumping oneself up a little, but so many people lack the skill to do it without tearing somebody else down, that I have to advise against it, always.

I'll go against conventional wisdom and say that the web has made us not less honest, but more.  We have so much contact with so many people, and the people we communicate with communicate with each other--this doesn't allow us much room to tell one person one story, and tell a completely different story to someone else.  To the point of overload, there are no secrets.  There are people that I barely talk to, of whom I could tell you what they had for dinner, who they ate with or where, how they felt about the whole thing, etc.  In fact, I'm one of those people.  (Quick!  What did I have for lunch today?  Well, look it up!)  

At this stage in the game, the people I trust the least are the ones without a web presence.  No Facebook?  No Twitter?  No blog?  What are you hiding?  And it's weird--those who don't use any or all of those tools, citing "privacy" or, just declaring the whole thing stupid, are now among the people I look at almost with suspicion.  At least if you're joining the conversation, or even if you're just talking, even if it's about something inane, eventually you will expose what your "version" is.

And then I can decide whether or not to reveal to you that I'm a smoker.  

But wait!  You already knew that, because that is something for which I have only one version.  (And to my adult friends?  The ones who are STILL hiding the smoking thing from their parents?  Are you serious?)

We all have versions--our preferred version, the ones we tell our conservative friends, the ones we tell our party friends, and a few generic versions that are slightly funny, but don't reveal our soft underbelly, just for use around the office, or with the convenience store guy that you kinda know.  

But because I am a writer, the crazier, the more outrageous the version, the better.  Did I tell you about that one time I was sitting in front of the TV and knitting a sweater and the most INSANE thing happened?  Yeah...even the least stimulating activities can be interesting if you can make up a good "version".

But I swear it's all true.  Every word.