Coffee Table Declarations
Friday, February 27, 2004
My coworkers have been seeing an awful lot of my shoulder lately. I don't know why that seems a bit risque, but it does.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Because of the urban nature of my neighborhood, I don't have a personalized driveway or a designated parking lot. I have to park in the lot for the post office which is about half a block down and across the street from my building. In the mornings and on Saturdays, the lot is very busy - people pull into handicap spots and wait in their cars for someone to pull out of a regular spot. It doesn't help when the theater on the other side of the lot from the post office, blocks off half of the lot because they're having a play or something. Needless to say I do not have an ideal parking situation. You try carrying a car-full of groceries across a busy street and down half a block in the driving rain or the blustery cold. There have even been rare occasions when I felt reluctant to leave my apartment for fear of losing my parking spot.

This morning, running late for work, I hurried outside and half-ran to the lot, only to find an unoccupied car parked exactly dead center behind mine. Talk about frustration. There's not much I could do in that situation. I looked around frantically for the offender but saw no one. As it was chilly, I got in my car and turned it on, contemplating calling work to explain why I would be late. As I sat there I became more and more angry, wondering when someone would come and move the car. I rolled my window down in anticipation of saying something nasty to the person about how rude that was of them and how I was going to be late for work. I was really gearing up for an all out venting.

About two minutes later a woman came rushing out of the post office. She was all sweet and apologetic, "Oh my gosh, I am sooooo sorry!! I'll move right away!", blah, blah, blah. I lost my nerve. She was too nice about it, I couldn't turn in to one of those grumpy mean people who yells at strangers in parking lots. I managed half of a smile with which I hoped to convey, "o.k. fine, but don't do that again, now get the hell out of my way." Grrrrrrrr.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
A new girl and I were making idle conversation today, when she asked me if I went to school full time and worked here part time or what. It took me a few seconds to realize what she was talking about and then I felt inwardly appalled that she was so convinced I was a college kid that she would ask me that question.

I told her I'm older than I look and she said that she is also older than she looks. I asked how old she is (fully expecting her to be my age and therefore having the same problem of people assuming she is a college kid) and she said "22". Um... 22??? Even my roommate is 23 and she was born in 1980. 22 practically is a college kid. Why is it that at 28 when I'm trying to convince myself that I am still young and not a bit over the hill, do I find myself surrounded by girls in their very early 20's? What is the universe trying to tell me? It's too bad because I had high hopes that we were going to be friends since there are very few late-20-something girls here to bond with. I'm not saying that we won't become friends now. I am not an age snob. It's just that I would really like to make some friends who understand what it feels like to be nearing 30 and still having no idea where your life is going.

I know what everyone says - that I will be glad when I am older to look so young. But it's the fact that I'm trying to get ahead in the corporate world and am percieved as a college kid that is so frustrating. Like recently, another new person started asking me about school and when I told him how old I was he said, "Oh my gosh, no way. You look like a little girl!" Oh well, at least it's kind of fun to freak people out.

* * * * *

There's this woman here who is not necessarily outwardly friendly to me and was definately the prime negative naysayer from the feedback I got during my review. Ever since then I have been walking around with these bad feelings toward her, or at least feeling like she is walking around with bad feelings toward me. Then, this afternoon, apropos of nothing, she came to my desk and gave me a teddy bear she had gotten from one of our clients. He's a cool teddy bear wearing a pilot's outfit (relating to the business of the client) complete with scarf and goggles. I had wanted one since the client arrived this morning with a couple bears to give out to the executives he was meeting with. Anyway, this woman said to me that she knew I would enjoy having him. What a completely kind and generous gesture that was. Now I feel awful that I was thinking badly of her when really, she's quite obviously my best friend! Sometimes people surprise you.
Monday, February 23, 2004
For the past couple of weeks (and continuing indefinately) my department has been having staff meetings every Tuesday morning for an hour. This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it is very stressful.

About three years ago, at my old job, I used to have regular meetings all the time. One day, in a meeting, I had a sudden panic attack and I'm not sure why it happened. Ever since then I have sort of developed a phobia about meetings or any kind of closed-door settings. It helps a little to keep the door open, but I still feel trapped in the room during the meeting. I can't really explain it. I know it's irrational, and to talk about it sounds a little silly, but when I'm sitting there in the meeting, it makes perfect sense to me. I start worrying about this weekly meeting sometime on Sunday. It's disrupting my life.
Friday, February 20, 2004
I'm not getting paid enough to work this hard.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
There's an old game we used to play in college. Some of you may know it. It starts when one person asks another, "do you want to buy a duck?" The second person turns to the first person and asks, "a what?" Person #1 repeats, "a duck." Person #2 then asks, "does it quack?" to which Person #1 replies, "of course it quacks." The game continues when Person #2 then turns to a third person and says "do you want to buy a duck?" and Person #3 asks, "a what?" Instead of answering, Person #2 turns back to Person #1 and says, "a what?" at which point Person #1 answers, "a duck." and Person #2 turns back to Person #3 and tells him/her, "a duck." Person #3 asks if it quacks and on and on it goes and so on and so forth. If you can visualize it, you can see how this game would be great fun to play in groups and not so much fun to play alone. The more people the better. I don't know where it originated, I don't know the point, I don't know why the game involves selling a duck and not say, a monkey, but I only know that it was a somewhat amazing experience to listen to as a bunch of us sat around with nothing better to do.

I haven't thought about that game in a long time until today. A coworker was passing my desk when I heard him saying something to someone about a duck and I heard the other person respond with confusion. Then he approached my desk where I was talking to someone else and he asked her, "Do you want to buy a duck?" to which she said, "Do I what??" Suddenly I turned to him with great enthusiasm and said, "A what?" He grinned and replied "a duck." "Does it quack?" I asked and he assured me that "of course it quacks."

Apparently, the game caught on like wildfire throughout the office because a little while later another coworker came and asked me if I wanted to buy a duck. While he was still standing there talking to me, I asked another passerby if he would like to buy a duck. I don't know why the idea that we were all suddenly playing a company-wide game really seemed fun, but it did.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
I feel like I am always signing something. Pay with credit card? Signature please. Package delivery from Fed Ex? Please sign here. Autograph to a devoted fan? Yeah, right. The fact is, it takes me a long time to sign my name because I do it neatly. And by long I mean several seconds as opposed to half a second. I have always admired people whose signature resembles a capital letter followed by a squiggle. I don't know if they practice it continuously or what, but I have never been able to master it. Actually, I used to know someone who wrote his signature over and over on blank paper instead of doodling. He told me this was a sign of either highly deficient self-esteem, or severe narcissism, but he wasn't sure which. Anyway, if I try to sign quickly, my signature just ends up looking like a sloppy version of itself, rather than a fancy squiggle. Plus, at what point do you decide to change your signature from neat and legible to personalized squiggle? Because you can't really sign something a new way if your signature is going to be checked against the signature on your credit card/library card/video rental card and you signed those things when you were still in your careful stage. I think in the olden days, when a lot of people couldn't read or write, if they had to sign their name, they just signed an "X". How was their identity verified then, I wonder?
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Holidays and I generally don't agree. I've been stood up on my birthday, broken up with on Christmas Eve, not to mention sick on Christmas, sick on Thanksgiving (and I don't mean just sick, I mean deathly ill)...

As a matter of fact, I remember the last Thanksgiving we had with my grandfather. My mom and aunt didn't feel like cooking so we got this whole Thanksgiving dinner from a restaurant and all we had to do was heat it all up. They stuck the stuffing in the oven and somehow it caught on fire. I remember my grandfather sitting there with a blanket wrapped around himself, sipping some soup. Meanwhile, all around him was chaos. My mom and aunt were running around trying to put out the fire, I was opening windows to air out the smoke, and my dad was trying to get control of the situation. Next thing you know, I hear him yell, "Somebody get the f@#$%ing baking soda!" This may not sound humorous, but if you knew my dad you'd know that THAT word sounds as alien coming out of his mouth as if I were to suddenly start speaking in an ancient dialect. Oh and I guess baking soda works for putting out kitchen fires. In retrospect we all had a good laugh. Over dinner I asked my dad to pass the soda and he, not listening the first time, said "what?" and I said, "Oh sorry, I meant, would you pass the f@#$%ing soda." Again that may not sound so funny, but swearing in front of my parents sounds as alien as if I were to suddenly start speaking in a foreign tounge.

My experience with holidays has been so lacking, that really, I find them quite disappointing. Surprisingly however, I had a nice Valentine's Day. Dinner was something other than Mexican (for a little variety) and my only regret is that I truly thought I wanted that martini, but unprepared for for the onslaught of unbuffered alcohol at the price of $6, I shouldn't have ordered it. I was stuck drinking a nasty beverage and it just was not worth it. Someone pass the f@#$%ing soda.
Friday, February 13, 2004
I was reviewing the phone procedures today and one of them said that if the fire alarm ever goes off, the phones need to be put on the "night" setting (a complicated sequence of buttons to be pressed) before exiting the building. I remember when I was trained I was told that this was not necessary and if there was ever a fire drill of some sort, I should just get the heck out of the building. When reading it over I thought, "well, now that I can set the phone so quickly it would be no problem to do it before exiting." I speculated how that situation had not arisen the whole time I have worked here (over a year).

In a freakish twist of events that could only happen on Friday the 13th, a mere two hours after I had those very thoughts, the fire alarm went off. Needless to say I was entirely too flustered to do much of anything, let alone switch the phone setting. I was startled by the sudden ear-piercing sound but unsure as to whether they were just doing tests on the system or something. I looked up to see my nearest neighbor standing up and grabbing her coat. It was only then that I went to the closet, grabbed my coat, and as an afterthought, went back to my desk and grabbed my pocketbook. It was almost like I was so stunned by the incident that I couldn't think straight or move quickly. This may have been a problem if there had been an actual fire.

* * * * *

My valentines so far are as follows. The mailman reached into the candy bowl, pulled out a peppermint, handed it to me and said "happy valentine's day." A nice woman coworker came by and gave me two pieces of chocolate, one that said "you're cool" and one that said "be mine". I ate one of them immediately. Another coworker came by my desk and I picked up the peppermint given to me by the mailman, handed it to him and said "happy valentine's day." This afternoon a coworker gave me a piece of paper on which he had drawn a big heart and a smiling fish. Because he had given me a valentine, I gave him my second piece of chocolate. Can you feel the love all around today? By the way, all of the above mentioned coworkers and postal employees are happily married. But that's how Valentine's Day truly should be - spreading a little cheer and a little chocolate, not just to your significant other, but to your friends as well. Actually, I think it should be the way it was in elementary school where you bring in a little valentine for everyone and everyone does the same thing and then you end up with dozens.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Life in the fish tank update:

I have made friends with a new fish. Well, he's not a new fish, he's been there for a while, but he and I newly became friends. He is large and gray with yellow fins all around the edges. He is the only fish who doesn't swim away and hide when I walk over to the tank. And when I drop in some food, he looks at it and his yellow fins stand up like he's surprised or excited. Yesterday I watched him and his fellow fish eating for a few minutes and then I walked back to my desk. I turned back and he had stopped eating and was just gazing at me. I feel we've bonded somehow.

In other fish news, a sick clownfish was taken away to the "clinic". I don't know what that means but the Fish Man promised me he'd be o.k. "Then will you bring him back? Will I ever see him again?" I asked. The Fish Man considered the question for a moment and then replied, "um... no."
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
I feel so sorry for this woman I work with. She approached my desk with tears in her eyes and apologized but said she had no one else to talk to. It's just so sad because we're not even that close. Anyway, the guy she's been seeing is now saying he needs space. To me, it's obvious that what she should do is give him his space. It may not be the miracle solution she's looking for but it can't make things worse. The problem is, she's been calling and emailing and she just sent him a package for Valentine's Day.

Stupid Valentine's Day! I swear, it puts all kinds of pressure on normally well adjusted people to suddenly evaluate their status as part or not part of a couple. Even me, a classic anti-Valentine's Day person feels suddenly riddled with expectation. And I know that Valentine's Day is making my already sad coworker feel even worse.

Just call me Ann Landers. Or Dear Abby. Or something like that.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
I have been unusually busy at work. My days have consisted mainly of making travel arrangements for others. You wouldn't believe how many flights take off each day. It seems so normal. Our travelers are so matter-of-fact about it. I wonder how long it takes to feel that way.

I have only flown twice in my life, to Washington DC and back and that was only a few years ago. I was terrified of the idea of flying, but when a friend invited me to spend a long summer weekend visiting her brother and sightseeing, shopping, and hanging out in our nation's capitol, I decided to go for it. I read every fear of flying book I could get my hands on. I took a motion sickness drug that made me drowsy. I still felt like I was taking risks with destiny as I arrived at the airport.

My friend arranged for us to board early because I was so scared. I couldn't help crying as I dragged my suitcase down the tunnel to the entrance of the plane. I was going through with it, but I was afraid. I got to meet the pilot as we boarded. My friend told him "she's afraid to fly," and he said, "that's o.k., I am too." Funny guy.

As we sat waiting to take off, me in a drowsy, weepy state, clutching religious and superstitious charms, other people boarded the plane including little kids who looked at me fearfully as they walked by. Their parents probably told them that it was fun to fly and there was nothing to be afraid of.

We were delayed on the ground for over an hour. When we finally took off a nice lady across the aisle kept explaining noises and things to me as they were happening. Sometimes I think people are meant to be in certain places at certain times for certain reasons. I know I couldn't have been so brave without the kindly anonymous older lady explaining things to me. The pilot also kept saying things over the intercom to explain what was going on. I think he was trying to help me too. How often I wonder, do they see a 22 year old flying for the first time?

The experience ended up being fine which led to a little overconfidence on my part on the flight home. About half way through it I started to silently panic. Once we landed they shut the vents off but we had to wait to get off the plane. I felt like I was suffocating. I was so relieved to see my family waiting for me inside the airport. I haven't flown since. I will eventually, I just need to get some good tranquilizers.
Friday, February 06, 2004
In a coworker's office today, I saw a picture drawn by her preschool age son, who had signed his name at the top. I noticed with amazement that his capital E looked very similar to mine at that age - one vertical line and instead of three horizontal lines, there were about a thousand. It got me thinking about how kids learn to read and write and that while the process is amazing, it is also amusing.

I remember that we had a colorful magnetic alphabet on our fridge which must have contributed greatly to my learning process since even to this day when I picture a letter by itself in my mind, I picture it in color which when I think about it, corresponds to it's magnetic counterpart. Has anyone had similar experiences I wonder?

One day I walked into the kitchen and there was my brother with a smug look on his face standing in front of a carefully assembled magnetic alphabet. It was perfect except for the letter N which was all by itself far away from the other letters. Picture me at age seven, certain of my ABCs if I was certain of anything. With my hands on my hips I declared, "you forgot the letter N" to which my four year old brother (future art school graduate, blog writer, and, I might add, skillful user of the letter N) replied with equal conviction, "N is not a part of the alphabet." I was dumbfounded. "Of course it is. Why else would it be here with these other letters if it wasn't a part of the alphabet? You know, LMNOP?" "No!" my brother insisted, "it's LM and OP!"
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Yesterday was the three year anniversary of the day my grandfather died. I didn't mean to forget, I've just been having the week from hell. Sorry Grandpa.

The last time I saw him we talked about guardian angels. It was a very unusual conversation. I think if I ever get to fulfull my dream of going on Crossing Over with John Edward (not to be confused with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who, as far as I know, doesn't talk to the dead), there are two things he could tell me that would make me know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was receiving communications from my grandparents. I'm not going to announce them though, just in case John is reading.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
So I just took a walk to the mailbox across the street. Let me set the scene. It's cloudy and cold outside and the mailbox, though close to the office, is on a small side street. There I am, walking along, a stack of envelopes in my arms, fresh from a mailing I just completed. I cross the street and arrive at the mailbox where I proceed to drop the envelopes in bunches. All of a sudden, I hear a cheerful whistling coming from somewhere close behind me. I turn around and there's no one there. No cars are driving by and the only thing I can see is an occasional snowflake blowing through the dark sky. I turn back around and focus on the task at hand. The whistling continues and I still don't know where it's coming from. I finish depositing envelopes and get the heck out of there. It was like a bad horror movie. I was waiting for an evil clown to pop up behind me or something.

And speaking of bad horror movies... no, I'm just kidding but it was a good seque wasn't it? This was actually a really good movie but it was dark and disturbing and if you go see it, trust me, as you're cringing your way through the first half hour, wanting to clench your eyes shut and hold your hands over your ears so you can make it just go away, it does get better. It gets much better. It is actually worthwhile and thought provoking and I'd like to see it again.

And also speaking of bad horror movies, I just heated up a lunch for myself - one of those microwavable lunches you can buy in a package and bring to work. In an attempt to be healthy, I bought, made, and then ate, mac and soy cheese. If you have ever had macaroni and soy, you should know that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Literally. But at least it's healthy.
Monday, February 02, 2004
Congratulations to the New England Patriots!
Sunday, February 01, 2004
My review went pretty much as expected. There were many good things said, there were some "constructive" things, and there were some things that surprised and upset me. I think part of the problem is that I do so many things for so many people. My supervisor had asked for a list of people I have worked with the most so she could get their feedback.

The second part of the problem was that, as she told me at the end, she had asked them for both positive and (I say in quotation marks again) "constructive" feedback and for the "constructive" she asked them to give concrete examples. I can understand the reason for this - she didn't want anyone saying anything unjustifiably negative. But let me tell you how it felt to hear. It felt as though all these people had sat and complained about me behind my back and dragged out incidents from the past - things no one told me were an issue at the time, things I thought had gone fine. Suddenly I was hearing this laundry list of "oh and there was this such and such time where you weren't as efficient as you could have been; oh and there was that such and such time where you should've taken more initiative.", etc., etc.

I feel angry and I feel hurt and while I agree with some of the things that were said as being areas that I can work on and grow, I felt that some were a matter of misperception and misunderstanding. You know, there's always that one person at every job who is unfriendly, difficult to get along with, and has a knack for making you feel inadequate no matter how hard you've worked.

The bottom line is, if you have a problem with something I'm doing, tell me right then and there. I am approachable, I am open to suggestion, I am reasonable. There is no reason not to mention it and then use it against me later. I am not a mind reader. How am I supposed to do something differently if I am unaware there is any problem?

Worse, it doesn't sound like there will be much opportunity for me to move up in the company just because we are a relatively small company and there aren't many openings. To my supervisor's credit, she is definately rooting for me and wants very much to see me succeed. She sat and talked with me for three hours, addressing my concerns, explaining the details of my review, and reassuring me ("Please don't feel bad about any of this, I know for a fact that everyone LOVES you.")

Maybe it's a good thing. I have always viewed this job, this company as a stopping point along the way, not a final destination. I know that I need to evalute what I truly want to do and what direction I want to take. Maybe I shouldn't keep trying to fit myself into the wrong shape. After all, I may never be the absolute best corporate person or office worker. This may not be the answer for me. But it is so hard at 28 years old, when friends I graduated with are moving up and developing careers, for me to keep having to start over.
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