Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Gripping Hand

I honestly cannot believe my new job is in the same agency as the old one.

The bad side of this is that I have been kept too busy, so far, to be able to take regular-length breaks at regular times. And the really bad side of this is that everyone else is so normal, so healthy, so cheerful and intelligent and functional, that I am not sure what I'm going to blog about anymore.

There is no Bubbly Bitching Nonsmoker in the new place; and as of today, there isn't one in the old place either. They've been collecting dirt on her for quite a while - it takes a lot to fire a state employee - and apparently today, the scales tipped over far enough that she was escorted out of the building. By the Sheriff, of all people.

She's something special. I always felt sort of a wary affinity for her. I know she tended to bite, but she had a good sense of humor, and I was usually safe because I tended to stay out of her way. Except for the times Robbie and I were jaywalking to Dominican Joe, standing in the center turn lane, waiting for traffic to pass, and she drove up and we were blocking her way and do you know what? She did not run us over. Not even once. It really seems like that ought to count for something.

Maybe it did. Robbie has been gone for a few months now. I was still there until last Friday. Maybe my leaving was what tipped the balance!

More likely it's just an accident of timing, and the poor panicmonger, who has not yet managed to get a replacement for Robbie in, now has three vacancies to fill. It was suggested at afternoon break today (which I managed to attend by the clever expedient of working through lunch) that the Sheriff is taking a new tack, and plans to eliminate the PM simply by getting rid of everyone who reports to her. So she'd better hurry up and hire some new people, and fast.

If we see the popcorn lady from day before yesterday again, I might send her over.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I guess the pirate poem is finished now, unless Jason feels like buckling on a swash or two.

She was a fine ship. The Dread Pirate and I have not found a satisfactory replacement in any other realm - since, due to not being completely familiar with the expectations and common practices in my new work group, I am actually sticking to fifteen minutes for break.

Yeah, you heard me, fifteen minutes. And that's without quotes around it.

This chill and windy afternoon, things came to so desperate a pass that we took refuge in the indoor break room, and lost part of our already diminished time allotment to an unusually stupid state employee (you heard me!!!) who insisted on being given an impromptu lesson on how to prepare microwave popcorn in an oven dating from the Eisenhower administration.

Did we demur, telling her we had never used this oven ourselves? Yes. Did we express our personal feelings regarding microwave popcorn, and the consumption thereof? Well, no. Still, upon being informed that no one in the room was familiar with this particular appliance, she threw up her hands in frustration and exclaimed, "Just figure it out for me! Because I haven't got a brain of my own."

Or words to that effect. Anyway, the practical upshot of this is that enough is enough. We're going back to our old break area even if we have to swim for it.

Here be the finished poem. Raise your mug to the lusty buccaneer who wrote me stanza, arrr!

The Three-Grog Marauding Group

Long ago, at home upon the sea,
A pirate band ruled all that they could see;
But, one by one, they fell away,
Alas! ‘til sadly now, today,
The jolly group lives but in memory, arrr!

Tan Justin was the first old salt to go;
We watched his passin’ wi’ much grief and woe;
Shovin’ a litterbug down the plank,
He fell into the drink, and sank;
The first o’ many, little did we know, arrr!

The Bitch o’ Cheryl stuck fast his wooden leg
Sightin’ a ship from ‘top the powder keg.
We witnessed, horrified, his lot:
Alas! Th’ enemy cannon shot
Into the cask, and blew him off his peg, arrr!

Dread Pirate Roberts, sober and austere,
Was ta’en by angels to a higher sphere.
But for the pirate wench whose heart
He stole, he will not yet depart,
And twice a day his spirit haunts us here, arrr!

B.Rrrrrrrrr, he was a brave and salty dog!
Storm downed a mast, and brained him with a log;
His memory we cheer: three cheers!
And toast the noble buccaneer
Wi’ locally produced, organic grog, arrr!

Rummy Greg, he vanished without trace,
One morn we woke to find his empty place;
Betimes some claim to catch a sight
Of Greg, when it be dark at night,
But by day he never shows his face, arrr!

Andrew the Bloody fought, and lost his life
Just as he lived: in never-ending strife,
For though he touched not milk nor meat,
And for Polly always had a treat,
He kept his fellow man at point o’ knife, arrr!

Bold Sara ruled the sea, and should rule yet;
Gold-haired, the fairest lass ye ever met;
But derring-do she, daring, did
And got grabbed by a hungry squid,
Diving from the crow’s-nest on a bet, arrr!

Bryan Redbeard sailed the ocean wide,
And took a pirate maid to be his bride;
They honeymooned in far Siam
And took ill from eating gingered ham,
And wi’ him, aye, our fair hopes sank and died, arrr!

Mad Thomas buckled on a dashing swash,
No man feared he, nor storm waves’ crash and slosh,
But brought down by a tiny foe,
A fire ant bit him on the toe,
Wi’ pain gone mad, he dove into the wash, arrr!

Black Robbie’s creditors complete our fears;
They've seized him bodily to pay arrears.
“Pirates’ worth,” snarled they, “be down!
Ye’ll fetch more booty in Georgetown.”
Then Bess sailed lonely on this sea o’ tears, arrr!

Elizabeth, who led the scurvy lot,
Met her end by way of some cannon shot.
Broadsides, white smoke, hot lead, full bore,
Our pirate wench was now no more.
To soon forget her, surely, we will not, arrr!

So, silent now, the empty ship sails on,
No trace left of its merry crew, all gone;
Pass me the rum: I’ll drink to ye,
And to the day when all will be
Together once again and all be one, arrr!

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, February 25, 2008

First Impressions

Is it a good idea to write your first blog post about your brand-new job while you're PMSing your balls off?

Let's find out!

Actually, overall my impressions are very favorable. Everyone seems nice. More to the point, everyone seems normal.

And indeed there is a certain glamour to the job. "We'll put your photo on our section's web page," my new boss told me this morning, "so the remote offices you support have a face to put with the name."

"Oookaaay," I said slowly, glancing at my ID badge. "I hope they don't mind squished people with terminal jaundice."

"No no," she said, "the staff photographer will take it."

So here I am, first hour of the first day at the new job, standing outside in the sunshine, leaning casually on a brick pillar, hands clasped, smiling fetchingly while the breeze lifts my hair and a professional photographer shouts "Good, very nice!" at me.

Not long after, an email appointment went out for tomorrow morning, to the whole division. They need to take a new group photo and have been holding off until my arrival.

Okay, in my old office, there is a group photo hanging up in the kitchen area. I'm sure some of the people pictured are now dead, and of those, several don't even work there anymore. The live ones, meanwhile, have aged noticeably, or at least matured - one of my former coworkers, always stylish and dapper, sports a mullet in the group photo.

A slightly more recent photo is taped to the Sheriff's office door (and no, it is not riddled with dart holes) but it still features many people who have been gone for more than a couple of years.

I think it will be fine, once I settle in, once I get familiar with the way things are run, once the homesickness wears off. My cube is nicer and I have a real phone. The people seem really cool. The magnetic letters have met with universal approval.

As for the PMS, well, I'm on my own.

Labels: , ,

Mille Regretz

It's the title of a Josquin Desprez song. Josquin was Flemish, but dollars to doughnuts he occasionally had a little Walloon in him.

Well, just a guess.

I did something very bad, and last night I dreamed that they came to take me away - whoever "they" might be - and arrested me and led me off in handcuffs. They wouldn't tell me what for. And they didn't just cuff me behind my back, as you might expect. I had to hold my hands cuffed together, arms extended full length up over my head; so as they pushed me along, across the base (campus?), no one could possibly miss the fact that I was being taken away in restraints. I whined about it later to anyone who would listen, but actually I'm pretty sure I had it coming.

"In Bruges" was a pretty good movie and you get to see a lot of beautiful Belgian scenery, but other than that, I wish I could just hit "undo" on Sunday altogether.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

And What Is So Rare as a Day in February?

It's a lot easier to rhyme with "June," which is the main reason there aren't more great poets from Texas.

Have you ever actually read that poem? I never did before today, but I remember the "so rare as a day in June" line because it was the pivotal clue in a children's mystery story about phila - philatel - er, stamp-collecting that I read as a kid. I've just gone and looked it up and you know what?

That is one long-ass poem.

It's okay. I tend to get long-winded myself. That's why I don't have time to take down Christmas lights.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Overly Emotional

I don't really know how to write about yesterday (my last day at the old job). I guess I'll just write anyway. Why I have this feeling that everything I publish on here has to be a masterpiece anyway, I am not sure, because who am I kidding? Besides, nobody reads it but friends, family, a snopester here and there, and the occasional buttlicker - in other words, a very forgiving audience, and people who will take what they can get.

My immediate work group took me out to a wonderful going-away lunch at Magnolia Cafe - all my coworkers except the panicmonger supervisor, who can't function in the same building as meat (this would explain a few things), plus my boss' boss, plus Cheryl's Bitch with Pinche and Don Juan from his work group. It was so nice, and so kind and flattering to be thought so well of. My boss' boss has something of a reputation for turning a cold shoulder to people who leave her group, so I was really happy that she came to my lunch.

But there was sad news, too. Robbie could not make it to my going-away happy hour, which he had organized for me; but family friends whom he hadn't seen in years came unexpectedly to town. And, displaying appallingly poor timing, here in this universe which revolves entirely around me (or so I would appear to believe), the grandfather of another beloved 3MBG alum died late night before last, leaving his grandson too bereaved and exhausted to party. Do ya think?!? I was terribly disappointed, and ashamed of myself for being so.

It made me cry to leave behind such kind friends. I even hugged the panicmonger. Bubbly Bitching Nonsmoker, who sits in the cube opposite, hastened to inform me that I would not be doing this to her - so I'm sorry, Robbie; I did not get to "boop" her on the nose like I know you were wanting me to.

Still, she was awfully nice to me, wishing me lots of luck and congratulating me sincerely. "Break a leg, kid!" she called in parting.

Happy hour was great fun. Any snopesters reading? Well, Kev came out for it! He's in a similar situation, having just received an internal upwards transfer where he works. So I'll be at his happy hour next Friday! Other 3MBG alums were there, plus lots of other good friends. Unfortunately I sort of forgot to eat - in evolutionary terms, perhaps one of the stupidest things you can do, especially when drinking heavily. By midnight, even the graffiti in the restroom at the Horseshoe Lounge was not enough to perk me up, the party said goodnight in front of the bar, and I got dropped off at home.

So there were a lot of tears yesterday. Sad ones, bittersweet ones, and happy, happy, happy ones, because someone I love wrote poetry for me. I don't think anything will top that for a very, very, very long time - even though the feeling does not appear to be mutual (sigh).

It's okay. I don't really mind. I'll take what I can get.

Labels: , , , ,

At the Horseshoe Lounge

From the ladies' room wall:

You should make friends with your vagina. Especially if you have a fat-ass for a husband. Did you know that the clitoris and surrounding tissue have way more nerve endings than the entire penis? It could be your new best friend (and save you from a lifetime of sexual misery). p.s. It is possible for a woman to pee standing up. Practice in the shower. It's super fun!

It's the "It's super fun!" part that makes this quote truly great.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Going Down, Arrr!

Okay, somebody needs to write my stanza for the 3-Martini Marauding Group pirate poem. Because you can’t write poetry about yourself. That’s just conceited.

It’s my last week and I have not really been able to get in the kind of slacking off that I feel is appropriate for a short-timer. Which is okay. I don’t mind work per se, but today I had to cover the division phones for two hours. I hate this. I can’t believe I got roped into doing it on my last week! What’s next, a staff meeting (Robbie calls them “pointless fish meetings”) on Friday afternoon during break time?!

I should not even type that out loud.

In preparation for moving, I trimmed up my plants, and ended up with several containers full of clippings to give away. So I sent the following email out to most of my division yesterday afternoon:

Do you find your cubicle bare and colorless? Do you wish you could brighten it up a little? Have you always dreamed of having an office you couldn't get into without a machete?
Well, this is your lucky day, because (in the interest of portability) I have pruned back my plants.  Several yards of lush green foliage are available for all your cube decorating needs!
Pothos ivy loves fluorescent lighting and is practically impossible to kill: just add dirt and water! It grows quickly! It's vibrant! It's beautiful! It lifts the spirits! It freshens the air! It even eats unwelcome visitors!* Supplies are limited, so stop by and get yours today!
*As long as they sit very still for a really long time

By 9:00 this morning all the clippings had found homes, so those who weren’t quick enough will just have to eat their own unwelcome visitors. But I’m pleased: the greenery went to some of the fresh-faced, up-and-coming young mappers, to an admin in another section, and to the one I will miss most of all: the one and only, the matchless, the incomparable Bubbly Bitching Nonsmoker. So I feel I’ve left a legacy that will keep on long after I’m gone. It’s a good feeling.

Abandon ship!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 18, 2008

Good vs. Evil: Sleep Edition

Ever notice how there are good naps and evil naps? Good naps, you drift off quickly and wake up about an hour or so later feeling refreshed. Evil naps, you kind of lie there feeling woozy and not quite asleep and restless. Occasionally you wake yourself up by drooling. Then you feel like a zombie until bedtime.

I like the good kind better.

It was a good one today, thanks principally to my dear friend Tony who took me to IKEA and fed me Swedish meatballs and macaroni and cheese. Ambien can bite my ass: Swedish meatballs are the shit! And I needed it, because tonight is the opening night for our version of "The Bucket List" at the Alamo South. They've broken up the contest entrants into groups, and our group airs this evening. My brother-in-law, Baby Jeffy (aka Jack Nicholson) is up from San Antonio for the occasion. Man, it's so loud in here!

Naptime is certainly over, at any rate.

So anyway: After checking out some of the competition, I don't think we're very likely to win the contest, but I do think we ought to make it to the finals, which is plenty good enough for me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how a theater audience reacts to our movie, which was finally submitted on a DVD, and looks and sounds a lot better than the one online.

"Looking back," says Baby Jeffy at the moderate shout which passes for an inside voice in my in-laws' family, "I didn't do all that good a Jack Nicholson."

Looking back, I think the worst mistake we made was picking "The Bucket List" to remake, because it's not even advertising anymore, and hardly any theaters are now playing it, and I'm wondering who will even know what the hell our remake is about? So maybe newly-opening, star-studded crapfests are not the best picks for this kind of contest.

I have to work in the morning. I hope I'll have slept off tonight's effects by then.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Thought

If life is like a box of chocolates, then strawberry marshmallow cremes constitute definitive proof that there is no God.

I'm just saying.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Good Neighbors

A couple of weeks ago I tried to be a responsible house person and started taking down the Christmas lights. This seemed like a good idea at the time. But some of them are pinned up quite high, and I have my doubts about our ladder, and I ended up leaving a couple of strings of them just dangling there.

Meanwhile, all the neighbors are still turning theirs on every night. That's Travis Heights for you. To hell with the season: Christmas lights are sparkly!

Maybe if the rain lets up a little this weekend, I'll put the lights back up.

I love this neighborhood; this is one of the reasons why. I've lived plenty of places where people just let stuff go, and have on occasion been one of those people - though, for the record, I would never park in the yard, never! But this is different. It's not even a matter of marching to a different drummer. It's more that, while the drummer is joyfully encouraged to explore his or her own musical experience, no one would expect the marchers to adjust their personal ideals of tempo to match.

We had a neighbor a few years ago - I shall call him "Hank" (for 'twas his name), who hated us because we were such lousy, irresponsible house people. Cats everywhere, for starters. Hank kept his yard tidy, his lawn manicured, and his trees and bushes pruned. He had no pets. Oddly, he seemed to like my kids, but I always knew we were not good enough for him. God knows I used to try. I studied the Reader's Digest New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual, but to no avail. Someone gave us a second copy as a gift, and as a gesture of goodwill, I gave it to Hank, who pretended to be grateful. Once, a limb from one of our trees (the entire neighborhood was a hackberry forest) came down and felled the fence between our backyards. It sagged for a week before I hauled the fencepost up and lashed it to the tree trunk. Hank informed me that the angle at which I'd done this would pull down all the rest of the fenceposts; so I went out and bought some quick-set cement, dug out the fencepost, and set it in place. Hank grudgingly admitted that this worked, but it took me much too long to get around to. I tried edging the front yard, but couldn't find the sidewalk, so left big, uneven ripples in the edges of the lawn, overlapping the concrete. Hank watched, waves of 60-something-responsible-house-person disapproval radiating from him. Occasionally he'd trap one of my cats and I'd have to go bail it out from the pound. It got to where I just avoided going outside at all, but this only made things worse.

But I feel like I belong in Travis Heights: relaxed; offbeat; a little messy; full of congenial, well-fed dogs and cats; and above all else, happy.

Because in Travis Heights, it's always Christmas!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Full Circle

One of my first duties in the new job will be to assist in putting together a big travel conference in Beaumont in April. It's for CVBs to network and exchange ideas with my agency and a couple of other travel and tourism organizations on promoting their destinations in particular, and Texas tourism in general.

More than likely I will run into some people I know at this conference. The evil destination marketing company I worked for in Corpus numbered at least four Texas CVBs among its clients, and at one time or another, I was an account manager on three of them.

I hope they know I wasn't to blame.

They probably do. I don't think a company with the kind of turnover my old employer had can maintain much of a reputation. I remember being embarrassed just putting together a conference call for a client, because most of the "experts" who had steered them in one direction or another were no longer around to answer questions about what to do next. And starting over with a brand-new account manager every six months had to get a little old. Even if they were all hot.

I'm also bemused that something resembling a career path seems to have emerged from this muddle, and at the circumstances that have led me from one place to another, stumbling aimlessly the whole way. I got a six-week temp stint at a semiconductor manufacturing firm seventeen years ago, doing an inventory of their technical documents; which led to me getting hired to fill client requests for those documents; which led to a familiarity with their tracking system and client database that got me a job maintaining that database, which was also used to track meeting registrations; which led to me getting transferred to and assisting the meeting planning staff; which led to me becoming a meeting planner. The evil destination marketing firm in Corpus hired me because they wanted an inside angle on attracting the meeting planner market; then a friend of mine who knew how miserable I was with Corpus and the hell company recruited me for my current job on the strength of my database experience; looking for other jobs inside the agency, I find myself selected for this one based on my meeting planning and tourism marketing background.

I always wanted to be an opera singer.

But I'm really looking forward to starting my new job in another week and a half, and I'm excited about the conference, too. I think bumping into people I used to work will be a lot of fun.


Labels: , ,

Monday, February 11, 2008


At work, they have email filters that catch not only spam, but also messages that might be considered offensive. It's a bit of an odd system. Every time the filter stops something, it sends you an email notifying you of the sender and the subject line of the quarantined message, with instructions for how to have the message released to you. The practical upshot of this is that, instead of your inbox getting choked up with spam emails, it gets choked up with notifications that the filter is quarantining spam emails.

But what's really odd is that there are two separate filters - two that I've seen, anyway. The notifications are slightly different: "Offensive email message quarantined" vs. "Spam email message quarantined." Like any filtering program, it makes the occasional mistake: quarantining a message from my friend Robbie's city government email as spam, and once quarantining a message from my friend Tony, at another city government office, as offensive, just because he mentioned being pissed off. (But you can even say that on network TV!)

When you work for an agency like mine, you feel a little skittish about following the instructions to have an email released. You aren't supposed to be sending or receiving personal emails, period, no matter how pissed off you are.

But today I got two notifications which left me a little puzzled. "Penetrate harder and give the pleasure to all women!" got quarantined as offensive, while "Make the boner harder and really feel the difference!" was pegged as spam.

Really! Why, I wonder? The basic meaning seems about the same for both. Perhaps the State of Texas frowns upon the implication that you might get busy in a non-monogamous fashion? Maybe "penetrate" is tagged as an inherently dirty word, but nobody thought to flag the word "boner"? Or perhaps there's something else in the body of the email itself that would explain the distinction, but I won't know unless I follow the instructions to release these emails from quarantine into my mailbox.

Yeah, right. My curiosity is piqued, but there's no way I'm going there. I have enough of a reputation at work already. I don't need IT knowing me as the chick who asks to release the penis messages.

Labels: ,

For the Amusement of Strangers

My sister Margie and I grabbed a quick bite at Taco Cabana today, over by Burnet and 183. It was midafternoon, and not many other people were in the restaurant. And we were talking very frank girl talk, and I did notice after a while that the two guys a couple of tables over from us were being completely silent.

Well, it's good to bring a little happiness into the life of a stranger.

Margie was telling me how she was just at Mount Bonnell the other night with this guy she really likes, but he has a girlfriend. Still, apparently he's willing to hang out with her in a city park at 3am, so who knows how long that's going to last.

"We found some guy's cell phone there," she said. "Just lying on the ground. We used it to make a bunch of crank calls."

She's actually my half sister.

I reminded her of the time she lost her cell phone near the hike and bike, and a jogger found it, and called the first person in her address book - Beth. And he waited there until I arrived to pick it up. And as he handed me the phone, I noticed that her tagline at the top of the screen was "Chicken Fucker," which he didn't comment on, and neither did I, because what can you really say about that?

So wouldn't karma dictate, I asked, that she track down the guy whose phone she had found and give it back to him?

"Oh, we got it to him," she said, picking idly at a scab on her palm. "He was really happy! We just crank-called a bunch of people in his address book first."

"What happened to your hand?" I asked her.

"Oh," she said, "I scraped it up on Mount Bonnell, trying to get loose when I caught my foot in a crack in a rock. I was like this," and she demonstrated, lifting one leg above her, "and as if that weren't bad enough I was wearing a skirt..."

If the guys at the next table were laughing, I couldn't hear them over myself. "And you were with this guy you have a big crush on?!"

"Plus I was having my period," she went on. "So I'm there with my foot over my head and my skirt around my waist and a big pad saying, 'Turn around! Turn around!'"

We're different, Margie and I. I'm pretty sure that if that happened to me, I would just write off the crush and never see him again. True love isn't everything. But she seems okay with it.

I expect the guys at the next table were impressed.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 09, 2008

No Sense of Humor

Yesterday after work I went to a happy hour I was invited to by a woman I'm slightly acquainted with in the office. She seems nice enough. She's invited me to several happy hours and, for one reason or another - couldn't find parking one time, or didn't feel up to it, or something else came up - I've never gone. But yesterday's was at Doc's on South Congress, close to work and close to home, and I had nothing else going on. So at 5 I biked on over and joined the group.

It turned out that, besides this woman, there was only one person I knew slightly from work, and he's kind of a weird creepy guy, with a soft voice and sticky eyes. Once a few months ago he showed up at a work-sponsored blood drive while I was lying on the table, and he picked the table adjacent to mine, and lay down with the top of his head so close to the top of my head that I could feel warmth coming off him. I was a little creeped out. I didn't really want to hang with this guy at happy hour.

Everyone else there was family of this woman, who happens to be Hispanic. They were friendly, but she had two rather obnoxious male cousins, who made lots of stupid jokes, and actually shouted at a couple of women passing by on the sidewalk - which the women in the group seemed to think was pretty funny. I don't think I've ever been a member of a group that did that before! Still, they seemed very pleased with themselves. "Hey, Madonna! Madonna!" they yelled after a girl who walked by in a white lace dress and cowboy boots. The woman who had invited me was in the bathroom, but when she got back, they told her what they had done. She laughed. "You guys are just crazy," she said affectionately.

I was working pretty hard on my second beer, kind of anxious to finish it and get home, when the cousin sitting across from me waved and called out to his cousin across the bar, sticking his arm straight out. "Hey, it looks like the Nazi wave," he said, laughing. "Hey, Joe! Joe! Heil!"

He turned to me, still laughing, this guy I've never even met before. "So do they do that a lot in your family?"

. . .

"Not really," I said, not smiling, and I closed out my tab and said my goodbyes ("Why are you leaving so early?" the woman I work with asked) and left. Remind me not to go to any more happy hours with these people. But perhaps she won't invite me anymore anyway. Clearly I can't take a joke.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Bucket List

We've done a short remake/reworking of The Bucket List for an Alamo Drafthouse competition. You might want to watch the trailer for the actual movie first, for context.

Looks ghastly, doesn't it?


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Short and Sweet

Short version of my third favorite joke:

A penguin's car is acting up, so he takes it to a mechanic to have it looked at. "You blew a seal," says the mechanic.

"Look, just fix the car," says the penguin. "My personal life is none of your business!"

(Thanks Heather!)

Today was, I hope, my very last staff meeting at the job I'm leaving. It was short, if not sweet; the panicmonger opened - as she has opened every single meeting for the year and a half, plus, that she's been working there - by reiterating the particular format in which she wants her people to request time off. Not an email, and not a calendar appointment, but a reminder note. Your name in the subject line. The particular time, if it isn't the whole day, that you will be out. The type of time (vacation, sick, miscellaneous) you want to take. Explanations go in the body of the note.

And, as God as my witness, because (I can only guess) she finally got pretty much everybody doing it this way, pretty much all the time, there's more! Now, the names Elizabeth and Jennifer are too long. So if it's one of us, the whole subject line doesn't show up when she mouses over it on her calendar. So now we two need to abbreviate, or use our initials.

I suggested it would be easier if we just put someone else's, shorter, name, instead of our own. But she didn't seem very enthusiastic.

One of the stranger things about my leaving is that pretty much everyone there has expressed (in addition to very kind congratulations and well-wishes) envy. Everyone. Up to and including the director and deputy director of my division. Certainly the panicmonger suggested, in our staff meeting today, that she wished she could come with me.

We all laughed politely.

Her performance review, it turns out, is tomorrow; so though she normally leaves at 4, she was still in her office when I left at a quarter past five today. I'm afraid it's not likely to be as favorable as mine was, and really I am sorry. But could this be taken as some sort of moral lesson on the perils of ambition? We value the quality of being a go-getter very highly, but have only contempt for a go-getter who goes and gets a job s/he can't handle.

Speaking of that, the other thing I learned from my friend Heather at lunch today is that you might not want to hire Italians for major construction projects, but I don't know if this is a particularly useful lesson in your day-to-day life, so instead I'll leave you with another of the jokes she told me over a turkey and avocado sandwich at Thundercloud's.

How do you make a woman sound like a dolphin?

You'll have to come to my going away happy hour and buy me a drink if you want the punchline.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 04, 2008

No Turning Back

So it's done: the new job accepted, the formal offer letter signed, my coworkers and managers notified, the letter of resignation sent and received. And I'm at home all by myself totally freaking out. I need someone to talk to - ooh, and there you are! You'll do nicely.

For all the panic and pointlessness, in a lot of ways the job I'm leaving is the most fun job I've ever had. Well, the people are fun. Some of the work was fairly pleasant. But the people are the most fun people I've ever worked with. Well, some of the people. There are a few sucky people scattered here and there, let's face it; but pointing and laughing is also a form of fun, so it's all good, right? Granted, the majority of the people I like best have already quit. But I'm still very attached to a handful of people I'll be leaving behind, and to the playful, silly, fun, wildly inappropriate work environment I've enjoyed. When I stopped by the new office late this afternoon to sign their offer letter and make it official, my new boss introduced me around. A few people had already left for the day, but it appears that the office is almost entirely female. So who am I going to sexually harass now?!?

My supervisor accepted my resignation regretfully but kindly, told me that, if it were just a matter of money, she thought they might be able to match the offer, wished me the best when I said I had decided the new position was a better fit for me, and when I said it was hard to leave because everyone is so nice, told me that it's only because I'm so nice (oof) and that I should be very proud of having built such a good reputation. Then she hugged me and started to tear up a little and sent me away.

I sure hope she never finds this blog.

The division director, when I was introduced to her, asked if I currently work in the Sheriff's group, which I do. "I hope she's not upset with us!" the division director said. "She worked with us on getting a reporting program set up. She was really helpful."

"She's an extremely intelligent person," I said, "really knows her stuff inside and out."

"She sure does!" said the division director. "And quick, too - just jumping from one thought to the next; she's really something to see."

"She can eat a whole Super Monster burrito from Freebird's in one sitting," I added.

I do get a window cube, and it's noticeably larger than my current one. My plants will be happy. I am not sure if there's enough metal cabinet surface space for all the magnetic letters, but maybe, with time, if my new coworkers are cool, I can put some of them on the big filing cabinet outside my cube and let everybody play with them. I did think it was promising that one of the already-gone-for-the-day people had a big sign up on the wall outside his cube - just a plain white sign with black lettering:


I guess I am.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Love Is Good for Anything that Ails You

I know it's a classic song, but this is patently untrue. There are a lot of things that might ail you that love is no good for at all.

Syphilis springs to mind.

Love is good for doubt, uncertainty, worry, and even PMS, but it's not much help for lovesickness. But new shoes work wonders for all of these ailments. So Katie and I, in the name of making a decision about the job offer, went out and bought three pairs of shoes, a really cute top, a couple of pairs of tights, some nail polish, and a bottle each of neon pink and electric blue hair dye.

Those last items were for Katie, although I suppose the start of a new job would be as good an opportunity as any to change up my look a little.

Also good for many of the things that might ail you is a long walk and a long think in the most sensible of the new shoes: down the length of Stacy Park and back up Alta Vista and back down Travis Heights, listening to sad songs on the iPod, the evening breeze rapidly cooling the air, and all the houses lighting up silently one by one under a darkening sky.

Why should I feel so sad? I have no excuse for it. I have new shoes. And I don't have the clap!

Labels: , , , ,

Decisions, Decisions

This afternoon at about 4:40, my desk phone rang. It was the woman I interviewed with last Friday. She was calling to offer me the job. So we talked for a few minutes, and I told her that, while I was pretty sure I'd accept, I'd like to think about it over the weekend. I am still not completely certain it's the right thing to do. Well, who better to ask for advice than the interwebz?

So here are some good reasons and bad reasons, to stay and to go.

Good reasons to go:
I'm being offered a 6% pay increase. Shazayam!

The work appears, on the face of it, to be a better match for my background and overall career goals, inasmuch as I have any.

My current work group is permanently bogged down in one pointless, fruitless project after another, and as far as I can tell, this is largely just because the panicmonger's boss dislikes her so much.

No more panicmonger, no more hourly and daily and weekly and monthly status reports, no more documenting the documentation, no more Scotland Yard... at least, not as far as I know. I have to admit I didn't ask that in the interview. ("Would I be expected to show up on time at this job?")

I'd get to travel a lot more!

Jobs don't seem to open up very often in the new division, which would kind of tend to indicate that people aren't leaving. And I do take it as a positive sign that they move so quickly.

Bad reasons to go:
Practically everybody else has, and I really want a happy hour.

I beat the newbies! Ha ha! In your face, newbies!

Robbie wants me to make the PM cry.

The building has better lighting. And it's closer to home!

The prospective new boss seemed really, really happy and excited when she called to make the offer. (I don't know if that's really a bad reason, but I'm putting it under the emotional reasons vs. rational reasons column, anyway.)

I wouldn't have to share a ladies' room with those stuck-up girls from Bridge anymore.

Good reasons to stay:
In the new job, I would be the third person in line to answer phones to the general public in case of an emergency such as Hurricane Rita. That sounds so not fun.

The job overall is entirely administrative - "soft" work, whereas what I'm doing now is partly technical - "hard" work. I'm probably better suited to "soft" but the "hard" work makes me feel smarter. And overall this would put me back on the "softer" career path.

I enjoy a significant portion of my current work, and those particular job duties excuse me from the bulk of the hopeless, endless, pointless projects mentioned above.

I'm on the short track to promotion and am generally treated extremely well, including being exempt from a lot of the tracking and checking up that many of my coworkers - and for that matter the PM - are subject to.

I like the people I work with, particularly Robert, with whom I work very closely, who recruited me to the agency two years ago, thus rescuing me from Corpus and from underpaid marketing hell, and who will be seriously left in the lurch by my leaving.

Bad reasons to stay:
The great unknown. What if I don't like it? Is there an "undo" button?

Guilt. Agh! The walloping, horrible, awful guilt.

Though it's closer to home, the building is further from the break spot as well as Dominican Joe. And will I still be able to take three-martini breaks? This is another important question I didn't ask during the interview.

I'd still be with the agency, so I couldn't spend 43 seconds on on my last day.

What if the new division doesn't have people who snore all day or walk around with antennas sticking out of their heads?!? I'll be seriously short on blog fodder.

And on a superstitious note: If you want to be sure you're offered a position, call in sick with the runs when you go to your interview. So far, this tactic has a 100% success rate.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 01, 2008

Having Legs and Knowing How to Use Them

I’m all excited because I rode my bike to Whole Paycheck for lunch today. It’s only maybe two miles each way, but it’s a significant departure from my normal route and routine, or at least the non-trail part of it is. I arrived with a sense of accomplishment, locked up my bike next to a pedicab, and spent the next hour on the sunny patio, talking about sex and love and boy troubles over a bowl of organic soup with my gorgeous gay lunch date.

If that isn’t what being an Austinite is all about, I’d like to know what is!

Some of you not in Austin may not know that this is the very first location of Whole Foods, right here:

And here it is now, just a few blocks and a kazillion light-years away.

The main problem with biking places is that I have to change clothes to do it. At work, this means using the women’s locker room, which is equipped with government-issued, cellulite-enhancing lighting and special widening mirrors that make you look like you’re hiding the cab of a semi under your skirt. Baby got MACK!!!

Cheryl’s BITCH is a biker and has been trying to persuade me to join him on the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, but I don’t think I will, for two important reasons:

1. The word “Hill” is prominently featured in the name.
2. It’s 50 miles. Look what a big deal I’m making about riding four!

Still, it’s a liberating feeling, being able to go places – real places – pretty quickly, under your own power, in the sunshine and fresh air. Even in the cold and rain, I still enjoy it, though I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing waterproof mascara. So I really want to start using my bike for going more places more often.

That way, when Robbie finally convinces me to come work with him in Georgetown, my legs will be ready.


Aerial images are from Aren’t they cool?

Labels: , , ,