Saturday, March 31, 2007

You can take the girl out of hicksville...

Actual lyrics from a country song:

I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks

Do I get any credit for living through four years of this (high school) and still winding up as the Death Cab-loving, Sufjan Stevens-addicted, Simon and Garfunkel devotee that I am?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pish off

So, I haven't been around this week. Where have I been?

Oh yeah. That's right. Pursuing my new hobby, one guaranteed to make me the coolest kid on the block and the biggest Babe Magnet of all time. You guessed it: Birding.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Damn, why didn't I decide to spend all of the last two sunny afternoons sneaking through brush at the city parks, ruining my eyesight while trying to identify diving ducks from at least 1000 feet away?

I know, I know. But we can't all be the cool kid. Only a few of us get to see Greater White-fronted Geese (SIX OF THE MO-FOS!!) at the Montlake Fill; only a few of us get to feel good about ourselves, crouched in between the goose poop, alarming passers-by as we squawk "Did you see that?? Do you see that, right there?!" Only a few of us know what a Rhinoceros Auklet is. Or care. But you can still aspire to greatness. Maybe start with your robins, move onto your black-capped chickadees and bush tits. Someday, you, too, might be emailing a birding list to report what you've found.

You might even find yourself with an Audubon form in hand, trying to choose between a class on birding by ear and a two-night series on bird anatomy. Who do you think you are, making that kind of decision? Just take them both. Don't worry. I'll be the one in the desk next to you, jabbering about how I'm pretty sure I need to buy a spotting scope because I almost had the ID on a Yellow-Billed Loon the other day, except I couldn't confirm it with my binoculars.

Sure, some of you might recall how long CB's been overseas and posit that all of my newfound birding zeal is driven by some pent-up energy I've been harboring. But you are wrong. WRONG. My pileated woodpeckers are way cooler than whatever I used to do with spare time.

I need help.

Or a Master Birder. Yeah, definitely the latter.

Silence, you and your dirty minds! I can hear you thinking from over the internet. I kid you not.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'll be leaving soon

Thursday afternoon.

I hear a noise from the office doorway and look up from where I'm crouching over sets of figures, tabling the numbers we're going to lose on the event being canceled. Outside, the rain has been sliding down from the sky all afternoon in thick, sinewy sheets that splatter along the sidewalks. My boss, or ex-boss, is leaning against the door frame, red-faced, just staring. I set my pencil on the edge of my desk and fold my hands, looking at him expectantly. He's only just learned that the other co-worker is leaving, too, and now he's on his way out for the weekend. When he comes back, I will be gone.

He doesn't say much. Just stops and starts, fixed rigidly in the doorway. I don't reply.

"I just, I'm not good at...the thing is. I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I'm very sorry."

He half approaches, maybe seeking a handshake, but I don't move. I can't. My feet are glued to the floor and I just want him to leave because I don't want to feel bad now, not after I've learned what he told the board, how this is all my fault, how everything that's happened comes down to me and my inability to handle the job's burdens.

But he looks so sad and confused and even small that I want to say something. Anything to at least let him know that I haven't enjoyed one moment of the past two weeks, either. Instead, I drop my gaze and pick up the pencil and mutter, "I'm sorry, too."

He waits a moment longer, then leaves. I listen as his footsteps recede down the hallway. When I know he's gone, I drop my head to my desk and remain there while a trickle of rain seeps through the window like an open wound.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Frack you, Battlestar. Frack you hard.

I'm catching up on BSG's first season, since I'm a new initiate this year. Can I just say that one might do better than to watch the first half of the miniseries before bed? Not that it isn't a brilliant show (and I *love* learning all the little things I hadn't known), but it's not a great bedtime story. I'm right in the middle of the nuclear holocaust now, at the point where the survivors have to leave people behind in order to save themselves.

Now I find myself sitting at a dimly lit desk while the city sleeps, thinking about planes. About how a plane isn't just a silver streak in the sky anymore. Does anyone still watch planes in the city for the sake of watching them? Are we all tracking them warily out the corner of the eye, telling ourselves we just like watching planes when we're really wondering Where's it going? What's it doing? Did it dip a little? Should I hold my breath again?

Remember when a plane was just a cumbersome bird lumbering across the lazy sky?

Now, I hate flying. HATE it, despite knowing how irrational it is to cringe every time the plane shifts. I look around, and I know who else feels that way. You can mark us by the stiffness in our shoulders, the way we fix our stares on magazines without reading the lines. I hate what happened for making me feel this way. I hate myself for not being able to stop it.

I wonder what it's like for people born after 9-11. How do they watch planes? What do they see when they look up as an engine drones overhead? Does what happened even seem real to them? It barely seems plausible to me, and I saw everything they won't air on anniversary repeats these days. I struggle to incorporate it into what I know, and yet it's touching every part of our lives, from the war we're in to the way we think about little things. Planes and border crossings. Subways and double-decker buses.

Don't ask why a sci-fi show brought this all home again. That's why it's so good. It makes you think about the things you take for granted, and about how "normal" life feels now when it's really askew forever. It isn't normal for me to think about how I'd reach CB if it all went down while we were still a continent away from each other. Nor is it normal for me and everyone I know to view a plane as a possibility. None of this is alright. We still aren't okay -- as evidenced, I'd hazard, by the fact that two hours of a well written sci-fi debut leave me here, in my room, thinking about all the facts you push aside in order to continue with everyday life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What a way to make a living

You know, there's nothing like getting the silent treatment from your boss to make your workday even better than it already was.

Seriously, I spent the day with an elbow propped on the desk, reading the New York Times Magazine online. My boss emailed me periodically from the next room. Sample correspondence:

"Are you around?"

Useful stuff, I tell you. I came in two hours late -- not my fault, the place I was applying to opens late on Tuesdays and doesn't say so online, dang it! -- and for a moment he looked like he was going to ask me where I'd been. I adopted my best Crawl Back To The Rock From Under Whence You Came stare, and he dropped his gaze and shambled down the hall.

This all was precipitated by a volley of hostile emails and online sparring yesterday. Over the weekend, I decided that I was no longer interested in reconsidering my resignation, as I'd been instructed to do. For the record, my boss's original response to my first resignation attempt was to say:

"No. I'm not accepting this. You need to reconsider. You need to spend the weekend thinking about this from a broader perspective."

He also refused to take my resignation letter, and so I stood there stupidly, letting it dangle from my hand until I finally dropped it on his desk. Later, he said he could respect -- well, no, actually, he couldn't respect my decision. Not really. Just so I knew.

Let me tell you: giving an employee grief when she's only been there for six weeks? Telling her that she's the only one who can help you re-energize and rebuild your organization? Thinking she's really thirsting after the responsibility of cobbling together a functional institution out of fragments? Knowing this is her first "real" job, which means she's already second-guessing everything about her decision and is too overwhelmed by your attacks to call you out when you cross the line? Not exactly the best way to convince her to stay, particularly when you follow it up with a second day filled with snide remarks like, "My wife says you aren't giving this enough of a chance," and veiled threats like, "I can fire you anytime I want to." Really? Can you? Then would you hurry up so I can leave your sorry butt behind?

Oh, I'm sorry. I'm supposed to care what your wife, who doesn't work here, thinks? I should feel bad because *TWO MONTHS* notice "isn't enough"??

So, over the weekend, I emailed again and said I indeed had reconsidered, per his request; now, my original offer to leave in two months had changed, and I intended to leave in three weeks. He ignored me for two days, but he was sick on Monday and I chose to wrap up the matter before he could get to me at the office. Let the email battle begin. Alas, the man tried to out-manipulate me, by arguing (incorrectly) that I'd promised to stay that long. He can definitely back you into a corner in-person, as evidenced by the two-hour attack I sustained on Friday...but he's a lousy e-manipulator. I won. He lost. And now, I'm getting the silent treatment.

Tomorrow, I think I'll follow SueBob's idea. Novels and/or DVDs at the workplace, coming up! Heck, I need to catch up on the first two seasons of BSG anyway.

For god's sake, it's like breaking up with a boyfrind. A needy, passive-aggressive, high-school boyfriend who winds up halfheartedly stalking you in the school parking lot until you finally have to employ vivid castration descriptions to make him leave you alone. I thought I'd finished with these creeps when I turned 18.

What really makes me angry is that I'm unemployed. AGAIN. No apartment, no cat, no freedom. Taxes to pay, car to repair, thyroid to medicate, and limited assets to do so. Stuck with the parents even longer, after 7 years of independence. No apartment, no cat, no freedom. But hell, anything is better than working where I am now. Even living with two people who harbor secret fantasies that you'll turn back into a precocious twelve year-old at any moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Visual DNA

An interesting take...what's yours?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Don't you mess with me

Something tells me I'm not the only one in the building who despises our workplace.

Stupid, cheerful-ass Peeps. They probably deserved it. Nothing like skewering a shiny happy yellow marshmellow bunny, let alone spearing a pair, to really make your day better. Sadly, this did indeed make my morning.

The morning, that is, of the day after I quit my job.

Or tried to quit.

And was told I wasn't allowed.

It's been a very long week. I was tempted to add my own adornments to the dart board, starting with my business cards and finishing with something of value, like the only company phone that works more than half-time, but instead I snapped this shot and skipped back upstairs. There's really not much else to write tonight. I quit. Or tried to. It's hard to quit when your fortysomething boss reverts to juvenile behavior. When I told him that this wasn't working out, I received a one-word response: "No."

Is it any wonder I've been fantasizing about Jaeger shots since noon yesterday? I'm going to go find some of those and then run over Peeps with my bike. Maybe back up and do it again for good measure. Are you ever going to receive the full story? Perhaps. It's just that every time I tell it, I get a little.bit.ANGRIER. And you know, I don't actually want to be known as "That girl who went postal on Peeps in the basement of our building and had to be escorted out by security." I always wanted to go postal on something far more deserving. Like the Wiggles.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Disclaimer One: if you're family, by blood or marriage, I'd appreciate it if you skip this one. It's definitely for friends and blog buddies only. Thanks.

Things aren't so good right now. I feel like a broken record sometimes, but I'm not sure what else I can do. I could definitely use some advice from friends here: say you have a job, and it's a foot in the door to a rather small, fairly exclusive field. But it's in a three-person office with a less-than-shoestring budget, and your job could really be filled by two full-time people, and you never even got trained officially, and at the end of the day you come home and realize just how upset you are because the slightest thing kinda makes you flip out.

But it's a job, a job with responsibilities, a job that might actually get you somewhere else someday. It's a job where leaving right now would be a terrible thing to do to them, because you're in the middle of a massive project that no one else is going to be able to pick up easily. And yet, you are tired. You are so very, very tired, and a little voice in the back of your mind is realizing that you've been tired for a couple of years now. Every time, you fight through it, telling yourself that you just have to grit the teeth for one last push, and then you'll finally get a break. That break? It still hasn't come -- and as stupid and weak as you feel, you just don't know if you can actually push through again because the exhaustion, it's maybe bigger than you. It saps your energy, drains your writing, makes you want to curl up and sleep until everything just resolves itself. You hate feeling that way. You can't fix it. But you're afraid to leave the job anyway.

So what the hell do you do? I'm too tired to think straight, and I keep traveling the same circles without finding a side channel out of here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

In the waiting line

Tomorrow marks three months since I first tried to close my bank account in the UK -- when I was still living in the UK. Since then, I've made at least five to eight phone calls -- always at midnight or later, thanks to the time zones. I've sent letter upon letter, completing increasingly ridiculous requests from the bank, including one which asked me to send a certified copy of my passport signature page because apparently I forged my own signature on the previous account closure letter. It's fantastic. Now, I'm being told I sent that to the wrong place, even though the last letter I received *and* the last person with whom I spoke told me to send it there. Oh, and apparently? I also have to cut my debit card into four pieces, shred my checks and return them to yet another part of the bank's nebula. And apparently? The fact that no one told me that once in the past three months, during which period I destroyed and threw out my checks because I didn't like having them lying around to tempt airport security checkers and passersby? That, apparently, is my own damn fault and means I need to write yet another letter explaning myself.

So, what do you do when your international bank refuses to close your account? Or when they try to send you to collections for mounting fees because your account no longer has money in it? (Hey, maybe because I was told to take it all out the first time I went to close it!) Anybody know a good lawyer out there? Hell, I'd settle for a consolation prize: a nice big bottle of whiskey to keep me company while I sit cradling the phone yet again tonight, trying not to think about how this might affect my credit, praying that just this once the person on the other end of the line actually has something useful to impart. If they don't, I guess I have to wait until next summer, when I fly back to visit CB and march into the nearest branch with my forty-fifth letter in hand and eighteen months of pent-up rage waiting to be unleashed on the nearest bank representative.

Seriously, this is ridiculous, isn't it? Or is it all happening because they can tell I'm American and want to make my life miserable? See, I know that's not true, but try waiting three months for an account to close and see how paranoid it makes you.