Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We made this one count

They have graced us with a new mix here at work. This one includes a techno remix of both Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" and Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart". I found a collection of music from Tim Burton's movies and listened to that instead. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, they sing about cutting up Santa and giving people the head from the bottom of the lake. Somehow, that was still better than Ricky Martin.

A new French press and the 18 degrees outside are telling me that my first day of the new year will be spent inside, and I'm okay with that. I've been running around like crazy, and some down time is much needed right now. For New Year's Eve, a friend and I headed downtown to Surly Girl Saloon and enjoyed the atmosphere: think Western brothel with attitude. We had some cake, and toasted with tea at midnight. We ended it with a marathon of The Honeymooners, which I had never seen but loved immediately. What a strange year.

This year has been one of drastic changes and disillusionment for me. I don't regret any of it. I would say that this year has taught me more about love and honesty than any before. I'm not talking about the feel good stuff, either. I'm talking about the rough and tumble, lay it on the table, get your hands dirty, in it for the long run kind. I'm also talking about the kind that sits in the kitchen and drinks dark coffee and laughs about something that happened five years ago. Or calls you on Christmas Eve after a two years. I'm talking about the kind of love that can sit down after everything has changed, even after some very painful things have happened, and can just be okay - the cold and quiet hallelujahs. Relationships like that leave room for a lot of honesty and forgiveness, because they have to. They also change who you are and challenge your previously easy thoughts.Thank goodness for that.

And then we came to The End.

I hope you had a safe, warm, and happy New Year's Eve. Enjoy day one!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Berry Christbas

"I just can't help but wonder if that person for me is out there, or if I'm going to find them..."

These words echoed from the screen and theatrically, slowly, my brother turned to look at me. I pinched him in the side, we both laughed, and my mom gave us "the look". Another Christmas being single. Another Christmas with my family.

Despite being single (or maybe because of it?), I had a fantastic Christmas. I stayed in my pajamas for three days straight, watched at least five movies, went shopping, ate my weight in cookies, and cuddled with three snuggly dogs. Oh, and I got a cold. I get a cold every Christmas. I'm not kidding.

My family loves giving gifts, and we always go overboard. I got movies (including Harry and the Hendersons - ha!), some great stuff for my kitchen from Anthropologie, yoga pants (the only clothes my parents can safely buy me), and a bunch of other great stuff that I will actually really use.

I came home, dropped the stuff on my floor, and started going through my closets. The only thing I like more than getting new things is clearing out the stuff that I don't need or use anymore. It's like sweating: you take water in, you sweat it out, and your body is cleansed in the process. This is a different kind of cleansing. I got a new coat, so I got rid of three. I got a couple of new outfits, so I got rid of a few. Some people might see this as being materialistic or spoiled, but I see it as healthy.

I spent today, tissues by my side, watching episodes of Pushing Daisies. I'm so, so sad that this show is going off. It's really one of the best shows I've seen in a very long time. And the outfits! It makes me want to wear yellow dresses and head scarves. For now, I will just have to settle for curly hair and peacock feathers.

Outside, it is almost 70 and raining. I'm about to meet up with a friend and meet some of her family. More on this later, but this Christmas has been a great reminder to me that my family now includes so many wonderful people from all over, and I am thankful for them all.

Oh, and yes, it is still my home, Pastor Wes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jumping Ship

Ah, Christmas Eve. Lights are glittering in the trees, ice is raining down from the skies, and Christmas carols are going nonstop on the radio. And I am sitting at work, in a mostly empty building, listening once again to the most horrible music known to mankind, cutting out lacy panties.

Thank goodness for this vacation. There has been some unnecessary drama in our department and I have really been pushed to the edge this week. My friend (who is totally sophisticated but knows how to speak her mind) swears that she would have actually punched a couple of people. My other friend loves hearing my stories and can't get over how weird it all is. Hey, as long I have stories, right?

They won't tell us if they are even letting us out early, so my department has decided that we are abandoning ship at noon regardless. I they want to yell at me for leaving early on Christmas Eve, they are more than welcome. The whole thing makes me pretty sad, because I feel like somewhere along the way I became "that person". You know, the one who works on Christmas Eve instead of being with her family. I am also amazed that so many companies are okay with making people work right up to the last minute on one of the biggest holidays of the year. It makes me just a little bitter and (more) anti-corporation. It also makes my next transition in my career look even better (hello grad school!).

Tonight I am driving to my parents' home, throwing myself into a dress, going out to dinner (my iron levels are saying red meat will be involved tonight - hey there, steak), and then going to a Christmas Eve service. I was really involved in the church for a few years, but haven't been back in at least six months. I'm anticipating a lot of interactions that are like, "Oh, hey, I know tons about you, but I have no idea what is going on in your life at all. Merry Christmas!". After getting back to my parents house, I plan on getting cozy in my pajamas and staying there for the next 48 hours.
Christmas Story marathon, here I come!

I will probably update more over the holidays, but for now I will wish you all a fantastic Christmas. Be safe (ice? we got it!) and enjoy the time with your friends and family. I will also leave you with amazing, amazing little gift. Just type in an artist, year, style, whatever, and you can listen to podcasts and playlists. You can listen to whole albums completely free before you buy them (or listen to them free if you are too embarrassed to buy them)!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The three -ers of Appalachia: holler(to yell), waller (to wallow), caller (to color)

The fact that I grew up in the hills of Appalachia is something that both haunts and defines me. I did everything I could to separate myself, from training myself to avoid the accent to going to college early and starting a career as soon as I could. Still, there is no real escape when most of my family still lives there.

This weekend was Appalachian family Christmas weekend - one of the most dreaded weekends of the year. Throw 37 people into one living room, make 14 of them little kids, add the southern accent, and have half of them ask you why you don't have a man and kids yet. It doesn't even matter if you like or love them at that point because it's so overwhelming. I think surviving is really all that can even be asked. No one really talked to me much after I suggested that we put all of the kids in a room, throw the gifts in, and run while they battled it out.

I am now at home, Christmas tree shining beside me, candle burning, Blonde Redhead crooning, gifts mostly wrapped, and all Christmas parties successfully attended. It is negative two degree outside, 22-40 mile winds, and a wind chill of -25 to -35. I am thankful for the food in my cabinet, the heat that just kicked on, the family that makes me crazy, the brother that makes me laugh, the parents that still like to take care of me, the friends that make my life full, and the job that allowed me to buy gifts and food for people I did and did not know. Cozy in my apartment, I finally feel like it is Christmas.

Check it: (new section)
I have listened to Mirah for two weeks straight. She's in my car, at work, and at home. Her first album (You Think It's Like This, But Really It's Like This) won me over because it was fun and had the whole wink and smile feel to it, but I've been listening to her later solo albums (Advisory Committee and C'Mon Miracle) and her lyrics and sound are more mature and honest (check out We're Both So Sorry and Cold, Cold Water to see what I mean). I was devastated when I figured out that she was just in town about two months ago and I missed it. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I can officially add "Almost sued" to my ever growing list of life experiences. A situation that was supposedly settled over two months ago has come back with a vengeance and a lawyer. A rude, horrible lawyer. The miscommunication had already been settled, the right people were not notified. So, I've been accused of lying, hung up on, had my credit threatened, and have been threatened to be sued ("with pleasure") by a guy that I will never (hopefully) know. Merry Christmas.

After our first unpleasant conversation, which had left me flustered and angry (and red), I was almost excited to get another call from this stranger. I had been belittled and my character and integrity had been attacked. This kind of thing is not a usual occurrence for me. Knowing that I was right, I had the kind of confidence that inspires pure wit and biting sarcasm flow freely from my otherwise kind and careful mouth. He called, I responded diplomatically but directly, and after less than five minutes we were both angry and he hung up on me. I was proud. I wanted more. I wanted it to hurt.

Looking back on this and a few other recent situations, I realized that we are killing each other over being right.We get so caught up in the idea of being right that we lose the humanity in situations. Instead of diplomacy, we get angry and go for blood. Instead of discussion, we rant, protest, rage, insult. We are justified! We have been wronged! Our rights have been violated! You are wrong! Humility goes out the door and instead, we are left with a defensive pride that shuts out a lot of the things that make us human.

This isn't a new concept at all, I am just seeing a lot more of it right now. I'm also more aware of the pointless results that come along with this attitude: a bunch of people yelling back and forth. Being right does not mean we are justified to treat another person poorly, or to stop treating them as an equal. Yes, we have rights and deserve respect, and that applies regardless of whether we are right or wrong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can I get this in an IV? Fast, please?

I am officially addicted to endorphins. Every afternoon, I head to the gym to either run or do yoga, and I spend the hour afterwards in a strange, euphoric and blissful state. This is new to me, even though I have worked out for years. It keeps me from doing something drastic, like stabbing someone in the throat, so I am trying to really stick with it.

Discussing my job with a good friend tonight, we couldn't help but laugh at the fact that I am working in my own personal hell. This friend in particular is a great person: fun, daring, challenging, funny, encouraging, and honest. She helps to keep me grounded and makes me laugh at how insane it all is. How insane is it? 

:: "The Man" (the president of the company) was walking through a department where someone was having a birthday. As is the custom in offices across the country, people were celebrating and had brought in cupcakes. Just as they were about to eat the cupcakes, The Man walked over, yelled at everyone, and dumped the cupcakes in the trash can. Cupcakes make you fat.

:: Today, it was windy, snowy, cloudy, and about 29 degrees. My hair had refused to curl and had been placed in a pony tail, and I was wearing a very simple, comfortable outfit. I walked into the bathroom near my desk and it was full of models who looked me up and down and then looked away. Ugh.

:: My boss thinks that women with short hair are just lazy, and that women should have long hair, period. There are two girls in my department, and we both have short hair.

:: Girls wear heels. This is a fact. Not here, though. I have been asked not to wear them, I have been given dirty looks, and two guys in one department tap their pens to the beat of my step when I walk by. I understand that it makes a noise, but really? I have decided that I will stop wearing heels when the guys stop talking about sex, their man parts, bodily functions, and what STD they would be.

:: There are very attractive guys posted at the front desk. One of their jobs is to stand with a football in hand, or to toss said football with another attractive guy in the front lobby. It help creates "brand experience". That said, we are supposed to cut back on our paperclip usage to cut expenses in the coming year.

:: Our air is pumped with our signature scents. Every now and then, you will even catch a whiff of it outside.

:: Horrible, horrible techno music (if it can even be called that) is played on a loop all day, every day, on speakers posted throughout the campus. This means that we hear the same 8 songs once or twice every hour. So far this has included the techno versions of Come to My Window, and Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Right now we have a remix of a Mariah Carey song and someone named Shontelle singing about just having a t-shirt on. It actually makes me want to vomit at various points during the day.

There are perks, of course. Tomorrow, for instance, I will drive to work at the private campus of a well known company. I will work out in a great yoga class, take a nice warm shower, walk upstairs, grab a latte, and head back to my desk. I will walk on paths through the woods, passing bonfires and sand volleyball courts. I can take a shuttle if it's too cold. I work in a building that has won several design awards. I can grab gourmet food for lunch, and I can wear whatever I want (well, as long as it isn't competitor clothing). So, I will try to focus on these things and let the endorphins (and caffeine, and my headphones) work their magic.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another one just lost his shirt

Christmas is here, in all its mall going, christmas music, dancing on the tables, white lights glory.  My schedule includes six Christmas parties in one week, and today finds me still rocking my party hair and preparing for round four. The rundown thus far:

1: Department party: Me and twelve guys in a bar for a mandatory party (mandatory party?!). They made sex jokes and played shuffle board and I watched soccer highlights on TV. Ironically, we had the party at a place attached to my old office, so my amazing friends came over and rescued me. I ended up going back to my old office (at 5:31, on the dot) and now everyone is asking me if I am trying to get my old job back. None of them blame me if I am.

2: Family Christmas, Dad's side: If you want to see the ripple effects of a tragedy and the attempts to mend, visit this side of the family. Since an tragedy a few years ago, things have changed in every way possible. Still, we get together, exchange gifts with a little more simplicity, and attempt to have a normal family Christmas. Family is disfunctional enough, but through the events of the past few years I have seen the beauty of people forgiving, being graceful, and moving forward together. 

3: Company party, current job: A sweater/plaid/vest train wreck. Take the casually sexy lifestyle encouraged by my company, get Girl Talk to DJ, throw in free beer, and you have last night. My friend is probably the most anti-TrendyCompany person that I know, so it was really fun to see her reaction ("Looking around this room, my God, I haven't seen anything like this since high school. Are you serious!?"). Since all of the guys there were either gay or with a girl (or four girls, whatever) already, we danced freely with the knowledge that no one was actually watching. We had to dodge two fights, flying beer, flying bottles, flying shirts, and people riding other people. My aversion for my company has now reached a whole level.

So, tomorrow is number four, Thursday is five, and number six comes next weekend. Behind all of this, life continues to move at a steady pace. More on that later. For now, let's simply enjoy a lovely winter day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm so glad you are doing that

By 8:58 this morning I had already heard about a noises of a runny nose (and the various ways of ridding the body of...congestion), the "benefits" of lotion (really not that creative), dry scalp issues, and a few other things that I will spare you. This is a normal day here. Add some eurotrash techno and you have an excellent reason to buy the nicest noise-reducing headphones you can find.

I've worked in two office that have the "casual workplace" attitude. I think it's great. I like wearing my Pumas on those rainy "blah" days. I like taking a break and taking a walk now and then. I think there's a lot to be said for a workplace that doesn't treat employees like they should sit silently, tied to their chairs (I've worked there, too, and died a little, I think). At this point, I don't even mind the progression towards inappropriate that tends to happen naturally. That said, lines need to be drawn, and I think that's a major fault in most casual offices. This week has been a great example. To help those who just aren't sure where the line is, I have compiled a list to follow. These are suggestions for anyone over the age of 13 who works:

1: Do not touch other people or their things.
2: Do not talk about STD's and then touch other people or their things.
3: Do not theatrically scratch your dry skin and then touch other people or their things.
4: Do do not hack your phlegm.
5: Do not hack your phlegm and then spit into your trash can.
6: "Did you get laid last night?" is not the same as "Good morning", especially if you are the boss.
7: Occasional name calling and nicknames happen. F*face is not really a nickname.
8: You shouldn't sleep on the floor. Or under your desk.
9: Do not bring in a stuffed cat. It makes pretty much everyone uncomfortable.
10: Do not talk about what STD you would be.
11: Do not talk about what STD you would be and then wink at a girl. That is not sexy.
12: The occasional personal call is needed. Twelve calls a day are not needed. Two-hour calls are not really needed, either(again, especially if you are the boss).
13: Certain topics regarding your spouse are off limits. These include: their plastic surgery, how you think they are cheating on you, how you are cheating on them, how long it has been since you slept with them.
14. Do not talk about how few hands/fingers it takes for you to get someone's bra off (especially if you are married, and the person is not your wife).

So, those are a few simple, pretty easy rules that hopefully help clarify the line. Feel free to leave a few rules of your own.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Previous Job Title: In-House Designer, Architecture Firm
Job Description: Design and implement branding standards, design collateral and marketing materials, update existing designs, give up all weeknights and some great concerts, design things that will never be used because the owner was once married to a graphic designer and obviously knows more you than you on the subject, make logo bigger on everything, and add as many office shots as possible.

Current Job Title:
E-Commerce Designer, Casually Sexy Fashion Co.
Job Description: As one of two girls in the entire surrounding three departments, it is my responsibility to cut out clothing for the website. Other requirements include: listen to every sex joke ever, put up with a real treat of a boss (who openly hates women), attempt to attain a personal, constant level of casual sexiness, and try to look busy and stimulated.

Quite the transition has taken place. I've gone from extreme overloadstressedoutmess to zero stress and a lot of time to figure out my new surroundings. Think
Truman Show mixed with a really weird version of Disneyworld. "The Man" makes all of the decisions, and everyone rushes around to make him happy. He has his own building, and I've only seen him once. We are the players in a world that he controls: we wear the clothes he wants, listen to the music he wants, and eat the food he finds appropriate. Throughout our campus there are bonfires, sand volleyball courts and of course, scooters.

With the economy where it is, I will be here a while. I figure this a great time to study a strange, strange culture while working on my own freelance business. It isn't my dream job, but there are perks. Reality check: I may never get my dream job, and if I do, I don't want it this early in life.
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