Thursday, February 28, 2013

Make it work!

I have been a fan of Project Runway for several years now and I record all the episodes to watch later. Everyone knows the best person on the show is Tim Gunn. Hands down. His line: MAKE IT WORK! reverberates in my brain all the time. Genius. Pure genius.

Today I am making it work for me. Got a lame job with nothing important to do? Make a hair appointment, dental appointment, schedule a training session and balance your household budget. Take an online IQ test....they can all be done on the phone and computer and look suspiciously like working. Not to mention that you will free yourself up to do the things that really matter, feel accomplished and relaxed and reaffirm that you are even smarter than you remembered you were.

 BOOM! That's how its done.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Risk vs. Reward

You can live your dream or you can live your fears. Someone said that to me a little while back and I've been chewing on it ever since.

That one really hit home. I am not living my dream. I AM living my fears. I am afraid of doing nothing with my life, talents, and education (check), I am afraid that I will rot away in a go nowhere job or move up to one that goes nowhere but pays better so I will be even more afraid to leave an even higher income (double check). I am afraid that I will write and find the courage to send it to someone, to submit the tiny little piece of me that is real, that I don't fake, that isn't plastered with a brittle smile, that has no outer protective skin to someone-and they will rip it to shreds.

And then what?

What would be the worst that would happen? For a couple of days tops, they would remember my name and think to themselves about how bad my writing was, laughing or shaking their head to themselves, then forget me entirely (if I'd even lasted that long in their consciousness.)

I would write again, submit to more publications. Submit my writing. That says something right there. Submit it to public scrutiny, to personal criticism, to the judgement of someone else. Someone who writes, perhaps. I'm giving that and them too much credit.

The fear of criticism, of finding out I am no good at what I love, that is the fear that drives my car to go to work everyday instead. At a place where I am not valued, I am over-qualified and yet treated like a child by someone who can't accomplish what I can. On it's face, it seems quite ridiculous to be in such fear and in being there, to give up all that is good about yourself. Then to sell that time by the hour to someone you don't respect. Someone who lives in their own terrible fear.

So what's the problem? The risk is that I will not make enough money to live my life in the vision I have in my head. The reality is that I am not doing that now. The risk is that someone will criticize my writing and I will have to face that criticism head on, use it constructively and get better. The reality is that would probably be the best thing that could happen.

What separates people that are living their ultimate dream from those that are living their ultimate fear is the drive, the first step, the move towards the goal and away from the safety of a boring life.

I have weighed my choices and I am going to take a leap...feel free to come along for the ride.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Years ago I worked at a real estate office. It was my first office job. I had worked in retail, but never in an office. I met lots of interesting people, but one of the most memorable was a much older woman (remember, I was very young) and she was just amazing to me. Soft spoken, well put together, smelled great, quietly confident. She would come in and every so often, put her hand on my shoulder while talking to me and then when she would leave, it was as if her hand was still there, such was the impact. Her soothing tone and that hand would put me in a trance while she was speaking.

For years, I wondered what that was. How could that have made me so relaxed? Today, I found out. You see, I have sat at desks for hours upon days upon weeks upon months upon years. I sit there and sometimes, someone will come in and their voice will be so soothing, it will relax me much in the same way as just hearing her talking used to do. They are one in thousands, with just a certain voice. Its like a lullaby.

There is an article out about ASMR. What is that? I wondered. It turns out it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This is that great calming feeling you get, a tingling type of relaxation that is nearly impossible to forget and is a craving for some, while for others is a way to get through insomnia. The soothing voices, the soft sound of someone brushing through their hair, painting on a canvas, all of it is white noise, the kind that, for certain people, hits just the right nerve.

Sure, that makes sense. You can fall asleep to a monotone professor, reading a book you are not interested in or watching a boring show about the algae growing in a crack of a rock in space, so I get it. Or I thought I did. Then I watched a video of a woman massaging a package of noodles like she was getting paid to do it. I was all set to start making fun of it and then I fell into the trance. If you can't get to sleep, you can watch these and blissfully dream away. I know, it seems crazy, but this shit is amazing, y'all. Try it out. Search ASMR on You Tube. There is a whole community of people out there getting their fix from soft sounds and providing them for you. I may have just stumbled on the cheapest drug there has ever been...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Loan Money to Friends

I have just saved someone from a mistake I've made and I am here to save you as well, so listen up while I tell you a little story.

We had a young lady that used to work here. She was the one- you know the one. She came in every day and had some sort of problem or drama going on. Then she said that she had been harassed by an instructor here and was not being taken seriously in the department. I felt badly for her, as she seemed near the verge of tears many times, had a lot of financial struggles, was always having some relationship drama and just generally seemed to not be in control of her life. 

Then I started to realize what she was. She wasn't a girl with drama. She WAS drama. She was the creation, the center, the very beginning of it all. I don't know if her claims of harassment are true or not. It does not matter. That is the sad reality. Because the show is better than the story, so no one wants to dig too deep. I know this type when I see it. I've seen a lot of it. I know what will happen here. 

A kid working here gets a call from her and she is asking him for money. He was feeling bad for her and wanted to help so he thought about loaning her the money. It wasn't a lot of money and she had promised to pay him back with interest. Then he talked to his parents about it and decided that he better not get involved. He worried what if she is doing drugs? Drinking? What if something happens and he was implicit? What if this is just a bad move? The first of what could be many bad moves?

He tells me about it and wanted an opinion. I told him I had wondered about her lately. I told him that he should not lend money to a 'friend' and here is why:

Friends are not about money. Friends are about shared history, experiences, living through something together, having someone to bounce ideas off of and find support for what you are doing with your life. Friends are for lots of things, but they are not for money. Friends look up resources for you, help you get a job, give you a ride, sit with you in your dark hours, commiserate on how shitty life is treating you. Friends should not be expected to connect money to the relationship.

If you loan money to a family member, you are always tied to that person through bonds of blood, figurative or literal that are different than that of a friend. You will love them even when they never give the money back, you will begin making gifts instead of loans, as you don't want to even imagine you will get the money back. You know that they are coming to you because they need something. You are the closest. There is an opportunity to take advantage and you have to manage that within the confines of your particular family and personal feelings about money. With a friend, once you hand out money you become a financial institution. The relationship does not just change, it is gone, replaced by a new one. Sometimes it happens so fast, so sly, you don't even notice until its too late.

In the case of this young man, he had not heard from this girl in ages. She did not let him know how her life was going, stay in touch about school, or share her difficulties over a cup of tea. She called out of the blue. She ran out of people to ask. She is staying at a hotel and needs money.(Red Klaxons going off!) I told him he does not risk losing the friendship, as it does not exist. She already sees him as merely a source of cash. He has nothing to gain by engaging in the transaction, but sadly a lot to lose including his faith in humanity and his money.

He said that if it were a man he would not lend the money and that led him to examine what he should do or if he is a 'sucker'. I conclude that he is not a sucker or naive. He is a mark. He is a spot that you try to hit when you are shooting in the dark for a way to fix your situation. He is not a friend..

I've lent money to a friend. I once lent a good sum of money to a friend. I was never paid back in full and I believe it contributed to the loss of the friendship. Later I looked back on things and realized that the person was too busy to come to my college graduation, too busy to come out for my birthdays, always had to meet at his house, always had to do what he wanted. I didn't lose a friend, either. That relationship had been gone for a long time. I lost an acquaintance that liked to take my money. Oh, and the money...

I guess it bought me a lesson. One I've just passed along it seems.

Don't Hire Me

I am the worst possible person to ever have working in your office.

I'll ruin it for everyone. Bad. And quick.

I will come in with confidence and competence, moving shit around, shuffling papers like a Vegas blackjack dealer, putting shit in its place and making everyone take notice of how crappy they are and how great I am.
You'll forget you ever saw anyone else, that anyone ever worked there before me.

Then I'll do it. I'll soak up all your praise and excitement, you'll be thinking how wonderful everything is, how organized and perfect and'll get comfortable. And I'll get angry. Why am I making things so easy for you? Why am I even in this shit job? Why am I going around without the recognition I deserve? THIS IS BENEATH ME! 

I will remember that I hate office work, that I hate the misogynistic structure that has me reporting to men that don't know as much as I do or to a woman who is so afraid to not be seen as a man, that she bitches down to others to respond to the bullshit in her own self serving, reflexive way.

Then I will wreak havoc.

I will remind everyone that we are getting screwed in secret meetings and lunches. I will remind myself that I am in the wrong place. The whole thing will come crashing in and I will be furious. With myself. With you. With everyone. And I will have started an incurable cancer of anger, resentment and magnifying glasses in the hands of everyone who works for you- looking closer than ever at the situation and catching your mistakes.

I will grow contemptuous and feisty and nothing will be good enough. But you will never know I did it.

If there is anything I do better than wreck an office, its stay out of the firing zone. I will rile everyone up, sure, but I won't paint my face blue and storm your office with a spear. I will do quiet, passive aggressive things, so that I can keep my job by resting on my earlier laurels, cover my desk with LOTS of shit to look busy, all while reading online articles and writing scathing blog posts. I will nod and smile while you complain of the bad attitudes.

All of this will happen because I do not belong in an office. I am a good consultant. I can come in and work for a bit and tell you what is wrong and what you could do to effect change. I can discern broken management practices, failed policies and overworked paperwork rules. Then I point it out to everyone. What usually happens is mass disgruntlement, the realization that you are being led by people who are less competent than you and the beginnings of the end of your peaceful office place.

This is not my fault, and maybe it is not yours.

But if you like the status quo, and don't want to shake it up to make things better, then don't hire me. You'll be sorry you did.