Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

It’s Good To Be The Boss March 4, 2013

Filed under: It Ain't Easy Being Me,Work — Meredith @ 12:34 pm

Some people have hobbies to occupy their free time. Things like knitting, or learning karate, or dating.

I have a publishing company. Sort of the same thing, though right? It occupies the majority of my free time and it seems like every time I turn around I need to spend more money on it.

But its also fun, and lets me do some really creative and awesome things like providing the platform for the words of my friends and some talented friends of friends to be shared with the world.

Those are the days – the days when a writer sees their words in print, or their name listed on Amazon – that rock. Those are the days that make publishing feel like the best possible use of my free time.

The most recent book I published is called Sucker for Love, The Book: True Tales about Loves Found, Lost, and Imagined, and it was published in partnership with my good friends over at SpeakeasyDC.

I took ten stories that have been told at the annual Valentine’s Day show called Sucker for Love over the past 4 years and asked the storytellers to adapt them to fit the page. Which mostly meant using words to explain things that had been conveyed with tone or posture on stage.

And…I happen to be one of the stories that I included. Because what’s the point of running a publishing company and giving all your evenings and weekends over to it if you can’t publish your own work, right?  Right. Although I’m realizing its a little bit terrifying to have my words out there in the world for everyone to read and judge. I now have a renewed respect for published authors, and a great appreciation for what it takes for them to get out and sell their book. I’m still going to ask them to do it ALL THE TIME, but I have a new respect for what that takes.

But back to me. So my story is called Milestones, and it’s the story about the first time I took Chris home to meet my family. Its the same story I wrote this blog about, and while you may think its weird for me to keep the blog up (with the video of the  story) while I’m trying to sell a book with that story in it, the idea is that the two mediums are complimentary ways for people to experience storytelling, and not in competition with each other.

The book is also a fundraiser for SpeakeasyDC – 50% of all profits from the book will be donated to them, and this partnership will hopefully be a template that Possibilities Publishing can use for working with other non-profits.

So if you’d like to read the book, you can get it as an e-book OR a paperback through Amazon:

Or through Barnes & Noble

Or, if you live near me or are going to be seeing me in the near future, I have a stock of books I can give you for the “show price” of just $10 (which is a few dollars less then you’ll find it on-line).

And if you buy it through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, please leave a review! That’s the best way to help us sell more books!

 

My First Job June 18, 2012

My first job ever was as my dad’s secretary. (This was the early 80’s – before the term Administrative Assistant came into use).

I was really little. So little in fact, I don’t remember how it started, I only know that the story goes that it was my idea, and I was around 3, maybe 4, and my main job responsibilities consisted of answering the phone (for real) and probably things like bringing stuff to my mom and moving things from one part of his office to another. But really, what I remember most in those early years is answering the phone.

Two things you should know: My dad has never been good at saying no to me, and his clients and colleagues had a very good sense of humor.  And the ones who knew my dad really well weren’t surprised he let his toddler answer the phone, and the ones who didn’t know him that well learned a lot about him from those few seconds of phone time with me. People who had a problem with me answering the phone probably weren’t going to get along with my dad very well.

As I got older I continued to be his “secretary” off and on, although it eventually became more of a running joke. When I got old enough to understand what answering the phone actually meant, I lost interest in it (an interest I’ve never really regained. Much to my current boss’s dismay).

Since I didn’t want to answer the phone anymore, my job description throughout most of elementary and middle school consisted of applying mailing labels and stamps to thousands of newsletters every month, (along with my mom and younger brother), at a rate of $.05/piece. (This was way before the days of electronic newsletters). When I got into high school I still had to help with the newsletters, but also got trained on the art of collating and using the binding machine so I could help make his training books and presentation materials. I probably got paid for that too, but I don’t remember how much. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing it for the money anyway.

I was doing it because I was really bored. I wasn’t very popular in high school.

My dad was a Sales Trainer, which meant that he trained people how to become sales people, or how to become better sales people. He was self-employed and like many self-employed people, the work spilled over into other aspects of life. Child labor issues aside, my dad often relied on the principles and methods from his sales training to inform his parenting. It worked better than you might think. At some point I’ll blog about that specifically.

When I was an adult and starting my own business, I relied on that lifetime of sales training to help me get clients and close deals, and while ultimately I learned that I’m not a natural salesperson, I also learned I can do well enough to get by, but more than anything, the philosophies of his sales system really do double as useful life lessons.

Which is why, when my dad went into semi-retirement 3 years ago, he asked me to help him write a book about his sales system.  It seemed a natural fit because he had about 30 years worth of experience in his head, but no idea how to organize it into a book, and I liked to call myself a writer, but also knew the selling system, so theoretically could easily organize the information into a book.

We estimated it would be a roughly 3 month project.

Three years later, it’s finally done. But three months, three years, whose counting, right?

The important thing is that its done! AND it’s for sale on Amazon! Right now its only available in digital format, but will be available in paper back as well within a week or so.

My original plan had been to have it go on sale on Father’s Day, and surprise my dad with it,  but technology and the space time continuum conspired against me. But given the way this project has gone, one day late is basically ahead of schedule.

And the coolest part, aside from having had the chance to do this project with my dad, is that it’s given me the opportunity to learn a lot of new things.

I’ve learned that taking a pile of information and organizing it into a coherent, organized and universally accessible book is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve learned a lot about digital printing, and Amazon specifically.  I’ve learned the basics of a graphics program, and I’ve been inspired to starting to learning basic web design and language.

It feels good to be learning again, and I feel like this could be opening some potential new doors for me down the road.

It kinda feels like the whole, secretary at 3 years old thing, has come full circle in a way.

But anyway, if you have any interest in sales, or negotiation or even strong communication, you should check out the book – Sell More Easily, by Howard Maslich (edt. by Meredith Maslich).

And if you do happen to buy it, and read it, please leave a review on the Amazon site – that’s one of the fastest ways to increase its ranking. Which is important, because after three years, the ROI on this project needs to be really high. Really, really high.

 

If Its Love February 27, 2012

Filed under: Future,It Ain't Easy Being Me,Work — Meredith @ 4:38 pm

While I’ve made references to my other life as a storyteller on this blog, I haven’t directly talked about it…

Until now.

So, yeah, I have this other part of my life, outside my blog and outside my office, in which I’m a storyteller.  But not just in the sense that I make even the smallest moments of my life into a story that I force my friends, and strangers in elevators, to listen to. But as in, I get on stage (occasionally), and tell carefully crafted, true stories from my life in front of hundreds of people.

This isn’t what you take your kids to at the library, and it isn’t what you might stumble across at a folk festival. Its adult storytelling, (but not ADULT, as in XXX), and its true, autobiographical stories. No folk tales. No third person. If you’ve heard of The Moth, then you already know what we do. And by we, I mean SpeakeasyDC, the organization I do all of this with.

I am also a teacher with SpeakeasyDC so I can help people who learn how to turn their lives into entertainment, which is super fun and rewarding for me.

But recently, I had the opportunity to direct a storytelling ensemble show. I was actually co-directing with a woman who has directed a handful of these shows and who has been performing and coaching storytellers for way longer than I have. I wanted to learn from the best.

And man, did I learn. A lot.

I learned lots of technical and philosophical stuff about being a director and balancing the needs of performers with those of the venue and those of the organization and my own ego. But that’s what I was expecting to learn. And I’ll write about that in another post some other time.

What I didn’t expect to learn, was how much I loved directing. I loved the process of moving from the auditions to the first rehearsal, through subsequent rehearsals to opening night, watching the stories transform and deepen and take unexpected turns.

By the time we were done, I had listened to each story at minimum 8 times. And yet as I sat there on the second and final night of the show, I still got goosebumps, I still laughed out loud, and I still felt my heart melt at these stories – often in new ways.

I realized what an honor it is to be allowed to help someone craft an autobiographical story, and that these tellers, most of whom I met for the first time at their auditions, trusted me enough to open themselves up to me and allow me inside their story.

Coaching storytellers for an ensemble show is a little different from helping a student get ready for their show case at the end of the course. In an ensemble show we have to balance each individual story arc and tone against the arc and tone of the entire show. We have make sure the stories stay unique enough to show a range of experiences around the subject (in this case, the show was called Sucker for Love, and all of the stories were somehow related to the topic of love), while still feeling cohesive. We want humor as much as possible, but without losing heartfelt moments and those beautiful moments that bring an audience to baited silence.

The process of helping each storyteller craft their stories is one  that requires me to be objective and sort through the details of their stories and decide what is interesting, what is pertinent, what is useful. It’s a delicate job, and one I tried very hard to do well.

I came to think of the cast as “my storytellers”, and found myself with growing maternal and protective feelings for everyone. I was as nervous as each one took to the stage as I would have been if I was the one performing.

And when they finished, I was more proud of them, and proud of myself, then I’d ever been after one of my own performances.

Let me repeat that, because I had to say it to myself a few times to get it: I felt more pride and satisfaction at the completion of this show I co-directed, than I had ever felt after a show I’d performed in, even on the rare occasions when I killed on stage.

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Turns out, I’m a behind the scenes sort of girl.

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I’ve always known that I’m not a natural or gifted performer. Not like some of my storytelling friends, who can hold an audience in the palm of their hand and sound as if they are coming up with the witty one liners and hilarious observations on the spot.

I mean, I do ok, I’m not what anyone would call a bad performer, but I’ve never fooled myself into thinking performing is my “thing.”

And while I’ve enjoyed the attention, and the adrenaline of being on stage, I’ve never really loved it, or thrived on it the way many of my storytelling friends do. I have to work really, really hard, put in many, many hours to get a story to the place I want it to be when I get on stage, and even then, I’m never fully satisfied. And the more I perform and don’t meet my own expectations, the less motivated I am to put in the work, which makes for less than perfect performances, and so on and so forth.

But now that I’ve experienced directing, I don’t feel bad about that anymore. Now I know that I’m meant to be behind the scenes. I’m still planning to perform occasionally, but just because its hard to teach/coach/direct others in something you don’t do, but I’m going to stop thinking of it as the centerpiece of my storytelling life.

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In addition to directing this show, I was also the host for the first time. This meant that I did a quick story at the beginning of the show to warm the audience up, and then I introduced each storyteller, made sure their mic was adjusted correctly, made announcements, hyped upcoming shows, and things like that. The host can go a long way toward setting the tone for the evening (good or bad), keeping the energy up or down between stories, and giving new people a general impression of SpeakeasyDC- whether we’re organized, fun, something they want to see again, etc.

Before each of the two shows we did, I couldn’t decide where to focus my nervous energy – on performing my story, or the responsibilities of being a host. It was disorienting and I think (though no one in the audience would admit it), that it showed in my performance on the first night. On the second night, I had found my groove and did much better. And fortunately, the second night was when the video and photography people were there.

I did learn that I enjoyed hosting more than I thought I would though, so there’s that.

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And I’m going to post a video of my story on this blog, for the first time ever. Because for all the issues I have with my story from a performance aspect when I step off the stage, they are made ten fold by watching the video. Even when I like my story, and feel my performance was good, I usually hate the video.  By watching the video I’m now able to critique not just my story, but my performance style, my hair and my outfit.

And this story is no exception. Take, for example, my outfit on this night. I left my cardigan unbuttoned because it was baggy and when it was buttoned up looked kind of shlumpy. And I thought the white bisecting the pink was a nice pattern.

In my mirror, I looked stylish and slim.

On film it looks like I’m too fat for the sweater to close. It looks like the sweater is two sizes too small. Maybe because the sides got caught on my pants and pulled back? I have no idea, but I’m never wearing that outfit again. Ever.

Fortunately, there were a few photographs where I looked pretty close to how I understood myself to look, and that might be the only reason I’m not throwing out my mirrors. And if I show you one, it makes me feel better about showing you the video.

This is me, doing the host thing

Also, in the video my hair looks like it’s in my eyes. But it wasn’t in real life. Part of the problem is that the camera was up above pointing down. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

But all of that said, I do like my story, mostly because it’s about Chris. And that’s also partly why I’m willing to share it, because I think it’s a cute story. It’s not hilarious, it’s not a tear-jerker, it’s not going to change your life. But it is cute and sweet and I’m perfectly OK with that.

So, now before I let you see the video, I have to set the stage a little. What you’ll see when you click youtube link at the bottom of this post is me performing my story about the first time Chris met my family. What you won’t see is that as soon as I finished, the lights went dark and a picture of me and Chris flashed on the screen. It looked like this:

and the chorus of  “If Its Love”, by Train played, which sounds like this: (chorus starts around 1:02 on this video)

So after you watch the video, think of the picture going up and the song filling the silence. It was my favorite part of my performance. You might want to have the Train video up on your computer, cued to the chorus, and then click over to it as soon as my video stops, to get the full effect. Not that I’m trying to direct every aspect of your experience, I’m just offering ideas.

And after you watch my video, I REALLY hope you’ll also watch the other stories, because for me, that’s where the real magic for the night happened.

If you don’t see the other videos at the bottom of the screen when you watch mine, you can find them here.

And just cause I’ve got em, here are some other pictures from that night:

Me and my brilliant co-director

 

Resolved January 4, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

Time for reflections and resolutions.

In my Year in Review post from last year, I said goodbye to a year that had been filled with reluctant change and loss, and was looking forward to a year filled with purposeful changes like going to grad school for creative writing, moving to a new city, and leaving my job.

Which might be why that post reads a little like it was written by a manic cheerleader on speed.

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I’d declared that my theme for 2011 would be “No Risk. No Reward,” mostly in attempt to make me brave enough to quit my job, move to a new city and start graduate school. And even though none of those things happened, 2011 was still pretty kick ass.

After all, it’s the year I met Chris. Which would totally be enough by itself.

But wait, there’s more.

Even though I never checked back with this list after hitting “publish” on the blog post, I totally rocked my resolutions:

2011 Resolutions:

1. Do at least one thing that scares the crap out of me (aside from starting grad school).
Um, how about I let myself fall in love? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Check!
2. Seek out more performance opportunities. Try to move outside my storytelling and performance comfort zone a little bit.
I was on stage at least 6 times in 2011, which is  at least 4 more times than in 2010. Check!
3. Read more.
Thank you Kindle – Check and check!
4. Write more. Especially for money. Often the freelance stuff isn’t exciting or very creative, but it still feels awesome to get paid for words I’ve written. I never want to lose that feeling .
If we count blogging, check! But there wasn’t much money made from writing this year… although I did set some things in motion that should hopefully lead to some cash for words in 2012, so we’ll give this a half check.  
5-8. Dance more; Laugh more; Trust more; Believe more. In myself. In my friends and family. And in the Universe to know what it’s doing.
Thank you Chris, check, check, check and check!
9. Make fewer excuses.
 I’m not sure about this one actually, because I wasn’t really paying attention, so I’m just going to ahead and say sure, totally killed this one. Check!
10. Judge less (except reality TV people. And celebrities. I’m still gonna judge the fuck out them.)
Yes. I was given a lot of opportunity to practice being without judgement of my friend’s lives, and it made a lot of things much easier this year. I also watched less reality TV, so that probably helped a little too. Check!
11. Pace myself with what I commit to, so I don’t get overwhelmed and drop the ball on a bunch of things (again).
I think I did ok with this. I can’t think of any major balls that I dropped or commitments I flaked out on. So…check and mate, baby!
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And right at the end of 2011 I majorly changed my perspective on my job as well. When Chris broke his collar-bone, my boss let me use sick time – of which we have unlimited days – without so much as a sideways glance, to be with him at doctor’s appointments and during his surgery. And when I was in the office everyone was super supportive with endless sympathetic ears.
At some point when I wasn’t looking, my co-workers became extended family and my office an extended home. I’ve heard of people saying this about their work places, but I always assumed they were lying, or just had really, really sad home lives. And while I do kind of have a sad home life, that’s totally not what this is about.
Plus, the unchallenging nature of my work lets me have a lot of time to pursue other projects and freelance work to supplement my income, and that ain’t nothin’. Not by a long shot.
 All of this has gotten me to thinking that sometimes what you do to earn a living isn’t necessarily as important as how you do it…I’m interested to see what this new perspective will yield in 2012.
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Last year I ended my post by wishing everyone reading that they have the year they need, even if it’s not the year they expect, which is exactly what I got in return.
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So you’re up 2012, let’s see what you’ve got.
Bring. It. On.
 

The End of an Era June 28, 2011

I started this blog a little over a year ago, because a super weird UPS delivery guy came into my office, instead of the normal hot delivery guy, and made me realize that maybe a desk job didn’t mean nothing interesting would ever happen to me again.

After that revelation I started posting follow ups on my interactions with the hot UPS delivery guy on my Facebook page, and quickly found myself building a story arc in which I played the character of a slightly delusional woman who believed she was in a relationship with the UPS guy.

It was creative entertainment for me and made UPS deliveries a highlight of my day (and when    there are no windows and limited human interaction in your day, this is legitimate.    Don’t judge me. )

I never made anything up, instead I chose to interpret elements of our interactions in a way that advanced the story.

Like:
UPS boyfriend was just here. He asked about my vacation, which I’m assuming means he came in while I was gone and asked where I was. Then he told me he still has 2 weeks of vacation to use before the end of the year. Am I the only one who hears that as an invitation?

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My UPS boyfriend just commented on my red turtleneck. He asked if it was my Christmas turtleneck. I heard “I wish I could spend Christmas with you”…

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Just learned my UPS boyfriend plays the drums. It’s nice how we keep learning more about each other…

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My UPS boyfriend was just here. He said “You stay in here today. You really don’t want to go out there- way too cold.” I love how he’s always got my best interests at heart 🙂

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My UPS boyfriend was just here and told me he’s going to enter the building’s raffle for a black Mercedes. I think it’s because he knows how good I’ll look in the passenger seat.

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My UPS boyfriend was just here. I haven’t seen him for at least a week. While I was signing the pad thingy, he was looking out the door and seemed to be a million miles away. I wanted to tell him that I know reunions can be awkward after an unplanned separation. But then our eyes met as I returned the pad, and I think he got it…
The story took a little twist when I realized he had a wife. But I ran with it:

UPS boyfriend’s eyes were particularly blue today. They were very distracting, but no so distracting that I didn’t hear him mention his wife.  BUT, he was complaining about how she planned a weekend at VA Beach, & he spends his whole day driving, so on a long wknd just wants to stay in & watch DVDs. Clearly his wife doesn’t understand him…. I think I’ve still got a chance…

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My UPS boyfriend delivered (more) boxes of Godiva chocolate which led to a conversation about our favorite candy. Right after I told him I wouldn’t say no to Godiva, he started blathering on about the kind of candy his wife likes. I know he has a wife, just not why he needs to spend our special time talking about her. I thought we had an agreement….good thing he brought a fresh box of chocolates…

But the best part was how much reaction these updates would spark among my Facebook friends.

Like: 

Just walked out into the hall and saw my UPS guy talking and laughing with a girl from another office!
Seaton
that slut!
Jeffrey
WHAT?!? How DARE he?
Mattie
Maybe that’s his cousin. Yeah, his cousin. That’s it! …..

Amy NO!
Tiffany
Girlfriend, he doesn’t deserve you!

Meredith Well i can’t compete with her anyway. Literally – all she’d need to do is sit on me, and I’d be dust 😉
Katie That bastard!

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UPS boyfriend just came in for the first time this year. He said “thought y’all had moved you were gone for so long!” By which I’m pretty sure he meant “I really missed seeing your bright smile during the long dark holidays.”
Joanne, Susan and 2 others like this.
Howard Of course that’s what he meant!
 Susan (co-worker) he missed me too, you know.

 MeredithI forgot to mention that I asked him about that and he said “there are other women in this office? I never noticed.” Sorry.

I’d often run into Facebook friends in real life (it does happen. Seriously.) who had never commented on my “UPS Boyfriend” statuses, but would tell me how much they looked forward to and enjoyed my updates. One friend referred to it as a “living soap opera”. I was thrilled to know that in providing myself entertainment at work, I was simultaneously providing it to other people as well.

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Then I started dating Chris. I posted my first “UPS Boyfriend” update about a month into our relationship, and I immediately had people asking me what I was thinking, if Chris would get mad or feel disrespected, and if I was trying to sabotage what was already looking like the most functional relationship I was ever going to get.

My initial instinct was that he would “get it”, and be fine with it. But my friend’s concerns did give me a moment’s pause. But before I could really think it through he posted an adorably cute and appropriately jealous-but-in-not-in-a-creepy-way comment.

Essentially he jumped into my story and made himself a character.

I know. I’m totally keeping him.

My UPS boyfriend was just here with a package for Susan. But for the first time ever volunteered to bring it back to her office instead of leaving it with me… i might have accidentally told him the wrong office…

SusanAgain, thank you. Thank you, thank you. From the heart of my bottom.
MeredithI’m a giver. It’s just how I am
Dan
LOL!
Chris
I am pretty sure I saw that guy outside kissing 10 other women. My instincts tell me he is no good and you should dump him. 🙂

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My UPS boyfriend was just here with 2 good-sized, but light looking boxes. He asked if he should bring them back into the office for me. I said “are they heavy?” he said “I don’t how strong you are”. I said “I’m pretty strong.” He looked at me for a second then said “Why don’t I just take them where they go?” Um, whatever!

Michael You should have told him you’d challenge him to a boxing match!

 Katie is real boyfriend jealous of UPS boyfriend yet?
MeredithWe have an understanding 🙂
 Tara It sounds like he just wanted an excuse to spend more time with you. But, you know, since he’s a boy, he couldn’t just say that.

 Chris I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the memo about our understanding of the UPS guy. Besides, I’m sure I could wear those brown shorts better than him any day. 🙂

 Meredith ‎@Chris – i could have sworn I sent that memo…did you check spam?but I agree you’d wear the shorts better 🙂 And probably let me carry the boxes 🙂

But then something strange started to happen. The UPS guy would come and I’d sign for a package and forget to initiate a conversation so I’d have something to put on Facebook. Or we’d have a classic interaction, full of opportunity for me to read into it and advance the story line, and I’d forget to put it on Facebook.

What was happening?

I tried to rally, to keep the story alive, but aside from my wandering attention, many of my friends – ardent “UPS Boyfriend Fans” –  stopped commenting on the posts I did manage to get up. It seemed they were losing interest in the story as well.

Then a friend told me that even though I said Chris was fine with the whole thing, and even though Chris said he was fine with the whole thing, she was still uncomfortable encouraging me to refer to another “boyfriend” publicly.

It turned out that lots of my Facebook friends were worried I was undermining my relationship by persisting with the UPS Boyfriend gag, and they didn’t want to be a part of that.

Wimps.

But it was clear it was time for this story to wrap up. I started winding it down, while trying to keep some element of tension.

Today, my UPS boyfriend was in the hallway and my boss walked by. He called my boss over and had him sign for the packages in the hallway so he didn’t have to come in. Yesterday, I was away from my desk and he went straight back to Susan‘s desk and dropped the box off, almost like he wanted to see her… I’m not sure I like this trend…
Patrick
Maybe he knows you’ve moved on:)

Chris
Did I forget to mention that I had a little talk with him? Lets just say that we came to an understanding

My UPS boyfriend just brought me flowers! By which I mean, he came in with a box from 1800 Flowers, and handed it to me. It was for someone else in my office, but I can read between the lines. He was saying “I wish these flowers were from me to you, to say I’m sorry for my behavior last week.” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what he was thinking.
Chris
I think I’m going to deliver a special box of whoop ass to this UPS guy for the constant flirting with you! I’ve had just enough of his shenanigans. 🙂
Beth
@ Chris, it’s best not to encourage these delusions of Meredith’s 🙂
Allison
I’d kinda like to see the dazed look on the poor guys face when Chris shows up-but he needs to wear a Federal express uniform to really freak the guy out (while Mer sneaks out the back door LOL)

What I really wanted was some sort of great and final dramatic climax, which in truth it needed anyway – pining for an object of ones affection is only compelling for a limited amount of time, and then something has to HAPPEN. So I started looking for opportunities to misread something he did or be overly dramatic about some element of an interaction. But then suddenly he wasn’t our delivery guy for several weeks, and then he was back, he’d just run in, shove the pad at me, refuse to make eye contact, and leave as fast as possible – giving me nothing to work with.

I started to nurture a very real fear that he had somehow found out about my Facebook posts and was now scared of me, referring to me as “that stalker chic at that company with the weird name” to his UPS buddies at their UPS hangout place.

And then, a few days after my birthday, my UPS Boyfriend brought a delivery AND my ending:

UPS guy was just here. Was staring at the flowers and birthday balloon on my desk while I signed the pad, to the point where he didn’t notice I was done and handing it back for a second. But he didn’t comment. I think he realizes its over…

I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to have some great dramatic scene to end the story with, but I’m not sure I, nor any of my Facebook friends, had the energy for it at this point anyway.

So the UPS Boyfriend story has officially come to an end. But it was a great experiment in creativity, storytelling and social media, which was super fun, and I’ve got my eye out for a new subject for my next “Facebook Soap”.

Except I don’t think I’ll do another romance.  From now on I’ll look to my real object of affection for that storyline.

A murder mystery might be fun…

 

Lack of Information Desk June 1, 2011

My desk sits in front of two glass doors that face out into the lobby of my office building. My office is the first office you come to when you come in the building entrance from the parking garage.

As a result, I’m often mistaken for an information desk. Despite the gigantic sign behind me announcing the name of my company. A name that in no way looks or sounds like, “Information Desk”.

I constantly struggle with how accommodating to be to these wayward souls who wander in here. I’m a little more tolerant (though rarely helpful) of the ones who are in the right building but wrong floor. The ones who really vex me though, are the ones who know they are in the  wrong building and want me to give them directions to another address of a building that may, or may not, be in the general vicinity of my building.

I HATE giving directions. I suck at it because I have no natural sense of direction, I can’t read a map, and I’m not all that familiar with the area surrounding my office. For me, giving directions to someone is an opportunity for me to feel stupid.  

I don’t need strangers coming into my office and making me feel stupid.

That’s what my co-workers are for.

Pretty soon after I started working here, I learned to respond to these requests for help with a stone faced “sorry, I don’t know,” before turning back to my computer and pretending to type something of great importance until they give up and find someone in the lobby with a ‘Droid phone or an iPad who can help them.

I do struggle with this approach though because I know it’s not very nice.

But at the same time, this IS a place of business, and I have a job to do, and it doesn’t involve giving directions to stupid lost people.

On the other hand, I do worry about karma. I myself sort of suck at life, and it’s not impossible that I could at some point find myself in desperate need for a stranger to go outside their comfort zone and help me out, not because they have to, but because it’s the decent thing to do…

But at the end of the day, my generally inhospitable nature wins out and I basically tell people to F*off. With my face, not my words.  That would just be crude.

But sometimes it doesn’t work.

Like today.

90% of the lost people are elderly or non-english speaking, which sometimes makes me slightly less hostile. But I estimate this guy to be in his mid twenties, and English was definitely his first language.

He opens the door and says “Hey, I’m a little bit lost, can you tell me where Legato Road is?”

I know I’ve passed a sign for that road at some point, and as I’m trying to decide if I want to/am able to figure it out, he says “Can you just google map it for me?”

I was so stunned by the audacity of the request and the confidence with which he asked it…that I did it.

Then two seconds later wondered what the fuck I was doing, so decided I’d just bring up the map and print it out and send him on his way.

I type in the address he gives me, the address of my office, and hit print.

He says “Can you turn your monitor so I can see the map?”

I said “I’m printing it for you,” in my flattest voice and I got up from my desk and went into the copy room to get it off the printer.

But one of my co-workers was printing a gigantic .PDF file and I realized it would be several minutes before the map would print.

That’s when I lost my patience. One of my co-workers, who knows how much I hate playing Information Desk, was in the copy room and commented on “my friend at my desk.”

“That stupid ass. Where does he get off asking me do to errands for him like its my job?” I fiercely whispered before taking a deep breath and returning to my desk, where he was still waiting, draped over my desk like he was posing for a weird magazine about ugly office furniture.

“It’s not going to print,” I said in a voice that made clear I’d lost all patience with this exercise. He looked at me expectantly, either ignoring or not seeing my irritation.

After a seconds debate I grabbed my monitor and turned it toward him, thinking this was the easiest path to ending this. I stood there with my arms crossed, sighing loudly as he studied the map.

He said “can you zoom out?”

I said “What?!” Not because I hadn’t heard him, but because I was shocked he was asking for more.

He said, more slowly this time “Can you take the mouse and zoom out?” What is it about sitting at a receptionist desk that automatically makes people think I’m slow-witted?

Figuring it was better that I put my hand on the mouse instead of his throat, I zoomed out, but not without giving a very loud, very obviously highly irritated sigh.

As he continued to study the zoomed out map for several minutes, I suddenly realized that if my boss were to walk by, he’d destroy this guy.

I thought about warning him. Then immediately started trying to summon my boss telepathically.

Unfortunately, as another full minute passed with this guy leaning over my desk, studying my monitor, my boss did not appear.

Then he said “Ok….I think I’ve got it….” Then he glanced at me with a smile and said “Thanks,” before walking out the door. Like this was a totally normal thing for him to have done.

In my shock I didn’t react.

After I recovered I was flooded with irritation and judgement for this guy.

And then I remembered about karma and started to wonder if I should have been nicer. But all I could think was:

How is it possible that a well dressed, 20-something man doesn’t have a GPS, a smart phone, OR at the very least the ability to call someone on his pre-historic non-smart cell phone who gives a shit about him who could look up the directions for him.

But lets say he left his iPhone at home. Why does he think its appropriate to walk into an office building and into a random office and demand to be attended to?

That’s what gas stations are for. Aside from providing gas and over priced junk food, that’s why they exist – to give directions to people who forget their phones and can’t work their GPS’s.

Trust me, I know.

 

Born This Way April 13, 2011

When I was 6 years old, my parents started allowing me  to go down the street and around the corner to my friend’s house by myself. I had a Strawberry Shortcake digital watch and my parents would tell me what time to be home and expect that I would look at that watch often enough to note the passing of time and thus be able to return home on time. 

I understood the watch to be more of a fashion accessory than a tool…

I frequently came home late.

I don’t remember specifically, but my guess is that I was often late coming home for dinner, which was a major crime in my house.

So one afternoon, I asked my dad if I could go to my friend’s house, and he said “Yes, but be home by 6:00.  And if you aren’t home at exactly 6:00, then I’m going to come down there and find you and then bring you home and lock you in the basement forever.”

My dad was a funny guy.

No really, he was a very funny guy. He was always making jokes and being silly and by the ripe old age of 6, I knew that very little of what he said was to be taken literally.

(My mom was the disciplinarian.)

So on this day, I laughed at my dad’s funny joke, perfectly secure in the knowledge that he had no real plans to relocate my bedroom, or to install a lock on the basement door, and set off to my friend’s house.  

Around 6:15 he showed up at my friend’s house and I happily assumed he’d come to keep me company on my walk home.

When I came out on the porch where he was waiting he said “Why are you still here? Why didn’t you come home at 6 like I told you to?” He wasn’t angry so much as bewildered. I wasn’t the kid who flagrantly ignored my parents -that was my little brother.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to,” I said.

“But I told you, 6:00, and I explained that this was your last chance to not be late before we stopped letting you come here by yourself.” That’s when it dawned on me that there had been real information mixed in with his jokes. It was a shocking revelation.

“Daddy,” I said “Sometimes I don’t know when you’re being serious and when you’re kidding.”

“Oh,” my dad said. “Well, I guess I can see how that could happen. So from now on, when you aren’t sure you ask, and when its important I’ll make sure you know, ok?”

I agreed and we had a lovely walk back home wherein I also confessed that I didn’t know how to know when it was time to come home, and then learned that Strawberry Shortcake could be more than an accessory.  

.

.

When my parents went to my third grade parent/teacher conference they were told that I had a very wry sense of humor.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it as a positive thing. I’m pretty sure she thought she’d found a gentle way of saying I was a pain in the ass.  

She had no way of knowing that her words would make my dad burst with pride. I’m pretty sure that of my entire academic career, that was my dad’s proudest moment.  Which isn’t to say that he and my mom both weren’t totally proud when I made honor roll in high school, Deans List in college, or earned a Master’s Degree.  But those achievements were no less than they had come to expect.  Both of my parents are very intelligent and put heavy emphasis on education, doing all the things parents are supposed to do to support their children in school – dedicated supervised homework time, joining PTA, giving me answers on my math homework etc etc.  But they couldn’t be sure I’d develop a good sense of humor (here good = witty, sarcastic and ironic) despite the constant exposure, until they had outside confirmation.

I think that my sense of humor has become one of my best known and appreciated personality traits, and in general has served me well in my life. Probably better than my education when you consider my popularity in storytelling, blogging, and social invitations, compared to my career path…

.

So…yesterday I had my one year review for this mindless job that I’ve had for, god help me, an entire year. I had to do a self eval answering questions about my professional goals and development, and I was actually expected to take it seriously.

It took every once of my self-control, and the supervision of a co-worker, for me to avoid writing “I HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE AND I’M A RECEPTIONIST. CLEARLY MY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS HAVE GONE A BIT ASKEW.” Instead I found a balance between being realistic and playing the game:

Q: What is the most interesting part of your job?

A: I’m a receptionist. And while I love my job, nothing is interesting about it. (This is pretty true – I do enjoy my job. It’s not hard or stressful, and leaves me time to blog and write and surf the internet a lot. What’s not to love? But I didn’t think that “Huffington Post” would have been acceptable as the most interesting part of my job.)

Q: Where do you want to be in a year?

A: I wish I had an answer for this question.

During the official review meeting where we discussed my self eval, he was fine with those answers. I also threw in some “real” answers to make it look like I at least gave a tiny crap about my job since I’d like to keep it at for a while now that I’ve been rejected by every grad school I applied to.

He had only one real point of feedback in terms of areas for improvement. His exact quote?

“Sometimes it’s not clear if you’re being serious or sarcastic.”

I said “On the phone? With staff?” Because I thought I did a pretty good job of hiding my personality at work, and by personality I mean sense of humor.

He said “Yes.”

I said “I’ve suspected for a while that I’ve lost the ability to sound sincere, even when I totally am.”

He looked at me for a moment, probably trying to decide if I was being sarcastic. (I wasn’t, seriously.) Finally he just gave a shrug and said “Well, just…do what you can.”

I fear this might be a losing battle, given how many years of positive reinforcement I’ve had for my sense of humor.

But I’ll do what I can…

 

 
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