Tiny Bit of Crazy

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

New Year’s Resolutions Progress Report July 2, 2012

Remember back at the beginning of the year when my bossy know it all, very wise BFF, over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for me? Well, since we’re about half way through the year, we thought it was time for a progress report.

I have to admit, I took these resolutions much more seriously than I’ve ever taken any of the resolutions I’ve ever written for myself. I’m not saying my success rate will be any higher, but I definitely thought about them a lot more and have more guilt over the ones I ignored failed to achieve. Although, the year isn’t over yet, and like in grade school, a progress report is nothing more than a heads up to get your act together. I expect to report nothing different great things at the end of the year. And also like  school progress reports and professional performance evaluations, I’m full up on defensiveness an creative explanations.

Behold:

1) Find and make a home. A real home. Whether it’s by yourself or with your man or with a cute little kitten named Rhett. Find a place you adore and want to stay in for a long time. A place that feels like yours. It has to hold all your important stuff, like your shoes and your books and your random photos. I’d really like to add a caveat about keeping it orderly and clean-ish, but I feel that might make your place less yours, which entirely defeats the purpose.

Technically, I didn’t do this. BUT, I would like to encourage a more liberal than literal interpretation, in which case I’m not doing too bad.  I moved out of the crazy place I was living in, and into a (so far)  nice normal place, and I like the room very much and feel more comfortable and more at home there than I ever did in my last place. And Chris gave me a key to his place, which made me feel more at home there as well, so I think if you add up my place and his place, I’m at least more settled and anchored than I was when this was written. Grade: B-, and I suggest that it get carried over for next year. Bonus Points: my room is actually quite neat and orderly, which I’ll bet no one saw coming:

2) Do not text and drive. Ever. As your mom says, you need to “concentrate”.

I do a pretty good job of this although, in all honestly I could probably be a little better. Grade: B+. Bonus Points:  I NEVER talk while I’m driving without my hands free device.

3) Continue to stay in touch with your body. Exercise, nourish, and strengthen it in the best way you know how. I want you to feel and be healthy for a very long time. It’s not impossible that we’ll be in the same nursing home someday and I want you to stay cute enough to rock a colostomy bag.

I’d like to say I thought about this resolution a lot, but really, any achievements I’ve made on this point are coincidence. But that still totally counts. So, I got back into Pilates, and its made a huge difference in how my body and I get along.  Chris and I have also made an effort to be active as much as possible on the weekends, and I can now hike 3 miles without wanting to stab him in the eye, so that’s something. We also joined a gym (that’s technically still under construction, but whatever) but I’m very excited for their big indoor pool and Pilates/yoga room. OH, and I’ve also gotten really good at following my new low sugar, gluten-free diet and have learned more about what my body responds best too.  Most significantly I’ve learned that if I under-eat by even a few hundred calories a day, my body will retaliate by swelling up like a water balloon. So I don’t do that anymore. Grade: A. Bonus Points: I’ve taught myself to like buckwheat granola. Its got all kinds of raw, and “sprouted seeds” in it, which are super healthy (apparently) but taste suspiciously like dirt.

4) Decorate your own Christmas tree. Like a real one, where you go and pick out at least 75% of the decorations and put a lopsided star on top. May I suggest candy canes as decoration?

I totally get a pass on this one because it would be weird if I had decorated a Christmas tree between January and July. Ohhhh, but if I was smart, I totally would have gotten a tree and decorated it, just so I could get an A+ on this one. Damnit. Grade: N/A.

5) Get moving on this book we’re supposed to be writing. I look to you to be the leader on this project. Lead by writing, as I’m greatly influenced by peer pressure.

Ummm, well. Ok, here’s the thing. I have written a couple of essays that would go with the book, but then I started rethinking the focus of the book, and then I got caught up in learning how to publish books, which is totally going to help us when we do finish this book. And that is taking up every minute of my free time right now, so… technically, the book hasn’t moved forward. BUT because I’m becoming an expert at publishing and promotion, once we do finish the book, everything else will go so much faster. Grade: C++

6) Keep your standards high when it comes to your romantic partnership. I know this whole “grown-up relationship” thing is kind of new to you, but I really think you’re getting the hang of it. I would like to shake you really hard to ensure that you learn from all of my mistakes, but I think this long, drawn-out, whiny way that I communicate about my failed relationship seems pretty effective.

I think I’ve made some progress here. I’m much more comfortable with the whole “grown up relationship” thing than I was this time last year, or even six months ago. I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m actually pretty impressed with myself. Most of the time. Grade: A- (But maybe I should actually have Chris grade me on this one?)

7) On a somewhat related note; don’t be afraid that you’re going to screw up this whole love story that you and Chris have going on. You’re not. If it gets screwed up, both of you will be able to take a bow. So just . . . be present in your relationship. Recognize where you are emotionally. And please, don’t be afraid to plan ahead for the life you want to have together.

I’m working on it, and as I said above, I’m getting better. But I still have attacks of insecurity that make me ask, in all seriousness, if the fact that I don’t like roller coasters will one day make him feel like he settled. I see now the absurdity of that question, but at the time, it felt really reasonable. And I’m totally better at the planning for the future thing. I mean, I signed a year contract at the same gym as him for Pete’s sake.   Grade: B- Bonus Points: For doing this.

8) Keep storytelling. It’s a gift you have and it should be shared. Most importantly, make sure to post it on YouTube. If I can’t be there, then I need to be able to access it later.

I’m assuming you define “keep storytelling” as getting on stage and telling stories. Which I did. Once this year. BUT, if we define “keep storytelling” as “stay a part of the community, keep learning about the craft, keep finding new ways to stretch myself creatively” then I’m rocking this. So far this year I’ve: taught one class and one boot camp, directed my first show, started writing a weekly column for the SpeakeasyDC blog, which, by the way I also started and am the Managing Editor of, so…  Grade: A-.

9) Consider getting a kitten. Like, one you’ve picked out yourself and named after some random fictional character or a TV star from an 80s sitcom.

I wish! I want a kitten so bad. One that will cuddle with me, and chase imaginary bugs along the wall, and let me make funny YouTube videos of her…but kittens aren’t allowed at either of the places where I live. So really I’ve made the responsible choice in not following this resolution. Grade: A Bonus Points: I haven’t bought a stuffed kitten yet that I pretend is real.

10) Self-host your blog. Get legit, girl.

I have plans. It’s not time for this yet, but I have plans. Grade: C+

11) Tap into your insight when it comes to your own emotions. Listen to yourself. Listen for that little tingly noise that sounds when your comfort level has been surpassed. Once you hear it, do something about it. Talk to someone, write it out, sing in the car in your loudest voice. Just don’t stuff it down until it erupts in a flood of tears and incoherence. You’ve got a bunch of people who’ve got your back but we’re only useful when you communicate, even if it’s initially in a series of bumps and false starts.

I think about, and reference this resolution ALL THE TIME.  Usually when I’m crying incoherently. I think I’ve made some progress… Ok, so I WAS crying when I asked Chris about feeling like he’s settled for me over the roller coaster thing, BUT I was not crying incoherently. Grade: C-

12) Leave the country at least once in the year 2012. You’re the type of person who may very well get old and become a homebody who doesn’t drive and eats ¼ cup of raisins for breakfast every morning. You need to travel while you’re still spry and can figure out how to use a bidet and tolerate people with weird accents.

This might not happen. I was going to go to Denmark again this summer, but the discount airline stopped flying from the US, and as of now I can’t afford to pay normal airline prices to go to Europe. Plus, it ate up a lot of my vacation time last year and I’m kind of liking the idea of having flexibility for more domestic travel, like, ahem, trips to Charlotte, NC. For example. Grade: N/A Bonus Points: we could decide go to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when we go visit my parents in August.

13) Make a three-year plan for your career. Map out something long-term and realistic, but challenging. It could be writing a novel. Officially becoming a freelancer. Searching the want ads until you find something that you’ll really love. I can’t pretend to guess what would be the absolutely perfect job for you, but I want you to focus on figuring it out. You are so talented and I would like you to be emotionally and financially satisfied by the work you do.

I think I’ve figured it out. I’m not ready to lay it out for public inspection yet, but I’ve got the makings of a plan and I think it’s a really good one. And might happen in less than three years. Grade: A+

14) Attend BlogHer’12 with me. I promise you, you will be inspired.

Did we miss this? Because I’m totally in. Grade: N/A

15) Challenge yourself physically at least once this year. Like, run a 5K. Swim across a small lake by yourself. Go camping without the benefit of an electrical hookup. Something outside of your comfort zone that requires the use of your body.

I was totally going to do a 5K run thingy, but it sold out before I could register. But, I did go to a giant amusement park and rode several rides, including a roller coaster, which was WAY outside my comfort zone, (and technically required the use of my body – there was a lot of walking and climbing into and out of seats. Fun Fact: I’m super uncoordinated when it comes to climbing into and out of rides) and I’m going to go back and do it again at least two more times this summer. I’m also going to go kayaking more than once this year, maybe one time in a solo kayak even, and that is definitely outside my comfort zone and requires physical exertion.  Grade: B

16) Acknowledge the fact that you are not some sort of grouchy curmudgeon who believes the worst in people. Yes, you had Drew pegged long before I did. Yes, you are better than me at ejecting people from your life who are toxic. But at the end of the day, you are this loving, positive force to the people around you. Own it. Own it enough to direct it toward yourself.

False. I AM a grouchy misanthrope, and my co-workers and anyone who calls my office will back me up on this. Grade: F

17) And lastly, I’m going to save the best for last,and quote your very words back to you. They’re brilliant. Never waste a second of your time or energy on anyone who doesn’t immediately find you hilarious, brilliant, talented, loving and perfect just the way you are.

Since I don’t like people very much its very easy for me to walk away from people who don’t find me hilarious. Not that that’s ever happened, mind you, but if it did, they’d be history in a nano second. Grade: A


You can go read her progress report on the resolutions I wrote for her, here. And I just want to say its totally not a competition.

(But if it were, I’d totally win.)

 

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.

 

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.

 

Not So Funny… February 10, 2011

Filed under: Work — Meredith @ 3:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I walked into the kitchen at work to wash out my dishes from lunch. My co-worker N was already at the sink washing her dishes. Because she was almost done, I stayed in the kitchen and occupied myself by having a piece of sponge candy that I’d bought for the office.

As I reached for a piece she said “No! Now you stay out of there Missy! You know you can’t afford it!”

Uh huh. She said that.

But wait. There’s more.

Because I didn’t know what else to say, I said “I bought them.”

She tsked in response as she moved away from the sink. I put a piece of the candy in my mouth as I moved toward the sink and she said “Uh oh. That’s going to be an extra twenty minutes on the treadmill, young lady!”

I ignored her and started washing my dishes. She stood staring at me for a minute and then said “I know you think you can afford it, because you’ve been sick, but you really can’t”.

Oh, yes. She said that.

And no, I didn’t kick her in the shin, or throw my dish at her. I simply shut down. I went on auto pilot and ignored her focusing all of my attention on my dish until she finally left. Then I walked back to my desk, and turned off the auto pilot.

This is what I know to be true:

1. I am not overweight. Not by any rational definition. I may not be crack addict thin, but I am not fat.

2. Even if I were as big as those people who need a hydraulic lift to get out of bed, it is not ok to say something like that.

3. N has made inappropriate comments about my eating habits before, and has been reprimanded about it before. But she doesn’t understand appropriate social interaction, so any reprimands have a limited effect. 

4. I have a right to feel safe in my work place.

And yet.

As I relayed the incident to another co-worker via g-chat, I found myself shaking and tears forming. 

Rationally I knew I was justified in being offended at her behavior. But emotionally, I wondered if she had a point. I realized my internal dialogue wasn’t focused on work place law as I tried to calm myself down.

I was defending my body to myself.

I’m not in the same shape I was last summer. I’m still not back up to the same workout schedule almost 6 months after my accident. My abs are not as tight, my face is a little fuller, and I do need to watch what I eat.

Which is NOT the point. I believe I could make an argument that she has violated hostile work environment laws (not just for sexual harassment anymore) with her repeated quips about my food and my weight.

Logically, rationally, I knew the right thing to do was file an HR complaint, so there was another record of her behavior.

But as I tried to write the email to my boss and HR manager I realized I was embarrassed.

I was embarrassed to admit she’d upset me to the point of tears.

I was embarrassed at the idea that she might have had a point. 

I was embarrassed to bring any more attention to my body.

.

I filed the complaint.

And then I sat in my boss’s office with the HR person, and discussed what I wanted them to do about it.

There’s no easy answer here. The party line, when it comes to N’s social gaffs, is to roll your eyes, acknowledge she’s an insensitive misfit who will never learn, and then let it go.

Part of me wanted to just do that, just forget it happened and move on.

But she’d crossed a line. 

So I agreed to the alternative, which is that my boss would talk to her, tell her she was in trouble, and then bring me in to hear her apology.

Nothing awkward about that.

I went into auto-pilot again while I was meeting with my boss and the HR person, in order to control my embarrassment and my knee jerk reaction to avoid conflict at all costs.

I listened to her apologize, saying she was just trying to make conversation. I said that that subject matter is never an acceptable topic, but didn’t say that it was ridiculous that a grown woman needs to be told that.

Since that conversation there have been many closed door meetings and conversations. Turns out some work performance issues had come up as well.

So it’s not like its my fault that she chose to resign.

But I still feel bad.

I keep wondering where the line is between cutting someone slack for their personality flaws and personal limitations, and standing up for yourself. Between taking care of yourself and being cruel?

 

From KGB to UPS? March 31, 2010

Filed under: Work — Meredith @ 4:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I work as a receptionist – I’m sorry “Administrative Coordinator” (the fact that the boss felt the need to dress up my title for me is its own brand of crazy, but that’s another post for another time.) When I took this job it was part-time and temporary and I was seeking normalcy and dullness.  After almost 5 years as a non-profit consultant I was full up on crazy, and I wanted structure and quiet and someone else telling me how to organize my day.  And I got it.  And it took almost five months before I started to feel the urge to be an active participant in my life again instead of just a passive observer.  At that point I was offered a full-time staff position. I hesitated for a moment, suddenly feeling stifled and oppressed at the idea of committing to stay in the quiet, dull, Designed-by-Staples environment that had moments before been my savior and safe space. My biggest concern was that if I spent all day, 5 days a week with the same small group of people I’d miss out on all of the random, spontaneous interactions with the myriads of weird people who exist out in the world.

When I was consulting I spent much of my time at coffee shops, networking events, meeting with prospects, and just generally being out in the world. And I almost never had a day where I didn’t have at least one crazy interaction or observation. It was fodder for my other blog, it was fodder for fiction writing, it was fodder for conversations at the next networking event or client meeting. And if I was in an office all day I’d lose all of that, wouldn’t I?

Now, I’m aware of two things:
1. Crazy can exist in offices. I worked at two of the craziest places in DC before going out on my own, so I know. But that’s bad crazy. That’s emotionally enmeshed with your co-workers, crying in the bathroom, reading-employment-law- at-night-so-I-know-my-rights, kind of crazy and that is NOT the kind of crazy I was looking for, but was the only kind of workplace crazy I knew. 
2. after hiding out in this office for 5 months, I didn’t have a lot of other options to pay the bills, and while I was much recovered from my burnout, I wasn’t 100% up to par yet.  

So I took the job. And almost immediately realized that there’s still plenty of good crazy to be found, I just have to start noticing it again. To wit:

Part of my job is to receive UPS deliveries. Today we had a substitute delivery guy. Our normal delivery guy is tall and built and has beautiful blue eyes and a smile that makes you think of summer.  Today’s delivery guy was small and round and had a Russian accent and I immediately name him Boris.  As I’m signing my name he says “So Lady, let me ask you question” (remember to read his parts with a Russian accent). I was a little put off at being called “Lady”, but decided that, like most things, it sounded less offensive with an accent. So I said “sure.” He said “You ship Fed-Ex sometimes, no?” I said “No, we only use UPS.” And he says “Ahhhh” with a sly smile and I feel like I’ve entered into some kind of negotiation. Then Boris says “But sometimes, sometimes you use the Fed-Ex, yes? Maybe just a little?” And I smiled and said “Um, no. We only use UPS,” and then for some reason I hear myself say “We sometimes get Fed-Ex deliveries, but we can’t control that.” Boris nods and smiles slyly again, and takes the electronic pad back from me without making eye contact and then says “Ok, so you only once in a while use the Fed-ex, heh?” And I don’t want to be snippy with Boris, but really, did he think I wasn’t understanding the question? So I say, more firmly this time “No. No Fed-Ex. Only UPS. Why do you ask?” And he says “Ah, the bosses, they want the drivers asking. Asking for the competition, so they can fight!” And he pantomimes boxing for a moment. I say “Ahh.” Then Boris says “OK Lady, only UPS. OK. What’s your last name?” (because everyone except Blue Eyes asks that after I sign). I tell him, and he says “Ahh.” Looks at me for a second then says “Say name again?” I repeat my name and he laughs and says “Ok, lady, just checking.” And then he hustles out the door.

It took me a second to appreciate that I’d just been face to face with some good crazy. I almost skipped right past it as I went to deliver the packages to their recipients. And when I realized I started to laugh and it felt good, and I realized that in my old life, I saw crazy everywhere because I looked for it and celebrated it, not because of where I was spending my time. I had this urge to find Boris and hug him, but that’s borderline bad crazy, so I didn’t. Instead, I sat down and created a blog dedicated to cataloging and sharing and celebrating the variations and striations and oddities that make life interesting. At least to me.

 

 
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