Thursday, April 28, 2016

Say it!

I found out on my Facebook feed that a teacher I loved in High School had died.

I tend to think of my old teachers as flies, frozen in amber.  I have aged, but once I left school, time stood still.

That turns out to not be the case.  If she was, as I suspect, in her 50s when I was in high school, 23 years ago, well - you do the math.

Anyway, another teacher, Mrs. S posted that Mrs. R had died.  And a friend of mine, who is friends with Mrs. S shared her post.

So, even though I'm not friends with Mrs. S, I sent her this message:

I saw your post on Mrs. R and wanted to offer my condolences and share a memory I have of you both. 

In Spring of 1993, I was a senior in her European History class. They had speakers come in for a Career Day talk, and because her class was so small, we went to your room across the hall. We had a few guys from Coca-Cola, and when Q&A time rolled around, I asked, "So how prevalent is the good old boy network at your company?" They said they weren't familiar with the term, and Mrs. Russell said, "What she means is..." and proceeded to lay it out for them. 

As we were leaving at the end of the period, you stopped me and I was afraid I was going to get in trouble for getting mouthy in your classroom. Instead you simply said, "Good for you." and let me leave. So, thank you. I am sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing - she was a special lady.

She replied, thanking me for sharing a "great memory", and agreeing that Coca-Cola is totally Good Old Boy.

So, I'm glad I took the leap and messaged her.  She encouraged me to friend her to keep in touch.

My point here is, reach out to people and share times when they did something that mattered to you.  I have never regretted doing it.  I have regretted not doing it.

About a year before I started this blog, I sent a letter to the guy who owned the company that I worked at all through High School and college.  Thanking him for years of gainful employ, and for creating the foundation of my work philosophy, and asking him for career advice.  He was touched and offered to chat any time.

People love to know that they have mattered somehow.  I got a handwritten thank you note from one of my former co-workers on his last day here that I treasure.  It has gotten me through more than one bad day at the office.

My advice.  If you feel something; say something.

ae


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pissed

I used to share a restroom with a transgender colleague.  When she started with our company, she presented as a man.  As time passed, she began dressing in women's clothing, wearing jewelry and makeup.

And then, one Friday, she left the office as Aaron, and returned Monday as Erin*.

The gossip mill had already been churning, and I had heard it was coming.  We had all talked about it ad nauseum, and a male colleague asked me about how I would feel sharing a bathroom with a biological man.

I told him I didn't care because of the stalls.



But the first time I saw Erin in the ladies room, I was surprised.  I'm sure I looked visibly surprised.  But I recovered, smiled, washed my hands and left.

I would see her a number of times in the bathroom over the next couple of months, and then she left the company.

I never felt assaulted or concerned or violated.

I don't hang out in the bathroom.  If I'm in there, I have business.  Ok, occasionally, we'll linger there to talk away from the general work population, but for the most part, if I'm in there, I either need to eliminate, or occasionally cry in the privacy of a stall.  That's it.

I don't care what Erin's parts are, or who she likes to use them with.  The only time that would matter is if I wanted to date Erin, which I did not.  She was married, anyway. 

So, I guess what it comes down to is this.  Transsexuals need to pee just like everyone else.  And sure, Ted Cruz, they could just "do that at home" - but sometimes, even if you went before you left, you have to go again.  That's biology.  Does it how they pee?  No, I don't care. 

You know what I do find disturbing in public restrooms?  People who don't flush.  People who pee on the seats and don't clean up.  People who don't wash their hands.

But someone who struggles with their gender and just wants to go out without the fear of wetting their pants?  Not disturbing.

People who have a problem with those folks?  Disturbing.

ae

*Not her actual names, but you get the idea.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

I need to buy some luggage.  My bags have basically done all they can do.  And, selfishly, I need one that will accommodate my CPAP, because I have now schlepped it through the airport once, and NO MAS.

I realize that I have never bought my own luggage - unless we're talking about duffel bags or totes, and I am totes NOT talking about that.




My first luggage, given to me by Mom and Dad was kelly green with navy trim - monogrammed - from Lands End when I was eleven or twelve.  It's still great.

When I was 31 or so, Dad gave me a set of Samsonite luggage - red - and that's the stuff I need to replace.

But how, and with what?

I want to order online, but I also want to feel it, touch it, see the color, and so on.  I don't want black because, duh.  Many bags look alike, please check the tags to ensure you have the correct bag.

Also, bags are expensive.

Which is probably why I relied on my folks to do the buying.

Well, time to grow up and get a piece of luggage to get me going for the next decade.

ae


Friday, April 22, 2016

A Classic

Lest you think my father was perfect, he was not.

For one, he worked in management, so whenever I bitched about my job, he took the side of  "the man" which was supremely annoying.  That's a topic I'll come back to in another post, another day.

He also devalued any cultural phenomenon he didn't discover himself - and specifically, here I'm thinking music.  When my sister started listening to Boy George and Culture Club - Colour by Numbers, my father was giving her shit for it, and she told Dad it was going to be "A Classic".  Ehhhh.  Maybe?

Do you really want to hurt me?



Around that time, Prince was also in full effect, and Laura had the Purple Rain cassette, too.  From that point on, anytime Dad heard some modern music he didn't care for, he'd ask, "Is that Prince?"

I remember being in the car with Mom and listening to Darling Nikki, and the "masturbating with a magazine" lyric came up.  She asked me if I understood what that meant.  I'd read Judy Blume's Deanie by that point, I think.  So I knew what masturbation was, at least quasi-academically.  But in my young mind, I assumed that she was literally using the magazine applied directly to her genitalia.  What did I know?

So when I heard Prince died, I felt sad, but I had to laugh because my two memories involving him weren't so misty-watercolored.

But, unlike Boy George... I think we can safely say - Prince was a classic.

ae

Monday, April 18, 2016

Eleven

About once a year, the travel gods have me bend over and take it without buying me dinner first.

Today was one of those.

My 8:05 AM out of Nashville was delayed by an hour.  Which meant that the 45 minute delay I had in St. Louis to catch my connecting flight wouldn't work.

The challenge with that is that the next flight out of St. Louis to Wichita was 9:25 PM.

So if you're doing the math, you realize that is a long, long time to hang out in the St. Louis Airport.

Also, not to be negative, but the St. Louis Airport kind of blows.

I mean, it's clean and easy enough to navigate.  But no massage place, not much shopping and the restaurants are decidedly "meh".  Three hours at STL - plenty.  Nearly quadruple that?

Yike
I managed, or, at least - I am managing.  I have about an hour til we board...

And then an hour and a half in the air, then an hour on the road.

And then...

Days Inn.

And three days of training.

Tired.  Already.

ae



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Miniature Epiphanies

So, I had an epiphany at the grocery store yesterday, somewhere around frozen foods.  The gist of it was that I could let my spirit be crushed and be upset about a situation that I had basically no control over.

But if I did that - then the person doing the crushing would win.  And I cannot let that happen!

So, I picked up some La Croix water (we're kind of addicted to the Grapefruit and Coconut flavors), got some grapes, grabbed some paper towels, and smiled.  I smiled a lot.

And then, this morning, I woke up thinking of a song.  Not just any song, but the one after which this blog is named.


The lyrics that came to mind were:

There's only one thing that I know how to do well
And I've often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that's be you,
Be what you're like,
Be like yourself.

So, that's the plan, friends.

And so, I'm having a wonderful time...

ae

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trying again

A year from now, I am going to come back here and tell you about how shitty 4/15/16 was.

Right now, it's too raw.

By then, the story will have an ending and some much needed perspective.

What I can say is that people can rally and be kind, and it's amazeballs.

This story, though, needs to age a little before telling.

I'll set up a reminder.

Carry on.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Work it.

So, in my last post, I mentioned my Work Husband.

This prompted a query from Bill the Butcher, a faithful reader, whose blog can be read here.

Apparently, it's not a worldwide phenomenon.

A work spouse is someone at the office who fills the non-conjugal role of being your go-to person.  It's an emotional support role.  Someone who knows how you take your coffee, keeps you in the loop on gossip, and is your safe haven for bitching.

I actually have a handful of people who act in that capacity.  And I'm grateful for all of them.

Especially this week.

I may have kind of snapped this afternoon right before we ended the final day of our big meeting.

The more I think about it, the more confused I am as to whether I was insane or justified.  Whether I came across as a total crazycakes or bitchy, or frustrated, or passionate.

Yes to all.

My heart was in the right place, even if my head - and more specifically, my mouth - were not.

But I've talked through it with a few folks and the consensus is I won't lose my job over it.  My dignity, maybe - my crediblity, sure.  But... for the ones who know and love me, they'll have my back.  I hope.

So, the brief synopsis is this - the head of the department didn't give out an agenda prior to the meeting - even though we asked weeks in advance.  So, we met for three days without an agenda.  It was a running "joke", but folks were not pleased with it.

Finally, today - the boss said he had not published the agenda because he wanted to make a point about how important it is to our customers that we prepare one for them.  We get it, chief.  You made your point day one.  He said, "I wasn't trying to play a mind game...".

At which point I said, "Well it seemed like a mind game, and to me it felt like you don't respect our time."

I was so frustrated I was dizzy.  And I felt like I was on fire.

So, just typing it out, it doesn't read as bad as I thought it was.  Several people have kind of backed me up and assured me it wasn't that bad.  And, btw - I'm not the only one who said something - I think I was just the most emphatic.

Anyway - I haven't really broached it with the work husband, and  - he's in management - he reports directly to Mr. Mindgames.  Whereas I report to Mr. Colorado who reports to Mr. Mindgames.  So... it makes things a little tricky.

So - work spouse... anyway, that's all I have.

And no agenda.

ae

Monday, April 11, 2016

Trust Fails

This week is my department conference.  Three days of meetings, and evenings of fun.  A little Kumbaya, a little procedure.  Free food. Tote bags.

And the thing is, I'm stressed out because it's a lot of togetherness.  When you're onsite training, once it's done, you can turn it off and go back to your hotel and watch HGTV for a few hours.  Truth be told, I prefer Game Show Network to kill off a few brain cells, but it's not in every hotel's cable package.  So, HGTV or Shark Tank on CNBC, or whatever.  But you can get into pajamas and eat cashews* and say 'fuck' and belch.  It's the American dream.


Survey says... you're not getting shit done tonight.

This week, it's meetings during the day, activities at night - and since I live here, when I get home, I still have husband/dog/laundry, etc. to consider.

I have actually mentioned this several years in a row, asking that we choose a neutral location so that the locals don't get hosed EVERY YEAR.

Which goes over like a lead balloon to everyone but the locals.

And that leads me to my second point.

I'm going to try and keep my mouth shut this year.

Traditionally, if there's something that needs saying, I'll say it - and then later, after I've put my neck out, someone will come up and thank me for doing it.

But while it's happening?  Crickets.

This year, I'm going to try hard to not be the spokesmouth.


'U' tell 'em, Vanna.

My work husband has offered me a steak dinner in exchange for this.  Although, he thinks I don't say too much.  That I'm not annoying or controversial.  Perhaps he just doesn't want to pony up for steak though.

Full disclosure - he pays for my lunch about half the time we go out. I pay for his the other half - as work spouses go, there's good equality with us.

It's not all bad, by any stretch.  I mean, I get to see some of my favorites - people I only see once a year.  Tonight, a few of us are going to get manicures.  Killing it, crushing it.

So, I guess I'll try and keep an open mind, a closed mouth, and remember that next week, at the Days Inn, I can veg out all I want.

No whammies, big money!

*Cashews are awesome, but I miss candy.

ae

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Trigger Warning

If you are easily upset by violence or blood - even the fake kind  - just watch this video then don't read the rest of the post.






If you're curious, read on.

One of the things we do at my company is build web-based content for safety training.

And one of the hot topics these days is "Active Shooter" training - basically, when a crazy white dude with a gun* comes into the office, what do you do?

So, this weekend, I volunteered to be at the office while they taped and photographed footage for a new class they wanted to create.

It was... interesting.

I hate violence.  I hate guns.  So, it was kind of odd for me to step up and spend a day with all that.  But, what it really came down to was this - I love special effects make-up and acting.  I also love the people in the content development department, and I want to support them.

So, I did it.

I got to get three wounds.  They put pressure dressing and a tourniquet on me.  I screamed when I heard a gunshot.  I gave an interview to a "reporter".  I begged co-workers to help me. I tried to kill the assailant with a pair of scissors.

It was fun. And scary. And sad.  And eye-opening.

Now,  in a real situation, I'd be under a table crying, I think.  I wouldn't try to fight or be a hero.  Maybe I'd run.  I'm not fleet of foot though.  So who knows.

What I do know is...

I still hate guns.

And I still love wound makeup:




If I get more photos, I'll post them.  Maybe. 

* Stereotype?  Maybe. But stereotypes exist for a reason.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

No Time Flat

While I was traveling earlier this year, I found something interesting in a pamphlet racks at one of the clinics where I trained:



Note:  The last thing I want after having my breasts flattened is "the fun".


I'm protecting the name of the healthcare facility, because "professionalism".

But the basic idea, here is that they are hosting groups of women to all get mammograms together.  On the back of the pamphlet it recommends that you

"Identify 8-15 friends or co-workers who enjoy being pampered and are in need of their annual mammogram".

They have three themes - Pretty in Pink, Sock Hop and Powder Puff.

In theory, I think this is a clever idea.

In practice...

Well, most of my friends are not ladies in need of mammograms.  At least not 8-15 of us.  And there's not enough theme partying in the world for me to go with random co-workers.  Also, many of my friends are also co-workers.

But I don't want to take my top off in front of them!  Topless is reserved for my customers.

Also, here's something to think about.  Here's a conversation between Frieda Friend and Carrie Colleague.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carrie:  Hey, Frieda, remember that Smash Party we had last month?

Frieda:  OMG, yes!  Wasn't that fun?  That game of Pin The Nipple on the Areola was hilarious - I laughed so hard I peed a little!

Carrie:  Yeah, we all did...

Frieda:  And the cupcakes were to die for, weren't they?



Carrie:  Funny you should say that... I got my results back.  Turns out I have cancer.  So, yes...to die for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


That Carrie.  What a freaking buzzkill.

So, that's what was on my mind today.


ae




Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Deep Cleansing Breaths

Yesterday, I went to pick up my CPAP.

When they called me to make an appointment, I made it really, really clear that because I travel for work, portability was going to be clutch.

I was delighted to see this waiting for me:

Hey, big boy...got plans for tonight?


Does that look super portable?  It isn't heavy, but it's awkward as fuck.  Should be interesting.

Well, anyway after making several pointed remarks about the size of the damn thing, she taught me how to use it - it's pretty simple.  There's a bit of cleaning involved, obviously, but other than that, it's going to be a breeze to turn on and off.

Note I didn't say "use".  Because I've learned that years of mouth-breathing to compensate for my issues is not compatable with having heated humidified air shot up my nose.

Hey, baby - you take my breath away.


It's a good look for me, really.

My goal was to keep it on last night for at least two hours.  I kept it on for 5.8 - so, BOOM.

I don't know that it has helped yet, but she told me to be patient.

She also told me that it is easy to travel with.

Which, maybe if I went somewhere twice a year...

I need to get over it.  It's here, it's not going anywhere, and I wanted it.

So... be careful what you wish for.

ae

Monday, April 4, 2016

Here and There

So, last week, my Aunt Mary died.  It was sudden and unexpected.  I feel bad, but truthfully, I don't feel bad for me so much as my uncle and cousins.  I will miss her, to be sure - but they will suffer far more than I will.

That said, she was Dad's sister, and that makes it a bit tougher.  They held a small service and gathering for her on Friday.  I went, and it was sad but nice.

They had a slideshow that they had made for her 70th birthday (seven years ago) and it was just a lot of great photos and music.  They had also recorded greetings from family, and I got to hear my Dad's voice.  That was hard.

The whole thing was hard.  But I'm two years in, so my grief for having lost a parent is not quite so raw as my cousins', which is less than a week old.  I also had time to prepare.  Mary complained of a  headache last Monday evening.  She suffered a massive brain aneurysm went into a coma, and was gone the following evening.  Her family had gathered, and that was it.

So, it's different for them than it was for me.

But Dad and Mary were about a year apart in age, and that kind of ends an era.

So here's a story about them.

When my grandmother died, we were getting her house cleaned out.  She had left the house to one of my cousins who was going to move in.  So, there was this huge portrait of Mary and Dad's cousin, Walter.  My grandmother had always been better to Walter than my Dad, so as a parting shot, Mary put this portrait of Walter in Dad's trunk.   That Christmas, he put it in a big, gaudy frame and regifted it to her.

And that started a several year exchange of Walter related gifts.  They made puzzles, shirts, Christmas ornaments. 

Walter last appeared as a thumbnail image in an invitation she created for my Bridesmaids' luncheon back in 2005.

It is the end of an era.  That's about all I can say.

ae