Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I remembered the story about the man after my father's biscuit (see the second entry) because, of course, I hate my job and would like to find another one.

More specifically though, I've been thinking about the possible similarities between a man hunt and a job hunt because, of course, I hate my job and would like to find another one.

And by "man hunt" I don't mean that the kind of hunt that ends with someone dead or in prison ... unless you consider marriage a prison.

As I said before , I have been doing this tech writing crap for a long time and I've hated pretty much the entire time. Fourteen years. That's a long time to do something you hate.

But I was in an awful relationship for 12 years. And after I left that awful relationship, I dated a series of clones of my ex for a couple of years before I finally snapped out of it.

See, there's one similarity already. Fourteen years.

(Hmmm. I broke two mirrors in one fell swoop once)

I can't think of any other similarities.

And yet I have done a spectacular job of hunting down a man. My man is fabulous. Nigh on perfection. So I'd like to think I might apply the same principles of man hunting to job hunting and find a paid job as spectacular as my sweetheart.

Except ... I didn't really hunt him.

I didn't dress like a slut and pretend to be interested in football.

That wouldn't have worked anyways. I also didn't dress like a hipster and pretend to be interested in the Hold Steady.

I didn't laugh at all his jokes.

Well, I did actually. Loudly and often.

But I'd get so freaked out by the possibility that he or anyone else would notice how hard I was laughing that I'd practically pinch myself trying to stop.

I didn't talk to him more than anyone else. If anything I'd keep a careful eye on how long we talked at parties and run away if it started to feel too intimate.

But one day we happened to be alone at the same place at the same time and that was the beginning of the beginning.

Can I try this with a job?

Just try to be happy with who I am?

Laugh alot?

Purposefully keep my distance because I don't want it to know how much I like it ... until one day our paths cross and we're drawn to each other irresistably and permanently?

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Thursday, September 21, 2006


As a small child obsessed with Gilligan's Island, the Three Stooges, and Johnny Weismuller's Tarzan films, I once intercepted a phone call for my father that made my skin crawl.

The man identified himself as a headhunter.

I immediately envisioned my father's shriveled noggin swinging on a piece of twine from the roof of the caller's straw hut.

Horrified, I asked, "What do you want from him?"

His response pierced my heart like the icy blade of a spear:

"He called me, sweetheart."

"Why?" I whimpered.

"I guess he's not happy with his job."

Why on earth would a person with two small, relatively well-behaved, and pretty cute children voluntarily hand his head over to a complete stranger just because he didn't' like his job?!?

Perhaps because the man never once evinced other signs of savagery familiar to a seven year old anthropologist, like grunting "unga bunga" or pounding a bongo drum, or perhaps because some part of me refused to accept that my father was suicidal, I delivered the message to him.

I also did my best to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Later I asked, with the bravest face I could muster, "How come you called a headhunter, Poppie?"

"Well, little bubbie, I'm thinking about finding a new job."

"But why a headhunter?"

"That's just another name for a guy who helps people find jobs. Or helps companies find people."


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Monday, September 18, 2006

F and Becky

Once upon a time, when a disaster of momentous proportions crashed down upon the heads of an intrepid band of tech writers, my former co-worker F and his cohort Becky were two of the few people on the staff who had the skills and experience to deal with said crisis.

Writers came from remote offices far and wide to pull up their bootstraps, pull rabbits out of hats, pull wool over managers' eyes, whatever it took to get this problem fixed, but F and Becky were the heads of the pack.

Sometimes when we were feeling low and our fearless leaders were away in the trenches, we'd huddle together against the cold, dark, blustery chaos and ask "What would F 'n' Becky do?"

As lights began to appear at the ends of tunnels and the silver linings behind clouds became glittering chalices in the sky, the writers from the far off lands took their leave of us.

It seemed, however, that F's name caused confusion even amidst our stalwart visitors, as demonstrated by one young lady who turned to us at her departure and asked:

"Why don't ya'll like Becky? She seemed so sweet to me."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

a rose is a rose

I used to work with a man called F.

Yes, F.

Not Fred or Farrell or Fartface. Just plain F.

That's right. He goes by a letter.

It was a source of some consternation among our co-workers. One man even refused to call F "F" and insisted on addressing him as "Frank." F responded by sending an email to the entire tech writing department stating that he would not respond, under any circumstances, to any other name except F. He had another name, he'd explained, but he chose to go by something else and he expected other people to honor that.

And I say, "Bravo, F! Bravo."

I'm serious.


I repeat: "Bravo, F."

Is your lip curling? Have you scrinched your face? Are you taken aback? I mean, literally, has your head cocked back a few centimeters as if in response to some stench wafting under your nose?

Shakespeare says "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But, apparently, that's not the case for poor F. Apparently, he (metaphorically) stinks. If we heard his name was Foster or Franklin, we might giggle and mime at adjusting a monocle or we might imagine him in an ascot and smoking jacket, but we wouldn't sneer.

Why do we sneer?

It is odd, I'll admit, to be called by a letter. It doesn't comply with our standard naming conventions. (Although, it is not unheard of. My ex's uncle was named RE. No periods.)

It doesn't even fit with our normal nicknaming conventions. (And yet I knew a kid in high school called T and my nephew's nickname is E.)

But why is this name of his - this F - met with such universal disgust? Maybe this particular letter is problematic. Even if it didn't inaugurate and sometimes substitute for one of our most foul curses, it is just an ugly sound.


In fact, just saying it kinda makes you sneer.

It sounds reasonable to say that this particular letter is the problem but it just isn't true. The fact is that people get weird about unusual names. Especially unusual names with which the namee has christened him or herself.

A few years ago, a friend decided to go by her middle name. Multiple people in her family refused to call her by this name. One acquaintance told her that the act of rearranging her name at the age of 29 was insane.



Why? Seriously.

Why the faces? Why the disgust? Why call it insanity?

For the longest time, it didn't make any sense to me but now I think I understand.

For most of our lives, we are named by other people. Our parents give us our initial names. Friends or siblings give us nicknames. Lovers give us pet names. Later on, depending on personal preference - and nothing else nowadays, thank goodness! - a spouse gives us yet another name.

It is a rule. Somebody else names you. You're not supposed to name yourself.

Isn't that strange?

We behave as if fully grown persons who can feed and cloth themselves, not to mention express and act on their personal preferences almost every moment of the waking day, are not allowed to choose their own names. Does that make any sense at all?

I have recently changed my name too, and without revealing either the hows or wherefores, I can tell you that most people will have a strong reaction to what I have done. This is a different sort of name change than the ones I talked about before. This is the big 'un. The one that follows closely on the white satin heels that trip lightly down the aisle at a wedding ceremony.

That's right. I took my husband's name. Do not applaud me. I'm no traditionalist. Do not denounce me. I'm no traitor to the feminist cause.

Or, you know, actually ... whatever.

Do you what you like to me. I don't care. I don't have to justify my choice to you or anyone else. I don't owe you an explanation. I don't have to provide you with a good reason. I don't even have to have a good reason, anymore than F does.

I wanted to write something profound about identity and labels but, you know what? Fuck it.

I like what Arthur Freed has to say on the subject:

A Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is
A rose is what Moses supposes his toes is
Couldn't be a lily or a daphi daphi dilli
It's gotta be a rose cuz it rhymes with mose!

Thankfully, the modern world is already behind me on this. On the internet, you and I can call ourselves whatever we choose and nobody balks. Or asks for an explanation.


How long does it take for a body to process a cup of decaf Starbucks? Because I had one yesterday at 8 am and my eyes are just now starting a long slow retreat back into their sockets.

Four hours of sleep.

I got FOUR hours of sleep last night. Four.

I should be a zombie.

But no, instead I'm all zippity do dah, whistling, and dancing jigs and shit.



(That's what my dad says instead of "Jesus!")

According to some stupid website, a typical cup of regular coffee has 125 milligrams of caffeine in it; decaf coffee has three to four milligrams.

What about Starbucks coffee? Is it special? Hmm???

Guess who doesn't post information about caffeine content on their website?

Right now the tight ropes, trapeze swings, and giant fiery wheels in the three ring circus of my brain are filled to overflowing with crazed, screeching monkeys.

Either that twerp in the green apron gave me the wrong kinda coffee or the twerp who makes all the other twerps wear green aprons sells me shit that still sends my system into a days long Loopty Loo.

Decaf, my ass.

Monday, September 11, 2006

grow up!

The other day I told someone to "grow up."

(Nevermind how pathetic and inappropriate this command might seem from someone who uses the word "dookie" twice in a single paragraph.)

It needed to be said. This person - who will remain unnamed - needs to grow up.

I do not mean that he needs to drive a sedan. Or that he should cook like Martha Stewart or buy a house. Or decorate his apartment like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog. I do not mean that he should stop wearing Converse, give up on his dreams, and become a suburban drone.

Although, I have to say that when I finished college, this is what "grow up" meant to me. So I determined never to do it.

When I entered the work force - this is a soul-sucking expression if ever there was one - I saw even more wisdom in the decision not to "grow up" because most of the grown ups around me were both miserable and shockingly immature. I saw 30 year olds who let their friends falsely believe they were having affairs with multiple college coeds. 40 year olds who keyed people's cars. 50 year olds who did bad impressions of their bosses, literally, behind their backs. Adulthood was not only bland and grating, it embarrassed the hell out of me.

'I'll pass,' I thought.

Whenever I heard anyone tell someone else to grow up, even it was someone in a movie, I automatically hated that person. It was as if they were saying "Accept this curse - it is your obligation and your destiny - or be cast out from the company of Man," while they swayed in grey robes at the edge of the Forest of Eternal Night.

Now I'm wearing the grey robes and swaying in front of the forest?

Hell no.

When we're babies, our parents are gods. We're obligated by our own floppy limbs, useless vocal cords, and overwhelmed, underdeveloped synapses to rely on them for everything. They show us how the world works. What they say goes. That's not just because they're bossy and controlling but also, when we're too little and floppy to make decisions and take action on our own, it is imperative that we have an example to follow and a hand to guide us. During our formative years, they are the pinnacle of adulthood. Everything we do is either controlled by or assessed by our parents. We're incapable of considering that what they might say, do, or think might be wrong - or at least, not right for us - because they are the only things between us and the great, wide, dangerous world.

That's how a lot of people get screwed up. When you're wee and your parent does something dangerous on a regular basis, your brain is wired to believe that's how a person is supposed to operate in the world. You take that information in as if it were gospel because that's your biological imperative. Does that make any sense? These people are your sole means of survival and they behave a certain way so you come to believe that that way is the right way. As you get older, you tend to repeat their behaviors or you find people in your life who repeat those behaviors because that's what home feels like to you.

We also rely on our parents to assess us. Again, when we're too small to care for ourselves, we have to rely on the big people to tell us how to do that. They tell us what to do and how to do it until we're able to figure out some of that on our own. And then we spend years pointing to what we've done and hoping for some of that beaming and handclapping we crave. Or we hide what we've done behind the sofa and hope we don't get spanked.

But eventually, that has to stop.

Fourteen years after finishing college, I've finally figured out what it means to "grow up." It doesn't mean becoming a drone or a page out of a catalog. It doesn't mean that I stop drinking or staying out late or keying cars or picking my nose.

It doesn't even mean that we stop thinking about how our parents will react. It just means we stop acting as if their feelings and reactions are more important than ours. It means that we stop making decisions and taking action based on how our parents will react; relying on them for instruction and approval; or blaming them for how we are. At some point, we have to take responsibility for our own lives.

At some point, we have to say to ourselves "Uch, they're going to hate ______. But this is who I am and they're just going to have to deal with it."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

biiiiite me

Well, the experiment with my morning schedule was a complete failure. Apparently I need a lot more than 20 minutes of stumbling around time. I got to work at 10. Gots to figure out a different time to write.

Friday, September 01, 2006

stream of ... something

If I'm really going to write for an entire 30 minutes and if my schedule is important to me, I have to sacrifice much of what is important to a writer in this attempt. You can't spend too much time thinking much less choosing words or sentence structure. You just have to keep your fingers on the keyboard.

On the tight schedule I've given myself, I can't even really choose a topic. I just have to go! I started at 7:15. I have to finish by 7:45. Write write write write! I can't even stop to think about whether you'll be bored by this. Type type type! So here I am type type typing and trying hard not to think about how dumb or boring this is because that's not the point! I'm not trying to be smart or interesting. I'm just trying to keep my fingers on the keyboard. Smart and interesting can happen later in the day after I get some of that decaf coffee in my bloodstream.

I do another writing exercise during the day. It's a book of silly opening sentences and absurd restrictions. For example, on one page the author has scattered random words across the page and you have to write so that those words fit into your sentences. The pages are also covered with bold and ridiculous images. And she always begins the instructions with "Write a story that begins with ..." But the page is only about 20 lines long! Is it possible to write a story in 20 lines? I can't do it. I'm horrible with plot anyways but in 20 lines! I can barely get a character onto the page in 20 lines. OK, so I've gotten slightly better at that but still! Who thinks a person can write a story in 20 lines. If you say "I can," you're an asshole and you need to shut up.

Of course, now I've been writing for 10 minutes and I'M bored. Poor yous. What are you going to do with yourselves for another 20 minutes.

How does one get efficient enough to write for 30 minutes straight and make some good choices without getting bogged down by doubt and indecision. Obviously 30 minutes is a long time if you really just put your fingers on the keyboard and let whatever crap roll out of your head and onto the screen.

The happy medium is hard to find.

Now see this is fun. I talk about crap rolling out of my head and I see this image of a big dookie on a bed in my brain rolling out from under the covers, stumbling to the medicine cabinet for vitamins, rubbing a little dookie doggie, fixing some coffee, and then sitting itself down in front of the laptop to write for 30 minutes.

And the happy medium that's hard to find calls to mind the image of a psychics convention full of grumbling depressed people and whenever you ask someone where the happy medium is they say "The crystal ball is cloudy." or "The cards tell me nothing." or "I think she's in the far east corner."

It isn't really writing but it entertains the hell out of me. Wouldn't it be fabulous is you could, in fact, ______ the hell out of someone. Maybe that's what the happy medium does. She divines the hell out of people.

And still 10 more minutes to go. Do you hate me yet? Have you quit reading!?

I just want to make you laugh. That's it. Think a little. Laugh. Love me! Ooh that one slipped in by accident. But it is true. I've thought alot about why people write and I don't really know about anyone else but me ... I want to be laughed at, loved, and understood a little better. I want to explain where I'm coming from but I also want to confuse the hell out of you. Ooh there I go again. Trying to save souls. Maybe I want to do that too.

Eight minutes. This is ridiculous.

I want to explain to you why I've got that stupid book full of writing exercises. Technical writing is a very dry and lifeless kind of writing for the most part. Your goal is to be clear and concise, which are admirable goals in most kinds of writing, but also to avoid complex sentences at all cost. Not that long ago I came to the terrifying realization that I could not write a complex sentence anymore. It was nearly impossible! At that point I thought, I must break out of the tech writer mold immediately. (image of woman sheathed head to toe in green fuzz).

While it has been incredibly freeing for me, it has done nothing good for my tech writer morale. I no longer care whether something is bolded or not! The point size on a particular heading matters not to me! And I'll use a damn complex sentence if I want to, dammit! I want to write: "Use common sense people! This shit isn't that hard!!!"

(fuck you, I know that's not a complex sentence)

So here I am now, four minutes away from finishing, and I know that you're not going to like this anyways and I've had enough ...