Category: Drama

The Emotional Equivelent of “LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

“Why the HELL didn’t I continue with French?!”
“Don’t swear.”
“Why the CUSS didn’t I continue with French?”
“Well, you can take classes.”
“Yes but if I don’t do well, and I haven’t studied it for three years, it will affect my GPA which will affect my application.  CUSS CUSS CUSS!”
– C. and J.

We all have them, but for about a month or so I’ve been going through a right awful funk.  And although I wish I could say I’ve been keeping it under wraps, I’m afraid it’s been spilling over a bit.  I’ve gotten noticeably sharp with people, even friends, short-tempered at work, and bitter about small things that have just seemed to mount on top of each other.  It culminated last night in a meeting for J.’s new fraternity for accountants when I was exhausted and stressed.  I tried to be funny but only succeeded in being rude, and collapsed in a sobbing pile of guilt when we got home. 

Unfortunately, I’m a bottler: I keep things locked up inside until the inevitable explosion that tends to leave a wake of destruction.  And even though we’ve all been told time and time again that this is not a healthy way to live, so many of us keep doing it because it has some obvious immediate benefits.

Liar.

My problems are petty and selfish, but that doesn’t make them irrelevant or mean they don’t affect my life. 

– I’m in a state of constant frustration that I spent four years getting an education, but work in a job that has nothing to do with what I studied (the European Studies field is not exactly conducive to jobs in the Western United States).

– I don’t really like living where we do.

Humph!

– Truthfully, I had this plan post-graduation, which involved me moving back to England.  I am an ENTJ, I frame my life in these little plans and get frustrated when they don’t come to fruition.  It wouldn’t matter if common sense, good counsel, or God changed my plans, I’d still get annoyed/angry if things didn’t work out the way that I had intended.  (Which I absolutely think happened in my decision to get married and stay in the States, and which I still think is probably the best decision I’ve made for myself.  It’s just not what I thought was in the cards a year and a half ago; that’s what makes my little control-freak, inner Napoleon jump up and down howling, “Zees was not le plan!”)

– I miss being in school and recently came to the conclusion, after much deliberation, that I wanted to pursue grad school.  And seeing as I can take classes for free, a perk of working for a university, why not?  Problem A) my major, which I loved and would not hesitate to choose again, did not really prepare me for any of the graduate degrees offered here.  My emphasis was in history and they have removed the MA in History degree (an idiotic move if ever there was one!).
Problem B) the next best degree, and one I am really interested in due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, requires more classes in French.  Which, if I want to get into the program beginning this coming fall, I’d need to complete in record time.  A troublesome goal if one works full-time.  Oh!  And I’d need to take the GRE in about a month.

Mostly, I feel stuck.  I can’t progress (at least immediately) in the way I want my education to go, we aren’t leaving this area (at least immediately) for a small eternity, and I can’t pursue my own interests (at least immediately) due to duty to my family. 

And I’m the most impatient person I know!

There are treatments.  Obviously I need to take better care of myself.  I don’t work out anymore [again] and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been eating enough, which would put anyone in a strop.  I also don’t have any pursuits outside of work right now, and that’s soul-numbing.  I’m committed to grad school, but will I kill myself trying to make it happen all at once (or at least before the March application deadline)?  Maybe I should make it a goal for next year and work more slowly and steadily towards it instead of trying to rush it.

Weigh in, friends.  Had a minor life crisis recently?  Plans get disrupted?  Get impatient with goals that are attainable, but seem so far off?

Another Tale From The Front Desk

 “You can do a lot if you’re properly trained.”
– Queen Elizabeth II

All police officers and dispatchers are required to complete a certain amount of training hours per year to keep their certification, and it is one of my jobs to keep track of those hours and turn the total into the state every year.  So, as a good little secretary does, every few months or so I pull out all the training information I have on everyone and reconcile the spreadsheet and database we keep them in.  Then I give that info to Lt. Citrus who in turn sends it out to all the officers…

…five minutes after that email goes out, my inbox is flooded with angry missives and my phone lights up with the rabid snarls from officers accusing that I have “forgotten to log their hours,” “obviously didn’t get their many emails,” or passive aggressive suggestions that perhaps I “just misplaced them, dear.” 

After three days of checking, double checking, data entry, and getting yelled at, Small Dog is not inclined to be friendly towards officers who try to blame email for their problems.

I take a certain amount of dark pleasure in showing them my stack of training reports that I collect and my email archives (which I started saving for months for this very purpose) to show that I have logged all the hours they’ve given me, obviously have gotten all of their emails (their emails just don’t mention training hours as much as missing laundry), and have certainly not misplaced anything.  Dear.

It’s all for naught!  Three months from now I’ll go through the whole reconciling process again and then have to reconcile myself to the wrath of the officers!

Anatomy of a Panic

“Happy is the man with a wife to tell him what to do, and a secretary to do it.”
-Lord Mancroft

Shades of this flash through my mind!
Shades of this flash through my mind!

8:45 – Susie comes to my desk and says, “Chief would like to meet with you and Hennessy at 10, is that ok?”  C. blanches in panic and promptly dives deep into a pit of the horrors (I’m getting sacked, Hennessy’s getting sacked, We’re both getting sacked, NO!!!!, They can’t do this, Don’t they know what I’ve done for them, I’m too important, right…No, I’m expendable…AH!, Angst Angst Angst, etc.)  Susie assures her that nothing is wrong, but as you may imagine, this does little to help matters.

9:00 – Hennessy comes into work and receives the same message.  Panic escalates.  Circumstances are dissected during morning walk to turn in checks and cash to the accounting office.

9:30 – C. alternately tries cajoling and blackmailing anyone in the office for information.

9:45 – Bleak.  All is bleak.

10:00 – Chief is nowhere to be found.  C. is “defibbed” as her heart succumbs to the stress and anxiety of worrying.

10:15 – Chief, Lt. Figaro, and Susie convene with Hennessy and C. in conference room.  Hennessy and C. sit at the far end of the table to give them more reaction time to the blow that is coming.  They are sternly asked to move closer.  They grudgingly comply.

10:20 – Chief reveals that the department has new needs, and needs to go in a new direction, so they need to shake up the ranks a little.

10:21 – C. and Hennessy clutch their chairs as the vortex of doom swirls around them.

10:22 – “So,” continues Chief, “we’re going to take you out from Figaro’s supervision and make you both subordinate to Susie instead.  Fun, huh?”

10:23 – “Vortex of doom” evaporates instantly leaving C. stuck with the amassed fear and anxiety that has plagued her for hours.  She feel oddly cheated.

Not exactly my boss.  I'd like to think *I* could be this secretary (minus the dirty mistress part) but alas...
Not exactly my boss. I'd like to think I could be this secretary (minus the dirty mistress part) but alas...

Anyway, this so-called shake up just means that Hennessy and I are now reporting…to the person I, at least, have been reporting to for months now.  Susie is pretty much queen of the secretaries: Joan without being social-climbing, manipulative, or sexually adventurous, just an all around decent person.    She’s also the administrative brains of the office and actually managed to pound it through our supervisors’ heads that we’d be much more effective as a secretarial pool rather than as scattered puddles.  Within ten minutes of us being under her command, I’d been given a list of both long and short term projects and assignments.

Unfortunately, since I’m a fast worker (or just possibly have nothing else to do) I’ve already crossed about half of them off.  No change there, I suppose.

Typical Thursday, Part I

 “Angry people are not always wise.”
-Jane Austen

A law student came into the office today, demanding more parking for graduate students.  With the new parking system, still not completely patched and just limping along, lots of students have been taking advantage of the absence of usual oversight by parking wherever they want: handicapped stalls, dean and administrator lots, etc.  Which means that when (and if) this new system starts functioning properly, a whole lot of people are in for a nasty surprise.  I forsee the university setting up a new scholarship fund out of the proceeds, but I digress.

We apologized for the inconvenience and said it should be corrected in a month, but that did no good.  As Lt. Figaro explained the policy regarding each of her complaints, she kept changing her argument and problem until she was eventually asking for us to build new parking, or take parking away from other people to give to graduate students.
“We already have about one parking space per three grad students and special lots for you,” Figaro said, wearily, “as opposed to one in five for the rest of our students.”
“But we need more!”

“Ma’am,” I said, “we have thousands of students currently attending, plus several thousand more faculty, staff, administrative, service personnel, and contractors who come to this school everyday.  Plus there is another university in the next city over.  This area was never meant to accomodate nearly XXX thousand extra people, city planning hasn’t kept up with it in the past two generations.  You’re asking us for space that we cannot give you, because it literally does not exist.”
“But I spent forty-five minutes circling that parking lot to find a space yesterday!”
“Well,” offered Figaro, “did you try parking at the basketball arena or football stadium and walking?”
She gasped in outrage, “All that way?!”

Fabulous

“Oh…WOW…the eyebrows…”
“Nothing about those things are ok…”
-Hildegarde and C.

No, your friendly neighborhood Small Dog hasn’t shuffled off this mortal coil…she only wishes she had.

Ms. Small Dog...
Ms. Small Dog...

In my quest for all knowledge about U.S. Law Enforcement, and deep and abiding passion for all things criminal (the first part was sarcastic…the second not as much), I am being subjected to…I mean fortunately able to attend training with   Hennessy and Hildegarde.  None of us are particularly thrilled because Hildegarde has to be “trained” to use a database she’s been using for years, and Hennessy and I have to go to learn how to use the system to run background checks on people.  However, due to some things we learned this morning, Hennessy and I are worried that we aren’t going to legally be able to use this system to run the kind of background checks Chief and Sgt. M want us to.  In fact such a use of this system seems to bring snarling FBI agents down like locusts. 

However, in spite of my grumblings there are the odd perks of an all-day-three-day training meeting in the city.  The first is obviously that I get out of the office for nearly a week, the second is that with travel time tacked on I’m getting all sorts of overtime, third is getting to wear jeans on the clock, and the last is the comedic value of the instructors! 

I am not even close to joking.  Can you imagine this a bit more Queen-ed up?  That's our man!
I am not even close to joking. Can you imagine this a bit more Queen-ed up? That's our man!

Metro Marko, as he is apparently named (I overheard a conversation), and his wife are expecting their first kid any second now.  However, and I jest not, the first time I clapped eyes on him I could have sworn he was a drag queen.  It wasn’t the tightness of the clothes, the painstakingly coiffed hair, or even the facial features (though they are suspect).  This man has eyebrows more finely plucked than my own, which lent him a Spock a la Nathan Lane in The Birdcage air. 

And in continuing poor fashion choices news, our other instructor has the Jon and Kate + – ⅝ √ Ω ∞ 8 mom haircut.  She’s trying to grow it out so she’s managed to make the reverse mullet look even worse.  She screams everything, especially her jokes, and says the same thing several times in a row.  Much to the class’ amusement!

All in all, the true downside of this class has been discovering that I’m nearly a month late in registering my car.  Blast!

The American School System Has Failed When…

“These are not spirit fingers.  These are spirit fingers!”
-Bring It On (one of them.  This franchise seems to be doing the Land Before Time thing…what number are we on now?)

Go TEAM!  (Not our school, PS)
Go TEAM! (Not our school, PS)

A request for privileged parking came through to Red and the girls at parking (still muddling through a hopelessly ridiculous new system) written thus:
“I am a cheerleader and therefore require parking closer to campus.  Shouldn’t I be able to park in [names area reserved for administrators and faculty]?  It’s really important for me to be able to get to school easily.”

Diagnosis – left secondary education with tragically skewed self perception, grossly underdeveloped logic faculties, and gravitional-force-altering sense of self importance.  Good job tired cliches and cliques.

There’s a whole website devoted to such mayhem, here it is for your viewing pleasure!

The Tale of the Demon Baby

 

“You know those shows?  The one where the foreign nanny comes to fix the broken, angry kids and they all scream a certain way?  That’s what the kid sounds like.”
-J.

In the flat in between mine and Venice’s dwells a couple.  About a year ago, this seemingly normal couple spawned and the wife was brought to bed of an apparently fine boy.  However as the weeks went by, it became increasingly obvious to all (except the parents) that there was something wrong…

This evil baby communicates in a charming fake British accent...
This evil baby communicates in an understandable, if fake British accent...

To boil down months of annoyance and sleepless nights to a single sentence, the child is a Screamer.  And he has somehow mastered the dark art of knowing exactly when a neighbor is nodding off.  Or when it’s 3a.m.  Or when you’re carrying something easily breakable and likely to be dropped at the sound of a sudden shriek.  Or if it senses smiles and happiness, which the Creature cannot abide.

As rotten luck would have it his bedroom abuts Venice and Val’s, but they aren’t the only victims to this child’s nightly symphonies.  Our building is made of three rows of  four flats…and everyone one of us can hear the baby.  And we have no idea what his parents are doing because he screams for hours at a time and it sounds like no one picks him up or anything, he just lies in his bed and makes his misery heard.  I myself have rarely glimpsed Demon Baby out in daylight, just a couple of times while his parents were putting him (screaming) into his car seat.  J. says that he’s seen them walking around the neighborhood and the kid, when not screaming, sill has a perma-scowl.  It apparently hates the world. 

...this baby communicates through sheer rage.
...this baby communicates through sheer rage.

A couple of tenets have casually mentioned it to our landlords, but most of us are keeping mum.  Partly because it’s a delicate business making one’s frustrations with one’s neighbors known…and partly because our landlord and his wife are themselves expecting their first child any second now and no one wants to fill the soon-to-be mother with horrible worries.  Even though she herself has expressed concern that she will give birth to Demon Baby 2.0.  Pray for us all.

Office Worker: n. resident of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell

“Is it just me, or is this whole thing going to Hell in a hand basket?”
“Just wave your magic wand and make it all better.”
“How about a stapler?  I have one of those and I think it packs more of a punch when it hits.”
-C. and Officer Lampost

One upon a time, the parking office, which is not controlled by the police department, had a novel idea.  “Why don’t we,” they said to one another, “do away with this medieval notion of parking permits that you stick on your window or hang from your mirror and instead invest millions of dollars in a new digital license plate reader system that will simply take a picture of the plate, compare the info to a database, and automatically write tickets!”
“Brilliant!” said University Administration.  “But hey, folks, we are in the middle of a recession.  Is this a good idea?”
“Sure,” said the Parking Powers, “it will only cost XXX amount of money, require fewer man hours to run, and reduce costs all around.”
“How economical!” exclaimed the University, “Go for it!”

futilitySix months later…the Office of IT had not even started writing the program, the bare bones equipment was costing three times more than projected, we had to hire even more people to keep the office running, supervisors were not listening to the traffic and parking clerks when they explained what they needed in the new system, no one had thought that perhaps students/faculty coming to this university might be coming from out of state/country and so the program would need a way to account for that, and days away from the new system going live, the office hadn’t even received a prototype of the program to run.

Ergo, this whole week the entire office has been overrun with techie-types (and everyone of them with the stereotypical thick glasses, receding hairlines, and nasally voices…it’s been weird) scampering about frantically trying to patch a program they didn’t know they had to write, written in a matter of a couple of weeks, and left with enough holes in it that it might legally qualify as a sieve. 

Sorry, IT guys, e-card just aren't going to cut it...
Sorry, IT guys, e-card just aren't going to cut it...

The funny bit in this mess is how the IT guys seem to be trying to apologize for their blunders.  The office has spent the week overrun with flowers, balloons, sugary treats, and take out meals.  I would just like to have been a fly on the wall while they were working this out…
“Crap, guys, we’ve screwed it up royally and now we have an office full of women all barking mad to get this thing online and absolutely furious with us.  Brainstorm, quick!  Best way to make it up?”
“They’re women!  Flowers and chocolate all the way, dude!”

I don’t even work for the parking division, but I would hazard a guess that as much as the girls are enjoying the perks of having a dozen erring husbands groveling for forgiveness…they might prefer the new system working instead.

stupidity_1170973245
Can you exorcise this stuff? Fingers crossed!

And in continuing office news, after the Rising of the Secretaries  (spearheaded by yours truly) and ample warning, I am wheeling out the guillotine!  Today all unclaimed lockers and uniforms will be confiscated, gear will be redistributed to kids who are actually working, all paperwork will be filed and discrepancies will be punished.  At noon we attack!

Adventures in Finesse

“Doh!”
-Homer Simpson

So, not only did J.’s pen leak onto a pair of really nice suit pants, but my khaki trousers have turned up with a strange black slash of mystery gunk on one leg.  And while J.’s is an isolated incident, mine is something considerably more annoying.

Ever since I started working in this office, these black or gray streaks have been turning up on my trousers.  Always on the left side, always noticed at some point in the morning, and always from an unknown source.  I’ve checked everything!  My desk and chair aren’t to blame, it’s not my car, it’s not from food, it’s not anything in my flat…I’m completely at a loss.  And so, another trip to the dry cleaner’s is in order, and still no explanation to give them. 

On an unrelated note, J. and I liked Cirque du Soleil in Vegas so much that when we heard they were coming to our area, we jumped on buying tickets.  And then completely forgot about the date we chose.  The performance was wednesday…we remembered yesterday morning.  Sigh.

Small Dog struggles..
Small Dog struggles..

What’s In A Name?

“The name we give to something shapes our attitude towards it.”
-Katherine Patterson

Good.  Grief.  Men just have to cough up enough for a sparkly ring, rent a tux, and show up.  Us girls not only have to go through the angst of dress fittings, agonizing over catering (incidentally, I didn’t get to eat a thing at my reception; a fact about which I am inordinately bitter), fret pointlessly over flowers, and basically worry for months at a time.  And THEN, after the whole affair is over, we get to go around sorting out an entirely new identity, complete with documentation. 

My latest theory is that these guys were in line to register their horses, died of waiting, and were fossilized thus. Emporer Qin had a long ways to go with imperial management.
My latest theory is that these guys were in line to register their horses, died of waiting, and were fossilized thus. Emporer Qin had a long ways to go with imperial management.

Our marriage certificate came in the mail last saturday, a fact we celebrated by almost immediately consigning it (accidentally) to the garbage.  I blame J., J. blames me (I think I have a much more convincing case since I’m gone all day and, even though I’m a horrid klutz, I’m not usually that much of an idiot).  Either way, I got off work early today so I trekked on over to the county buildings and got a new copy and then, in a burst of energy I know regret, I decided to be productive and get my name changed on a few things as well.  An hour later, still waiting in line at the Social Security Administration (listening to the endless repetition of numbers of people who had long ago thrown in the towel, “47?…47?…47?…Is 47 here, please?…47?…”) I finally got that sorted.  There was the minor hiccup of me not being born anywhere near the Continental United States, but that minor heart attack was glossed over by the fact that they had my previous information from when I was employed as a student. 

Check.
Check.

Then off to the Driver License Division (otherwise known as the 9th circle of Hell)!  However, getting there was a mess because there were two places listed and somehow in my temper frayed state, I managed to superimpose the numerical address of one place on the opposite city.  Which meant that I spent another 45 minutes doing loop-de-loops across town trying to find this office.  It was housed (read: hidden) in a small bank without any labling on the outside to indicate its presence within.  I must have circled that parking lot half a dozen times before I worked up the nerve to just march into a building and demand guidance.  Then we had a repeat of the line process, the only difference was that this time I got to sit.  Right next to one of the more unusual characters I’ve seen in weeks. 

 This woman was tiny, the size of a 12 year old, and from the waist down she could have been an octogenearian: varicose veins, droopy tatooes working their way down her calves, and crusty feet.  But she had plump childlike hands and arms and a head that I honestly can’t put an age on.  Grandma-ish features on a young face and hair color that looked natural.  Midway through my wait she answered a phone call and started arguing in the meekest,  quietest voice about some sort of payment.
suspense1ha9“You’ve gotten me into something I can’t get out of,” she mewed, “I’m a student” [to add further to the riddle of her age] “and I can’t possibly afford to pay for this.”
My ears perked up in spite of themselves, though I kept my nose firmly buried in a David Sedaris book.  It sounded serious!
“I didn’t know I had that option,” she chirruped softly, “I was told I was under a contract and that I had to keep buying, so I did, but I can’t honor those commitments now.”
A gambling addiction?   A vicious, silken-tonged bookie on the other end perhaps?
“But I only wanted the animated Bible stories and you made me buy lots of other films!  It’s terrible of you to try and make me pay for this, it’s about religious material and you were completely false in selling them to me, you should be ashamed of yourselves!”  She took a breath and said in an even meeker voice, “I’m sorry you alwas see the worst side of me in these phone calls, I don’t like being so unpleasant, but I’m just so upset.”

A huge letdown, in my opinion. 

Another half hour later I was called and with a brief repeat of the question of my natal origins, I got my name changed on my license as well.  Then, driving home, I rolled down my window because I thought my car was making a funny noise.  Having ascertained it wasn’t, I rolled my window back up but managed to catch my sun visor in the closing pane and heard two terrible crunches before I managed to reverse the window and survey the damage.  My visor now has a definite dent down the middle where the plastic inside has been snapped in half and my mirror was shattered.  All the way home I was showered with confetti-like shards of glass.

And halfway home I got a text from J. telling me his parents are coming over for dinner.  Bless him for cleaning up and doing dishes, otherwise I might have tossed our new certificate right back in the trash in a mood and gone straight to bed.  Thank goodness tomorrow is a state holiday and I can sleep in!