Thursday, June 23, 2011

Creatively Crazy

My Facebook status: I cranked out my first creative writing assignment. So far being creative is a lot easier than being opinionated about something I don't give a shit about (Academic Writing).

This is the result of my first writing assignment.  I took multiple conversations with my friend, some random ideas, and some lines from my blog posts, smooshed them together, and this is what came out.  I'm sure my classmates think I'm very strange now.  I guess it's good that they found out sooner rather than later though. 

I remember coming to this cabin as a teenager with Susan.  Now, years later, Susan and I are here with our kids.  I don’t think we look any different than when we were sixteen but somehow time flew by and we got old enough to have kids.  It’s an odd thing to walk through these woods watching my daughter push Susan’s daughter in a stroller.  I wonder if our girls will have a friendship like ours.  I wonder if their personalities will complement each other the same way.  I hope they don’t get in as much trouble together as we did.  Hmmm…maybe I should stop this friendship before it starts.  “I should have had a cup of coffee before we left.  I can’t focus anymore in the morning without it,” I said, breaking the silence. 

“I can’t even focus with coffee since I had kids.  I have mommy-mush brain.  I keep hoping my boss hasn’t noticed that I have gotten markedly dumber in the last year,” Susan replied. 

“That gets a little better when the kids get older, but not much.  I still can’t remember things the way I used to be able to.  It seems like my brain only has room for really important information now, like my phone number.  Even the important things disappear sometimes…like my mom’s phone number.  Maybe that’s a bad example though, that might just be my subconscious at work.” 

"How do you feel about the big three-oh coming up next week?" she asked me. 

"I am feeling alright about it.  I do feel like my body is slowly dying as the days go by.  Can you hear that?  That’s my hip popping."

"Turning thirty didn't really affect me too much.  I still felt like I did when I was in my twenties.  Although I'm thirty-two now and I swear to God I looked in the mirror the other day, saw the little wrinkles around my eyes, and thought 'This is it!  I already hit my prime!  It's all downhill from here,'" Susan said with a stone-cold, serious look on her face.

“I am not really afraid of the wrinkles; my biggest fear about getting older and living in the suburbs is turning into a Republican.”

“I have a public service job and a ton of school loans.  I think I’ll always be too poor to turn into a Republican.”  

I giggled, "Seriously though, I had kids when I was twenty which means my prime was right around a day before I got pregnant.  That ship sailed a long time ago.  Although, I have noticed that my attitude has changed a lot in the last couple of years.  I walked into a jeans store the other day and saw a pair of jeans for seventy-five bucks with giant holes in them.  I loudly proclaimed that anyone who would spend that much money on a pair of jeans that already has holes in them is an idiot.  I was by myself so everyone looked at me funny, but anyway, where did that come from?  When did I turn into my parents?  More importantly, when did I start talking to myself in public?”

“I think when you have to work all day at a job you hate to earn enough money to buy one pair of jeans, your standards just get higher.” 

“Maybe that is it.  Speaking of working all day for nothing, I really thought I would be making more money by now or at least doing something more important with my life.  Instead I spend my day being belittled by lesser human beings.  Is getting older about realizing that you’re not as special as you thought you were?  Is it about letting go of the fairy tale once and for all?”

“You’re raising two kids by yourself; I think that’s pretty extraordinary.”

“Maybe raising kids that don’t need years of therapy is the only really extraordinary feat left for me.  It amazes me how many of our friends have kids now.  I read a Kurt Vonnegut quote the other day that reminded me of us.  He had said:  'True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.'  Isn’t that the truth?  I can't believe that our friends are parents, cops, teachers, doctors, for goodness sakes...you're a lawyer!  How did that happen?  We’re collectively responsible for some very important things, which is terrifying.  Honestly, if any of our friends go into politics, that will be the last straw, I will move to another country." 

We looked at each other with a glimmer of terror in our eyes.  We walked on to the sounds of my hip popping and the birds chirping, both silently contemplating a move to Europe. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to Be Subpar

My Facebook status:  “On the 8th week of woo-ork, my new job gave to meeeeeeeeeeeee…8 asshole salesman, 7 gossipy coworkers, 6 broken promises, 5 delayed insurance requests, 4 nasty rumors, 3 creepy cubemates, 2 late paychecks, and 1 unsatisfied, underpaid, burnt-out employ-eee-eee-eeeee….

Alright, alright, I know what you're thinking.  You are thinking “this girl just doesn’t know how to be happy!”  You are wrong.  Again.  Shut up and let me tell you what happened before you get all judge-y and start telling me all your disgustingly optimistic rainbow-striped life mottos.  I started a new job about two months ago in order to work closer to home.  It is in the same crappy credit career path I am going to school to get away from so I did not expect a job that is markedly better than the last one.  However, I did not expect to be lied to right off the bat.  My boss’s boss did all the interviewing, he looks like the dad from Back to the Future so from here on out he will be referred to as Mr. McFly.  Anyway, Mr. McFly lied to bate me into taking the job.  I am especially astonished by this move since there are so many people out of work right now that would have been happy to take any old crappy job.  Just one of the fabrications Mr. McFly told me was that he was paying out maximum monthly bonuses to several of his people.  He said even his mediocre people were getting healthy sums every month.  My new coworkers are quite the talkers and they started offering up their bonus amounts to me once I started training.  They are not getting anywhere near what was told to me.  Surprise, surprise, someone high up in a corporation bent the truth to get what he wanted.  To add insult to injury Mr. McFly jacked up my goals to ridiculous numbers and then called my performance “subpar” when I inevitably did not hit them.  You can take my money sir but no one calls me subpar and gets away with it (except for my mother).  This ridiculous little slam lit a fire under my exhausted behind.  I asked Mr. McFly what his goal calculations are (because they didn't align with the outline he gave me in the interview), ran my numbers, and demonstrated that it is an impossibility for me to make my goals because of the terms he gave to my biggest customer.  He never responded to my email.  I asked him if he had read it and he walked away mumbling something about having to fire that smartass, uppity-schmuppity new girl.  I think he was talking about someone else.

I understand that companies do not want to give out raises or bonuses.  I think it is completely socially irresponsible, but I understand why it happens.  What I do not understand is why some managers decide to crush your soul along with not doling out your well-earned money.   What is psychologically wrong with these people?  For instance, at my last company we had a meeting to go over year-end results.  We were told that the company was on target with their plan from before the recession ever even hit.  Oh great!  Hooray!  We’re back baby!  And then we were told we would not be getting full raises like before the recession hit.  Wait…what?!  Really?  There are half as many people working here doing three times the work they used to and we're not going to get anything for it?  And then you're going to brag to us about it?  Along that same note, I have too many friends that are managers to believe that performance reviews have any other purpose then to crush your self-esteem until you think no one else would ever hire you.  People really are not that motivated to leave their benefits and vacation days anyway, why is it necessary to grind their inner being into teeny, tiny pieces of poo too?

I was reading an NPR article the other day about psychopaths in business (here is the link if you are interested: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/21/136462824/a-psychopath-walks-into-a-room-can-you-tell).  (On a side note I’ve decided to let NPR make all my entertainment and political decisions for me.  They have more time to research this crap and they will make sure I don't turn into a Republican when I’m not looking.)  According to this article, "Robert Hare, the eminent Canadian psychologist who invented the psychopath checklist, ... recently announced that you're four times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor's office".  AH HAH!  So people who cheat, lie, take risks, who are able to appear charming when they feel like it and generally lack any empathy are likely to succeed in the corporate world?  Oh.  Okay, that makes a lot of sense.  Shoot.

What do you do when one of these people has their grip on you?  Do you wait for their inevitable psychotic break (hopefully this happens somewhere other than work), which will definitely result in their firing and prosecution on murder charges?  Do you stay, assimilate, and take the mental beating?  Do you run away, screaming dramatically, as fast as you can?  Does anyone have the answer?