Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.
Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)
Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Life(?) of Trillian
Friday, March 05, 2004 SWF Seeks M Fine. I'll do something about it. I'm feeling a little better (thanks for asking), well, better enough to be feeling bad about it being Friday. Some of you have mentioned perhaps my, um, draught or displeasure with the men I do meet, and the reason I am single is actually a case of me being far too particular. "No one's perfect, Trillian," people write, "No one's ever going to be HWNMNBS, so you need to just forget that notion." Good advice, thank you, and I have done this. I don't expect anyone to compare to HWNMNBS. I love him because I've never met anyone like him, he is truly unique. And really, I don't want anyone like him. Well. I mean. You know. It would just be kind of sick and wrong and creepy to find and date someone really similar to him.
"So, then, what exactly is it you're looking for in a man?" people ask.
"The usual. I guess. Whatever. A guy," is my response.
To that end, the online dating sites, where I am actually a bit more specific about myself and what I might like in a mate, don't seem to be reeling in the men and dates I was hoping to find, so from the urging (read: h8er mail about me being a whining pathetic loser too stupid to use her blog as a place to meet guys) today I am doing something I swore I would never do: I am using this blog as a conduit for my social life. I am posting an open cattle call, erm, request for (dating) proposals from regular readers and anyone else who stumbles across this. If you're not interested in me, maybe you know someone who might be. That's how this networking thing works. They all say the best way to find a man or a job is through your friends and associates. Network. Network. Network.
I'll do it.
Wanted: Single male. Breathing and employed. 24 - 50 years old. Must like animals, especially cats. Must have read at least one entire book in the past five years. The breathing thing is kind of important. Call me shallow. But since I'm barely breathing myself, I know breathing to be a crucial aspect of a healthy relationship. I used to not care about the employed thing, but now I do. Sort of. I've learned a person needs a sense of daily professional purpose in order to feel adequate to other human beings, particularly other human beings with whom they are in a relationship. I don't care where you work, what you do, or how much or how little money you earn. Seriously. I honestly, truly do not care. The only thing I care about is that you understand why it's a good idea to be a productive member of society, to have to get out of bed in the morning because you have (or better still for everyone involved, want) to go to work. I've been unemployed and I know what it does to a person and a relationship. I've dated unemployed men, and I know what it does to them and a relationship. If you're unemployed, don't stop reading just because of your lack of job. I know these are difficult times to keep and find a job. Have you worked in the past five years? Ever? If you don't have a job, no big deal. I'm flexible on this one. The term we're searching for here is: Responsible.
My friends have strict orders to kidnap me and put me in therapy if I so much as consider dating another: Artist, musician, writer, poet, professional arcade game tournament player. But they don't have to know. I'm just being honest here. If you are one of the above, trust me, I'm already interested. But when I don't introduce you to my friends, ever, don't take it personally. We can pretend we're in the Witness Protection Program. It'll be fun.
Other stuff that would be nice, but you know, no big deal. Passport Required I travel a lot. It would be nice to have someone to travel with around the Universe. If you're a homebody, that's okay, but don't expect me to stay home with you all the time. Ain't gonna happen.
Frequent Flyer Miles and a Good Long Distance Calling Rate Plan I am the crowned and anointed Queen of Long Distance Relationships. And since I am in the Dating Void otherwise known as Chicago, chances are you are not living right around the corner from me. Maybe you are. That would be really great. I would like that a lot. I don't really want another long distance relationship. Ever again. I'd like to pass the crown onto the heir apparent, the Princess of Long Distance Relationships. But, I somewhat hesitantly and resignedly admit, if you're not in Chicago it might not be an issue. If you're in the UK, especially, it might not be an issue.
Looks Aren't Everything... All types welcome. But you should know I am tall, nearly 6 feet in bare feet. And when my ankle heals I'll be back to wearing heels. High heels. Very high heels. If you're shorter than me, I don't care. I really don't. I've dated "short" men. But if you care, move along, there's nothing here for you to see.
I admit I have a thing for nice hands (I'll be the judge) and hair. Okay, fine. If you're looking at your hands right now and wondering if they're nice, measure your index finger, length and circumference. 4" or longer? Less than 2" at its widest circumference? You're in! Hair: Men (other than the men in my family) go bald. It happens. I know this. And really, I don't care. But. If you've got hair I can run my own fingers through, YOU'RE IN! (All you guys not serving in the military sporting that almost shaved head thing I so sardonically call Head Stubble: If you've got hair, why are you shaving it? HUGE HINT TO MEN: WOMEN LIKE HAIR. Hair is the male equivalent of boobs. A lot of men don't have much hair. IF YOU'VE GOT IT, FLAUNT IT. Head Stubble says: I'm too lazy to be bothered to wash/comb/style my hair. Or: Hair styles confuse me so I just have it almost shaved completely, but not totally because I don't want people to think I'm bald, so I leave stubble. Perhaps not the messages you want to send to potential partners.) Mulletheads need not apply. Sorry. I left Michigan for a reason: Mullets. The sho-lo. And really, you wouldn't be happy with me. Let's just say good-bye now and never look back.
Bonus points for interesting eyes. "What does she mean by that?" you may be wondering. I'll be the judge.
...Because It's What's Inside That Counts "Nice" guys, you've found a home. That is if you are sincere. Warning: I can spot a phony anything from fake Prada to a lie on a resumé a mile off, so don't try to be something you are not. If you are a bad boy, and your brand of badness is pretending to be a nice guy, I know your type. Really well. I've dated your kind almost exclusively. And I don't play those games anymore. Move along. There's nothing here for you to see.
If you like the arts, music, cinema and literature and aren't gay, why aren't you married yet? Are you gay? I don't care, really, I've been a beard before, I can be one again, but maybe this isn't really what we're both looking for at this point in our lives. Okay! You're not gay! Great! Even better! We can go to museums and galleries and concerts and movies and talk about books and authors and ride around in the car singing really obscure songs and crash out at home listening to concept albums! It'll be fun!
The sarcastic, dry, intelligent witted are strongly urged to apply. Strongly. If you like the Three Stooges and/or the Marx Brothers, move along. There's nothing here for you to see. Let's just say good-bye now and never look back.
Geeks, nerds, science fair winners and spelling bee champs are strongly encouraged to apply. Must be able to tolerate endless factoids, obscure and useless bits of trivia (especially music trivia) and observations (endless observations).
Other things you might want to know about me: All my female friends except one are now married or seriously coupled. No huge deal. I just thought you should know. Because, you know. Sometimes I get in a "mood."
I have serious, deep issues over a broken engagement. I probably need years of therapy for this and other issues. Maybe someday I'll seek professional counseling. But probably not. So deal with it and don't bug me about it. You've probably got some issues in need of a little therapy yourself. I won't nag you about them. Unless you're homicidal. I've got a problem with that. I don't deal with homicide very well. I have to draw the line somewhere. So if you have homicidal tendencies I'm probably not the girl for you. Suicidal tendencies, on the other hand, are a particular specialty of mine.
Be warned: I've got that girl shoe thing. Yes. I will always bring home another pair of new black shoes. And cute shoes we all know I will probably never wear. If you can't accept this, move along. There's nothing here for you to see.
I like my parents. I really like them. I like to spend time with them. I don't mean one of those weird way too involved sort of things, I just like them. They're nice people. If you have a problem with spending time with my family it's never going to work between us. Let's just say good-bye now, move on and never look back.
If you don't like cats, don't try to pretend you do (remember, I can spot a phony anything from a mile off). Let's just say good-bye now, move on and never look back.
If you've read all of this and haven't moved along, just said good-bye and never looked back, do I know you? Have we already dated? Why didn't it work out? Oh yeah. I wanted to have children. You didn't. We said a tearful good-bye and never looked back. Well. I would still like to have children with a man I love. Yeah. Love. Or at least as close as we're going to get to love. I don't want a man just to reproduce. I want a real relationship, a real marriage, and children raised by two parents who love each other and love them. That's the only way I'll do it.
Right. That pretty much killed off the rest of them.
So to the one remaining reader, hello, and welcome to my blog. Take a look around. Drop me an email if you're still interested.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
So, the boss is sending you to a seminar in Minneapolis.
You think this is a retaliatory manoeuvre for that time you called in sick the day of the department bonding retreat.
It probably is.
Apart from having to fly Northworst, I've got good news for you: Ox-Op Gallery, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis (see link for address), has a great show on the calendar this month. Aesthetic Apparatus will be showing some of their finest. You know their work, you just don't know you know their work.
Another One Bites the Dust. Maybe.
I got an email from a friend Sunday night.
"Hey, good for you Trillian! Email! A friend! Things are looking up!"
Okay, okay, enough with the sarcasm. That's my job. This friend lives thousands of miles, a continent and a bunch of countries away from me, so we email and IM for our main correspondence.
The email contained a photo attachment and the sentence: (Her boyfriend of four months) gave me this Friday.
"This" was what I think is the biggest diamond ring I've ever seen owned by someone I personally know.
Of course I replied immediately: "Is 'this' an engagement ring? Sorry I have to ask, but by your brief message I'm not sure if I should be congratulating you on your engagement or your boyfriend's ability to purchase a ring that cost more than a moderate home in an outlying suburb."
Of course I refrained from getting on my high horse about the slave labor required to mine that clear piece of rock, the history, humanity and stupidity of the diamond industry. Some girls like diamonds, dream of them even. I have learned to accept this. But I'm not one of them. For some reason every one of my female friends fall into this group of women, women who like diamonds, the bigger the better. Odd that for one so turned off by diamonds I befriend women for whom diamonds have the reverse effect. I have never owned a diamond and never will. My friends know how I feel, and I know these occasions are not the time or place to rant about the inflated, fixed and exaggerated 'value' of diamonds, the De Beers family, and the pain and suffering and slave conditions diamond miners endure in the name of "love" in the form of engagement rings the world over. (So no, I was not the least bit impressed with the massive clear rock mounted on a platinum band, nor was I jealous, so just get that out of your catty mind right now. I know she likes diamonds so I'm happy for her, end of conversation. M'kay?)
Turns out it is an engagement ring, but since the proposal was unexpected and rather sudden, they are 'talking about it' and she is not wearing the ring.
She will. I know she will say yes. Sure it's only been four months. But he's The One.
We all know it.
Freund and I have been the last two remaining singles in this particular group of friends since last Fall. Prior to that it was three of us all quite certain we'd be looking after each other in our old age, three old childless spinsters and our cats. Over the years, the three of us watched our friends meet The One, marry, and recently, begin to have children. The three of us consoled each other through one bad date after another and assured each other there was nothing wrong with us. "It's them," the collective Him, "not us."
When I met HWNMNBS, they were supportive and happy and all the things friends are supposed to be when you meet The One. When he left me they were supportive and sad and all the things friends are supposed to be when you are devastated beyond grief with heartbreak. "At least you don't have to worry about being alone when you're old, you've got us! Three childless spinsters and their cats!"
With each passing year, especially since The Breakup with HWNMNBS, I took secret comfort in this joke.
When the other of our single triad, Friend, met her now husband, we knew he was The One. There's never any mistaking it. They dated longer than four months before the Biggest Diamond Ring I've Ever Seen (until last Sunday) made it's debut appearance, but we all knew he was The One. She was married last Fall.
And as friendships do when a spouse enters the scene, things changed. She has different priorities. Rightfully so. As she should. Freund and I consoled each other with, "At least we have each other."
And then she met Him. The One. And he's wonderful. And perfect for her. And I've never seen her happier. And I can't wait for them to talk about whatever it is they think they need to talk about and get married. Because I am truly happy for her.
Though the wall of IM, however, I was on the receiving end of the sort of tact I struggled with when HWNMNBS asked me to marry him. And in this I am in a unique position: I am single, never married, but I have seen The Other Side. I dipped my toe in the shallow end, but I was there long enough to get my feet wet enough to know what this does to you and your friends and your relationship with your friends. There are thin lines and delicate balances. You're so in love. And he loves you - he REALLY loves you! You're happy, beyond happy, overjoyed, something, I don't have a word for it because I don't think there is a word for that feeling. You're really happy. And you want to tell everyone. everyone. Because for once you have really great news to share. You want to tell everyone every little detail.
But then you remember: This friend just broke up with a long term boyfriend. That friend is depressed because she hasn't had a date in over a year. The other friend has a biological clock ticking so loud you hear it over every conversation. You know your friends will be happy for you, but you also know the single ones, while not classically jealous, will be hit with more emotional baggage because yet another of their friends is getting married.
They will also see it as the death knell to your friendship. They will be happy, really, truly happy for you, but they will be feeling very alone and left out and sad. Because that is what engagements, weddings, pregnancies and births do to single people. And you will know exactly how they are feeling because just the day before you were a single person, receiving calls from friends getting married and feeling those things. But with one question, that life altering will you marry me question, everything changes. You step over to The Other Side.
But, if you've been single very long, seen friends get married, been through this yourself, you are aware of what your single friends are feeling, very aware. And you swear you are not going to be One Of Those People. The ones who talk incessantly about the engagement, the wedding, the wedding, the wedding, the wedding, and occasionally the betrothed. Because you don't want to be One Of Those People and because you like and respect your friends too much, have been through too much with them, you don't want to put them through that. You may even make them vow to slap you with reality if you become One Of Those People.
And so you play down your enthusiasm. You might not even show them the ring. You mention it as matter of fact and casually as possible. In some cases, you might not even tell them, making excuses to yourself to not call or email them, hoping they'll hear it through the grapevine before you have to tell them personally that you are leaving the single ranks.
If you're a compassionate person, who has been in the single ranks commiserating with other singles over this exact issue, it's very, very difficult to be One Of Them. They Who Found The One And Are Getting Married. You know they know you know how they are feeling. Conversations, once so easy and sarcastic and funny and insightful and unrestrained become awkward. You all know what's going on inside.
In my unique case, I know what my newly engaged friends are going through. The weird thing is that instead of easing any of this awkwardness it's making it worse.
I felt Freund's uncertainty through IM. Here is but a small sampling of the awkwardness and issues involved with crossing over to The Other Side.
"I'm not wearing The Ring yet, we don't know for certain we're getting married."
Of course you are.
"It's all so sudden."
It always is.
"I don't know for sure."
Oh please, you knew for sure after your second date.
"LOL, yeah, who am I trying to kid?!"
Don't even try to fool me. The ring is really beautiful! (a bold typed lie, we both know, but we also both know this is The Right thing to say.)
"The Ring looks a lot bigger in that photo than in real life."
Yeah, I'm sure it does. How big is it? (thinking, okay, with it not on her finger it is difficult to tell how big this thing really is)
"2.43 carats but it's not perfect..."
(gulp, quickly calculating the money a diamond miner makes in his entire lifetime, his health issues, the jewelry mark-up and commissions involved and still falling far short of the amount of money Boyfreund had to have plunked down on this thing) 2.43?! Are you sure it's not smaller in the photo than in person?!
"LOL. I know, it's a bit showy. I never expected this. But like you can talk, your Ring is huge."
No reply, prolonged lack of response as I instantly think of my own admittedly over-sized sapphire engagement ring the exact color of HWNMNBS' eyes, and grasp for something to say that doesn't sound spiteful or hurt or, well, whatever.
"Oh God Trillian I'm sorry. I didn't mean that, sometimes I forget, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
No, don't be sorry. Really. It's okay. I'm really happy for you.
"Are you going to that print conference in LA next month?"
Um, no, I don't think so. You?
"Probably not. Too busy. Damn! I just realized what time it is, I better get going."
Okay. bye. Congratulations!
And that is how it begins. Freund feels guilty, I feel sad and left out and alone. But really happy for her. I mean that sincerely, all diamond hating aside, I am thrilled for her, that she met The One and she's happy. But no matter how loudly I enthuse over her marriage, and I will, and I will mean every ounce of enthusiasm, we all know what's going on, no need to pretend.
Another one down.
Things will be different between us. Friendships change. Freund is a good friend, we'll "endure" her marriage. But unless I get married, go over to The Other Side, it will be a more distant friendship, as we will have less and less in common.
And no, no NO! I don't expect or want my friends to remain single. Especially not because I failed miserably at my betrothal and marriage plans. Of course I want them to meet wonderful people, fall in love, be happy and cross over to The Other Side, so spare me the email, m'kay? I'm not a bitter shrew because my friends are all married. I'm a bitter shrew because of my own failures. I am fully aware my issues have nothing to do with my friends.
I'm a bitter shrew because by being single, in a coupled society (you know, Earth) I am a square peg in a round hole. Even more so with the advent of gay/lesbian marriages.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
There will be more married people, more married couples driving a two income economy. Singles can't catch a break. The gay/lesbian community has been a strong (admittedly unfair) voice in economic, professional, etc. issues facing unmarried people. And no, that's not a reason to deny gay marriage rights. I'm just saying...
And then there was one.
Thursday's Things I Know For Sure (This Ain't Oprah's List)
Married people live longer than single people (or those living alone). I could add four years to my life by being married. Try it yourself. "Test Your Longevity" calculater here.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004 Reality Wednesday
Promotion! An employee will try to successfully navigate The Company's promotion and advancement criteria.
But look out! The Company will lose money if The Employee is promoted, so they will throw hurdles at The Employee to prevent The Employee from advancing through the corporate ranks.
We begin in a small, cramped office brimming with copies of printed campaigns, ("tear sheets") printing press proofs, giveaway items, gift with purchase items, books, catalogs and anything else that can be printed or used as a promotional item ("ad specialties"). Amidst all of this there is some impressive computer equipment. Wedged onto a desk is a large flat panel monitor and a suped up Mac G-4, two scanners and various printers (laser, large format ink jet...). There is also an antiquated PC and monitor. And two telephones.
Behind the desk sits a woman with one of the telephones pressed to her ear.
She motions us into the office, stepping from behind her desk, straining the telephone cord and apologetically removing what appear to be print samples. The camera focuses on one of the items, and zooms in on a bitter looking turtle.
The Employee scoops up the remaining pieces and gives the camera a look which says, "I know the turtle looks bitter. It was the best we could do - better than apprehensive, right? We were two days to press! Give me a break, okay?" Then, slightly more threatening, another look that says, "Give me a break or the deal is off - you're out of here without your sweeps week show." Yeah. The Employee is very good at emoting.
The Employee returns to behind her desk. We overhear a professionally executed and very intelligent conversation wherein The Employee negotiates pricing on a contract. She hangs up and says, "Sorry about that, excuse me just one minute while I make a few notes." She types at her antiquated PC.
"I know, this thing is a joke. I only use it for inter-office work. Everyone but creatives are on PC's, so us Mac users have to use PC's for everything company related except design and production. It's cumbersome and stupid, completely inefficient...but that's our tech support group. You should have seen the sorry state of affairs when I first started this job." She shudders, then makes a dismissive shake of her head. "That was years ago."
She cocks her head thoughtfully and continues, "Back then, the guy who hired me, Kenneth, was floundering, in way over his head. He knew it. I'll give him credit, he knew he was in too deep and needed very specific help. A lot of people don't see that or refuse to get help. He had interviewed a lot of candidates, but none had the right mix of skills and talent to bail him out of the situation. He'd nearly given up when I applied for the job.
"I was in a very unhappy job situation at the time, and the challenges this job presented sounded like the sort of thing I needed. I had the creative and technical expertise to bring the department forward. I had a lot to offer them. Kenneth recognized this and made me and offer. Which I refused. It was far too low for the amount and quality of work required. Kenneth made me a slightly higher offer. At this point I was so miserable in the job I had at the time I decided to take the job, even at a salary much lower than industry standard and much lower than I was earning. I knew there would be sacrifices I would have to make in my personal life with the lower salary, but I desperately needed a change and I WAS miserable. I anticipated shorter hours and more time for myself, which was worth the reduction in salary. I had been working very long hours and traveling a lot, sacrificing time with my family, friends...I lost a boyfriend because of those long hours...and I really wanted to have time to get back to my own art, work on my own projects. I figured if I had a more regular schedule I would be able to focus on my art and I wouldn't miss the money - it would be a good time to get back into myself and my art and my relationships.
"Kenneth had told me that he was a part-time actor and that occasionally he would be out of the office for rehearsals and auditions. He needed someone to work side-by-side, as a true team, someone responsible, who could answer any questions or handle any situations if he wasn't in the office. I assumed 'occasionally' meant an afternoon now and then. I was a fool. No one mentions this sort of thing unless it is in actuality A Huge Deal.
"That was the first lesson I learned on this job. My first day on the job, Kenneth never showed up at the office. Two people from the department hunted me down, in retrospect, like a lynching, saying, 'Kenneth said you'd handle this! We need it Thursday!' It was Monday and 'this' was a direct mail postcard. Nonplused, I got it designed and produced by Thursday. Which was good because Kenneth was not seen or heard from until the following Tuesday.
"When he finally appeared, at what I soon learned was his customary 10:00 - 11:30 AM arrival (when he actually showed up for work), his only comment was, 'everything going okay?'
"Within a month it was obvious Kenneth spent more time being an actor than doing his job. Over the next three years Kenneth only once worked three consecutive weeks. I say work, but I mean 'in the office.' Kenneth was very good at delegating or evading work, but making himself seen when it was to his benefit.
Getting Past a Boss Who Never Shows Up for Work
(K-e-n-n-e-t-h-: F-o-r-m-e-r B-o-s-s types across screen) Cut to a theatre rehearsal area, a man is going over lines on one side of a stage. "The Employee? Nice girl. When I lobbied for a promotion I included her - I really did. It's not MY fault they wouldn't raise her grade level. I had her write up all the paperwork, I signed it and submitted it. What happened to it after that I don't know. I'm too busy to follow up on those sort of details. That's why I hired The Employee, to handle details. I left a year later, got another promotion, took a job in a different department. If you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to rehearsal."
The Department Manager Who Doesn't Know (or Care) The Employee Exists
(D-e-p-a-r-t-m-e-n-t M-a-n-a-g-e-r types across screen) Cut to a nicer, bigger office with another, older, woman behind a desk and a nameplate that reads Department Manager.
"Kenneth. Ah. Kenneth. Dear Kenneth. He's a wonderful actor, you know. One day we'll see him accepting an Oscar.
"What did he do here? Oh, what didn't he do?! He was indispensable. I made sure his promotion got through very quickly, I didn't want to lose him. Anything Kenneth wanted I gave him as fast as I could. It was important that he didn't have to worry about anything here at the office while he was pursuing his acting career. Actors need focus, you know. I made sure all office stress was alleviated so that he could focus.
"The Employee? She seems like a nice girl. Very busy, that one. Promotion? Paperwork? I don't remember any paperwork for a promotion. Oh wait, is that what HR kept calling about? Still, just a small promotion, wouldn't matter anyway. Not like Kenneth's promotion. That was important. The Employee only works here, she doesn't have to focus on other things like acting. I don't believe she has children or even a husband, so she's got lots of time to work on all those projects. If there was paperwork for a promotion for her, I'm sure Kenneth would have handled it."
Cut back to The Employee, now feverishly working at the Mac, huge layout on the screen. "I just found out the drop date for The Product has been changed, so we have to be on press two weeks earlier than we expected. And there's a problem, erm challenge, the people in packaging didn't factor in part of the trial sized product, so they had to re-engineer the blister pac which means we have to change the size of insert, to say nothing of trying to get press time two weeks before we were scheduled...not fun. Particularly because I've got two other projects on deadline and more looming ominously. And I've been really sick for a few weeks, really sick, and I'm running at half capacity. If I had some help around here it would make a huge difference. My art, me time? You're joking, right? I'm working longer days and more weekends then I did at the job I had before this. Yeah.I know. The very reason I took this job was a reduction in hours. Beware the Jabberwock and hiring managers.
"The paperwork for my promotion was stalled somewhere - I never did get a straight answer. Kenneth, when he was around to talk to about it, would mumble something about job descriptions and HR. Human Resources was little help. Meanwhile, I was really busy, Kenneth got a part in a huge national production so he was gone for four months. Not that this was a new issue - but this particular tour coincided with a Really Big and Important Project for The Company. I though Kenneth would want to be involved, it was very high profile and very important. Didn't really look very good to the client that he was never in the office. Of course Department Manger covered for him."
H-u-m-a-n R-e-s-o-u-r-c-e-s D-i-r-e-c-t-o-r "The Employee is an unusual case. Her boss, Kenneth, did submit a request for promotion, but these things take time. There was a request for promotion for him, as well. We had to promote him first, then we could promote The Employee. That's just how it works. We can't do them at the same time. Particularly in this case because The Employee's promotion would make her the same level as Kenneth. We can't have a supervisor supervising the same level employee. We got his promotion through as quickly as possible, no challenges, lots of cooperation from his Department Manager helped a lot. He's a wonderful actor, you know. Really going places.
"When it came to The Employee's promotion, well, that was a bit more difficult. She has such varied tasks, it's difficult to nail down a job description worthy of promotion. I know that doesn't make any sense, but human resourcing is an artform all its own. Kenneth was busy with his new promotion and of course his acting, so he didn't have time to follow up on all the details, and Department Manager didn't return calls or answer email. I came to dread email or calls from The Employee because all I could say was 'Talk to Kenneth or Department Manager.' And then It happened."
K-e-n-n-e-t-h G-e-t-s A-n-o-t-h-e-r P-r-o-m-o-t-i-o-n The Employee talks about Kenneth's departure. "A year after Kenneth's promotion, and the submission of my promotion paperwork, Kenneth applied for and got a job in another department - another promotion. The paperwork for my promotion was still stalled somewhere after Kenneth left - I never did get a straight answer. HR said it was up to my Department Manager, my department manager said it was with HR. All I got was a lot of runaround. Meanwhile, Kenneth, as my boss and person 'officially' responsible was long gone to his new job and/or on stage, so basically as good as gone in terms of my promotion. And naturally I assumed since I was already doing his job and had been since I started working here, that I would be officially promoted into his job. Everyone was concerned about what was 'going to happen' with Kenneth gone, which left me confused and more than a little stymied. Kenneth had effectively 'been gone' since the day I started working here. So his 'absence' was of little consequence to me, I had been doing his job for three years. Just another day for me. You might think I would be officially promoted. You would think wrong."
D-e-p-a-r-t-m-e-n-t M-a-n-a-g-e-r "Kenneth. Yes. We really miss Kenneth around here. I hated to see him go, but I am so fond of him, I wanted to see him advance, I couldn't hold him back, it wouldn't have been right, so I gave him the wonderful recommendation he deserved. I didn't know what were going to do without him. I had no plan, it was all so sudden, such a shock.
"Somehow, the work, whatever work it is, got done. I don't know how. Somehow we managed for a year and a half without him. We even came in far under our budget on many projects and our departmental budget was underspent for the first time. Kenneth really helped us out by leaving, saved us some money on the salary line, and he hired a few of our support people away from us after he started his new job. That was surprising, too, so we didn't replace them either. The work, whatever work it was they did, still got done, I guess, and more money saved, so it wasn't too bad. I missed our little two hour lunches, Kenneth and I had some good times. But the new job was so good for Kenneth that I didn't mind. He's an actor, you know. He's going to be a big star. His job here is secondary, he needs freedom to perform and perfect his craft.
"What's that? Promote the person directly under him to his position? What a novel concept! Do people do that?! Do they have seminars to learn about that sort of thing? It would never work in this case, of course. The person directly under him, The Employee...well...it's not that I don't like her, it's just that I really know very little about her. She's always so busy. I certainly couldn't promote her to such an esteemed position as Kenneth's. She's extremely creative and very good with computers, or so I've heard. She's here a lot. Always around and she is good at handling things. But she could never do Kenneth's job.
"Kenneth said what? That there's paperwork for her promotion somewhere? I don't know anything about that. But if Kenneth thinks she should be promoted, then by all means, yes, she should. But not to KENNETH's job. We can give her whatever title she wants, that's not a problem. As long as it's not Kenneth's.
The Hiring of a New Boss The Employee is asked about the position vacated by Kenneth. "One day I walked by Kenneth's old office and saw this woman sitting in there. Not terribly uncommon, the vacant office was used by temps, clients, whomever needed a phone and desk for a few hours or days. She was there the next day. And the next. That afternoon, Wednesday, she came into my office and introduced herself. By her introduction of herself, I got the feeling I was supposed to know her. I thought she was a client, that I had been neglecting a client, so I apologized, said I was really busy on The Account, and asked her how long she'd been with The Client Company. She looked a little surprised and said she was with The Company (my company). 'Your new supervisor.'
"And that was how I learned Kenneth's position had been filled. It was clear to both New Boss and I this was the first I had heard I was getting a new boss. To her credit New Boss figured that out quickly and apologized. This was her first taste of the lack of protocol in our department, so she was a little confused and put off by it. I genuinely felt bad for her, I mean, can you imagine working at a new job for three days and not having your employee say one word to you? Not that it was my fault, I had no idea the position was being filled. I still assumed my promotion would be rolled in with Kenneth's old job. Because I was doing his job. Oh yes, I was very, very angry about that, but not at New Boss."
"Turns out she's more of a media relations/journalism person, she doesn't really do what I do or even know what I do, for that matter. Over a year later, I'm still not sure why she was hired for her job. Touchy subject with me. After a year and a half of no Kenneth, no one at all in his job, all of a sudden, New Boss appeared. No one even told me the job had been posted, that interviews were taking place, or that someone had been hired.
"I have since found out that's because the job was never posted, no interviews happened, and New Boss was hired because she is a friend of our Department Manager. Yes, I did take it up with Human Resources, and got nowhere. New Boss was hired and that was that.
N-e-w B-o-s-s Cut to New Boss in a spacious office containing no evidence of any sort of actual work.
"When I came here, poor The Employee. She'd been doing her job and Kenneth's - long before Kenneth even left for his new job, I suspect. Overworked, to say the least. I wanted to make things better for her. After all, she is the Creative Driving Force of this company. But I don't know how. I haven't a clue how she makes all this happen. One day we're in a meeting and clients are talking about their products and what they want, a few days later The Employee has all these ideas and cost estimates and mock-ups. It's like magic! I don't know what she does or how she does it, but it always gets done! The only thing I could do was try to get her a promotion, some sort of recognition of her efforts. I found out there was a petition for promotion for her, something was holding it up, keeping her from getting a promotion. I've never figured out why she didn't get Kenneth's job, why they hired me instead of promoting her, since she was already up for a promotion before Kenneth left. I'm glad she didn't, because then I wouldn't have been able to get this job, but still, I do wonder sometimes.
"For a year I've lobbied Human Resources and the Department Manager to get her a grade level promotion. That's how we do it here. We have salary 'grades.' Everything is based upon your salary grade. The size of your office, vacation days, salary, everything is based upon grade level. The Company is moving to a new location in a few months. Floor space is going to be tight. We have a few extra offices, but they're larger, nicer offices, for certain higher grade levels only. We really need to put one or two people in those offices, but of course that means we have to promote them. The only person close enough to promote to the office appropriate grade level is The Employee. And besides, I really want to do this for her. She has been waiting for a promotion for four years..."
To be continued.
Will The Employee get a promotion? Will she get a new office? Will Kenneth win an Oscar? Tune in next week!
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Sleep...SLEEP...SLEEP! (weird diabolic voiceover)
The good thing about major medication is that it makes you sleep.
The other good thing about major medication is that even when you are awake you feel like you're asleep.
Like a Gothamite under The Sandman's spell.
The bad thing about major medication is that even when you are awake you feel like you're asleep.
But I can breathe!
So, you know, things are looking up.
Not breathing was getting to be kind of a drag.
I wonder if this is what it's like to be a cat.
Sleep. Sleep. Demand to have your ears scratched. Sleep. Sleep. Play. Chase Revenge Rover. Decided you're bored with that. Sleep. Sleep. Look out the window. Sleep.
I just woke up from a three hour nap. Because apparently all that sleeping wore me out and I needed a nap.
Monday, March 01, 2004 Not Dead Yet, Come Back Next Week, Should Be Dead By Then I'm not one to say "I told you so." Really. I'm not. In spite of what you may have thought, I'm not one of those people.
To the entire medical community except my doctor: I told you so.
I knew I was sick. Really sick. I knew it. I know me. I know my body. I know what my illness limits are and when they have been crossed. (Particularly this past year - I've pushed and crossed a lot of medical limits...)
I don't go to the doctor, or even call the doctor unless I know I need to see a doctor. As in, two broken ankle bones, a whiplash and concussion. I knew the minute it happened I had done serious damage and needed not one doctor but a team of health care professionals. I didn't play stoic or pull my father's "a little physical pain and suffering is good, makes your body stronger" game.
When it comes to the every day stuff, I have a very accurate onboard gauge. I know exactly what merits doctor attention. A limb hanging akimbo, a fever causing deliriousness, uninterrupted bleeding for more than 24 hours...all doctor worthy situations. Sneezing, runny nose, achy body? No. Unable to breathe because of reduced lung capacity, coughing up gross stuff that has blood in it and a bluish tint to my fingers? Yeah, probably should see a doctor about that.
Except my doctor didn't have an appointment available until March 18. That was on February 19. A week later, when I noticed the blue cast to my lips, I dismissed it as "wow, this cold is really taking a toll on me." Then I noticed my fingers had the same bluish tint of cadavers like you see in "the morgue" on police shows.
Synapses fired a bit quicker. Gears chugged into momentary motion.
"That's probably not a good thing. That's probably a really bad thing. In fact, I probably ought to see a doctor before March 18."
I rang my doctor and got the same soppy tart receptionist I fought with over the March 18 appointment.
"I'm having difficulty breathing, I'm coughing up blood and I'm turning blue. I suspect I should see a doctor, preferably MY doctor, before March 18. But don't take my word for it. I'm just a lowly patient. Why don't you, medical professional, ask the doctor for whom you work, if these symptoms are dangerous and require immediate medical attention?"
She apparently was in a better mood today. Or her sarcasm-o-meter was working better today. She said she'd talk to the doctor and return my call.
Must have been my lucky day. Three hours later my doctor herself rang me.
"Trillian," she said, all serious.
"Yes, Dr. Doctor?" I replied.
"You're blue? And coughing up blood?" she inquired.
"How long have you been blue and coughing up blood?"
"I only noticed the blue thing this morning. The blood thing has been going on for a few days," I rather casually explained, and thinking she was going to launch into one of her famous 'you shouldn't have let this go so long' speeches and also seeing an opportunity to get on my high horse about health care said, "I DID call and try to get in to see you last week, but the earliest appointment available was March 25. I had to fight to get an emergency appointment on March 18."
"You can't wait that long. You've already waited too long. We need to see you right away."
Hmph, I thought. (because in my current condition I can't actually hmph out loud) I Told You So.
But wondering, since it was now late Friday afternoon, what "right away" would entail.
"I have a packed schedule today, and I am on rotation tomorrow. But I'm going to have one of my colleagues see you first thing in the morning (Saturday). His name is Dr. Kildare, I am going to have him call you and arrange an appointment here at the office. I'll be here at the hospital so I can check in with him after he sees you," Dr. Doctor said, all efficient. "But please, Trillian, get yourself to ER if things get any worse tonight. Are you still living alone?"
Aw geeze, do we really have to bring up the pathetic nature of my home life NOW?
"Yes. No change there. Me and the cat."
"Do you have someone who can get you to ER or to the office tomorrow morning?"
Wanted to say: Yes, probably, but frankly, I've been managing for over a week feeling pretty darned awful, and your staff seemed perfectly content to let me go until March 18, so I don't think another night is going to make much difference.
Instead said: "Yes."
"Good. Promise me you will get yourself into ER tonight if any of these symptoms get even slightly worse," she said, all serious.
"Okay. I will." I lied. Because I was not going to the Village of the Damned. Never, ever again. Never.
I like Dr. Doctor, a lot, she's a great doctor. Once you get past the front line artillery of The Front Desk. She handles stuff. Gets stuff done. Makes things happen.
Within 20 minutes Young Dr. Kildare called me to set up a Saturday appointment.
Of course Friday night Dr. Doctor's words echoed in my ears - "Are you still living alone?" (Alone...alone...alone all echoy and becoming ever more sinister as the night progressed.)
And of course, Friday night my cough was much worse, I imagined that the bluish tint had spread to my entire body, that I was mere moments away from becoming a corpse, each hamster sized breath a struggle and probably my last.
And seriously, I'm not even prone to hypochondria.
But the older I get, and the more time I spend alone (alone..alone...alone) the more I realize, "SWUT! People aren't meant to live alone! This independence thing is overrated and probably not right!" And I had several major Miss Havisham moments, too. "Why, why, why?! Why did he leave me? Why can't we be together? We're supposed to be together! This is just wrong, nothing's been right since he left!" I know. Perhaps I should be slightly more concerned about the health problem at hand than the state of my broken heart and miserable existence.
There it is.
I managed to get through the night alive, and even rallied a bit in the morning. Funny that. The morning you are going for a haircut your hair cooperates and looks spectacular. The morning you are going to the doctor, you wake up feeling better. Pay no attention. These are last minute attempts by your body to make you look stupid. If you cancel the haircut appointment, your hair will look worse than ever the next day. If you cancel the doctor appointment, you will die.
I got myself to the office (conveniently located in the hospital) and was surprised by the amount of people in the waiting area. I knew my doctors' had Saturday appointments, but I thought they were for emergencies and "special cases" only. These people all seemed like the sort of people you see in any doctor's office M-F, 9-5.
Young Dr. Kildare was waiting for me. Ready and waiting. Too ready.
I'm all for compassion, but Young Dr. Kildare seemed to be really compassionate. As if I were the only patient he'd ever treat. He put one hand on my shoulder and the other at my elbow as he walked me back to the exam room. He looked deeply into my eyes when we spoke. He patted my knee as he left the room so I could disrobe and put on that horrible smock. And yes, those are good things. I guess.
Frankly, I found it a little disconcerting. Well. I found it disconcerting that I found it disconcerting. I mean, he's just a nice, caring doctor, young and full of compassion and enthusiasm. Probably trying to impress Dr. Doctor, concerned about what report I might make to Dr. Doctor.
Young Dr. Kildare became very quiet and serious. He was all business.
There were the usual tests. Thermometer thing under the tongue. Blood pressure cuff so tight it cut off any remaining blood and oxygen supply I had. Cold stethoscope on chest and back (with apologies from Young Dr. Kildare). Wood lolly thing and "open wide and say ah"s. Except thanks to my still sore jaw I couldn't open wide without hurting my jaw and ear. Which Young Dr. Kildare thought might be symptomatic to my cold and not the needles THIS LONG Dr. Dentist stuck in me last week. He took a long look at my hands and feet (swut. should have tidied up my pedicure...).
I have had so many x-rays in the past year I suspect the bluish tint I have acquired may be radiation poisoning.
At least that's what went through my mind as the x-ray guy badgered me about standing still AND holding my breath WITH both arms above my head.
I'm sick. I've been sick. I can only take hamster sized breaths. I'm coughing up gross stuff mixed with blood. And an x-ray tech is going to give me grief for not breathing in deeply enough or holding it long enough?
What the...? If I could take a deep breath and hold it for three minutes I wouldn't need a chest x-ray, now would I?
Where's that nice Young Dr. Kildare and all his compassion when you need him?
Back in the exam room, I waited. In that stupid tie in back that doesn't quite tie in back gown.
Young Dr. Kildare entered with x-rays in hand.
He put them up to the wall mounted light box. This is an actual quote. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent:
"Holy shit! No wonder you can't breathe!"
I should have been smugly satisfied, brandishing a well earned I told you so.
Instead I was pretty much nonplused.
And nearly nonpulsed.
"Ms. McMillian," Young Dr. Kildare, serious and grave, "you are a very sick woman."
Ah, how many times in my life have I heard this?
Only a few times from an actual doctor of medicine qualified to judge whether or not a woman is very sick. But lots of times from other people. Which may have contributed to my rather nonplused attitude.
The attitude that Young Dr. Kildare apparently mistook for fear.
"There, there now Ms. McMillian. We're going to take very good care of you. This hospital is one of the best in the country, and I'm going to page Dr. Doctor right now," looking deeply into my eyes, hand on my shoulder.
And then Dr. Doctor appeared, with Young Dr. Kildare.
Dr. Doctor studied my x-rays. "When did you begin having symptoms?" she asked.
"A few weeks ago, just before I came home from London," I replied, I'm sure what sounded confused, as I was suddenly unable to make my mind remember a time before I was sick, a time when I could breathe and not cough up gross stuff.
"Hmmmm. You've been abroad recently?" Dr. Doctor asked.
"Just London," I answered. I always forget London is abroad, and not really in the kind of mood to discuss my vacation.
Dr. Doctor repeated all of the examinations Young Dr. Kildare had performed.
"Trillian," Dr. Doctor, taking on the all serious and grave tone Young Dr. Kildare had taken, "we're going to have to admit you. You have double pneumonia. A very bad case of double pneumonia. We need to get blood tests. And you need medicating, rest and supervision."
Insert another I told you so moment here.
Lucky for me (I guess) my doctor's office is in/attached to a hospital. The admitting procedure was easy. Too easy. Now that I've come to 50% of my senses I am horrified of what happened (or not) when I was admitted to hospital and how much this is going to cost me.
The rest is a bit of a blur.
I was wheeled into a really tiny room, really small. A single bed.
And then a litany of tests, doctors, tests, and lots and lots of things stuck in me. Things coming into me, things being extracted from me.
Seems like I gave a lot of blood.
I now know this to be the case.
They needed lots of blood for the tests they were running.
Oddly, I slept.
I woke up at one point and realized it was night. As in The Middle of the Night.
And I fell asleep.
I woke again to the sound of bustle in my tiny room.
I smiled at one of them, unable to make words come out of my mouth.
She smiled kindly back at me.
What I think was several hours later, because the sun was streaming in, making it feel like about 10 AM.
"Good morning Trillian," and older doctor who reminded me of Red Skelton said. He appeared with several other doctors and a few residents.
"We come in peace and with very good news!" Dr. Red Skelton enthused. Though the rest of the crew looked all serious and grave, not like people with enthusiastic good news.
I smiled at Dr. Red Skelton. Again, I couldn't make words come out of my mouth and I didn't really have much to say anyway.
"The good news is that you do not have SARS!" he exclaimed.
NOW I had a few things to say.
"SARS?!!!" I gasped, screamed and whatever else I could get out of me.
"Nope, not a trace. Just garden variety double pneumonia! And we've got your blood oxygen level and white blood cell count down to reasonable numbers, so we're going to let you go home today!"
"SARS?!!!" I was still back at SARS. I was heavily medicated with tubes and poky things coming in and out of me, okay? I was a little slow, okay?
Never, not once, over the course of my sickness, had it occurred to me that I had SARS symptoms. That I had traveled abroad and become very ill with a cold that kept getting worse and not better.
I have no problem with denial. I'm really good at denial. So good that I don't even know I'm in denial.
That is until I am forced to face facts and stare down harsh realization.
Then I struggle, deeply mired in reality.
A few hours and phone calls later, Bone came to pick me and take me home.
They don't have a pamphlets on SARS, anything to prepare you, like, "How to Talk to Your Friends About SARS" or "Now that You Have Been Given the SARS All Clear" or "Relax. It's Just Pneumonia."
They just sort of left me dangling out there with: The good news is you don't have SARS.
Yes. It is very good news. Even better news since I hadn't even considered it until they told me I didn't have it.
Double pneumonia doesn't seem like such a big deal in light of the fact that apparently an entire team of doctors were concerned that I had SARS.
And this is why I say blissful ignorance is the way to go.
What you don't know can kill you, but no reason knowing it until you're in a position to actually do something about it.
Like after it's been safely established that you don't have to do anything about it because you don't have it.