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/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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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.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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
Single/Zero

 
Wednesday, October 26, 2005  
Back off on the iGuy email, fellas. Sheesh. I don’t expect anything from anyone. I have never expected perfection from anyone. Men or women. I was talking about a manufactured iGuy. And if we’re making a mate, why not make him perfect for our individual tastes, just like we make our iPods perfect for our individual tastes? Just a bit of wistful daydreaming. M’kay? Everybody all clear on that? No more email on the subject, m’kay? You guys might want to do a little thinking about your quick on the trigger defensive reflexes. And, I said I am very aware for every iGuy there is an iGirl. You guys can just go off and program your own perfect iGirl. And we’ll all live happily ever after. Or whatever.

Besides, obviously the iGuy I described is not perfect. He’s lacking some crucial aspects. A sincere desire to watch Cary Grant and Gregory Peck movies with me. A deep philosophical understanding of abstract expressionism, particularly prewar German abstract expressionism. The ability and desire to stay up all night talking about nothing in particular. Genuine love, respect and concern for my cat. And all other animals. His own interests, ideas and viewpoints.

Right. So. No iGuys on the market yet. (Hurry up, Apple, I’m lonely and desperate.) So I’m still trolling for dates online.

It’s time for
creep week
There are two best of the worsts this week. A toss up as to how low I’ll go to meet a man.

Bachelor number one wrote me a succinct and correctly spelled email. “I would like to meet you in person. We’ll make a good couple. We’re both tall. ” No. I have not omitted any details. That was the entire email. He apparently believes we’ll make a good couple because we’re both tall. Okay. I mean, I guess, sure, why not? There are probably people in very successful relationships which are based on as little as that, so, let’s take a look at his profile.

No photo.

You know my revised rule. No photo, no communication from me. Not because I care about his looks but because so far in every case the no photo posted men with whom I’ve communicated have very suspicious holes in their stories. Holes which include wedding rings, criminal records or a real estate license and a great buy on a piece of hot property. Further adding to the mystery of Mr. Tall X is an otherwise completely barren “not specified” profile.

About him:
Height: 6’5”
Body type: Not Specified
Hair color: Not Specified
Ethnicity: Not Specified
Looks: Not Specified

Education: Not Specified
Occupation: Not Specified
Income: Not specified
I speak: Not specified
Religion: Not Specified

Relationship status: Not Specified
Children: Not Specified
Wants children: Not Specified

Smoking: Not Specified
Drinking: Not Specified

What he wants in a woman:
Distance: Not Specified
Height: 6’0” to 6’6”
Body type: Not Specified
Hair color: Not Specified
Ethnicity: Not Specified

Education: Not Specified
Occupation: Not Specified
Income: Not Specified
Languages(s): Not Specified
Religion: Not Specified

Relationship status: Not Specified
Children: Not Specified
Wants children: Not Specified

Smoking: Not Specified
Drinking: Not Specified
Distance: Not Specified
Height: Not Specified
Body type: Not Specified
Hair color: Not Specified
Ethnicity: Not Specified

Yes. He took the time to complete the height portions on his profile and didn’t specify anything else about himself or who he wants to date. Should I see his lack of profile detail not as suspicious, baffling, lazy or arrogant, but as intriguing, mysterious and curious? Not as boring or unmotivated, but as a blank canvas waiting for me to bring him to life? I know absolutely nothing about this man except he says he’s 6’5” tall. My brother’s 6’5” tall. I know a lot about him. I wouldn’t want to date him. So maybe knowing nothing about Mr. Tall X is actually a good thing. Maybe in person he’s an enthused conversationalist with a great sense of humor and scintillating ideas, profound thoughts and fascinating stories. Should I pull him from the delete pile and give him a chance?

Bachelor number two: This week’s batch offered a lot of “mature” men. Again. Frustration over this situation led me to give in and consider a few of the way out of my age range guys. There was one, several years my senior, who, well, at first I thought: Maybe. I mean, never say never, try the opposite and all that, right? But further investigation of his profile turned me off big time. Starting with his screen name: Mr. Right. Ugh. Double ugh-a-chino. There are a ton of Mr. Rights on dating sites. These guys go online to find dates and seriously have the ego, audacity and self unawareness to call themselves (some form) of Mr. Right. Without fail a peek at any Mr. Right’s profile indicates an enormous ego, a lot of detail about his physical attributes and those of the women he wants to date. Maybe that’s some women's’ idea of Mr. Right, but not mine. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m being too picky or too sensitive. Maybe I’m not seeing a great catch when he’s right there on my screen.

His email to me was, you know, nice. Ish. Flattering, I suppose.

“Wow! You’re incredible! What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this? (guys, this “pun” on that tired cliché is a cliché itself, so don’t use it. We hear it in more than half the email we get from men. It’s not clever, unique or funny. But in the interest of seeing every man as a potential date, I kept reading.) Your (sic) to (sic) intelligent and funny to be alone. You need me in your life! (Yep, this guy’s in sales. Probably automotive. “You need this car. What do I have to do to put you in this car today?” “You need me in your life! What do I have to do to put you in my bed today?” And for the record, I’m not alone. I have lots of great family and friends. Single, yes. Alone, no.) I can tell your (sic) adventerous (sic) and passionate (Really? You can tell I’m passionate by my profile? Huh. Funny, there’s nothing to indicate I’m passionate on my profile. No one else ever mentions passionate after looking at my profile. I used to be passionate but not any more. Maybe you’re incredibly perceptive or psychic but I kind of doubt it so let’s assume you’re projecting your desired traits onto me or making huge presumptions and are using your used car selling tactics on me.) Those are two qualities I respect and need in a woman. (Cha ching, right on the first count: Projecting. Already trying to make me what he wants me to be. Calm down, Trill, give the guy a chance, you’re in no position to judge, keep reading.) I am looking for a woman to share romantic getaways with.(sic) I haven’t been interested in long term committment (sic) but now if I find the Miss Right with long term potential I’m finally ready to think about settling down . (“if I find Miss Right...I’m finally ready to think about settling down?” Yeah, you sound real committed to that idea. And, at your age? If you’re really healthy you’ve got maybe 30 years, tops, to devote to a committed relationship. I realize I’m no Spring chicken but our definitions of long term are very different.And aw, gee, what a shame, too. Think of all those girls who won’t get a piece of Mr. Right. I’d really hate to deprive the world of, well, you.) You have many of the qualities I want in a woman. Intelligence, humor, gorgeous smile, passion, (again with the passion? Must be the Cialis talking) and thoughtful. Maybe your (sic) Miss Right! Email me soon because I don’t want to waste time when we could be together. (Translation: I’m getting ready to retire and I’m soon going to need someone to take care of me. You’re young and professionally employed so you’ve got the physical and financial abilities to take care of me.) Don’t let my age get in the way of a very good time. Everyone thinks I’m at least 10 years younger than I am. I don’t look or act my age. (Not exactly a ringing endorsement on your maturity level, there buddy, but I’ll cut you slack and take it in the spirit in which it was intended.) We’ve got a lot going for us and we’ve haven’t even met yet! Think how great it could be in person and email me so we can start having fun.” (oh brother. I mean. Okay. He’s enthused! And upbeat! And trying to make a good impression!)

Okay. I thought: No. No way. And then I thought, well, maybe. He seems to be interested in me. He thinks we’ve got a lot going for us. Do the opposite. So what if he’s gearing up for retirement? I’m not exactly making it big with men my age or even a few years older than me. Sure, I’d really like a financial partner to share building a home and nest egg for our retirement years - together, but you know, hey, chances are I’ll be a spinster or widowed and spend my final years alone anyway. The end result could be the same so since these older men are so interested in me maybe I should explore the option. I’m trying really hard to convince myself this is a good idea. Normally in the delete pile, but maybe I should give him a try.

Height: 6’1”
Body type: Athletic
Hair color: Light Brown
Ethnicity: Latin / Hispanic, Native American, White / Caucasian
Looks: Attractive (and yes, by his photo, for a guy his age he is attractive. And what is the recipe for his attractiveness, you ask? He goes on to provide a very detailed description of his ethnic heritage.)

Education: Bachelors/4-Year Degree
Occupation: Professional/Manager/Supervisor, Sales/Marketing
Income: $100,000 TO $149,999
I speak: English
Religion: Christian - Other, Attend Services Weekly

Relationship status: Single
Children: No
Wants children: No

Smoking: Never
Drinking: Occasionally

Looking for: Dating / Long-term Potential
With a: 26 to 40 -year-old women (only interested in women many years his junior. Letch.)
Distance: within 100 of Chicago
Height: 5’2” to 6’0”
Body type: Slender, Athletic, Average
Hair color: Any
Ethnicity: Doesn't Matter

Education: Bachelors/4-Year Degree to PhD / Doctoral
Occupation: Any
Income: $100,000 TO $250,000+ (That eliminates me...)
Languages(s): English
Religion: Catholic, Christian - Other, Doesn't Matter

Relationship status: Any
Children: No
Wants children: No

Smoking: Never
Drinking: Occasionally

So there we have it. A tall guy about whom I know nothing and an old guy about whom I know way too much. This weeks Creeps of the Week. What ever is a girl to do? How to choose? Maybe if I’m lucky I can finagle dates with both of them! Oh, dare I dream such a wicked and wonderful scenario?

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10:52 AM

Tuesday, October 25, 2005  
How My iPod Ruined My Life
or, Enabling Social Awkwardness: The Paradigm of the iPod and its Effect on Society
or, iPod and the Single Girl
or, How I Learned to Stop Talking and Love the iPod

Since I moved to the new ‘hood I’m more comfortable using my iPod as I walk to and from work. Low volume, still very aware of the noises and people around me, but, a little background music for the walk.

I love music. We know this. I love all kinds of music. iPods were made for people like me. (Thanks, Steve.) Well. They were made for music loving people like me.

But there’s a down side.

iPods put those of us music lovers who are afflicted with social awkwardness or shyness at risk of digging ourselves deeper into our issue laden graves. Particularly those of us with “eclectic” taste in music.

The iPod is enabling us.

Huh? Enabling you? Trill, are you seriously blaming the iPod for your social ineptitude, shyness and general stupidity?

No. Of course not. Those are pre-existing conditions.

But. As much as I love (yes, love) my iPod a few recent incidents have made me realize I’m in an unhealthy relationship with my iPod.

I love the iPod.

It tolerates me.

It has no choice. If any inanimate manufactured object can take on a “personality,” the iPod is it. The minute a person’s music collection is loaded onto an iPod, that iPod becomes unique. Born, if you will. Well. More like cloned.

We humans start out the relationship with our iPods as the dominant one in the relationship. The one in control. Our music on the iPod. The iPod has no choice but to play the music we want to hear.

The term “doing our bidding” is a little too anthropomorphized for my comfort. (anthropodmorphized?) Give me a little credit, I believe iPods have “personalities” but I’m not totally weird about it.

Though lately I’ve become uncomfortable watching a few scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. When HAL admonishes Dave I cast my iPod, docked and charging across the room, furtive and then respectfully humbled glances. Just to be safe. You know. Just in case...I for one am not taking any chances. I’ll go peacefully. Happily.

I’m hoping the Steves will eventually put an iGuy on the market and my man troubles will be resolved. I figure a good word from my iPod couldn’t hurt my chances with one of the better iGuys.*

The thing is with iPods, though, after a short while we become emotionally attached to the iPod. (Yes, even void of emotion me.) And that’s the precise moment we hand over control in the relationship. And that’s when a good relationship can go very bad.

Control is a very powerful thing. And iPods are very, very, very good at control. It’s not anything they do, nothing they provoke. It’s just them. Their very existence invokes needs in their owners. If we’re not listening to our iPods we know where it is.

Always in the back of our minds, in our thoughts, we plan our iPod time like lovers. And sometimes, like lovers in a secret tryst, the danger of an inappropriate iPod listening is titillating. We’ll don the headphones in the office for just a few songs, really, just a few songs, that’s all, hoping we don’t get caught. The fear of getting caught makes the tryst even more intoxicating. One leads to another, and another. It’s a very torrid affair. We lose control, we are slaves to the desire for just one more, one more song, one more secret encounter.

But one more is never enough. Never. Enough. We crave more. We need more. We try to rationalize with ourselves, make excuses...everyone does it...it’s not hurting anyone...we’re in love...

And when we get caught, and we always get caught because it’s never just a few songs, we’re at first appropriately embarrassed. We vow to be more cautious, more discreet.

But we know it’s waiting for us. We know it can take us places. Deep, faraway, mystical places. Secret shared places between the earbuds. Just you and the iPod. It’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. And even though you know sometimes it’s inappropriate, wrong, even, you long for the intimacy of that secret shared place. The place your iPod takes you.

Ahem.

And this is why iPods can be a real problem for music lovers. And an even bigger problem for music lovers who already have socialization problems.

One of the great things about iPods is the ability to create playlists or live on the edge with shuffle. Some people, people into control and manipulation, obsessive compulsive types, dominant personalities, like playlist mode. Playlists make them feel like they’re in control. They compile the lists, push the buttons, call the shots and always know what to expect from their iPod.

Not me. I’m a shuffle kind of girl. I’m very submissive. Passive, even. And yet a little on the edge. Thrill seeking. Willing to take risks. Adventurous. Trusting.

I am very open about the fact that I have given control to the iPod. I don’t care. I’m a willing participant. I want it this way. I never really was cut out for the whole dom thing. I’m too easy going. Too go with the flow. Too unconcerned about having control. I spend my days and a lot of my personal time making difficult or at least thoughtful decisions. I like not having to make decisions with my music, too.

Oh sure, ultimately I’m the one who loads the songs on the Pod, so ultimately I’m “in control” of the songs I hear. But, I have a very large music collection. Let’s just say there are thousands of songs on my iPod. Let’s just say my 40G is almost full and there’s nothing on there but music and some Podcasts. Let’s leave it at that.

Among those thousands of songs are a few surprise tracks. Okay, a lot of surprise tracks. Seriously. Don’t ask me how the trance mix of Relax got on my iPod. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Frankie Goes to Hollywood fan. There is not one other Frankie Goes to Hollywood song on my iPod (or at least not that I’m aware...) and I have no recollection of loading it. A) Where the swut did I find a swutting trance mix of Relax, and B) why the swut don’t I remember it? Just what’s being transmitted through those earbuds? Subliminal mind control messages? ”download the trance mix of Relax...relax...trance...download...relax..iPod says Relax” (yikes, that’s a little too real sounding for my comfort)

Right. The problem with iPods for those of us with socialization problems is that the iPod offers us an escape from “the real world.” Maybe you’re not shy or socially awkward. So you won’t understand why this is a problem. I’ll try to explain it to you.

Shy people constantly battle with themselves. Nearly every conversation, and frequently every movement, requires an internal pep talk of some sort. That's why I sometimes say stupid or seemingly inappropriate things. The pep talk and internal dialog required for me to engage my mouth is so involved that before I realize what's being said words are coming out of my mouth. In my mind I'm still arguing with myself about what, if anything, to say.

iPods have become so normal and accepted that no one on the street or in shops looks twice or, more importantly, approaches someone listening to an iPod.

Okay, yes, there are exceptions. And these exceptions can be good.

For people who are not hiding from society in their iPod.

I have been approached by people needing directions, and I’ve seen one live pick-up. Cute girl standing in line at the grocery listening to her Pod minding her own business. Cute guy tries to catch her eye. He succeeds. He smiles. She smiles and removes one ear bud. He says, “Is that the U2 Pod?” She says, “yes, see?” and holds up the Pod for him to see. A lengthy discussion of Pods, U2, concerts and Jason at the Apple Store ensues. My turn came in line so I missed the rest of the conversation. But I am quite certain it ended in an exchange of phone numbers. Great for them. The iPod brought them together. I hope they’ll be happy together. Better living through Apple.

Back to the downside of iPodding. Having a normal and socially acceptable barrier to communication with strangers is the answer to the most fervent prayer to the most supreme deity a shy person could ever hope to have granted. Blessed respite from social interaction!

Walkmen never completely caught on - at least not the way iPods have. Walkmen were just sort of there, popular with the younger set, a source of contention with parents and teachers. iPods are already ubiquitous. Everyone has one or wants one. (If you don’t you will.) Walking around with buds stuck in ears tethered to a small, unseen source, is normal. Barring oneself off from the noise of the outside world is now normal.

I cannot tell you the enormous relief this is to shy people. Really. I have no words to describe the relief. Which is, of course, a serious warning sign.

Hiding from the world is not exactly a smart thing for shy people to do. We need to be out there pushing ourselves, making ourselves talk to people, go places, do things our shyness prevents (or at least poses an obstacle for) us from doing. I know this. I have been very aware of this potential bad side effect of iPodding since I first donned the buds. It really is my own little world in there. Which is exactly why I would never, ever allow myself to don the buds in my old neighborhood. Not. Safe. But now, I mean, my walk to work and around my neighborhood is relatively safe. You know, for a large urban area. Put it this way: It’s as safe as it gets inside the city limits. Which isn’t actually saying much but, well, it’s a zillion times more safe than my old ‘hood.

Right. So the only real danger of listening to the Pod on low volume is that I’ll take steps backwards in my ongoing war with shyness. And this is a huge danger for me. I’ve spent my lifetime trying to win this war. I’ve made progress. But. There are daily skirmishes to be fought and probably several full blown battles to be won before I can claim victory. I know this. So I should not allow myself this comfy little isolated place in the midst of society. I shouldn’t allow myself this sanctuary.

Here are two good reasons why.

I have a lot of music on my iPod. Very diverse and eclectic music. (see above, trance Relax) Some good, some bad. (see above, trance Relax) Some interesting, some stupid. (see above, trance Relax). I also subscribe to Podcasts. Again, a very diverse and eclectic range of topics. Ahem. I strongly adhere to a “what’s on the iPod, stays on the iPod” code of file disclosure. No one needs to know what’s really on there. It’s between you and your iPod.

So when I’m leaving work late and the CEO of my company happens to be on the elevator and I have no choice but to board the elevator or risk looking like I didn’t want to ride the elevator with the CEO, and he says, “That’s a neat iPod case. What are you listening to?” and I look him straight in the eye and blurt, Shake the Dope Out before thinking about what I’m saying or to whom I’m saying it because in my “oh swut it’s the CEO and we’re alone on the elevator and it’s late at night and he’s engaging me in conversation and is taking an interest in my interests like a good CEO and I can’t possibly tell him I’m listening to the Warlocks Shake the Dope Out but suddenly I can’t think of one other song ever recorded or the fact that now might be a good time to discuss that new marketing Podcast I’ve been listening to lately” panic I get nervous and words are coming out of my mouth which I didn’t intend to say and would never say if I weren’t tired, shy and nervous. But all I hear in my head is Shake the Dope Out

I’m thinking about the scintillating report on changing demographs in consumer electronics and what it will mean to advertising, but do I utter one word about it? NOooooooooo, I don't. Instead I hear myself say, Shake the Dope Out to our CEO.

Because I am not only tired, shy and nervous, I am doomed to fail by my own stupidity. I tried to redeem myself by then bringing up the topic of Podcasts, “har har, no, actually I just listened to an interesting Podcast on the changing demograph of consumer electronics. It’s a pretty good Podcast, weekly updates. I can send you the link...” but I lost him at Shake the Dope Out. I'm guessing our CEO is not a fan of the Warlocks. He had written me off and was hoping to get off that elevator as quickly as possible. So much for my bid at Senior VP.

Okay. So I didn’t really want that job anyway. However. I would like to have a relationship with a man. That would be really nice. Really, really nice.

But this affair with my iPod could be a problem. I’m not used to men noticing me. At least in that special way. I walk around hoping no one notices me. Because that’s better than having someone notice how ugly I am. It’s less humiliating for me. That scarlet D (umped) on my chest is bad enough, calls enough unwanted attention and jokes. I strive to just blend in and go completely unnoticed.

That’s not to say I don’t notice men. I do. I notice a lot of men. I try to not notice them because it just leads to more frustration and loneliness. (loud omnipotent voice over, “Yes, Trillian, he is very good looking. Sardonic smile, sexy swagger, intelligent but inviting look in the eyes tinged with a slight roguishness, yes, Trillian, yes, he is absolutely the sort of guy you like. The sort of guy you need. But the Universe deems it not to be. When will you ever learn? We’re teasing you. Sheesh. You fall for this every time. Even we’re bored with your reaction to these guys. I mean, do you honestly think you have a chance? No! You don’t! Bwa ha ha ha...”) But still. I notice them. I avoid eye contact at all costs, though. It’s more of a wistful notice from afar sort of thing. So don’t worry if you’re a good looking guy with a sardonic smile, sexy swagger, intelligent but inviting look in the eyes tinged with a slight roguishness. I won’t put you in an awkward situation.

So there I was walking home from work. Rainy evening. I’m standing on a corner waiting for the light to change. I notice a guy crossing the street from my right.

Sardonic smile: Check.

Sexy swagger: Check, check, CHECK!

As he approaches the corner where I’m standing, he flashes a brief smile. Nothing serious, not a “hey, baby” smile. Just a “you worked late tonight, too, gosh, it’s really coming down isn’t it” smile.

Intelligent but inviting look in the eyes tinged with a slight roguishness: Check.

I give him a, “Yeah, late night in the office, quite a storm here, but I don’t mind it’s kind of nice” smile. I see his lips moving. Oh swut, he’s talking to me but between the guy on the Apple News Podcast and the rain hitting my umbrella I can’t hear him. I fumble to take out an ear bud as I say, “I’m sorry, pardon me?” but the light changed and he’s hitting the crosswalk. Curses! Foiled again!

Well.

I mean.

Not so much foiled again as, huh, there he goes. He was probably only asking directions or if I knew what time it was. Just as well. Because the words that would come out of my mouth in response to whatever he said would undoubtedly be stupid, bad or in every way wrong. So really, just as well.

But. From my few paces behind him I can’t help but notice that sexy swagger. Even in the pouring rain. And how the rain is making a few tousled curls spring to life around his collar adding to his roguishness. I go out of my way to not catch up to him even though he’s walking kind of slow. So slow that his sexy swagger is suffering because of the diminished speed. And I’m all but standing still in an effort to stay several paces behind him. I fiddle with my ear buds as I walk. The light on the next corner is turning yellow. I’m hoping he’ll make a dash for it. He doesn’t. There’s no way to avoid catching up to him at the corner. I do, but leave lots of space between us. I continue to fiddle with my ear bud. I hear a voice say, “I switched to the headphone model, stays in place better when walking.” I realize he’s talking to me. Oh swut. But. It doesn’t mean anything. Rainy night. The only two people out. Obviously both coming from work. I mean, he’s just making polite conversation. So I smile.

And then I hear someone say, “Lately it won’t stay in when I move around. It’s always been a bit too big for me but lately I can’t find a good position for it no matter how much I fiddle with it.” I have no idea who said that but she sounded a lot like me.

His smile faded from congenial sardonicism to an implied: “really, lady, I was just being polite, I don’t need your life story tinged with Benny Hillish innuendo.” Awkward silence. Me holding the ear bud. The Podcast apparently ends. Because out from the ear bud blares the unmistakable opening to Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love. Okay. Really. Universe, could you give me a break and strike me with lightening? Now. Please. I realize you’re having great fun at my expense but seriously, enough’s enough.

I rush to fumble and lower the volume.

As he walks off across the street.

I wait for the light to turn red, then green and deem it safe to continue on my way.

This is why iPods are dangerous for people like me. In the wrong hands these things are lethal. Yes, they provide a nice sanctuary from the world, and that’s good. Because a few more of these incidents and that iPod world will be the only one I’ve got.

* (“Better” iGuy meaning an iGuy who wakes me with kisses and a sardonic smile and says, It’s a great day for shoe shopping, Trill. (playfully poking, nudging, prodding, goading to seduction) I’ve got mimosas and carrot cake for you. And don’t you dare even think about calories and fat grams. I hate skinny women. Blech. You know how much I love your curves. Those hips are going to carry our babies someday. So just make yourself even more comfortable while I feed you carrot cake with lots of gooey frosting. I made a large pitcher of mimosas so drink up, sweetheart. Then, when you’re ready, I’m going to take you shoe shopping. As many pairs as you want, Trill. Try on as many pairs of black shoes as you want. Buy all of them. You can never have enough black shoes. Oh, and let’s visit your make-up artist friend. I know how you two love to try out hundreds of shades of lip color. Oh, and isn’t your sister’s birthday next week? We should spend some time finding her a nice gift. Then we’ll take a ride to the orchard and pick apples and have hot cider and play with kittens and buy a lovely handcrafted item. After that we’ll take a long drive on back roads and stop at a woodsy secluded picturesque stream where we’ll explore some of those dreams you’ve been having. Time to try them out in real life, (grrrrrooowl, har har) Then, exhilarated and even more in love we’ll head to the Bryan Ferry show. Surprise! I’ve got front row center seats for the sold out small venue acoustic show! Yay! You can ogle him all you want because I am secure in my manufactured masculinity. Fragile ego is not in my circuitry. I am secure in the knowledge that your zest and lust for Bryan will play out well for me later, at home, you and me, alone together....But first, before that, when we get home you can try on all your new shoes and email your friends and tell them about your shoes and the kittens and Bryan Ferry. Oh and you might want to give your mum a ring, too. Meanwhile I’ll prepare a bath.You’ve been working so hard lately. You give and do so much for everyone else. I respect and appreciate that about you. Today you need and deserve a break, a day all about you, you, you. Yeah. iGuy’s not going to hit the market any time soon, but when he does, watch out human guys. If an iPod can take on it’s owner’s personality, iGuys are going to be swutting incredible. And yes, I know, iGirls will be great, too. I can't wait for The Future.)

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3:17 PM

Monday, October 24, 2005  
If Only I Could Wimp Out and Suckle Something
I don’t earn a lot of money. I’m not at poverty level and I’m better off than a lot of people. People in the second and third worlds, for instance. But I’m poor enough that I cannot afford a car and affiliated expenses. I am poor enough that any unpredicted expense completely whacks my monthly budget and leaves me counting pennies. Okay. Yes. My compartment is in a high rent neighborhood. Yes. When I moved I knew I was biting off a huge hunk of expense in the housing portion of my budget. On the other hand: I can walk or ride my bike to work netting a monthly savings of $75 (or $100 if the CTA successfully implements its plan to raise fares to $2.) My heat and air conditioning are included in my rent netting $100 - $400 monthly savings. And, I live in the smallest, cheapest place there is in the building and in the ‘hood. So it’s not as if I’m shelling out loads of money for a luxury apartment.

Right. Okay. Expenses. Income. Problems.

My salary is not competitive. I knew that when I took the job. Not only does my company lower wages than most other companies, it’s also “old school” in that women earn less than men in same or similar jobs. This is an open and undebated fact. We all know it happens in most companies. Most of the women here regularly fight and argue the cause. But we also somewhat respect the fact that it’s out in the open and not denied or hidden. We’re not saying that excuses the deplorable behavior, but, better to fight the devil you know than the one you can’t see.

I didn’t expect to stay here as long as I have. I didn’t want to stay here as long as I have for a lot of reasons. Salary was actually lower on the list of reasons until lately. Why is my uncompetitive rate of pay not first on my list of reasons for leaving this job? Because other factors are far more disgruntling than my low income. Really. If that doesn’t tell you a lot about my (needs a new nickname) boss...

Right. Low income. I am: The working poor. I can keep a roof over my head and feed myself and my cat. I budget in a little (meagre) amount each month in my retirement fund. If I have a “good” month unexpected expense-wise I can treat myself to a dinner out or pair of shoes on sale. I haven’t had a “good” month for long time.

However. There are “perks” to my job. I can get on just about any guest list to any event in the city. I am heavily courted by a lot of vendors. I could eliminate my food expense almost completely if I accepted every lunch and cocktail event I am invited to attend. Unfortunately it’s not really my style to accept lunch and cocktail invites from vendors I have no intention of using. My personal code of ethics prevents me from even considering throwing my title and “status” around for my own personal gain, even if it’s “just lunch.” There really is no such thing as a free lunch. A lot of people would see this aspect of my job as glamorous and exciting and very cool. Free stuff! Woo hoo! Many companies actually "factor" this into salaries. Did you hear me say there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Fortunately, but all too slowly, this sort of thing is increasingly scrutinized. I'm pleased about this, "kick-backs" have never sat well with me. Call them whatever you want, but it's still a form of bribary and I take a dim view of it.

But. My company has always provided exceptional benefits. Great health insurance. Full dental and optical coverage. Full short and long disability income coverage. Full family leave income coverage. A terrific 401K plan. Accrued vacation and sick days above the national two week average.

So, you know, low pay but some nice benefits. I know what those benefits are worth. I know what they’d cost me if I had to pay for them on my own.

I know this because every year for the past three years our benefits have been “revised.” Meaning: Less coverage, more out of pocket expenses.

This year we’ve been informed as of January 1 our dental coverage is being eliminated. Our vision coverage is being cut in half. Short term disability leave time is being reduced and both short and long term disability will be paid at 60% instead of 100%. And instead of several health insurance options, we now have two. Two plans which we have to pay a lump sum deductible out of our pockets before we have coverage. Our company is generously going to “pay” half of the lump sum deductible up front for us so we have insurance coverage. That is, providing we agree to a payroll deduction (pre tax!) to re-pay our generous company. They’re not “paying” half the lump sum, they’re loaning us half the money and we have to come up with the other half.

Okay. I know I shouldn’t complain about health care costs because at least I have some form of health insurance. I know. Really. I know. It could be worse.

But. Today, a week after we were informed about the cut in our benefits, we were told our annual pay increases would be low this year. They’re already swutting below the rate of inflation - why insult us with a 1% or 2% pay increase? Why not tell us along with our benefits being cut we’re not getting a raise this year, either?

What I really loved about this whole thing was the benefit administrator's spin on our “revised” health benefit options.

She told us we “need to rethink our definition of health insurance. It’s no longer about treating a health issue, but about preventing one from happening.”

Oh yeah? Okay then, it’s time to rethink your definition of salary. It’s no longer about giving your employees a fair rate of pay and group benefits to keep those hard working loyal employees healthy and alive, but about paying them competitive wages on which they can actually house, feed, clothe and medicate themselves.

Woe to the poor employee who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Not only will they have to pay their medical expenses (because unless it’s a “routine” visit to the doctor, it’s not covered. And there’s nothing “routine” about any terminal illness, and prescriptions are only covered if they’re “in formula” meaning: very basic, and there’s nothing formulaic about prescriptions for terminal illnesses), if they become unable to work they’ll have to make ends meet on 60% of their salary. Which probably won’t even cover their medical expenses. They get the bonus insult of: It’s too late for you. We’re all about prevention. Too bad you didn’t prevent that cancer from killing you because now you have to pay for your medical care and live on a reduced income. You’ll need to rethink your definition of life. It’s no longer about trying to enjoy what time you have left and being comfortable in these last days, but about feeling guilty and helpless and worried about your health and finances.

I know. I know. This is the reality a lot of people have had for years. I realize this. I realize I’ve been very, very fortunate to have good health insurance and benefits.

But.

Now that my benefits are being drastically cut and my pay is not going to increase I’m spending many hours per week at a job which is sucking the life out of me and is giving me very little in return.

Perhaps I need to redefine my idea of work. It’s not about 10 -12 hour days doing the jobs which used to be handled by three people, but about saying swut you to anything not in my job description and anything more than 7.75 hours per day. Since the perception is that women are “crap” anyway, why not give them what they expect?

Shame I don’t have the option of wimping out and suckling something. Because I’m a woman and therefore crap, apparently. What year is this? Good riddance, French. Bastard.

Did I say that out loud?

Yes. Yes I did. Not as well as Nancy Vonk. But I said it out loud and proud.

The unfortunate thing is that he was only publicly, less crudely saying what many men in many professions say behind closed doors.

(I love his statement about Ms. Vonk's remarks, "Trial by blog is a sad innovation..." Probably best he "resigned" because that lack of embracing The Future and particularly blogs is exactly part of the huge problem in The Biz. New Media is no longer new. Blogs are not exactly innovative anymore. This is 2005, right? And if you're sitting there wondering why I'm going on about this you might want to take a look around your own place of employment. If French's attitude isn't evident somewhere in the ranks, you're probably not looking hard enough or are being held down by The Man or at least a "wellness coordinator.")

I’m not going off on a feminazi rant. I won’t, I won’t, I won’t...

My company’s redefinition of health insurance is going to affect everyone, male and female.

But there issome good news.

Female oral contraceptives will now be covered under our prescription plan. Birth control pills are now considered routine preventive maintenance. French and his ilk should be happy or threatened by that: The company is going to pay for us to childproof our ovaries. And yes, this is a welcome acknowledgement that birth control responsibility and expense typically falls on the shoulders of women. And when it fails the responsibility of suckling something falls on our shoulders, too. I welcome this long overdue recognition of these facts.

However. I can’t help but see the big picture on this issue. Which is much more cynical. The insurance companies are masters of spin. But unfortunately in our case they’re trying to spin the spinners who create their spin. And it’s not fooling me.

The cost of oral contraceptives is minimal compared to the cost of a healthy “normal” pregnancy and child birth (and subsequent 18 years of health care for that child). It’s in the insurance company’s (and subsequently my company’s) best financial interest to keep us women child free.

Paranoid you say? Well. Cynical and jaded, yes. Paranoid, no. Because the insurance company rep and our company’s newly appointed “Wellness Coordinator” went into a lengthy conversation about how this is such a coup for women and all the “positive health effects” of birth control pills. (Did you know it clears acne? Helps depression? Really! It’s not just for preventing pregnancy anymore! I think a lot of the guys were jealous. By the end of the oral contraceptive pep rally they wanted to get in on this, too! After all, it’s covered on our insurance!) I’m not kidding. 15 minutes of our benefits session, a room filled with women and men, from extremely diverse personal backgrounds, who work together every day, was spent discussing all the great positive health benefits of oral contraceptives.

Yes. We were given a hard sell on birth control. At work. The men were encouraged to talk to their wives about utilizing this great new oral contraceptive plan covered by our newly redefined health insurance plan. There were a few people who left the room. Good Pope fearing Catholics. Furious women. Gay men. The rest of just sat there in disbelief. Particularly on the heels of French’s comments the women in the room were flinching and disturbed over the hard sell on oral contraceptives. (he’d not yet “resigned” at the time of our benefits session and for several days his “women are crap” and “wimp out and suckle something” comments were the topic of most office conversations)

I can laugh about it on some levels. Birth control is not an issue for me right now. Though according to the insurance company and “wellness coordinator” I should be taking oral contraceptives for all the other "positive" health benefits. And they’re covered on our health plan now! Keep in mind this advice is coming from the same person who revamped our vending area to contain healthy vending options. New healthier vending options like a ham on white sandwich, tins of Hormel chili, muffins, tamales and sausage, pepperoni pizza and coughupalattebucks bottles of caffechocomuchofattachino. I’m not in the “wellness coordinator” business so I’m really in no position to judge. But. Let’s just say I’m a bit confused by the wellness advice being given to us because it flies in the face of years of medical research and, um, well, conventional wisdom. I will not be at all surprised if they begin dispensing medications, oral contraceptives anyway, in our vending machines. Right next to the cigarette machine. Apparently I need to redefine my idea of wellness.

Wavy blurry dream screen cut to my annual review. "Well, Trillian, you've done a great job again this year. We couldn't have done it without your creative genius, professional can-do attitude, terrific relationships with the clients, your eagerness to do a good job and willingness to work long hours in the pursuit of those efforts. There's just one thing. The Wellness Coordinator has made a few notes on your review. In looking at your date of birth we've calculated that you are a woman of child bearing age. Apparently you have not taken advantage of the oral contraceptive program we're offering. This is a great benefit, Trillian. We strongly encourage our employees to utilize this benefit. We think once you use the program you'll agree it's really a terrific benefit to both your career and you personally. I mean, really, Trillian, you weren't seriously thinking you'd have children anyway, were you? I've never seen you as the type to wimp out and suckle something so what's the big deal? I mean, really, when was the last time you had sex? You haven't even had a serious date in years. But that's no reason to not take oral contraceptives. They clear up acne and prevent depression. I know you have very nice clear skin, but when you see how little pay increase you're getting this year you're going to be depressed. Just go on the pill like a good girl. We're giving them to you free for a reason, you know."

Back in the benefits session...

I stayed in the session thinking there would be some punch line at the end of the session. A “ha ha, just kidding! We have no business telling you how to run your ovaries!” But that never happened. This is for real.

Yes. I went to a "Learn About The Company Benefit Changes" session and got a side of social engineering with my sexual and motherhood issues.

So I Must. Find. Another. Job. Now. Right now. Today. This second. I just want to do my job and earn a paycheck commensurate with my work and skills. I don't want to think about my reproduction issues, I don't want my work "wellness coordinator" or senior executives thinking about my reproduction issues.

French and men who think like him: Be afraid. Be very afraid. Our company is doing all it can to prevent us gals from breeding and wimping out and suckling something. And our new redefined ideas of health insurance will mean that we’ll need a lot more money to cover our health expenses. So we’ll be even more motivated to fight for equal pay and higher level jobs.

There’s an opening at WPP. The smartest move they can make is hire a woman. French's departure leaves a big, vocal, unprofessional gap in their upper ranks. And you know how us women are crap.

Here’s my opening gambit for the job: I have years of experience, nothing to suckle and free oral contraceptives to ensure I stay suckling free thus providing all the advantages a man has to offer except a penis. However that doesn’t mean I can’t be a dick. I’ve learned a lot in my years of work experience. I've observed "the best" in the biz, watched them become more wealthy while actually doing less, honed my skills in their likeness and now I'm ready to put those skills to use. No wimping out and suckling something for me.

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10:25 AM

 
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