Out of State Plates

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As a kid, I used to motor my way through Sweet Valley High fictional series. I loved the elementary school years, the junior high years, the high school years, and I even read some of the college years and special editions.

The series revolves around the Wakefield twins, but there are two side characters that both come from affluent families: Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman. For most of the series, these two hate each other even though they are similarly snobby in lots of ways. The reader is told that Bruce comes from old money and Lila comes from new money. Lila’s family wants to modernize Sweet Valley, and Bruce’s family want to maintain the history.

The other day, I realized is how I would describe Oregonians.

When I was little, I learned that for some reason Californians were despised by Oregonians. Since I have family from there and spent some very memorable vacations, I figured this was jealousy over the awesome cultural sites, a kick ass flag, and the abundance of sunshine.

The intensity didn’t really hit me until one day at work, my co-worker put down the state. “Hey, what’s wrong with California?” I asked. Said co-worker began to complain about people who got plastic surgery, drove badly, and were snobby. “My mom is from there. They drive fast because they have 6 lane freeways and a higher speed limit,” I responded. “And not everyone who lives there gets plastic surgery.” She didn’t have much of a response, but I conveniently left out the part about being snobby or the comment “the pot calling the kettle black.”

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The real reason, I learned, was not specific to Californians. Oregonians did not like it when the masses started moving to their state. There was a big population change which affected traffic, jobs, and housing. But the population changed everywhere. Whenever my mom and I were in the city of her youth, she always pointed out suburbs that used to be trees and rolling, lazy hills.

I began hearing and seeing it everywhere. Even the djs on the radio joked that Oregon should change their signs to notify out-of-towners to leave. I failed see the humor. While I was waiting to get my oil changed one day, I started a conversation with a woman who’d moved from out of state. She said that people had actually slashed her tires, and they had talked down to her since she was a transplant. I was horrified.

My husband and I went to a museum earlier this year, where two elderly women were talking at the entrance while we looked over literature and informational packets.

“I’ve lived my whole life in Oregon,” one of them said happily. “My family moved from Wisconsin.”

“Oh,” the other woman paused. “So you were born out of state? You’re not originally from Oregon?”

They continued their conversation, but I had to bite my tongue to keep from yelling at the old woman. Of course this lady she was speaking to was an Oregonian, because of the simple fact that she LIVED in Oregon.

When people found out I was moving to Texas, they all shook their heads. People told me I wouldn’t like it. But I no longer believed them. I’d heard too many “I could never live anywhere else,” or “I’m a real Oregonian. I like the rain.” I used to tell people that the reason I ended up moving out of state was because I was stuck in months of rain, had a bad day at work, and my then-boyfriend said, “I’m up for a promotion, but we’d have to either move to Texas or Florida.” And what I said was “Good, I am SICK of this rain. I’ll start packing all the sun dresses I can never wear.”

Everybody welcomed me when I moved to Texas. Everyone was nice to me. They all wanted to know how I was adjusting and if I liked it, etc. Living there wasn’t what I expected, but I did realize that I missed home.

Not everyone here is like that, but sadly, too many are. There’s a difference between having pride for your state and being a supremacist. Caring about your home versus having a statewide immigration policy. Truly loving something instead of bragging just to brag. Keeping people out because they’re not like you or you’re afraid. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

I was born and raised in Oregon. I enjoy visiting other states. Summer is my favorite season. I like to tan. But I cried when I found out they were renovating the airport and pulling out the carpet I had known since childhood. I was saddened when I heard they were shutting down Cartopia. I don’t watch Portlandia, because as my dad so aptly said, “It is New Yorkers making fun of Portlanders.” And every time I find out a celebrity is from or has moved to Oregon, I feel a sense of pride whether they’ve just arrived or have been here from the beginning.

Every morning for the last year on my drive to work, I stared at the blue hills, the evergreens, and felt peace rush over me. I try to remember to welcome every person who moves to the Portland area, in case no one else has. I encourage my old co-workers to come visit me. We’ll have a coffee or a beer. I hope I can start a new trend where everyone is welcoming and friendly. Let’s show people just how great we can be.

What about you, readers? What do you love about your home state? What do you dislike about it? Have you moved, and if so, how has that affected the way you think about where you live?

I’m sure all of your regrets involve corn, too

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Writers were the kids that got caught passing notes in class. The ones that lobbied hard for the SAT to get an essay portion. We are the champs that are always rethinking the title for our autobiography, and we will befriend other writers so that someday in the distant future, someone fantastic can help our less wordgasm and saddened family members write our obituaries and make the aisles laugh with tears in their eyes at our funerals.

So when a blogger or an author says, “I have something to day,” and starts typing, no one doubts this.

Today, words fail me, but I can’t stop thinking that I want to say something so I will bumble through it so that I can have something of a satisfaction from having a thought come out of my head in a neat little cookie cutter cloud bubble.

I would hesitate to call this a bad day or a great day, but merely a different kind of day that can be seen as an opportunity or a catastrophe depending on who you ask. Overly simplistic is the person who could call today one or the other, although we do, and I am guilty of that myself.

I don’t want to get into specifics. Nobody died and no one was born, but there are two things I can say for certain: When it was all said and done, there was an awkward exit on my part, and while I’m going through different emotions right now, the overwhelmingly consistent one is the fact that I didn’t get any white cheddar popcorn.

Physical Therapy stretches

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As of last Wednesday, I’m on parole from physical therapy. They are allowing me to continue to do stretches at home only, so I’ve graduated on account of my dedication to excellence. This is an older post I started, but since I’m still doing them all, it still applies.

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I’ve been going to physical therapy for my back for awhile now. It is superior to what I imagined it would be, because I imagined it would be a lot like working out. For those who don’t know, I hate working out. Whenever I start a regimen, I feel like I’m dying, I usually get sick, and then I give up. I would say that it’s hard, but not impossible. I feel like Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises without all the bulging muscles or basically anything that makes him Batman. You know that montage sequence where he’s training? It’s a lot like that, except spliced in with the part from Hot Rod where Rod falls down the hill in the forest. Which means both films have become more believable for me in the long run.

It’s definitely a challenge. I got done with a session three weeks ago, and for some reason that plus the fact that my cd player switched over to an Adele song sent me into tears. Being an adult woman means randomly crying at an Adele song you’ve been laughing at other women for crying over, and then you get all judgy on yourself. Of course, it was also really hot out. I’m not sure if my body goes into hyper stress because of the heat or what. We used to live in the South, and I cried all the time although only part of it can actually be attributed to the weather.

I tried explaining the stretches I am doing to my friends the other day when Parker and I went out to brunch with them, but I had trouble finding a way to explain them. Since that happened, I decided to come up with names for them. The other reason is because when I do a new stretch, sometimes it requires a second pair of eyes at home to make sure I’m setting it up right. As a result, I kept saying, “Parker! I need you to watch me do the leg stretch! No, not that one, the OTHER one. Where’s the picture?” At which point I’d find the fan had bitch slapped the hand outs into a corner and the dog cowering in the opposite corner since flying papers frighten her (don’t ask me why, maybe because she’s small?). I’ll try to find pictures so you know what the hell I’m talking about.

My favorite named one is Prince Charming, probably because it sounds like a kama sutra pose or a piercing you wouldn’t show your family (relative of Prince Albert). I also call it The Proposal, because you crouch down on one knee without a ring. I guess you could have a ring, but you have to hold the stretch. I’d feel awkward with my ring in my hand asking the wall to marry me and then waiting the other 26 seconds while I waited for a response. I also started a fake speech the other day. I’m still waiting on a response from the wall.

The second one I call The Wall or Fake Sit, because it looks like I’m trying to sit in a chair against the wall. Just imagine Jon Snow caught by other members of the Night’s Watch about to sit, but he sees them so he stops midway in this kind of awkward position of “I’m totally standing!”

Parker and I named one of my stretches The Creeper, because I have to prop my leg up against the wall and lean into it, so I usually do it on the corner and lean in while watching tv. You can only see half of my face. I also started doing this stretch the same week we started watching The Fall. 

The hardest one looks a little bit like a Popeye waddle where I put my hands on my knees and walk sideways.

I have more stretches, but those are the best named ones so far. I’m off to do them.

8 out of 10 would bang, but who SHOULD bang? Sex reference and flow chart

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In the recent past, someone I know was railing against bangs. My knee-jerk response was to feel defensive and discriminated against, but instead I held back and thought about it for awhile (usually a good decision).

Now that I’ve ruminated on this, here’s a chart to help you ladies decide.

bangsThere you go. If you don’t need them but do it anyway, then you’ll probably look heinous.

 

I started playing some Van Halen while writing this

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One of the most defining aspects of my personality, in my opinion, is that I either care too much or not enough. My coping strategy is to get super grumpy about issues, pedantic or otherwise.

I’ve written a lot about health, particularly mental health. The importance of maintaining good health, the frustration and aggravation that goes along with having a bad immune system and a flawed body/mind because of this.

This morning, I was drinking my coffee and scanning news articles for interesting bits of info. I’m not great at sitting down and reading news articles, but I am pretty skilled in finding things to pick apart.

That’s when I came across this article: Golden Gate Bridge Board Approves Funding for Suicide Barrier. Here’s how I imagine this came about.

Politician 1: We have GOT to do something about this suicide issue. People just keep jumping off the bridge. It’s an epidemic.

Politician 2: Here’s the funding we could get for the project. We can spend it in any way to decrease the number of deaths each year.

Politician 3: I know! We can increase awareness for mental health. We can create ads, increase our budget for psychological counseling and mental health both at the academic and community level.

Politician 4: Nah, that sounds complicated. Let’s just build a barrier. We can put the least amount of effort in possible. This way, people can still kill themselves, but they won’t do it on the bridge.

Politician 3: The bridge has been around since 1937. It’s gorgeous. Building a barrier will change the entire look!

Politician 1: Yeah, but people have started calling it “the bridge of death.”

Politician 3: Who calls it that?

Politician 2: Certain family members of people who have jumped and those that may have witnessed it.

Politician 1: It’s settled. We will build this ugly barrier to avoid people thinking of the bridge as a way out. They may still try to kill themselves, but at least it will happen in other, less public ways. We’ll just make it more difficult to do it on a bridge.

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To me, there is a missed opportunity here to help promote good mental help, to get those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts/attempts the help they need, and a way to change society for the better.

Who the fuck calls it the bridge of death? I used to live outside San Francisco, and that bridge is beautiful. I recall chewing gum and blowing my first bubble in the car on the way home while we drove over that bridge.

On the other hand, I never witnessed anyone killing themselves on the bridge. I guess that would make it considerably less beautiful.

The Greatest Drug of All, aka I’m no Superman

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Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen X-Men: Days of Future Past or Lost, I am going to ruin one small part of each. Go make popcorn and watch them. Then come back.

Parker and I have been dog sitting all week, and I am beyond exhausted which means I can see shreds of my sanity ripped up in small little pieces around the room. They’re barely there, but they exist. So far the most important lesson I learned was tonight. “If a dog starts dry heaving, do not lift the dog OVER your computer to put it on the hardwood floors to avoid getting any on the comforter.” I have found the fastest way to get me off of the computer.

Dog sitting is weird, because I’m only used to our dog. There have been lots of bizarre Twitter updates on my behalf, because sometimes I only process things 145-160 characters at a time. I also don’t worry about perfection or offending people (most of the time) with Twitter which makes me love it more than other social media outlets. As a fellow Tweeter once wrote, “Twitter is better than Facebook for a break-down, because my mom doesn’t know what Twitter is.”

Here are some excerpts (oldest on the bottom right):

Twitterhousesit

(By the way, that misplaced comma about barking dogs bothers me, but I hate to correct the tweet now that it’s out there. There’s no edit, so I’d have to delete it and completely re-write. I just wanted you to know I know.)

Yes, they’re less cute when they’re vomiting and barking galore.

I have been having ongoing back problems, which is quite literally, a pain. I was supposed to go see a physical therapist, but they quoted me the wrong price. I had taken the morning off work to go to physical therapy, but I was so tired after the debacle that turned into not going, that I fell asleep on the couch. Like Lindsay from Arrested Development, I took something akin to a pain-addled, exhausted, angry nap. Then I had to go back to work, so tomorrow I will spend the entirety of my day off looking for more doctors and physical therapists to take away my money while my health continues to deteriorate.

On the bright side, I’m pretty sure that I got most of the puke off of my computer from earlier this evening!

This week has been battling my health concerns. When I found out I had to go to physical therapy last week, my initial reaction was not positive. I left my appointment, went to the store, and burst into tears. I called my mom at her work, blubbering in the over-the-counter pharmaceutical aisle while I searched for something to take twice a day per my doctor’s orders that I haven’t already pretty much developed an immunity (a tall order). Since I have chronic pain issues throughout my life and this is a new development, it’s not like physical therapy can cure me.

I felt convinced that while physical therapy might benefit me temporarily, that a far worse fate awaited me.

I blame Professor X for this.

We saw X-Men: Days of Future Past, or as I like to call X-Men: Probably Present, a few weeks ago. It was not the best X-Men film I’ve ever seen (the second one and Origins take the cake on that), but it was a good way to spend a couple of hours. Charles Xavier, having suffered a blow to his spine, combats his constant physical pain coupled with the emotional upheaval from his severed friendship with Magneto, i.e. Erik Lensherr. Professor X takes medication made for him by Hank, aka Beast, which enables him to walk and at the same time dulls his super powers.

Which means ever since I saw the film, I keep thinking, “If Prof X can walk, surely there’s something I can take or do to make this go away with minimal difficulty.” Additionally, since I found out I need to go to physical therapy, I assume just like Prof X ended up bald and in a wheel chair, so is my fate.

It’s weird how completely irrational thoughts feel rational in light of desperation, pain, and insomnia. Professor X gives me hope, but then again, I am not a superhero. The never ending frustration of doctors and financial burden is causing me major disillusion.

Another pop culture example that came to mind is John Locke from Lost. He ends up in a wheelchair after an accident, but due to unusual circumstances, overcomes his disability and rises from it like a phoenix from the ashes.

I was so ready to go to physical therapy and tell my trainer “don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

The greatest drug of all is the changed title to a parody one of my friends sang at karaoke a long time ago. The original song is “The Greatest Love of All” by Bette Midler. In this instance, the greatest drug of all, barring love and for me, the elusive SLEEP, is whatever Beast gives to Charles Xavier in that X-Men movie. I want that drug, because I have no superpowers to override, only fail powers which are pretty hefty.

Right now it is 2am, and I am afraid of falling asleep and having the dog who barfed earlier do it again all over the bed and wake up covered in vomit. I also can’t fall asleep because pain and Parker is snoring. I think I need a special, fake being that I can suffocate in the middle of the night when I’m too frustrated with my husband’s snoring and my own body’s mismanagement to sleep.

I think the rage has passed, and I’m safe? I did just learn that my caps lock technically works, but no longer lights up to signify that it is on. Sigh. I’ll just throw that onto the pile of things to do later.

Given my currently broken body status, how much shenanigans could I get into? I can’t even really lift my laptop right now.

I leave you with an important message regarding the last Batman film by Christopher Nolan.

Me to Til: “Working out has its benefits, as does anything we do to better ourselves…although now I’m thinking of Batman when his back is broken in that fucking cave/prison thing beneath the earth. What the fuck was that? I mean, his back was broken. He should’ve been paralyzed, but he’s Batman fucking Bruce Wayne and shit, so it doesn’t work that way.”

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler

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You know how in the past, there were a number of researchers that performed psychological experiments (i.e. emotional damage) on humans until the psychological association banned this? I’m beginning to feel that the unspoken agreement at work among my superiors is to enact this on their employees. If I had to estimate, it would definitely be in their top 5 priorities.

What I’m trying to say is there’s another fucking bio.

We’ve hired a new manager, and she passed out a bunch of pieces of paper at our last staff meeting. I really miss the past jobs where we never had staff meetings. I once worked at a job where we avoided making mistakes not because we were punished, but because my manager used to make really long speeches. On the bright side, these speeches did take away from work and usually ended up with us snickering into our hands.

I didn’t get a survey, because at the last meeting, my boss complained that none of the three people in my position (including myself) were working up until the meeting even though NOBODY ELSE WAS. So, I got in to the meeting when it actually started, and everyone had already finished eating (my meal had an allergy item on it, so even after the meeting, I was hangry and had almost no time to gobble down cheese sticks in my car).

Afterwards, the new manager gave me a survey to finish. But guess what? My particular department had, amazingly, a ton of things to do to catch up while we were missing work to be in a meeting about how to be better at our low-level jobs. So I folded it up and didn’t finish it. Because I was hangry, I didn’t have time, and the questions annoyed me.

Since there’s not many of them, I’ve included the majority so you know what I’m talking about. I’d like to note that they are probably well-intended, but asking a starving, exhausted, anxious person these questions and trying to get them to answer quickly and without sarcasm are not great ideas.

Were you born here? If not, where and what brought you here?

I want to craft a complicated, false story that’s as intricate and dramatic as possible, because this formulaic and boring answer, while informative, makes me narcoleptic. Why is this first? Shoddy writing.

Edu:

I like this one, because it’s a one word reminder of how much time/money I’ve wittled away to do something I don’t really care about due to the economy and lack of executive decision. Ouch time.

How did you get into this field?

It’s difficult to convey in a gentle, honest way that I got here because I misguidedly thought it would be completely different than I discovered it to be.

How long have you been in this field and in what capacity?

Both too long in terms of how my feelings have mutated over time, and not long enough as a daily reminder that I don’t actually know anything about what I do and am constantly corrected by other people and confused about my actual duties.

What special interests do you have in this field?

Obtaining a paycheck and then using it towards my survival in an infinite cycle of debt and self-loathing. Also, filling out mindless drivel or constructing brown-nosing bullshit about myself in these increasingly surprising number of bios. I can’t wait to see how many more spring up in their place like some kind of paper army.

What are your plans/goals for the next year? ..and 5 years

This question is more psychologically joyous than the others, because it’s the biggest trap. It’s the “Choose Your Own Failed Adventure” of any of the questions. Every single answer I could put feels entirely wrong.

If I put that I don’t see myself anywhere else in the next 1-5 years, I’ll look like I’m trying to find another job (I’m not, because I lack the initiative, among other reasons, to do so). If I put that I want to climb the ladder (spoiler alert: the ladder is a one step stool), then I’ll possibly end up getting trained to take on more responsibility without a pay raise (one of my co-workers was offered something similar), or end up going back to school for something I don’t like to take on more responsibility and constantly have mental breakdowns like the rest of the staff (it’s pretty bad when you consider yourself crazy, and you’d still be in the lower middle ranking of said people at your job). If I put that I want to have a family, they’ll sense maternity leave and possibly quitting (which wouldn’t be the worst, but it will definitely lead to too many conversations about babies). If I say that I see myself here, they’ll see me as a lowly serf, which is probably the most accurate. If I put “burning this mother to the ground,” I’d definitely get fired and probably have the cops get called to at least escort me off the premises. On the other hand, that would make a pretty memorable last day…

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like to do as little as possible, but I mostly end up running errands or doing chores and wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life, then continue doing it.

Favorite movie?

I kind of want to put Dear Zachary or K19: The Widowmaker, but ultimately, any interesting response I could put will be taken in a completely unphased sort of way. I definitely need advice here.

Favorite food?

Wait, what? How does this…never mind.

What would you like to see at work that could make your job easier?

More pay, less work, more time off, fewer idiots.

*

My life officially gets more and more like Office Space every month.

The unsuspecting sports fan

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“If you want to totally misunderstand why something is supposedly important, find the biggest fan of that particular thing and ask him for an explanation. He will tell you everything that doesn’t matter to anyone who isn’t him. He will describe paradoxical details and share deeply personal anecdotes, and it will all be autobiography; he will simply be explaining who he is by discussing something completely unrelated to his life.” –Chuck Klosterman

I have never been outwardly, insanely enthusiastic about sports. My grandpa was a coach who pressured my mom into sports and as a result, although I was enrolled in various activities that could fall under that category, it was never a priority. My childhood experience was not a positive one for the same reason that I always check a box whenever I take personality quizzes–I am not a team player by nature. Gym class or whatever popular passing energy dispersion happened during recess were more commonly observed by me. I’m a frequently confused, slow-moving magnet for sports equipment. I was always picked last, I’m useless in Red Rover, and I was the bait whenever we played Capture the Flag. At first, I resisted and then eventually volunteered by the time I began to accept my fate. I enjoyed games where I could end up “out,” and then hang out in “jail,” a terrible term that penalizes children for something which ultimately turns them to sports villainy so they don’t have to run and show-off how terrible they are.

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I learned that my place in this particular venue was as a “distraction.” I was never the basketball star, but I was the spazz that confused the other players while my fellow teammates performed lay-ups and 3-pointers. My coach once yelled for me to head to the opposite end of the court during a game, and I yelled back, “What’s the point? They’re going to end up back on this side anyway.” Part of it is that I am a rebellious only child, and part of it is that I an unable to sparkle in this area. I enjoyed playing tennis (it felt leisurely and was more individualized or partnered at most) and I enjoyed baseball when it was just me pitching to myself, so really, what did I need the actual thing for? I didn’t run, I didn’t catch.

Yet, as an adult, I’ve found myself becoming a sports fan.

It took awhile. For about a decade, I abhorred watching sports; I had flashbacks of humiliation, poor performances, and a general feeling of lacking. At best, I felt bored by games. Yet, other people were fascinated by them. They were drawn to them. I once went to a friend’s house, and he was all dressed up in color coordinated outfit yelling and fist pumping in a room by himself with the tv. I was missing a key component of life, and I wanted to comprehend it even if I didn’t share it.

What drew me in initially was Caleb. Every winter, he watched football. He had a jersey and could sit in almost a zen-like state and watch the games from start to finish. I asked him, “Why do you watch it? What do you see when you do?” He explained that he and his father didn’t have a lot in common. His dad traveled most of the year for work, and so he wasn’t around often. “When he was home, he watched football every Sunday. I joined him. He taught me the game. I’m more like my mom. I don’t understand why he does the things he does. They got divorced, and it didn’t phase me. Football was something we could do together. It was the only thing we had.”

That was the first thing I noticed, and it was especially true for communities. People were rich, poor, black, white. Yet, when it started, they all became one. Even different teams came together in stadiums. Folks that had nothing in common united.

For many, there’s adrenaline. Will they or won’t they win? All the movies from this genre are about the underdog. Going against the odds. Bringing people together. Conquering the unknown. Talented individuals who have to put aside differences for a single goal.

What ended up sealing it for me was the last element. It took growing up, working at a job day in and out to finalize it. The reason people watched sports. Hope. To hang your dream on something that is not you. The overcoming desire to believe in something bigger than yourself. I’ve argued with others about this for a long time, but I believe that this is the single biggest reason that we continue to have children. Part of that is undoubtedly political/religious beliefs, ingrained societal/cultural duties, and a hankering to play teacher to a limited audience, but I still maintain that children are something we can channel our energy, time, and focus into regardless of the return (not unlike sports).

But the above is not what made others’ love of sports interesting to me. What made it interesting was Chuck Klosterman, a writer who has the uncanny ability to make me care about things I didn’t know I could care about. Hair metal from the 80’s and 90’s. Instilling curiosity in me about Lost, a program I showered with hatred of the unknown until, of course, I watched it. And sports. He even made me realize a connection between religion and sports. In his article about Tim Tebow, Klosterman writes:

The only time ‘faith’ seems negative is when it’s prefaced by the word ‘blind.’ But blind faith is the only kind of faith there is. In order for someone’s faith to be meaningful, it has to be blind. Anyone can believe a hard fact that everyone already accepts. That’s easy. If you can see something, you don’t need faith. Faith in the seeable is meaningless.”

Klosterman’s essay about the Celtics combined with my peers getting together for a Celtics play-offs game made me agree to watch it. I still don’t love sports, but I find myself much more interested and involved than I ever was before. When someone makes a basket or a touchdown, I turn to my husband and we high-five and yell and share someone else’s accomplishment with all of our friends who have also witnessed it. Being part of someone else’s scientific approach fueled by talent-in-action is a beautiful thing to witness. There’s also the relief in knowing that no one is making me play.

In the words of I Heart Huckabees, “How am I not myself?”

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There are no less than 50 activities going on simultaneously today. Spring is waking everything up in a fit of energy. This is also my way of saying I woke up, did a keg-stand of coffee, and now my anxiety is at 11. My co-worker was complaining the other day about how her dogs have this crippling case of nervousness where one of them gets stressed out, the other one gets stressed out, it amps up the already mounting negative energy, and then they brawl. My co-worker ended it by saying, ” ‘Why can’t you guys be normal?’ But they just can’t.” I told Parker, and he laughed and said, “Did you relate? Did you wonder why you were her two dogs?” And nothing can describe it better than that.

My workplace is redoing their website, and they want pictures and updated bios of all their employees. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of having my photo displayed and the world knowing things about me (I realize this is a silly feeling since I write a blog). Not that I work for a secret government project or anything, but I did once get Fox Mulder on a personality quiz. That quiz may have been Which Character from The X-Files are you? The truth is out there, I want to believe, blah blah blah ALIENS.

foxmulder

Back to the topic. We got these questionnaires we’re supposed to fill out, and I’ve been pouring over the queries for DAYS. No one should take this long, but I’m having some kind of existential crisis involving these two pieces of paper held together by a staple. Ridiculous? Yes, but it’s still happening.

First off, all my answers have to be “work appropriate,” and that sounds simple enough until you process it and add in the fact that my answers are supposed to be truthful and not sarcastic. This means that my personality may be dressed in ripped, concert jeans and a t-shirt with expletives on it, but I have to redistribute my mohawk, dye my hair a natural color, hide my tattoos, and put on khakis. My responses are in a fucking prison right now.

No one is going through this except me. At least that’s how it feels, because we’re the center of our own universe, so that’s how it ALWAYS feels, right? A good first example is “what is your favorite quotation?” One of my co-workers wrote “live in love.” Another said something cliche about smiling, because you never know who’s falling in love with you. Basically, I am back in high school and have to fill out my senior info for the yearbook and am overcome by the mediocrity and fake-sounding answers. One of my friends from high school wrote in her yearbook bio that her favorite song was the theme from Jaws, and I can’t stop thinking about that.

Another example would be “what’s your favorite music?” My knee-jerk reaction is to write down James Taylor. At my old job, “You’ve Got a Friend” came on the radio one day, and I inappropriately flipped out and yelled “no, no, no” and changed it. That sparked confusion and an ensuing discussion about how I hated James Taylor, because this song was played all the time on the boring satellite station over sound system at a previous job. When I was out sick for a week, I returned to a picture of young James Taylor on the wall behind my computer set there by my co-workers. Since I was in customer service, clients would come in to pay their bills, and when they saw the picture, they would freak out and go on and on about how they loooooved him and he was so young and he was coming to town soon. They wanted to know if I had seen him in concert, because he was fantastic. So I developed this hilarious love-hate relationship with James Taylor where my feelings of anger dissipated into humor and acceptance over time.

Yesterday at work, one of my co-workers was dressed up having come from a funeral earlier that day. When I commented on how nice she looked, she said that she hated dressing up and putting on make-up and that was WHY she was in our particular line of work. My sarcastic response was, “Are you going to put that in your bio?” And now, I think she might be.

The other work issue I’ve been having is that last month, I got my 6 month review. I’ve had many jobs, but I haven’t been reviewed at work for about five to six years. My last job would occasionally just give me raises without telling me and without reviewing me short of “you’re doing a good job so just keep doing that.” The fact that I was not given a raise and had to endure a review is sending me into shock. I knew it was coming for about a month, so the anticipation was KILLING me. Then when my boss reviewed me, she scored me and had little comments on why. However, she ended the conversation with, “let’s work on this, and we’ll meet back in a month and see where we’re at.” Noooooo, I’ve been dreading this for a month! I don’t want to do that! What does that even mean? I’ve been trying to overcome the learning curve for the past 6 months, and somehow I’m supposed to try harder, and I’m not even sure what will happen in two weeks when she reviews me again. Will I get a raise? Will I get fired? What is my motivation here? Does she not think that I’m trying as hard as possible? I would almost prefer she fire me than have to sit through the firing squad of another review. Or at least TELL me why I’m doing this. And the worst part is, now that I STILL have to go through this hell all over again, I’m doing much, MUCH worse. Because I break under pressure. I wish “what is your worst quality?” was a question on this bio, or maybe even the ONLY one, because I have a whole list going for that. As for my “talent” or my “best personality trait,” I have no clue, but it’s probably making a mockery out of anything good or benign in the universe. One question down, 30 billion to go.

This brings me to the last part of the bio and the question I’m having the most trouble answering: “Why are you in this line of work?” I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of conversations (read: bitch fests) recently with one of my co-workers about our dissatisfaction with our job, with the way it’s set up, with the rules, with our co-workers, with our clients. Someone recently joked that when people leave this job, they go into something entirely different, and I’m beginning to fully understand why. It’s not even close to the reason I used to think it was.

I commented to one of my friends the other day about how I don’t know what to write in it. I will post a picture of my idea here, so you can see what I mean.

valleygirlresultMe: I don’t know what to say. Can I just write that I am Valley Girl Cage and include the description? I feel like this is the best possible explanation of who I am.

Kiki: And your photo can be a pic of him from the movie.

Me: OMG, yes! I will do it. When clients see it, they’ll squint and say, “you look nothing like your picture from the website.” I’ll respond with, “How DARE you.” That being said, I totally want his hair. I have hair envy.

Kiki: So much hair envy.

If you didn’t understand that, then you need to go watch Valley Girl right now. If you got it, then you should totally watch Valley Girl in the next week. One of my friends actually switched seats when we were watching this film in a group, stating, “If I’m going to watch a terrible movie, I’m going to sit next to The Weird Button, so we can make fun of it together.” Best thing anyone has ever said to me.

 

Art and the Working Woman

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I’m always trying to find cool photos for #TBT where web addicts post pictures of themselves from when they were younger (and as Mitch Hedberg points out, that is every picture of you) and are typically met with ambivalence. Every time I use Throwback Thursday’s acronym, I always think of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) which is part of my childhood in the 90’s, so same thing (just not reversed).

We cleaned our place last weekend for a tv marathon, and so when I was sitting in my clean living room this morning, I spotted a box under Parker’s desk. I pulled it open and started inspecting.

I realize it’s Wednesday now, but it might be Thursday by the time you read it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was going to community college. To get an accurate account of what going there was like, watch Community. It was like that, except without Pierce Hawthorne. I’d left my position at a nationwide pizza place the previous fall, telling them I wanted “to focus on school.” In reality, I had a new manager and assistant manager I didn’t like very much, and on top of that one of my clients had told me that it was okay to make mistakes “because you’re new.” When he said this I’d been working there for 4 months so hearing this was a light bulb realization that I didn’t like working here and had no desire to improve. On top of that, my work crush had quit to travel the USA with his girlfriend. I was melancholy about this, because I was pretty sure that he was my soul mate (in that casual, immature way you just decide someone’s your soul mate) and equally convinced that I was not his.

Now it was winter. My hair was different, my classes were new, and I once again found myself needing a source of income so I could buy gas, go out to eat with my friends, and collect a plethora of dvds.

I was wandering around the common area in the Student Center considering applying at different places but not feeling the necessary motivation to propel me out into the world to begin the task. Rotating merchants set up small booths in the large open area of the student building, and I walked over to see what they had to offer while procrastinating homework and other responsibilities.

Upon entering one booth, my eyes were immediately drawn to this picture (it’s only a partial up above). I decided that the woman was probably a prostitute, but she appeared to be enjoying herself. Of course, now I know that it was by Alphonse Mucha to advertise Job cigarettes, but I didn’t know that at the time. I bought the painting in spite of the fact that I NEEDED money, and I told myself it would be my inspiration to find a new place of work. I think it only took me a couple of weeks after to find something. I’ve used it as my muse for working ever since.

 

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