Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Workin' in The Coal Mine, Goin' Down, Down

Office Space quote #1:  
Peter - "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements."
Terrible thing a co-worker once said to me, #1:  
"You didn't hear about it?  Oh, it was so sad, her family is out of state you know, so no one was there, she died alone in the hospital. It's just so tragic for someone to die alone, without loved ones around. By the way, how is your mother doing?"
Office Space quote #2: 
Bob - "Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately."
Peter - "Well, I wouldn't exactly say I've been missing it, Bob."
Terrible thing a co-worker (yes, the same one) said to me, #2:  
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but I was just wondering.  Are you pregnant?"
Office Space quotes #3:  
Peter: "So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life."
Terrible thing a former boss said to me: 
"You're a smart girl, Ellen, there's no need to be nervous, I know you will do well in your big meeting.  The thing that worries me is that you frequently have very bizarre facial expressions. I'm sure you're not aware of it, but try not to do it in this meeting."
Lee Dorsey:  
Workin' in a coal mine
Goin' down down down
Workin' in a coal mine
Whoo! about to slip down

Five o'clock in the mornin'
I'm already up and gone
Lord I am so tired
How long can this go on?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kittens > Work

I hate this.  There is something going on at work and I've been directed not to talk about it, so I'm afraid to write about it here, even though as far as I know no one from work reads my blog.  But it is all I can think about, any other thoughts that happen to make their way into my head get pushed out of the way sooner or later by thoughts and worries about work.  We are supposed to have a big meeting on April 4, so maybe I'll be able to talk about it after that.  Maybe I'll have answers then, I don't have any real facts right now anyway.

Greg and I are planning to go see The Hunger Games movie soon, although it might not be this weekend because, somewhat ironically, I have to work.

Greg's birthday is on April 5, and his birthday gift will be a kitten. Greg absolutely loves cats, and has never had a little baby kitten. 

When we went to the Humane Society 6 years ago we planned to adopt a kitten, but then Greg got completely distracted by the full-grown adult cats. We had to adopt one of the adults, he insisted, the adult cats are more likely to be put down since everybody wants kittens. I argued that so many kittens are born every day and not all of them do get adopted, plenty of kittens are put down too.  But it's MORE likely they'll get adopted, Greg insisted, and then when an adult siamese cat came over and jumped up on his lap, that was the end of it. She is a very decisive cat. So we brought her home and named her Sydney.

I knew Greg couldn't go back in the Humane Society and see all the poor potentially doomed adult cats again without getting sidetracked from wanting a kitten, so when a co-worker (See?  Work again!  Every thought leads back to work) mentioned having a new litter of kittens, I said we'd take one.  Last Saturday we went to meet the kittens and pick one out (One, I told Greg. ONE.) and holy crapmuffins, they are just the cutest little things with their pointy tails and their blue eyes and their wobbly attempts to claw their way up on the couch with us.

We'll pick her up after work on Wednesday April 4 (Work! That'll be the day of the meeting. Okay, stop thinking about work) and the next day will be Greg's birthday.  We took that day and the next day off, so we'll have a four-day weekend to celebrate the anniversary of Greg being born, get to know the new member of our family, take her to the vet for a check up, and introduce her to Sydney.  Hopefully that'll go fairly smoothly and fang-free, we're planning to restrict the teeny fluffball in one room for the first day or two, then gradually get them together.

Madame Sydney might wake up to acknowledge a kitten

Possibly the long weekend/mini-vacation will also include watching lots of movies and having Chinese food delivered, we'll see.

She really is adorable, as all kittens are.  She's got blue eyes and fluffy gray fur with a few little spots and streaks of white.  To continue on the tradition of naming cats after movie characters (Sydney is from High Art) Greg wants to name her Alabama (from True Romance).  Alabama was the hero of that movie, maybe our teensy little fluffball will turn out to be heroic as well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to ellen

I did have a nice birthday on Saturday.  I was tired from driving home from Georgia the day before so I slept late.  While I was still in bed, Greg gave me my present: a Kindle!  I've been wanting one, and I have to say, it is really, really neat.  Greg brought the laptop to me in bed, and I set up my Amazon account with my Kindle, and then connected our local library, and downloaded a couple of library books. 
I ended up staying in bed until noon, playing with my new Kindle.  When I finally got up, Greg and I went to Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen and had crawfish, fried green tomatoes, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets. I swear my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. 
That night we cuddled up on the couch and watched all the tv shows on our DVR that we'd missed while I was in Georgia. A friend gave me an Amazon gift certificate and I downloaded Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage, and it was all very low-key and comfortable and nice.
And yesterday I was back at work.  I was expecting a whole new sharper cloud of doom spitting teeth and raining blood, but according to the latest forecast it won't show up for a few days yet, so the same old fuzzy cloud of doom is settled back quietly but menacingly over my head. 
And I am, as predicted, 46 years old.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Restaurant Procedure

My visit with Mom last week was just lovely.  I worked on Monday then drove up to North GA on Tuesday, and we had our traditional breakfast for dinner at the nice IHOP.  (It really is kind of surprisingly nice for an IHOP.)  I had the 2x2x2 like always (2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 pancakes), without even going through the pointless charade of looking at the menu.  Mom had the Senior Rooty, with blueberries on her pancakes. 

Mom walks with a walker now, but it's too hard to manuever inside a restaurant, so that means our Restaurant Procedure, which is as follows:

I park in a handicapped spot (Mom has a placard to hang on my rearview mirror).  I come around and help Mom out, I carry the pillow that she uses for her back and we walk into the restaurant with her holding onto my outstretched arm and hand.  A lot of times people see us coming and helpfully hold the door for us.  Inside, I ask for a booth (chairs are more likely to have hard backs that are uncomfortable for Mom, even with her pillow) and if it's a big restaurant like Red Lobster, I ask for a booth near the front to avoid a long walk.  I walk with Mom to our table, and help her adjust the pillow behind her back.

Once seated, the temperature discussion begins.  Is it too cold?  Should I go out to the car and get Mom's jacket for her?  Is there a breeze blowing on Mom, should we ask for another table?  Mom has trouble hearing, she has nerve damage in her ears that her hearing aid doesn't help with, so I lean across the table to speak to her.  When the temperature issue is settled, the what-will-we-order discussion starts.  Mom feels very put upon by the large portions most restaurants serve, so I offer to split an entree with her.  Mom worries that I won't have enough food, and I reassure her that it'll be fine.  She usually says she never really feels hungry, and I don't quite know how to respond to that.

Sometimes servers are very respectful to Mom, and once they see that she has trouble hearing, they will speak up a bit, or speak a little slower.  Sometimes they're impatient, and I have to translate what they said for Mom; but she always does her own ordering.

Once settled in and with our order in place, Mom will look around at the other diners.  Last week in IHOP, she had a whole waving thing going with a tiny girl in a baby seat who kept smiling at Mom.  When the food comes, there is always a minor argument when Mom wants to give me "just one more shrimp" or something else off her plate.

The big argument happens when the check comes.  My tiny little mother, who I have never known to raise her voice or be confrontational with anyone (LITERALLY, I am not exaggerating) will snatch away that check as quickly as her arthritic hands will let her.  And let me tell you, she is not kidding.

She is a Southern woman who fully believes that it is her job to show visitors hospitality such as the visitor has never previously known.  This Southern hospitality must, at all costs, consist of copious amounts of food, including but not limited to sweet tea and biscuits, and if possible sending the visitor away with a big bag of tomatoes, peaches, or walnuts, whichever is in season.  It hurts Mom to have visitors come and, not only can she not feed them, but they are trying to buy her food!  That will not DO, not at all.

This is where the bargaining begins.  How about if I let her pay at IHOP, but I will pay when we go to Red Lobster?  If I let her pay the check, can I leave the tip?  My rate of success depends largely on the time of year.  At Christmas, she is adamant about wanting to pay for everything, because the horror of her not being able to feed me and Greg is compounded by her not having a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts for us.  Last week, the best I could do was leave the tip, because she felt bad about not having a birthday present for me.  It's a tricky thing, because I just hate having her pay for anything, but I don't want to hurt her feelings, and it's a big deal to her.  I thanked her several times during the trip, telling her how much I appreciated her birthday present of buying my lunches.

As annoying as all this sounds, I love it.  I really do.  I'm proud to walk into a restaurant with my 90-year old Mother on my arm.  I'm proud of her for going out, when walking is such a scary thing for her, and she has so much trouble hearing people.  I love her for being so sweet and wanting to give me things. I try so hard to make sure everything is comfortable for her, and it can get stressful when things are not in my control.

But my visit was so very nice.  I had dinner with her and her friends in the dining room, we shopped successfully for underwear and a robe and a pretty blouse for her, we looked at old photos, she seemed delighted to get the large-print biography of Regis Philbin I brought her (she loves Reege), and everything was just fine.

I drove back on Friday.  I miss her already.  With all the upheaval in my life, I am not sure when I'll be able to go back.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Still Don't Know What I Was Waiting For

"I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
Then I turned myself to face me
But I never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test."
~ Changes, David Bowie

Every time I think things at work are so bad, just SO very bad, they get worse. It's darkly hilarious to me now that just a few months ago I was worried about vital programs not working, about not being adequately trained, and more recently about having a smaller desk in a noisier place.

I have always struggled with how much to write about my job. I wouldn't want to be Dooced. And really, people whining about incomprehensible corporate policies, their annoying co-workers quoting nonsense from Fox News, or the unfairness of being passed over for a raise is, typically, pretty boring, right? Blah blah blah. Who cares.

"Oh, you hate your job? There's a support group for that, it's called everybody, and they meet at the bar." ~ Drew Carey

I've spent 16 years at this company working at a job that is good enough. It's not my life's work, I've never felt that it was any kind of calling. I look at lists of numbers and put numbers into reports and spreadsheets. It's not like I'm saving people's lives or anything. It's not meaningful.

Next week I'm driving up to Georgia to visit Mom. I wonder if I ought to cancel the trip, but I can't, she's looked forward to it for so long, and I know that she would be deeply disappointed. So would I. I'll drive back on Friday, and be home with my sweetie for my birthday on Saturday.

Then back at work for whatever Monday brings.

I'll be 46 years old. Everything is changing.

David Bowie performing Changes live 1973

Friday, March 2, 2012

Routine Interrupted

My department is open 8am to 9pm, which means one (potentially reluctant) person has to be there until 9pm.  We have one lady who likes that shift well enough to work it three weeks out of the month; the one remaining week is covered through a rotation with the other four of us. This week it was my turn. 

I absolutely hate working until 9pm.  My commute is an hour, but I can cut it down to 30 minutes if I pay for toll roads.  A year's worth of toll road tolls, even just one way, is over $1,000, so yeah, I'm not spending that.  But I do pony up the cashe maybe one day every couple of weeks if there's a pressing reason, like if I am sick or in a big hurry.  Or if I have to work until freakin' 9:00pm.

Greg and I are both big fans of boring routine, which is proof that we are elderly.  At around 6 we have dinner together (Greg usually cooks), we hang out and talk, we go on our computer(s) and check email and Facebook (during which time we IM each other interesting links or pictures).  At 8:00pm I call Mom.  At 8:15 or so we give the kitty some treats, this is now mandatory even though I have begun to question the wisdom of starting up that particular habit.  (Siamese cats are sure noisy if they want something.)  Then Greg and I and the kitty get cozy on the couch and watch tv.  Around 9:30 or 10 we start to get ready for bed, and then we sit in bed reading until around 11:00pm.

Getting home at 10pm blows that away completely.  Taking the toll roads and getting home at 9:30pm is a little better, but not much.  I really miss our dinner time and our hanging out time and tv time.  I do not necessarily miss kitty treat time, although I do miss kitty curled up on my lap time.

Next week I am back on an early shift, and I am extremely glad that this work week is OVER.

I hate to say that there are any good parts about having the late shift, such is the intensity of my loathing, but it has given me extra time to work out in the morning. My new Denise Austin dvd has a 5-minute stretching warm-up, four different intense 10-minute cardio workouts, and a 5-minute stretching cool-down. This week I've been doing the two 5-min stretching and two of the cardio, for a total workout time of 30 minutes.  I've been sweating a lot more. And I've actually been liking it! Next week I will have to get up appallingly early if I want to continue, so we'll see how that goes.    

It sure would be nice to have a job with the same hours every week.