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(I Always Feel Like) Somebody’s Watching Me April 6, 2014

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More work-related stuff.

It’s coming up on a year since I was approached and accepted a different position within my department. I’m not sure that it can be considered a “promotion,” in the most basic sense of the word, but it came with a pay raise so that’s what I considered it to be. Titles don’t mean much to me in the office world: when “Secretary” was replaced by “Administrative Assistant,” I wasn’t impressed, as I was still the one making copies and three-hole-punching large piles of paper and didn’t feel any different. It’s especially laughable when you have a government job, as they take it even further, adding “Specialist” or Specialist II” to somehow differentiate between pay grades. 

Basically I went from general secretary to secretary who does slightly more specialized things involving edits to law review articles. I’m not trying to downplay it though; I’ve had to learn quite a few new things, specifically about legal writing. I still have a ways to go before I’m completely comfortable, but it’s rare (for me) to look over the past year of work and realize how much more satisfied I am – with myself and what I’ve accomplished.

Unfortunately, the reason I was offered the position in the first place was because the woman who had held it before me had failed. Spectacularly. While she was overly qualified for the job (her entire long career has been in editing and publishing), she has no grasp of basic people skills and how to get by in an office that’s inhabited by a group of people with a wide range of personality quirks. This lady is very intelligent, extremely well traveled and has forty years of work experience. I feel though that because she is not American born and raised, she doesn’t seem personable (especially to the younger law review students, who are infants in comparison to us – early to mid 20′s) and has no time for the humor, sarcasm and pop culture references that come along with most office jobs. While she may be way more technically advanced than I am, I KILL with these kids. I might be old enough to be their mother (shudder) but my sense of humor is on par with theirs and I enjoy both working with them and the small talk. I don’t mean for this to sound braggy by any means – I’m still terrified almost every day that I’m not measuring up to her level of work.

She moved out of our office under protest, even retaining a lawyer because she felt she was being treated unfairly to the point of harassment. She was never treated unprofessionally, her pay rate didn’t change; she was simply asked to step out of the position and (by her choice) be moved one floor away so as to not have anymore contact with her current editor. She stayed out of work as long as her leave allowed, was told by her lawyer she had no case and came back to work – grudgingly, but she ended up settling back in. 

Until a week ago, when she got moved back into our office to a desk about four feet away from mine and directly in front of our boss’s office. There were a few reasons for this, not worth talking about, but the end result kind of sucks for both she and me. If I make a mistake now, I can feel her silently gloating (hell, *I* would be!). If I do something good, get a compliment, whatever, I can feel her silently seething (I’d be doing that too). My therapist would say, “Kim, you’re just projecting.” because my therapist can be an asshole sometimes. That doesn’t change the fact that office geography, while seemingly just a logistical fact, has all kinds of subtle but powerful ramifications. 

You’re Not the Boss, er, Friend of Me March 17, 2014

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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt strongly enough about something to post here (apparently the last time, it was when I was feeling particularly frisky – not embarrassing at all). 

Unfortunately this is one of those things that shouldn’t be written about in a public forum, but that’s never stopped me before (see above). As Dooce taught us many years ago, blogging about work, in particular when it’s a complaint about work, isn’t always the best idea. Although it obviously worked out well for her, I don’t see my blog career following her trajectory. But that’s what the delete button is for, so away I go.

Women bosses. A strange yet very common occurrence in these modern times. I’ve had my share of them, which has left me with the impression that most of them are insane. In their defense, in most fields of work, women in power have more to prove professionally than a male counterpart and this can, I’d imagine, be a little crazy-making at times. The three ex-bosses I’m thinking of in particular were a student activities coordinator, a lawyer and a telecommunications business owner. All were extremely ambitious, hard working and also hard-assed, drunk-with-power bitches. One almost caused me to walk out at the beginning of my interview when she started with, “So. Tell me all about KIM.” Another, while in the middle of firing me, asked me how old I was, then said, “I’d accomplished so much more than you have by the time I was your age.” And the third thought nothing of literally staying at work all night and forcing her employees to stay with her in order to get things done last-minute because she was a terrible procrastinator. 

My current boss, luckily, isn’t nearly as psychotic. But. Obviously there’s something up since I’m foreshadowing like a blatant hussy. 

Before my time there, she’d once been a supervisor. Very talented in her field and full of institutional knowledge, she’s a definite asset to the department. Ninety-five percent of her working life has been spent there and it is from there she’ll retire. However, because of certain personality conflicts (as in, she made people cry, walk away from the job without looking back or giving notice and reveled in her backing from important people) she was asked to step down from her supervisory role. When I started there three years ago, she was merely an imposing office mate; then through a series of office politics and drama, she became supervisor once again. With a caveat, to not please repeat her past mistakes. 

I guess a combination of maturity and a new crop of employees to make an impression on, she’s taken some stock and has become a better boss. In the past, where she would be inflexible about timeliness and time off, taking the strong arm approach and micro managing, she’s mellowed and now would much rather be the popular girl boss. She’s still no pushover though, and demands a high quality of work, which I respect. She was an invaluable source for helping me make the transfer into my current position; a good trainer, always available for questions or helping me meet deadlines – I thought how thankful I was to work under this new and improved boss version of her. People who worked under her before agree that the transformation is nothing short of shocking. 

However. 

As good as her work life is – the inverted ratio of that is the not-goodness of her home life. I won’t go into the details here, but that’s not for lack of her telling the office at large all of the cringe-worthy details. You see, she thinks we’re her friends. Friends that she controls the workplace lives of, yes, but friends all the same. The office friendship and the personal friendship: for most people there’s a very distinctive difference. For her, none. And the more time that passes, the more friend-like plans she has started bringing up and out into the open. A team-building meeting exercise on a Thursday morning; annoying but acceptable. A casual mention of “having all of us to my house for dinner and wine” that afternoon? Alarming. 

I’m not the first person who’s encountered this. And as I spend my much-needed mental health day home alone, I’m searching the internet for answers on how to deal with when your boss thinks your her friend. 

Help me, internet; you’re my only hope.

Will Work for Dick December 30, 2013

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One of you drank a beer (or three) too many. 

One took a Xanax in desperate hope of getting a full night’s sleep. 

One or both of you is work-exhausted/catching a cold/sick with a cold already/has a strained back muscle/has period cramps and/or is menstruating (regular as ever, just as a cruel joke) or as in the other night, just plain old has really bad gas. 

These and many more are all valid reasons to not be in the mood for sex, but if you’re not careful, as I hope this foreshadowing represents, you can easily fall into a months’ long dry spell. Logically, I know this is a common ailment of long term relationships, but man it’s rough on the ego regardless. When you actually consider buying a magazine because of the “Ten Spicy Secrets of a Sexy Sexy Sex Whatever” you know there’s a problem. (I didn’t buy the magazine, but it’s too late once the idea was even considered).

While it can be awkward getting things on the right track again, the alternatives are very limited. We accidentally did the having affairs thing early on in the marriage, which obviously isn’t anything I’d like to revisit (and if I can hopefully be so bold as to speak for him, I think that goes for both of us). We’re still a little too young to give up, I think, so that leaves me the option of this: 

Lose that last 20 pounds, buy some porn and rally the troops.

Many New Year’s resolutions are similarly being made as I speak, I’m sure, but for me 2014 is going to be the year of getting laid again. 

Long Time No See December 2, 2012

Posted by Kimmothy in Experience, Friends, Life.
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Oh, hi.

Anyway.

If you want to blow your own mind (sounds dirty, wasn’t meant to), randomly run into the daughter of one of your old best friends at an event that is in no way connected to that part of your life and learn that she’s now the age you were when you met and became friends with her mother.

Brian had a work function banquet last night which held nothing but low expectations for me and then all of a sudden it was like I fell into that squiggly corkscrew graphic that depicts time travel in cheesy Twilight Zone episodes. Weirdly, Brian won a corkscrew in the raffle giveaway, which is useful only for this story since even if we did drink wine it wouldn’t be the kind that required a corkscrew. I won a pair of diamond earrings, but that’s not even the crazy thing.

After catching up with my friend’s daughter, and there was a lot of that to do, I learned that her mother, my friend of twenty years, tried to commit suicide about a month ago. I’d call it maybe an accidental overdose, but drinking a bottle of liquid Oxycodone (is that even a thing? I guess it is) and ingesting about two hundred pills probably can’t be considered an accident. It was really upsetting (obviously), especially because the last I’d heard, my friend was doing better, working various programs, seemingly overcoming her demons. Addiction is a motherfucker, in that you can be going along fine, living your life, thinking you’re on top of it all and then boom.

In my last therapy session, my doctor reminded me addiction is a disease that’s classified as Acute, Chronic, Relapsing (ARC, which is kind of a fun acronym if you put some thought into it), and one that never wants to let you go, like a psycho stalker lover. Thanks for that, Doc, really super great news. So you’re saying no matter how much time passes, how hard I work to be healthy, happy, and a functioning member of society, my brain is still warped and vulnerable to this hell. Here’s your $100, C U Next Tuesday.

Was it fate last night, bumping into her in the most unlikely of places? She really wants her mother and I to reconnect. I’m nervous, but I also want to see her, as she was someone who was a big part of my life for a lot of years. She also gave me my first Xanax (we were Christmas shopping and in fifteen minutes I went from wanting to stab people to wanting to give everyone a hug) and we spent many a time together washing pills down with Zima (it was the 90′s; give me a break), acting out our own redneck version of Valley of the Dolls. That wasn’t what our entire friendship was about, but looking back it was a big part of it. It still unnerves me when I think of all the friends I’ve had who have struggled with one form of addiction or another, some of whom are still knee-deep in the hell of it.

This is the time of year when I always (like many people do; I know I’m not a special snowflake) get reflective and nostalgic and long for days gone by. Well, the past ran up to me last night and gave me a big hug. And while it was all a little overwhelming, it made me feel like maybe it’s time to revisit some of it. Anything’s possible.

July 17, 2012

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I try not to get too wrapped up in stuff like this but this particularly hit home for me.

Summer Vacations Should be Mandatory June 28, 2012

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At the auto mechanic shop yesterday, I parted with $480 on a new condenser for me lorry. Apparently it’s an important part that prevents the transmission from exploding - who knew? I didn’t, but I sure do now. It could’ve been much worse (as in the above-referenced blowing of the transmission), but it did sort of fuck my plans for going to Florida in the next couple of weeks. I’m not yet sure if the trip is just in the postponement category or in actual ruins, but wow. I had plans to go at Christmas and dental problems cancelled that. Then the VERY DAY I put in for my vacation days at work, I took the car in for an oil change and they found this problem and my $25 bill escalated really fast. I feel like evil forces are keeping me from my family and friends and GET BEHIND THEE SATAN. \m/ (Devil horns, just because)

I got into my first Twitter fight! Weirdly it was about our in-state college football rivalry, which is definitely something I’m aware of, but not even necessarily that interested in, or knowledgable about, besides the fact that it exists. Someone else jumped in and defended my argument though, so I consider I won the fight. I think next I’ll see if I can get a celebrity to Tweet me (Charlie Sheen seems like an easy mark) and then all my Twitter bucket list would be complete.

I’ve been reading my archives a little and it’s amazing how much I talked about wanting a baby. If amazing = depressing. Anyway, we recently had one of those Discussions about it and although my ideal would still be something in the baby/toddler range, we also talked about older kids. We spent a Sunday over at his parents’ a few weeks ago and there was a boy there, about twelve, who simply just has a shitty life and George is the kind of person to actively take part in a mentoring program. We weren’t even aware of it, but they’ve hung out together a few times now, fishing, kayaking, etc. 

He was shy with us for only a very brief time (kids have always liked me, I think because not only do I not talk to them in condescending ways (Brian’s Mom – ugh), but even though I’m technically an adult and have been for quite some time, I just have a very kid-friendly way about me.

Of course he loved going swimming with Brian too, and I could tell Brian really enjoyed it…especially when we had the Discussion on the way home. An older kid…maybe it could be like the people who adopt the older dogs that nobody else wants? I can picture that. And now that Brian is fully agreeable to the adoption idea (that took long enough), a small spark of hope exists in me still. Could be stupid, but I don’t care. Hope is never a bad thing. 

New Ways to Chill June 25, 2012

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Over the weekend, we acquired a new-to-us, free refrigerator from Brian’s boss, whose wife was threatening mild violence if he didn’t get rid of it immediately. My mild enthusiasm over it was but a pale imitation of Brian’s unbridled glee. He got up early Saturday morning, showered immediately (usually there’s a good hour of deck sitting with coffee and internet before anyone makes a move to get clean on the weekends) and excitedly took off to go get the thing. On his way home, he picked up beer and earthworms, two of three things he proclaimed now have their own special place – do I really need to reveal the third one? It’s deer meat, obviously, because this appliance was appointed the man-cave redneck fridge before it ever set foot in the basement. Of course this is the cue for the main refrigerator to go out, because now I’m certain that’ll be coming soon to a kitchen near me.  I’m not bitter, just very experienced in these things.

I teased him throughout the weekend, but I remembered I felt the same way a couple years back when I got us our first down comforter, along with some new high thread count sheets. All of a sudden our bedding transformed into a lush, giant pillow-cloud that would definitely be Oprah-approved.*

I’m really dumb sometimes. One of the most exciting things about where we live now is the lake. My oft talked about Lake Murray, at one time the biggest man-made lake in the country? The world? Something like that – it’s a big lake. For quite a few years now, many people have used it for their boating, fishing, and any number of water-based fun-time needs. This lake is literally in my back yard, yet it took about eight months for me to go in.  Oh, the excuses were convincing - things like not wanting to deal with a bathing suit, being nervous about the water itself (which isn’t strange for some, but considering I grew up in Florida and spent most of my childhood in various bodies of water, very weird for me) and the various things that could be swimming around nearby but unseen…whatever. I have no idea.

Either way, all that silliness came to an end yesterday morning. It was around 10:30 and already ridiculously hot and humid. Brian was fishing, but he’d already been in the water a few times to cool down.  He kept saying I was crazy not to go in and finally I agreed and without ceremony plopped off the dock. As soon as my head resurfaced I said, What the F is wrong with me, and went on to spend a fantastic hour happily swimming around (in t-shirt and shorts because the bathing suit dilemma has yet to be resolved).

I mean, here I’ve been sweating my ass off (but unfortunately not my gut, no; never the gut) walking every night through the humidity and gnats and stupid grilling meat smells like I’ve done the last few summers but now there’s a lake and for the past few months I could’ve been doing this. Oh and burning twice the calories (because of course I looked it up) in a much more refreshing and enjoyable manner. See above where I said I’m dumb sometimes. But I forgive myself, because I have big plans after work this afternoon to go home and again take the short walk down to the lake and off the dock. Today and probably many days to follow. I guess it could’ve been worse – I could be writing this in early September, having missed an entire summer of swimming. Thankfully I’m not that dumb.

*I actually don’t give two shits what Oprah approves of, but I wholeheartedly agree with her opinion that having good linens improves quality of life.

In My Defense I’m Sure My Blood Sugar Was Really Low June 21, 2012

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There was a meeting at work today that involved me, another admin (who happens to also be the first new friend I’ve made in way too long a time and man, that’s sad but also really nice), the new head of the committee member and Liz, the Dean of Everything That Involves Money. I normally hate committees (and meetings), but I enjoy this one, being that it involves hiring new faculty and I’m a total HR nerd. Anyway, we were discussing the annual hiring convention they attend in Washington, DC every Fall and the fact it was such a pain in the ass last year to get the committee members to make their travel arrangements. I mean, you KNOW you’re going to this thing, in fact you’ve KNOWN for MANY MONTHS, yet a couple of them prefer to wait until the last possible moment to finalize plans and book their flights, which meant their plane tickets cost roughly triple of what the more responsible parties’ did. Hey, the law school is footing the bill, so no sweat off your asses, right. 

Anyway, blah blah, money, people, blah – all of a sudden Liz says, “I mean, not to sound like an anal bean counter or something,” and immediately her face reflected that did NOT come out sounding like it did in my head, but she pushed on and kept talking.

I very briefly caught my friend’s eye and then I had to look away.

I’m 43 years old. I pay bills and vote and consider myself a productive member of society, and while sitting in one of the most prestigious rooms on the university’s campus, all I could dwell on for the rest of the meeting was how badly I wanted to say, I’ve definitely heard of anal BEADS, but what is this anal bean  you speak of? And do they really need to be counted?

And with that, my long spell of not blogging is broken.

Pure Farce April 16, 2012

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You’re getting along fairly well, both physically and mental health-wise. You’ve been dealing with horrendous dental issues that have plagued you on and off since the morning of Christmas Eve when, while innocently brushing your teeth, you felt an unholy bitch of a pain which subsequently led to an extraction, three root canals, and a series of under-the-gum scrapings. Okay, that hasn’t been the best. But otherwise, you’re back to watching what you eat, exercising fairly regularly and feeling pretty good most of the time.

Spring comes early after a mild winter and as you sit on the deck drinking coffee in the mornings, talking and laughing until the sun sets later and later in the evenings, you feel calm and peaceful, especially for you. The view from the deck has a narcotic effect; you’re still sometimes surprised it’s yours even after six months.

Man’s phone rings around 9pm last night. You hear him say, “Wow, man – that’s great; congratulations.” You don’t wait for him to get off the phone: “Who’s pregnant?” He writes an initial with his finger in the air.

HER?

Perfect.

She of the infamous Mr. & Mrs. Redneck, the ones who have provided humorous fodder for me, both written and anecdotally, because if you don’t laugh at a situation like theirs it’s too depressing to contemplate. The last status report from the state of their union came a couple months ago when he proudly stated he didn’t give a damn what she thought or said about it; he’s not leaving until the kids they have now are grown and gone. I guess that means he just bought himself another eighteen years, give or take. Maybe he’s smarter than I’ve given him credit for, what with a sperminating insurance policy like that.

It doesn’t affect my life in the least. Everything is still as good as it was before 9:00 last night. It’s just a little disappointing how much it still fucking stings.  

Currently March 29, 2012

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My poor neglected blog.

Things are good though. In a few weeks I’ll have been working at the law school for a year…that’s ONE YEAR. Insert cliche about time flying here, because man that shit is crazy. The good thing is, besides your typical generic office drama, I still love it as much as the first day I arrived. Of course I say that now, right before the onslaught of end-of-semester activities fully hit. But then a lot of students and faculty go away and leave us in relative peace, so it’s cool.

Normally around now I’d be bemoaning the fact of the mild winter, seriously warm spring and the upcoming dreaded summer, but that’s not going to happen this year. Living on the lake is a game-changer with regard to my hatred of the hot months. Now that the day light lasts well into the night, we spend the majority of our time outside on the deck or the dock and it’s amazing. True, there will come a day not long from now when the humidity comes back and I want to punch myself in the sweaty face, but I plan to deal with that by taking a long walk off my short dock.

Since Christmas I’ve dealt on and off with serious dental issues that have been both a pain in the mouth and the wallet, but I’m very much hoping the bulk of it is done with. Thanks Mom and Dad for your gift of jacked up grilles. The most upsetting part about it is that it’s prevented me from going anywhere and there are some places I need to be going, asap. Florida, New York…I need a serious dose of my people. It’s made me feel weird, a little isolated and depressed, so here’s hoping once it does slow down at work I’ll be able to make that happen.

Basically, despite the occasional hiccup, life is good. L’chaim!

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