badness, humor, work

Just say no to drama, gurl

wait... we have a kid?

wait… we have a kid?

I work with parents at Office Job, and over the course of the past year they’ve really been misbehaving.  As a direct result, their PTA has been disbanded by order of the school, which will effectively eliminate all the problems and ensure that the parents who really want to focus their efforts on the school and their students will have every chance to do so without all the selfish politicking and unproductive complaints.

You’d think this would chill out Hollywood Coworker, who dealt with a big chunk of the drama.  You’d think she’d be happy and relaxed now that our office can focus our efforts on helping parents feel connected to the university and all the other work we have to do (because dealing with the PTA isn’t even 10% of what we do, much to the surprise of the majority of the PTA).  You’d think she’d be just fucking jazzed about this change, and excited about taking the reins of an organization that has gone badly off-track.

And yet.

She approaches my desk at least once a week since the disbanding and says something like, “I just have this really bad feeling that there is plotting going on behind the scenes, in the shadows, y’know?”  “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the problem people.”  “I just know the drama isn’t over.”

And I just look at her like:

Wash knows what's up

Wash knows what’s up

Because come on.  Seriously?  At this point she’s stressing about imaginary problems.  How am I supposed to commiserate?  I’m feeling really positive and optimistic about this coming year, and she’s dragging all this fucking baggage around from last year like, “Oh no, what will we do with all this fucking baggage?”  How about letting it go instead of proudly displaying it like a white-collar battle scar under the guise of preparing for the next impending (read: non-existent) disaster?  Cus… that might work.  So… maybe do that.

I realize she wants to feel useful and important, and dealing with drama can be addictive for some people, but it’s not healthy, and more importantly, IT’S OVER.

save it for the drama llama, gurl

save it for the drama llama, gurl

goodness, life

Secret friends

super gay 🙂

I got pulled into Little Mole Boss’s office today to get an earful about how she’s heard that I’m not “friendly” enough, and that I’m not “giving 100%.” She recognizes that my part-time position here is not super mentally stimulating, but she still expects top-notch work, which is an enigma as far as I’m concerned.  I was also instantly annoyed at the assumption that women should be ‘friendly’ all the time.  There’s a guy in our office who is terse and occasionally downright rude, and he’s worked here for six years or so.  I’ve never said an unkind word to anyone in this office in the two years I’ve worked here, so why… *sigh*  It was not a good start to the day.

But then it got better. Grabbing lunch around noon, I noticed the black woman running the register had two linked female symbols tattooed to her arm. I’m a huge supporter of gay marriage and the gay community in general, so I said, “I like your tattoo.”
She froze with her arm out so I could get a better look. “Thanks, you know what it is?”
She smiled back, “Are you one?”
I gave her a big smile and said, “Nope, but I got your back.”
She gave me a tiny salute and said, “Thanks for your support.”

And that is why today was a good day.

goodness, life, martial arts, work

I love you, Fiat

I hit 12,000 miles in my Fiat the other day, and I’m as much in love with it as ever.  My little Fiat is the best.  I’m such a fan.

But I’ve only had it eight months, which means I’ve been driving 1,500 miles per month.  Of course this is probably because I live on the Westside, work near downtown in the morning, and in Redondo Beach in the afternoon (about 50 miles) an average of three days a week, plus the weekend Redondo Beach drive (35 miles round trip).  That’s almost 750 miles per month just for work.  And that’s assuming I’m not covering for any other Sensei’s, or attending an event on a day off at Office Job.

This is part of the reason why I bought this car; I was doing a ton of driving, and hating every second of it because I hated my car.  Now, driving is a pretty pleasant experience.  Thank you, Fiat.  I love you.

driving home from karate job

badness, life, work

Homeless and dependable

I walk under the freeway to get to Office Job from my parking structure four days a week.  Half the time there’s a homeless man who has taken up residence on a street corner that I frequent on my jaunt to work.  When it rains he goes under the freeway to stay dry, takes out the big sheet of semi-transparent plastic he keeps his stuff under, and hides under it himself.  I’m not sure if he does this to make sure he doesn’t get wet (despite the fact that the freeway does a stellar job of this already), or to stay warm.

I pay special attention to homeless people, having spent every Friday for six years (middle school and high school) serving at a soup kitchen.  I’ve become somewhat fascinated with the homeless people I see on a regular basis, most of whom have some kind of mental defect.  I watch them, hoping to figure out the oddly logical justification for their strange behavior.  This man in particular seems very organized.  I have never seen him so much as make eye contact with anyone, let alone ask for money (or even speak for that matter).  He never stands completely erect, and is very much in his own mind, which is  in and of itself, kind of fascinating.  I wonder what he thinks about.  I wonder why he seeks refuge under that thick sheet of plastic while the freeway keeps him dry.

Today it rained.  Per usual, he was under the freeway and wrapped in plastic.  Per usual, the visual he creates freaked me out a little.

amorphous blob incoming

To the untrained eye, he looks like a trashcan whose bag has been blown out of the can by heavy winds.

wait... is it... moving?

But those of us who take this route during the cold season know better; it is alive, and it is a man.

does he... see me?

I’m never really sure if he sees the people who walk past him, if he’s paying attention to them, or if he’s focusing on something else.

omg there really is a person under there

The first time I saw him under there, I didn’t know it was a person.  It wasn’t until I was dangerously close that I figured out he was under there and by then it was too late.

oh jesus what if he's not friendly

I had no choice but to keep moving.  All evidence demonstrated that he was harmless.  A few people had already walked past him with no effect.  I figured I was safe, but kept an eye on him regardless.

I wonder what he's doing under there

Now when he kinda scares me by hiding under there, I take photos of him to put in my blog.  I find it therapeutic.



badness, work

Haiku distraction: Crap noir edition

I made a more accurate poster for the play. you’re welcome.

I went to another student production from the theater department at the university where I work at Office Job.  Last year’s production was a total shit show.  This year was better, but not by much.

Today’s musical matinee show was the story of an author writing a screenplay, spliced in with the actual screenplay itself.  The screenplay takes place in Los Angeles cerca 1947, which means everyone chain-smokes and “needs a drink” all the time.  Needless to say, paying rapt attention was out of the question since I value my sanity more than my ability to give a coherent synopsis of some crap musical play.

But just like last year, it was a great source of angry haikus!

Oh my fucking god.
He’s gonna spend the whole play
looking at her “gams.”

The main character detective also annoyingly narrated the whole damn play in a poor imitation of Humphrey Bogart, and could not stop talking about some woman’s physical attributes.  Meanwhile, the audience consisted of mostly women and gay men, so who the hell is this guy appealing to?

Nothing like a missed
musical cue to kill a
shitty production.

The orchestra missed a cue!  They jumped into the middle of a scene and just started playing the next number.  Yikes.

Jesus Christ he can’t
stop talking about “figures”
or smoking to death. 

Apparently living in the 1940’s consisted of leering at women, doing anything for a dollar, and smoking like a chimney.

Here’s an idea:
Do something other than stand
still while you’re singing.

Each character gets their own chance to be more or less alone on stage and sing a little song to tell us their story.  One woman just sat and sang.  Then she stood and sang.  Then she moseyed on over to the edge of the stage and sang some more.  Fade to black.  She had the whole stage to herself, and couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger in the middle of a musical number.  I felt… disappointed, and… confused.

At some point I started keeping track of the number of times the main character demanded that someone “level” with him.  Final count: 6, but I may have missed the first few.

My favorite quote: “They’re closer than Denmark, and a whole lot more rotten.”

Toot toot!  It’s the failtrain!  All aboooooooooooooard!

badness, life, work

No warrior, no war

It’s about a half-mile walk from my office at Office Job to my car at a parking structure a couple of blocks away.  Typically when I walk through any parking lot, I make it a point to keep my eyes up, and stop fussing with my phone, or stick my head in my purse, or otherwise distract myself from… whatever.

paranoid parrot knows what I'm talking about

I’ve come to realize that “whatever” really means imminent attack by some asshole who wants to steal my car/accost me, etc.  I’ve never been attacked by a sober person, so this would be a new experience for me.  Still, I can feel myself tense up a little when I step off the elevator to the third floor of the parking structure.  I’ve finally given in to reading The Hunger Games on my Kindle, but as the doors open, my eyes slip up from the screen, and I step forward, full of caution and confidence, ready for some hidden enemy to pounce.

There have been men working to replace all the lights in the structure every day this week, and yesterday was no exception.  As I walked away from them toward my car, I thought about how I could probably read my book right now instead of keeping an eye out since there are people around.

My mind goes to work.  I calculate how many times I would have to scream for them to realize what they’re hearing, and how long it would take them to arrive to help me.  At least one of them is overweight; he would never arrive in time, and probably wouldn’t be able to do anything useful, so I subtract him from the equation.  Then I calculate how likely these men would be to help a woman being attacked by a man a) with bare fists b) with a knife c) with a gun.  Anything worse than a pocket knife would probably scare them off.  On the other side of the equal sign I’m left with one not-overweight maintenance worker who wouldn’t jump in front of a knife to help me, which means I shouldn’t depend on him at all.  I decide I can probably trust them to ward off any attacker with merely their presence.  “I’m probably safe,” I think as I slip my Kindle in my bag and pull out my keys without breaking stride or dropping my gaze.   My eyes pan across the floor between cars for shadows and feet, then back across the windshields to see if anyone is lying in wait.  I’ve given myself permission to relax,  but I can’t stop preparing for… whatever.

Whenever I teach a women’s self-defense class, I try to calm them down: I say something like, “I just want to point out, and I don’t mean to sound callous or hurt anyone’s feelings, but you are not a special snowflake.  You will probably never get attacked.  I hate to break it to you, but you’re just not that special.  Relax.  You’re here to learn something potentially useful, not to safeguard against the inevitable.”

Where did this hyper-cautious impulse come from?  Did my training make me crave an attack so I can test my skills?  I could’ve sworn I had grown out of that phase.  Or do I worry about an attack because I know all the ways a person can cause injury to another with their bare hands?  Did the two fights I’ve been in make me like this?  They turned out well, what am I worrying about?  I’m no warrior, and there is no war going on.  Why am I like this?  What am I doing?  It feels like such a huge waste of time to be this tense every day… then again, if the alternative is getting blindsided by some asshole in a ski mask, I’d rather miss twenty seconds of whatever novel I’m reading to make it to the car sans violent encounter.


Run, Ichabod, RUN!

holy shit where's his head?!

It’s not often my mind is BLOWN by something I’m working on Office Job.  Today was an especially awesome exception.

I hope I’ve made it perfectly clear how much I love old-timey spooky stuff.  I was editing a list of addresses for our mailer today when I found the following address mixed into the bunch:

### Ichabod Lane

WTF ICHABOD LANE?!  So I looked it up and SLEEPY HOLLOW EXISTS, PEOPLE (in New York).  Let your imaginations run wild.

I loved this story as a kid.  And poor Ichabod!  We all watched the disney cartoon version, but I wanted something darker out of this story, something sinister and inescapable.  The Headless Horseman has some pretty neat origins in old folktales, and is the best kind of bad guy: inexplicable, invulnerable, inconceivable.  There’s no explaining how he can exist, there’s no killing him, and there’s no understanding him.  He just is and always will be, a specter watching every bridge, an untraceable, unstoppable, bloodthirsty ghost.

Like I said, he’s the best.  I also completely love Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.  I may have to watch it when I get home tonight.

Initiate countdown for when I visit Sleepy Hollow, NY!

badness, humor, work

Haiku distraction: Theater = masturbation

If I wasn’t able to write Bitter Haikus during boring meetings, I would go a little crazy.  Unleashing my intolerance for time-wasting, self-congratulating, fat-cat council meetings is all that keeps me from misbehaving just to see what would happen.

I had a 12-hour day at Office Job starting at 830am this week, and ending at a meeting where the dean of the school of theater spoke.  She brought an undergraduate student from her school with her.  They were just so pleased with their school and its purpose.

ah, theater. I have so much to learn from you.

The dean seems to say,
“Without theater, we would
all just die.” Huh. ‘Kay.

She started off her lecture by showing a video about what the school does, and how it’s just the best.  Naturally, every dean believes their school is the best, and that all students should take at least one of their school’s classes.  This got under my skin because theater is… how you say?… ridiculous.  I’ve seen one of their productions, and I was not impressed.  She and her student kept emphasizing how, in the theater school, students could “discover themselves,” as if the school of philosophy wouldn’t offer similar self-realization with the added benefit of a degree with some academic merit.  Poppycock!  Poppycock, I say!

“Being an actor
makes you a smarter person.”
Or… just go to class.

That is a direct quote from the theater student.  He said that researching how to play different roles gave him a wide range of knowledge about all kinds of people, as if he couldn’t get that exact education with greater accuracy and depth by taking any non-theater class.  He used playing a doctor as an example.  I scoffed aloud as I clamped down on the urge to throw my hand up and ask if he thought taking pre-med classes would have made him even “smarter” than his preparation for the role.  What a load.

Holy shit, he just
almost cried.  Be a bigger
stereotype, kid.

Yep, he got choked up talking about how great the theater program is.  Then he made fun of himself for it, and called himself a stereotype.  And he was right.

Don’t let the timer
meant for members go off while
the dean speaks, genius.

The presidents of the council for which the meeting was held have decided to bribe the committees to keep their presentations short by timing them (somehow the presidents themselves escaped this indignity).  While the dean spoke, the timer went off, and continued beeping obnoxiously in the co-presidents bag right in front of the podium for a solid minute before they figured out what it was.

Don’t ask the actor
if he wants to talk.  He does.
He will.  Always.  Talk.

The dean finished answering questions, and she asked her student if had anything to add.  Sheesh.  What kind of question is that to ask an actor?  Of course he wants to add something!  “What’s that?  A microphone and a captive audience?  Why yes!  I do have something to add!”

The dean also said something that ruffled my feathers: “What we know about ancient civilizations, we know through their theater.”  Now, I double majored in Art History and Philosophy, so imagine how rewarding it feels to listen to someone at the university where I got my degrees tell me that I owe every piece of knowledge I learned at a non-theater school to the theater school.  What an ego.  And it’s weird because I like this woman.  She’s very grounded and smart, but apparently when she’s selling her school, she goes balls-to-the-wall crazy.

badness, work

Too many bossy bosses

My boss at Office Job, who we’ll call Little Mole Boss for her previously explained propensity to close her eyes for long periods of time while talking, is, by and large, a good boss.  Most of the time she is considerate of others, generous with her time, and a hard worker.  She takes time every morning when she comes in to say hello to everyone, ask us how our weekends were, etc.  If someone calls in sick, she seems genuinely concerned, and never complains about their absence.  Overall, an excellent boss who makes my experience at work pretty stress-free, especially compared to other bosses I’ve had.

I’ve noticed, however, that she feels free to interrupt us, her subordinates, while we speak, even if one of us is answering a question she asked.  One of my bosses at Karate Job (we’ll call him Frantic Boss) has a similar problem: He’s so high-energy that when the person he’s talking to finds a spot during his frantic monologue to put her two cents in, he won’t look her in the face while she talks, and once she’s finished talking, he’ll say something like, “That’s an excellent point.  So what I was saying was…”  It’s like he’s just waiting for his turn to talk instead of listening.  He interrupts people mid-sentence with phrases like, “I totally understand where you’re coming from,” as if his commiseration is enough reason to stop talking.  I’ve seen him do this to several people including his boss, the owner of the karate school.

I really dislike when people interrupt each other.  Interrupting someone is a socially semi-acceptable way to say, “Stop talking.  Whatever you’re about to say, it’s not as interesting/important/pertinent as when I’m about to say, so just save yourself the trouble and shut up.”
Or, somewhat more absurdly, “I feel clairvoyant around you.  Your predictability so bores me that I can’t help but attempt to force you to shush by verbally bulldozing you.”

It’s so rude!  People who do this drive me nuts.  Since I’ve noticed this in my bosses, I’ve been keeping an eye on myself, and I realize I do this sometimes at home while chatting with the roomies.  If we’re talking about something funny or whatever, the conversation goes more quickly and talking over each other is only slightly more acceptable.  Still, I’m going to be more vigilant about this.  I like hearing them talk, they’re fun and smart.

So now I get to hop up on my high horse and point out how I think my bosses could improve:

1. Be willing to conduct an uncomfortable/negative discussion in a professional manner.
Karate bosses are actually really good at this, which is great.  Little Mole Boss cannot do this at all.  She got so uncomfortable once when we were talking about some nasty emails flying around within an organization we assist in running, that she put her head down on the table we were sitting at, and left it there for a solid minute or so while my two coworkers attempted to sound comforting while hiding the amusement in their voices.  She just wanted to disappear, which made me want to disappear.  Not a good leadership technique.

2. Listen to your subordinates.
Naturally, there is an implied “without interrupting” at the end of that sentence, but I’ve already gone over that.  Really, the point is that my karate bosses do not take criticism or suggestions from their subordinates well at all.  In fact, our opinions get out-right ignored, even though our bosses spend almost no time talking to our clients and students.  They sit in their ivory tower and make sweeping changes to the curriculum and policies on a monthly basis, regardless of what their subordinates say.  It’s a shame because we would be an excellent resource for them, and because it demoralizes us.

3. Acknowledge your short-comings.  Learn to depend upon your subordinates for their strengths.
This must be a tough one.  As a boss, I would imagine I would feel like I was the best at most things.  How else would I have gotten where I was?  Little Mole Boss is technologically somewhat inept, considering that she’s in her 70’s, and her generation lacks the constant exposure to computers, etc.  So when the prospect of online interaction with our clientele came up, she was against it.  When I suggested an iPhone app for a huge event we host with several thousand people, she shot it down.  When it was time to send out holiday cards, she asked me to find something affordable and religiously neutral.  When I sent her a dozen cards with price points, she responded with one card twice as expensive, and ignored my suggestions to use something more cost-effective, thereby rendering my efforts pointless.

Being a boss can’t be easy, I understand that.  I’m not sure what kind of boss I’d be.  It sounds lonely.

badness, life

Raptor Jesus would be disappointed

I’m having a crisis.


I love singing in a choir, being part of a group that creates beautiful, inspiring music.  So I joined the office choir that performs only at the office holiday party.  Notice it’s called the “holiday party” and not the “Christmas party” because it’s supposed to be non-denominational.  So I figured the holiday songs would be more about sleigh bells than Jesus and boy, I could not have been more wrong.  Every song we do it’s JESUS this and SAVIOR that.  What the hell?  I’ve gone to two of four practices, and I think I’m gonna have to bow out.  I sang in a choir for eleven years (age 10-21), in the children’s choir, then the girl’s choir, then the adult choir in the church associated with my elementary school.  Most of that time I was an atheist, but I loved the music because it was traditional, Latin, old-church perfection.  It was gorgeous!  And everyone loved doing their best, while this choir is sorta… casual.  Which isn’t a sin, but… *sigh*.  I miss it.  And I just can’t handle singing about Jesus if it’s gonna be this kitschy.  I object as an atheist, and as a human being with good taste.  I can’t go against my belief system that there is no god, and that We Need a Little Christmas is just awful.

Not looking forward to telling the co-workers about this one.  Most of them are Jewish, so that might make it a little less awkward.  Maybe.