badness, goodness, life, martial arts, school, work

Job security: Gone like a fart in the wind

Yesterday was Wednesday. As it turns out, Wednesdays can be a bit of a roller coaster.

Tuesday I went to work, then physical therapy, then stopped by home for a quick liverwurst sammich (delicious omg) before zooming over to a repair shop Hollywood to pay the bill for Dad’s car and park it on the street nearby before they closed (dad works too late). I went into the office to find a woman verbally abusing one of the employees. I shot her a stern look which she completely missed as she continued on her cuss-filled rant. “I took a fucking day off to come here, y’know what I mean? Why the fuck am I here?” The employee she was harassing could not have been more professional, and frankly I was shocked by them both. I decided that if she raised her voice or did anything remotely signaling a physical demonstration of her totally unjustified fury (throwing a pen, poking him, etc.), I would step in and redirect her wrath away from this poor man.

pretty sure I could've taken her

pretty sure I could’ve taken her

It never reached that point, and after a few minutes of her throwing her little tantrum she walked out while our friend was mid-sentence, recommending another body shop no less.
She blew right past me on her way out the door. I turned to the man and said, “Woah. Woah! I cannot believe she felt comfortable talking to you like that, I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve any of that. Holy crap.” Once again, he was super polite, so I stayed and chatted with him and the other employees in the room about how crazy she was and how they should never have to put up with that kind of attitude. To their credit, they didn’t tear her down at all, and just commiserated that some people are just angry and there’s no fixing it. What an excellent group of people.

I went home to do some reading for school and couldn’t keep my eyes open. I slept for about a half hour on the couch downstairs before Boyfriend woke me up to go to Shinkendo for an hour, during which I screwed everything up and got worn out some more. I got a curry bun with a couple of the guys from the dojo afterward (and a green tea mochi ice cream for free because I made buddies with the guys behind the counter at the mochi spot in Little Tokyo, they’re so nice!). Then it was back home to eat a bit before heading over to my folks’ place to have a sleepover (Boyfriend came too, and drove separately). We sat with Dad and watched a bit of the America’s Cup (which he just loves). He showed us some really cool clips at the start of the previous day’s race (especially the part where the American team was super clever and fucked up the kiwi team. He literally cackled a few times, it was really fun), and relayed how exciting this year’s race was: we were down 6-1 at one point, but had since come back to win seven races in a row to match the kiwis 8-8 in a competition to win 9 races. Wednesday’s race would decide it all! Boyfriend and I went to sleep in the beds Sister and I had slept in as children, which he decided felt like sleeping in a hotel. Overall a fun day.

But Wednesday.

that good feeling where you're feeling solidly employed...

that good feeling where you’re feeling solidly employed…

I woke up at 5 to take Dad and a couple of family friends to the airport across town. He and a friend are going car camping to see some ancient Native American ruins, and I could not be more jealous. I headed back to his place to drop off his SUV and pick up my little Fiat before heading home to make breakfast (hash browns and eggs with Cholula and ketchup, yum). Then it was straight out to work where I was disappointed, twice.

There’s a huge event coming up that we’re having catered, so the caterer set up a tasting of all the food they’ll be serving. I was not invited to this tasting because the office can’t afford to pay me just one extra hour of work (which wouldn’t even be overtime). This was planned weeks ago. It’s not fun to be excluded from something I’m an integral part of planning, especially since I was in charge of getting estimates from a bunch of other catering companies, but my boss went with the most expensive one instead out of convenience and habit (but a single hour of extra work is out of the question).

On Monday, Little Mole Boss emailed me and one other coworker asking for a job description. I kept it vague, not wanting to bore her, and was corrected yesterday: You need to flesh this out, she said. Someone else will be looking at what you write and you need to make yourself sound important and necessary. Why on earth is that, Little Mole Boss?
Well.  Apparently there was a clerical error that made my salary come out of the wrong budget. Now that that mistake has been discovered, the necessity of my position is being called into question by people with whom I have never interacted, and who are so clueless about what my job entails that they need me to map out what I do for them.

[To be fair, very few people at this job know what our office does. It’s not a commonly-understood area, but we provide an awesome set of services that I think are integral to having a solid experience.]

Regardless, I’m having trouble warming up to the idea of someone at some distant desk evaluating the past three years worth of my work and potentially coming to the conclusion that I could just as well have not been there at all. THAT’S demoralizing. I can see why people get depressed after getting fired.

So I went home and made a bunch of pumpkin pancakes and ate them all. Then I attended a makeup class for about an hour (totally pointless) and applied to seven jobs, mostly ESL teacher positions from craigslist. I texted a friend at the dojo and asked if he’ll be at class so we can organize some kind of pity party afterward. He was supportive but wasn’t sure if he could make class, so whatever.

I just need to stay focused and remember that this is not my dream job, and if I leave, all it will do is give me more time to find a teaching position, apply to teach-abroad programs, and load up my coworkers with even more work (unfortunately).

I’m observing an ESL class right now, and it’s great to have my career validated; every time I teach, I remember: This is my natural state. This is where I belong.

Also, I am the greatest earthbender in the world.

is there anyone better at overcoming obstacles by being awesome?  I think not.

is there anyone better at overcoming obstacles by being awesome? I think not.

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, humor, work

Haiku distraction: Murphy’s law

The kind of haikus I write are either spawned from boredom, disappointment, or a severe dislike of the situation in which I’ve (usually forcibly) been placed.  I went to another late-night meeting, and naturally another set of haikus resulted because everything that could have gone wrong during this meeting did go wrong.  The AV wasn’t set up like it was supposed to be, and when it was set up it buzzed the whole time, and then it stopped working.  The man in charge treated me like his own personal servant…again.  There weren’t enough chairs, so my coworkers and I had to sit outside and eat at the check-in table.  The meeting could have easily been half as long as it was, but the people in charge couldn’t stop plugging their shit to make money for their organization.

Unlease the haiku beast!

"i'm really excited about this year's numbers."

Cheshire cat lady,
smile and grin and never frown;
whose trust do you have?

The woman in charge never stops smiling, even when discussing unpleasant topics.  It’s super creepy.  My coworker noticed and made a comment about how she never knew what to think of what she was saying.

Poor athletics guy.
Your report encourages,
but why are you here?

The guy from athletics gave his update about how the university teams are doing really well and he kept it short.  Then he sat down and looked neglected and bored for the rest of the next hour and a half.  Poor bastard.

Little disasters
know me by name.  “Be our friend,”
they say.  No thank you.

My office was not in charge of this event, but when things went wrong, we were the ones who worked to make it right because the people in charge were too busy milling around feeling important, not realizing that hosting means making sure things go smoothly, and not acting like the lord and lady of the land, greeting subjects and making long-winded speeches.

Stop talking, ladies
and gentlemen.  Eight o’clock,
and I miss my boy.

Around eight I realized that I could be snuggled up on the couch in my pajamas with Boyfriend watching Star Trek: The Next Generation instead of hearing reports on adorable new merchandise the hosting organization hoped to overcharge the population for.  My poems broke out of their calm haiku exterior, and became more biting.

There once was a man who would speak.
His speech is what made our ears leak.
It started alright,
but later that night,
he kept speaking and made us all shriek!

When I get bored, I can literally feel some kind of invisible plasma slipping out of my ears, making me stupider somehow.  I’m not bored very often; I usually find some way to entertain myself, but my stamina drains away at these meetings, and I can only play in Imaginationland so long without looking like a space cadet.

Marching cult of the Fluffy Hat,
you’re crazier than my roommate’s cat.

It’s clear why you’re so proud of yourselves:
you make earplugs fly right off their shelves!
Your drums go ‘thump,’ your horns go ‘splat.’
You sound just like my roommate’s cat.

You prance around like little ponies,
and act like musicians, you little phonies.
You’re rude and untalented and smelly and fat,
you’re nowhere near as cute as my roommate’s cat.

My coworker loves my haikus and requested that I write about the band, which we all agree is like a creepy religious cult.  Diminutive Roommate has a pretty severe dislike of the band; I was so excited to show her this poem, I called her on my way home last night to recite it to her.

I don’t know anyone who thinks these four-hour meetings are helpful.  It’s like elevator music: If everyone hates it, why play it at all?

life, martial arts, work

Pity party

nectar of the gods

It occurred to me recently that I’ve become a very busy person.  I don’t particularly like being super busy; I’m not one of those people who has to be doing something all the time to feel useful.  I’d like to sleep in at Boyfriend’s house, read, have some eggs and tater tots with Cholula and ketchup, take a walk, lay out in the sun (finally finish that last LOTR book), maybe have some sex, take a nap, watch a few episodes of Buffy or The Office, try to cook a delicious meal from that recipe app I just got (go get phở after probable, massive failure) or go have dinner with friends, followed by 5-hour table-top gaming session.

THAT is a perfect day.  Here’s what I do instead:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Office Job: Alarm goes off at 7:21am, snooze until 7:45, get dressed, make PBJ sammiches, leave by 8:15, chastise self for being late so often.  Park car in giant parking structure, take tram to campus, walk to building, attempt to work until 1:30pm.  Drive to Redondo Beach to teach a few karate classes to kids who either:
a) Love it, and love me
b) Have a great attitude, even when I tell them to do something hard
c) Love having fun, but therefore must be entertained, lest the unhappy face make an appearance (I call it “The Crank”)
d) Didn’t get their nap, and are close to flopping on the floor and giving up every second of the class
e) Don’t want to be there at all.  Want to go home.  Now.  Home.  Home!  NOW!

pictured: option D

Fridays I go to Santa Monica to teach karate, where the kids tend to have nannies, a stronger sense of entitlement, and parent who tend not to want to hear anything that might resemble criticism.

Repeat above Office Job portion.  Go home to the Westside, eat ramen (or broccoli omfg I love it so much), relax for a few hours, change into Kung Fu clothes, leave by 5:15 to help with beginner’s class, take cardio class, take intermediate class.  Five hours after I left for the studio, I arrive home to eat something easy, shower, and go to bed by 11:30.

SLEEP IN!  Repeat above Kung Fu portion.

SLEEP IN!  This is the only day I truly have completely off.  I spend most of it sleeping, eating, gaming with friends (poker!), and generally not standing up.

Alarm goes off at 9:21am.  Must leave by 9:45, but snooze until 9:39 most of the time.  Drive to Redondo Beach dojo, stop by McDonalds for two egg mcmuffins (eat both in car), park car at dojo, walk across PCH (scary!) to Starbucks (grande iced mocha with whip cream).  Teach four classes, and maybe a weapons workshop.  Done by 3 or 6.  Go home, repeat Saturday plan.

Most of my fellow Sensei’s are actors, so they all need time off at the drop of a hat, and refuse to cover for anyone else too far into the future for fear of double-booking on the day of their yet-unbooked big break.  I’ve been covering a bunch recently because of the incoming car purchase, meaning I haven’t had a full day off in almost three weeks.  I drive almost 200 miles per week just to get to my jobs on my own shifts (not counting Kung Fu which adds 20mi).  Monday comes zooming up on me since Sunday is a work day, then I’m sleep-deprived until three days later when I get to sleep in on Thursday.  I look forward to sleep more than I look forward to food at this point.  Which is sad.  Maybe that’ll change if I make one of those amazing pumpkin dishes!  🙂