Tag Archives: office humor

All I Want for Christmas Is Fewer Office Parties

5 Dec

We’re less than one week into December and my calendar is already chock full of miserable holiday parties.

I don’t mean regular holiday parties. Those can be kind of nice when I’m able to kick the hermit in me and focus on good ol’ holiday cheer wine. I mean work parties. 

I’m sorry: work “parties”.

I’m quite certain that I have more interaction with other humans per diem in December than the rest of the other months combined. Unfortunately, most of those interactions are the result of mandatory work fun. 

As many of you know, I harbor a deep disdain for a variety of workplace traditions. Maybe all of them, actually. I hate the obligatory signing of a non-descript birthday card that some poor, abused office worker had to spend their lunch hurriedly retrieving and wondering if they would be able to be reimbursed for it. I hate the staff meetings where we act like the stale chips we found in the office closet will make our review of redundant agenda items more palatable. And above all, my beautiful butterflies, I hate mandatory work fun.

You know: mandatory work fun. It’s when your boss thinks it will help with “teambuilding” if you can all go do something fun outside the office together. Or worse: when your boss thinks it will help if you can do something fun inside the office together.

I have found this to be absolutely never true. Not once in my entire work experience have I been willing to pitch in more to lend Steve a hand with any of his tasks because I learned to respect and understand him more fully as a result of the way he handles himself after three tequila shots. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s just never happened for Steve and me that way.

Steve, just two tequilas in.

Steve, just two tequilas in.

That’s, of course, if Steve can even bring himself to drink in the first place. Mandatory work fun, in my experience, has meant happy hours where no one can actually drink because your boss is right there. And they’re usually talking about something horrible. Last Christmas, for example, my boss was actually doling out task items from the head of the table after pretending we were there for festivities; people had to get out notebooks or write on cocktail napkins. The Christmas before I distinctly recall a very vivid regaling by my boss of a stomach bug they got while traveling and the flurry of details that followed their plane ride back to the States.

I believe it wrapped up at about the same time our food arrived.

To add insult to injury, your boss won’t go where the office wants to go. In fact, they won’t even ask. They’ll just pick a place that matches their sentiments, which, as a rule, are almost never on par with everyone else’s sentiments. It will be a place where you can’t quite get comfortable with anything on the menu and even if you just do drinks you’ll be dishing out twice as much per beer as you would at your favorite joint down the street. Deep down, you’ll wonder if your boss will let the light of holiday joy infect their heart with the gift of giving by picking up the tab for the group or doing a round on them.

They won’t.

I’m barely a week into December and my planner is so rampant with mandatory work fun that even a frugal selection and a free parking spot each time will munch away a decent portion of my paycheck. Heck, my calendar is so rampant with required fake festivities that I can’t even get the time off I need for real festivities. Honest to all holy things the other day I was denied a day off the week of Christmas because I was told I have to be at work celebrating it with work folk.

For now, at least, I’m trying to find solace in the fact that there have not yet been plans announced for secret Santa-ing: my least favorite Christmas workplace experience. Perhaps this year I can be spared the terrible task of pretending to know someone well enough to purchase something they won’t regift while also not spending so much they think I make more than them or so little that they think I’m a cheapskate.

Why can’t we all just agree to keep the good parts about December in the office (the time off) and get rid of the bad parts about December in the office (everything else)?

Maybe unions should focus on these sorts of things. After all, these are the items that make a big difference in my daily life. Do you have any idea how much I would pay for a membership to a group that protects me from awkward office Secret Santas, terrible mandatory happy hours and required work festivities that override actual real non-work festivities? A lot. I would pay a lot. At least as much as the tab for my cheap beer and appetizers at mandatory work fun outings.

Unfortunately I’m not sure anti-work-festivities unions exist. At least, not yet.

It’s Christmastime, after all, and I do have a list to write.

Advertisements

Milton Waddams Is My Spirit Animal

7 Aug

I’m starting to really resent my student loans.

Well, I guess I’ve kind of resented them for a while. Since about the time they started being, you know, due. 

In my slightly older and barely wiser years, I’m now starting to recall all those conversations I blacked out for when I was younger. Those ones about how I was going to pay for college and how banks will just give you money and that everyone was doing it and it was the only way to get an education. Kids all across America were being told that they could go to college if only they filled out the FAFSA and clicked their mouses a few times. 

Well, I’m sure not all kids were having that conversation. In many homes across America, the conversation was whether they should pursue the scholarship for dressage or for water polo. But in my town, horses were for the Amish and swimming was only in a river, so my conversation was pretty average: I took out a lot of money on the understanding that everyone was doing it, and that it was the only way to make sure I got a job.

What a bunch of malarkey.

I had grown ass adults selling 5- and 6-digit loans to me like crack dealers. No interest while in school they said. You’ll make more money when you graduate they said. It’s good debt because they can’t take your education from you they said.

High honor roll, folks. I was clearly undeserving. How did I listen to that bunch of horse manure? They can’t take my education but they sure as hell can take my life post-college. And they have. They haaaave.

As many followers of the Jackie saga know, I was once a visiting member of the corporate jungle as an executive assistant for a nice chunk of my life. I indulged in their expense reports, their endless office supply closets, their galas and lunch meetings. I had to eventually quit because it was going to give me a freaking stroke but man was it nice to have that paycheck.

Of course when your job pushes you to the teetering edge of major stroke risk, you’re inclined to spend your money on things that help you forget about said impending stroke. Like great food and shopping and online orders and drapes and anything else you can stare at while you’re not at work so you can feel like you’re not at work. But after a while you realize that you’re spending over 40 hours a week with a knot in your stomach and if you add the hours you stay awake at night because you get woken up by texts and emails from your boss that remind you to do something you already did two weeks ago, you realize that your entire life blows, excellent food and furniture or not. And you can either continue on the path to unhappiness and strokedom or try to get a job you enjoy.

So that’s what I did. I left my big, beautiful wood desk in a private suite, threw all my business professional clothes in the closet, and sailed into the ocean of non-profits and jobs in my field to see if I could piece together enough money each month to pay my bills. At the moment, that consists of three part-time jobs: one non-profit, one for-profit, and one constantly rotating theater thing. With those powers combined, I’m Captain Jackie: almost content citizen who can almost pay her bills…if we don’t count those enormous piles of cash she owes to the banks who gave her an education all those years ago. You know, the ones big enough to have bought a house or a new car or fund a wedding, or do all three meagerly. 

The peculiar thing about such a move is that when you switch concentrations of work (unless you’re a lucky bastard), you go from climbing the ladder in the field you were working in and somewhat respected for to having to go to the bottom of the climb again. It’s like being in the 80’s on chutes and ladders just when some jackass of a snake bites you and sends you to the first row again. And so the majority of the last several months of my time at work have been attempting to demonstrate that I am indeed a fully functioning human being, capable of great feats when equipped with tasks, a computer and organizational goals.

Of course, being equipped at all is a bit of a task in the nonprofit world. In fact, I went into work just this past week to find an email stating that someone else was being hired and that it would be great if I could pack up my files and move to the back corner of the office, where I started when I got hired, and used the company-shared laptop instead of the beautiful, large-screen Mac that comprised the sole perk of my working environment. 

Well that and the chips at staff meetings are pretty good.

milton

Milton, my spirit animal.

So I’m feeling a little more Milton Waddams-y than usual and while I’m juggling these three gloriously half-baked bill payers, my resentment grows toward that enormous wad of cash I borrowed for a few years that could have been a mortgage or a backpacking trip throughout, well, the entire freaking world really.

I don’t like to be discontent, and discontent I am. So August is the month of shaking things up. I’m sucking at a lot right now (by the by, I didn’t work out at all for two days in a row. TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I fell off the trolley. Please don’t leave me). My first plan of attack is to download Final Fantasy 8, fashion a blanket fort in my living room, and live in a pile of cheese curl powder and my own body oils until I complete it. Then once I’m done mourning the Jackie of Suckage Past, I’m going to dive directly into the bowels of Jackie of Amazeballs Future. I don’t know what she’s like yet, or how uncomfortable her bowels may or not be as a dwelling space, but I’m excited to find out.

Unfortunately I’m quite certain that every version of Jackie comes with student loan debt and not a backpack full of world-traveling possibilities.

But that’s okay. I’m going to cope. I’ve gathered the blankets and simply have to acquire the cheese curls and I’m all set.

See? This adulthood thing is easy. 

See you on the flip side. Jackie of Suckage Past, out. 

A Day at an Inner City Public School

15 May

Last Friday I found myself standing in the stall of the faculty bathroom of a local public school, wondering what would happen if I just didn’t go back to class to teach.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday y’all.

If you’re new ’round these parts and you don’t know that today is a semi-holiday (it’s okay, I didn’t get you anything either), mosey on  up to the “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” tab at the top of the page.  You’ll hear all about my adventures in sucking at new things, and all about why I couldn’t just stay in the bathroom stall and wash myself in my own tears.

Now, back to my personal hell.

For this installment of Lollipop Tuesday, I signed up to be a volunteer teacher at a local school.  It’s a program that was offered through my workplace, where instead of going to the office for a day I head out to a school and teach a pre-set curriculum from a kit that is provided to me.  

All my colleagues chose to teach kindergarten.  I figured the older, the better the slot on my resume looked.  So I dove right in to the the highest grade available: 8th.

I don’t know why I did that.  That was stupid.  Because when I was knee deep in immigration in the 1800s and the California gold rush, my colleagues were across the hall drawing farm animals.  And I wanted so badly to be drawing pigs instead of talking about Abe Lincoln’s plans to get Americans to settle in the West.

As it turned out, farm animal art wasn’t in my kit.  Instead there were 6 lessons I was expected to cover throughout the course of the day.  Each was a combination of a lecture and an activity.  Except the lecture portion wasn’t an outline.  It was a summary of to-dos.  It said things like “Explain to them that the Gold Rush was…” and “Be sure to mention that….”  The margins were full of little bullet points to include if we could work them in and at the end were a bunch of additional activities.   The course book was a hot mess and if I could get my hands on the person who laid it out, I would have to resist doing very violent, unChristianly things to them.

After getting a few bullet points from the school coordinator, I went to meet my 8th grade class only to find that the first thirty minutes of the day are a mandatory reading period.   Except no one was reading.  I took a look around to find three boys playing  a game on the class computers, one girl bouncing a basketball at the front of the room, and two kids in the back on the cell phones beside the teacher, who was also on her cell phone. I started to morph into a very angry taxpayer when I was distracted by one of the boys rapping (which was the closest thing I’d seen to reading thus far given that it at least involved words).  

I started to wonder how I was going to get through the day if it was all going to look like the first half of Sister Act.  I tried not to panic and walked to the teacher’s lounge to make some copies and sit in the bathroom stall, giving myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that my colleague came to work hungover today.  I saw the yellow skin and her right arm cradling an electric blue Gatorade.  If she can teach kindergarten when she feels like a hell demon has possessed her insides, I can Whoopie Goldberg these 8th graders like a champ.

I went back to the class to hear the bell ring and watch them all leave.  Apparently, I was to follow them from class to class, but I didn’t have a schedule of where they were headed or how long I had with them in each room.  I tried to get a little context from the person who facilitated Rapper’s Delight Hour and she reluctantly told me the next location.  I packed up all the things I had spent the remedial period setting up, and hoped the next classroom had a bit more structure.

When I arrived, the teacher didn’t acknowledge me.  I stood at the front of the class holding my kit, trying to assess how I would hang my visuals, where I would put  my activity book, and how I would arrange the students most effectively.  He cleaned up after their remedial period, which actually seemed to involve use of their cerebrums.  When he was finished, he told the students to pay attention to me and handed over the floor.  Boom: go time.

I introduced myself and got down to business.  I put the key words on the board, breezed through a Jackie-style mini lecture on immigration on the 1800s and actually surprised myself with how well I was handling it all.  By the time the activity portion rolled around, I acquired what I referred to as the “Sleeper Table”, a table full of kids who pulled their heads inside their hoodies like turtles and hid from the knowledge I was bestowing upon them.  The teacher noticed and ignored them so I chalked it up to a regularity and decided to be thankful that they were all at least gathered in the same area of the room.

I had just finally summed up the Homestead Act and put them in a few scenarios to see how they would handle the decision to move out west when the bell rang.  It was mandatory art period – I had 40 minutes to myself.  I was also informed by the teacher of a career fair that was to take place at the end of the day, knocking a total of two more sessions off my lesson plan.  I cut the ‘transportation of the 1800s’ off the list.  I figured it was kind of common sense anyway.

That was, until after the mandatory art period when all the kids returned (I had packed up all my things and moved to a different room again).  When I was introducing the section on human, capital, and natural resources, one of the students asked if there were cars in the 1800s.  I used it as a teaching opportunity and threw in some of the pointers from the transportation lesson.  I asked them all to shout out what they thought were forms of transportation in the 1800s.  One student eagerly shouted “a windmill!!”

He was very disappointed when I told him you can’t ride a windmill.  In retrospect, I suppose that was closeminded of me.  You can certainly ride one; it just won’t get you very far.  I wrapped up my combination of transporation/business resources session and was glad I could fit them in together, else that poor boy would have gone into high school thinking he could hop on a windmill and ride it into the western sun.

I was changing lives.

By the final session, it was clear who my winners and losers were.  I had a very engaged section of kids on my left, a sleeper section on my right, and a girl right in the middle who flatly refused to do anything at all.  She had a posse.  And since that reminded me of the posses from my high school experience, just looking at her pissed me off.  At one point, she threw her pencil on the ground and told me to pick it up for her.

At the beginning of the day, I might have done it.  But by the end of the day, I told her she had two hands and that I’m sure she could manage it.  She copped an attitude and asked me if I was a mother.  I took it as a compliment.

By the final session, I was pretty exhausted.  Actually, I wanted to sprint out of there.  I spent my whole day guessing how much time I had left in my lessons because there was no schedule provided to me.  I didn’t know how many students would be in each class because though the bulk of the group remained the same, there were always a few faces added or subtracted and I had no idea where they came from or went to. I had packed up my things three different times and spread them out three different times, and had worked so hard to make the material interesting to a bunch of kids who would rather be on their phones or sleep than learn that I would have been just as happy to set myself on fire and run tearing out of the building.  I headed to what I thought was the last 15 minutes of the day and used the time to hand out the certificates, letters for parents, and complimentary DVDs.   But when the teacher handed them out to the class, they chucked the DVDs across the room like frisbees and instead of correcting the behavior the teacher decided to forgo handing them out.  She asked me if I had anything prepared for the final 35 minutes and I told her I was informed it was 15 and wanted to hand out the materials during that time.  She pushed me to wing it; I pushed her to shove it.  

I was really rather frustrated with the lack of information and I was so exhausted and over the day that I really just wanted to go have  a stiff drink.  Coincidentally, I found out later that around this time my hungover pig-drawing kindergarten colleague was depositing 32 ounces of regurgitated electric blue Gatorade into the faculty bathroom toilet.

Could have been worse, I suppose.

The whole experience really made me appreciate our teachers.  I  mean, I thought I appreciated them before but I didn’t truly have a concept until I stepped foot in the shoes of an inner-city school teacher who has to fit in several lessons in the course of a day despite system-wide mandatory periods designated for other things .  And all of it in an environment where not all teachers are still fighting the good fight.  Some are content to let kids rap and play basketball and sit on their cell phones when they should be learning – and there are teachers who have to try to maintain their attention in spite of that and get them to zero in on things as boring as the Gold Rush, The Homestead Act, and Immigration in the 1800s.  

In that environment, I might come in hungover as well.

So here’s to our underpaid, unrecognized, and overtired teachers.  If I were in your shoes on a regular basis, I’d probably be tossing up Gatorade in the faculty bathrooms.

Next time, I’ll take the farm animals. 

Close Encounters of the Awkward Kind

2 May

photo by jake.hester on Flickr

Today has pushed my human contact meter to the point of explosion.  I went out, I saw humans, they were unimpressive, and so I am back indoors.

Safe.  

I haven’t always been a homebody.   I used to go places.  I  used to have lots of friends.  I was the kid who was in so many clubs that I had to attach an extra sheet on my college and scholarship applications.   In fact, in one of my college interviews I was asked “how did you do all the things you listed?”  Because I drank awesome sauce for breakfast, that’s how.

Actually I just never slept.  I got mono my senior year and awesome sauce couldn’t cure it.

But now things have changed.  I was pushed into the workforce in the context of cubes and pointless meetings and forced elevator conversation.  By the time 5pm rolls around, I’m so over humankind that I just want to go home and pull down all the blinds. Sometimes I walk there  instead of taking the bus because if I’m afraid that if have to endure one more forced encounter, I’ll commit a crime of passion.

A lot of times my distaste for the outside world has to do with people themselves. Their loudness, their ignorance,  their blatant lack of respect for others, etc.  But just as often my aversion is tied to my own incapability.  

You see, I lack basic social skills.

People sometimes disagree with me on this.   They’ll cite a specific night or a particular encounter in which I was engaging and mildly entertaining in a public place.  But those moments are usually flukes or the result of pumping myself up the entire day so that I can get through the marathon.

Eye of the Tiger isn’t just for sports training, my friends.

My main problem isn’t conversation.  I can do conversation if I have to; it’s just that I’m not very good at it – sometimes I’ll say ridiculous things or I’ll just make things up without thinking about what I’m saying because I get ahead of myself and I’m too nervous.   But I can live with those.  After a good amount of kicking myself and rehashing conversations once people leave, I’m ready to put those encounters to rest.  The real problem is forced conversation.  Like elevators.

I have a particularly hard time in elevators.  A little steel box that stops on every floor with the possibility of someone entering that will force me into conversation.  It’s just awful.  You see the same people a lot but you don’t know their names or where they work or what they do for the company.  You could try to get to know them but with other people constantly coming and going and all the beeping and the abrupt exit, it’s just one big panic attack waiting to happen.  I could be asked how I am and not know how to respond because I know that deep down they don’t care about the real answer but I don’t want to lie.  I could have to endure a joke about how it’s Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Summer or Spring or how it’s raining or WHY DO OFFICE PEOPLE ONLY TALK ABOUT THESE DAY OF THE WEEK AND THE WEATHER!?

Today I tried to be charming when someone was in the lobby already and the elevator got there just as I did.  It dinged right at the moment I stepped up.  I said something to the effect of thanking her for calling the elevator for me and she said something about how sometimes it takes so long to get to the top floor.  It seemed like she genuinely wanted to connect with me in the post-5pm cooldown so I tried to keep going.  But then all the stupid fell out of my mouth.

I agreed that it can take a long time and started saying something about how it can be particularly awkward to wait for it when there are high-level folk waiting there with you and you have to try to make conversation but I realized I was talking to one of the highest level people in the organization.  So instead I stuttered a lot and stared and the number on the elevator and prayed to baby Jesus that the elevator would go faster while my brain exchanged ‘ higher level people’ with ‘people you have to, you know, hold your posture a little straighter for…it can…be…you know, awkward to talk to them and wait and….OHTHANKGODTHERE’SMYFLOOR.”

Her look was a mix of confusion and that face you make when you think you just smelled a fart.   

I picked apart the encounter until I reached my front door, where I found a delivery guy struggling to reach a tenant from the call box outside.  After giving him a while to make his own life decisions, I asked him if he wanted let in.  The answer was no, he’s a general manager, and he doesn’t break the rules by piggybacking into apartment complexes.  I told him I just didn’t want to seem like a jerkface and I don’t really care if he wants in or not; I was just offering.

But then I realized he said he was a general manager and he was out delivering food so I asked him what that was all about.  It led to a discussion on his workload, the region he oversees, the bad economy, and his ridiculous rent.  And his mother’s ridiculous rent.  And how he’s “not a racist, but his black &%*@# of a landlord needs to go away”. 

I was opening my mouth to suggest that perhaps he’s actually a little bit racist and that someone’s &%*@#ness is not tied to their blackness anymore than his &%*@#ness is tied to his whiteness.

But in the amount of time it took to formulate the thought, he had somehow fastforwarded to the 5 stores he had to get to this week and the people who stay behind to oversee the team in his absence and how it’s a rough world out there right now and that’s why he’s delivering food when he’s a general manager.  Then he walked back to his car.

Video footage of the encounter would reveal that I spent the entire ten minutes looking a bit confused and a bit like I had just smelled a fart.

I finally entered my apartment, weary of the world and thankful to be rid of it.  I also pondered whether one could take a day off work due to weariness from human interaction.  Then I remembered I have to go to a bachelorette party this weekend.  Someone somewhere even mentioned karaoke.  

The worst is yet to come.  I can’t give in now.

But until then, I’ll be in my cocoon.  With my cats.  And Eye of the Tiger. 

There Is Definitely Such a Thing As a Stupid Question

18 Apr

You can find Bart and his mockery at giyf.com

If I could have a time machine to go back and stop any event in the world, it would be to back up and slap the face off of whoever said “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” before they have a chance to articulate it into the universe.

I know, I know: if I had a time machine, I should go back and do something far more grandiose and far-reaching, like prevent huge acts of genocide or help avert the deaths of major icons and leaders of thought.  But let’s be honest – if a time machine is made available to mankind, the first things everyone will go back and take care of are the major atrocities of our existence.

At least I hope so.  I’d really like to think they’re being taken care of while I tend this whole ‘no stupid questions’ fellow, who must be abolished because he is a downright filthy rotten liar and he’s ruined my life.

There are indeed stupid questions.  I get asked at least three every single day.  I think it’s because the whole ‘ask any question’ culture has gone a long way to eliminate shame in the asking.

I’m a fan of shame.  I think it’s good for society.  Let’s bring back the shame.  So here, for the reference of humankind, I offer you a sampling of totally idiotic questions, many of which I face on a daily basis.  Share.  Tell your friends.  Email it to a moronic office mate.  “Accidentally” send it to your boss.  Let’s start a shame revolution.  It will make us better people.  I promise.

Examples of Stupid Questions

  • Asking a place of business a question that was answered in the greeting.  Example: “Hello, thank you for calling Happy Llama Mart, this is Jackie; How can I help you?”   Stupid questions would include “Who is this?”  “Who did I call?” “What’s the name of this business?”
  • How to do anything on a computer that you haven’t first Googled.  I’m serious about this one.  So serious.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m interrupted at work just because I’m in my 20’s and everyone assumes I can fix any computer-related issues.  Google it.  Somewhere out there in the magical interwebz, someone else couldn’t figure out how to get their tabs to align or how to change their margins or get rid of that pesky blank page that haunts them on Word.   I don’t interrupt your generation’s workdays to ask them the lyrics of popular 70’s songs; don’t interrupt mine to fix computer problems. (My favorite place to send offenders:  http://lmgtfy.com)
  • Asking if you can ask a question. If you don’t see the problem here, keep trying.
  • Asking for the time.  There are few – very, few instances where this is not a stupid question.  If, for example, you left your phone at home and you’re trying to catch a bus and are without any time telling devices.  If you’re a nomad and you’re still honing your skills at telling the time of day by the position of the sun in the sky.  If you’re scurrying around on New Year’s Eve and trying to make sure you get the wine poured before the ball drops.  For all other unsimilar instances, please make an attempt to reference any of the hundred devices surrounding us at all moments of the day that tell us the time, including your own phone.

Now, in what may seem a contradiction of my rage, I would like to note that I still think it’s a worthy investment of our time as human beings to discuss legitimate questions before referencing our smart phones for the most commonly accepted answer.  Sure, I know the burning in your cerebrum is killer when you can’t remember the name of whats-her-face who was in the movie with the guy with the nose. But remember how good it feels to sort through those dusty old files in your brain and come up with the answer?   I’m pretty certain that studies two decades from now will show we’re less intelligent beings for having defaulted to the device in our pockets in favor of our memories. 

So enough of my annoyances: what are yours?  Tell me all about the questions that set you off.  Get grumpy in that comment section; let’s start the shame revolution.   We’re bringing back the belief in stupid questions. 

After all, I don’t think anyone’s making swift progress on those time machine blueprints. 

The Newsletter for Superhumans

4 Jan

This could be you.

I’ve written a draft post every day and haven’t let myself hit the ‘publish’ button.  That’s how hard a habit dies, folks.

Welcome to The Jackie Blog 2012, where I won’t be posting every day like I did in 2011.  Instead, I’ll post once a week on Wednesday in a considerate attempt to help distract you from the ghoulish terror that probably is your work week and to encourage you to log questionable web addresses in your browser, thereby causing suspicion in your corporate entities and getting you all fired. Then, when we’re all jobless and happy, we can form an elite group of superhumans and I can use this blog as our newsletter.

Too much?

Well anyway, I’m going to be posting every week this year. That leaves me with 6 more days to sleep and play video games and leaves you with 6 less emails in your inbox.  If you subscribe.  Do you subscribe? You totally should.  Every time someone clicks the “yeah sure” on the top right side of this page, a baby angel learns to fly.  Granted, I got quite a few followers in 2011 and I’m so thankful for each and every one of you.  You’ve raised a fleet of baby angels that shall someday do our bidding when we form our elite group of superhumans.  But I also know there are gremlins in the woodwork who didn’t want to be spammed with my brain splatters every day and instead chose to stop in on occasion.  If you’re a gremlin, you should subscribe.  Out with you!

Also, I made a Facebook page in 2011.  And I got a Twitter account.  And I had this header image designed.   Listen, a lot happened last year that I’m still sleeping off.  So take your time, browse my brain goop, and reap the beautiful, chaotic bounty I sowed for you in 2011.  Oh, and for those of you who keep asking: yes, I’ll be doing Lollipop Tuesdays in 2012.  But they’ll be more like a surprise Tuesday post than an every Tuesday post. Less pressure, less emails, less running all over the country, putting on costumes, doing questionable things, and sprinting to a computer to write about it.

So there we are: look forward to 2012, revel in the treasures of 2011. Facebook, Twitter, Email Subscription, and 365 posts.  There’s fun for everyone.

See ya next Wednesday. 

Code Monkey Like You

20 Dec

Wow, we only have two Lollipop Tuesdays left together. 

Are you sad? I’m not sad.   Tell ya what – I won’t miss scrambling around the Sunday and Monday before, trying to consider whether or not I can assemble a tub of Jell-O in time or whether this is the week I take a shifty looking stranger out to dinner  or whether I finally let one of my readers pepper spray me in the face. 

Yes, that’s real.

So, I figure that with only two left (and now, only one), I kind of owe you something epic.  And while skydiving crossed my mind, I can’t imagine that’s affordable, able to be done in the winter, or in the best interest of my well-being. So instead, I directed a movie.

Now, I didn’t direct this in a weekend.  In fact, I’ve been working on this for over a year and finally got it finished.  It started out as a small summer project that my friend asked me direct.  It kind of snowballed into this…thing.  We decided to film it so we could throw it on YouTube, and at some point thought that maybe we could raise some money for a charity while we did it.  

There’s a lot of other fun stuff in there, like 3 different editors, a producer moving halfway through the process, a budget of only $300, so on and so forth – but this isn’t a post about the trials and tribulations of low budget film-making.  It’s post about how I directed my first film project.  In true nerdy nerd fashion, it’s a script based on the music and ideas of Jonathan Coulton, who has a sort of cult following among the geek world.  The script is weaved around concepts from his songs.  The name of the production company is Vs. the Universe.  It’s slogan: Geeks Making Art.  And along with showing our 20-minute venture on YouTube, we’re also running a 30-day campaign for Child’s Play Charity, which works to put video game consoles in the hospital rooms of sick kids so that when they’re hooked up to machines and tubes and contraptions of all kinds, they can get lost in the idea of racing a go-kart instead of focusing on the pain and the confines of their hospital bed.

Oh, and Dave’s in it.

Yeah, that’s right: if you watch this sucker, you get to see Dave.  My Dave.  Dave from the story books of The Jackie Blog.  He plays Mr. Kenesaw.

So thanks for reading all year long.  I can’t believe I’m almost at the end.  One more Lollipop Tuesday to go – and an announcement of the winner of the Best Macaroni and Cheese in the World Contest, who will be the proud owner of a $25 Visa Gift Card.

While I work on that, check out my first attempt at film directing.  And if you feel so inclined this holiday season, consider a donation to Child’s Play Charities. We offer fun incentives like writing a song or a puppet show just for you.

That’s right: just for you.

So here’s my first attempt at directing, my first attempt at a fundraiser, and my first attempt at a musical.  Oh.  Did I mention it’s a musical?  Also, there’s a naked butt in it.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, ya’ll.  Enjoy. 

 
Head over to thisguyandi.com if you’d like to see the incentive levels and make a tax-deductible donation.  We’ve already met 10% of our goal! 

‘Tis the Season for Work Holiday Parties

16 Dec

Work holiday parties. Amirite?

So, last time this year I had just gotten my feet wet in the ponds of the corporate jungle. (Are there ponds in jungles?  I digress.) I was new to my department and I was still hourly so I could get out of quite a few obligatory holiday party invitations.  Some happened at night and I couldn’t work overtime, some happened during the day but I only had so many hours to complete a specific amount of work, and so on and so forth until I wiggled my way out of every possible outing.

This year, the game has changed.

I’m salary now, and my feet are no longer wet.  I’m fully submerged and drowning in the awkwardness of obligatory holiday parties.  Office creatures love food.  They adore it – they are almost entirely sustained on meetings, lunches, coffee breaks, communal candy bowls, and impromptu snack suggestions.  So naturally, they take kindly to gatherings of any sort that are wrought with food.

Better yet: food that can be written off as a business expense.

I’ve been invited to no less than eight holiday gatherings so far and it isn’t even the week of Christmas.  I’ve been unable to get out of four of them.  I have a 50% dodge rate, which in the corporate forest, is pretty good odds.

There are creatures who thrive on the suggestion of simultaneous mingling and food chomping. “Networking”, they call it.  I’m not really into it.  I don’t really want people to know who I am or what I do.  In my experience, the more people who know you and your position, the more people call on you to do things.  Since I’m an assistant to a high-level executive, I don’t leave my corporate cave so that people don’t  ask me for an appointment or try to pick my brain for how to best navigate difficult subjects in a meeting.  There’s nothing relaxing or festive about being harassed about why I won’t put someone on her calendar just because we both got to the cookie plate at the same time.  

I’ve been looking for a sweater with croissant-wrapped mini wieners all over it so I can hover by the buffet table unnoticed.  Turns out you can’t buy everything on Amazon. 

And listen – crossaint-wrapped mini wieners are not cheap.  While corporate is usually all right with expensing one or two major functions, they aren’t about to foot the bill for every little get-together.  There’s your floor, your department, your building, your unit, and your actual company party to all worry about. That’s before your actual friends at work decide to throw get-togethers.  Each one has a different clothing policy: wear an ugly sweater, don’t wear an ugly sweater, pay 5 dollars to wear jeans, bring a can of food for a homeless shelter and sport a wacky hat.  Each one has a different gifting policy: white elephant, traditional gift exchange, everyone donate to charity instead, or sort it out amongst yourselves and cringe when the boss’s gift isn’t well-received.   

By the time I’ve filed all the details for each gathering and burned a fresh stack of cash to attend them, I’m actually wishing I could just do my regular work and be left alone.  Call me an office Grinch, but there’s only so many times I can make jokes about human resources people or whatever happened at the holiday party three years ago (that I wasn’t even at, by the way).

Maybe that’s their plan.  Maybe this has all already been thought out.  Since people tend to shut down once the month of December hits, companies encourage frequent holiday party planning so that we’re coaxed back into the idea of putting in a solid 8 hours.  In fact, we’re so thankful that we don’t have to have our day interrupted by fruit cake and bad potlucks that we almost smile while we work.  It’s brilliant! Twisted, but brilliant.

Touché, corporate.  Touché. 

Kevin Bacon Owes Me a Coffee

8 Dec

No sleep for the Jackie.

I got a lot done last night (still running – 1/2 way through week 2, still alive).  I did not, however get any sleep.  Instead, I was jolting in and out of a dream that included the death of my father, and Kevin Bacon.

The Baconator didn’t do anything to my father.  In fact, it was a friend from my childhood who I haven’t talked to in years.  I have, however, stalked them on Facebook.  Then she killed my father.  Then I checked out Kevin Bacon’s twitter feed, and he got in a hot tub with me after my father died.

It wasn’t, like, romantic.  It was this super awesome hot tub/pool thing that was enormous and had about 20 people there – all folks I only somewhat knew- but the pool wasn’t filled with water.  So the Baconator and I were filling it up for them with the sprayer hose on my kitchen sink.

It took a while.

No one at my workplace will understand this or accept is as a valid reason not to come to work.  I would argue that I’m a better worker when I’m sick than I am when I’ve spent the evening bereaving my father’s passing and filling a giant hot tub with a kitchen sprayer, assisted only by Kevin Bacon.  But unfortunately it’s not socially acceptable for me to skip work because of a taxing dream.

I’ve attempted lucid dreaming before, but haven’t succeeded.  It’s happened a few times on accident and those moments are so super awesome that I would prefer to hang out in dream world than be in reality.  Because naturally, I can fly there.  And breathe underwater.  And play Mario levels in real life.  But the moment I don’t want to be lucid dreaming for is the one where I gain a sense of my own consciousness right beside the Baconator while he’s holding my kitchen hose.

So I’ve resolved to stalk more people online that I actually want to dream about.  Maybe I could focus a lot of it on cartoon characters, because I’m sure that’d be a swell adventure.  I could check out Donald Trump’s twitter feed and see if when I dream about him, he gives me a bunch of money so I can pretend to accomplish fiscal goals and buy schools for third world countries and things.  Or maybe I should just browse a bunch of food blogs and stare at the food porn so that at night I dream of food.  Suddenly kicking in to lucid dreaming when I’m right beside the world’s largest vat of Jell-O sounds pretty splendiferous if you ask me.

Anyway I’m super tired today and the way I see it, Kevin Bacon owes me a coffee.  Perhaps instead of accomplishing real work tasks today, I’ll begin composing documents in support of Paid Time Off following particularly strenuous dreams.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. 

 

Returning to the Corporate Jungle, or, The End of Bliss

28 Nov

Oh man.  Who likes coming back to work after a 4-day weekend? No one, that’s who.

I got a little greedy last week and took two days off (heaven forbid!).  Throw the natural God-given weekend in there and I feel like I’ve been on a real vacation.  Except instead of sunshine and new experiences, I have a decorated tree and an empty box of wine.

I like to keep it classy.

Sometimes when I’ve been away from a job too long, I feel like I’ll forget how to do it.  What if I go in today and when I answer the phone I just scream nonsensical words instead of a warm greeting?   Or when I have to take minutes, I just type “flamingo” over and over again? I’m not even entirely sure I remember how to make a meeting request on Outlook.

Oh man. I have to talk to people? And tell them things? What happened to sitting on my couch and petting my cat for 4 days?

I always harbor this fantasy after long weekends and holidays that the whole world will come to the conclusion that working is silly and we should all just stop.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  You go to work today and your boss swings by to visit and tells you all about how their weekend away was wonderful and reminded them of the important things in life.  And that they’ve been thinking a lot about this and they’re willing to turn the workplace into a hippie commune, where people can hone their personal hobbies and crafts and receive a paycheck all the same.

It hasn’t happened yet; I’m not sure why.  Maybe my bosses don’t have vacations as awesome as mine.  Or maybe they just don’t like hippies.  Which obviously makes them racists.

At any rate, I’d better strap in; it’s going to be a long day of typing ‘flamingo’. 

%d bloggers like this: