[ordered chaos 9]

||Life After College:  Year 2 - Corporate Hell


(I am)
..22 years old  
..in New York
(Soundbite) || 08.04.03
(x)Prelude to Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix
:: by J.K. Rowling
(x)Bird by Bird
:: by Ann Lamott
(x)Forward the Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(3.9.03-?)One Hundred Years of Solitude
:: by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(x)Foundation's Edge
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Small Wonder
:: by Barbara Kingsolver
(x)Man from Mundania
:: by Piers Anthony
(x)Second Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Daughter of Fortune
:: by Isabel Allende
(x)Foundation and Empire
:: by Asimov
(x)Ender's Game
:: by Orson Scott Card
:: by Jose Saramago
(x)A Clockwork Orange
:: by Anthony Burgess
:: by Asimov
(x)The Eyre Affair
:: by Jasper Fforde
:: by Milan Kundera
(x)In Our Strange Gardens
:: by Michael Quint
:: by Diana Wynne Jones
(x)East of Eden
:: by John Steinbeck
(x)Future Homemakers of America
:: by Laurie Graham
(x)Bel Canto
:: by Ann Patchett
(x)DragonLance Chronicles
:: by Margaret Weis
(x)Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
:: by Dai Sijie
Wired Magazine | Tech
U.S. News | News
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In Style | Fashion
(Rx for boredom)
Ted's World | comics
ain't-it-cool | entertainment
staceyannchin | poetry
mark ryden | art
indenture | satire
the onion | satire
emode | quizzes
mudconnector | gaming
blogger | blogs
weezah.net | music
hyperwest | portal
(be friend-ly)
teacher tom
(blog this!)
lipstick, lighters, and tampax
awkward pirouettes
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We're wireless!!
Blog moved from Tripod to BlogSpot. Three cheers for Verizon webspace!
Archives moved to main page.
Internet access available at new apt.!
Due to popular demand,
the comments section
has been re-instated.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad enough to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved... The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

    -Jack Kerouac

[Monday, March 31, 2003]

Because weekends were made for fun. -black eyed peas

Roadtripped from Lux's house down in NC back to NYC. Her little sister N. loved me. Had disturbing maternal feeling as N. hid in my lap from a bumblebee. Must re-examine biological clock.

Drove 10 hours through all types of weather imaginable - snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain.

Had the most divine chocolate at Lux's house. Broke lent =(. Made renewed promises not to slip again before Easter though. No more chocolate or candies!

Made pledge last night to run extra lap in Central Park today as punishment for breaking Lent. As soon as made pledge, felt justified in eating krispy kreme donut meant for this morning as a late-night-snack before bed instead. Yum.

Spoke to brother about his recent breakup. Am pleasantly surprised that he calls me when feeling bummed. Have suspicious feeling that months-long silence will ensue again once he no longer feels depressed (funny how it always seems to work like that). He's having all these doubts about whether he did the right thing in breaking up with his gf. Since I never really liked her all that much, I did my best to reassure him that he did the right thing. Was pleasantly surprised by all these thoughts, doubts, and moods he's going through. Wasn't aware that guys had complex emotions and thought processes (that are similar to women's) underneath the seemingly simple exterior. Am feeling somewhat more positive. Faith in men has been restored.

Have been given adorable stuffed monkey from FAO as belated xmas gift from old college roommate. Stuffed monkey is really a puppet, which means that I can stick my hand up its ass. Who makes these toys for kids anyways?

Was told that monkey was appropriate gift since she thinks it looks a bit like me. Not sure whether to be complimented (it's a -very- cute stuffed monkey) or insulted (it's a monkey).

Sleep with it every night clutched under my arm regardless. Perhaps have regressed to childhood days due to increased stress of having to act like an adult for 5 days a week.

New haircut from last Thursday makes me feel like Pat from SNL. Wondering if appointment made at 2 pm on Thursday for a 4:30 cut that very same day was perhaps on the rash side. Think it may be subconscious reaction to the overwhelming "I am a professional woman with nice long feminine hair and am overly-nice-to-the-point-of-being-fake" mold that proliferates at my company. Am wishing that rebellious tendencies took on other forms that would not affect my ability to attract men as I seem to have enough troubles in that arena. Attracting gas attendants, stock boys from CVS, guidos, and cabbies being symptoms of these troubles (and this was when I had -long- hair). Attracting gay men is not considered an acceptable substitute.

Am feeling quite happy as have extra week before being shipped out to NC next week for new assignment. Tentative deploy date: next Monday. Hopefully hair will magically grow to fashionable edgy 'do by then.

posted by ink| 10:23 AM |
[Wednesday, March 26, 2003]


My dad is so cute. After yelling at me all afternoon, he finally said that he would do my NJ tax return for me, but I had to do all the rest myself. Then he sent me an email in the evening.

"Do you want to come home next weekend so we can work on your tax return together? Maybe I could help you put all the forms together. Bye. And we all love you."

My dad's been making a concerted effort to be more affectionate now that my brother and I have both moved out. He's the classic stiff upper-lip sort of dad. Never really touched us much besides a rub on the top of the head for a good job done. Would scowl ferociously whenever I hugged him goodbye. Gave me regular lectures on how strength is a virtue when I'd cry because he had to leave on business trips. Read the paper and watched the news when he got back from work. Worked around the house doing home improvement jobs in his spare time. We've been trying to move him away from the 50's and the restrained Asian mentality and more into the 21st century, where it's okay to have feelings. We used to complain about it all the time but he'd ignore us. I think he misses us more these days now that the house is empty, so he tries a little harder. I notice he hasn't quite graduated to "I love you" yet. But "we all love you" is close enough. Even it was obviously added as an afterthought. I'm sure he means "we all" as in, him and my mom. But we all know that my mom would never be caught dead near a computer, much less on email.

And come on, this is an -obvious- invitation home because he misses me so much. I can't wait. My mom wants me to help her buy a new camera, and since I've had my parents' credit card since I was 16 (although I've never used it. Sometimes my morality works against me) it'll be super fun to go browse for new electronic toys and use it. Next weekend is really inconvenient for me to go home, but I've always had a hard time saying no to my dad. Probably because he never asks for much. And I know he'd never outright ask me to come home. But wrapped in the excuse of taxes, it says enough. After all, he's the one who kept yelling on the phone today, "You only have 8 numbers to worry about!! Why's this so hard? Just email me your numbers and I'll do it!"

posted by ink| 10:37 PM |


Taxes. I enthusiastically offered my dad all my W2 forms so that he could pass it on to our accountant to do. But he told me that I had to do them myself. Because it's important for me to learn to do my own taxes. Blah. I've got to file in 4 states.

I've paged him 8 times this afternoon already with questions about my taxes. And I just made it 9. He's going to kill me.

posted by ink| 5:39 PM |
[Tuesday, March 25, 2003]

Cagematch: National Anthem vs. 50 cents.

The national anthem used to be something I'd hear at athletic events, or something I was forced to sing in school before every orchestra concert and in homeroom. These days, the national anthem never ceases to make me stop in my tracks and tear up. Ever since 9/11, its started to have new meaning for me. It's no longer just a national anthem, but almost a mournful dirge. It doesn't remind me of how glorious our country is, but it makes me think of dying Americans, dying for the sake of a country, or for the country's mistakes. It makes me think of the people throwing themselves out of the World Trade Center, falling down in slow motion with their ties fluttering. It flashes war scenes through my brain (a la Saving Private Ryan since I'm lucky enough to not have any real war memories to draw on), troops dying also in slow motion. It makes me think of how human everyone is, even the chauvinistic male idiots in the bars. It makes me sad that I've connected our national anthem to such terrible terrible things, and it makes me angry that something, anything can have such an emotional impact on me that 2 years after it happened, hearing music that reminds me of it makes me tear up like some untrained schoolchild. Good God, have some spine.

I was standing in our living room, bending over to zip up my boots for work when I heard it wafting out of my bedroom. The national anthem was being played on the radio, by Z100 - not exactly the most solemn of stations. I immediately wondered who died. Flipped on the TV and only saw more coverage of the war. I came back to my room to visit cnn.com when the anthem ended, and was followed directly by Fifty Cents "In Da Club - It's your Birffday". And that disconnect, that juxtaposition captured America in its very essence. And I don't mean America as its represented by Bush. I mean America the population. We've got the MTV generation going through wartimes right now, and it's hard to really understand it. Do we merely protest because of some inner desire to be part of the Woodstock hippie generation? I'm willing to bet that a good half of the young protesters have that subconsciously going through their minds. It doesn't diminish the intentions of their effort, but just like two cars that run and serve the same function, what's going on under the hood does make a difference, if only in the long run. Logically speaking, I do realize that life has to go on. Life can't stop just because there's a war going on fifty million miles away in the Middle East, but it somehow feels wrong to be laughing on the phone about guys and worrying about whether my panty line is going to show at work when there are people who aren't that much different from me worrying about their lives. It feels wrong to be enjoying Central Park and the weather when some of my friends in ROTC have been dispatched overseas. I feel like we're supposed to share in the pain somehow. Help bear the burden. It doesn't seem fair that those young people (who -are- my peers) have to deal with it while I parade off to work and worry about how much I'll have to travel and whether my bra strap will get me in trouble again.

Every laugh, every joy, feels like a guilty pleasure when I hear the national anthem. But at the same time, I recognize that in a few hours, I'll forget again, and laugh like I always have, and complain like I always have. Just like how in the end, 50 cent's "In Da Club" will always reign in the minds of young people over the National Anthem.

posted by ink| 8:34 AM |
[Saturday, March 22, 2003]

Latent Tendencies.

I like to cook. This is a fact I try to keep hidden from my mother as much as possible. If only so that I won't fall into the "good daughter" mold she's constantly trying to push me into. I browse the food section of Barnes and Nobles avidly and have purchased a few cookbooks. So far, I've only used the cookbooks to look at the pictures - which then make me hungry. I generally don't have a lot of interaction wtih my kitchen. Largely because I'm traveling all the time. But when I am home, most of my kitchen interaction has been fruity. I buy an awful lot of fruit. And I cut the fruit in the kitchen and put it into a bowl before I eat it. Or I pour granola into my vanilla yogurt while standing in the kitchen. That's been the extent of my kitchen activity. But today, in a burst of industriousness, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to finally, finally cook.

I started out small. Eggs, scallions, and tomatoes. A dish my mom used to make for me all the time. I ran into a few problems right off the bat. Despite the fact that I live with two roommates (who by the way, are getting a heck of a deal on the apartment since I'm never there), we are missing a cutting board, knives of any sort (besides butter knives), and a spatula. I'm friendly with my roommates, but I'm starting to get the feeling that neither of them cook very often. I sawed at my scallions with a fruit paring knife I managed to dig up and cut my tomatoes the same way. The result?

I never knew that three eggs would end up being so... much. Two eggs looked so astonishingly little after I beat them in the bowl that I felt I should add a third one. Big mistake. I feel like cooked eggs won't keep well in the fridge. I also realized belatedly that we don't have any rice. Regardless, I called my mom anyways. Because I wanted to know what was in her recipe for the bamboo dish she makes. And I told her of my conquest over adversity. Big mistake again. It ended up being a 45 minute long conversation about how I'm becoming so "wifey" now (*shudder*) and how she's so proud of me. It sets my teeth on edge. I called my brother to tell him of my cooking conquest as well. He was more appreciative. Gave me a "good job Jeh". A nice short 10 minute convo. See, that's what's great about guys. They keep it nice and simple and short. I wonder if I'll ever become a mother that never shuts up. Sadly, I think there's a good chance I might.

posted by ink| 5:27 PM |
[Thursday, March 20, 2003]

Contingency Plans.

That's all I've been hearing about at the office today. I've been asked a few times what my "contingency plan" was. You know, in case something happens to New York. I drew a blank. Someone's got plans to drive to West Pennsylvania. Another advised them to avoid route 80, since that's what everyone's going to be using to get out of New York. They started pulling up maps online to plot the best route out of Manhattan. The bridges would probably be closed, so you'd have to go around.

I called BABAE J. What is this lunacy? She piped up that she had a contingency plan too. And she's not even in New York, she's in Hoboken. It's like having a contingency plan has become the latest fad. She offered to help me make a "flee pack". I'm supposed to carry this thing with me wherever I go? What am I supposed to put in it? I guessed a flashlight, some granola bars, water, and a switchblade knife - in case I have to cut my way out of whatever I'm buried under? Also for self-defense, BABAE J. added. Good God. If anything does happen to New York, I'm not going to make it. I can barely run 2 miles in Central Park without being sore for days afterwards or slice fruit without cutting myself. She's got a car, so she's going to drive up to Syracuse for her contingency plan. She figures, no one's going to bother to bomb Syracuse. She told me to make my way west of the city, to Westchester, and she'd pick me up there. How am I going to get to Westchester? Walk? That's what the flee-pack is for, she explained patiently. Survival. Make sure to put a raincoat in there too. And socks. She'll call me on my cell and find out where I am. And don't forget my cell phone charger. My cell phone charger? What does she think I'm going to plug that into? It's not like they have electrical sockets out in the woods.

That's when I realized, gosh - if something was to happen to New York and my cell phone battery was to die, I'd seriously be in trouble. I don't have anyone's phone number memorized anymore. They're all in my cell phone book. There's a sign that I'm getting too dependent on technology. Not that having their number memorized would be of any help anyways. If New York was wasted to the point where I'd be stranded somewhere long enough for my cell phone battery to die, most likely, anyone I could call (if I had their number memorized) would be unreachable anyways. Especially since all the numbers in my phone book are -their- cell phone numbers. And if my cell phone died, most likely theirs did too. Technology is definitely my weak flank.

And what am I supposed to really put in this "flee-pack"? Am I going to need to put pads and tampons in there? Contact solution? I looked up "urban survival" on Google and got a lot more hits than I was expecting. There are some really prepared people out there. Or potential crazies. Am I just being naive? After all, crazy is relative. I checked out urbansurvivalkit.com. I'm supposed to tote this thing to work? It weighs 7 pounds and includes a "120 dB PERSONAL ALARM to alert others of an emergency". When they find my barely-breathing body, they won't be able to help me anyways because I'll be deaf. And then they'll steal my 600 dollar survival kit.

I think I can make it out there in the wilderness. I used to read my brother's Boy Scout manual for fun. As he rose up in the ranks to Eagle Scout, my toilet reading changed accordingly from "How to be a Star Scout" to "The U.S. Army Survival Guide." According to my doctor, I've got all these weird antibodies floating in my blood that most people don't have. So I presume I'm probably immune to a lot more weird diseases than most people. Pro. And I don't need much food to sustain me. Pro. I wonder if the fat people will survive better than the skinny people due to "energy deposits" in their body that I don't have. Con. Maybe we'll just kill them off first for food.

I'd like to think that New York is relatively protected and hard to attack though. Especially since they've been placing radiation detectors around the city, according to Wired magazine (see article here). Cancer patients are being detained at the border and strip searched. I find myself with a dark sense of humor these days.

posted by ink| 4:47 PM |
[Wednesday, March 19, 2003]

Funny how shallow everything suddenly seems..

The war's begun. I don't know why I'm so surprised, but I am. I was lying on my bed writing in my journal and listening to Norah Jones when I heard my roommate say "Oh my God."

I can't believe it's actually happened. I never thought I'd have to grow up in wartimes. But here it is. All those kids in ROTC who did it so they could have a good shot at a good education... They never thought they'd get called. But their number came up. I wonder how long it will be before people start disappearing from work. And like everyone else, the question looms - will there be a draft? Everyone I know and care for falls between the ages of 18 to 25, and they'll be the first to go. My younger brother just turned 19 in January.

I'm convinced that the war won't stay in Iraq. It will definitely be taken to our land. I'm convinced that it's going to be bloody. My mind is nothing but a blank wall of white. I'm not sure what to think, how to react, so I stay still. I want to call someone, my family, my friends, anyone, but I don't know what I would say to them. So I don't. It's just an instinctive grab for something comforting. To not be alone. Because quite frankly, I'm afraid. That's really something to say for someone who's sitting in her apartment safe and sound when an entire country is cowering in fear of the bombings.

posted by ink| 10:51 PM |
[Tuesday, March 18, 2003]

Projected Flatline: One Month.

My mental foodstuffs remain in the balance. I stand on the brink of losing my internet connectivity and being chained to dial-up again. My roommates have decided that they don't want internet connectivity anymore, leaving me to shoulder the cost. I live and breathe the internet, and when the small squeak of dismay escaped me as I heard this news, I realized that I had given myself away as a CyberGirl. I have a dependency on the internet the way Whitney Houston has a dependency on crack. I lean on it. Except I don't have millions of dollars from a diva career to support my habit. No more high-speed access. This means less contact with friends, less emailing, less blogging, less internet shopping, and less everything. I wonder if this will result in more living. Cut off from the internet, what kind of a person will I become? Will I become more vibrant? More into living RealLife with tangible things that you can breathe, touch, taste, than living the CyberLife? Will I turn into a Real Girl? Will I turn into my parents, forever behind in technology because they're out-of-touch? Does being off the internet mean being out-of-touch? More out-of-touch with information and long-distance friends, but more in-touch with immediate surroundings that so easily fade into the background when the flickering light of the computer monitor beckons. Which one embodies the true sense of "in touch"? Like two cities, you can't get closer to one without getting slightly further from the other.

As I blank out from Verizon DSL next month, Ordered Chaos will become officially image-free. Server space doesn't come cheap these days anymore. I go back to dial-up and the stone age. Even though dial-up means some internet access (and i get dial-up service from home for free from work), I'm wincing at the thought of slow download times and the bleeps and blurps of the modem. I'll have to get my fix in drips and drabs from the IV of the telephone cord.

posted by ink| 2:32 PM |
[Sunday, March 16, 2003]

And the winner is...

I just woke up. I can't believe I slept so late.

Prime Picks for Last Night.
1. A guido who kept calling me "Sweethaaaa-ht".
2. A 400 pound black man who kept breathing heavily in my face.
3. A clean cut guy from Long Island who tried to convince me that his retail job at Gap was "sales", and then kept misusing the word "antidote" when he meant "anecdote".
4. A promising-looking grungy guy who came up to me and said hello. I took a deep breath and gave him my most winning smile. Then he asked me if I had any drugs. Twice.
5. An Israeli man who kept grabbing both my ears every time he talked to me and kept repeating himself.
"So, no date?"
"So, no date?"
"So, no date?"
"....Can you let go of my ears?"

BABAE J. summed up the night with one sentence as we were lying slouched and disheartened on a couch in the corner of the bar. "Where do all the normal guys hang out?"

posted by ink| 3:09 PM |
[Saturday, March 15, 2003]

Death and Taxes.

My dad woke me up at 8 am this morning, to tell me that I only had a month left to do my taxes. My dad is like my personal Outlook alert. Except I can't shut him off. We yelled at each other for 15 minutes.

Dad: "How come everytime I call you, you yell at me!"
Me: "Because! I don't appreciate being treated like I'm 12! I know the deadline is April 15!"
"I'm just calling to remind you! You also have to file in 5 states you know. You need me to tell you which 5?"
"DAD! Do you think I'm so stupid that I can't remember where I lived this past year and where I worked?"
"It's NJ, PA, NY, DE, and CT"
"?!?!?!?! I'M 22 DAD! I don't need you to call and remind me of these things anymore!"
"Don't pay to have someone do your taxes. Do them yourself. Or pay me and I'll do them!"
(we're yelling at this point)
"Fine!! I'll just go now!! Don't pay an accountant for your taxes! Bye!"
"Fine!! Bye!!!"
"I love you!!"
"I love you too!!"

Those last two sentences were not said with any measure of tenderness. You could've taken those words out and replaced them with "You asshole!" and the tone of voice would've fit perfectly. Sometimes, I'm surprised at how well we get along considering how completely dysfunctional our family is. And, I fully plan on paying H&R Block a visit.

posted by ink| 11:23 AM |
[Friday, March 14, 2003]

And They All Fall Down.

So. I had my performance review yesterday since today is my last day on the project. I had my performance review and I was inducted into the Secret Society of the Stupidly Elite. In a nutshell, I realized that I work at a freaking high school. I learned today that our firm works on a "laddering" system. This means that at the end of every project, all the people who are manager level and above get together in a big meeting and rank all the analysts. Yes, they rank us. From 1 to God knows what. This ranking affects our promotions, our bonuses, our raises, our performance review status (from "exceptional", the top 5% of rankings, to "needs improvement", the bottom 5%). It's like college where you're graded on the bell curve. And this ranking really has nothing to do with performance. Because all the analysts, meaning the HR analysts and the tech analysts, are all ranked on the same ladder. And you can't really compare an HR performance to a tech performance. It's like apples and oranges. They discuss us and tear us apart. I hear these meetings get crazy. People push their chairs back, stand up, and point fingers in each others faces.

I learned today that both my manager and my team lead loved me. And they pulled for me at the meeting. And surprisingly, a bunch of other people who I've only had brief contact with pulled for me as well. But one manager, who has never worked with me, shot me down. Apparently, I was tied with another analyst for a certain rank. And I got minus points because this manager (who I found out later was LCM) said that I had "professionalism and dress code" problems. Apparently, on one of the days I was at work, I was wearing a boatneck sweater, and my bra straps were showing. And that demoted me. I couldn't believe it. A BRA STRAP. Good God. My manager told me about it even though it's supposed to be confidential. He told me because he wanted me to know why I didn't get the rating I wanted. I was completely stunned. For a couple of reasons. First, because one of the other managers in particular pulled for me really hard. I was surprised. I'd met him at a happy hour and rode with him on the shuttle a few times. We'd chatted. And he was one of the people I happened to get along with better, but I'd never worked with him. Second, I was stunned because I couldn't believe how completely juvenile the entire system was. As an analyst, your entire career is in the hands of others. Your manager is supposed to be your advocate. This means that if your manager is new at this game, then you're screwed regardless of how well you work. This means that if your manager wasn't on the college debate team, you're screwed if you're tied with some other analyst for promotion. This means that if a lot of people happen to like you, then they'll pull for you at the laddering meeting. It's a fucking popularity contest. Just as someone could shoot me down for no good reason because they happen to see my bra strap in passing, someone can vouch for me for no good reason than the fact that I asked about their kids in the airport van.

I always knew that there would be politics involved at work, but I didn't realize it was to -this- extent. I knew you had to know the right people to get promoted. I knew you couldn't simply do a good job and keep your head down. I knew you had to network and let yourself be known. But I didn't realize that the actual work you did was -this- irrelevant. I didn't realize that something as innocuous as a bra strap could knock me down. I couldn't believe that LCM spoke out against me. All those smiles and jokes were nothing but bullshit.

I can't stand it.

I can't stand how everyone is so smiley and "great job!" to you, but then rip you down at the laddering meeting. I can't stand how it's all dependent on what other people think. I can't believe that what one manager said could outweigh what both my managers said. I couldn't believe that so many people who did vouch for me were people who I hadn't ever really thought of as "connections". Since when was sharing a drink and asking about their kids a career move?

It's like Big Brother. They're watching you at all times. Anything and everything can come back to haunt you.

My crush on LCM is permanently over. I could barely bring myself to even smile at him when he passed by and tapped my desk. I couldn't believe how damn fake he was to me. I couldn't believe I used to think his dimples were charming. I couldn't believe that I'm one of the few people he smiles at. He obviously only smiles at people he hates. All I can think about now is how he's such a workaholic and how his life obviously revolves around the office since he's got a memory like an elephant and will bring up anything and everything to rip someone else down. I couldn't believe he had the balls to speak up against me when both my own manager and supervisor were speaking for me. I couldn't believe that he felt he had the right to say anything to contribute to my ranking when he's never even worked with me. I couldn't believe it.

If I'm going to be successful at this business thing, I have to learn how to be nice to people I dislike. But right now, I'm terrible at it. I couldn't even look LCM in the eye today. Because I knew if I did, I wouldn't be able to stop it. The Death Stare.

He came by my desk today.
"I'm hurt that you didn't invite me to your project goodbye dinner." Then the smile.

I didn't even look up from my laptop. "It wasn't a project goodbye dinner. And you wouldn't have come anyways since you're so busy all the time."

Cold. I was downright cold. I should've pulled down my shirt and shown my bra strap to him instead. But I coudn't figure it out. Why is he sitting there flirting with me when he bashed me to the ground at the laddering meeting? Why does he act like he likes me? Unless it's like third grade where you like the girl so you kick her over in the playground and rub her face in the dirt. I don't get it. But I don't need to get it. I don't need people who say one thing but do another. I don't need fake. He's on my shit list.

Cross me once, and it's over.

posted by ink| 10:31 PM |
[Thursday, March 13, 2003]

Pow! Pow!

"Nice schoolgirl skirt. It's not really short enough though. Don't you know? Short is trendy. Not this knee-length AUTHENTIC school girl look."
"Thanks. But I'm not about to flash my co-workers. You like the run in my stocking too? Adds to the authentic schoolgirl appeal, don't you think?"

I troubleshoot. That's what I do. Once in a lucky while, I'll get to write original code. But mostly, I troubleshoot others code. I do most of the dirty work. That's what my lot in life is, as an analyst. While others "manage".

"So, I hear you've got some extra bandwidth. I was wondering whether you could find out what the problem is with..."

I've got some extra bandwidth. I couldn't believe it. I am no longer a human being but a machine with "bandwidth". I've become a damn good troubleshooter. I can find the problem in the code in half the time it takes the programmer to find it. This means that I'm called on to troubleshoot even more since I'm "so good at it". This means that I get to do even less real work. What rewards for doing well at work. Whoop dee do.

If only I could troubleshoot my own life as well as I can troubleshoot code. Maybe things would be more together and streamlined. Maybe instead of this wandering path I'm taking, my life would stop hanging in this infinite loop and reach O(n). Did I really just say that?

I think I'm working way too much. I need a vacation. Or, all I really need is lots of sleep and a good book to indulge myself in. None of these deep books that talk about life. But something that will pull me in and keep me in some rip-roaring plot about trolls, elves, and the fight between good and evil.

If I had to troubleshoot my own life, I'd say that there's too much redundancy lying around. All these things are lying around unused, and the program isn't giving a good return code. The findboy() function is definitely buggy. As is the livelife() one. But livelife() is about to get fixed as of Friday when I leave. Perhaps the problem is that the overall program, mylife.pl is all confused. How can it correctly call functions and use the results well when it has no idea what it's true purpose is? What is the point of its existence? What are its aims and goals? Once that's figured out, perhaps I can rearrange the other portions of my life accordingly.

Like programming, adding one thing to my life means that I have to make a million minor adjustments everywhere else to accomodate for it. Thus the crash course of "getting used to things" for the first few months of any new change in my life. That's when I go into hibernation and become anti-social while I slowly tease it out and figure out where I want everything to be. Where I belong in the midst of it all.

Now that I'm entering month 7 of my stint doing this consulting thing, I've learned two things. A) You can pick out a consultant based on their polished aura. And that's not always a good thing. We're less rough around the edges, but a little -too- slick. A little too perky and a little too nice. It smacks vaguely of fake. B) Everyone hates us. I'm not surprised. But despite it all, I think I can say that I think I've finally settled in. Settling in isn't merely getting used to the routine, it's also getting your sense of self settled in. I railed and roared against the business life for the first 6 months of working here. I performed well, but inside, I was stewing and steaming. UNHAPPY. I retreated into myself and brooded an awful lot. It was hard for me to be ME while at work. That's when I turn the auto-pilot on. I can't say I'm thrilled with the idea of being here still, but the unhappiness has started to subside. Whereas it roiled and bubbled like a pot about to overflow, now it's just simmering. With the occasional bubble burst. And I've become more comfortable. I've defined my boundaries and know where the edges of mySelf are. I've gone from feeling like the person who went to work in business casual was so far removed from the person who I knew I was. I couldn't put together my sense of who I was with the person I saw in the mirror. They were mutually exclusive.

I've managed to mesh together Nine of before with Corporate Woman (because Nine has to pretend to be Ten when she is at work). I've managed to settle into business life without feeling unhappy about what I've had to give up of myself. Because to be honest, I really haven't had to give up much except my preconceived notions that all people in suits are boring. I've merely become more flexible. Realized that just because I walk the walk and talk the talk doesn't mean a thing. I've learned how to be me and still be corporate. Like a blend of fruit fusion.

Besides, who says that I have to think and act the way I look? The wolf in the sheep's clothing.

Or, the Nut in the Businesswoman Clothing.

posted by ink| 11:45 PM |
[Tuesday, March 11, 2003]

The Countdown Begins.

This is my last week in Connecticut. And they're wringing their money's worth of work out of me. I've been pseudo-staffed on a different team. I'm mainly helping them with some of their work since they're short-staffed. I thought it'd be excel sheets or something of that ilk, but it ended up being the design and development of a synchronization application. Estimated time to completion: 16 hours. Or so the New Manager said. Is that including the learning curve or not including it? I've been working some crazy hours. Haven't been home earlier than 11 pm and haven't gotten to work later than 8 am. And I still feel like I'm constantly on edge, like all my nerves are on high alert. But at the same time, I feel somewhat languid about the whole thing. When the New Partner came over to pressure me into doing it faster, I completely resented her for it. I'm trying my best, okay? I -do- still have work from my original team to finish up first, and my priorities lie there. If they want it so fast, then they can go spend the money and get a real analyst to do it instead of pillaging me from my team.

Overall, it's resulted in a feeling of numbness. It's like all remnants of what made me uniquely me, are gone. I operate on auto-pilot. I've lost interest in everything that I used to love. I haven't written in my journal in two weeks. I haven't spontaneously created a piece of writing in days. I've pinned my mullet back with barrettes, trying to cover the mullet-ness over with cute-ness. Not quite successful. But that's been the story of my life lately. Draft 1 of the synchronization application. Not quite successful. Trying to cover my belly rolls after lunch by buttoning my cardigan. Not quite successful. The buttons just looked strained. Trying to get a glimpse of LCM all day. Not quite successful. I think I've ceased to care about even that.

Although I have managed to attract the attention of someone else. I think I was pseudo-propositioned by the maintenance man. He knows me because he's the one who was called when I locked myself out of my laptop, and when I locked myself out of my desk as well. He remembered my name. And then asked me a series of strange questions about how late I work, whether I was working late that night, whether there were a lot of people around when I worked late, and that maybe he would stop by and say hi. I excel in the field of short greasy men. My mother would be proud.

LCM did stop by and ask me what I was doing hanging around with New Manager. I told him that I was doing some work for him, and why was he asking? "No reason. I thought maybe you guys were an item." Ha. I smirked at LCM. But inside, I was hugging myself in glee. He noticed!!!

These days, I wonder whether it's possible for the Self not to return when it's been smothered for too long. I wonder how long it is until all that makes me unique is wiped out by the hours of overtime. I wonder how resilient the Self is. You'd think it would be, considering that it's been forged out of 22 years of experience. But perhaps it's fragile, prone to change, influenced by outside factors. In such case, can corporate life completely wipe you out? Am I going to be nothing but another male-bashing female whose biological clock is ticking despite her vehement denials? Will I become nothing but another cliche?

I'm tired. I feel like I've been stretched thin and transparent. My brain is leaking out my ears. And in this sort of mood, I'm convinced that I'm never going to find happiness, in any way shape or form. Not in love, not in marriage, not in career. I say this not because I want pity, but because I've come to believe it as fact.

posted by ink| 11:14 PM |
[Monday, March 10, 2003]

Old School.

I went home last weekend. Lux came back with me. We shopped at Urban Outfitters (3 shirts for 10 bucks each!), had thai food at my favorite thai restaurant on campus, and got our hair cut. I got a baby mullet (not quite a full-grown mullet, but definitely getting there) and Lux is helmet-head. Great. I bet this will do -wonders- for our social lives. We consoled ourselves by going shopping again on Sunday. French Connection (1 pair of pants), Tommy Hilfiger (1 pair of pants, 1 cardigan, 50% off the entire store!), Benetton (2 skirts, 2 pants, 1 shirt, 75% off!!!). As is evident, I've completely broken my "No shopping till end of March" rule. I made it through all of February with my credit card bill in one piece, and in the interest of preserving what remains of my savings account, I've sworn off shopping for the rest of March. Also on our agenda was a movie. The movie of choice? Old School.

Loved the movie. Loved it. Old School has redeemed my faith in men. Vince Vaughn did it when he fended off the college girl by showing her his wedding ring. Will Ferrell did it by looking devastated when his wife wanted a divorce. Luke Wilson did it by reminding me that maybe not all the men who work with me are corporate hacks. I liked it because it reminded me of the stage where I am in my life right now. Granted, I'm not about to start a fraternity, but I understood the desperate need of Luke Wilson's co-workers to belong to a fraternity. Corporate life kinda sucks the fun out of you. I liked it because the guys in the movie are in the same weird pseudo-domestic pseudo-anti-domestic stage that I'm in right now. Vince Vaughn in a baseball cap and a baby snugglie? Hot. Vince Vaughn hooting at the college girls? Not hot. Vince Vaughn saying no to the college girl because he has a wife? Hot. Vince Vaughn yelling after her "Can I get your number anyway just in case something happens to my wife?" Just funny as hell.

The movie redeemed my faith in men because it showed me guys doing classic jerk things (something women see all the time and are all too familar with ), but then showing the inner workings beneath it (something that women never see). It made me realize that it's practically impossible for any human being to -not- want a relationship at some point. Who wants to grow old by themselves? No one likes crotchety old men besides their wives. And sometimes even their wives don't like them. That everyone's really looking for the same thing. No one wants to die alone. And this whole "let me get into her pants" thing is just a stage until the boys turn into men. Kinda like when their voices crack. I consider it a crack in polite behavior. It seems bizarre to me that everyone wants the same thing from each other in the long run, but somehow, no one can find it. Even Luke Wilson, not someone who I usually would think is cute, seemed attractive and date-able by the end of the movie. Because ultimately, what makes a guy attractive isn't height, good looks, money, or power. It's the desire to be with you. What makes a guy attractive is the fact that he isn't afraid, he doesn't care about what other people think, and he likes you. What makes a guy cute is when he's all awkward about talking to you but continues to do it anyways. What makes a guy admirable is when he persists against the odds - guys who persist deserve at the least a chance. Credit for courage. What makes a guy maddening is the fact that because he's all of these things, it's impossible to stay mad at them for long. What makes a guy completely hot is the intangibles. The way he smiles at you. The way they chatter away at you about things that you have no clue about, but you don't care. The way you can scream at each other and still be okay the next day (communication is good!). What makes a guy hot is when he can be a man about things, including you. Do away with the washboard stomachs, the nice arms, the 6 foot tall height. Who needs those? I can easily waive those in favor of everything else.

Like LCM at work. He's not on my team but he works on the team that sits beside mine. He's super grouchy, has a droopy belly, downward sloping shoulders, short legs, and a reputation for being a workaholic. But those snappy answers, the blue blue eyes, and those dimples (however rarely theyr'e shown) get me -every- time. He's so smart it makes me queasy when he sits down at my laptop to fix something. LCM is definitely not your standard definition of hot. But when he's talking and scowling at me, all I can think about is how I want to jump on him and drag him to bed. Meanwhile, I'm nodding, taking notes, asking intelligent questions, and fixing my business casual skirt. One thing for business casual, you always look proper even while thinking improper thoughts.

Hot. Guys who know what they want. Hot. Guys who aren't wishy washy. Hot. Guys, period. And it's okay to act like jerks occasionally, as long as you come through for the important things. After all, in the long run, we're going to have to get along if neither of us wants to die alone and decrepit. Earmuffs!!

Hurrah for Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and Luke Wilson!

posted by ink| 11:38 PM |
[Friday, March 07, 2003]

You and me, baby, ain't nothing but mammals.

I am exhausted at work. And I pin the blame squarely on Discovery Channel. I love Discovery Channel.

Every night I tell myself I'll go to bed early, and every night I find myself staying up, glued to the TV. Last night, it was a special on crop circles. I was completely fascinated. I imagine if I was an alien and wanted to leave messages to people on earth witout sending them into a panic, I'd see the fields of crops as blank canvases. Might as well leave my fingerprint there. Or what if Earth was like the street corner or a lamppost? And alien teenagers run by and "tag" the land with their cool graffiti designs?

posted by ink| 1:31 PM |
[Wednesday, March 05, 2003]

Remember, man, for you are dust. And unto dust you shall return.

Today marks Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

I went to church during lunch. It was hard to track down a local Catholic church, but I found one. I entered, ready to stand on the shaky legs of my faith and try to bolster it with ashes and wandering prayers. I entered, and had the most beautiful Ash Wednesday ever. It wasn't a sudden reunion with God, or a particularly good homily. It was the church itself. The building spoke to me more than God did. It spoke to me of beautiful things. It spoke to me of the future. It showed me with rainbow lights playing on the floor from the stained glass windows what life was truly about. I realized that my somewhat shaky belief in God wasn't really something that I needed to worry about. Because I believe in beauty. It's hard to find God within the cubicle walls of work or in the eyes of the homeless man on the corner. But when you're outside in Vermont looking up at the stars, or standing on a beach at night with the ocean, or sitting in a wooden pew in a singularly beautiful church, you -must- believe. Because it is entirely impossible for such gorgeous things to happen by chance.

I prayed. I prayed for myself. That I would walk down the right roads and make the right decisions. I thanked. I thanked Him for the basic things. That I had never experienced the death of a loved on. That all my body parts are in the right place and functioning. That no one in my family had any major psycho issues. That I'd managed to circumvent a lot of the potholes in life.

Mostly though, I prayed for my family. Now that I'm not near them, I worry about them a lot more. I worry that my mom will get lost on the freeway and not know how to use her cell phone to call for help. I worry that my dad will encounter racism at the DMV and no one who's bilingual will be around to help beat them down. I worry that my parents are going to kill each other now that my brother's left for college and they're on their own. I worry that my younger brother's going to become the next unabomber. He's got some worrisome symptoms.

I prayed. Because I didn't know what else to do. Because I've recently come to the realization that I can't control life. Because I can't magically make everything okay for the people I care about. I prayed, and hoped that God wouldn't notice that I was the kid who ran around and ignored Him for the past 10 years. I prayed and hoped that God wouldn't remember that I was the girl who got punished in Catholic school for starting my prayers with "Dear God. Hi." I prayed. Even though I know I didn't particularly deserve it. If I was in God's shoes, I'd laugh in my face. I prayed. Because in this mad mad world, what else -can- you do?

posted by ink| 11:28 PM |
[Monday, March 03, 2003]

Why do people send pictures of cake through the company email =(.

Feel like a zombie today.

It's one of those days where I sit with my chin in my hand and stare off into the depths of my laptop LCD. Supervisor Z. gave me a "Hi! My Name Is" sticker. Except he wrote "Space Cadet!" on it. So tired. I went down to grab a coffee. Not because I like it, but because today - it is absolutely necessary that I force down a cup of the vile stuff to make myself semi-functional for work. I got a caffe latte with a vanilla shot, added extra milk to dilute the coffee taste out, and dumped a whole lot of sugar in it for good measure. I can still taste the coffee. Yuck. I hate the sour taste it leaves in your mouth.

I also got a raspberry croissant. Brought it back to my desk and told myself I'd save it for dessert after lunch. It's strictly against co-worker Dot's diet that I'm trying to adopt. No carbs or processed sugars! she said. But, I've been good all week. I only had -one- bag of M&M's yesterday after 3 days of low fat peppermint patties! And it's not my fault I couldn't exercise... I couldn't find decent sneakers. The croissant sat on my desk and called to me, "Eat me. Eat me!! I'm good!!"

I took one nibble. Which then turned into a bite. I couldn't help the "Mmmmm...." that came from my mouth. It tasted so -right- that my mouth ached with how good it felt. The crisp flakiness, the chewy moist inside, the sweet raspberries battling and blending with the salty dough. The croissant really hit the spot. I finished it off, finger-licking good. Then I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes. So yummy. That's it. The diet's -over-. I can't deny good things from coming into my life. Good things that come in the form of pastries and cakes. People will just have to learn to love my belly.

posted by ink| 10:18 PM |
[Sunday, March 02, 2003]

Stream of Consciousness.

Thoughts in Subway.
Kissing looks like such an uncomfortable thing. Those two people's noses just squashed together and their glasses clinked against each other. What really is the pleasure of pressing lips together? Is it something that's really biologically bred in us to enjoy (sex is an evolutionary enjoyment activity) or is it merely social construct that tells us "kissing is pleasurable" and therefore we think we like it. Is there really any biological reasons for enjoying kissing? Are there more nerve endings in our lips and tongues than anywhere else? If poking someone in the eye was the accepted form of showing affection in our society, would we come to find that pleasurable too? What is the background of kissing? When did it develop? What century? Did cavemen kiss each other as well? Do monkeys kiss each other in nature? What makes someone a good kisser or not a good kisser? It can't all be emotional attachment. I didn't particularly enjoy kissing my ex-boyfriend. But it's kind of a testy subject to bring up. "Do you mind changing your kissing style?" No good can come of -that- conversation. Are matching kissing styles a sign of mate compatibility? How is your kissing style determined? It's not like you can look at magazines and "develop" a style the way you can with clothes. It must be something genetic and inbred. Does this mean I kiss like my mom? I bet there are ethical issues involved in conducting that sort of scientific study.

Look at that other couple. He's obviously infatuated with her. But she can't speak English. I wonder if he has an Asian fetish. But I suppose it's easy to fall for someone who can't speak English. It's equivalent to falling for someone over the internet. It's easy because you can make them whoever you want them to be inside your head. And if you can't speak English, then he can probably project whatever personality traits he wants on her and she'll never object. I wonder how she feels about that. Perhaps I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it's -not- Asian fetish. What is it about foreign girls who can't speak English that appeals to guys? Is it the primitive need to feel like a man? After all, if she can't speak the language, she's gotta depend on you. You are without a doubt the breadwinner. There's this theory (that my mother subscribes to) that says that men like girly girls because they like to feel needed. It speaks to the ancient caveman hunter mentality. It makes them feel more confident. That would make sense.

This is fun. Making up stories about people. It's better than the usual game I play when I'm bored - the "Would I have sex with him?" game. You run out of things to think about once you take into consideration his looks, his build, the way he carries himself, and whether he looks like he'd be good in bed or not. And if you're in a car full of women, couples, and children, you're out of luck.

posted by ink| 7:42 PM |

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