March 26, 2008

This just in...

So, just had my performance review. After only being with the company since July, I'm getting both a slight raise AND a small, but nice bonus. Yippee! Drinks on me at the pub, folks.

[Edited to add: he also mentioned that he wants me to get presentation training. He sees me on track to become a creative director within our company and wants me to increase my department leadership.]

Came out of that meeting and was pulled into another one with Ms. High-Intensity who heads up our end of the show on which I'm working. She just got off a call with the client. Ms. High-Intensity said they said it's no reflection on me, has nothing to do with me or my design work, but they are taking the design of the entire show internal. The client stated that I'd hit the mark with all the Look/Feel they signed off on, but with the whole "Let's re-do it" thing, they can't figure out what they want, so they can't give me feedback. We just don't have time for the game of design telephone. So, I have to put together all the specs on all the files I have, pass them along and then wait for whatever they send back. I get to be the production artist for 'my' show. Sigh. No portfolio pics for me now! Honestly, I'm fine. If the client wants to create their own hell, I'm glad they are the one's who have to pay the dues.

Hey, my whole weekend just opened up!

I emailed Jrex about it. Loved his response:

"WTF?!?!? Are they really as incompetent as they look?

At least life gets a bit better for you now and hey, they can’t take back your raise, can they? You’ve got great Monopoly mojo to get both the “get a raise” and “get out of hell” card. Hmmmm.....may I rub your belly or something to get some o’ yo’ awesome smackin’ mojo? ;^)"


I've got a post waiting about our weekend. The photos are on my home computer, ready to upload... Short version: it was wonderful. Great to get away and focus on each other and doing fun things.

Then I came back and did an all nighter Monday night to try to get this Look/Feel Redux going. I was fine yesterday, but today I feel I've been hit by a truck. I have NO creative juice in me. Ugh.

One of my joys in life is finding people who are good at verbal tennis. Yesterday at work, while in the break room, one of my coworkers came in. A week ago, we'd gone back and forth on a design for a form she needed. I saw her and smiled, "So, you have everything you need from me at this point?"

She grinned and nodded.

In mock chagrin, I shook my head, "You got what you wanted and now that's it? I see how it is. (Sigh) You don't write, you don't call."

She laughed and as she walked back out, threw over her shoulder, "I think it's better this way."

March 19, 2008

Truth is worse than fiction

One of my friends from my women's group last year ended up getting hired at my company. Now we walk that strange line of being coworkers with a friendship that started outside of work, but has diminished as we function in busy, parallel spheres at work.

Two days ago she emailed that she wouldn't be in the office. I heard from someone else at work that her husband had an accident. She called me yesterday and the first thing I asked was, "How is your husband?" She seemed startled, "How did you find out about him? . . . That's weird. Oh, you must have seen my posting on Facebook." I just let it slide because that seemed better than her being freaked about people gossiping about her in the office. For some reason I assumed he'd been in a car accident. I guess, given the traffic around this area, that's a logical assumption.

It's much worse.

He was cleaning a vase. A four-foot tall vase. Which imploded. Both hands got sliced badly, the tendons to both thumbs were severed and the nerves were cut. He has hand surgery tomorrow and will be unable to do anything for three months. He can't even clean up after he goes to the bathroom without help! This feels like one of those horrible stories you read about in the newspaper and then chat about with co-workers. "Could you imagine? How awful!" Yet it's someone I know having to deal with this. I've never met her hubby and am not sure where they live. I know I should offer to help, right? Any ideas?

My two big fears are going blind or losing my hands. I keep thinking about him and what he must be going through.

March 17, 2008

I think I need the next month off...

It was SO good to get away and see my family. I got back to work by 12:30 today and the insanity started right away. I'm already exhausted again. And frustrated. And mildly depressed.

Remember how one of the other designers in the department was doing a parallel show? How I was nervous about that dynamic? Well, no longer! They're pulling her off of it and hiring the woman I replaced to pick up the slack. Yeah, Design Guru used to work for my company and left to do freelance work. She is now going to work full-time on this silly one-day conference. However, she can't start for a few days. So, in the lull before the rest of the hurricane that is the show I'm working on, I have to fix everything that our other designer did wrong (in the eyes of this persnickity client).

Does that sound convoluted? It's still not as twisted as all this feels in real life. I feel like I'm trapped in version of Survivor or Big Brother. Like I'm in all these weird alliances where I can't tell the others what's really going on. Everyone tells me their confidential stuff and I dump it all on Jrex, but have to play weird games at work. It's SO lame.

I still liked Jrex's response to my client's insanity: "Hmmm...might I suggest a nice pair of shoes? Something in fresh cement? I hear the view at the bottom of the Bay is really nice this time of year..."

March 13, 2008

I found out yesterday that I'm in the eye of the storm. The eye, you ask? Well, I'm sworn to secrecy. Our client is afraid some of this might leak out and the world as we know it might end. I'll tell you details when I can. The short version is that yesterday the Account Exec pulled me aside to tell me that I might have to redo the entire look and feel of this whole show. The show that opens in 8 weeks. The show where were about to okay production. The show I worked hard to run smoothly, to cause our vendors the least amount of pain, and get sign-off so we could be ahead of the curve. The show that was starting to glide toward the finish line. Imagine fighting your way through some category 2 winds, then finding out that that wasn't the storm, it was the warm up. Now you have two weeks to do what you did in three months!! Oh wait, it gets better. The. Client. Has. Not. Yet. Approved. The. Thing. On. Which. I. Am. Supposed. To. Base. My. Design. So, full stop, don't move ahead, AND, wait, let me take those oars from you. OK. Looks good. We'll let the Category 5 storm start now. Have fun!

So I took today to 'work from home', sort of a preemptive comp day. Sadly, I actually am doing some work from home. Tomorrow though, I'm on my way to Seattle! To play with my niece and nephew. I'm sure my sister is under some sad delusion that I might chat with her, or that my brother thinks I'll show up to say hello in the bar he tends. Ha! Will be crawling around making animal noises and making cute blond kids laugh at me.

So I'm actually thrilled that the Lord nudged me to go to Seattle this coming weekend. I'm glad He knew that I should enjoy the eye. And I will.

If any of you become important executives in a company, please, please don't make big decisions without A) planning ahead, or B) thinking of the impact downstream to hundreds of people. Don't just work off a nice little theory in your nice office with a view and not realize you're being an ASS! I used to find Dilbert annoying. Overblown, silly, petty and bitter. Times have changed...

March 8, 2008

Do these Girl Scout cookies make my butt look big?

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I find that 40 seems to work for me. Each year I look around at my life and find the one thing that's begun to dominate my time or my thinking, and give that up for Lent.

One year it was TV. I'd reached the point where Jrex would come home from work and I wouldn't go say hi and would get pissy when he came to the TV room to say hello to me, "Wait 'til ____ is over!" I saw that and thought, "Hmm...warped? Yes. Acceptable? No." So I just stopped watching it. Ever since, it hasn't had the same hold over my time.

Another year I gave up novels. Read lots of magazines, watched lots of movies, but no novels. With that one, I'd reached a state where I read a novel every day or two. My job was boring, the computer files I worked with were huge, and my computer didn't have enough RAM. I'd read as a file opened, as I applied a filter, changed a color or saved. I saved frequently!

The hardest year was the one where I gave up all forms of media. I decided that for 40 days, the only thing I would read was the Bible. I didn't watch movies or TV either. I know I'm supposed to tell you it's my favorite book and how much I love it, but it's just not true. I usually read to get away from my life and reading the Bible is NOT brain-dead reading.

This year, I gave up sweets. I'd started going by the receptionist's desk just to raid her chocolate stash. Anything that was brought into the department, I 'had' to eat. I 'had' to have chocolate and pecans for dessert. I 'deserved' that sweet snack. On and on. In many ways this has been my least constructive fast: I'm breaking a habit, but not really altering my character much. However, it's been the most public one. Someone at work bought 30 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to help out her niece. They've been EVERYWHERE. All the people in my department know I've given up sweets for Lent. We eat together too often for me to get away with not eating sweets 'just because'. At meeting after meeting, the Girl Scout cookies are on the table and one of the other Creatives is laughing at me because I look so wistful.

It's been an interesting conversation starter. I'm sure most people assume I'm Catholic. The truth is, I'm following my Mom's footsteps and being a magpie of traditions. Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines and I've seen how powerful it can be. The 'season of Lent' has become a convenient time to reconfigure my character.

I must say, Easter and the eruption of LIFE has taken on a whole new level of joy since I started my Lenten 'celebration'. Usually by Easter I can receive back the thing I gave up as a gift instead of demanding it as a 'right'. I tell ya, that box of Thin Mints in the freezer is sounding like a mighty fine gift! ;-)

March 6, 2008

The Morning Routine

Caltrain bike train

Every morning I hear the horn of the express train and rush around to finish my routine, run downstairs, fling myself on my bike and speed down the long block to the train station. There are five minutes between the express and the local train and I'm always late. CalTrain runs between San Jose and San Francisco. The trains are double-deckers and the bike car is the northernmost car in the train. I stand on the platform panting among the other bikers as the train pulls in. We wait for the passengers to get off, watch seven to ten bikers wrest themselves from the train, wait for Menlo passengers to board, then start lifting our bikes into the train. There are almost always one or two male bikers who try to be polite and let me go ahead. It's a nice gesture, but wastes time. I wave them ahead, "I'm getting off at the next stop, go!" The doors are usually closing as I barely make it into the train.

Tthere is usually a log-jam in the bike train. People try to rack their bikes in reverse order for who is getting off first. I don't even bother to put my bike away, and usually don't even bother to try to get into the bike train at all. I wait in the 'hall' between the two cars and end up chatting with the train conductors. I'm getting to know the ones who are bikers and love to tell me what equipment I should add to my bike, the fun guy who likes to tell me stories of other passengers and the strict ones who don't want to talk at all. I'm often asked why I bother to ride the train, why not bike the whole way? It saves me five miles of riding on one of the busiest roads in the area. Instead I take the train one stop, get off, take back roads through a middle-class Hispanic neighborhood (where a cute 2-bedroom/1-bath goes for 'only' $580,000). I venture onto a busy road for only five-hundred yards and then veer off onto a bike path.

I breathe deep as I pedal along a newly-laid bike path with a national wetland on my right. There's almost always a snowy egret poised over a rivulet waiting to pounce on fish. Various bands of migrating birds paddle through the water or walk with delicate steps through the shallows. This morning a red-wing blackbird sang at me as I passed. Sparrows dart ahead of me and zip through the chain-link fence. It's much easier to start the day after that brief five minute reminder that the world is bigger than me and all the silly deadlines I have at work.

March 4, 2008

Back and Slammed already

Thursday through Saturday was my uncle's funeral. I'm so glad I went. I love my family. I usually feel like a fairly unique individual, but then I get in a room full of my 7 aunts and many female cousins and find out I'm one of a tribe. We're all gregarious, opinionated, intense, randomly thoughtful and randomly oblivious, loyal and full of laughter--despite life's hardships. I was reminded that our roots are in farms and ranches as we cleared my aunt's property of broken tree branches. There was an ice storm in December and her huge yard looked like there'd been a tree massacre. One of my uncles, Uncle Strong Silent, wielded a chainsaw like an extension of his arm. My cousins and other uncle split wood with an ax like they'd done that for years. Aunt Ruby tore around the yard on her John Deere rider mower with little kids in her lap. I felt like SUCH a city girl as I tottered around behind a wheelbarrow full of branches. I must admit, it was easy to choose to take my assignment as a documentary photographer MUCH more seriously than I really needed to!

On Sunday we hosted our supper club. That meant mad cleaning all afternoon. Then work hit me between the eyes. It's 8:50 pm and I'm about to head home. Yikes! I keep thinking it will all slow down, but so far, not so much.

It's weird here at work, but much more pleasant without Stressed Eeyore sitting next to me. We all keep commenting how we feel guilty for feeling so relieved, but life feels more simple now. I can take breaks and chill out with my team. Chat when I want to (probably why I'm still at work!)

Anyway, I have more profound thoughts rambling around about the redemption of a man and the reminder that true change IS possible, but no brain power to put words on that. Just wanted to let you all know I'm still alive.