Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Corner Office

I see around me (above me, actually) women who are my age--and younger--who are climbing the corporate ladder. They're in those offices (doors in cubicle-land!) with those vague titles (Senior Manager, Director) and sometimes I wonder if that shouldn't be me. Should I be more focused on the career? What derailed me?

I can't blame on kids--I took 6 weeks off (or, as my boss said SIX WEEKS OFF?) in the early 90's before Kevin and I were married. I was living in Chicago and burned out from the weekly travel. The last job was a soul-sucking consulting position in DC and I remember hating hating hating that corporate apartment.

But did I get off-track before then? When I was in Dallas, I was working for a now-defunct small company with some seriously dysfunctional management. One of my favorite examples of their true idiocy was when there was a shakeup in the management of the training department. I was one of the 5 or so trainer/instructor/slide-flipping monkeys and our boss finally flipped out and quit. I think he tried to quit the company, but they managed to talk him out of that--for about 20 minutes. So he's out. This happens over the weekend, and on Monday we're called into a meeting and informed he's out and another trainer has been designated as the new department head. Okay, I think, mentally placing bets on how long he'll last, and tune out the rest of the meeting.

On the way out, the president of the company (the one really responsible for the previous head's departure) says to me, "We tried to call you this weekend." Oh, says clueless me, I didn't get a message--what did you want?

"We were looking for a new department head, but you didn't answer the phone."

It takes me a good 5 minutes to figure out what he meant. Five long, standing in the hallway, head-scratching minutes. (I had to confirm it with a very bizarre follow-up conversation--if I had answered the phone, I would have been the department head.)

This, I thought to myself, was bullshit. I had seen this company chew up and spit out a number of really talented people, and I had worked enough places in my nascent career to know it wasn't unusual.

I think this is when I decided that chutes were more fun than ladders.

Another reason why I might not make it up very far on the corporate ladder even if I tried? Sometimes, I just can't stop myself. Now, I like and respect the guy who got the position. Every once in a while I'd feel resentment that I hadn't picked up the phone, but for the most part I realized that I'd dodged a bullet--this was a job no one could succeed in. So before our first official department meeting, I got the new head a present. Something to commemorate his promotion.

My inaugural gift to the new department-head designee was a copy of "Managing for Dummies". It still makes me laugh to this day.


Schroedinger's Cat

A friend told me that her child was undergoing a test that I've had done, but she was staying in complete denial. Denial is a great place--it's where the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. I (as I've said before) want to be surprised, utterly and completely. I want to be able to never see it coming before it hits me over the head.

My longest and most deliberate visit to Denial-ville was right before I was officially re-diagnosed, after the PET scan and manual exam showed something 'suspicious'. I latched on to the excuses offered up by the doctor as to why the scans and exams were showing something. Maybe I had the flu--the totally asymptomatic kind. Maybe it was the yoga I was doing! Nothing could dissuade me; in my mind it was all going to work out fine. I even thought that maybe the test results had been switched! The alternative was too terrifying, that if it had come back I would have to have a bone marrow transplant. And it ended up that it did come back, but I didn't have to have the transplant, so I saved myself some worrying.

My friend's trip to Denial-ville was even more productive--her daughter ended up not having the test because whatever it was resolved itself. Here's to Denial-ville!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

San Francisco Sidewalk Graffiti

My love of 80's pop, San Francisco politics, and sidewalk graffiti meet! Someone stenciled the sidewalks of San Francisco with these 7 images on 7 consecutive sidewalk squares. I've seen them in two locations in our neighborhood, but I'm sure they're in plenty of other places, too.

I play along with the charade

There doesn't seem to be a reason to

You know I feel so dirty

When they start talking cute

I wanna tell her that I love her

But the point is probably moot. I wish that I had

Jessie's girl


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rice without the White

My new job is rolling out a new software development process at a large corporation. Something I've done before, which they think gives me 'experience', but I know it really gives me 'instant cynicism'. I'm sitting in a meeting where the right-hand man to the bigwig is being walked through the process. He says he just wants to see what documentation has to be produced. We give the standard answer--the process is more than just the documentation produced--but he's having none of it. He doesn't even appreciate my Dwight D. Eisenhower quote, "The plan is nothing. Planning is everything."

So my colleague puts up the list of documents so we can go through them one by one. And have someone who's never done this before tell us what can be ignored. Here's how it went.

"That looks like a lot of documents. My boss, well, she doesn't like so many documents. Can't they be combined?"

We explain that each document is to be completed by a different area--business, technology, etc.

"It's still a lot. Those two have similar names, so combine them. Then combine the last three--better yet, let's just put them all into one document."

Uhhhhh, okay. Is that really what you want?

"Yes. This is what we need here at XYZ corp."

Okey-dokey. Let's go over what's in these documents, uh, I mean, what's in this ONE document.

"Wait--how are you going to manage all these different authors from different areas? Who's going to own the document? We're going to have to split these up by area."

Do you know what I get paid for? Keeping a straight face.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ladies Night(s)

I went to Las Vegas with the girls this weekend, and I suppose when we stop going out and drinking and dancing we'll have to stop calling ourselves girls. But not this trip!

Things I wish I'd said to the airport security guy who made me take off my sweater and go back through the metal detector again in just a camisole:
-Show me yours first
-Okay, but it wil cost extra to take off my pants
-Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

And then there was the Spanish-speaking flight attendant who was trying to explain to an elderly Asian couple that they couldn't sit in the Exit row if they couldn't understand English well enough to follow emergency instructions--BUT SHE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO SAY IT IN ENGLISH. So she had to get another flight attendant to translate. The couple wisely moved--they were in front of me in the security line, and spoke perfect English--and I was rather surprised that EVERYONE in the exit row didn't as to be reseated at that point.


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