Archive | May 2013

Kiss My (Gl)Ass Ceiling: No One Likes The Office Busybody

You guys are going to love today’s guest poster, Sonia “Have Some Of My Pizza” Mansfield.  For one thing, she’s hysterical in Tina Fey-ish way.  Also, thanks to Sonia, I am not posting my own story today about the time I took a pregnancy test in my office bathroom but someone walked in on me, which was super awk for reasons that are obvious.

Remember that on Fridays we celebrate widgets and working and living the goddamn dream, so email me if you want to post that little story about how your boss borrowed your desk to snort cocaine.  (Christie.o.tate@gmail.com)

For now, kick off your shoes and check out Sonia’s strategy for getting even with the office busybody.

* * * *

Sonia Mansfield

Sonia Mansfield

Yeah, so, there are a lot of things I don’t like about working in a cubicle.

I don’t like that everyone can hear my personal phone conversations, which means I have to find a hiding spot in the building to make calls. I don’t think everyone should have to listen to me schedule a mammogram. “So, you’re getting your boob squished on Monday. That’s cool.”

I don’t like that everyone walking by can see into my cube, which really affects my ability to screw around on the internet and watch cute cat videos.

But my No. 1 complaint is there is no way for me to hide from the office busybody.

Most people in the office loathe lunchtime, because they know they are going to be quizzed about their lunch. If she hears the microwave running, she comes running.

Think you can get away with eating your lunch in peace by not warming it up? False. Even when I’m eating vegetables and hummus for lunch, she will wander into my cube: “Is that your lunch, Sonia?”

Think you can get away with eating your lunch early? Nope. Once I somehow managed to eat under the office busybody’s radar, because I ate my lunch early. I was able to eat it without being pestered. It was awesome. I was living the dream. Then, around lunchtime, I was filling up my water cup in the kitchen area, when the office busybody wandered in.

Office busybody: “Where’s your lunch, Sonia?”

Me: [sighs] “I already ate it.”

Office busybody: “Oh, you already ate it. Ha ha ha. I was wondering where your lunch was.”

Me: “Well, I didn’t mean to make you worry. You shouldn’t worry. I’m getting enough vitamins and nutrients.”

Office busybody: “?”

Me: “?” [goes back to my cube]

One time, she actually bought my lunch off me. I had bought a little half pizza at a local bakery. I had a slice (fine, two slices) for lunch and put the remaining two slices aside for the next day’s lunch.

Office busybody: “Did you get pizza, Sonia?”
Me: “Yep.”
Office busybody: “It smells good.”
Me: “Thanks.”

She left.

Five minutes later …

Office busybody: “Where did you get the pizza?”
Me: “Arizmendi.”

She proceeds to ask where it is and if she could walk there. I tell her no.

Me: “Would you like a piece?”
Office busybody: “No no.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Office busybody: “No, I couldn’t. Thank you, though.”

She left.

Five minutes later …

She’s lingering around the cube.

Me: “Are you sure you don’t want a piece?”
Office busybody: “I will pay you for it.”
Me: “You don’t need to pay for it. Don’t be silly. You can have a piece.”

There was much back and forth and finally she gave me $3 and went back to her cube with her pizza. A coworker bought lunch off of me. It’s probably the strangest conversation I’ve had with a coworker since I started working here.

After she left, my office buddy Paul said to me, “You shouldn’t have fed her. Now she’s going to follow you home.”

I have this fantasy about how I’m going to respond to her next time she asks me about my lunch, and it goes like this:

Her: “What are you eating, Sonia?”
Me: “It’s a salad. I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday. You know the parking is really terrible at the one closest to me in San Francisco, so I go to the one in Daly City. There is plenty of parking at that one. So, I found a spot right away and parked my car. It’s a Saturn. You know, they don’t make Saturns anymore. True story. So anyway, the spot was kinda far, though, so I had to walk a few minutes to the store. It was kinda cold out. I was thinking, ‘Gosh, I should have worn a warmer jacket.’ I should be wearing a warmer coat, I mean, it’s January, right? So anyway, when I got into the store, I got a cart, and wouldn’t you know it, the cart has a broken wheel, so I had to get another cart.  So, I got another cart, and then I noticed someone else was about to grab the cart I put back so I said, ‘Oh, don’t take that one. It’s got a broken wheel.’ I thought it was a friendly heads up, but the person didn’t thank me. I know, right?! So anyway, I went to the produce section first. I always like to start in the produce section, don’t you? So I got some lettuce and some broccoli and some carrots and some blueberries. I had the blueberries for breakfast. You ever eat a blueberry and it tastes like dirt? I hate when that happens. So anyway, after the produce section I went to the cheese section. I love cheese, don’t you? Cheese is so awesome. I didn’t know what kind of cheese I wanted so I just bought a bunch of different kinds and … Hey, where are you going? I haven’t got to the part where I picked out the salad dressing. Gawd! If you don’t want to know all about my lunch then don’t ask!”

* * * *

Sonia Mansfield is a recovering newspaper editor who now works as an online content and social media marketing manager. She lives in San Francisco with her mighty, mighty good husband, David, her little spawn, Calvin, and her wiener dog, Homer. She enjoys writing, drinking beer, watching baseball, eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations and making nerdy “Simpsons” and “Star Wars” references. You can read her blog at http://www.thesoniashow.com/, follow her on Twitter @thesoniashow., and if you like her, you can like her on Facebook, too.

Whither Preschool Graduation?

I’ve been laughing at with people on Facebook for years. For lots of different reasons.  It’s been extra hilarious to laugh at my friends posting pictures of their children’s preschool and kindergarten “graduations.”  Because ha ha ha how ree-dick is it to ceremonialize these moments?

Image credit: www.zazzle.co.uk

Image credit: www.zazzle.co.uk

As recently as March, I was snickering at someone who was waxing philosophically about the transition from junior kindergarten to senior kindergarten.

But now I am not laughing.  I’m holding a fully charged video camera and an iPhone desperate for some Instagrams of my own graduate and there’s nothing to take a picture of.

My first year as a parent to a school-aged child is winding down, so based on my reality which is shaped by Facebook and Twitter, I assumed I should prepare for some pomp and some circumstance.  I was rolling my eyes thinking about it, but I was prepping emotionally for the end-of-year festivities.

Turns out that not much is happening for my three-year old who is graduating from her first year of preschool.  Her school is acting like it’s no big deal to move from a three-year-old classroom to a four-year-old classroom.  What the what?  There’s no certificate, no ceremony, no nada.  There’s not even a sheet cake from Costco.  Tomorrow I’ll pick her up and we’ll go home for the summer.

*Yawn*

What was the point? Why did we bother showing up day after day if the end of the year was never going to culminate in a giant trophy or a crown or something ceramic?

To be fair, there was a preschool night a few weeks ago that allowed us to oooh and ahhh over Sadie’s extensive “portfolio,” consisting of leaves gathered in the fall, pictures colored around the holidays, and flowers painted this spring.  I confess there was a slide show.  When they turned out the lights, I clutched a tissue, ready to catch the tears that would fall for my grief about the inevitable passage of time.  Unfortunately, I never needed the tissue because I was too busy trying to find Sadie in the pictures.  I damn near suffered an aneurism from all the squinting.

That was a nice evening of celebration, but it wasn’t a graduation.

This year, I’m not going to get to post that triumphant picture of myself with my little graduate.  I’m going to have to wait until she’s four or even FIVE (gasp!) to have those iconic moments.

To ease the pain, I’m buying my own 3-foot by 4-foot sheet cake to celebrate.  The inscription? Congratulations, Graduate.

(You know what I really wanted to call this post? Where the fuck is my preschool graduation?  I didn’t because I am trying not to cuss and clean-mouth living is starting to gain traction.)

Bedtime For Bonzos

We turn out the main light and flip on the closet light, signaling the start of our bedtime routine. Then, I tell two stories– one must feature bubble gum and one must be a super-special extra surprise story that she has never heard ever in her whole life.

photo (22)

I do my best to make up enchanting bubble gum tales and then I fumble around piecing together a story that has an original, age-appropriate narrative arc. I avoid Disneyesque themes and steer clear of a physical description of my heroine other than to say she is brave, kind-hearted, strong, and hilarious.

I like to play with my daughter’s curls as they fan out over her pillow.  If she’s wide awake, she’ll bat my hand away.  “No, Mama,” in the tone that suggest that her teenage years will drive me to lots of extra therapy.  If she is spent from a day of planning her birthday party or listing her favorite colors, she’ll let me twist the curly ends around my finger as I sing her a song.

Her latest request is that I sing her songs that, like the stories I tell, she’s never heard.  I’ve run through every church song, the Willie Nelson canon (which took weeks), and the soundtracks of Grease, Sound of Music and Wizard of Oz.  I’ve taken to making up songs which sound like really bad junior high poetry set to the tune of a tone-deaf beginning grammar school band, which is all awful, but they seem to lull her to sleep.

When her blinks lengthen into closed eyes, I move into my spoken word segment.  It’s my favorite part, and it always makes me cry.

I’m grateful you are my daughter.  I’m so blessed to be your Mama.

Sometimes she stirs, and I fall silent.

You did a great job being you today.  Everything you did today counts.  You’re loved beyond your own comprehension.  You are going to outgrow this world and create new ones. 

You are full of color and life and gratitude.

You have gifts to share with this world. 

She may remember this one day and think I was talking to her.  And I am.  But I am also talking to myself, hoping we can learn together.

On Being Myself : The Real Me Project Faces The Ex-Girlfriend Test

I was done feeling like I had to be someone I’m not or apologize for not driving a giant fancy foreign car or not having a basement full of deluxe toys.  The first year of preschool broke me down, and I was D-O-N-E with the “I’m not enough” show.

Standing at the reception for the new school we’ll start in the fall, I realized it was impossible for me to be anyone besides myself.  I was willing to “meet and greet”, but the only person I was introducing as myself was the real deal me.

Once I decided that, of course the universe started to fuck with me, because the universe and I? We have a very dysfunctional relationship.

“My husband is in neuroscience and I teach doctoral classes in linguistics,” a mother with kind eyes and worn clogs said.  The old me would have sized her up as a mega smarty pants and then played up my intellectual side with a comment about Kant or supply-side economics.  Old me would have definitely worked in the fact that I have both a Master’s degree and a JD.

In other words, old me was a douche insecure.

But new me was at the helm so I said something else.  “My husband is over there talking to his ex-girlfriend we just ran into randomly by the lemonade, so this is totally awkward, but funny awkward, not darkly awkward as it would be if it was one of my ex’s.”

Worn clogs and gigantic IQ mom laughed.  “I could see how that would be awkward,” she sympathized.

Fuck Kant– what did he know about preschool receptions and ex-girlfriends?  I had just laid eyes on a woman with incredible hair and darling children who was my immediate predecessor.  Damn if I wasn’t going to talk it through with anyone who would listen.

Suddenly, I saw my 2-year old dive into a pool of mud.  “Excuse me,” I sputtered and walk-ran across the lawn.  I tried not to notice how Jeff’s conversation was going.  Is there a classy way to interrupt their conversation to let her know that Jeff and I have tons and tons of sex? I wondered.

Douche me wanted to ditch the real me bullshit and go for some hard-core image management.

“It’s nice to meet you,” I said when I finally met her.  We engaged in innocuous banter about neighborhoods and traffic patterns.  I never found an opening for a description of my fictitious strenuous love life or for little vignettes designed to assure myself her that I was sophisticated but down-to-earth, smart but approachable, and secure but not cocky.

We were swept into different conversation streams before I could fail at my resolution to be authentic in all situations (including those involving my husband’s ex).

As the party dissipated, I gathered up my muddy children.  Then, I had a moment of clarity as I took a mental snapshot of my life:  I saw my two kids fighting over a balloon in our mini van that has enough crumbs in it to feed a small sub-Saharan nation.  I saw my husband squinting at the GPS to find the best route home.  I smelled that my son probably just crapped his pants after I got him settled in his seat.  I saw a grass stain on my favorite skirt.

All of this is yours, real me pointed out.  This is what you get for being yourself.

Why the hell would I be anyone else?

Nightmare Jobs = Preparation for Parenthood (Kiss My (Gl)Ass Ceiling Vol. 2)

Greetings workers of the world!  It’s time for another installment of the women at/on/in work series.  Today, we will hear from Kelly, who blogs at My Twice Baked Potato.  How better to celebrate the job you are in than shirking your duties to read what Kelly has to say about nightmare jobs?  (I’m pretty sure your boss wants you to follow your heart on this one.)

Image credit: ewdeal.feri.org/library/i54.htm

Image credit: ewdeal.feri.org/library/i54.htm

Feel free to email me if you want to tell a story about your supervisor making you pick up his genital wart cream or your client who asked you to launder his money.  Embezzlers, widget makers, prison wardens, cafeteria workers…come one, come all.  (Send me your post at christie.o.tate@gmail.com)

This is a safe place.

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Lessons from the Nightmare Jobs by Kelly

When I saw Outlaw Mama was hosting a share-your-craziest-job-experiences- series, I knew that I wanted in on the action!

The summer before college, I worked for a friend at a bakery.  Not long after starting, I hated my beanie hat and puffy-sleeved dress that initially I thought I rocked!  I had “bakery talk” that was stuck in my head no matter what was ordered.  I remember a man asked for a BLT and I responded with my usual “Would you like lettuce and tomato with that?” As you can imagine, the man thought I was an idiot.  My biggest bakery blunder was when a woman ordered six chocolate croissants and I asked if she wanted them for here or to go? The look on her face told me that she thought I was being sarcastic and mocking her bigger-boned figure. The truth of the matter was…I just wasn’t good at the job.

The next summer, I decided that I was going to make “big bucks” working for a temporary agency.  Although I didn’t enjoy being referred to as “The Temp,” I tolerated the job because if anything got too miserable, it was short-lived.  Once, I spent three days scouring newspapers to compare ads for tire companies.

The end of my temp days came when I was placed at a technology company to work the phones.  Looking back, I might have exaggerated my phone experience.   I thought “How hard could it be?”  I had been selected to man the phones while the entire company attended their employee picnic.  Not long after I sat down, the phones started.  Each time I answered the phone, I knew how to begin the conversation, but it was apparent that I did not know what I was doing nor did I understand anything about the business.  Let’s just say this…if you left a message in 1987 for someone at a tech company in Washington and they said they never got it…they’re telling the truth.

The next summer was the real nightmare job!  I got a job in a warehouse filling snack boxes and walked in sporting a pink polo with the collar turned up and matching pink moccasins.  I expected to meet great friends…but instead, was met with less than enthused employees that looked mighty tough compared to my normal crowd.  I was put on an assembly line where I was responsible for filling two rows of the box with M&Ms, Skittles, Corn Nuts, Kit Kats, and Fat Freddie beef sticks. I was extremely slow and the rest of the crew did not tolerate it.  Repeatedly they screamed at me as my boxes were shoved off the end of the conveyor belt.  Imagine a Lucy and Ethel experience except it was just me…without my Ethel.  At break time, the group flew down the street on their Harleys to buy energy drinks, cigarettes, and legalized speed at the corner 7-11.  I sat in my Ford Escort crying and choking down lunch.  After lunch, they decided to really have fun with me.  I was told to unpack the back of a truck and put all of the pop into another truck.  After what seemed like a lifetime, I single-handedly completed the task.  Shortly after, one of the gang informed me that I had unpacked the wrong truck and that I would have to put it all back.  The final straw came when I was handed an ordinary kitchen broom and told to sweep the warehouse.  Needless to say…I didn’t return the next day.

As horrendous as those jobs were, I think that those skills help me as a parent! I communicate with my son “meaning what I say and saying what I mean” in a way that I didn’t do in the bakery!  I can think on my feet much better now than during the phone fiasco!  Finally, I now face jobs that initially might seem too big to handle, but I can break down the tasks into smaller bits which I couldn’t do on the assembly line.

So thank you nightmare jobs…I didn’t know it then, but you helped me be the mother that I am today!

* * * *

Kelly from My Twice Baked Potato BIO:

At 12 years old, Kelly started babysitting; however, her first “real” job was when a neighbor approached her to help with a “business opportunity.”  Kelly was excited about this new responsibility and took her door to door work very seriously.  The only problem was that after Kelly completed the job, her neighbor said that she wasn’t paying her because she had offered Kelly a “volunteer opportunity.” To this day, Kelly’s mother will still look the other way if she sees that neighbor coming out of the grocery store!

Today, Kelly is a mother, blogger, writer, and working elementary teacher.  She started her blog (http://mytwicebakedpotato.com) as a way of educating others about twice-exceptional children. Although her son doesn’t share all of her interests (entertaining, Twitter, and reality TV), they share a love of games, animals, and staying in fancy hotels.

My Rejected “Listen To Your Mother” Piece: Celebrating Rage

LTYM-logo

I was dying to join the Listen To Your Mother (“LTYM”) cast in Chicago.  I watched the announcements and sent in my piece after vetting it through my husband and close writer friends.  When I got an audition, I jumped for joy and ate some extra pudding.  Honestly, it was a thrill to show up and read my piece for the producers.

When I wasn’t selected for the cast, they sent me a very nice rejection email that encouraged me to try again next year.  I certainly plan to do that.  I had a little cry of disappointment, bought some new nail polish, and soldiered forth.

Then, May hit and half of my Facebook feed was LTYM updates EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I could see from the pictures and the posts that those women were doing some serious bonding.  Actually, it looked like healing, rejoicing and exalting.

Man, I was getting a vicarious hit off it.   As I read the “wrap up” posts from Sellabit Mum and Erin Margolin and over at Zebra Garden, I realized that I now have a bucket list.  My bucket list has one item on it: join a LTYM cast.  I am so grateful for the inspiration from the women who are posting about it.  You’ve got coattails and I’ve got talons, so I’m gonna affix myself to your coattails and ride them all the way to the microphone.  Some day.

In the meantime, I edited (heavily) my piece and sent it out into the world.  Next year, I’ll have to bring something new to the table– something fresher, deeper, funnier, wiser.  Hell, I don’t know because if I did, I woulda brought it this year and this post would be about the amazing time I had being in LTYM.

In any case, my post was about celebrating my daughter’s (and my own) rage.  The kind folks over at the Huffington Post gave it some wings, so click here if you care to read it.  (Also, I am sure tons of nasty commenters will skewer me, so that might be a fun read.)

6 Summer Style Trends That Can Suck It

Oh, Summer Fashion Style, you are such a damn vixen.  Also?  Fuck you. 

Too harsh? Well, I am pissed.  I live in Chicago, and I’ve waited approximately 9 freezing months to frolic in the elements without the casing of a down coat.  But now, here comes summer and the siren call of all the summer styles that either don’t work for me or shouldn’t work for me as I round the bend and stare down my fortieth year of life.

Not worth tucking in my breasts for (image credit: www.Victoriassecret.com)

Not worth tucking in my breasts (image credit: http://www.Victoriassecret.com)

Here are the Top 6 trends that I battle every single year.  They didn’t work last year and they aren’t going to work this year.  Step away, Outlaw Mama, this is not meant for you.

  1. Jean Jacket: I want one.  Don’t judge me; I swear I’m not planning to wear it with jeans.  In 2004, I bought one from J. Crew and then gave it away because OMG, who wears jean jackets?  In 2005, I bought one from the Gap, and then gave it away soon thereafter, because OMG, I did it again, who wears jean jackets?  Every.  Single. Year.  I want one to wear with gladiator sandals (which I don’t own) and a flowy linen skirt (which will make me look like Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company.)  In my mind’s eye this is a must-have, but I know it’s not right.  Jean Jacket fantasy, I just can’t quit you.
  2. Super Short Shorts: *Sigh*  Every year I find myself locked in a dressing room with a stack of short shorts.  Maybe black will work? Maybe the pink ones?  Good Lord take those short white shorts off before I get sick!  My thighs do lots of great things, like support me when I’m trying to avoid contact with a public potty.  They don’t, however, look great in shorty shorts because of what I’ll call their ample proportion.
  3. Cray Cray Nail Polish Colors: Oh the fun colors peeking out from everyone’s sandals!  Bright cerulean blues and sunflower yellows.  Once I get them on my toes, though, it’s bad.  Not only does it make my legs look extra pasty white, but I simply can’t pull it off.  Instead of looking carefree and whimsical, I look like someone who can’t let go of her youth.  (And I can’t, but it let go of me a few years ago when it dropped me on my ass. In a ditch. While I was wearing a jean jacket.)
  4. Light Cotton Tank Tops With Built-In Bra: I’ve been falling for this one since before I became a nursing mom.  Like my thighs, my breasts can do lots of wonderful stuff– like nourish two babies and serve as pillows for my family members– but they can’t stay tucked in a bra sewn into a t-shirt.  Not gonna happen. 
  5. Maxi dress: Here’s the part where I throw my breasts under the bus for a second time in one post.  Look, retailers, this look won’t work for me especially if you have gathered this little number at the waist.  See, that little gathering is where my breasts end so I have to tuck them into your waistline thing.  I’m sorry for the garish visual, but that’s how it goes down for me.  Literally.  I am not wearing clothing that requires me to tuck my breasts in.  I have some dignity.
  6. Platform sandals: I’ve already fallen for this once this year.  I thought if I bought sandals that were only two inches high, I’d be able to partake in the summer tradition of wearing “chunky sandals.”  Instead, I took part in the summer tradition of falling on your ass when your son throws you a frisbee and you are wearing shoes that are not equipped to allow for a quick pivot to the left.

Don’t get me started on the super-extra-ultra-neon crap that is all over the place.  I already have a headache, why do I need migraine jeans to take me to the next level?