Not Today

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Today isn’t going well. Sure on the exterior is look s fine. I’m dressed and at least minimally presentable as a professional adult. I showed up on time, or at least close to it, I have my work, I am pretending to perform my work (I’m really writing this).

Under the surface I have a dull and muted sense of defeat. Where it came from I have no idea.  It’s one of those days were all the small and insignificant things go wrong one after the other. I forgot to make lunch, I’m out of cat food, the button on my last pair of clean pants is missing, I have no matching socks, the kitten chewed the cord on my straightening iron, I’m out of gas, I can’t find my wallet in my bag, my tires are low on air. Fuck it! I just want to drive to work.

I would really like to crawl back into bed pull the covers over my head and sleep for a few more hours. But that isn’t going to happen, so I’ll settle for driving. Just drive. But what should have been simple turned into a 40 minute delay. Damn it!

So now I’m at my desk, I’ve had my coffee, I participated in a conference call, I was pleasant but for the most part silent. My give a shit has broken down. You are out of supplies? I don’t care. You are missing paperwork? I don’t care. Do I have anything? Yes I do and I need it by next Monday. The answer? OK, I’ll get you something. I want to scream that a vague reply of “something” simply won’t suffice and I need details, but I don’t care.

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I’m hungry and have access to food. Food I usually enjoy, but I don’t want to eat. I’m just not interested. It would take too much effort. And what’s the point? In a few hours I’ll just be hungry again. Might as well wait a few hours and see if food is more appealing then. I can’t even muster the motivation to reflect upon why I don’t care. I don’t care enough to warrant the effort.  

Today I am a pile of flesh taking up space and wasting precious time. Perhaps I will look back and be angry of all the increments of time that passed, moments of limitless opportunity that I squandered. I probably will, but not today.

 

VWW- Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

  1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
  2. an expression of thanks
  3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.

That is the Merriam Webster definition of Thanksgiving. However, in the USA we treat it less of a day of gratitude and more of an expression of all the things that are detestful about American culture. I know that seems harsh, but let’s break it down.

First there is the food. Not only is it a prim example of how much abundance we have but also the level of gluttony we are capable of performing. And it’s a point of pride. We gather around a table and try to one up each other about how many calories we can consume. In what other situation is it socially acceptable to brag about the number of servings we stuffed into our gullet? Or how many piece of pie we can eat?

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Then there is the sin of sloth. After consuming enough food to feed most families for a week we then waddle over to the sofa to participate in our favorite thing. Watching other people be athletic. Traditionally it’s football. However, if they keep expanding the season I predict we will soon have the option to watch baseball as well. No matter. So long as we can sit there and marinate in the tryptophan and shout at the television.

While we are watching that television, we can also prepare for the worst part of this holiday. Black Friday. Just a few short years ago there was an outcry because the stores were opening earlier and earlier. Some of them are now open on Thanksgiving. I find this heartbreaking. It was one of the last secular holidays where everything was closed with the small exception of gas stations. Thanksgiving was for everyone. Now it’s for everyone who doesn’t work in retail to shop.

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Who are we kidding? Soon we will be sitting in a line ordering pizza with an emoji on our smart phones.

And shop we do. To the point of violence. Every year someone gets seriously injured at a big box store on Black Friday. Not even 24 hours after we were pretending to be thankful our citizens head out en mass and do battle with each other over material goods. This under the guise that we will graciously give said items as gifts to commemorate the Christian savior. Someone who was purported to preach that we love our neighbor. Just not the one who also wanted to buy the Dr. Dre Beats headphones.

What happened?

Of course, we tell each other a fairy tale about Pilgrims and Native Americans, but I think we all know that the truth is far from the social studies lesson taught to us. So let’s not even go there unless we are gonna’ be honest about the horrible things our ancestors did. OK?

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It could have ended much differently. We should remember that.

Abraham Lincoln was the first to set a date (the last Thursday in November) in 1863 to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation” after the civil war. Prior to this each state had a different celebration. FDR changed it to the third Thursday in November in 1939 as an attempt to bolster holiday spending during the Great Depression. That wasn’t popular so it was changed back in 1941.

So how did it go from a day of gratitude to a day of gluttony, sloth, and violent consumerism? How did we become so vapid and narcissistic that we can’t take a day to look around and say, “I’m doing pretty good. I’m glad I have the things I have?”

Some of us are so removed that we don’t even know where to begin. So let me tell you my list. I am thankful for:

  • My house- for keeping me warm and safe
  • Air conditioning- during the summer there is nothing so decadent as not being sweaty
  • My Job- It was a long, hard road but I finally found where I fit
  • My debts- yes, really! Because it means I have (or had) credit and a resource of funds not available to so many, even if I misused that privilege.
  • Being fat- In our culture it’s frowned upon, but I have access to an abundance of food while others go hungry
  • My car- it gives me freedom and mobility that is denied many even in our own country.
  • My savings account- I have money in the bank and it makes me wealthier than many people in the world
  • The First Amendment- I’d be in jail or dead with out it because, wow, can I run my mouth
  • My friends- I always know that there is someplace I’m not weird or that I am, and it’s embraced
  • My pets- they keep me company and I am affluent enough to afford to care for them
  • My health- fat I may be, but I am healthy. I’ve been seriously sick, I’ve seen disease. I’m so grateful I am healthy
  • Clothes-I have too many and there are too many people who don’t have enough

It’s not an extensive list, but it’s a start. I have a house, electricity, plumbing, a job, a car, and some money in the bank. While I still struggle, as many do, in our economy and there are many things that need to be fixed, I try to remember that on a global scale, I am wealthy. Then there are the intangible things that make me rich. The people in my life, the experiences we share. There is no way to wrap that up in ribbons and bows. It can’t be bought at any price. maybe we can put the fork down, step away from the TV, and look at each other and just be happy we aren’t alone, cold, hungry, and sick.

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Expiration Date Approaching!

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I feel like I am approaching my expiration date as a woman. Sure, we tell each other woman are attractive at all ages, but who are we kidding? In this declining civilization with its emphasis on the perfunctory aesthetic the desire for superficial expressions of worth have gained significance in the social strata. Whether the fault of changing values, the sound bites media sensationalize, or the internet and social media removing our human interaction the result remains that there is an increasing amount of value placed upon outward appearance. This is true for both men and women. Though, as usual, women bear the heavier burden as historically they were nothing more than property and an extension of a man’s wealth and status. To have an attractive spouse and /or daughters was a symbol of prosperity. Much the way we view cars today. Think that has changed? Just look at fashion or gossip magazines. It’s still all about the outer package. We may propound ourselves to be more enlightened about such things but the truth is we still judge women more harshly than men in regards to physical attractiveness. Agree or disagree, my point is that I am approaching my expiration date. How do I know this? The amount of young men who approach me for the Cougar Experience.

Young men, vital and alive, exploding with the promise of the unknown future. These men approach me with all the bravado and pomposity that their egos and some alcohol can produce. They come up to my table, they interrupt my conversation, and they think that I will be impressed by their rudeness. They know that I am older than the girls they normally approach. I am some mythic beast, a gauntlet thrown down before them, K2 that needs to be conquered. I am an “older woman.” I’m not sure what bawdy stories get passed around among the post college young adult males about the sexual prowess of older woman but I can gather from their demeanor the tales have grown to epic proportions. This is not an attraction borne out of biochemistry and pheromones. It’s not a vestigial evolutionary instinct. No, this is an entirely socially constructed bucket list challenge and I am their target. They are going to bed this cougar and live to tell the tale complete with embellishments and photographic evidence of flesh wounds endured at her hands.

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It makes no difference to these young men that I have no interest in their quest. I just want to enjoy my meal, my show, the book, my coffee. But alas, I am confronted with a fine specimen of masculinity at the height of its potential, complete with the confidence that only comes with either youth or the privilege of white male mediocrity. I am inundated with flattery and blatant lies, they pretend to fall at my feet and adore me with false worship thinking, incorrectly, that is what I want. They know my youth is fading, to their eyes it is already gone, they believe the honeyed words with make me delusional enough to believe that they have an actual interest in me. They cannot comprehend why someone teetering on the edge of obscurity and staring into the abyss of middle age and looking down the barrel of the loaded gun that is menopause would deny myself a night of adventure with an exuberant creature such as themselves.

But they know little of women. They are cavorting with what are still girls. Young women who are still playing games, who have time on their side, who haven’t yet settled into their own skin. These girls have not blossomed into women. They have they physical presence of a woman, but not the internal fortitude. The cougar hunter hasn’t developed they skills of honesty and vulnerability, they can’t balance guarding themselves with being genuine. They can only replay the schema that has generated results for them in the past. They know not what a woman wants from a man. And not a man of media construct, but a man who can vanquish his own demons as well as the demons hiding under the toddlers bed at 3 am. A man who knows how precious time is and that to waste a moment of someone’s time is a crime too heinous to consider. A man who understands that being inebriated is not having fun, who understands that enthusiasm is the best gauge of consent, who respects the space and decisions of another person. A man who is discreet.

No, the cougar hunter will get nowhere with me. The posturing, the genuflecting, the capitulation to prescribed gender norms is usually diverting. But not enough to waste an evening. Not enough to try to get them to leave, because the youth never understand when they have overstayed their invitation. Not enough to revisit the unskilled encounter that all women remember too well from their own youth. Nor do they understand how unflattering it is to be singled out as approaching antiquity from the perspective of the youth obsessed culture. I enjoy watching them try though.

VWW-Sinecure

Sinecure:

an office or position that requires little or no work and that usually provides an income.

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Can I get an Amen! There is a word out there that describes these wastes of space! We all know them. At some point, we have all worked alongside them, because they were not doing any work! Now if we could just find a way to remove the dead weight wouldn’t our precious time spent at the office be a bit more productive?

The thing that always miffed me the most was that this individual always seemed to be a higher ranking member of management. You know, the one that saunters in at 10:30 after playing a round of golf. Oh sure, he claims it was with a client and he will expense it to the company, but it was really with his buddies and it was just because he can. This jerk will then lock himself in his office claiming he is behind in his work and needs to concentrate. We all know he is on YouTube. Everyone either grumbles about him or just accepts that there is nothing that can be done.

I think I might be more understanding if it was a low-level employee. Like if the minimum wage janitor slacked off I could cut him some slack. I mean, that’s a thankless job. Emptying trash cans and cleaning up the break room after everyone else’s mess. Yeah, that guy deserves a few moments of goofing off as a means of stress relief.

When I became a high level corporate manager I mistakenly believed I could have some flex time. Wow, was I wrong! No morning meetings or lunch’s with clients. I had to log my every move. I couldn’t deliver first aid kits to a satellite office without alerting Big Brother. And heaven forbid I was five minutes late returning from lunch! The lectures I received on stealing time and being an example to those beneath me… Ugh!

Some of us will never be able to be the slacker.

 

Perceptions and Patronizing Assholes

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I find myself stuck in the middle of the age divide. And believe me, it is a divide between “young” and “mature”. There seems to be no middle ground. Professionally I find that men, though occasionally a woman or two, which are older than I am are shocked to find out my age. The response is always “I thought you were much younger.” Why? Because I am immature? No, I highly doubt that with my attitude. It’s easier for them to dismiss my ideas and authority if they believe their perception of me as young. If I am young I can be inexperienced. If I am inexperienced I can be challenged, dismissed even, as not understanding the nuances and inner workings of any given topic. If I’m older and therefor wiser I have the experience, the log time if you will, to justify my position not only in the company but at the table. If my age is known and therefore my experience I can’t be written off as a “girl,” just some kid that is full of idealistic philosophies with her head in the clouds dreaming of boys and puppies and unicorns. If they see me as a peer they have to regard me as an equal with my feet grounded and heels dug in ready to work. It creates cognitive dissidence and they hate me for it. So the only thing left is to go after my appearance. That I’m not pretty.

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I’ve never been pretty. Not in the mass media, magazine photo shop, female sexuality as commerce sense that has been shoved down our throats as a minimal standard of female worth. I have zero fashion sense, I can’t and won’t wear heels, I hate make up jewelry and nail polish. My hair is brushed but rarely styled. Though I can totally rock a bun! I know the image that conjures is a frizzy haired hag in mismatch, ill-fitting stained clothes clomping through the halls but the reality is that I am presentable. Clothes are clean, pressed, and of neutral color and pattern that they all work together. Shoes are simple, comfortable, and practical. Skin is clear and clean, hair is clean and brushed. Generally this is the same criteria applied to the men. Do I look like I put effort into it? Nope. But I do look acceptable.

Back to pretty, I’ve never participated in the soul sucking, self-depreciating, time killing mania that is pretty. Not to say that the individuals that participate are in some way inferior. I mean, if you find some intrinsic joy in curling your eyelashes and waiting for paint to dry on your fingertips who the hell am I to criticize? But I’ve never been interested. I’ve got shit to do. Things to learn, books to read, fun to have. I can’t worry about my hair or if I am carrying last year’s handbag. The distance between pretty and me has always been a gaping chasm I never bothered to try to cross. As I approach my best by date it gets farther and farther away. Currently it’s just a dot on the horizon, so far away that I often look at it and wonder if it’s really there. I’m confident in who I am and what I do, the contribution I make and I shrug and move on. Pretty doesn’t concern me, pretty is irrelevant.

 

VWW-Fuck

Fuck:

usually obscene: copulate

usually vulgar: mess- used with “with”

 

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This is one of my favorite words. It conveys so much information depending on tone and inflection. You can be happy as fuck, mad as fuck, or so fucking depressed. You can tell people to get fucked, fuck themselves, or just fuck off. I won’t expand more on that since every comedian since George Carlin has already done so.

But why is this word so offensive? And what makes one word more than another vulgar? Who decides? It’s certainly not by democratic vote. Wikipedia had some insight but still left many questions. All I learned is that profanity is always changing with the lexicon. Perhaps, in time, some word will replace fuck as the top of the expletive food chain. In the mean time, fuck reigns supreme.

So get out there and fucking tell everyone how fuck is a legitimate word. It’s in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. And if it’s a legitimate word then there must be a proper use for said word. Fuckin’ A!

Baron Von Fruitrooster Can’t Manage People

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Everyone has had this manager

 

Your employees suck because you suck as a manager. That’s the cold hard truth. Sorry cupcake, but it’s not that they are lazy, stupid, or don’t want to work. The root of the issue is that you don’t know how to motivate people. If no one gives a shit then that is a direct reflection on you as a manager. You want people to be responsible? Show them that they matter, that the work they do matters. Treat them with respect and dignity. Shut your damn pie hole and listen when they talk.

Do you need to manage them with write ups and progressive discipline? That says more about your failure than it does your employees. Managing by paper trail is the way of the passive aggressive tyrant. You obviously haven’t trained them or they would do it correctly. Either that or they have no incentive to perform.

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Please corporations, realize this is truth!

A true leader raises up the staff. Leaders don’t step on the backs of their workers, they stand in the back ground smiling and cheering them on. You should be a coach not a dictator. These are grown ass people. They work harder than you do. They make less money and their lives are harder than yours. Because of them your life is easier. Be fucking grateful. Say thank you, give them credit, and show them that the work they do matters and that the company gives a damn whether or not they are happy and healthy. Learn the names of their spouse, their kids, and their pets. Ask them about them. Put their birthdays on your calendar and say Happy Birthday. It’s cost you nothing but means the world to someone making just over minimum wage working a 12 hour day so you don’t have to.

Allow them vent their frustrations without judgment. Take their advice. Tell them what you expect from them. Give them the tools they need to succeed. Hold them to a higher standard and encourage them to reach beyond their comfort zone. Be humble. Apologize. You will be amazed at the results.

Continue to ride your ego and stomp around on your inflated power trip and reap what you sow. High turnover, complacency, call outs, extended break times, the bare minimum, and a group of people that constantly need to be monitored. It’s your team, they are your responsibility. If they suck, you suck. Stop you bellyaching and step up your game.

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You want better people? Be a better leader. Can’t do that? Get out of the way and let someone who can show you how it’s done. Just ask anyone who has ever worked for me. You have nothing but gripes about your team. I have loyalty. People that will follow me if I ask. You can’t get people to follow you out the door at five o’clock on a Friday. My team has solutions, yours is just more problems. Face your inadequacies and do better. Not only will your team improve, but so will your work day. Or maybe you are just so overcome with the tiny bit of power and control that you need to make others feel bad to give yourself a boost. Trust me, the team doesn’t care. They have bigger things to worry about and have no time to waste on your insecurities. You are a slimy selfish bastard and the tragedy is that people like you are everywhere

 

 

VWW-Lalochezia

Lalochezia:

the emotional relief gained from using abusive or profane language.

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Ah, profanity! What joy it does bring to my life. And release. Yes, there is something about letting out a strong of curses that is incredibly cathartic.

Stubbing your toe isn’t as bad when you can exclaim “Shit, Damn it!” As opposed to a restrained “Oww!” Though personally, I have found that the profanity doesn’t increase with the severity of the injury. At a certain point you plateau and swearing no longer provides an effective outlet. Breaking an ankle, lots of swearing. Smashing head with resulting arterial bleed, no point. I think it has to do with the adrenaline released into your bloodstream.

Now for everyday stress there is nothing like profanity to provide you with a little reprieve from the mass of humanity surrounding you. Someone cuts you off? Call them a selfish motherfucker. Bob waits until the last minute to inform you he dropped the ball on the big project? Go in your office and call him a cock juggling douche canoe. The company declares there won’t be any raises or bonuses this year? God damn mother fucking son of a disease riddled whore!

Does it fix anything? No, of course not. But it does allow you a reasonable way to release your anger. Then you can take a deep breath and get on with life. So go on everyone, let it out. Get creative. It’s gonna’ make you feel just a little bit better.

 

Personality Traits

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There are three dominant personality traits that run throughout my family. Each person has two. They have other traits of course because otherwise we would be incredibly flat and boring. The three traits are as follows:

  1. Misanthropic hermit
  2. Insatiable wanderlust
  3. Conformist control freaks

My dad was a consummate traveler that loved culture and adventure, as long as there were no people. He wanted to explore everything without enduring a crowd. His sister has the wanderlust and the control issues. So she goes everywhere and tries to get everyone to do things her way. The resorts in exotic locations serve her well. My uncle is a hermit that…well I’m not really sure what else. He’s that good at being a hermit. He really embraced it. We haven’t seen him in thirty years. My aunt gets information about him, probably from his wife, that she doles out to us as she sees fit (control freak!).

I have the misanthropic hermit and the insatiable wander lust. Essentially I want to travel, explore, meet new people, and do new things unless I’m at home. Then I want you to leave me alone.

I was bitten by the travel bug early. My great-aunt was a retired school teacher. She loved to tell of her adventures. In a time when opportunities for women were limited this feisty lady rode a motorcycle to work and traveled the globe on summer break. She would take her students camping and they learned about nature and science. When I was in high school she bought a mini van, gathered up a few neighbors in her senior development and they drove to the Grand Canyon. She left a note for us on her kitchen table.

When I was in school she would pick me up early on a Saturday morning. I would get in the car and she would hand me the road atlas. Perhaps she had a plan, perhaps not. But we would explore. She never got on the highway but always took a back road. We would randomly turn down roads when she exclaimed something looked interesting. My job was to figure out where we were and how to get home.

I learned how to read a map, read road signs, do simple math to figure out if we needed gas or how mileage translated into time to the next rest stop. We picked blueberries, visited landmarks, discovered forgotten bits of history, chatted with strangers, got lost, and had some amazing adventures. She was trying to teach me reading, geography, math, and history. I learned to be fearless and open to possibilities.

My parents divorced when I was eight. By the time I was 10 my dad had gotten stationed out of the country. My first international flight was from JFK to Panama as an unaccompanied minor when I was 11. Dad never lived on base. He always took his housing allowance and lived off the local economy. He was big on immersing into the local culture. He didn’t participate in it because that would mean interacting with people, but he knew all the local shops and restaurants.

That’s where we ate. At some open air, concrete slab, iguanas on the wall type of place where they tried to make pizza and no one spoke English. He dragged me into the jungle to see churches that the conquistadors built and we stopped on the side of the road to research flora. One time we were driving along a dirt road in his Buick (because Dad had to have an American made land yacht!) and there was an animal in the road. We pulled up and stopped. He got out slowly, threw his sports coat over his head and shoulders and slid out of the car, camera in hand. This man proceeded to crawl slowly up to said animal trying to get a good photo of it. My step mother and I got out and walked up asking him what he thought he was doing. He said he didn’t want to frighten the animal. I said “Dad, it’s a sloth. It’s already running as fast as it can.”

Dad took me to see the canal and I endured an entire day of watching ships go through the locks while he droned on about the history and politics of the canal. This was the first inkling we both had that I was a bit different in my world view. It’s the height of the cold war and a Russian ship is going through the locks. Maybe it was because I was hot and bored. The process to get a ship through the canal is slow and mind numbing. You could let the crew off at one side and the could walk across faster if the jungle wasn’t in the way. Dad got all animated at the Russian ship. My comment was that it didn’t look any different from the American ships.

While in Panama I somehow ended up with a gang of local kids. They were fascinated with me and happily practiced their English which was far better than my Spanish. They took me into the fields where I ate raw sugar cane. Common now, but unheard of in the early 80’s. They scaled trees to give me fresh mangoes and when I declared I had never had plantains promptly started a fire and cooked me some that we ate off sticks. We ran around barefoot. We crawled under the house, they taught me new games, and I taught them the ones I knew. I was hooked!