Shun/Un-shun

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I have thought a lot about shunning recently. The definition of shunning is “to avoid deliberately; to keep away from.”  The act of shunning is common in some religions.  It’s also common among middle school girls.  Various forms of shunning are used among family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers.  For shunning to have any meaning, an emotional or social connection needs to be present.  Shunning is a form of bullying.  Shunning is also one of the most  insidious, passive-aggressive forms of abuse. Continue Reading »

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Monday Craziness

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Now that there isn’t so much weighing on my mind, I am finding myself observing more of the world that goes on around me.  I suppose you could say that my focus has switched from internal, or immediate, to that of the larger world.

When I got to the office today, I logged into Facebook.  I am the admin for two pages, and I always check to see if there are comments that require a response, or to make sure, Heaven forbid, nothing horrible, graphic, or lewd has been placed on either page.  As I scrolled down the news feed, I saw the following picture.

It made me laugh, simply because of the foolishness of the statement.  “Put politicians on minimum wage.”  Yeah, that would teach them!  How ridiculous!  Now, I am no big fan of politicians, but I do know quite of few of them on a personal level.  Across the board, they are well-educated and highly experienced.  Generally, the politicians I know have had very successful careers in the private sector before embarking on their political careers.  While you may not like politicians, the point I am trying to make is they have WORKED to get where they are.  They have paid for, and done the work required, to obtain their education and their success.  Sure, let’s pay them minimum wage.  Do you really think anyone with education or intelligence would go into politics if they were only going to make minimum wage?  NO!  Paying politicians minimum wage would only ensure that the doofus who flips your burger at McDonald’s could be your next mayor, or senator, or heck…he could be our next president!  I am NOT criticizing McDonald’s employees or those who earn minimum wage.  Minimum wage is an entry-level wage or a wage designed for teenagers.  As adults, we should aspire for more, and we should certainly expect those who hold political positions to aspire for more.

At lunchtime, I headed out to McDonald’s.  When I pulled around to the drive-up window, I was taken aback by the girl who stood there waiting to take my money.  It’s just a regular Monday afternoon in February, and this girl looked like she was ready to head out for trick or treats.

Does she wonder why the only job she can get pays minimum wage?  Would you hire a girl with bright red hair and scary eyes to represent your successful business?  Oh, but if we pay politicians minimum wage, then maybe she could be our next governor!  I’ll bet she would liven things up at the governor’s mansion.

After McDonald’s, I headed over to pick up a few things at Walgreen’s.  I bought some new nail polish (my new obsession) and some candy for my dish at the office.  I noticed a guy who seemed to always end up in close proximity to wherever I was standing.  When I headed to check out, so did he.  I kept ignoring him, until he tapped me on the shoulder.  “Excuse me, but I have to tell you how much I like your boots.  Are they hard to walk in?”  I told him that there weren’t, I suppose that the ankle support helped.  He asked me if I had “practiced” walking in them, and I said, “NO!  I just walk!”  He said that it looked like I had practiced, because I did such a great job of walking in them.  My God…I’ve been walking for years, and this is the first time anyone has ever told me that I did a “good job.”  He asked me if they were leather, and told me once again how much he liked my boots.

I could never really figure out if this  guy was hitting on me, or whether he was one of those guys who obsessed over women’s’ shoes, or in this case, boots.

 

I headed up the hill and back to my office.  I made one more stop to pick up a Super Big Gulp of Pepsi to get me through the rest of the afternoon.  I filled up my cup, still giggling over the Boot Guy.  I walked over to pay for my purchase, and looked up at the cashier.  One look, and I shuddered.  She had a pierced nose with a black post stud.  It looked like a giant blackhead!  I imagined that if it were really a blackhead, it would be a most-satisfactory squeeze!  It made me shudder to think of a huge blackhead, but also, I can’t imagine what the OTHER side of that nose ring must look like in there!

Once again, I thought about why this person was working at 7-11.  Wonder if the nose ring (and the rest of her scary appearance) had anything to do with her working a minimum wage job?

There was a girl standing next to the nose ring girl, another 7-11 employee.  She  was on what was obviously a personal phone call.  She wasn’t too happy with whoever was on the other end of the line, and she didn’t have any qualms at all about liberally spewing the f-word as she stood behind the counter ignoring customers.  She was intensely wrapped up in the drama of the conversation.  I assume she had been “done wrong” by some man.  I stood there staring.  Yep, I couldn’t stop.  I wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying, but instead, I was looking at some of the wildest fingernails I have ever seen.  They were long, and purple, and yellow.

 

I felt like a nerdy old woman as I drove back to the office.  I have on a tweed skirt and a black sweater.  My hair isn’t brightly colored, and I don’t have any unusual piercings.  My nails are a demure, muted shade called “Mink.”

Of course, I do have on my hooker boots!  🙂

 

 

Lashing Out

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Working in downtown revitalization is never boring.  It’s challenging, frustrating,and exhilarating.  It is my passion.  It’s in my blood.  I don’t know why.  This is an “accidental” career.  It wasn’t in my plans.  It’s not what I ever thought I would be doing with my life, but it is my blessing.  I have driven down the street and felt my chest fill up and my eyes begin to tear as I look at the changes that have occurred in the course of the short four years that I have been working in this area.  I feel like a proud parent with each success.  On the other hand, if a business fails or struggles, if there is a negative news article or a complaint about anything, I take it personally.  Working in downtown revitalization often feels like being in love with an aloof, elusive lover.  As much as I love my downtown, the bricks and mortar don’t give back.  They stand firm and unmoving, always needing a little more love.  No wonder there’s a very high rate of burnout and job turnover in my line of work.

Working with dozens of unique small business owners is always challenging.  Listening to their individual needs, wants, and concerns, and then attempting to get them to all work together is often a monumental task.  This past weekend, we held a major downtown event.  It was our third year for this event, and each year we have grown and added new activities and promotions.  What started out with two businesses coincidentally holding pre-holiday open houses has grown to dozens of business participating in a joint promotion.  This event is our shining-star success story.  It has become the largest downtown tax revenue generating weekend of the year.  Yes, even larger than Black Friday.

The best thing about this event is the cooperation between the bars and restaurants and the retail establishments.  We capture the retail trade early in the evening and then send them on their way to the food establishments.  From the first year, we incorporated jazz music as a way to draw people through the doors of retail establishments.  I called on friends in the local music community to help me out that first year, and now we have musicians clamoring for the available spots.  The coolest thing is that you’ll find live music in unlikely locations.  This year we organized over a dozen jazz combos to play in our retail locations.

Last week was incredibly busy as we prepared for the Friday night event.  It was definitely a juggling act to organize all of the last-minute details.  By 5:00 p.m. on Friday, things were in motion.  As I walked from place to place taking pictures, I felt such pride and a sense of accomplishment.  The stores were packed.  People were smiling.  People were BUYING.  The business owners told me that they had been busy all day.  This year, the two-hour evening open houses had grown to an all day celebration.

When I finally met up with staff and volunteers for a cocktail, I was satisfied that we’d had another successful year.  To make things even better, I received a text from a friend who lives in my town.  “We’re down here and this is great!  Where are you?”  I told her to come on over and join us.  We all had a great time sampling martinis and had a fantastic dinner.  Another year was under my belt, and the event had been a success.

Yesterday, like most mornings,  I woke up, stretched, and reached for my phone.  First I checked my emails.  Nothing good.   I checked Facebook.  Nothing unusual.  Then I checked my work emails.  My office phone sends my voice mail to my email account when I am out of the office.  This may be another reason for me to hate technology.  There were several voice mail files in my inbox.  I listened to them.  They were mostly questions about the Saturday open houses, and I returned each call.  (Do people think I LIVE in my office?)  The last message I listened to had been sent at 12:37 a.m.  I was curious about what that would be about.  Who would leave a message at that time of day?

My heart sank as I listened.  The person didn’t leave her name, but started in by telling me that I needed to “Get my act together.”  She complained that the newspaper had said that the event began at 5:30, but she had been in an establishment that had begun serving hors d’oeuvres and wine at 4:00.  Which was it? Couldn’t I even get my times straight?  I needed to get my act together!  She went on to tell me that the whole event was a letdown.  Her town, a neighboring community, would have done a much better job.  “Get your act together!”  I was still laying in bed.  I woke up thinking the event had been a success, and all it took was this one nasty woman’s phone call, and I felt like a failure.

Who does things like that?  What is wrong with people?  Who feels the need to lash out like that anonymously, to someone who has worked hard and actually cares about what they are doing, at someone who they don’t even know?  That phone call ate at me all day.  That phone call ruined my weekend.

The woman may not have left her name, but the file that came through to my inbox identified her phone number.  I looked it up, so now I have her name.  🙂  Thankfully, it is not someone I know.  There doesn’t appear to be a personal agenda.  She is simply a really horrible, bitchy person.  Yes, I know that I should let the matter go, but I can’t.  Her words stung, and I am tired of stinging.  I’m tired of mean people, and I’m tired of being treated as if I don’t have feelings by mean people.  It has happened all too often this past year.

Once again…I am tired of mean people.  I’m tired of people getting away with abominable behavior when they think no one is looking, when they think no one will find out, or call them on it.  Yet again, I find the need to hold up a mirror for someone to see the reflection of their own bad behavior.  I am tired of being a doormat.

On Monday, this lovely lady is going to be getting a call from me.  If she has a complaint, I will be happy to calmly listen to what she has to say.  This time, she isn’t going to get away with the safety of anonymously calling my office in the middle of the night.  I will call her by name, and I will tell her my name in return.  I will put a human face on the other end of that phone and that complaint.

I am taking off the KICK ME sign.

Snakes and Other Dangerous Creatures

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This blog post has been brewing for a few days.  It wasn’t until very early this morning as I sat drinking coffee with T that I even began to attempt to put the words together.

T and I had fallen asleep on the couch as we often do on the weekends.  We watched a movie all snuggled up and warm on the couch.  When the movie was over, we turned on an episode of The Office.  It was the one where Michael proposes to Holly.  I had watched it the other night with Em.  It was so sweet that I wanted T to see it, too.  I loved watching it again, and I loved seeing T smile at all the right parts.  Even after the show was over, we stayed in our spots on the couch.  We halfheartedly talked about getting ready for bed, but it was so warm and cozy.  We were so sleepy and so comfortable.

The next thing I knew, it was morning and T was in the kitchen brewing a pot of coffee.  I wandered in with a smile on my face and told him that I was kind of enjoying our weird pack mentality when it came to sleeping.  There is something so delicious about drifting off to sleep right where you sit compared to the formality and routine of getting ready for bed.  He agreed.  Falling to sleep like that is wonderful, but damn, are we ever sore in the mornings from sleeping all night in awkward positions.  We laughed a little more as we both stood there trying to stretch out the kinks.

These odd sleeping arrangements have become our habit as of late on Friday and Saturday nights.  We skip the bed and the bedroom.  We nest and nestle in for sleep wherever we are comfortable at the time.  The best thing of all are the mornings.  It is just the two of us wandering around downstairs.  We haven’t had the luxury of lingering over coffee and conversation in the kitchen for many years.  Strangely, I am reminded of my grandparents.  As a child, I can remember waking up at their house and coming into the kitchen as they both sat at the table sipping their coffee.  It was a warm, peaceful feeling of contentment to see them there.  Now that is T and I.  It makes me feel old, yet content, all at the same time.

As we finished up in the kitchen this morning, I told T that I was going to go upstairs and write before the girls woke up.  He stopped and looked at me.  “What are you going to write about?”  He had never, ever asked me that question before.  I have been blogging for two years, but he has never asked me one question about it.    I don’t hide the fact that I’m writing.  Many times I have come to him to talk about a particular blog post or a comment that I have received.  Until this morning, though, he has never asked me what I was going to write about.  Today he asked, so I poured another cup of coffee and asked him to join me at the table. Continue Reading »

That’s What She Said…

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Know what?  I am supposed to be a professional.  That is a fact that I sometimes have to sit myself down and reprimand and remind myself of.  Most of the people who I work with on a daily basis know that I am a free spirit (i.e.  A bit loopy.)  In fact, we are a fairly irreverent group.   Most of us have a few skeletons rattling around in our closets.  There are no secrets in our office, and I mean that  NONE!  Yet, we all have a great deal of respect for each other.  Within the larger department of about a dozen people, I feel a complete sense of freedom to BE ME.  Outside of those office boundaries, however, I have to wear that veneer of professionalism.  It’s like a cape that we all put on as we head out of the door.

Today I began the move to a new office suite.  Yes.  I am giving up “The World’s Best Office.”  It is a little freaky, because I am moving back to a remodeled version of my old office.  Nothing about it looks the same, but it IS the same space.  Too many emotions and events that I would prefer NOT to remember occurred in my life during the time that I was once in that space.  (Seasweetie, I could use some advice here on smudge pots and herbs to clear the sad/negative spirits!!)  I am hoping that the NEW ME who is moving back into the newly remodeled office space will stomp down any lingering bad vibes.

My (really, really awful) intern packed up all of the files and folders.  The  IT department moved the computers at 2:30 this afternoon.  We were all ready for the union workers from  Public Works to do the heavy lifting at 3:30.  I will add here that I think this entire process has been terribly bureaucratic and inefficient.  There are plenty of us to move a few cabinets and desks, but we would catch holy hell if we were to have done it ourselves.  The union reps would have filed a grievance if salaried staff would have taken on a union task.  As it is, I am probably going to be in BIG TROUBLE because I used Windex to clean off my desk.  I was caught red-handed by Public Works staff, and I was called out on it, too!  “I would have cleaned that for you!”  Uh….I didn’t know what to say.  Well, yeah, I did.  I didn’t want to wait three hours for them to get around to it, when all I wanted to do was set my stuff back on a clean desk!

On top of the office move, which is still not complete, I had to give a presentation at City Council tonight.  Today felt like one of those days when I was going in about fifty directions all at once.  Everyone wanted something from me, and no one was giving a damn thing.  Oh…par for the course.   I wasn’t feeling all that great, and it always interests me that my brain has the ability to take over and force my body to function even when all I want to do is curl up and sleep.  When I feel like crashing, or at least taking a nap,  I somehow find the energy and strength to do what needs or must be done.  Of course, that ability has a limited duration.  That’s why I crash each weekend into the Napping Blob.

So, I got a little goofy this afternoon, or I almost did.  It was late in the afternoon.  I was frustrated, tired, and standing in the middle of a mess when all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap.  “Where does this go?”  “Where do you want this cabinet?”  Really…I don’t care, but oh….it’s my job to care.  OK.  Act like a professional.

I stood there talking with one of the workers from Public Works.  She was measuring the wall space for a large shelf that was going to be the next item to be moved.  As we talked, she pulled the metal tape out of the tape measure over and over.  I watched her, and realized that I would have done the same thing if I had been holding it.  For some reason, her actions mesmerized me.  I made her nervous, and that made me feel bad.  Really, I could be a janitor.  There was a time when I would have thought that was ALL I could be.  She is just a woman.  So am I.  Essentially, there is no difference, but to her, there was all the difference in the world.  I hated that.  In that moment, I really hated that.  I wished I could take her out for dinner or lunch and tell her that I AM NOT LIKE THAT.  I wanted to tell her about MY history, then she would know.  I knew what it was like to feel like LESS.

For over three years I have known this woman.  I have tried to be her friend.  I admire her.  She is a breast cancer survivor.  She is a brain cancer survivor.  She is a widow.  She is a mother.  Her life is not, has not, been easy.  For three years, I have tried to show her respect.  At least I hope she feels that much.  For three years, I have tried to be her friend, but she will not allow it.  I am a different pay grade.  I am salaried.   I don’t dress like she does.  I don’t lift, and mop, and haul.  (Ha!  I do, just not at work!)  She won’t allow my friendship, and it drives me nuts.  Why?  I think I scare her.  She is always polite, but with reservations.  Why?  Believe me, I am not scary.  I don’t try to be scary!

As we stood there talking, another worker came into my office.  They debated the shelf placement.  I watched them.  She was relaxed talking to him.  Although, she still  kept pulling the tape out over and over.  She referenced the tape measure.  The previous afternoon, she had needed one as we discussed furniture placement.  She said to her co-worker, “I’m glad you brought your bag of tools over last night.”

I about lost it.  I almost burst out laughing and said, “That’s what she said!”  I had to leave the room.  In fact, I grabbed my keys and left the building.  I couldn’t hold it in!  Maybe it was because I was so damn tired, but I felt like a middle-schooler.  I had to call T.  Our family has been regularly watching The Office.  As any Office viewer knows, Micheal Scott’s favorite phrase is “That’s what she said….”  It’s now something that is heard often, no…..constantly….in our house.  We all jump at the chance to use “That’s what she said…”  It’s become the family game, and today, I almost blurted it out.

Maybe I should have said it, but it would have cracked that veneer of professionalism.  What stopped me?  I have thought about that ever since I walked away instead of just saying what popped into my head.  I chose to walk away instead of be myself.  Yes, I called T and laughed.  I called my son, Andrew, too, but why didn’t I just say it?  Why did I maintain the space between us.  I’m not sure if I am proud of myself or if I am ashamed.  Maybe tomorrow, I will tell her.  Maybe I will share my joke.  I know it would make her smile.  As I think about it, I wonder if it is me who is afraid.  Maybe I am afraid that I will not be accepted back into the world where I once felt that I belonged.