Friday, April 24, 2009

The Thing That's Still Likable about "The Office"

I've been disappointed with "The Office" ever since they brought in Rashida Jones as a love interest for Jim. Since then, they've totally bombed the love plot, made Michael Scott far too stupid, and essentially turned the show into a caricature of itself.

But for your real-life-office dweller, one crucial point still rings true:

None of the characters care about their jobs except for the threatening prospect of losing their income.

I think we can all relate. The culture in the US has become such that jobs are no longer jobs—they're lifestyles. Your coworkers are your family and friends. Your desk is your home. We sleep and eat at a rented or purchased base, the main purpose of which is to prepare us to be at work for long hours each day. But that's changing.

People graduating from college now are more interested in having lives. I'm talking about the kind of lives people actually enjoy living, which involve personal enrichment, family, hobbies, and growth outside of the workplace. With the economic (depression? no . . . downturn? . . . eh . . . let's go with . . .) hunk of rotting meat we're in at the moment, people have finally realized that you can't trust the workplace to be the basis of your life. Jobs come and go (more and more for each new graduating class), and if you're not anchored to something outside of your job, you're going to get tossed about in the squall.

What most of us can relate to about "The Office" is that we care much more about the rest of our lives than our jobs, but we need our jobs to support the rest of our lives. The reversal of our previous "live to support work" mentality is a good thing, except that while we're trying to live more balanced lives, our bosses still expect us to live at work. At many companies, the management structure is still built around dedication to work rather than self, home, and family.

So that panicked look in Jim's eyes when the new boss doesn't like him speaks to each of us who has more important things than a job going on, but depends on the job to keep those things going. Jim dislikes and distrusts the job, but he needs it to pay his mortgage and support his family-to-be. That's the American struggle these days, and that's the thing that's still likable about "The Office."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Techno Music

The car salesman at Cougar Auto (who, by the way, was totally low-pressure and awesome) happened to have one of those old printers that sounds like the noises computers would make to communicate a plot to take over the world. In the seventies. Anyway, it reminded me of the undeniably musical quality of old technology—most notably dial-up internet and early computer boot-up sounds.

Well, apparently I'm behind on the times, because when I wasn't looking, some guy in a metal suit did this (it's a YouTube video, so get the heck off facebook and go to my actual blog):

And then some other guy went even more old school and got even more awesomeness out of it:

And now you know what I do on the weekends.

You People Are Encouraging My Bad Behavior

My whiniest posts seem to draw the most visitors to my blog. In fact, if I get any whinier, I could probably start bringing in revenue from ads. I am, on a smaller and less alcoholic scale, Lindsay Lohan, whom the world continues to watch as the spirals into an ever increasingly disgusting pit of substance abuse and attention-seeking behaviors.

Don't feel bad. I regularly post my hormonal insanity here for you to read, guilt-free. It's my fault I check Google Analytics so often and correlate readership to post type. And really, it makes me feel better that you enjoy dwelling on the things that bother me as much as I do. Aw man, and that last sentence was totally ambiguous.

To not seem ungrateful, though, you guys are the tops when it comes to friends. Your comments, conversations, commiseration, cake, and other calorie-filled comforts have consumed my cares with courage to continue. It's okay, that last sentence makes me feel a little sick inside, too. (Let's see if I can get the rest of my c-words out: crying, corn chips, Clean & Clear, crap, and . . . oh yeah!)

In other news, we bought a shiny new car. Technically it's not new. We're not quite irresponsible enough to take the financial hit of driving a new car off the lot. No, we bought an '08 Subaru Impreza with pretty dang low miles. It has AWD, so I might not die trying to drive in the snow. It's pathetic, but I've lived in Utah for almost six years and I've only driven in the snow a handful of times.

Now that liability-only insurance coverage won't suffice, I'm suffering from a bit of vehicular paranoia. I have, over the past few days, assessed parking neighbors, driven more defensively than ever, and even peeked out my window to make sure the car is still parked safely in front of our apartment.

I'm sure most of you feel the end-of-semester tingle in the air—you know, the one that's even sweeter when you don't have to take finals or turn in huge projects worth massive proportions of your grade. I'll confess that I'm more excited about Tim's graduation than my own.

I get the added prizes of having both family and family-in-law come to visit and a dinner at Tucano's to boot. Did I mention I'm on a new diet? I'm trying to increase my proportional protein intake and reduce sugars, fat, and calories altogether. Yes, it is miserable, but at least I can feel good about a solid meat-gorge next weekend!

Oh, and have I mentioned how great you guys are? One or two of your guys' blogs provide a solid chunk of the visits to mine. I get the happy tingles every time one of you fabulous people comments on a post. And it just makes my day when you guys read my blog, know what's up with me, and talk to me about it. That's pretty cool. And I haven't eaten in a while, so I'm off to the kitchen to cheat on my diet and sing some song by Michael Jackson about healing the world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Worst PMS Ever

These have been a terrible last eight days. Except Sunday—but every day can’t be Sunday. It started last Wednesday when I went off for my appointment with Dr. Young.

Last time I saw Doc, he said he wasn’t sure whether I had PCOS or not. Sadly enough, that was the tiny ray of hope I was holding onto when I sat down in the exam room after an exceptionally long sit in the waiting room with a few fat’n’happies. There are a lot of terrible things you can see on an ultrasound, and really only one good one. I was just hoping to not have to have surgery at the moment. And that by some miracle my ovaries looked nothing like PCOS and somehow I no longer had hormone problems.

With such high hopes, I was destined for disappointment. And naturally, the non-need for surgery was overshadowed by the black, lumpy, beaded bulges my ovaries had become. How could they possibly look that much worse than last time? Once he was done prodding me with gel-covered probes, but before I could put my pants on (doctors prefer to talk to the pantsless), Doc looked at me, lifted his eyebrows, and said, “You have the disease.” My light at the end of the tunnel dimmed substantially.

Though I know there’s a chance I’ll conceive, those four words sounded to me like the death knell of any hope I’d had to be pregnant, give birth, or raise a child that looks like the man I love most. Over the past week I’ve become a bit more acquainted with the reasons women faced with infertility do such crazy things as spend their lives away, undergo insane procedures, and have their maid bear their husband’s child when there was no technology to make it easy.

So you shouldn’t be surprised at all that though we won’t start “trying to get pregnant” (Doc’s words—and yes, they do make me unsure of what the heck we’ve been doing for the past year) until June, I decided I might start slowly building up a tolerance to the Metformin I’ll HAVE to start taking again come May 24th or so. I figured one pill every couple of days wouldn’t do too much damage. WRONG. OW. ICK. I passed Saturday in bed. Sunday wasn’t horrid. Monday was.

In the midst of all of this, I barely had time to think about how in the world we were going to come up with the money we suddenly found out we’d need to cough up for the CPA exam. And still somehow enjoy our trip to Europe. I’m glad we’re going, but I feel guiltier and guiltier about the financial irresponsibility of spending money on fun when we should be spending money on living our stinking rat-races of lives.

In considering my total inadequacy at potential motherhood, I looked to my job for some kind of satisfaction. I might not make much as a writer (a terrible one at that), but at least I have a bit of a career going for me to distract me from moping around about my ovaries and getting even more depressed.

And then David O. McKay showed up and slapped me in the face with the whole “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” thing. Not really. But that’s what it feels like when my failure to put babies in my home bleeds over into making me too sick to have success elsewhere. It feels more like “No other success will happen because you’re a failure in the home.” So when Extremely Diplomatic HR Lady had a “chat” with me today about my colleagues’ and superiors’ complaints about my being ill disrupting the workflow, surprise was not on the menu. My choices? Work through the pain or take disability leave. Now, my coworkers are basically my only friends outside of my family and my tiny circle of former roommates and a few other girlfriends.

Now I understand their complaints, but it’s hard to feel like I have friends when the people on whom I rely for daily social interaction complain to HR about me. And the problem is not that they’re not my friends. The problem is that I expected them to be. If there’s one thing I learned from the Office, it’s that. But they’re coworkers. And being chronically ill, I’m a crappy coworker. And maintaining coworker relations is all about going behind backs and complaining to HR to “avoid conflict” (another lesson from the Office).

And certainly, Extremely Diplomatic HR Lady could have NOT told me that the people I thought liked me were actually secretly complaining about me. But HR is all about motivation, and negative peer pressure sure motivates. So does the idea of a “leave” that I’m sure would consist of much more sleeping, crying, moping, and eating than a woman can sanely endure.

So I feel like an infertile loser, and my consolation for not having kids being that I can travel and have money and a career and be some kind of modern liberated woman (ha), my entire life is basically in the crapper just now.

Oh, and last night the car broke down.

But I have Tim. And in a time when so many men are incontinent losers, I’m lucky to be with a man more patient and compassionate than I’d imagined a human being could be. I’m blessed with a kind and completely sane set of parents, in-laws, and siblings. I have a home and comfortable couches and a dinner table I share with the most wonderful person I’ve ever met. And that’s the only thing that matters.

And that’s why the home and family should be the center of our lives. If we center our lives on ourselves, we risk heartbreak at the loss of our good looks, our health, or our fragile egos. If we center our lives on money, we risk falling apart when it disappears, as so many people have just found out it does. If we center our lives on careers, we trade meaningful relationships for the kind that come from months of being paid to sit in the same room with other people who are being paid to sit in the same room with you.

But if we center our lives on families, we can make meaningful relationships for ourselves. You may come from one family, but no matter what that one was like, you have the power to build yourself another. A family, in essence, is a group of people who care more about staying together and caring for each other than they do about themselves or about anything outside of the family. A congregation at church can be a family, or it can just be a husband and wife.

But those family relationships are the kind that, if we devote our lives to them, will pay dividends beyond anything money or beauty or self-love or employment can buy.

And that’s why in spite of all of my ridiculous, PMS-soaked complaints, I have a place I can find comfort and peace away from my job, outside of my pathetic body, in the type of home that doesn’t burn down and the type of relationship that doesn’t end with death.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pregnant Minds

It may be just me, but it seems like, living in Utah County, one cannot crave food, chew ice, get ultrasounds, be moderately fat, complain of nausea, or have weird hormone reactions without someone saying "ARE YOU PREGNANT?" or "YOU MIGHT BE PREGNANT!".

You know what? NO. I might be PMSing. I might be hungry for burritos because they are delicious. I might be chewing ice because I like the way it feels on my teeth. I might be nauseated and get ultrasounds because my internal organs are retarded (or, if you prefer, disabled [and for the really picky, organs with disabilities]).

It's like when you say something like, "Will it stimulate?!" and accuse the person who laughs hysterically at the innuendo of having a dirty mind. Utah County dwellers have a bad case of pregnant minds. Come on guys—get your minds out of the . . . uterus!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Life Is on TV

Sorry about all the videos, guys, but that's just how life's been lately. I don't particularly feel like being clever about my hormones, my work stress, or my incredible propensity to do awkward things. So I figure some videos would be the best thing to illustrate what's going on in my life right now.

The following is the first part of an episode of "The IT Crowd." It's not the funniest episode, but it's the one I relate to most. This first part here is a very slight exaggeration of how things go at work when I'm finished with a huge project.

You may have noticed the subtle transition into PMS. Yeah. You'll have to catch the rest of the episode on Netflix (watch now) or elsewhere. I'm pretty sure if you work in any office (particularly one like mine), you'll recognize some of the characters in the show as people you know.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Long Time No Burger

Alternate Title: Five Guys I Could Kiss between the Cheeks (So to Speak)

Today, inspired by Lisa's lunch plans, I took Tim to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for dinner. He didn't feel like cooking, and once I'd tied my apron on over my bathrobe and looked in the fridge for a futile five minutes, he said, "We can go out." That man always knows the best times to let me off the hook.

Now, I haven't eaten a burger in many, many months. My "last" red meat was a steak in June, though since then I've had it twice in meals prepared by others. I'm polite like that (I'm polite?). But today, my beef fast ended with a resounding groan of double-patty joy.

Today, besides craving a burrito and smelling ice, I was shockingly totally undisgusted by the idea of consuming a hamburger. I think progesterone poisoning (like PMS, but different) is really kicking in. In fact, I believe PMS officially begins tomorrow night at 10:00 PM. Watch out.

So we went into Five Guys, and I ordered a regular burger. Ooh, with bacon. Oh, and definitely fries. And, while I was at it, I figured why not go for a large, non-diet, caffeinated beverage. We found a freshly wiped (slightly damp) table in the middle of the crowded dining room. I sipped my favorite carbonated calorie nightmare. They called our number.

When I unfolded the foil from my burger (which was, for once, right-side-up in its wrapper), a shudder of food-joy shocked my spine as the sweet aroma of BBQ sauce hit my olfactory thingies. And it only got better from there. I'll spare you the deliciously juicy PG-13 details. If you've ever eaten a bacon burger with me, you know how it goes.

The fries went into the ketchup, and then the fry sauce. Sometimes they went from the fry sauce into the ketchup. Sometimes they went back and forth a few times before the greasy goodness of freshly fried potato straws finally came home.

Today was a good day.

These Pants Cannot Be Trusted

Today, at 2:05 PM, I looked down at my pants and noticed that my zipper was undone. Fortunately for me, these pants aren't the kind that will bare all in a zipper emergency. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that the zipper pull was at the very top of its run.

That's when I remembered why I'd been avoiding wearing these gorgeous pants. They'd done this to me once before, but Tim had fixed the zipper. When I dressed this morning, I'd forgotten that all was not well with the grey pinstripes, and I put them on without hesitation (even over these hips, baby).

So (first things first) I told Lisa my embarrassing story. She sympathized, but had no solution to my problem. Before giving up entirely and going home to change into some less "flashy" pants, I visited the video department. Wonder of wonders! Laurel, being likely the most resourceful woman at Imagine Learning, had safety pins aplenty—certainly enough to hold those pants of mine closed.

So I skipped (very carefully) into the girls' room and did a bang-up job making my pants look as natural as safety-pin-closed pants can. Nevermind that someone did ask me if I was pregnant today (can't a girl crave a burrito without nurturing a uterine parasite?).

Speaking of cravings, has anyone else been craving ice lately? They say pagophagia (the chewing of ice) is often related to iron-deficiency anemia. I'm pretty sure I don't have that. I just noticed today how delicious ice smells. And it does have a smell. I just want to stick my head in the freezer and inhale for hours. Who's with me?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009