It's really been one of those days. Work was busy. New projects are coming into the office at rates exceeding one a day (today was two). I forgot to put out the trash and recycling until I was leaving, stayed to do it, and wound up leaving my favorite, fragile, blue spirally ring on my desk where people toss giant memo pads around when I'm not there. I worked out my finances for the next two months, got them neatly in order, saved the excel file to a disk so I could bring it home, and then left it in the computer at work. I dropped a tissue on Church St, wheeled around to pick it up as it blew away, and dropped my discman squarely on the sidewalk. In an alternate and preferable universe my lightning-quick grab for it would have resulted in a perfect catch and the discman would have been saved. Instead I grabbed the headphone cord and pulled it neatly out of its socket while the discman continued plummeting groundwards.
Then I did it again on the escalator in the BART station while fumbling for my wallet.
Here's a thought. The other day on cnn.com I read an article about the U.S.-approved design for the new Iraqi flag. It contains no red (Arab nationalism), no green or black (Islam), and it doesn't say Allahu akbar (God is the greatest). It does have an Islamic crescent, which is rendered in a charming color scheme of white and blue. That's right, this proposal calls for the traditionally and overwhelmingly Muslim country of Iraq to share a color scheme with no nearby countries except Israel, the politically-embroiled Jewish church state. But lest you should worry about what consequences that coincidental similarity will have, please consider that the true and meaningful similarity will be apparent to all and will surely serve to boost Iraq's popularity in the Middle East. Kids: the new Iraqi flag will share two of three colors with our very own United States flag.
I'd love to meet the person who came up with this idea and ask what the fuck he or she was thinking.
Sometimes I'm not sure that there's enough iced tea in the world to make up for the existence of a hot Tuesday morning at 11:00. I've been up for four-and-a-half hours and at work for two, breakfast is far behind me, lunch is far off in the future, the fan is too blowy and it's too warm without it, and it's the part of the day where I start to realize that I went to sleep too late last night.
I'm not complaining, mind you, and the iced tea helps. I'm just staring in a slightly vegetative way at my Greenfields Turf, Inc coffee mug and dreaming of noon when I'll shrug off my Respectable Shirt and sit in the park in my tank top recharging myself.
You can take the girl out of the desert, but you'd be hard pressed to make her stop wanting to bask in the orange rays of the sun like a pale, long-legged gila monster. Pass the flies, will you?
I remember having Krazy Glue on my fingers for years. I remember that I never left the house without wearing something I'd made. I remember that the loose wire ends always snagged my hair and pulled it out of my pigtails. I remember the college counselor at my high school being frustrated because she couldn't get me to talk about anything but my art projects. I remember the explosive ideas and the heart-soaring feeling of walking around with a brand-new creation. I remember how the one thing I could never make was a way to keep everything organized.
I remember the things that didn't work, and how there were more and more of them until nothing worked at all. I just found that black necklace with the hex nuts and knots, and I remember finishing it and feeling like I'd lost something. I found a bracelet made of candy-striped capacitors and I remember making it for my friend Tamar. I remember her asking if I could make her something else instead, because that one was kind of ugly. I don't remember whether I ever told her how much that sucked.
I remember sitting at my desk under the window listening to Murmur and making foil balls out of copper foil. The corners cut my fingers to hell, but by the next day it didn't matter because they were covered in glue again. I remember the puddles of slowly-drying resin on the back patio, the smell of metal, the shoes covered in buttons, and the weight of a bag of 500 spiky washers. And the grey top hat.
I don't have the clothes anymore, and sometimes I think I don't have the brain anymore either. But I've taken a bunch of the jewelry out of its bag in the closet and pawed through to see what's still intact. I'm wearing guitar-string ends on my right wrist, resistors on my left, fractured window glass around my neck and one of those damn blue wire spirals on my thumb. It feels familiar. The necklace is itchy and the bracelets are too heavy, and when I look in the mirror it looks weird to see cargo pants and a sensible, sporty green tank top instead of that godawful acid-print dress and the yellow paisley tights.
What, you may be asking, the hell is Dianna talking about? I don't know. Once upon a time, I was a giggling 15-year-old mad scientist working with pliers and string instead of scalpels and sutures. I woke up in the morning and was greeted with thoughts like, Wear every watch you own to school, and Zip-tie chains are the bangles of tomorrow. I was high on my own synaptic fluids because I believed that my ideas were genius and the world could only watch me admiringly as I worked my magic upon everything in my path.
I miss it. I'm not sure what changed. I do know that just now when Jacob wandered out into the kitchen where my old jewelry was all spread around, and came back and told me how great he thought it was, I felt like he was complimenting someone else. I don't even know what to say here except that somewhere in the process of growing up, I think I lost the personality I used to respect in myself. Maybe not lost. Maybe just... misplaced.
I'd like it back.
Thus now reads my coffee mug, which previously said COFI (I'm sure someone at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco thought that was the most brilliant thing ever printed on a promotional mug) and now says KOFI ANNAN instead. A half-hour with paper, colored pencils and tape has now turned a rather lame joke into a useful piece of political information. Maybe I can also find a picture and stick it on there, thus doubling the usefulness of this astounding drinking vessel. Shit, I should go into business.
This is all pursuant to the delightful revelation that the Powers That Be at work are not opposed to me surfing the Web and reading books when I have nothing useful to do. I can only assume that this applies equally to modifying coffee cups, although if that's not the case I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.
Apparently, using the self-described butcher knife in your knife set to chop vegetables instead of meat will lead the knife to turn on you and attempt to butcher you instead. It's true. I just saw it happen. I also saw it coming, but that didn't particularly stop two nice bloody cuts from appearing on the index and middle fingers of my left hand.
Lessons for today, then:
1. Don't make your knives angry. Use the vegetable knife for vegetables and leave the butcher knife to more carnivorous people.
2. Don't put your fingers under said knife, even if you really are planning to move them before the knife gets there.
3. You're not, in fact, going to move them before the knife gets there, so save yourself some time by not planning to.
4. If you ignore lessons 1 through 3, at least make sure that you're not chopping onions when you slice your fingers open.
5. Onion juice hurts.
6. A lot.
7. More than cutting yourself, actually.
Fucking around is my vote. I discovered today that, while it's possible to bring my lunch, dress for stompin', and walk over to the park during my lunch break from work to eat on the grass, the specific topography of this street means that it really is uphill both ways. At least, it's about 49% uphill both ways. In San Francisco, however, 49% is enough. A section drawing of the street looks approximately like /\/\/\/\/\ , and it's a mile plus three hills from work to the park. My legs are much more than 49% hurting.
My feelings about the job, after swinging wildly around for my first few bewildering days, go something like this: I don't want to go into the office in the morning, and then I don't want to leave in the afternoon. It's fun. The people are nice. There are office policies that include bagels and ice cream and Italian food, and drinking of huge quantities of tea is encouraged. It's also doing wonderful things for my telephobia-- I actually made a phone call on my own time yesterday, to swiftly take care of a problem that needed solving, and there are at least three things about that statement that should have you astonished. I'm even starting to really enjoy doing the secretary voice (you know, the one that you use to say, "Good afternoon, Insert Name Of Company Here," and leave the last syllable hanging pertly to prompt the caller to explain him/herself).
The times when the phone isn't ringing are also nice. Then I eat candy and wander around the office with papers and boxes and messages and watering cans and big wheely tape dispensers and order forms and binders and magazines, doing stuff. You know, stuff.
On my way home today, I noticed again the thing that I've been noticing for the last couple of days. Advertising space in the BART stations is really not evenly distributed at all. Embarcadero, Powell, and Montgomery stations are dominated by big, bright billboards in continuous blocks. Three iPod ads together, four for a new IBM laptop; six for Lufthansa's new business class. Technology, business solutions, big bucks. By the time you get to 24th and Mission, the billboards are mostly for movies and sports events, and they're not in blocks anymore. One for The Rock's new movie; one for Commuter Check, a money-saving transit purchasing program; one for the next Warriors game. Things aimed at your average Joe, who'd like something to do this weekend, and could use that extra $300 a year, and doesn't have million-dollar expense accounts in his pocket. It kind of says it all about big cities, I guess... a) move a mile in any direction and your resources change radically, and b) people always fuckin' think they know what to offer you. I wonder if they're right.
As I told Jacob this evening, I feel like a little kid playing at being a grownup. Let's face it-- I haven't had to be customer-service polite since my brief stint working in retail four years ago, and it's spoiled me. My brain is rebelling against being told now to say "good night" to the boss instead of "see ya", or, "yes, M. is in the office, let me transfer you to her line" instead of "Uh... yeah, I think she's here, hang on a second". It also doesn't help that the three people with whom I'll be having the most contact in the office are all 8-12 inches shorter than me, making me feel like the oversized puppy with the big gangly paws, and we all know that feeling big/gangly and acting clumsy/awkward are so closely related that it would be illegal for them to marry in 48 states.
I think what I need is a dose of whatever I'd been having here. It clearly made me dazzlingly competent, confident and generally in control of the situation. The only problems I can see are that a) what I'd been having was Indian food and fruit juice and b) the languorous and sultry poses are part of the package deal and they're unlikely to go over well in this context.
Complain complain flounder floundery flounder.
Why, it's ME!
Starting tomorrow afternoon, I'll be working for Anonymous Chocolate-Covered Architects, Inc. of San Francisco. I'll have to be getting to work every morning at 9:00 a.m. instead of just opening my eyes, and I'll be joining the throngs of humans catching 8:00 BART trains to the city and 5:00 BART trains back. I'll have a desk to sit behind, a phone to answer cheerily, and co-workers. I'll have pale, yellowy office plants to nurse back to health. I'll have paychecks and Friday afternoons off.
I'll have the longest commute of anyone in the house, and a candy jar on my desk. I'll have sensible shoes and casual, yet respectable work clothes.
I'll have architecture in my life for the first time in two years, which is slightly amusing given that it and I were on much less than speaking terms the last time we came into contact. This time, I'll get to calmly transfer files and arrange deliveries while architecture happens around me to other, more stressed people. I'll be competent and reassuring, and serene in the knowledge that nobody is going to pin up my drawings and talk about how awful they are.
They, may, however, talk about how good the plants look since Dianna started working here. That's only to be expected.
1. Thou shalt not back Jacob's car out of the driveway to get thy car out and then repark it on top of my tomato-protecting fence, knocking said fence over.
2. Thou shalt not stand on top of my onions while using a weed-whacker on the growth in the middle of the divided driveway.
3. Thou shalt damn well acknowledge my makeshift fences as boundaries that mean, "do not step over here" and consequently not step over there.
4. Yes, that includes stepping ON the fence.
5. Thou shalt, if stepping forward to hear what thy supervisor is telling thee about the weeds in the side yard, bloody well not step onto my chickpea plants in the process.
6. Is that so hard?
7. Thou shalt also not rip my kale plants out of the ground with high-powered leaf blowers. Thou canst damn well leave the grass clippings on top of my plants instead of adding insult to injury. Thank you... er, thee.
I'm having a horrifically bad garden day. First the roommate, then the landscaping service hired by the landlord. I definitely appreciate Chris spending the money to have the landscapers mow the lawn and hack away at our standing army of weeds, however, I'll be lucky to have any vegetables left by the time they leave. Are Wednesdays going to turn into stressful days of watching my beloved plants destroyed on a weekly basis? Stay tuned.
...then baby, I don't want to be right.
I think I can say without any fear of inaccuracy that this is the largest number of interviews I've ever had for a single job. In fact, the interviews-to-jobs ratio today is nine times what it was the last time I was interviewing for a job, which is fairly astounding.
What happened was this: on Friday, I talked to D-blank at the architecture office in question and we scheduled an interview for this morning at 9:00 with the office manager, C-blank (note similar pronunciation of names). D was distracted and forgot to put the interview on the calendar, so she forgot to contact C and tell her to be in the office this morning. I didn't know any of this when I walked in at 9:00 this morning, nor did I know what either of the people in question looked like. So, I had a lovely half-hour chat with D, and didn't realize that it was D with whom I was talking until she gave me her contact information at the very end of the interview. I walked out in a state of confusion and headed home. Two blocks from home, I got a call from my roommate Katie, saying that D had just called and asked if I could come in for another interview this afternoon. I called back, figured out what had happened, realized I had to go back and trade my lovely informal conversation experience for an actual, stressful, sucky interview, and was generally less than pleased about that. I threw on some comfier shoes and went anyway.
C turned out, to my boundless joy, to be incredibly sweet. We chatted for about 40 minutes or so (ding), one-on-one (ding), in a friendly and not very stress-inducing fashion (ding), and she only threw one (ding) of those horrible "tell me about a time when blankity blank blank blank and how you dealt with it" questions at me. She was even apologetic about it and admitted that it was one of those canned questions that I'd probably answered a hundred times. What, you ask, am I dinging about? I'm dinging about ways in which this interview process was vastly more enjoyable than my other recent interview processes. I'd like to give this woman a prize for Surpassing Non-Ogreyness. I'd like, in fact, to give her some chocolate. She alluded to her mention of chocolate in the job posting; I grinned and told her that it was what made the listing stand out for me; I decided against mentioning Zap-a-Gap fumes and 22-hour workdays.
Basically, I'm feeling decidedly less feudal today than I've generally been feeling in my job search. You mean someone actually wonders whether I'll mind tending to the office plants, rather than assuming I'd happily feed them with my own blood for the privilege of getting the job? Wonderful. You mean you're interested in whether the commute is all right for me (it's great), how I feel about the salary (holy lord it's great), the hours (splendid), and whether the temporary-or-permanent-depending-on-need nature of the job is convenient for me (I can deal with it)? You don't just want to know whether I'm a highly efficient robot desperate for employment?
So after that lovely interview, and meeting the owner of the business (which involved being enthusiastically introduced by C as, "this is Dianna, and she has a green thumb!"), I left the office and wandered up the street toward my transportation home. It was sunny, yet breezy, and I was dressed just warmly enough. The street sloped away invitingly to my left, just happening to be the direction I was going, so I huffed my way up over the hill grinning like, well, someone who just had a job interview go well for a change. Somewhere along the way I decided that if there is a better place in the world to be than stomping up a hill on top of San Francisco on a beautiful sunny afternoon in April while wearing comfortable shoes, I can't imagine where that might be.
And that is why I called Jacob from Dolores Park at 1:45 to tell him that this might just be the best day ever.
My return call to the chocolate-loving architecture office resulted in a telephone interview, which just ended. My recollection is less than totally clear, but I think I must have remembered to say "yes" instead of "yep" because they asked me to come in for an in-person interview on Monday (either that, or a tendency to say "yep" is secretly another of their required qualifications).
Interview! Monday! Fear and excitement with a healthy dose of esteem-boosting thrown in there!
I think after my last job interview I may have commented on the several things that people do during job interviews that should be punishable by severe civil and criminal penalties, for instance, four-on-one interviews, duh-questions like "how do you feel about working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds?", and two-hour-long interviews in general. I'm going to have to add another thing to the list, namely asking the interviewee to "tell me a little bit about yourself". It's appallingly unspecific; you may as well just say, "Please feel free to flounder at this point."
Actually, I'd really like to hear someone say that during an interview. It would be even better than chocolate in a job posting. Maybe they'll do it!
"Since you mention it," I wrote yesterday in a cover letter as I sent off my resume to the Nth potential employer of the day, "I do like chocolate quite a bit."
They're architects. They work long days and inhale a lot of fumes. I fully understand that at some point it becomes necessary either to include "must like chocolate" in the required qualifications for an office admin and then swear you were only kidding, or to pull the tiles out of your office ceiling, climb out onto the roof and scream bloody murder. The sort of person who'd do the former, therefore, is someone I think I could really like. Hence, my eloquent and intelligent cover letter, assuring them that I do like chocolate (and, additionally, that I have been an architecture student; the implication that the chocolate thing makes perfect sense to me can, I think, only improve relations).
They called about half an hour ago; I was far too much my usual self to answer the phone, so they left a message asking me to call back today. I will admit that I wondered yesterday whether my cover letter was appropriate, but now I am delighted and proud of my ability to select the right response for the situation. Let it truly be said: dessert improves EVERYTHING.
I think that's a persuasive argument for having some chocolate-chocolate-chip Soy Dream. I'm sure it will put me in the right frame of mind to return their call with the easy flair and gentle humor they've come to expect from me.