Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jane and Me, Kindred Spirits

My friend had an epiphany about me the other day. As we rode in chummy conversation to an outing at the park with a bunch of other people our age, she began talking about a conversation she had with other friend recently. Armenia (the friend in the car, whose name obviously isn't Armenia, but it's what she talks about the most, so it seems a fitting blogonym) and Shummy (who refers to herself as Shummy and has called me K-VAN for as long as I can remember, because "It sounds so cool -- like the call sign for a radio station or something") spent long hours mulling over what book characters they most resemble. Armenia concluded she quite resembled Lizzy Bennet, while Shummy remains steadfastly certain she bears a distinct resemblance to Anne Shirley. (Despite, sadly, a lack of red hair--but she still shares a certain element of feistiness with the girl of Green Gables)

Armenia, in the course of the conversation, glanced at me. She admitted that they had tried to determine which book character I most resembled, but had suffered a dearth of adequate characters. Then, she suddenly exclaimed that she had a revelation: I was not a book character at all! Whereas she was definitely Lizzy Bennet and Shummy was, without question, Anne, I was Jane Austen, who knew how to sneakily and somewhat profitably make fun of every class of the society that I lived in. I take this as a sincere compliment, especially because I know she meant it to be. Still, I won't mention what I said when she asked why I hadn't written a novel . . . if you saw my every workday, you would know that it wasn't from a lack of things to mock; rather, it comes from a lack of oomph. Not motivation, oomph. They're quite different.

And oddly enough, my co-worker the financial analyst decided today that I was funny, but he couldn't express in words exactly what type of humor I employ. "It's biting," he said, "but in a genteel way. You could probably mock most people to their faces and they wouldn't realize it until some time much later. Lots of people probably wouldn't even realize it." He doesn't know it, but he more or less called me Jane Austen.

This ego boost will help me to float through at least two more workdays.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Self-Inflicted Sadism (Oh wait! There's a word for that . . .) ahem, Masochism

Nostalgia hurts. If you've got an emotional wound that you want to neatly seal itself at the edges and disappear with only a hint of scar--no infection, no gangrene, because we know that infection and gangrene are bad--live in the present. Stay firmly entrenched in the now. Dig yourself an at-this-minute foxhole and hunker down! It's the only way to stay safe.

Of course, this whole living-in-the-present thing does involve some tightrope acrobatics. Nothing too big--a little turn of the head to the past here, a nod to the future there. But you need to perform these maneuvers strictly from where you stand. In the present. With a nod of acknowledgement to the future, a glance back at the past . . . and that's all. You have to learn to let yourself glance.

It is unwise to pull out the photo albums for any more than twenty minutes at a time. In fact, twenty minutes is pushing it. You've got to know your boundaries. Exceptionally strong people can elbow their way through infrequent half hour intervals, but I don't recommend it. Slightly insane people attempt to write intervals. Those who succeed show the aftereffects. (I mean, come on, have you ever read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius?) *Note: I'm not egging Eggers (pardon the pun, unless you liked it--then please, don't pardon it all), he just has a different sort of thought pattern than the rest of the world.

In fact, I admire memoirists. There has to be something cleansing about the experience, or else I think fewer people would do it. I mean, I know why I read memoir: Hey, Eggers is disenchanted with his life on occasion too. And sometimes his life sucks. I'm starting to feeling a little better about myself . . . wondering if I could make money off myself somehow . . . I won't go into the whole my stream-of-consciousness bit because I will lose you somewhere around the ophthalmologist office and myself somewhere around the pining for places that don't exist (oh Stars Hollow, would that you and your inhabitants were real).

Anyway, my ultimate conclusion (to save you the mental acrobatics I would otherwise make you endure) is that video CDs from my last semester of college are bad. Very, very bad.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

And My Job ALSO Includes

Babysitting my boss's tomato plants while she is in Cancun. Sounds relatively simple, right? No, I said babysit for a reason. In a bizarre twist of fate, the girl whose thumb could only be called black (certainly not green, unless perhaps it somehow got infected--giving my siblings another incident to talk about on my future birthdays) will for a week:

1. Fight the attack-killer twenty-five-plus-year-old miniblinds at work to let the sun shine upon the little darlings.

2. Water every other day--with a Dasani water bottle and at specific intervals over the course of twenty minutes.

3. And talk to the plants.

I kid you not. But at least my boss didn't request the same thing that, last year, she asked my co-worker to do: sing. Still--we're going to leave the radio on. Just in case.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A More Accurate Job Description

As with so many of the other events in my life, I didn't know what I was getting into when I accepted my job. Human resources, I thought, sounded like a piece-of-cake profession. All it boiled down to was keeping people happy. I had no idea how many people I would need to keep happy: my boss, the current employees, the prospective employees, some of the past employees, "them" (those in the faraway HR department in the mother company--if anyone in my department says to give it to "them," I know exactly where to mail it . . . if only the same logic applied to the other omnipresent "them" people refer to outside of work) . . . not to mention the advertisers and the recruiters.

I am quite schizophrenic about my job at the moment: I either love, love, love it or loathe, loathe, loathe it. The middle ground, which I suppose would consist of me being rather impassive and noncommittal, remains untrodden. In the spirit of being forthcoming (though I don't know if anyone is actually reading my blog at the moment), I am trotting out how I would advertise for what my job actually entails. Here goes:

Company would like a talented, enthusiastic, optimistic, and tireless individual for the position of Human Resources assistant. This job entails keeping everyone within the company happy and completely informed of their insurance status at all times. Ideal candidates will have a working knowledge of HR, insurance, human nature, and the anatomy of the complaint. They will be happy in the face of surly coworkers, cheerful as they attempt to wrest past-due paperwork from un-obliging employees. They will happily enforce the rules without seeming to, and will feel genuine regret any time a person needs to be laid off. Unless, of course, nobody liked that particular employee. They will be prepared to talk to any member of the staff at any time of day for any given reason, including: offering fashion critiques, correcting spelling and grammar, answering all questions people pose, and listening to all decibel levels of moaning and groaning. They will finish and file all paperwork in a timely manner, respond to their e-mails as soon as they appear in the inbox, and will find time to help the receptionist when she is on break. Anyone who gets exhausted easily need not apply.