Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heel Nipples

I don’t get kitten heels. I really don’t. You have this lovely shoe, and then you decide to put a nipple on the bottom? Why?

(P.S. I wonder how many hits this will get on Google, simply for the fact that the word "nipple" is in it twice? Hmmm...)

Translation, Please?

When you first begin to write papers, your words are very limited. Our teachers helped us learn new transition words, so we didn’t rely on “Firstly” and “In conclusion…” for every paper. They probably got tired of those words real quick.

I think the same thing is happening in business, because business jargon is all sorts of diversified. They talk about rocks and music and conflict, and – although it sounds like it would be interesting – it’s really just the most boring thing you’ve ever heard put into new words.

When I first started working here, the jargon confused me. I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say. So here today I provide you a translation of all the new ways to say old thinigs.

“Listen to the music.” Translation: Find out what the eff is going on.
“Have fierce dialog.” Translation: Talk about what the eff is going on.
“Engage in good conflict.” Translation: Fight about what the eff is going on.
“The big rocks.” Translation: All the big effing things going on.
“Have the tough conversation.” Translation: Talk uncomfortably about what the eff is going on.
“Tee up projects.” Translation: Get ready to take care of the effing things going on.
“Vette that issue for us.” Translation: We don’t care what the eff is going on, but you’re welcome to waste your time on it.
“Roll it out aggressively.” Translation: Get the effing things going. Now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Watch Out, It's The Grammar Police

“I can't write without music, and my biggest muse is the band Muse, ironically enough.”
-From Stephenie Meyer’s website

I have a lot of grammar and punctuation pet peeves. The difference between “its” and “it’s”; other improper uses of the possessive (CD’s for sale!); using words that don’t exist (irregardless, anyways); and using “lingo” that makes you sound like a douche (“The project was 'rolled out' last week!”). I'm a big fan of the book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

But here’s a new one. For a long time, I misused the word “ironic.” I was in high school, I didn’t understand it fully yet, so it was forgivable. The definition of “Irony” is “Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended,” according to Now read the sentence above. That the band “Muse” is a muse for someone is not ironic, it’s fitting. The statement above is kind of like saying, “I love to have my food blended, so it’s ironic that I happen to have a blender.” It’s not unexpected that a band named “Muse” could become a muse, and it’s not unexpected that if you like smoothies, you'll have a friggin Cuisinart on your kitchen counter.

For that statement to become ironic, it would have to read like this: “I can’t write without music and my biggest muse is the band 'Idea-Killing Mind-Numbing Noise,' ironically enough.”

For most people this is forgivable. Even for most college graduates. But Stephenie Meyer was an English major and a published author! Her not knowing the correct usage of irony makes me feel a little ill. This woman had to read, analyze and discuss about 40 books a year, if her collegiate days were anything like mine. How, in four years of that, did she miss the lesson on the definition of irony?

I’m saddened. But, it doesn’t mean I won’t continue to have Twilight fantasies, and wait with bated breath for Midnight Sun to come out. But it does mean that I’ve lost a tiny bit of respect for her education. I expected more from you and your straight-laced Mormon beliefs, Brigham Young. I expected you to at least teach your bicycle-riding, nametag-wearing missionaries what irony is. Those poor suckers won't even know to laugh sardonically when they're run over by a car full of LDS believers on their way to the temple.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lesson One: Don't be a jerk.

I'm cleaning out my personal folders on my computer of all incriminating evidence er, non-work-related items, and I came across this. I seem to get the worst wrong numbers ever on my cell phone. It was a ton worse when I had my old number; I had a guy who called about once every two or three weeks asking for Julia. The last time I talked to him, I was working in an engineering library on the OU campus and screamed into the phone, "Quit &#@!*% calling me! Julia doesn't *$@&#(!$ live here!" The guy was all, "Oh, baby, don't be so mean..." in this Al Green kind of voice, and I hung up without another word. I didn't hear back from him again. And several engineers were permanently afraid of me.

Anyway, I made this flow chart one day when I was just fooling around in Microsoft Visio to see what it could do. Apparently, it can make me snicker at my own humor.

Cooking the Books

A little over a week ago, Greg and I went to see a talk by this man:
Chip Kidd.

The talk was much more interesting than I thought it would be. I had imagined this very self-important artist, going on about how he designs book covers while thinking of the spirit of the book and the nuance and blah blah blah. Instead, he was a self-important artist who told stories about how’s failed and what he tries over and over again. I laughed a lot, and really enjoyed his lecture. One of my favorite anecdotes was a story about how he tried to make a book cover for a memoir about a hostile takeover at Merrill Lynch. The book, he said, was stupid and boring. But, he made a creative cover out of it. It was intriguing. Something that would make me pick up a book about a financial institution. The author hated it. Said it didn’t capture the “soul of Merrill Lynch” His response to her hatred? “It’s a hedge fund company. There IS NO SOUL. Fuck. Her.” She went with a craptacularly boring design; just words on a blank background. He revised his story, “When I saw this, I took back what I said. This ABSOLUTELY captures the soul of Merrill Lynch.”

The talk was funny, intriguing and woke me up a little after a very long day. That is, until he introduced his new venture into music. He played a YouTube video of his song, “Asymmetrical Girl.” I could see what he was going for, but he didn’t quite get there. He’s much better at design and comedy. In the little overflow room where we watched the presentation, people actually got up and left during the video. We considered it, but stayed through it if only to say we had. You can’t blame a guy for trying, right?

Well, maybe a little.

Some of Chip Kidd's covers - More found

Friday, January 23, 2009


Today we have that dreaded and anticipated event at work…

The Pot Luck.

In theory, a pot luck lunch sounds like such a fun idea, right? Everyone brings homemade goodies, you all commandeer a conference room and glut yourselves on as much high-calorie Oklahoma food as possible.

Well, that’s the theory.

Instead, it goes a little something more like this:

You walk into the conference room, and discover no one has rounded up plates. Because you’re the assistant, the job falls to you. You spend ten minutes finding plates, napkins, forks and knives and bring them into the conference room. People are already antsy, so they grab the plates from your hands and dig in. When you finally get to the food you discover some sort of dip that looks like liquefied poo, a wilting salad, store-bought rolls, and something unidentifiable in a crock pot. But, to be nice, you take a little bit of each. The cheese muffins you made the night before have already disappeared. You see the chubby CPA across the room has four of them on his plate.

You sit down where you can find a seat, which is wedged between two people in finance or compliance or safety. They proceed to talk about billing or charges or regulations for the next thirty minutes while you pick at the food and try not to fall asleep. You are forced to run out and answer the phone every time it rings, and find yourself spending twenty minutes at your desk tracking down someone on the other side of the building through repeated phone calls. By the time you return to the conference room, everyone has disbanded, the table is littered with trash and there are only three people left to clean up. You feel bad that they’re left to it, so you start to help and are promptly abandoned to do it all yourself.

After an hour and a half, you’ve gotten no break whatsoever, your stomach is gurgling uncomfortably from the mystery meal, and all you have to look forward to is another four hours of work.

No, I can’t say I’m a fan of the pot luck lunch. Give me a good book and a quiet corner any day. Now that’s a break.

Hilarious propaganda photo from here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Holy Public Domain, Batman!

I have been feeling pretty down the last few days. Between a 5-day headache (what’s with THAT?) and the suffocating experience I call work, it hasn’t been my greatest hour.

Fortunately, today things are looking up. I think it may have to do something with the fact that I got exercise last night, had a nice dinner with my parents and have a brewery tour to look forward to tonight. Free beer? Check. On a weeknight? Check.

Oh, but now that the headache from hell is gone, some mysterious pains have appeared in my side. In the region of the kidney. But I am going to say it’s NOT the kidney, because that could mean an infection or kidney stones (shudder). I tried Advil this morning, but to no avail. I’m giving up all faith in that drug, as it has done me ABSOLUTELY no good for anything in the last week. Luckily the Skittles did the trick.

And finally, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I started to classes this week without ever stepping foot in the classroom. One of my professors is named Jane [not her real first name] Martens, Ph.D. She prefers that we cal her Doc Martens, assigned a graphic novel about public domain and law as an assigned reading, and gave us our syllabus in Comic Sans font. I’m still trying to decide if she’s awesome or crazy. (Up until the Comic Sans, I was leaning toward awesome. We’ll see…)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Home Remedy

I’ve had a headache for four days.

Today my remedy has been Skittles.

Tomorrow I’m going to try dark chocolate.

One of these things is bound to work.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hello, my name is Jennifer and I love Disney.

I’m truly, utterly, astoundingly addicted to Disney. But let me clarify before you think I’m too much of a nerd.

I don’t wear Disney shirts every day. I don’t have Disney plushie toys all over my house. I don’t have a Disney purse. My Disney movies are not prominently featured in my living room. And I don’t obsess over the cartoons or the movies or anything along those lines. My Disney fetish is quiet. I have a Mickey Mouse teapot, but you wouldn’t know it was Disney at first glance. We have a bunch of Disney coffee cups, which stay in their cabinet unless we’re drinking from them. And my Disney t-shirts were all bought for me by others. I only wear them around the house.

I like to buy things that are subtle, that have class and character. Nothing bright that screams “I LOVE DISNEY MORE THAN LIFE!!”

But that screaming? I’m doing it right now in my head. For our first anniversary, Greg and I are talking about going to Disney World – the very place where we got engaged. Last time we were there, however, we were sharing a condo with Greg’s whole family, and this time it will be just us. A trip where we can dictate when we get up, when we go to bed, where we go each night and what we do all day. I’ve visited Disney several times on my own, and I worked there as part of the Walt Disney World College Program when I was a freshman in college. But I’ve never gotten to go to Disney as my own family unit. I’m really excited about having a few romantic dinners, about planning a couple of evenings where Greg and I can really just bask in the wonderfulness that is our marriage.

So on this Monday, my distraction from the fact that everyone else in the free world seems to have the day off but those of us who work in a hospital, I am mentally planning our vacation in 9 months. It’ll be a grand time, if I have my way, and I’m looking forward to every minute of it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

To my coworkers:

Things I would say to my coworkers if I had no moral compass:

To the lady who leaves at 4:00 everyday: I don’t care what your excuse is. Really, I don’t. I know you pass by me as you go out the back door to escape, but it doesn’t matter one bit to me why you’re not suffering to 5:00 like I am. I’m only jealous that you can do that, and I can’t. So, whether it be your fourth dentist appointment for the month, a phantom illness that doesn’t seem to make you pale, tired or appear sick in ANY way, or the fifth major appliance at your house to fail in recent history, I don’t care. Just smile, keep your dumb excuse to yourself, and go along your merry way.

To the woman who FLIPS OUT every time the printer is occupied with another job that isn’t hers: Chill. Really, just chill. It’s not going to be the end of the world if you can’t print right this second. Relax, drink some coffee (or maybe have a midday nip) and come back in five minutes.

To Monica Gellar: Really, your husband can go to the dentist by himself. I’ve been going by myself since I was 16, so I think your 25-year old construction worker can waltz in there on his own and get that cavity filled. No one will need to drive him home, and he’s perfectly okay sitting in the dentist’s chair without you holding his hand. So please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stop taking extended lunches every week so you can “be with him when he needs you.” Call a spade a spade. Just tell us you want to slack.

To the lady who is constantly taking my stuff from the printer to her desk: Look through things before you walk away with them. That printer is used by 5 other people than you, and – believe it or not – not every one of us jumps up as soon as our print job is done to yank it off the printer. We’re a little less high-strung than that. So take that extra three seconds to assess the papers in your hands and leave the ones that are not yours on the printer. DO NOT under any circumstances start bothering me and asking, “Is this yours? It’s not? Well whose is it? Could it be Shari’s? Should I leave it on her desk? Can I leave it on your desk? Maybe I should call her and ask? What should I do with it?” Shut. Up. Please?

To the young “up-and-comers” here for a management fellowship: Stop asking me to do things for you. I don’t care. I am not your assistant. You are three years younger than me, and you have much more time than you think you do. Make your own damn copies.

To the woman who thinks it’s necessary to tell me about her bathroom problems: It’s not. Stop. I don’t want to know. Now or ever.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pretty Pictures

I feel uninspired at work almost every day. It’s a fairly desolate feeling. I know that I’m not happy at my job when I sort of begin to envy everyone whose lost theirs. I mean, in today’s economy, I should really be jumping for joy that I have a job at all, and that – on top of that – it pays well and doesn’t demand too much of my time. I’m in job heaven, really.

But it’s hard to feel like you’re in job heaven, when you spend every day slogging through tasks that bring you no joy, no excitement and often leave me feeling anxious and frustrated. But that’s in my job description, I think. I spend my day making sure the people I work for get every little thing they want, whether it’s changing conference rooms at the last second (requiring me to shuttle people and equipment in heels only because one room is “nicer” than another room), or scurrying to the cafeteria to buy bottled water for some executive I don’t know or like, or recreating a 40-page PowerPoint from scratch because someone thought it looked “sharp.”

So, in an effort to inspire myself, here are a few things from that have brought me joy during relatively joy-less workdays.

America, Obama. Obama, America. Watch out for New Jersey -- he will cut you.

Maybe it's reading Twilight so much lately, but suddenly pale beautiful women mystify and excite me.

I was in love with Lisa Frank when I was in 5th grade. Well, not in love, but you know what I mean. Still, I don't know that I was every enough of a dork to wear one of these.

John Stewart as an American icon? Yes, please.

I can't decide if thise looks high-design or like it should be in a prison. I think it will wage a war in my mind forever.

Hahahahaha. Koopa? Zombie? HAHAHAHA.

This is the office I want. Greg, are you taking notes?


I like this idea. I think I'll try it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oh Happy.

Excuse me while I have a moment of introspection.

It was a summer day about 6 years ago. I was 19, living with a boyfriend in a shitty apartment in a shitty part of town, going to school and working at Wal-Mart (which ate away at my soul a little more each day). It was not the brightest time in my life. This particular day, while my boyfriend was working his sad little part-time job, I was soaking up some sun at the pool in our complex. It was small, but big enough to get wet, and get a bit of a chance to lie around and act like I was being pampered. I had brought my portable CD player (this was before the days of the iPod), and had grabbed my Dido CD on my way out of the apartment.

As I popped it into the CD player, my mind was really only on escaping my life for an hour or so, and relaxing to the music. But when the song “Hunter” came on, I found myself engrossed rather than relaxed. I hit the repeat button and listened to the song 3, 4, and 5 times before I finally had to stop myself. It was the lyrics that caught me.

If you were a king up there on your throne
Would you be wise enough to let me go
For this Queen you think you own
Wants to be a hunter again
Wants to see the world alone again
To take a chance on life again
So let me go

I was 19. Still just beginning. Just figuring life out. A sophomore in college, with the whole world in front of me. I hadn’t even declared a major yet, and I already felt trapped. I was engaged. I was living with my so-called fiancĂ©. I was self-supporting, my parents having declared that if I chose this path, I would have to walk it on my own. (And thank God they did or I may never have had an aha moment at all.)

The first time I really heard that song, really listened to it, I knew that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. That I hadn’t lived life yet the way I had intended to after I graduated high school. A while later – it could have been days, weeks or months, I heard another song. “Hungry” by Kosheen. It was another song I’d heard again and again but had never really listened to. I suddenly found the lyrics very poignant.

Are you hungry
For a little more
Than you had before?
Are you hungry
For a taste of life
What’s your appetite?

The combination of hearing these two songs left me somewhat dumbfounded. At 19, I felt like I needed to get out. I was a teenager with a relatively privileged background; there was no reason for me to be suddenly in such a dire place. It was sometime shortly after this that the relationship I was in finally came to a head, and it exploded in my face, just as it needed to. I had to figure things out again. I changed jobs, moved into a house in a better part of town with roommates, and I figured out what I really wanted to do at school. I felt freed and like I had more opportunities than had ever been at my doorstep before. I turned 20 and I finally felt 20, rather than 35.

But every now and then, I would listen to these two songs. I’d really listen to make sure I was internalizing those messages again. To make sure that I wasn’t letting anything hold me back. And even with all the new things I was doing, I still always found something (usually a boy) that was holding me back.

Then, about a week ago, I happened to play the Kosheen album again at home. Greg and I were cleaning up Christmas decorations and doing our best not to be buried under a pile of fake garlands and cheeky, over-stuffed snowmen. And for the first time, as I listened to the lyrics, I didn’t feel like I was a relationship that was holding me back from living life. In fact, I suddenly realized that I was living a life and in a relationship that was only providing more opportunities, rather than limiting them.

That’s not to say that I won’t end up in another shitty job, in a shitty part of town or a shitty house, but at the very least, I know the man that I love, the man who stands by my side, is the bright spot in my life, rather than the challenge.
Picture via A Cup of Jo, where Joanna Goddard has recently found her own happy day. Her engagement photos are very drool-worthy.