Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Corporate Couple and other nightmares

I'm taking a time out from my corporate drugery of creating budget spread sheets (insert gasp of horror here) to write about my slow death crawl into the corporate relm.

I do have an artistic soul, but its been squeeking more than roaring these days...in fact at times I have to give it CPR to keep it alive, the paddles of life which do include blogging.

I fear that my darling MD and I are becoming a corporate power couple.

It could be that everytime we meet up after work, we're both dressed in our uniforms, his neck being choked by a restrictive tie, my toes breaking off in high heels. I'm sure people think we go home to our high rise apartment made of glass were we live miserably ever after. My comfort is him ripping off the button up shirt to revel a CBGBs shirt and me replacing the heels with running shoes as we head back to the ghetto of bed-stye Brooklyn.

I hope we never believe the clothes we wear or take ourselves too seriously.

I have been concerned about his two cell phone habit (a palm pilot and the regular one) and have had to take his toys away from him when he attempts to do something stupid like google while driving. Perhaps some of my concerns come from his new job as a corporate mongral i.e. realestate broker of high end lofts. MD seems to think he will make his fortune doing this and he just might. I'm very proud that he's getting serious about the future, I just wish he wouldn't whip out his portfolio at dinner. Sometimes I wonder if I'm having a meal with my boyfriend or my broker.

But, in the end, I realize that he is an actor and this is just another role he is throwing himself into full force. Will he make millions doing this? Time will tell, I just hope he never looses his perspective on things. The object is not to get as much money as you can, its to live well and live responsibly. The money is just the means and it will come one way or another. I don't have plans to end up in a glass loft in Soho entertaining his corporate clients. A loft in DUMBO might be nice though..........

I on the other hand am trying to get OUT of the corporate pit hole. I interviewed at the ACLU the other day and felt pretty good about thier jeans and t-shirt policy. They told me flat out that I was over qualified for the job, which made me feel pretty good. I have aspirations of making a living wage, and perhaps having my own office, or at least a cubicle near a window. The dream would be to have a job that changes in nature, isn't stagnent typing up documents and budgets but actually ingages my brain and sense of creativity. Wouldn't that be cool? Imagine....not being board shitless at work........

I had a dream the other night that I quit my job here at the SDJ. I think they tried to pile ALL the work on me to which I screamed "I quit you fuckers! followed by many many more choice words and me stomping out. I then went home and cried about not having a job. Somehow I broke my leg in my dream too and couldn't move it, which was distressing. I woke up to find my cat sleeping on my leg. At least she had a good night. I should probably write this stuff down when I wake up, it was much more colorful than I'm describing.....

All these nightmares about work....hopeful things wills sort themselves out soon....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

office parties, agressive girlscouts and other ramblings

I'd like to start by saying this is not my office. We're not that colorful here at the stupid day job. It is a random picture I found on google image search titled "boring office party". It seemed appropriate given my day.

I knew it was coming. It happens to everyone here. The embarrising office birthday party. If I was smart, I would have taken the day off, but they would have found a way to make it happen. It's fate, might as well bend over and take it proper.

It starts off with the card that is not so sneakily passed around the office, the conversations in Spanish that I catch pieces of, the missing receptionist around 1:00pm who has gone to get the cake. Around 3:00 the people upstairs waunder downstairs without much purpose, pooking thier heads into cubicles, chatting, shuffling thier feet. "Gee" you might wonder, "It looks like they are waiting for something." At 3:15 the entire office mysteriously disapears and I'm left alone in a strangely quiet office.

"Hey, SL2000, we forgot to tell you about the staff meeting in the back."

Staff meeting. The CIA couldn't plan a better covert operation.

I walk back to see the entire department quietly seated around a conference table, looks of bordom masked by bright smiles. A mondest cake, flowers and a card sit at the end of the table. A broken chorus of "happy birthday" is mumbled, watches are glanced at, feet shuffled.

As the entire office is on a diet, only 5 people end up having any cake, which I have to cut. The plastic barbie maintains her super bright smile and botoxed wide eyed look through the enitre "party", I'm left to wonder if the new injection has left her unable to form any other expression. The Barracuda is in attendance, sitting dead center as though she's about a to lead a meeting. The thought "fake interest, fake interest" seems to be floating through her head. I'm asked what my plans are. "dinner" I say. I'm asked how old I am. "26" I say. The conversation is over. I feel I should mention that the Barracuda's Helper was not in attendance. She had pressing work to do.

The conversation centered around Cold Stone Creamery for 10 minuets, then the party fell silent. I wolfed my cake, tossed the flowers in a vase and announced I was going back to work.

"so soon?" The Plastic Barbie asked, eyes struggling to blink.

Yes. This soon. I'd rather spend my birthday chained to the computer than watch a group of people who have nothing in common other than a shared cubical wall try to hold a social conversation. As I walk away I can hear the Barracuda change the conversation to work, and relief sweeps over the table.

Embarresing office pary complete.

Mind waundering:
The assult by girlscouts.

I've been told there aren't girlscouts in Brooklyn. I'd like to set the record straight on that misconception.

The girlscouts in Brooklyn aren't cute little girls in green uniforms ringing the bell of your house. Often times, they aren't even little girls. No. The girl scouts in my neck of the woods, tend to be middle-aged black men with an agressive sales pitch.

It seems to be a block by block compitition taken so seriously, the cookies have been ripped out of thier little hands and given over to "Dad" or "big brother" who has himself a plan. Usually folding tables are set up on street corners and mountains of boxes girlscout cookies are placed on them like a rumage sale. The salesman bullies and guilt-trips every passerbyer into buying at least one box, sometimes several. The good ones parade thier sad-eyed children around who will chase you down the street screaming "buy my cookies!" The really good ones will set up shop near the church, just to double the sense of guilt.

I try to avoid these street corners, but have found myself with a box of those thin mint cookies, holding them up like a shield to announce I've done my neighborhood duty for the season.

"these are the people in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood......"

Back to the birthday:

I forgot to mention that my birthday was indeed very good. I have pretty much decided that embarrising office pary had nothing to do with me, and moved on. I went to my favorite resturant with MD, who presented me with a few lovely gifts and had my favorite food (Tai food, the Lard Nor noodles with tofu, egg and brocoli), then proceeded to go home and fall alseep. Guess I just don't party like I used to. But to be fair, Tuesday is a rough day of the week to have a birthday and I was really exhasted. My B-day celebration will continue through the week, as I go out to dinner with Ms. Creative on Thursday (and drinks, many of them, no doubt) and then go out of town with MD to (gulp) meet the parents.

More on that later..........

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rock and a Hard Place

"It has been said by others far more qualified then I am, that 'once you comromise your art, you compromise your soul.'" - SL2000's dad.

I had to make some very difficult decisions this past week. They were the decisions of an adult, one who protects her own interests, her own principals, and stands firm on a ground very far away from college. I can barely see those red brick buildings and open quad from were I stand. It just seems to be quiet a learning curve I'm on.

I had agreed to stage manage the show of Ms Creative's boyfriend, who's name is now going to be poltical art boy, or PAB. I have to say I felt a bit pushed into it, he begged me to do it, practically getting on his knees right in front of Ms. Creative, who just happend to be designing the show. I was promised a good time, to be used as more than a stage manager (that never happens) and that it wouldn't be that much work (that also never happens). I had never seen PAB's work, I only had the good word of the groveling director and Ms. Creative. I broke out of retirement and agreed to do it. I also dragged Mark Darcy down with me, and got him to audition for the show.

He was cast

The problem was never us working together, we're really professional. The problem was that we were seeing the same problem.

The show was a format I'd never seen and am still hard press to explain. What it looked like from my vantage point were a series of acting improv games strung into a format that has a dramatic formula and tells the story (roughly) of Hamlet, only it takes place in the present, and there are protests and the shooting of heads of state. Did you catch all that? I didn't either.

I kept thinking I wasn't giving it a chance, then I saw a DVD of a previous show using the same method and realized, no that's actually what it is. Improve games, dramatic formula, story line. It was improv, so there were no lines or blocking, which amounted to one bored stage manager. My main function was to tell PAB what time it was. I had plenty of time to sit there and watch MD get more and more fusterated, wondering what I had dragged the two of us into.

The rehearsals ran a bit like college student shows from Sophmore year and I kept having flash backs to that period of time and how miserable I was. I'm hard pressed to say this show was going to be a disaster, or that PAB didn't know what he was doing. I'd say he learned his methods in college, and just hadn't transitioned out of it yet. He kept teaching the actors how to act his way, to get them to fill out this frame work he'd created. Very fusterating for a professional actor who didn't go to college with PAB. Hence MD's distress during reherasals. I was also becoming painfully aware of the political message in the show, and how amorphous it was....

Brief Rant:

Art should never strive to be poltical. The very act of creating art is a poltical statement. Who said that? That's right, Frida Kalho, who was poltical in life, but not overtly so in art. She kept saying that her art wasn't poltical enough, and felt pressure to create art in honor of the Communist party she so dearly loved. Frida's most controversal works of art are her self portraits. They were revolutionary in thier surrealism, and emotional rawness. So then, to be truely revolutionary in art, is to also be emotionally honest in your art. Don't strive to MAKE a statement. Strive to make art, and that will make a statement.

Rant over.

PAB has taken a broad brush and decided to make a big poltical statement with his show. That is his intent. He believes in his work, but he's also very insecure about it, this makes for awkward rehersals.

MD and I decided to bail. Professionally speaking.

First MD quit, which went over like a ton of bricks. There was groveling involved. I let the waters settle, then dropped my own bomb. I quit as well.

I quit for several reasons. One being that I couldn't sit there and watch bad poltical art unfold, two being that I HATE stage managing. I have for years and I shouldn't do it anymore. Period.

I was afriad that the professional and personal would all get mixed into one stinky swampy mess. I feared PAB would be upset I quit, that Ms. Creative would be upset he was upset and so on. I basically put all of us in between a rock and a hard place.

I've learned to NEVER agree to help someone with thier art, if I don't know what that art is.

Not sure were I stand with PAB and Ms. Creative, MD is unsure as well. So far I've hit a wall of stony silence from Ms. Creative and have decided to just let her be for awhile. I'd like to think that all that happened was a on a professional level, but I can't account for other people's behavior, just my own.

I don't regret quitting, I did it to protect myself, something I didn't do enough of in the past.

We all put ourselves in that little space between the rock and a hard place. We have the power to get out as well....

Monday, March 13, 2006

Attack of the California Barbies

They blew in from the Coast like a sharp Santa Ana wind, knocking New York to its knees. They were tan, dressed for a mild spring in light pinks, with a wind blown attitude that screamed "hey, its all cool, it'll just...happen." Yeah man, it did just "happen", but not without the blood sweat and tears of some dedicated women from New York.

If California was like "no worries, it'll all come together, peace..." New York was furiously sending emails from thier blackberry's asking for agendas, times tables, and exact budgets.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

The event I'm speaking of was a very special pannel on the Iraq war by my favorite activist group starring some very special VIPS, flown in by the California chapter of said activist group.

I had volenteerd myself and Synge to do what I had thought would be a simple "decorating of the space." Little did we know that we would be running the entire event by the seat of our little pink skirts.

I suppose it was a break down of comunication, or rather there never was any to begin with. California decided New York was organizing it, New York had said "no." California put thier fingers in thier ears and said "lalalalalala I can't hear you, your doing it..."

And so it went. I was given $80 to decorate a large space, I spent $180. (come on, one flower arragment would be $80, and Synge and I created them ourselves.) We walked in armed with decorations, only to be greated with stressed out New York women, people yelling about volenteers and questions about the day's agenda.

"We're just decorating." We said, bewildered.

Aparently someone had to told people we were running the whole show. I had media asking me questions all day, "where was favorite VIP, were was the press confrence, how did I spell complicated VIP's name?" At some point Synge and I just started making things up.

"Yes, no, I don't know, lets have merchandise here,and there and you! You bring this here, you are in charge of this!" We ran between two diffrent locations, snapping to attention at the will of the activist leader. I'm sure the people attending had no idea that Synge and I were on the verge of a nervouse breakdown. Even the California Barbies lower in the chain of comand started to look a little stressed, frowns beginning to form at the corners or thier pink mouths.

I felt battered, abused, yelled at and dead on my feet. The only picture of me is standing behind the merchandise table, white as a ghost looking like the dead had risen.

Wonderful MD showed up towards the end, just in time to bring Synge a roll of tape at location #2 and work the merchandise table, wearing the button of my favorite activist group. Did I mention its my favorite Femminist activist group? MD got some major brownie points that day, with all the New York activist women. He carried decortations to his car, broke down signs, and wisked a half dead Synge and SL2000 to a near by resturant for beer and substiance.

Its taken almost a full week to recover from the California wind. I've heard reports that New York women are still driving California VIPs around the state, they are finding apartments for them to stay in and making travel arrangements. So I guess things "really do work out", but not on thier own. While the barbies smiled for the cameras and got thier pictures in the newspapers, some very hard working New York women with cell phones attached to ears MADE things happen. That's the New York way, and why I am proud to live here. We are skeptical by nature, and can't seem to trust that the winds of fate will "make it happen" but we trust ourselves and know WE can make it happen.

And we did. As far as anyone was concerned, it was a very sucessful event.

The freaking out was all done behind the scenes.

Friday, March 03, 2006

You are not a team player

The following are remarks from my evaluation at the SDJ, non of which were a suprise given my lossing battle with squashing my contempt for my bosses and the general SDJ corporate evilness. The picture is not actually my boss, known as The Baracuda, although I have to say the likeness is startling.

"SL2000 cummunicates effectivly in her writing and speaking skills. However, SL2000 is reluctant to disclose things that may be percieved as negative. This was demonstrated when processing walk in registrations and there was a problem with a batch. Although she did not voice the fact that she needed to correct the batch she became agitated when reminded to do so by one of her co-workers."

My evaluation was recorded by The Barracuda's helper, the office manager/busy body. She overheard me snapping at an annoying co-worker on a tough day. Have I mentioned how much I love working NEXT to The Barracuda's helper?

"SL2000 may not be aware that, at times her body language reflects an unwillingness to cooperate"

This was mentioned to The Barracuda's helper by one of my most obnoxious bosses at the SDJ. Actually, my body language conveys "I think you're made of plastic and as deep as a puddle." Obviously I'm being just subtle enough with her.

"Noted was a lack of initiative and enthusiasm when assigned various projects not included in her job description. She was only willling to take on those tasks if there was a guarantee that she would be compensated for doing them. She is not a team player in this regard."

This comment was made by The Barracuda herself. If not being a "team player" means not being a doormatt who gets tossed all the extra work, then I agree with that statement. I was never told directly about all the extra work The Barracuda wanted me to do, I was CCed on an email about me to The Barracuda's helper. It was insulting. No one asked if my work load could allow for all this extra work (it couldn't) no one asked me to help out and no one bothered to talk to me directly. The Barracuda doesn't even know what I do all day. I don't make a living wage and felt the duties being assigned to me were more of an IT position or executive assistant, who make twice as much as me, so I went through the proper motions. I had a meeting with HR. At no time did The Barracuda ask to meet with me directly. She talked to HR and the Barracuda's helper, but never me. My request for proper financial compensation caused her to blow up and declare that I was not a team player. If only employees were allowed to fill out evaluations on thier bosses.

Not a "team player" huh?
Evil Corporations that pretend to be non-profit are not "teams" I wish to play on.