Jumping on the sexual harassment bandwagon

I apologize in advance, but this is probably going to be rather lengthy and ranty.

I saw a post over on the phaseborg that was basically complaining about the number of sexual harassment complaints that have popped up over the past few weeks. Wondering how long we’re going to let people tarnish other people’s reputations? Because so much of it comes down to a “he said she said” argument.

And that just makes me SO MAD.

I’m gonna go ahead and get the disclaimers out of the way. Are there false accusations? Probably. Are there cases of misinterpretation? Probably. Are there cases of “oh shit I’m in over my head how do I fix this”? Probably.

That said. Why would you ever NOT believe somebody about this? Why would you NOT want a potential crime to be investigated?

Does anybody ever call the police and say, “Hey I found a dead body” and get the response “Oh well you might be imagining it” or “I think you’re exaggerating”? Or, “I witnessed a murder” and get “Are you sure they weren’t just playing around?” FUCK NO. Schools go on lockdown for people carrying props, for chrissakes.

So… some specifics.

“Why is it when someone gives you a hug, it’s sexual harassment?”

Because that is unwanted physical contact, gtf out of my personal bubble, you animal. Any unwanted physical contact, be it a hug or a pat on the shoulder or guiding your arm, is harassment.

Now, is it the same for everybody? Of course not! And that’s what makes this whole situation so complicated and so frustrating. What YOU think of as unwanted and what I think of as unwanted are possibly two very different things. And what counts as unwanted more than likely varies from person to person. Like, I’d be ok if coworker A gave me a hug, but if coworker B did it, I’d be creeped the fuck out. And, to take it a step farther, maybe coworker A would be creeped out if we hugged, but because one of us would be creeped out, it would never happen. Or it might happen once, and then one of us says “let’s never do that again” and the other one, like a NORMAL HUMAN BEING, would respect his or her wishes.

I think a good rule to follow is to not make physical contact until either the other person initiates it, or until you’ve known the person long enough and potentially had enough accidental contact, that you know the other person is ok with it.

“… put themselves in positions that may receive unwanted attention. If you put yourself in that spot, are you that naïve that you don’t think there is a possibility of inappropriate conduct? ”

This just… The first thing I thought of is that this is an exact parallel to the argument “Well she was wearing [whatever clothing] she was asking to be raped.” No. No. No. NO. Being around PEOPLE is a situation that you may receive unwanted attention. Does that mean that just by going to the grocery store, I should accept any inappropriate conduct? FUCK NO. If you’re going out to get milk in sweatpants, going to the club in a slinky dress, or having cocktails at a benefit gala in an evening gown, you should 100% expect nothing but respectful behavior from everybody you may come in contact with. I don’t care what you wear, where you are, or who you are with. NOTHING gives another person the right to touch you if you don’t want to be touched, make suggestive comments to you, or act like they have any right to your body as an object.

I’m reminded of the campaign I saw some time ago, where people were arguing that the phrase “No means no” should be replaced with “Only yes means yes.” Because there were so many instances of people arguing “well, she didn’t SAY no, so I assumed consent.” Bullshit. Just because someone doesn’t answer your question, or answers it ambiguously, does not equate to them saying yes. Especially if you never even asked the question in the first place!

Don’t get me wrong. On one hand, I’m glad these questions are being asked. It gives other people a chance to state their side of things. But on the other hand, do they have to be asked in a “well back in my day…” perspective?

I get it (kind of). Things are changing, we as humans are not comfortable with change, and well, the world kept turning before this was such a big deal, why is it a big deal?

And all of this isn’t even taking into account the horrific history of people NOT being believed when they’ve disclosed their stories. Because of arguments like the above. (Plus, this is all biased, as it is from my perspective, a middle-class white girl in a first world country with a 9-5. I haven’t even touched on what happens in the gay communities, to transpeople, to sex workers… )

But this is exactly why more and more people are starting to come forward now. Finally, FINALLY, they’re believed. They feel like they can admit the truth and not be ostracized because of it. It’s not (I think) because people want to see those with power & money fall simply because. It’s because they know they’re not alone, and that is a powerful thing.

I mean, it’s such a common trope, I feel like there has to be a name for it. Like, how many episodes of Law & Order are there were there are multiple people that can testify against someone, but none will do it until someone else steps up? Is it some weird variation of the bystander effect? Or the domino effect? This has got to be a real thing. (I just don’t have the Google-fu to find it right now. I did a search for “why do more people admit to something once someone else has” and I got a bunch of hits for articles related to cheating…)

I guess once more this is a topic that falls into the “we’ve always done it this way” category of thinking, which I’ve written on multiple times. Just because it was this way, doesn’t mean it was right, and doesn’t mean it can’t be better.

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Baking

I love baking. I can’t cook for shit, though I’m getting better slowly with some help from my husband. But baking, that is my home turf.

Not only do I get immense pleasure out of baking things like cookies, bars, and breads, the actual creation of the food, but I also love the reactions I get from people when they consume something that is delicious. (Perfect example, I brought in some of the raspberry jam bars I made last night, coworker S went to try one, started to say something right after taking a bite, and it devolved into “om nom wow these are really good.” (I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the point.) Literally got completely side-tracked from whatever he was saying.)

Since I learned how to bake, Home Economics in sixth grade, I have always enjoyed it. I stuck with a few basic recipes at first. Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies. Do you see a theme here? I originated in making cookies, and I still love making them. They’re fast and tasty! I spread out a bit, started using different chips, different extracts, but I really stayed with variations on a theme.

It took me until my mid-twenties to comfortably go beyond this. But at some point, a few things just clicked in my brain, and suddenly, everything made SENSE. I don’t know a good way to describe it. I mean, I couldn’t tell you the scientific explanation for why the different ingredients do different things (luckily, there’s all of Google to turn to for the answers). But I learned that: softened butter really IS important, when the recipe says “cream ingredients” that means a specific thing, when you can mix to death and when you absolutely should NOT, how the moisture of the dough / batter affects the final product… I had finally had enough real-life experience that things started to fall into place.

Then I REALLY started to branch out. Cake from scratch (sometimes worth it, sometimes not). Muffins from scratch. Taking a cookie recipe and turning it into a bar recipe. BREAD. OMG BREAD. I FUCKING LOVE MAKING BREAD. White bread for sandwiches, italian bread for garlic bread, baguette for soup trenchers. Cinnamon rolls, filled twist breads, quick breads. So many tasty things.

I of course have had my flops. Some things I know why they failed, sometimes not. I’ve had a few dud recipes, too. Things that sounded good, and I think I did everything right, but… It just wasn’t my thing, whether they came out correctly or not. (I made a batch of something called “lime tea cookies” once. Not super great, IMO. But apparently they got demolished at a party my in-laws had, so maybe they were fine. Tea cookies are apparently their own type of cookie, and I’d never made them before, so there was some uncertainty there.) And hey, sometimes you just get a bad batch of an ingredient. Last time I made blueberry muffins, they were kinda meh. Pulling them apart, the muffins themselves were fine, it was the blueberries that were lacking in taste. One batch of bread I tried to make, I either had an older packet of yeast, or the kitchen wasn’t quite warm enough, or a bit of both, so I had to do some frantic Googling to figure out if I could save the dough. (Turns out I could, and I did! Turning the oven on for like, 2 minutes, then back off, then putting the bowl in the oven and letting the dough rise in there was a success.)

Which brings me to this new “problem” I’m having. I’m having to annotate my recipes, so I remember what I did next time. Which things worked, which things don’t, possible ideas for future attempts. With these raspberry jam bars, I’ve now had two people ask me for the recipe. And I have to annotate THOSE, because if I just write down the basic directions, it won’t come out right! This last copy I made, I put in the line: “Gradually add the dry cake mix, and mix VERY well. (Seriously, just keep mixing until it doesn’t look dry anymore, a few minutes.)” Because the first time I made these, I did not keep mixing. And they were ok. But the SECOND time I made them, I decided to see what would happen if I kept mixing (because box cake mix requires different mixing than making a cake from scratch). Lo and behold! I also have silly things like 2-ish Tbsp vegetable oil. Because 2 isn’t quite enough, but you definitely shouldn’t go over 3, and this time was literally “ok measuring out 2nd tablespoo-whoops that’s overflow.”

I also literally could not tell you how much flour I use for making white bread. It’s 3 cups, add the butter and salt, add 3ish more cups until you get shaggy dough, knead and keep adding flour until smooth & elastic. And I understand this is a slightly different problem, because humidity in the air will effect the dough, so it literally will not be the same amount every time.

My husband likes to say he doesn’t bake because it’s too precise. He is a cook, and can just wing things with no recipe and they come out great. And when I ask what he did, I get an “I dunno” response. But here’s the thing. Baking isn’t always that precise! Yeah, there’s an order you mix ingredients in, and general guidelines for resting or rising or kneading or whatever. But when the directions say “mix until just combined” I mean… that’s not THAT specific. It’s not like it says “mix for 1 minute.” Or “let rise until doubled in bulk, 30-60 minutes.” THAT’S not precise at all. (First off, because I don’t know how I would accurately measure the volume. Second, again humidity is a big factor.)

I guess I take to baking so well because there are RULES (and I like rules) that I am learning, but there’s also enough freedom to be a bit creative. And there really is something about the process of creation that I find … maybe not “calming” but I can’t really think of a better word.

Today?

Geez I don’t even know what to write about today. It was relatively uneventful, all things considered. Woke up, got ready, got to work, chatted with C & M for a bit, got cracking on work… Had kind of a frustrating conversation around my weekly conference call, but it was more just us all being frustrated at a couple expectations. Made some decent progress on a couple weekly tasks. The new people are starting to get up to speed and are picking things up, which is great! That means I’ll get to shove off some of my other work now 🙂

I guess I could tell a couple funny stories of things that happened today.

We got a notice in the mail from the bank stating that they were returning funds for a check that was cashed past the 180 days that we indicate the check is valid for. So I look into it, being that it was a check out of a bank account I cut checks for… Turns out it was an expense check for M! From last December! So I go downstairs to say, “WTF, dude, really? You couldn’t have cashed this any earlier??” And explain that the funds would probably be pulled from his account, but that we would reissue the check this week. Well M was on the phone, so I chatted with C while waiting for him to get off the phone. How does M end the phone conversation? “I gotta go, there’s a midget from accounting here about something.” … Really, dude?? lol Lately, he’s been working jokes about my height into every conversation he can. Luckily, I know I’m short, and have been teased about it for most of my life, so I can take the joke, and he has realized that I will just get him back somehow, which I think has got us caught in this cycling of pranking… Oh well, there are worse things in life XD

I was typing this story up over on smarch, and it reminded me of this other story about M… So when he first met me, he decided my nickname (which he finds one for everybody) should be a severely truncated version of my real name. Which I haaaaaate(d). Drove me crazy. So every time he would call me that, I would struggle to come back with some quip, or sometimes I would just resort to an obscene gesture. So my second year at work, after this has been going on for some time now, in front of coworkers and subcontractors alike, I get tasked with calling our vendors requesting W-9s. I call this one up, introduce myself, explain what I need, blah blah… After a second, the vendor apparently recognizes me over the phone, despite having *never* met me before, but goes on to say, “Hey, aren’t you the one that M is always ragging on?!” … Yes, yes I am. Why is this a thing that I am now recognized by. Lmao!!!

Crap, I had another story and I forgot it already…

Uhh…

Oops, I just remembered I was supposed to bake tonight. Guess I should go do that. … Kinda unmotivated to, now, but… I did sorta promise I would…

Oh, was I thinking of the door story? Maybe! I’ll tell the door story anyway.

So, our office is moving. Not super happy about it, but… whatever… A couple weeks ago, M was having an impromptu meeting during lunch with one of the people in the development department about the doors in our new office. They spent, like, an hour talking about freaking doors. So they finally finish up, and M is still going on about doors. Find out that we’re going to have these giant, 8′ 10″ doors in our office. Giant doors! And then he says something like, “They’re going to be twice your height!” Ummm no! I am 5′ 1 3/8″. That is NOT twice my height. … Close, but not quite! Only just over a foot too short to be twice, lol. See what I mean about the height jokes! It’s a never ending battle!

Something else I mentioned over on smarch, that I think is important…

This is the type of banter / environment I grew up in as a teenager. Not really around the house, my father rarely engaged in this type of joking around. He was never very good at it, it just always came across as awkward. Which, I’m sure the first few times I tried to crack jokes, I did as well, but I persisted! Because so many people around me did, as well. It would have felt out of place if I didn’t, and at that young and impressionable age, of course I wanted friends.

Nevermind that some of these friends were members of the amateur radio club my father and I were also members of, so that meant they were all his age bracket. I’m sure they changed their jokes a bit, being around a young girl. I did notice the tone change as I got older. They got more comfortable making err slightly inappropriate jokes. You know, “I like my coffee like I like my women, strong and black!” Not, you know, terribly inappropriate, but something more suited for an adult than a 14 year old girl. (Ha, that reminds me of another M story. He was getting our coffees after lunch, someone else asked how I take my coffee, and he replied with something like, “She went black and never went back!” I of course had to yell, “I HEARD THAT.”)

But it went for my school friends, as well. We were constantly mildly insulting each other, or teasing each other about some of our traits or habits. I can’t tell you the number of times my 6′ friends would rest their arms on my head or shoulder. *eye roll* It’s just how we all got along.

Of course, we can all have normal, adult, serious conversations. And I mean that across the board, for all my current and former friends (mostly only former because we’ve fallen out of touch over the years). We were all in-tune enough with each other, that if someone was having a rough time and needed to vent, we’d be there for each other, and we were all able to pick up on if the person could take some light joking to help bring them up. And for that, I am incredibly grateful for my current group of coworker friends. I have found a wonderful group of people that can not only sympathize with my struggles, but will listen while I vent, and I never have any worries about anything that is said getting back to people I may be venting about. And they know that I can be trusted as well, so they in turn have no qualms discussing their problems in front of me or with me.

I mean… I had this day a few months ago. It was a check run day, and I was super, super stressed out. My manager hadn’t done the cash sheet, so I didn’t know what I was able to spend, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a lot. But we had a fair amount of stuff that was due. I also knew that we had just paid off a bunch of stuff that, while it was technically due, we hadn’t been paid for, so we didn’t really have the float to spend it… But we did… So I was super stressed out, looking for my manager for answers or direction, could not find manager… Didn’t know what to do… so I went downstairs and talked with M for a bit about it. And he sat there and listened, and told me about some of the stuff he’d seen over the years, and his perspective of the company as a whole… He gets stuck in a similar position, though he’s in a different department. His contractors don’t get paid until we do, so it’s the same cycle, and he’s dealt with it for much longer. We ended up talking for, I dunno, half an hour, 45 minutes? And after that I felt a bit… well, not really better, but at least better equipped to go about my day without having a breakdown. Basically it boiled down to him reminding me that I can only do what I’m told I can do. I can say, “we need to pay x, y, and z” but if someone tells me not to, well, that’s on them at that point. Someone else has to approve all my stuff. And that if the phone calls asking for money become too much, start sending them up the chain. It’s what he does. But, so here I am, complaining about my manager, and higher ups in the company, with absolutely no concerns that he’s going to go sell me out. Do you know how comforting that is?

My last job was not like that at all. I didn’t know who I could trust. So I didn’t really talk to anybody about anything. There were one or two I was learning to trust toward the end. But I was no where near as comfortable with them as I am with the current group I found.

This I think is a big motivating factor for me not wanting to find a new job, even though I’m totally NOT stoked for this office move. Not only do I think I have room to grow professionally, I do actually like some coworkers. Yeah, there are the shitty ones, but the good ones by far make up for them.

“Judeo-Christian Values”

So… I’m reading through an article up on Stonekettle Station about DT’s statement regarding the “attack on Judeo-Christian values” *cough*bullshit*cough* and partway through, he starts talking about this interview with Roy Moore. You know, the one from Alabama who allegedly had relations with little girls. THAT Roy Moore. Anyway, he linked an interview done by Vox with Moore, and after some of the stuff I read in Wright’s essay, I had, JUST HAD, to go read this interview. Out of sheer disbelief.

That did not go well.

I yelled at my computer. A lot. And I had to stop reading multiple times because OH MY GOD how does anyone believe this shit. It’s so obviously WRONG, but here he is, SAYING THESE THINGS TO A REPORTER LIKE THEY ARE TRUE.

And I’m sorry, but I just have to vent about some of these things.

Moore: It was the duty to foster religion and foster Christianity. He said at the time of the adoption of the Constitution that “it was the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America that Christianity ought to be favored by the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience.”

He likes to conveniently forget the last part of that statement, which says, “so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience.”

Sure, create the Constitution based on what you know, and if it is a belief-system based on Christianity, go ahead and pull from that. Makes sense to write about what you know, yeah? But this Story guy even implied that there are things that are religious values / beliefs that NOT COMPATIBLE with universal values.

Moore: If you were a complete atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or whatever, you have freedom in this country to worship God and you can’t be forced otherwise.

I would just like to point out that atheists and Buddhist do not worship God. But that seems to have escaped him. And if I can reference back to Wright’s essay, “precise language is important.”

Moore: When you define religion, we get it all straight. You’re free to worship Buddha and Muhammed. The reason that is free is because of Christian principles. Because of the two tables of the law — the first table can’t be directed by government. He never gave Caesar the authority over the rights of conscience.

In fact, it says it right here if you look right there, that the rights of conscience are beyond the reach of any human power; they are given by God and cannot be encroached on by any human authority without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural or revealed religion. …

Ok, there is so much going on here, that this might take a bit to unpack.

Did we define religion? Oh yeah, we did earlier, sorry, skipped over that part. He says, “People don’t explain the definition of religion. Put it right at the top, “Religion is the duties you owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it,” per the United States Supreme Court, per Joseph Story.” Religion is the duties you owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it. Ok, got it.

“… free to worship Buddha and Muhammed.” Not to be pedantic, but, well, since language is important… Pretty sure Buddhist don’t worship Buddha, and Muslims don’t worship Muhammed. Buddhist follow the teachings of the Buddha, and Muslims follow the teachings of Muhammed the prophet. Much like Christians don’t worship Jesus, they (or some of them) follow his teachings.

Something about tables…? I don’t understand this part. WTF is a table. Like, a coffee table? A table with columns and rows, listing out who can follow what ideas? I’m confused here.

“…the rights of conscience are beyond the reach of any human power…” WRONG. We are humans and we define our own rights of conscience.

Ok, hang on … Maybe I’m confused. What ARE these “rights of conscience”?

OED defines “freedom of conscience” as “The right to follow one’s own beliefs in matters of religion and morality.”

Wikipedia states that conscience “is an aptitudefacultyintuition or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong.”

And lastly, Encyclopedia.com says that, “Rights of conscience are political rights that protect people’s ability to do what they believe is morally best: they are political autonomy rights. ”

If your conscience tells you what is right and wrong, what is moral, and it is “beyond the reach of any human power” why have HUMAN MORALS CHANGED THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES.

It used to be moral to own slaves in the US.

It used to be moral to be a sexist and misogynistic douche.

It used to be moral to treat your daughter like property, and demand a dowry in exchange for marriage.

It used to be moral to not protect children.

It used to be moral to marry children off at 12.

And unless God has come down and there is a new Moses with some more stone tablets, I’m pretty sure that it was humans that decided what was “moral” needed to be redefined.

And, as an atheist, don’t you DARE tell me that my sense of morality was defined by some higher power and that I have no control over it. I make my own decisions, thank you very much, free will. I don’t need some stupid book to tell me what is right and wrong.

Therapy yesterday…

I go to a psychologist weekly (usually). We talk about a lot of stuff, from my marriage to work to friends to dreams, and even my writing sometimes. It’s been really helpful, I’ve figured out a lot of stuff, and obviously I’m still a work in progress. But it’s something I definitely recommend!

Anyway, last week I sort of dropped something in at the end, as is my trademark, almost. I mentioned that something that has been weighing on me off and on over the past year is this concept of “emotional cheating.” A friend brought it up ages ago, and it left me a bit unsettled, as I wasn’t sure I understood the concept. And I never really *thought* about it, it was just something that would surface every once in a while. So she tasked me with, over the course of the next week, trying to figure out what it meant to me. How I would define it.

So there was some journaling, with… well, some mixed results. I figured some stuff out, still unsure about others. But I did make some progress, at least!

I started off my session yesterday talking about this, and touched on some things that I came up with. And finally, FINALLY, I decided to bite the bullet and bring something up that I’ve considered bringing up at least once per month since I started seeing her. I admit, it was really scary. My fear has been that it is something SO TERRIBLE that I’m really abnormal and there is something wrong with me.

Turns out I’m not abnormal. At all. I’m in fact, perfectly normal. That everybody does this thing. Which I’m not admitting to here, because baby steps, ok.

So we ended up talking about this for a huge chunk of our session. And I felt a bit embarrassed about parts of it, but her constant reassurance was soooooo helpful. Ultimately, I felt really relieved at the end of it.

But here’s where the other shoe drops.

So I leave to go back to work (I use my lunch hour for this) and I’m two minutes away. When it dawns on me.

THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL AND EVERYBODY DOES IT.

EVERYBODY.

And I just… my brain just kinda overloaded at that realization.

I know what I’m thinking.

WHAT THE HELL ARE OTHER PEOPLE THINKING.

Let me tell you. That was one of the most difficult afternoons at work ever.

Today was rough…

Work was super rough today. Yesterday, I wanted to code and enter a bunch of invoices that have been piling up over the past couple of weeks. Well I only got through the coding. When I went to upload them, the client’s software was being a right bitch. So I said, ok, I’ll do them tomorrow (today). So today I get in, and go to get started on them first thing. I get them all loaded, and it takes about 45 minutes, between the software just being slow and me being interrupted. I finally start in on entering, yay! But I have to stop to go to a meeting. Said meeting takes about half an hour. Come back, more entering. And then by the time lunch rolls around, between the software being terribly slow and even more interruptions, I’m maybe halfway done. FML. Go to lunch, because fuck this shit, I am so done with the “I have all this shit to do, I’m just gonna work through lunch” mindset, it is NOT good for my mental health. Especially this, because I desperately needed a break, and thought coming back refreshed would be beneficial. Get back from lunch, more entering, and finally, an hour and a half later, I’m done! Thank. Fucking. Shitchrist.

Then I get to move on to the stuff that yesterday, before the whole entering thing got axed, I thought I’d be starting at, ya know, 8am today.

Then finally it’s 3:30. Fuck this shit.

On top of all of this… I have this one coworker, M, who… Is a bit of a prankster. We haven’t really been close, up until this past year. But I started eating lunch with M & comrades, there’s 6 total including me that make up the usual group. So I’ve gotten closer to all of them, to varying degrees. M perhaps moreso than anyone else, outside of A, because (1) they’ve worked there for long periods of time, so they’re good for advice, and (2) because with my changing job duties, I get to interact more with them. And there’s just something about them. Now that we’ve gotten past the semi-awkward, only know each other well enough to make small talk, phase and have moved into relatively comfortable territory, I’m actually getting to know them as people and friends, not just coworkers.

Anyway. So M is a bit of a prankster. Getting to know M, we’re starting to edge into … geez, how do I describe this. I don’t want to say meaner pranks, but stuff that you wouldn’t do with people you don’t know very well, because you don’t know how they’ll take it. Well, me being me and overly paranoid and anxious, I was worried that our last interaction, I might have crossed a line. Why do I think this? Because heaven forbid M actually work, oh no, M must be avoiding me. Yes, brain, this is completely true. *sigh*

So not only was I frustrated about what I got accomplished today (or lack thereof) but I was also anxious that M wanted to push me away a bit.

ALSO. I was just reminded. I had a laughing while breathing issue at lunch today, and inhaled a small piece of spicy noodle. And I think it’s STILL IN MY GODDAMN SINUSES. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

But, the plus side is that I did see M towards the end of the day, and confirmed that yes, I was absolutely worrying about nothing, M is still going to be antagonistic, so I will feel free to dish it right back out. 😀

It’s amazing how that one little interaction affected my mood… But that happens a lot to me. Sometimes I wish I could turn my brain down…

Election Day!

I was a bit torn today on whether or not to go vote, I have to be honest. There were a few county seats and local seats up, and just 3 issues on the ballot, so I wasn’t sure it would be worth my time. But I decided on my way home from work that I was going to.

The seats, honestly I couldn’t care less about. Supervisor, sheriff, … some others…

But the big thing I cared about was the first issue, which was the Constitutional Convention.

I started seeing yard signs for this issue a month or two ago, and had absolutely no idea what it was. Queue up the research hat. Turns out, New York state is special (surprise!) and every 20 years, votes on whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention. This is a chance to basically wipe the slate clean and re-write the state Constitution, and bypass the normal legislative procedures. So it’s very, VERY fast in comparison. The catch is that all the changes made must ALL pass. So if there’s say 7 things up for a vote, and only 6 of them pass, it doesn’t count and nothing happens.

A lot of people are against this for a number of reasons. One of the big ones I’ve seen is that state pensions could be jeopardized. And I know a fair number of people who would be affected by that. Also, it’s a big expense with no guarantee of any meaningful outcome, other than a giant waste of everybody’s time and money. It’s also interesting in that anybody can run to be a delegate, and there is no limit on contributions to these delegates. Which is a bit scary. I mean, that opens the floodgates of potential corruption (“corruption”) and buying off delegates.

MID BLOG UPDATE: Apparently we decided NOT to have a Constitutional Convention. By an astounding majority at this point. NYT is reporting that 81% voted against it. This is not particularly surprising… I don’t think anybody I talked to about it was in favor of it.

Personally, I was on the fence about it, and didn’t decide until I had my ballot in front of me. On one hand, there is the potential for things to go terribly against what I would be in favor of. But on the other hand… that same potential could mean amazing things could happen! Do you keep with the devil you know, as my coworker stated earlier, or do you risk it all for the unknown?

The important thing though is that I voted. And I got my sticker.

America is not the greatest country in the world

Facebook kindly reminded me that a few years ago, I shared the opening clip to the TV show Newsroom. Here is the important part: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkgJZntgaEc

I was resharing it on Facebook, and realized I could go on for much, much longer about how much this resonates with me, so I cut it short and decided to bring the babbling over here.

I think the part that resonates the most with me this time around is:
“We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior.”

Shit is complicated. Unless you are an expert or have spent ungodly hours researching something, chances are you don’t know everything there is to know about any one given topic. You may think, “Well I know enough,” but that’s not true, that’s never true. One example, one deviation from the norm, that is not enough. Try to learn, try to understand, try to see things from another perspective.

I think I’ve spoken about this previously, perhaps not on here, but this relatively neatly loops together the backfire effect and the attitude of “educated” people to those who are not.

It’s so, so easy to pull one little fact that supports your belief and say, “Hey, here is proof that I am correct!” and leave it at that. And when someone tries to explain to you why you might be wrong, a couple things happen. One is that hey, they’re sounding kind of condescending, so you’re less inclined to listen to them. Another is that they’re potentially threatening one of your core beliefs, can’t have that! This is very strongly a part of who I am, and I cannot admit to being wrong! So all this combined with any opinions you have about the other person makes it so very difficult to have an actual discussion about anything without it devolving into a fight. (Or someone getting offended and leaving.)

I don’t know if it’s people don’t want to learn, people don’t know how to learn, or what. But there are a fair number of people out there that, even though they may ask “I don’t understand, can someone explain?” are unwilling to hear out the other side.

Take the “Welfare Queen” stereotype, for example. This was some made up concept (by Reagan?) to bias people into thinking that everyone on welfare was just lazy and taking advantage of the system. They don’t want to work if they know they’re going to get free stuff! Nevermind the people that have lost their jobs and need to figure out how to make ends meet for a few weeks or months in the interim. Nevermind the single parents who can only take a low-paying job because they need a flexible schedule. Nevermind the college students who get fucked by their schools and literally don’t have enough hours in the day to work and study. And nevermind the people who had an unexpected medical issue come up and have to choose between hospital bills, food, and rent each month. But goddamn it, one person freaking bought steak and lobster with food stamps, so everybody must be doing that. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck that.

Intelligence is not something to be shunned. Trying to have a discussion is not something to be shunned. Not everybody is out to prove you wrong, and I’m not trying to say you’re a bad person for your opinions. (Usually.)

Can we all try a little harder to embrace these ideas?

Long time no blog…

And of course it’s nobody’s fault but my own! Because I have commitment issues, or fear of being judged, or whatever other excuse you’d prefer. Or maybe I’m just easily distractable! (This is definitely part of it.)

So what’s going on in my head right now? A few things, but in particular, I need to use this space to discuss something that happened at work yesterday.

I ended up taking Oct 27 (Friday) and Oct 30 (Monday) off of work. In the back of my head, I was regretting it a bit, because it’s a bad time of the month for me to take off, and I was worried about falling behind on work. Which, yeah, happened, but I think I’m mostly caught up now, at least.

Also, right before I left, things between my department and another department started to … uhh… become a bit tense, I guess? I’ll try to give the short version here… Someone in the other department (I will call this person FF for short, no, not initials, but every time I’ve mentioned this person to another coworker, he find a way to work in “Oh you mean that fat fuck, (insert name)?” So… FF.) (Yes, it’s means, no, I don’t care, this person is not nice.) So anyway, FF is in charge of doing task B. Task B is dependent on my department doing task A. Well, due to staffing issues, task A wasn’t getting done in a timely manner. So, understandably, when there was a sudden flurry of task A being done over the past couple of weeks, I understand not being able to keep up with task B. Fine. But when I reach out to FF and ask “Hey, our cutoff deadline for October task B was yesterday, you still have A LOT of task B to do, do you think you’ll be able to make a dent in this this morning? Please let me know.” and you know…. get NO RESPONSE …. I get a little frustrated.

We tried to take steps to prevent situations like this from occurring. We… No, strike that…. *I*. I made a calendar that listed cutoff dates and deadlines, and had my manager send it out to everybody (or almost everybody) involved so that nobody could be surprised by any expectations. This apparently failed…

So I have a bit of anxiety on Monday, wondering what the hell I’m going to come back to on Tuesday. Where I left things on Thursday, my manager was talking to FF’s manager, and that FF’s manager was apparently either playing CYA or was really ignorant about what was going on.

Also, wow, this is not the short version, I apologize.

So I come back on Tuesday. Find out shit hit the fan on Monday. (1) FF stated that it was completely unreasonable to do the amount of asked task B, because of whatever reasons, but also because FF needed to work on a certain project that was assigned A MONTH AGO. (2) My manager told FF’s manager that FF was lying about frequency of doing task B. That did not go over well. (3) FF and FF’s manager went downstairs to the basement conference room and there were loud discussions about something, according to my friend, coworker A, who works RIGHT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE THIN CONFERENCE ROOM WALL. (4) When FF said, “I don’t have enough time to do task B”, the relationship manager for this client said, “Ok, fine, I’ll do task B.” And relationship manager was NOT happy about having to do (relatively low-level) task B. I talked with him on the phone a couple times on Tuesday, and you could just hear it in his voice that he was pissed off.

SO! Because shit hit the fan on Friday/Monday, the things I was expecting my manager to do did not get done. And I do not believe these were unreasonable expectations. These were things we talked about, and when I left on Thursday, it was with the promise that these things would get done. And then they weren’t. So I started my week off mad at my manager… great.

Tuesday goes by… I’m stressed out, but I get a couple specific things done, that needed to be done by the 1st. Yay!

Wednesday comes. I do a series of steps that are necessary before anybody can do the following two things for this client: Monthly financial reporting, and invoicing. The reporting is more important, by far. So I go up to my manager and say, “Hey, so I’m done with [blah blah steps]. How do you want to do the reporting this month? Do you want me to start it and you review it, or do you want to do it?” I should mention here that the first two months of reporting, he completed. Last month, I ended up doing it … because … he was sick? I think? And it needed to be done, so I took some initiative and did it, but I left it for him to review. So I do know the basics, and it’s really not that hard, but because this is something that gets passed around at a higher level (after other internal review, of course) I would feel much more comfortable with another layer of review between me and the final product. Knowing all this, and also having whatever else on his plate that needed to be done yesterday, he said I should go ahead and start it. Ok, that’s fine. Not really, but it needs to be done, and I’d rather do it and push back some of the less important stuff than have it NOT BE DONE. Which was a genuine worry.

Thursday rolls around. I spend the morning catching up on other stuff, because I realize my desk is too chaotic and I need to *finish* some things before starting in on this reporting. Thursday afternoon I spend a few hours preparing for it. While I did have all the data together and in one file to use for the reporting, it did need to be sorted and segregated and double checked and… yeah, so there’s some additional prep-work that I had to get done. I started in on it, got the first page done, decided it was about an hour till it was time to go, and I was very tired and wasn’t sure working on this would be the best use of my time. (Tired = mistakes.) So I started working on this import that I was told needed to be done. Ran a report, exported to to Excel, started sorting things and rearranging… realized I couldn’t remember a certain entity number for one of the properties… Looked up a prior one in our accounting software… Discovered that, hey wait a minute, all this data that would need to be imported because it didn’t integrate correctly? Yeah, it integrated. Somebody (my manager) didn’t actually READ the error that was generated, and just assumed the entire thing failed. Thank god I discovered this so early, or I could’ve spent major time on it unnecessarily. Still… pretty annoying to discover that I was told I would need to spend 3 hours on doing this import, and that nobody double checked to make sure I ACTUALLY would have to do that.

Ok, so… now it’s Friday. Friday is when I do my check runs. You know, one of those things that was supposed to happen while I was gone? That didn’t? So I’m a little stressed about that, but I know that I cannot do anything until my manager does the cash sheet for this week. (Basically, another check of how much money we actually have available, and it’s got a forecast built in, so it gives us an idea of an acceptable range of how much we can spend this week.) I know I’m on hold, so I go do some little things, start in on the reporting … 9am rolls around and my manager isn’t around. Ok, sometimes he’s late, but usually if he’s going to be *this* late, he lets somebody know, and if that somebody isn’t me, the somebody does let me know. So I go over to one of the other managers and ask, “Hey, did you hear from my manager this morning?” “No, why? Isn’t he here?” “Uhhh… no.” Dunno what happened, but now:

(1) I am a bit frustrated that I have to do the financial reporting, something I was not planning on having to do, on top of being behind on various things because I was off for two days.

(2) I am pretty annoyed that I almost spent a ton of time doing an import that wouldn’t have been required, goddamnit why is it so hard to double check things. (And this is a conversation we’ve had before, and his justification? Depending on the specifics, either it would take him too long to do it when someone else could do it faster, or it’s not his job, both of which are really shitty and petty excuses in my mind.)

(3) I’m really frustrated that he decided that being responsible was optional today, and was late and also didn’t let anybody know. (I actually ranted about this to two coworker, C & M, Thursday afternoon. I don’t remember how it came up, but I basically said, “Look, dude, you’re over 40. I don’t really care if you stay up too late playing video games or eat junk food and then feel shitty the next day, but goddamnit be an adult and take some fucking responsibility for your actions!” So… this was fresh in my mind Friday morning…)

WOW this really is not the short version. Sorry again. We’re almost to the end though…

Finally, he shows up. I can tell he’s not in a great mood, probably because the manager I was talking with antagonized him a bit via text, but… well… he deserved it. I let him get settled… Then go over. “Hey manager, did you do the cash sheet yet?” No. “Do you have any kind of guess for what I can spend this week?” No. “O… ok… I’m gonna go back over here and work on the reporting…”

He comes over a bit later, and we’re talking about… something or other… his phone rings, he ignores it, we’re talking … He leaves …. Then my phone rings, because the relationship manager (see above) apparently knows that if he can’t get ahold of one of us, we’re somewhat interchangeable and if the other can’t help, will know where the first one is and will make sure whatever needs to get done will get done. (I find this both funny and depressing at the same time…) RM: “Hey btw that meeting I need the reporting for is actually 2 days earlier this month, so I definitely need that report today.” Me: “Uhh.. ok, so when were you going to tell us this?” RM: “I just did! Besides, according to your calendar, it was going to be done today anyway!” Me: “Yeah, but I thought I had some buffer time in case stuff came up!” So, yeah, now I’m stressed about having a hard deadline when I thought I had a soft one. Cue panic, headphones, and loud music.

Lunch time rolls around… I go downstairs with a yogurt and an energy bar, not really feeling like eating because of stress… A wanders in, then S wanders in, so they’re getting settled, when…. my manager walks in. The jist was…. Him: “So hey, do you want to go to lunch with me & P (other coworker)?” Me: “Eh, no not really.” Him: “You sure you don’t want to go to lunch?” Me: “Nah, I’m good.” There were other words, either A or S asked why they were going to lunch, and my manager replied because it had been a shitty week, and finally my manager left, after about my third time declining.

I go back downstairs later in the afternoon for supplemental coffee, end up talking with C & M. I tell them what happened, since they missed it, and add on… “The whole time, I’m biting my tongue trying not to say, ‘the reason I don’t want to go to lunch with you is because I’m mad at you for not doing your damn job!’ Jesus fuck, dude.” And then they start laughing and comment that spending time in the basement with them is apparently rubbing off on me.

I almost always feel better after talking to them, or one of them, either one, really. I know that their area acts as a sort of confessional space. What is said down there, especially if it involves how people feel about their coworkers or work in general, stays down there.

Anyway… The thing that is really frustrating about the whole situation is that my manager either seems to be completely clueless that I’m pissed off at him, or he knows and thinks that the appropriate way to deal with this is not to buckle down and get work done, but rather to engage me in small talk that distracts me from MY work, including asking me, “So how’s it going?” (One of these days, I’m going to answer that question honestly and possibly get in trouble.) Like, “Oh, Tamishu’s not in a good mood, let’s talk to her about things that will make her feel better!” No, let’s not talk about not work, because the thing that will make me feel better is GETTING THIS SHIT FUCKING DONE. If he wasn’t the reason I was behind on stuff, I might appreciate the gesture more. (I mean, going and killing half an hour talking with C & M about whatever the hell? That made me feel better, but they weren’t the source of my frustration.)

But it boggles my mind that I can ask the question, “Did you get [task] done?” repeatedly, get the answer of “no” every single time, and this person doesn’t make this connection.

And the problem I have is: How the HELL do I tell my manager that the problem is him, and not come across like a jerk? I know I can’t do it in the moment, that will only lead bad places. But… how do I say, “Jesus dude shut the fuck up and go do what I asked you to do days ago, and then I’ll be not mad at you, ok?” Cause, you know… he’s my manager, so I can’t exactly demand that he do anything. And while we do have a degree of casualness, and I do sometimes make “demands” like that, it’s always been in a joking manner and offense has never been taken. (Or if it has, it’s been forgotten shortly thereafter, and I’m assuming not a big deal.)

I really don’t mind working with the guy 95% of the time. It’s just been one of those weeks that was going to be high stress even if everything went smoothly, which of course it didn’t, and all the things that have individually been snowballing over the past couple of weeks have now reach critical snowball all at the same time.

Father’s Day

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of Father’s Day this year. I mean, Mother’s Day was… The writer in me wants to say “quite traumatic” but that’s a bit misleading. It was more revelatory, I guess. I’m still working through what some of it means. So, like I said, not really sure what to expect out of this day.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me near as much. Seriously. Mother’s Day, especially this year, really rubbed something the wrong way. It’s been a weird holiday for me for most of what I can remember, what with my mom passing when I was 8. Teachers would have little projects for us to do for various holidays, so I learned to substitute people in for “mother”. Like, my father, my aunt, or my grandma. Best intentions and all, I’m sure, but a bit weird for me. A few years ago, I remember really starting to see people talking about others who may have a hard time on Mother’s Day. People without mothers, with absent mothers, who wish they could be mothers, etc. And I thought that was pretty nice. But I dunno, this year I was just overcome with all this frustration at basically anybody who dared mention the holiday.

My mom died. That was something completely out of my control. My father, on the other hand, I willingly don’t talk to him. I haven’t spoken to him in almost 6 years.

So this year, what with the insanity that this past year has been, I figured I might have some different emotions this year. Guilt, regret, longing. Heck, maybe even frustration and jealousy of other people’s happiness.

What do I have?

Desire to tell the people that were more father-figures to me than mine ever was just how important they were to me.

Enjoyment at other people’s cute pictures on phaseborg.

Exactly zero feelings one way or the other about my own father.

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

The bonds we make by choice are stronger than that which we are born with.

Free will at it’s best.

Happy day.