2016: The year that will NOT be my circus.

Today is New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2015. I had to work today, and although it was slow at work, I had two conversations that stood out. They stood out because I said the exact same thing to two different people facing two different situations.

First, I have a friend who has a confusing man-friend situation. Single ladies out there, you know exactly what I mean. She is frustrated by several aspects of their relationship (or non-relationship, as it seemed to me). I told her to stop beating herself up for the sake of someone who treats her the way he does. I told her to repeat after me, “This is NOT my circus. This is not my circus,” whenever she felt herself getting pulled into a troublesome ‘situation’ with said man-friend. Walk away, girlfriend! You will be happier and healthier in the long run.

Second, a friend/coworker called me at work today to check if I saw a message left for me. I had seen the message, and our conversation soon turned to work-related venting. Apparently, she was rather frustrated that other coworkers of our had not followed procedures, not informed her of a specific detail of a work assignment, and left her (by omission) out of the loop such that she didn’t accomplish something she should have accomplished earlier this week. (Incidentally, I also assured her, had I not been out of town on vacation, the situation would have never happened. Little good that did. She reminded me I needed the vacation as much as anyone.)

I told her to remember that this isn’t her circus and she can’t be blamed for someone else’s proven inadequacy. But here’s the kicker about friend #2: she is leaving her current work situation for (we hope) greener pastures, just as I am about to do. I reminded her that it’s going to be over soon. She’s moving on to a place where she can affect positive change and not just stagnate in the quagmire we find ourselves in here at our present location.

A bit later in the conversation, we came upon another topic of frustration to both of us and I repeated my earlier utterance: This is not my circus. I need to walk away and so do you.

Now at the risk of using too many cliches, let me tell you why this isn’t my circus:

  1. I cannot fix stupid.
  2. I cannot make people do understand their job, much less do their job.
  3. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Equally so is the lack of knowledge.
  4. These people are, believe it or not, adults. I don’t get paid enough to babysit my adult coworkers. One other coworker asked me last week what, if anything, will happen when I leave my job because no one else in the park has my skill set. (I really believe she was trying to point out the obvious, although I might not have been her real target audience.)
  5. All hell seems to break loose here on a regular basis. It stresses me out. It prevents me from being productive, which in turn, makes me feel lousy – physically and mentally.

So I must remind myself that I am a short-timer here and this is most definitely NOT my circus.

On that thought, I will begin the new year. I have a LOT of work to do in the next three weeks before I move to my new job. I am attempting to pare down my personal belongings before moving; I am trying to finish up several knitting orders and knitted projects/gifts; I am hoping to finish a book or two; I am trying to work towards my goal of drinking more water so I’m not dry and dehydrated this winter as I move back up to a higher altitude.

We all have goals for the new year. I have lots of things I want to accomplish. But for now, I’ll be content if I can just remember, “This is not my circus,” and just walk away.

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Topic of the Day: Graffiti in the White House Bathroom

Oh, there has to be an endless amount of graffiti in the White House bathroom. And given my penchant for national parks (yes, in case you didn’t know, the White House is cared for by the NPS) and all things written by Aaron Sorkin, these are my guesses:

*‘Martin Sheen made this look easy.’

*’Best bathroom in a National Park Service site!’

*’Oh, Andy! A C-minus in Womens’ Studies?!?’

*’Wish you were here!’

*’Aaron Sorkin used this more than me.’

*’POTUS schmotus.’

*’Hail to the Little Chief’

*’How much will the rangers fine me for this vandalism?’

*’I DID get lost on Dupont Circle!’

*’There’s a guy just outside this door. I think he is listening to me poop.’

*’POTUS > SCOTUS’

*’Some National Parks have privies. Sucks to be them.’

*’Call 1-872-664-7377 (1-USC-ONG-RESS) for a good time!’

*’Think I can find my own Dave?’

A Scene…

I really should get back to normal blog topics… This fiction writing is causing me undue stress.

Here’s the brief scene I wrote up about two of my characters. This is meant to follow the character sketch of Jess, which I posted a couple of days ago.

The phone rang and Jess jumped in her seat. As she reached for the phone, a voice behind her drawled, “Jess, we have a problem. Did you read the draft of the sign that Clay sent us?”

“Hang on, let me get this,” she sighed. “River Park, this is Jess.”

The man on the other end of the line described his planned trip to the park, and asked a few specific questions. Where can I camp for free? (Any where, there are no camping fees.) Where can I hunt mulies? (Sir, mule deer season was over two weeks ago, so you can’t hunt mule deer on public land until next November.)

Apparently upset with the regulations but satisfied with getting his opinions aired, Jess was able to sign off the call fairly quickly. She shut her eyes for a split second and took as silent a deep breath as possible.

“Ok, Gus, you were saying?”

Gus was tall and brown-haired with a mustache that belonged on some cowboy in an old spahgetti western and an equally annoying cheek full of chewing tobacco, despite regulations banning tobacco products from being used inside the office building.

Constantly reminding anyone who will listen of his many accomplishments, he often found people yawning around him. Some just gave up after the statement, “I’ve been doing this for twenty years.” This was Gus’ favorite tagline, and although he did not realize it, this became his go-to reason behind every decision he made. Nothing else mattered except that he had been doing this for twenty years.

Why did you choose that phrasing in your press release? I’ve been doing this for twenty years! Why did you mix up your employees’ days off on the new schedule? I’ve been doing this for twenty years! Why did you choose to not allow you employees their own desk space at which to work? I’ve been doing this for twenty years! Despite his self-assured demeanor, most people around him thought his life and actions disproved Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

“Did you read that draft that Clay sent us? What was your first impression?”

Jess thought for a brief moment. All images of Paris or the Alps were quickly gone from her mind. “Um, I found a few spelling and grammar errors in the text.”

“But what was your first impression?”

Jess had to resist the urge to remind Gus that this wasn’t her project and she had nothing to do with its creation. She had plenty to keep her occupied. “It was very busy.”

The conversation continued as Gus forcefully explained that he was rather disappointed in the draft and did not expect such poor results from the graphic designer. As usual, Gus described in great deal what the sign looked like and what was already on the sign — without actually saying what should be on the sign. He tended to react this way to many projects: he blathered about superficial details, because he really couldn’t speak to the substance of anything.

“Can you get me a new draft of this sign so I can show Clay what I want? Say, by tomorrow?”

Jess sighed and turned back to face the wordy draft on her computer screen. Two wordy projects, neither of which started off assigned to me, she thought to herself. I don’t get paid enough for this.

Two More Character Sketches: Matt and Gus

Matt is a self-described “caring narcissistic asshole” who was lucky not to get molested by priests, despite having grown up in a Catholic parish known for such a travesty. His experiences turned him to Buddhism to feel comfortable with life. He described his life path once in just this way to Jess.

To others around him, he seemed aloof. A quiet person at first, he watched people carefully when they talked. Careful not to claim either side of any arguement as his own, he was always quick with facts on both sides. This lead people to think he was neutral — and sometimes he even thought he was neutral. But this was a guise, to keep people at an arm’s length.

He was a sweet man with a troubled past, plagued by habitual drinking. When he felt comfortable and safe, the little boy inside who had known such hardships and danger was allowed to be free. Freedom of spirit lit up his face. When a genuine smile crossed that face, his light blue eyes crinkled at the corners and hid well those dark secrets inside.

As he trudged up a snowy mountainside that morning, the sun was bright and the winds calm. High up in the mountains he felt a sense of peace. A perfect day the leave the daily cares behind. His snowshoes crunched through the crusty thin upper layer of snow as he followed the trail to camp.

—–

Gus is tall and brown-haired with a mustache that belonged on some cowboy in an old spahgetti western and an equally annoying cheek full of chewing tobacco, despite regulations banning tobacco products from being used inside the office building.

Constantly reminding anyone who will listen of his many accomplishments, he often found people yawning around him. Some just gave up after the statement, “I’ve been doing this for twenty years.” This was Gus’ favorite tagline, and although he did not realize it, this became his go-to reason behind every decision he made. Nothing else mattered except that he had been doing this for twenty years.

Why did you choose that phrasing in your press release? I’ve been doing this for twenty years! Why did you mix up your employees’ days off on the new schedule? I’ve been doing this for twenty years! Why did you choose to not allow you employees their own desk space at which to work? I’ve been doing this for twenty years!

Despite his self-assured demeanor, most people around him thought his lifeĀ  and actions disproved Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Character Sketch: Jess

I have never tried fiction writing, and I really don’t know what to write. The last couple of days’ writing challenges have been fiction-related, so here is my feeble attempt at a character sketch:

Jess was short in stature but a giant in spirit. With penetrating eyes that didn’t hide many emotions, she tried her best to keep things to herself. She usually failed; people knew right away what she was thinking and feeling. Or so most people presumed.

One day, Jess sat at a desk at work, yawning as she tried half-heartedly to edit the page of information her boss gave her.

“How am I supposed to turn this into something worth reading?” she asked herself with a sigh.

She shook her head and turned away from her computer screen to look out the window. The wind rustled a few dry leaves on the ground.

The truth was that Jess was a continent away, sipping an espresso and watching the fashionable people stroll by her table outside a little Parisian cafe. Or maybe she was dipping a piece of bread into a fondue and listening to the skiers talk about their day in the Alps.

Thoughts? Comments?

Topic of the Day: What You’d Say to the Bully Who Tormented You

Well, let me preface by stating that I would never be able to actually say this. Because it would hurt a third person whom I care about deeply.

But here goes:

It must be so hard for you to keep up appearances. You and your guns and your racial slurs and your “house”.

You are just another example of the 1%, the white male privilege in the U.S.

Do people know that you are married, and expecting a baby, and yet you and your wife live for free while your parents foot the bill? Parents that are now on a fixed income. You got a free house, free utilities, and yet you talk about Obama taking away your lifestyle. You know, my mother sent me $40 for my birthday and I actually felt guilty.

You are really not fooling anyone. You are living a hypocritical lifestyle and you must be exhausted, keeping up those appearances, trying to find new ways every day to hide the truth. Like it or not, you’re a welfare case.

I was conditioned from an early age to not “squawk” and let you do to me whatever you wanted, just so we wouldn’t “fight”. “Fighting” was so bad. Ironic that the same person who enforced that voted for every war-mongering Republican as far back as I can remember. Obviously, he believed in standing up for yourself at some point. But clearly, that standard was not meant for me; I was never allowed to stand up for myself.

I have had to choose between health care and keeping a roof over my head. I have had to go without meals because I had to figure out how to pay bills. I know I have it much better than some, and I have learned how to get by. I have learned lots of things that help me every day. But every time I see you getting a free weekend at a winery or some other little getaway, I can admit it: I get jealous.

I have worked in some pretty amazing places. And travelling to and from those places has been really cool. But you know what? I always had a job waiting for me at each destination. And no one found those jobs for me. I had 2-3 part time jobs several semesters in school, just so I didn’t have to beg mom and dad for everything in life. I was trying (and sometimes failing) to be an independent adult. Have you ever even tried? Failure is guaranteed if you don’t try.

And people wonder why I just walk away from a bad situation and find something else today. How does one, conditioned to be a doormat, learn to stand up again?

Topic of the Day: Other than your clothes, what was with you the majority of your day?

Anyone who knows me will know exactly what I had with me on my Saturday morning.

First, yes, technically it’s Sunday. But it’s my Saturday since I work Tuesday through Saturday. Second, you might have expected me to be outside hiking, but it’s the last weekend of mule deer season in the park, so I’m no where near all those drunk men in orange vests.

I had two things with me today. My favorite coffee mug was never more than an arm’s length away, with somewhat lukewarm coffee, because it’s been that kind of a day. I pour a cup and get sidetracked.

My other ‘thing’ with me all day was my knitting. Mountain Woolies just did a local Christmas craft bazaar yesterday and we did alright. I was fairly happy with my profit, considering the size of the event. But now, I’m down to only a few pairs of gloves in my stash and at least two private orders to fill. So I had balls of red and white yarn and my favorite square U.S. #1 double point needles moving all day, transforming yarn like magic into wearable works of art.

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In the background, I had pbs.com playing on my laptop as I worked. I watched episodes of Craft In America, This Old House, and Rick Steves’ Europe.

Relaxing Saturday.