Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Even the smallest project can take so much longer than you expect.

I started knitting a blanket a year ago, it is still unfinished.

I left the passport agency to pursue school and that is still undecided.

I helped take apart/remodel a condo, and it is still unlivable.

I get very very upset when I feel broke and unaccomplished, and I often dwell on those thoughts way too much. In truth, since 2011 is nearing an end, I know I have accomplished a great deal. It's surprising when I really think about it, and really good to know that I was useful and helpful and gained wisdom and stood up for myself a few times when things got crazy.

I am not proud that I hung up the phone on my grandma that day. I agonized over it for an entire week, and of course I was the one to initiate the first phone call back. However, I knew it was wrong and downright crazy to scream and yell at me like that. She didn't understand the point I was trying to make, or any point I ever try to make, and she went ballistic. It's a common quality on my mom's side of the family to scream whenever they want to say anything. It has come to a point where just being around them sends my entire body into a cringe. I always cower and walk away or argue just to be shot down, and it is never worth it.

Surprisingly one of the best things I have ever done was hang up on her because I learned that I can illuminate the bad behavior that way. It also allowed me to exert control and maintain sanity. It's never a mature response, and I worried that she would be overcome by such disrespect that she wouldn't get why I had to do that. I never in a million years thought that she would apologize to me, but when I finally called her back she did.

When I was back in town for a wedding there was a day where I decided we were getting rid of Uncle Jim's car. Dad had already taken it to a mechanic for an assessment and found it to be a death trap. The damn thing reeked of cigarettes and was so filthy and rusted it was overwhelmingly depressing just to sit in it for a half hour. A high school near my parents have an auto shop for students so we donated.

While my dad and I were in the process of various paperwork signing, my mom called about a hundred times. She and my dad were to meet with a contact at a non-profit about job searching that afternoon. We thought we would get back in time but definitely cut it too close. As we were about to leave I called to tell her where my car keys were so she could get there first. She answered the phone just screaming. SCREAMING about how I fucked her over and this was important to her and now they'll make a bad impression and it was all my fault and on and on and on, without me getting a chance to say anything. So again, my brain said, "turn it off," and I hung up.

I have no regrets about this action. It is ridiculous to let anyone barrage you with insults and abusive behavior. I'm not going to let it happen again. I am especially not going to let it happen when I am helping out in the first place.

I can't help but be reminded of that scene in The Holiday where Kate Winslet's character tells her ex-boyfriend that she's pretty sure she's got gumption, and slams the door in his face. Yes, yes yes.

About a month after all of this I was working for a previous employer in a high stress situation. It was a particularly bad night because we were all over-worked and over-scheduled and dealing with an insane amount of traffic to get where we needed to go. I was coordinating all transportation for a major event and needed to get people to several places all at the same time. Some people involved reacted badly when they found out there were stops along the way to our destination that evening, and refused the service only to wait longer for the next ride. Very stupid. When I finally had a driver available to pick up my boss at the office, she completely freaked out that there were other guests in the car. Furious, she screamed bloody murder at me telling me that this was embarrassing and unprofessional.

She had no idea that people refused to get into a car and caused a delay. She didn't tell us that a guest changed their fight itinerary causing a driver to wait 45 minutes at the airport for nothing that evening. She also didn't know that one of my drivers got lost 3 times and didn't know how to get to the event after she picked up 14 people in her van. She also didn't know that I had just gone from venue to venue to venue to hotel to hotel to event to hotel to event when I realized that I desperately had to pee and I hadn't eaten anything in 7 hours. Yet, despite this terrible schedule and bad planning it was somehow all my fault and I was getting an earful. My shock caused me to do something wildly unexpected. I don't know where I found these words at this very moment, but I said: "I did a great job today. You're welcome. I'm hanging up the phone now." And I hung up.

I was petrified at what I had done. Is it even more unprofessional to point out the insanity of your boss? I sat at a table shaking and barely able to eat what was put in front of me. Our event host talked me down and assured me that I did the right thing because my hands were tied, and there was no way I could have pulled it off better unless I had more staff.

Later that evening he came up to me and asked if I would go down and talk to my boss outside. As soon as I saw her there were tears in her eyes and I felt so bad about it all that we ended up hugging and getting teary together. Even as it started to seriously rain outside she wanted to stay out there and talk and go over everything and insist that there wasn't anything wrong with the schedule, it was that we had to communicate more often. I thought oh my god she really is insane. But honestly, she's a pretty awesome passionate person and I admire how much she can handle. However, I might have been the only person that bothered pointing out to her that we have limitations and some things can't be perfect, period. There comes a point where even the most workaholic managers could display some grace and be grateful for those trying their best to help.

I think we have to remind people and I certainly have to remind myself often that hey, I'm here. I'm in this too. I'm trying to help; I am trying to be of service. I've worked hard to get projects finished. I'm trying my best to accomplish goals and keep my head above water.

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