Archives for posts with tag: Work

My current job involves being in an office for the most of my workday. Six out of eight hours most days. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Compared to many of my coworkers who spend their six hours in cubicles, I got lucky. This office has a door that I can close and a window where my sweet little plants can get some sun.

Even on a snowy March day like today:

Office Plants

Plants to improve my day, my experience of the workplace. HuffPo agrees.

I am content in my job. The hours aren’t bad. The pay is reasonable. Sometimes I get to help people with problems that seem big in their lives. The aforementioned plants seem happy here. But I’m not entirely fulfilled. This is not my dream job. I have not become what I wanted to be when I grew up (which was actually a comedian – that’s a story for another post).

Maybe that’s okay.

Instead of actively looking for a new job, I’m considering how much I need to be fulfilled by my job. Perhaps my fulfillment doesn’t lie with my career but rather with my family and my writing and my garden and my life outside of this not-too-bad office. Maybe contentment is exactly the level of fulfillment I need.

Then again making a little more money would be nice for all those other life events…

Daily Post


With students away on spring break the campus where I work is blissfully still. Halls quiet. Bathrooms clean. No line at the coffee shop. No need to dodge the ear-budded crowd who can’t look up from their phones and iPods even for a moment.

This also meant Woodstock the therapy chicken had some free time:


Yes, we have a therapy chicken. Woodstock is a part of the University’s “Pet Away Worry and Stress” (PAWS) program. She and a room full of patient dogs (who are mostly plotting ways to eat the aforementioned chicken) hangout here on campus for a few hours every Wednesday afternoon. The concept of this program melts my heart. Student who rarely look up at the world around them need this connection, a sweet, calm chicken and some lovelorn pups. A moment to step outside themselves.

The wife and I dutifully listened as Woodstock’s lookalike handler explained all things therapy chicken:


I’m listening in that picture, really, but I’m also wondering if the twinsies look is intentional. Did the lady choose the chicken because they have the same hair color? Did the chicken choose the lady? Is her hair permed to match Woodstock’s glorious fluff? Maybe it’s all natural. Maybe their pairing is fate. I pet Woodstock like I’m told, gently and down her back. We don’t know each other well enough for a head-rub. Then we’re on our way.

Not a bad way to end the work day.

This morning I walked in the office to this question:

“What’s that thing called that lets a girl stand up and pee?”
“I don’t know, man. Google it. Look up something like female urinal.”
“I don’t think I should google that at work.”
“Yeah probably not.”

I spend most of my day at a computer. This means, even when I’m busy I have one or two distraction windows open – facebook or buzzfeed or wordpress. Maybe something more specific the Wikipedia page for Margaret Schilling who died in a mental institution in 1978. Her body, it is said, left an impression on the floor that can still be seen today.

Let’s blame the imminence of Halloween for the gruesome breadcrumb trail that led me to this search. Now who should be more worried? My coworker with this search for the Go Girl (yes, we found it) or me and my ghoulish searches on defunct mental hospitals? Maybe we both should worry.

In the meantime (to kill a little time and help the workday pass) I would recommend this review of the six “Scariest Abandoned Mental Asylums in America” by the Stuff You Should Know guys.

Two or three days a week I ride the bus to work. The stop is a seven minute walk from my house and the ride never lasts more than fifteen minutes – even with steady traffic. Buses have the right of way after all.

Three stops after mine a woman gets on the bus, let’s call her Katie. Katie looks a bit like a librarian – well, most people on my bus do. Most of us work at the University. We wear professional yet durable clothes. Every morning Katie carries a ceramic coffee mug onto the bus. Not a travel mug, not something with a lid, a regular ceramic coffee mug. The impracticalness of that choice astounds me.

Katie has “bus friends”, her term not mine. She seems genuinely excited to see them each morning though, from what I’ve gathered, they don’t know each other beyond that short ride. Katie is getting married soon. A week from today actually. She doesn’t care for her girlfriend’s brother. He can’t throw a bridal shower to save his life, “not a balloon in sight.” Katie wants to open her own store. This university gig is just for now, just until she can get that store idea worked out.

Katie doesn’t know who I am.

If Katie’s voice didn’t carry like it does, if she didn’t talk from the moment she gets on the bus until the moment she leaves, I wouldn’t know these things about her. I’m not sure I should know all of this about her.

Our little poodle was sick for the first time last week – trust me you don’t want to know the details. I took half a day off work to get these expensive pictures taken of her:


All clear. Even in black and white she’s adorable.

Whatever she ate off the sidewalk isn’t lodged inside her somewhere. She doesn’t have a tumor growing around her tiny little stomach. Whatever she has seems to be something akin to the dog stomach flu and she is recovering.

Still, I’m glad we went to the vet. That day, however, I was a bit conflicted. Should I really leave work for my dog? Am I that dog-mom? Then I was angry about being conflicted. For the time being, this little poodle is my baby. Hell yes I should leave work. What if she is bleeding internally? What if she ate something poisonous? What if she is about to explode!? She isn’t exactly a wolf in the wilderness, capable of caring for herself – despite what she may think.

I am grateful for a work schedule that makes taking a half day possible. I am grateful for a boss and coworkers who understand what it means to shift your life around a dog’s health. I didn’t expect to be this kind of pet owner but I can’t imagine being any other kind.

My job is about 50% customer service. More often than not this is the 50% of my job that I like best. It’s different every day. I see new people. Sometimes they are funny. Today, one man was not funny. Not at all.

The whole incident began because he says I disrespected him last week. I didn’t. As simple as that, I have never been anything but patient and respectful to this difficult man. It’s a long story but I give you my word on that. Are you on my side, dear reader? I hope so.

On that note, he said these things to me today:

“Don’t you know who I am?”
“I would slap you if you were a man.”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Do you see me in your bed at night?” (I’m assuming that one meant that I’m not his wife so I cannot tell him what to do. I am not even going to venture a guess at where else this might have been headed.)
“You are white trash.”
“I will slap you next time I see you.”

Through the repetition of these phrases (yes, all were repeated time and again) I still do not know what he wanted. I remained composed and asked him to not speak to me in that manner and apologized if anything I said seemed disrespectful. Two coworkers stood by as we let the man rant and they walked him out when he escalated his threat.

I left the area and went for a walkabout. (A cry-about, truthfully, and I hate that he made me cry)

By the time I returned to the officer – calmer if a little red in the face and about the eyes – word had gotten around. The event of the season. The boys in my office were concerned but not over bearing, the girls said I should have slapped him. My manager swore repercussions for such action.

Today I am grateful for that mean man. He reminded me that whatever else is going on, these people are on my side. It doesn’t matter who didn’t clean the coffee pot or didn’t answer the phone fast enough. They give a shit, at least a little. At least when there is some drama.

Each morning, I leave my house before the street lights switch off. Before the frost begins to fade from roofs and cars and piles of leaves. Before my little poodle thinks it is reasonable to leave her tent. By the time I reach the highway the sun is no more than a ribbon of pinkish, orange on the horizon.

I am not a morning person.

These early starts can break my spirit, particularly because grad school spoiled me. I just want to stay in my warm bed and sleep until the sun rises and let Charlie Rose tell me about all the day’s news.  But, alas, I’m an adult. So I get up, make myself presentable, and try find the things I can be grateful for after I leave my warm home.

Today I am grateful for no frost on my windshield, a green light at the corner, reasonable bus drivers and pedestrians down Lyndale, Brandi Carlile on the radio, no wait at the interstate ramp, only one jackass Minnesotan merging like a crazy person and this view as I walked into work:

Yep, I was right. Gratitude lists make me feel better. Happy Monday, folks.

In my new job I spend most of my day sitting beside the same eight people. They are decent folks. They don’t smell. They don’t mind that I swear a little too often. We even have enough in common to keep the small talk from escalating into heated political debates (which seems like an extra plus this time of year).

Yet, as I near the one month mark, my patience has begun to run thin:

Nothing big. Just a laugh that lasts a little too long or a comment about my shoes that I can’t quite read or the speed they walk or their dumb faces. No, no, no. This can’t get out of control. I can’t be tired yet. So I breathe and smile and try to put it all in perspective. We’re lucky to have this job. All of us. It pays pretty well and 95% of the time it is only forty hours a week. That’s not bad. Plenty of time for TV and books and people I like outside those forty hours. I breathe and they laugh at my jokes and we’re ok.

Then again, maybe I’m just mad because this is what I packed for lunch today:

I’ll pack something better, something not so beige tomorrow. That ought to help.

Louie came to Minneapolis and 3,000 of us paid $45 to be in the same room with him.

Someday I will remember to bring my camera along. Sorry.

Holy shit do I love him. I laughed and smiled enough that my face hurt. That’s a damn fine hurt, let me tell you. His humor makes me feel good about the world and the humans that fill it. Even though we are assholes sometimes we can be good too. If a guy like Louie can see it, why can’t everyone?

Wait, maybe Louie is just a life coach disguised as a comedian.

I’m ok with that.

With the new job, it’s good to go out like this – something out of the ordinary and out of our neighborhood. The bar up the street won’t always cut it. Nor will the coffee shop or the park. Even a good fall TV lineup needs some variety. Now that I’ve settled into a real routine, I can see the value in getting out. Even when I’m tired or anti-social, two hours with Louie makes the difference.

Revolutionary, right?

During my employment-free summer, I had all the time in the world to read. Why yes I’ll read that 600 page tome. My pleasure. I’ll just stack it next to a novella and all will be right with the world. I was casual and carefree. Even my reviews felt low pressure and unreasonably upbeat. I didn’t know then how good I had it. (Ok, maybe I kind of knew.)

Two weeks into my new job and I have read fifty pages. That’s it. A sad Obama ’08 bookmark sticks out of my current novel – just barely past the cover – as a judgment on my new life. My life where reading takes a backseat to eating, staring at the computer, playing with the dog, watching TV, staring at the TV and sleeping.

I want to fix this but I know better than to declare that I will. Not yet. I’m not yet sure how I’ll get back to my dear books. My brain needs them. My imagination misses them. Yet I can’t commit. I keep hoping they will find space in my day. At lunch perhaps. Maybe if I let one come to work with me, if I let it stare at me all day, maybe then I will read instead of trolling the internet when I have a few minutes to kill at the end of the day.


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