Today I walked into the conference room where I already knew I was in for a world of pain when the meeting agenda looked something like this:
BPR- Session 1.2e
Departments: PLM w/ PLC & CD
On Point: CEO, CFO, COO & other AF
Topics: Implementation & Integration of:
ERP, EDI, API: : B2B, B2C
I had already planned to stash a fork in my notebook in case it got so bad I decided it would be better to prong my own eyes out, but the obnoxious corporate acronyms were only the beginning. As I walked in, I was blinded by a sea of baby-blue collared button-down shirts tucked not-so-neatly into a dozen pairs of double-pleated-khaki pants. Needless to say my neon floor length maxi-dress didn’t exactly blend. As I was standing there trying to decide which pair of Johns I wanted to sit in between (I’m not kidding, 6 of the 10 men in the room were named John), I couldn’t help but wonder… who the hell invented the business-casual rules?
A history lesson: In the mid 19th century, a group of british troops were led into India wearing their usual heavy-weight uniform pant. One of the officers decided it was too damn hot to where the dense fabric so he traded them for a pair of the local light weight cotton pants. Fearing that it would look like he was wearing pajama bottoms, he dyed them with a native plant (mazari) in order to make them blend with the local terrain. The word “khaki” is actually the hindu word for “dust.” What can I say, the fad turned to a trend and the trend turned into mainstream normality and thus, here I sit in a room getting ready to have a “touch-base” where we’re going to “flow-chart” our “inter-departmental synergy.” gag.
Back to the point…
In this day and age, there is never, NEVER any reason to wear double-pleated-khakis. They do not make you look more put together. They do NOT make you look like the perfect combination of conservatively-appropriate yet casually-approachable. I’m actually not a fashion snob, I’m really not. But double-pleated-khakis are nearly a crime against humanity. And this isn’t just because of how unflattering, homely, stodgy or dowdy they look, it’s also because of how they make people act. I swear, once you put on a pair of these awful pants, you’re instantly turned into some sort of corporate zombie-robot. I have never seen so many thumbs-up or gun-point/side-mouth-clicks in my life. It was a sneak peak into my own private hell and I blame it on the double-pleated-khakis. So please, for the love of all that is holy, unless you are running for the mayor of Frumpy-town leave the DPK’s at home.
A confession… or two…
Sometimes I dress “cooler” than I really am when going to the salon in hopes that they will give me a “cooler” haircut.
Whilst driving, sometimes I think I’m Adele. (This involves much more than just singing at the top my lungs. I mean, I REALLY think I’m her.)
Sometimes I drink whiskey on a Tuesday evening… by myself.
Sometimes I think a whole lot about running away and joining (or forming) an artists’ commune.
I love vampires. Not in a creepy mouth-breather kind of way, but still in a weird whole-hearted genuine way.
I have a minor obsession with bad dance movies.
I have a fear of chairs. To be more specific, I have a pretty serious phobia of sitting on a chair at a restaurant and having it break, me flailing to the floor and an entire room of strangers laughing at me.
I used to have a crush on Jack Black.
I own and regularly watch the following movies: Girl Interrupted and The Craft.
I am afraid of spiders.
I wear mascara EVERY day. That part is less embarrassing than the reason why… Some days I fear I look like a guy; a chubby, unattractive, semi-feminine dude.
I’m in love with Tilda Swinton.
I’m a TERRIBLE speller.
Between the ages of 12 and 18 I filled at least a dozen journals with really, REALLY bad poetry. All of it rhymed.
A lot of people think I’m pretty confidant and competent, but most of the time I’m faking it and making it up as I go along.
My real name is not Jenilee Jubilee. From the start, I never really liked my given middle name. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a perfectly lovely name, it just never felt like it fit me. In seventh grade, however, something happened that dramatically moved me. After one memorable, epic afternoon, I made the immediate decision to change my middle name forever. Not in the legal way, just in the “lie anytime anyone asks you” way. For fifteen years I’ve kept this secret and now I’m going to share it with you.
The place: Lake Villa Middle School, a bleak, public junior-high in northern Illinois, housing 500 miscreants during the worst 3 years of most of their lives. If not the worst, then definitely the most awkward.
Me: Age 13. Stuck in a phase somewhere between Blossom meets Goth Girl; you know, black baggy jeans w/ astrology patches on them, white keds with neon puffy-painted skulls, Kool-aide-dyed hair, heavy eye-liner that was clumsily added on the bus, and sometimes to top it all off, there may have been a stupid hat with a flower on it. In summary… totally hot.
To say that I wasn’t yet comfortable in my own skin would be an extreme understatement. I was constantly adapting myself to look like whoever I thought was cool that day. More often than not, I would just end up with a decoupage sort of train-wreck.
Like most seventh graders, I preferred to fly under the radar because being noticed at that age, usually meant being embarrassed. Somebody probably should have told me that mixing JNCOs with neon floral bodysuits was probably not the best way to go unnoticed, but I digress…
It was a seemingly ordinary afternoon. I was in Mrs. Brown’s science class, arriving early because, yes, I was a total kiss-ass. As the other students started filing in, the teacher and I were chatting when somehow we got on the subject of names. Stephanie, one of the most popular girls in school (and therefore my nemesis) was going on and on about how lovely her full name was. She had some bull shit fluffy princess middle name like Audriana or Gwenevere. This triggered the whole gaggle of popular girls into a tizzy about who had the prettiest name. Mrs. Brown, trying to be nice by including me in the conversation said,
“With a first name like Jenilee you must have a beautiful middle name.”
I just shook my head and said, “No” hoping she would change the subject, but of course she didn’t. Instead she turned it into an even bigger attention-gaining game.
“Come on, what is it?” she prodded, “Why don’t you write it down on your paper then turn it over so you can’t cheat and we’ll all try to guess.”
At this point everyone in the class was staring at me. I tried to act nonchalant, twirling my grape colored pony tail as I wrote down my real middle name. I flipped the page over, lowered my head and said,
“Mrs. Brown, I’d really rather not play.”
Trying to make me feel better, she replied, “It can’t be any more horrible than mine. I swear, my middle name is the absolute most boring name in the history of the world.”
The gaggle of girls shouted out, “What is it? What is it?!”
She made a disgusted face and answered flatly, “Jean.”
A couple of the princess girls added their own “ewe” or gagging noise in agreement.
The blood rushed to my cheeks. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes because, well, I was 13 and if I wasn’t crying about something it usually meant I was asleep.
Stephanie Audriana-Gwenevere took one look at my face then snatched the piece of paper out of my hands. Her laughter erupted like an evil duplicitous geyser. The note was then passed around the room as everyone joined in the chorus of shouts and sneering as they read my middle name. I think the only person not laughing, looking possibly even more embarrassed than me, was Mrs. Brown when she realized what she had inadvertently done. She took the paper and saw one little word scribbled on the page:
And in that moment Jenilee Jubilee was born.
This story is not for the faint of heart or easily woozy.
The week started off a little rough, to say the least, when the head designer of our company had a mental breakdown, walked out and never came back; leaving me with 20 fittings, a photo shoot in 4 days and the entire department to run. Good times.
Somehow, I got through the week and everything was set for the shoot. The day started out really well, and in fact, we were still on schedule after lunch, which never happens. I took a trip back to the hair station to check on things when James, the makeup artist, walked over with his hand held up. James is the queeniest queen of queen town, so making dramatic gestures wasn’t out of the ordinary, but the look on his face told me he wasn’t joking. He pulls Kathy, the hair stylist, aside and I hear, “It crawled across her forehead.”
Kathy immediately picks up a plain-looking black comb and steps over to the makeup station. She looks in the little girl’s hair for about 5 seconds then she pulls her hand away and asks, “Has your head been itching lately sweety?”
I knew what she meant. I knew by the look on both James & Kathy’s faces things were not good. So why, why god, did I walk over and look? I was standing more than a foot away and it looked like this girl’s scalp was alive. Now, I’m scarred for life.
I never had lice as a kid. In fact, my mother ingrained in me a deep-seated fear of them from a very early age. I never tried on anyone else’s hat. I never played hair-dresser at sleep-overs. I always put my jacket over the seat in the movie theatre. I was told that if I got lice I would have to shave my head. This was the ultimate threat to the 9-year-old me. You see, I was determined to grow my hair out like one of my idols, the incomparable Miss Crystal Gale. (For the record, a chubby, pre-pubescent, frizzy-haired ginger should never try this).
Back to the story… It took all of my energy not to run away from this poor kid screaming. We got her out of the building as quickly as possible, re-worked the schedule so another model could do her shots, ran to the drug store to buy some toxic lice-killer and proceeded to spray each other and anything she might have touched. Kathy told me it was the worst case of lice she had ever seen. Gag.
The next few shots went fine, but then, forty-five minute later, we get another twelve-year-old on set and something seems off. It was just awkward. It seemed like, no matter what we said, she wouldn’t lift her leg more than a couple of inches off the ground. That’s when I got a tap on the shoulder.
Kathy whispers, “Jen, one of the other models just told me there was a little incident in the dressing room. You might want to take a look.”
What now? Have the lice mutated and are now trying on all the costumes? At first, I didn’t see anything. Then I looked down and in the middle of the dressing room was a pair of tiny panties. Disgusting, repulsive, menarche-covered little undies.
I just stood there, dumb-founded. Then I looked down again and it hit me. Not only is this girl having her period for the first time, and obviously doesn’t know what to do, she’s having it all over my costume, on set, while we snap photos of her. Lovely.
I immediately go and find her mother,
I ask, “Hi… Miss Suchandsuch…. how old is your daughter?”
She answers, “12.”
I say, “Okay, well, I think she might have gotten her period and she doesn’t know what to do.”
She says, “Oh, gosh. What are you going to say to her?”
Dumbfounded, yet again, I reply, “Well, actually, I think she’d probably be more comfortable if you, her mother, helped her out with this one.”
Still think a designer’s life is glamorous?
Supervisor has mental breakdown, leaving me to keep the company afloat… check.
Witness a twelve-year-old’s head being eaten alive by the most disgusting case of lice in the history of the world… check.
Forced to have “the-talk-about-giving-your-daughter-the-period-talk” to a perfect stranger… check.
Yup, nothing but glamour.
Once upon a time I lived in NYC… and sometimes, shit like this would happen:
It was a dreary, rainy day in NYC when I landed at Laguardia after a 6 week out of town gig. Instead of the hour train ride back home, I decided to take a cab. Being a freelance designer, cash was not always in abundance. At that moment I literally had $0.72 cash to my name. I had a large check in my wallet from the gig, but it was Sunday and so I knew the cab ride would be put on my mastercard. It shouldn’t have been a problem. All yellow cabs in NYC are required to accept credit cards.
We got to my apartment without incident, which is a rare blessing in a NYC taxi. I took out my credit card and swiped it. Nothing happened. I told the driver and he told me to swipe it again. Still nothing. We proceeded to do a 10 minute dance of turning the meter off and on again while I swiped a good dozen times. Finally he told me I had to pay with cash. After explaining that wasn’t possible and offering a half dozen solutions he turned down, I called the NYC Transit info line for help. I explained the situation and she informed me that, according to their new policy, this guy wasn’t allowed to be on the street without his credit card system working. She said I didn’t have to pay and I could even file a complaint if I wanted to. I told her that wouldn’t be necessary if she could just explain it to the driver. I put my cell on speaker phone and she explained it all to him. I hung up, apologized to the driver and asked him to open the trunk where all my luggage was waiting. This is where the shit hit the fan.
The driver started screaming and punching his steering wheel and dashboard. He was literally beating the crap out of his own car. I grabbed my purse and jumped out into the rain. I tried to talk reasonably to him from outside the car about opening the trunk but he just kept yelling about how the taxi company was trying to screw him over and what I was trying to do was illegal and how he wouldn’t open the trunk until he got his money.
I didn’t feel like battling a crazy man in the middle of the street, especially while he was holding my luggage & laptop hostage. So, still holding the car door open, I called the police. At this point the driver was no longer yelling, just white-knuckling the steering wheel and breathing heavily like a madman.
Thirty minutes passed.
I called the police again. The dispatcher told me someone was already on their way and asked if anybody was hurt. I told her, “No, I’m just being held hostage by a lunatic behind the wheel of a car.” She assured me someone would be there soon.
This stand-off continued for 2 hours. Me: drenched, freezing and desperately clinging to the car door as if that would stop him. The driver: still looking crazy in the front seat, not moving. My belongings: locked in the trunk. I made three more phone calls to the police who were supposedly still “on their way.”
At this point I figured I had two options. I could collapse into a puddle of tears on the sidewalk…. or…. I could say, “Fuck the police, this cabbie and the weather” and figure this out myself.
Guess which option I chose?
I got back into the cab. Slammed the door and took out a piece of paper & pen from my purse. I wrote down his name & license number. Then I threw open the door again, got out, stormed around the front of the cab and stood there blocking his car. I signaled for the driver to roll down his window.
“Look, sir. You’re obviously having a crappy day, but now, so am I. You just wasted over 2 hours on a $35 fare that you are no longer entitled to. I’m sorry it turned out this way, but if the police ever decide to get here, I think things are going to get a lot worse for you. I have all of your information written down. The way I see it, you have two options. #1. You can run me over, taking my belongings with you, but you will most likely lose your license, your job and probably go to jail. Option #2. You can open the trunk and give me my luggage and never let me see you on this street again. I won’t report you, your mechanical errors or this little luggage-hostage incident. Your choice.”
He looked at me for a long minute, then got out of the car. I braced myself to get hit in the face or possibly stabbed. I mean this guy was crazy after all. He went around to the back of the taxi, opened the trunk, got my luggage out and carefully set it on the sidewalk. Then he walked over to me, shook my hand, apologized and politely gestured for me to move onto the sidewalk so he could drive away.
P.S. The police never showed up.
Why is it that no matter how bitchy I act, strangers still see me and are stricken by a sudden urge to over share? I know for a fact that I am not inviting you in to my warmth with neither a friendly smile nor welcoming body language. Why then, do I know more gruesome & disgusting shit about complete strangers than I do about myself?
Last month at bowling. Pause. Yes, I’m in a bowling league, and yes I have my own purple ball & matching shoes. Moving on.
Last month at bowling, a woman came around collecting money for a fundraiser she was participating in for premature babies. I don’t particularly like this woman. I actually find her quite obnoxious. And to be honest, I’m not usually too ecstatic about babies either (except for my nephew). Most babies are kinda scary looking and seem to have no talent other than to scream & shit on themselves in public. We don’t make calendars of the winos on the subway who do the same, sitting in a head of lettuce and call it cute, so what makes the babies so special? I digress… So this obnoxious woman is collecting money for a fundraiser for premature babies. I can get down with that. I give the lady five bucks. Mostly, to make her go away, but also for the sick babies. I guess, in the midwest, showing any little bit of generosity opens the flood gates of sharing. She starts telling me all about the fundraiser and how she’s had three premature babies and how all of them are going to be doing this walk to raise money together. I think that’s actually pretty cool, so I say, “Wow, that’s really amazing that you’re all able to do that together.” It’s true, I did think that. But I also thought it would be a nice segue for a thank you, and good bye from Ms. Obnoxious. Oh boy, am I still learning my way around the midwest. Let’s replay the scene that followed:
“Wow, that’s really amazing that you’re all able to do that together.”
Imagine this next part in the most stereotypical Chicago-smoker-voice possible,
“Ya know what’s amazing, is how these docs can stitch ya back up. I mean, I’m sittin’ there spread-eagle with my legs in the air and my vagina tore open, thinking I’m gonna die from all the blood and guts poorin’ outta me for hours and them docs are able to sew me back up good as new.”
Umm…. polite, but awkward smile…. I don’t know what to say, so I just respond, “It’s my turn to bowl.”
Yes. FACT. That really happened. Here I was, thinking the cause I’m donating to is the miracle of tiny precious lives and the men and woman who defy the odds in saving them. Turns out, no. Wrong. It’s all about the miraculous salvation of the torn va-jj.
Just one question…
Can I have my five bucks back?
I don’t want to talk to you during a movie. I don’t care who you are, what our relationship is, whether I love you, hate you or don’t know you. If you talk to me while I’m watching a movie at the theatre, I will mentally snap your jaw in thirds.
I don’t want to talk to you, Stranger-Lady, while I’m bra shopping at Target. Yes, I agree the plain grey Fruit of the Loom cotton, frill-less, no-nonsense bra is the most comfortable out there. I. Don’t. Know. You. I don’t want to chit-chat about your 44DD’s.
I don’t want to talk to you, Mr. Skeazy-Dude-With-A-Kid, while riding the subway. I don’t want to talk to you and I DEFINITELY don’t want you to hit on me while you’re sitting next to your 7-year-old son. You don’t think you’re being obvious, you say? I’m pretty sure your son just asked you, “Daddy, why you talking funny to that lady?” Good question kid.
I don’t want to talk to stupid people. Sorry. I just don’t.
I don’t want to talk to you Ms. 76-Year-Old-Cashier-Lady. I normally wouldn’t have anything against chatting with you for a hot second, but after watching the girl in front of me with the awesome hair pay & leave (with the hairstyle I’m planning on stealing tomorrow) you just smiled and said to me, “Don’t you wish we were young & cute enough to have hair like that?” … bitch.
I don’t want to talk to you, Airplane-Seat-Neighbor. I don’t. Ever. I mean it. I will play deaf. I will pretend I don’t speak English. I don’t want to be your single-serving-friend.
I don’t want to talk to you, Nice-But-Annoying-Co-Worker-Girl, when I’m in the bathroom. It’s always awkward. Always. Two reasons: A. You’re Awkward. B. It’s a bathroom.
To all you Chatty-Patty’s out there; If you are lonely, get a dog. Not a cat. Dogs are better. Get one from a shelter. Not a puppy-mill pet store. Shelters are better.
I believe it’s customary to begin your very first blog with some sort of apology for inadequacy or a variation on a “bare with me” plea. It’s not that I don’t feel the same self-deprecating fear to do the same. After all, everyone hears that nagging little shadow of yourself from middle school in the back of your head saying, “They’re all going to laugh at you…” But this is not the time for pig’s-blood-covered-self-doubt. This is an exploration into the inner bitch and an explanation of why the world some times needs a swift kick in the ass. So, for better or for
worse just plain awesome… welcome to “The Nicest Bitch You’ll Ever Know.”
I’m driving home from work last week in my sexy ’97 Oldsmobile, when I receive a text from my Dad, “FYI, your mom fell at work. She dislocated and fractured her shoulder. We’re at ER now. Call later.” Even as my initial panic starts to rise, I can’t help but reflect on how inappropriately casual text messages sound 75% of the time (case in point). I try to drive calmly until I can call him back, but just as I’m pulling on to my block, I receive another text. “The squirrel did it.”
Ummm…. WTF? Is this some sort of secret code I don’t know about?
After several confused minutes of back-and-forth texting with my Dad, I finally get a hold of him at the hospital. Here’s what happened (or so the story goes)…
My mother is a property manager for a condominium complex. She works alone in a crappy little clubhouse on the property. For the record she reports to “The Board of Owners.” This board consists of “The Asshole”, “The Douchebag” and “TheBitchHagFromHell”. (These characters will be important later.) Anyway… she enters the run-down shack they call a building that houses her office and finds that she has a visitor: a “cute,” “fluffy,” “innocent” little squirrel. My mother is an animal lover, but let’s be honest, we all know a squirrel is little more than a rat in a cuter outfit. (Stolen from SATC. fact.) This Chanel-wearing rat must have had it’s bowl of rabies this morning because it makes a v-line for my mom. She runs (probably screaming) into her office and slams the door (probably double-locking it). She calls Sam, the maintenance guy, who comes over and searches everywhere for the little beast. He doesn’t find it, however, and reports that it must have gone out the hole in the wall (refer back to the shack-reference). As the day is nearing its end, she has to leave her office, hoping that Sam’s assessment is true. She opens the door very slowly, listening for the tiny evil snicker of the fluffy-tailed villain. Satisfied that she’s alone, she heads down the hall. No sign of it, she begins to relax. She retrieves whatever she was looking for and turns to head back to her office. Suddenly the background music diverges into a minor key… the bass line starts to mimic a beating heart… There, at the end of the hall, with his tiny black cape, twirling his tiny mustache and ringing his tiny evil hands, sits the squirrel waiting to pounce!
No, but for real, she turns around and the same fucking squirrel lunges out of nowhere straight at her. She jumps, turns to run, trips and flies shoulder first into the doorframe. It takes her a moment of trying to get up before she realizes she can’t move her arm, then of course, there’s the pain and the “wellllll…. crap” as she realizes she’s really hurt. She drags herself back to her office and calls an ambulance. Knowing that the League of Extraordinary Shitheads will bitch her out the moment they realize she left early (in an ambulance or not), she throws her dead-limp right arm on to the desk and slowly, painfully types them an email one left-handed finger at a time, explaining that she was hurt at work and is on her way to the ER.
Fast forward several hours. I’m sitting at my parents’ house, after she’s been released from the hospital, listening to the story in disbelief and hearing about how they had to put her under twice in order to re-set the dislocated shoulder because she also fractured the top of the humerus. Ouch…and also… gross. I decide to take the next day off of work so I can stay and help her.
Fast forward to the next morning. I’m running around, taking care of my Mom, and the dog, and the house. We call the specialist and they tell her that she can’t make an appointment until she gets a letter from one of her employers signing off on the incident. I check her email hoping to find at least three concerned notes, best wishes, etc. Open inbox. No new messages. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I mean, look at their names. I write them all a very polite email explaining in detail what happened and what we need from them and how imperative it is that this happens ASAP.
Fast forward 8 hours later. REALLY? REALLY??!! Not a single phone call, email… anything? I finally convince my Mom to call Mr. Asshole. I offer to do it, but the steam coming out of my ears must have persuaded her to do it herself. I listen as she begins to explain. I listen as she is clearly cut-off by whatever Mr. Asshole is saying. I listen as she apologizes, begins to cry, then hangs up.
HELLLLLLLLLLLL NO. For those of you who don’t know me. I’m actually a very nice person. I’m a very nice person until I’m not. I don’t stop to listen to what happened on the other end of my mom’s conversation before I grab the phone and hit redial:
“Hello? Is this Mr. Asshole? Hi, this is Jen, I’m Debbie’s daughter. Oh, you were just talking to her? What a coincidence. I need a minute of your time. What’s that? You’re going through some personal shit? I’m sorry to hear that, but the sooner you stop talking and listen to what I need, the sooner you can get back to that, and yes, I will keep calling until I get what I want. What’s that? I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with your mother. Yes, I do understand. I’m VERY protective of my mother as well, so I’m really going to need you to start doing the listening now. My mother hurt herself at work, at YOUR building, due to YOUR lack of upkeep. She’s VERY hurt. She needs to see a specialist or there may be permanent damage. Permanent damage that YOU will have to pay for for the rest of her life. All I need from you is a signed letter as requested and I can take it from there. What’s that? You don’t have time to think about anyone else right now? Well, then YOU need to get one of the other members of the board to deal with this because your number is the only one I have and you better believe this is going to get settled tonight. What’s that? You’ll have it to me in 20 minutes? Thank you, so much sir. Good luck with your mother and have a wonderful evening.” click
Alright, so that may not be EXACTLY how it went. In fact, I have a gift for sounding extremely polite & professional while at the same time making someone want to piss their pants. The transcript of the actual conversation would probably read very benign and boring, with a lot of “yes sirs”, “thank you’s”, and “of course sirs, “ but trust me when I say that my true intent always shines through. When I go into bitch mode, I get results. Maybe it’s the tone of my voice, maybe my opponents can feel that I could kill them with my mind. Whatever it is, it comes in handy. Fifteen minutes after the click, we received a signed letter on official letterhead, the appointment was set and my mother is on her way to recovery.