16 March 2007

"Maybe He's Going To Sue Us"

The Comptroller of our company and I just had a conversation about an out-of-state employee who is generally contentious and whether, despite the lack of grounds, he may decide to litigate. Nothing like litigious employees to screw up a Friday morning.

I used to believe (and maybe I still do, to some extent) that people are essentially good. They will, more often than not, do the right thing. The ethical thing. Make the morally positive choice. During the past 20 years, I've certainly seen quite a few people to whom that did not apply. At all. I stubbornly hang onto the belief that, given the opportunity, people will do whatever I perceive to be the correct alternative, nonetheless.

Some people don't care whether they do the wrong thing, even when it's abundantly clear that it's the wrong thing. Why is that? I'm 53, grew up in some very dubious circumstances and I still don't get it. I recognize that there's some seriously evil stuff going on in the world. (Well, actually the word "evil" gives me a problem. It's too Manichean for me; I'm morally neutral on the nature of the universe.) Clearly, choosing things that benefit the common good over things that benefit me personally to the detriment of the common good is one of those things that would keep me up at night.

Apparently it doesn't keep everyone up at night, though. On the other hand, I choose to believe that we are all doing the very best we can at all moments. If we could do something better, we would. There are, however, lots of reasons why we might make a less than desirable choice. The intersection of nature and nurture sometimes create moral blinders. I guess most people would say that idea is amoral or just plain stupid. Maybe that's so, but it just seems pragmatic to me. My therapist and I discuss this on a regular basis and she completely disagrees.

Maybe the employee is going to try to sue us, but if he does, it will be because he doesn't know how to do otherwise. I could argue the case some more, but it's time for...you guessed it: therapy. I guess I'll just have to take it up there.

15 March 2007

There's Always An Up Side

Though it may be true that one of my co-workers (let's just call him Loathsome) has come into some unexpected good fortune, all is not lost. In fact, now the fun really begins. All manner of conflict is springing up everywhere. It may not add to my personal bottom line, but it's certainly a boon to the entertainment factor. Bad, bad ggirl.

14 March 2007

Devil Dog

I have a one-year old adolescent husky mix dog. We're going through those teenage, rebellious years and it's wearing me down. They're not grown when they're a year old. They're not adults until they're at least 3 years old. I learned that this morning as I desperately searched the Internet for help in correcting behavior problems, specifically biting.

Andy (formerly known as "Wolf") gets overly excited, just like all males. When he's tired and needing to sleep, he goes absolutely crazy. He jumps on the sofa and shoves his head in between the cushions (which he knows is Bad Boy). While he's there, he bites me. A lot. Really hard. It's not so much an aggression thing as a crazy thing. He knows that's Bad Boy, too.

He just started this acting out about a week ago. My hands and arms are covered with cuts (where adolescent dog teeth dug into my flesh) and bruises. I look like an iv drug user or something. I've started to wear long sleeved shirts, even though the weather is decidedly warmer these days. So now I look really weird. I have to wear this vest-like bra which peeks out of virtually all of my shirts and now I can't even wear short sleeves.

This is ruining my reputation as friend to all creatures not human. My mom thinks I deserve it because that's exactly the way I was when I was a baby. I don't think I bit, but I'd do anything to stave off sleep. Of course, that's because my life was terrifying and that made it really hard to sleep, but that's neither here nor there. We don't take that into account. Furthermore, Andy's life is anything but terrifying.

I always thought one of the advantages to having dogs/cats vs. children was the fact that they never rebelled and got tattooed or pierced. As far as I know, Andy hasn't managed to get anyone to do either of those things. But it could happen. I also thought they were cheaper because you don't have to pay for college. I won't be paying for college, but I see some serious puppy-training classes in my future. They're not cheap, folks. Neither are bandages and antiseptic in massive quantities.

I'm re-thinking the whole animal paradigm. Not that it matters because I'm going to have to do whatever it takes to get Andy out of his Steve McQueen phase and into something a little more submissive.

13 March 2007

Because He Looks So Good

I've been in the midst of my semi-annual will-i-have-a-job-at-the-end-of-the-month panic. Our primary client is making ridiculous cost-saving (theirs, certainly not ours) demands. Even if we could meet those demands, we'd cease to be a company in probably a matter of hours. I've also been working on my annual accident report for another client and spilling what's left of my Xanax prescription all over my office. Of course, that's another story. See ggirl crawl around on the floor, searching for every single pill.

I heard yesterday that we've managed to get a new contract with an equally large company that we did some work for several years ago. Given the fact that I have less than one month's salary in my savings account, you'd think I'd be happy. Oh no. You underestimate me.

The contract was secured by (maybe) my most hated co-worker, whom I will henceforth refer to as "Lothsome." So, mean-spirited bitch that I am, I'm a little unhappy about the whole thing. If nothing else, this proves there is no such thing as karma. Up until this latest employment insult, I've been fabulous. Little Mary Sunshine with breast cancer. Yes, I find all of you adorable, my noble co-workers. Let me feed the homeless kitties. Let me cheer up those who are sad for no reason. What do I get? Not a damned thing. A car that's quickly degenerating into one of those Barney Rubble foot-powered models, among other things.

And Loathsome? The reason I started hating him in the first place is his narcissistic refusal to acknowledge that other people in the office may have contributed to his dumb ass success. And I do not mean me. The man doesn't even understand that to have a complete sentence, there must be a noun and a verb. Only one will not do (unless we're in the stream of consciousness world of my blog). When he sends out intra-office memos or (worse) business correspondence to clients, he refuses to use the word "I." They all sound like communiques from a distressed Batman cartoon. "Must get folders. Have no idea what should be doing. Will massage enormous ego." Know what I'm saying?

So what does this idiot get? A contract. Damn damn damn. I don't know the budget, but I'd be willing to bet it's big. That's just how the universe likes to screw with me. It just loves to point out that I can be as vindictive as everyone else in my office. I don't care. I still can't stand the guy.

Why does he think he got the bid? Because he looks so good. I guess I should give him credit for not thinking it's his overwhelming brain power that gives him the winner's edge. He does think he's a really bright guy, though. I never let him get away with that. I've already forgotten more than he'll ever know. I challenge his assertions, I question his know-how, I mow him down with facts. He rarely engages in intellectual conversation with me now. Wonder why.

Did I say mean-spirited and vindictive? I believe I did.

Oh no. Computer seems to be going inexplicably slowly for some reason. Must go. Save self. Resume quiet seething.

Go Red

Two years ago, I lost my best friend of 30 years to a massive heart attack. The only good news was that she didn't suffer; death came very quickly. Please make sure that your family and friends don't lose you to heart disease.

Go Red For Women

12 March 2007

Pain is Inevitable

"Deep unspeakable suffering may well be called a baptism, a regeneration, the initiation into a new state." ~ George Eliot

Except for the fact that the sun is shining through my office windows and there are lots of foraging birds and squirrels, it's another grim Monday. I'm not even sure at this point exactly what it is that makes me dread another week at work. Really, every day is pretty much like every other day. I've pushed myself physically in order to be here when no one expected me to show up. I don't even have to be here today. Or tomorrow, probably. Office became a haven from whatever form of breast cancer torture I was trying to get through for the past 18 months. Maybe my reluctance to be here is related to actually feeling better.

I lost another kitty this past week. Mom Kitty, the grandmother of all who came after, disappeared several days ago. She was looking shiny and a little tubby, so I thought it would be a while before I had to endure another loss. I have no idea what happened. It's possible that some other kitty in the colony made her leave. She's been having problems with Ring Tail Kitty for a while now. Mom Kitty used to be able to quell any big ideas by doing her incomparable hateful-kitty look. As she got older, hateful-kitty wasn't as effective. She may have been taken by a predator. The problem with being older and a little chubby is that you just can't move as quickly as you once did.

I'm hoping she's not living here anymore, but still dropping by for food after the rush hour when all the other cats are vying for food. Not that there's any food shortage, but the crowd can probably be a little intimidating.

If I've told myself once, I've told myself a million times that this is just how life is. "Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional." The Buddhist approach to life. I guess I'm opting for suffering these days. I still have my beloved Mr. Swagger, the cowardly Black and White Kitty and his improbable pal Ring Tail Kitty. I now have a large grey and white male who's been recuperating from a foot accident here in the relative safety of the patio. Crazy Cat Lady (aka me) made sure he had access to food nearby so he could stay off the foot as much as possible. I have Mom Kitty's Daughter, she of the beautiful blue eyes and the stand-offish attitude. They looked just alike except for Mom Kitty's white tipped tail. I have four baby kitties (that I need to catch and get fixed). I'm face to face with the inevitable lately. The inevitable never gets easier, no matter how many beings abandon me for death.

I finished up Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides yesterday. It took me forever to get through it. For some reason, reading about people almost dying on the side of mountains has seemed more compelling to me. Celebrating survival, I suppose. A week ago or so, I got really committed to finishing Middlesex. It was worth the struggle to concentrate.

Last night, I started reading a biography of Primo Levy. I became familiar with his work, The Periodic Table not too long after my dad died. For several years after that, I became obsessed with suicide. I read everything I could find. (Although that's just another manifestation of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, to some extent.) I'm not sure how I became aware of Primo Levy, but he fascinated me. He survived Auschwitz, lived another couple of decades and then, inexplicably, threw himself down the stairwell of his apartment building. He did not survive the fall. How could it be that someone could summon the will to get through a concentration camp only to lose the will when life seemed to be on a even keel?

The answer is clear in some ways. Auschwitz doesn't end for survivors. It just keeps on playing in their heads. More than one therapist has told me that my early life was just as difficult to survive as a concentration camp. If that's true, then I know for a fact that it never ends. Even on my best days, when life seemed full of wonderful possibilities, the past nonetheless cast a deep shadow.

That's just my interpretation, though. It doesn't explain Levy's choice necessarily. It's another one of those enormous tomes that will take a while to wade through, but he was a fascinating man in more ways than that which he chose to end his life. Like every other life, there's plenty to celebrate in addition to the sadness.

Now what was it I'm grateful for today? Right. Just being present. The opportunities to love. Those two are enough to get me through a lot of suffering. Which, by the way, is optional.