About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I have worked in some places where the decor of the office seemed almost more important than the mission of the enterprise. At a certain business where I was lady in waiting to a three person executive committee, there were high standards set even for the administrative assistants who sat in tiny cubicles barely large enough to contain their desks, chairs and computers. One framed 5" x 7" photo of the family or pet was allowed, a clean coffee mug may be placed on the desk if it sat on a coaster, a single flower in a bud vase (not wilted, please) was allowed, but not a green plant . . sheesh. However, should some administrative assistant decide she didn't care for the restrictions and would simply not decorate . . . oh, bad mistake. She was perceived as not being a team player. In my own office in the corporate wing, I displayed objets d' art worth a month's salary, and purchased by me personally. It was expected. That was then. This is now. I'm not corporate any more.

A couple of posts back, I wrote about David providing the best of everything we need to do our jobs exceedingly well. It's true ~ he does. So come on, board my bus and ride with me to the door of my much loved workplace. I'll give you the tour!

Here is how the technology serves me. Dual monitors show me the jobs pending and YouTube. GPS shows me where each of the home dudes is at any given time, whether his ignition is on, how fast he's going, whether he's at a stop, and how long any of that has been going on.

I could take pictures and write words about the fine equipment and machinery the homes have at hand, but I'm not sure readers of this blog would find a dissertation about solution hoses and buddy jugs and HydroForces and throttles all that exciting. Suffice it to say we are all provided with what we need to execute the job well.

And then, in the spirit of the corporate paisley palace, we have certain aesthetics we enjoy. On one small space of wall, I display framed Badger art and a plaque with a favored Lincoln quote, "Whatever you are, be a good one." There are lovely, healthy plants, as well as the bromeliad sisters. Mr. Redfish occupies one corner of my desk alongside his stuffed cat, and the parakeets enjoy a sunny spot in a window. But there, I suspect, ends any resemblance to any other business office one can think of. I think the rest of what we have going on would please Lewis Carroll and others who are freethinkers and whimsical. Traditionalists probably would not find us charming. That's OK. I'm not corporate any more.

After one scratches the surface of our high-tech environment, it turns out that we are simple people, elemental and quirky ones at that. If anyone remembers the rallying cry from the movie The Perfect Storm, "We're Gloucestermen!", we have a similar one. "We're carpet cleaners!" We know what we are - no illusions, no pretensions. We know how to use technology, but we do many things simply in ways that work. Period. No frills. So while I sit at a cherry desk suitable to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the other furniture surfaces in the room are folding tables and a bookcase so laughable it defies description. Though I sit seductively attractive under my mood lighting, when the front door opens and the sun shines in, one could get a snicker or two. I was musing on why I get so many nasties on the telephone, while virtually everyone who walks through our doors gives a large smile. Some of them stand in the entryway with their faces nearly split in half by a big old cheeser. What? Nasty people only use the phone and nice people only come in person? That's a bit hard to accept. And then it occurred to me. Maybe the in-person visitors are laughing at us! Especially the ones who ask about certain objects or get the grand tour. Come on! Join me. I'll show you around.

The white rectangular object is my portable safe. Inside it, I keep all the things a small business manager would keep inside her safe. On top of it I keep but two of my vast collection of coyote gourd maracas and a piece of dried coyote gourd vine, placed before a lovely framed print of some gourds. The X you see is a pair of large ancient, heavily rusted nails from the abandoned mines at the dunes where I spent solstice. On the paper plate are rocks I collected at the Valley of Fire and the dunes. I've met few rocks in the desert that I didn't want to bring home. A visitor to our office who was seated pretty far across the room from me thought I had a paper plate filled with pieces of meat. I wouldn't want to bite into my rocks! I don't eat meat. My safe is bolted to the middle of a six foot folding table. Any thief who thought to leg it with my safe would have a terrible time maneuvering it all through the door! The little vignette on top of the safe is art to me. I'm not corporate any more.

Behold two shelves of the Through the Looking Glass bookcase. I will describe the items displayed and the reader will draw his own conclusion. It is an explanation of the bookcase items that generally brings on the fixed smile to the visitor's face. There is my coffee mugs that says "Don't make me bring out the flying monkeys." This is warning from me to the homes. See my plaque that says "Learn From Yesterday", my bag of potpourri, four rocks collected in the desert outside of Baker and my coyote leg bone with hide and sinew clinging. The coffee mug that says "meticulosity" was selected for me by a young fan who considers me her mentor. She said the word should be tattooed upon my forehead so everyone will know from the beginning. There is a small collection of books on the upper shelf and a collection of more serious books on the lower, including a volume of Emily Dickinson and a large 1920s Spanish/English dictionary. There is a ceramic seashell holding an artificial lemon and there is a lovely decorative gourd made for me by Mother Badger featuring a strawberry design. Every single item on those shelves means something to me. Each has a story and I like sharing space with it all. I'm not corporate any more.

World class data collection and storage system: this one was difficult for me. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed about some things. Our radios go off continually, new information coming in at a quick pace. Who bought fuel, where and for how much? Credit card payments need to be recorded, and daily bank deposits. David, Troy and I can each take the radio transmission and it was impractical to have all three of us accessing the same reports and documents at the same time. How to manage all of that? Well, I'm a natural at creating the charts and spreadsheets. But we all needed to have access to all the information all the time. It was David who showed me how to insert a pushpin into the drywall, place the chart or spreadsheet on a bright plastic clipboard, and voila! No pre-existing policy or procedure, no required forms at hand from the beginning. Just figure it out and make it work. I'm not corporate any more.

Our world is replete with every imaginable kind of alert tone, announcement noise and attention grabber. Some of the tones are common to all of us and some are highly individual. A few of the homes are partial to an announcer that sounds like a toddler giggling and then farting. When the Badger drops me an e-mail, it is announced by the sound of a bicycle bell. One morning, a noise was heard that caused everyone to stop talking and look toward my desk. "What the hell, Les? What's that one?" "That's my timer, homes." For I get up from my desk every half hour and do something. I hula hoop or do wall push-ups. I use the wobble board or do stretches or use the weights or resistance bands you see pictured. My job can be deeply stressful. I need to break the tension and keep my body healthy. I do this for me. I'm not corporate any more.

I'd like to thank the reader for joining me on the bus ride and the tour today. Please come again, as there is much more to share about this little world. I like to share. I like to connect in some way with others. I'm not corporate any more.

In my ears right now: I posted a Gloria Estefan song in my last writing. Thinking about Gloria Estefan makes one think about Jon Secada and I went into a reverie. In 1992, a two-year-old thought I was the most remarkable, amazing and wonderful woman. She wanted to be just like me. She wanted blue eyes like mine, even though I think her nearly black ones are the most lovely I've ever seen. She wanted to wear clothes that looked like mine. We each had a "twirly" skirt. In our twirly skirts we danced to Jon Secada. The video is unremarkable 1990s MTV, VH1 video and the song is merely "catchy". But when Jon put his hands and arms in the air and moved his body, we put our hands and arms in the air and moved our bodies. And we twirled. And we danced.

Something that charmed me: Cesar worked for 10 years running a route for a porta-potty business. He knows every street in this valley and he knows when most of the developments were built within that 10 years. He knows every intersection and which ones have stop signs or lights. Cesar and Justin were partnered one day, Cesar at the wheel like always. Too late, already into the intersection, he realized a new stop sign had been put up at a spot that had not previously had one. One does not want to try to stop one of our war wagons on a dime so Cesar kept rolling, quickly checking his rearview and looking from side to side. The cops had him in a heartbeat and he thought, "Ticket!" as he pulled over to the curb. He rolled down the window and looked for the approaching officer in his rearview and side mirrors. No cop! What was going on? Typically, they do not hide themselves. In the meantime, Justin was fumbling at his belt for his BlackBerry holster. For, you see, I had just chirped Justin. And Justin had assigned to me the police siren alert tone.


  1. I'm so glad you're not corporate anymore. You get to express yourself in all your glory. Especially like the PAPER plate full of rocks. So Incongruous.

    Sometimes I think you have the same syndrome talked about on the health channels. It's the one where you remember EVERYTHING that ever happened in your life. Every movie line, every person, every insult, every weather variation. How in the world did you remember that line from The Perfect Storm?

    Great post. More tours, please.

  2. @ Kass ~ Ha, Cookie! Rock, paper, scissors. Yes, I am free to express my odd little self. It's encouraged and even appreciated. Have I said lately that I currently exist right where I am meant to be?

    I'm not being funny here - this is serious. I DO recall every detail of everything that has ever occurred. What the others ate and what fragrance I was wearing. That may seem like a wonderful faculty to possess, and sometimes it is. It makes for a rich history and it certainly provides the material for a lot of story telling. But we who remember every single event also suffer from repeatedly visiting the painful places. I'm not maudlin. I don't go seek those places out. They just don't go away. I'm able to forgive, but not to forget.

    The Perfect Storm line: Well, first of all I like the movie because I have spent a lot of life on a fishing boat - yes, a sportfishing, luxurious pleasure boat, not hard slog swordfishing, but on the water is on the water. However, that line is EXACTLY what I do ~ teaming up, connecting with others, one for all and all for one, let's form a team and kick some ASS together [whatever the endeavor].

    I'm glad you liked the tour. I'll do some more. Wait till we get to the shower room where MY towel and change of clothes and toiletries are kept under lock and key!

  3. I can't even imagine you being corporate.

  4. @ Kirk ~ You're onto something there, Kirk. You made me pensive. After the union, I had a very skewed view of what my work should look like. There, we had every imaginable freedom in the world, a handsome income, were encouraged to be creative and brave. If one WASN'T a maverick, s/he never had anyone's respect. The direction given us was this: "Here is the case law, here are your boooks, go forth and kick ass." I was rendered forever unsuited to tight reins in the workplace.

    To be fair to the corporation, I liked some of what they had to offer and they liked a lot of what I had to offer. My life had changed. I had a relationship I wanted to put some energy into, rather than being married to my job. So I rather employed myself down. I worked successfully there, but miserably. I couldn't stuff myself into the Stepford Lady in Waiting Mold.

  5. Well, one particular corporation--Google--allows me and you to talk to each other free of charge, though that's always subject to change.

    I notice you have a Looking-Glass bookcase. Reminds me of a cafe I sometimes frequent.

  6. @ Kirk ~ Oh, yes - Marty, Kirk and all the regulars of the Looking Glass Cafe would feel right at home here, my friend.

    And you're right about Google. I'm not completely against all corporations, but I hope to never work for another starchy one run by tightly wound women.