Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I got it from my mama

Mom: I pray everyday that you find a good guy, so you can finally settle down.
Me: I don't look at it that way.
Mom: How do you look at it then?
Me: In my opinion, some guy out there is praying right now to meet the girl of his dreams. And maybe, if he prays hard enough, he'll find me. I'm not the one who's looking.

I was talking to my sister the other night, and she and I always come to a very hard realization that my mom is very confusing. My sister and I are what you might call "Spawns of Matriarchal Dominance."

Let me back up. There's definitely a trend.

My grandma, bless her 95-year-old heart, was trained to be the epitome of ideal housewife. She can cook, clean, sew, and raise babies like it's nobody's business. But because of the war, homegirl had to man the fuck up. She single-handedly supported the family and even managed to send my mom to college. As strong of a family cornerstone as she was (and still is today), she still dyed her hair until the day my grandfather passed away - because she knew that despite it all, she was still a lady. A vain one at that.

My mom wasn't too far off. During the '70s, not knowing a lick of English and with a few dollars in her pocket, she flew to Chicago to realize the American dream. She worked the night shift knowing full well the discrimination being thrown against her, grit-and-bore-it, and built the foundation to which she faced her biggest challenge - having children. By the way, there is not one single picture of my mom when she was pregnant. There are, however, dozens of her in skinny jeans and halter tops.

My sister and I were raised in a dichotomy of sorts.

On one side, my mom told us that we were smart, capable women who should never rely on anyone to do anything for us. If we want it, go and get it. This led to us being painfully opposed to asking others for help (and hating it when we had to), and also being extremely aggressive in our careers. Truth be told, sometimes it actually defined us as people.

On the other side, my mom told us that we were beautiful, feminine girls who should never leave the house without our hair brushed. We were women, and should be very aware of this power. This led to our being extremely particular about the way we looked and the clothes we wore. Not surprisingly, we focus much of our spare time on keeping ourselves well-groomed.

As the two sides collided in our genome, what yielded was a very difficult-to-impress, extremely judgmental cynic who endearingly hopes for the best but almost always expects the worst. In other words, you're not good enough so your best bet is to come close.

My sister is now married with two precocious children, but still manages to hold an executive position in Corporate America. What others don't see is that her tendency to be a perfectionist does not fend well with our aforementioned double-edged sword. It's hard to be badass in both worlds. And not being a perfect badass in both worlds is driving her fucking crazy.

As the younger, I can learn from seeing the path my sister took, and build on it. I am now unmarried with no children, and I am also not a perfectionist. Things fall off my plate all the time. When I babysit for my sister, those kids cry all day because I really don't think crying is a weapon. Shit, I invented that strategy so I will not be fooled. But this flexibility allows me to focus on my career when needed, and fill the gaps with everything else under the sun to maintain my happiness: friends, family, travel, Chanel. You name it.

So at the prime of my life (I say this every year because every year is my prime), I think there is a shift in the type of guy that I may need and want. He doesn't have to be the super-successful "look at me now" asshole who likes to trade business cards over a fancy dinner. In fact, I'd hate that. What is rare, I think, is the guy who is extremely intelligent (but doesn't flaunt it), super clever (because he's so fucking intelligent), and is shamelessly aware of how there are only two people like me on this planet (and since the other one is married with two kids, I am now the greatest win of his life). Oh, and he has to be hot. This wasn't a requirement before, but it's a requirement now. Fit and hot. Because I like to work out and if I'm not motivated to keep up, I'm afraid I might get fat.

Which brings me to my main point. I might be hard to convince in terms of getting married, etc. but I can be because my mama taught me right.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Determining the Relationship" at work

I apologize in advance if this offends anyone. Please note that I only apologized to avoid conflict.

I've been staffed with my team for about six weeks now. In consulting, this is the point in the relationship where you think, 'Okay, are we going to stay friends after we break up, or is she such a masochistic nightmare that I won't want to ever see the crazy bitch again?"

The breakup is inevitable. (I wanted to write a disclaimer as to how this is different from my real social life, but I couldn't think of anything that made sense.)

These are the three types of teams you may come across... (I'm going to refer to "teams" as "girls" because it's more applicable to non-consultants.)

1. Girl is fun, chill, smart, and most importantly, doesn't take work all that seriously.

This is a girl you try to keep around as much as possible. You actually find yourself wanting to hang out with her outside of the office, and ... dare I say... add her on Facebook. You see eye-to-eye on getting work done in the most efficient way possible, talking about the real lives we have, and using the F-word at least 50 times a day in a positive way. Girl is fan-fucking-tastic.

2. Gets her shit done, but chick is boring.

You try to start a conversation about sports, music, art, books, movies, animals, cookies, anything... and get no sign of life. You try to avoid a conversation about pivot tables, PPTX shortcuts, benchmarks... and can't get her to shut the fuck up. In the team room and in front of the client, you're extremely grateful for having her around. But once your foot feels the fresh concrete outside the office, you think of every excuse to not have to have dinner with her. Girl is as exciting as cardboard.

3. Bitch is cray.

This little twat takes the simplest tasks and somehow turns them into painstaking processes that make you want to strangle kittens. She promises shit to the client when, hello, it's not on the fucking proposal so shut your trap. She forces you to skip meals, workouts, weekends, and life in general. You don't agree on anything, find yourself plotting ways to kill her, and use the F-word at least 500 times a day in a negative way. Girl is a fucking psychopath.

So my 6-week evaluation of my "girl" puts her at a solid 2 who teeters between a 1 (when I'm challenged to a night of blackout debauchery) and a 3 (when I start to write a blog at 2:00AM waiting for comments). Where will we end up? This is what I call the "probation period" - which will be saved for another blog post entirely.

A few insights into my interactions
N: Can I take a minute to vent my frustrations?
A: I don't think this is the time for us to vent right now.
C: No, she wants to vent her frustrations. She doesn't give a shit about yours.

A: You don't look so happy.
C: It's 4-fucking-AM.
A: It's 7:00AM.
C: It's 4-fucking-AM in LA, where things really matter.

A: We'll leave in 15 minutes.
C: So you mean an hour.
A: Hey S, I have to go soon. I have an angry Korean girl who will kill me if I don't feed her.
C: At least you acknowledged that you know what I'm thinking.

C: You want me to go to the meeting?
A: Yea, the client seems nicer when you're around.
C: That's because she likes me and she hates you.
A: Yea... I don't know how that happened.
C: It's because she watched me binge eat a pint of ice cream.

On an unrelated note, Pegasus & Condor attack Chicago this weekend. BEAST.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Must love chameleons

During the first day of orientation at the Firm (yes, that's what we call it and yes, I guzzle the Kool-aid daily), we were given a glossary of all the acronyms that we should get familiar with - and clearly, the need for an organized list of definitions amused the shit out of me. So I read it.

MBTI (Myers-Briggs): a personality categorization used frequently at the Firm based on four distinct drivers of one's ability to work and interact within teams; often used as an excuse for not being able to deal well with others - please, do not do this.

It actually said "please, do not do this" to which I thought, "I do that all the time."

J: I told my manager to stop using the F-word with me.
Me: I hate it when they do that.
J: Seriously. How many times is he going to ask me how I feel?

And since I'm receptive to receiving (and applying) feedback, here's an explanation of MBTI:

The four metrics are as follows, defined Connie-style (i.e., terse and accurate)
1A. Extrovert (E): absorbs energy from other people
1B. Introvert (I): hates other people
2A. iNtuitive (N): big picture thinking
2B. Sensing (S): detail and task oriented
3A. Thinking (T): communicates directly, results-oriented
3B. Feeling (F): communicates through happy and sad faces
4A. Judging (J): pragmatic and organized
4B. Perceptive (P): spontaneous and flexible

For today's purposes, I want to focus on the T/F breakdown... mostly because I think people adapt to their environments - like an overly complicated chameleon who has feelings but still wants her fucking data.

Honestly, it simply comes down to work versus personal life. And people, this is a new thing. I used to treat my friends and family in an almost grossly transactional way. I guess it took Oz a bit longer than anticipated to give this tin girl a heart. But at least the one I got has an on/off switch.

Example of T-ness 
A: Do you want to go to this meeting?
Me: No.
A: It might be good from an optics perspective.
Me: It has nothing to do with my workstream and frankly, is a waste of my time.

Example of F-ness
S: Thank you for your purchase of dried coconut and mango snacks. We're a small business run by just me and my husband, and we sincerely appreciate your business!
Me: I truly enjoy supporting small businesses, so I am happy to hear that - and your product mix is particularly diverse.
S: A year ago, we lost our jobs with the failing economy and had to make ends meet by selling all different types of products. We're hoping to focus more on snacks and groceries now that we have a storefront going.
Me: I'm going to buy all of my snacks from you going forward. All... of... them...

Example of how sometimes it merges...

Me: Can you please sanity check it to make sure the numbers seem right? I did myself, obviously, but your keen sense on these baseline metrics make me warm and fuzzy.
S: Warm and fuzzy? Nice.
Me: Better than "less of a bitch"...

... which in all sincerity, was probably more accurate.

Which brings me to my final point in that sometimes, we actually believe we're one over the other... and then try to convey that when we meet people.

Me: I'm an ENTJ. I like people but only hang out with them if they make plans with me and don't get mad about stupid shit.
C: Well, what did you want to do tonight?
Me: Whatever's fine.

A few years ago, I read a book called On Bullshit and I was reminded of it recently. The premise is that the difference between a lie and bullshit is that you know when you're lying. But bullshit is even more potent because people actually believe it could (or is) true.

Me: I'm like a lamb. Soft, shy, meek, and all that.
R: That is a lie. You're a lot of things, but you're definitely not a lamb.

E: Buy Ethos water. They give money back to poor people.
Me: I don't believe that bullshit for one second.

And sadly, the longer people stay at the Firm, which side of the coin will win becomes increasingly questionable...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chronicles of a Single Girl (Part 3)

I like learning new things. It's kind of my daily goal and this weekend was actually full of nothing but achieving goals.

Let me start by saying... there's a motherfucking Earl of Sandwich at Newark Airport. How come no one has ever mentioned this on Facebook? I thought people shared important information that benefited general society on our crowd sourcing center of the universe. What the fuck, people. Thanks for nothing.

Anyway, I just wrapped up my NYC weekend getaway with my one and only Pegasus. I owe her apologies for a long, long, long time. But I'm hoping she forgives me because she really is one of my closest friends. 

Let's share a few of my continued learnings as a single girl... 

0. Don't be selfish around your good friends. 

There's no real explanation to this that I care to share. Just that I was selfish, and I feel terrible about it.

1. You're never too old to be excited about Friday nights. 

P: We have brunch w Candice in 20 minutes. How do you feel?
Me: I think I'm still drunk.
P: Not hungover?
Me: Maybe a little.
P: I don't remember the second place we went to last night.
Me: We went to a second place??
P: Oh, we went to No Fun. I can see the stamp on your hand.

2. There's no rule against treating yourself to Chanel. 

C: My old wallet was so worn, it needed a haircut. It takes me forever to buy new shit. I circle things that I want like a vulture for months. But look who I'm talking to, you guys just impulsed shopped at Chanel.
Me: It wasn't on impulse. I gave myself a budget in January.
P: She bought two Chanel bags.
Me: But it was all within my set budget.

3. Doesn't matter how old they get... some boys will always be gross. 

J: I have some lemonade.
R: Nice. Wait, what's this? Dude, there's mold in your lemonade. That shit is nasty.
J: Oh, I knew it was kinda old...
P: How could you offer something that has mold in it?

4. Doesn't matter how old they get... some boys will always be ridiculous. 

J: Your emails don't make any sense.
R: Read one back to me.
J: "I love red jackets, that's my fucking problem. Beast."
R: How does that not make sense? 

5. Doesn't matter how painful work gets... it enables the shit out of me. 

A: Your study got extended 5 more weeks.
Me: Okay.
A: But afterwards, there's a training you should go to.
Me: Okay.
A: It's in Germany.
Me: Sick....

And now, perhaps out of punishment... or equilibrium... or whatever... I feel ill. I love bad bitches, that's my fucking problem.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chronicles of a Single Girl (Part 2)

I'm through feeling guilty.

Without going into too much detail, a little over a year ago I make the biggest mistake of my life. And at the time, I wondered how I could ever equalize my karma to save myself from the flames of an inevitable hell.

I didn't have to wonder for long because my punishment came in the form of hell on Earth. And the rest of 2012 was a great learning experience on how despite my best intentions, the only person who can save me is myself.

At this point, I think I've come to a place where I can honestly say that I've leveled the playing field - finally found neutral ground. The people who hate me can continue to hate me. The people who forgave me will be appreciated. And the people who never judged me during that entire time are my true friends.

And that's it.

Now, after all this time, I have this uncanny ability to identify the mistakes that I've made - but also to refuse to take the blame for mistakes I did not make. Other people taking my actions or words as something it is clearly not, is hardly my fault. I will not apologize.

What the fuck.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chronicles of a Single Girl (Part 1)

I don't think I've been able to call myself single since 2007... and some people may argue since high school. As scary as it may seem, I decided to give it a try for a bit. Get my bearings. Figure shit out. And take the ten seconds it took to realize how much I fucking love my life.

Me: What's great about my job is that if I hate my client, or even if I hate my team, it doesn't matter. After the project is over, I never have to work with them again. But if I do like them, I have the opportunity to continue to work with them. But if you hate your co-workers, you're stuck with them for life.
T: It makes sense that you like that. It's exactly how you treat your relationships. That's probably why you refuse to get married.
Me: Shit... you're right.

The thing is, I know exactly how much it took to get to where I am now. The effort, time, sacrifice... the everything. A lot of it was luck, a lot of it was timing, but most of it was a well-fucking-orchestrated plan that despite a few obstacles ended up pretty kickass. And I'll be damned if someone tries to rain on my parade - and in the most extreme cases, make me feel guilty about it. Hate to break it to you, but I'm called the Ball Buster at work for interviewing candidates. And I love myself way more than I love my Firm.

K: You need to take time for yourself. Figure out what makes you happy. 

So now, I've built out a decision strategy that's been working really well for me. 
1. Get what I want: 
-- I want, I get, I conquer
2. See who I want
-- Consider yourself on a very short list if I actually spend time with you
3. Go where I want
-- Plans for 2013 so far: Vegas, Palm Springs, Miami, Europe... then maybe Asia
4. Be what I want:
-- Run 3x a week with a race at least once every quarter

And at the heart of me is a hopeless romantic who does believe that someone out there does exist who has a similar mindset to my own... who can hang with my crass sense of humor, read a leisure book and actually have an opinion about it, and love to try new things with an open mind... and also thinks I'm the shit and reminds me of it all the fucking time. 

Is that so much to ask? I think not.