August 24, 2007

Best Friends Forever

Posted in Office Hijinks at 7:57 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

So there I was, just before my vacation, sitting with my ex-roommate telling her all about the new job.   I gushed about the cool new people I work with and how much I really enjoy the work and all the crazy things we do during the day.  I told her about we decorated Boss’s office for his birthday and how someone is always using Photoshop to create something goofy to make the rest of us laugh.  Lauren smiled and said, “Oh my god it is as if you are back on student council in high school.”

I smiled at the analogy.  I have often thought working in a law firm was a lot like being in high school.   And just like my first month in high school, I was suffering through the awkward getting to know everyone phase.   

Just before starting the ninth grade my parents pulled me from public school and enrolled me in a private, Catholic school.  They thought ninth grade was the best time for me to make this transition since I would be starting a new school, regardless.  What they hadn’t realized is that, while six or seven parishes all sent their ninth graders to this one high school, those six or seven schools only produced one class a piece.  I was walking into a school where no more than seven groups of kids had all known each other now for over eight years.   

But being the good sport that I was, I joined activities and tried out for various teams and did my best to make friends and influence people.  And before you could say, “It smells like teen spirit,” it was homecoming and I was helping to decorate the school.   

After attaching green and gold to anything that stayed still, I wandered back to my locker to get my bag and my books.  As I approached, I saw CK, a cheerleader who sat in front of me in homeroom, standing at her locker.  Apparently CK’s job was to attach construction paper footballs with player’s numbers at random, to various lockers.  As I got closer, I saw that she had attached one such football to my locker.  Once I was there, I saw that the number on the football corresponded with the number worn by the boy I thought, at the time, I was going to spend the rest of my life with.   

And CK knew it and saw to it that his number ended up on my locker. 

My whole face spread into a smile.  I had a friend, and more importantly, I had a cheerleader friend. 

Now, back at the office, sure I chatted with the other girls and even helped them decorate Boss’s office but I still didn’t feel like I belonged.  My only lunches out were still with friends from the old firm.  And don’t even get me started on the lack of happy hour invites.   

I thought about this as I sat on the subway on my first day back from vacation. It is not easy being the new girl and it wasn’t as if I could just offer to let someone copy my homework to get them to like me.  

I wondered what I could do to fit in as I flicked on my office light and saw that in my absence, my desk had been ransacked.  Sportswear with the firm’s logo covered everything, a banner with the firm’s name was acting as a table skirt, streamers hung from my overhead cabinet and a poster welcoming me back and noting how much I was missed was prominently displayed.   

I couldn’t have been happier if they had taped 57 Hottie’s bar number to my office door.

August 16, 2007

Vacation’s Over – Bring on the Brownies

Posted in Lawyer Lifestyles, Office Hijinks at 11:34 am by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

There are two main problems with my new dream job. The first is the people I work with; they are obscenely normal. Not Stepford Wives normal but very normal nonetheless. No one is emotionally or verbally abusive, I have yet to meet anyone who could turn a child to stone with his grin. None of my new co-workers obsess over the latest missing person reports on CNN nor am I worried that when two particular co-workers are conferring quietly in a corner that they are secretly plotting to take over the world. And I have yet to meet anyone that eats their hair.

All of this is great for me personally. I finally work with a group of people that I can invite to a bar-b-cue without worrying about how to not to invite the crazies. However it makes blog material hard to come by. I sincerely hope that this is all part of the honeymoon phase and once my probation is over, they will start to show their true, binder-clip-hoarding-because-what-if-the-supply-room-runs-out-and-the-company-stops-making-them-and-then-what-will-I-use-to-hold-back-my-hair selves.

It’s that or I will have to stir up some trouble.

The second problem with the land of milk and honey is all the milk and all the honey. With all the birthdays, anniversaries, visiting dignitaries, catered lunches and just lunches order in for the heck of it, rarely do two days in a row pass without someone poking his or her head into the office and announcing that there is some high calorie, high fat, ridiculously delicious food in the kitchen.

This is awesome. That is, if you don’t have any plans to appear in front of my mother and my aunt in a bikini. I, of course, did; all of last week while I was in North Carolina on vacation with my family. I have no problem equating my struggle with staying away from the delicatessen sandwiches and the doughnuts and the salads made with mayonnaise the last couple of days before my vacation to climbing Mount Everest or surviving for nine days at the bottom of a ravine with only the water you were able to make by melting snow.

So on Monday, as my mother was slathering on the sun protection factor, when Aunt commented on mine and Sister’s athletic builds, and then added, “But you also like to eat” I clenched my jaw and glowered in her general direction.

I knew she didn’t really mean to offend me, and it is true, I do like to eat. At the same time I wanted to defend myself. I also run – a lot. And, I felt like pointing out, Matt and Meredith were telling me just the week prior that obesity can be blamed on your friends and acquaintances and I would even go so far as say co-workers as well and maybe if I worked where Sister worked I would be uber-skinny too.

Instead I just smiled and patted her on her head. Aunt is really short and so when I can’t say what it is that I am thinking I sometimes like to remind her that if I wanted to, I could crush her.

However, my saint-like devotion to Slim Fast and my ability to just say no to everything from brownies to cookies to gummy worms (okay I’ll admit it, I had one gummy worm) paid-off. No, I wasn’t nearly as skinny as Sister or Future Sister-in-Law. But I was able to resist the temptation of the bags of kettle cooked chips and the six pounds of fudge that sat on the kitchen counter most of the week. And when everyone else claimed to not have had any of Daddy’s Double Stuffed Oreos, as he stood there holding the empty bag, I was the only one telling the truth. And telling the truth just feels good.

Of course, I had opted to numb my sudden onset of body dysmorphic disorder with tequila. Who wants a cookie when you can have a margarita?

August 2, 2007

I Think Cowards Are the People that Stick it Out

Posted in Lessons Learned at 1:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

When I was younger, my mother had a rule about not quitting anything we started.  Okay, let’s be frank, the woman had a lot of rules; but one rule that never changed and was often repeated was that we weren’t allowed to quit.   

This is why in the third grade the bridge on my cello broke and could not, mysteriously, be repaired. 

It is also the reason I was a cheerleader well into high school.   

However, sometimes quitting is the hardest, gutsiest thing to do.   

You know that I recently got a new job.  What you don’t know is that at the same time New Boss was conspiring to lure me away from Old Boss, I was out looking for a bartending job.   

I had my fill of feeling useless and underutilized and not very smart.  So I took a random Tuesday off, put on my cutest, most respectable looking white pants and booby top and headed to Old City in search of a serving job that would pay my bills and afford me time to get some writing done. The long-term goal was to either a) become a world famous author or b) get into a good MFA/PhD program and then become a world famous author.  Or at least teach others to do so.   

And I have to tell you, this plan scared the crap out of me.  What if I couldn’t make ends meet?  What if I didn’t get into a good program?  What if I did get into a good program, but it turns out I am a lousy writer?  What if I start teaching and a couple years into the whole thing, after I get married and have a mortgage on my home, I get sacked because it is against university policy to sleep with hot, male students in exchange for passing marks in freshman composition?

Those are a lot of “what ifs?”  But in the end, the idea of staying somewhere, doing something that I knew didn’t make me happy, scared me a whole lot more than what I didn’t know.   

Fortunately for me (and bar patrons everywhere, as I am a lousy, miserable server) New Boss called that very day with an offer of more writing, more growth, more freedom and more money. 

Puppy called me a couple days ago to tell me she had quit law school.  For those of you who don’t remember, Puppy was an original member of the editorial committee, a co-hort and a co-worker at the old job.  She had decided, long before she started with the firm, that she wanted to go to law school.  She took an LSAT prep course, she took the LSAT, she wrote essays, got letters of recommendation and sat quietly, waiting for letters of admission. When she finally found out where she could go, she packed up her belongings and moved to Michigan. 

After a year of lectures, study groups and law school exams, Puppy realized it wasn’t for her.

I told this to New Boss, not that he knows Puppy, but he does like to gossip, and he mentioned that after his first semester in law school, a professor advised his class that it wasn’t too late for them, that they didn’t have so much invested that if law school wasn’t what they had hoped, they could still walk away.   

Then, New Boss buried his head in his hands, shook his head and mumbled, “if only I had listened.”

I think this is something we all need to be reminded of every now and again.  Not just when we are sitting somewhere we really don’t want to be, but are still there because it is familiar.  I think this is also a good thing to remember when we are thinking about taking a big step and our fear of failing or making a mistake prevents us from doing it.   

Because while quitters may not always prosper, I don’t recall anyone getting very far sitting around doing nothing.  I mean, I had fill out three whole bartending applications before my dream job was handed to me.