Monday, August 29, 2005


Mostly for DM's benefit, I'm going to share the message(s) that I received today.

Him: 9:40 AM: I was thinking stopping by NABABNA* today. r u working - B-Dog ;)

Me: 3:30 PM - Sorry for the delay. I don't work by I am stopping by later. Why are you going to NABABNA*?

Him: 3:32 - I was going to say hi but now im at work

Me: 3:33 - How late do you work? And "Hi"

Him: 3:35 - 5 Or so

Me: 3:36 - Why not stop up after?

Him: 4:19 - too far in traffic

Me: 4:20 - Lame. Were you in the area early today?

Him: 5:10 - yup im going shopping and working out what about later

Me: 5:11 - Sure. Where & when?

Him: 7:09 - donno what do u think?

Me: 7:12 - I don't know. Why don't you just call me & we'll figure it out?

Vmail - 7:21 - Hey Beth, it's ***, I think I'm going to chill for the night but we should definitely get together. Give me a call sometime later this week.

I called him back (since my phone did not ring when he called). We talked for 10 minutes and will probably get together Tuesday night. Unless it creates problems for going out with DM, Liz, and company.

Can I also say that text messaging is a bit annoying? I hate how grammar is lost during text messages.

This is a guy who was a good friend of mine until one party where we both became quite intoxicated and we're still trying to build this friendship back up. It will be quite interesting to see him again. It has been a long time.

*Name of company changed to protect my employer.

Wrong, wrong, wrong

It is a sign. A sign that I am not as crazy as I thought. No, I'm crazy in another way.

I was speaking to DM about drama yesterday. The conversation boiled down to the fact there is not much drama in my own life; just those lives around me.

Now I'm wondering if we create our own drama. When life gets a little too mundane, do we in fact find things that are bigger deals that we would orignally think? Are there some people who love drama and therefore intentionally create situations to cause drama?

I do think that some drama just occurs. But then there is the drama of relationships.

Why am I talking about this? Because of a message I got today and it is driving me batty. ARGH!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Let's Talk About Sex

Now that I have your attention, here is a story of an innocent girl, a liberal mother, and a bit of embarrassing information.

The inspiration for this topic came tonight while sitting at a table at Perkins talking with Steve, the team lead, and Maria, a former banker from my former team. How we got on a topic of sex, I don't know. I know that we spoke about parenting and how sheltering too much information can cause children to rebel and experiment. Then I shared some of the experiences of my mother's talks about sex.

In our school, sex education started in fifth grade, ages 10 and 11 for most of the students. This was about the right time. Most of the girls I knew did not start menstruating until the next summer and the boys started hitting puberty shortly after, so the timing probably was pretty accurate. In fact, I only knew one girl who had had her period prior to the day our class was split down the middle and the girls learned about maxi pads and the boys learned about wet dreams. I was prepared for the day to arrive and it did (not too long after, I am starting to believe the theories that we have too many preservatives and such in our foods here and it causes earlier development) and I was already used to the boys taunting over the fact I, like a few of my friends, skipped the whole training bra stage and went straight to B and (in my case) C cup bras.

In eighth grade (about age 13 and 14), our school had another sex ed class. We went farther than talking about stages of puberty to discussing the act of sex and reproduction and protection. In our junior year, we had another sexual education class where the subject matter focused on STDs. Many of the girls (and sometimes boys) would be squeamish during these classes or make jokes, but I felt the information was valuable to learn. Looking back, I'm glad I went to a school that found value in teaching these subjects. Not necessarily for myself, but I did have friends whose mothers (or fathers) were not as liberal and felt that the best way to protect was to not share.

One friend in particular had a sheltered upbringing. The information she did not learn from my own mother she learned by experimenting. Do I think this is wrong? No. There are sometimes I wish I had done a bit more experimenting when I was young because I am what you could call a bit of a prude. There are situations I'm not comfortable with and that's fine, but then sometimes I think of the crazy stories that my friend has and how she can look back and laugh. And thankfully, she never got hurt. She never became pregnant or ended up with a STD and never ended up in a situation that she couldn't get out of. But she will tell me that she wishes that she was a little more reserved during her youth. The grass is always greener on the other side, I guess.

Back in 1987, I was 9 years old. The movie, Good Morning Vietnam, was released and even if it was rated R, I was allowed to see it. The only movie that was ever off limits to me was Raw, starring Eddie Murphy. I agree with that decision.

While watching Good Morning Vietnam, I was confused by a line. The line (and I'm paraphrasing because it has been a few years) is, "There's a man in dire need of a blowjob." I noticed that both of my parents laughed at the phrase and I couldn't see the humor. So, being an innocent child, I asked my mom, "What's a blowjob?"

When the movie was over (remember, I was nine), my mom took me into her room for a "talk". Maybe I was a bit young for this talk, it was before sex ed started in school and I'm finding more and more that it was years earlier in my development than many of my friends (some have mentioned they were 14 or 15 when they learned about it), but I remember what she said and it was a bonding moment with my mom. She was prepared for the talk and wanted to answer my questions honestly. She did. Sometimes a bit too honestly, but honestly nonetheless.

Mom pulled out a book, "The Joy of Sex" and started by showing me the pictures of male and female anatomy. She explained the penis and how pleasure can be derived from certain touches. Mom explained how a woman, who loved a man very much, could make the man feel good by giving him a blowjob. There were details here and in the interest of keeping this a somewhat PC post, I'm not going to describe them. I'm hoping everyone understands the term and if you don't, email me. Or heck, Google it. I'm sure you can find enough examples online.

After the entire conversation and her explanation of ejaculation, I had another question. Remember that I was nine. It is important that you remember how innocent a nine-year old can be. My question was, "Does the woman swallow that?"

This is the point where my mother, a woman with Christian upbringing but has found herself farther and farther away from faith and the church over the years, started to pray. She crossed herself and said a couple of "Hail Mary"s. Then I said, "'Cause that's gross!"

Her words, "Thank you Jesus!"

As the school years passed, I would occasionally hear a term from fellow students. Sometimes my good friend would hear a term and ask me to ask my mom what it meant. The talks were always honest and I learned a lot from my mom about sex. There were times people at school would use terminology that I had spoken with my mom about and I was able to tell that the kids had no clue what they were talking about. Adolescence is a time of learning and experimenting and there is something to be said about learning from others than having to make each mistake yourself. If a friend was too embarrassed to talk to their own parents, I could ask my mom for them. And it was always the correct answer. The consequences were always laid out and the morals were behind every conversation.

If the actions my mom took to educate me are considered controversial or too liberal, I don't care. My mom's honesty and approachable personality makes me thankful that I have her as my mother. I love her very much and respect her. Some day, long in the future, when I have children, I hope I can be as good of a mother to them. I appreciate that she didn't push the information on me, but also never hid any of the truth. There was never I couldn't ask, no subject too taboo.

And in the spirit of DM's recent posts, here are the lyrics of the song which prompted the title of this post. Enjoy this Salt N Pepa classic, "Let's Talk About Sex".

[Spinderella cut it up one time!
Hit me Come on]

Let's talk about sex baby
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about sex
Let's talk about sex
Let's talk about sex
Let's talk about sex

Let's talk about sex for now the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don't decoy avoid or make void the topic
Cuz that ain't gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it's dirty have a choice
Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off
Will that stop us, Pep? I doubt it
All right then, come on, Spin


Hot to trot, make any man's eyes pop
She use what she got to get whatever she don't got
Fellas drool like fools, but then again they're only human
The chick was a hit because her body was boomin'
Gold, pearls, rubies, crazy diamonds
Nothin' she ever wore was ever common
Her dates heads of state, men of taste
Lawyers, doctors, no one was too great for her to get with
Or even mess with, the Prez she says was next on her list
And believe me, you, it's as good as true
There ain't a man alive that she couldn't get next to
She had it all in the bag so she should have been glad
But she was mad and sad and feelin' bad
Thinkin' about the things that she never had
No love, just sex, followed next with a check and a note
That last night was dope

Let's talk about sex, baby (sing it)
Let's talk about you and me (sing it, sing it)
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about sex (come on)
Let's talk about sex (do it)
Let's talk about sex (uh-huh)
Let's talk about sex

Ladies, all the ladies, louder now, help me out
Come on, all the ladies - let's talk about sex, all right

[Yo, Pep, I don't think they're gonna play this on the radio
And why not? Everybody has sex
I mean, everybody should be makin' love
Come on, how many guys you know make love?]


[Found here.]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2 Things (and rambling, hey, what else do you expect from me?)

First of all, I would like to update the story about the people being killed while DM and I were at karaoke on Sunday night. I have found out, after the fact, that the two people who were shot were able to be operated on at the local hospital and did not die. This is a good thing. I also read in a news article that it was not gang-related, but probably involved a reunion going on across the street from the Chalet. Since people did not die, it is a much funnier story!

The other thing I wanted to post is this game I am absolutely addicted to playing. My mom sent me the link and it is called sudoku. You can find it here. My best time (on the easy level - I'm playing for speed right now) is 4 minutes and 5 seconds.

My day was good, although nothing too crazy happened. I got to work a bit early to sit with a banker who is still in training. After that I helped at a BBQ for three hours. We ate burgers, hot dogs, chips, and had a keg of rootbeer. There was trivia and a few of us even played four squares with a giant pink ball. After work, I went to the pool hall with Steve and Corrie.

I have 9 twelve packs of Coca-Cola in my car. I'm bringing them into my apartment one at a time. One has already made it inside. My mom, I do adore her, was nice enough to pick up some Coke for me at the store. There was a sale and it was 5 for $10. I didn't know that it would be 10 cases (didn't know the price originally) and I just gave her a twenty. My addiction is being filled.

iTunes is playing an interesting mix tonight. All the songs have a deep, dark tone to them. Quite a few story songs have played and it seems somber. Usually iTunes seems to find my mood (yes, I know this is odd) and I'm not in a somber mood tonight, but the songs are good songs.

Current playlist:

Face to Face - Garth Brooks
Ego - Medium
I Could Have Been You - Melissa Etheridge
Dear Joan - Tabitha's Secret
Darker Side - Jonny Lang

Monday, August 22, 2005

CSI: Chalet

*Disclaimer: Two people were killed tonight. This is a somber post with inappropriate humor scattered in.

I'm starting to think that the neighborhood where the Chalet is located is not as safe as I once thought. We all sat stunned the night Char had her tires stolen from her vehicle. The night the flower seller used the bathroom to smoke crack was humorous. Tonight was not funny, even with the wise-cracks flying back and forth.

DM and I arrived at the time we usually do, probably missing the action outside by only a few minutes. Bobby was not working this evening; his girlfriend gave birth this past week and he won't be back until Wednesday night. Theresa, another bartender, was working and served us food and drink and we noted how slow the Chalet was. Soon, Theresa was announcing to the bar that Bryan would be a bit late. He needed to find an alternate route to the bar due to a police roadblock. Bryan was the last to arrive before we were told to stay at the Chalet.

The televisions were set to a local news channel and breaking news was being played. There had been shootings and two people were dead, one north and one south of the bar. Theories have flown already about it being gang related and we kept walking outside to see police barricading Rice Street (where the Chalet is located) between the two closest intersections. No one could arrive and no one could leave. A fire truck was brought in and a light was hoisted from the top of a ladder. Police formed a line and paced the street with flashlights, searching for clues. As far as we know, there were no arrests tonight and we were allowed to leave the Chalet after midnight, three hours after the chaos started. The bar closed early tonight due to the lack of customers. DM and I were only accompanied by 11 others, including Bryan and Theresa.

With the lack of people, it was decided that it should be New Song Sunday. We didn't sing much anyway, but the songs we did sing were not part of our normal rotation. Angie was there and sat with us, singing new songs and we did have a bit of fun. When other singers sang, non-regulars and maybe people who drank a bit too much this evening, we would run outside to watch the police scan the street and nearby park and lake.

Now, for the funny parts. This is just how we coped with the events going on around us. This is not meant to offend anyone.

While discussing who the police were looking for, I made an observation that Bryan was the only person to arrive since the police started looking. A guy whom we've never seen before found this the appropriate time to run and tackle Bryan while yelling, "I got him!"

Angie's turn to sing came up in rotation and we were looking for her. Bryan commented, "She's out wiping her prints off playground equipment."

Benny was allowed to arrive through the barricade close to midnight because he was in possession of keys the bar staff would need to close down. He was not allowed to drive down the street so we asked where he parked. It turns out he and his cousins parked at the Lamplighter, a local strip club. Jokes were made, of course, about what he was doing there. We did find out then that his cousins were female and not interested in a female strip show.

With it being so slow, we had decided on New Song Sunday. The thought process behind this was, "Hey, if you suck, the audience can't leave!"

DM was prone to say, "Stupid dead people" over and over tonight. I do not blame her. Both of us were dressed up quite a bit (she has awesome new pink hair!) and looking forward to seeing other people (in DM's case it would be Gil and I was hoping just for some fun flirting tonight).

After we were allowed to leave, DM and I headed to Perkin's for a quick bite to eat. We drove a bit and listened to my iPod and I had a fun night, even with the sadness from the murders and the disappointment. I think I may be a bit in shock and this was much funnier until I started typing it out and realizing what truly happened.

But hey, now DM and I can both say we were in the middle of a double murder investigation.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why am I reading this? is the home page on my computer. Yes, I'm lame. One of the things I do enjoy about is the fact that there is news and articles on the home page (and the games help too). Sometimes I find odd articles and decide to read, even if I have no major interest.

That is how I ended up reading about dating today. There were two different articles. One was about how guys should treat a woman's friends and the other was about 20 ways to break the ice.

The first article, found here, has six pieces of advice for men.

1. Know the names

Learn (and if you're short on working brain cells, rehearse) her friends' names beforehand and sprinkle them liberally throughout the night. If you can't remember two or three important names, then the logic goes, how mindful will you be on birthdays and anniversaries? Similarly, reference any inside info you know about her chums to break the ice ("Janice, I heard you ran away from home to join the circus. What was your act? With that great smile, obviously not the bearded lady.").

Believe me, if a man is interested in me or I happen to be dating the guy (like that will ever happen!), I would certainly appreciate it if he actually remembers DM's name. Or my other friends. I don't think I would associate it with him remembering important dates, but I would find it respectful and find it an interest in me. Acknowledging things that are important to the other person is a big step.

2. Open the wallet

Ask a lobbyist: Spending a little scratch is the timeless way to curry favor, even if the rapport is flat and the chitchat forced. No one suggests you must pick up the group's entire tab or arrange helicopter transport for all concerned, but can't a gent take care of the nightclub cover charge or treat her gang to a round of ice-cream sundaes? One crisp Jackson buys instant gratitude and amity, so even if your personality bombs worse than the House of Wax remake, rest assured, you'll still receive some points ("He's rude, crude, and lewd, but I will say this... he's not cheap.").

A nice gesture does go a long way, but I do not think that paying for things would override personality in any way. If the guy has a good personality, then this is a nice thing to do. I know I would want to return the gesture and buy something else throughout the night.

3. A smattering of flattering

The second easiest method to impress: Compliments, compliments, compliments. Offer some fashion kudos to her roommates and acknowledge the great work her best bud is doing at the non-profit. Even better, score points by offering kind words about your date to her friends while she's in the ladies' room: "She's terrific, but you all already know that." When such praise is repeated back to her later, the positive effect is doubled.

Good advice. It goes back to acknowledging the friend and helps create a sense of respect. It is a bit of a fine line however. Too much flattering to friends and lack of attention to the woman who the man is interested in can be construed badly.

4. Don't go for the grope

Incidentally, park that libido in Toledo. Despite her fetching curves, tone down the PDA and ixnay the open-mouthed kissing during outings with her friends. Mild affections are great, but syrupy "pookie-wookies" and all-too-obvious tableside groping make her cohorts feel like a bunch of third wheels... which won't win you any points.

In the past, I've watched couples (friends of mine) in public to see how they react to each other. I give huge props for mild touching, but tend to get very uncomfortable when there is more intense groping going on. A guy placing his hand on the small of his date's back is a huge plus. A woman can rest her hand on his arm. These are nice gestures of affection without making others think the couple will go for the gusto in a public place. And please, no baby-talk.

5. Wallflower or Man of the Hour?

Don't wait to be grilled with questions; fight any shyness and jump right into the mix. Get everyone involved in the conversation and turn an awkward meet-and-greet into a charming group experience. Foster confidence with a couple of her intimates by offering some candid insight out of earshot from your date ("When I first called Deanna's to ask her out, I nearly wore out the pound sign re-recording that message until my excitement wasn't so obvious.") Want to really go for it? Stir the ladies to a tizzy with a hush-hush announcement you know will get leaked like a Hollywood scoop ("Don't say anything, but I'm asking her to go away with me for the holiday weekend.").

Just sitting back and not joining the conversation is a quick way to get a group (and the woman) to think that the guy has no personality or intellect. Much of this advice goes back to showing interest in her friends.

6. Follow up with flourish

Whether by email or telephone, always comment afterward on what a delight it was to meet her friends. A few gushy words about her inner circle demonstrate that you are interested in her life as much as her tan lines. Had a little run-in with her dyspeptic pal Barbara? Don't blatantly lie, yet restrain from using your most colorful profanity. Instead, soften it with a little self-deprecation ("Barbara and I may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but I probably opened my fat mouth at the wrong time..."). At this early stage of dating, it's not worthwhile to squander precious wooing capital on a clash of personality. If you're still at it a few months later, then, by all means, unleash your torrent of honesty about bossy Barb—don't worry, your darling will likely have some choice words about one of your boorish buds as well.

It all comes back to acknowledgement. I know personally, I love it when events or conversations are acknowledged. Feeling unimportant because another person does not say anything about a situation is not a fun thing.

I think these pieces of advice can apply to both sexes. The article focused on how men should react around the friends of a woman he is interested in/dating, but really, a woman can benefit by knowing his friends' names, being a bit generous, and acknowledging the others around are good things to do. Do I think this article is profound? No. The concepts here work in many other situations besides dating. Simple friendships form from things like this.

The second article is about how to break the ice. It can be found here.

1. "I love your name; what’s the origin? Were you named after anyone in particular?"

Just about everyone’s name has a back-story attached to it, says Mia Kirshenbaum, dating coach and author of The Weekend Marriage. You’ll probably get a fun, learn-about-your-date’s-family exchange out of this remark.

At first, this seemed odd to me. Then I realized what my first rule of management is. To get people to open up to you, ask them questions. Humans, in general, like to talk about themselves. Most of these questions are going to relate to that fact.

2. "Where did you go on your last trip?"

Whether it was an exotic safari or just a weekend in Jersey, people love to talk about the places they’ve traveled, suggests Elizabeth Bates of Boston. Plus you’ll find out whether they’re more drawn to cities, beaches, or exotic locations—giving you still more conversational fodder.

Just how many times have DM and I told everyone at the Chalet that we went to Portugal to see Johnny? I lost count long ago.

3. "If you could do college over, what would you study?"

Perhaps they would forget economics and take theater, for example. Definitely gets them talking and reveals their innermost wishes.

4. "What’s your favorite new restaurant?"

You’ll have an instant window into your date’s likes and dislikes when it comes to cuisine. And if that topic doesn’t pan out, ask about their favorite dishes to cook at home, advises Stephanie Whitehead of New York.

5. "What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done in the last month?"

If someone can’t remember ever doing anything spontaneous, that tells you something, too.

I would recommend being patient in the answer to this. On the spot, some may not think of spontaneous things, but after a bit of thought could probably find something.

6. "What trait do friends tease you about?"

You’ll learn how your date’s friends see him or her, as well as find out how seriously your date takes himself or herself.

7. "What’s your take on ____ (current event)?"

Skimming the Op-Ed section of the newspaper before your date keeps you up-to-date, suggest Steven Kim of Philadelphia. Not that you need to engage in serious CNN-style discussions; instead, keep it light and avoid controversial topics (sex, politics, religion), unless you really want to feel like you’re on Crossfire.

8. "How do you know ____(mutual friend)?"

Obviously, this one will only work if you have a friend in common—but if you have that in your corner, work it, suggests Tim Sanders, relationship expert and author of The Likeability Factor. You’ll be able to blab about how you each met the pal, what you think of your buddy’s new job, and so on.

9. "What are you reading right now?"

Even if it’s a magazine, everyone does a little browsing. Find out about what’s on their bedside table, says Alyssa Citarella, of Norwalk, CT, and you’ll learn something about their literary tastes and hobbies, which is a springboard to other conversations.

10. "Can you believe this ____(heat/cold spell?) It makes me want to move to ____. How about you?"

The weather may be a predictable topic, but the way you pose the question doesn’t have to be so. Chances are your date will reveal whether or not he or she has considered relocating to another clime, offers Mia Kirshenbaum.

11."Who in your family do you take after the most?"

Whether it’s their mother, father, or great-aunt Louisa, you’ll learn something about their personality, as well as how close they are to their clan.

12. "What’s on your iPod these days?"

Discover their musical tastes. And if your date doesn’t have an iPod by now? "Well, that’s a whole other topic for discussion," suggests Theresa O’Rourke of New York City.

13. "You’ve got just 20 bucks to your name. How would you choose to spend it?"

While this question may not be as fun to answer as "You’ve won the lottery—what would you buy?" it can provoke an interesting discussion about priorities.

14."Are you a morning person or a night person?"

A random, fun question like this shows you’re not all serious, all the time.

How is this a random question? The fact that I'm a night person is a huge influence on my life.

15. "What’s the last good movie you saw?"

This can lead into new films you’re interested in seeing together—maybe on your next date, suggests Stephanie Whitehead.

16. "Leno or Letterman—or Jon Stewart?"

Most people swear allegiance to one of these nighttime chatters—find out whom your date invites into their bedroom.

Don't forget Conan!

17. "Do you collect anything?"

This one has a strange way of starting a conversation. Chances are, your date either has a collection to talk about with gusto—or will share a bad collecting experience from childhood that’ll get you both gabbing.

18. "Do you have any secrets? Are you willing to reveal one to me?"

Even if the answer is that she (or he) is wearing red underwear, revealing a personal detail creates an immediate level of intimacy between two people—although it’s best to wait until you’ve both had a glass or two of wine, or at least until the dessert arrives, before you deliver this one, advises Tim Sanders.

19. "What’s your dream job?"

Then follow up with a short description of your own once and future aspirations, advises Mira Kirshenbaum.

20. "Who do you admire these days?"

Lance Armstrong? Neil Armstrong? Either way, the explanation will be very revealing, explains Patricia Madson, author of Improv Wisdom and a professor of drama at Stanford University.

I found the questions interesting. They could even make a good MEME.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Quickly, before the madness starts

Lately, all I've been able to truly think about is work. Which is amazing, since there are other things in the back of my mind, but I do think I've managed to avoid being obsessed or upset by events from this summer by throwing myself into my job. This is yet another post about how my day at work went.

Yesterday was filled with chaos. When I arrived at work (complete with a gallon of ice cream and 2-litters of soda for rootbeer floats), our team had a two-hour meeting. We have one meeting during the month and I'm glad we finally got to pull the bankers from the phones. The group got to bond a bit and we were able to cover some business.

I was able to have one-on-one sessions with a couple of bankers yesterday. I met with Steve for a bit of time (always cool) and I was happy for him when he was able to drink soda, a feat he hasn't dared since his surgery. On my lunch break, I called Char and talked with her. I miss her every day.

One of the proud moments of my day yesterday was going over a quality assurance score with an emotional banker. This banker has a history of getting upset and frustrated and I was weary about showing her the scores she had received on her first few calls. The scores were in no way good. Even though the scores were hard to bear, there were good things in the scores to discuss, such as the fact she gave out correct information, just had issues in identifying the callers. And from a bank stand point, the information given out was never something that put the bank or customer at risk. What I am proud about is the fact the session did not end up in tears. This banker is quite emotional, as I mentioned above, and was able to take the coaching in a positive light. It was a huge relief off of my shoulders that she did not leave work crying.

Tonight, the full moon, may prove to be crazy for me. I have four bankers that I want to discuss quality with tonight and this is a long, tedious process. There is also another banker who was offered a job (unemployment is very low right now and our biggest challenge is being the best company to work for and keep the employees we hired within NABABNA). I want to talk to her and help her understand that she is at a great place, full of opportunity. It is hard when it is an employee market, not an employer market. These are challenges I am finding.

Well, off to work!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Joys of Management

The first all-manager meeting was held today since I've become a supervisor. It started at 10:30 in the morning and we talked business until 4:15. Then it was time to go to a local bar for a bit of happy hour.

As much as meetings take up too much time, this was actually a good meeting. Maybe I'm just green around the gills or maybe I really do find some management topics interesting, but I found myself engaged during the meeting and wanting to talk about the different topics.

Happy hour at the local bar was enjoyable. It is interesting to see some of the people I work with outside of the bricks and mortar we are so confined. There was laughter and silliness and just plain fun.

Although I found the meeting productive and fun, I still feel like I lost a day of work. After happy hour, I went back to work to send one email. I was there for an hour and a half. I should have skipped sending the email!

My team has a meeting tomorrow. It is two hours long. The bankers will be happy, they get off the phones and get to enjoy a team atmosphere. I'm planning on stopping at the grocery store on the way to work to pick up some vanilla ice cream and rootbeer (and Coke) for floats during the meeting.

DM and I are planning on karaoke tomorrow night. Maybe I can talk Steve into joining us this time.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cleaning out the notebook...

DM and I both carry small notebooks around in our purses. The purpose of these notebooks is to keep our karaoke lists and to write up notes and posts for our blogs. Neither one of us are great at remembering and the notes help.

And then, sometimes, I find notes written that I do not have a clue what they meant. Usually these things are in quotes. They may be random thoughts from DM and I, or they may be completely overheard snippets of conversation.

The notebook I purchased right before we headed to Portugal to visit Johnny is now filled with random notes. It is time to clean out the notebook and move on to a new one. This post is going to be filled with scenes from various nights and not complete descriptions of the evenings. Consider this good, since the full night descriptions may get a bit dull.

Scenes from Shopping with DM (pre-flight to Portugal)

Leaving Coldstone Creamery
B (hey, that's me!): I have ice cream!
D (that's DM!): That's always something to celebrate.
Imagine me bouncing around in glee (hey, it was ice cream!)
D: People all around here are wondering why I'm letting my special child drive.

While driving to find the mall that is not a mall and should be easy to find. Heaven forbid that I could actually know where I was even though I've lived in this area for 21 years.
D: Stars! They have stars! (These were just stars. If you can't tell yet, we were both extremely happy and excited about our upcoming journey and everything was funny.)

While sitting in I-Hop having pancakes.
B: Isn't this a Johnny Cash song?
D: No, I think it is Elvis.
B: You're sure.
D: Yeah, it was a name with an H in it.
Server: Yep. It was Laura.
B or D (I can't remember which now): So that's Laura with an "H".

Scenes from Perkin's with DM, Char, & Tom before we departed

After consuming shots of mayo and getting slightly dizzy off the paint-thinner that was on the rubber balls DM purchased for all of us at Old Navy:

Tom: Now, get your Sweets & your Meats at the same time! Introducing BBQ Chicken Chip oatmeal cookies!

D: Tom is fun to strike. Can I paint your head? (And she looked lovely in the giant hat!)

T: I'm playing with my balls! (He's a guy and young, give him a break. He was bouncing them on the table.
Char: Give! Give! Give! Give! Give! Give! Give! (Get the point yet? Char was trying to control him.)

Scene from karaoke, July 10th

A young man is singing and is quite intoxicated.

YM: We got yippies. (The line is actually, "We got yuppies." I found it funny.)

B: There's only 8 people standing on chairs. Who do you think will fall first?

A man who is not in bad shape but not what we would call a specimen of perfect human form shows off his "six-pack" to the bar.

M: 15 minutes a day! 2 days a week!
Heckler: Do you have Spider-man underwear on?

Scenes from playing pool with Char

In an odd discussion about a vampire cult:

B: They've got Holsteins in their backyard.

When a woman, an obvious Harry Potter fan, walks into a gruff pool hall wearing a neon pink cape:

B: She's got a cape! She's got a cape! That's the best thing I've seen this entire week.

Scene from karaoke & watching random TV shows without sound

B, D, or C: Why are we watching a priest milk a cow?

DM: If you're not having sex, watching baseball is good.

Scenes from karaoke that do not involve TV

DM: Did he just say, "You don't have herpes"?
B: "Her babe."

Random person: You're not a whore because you've got salty boobs!

Scenes from Perkin's (while Char & I may have had a few cocktails and DM was completely sober).

C: Who did I blow today?
D: Was it Andy?
C: You should sleep with Andy.
DM & I look extremely confused at this point.
C: Oh! I blew James. Yeah. That's right.

After a discussion about how Andy's children would not be bald unless the mother's father was bald.
B: Why am I suddenly having kids with Andy?

After putting ice cream on DM.
C: Dana is not a plaything.

Do you see why alcohol and I should not be mixed?

Scene (written on a t-shirt for Johnny by Bryan) from karaoke

A Haiku (that is not actually a haiku)
Two worlds share
Words that sing the same
Sizzling Bacon

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Farewell & Goodbye

This morning, sometime right before noon, Char packed up the car and started her drive down to Texas to be with her husband for the next year. The past week has been filled with nights of going out and trying to spend time with my friend before she left.

On Wednesday night, Char & I shot pool so she could say goodbye to Tony. On Thursday, we went to The Chalet for karaoke, visiting DM and the crew. Then we went to Perkin's to eat and allow Char to say goodbye to Jen, our favorite server. Friday night was back at the pool hall with Andy and DM, where I may or may not have gotten a bit drunk. Char may or may not have as well. After pool on Friday, a visit to Perkin's to see the weekend staff was made. Saturday was another night at the pool hall and more liquor was involved. We then made it to Perkin's and Char, DM, and I went to Wal-Mart afterwards (evil, evil Wal-Mart).

These last few nights have been a blast and the reality of Char leaving always seemed far away. Until we dropped her off at her car (she was sober by then) and had to say goodbye.

I miss her already. DM and I have high hopes that she will start blogging in Texas and we can keep in contact through this medium. Here is to hoping this year flies by and Char will return with Tom soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"I am filled with Christ love!"

Oh my! Char and I just watched this movie, Saved! Talk about hilarious. The movie is all about teenagers at a Christian school and the trials they face in growing up. The cast of characters is fantastic. You have:

The girl who wants to save her gay boyfriend so she sleeps with him and gets pregnant.
The handicapped brother of the school's biggest fan of Jesus.
The only Jewish girl at the school who keeps messing with the Christian fundamentalists.
The pastor/principal who seems to have a thing for the pregnant girl's mother.
The extreme Jesus-lover who is the least Christian person possible.
The gay boyfriend.
The straight boyfriend.

It is fantastic. I bought the movie because it was on the discount rack at Target and I'm glad I did. I have not laughed that loud watching a movie in quite a while.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Accomplishing Nothing

My Monday was a day to do almost nothing. It's a good thing the day was set aside for nothingness, I'm not sure I could have accomplished anything.

I successfully played about 15 games of this stupid computer game on MSN called Hexic. I did managed to watch about 10 episodes of The X-Files (I'm on season 5). I also putzed around with my scrapbooking stuff, organizing, not actually completing pages.

What else did I do? As a true Scorpio can, I obsessed. I tried not obsessing, it didn't work. I thought about karaoke and karaoke and karaoke. There is one thing to say for what happened Sunday (which is so minor and idiotic it is ridiculous) is that it did finally get my mind off of work!

It is thundering outside here. There is a big storm coming and the air is full of electricity. I'm going to work now and will go out with Char (and probably Steve) after work. Oh Internet, I don't want to think of him because he is a bit of a wanker, but he's so cute and my stomach does those stupid flips when he's there. At least I didn't bring up the ball gag conversation in front of him!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Kicking and Screaming

Football season is starting again. It is wrong.

You know it is a bad sign when you're sitting at karaoke, not expecting anything because it's been so long that of course you wouldn't think a certain person would show up and you can just enjoy yourself with all the great friends you have, and a guy walks in the door and you're first thought is, "Oh, he's cute."

Then you freeze, realizing who HE is. And you recognize the guy who walks in behind HIM and you flashback to last year and all the horrors of stupid infatuation. And it drives you crazy because you don't want to find HIM attractive because hey, you know nothing about HIM and HE has not been to karaoke in months and HE doesn't make a move or anything but HE's just so darn cute.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Can Ice Cream Solve the World's Problems?

My freezer currently has three pints of ice cream in it. Along with the pints, I have a ColdStone Creamery bucket and a box of Pudding Pops. At work yesterday, I ate a orange dream bar and had a piece of ice cream cake.

Ice cream makes me happy. I don't know why. Maybe I am remembering the joy of running out of the house when I heard the chimes of the ice cream truck (oh, the Pink Panther bars! I loved those! Bubble gum flavored ice cream and gum ball eyes! Yummy.)

What I do know is that when I got to work yesterday, there was a voicemail with bad news on it and I was furious and frustrated beyond belief. So I started eating ice cream. My hips won't enjoy this later, but it did help me function through the day.

Our call center, like many other call centers, has an attendance policy. It is rather lenient in the fact it allows people to be out sick 6 times before they lose their job. And people can earn back time. Maybe the problem is that the policy is too lax and people end up abusing the policy because of the extra time. Then an actual emergency or illness happens and they lose their jobs.

On Friday, I had to place a banker on a final warning. Unless the banker had perfect attendance through the end of September, their employment would be terminated.

That banker got sick and called in on Saturday. When I listened to the message, I let out a bit of an exasperated scream. Every time I walked by the empty desk, still full of pictures, I groaned internally. I do not want to fire this person, yet I must.

It makes me so angry! This is a person that I've worked hard at getting to be a performing banker. She started off slow and is now to the a-ha! part of her work where she gets it and is doing well. But all the absences were her decision. She is the one who decided not to stick it out the first 5 times. Then when she actually got sick, she is losing her job.

Now, if she had actually been sick the previous times, I would try to see if we could fight the policy. But unfortunately, the other times were just days she didn't feel like working. It just makes me angry. ARGH!

On a different note, still about work, I do have success stories. The six new bankers are performing fantastically. Our team actually has the highest sales rate of all the teams on my boss's side (there are two sides and each has 5 - 6 teams of bankers). As the bankers build up their sales base, their closed sales rate and profit go up. Our team's closed rate and profit increases each week. Our handle time is not something I like looking at right now, but I do expect it to be a bit high, especially with the fact we have NO senior bankers on our team. Our quality scores are getting better all the time as well.

We got three brand new bankers again. There are two more in training and another to start training this upcoming week. I'm excited still and love the fact the team has grown so much. Steve, the team lead, is doing great. You should see him at work. Every day he feels better and he is getting more and more comfortable around the bankers. He is even starting to open up a bit around me and he is so much fun to work with. We've only had one disagreement (which worked out in my favor) and it had very little to do with our team.

Tangent: The disagreement was over Steve's schedule. Our helpdesk manager approached him (without consulting me first, this is where my major issue was) to ask if he could switch to a daytime shift. Our team is primarily night time bankers. I want him there to help the team. Steve would like to work days (because he is a young man and would like a life) and I would like him there at night. I asked him, "Do you really think there is a benefit to having you here during the day time when our team works at night?" He agreed that it wouldn't help the team, it would just be nice for him. As it turns out, the day time hours are not an option, but Steve was quite aware of the fact I wanted him to stay on nights, since that is what I hired him to work.

We are doing well at work. It takes time for a new team to be established and we're getting there. It takes a ton of effort but the reward is fantastic. And then the connections I start making with the bankers make me smile.

For example, there is a banker on the team who works nights right now. She wants a schedule change to work the opening shift. If this happens, I would ask that she be switched teams. She performs great and I love her numbers, but it is not fair to her to work and never see her supervisor or team lead. And I wouldn't switch Steve to benefit one person when there are 16 others who need him. When she started, she had some major issues. She is an emotional person and would cry because the job requires she talks to customers instead of talking to her co-workers all night long. I finally found something she and I could talk about and now she loves coming to work and talking with me. We talk about scrapbooking.

Her schedule change was approved. I told her that because of the change of hours, she may be put on another team. She said to me, "But I like you! I don't want to be on another team." When I asked her how she would feel if she never saw me, Steve, or any of the other bankers on our team, she did respond, "Yeah, it makes more sense. I like all of you, but I don't want to sit here by myself." She knows that I don't want to move her away, I just want her to be happy. I consider this a success.

Enough about work. It's my weekend and I'm going to my dad's and karaoke and I should just bask in the fact I'm not being pulled in twenty different directions.

Oh, wait. Another funny work story. It is official and Andy (my previous supervisor and great friend) is being moved to our sales-only teams. He is from a program that the company put a ton of money into and so he doesn't actually stay in one job for an extended period of time. It's not his decision to move, but it is a good thing for him. I'm sad that he is moving to the other side of the building, but I know it is good for him. The team I used to lead is getting a new manager from this same program. They have a new lead and a new supervisor and many of the bankers are in a high turnover state. (I do have to smile about the fact that when I was the lead and we had three different managers, we never had a huge turnover. The bankers liked having me around to be a stable force on the team.)

The funny part of this story is the fact we had an all-supervisor meeting to hear the announcement (which Andy had told me long before the meeting). At the meeting, we were talking about having a new supervisor around. The call center hired two new supervisors recently, myself and a guy named Charlie. Charlie was actually hired about a month before I was. So I should be the new kid on the block, right? This does not seem to be the case.

At the meeting, someone said, "Hey, Charlie! You won't be the newest supervisor anymore." Everyone laughed and I sat there confused with Andy. Andy even said, "Um, Beth is the newest supervisor." Everyone seemed to think that this was not the truth and just accepts me. Charlie has had his battles. I guess that makes me feel good.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Stress I Do Not Need

My academic counselor left me a message on Monday about classes starting again. The message was that I was scheduled to start yesterday, August 2. With only one day notice, I found this to be an issue. The company I work for does reimburse tuition costs, but only a certain amount each year. With the cost of tuition increasing after every single class, I'm to a point where I can afford to take three classes a year. Two of those are done for 2005 (has to do with when the reimbursement happened) and I should be taking economics right now.

I left two messages for my counselor and an email. She finally responded today. My phone rang, waking me up earlier than I planned, and I just spoke to her with my head still half dreaming. My schedule has been changed and I am going back starting in September. With only 10 classes remaining to my degree, I feel like I should continue with my education and finish, it is just financials (and stress) that is holding me back from finishing.

Admitting how much stress and how hard these last few months have been is hard for me to do. I don't want to just complain and I feel like I should be able to get through all this without problems. There are more changes coming too soon for comfort.

Okay, here's the major changes and events in my life since April.

My grandma passed away and I found out on Monday that I scheduled the wrong day off work and now cannot attend the funeral service in Wisconsin next week.
My mom had to put Taco, our family dog, to sleep.
I was promoted, which is a great thing, to a more difficult job that requires a lot more of my time and energy.
On the work scene, the new team I am supervising has all new bankers and we are getting new bankers more often than other teams so I feel like I'm behind at work all the time. This is getting better, but it does add to my stress level. I also have a new team lead who is absolutely fantastic and I'm seriously grateful for the job he is doing.
Char is moving to Texas, very soon. She has given her two weeks notice at work and will be gone as soon as a couple of other matters here have been resolved.
My other good friend from work, my former supervisor Andy, may be leaving quite soon. Losing both Char and Andy in a short time bothers me more than I want to admit. They make work fun. It's nice to have people to talk and laugh with at work.
My financials are not where I want them to be. With the new job, I did receive a raise, however I did loose a shift differential for a bit of time and the hit on my checking account is hurting.

Adding another high stress situation to this mess is not something I want to do, yet I feel like I need to. I guess I just needed to vent a bit. Now it is time to go to work, have a meeting with Steve (the awesome team lead) and our three new bankers who start on our team this weekend, and then spend the night coaching the other bankers on the team. One good thing is the fact my team is doing well at work. There are still struggles and each time we get new bankers the struggles start again, but it is getting easier. Some night, maybe once Char is gone, I'll be able to write so much more and catch up on more blogs. I am sorry that I haven't had the time to read blogs like I have in the past. I do miss it quite a bit.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Darth Vader Pumpkin

Call center environments are one of the most unique working environments I can imagine. Sure, there are more unique places to work, more exciting scenery or job functions, but I do believe call centers have a way of breeding so many different types of people.

The call center I work at is the only I've ever known and in no way could I consider myself an expert. Sure, there was the dungeon that we worked in before our relocation, but the company was still the same. I do enjoy the culture of where I work.

Looking around at night, I can see people decorating their desks with their own personal belongings. Things mean something different to different people. For example, a banker has a collage picture frame at her desk with pictures of her trip to Italy. Another banker has pictures of a puppy and her boyfriend. Children and movie stars are pinned up at other desks.

My desk, like the others, is filled with pictures. I have postcards I bought during a trip to the Grand Canyon. Portugal pictures are framed and hanging in my cubicle. I also have a picture that brings a smile to my face each time I look at it. While going through my mom's old photo albums, I found this picture. I imagine it must have been a friend of mine, one I don't remember all that well, from when our family lived in Iowa. His name may be Aaron.

It is a testament to children's ideas, wishes, and parents who will allow dreams. Halloween is a time for children in our culture to dress up in any way they choose and have fun while trick-or-treating. That is exactly what this little boy did.

He is the Darth Vader Pumpkin. The image will always make me smile, knowing the combination is illogical but so childlike. Enjoy.

Darth Pumpkin