Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time & Time Again

"Welcome to Time Management," the instructor said, a large stack of folders clutched to her chest. She beamed at us, proudly standing in front of the conference room in her salmon-colored suit. "I'm Sherry Baker, and this is the day you finally take control of your life!"

Ugh. Kill me now. I sat at a round circular table, surrounded by a few other corporate douche bags and prayed for a quick death. My boss had signed me up for a time management seminar- when I protested, he mentioned something about me missing deadlines, showing up late to work, and constantly reeking of vodka.
"I don't reek of vodka," I said, insulted, unable to defend the missing deadlines and showing up late to work part. "That's probably just my mouthwash you're smelling."
My boss snorted. "There's a handle of cranberry vodka in your desk drawer," he said dryly. "I'm assuming it's not there to clean wounds."

God, he's such an asshole. I stomped back to my desk to pout. I fantasized about quitting and starting my OWN company. A company where I didn't have a boss telling me I was an incompetent drunk. Then I realized that I WAS an incompetent drunk and didn't actually have any real desire, motivation, or capital to start a business. And then I didn't really care about attending a time management seminar, because I had already downed a glass of cranberry vodka over ice at that point and was feeling really good.

My cherry attitude quickly changed the next day when Sherry Baker started droning on and on about staying organized and scheduled, and I knew I was screwed. The class was two days, which meant I was in for 48 hours of incarceration, and Ms. Baker was my warden.

"First we're going to to understand who you are," she chirped, passing out thick packets. "Please fill out the questionnaire."
I'm right-handed, but I wrote my name at the top of the packet with my left hand, making it look like a small child's penmanship. I chuckled to myself, because I'm incredibly immature like that, and then opened it to the first page.

WHEN YOU HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO, HOW DO YOU GET IT ALL DONE?
I wrote 'what work?' and then went to the next question.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTIVITY AND TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS?
I don't have any. That's why I'm here.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PREVENTING YOU FROM ACCOMPLISHING YOUR TASKS?
Thank them.

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHAT AMOUNT OF TIME IS REASONABLE FOR A TASK?
Typically, I tell my boss that every project he gives me will take me a 'lifetime' to complete. This gives me plenty of opportunity to take three hour lunches.

HAVE YOU EVER DONE A COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS? TELL ME ABOUT IT.
What the fuck?

I didn't know the answer to the last question, so I snuck a peek at my neighbor's packet. She glared at me and covered her answers with her forearm.

"You need to fill out your own questionnaire," Sherry said cheerfully, staring at me. I felt like a 5th grader again, minus the juice boxes and dodge ball.

After lunch, we sat in a circle on the floor and our instructor held up a large red ball.
"We're going to share words that EMPOWER each of us," she said. "When you catch the ball, say a word that gives you POSITIVE ENERGY." She tossed the ball up in the air, and the guy next to me caught it. "Um..." He seemed confused. "My....kids?"
"Great!" Sherry Baker cheered. "Yes, if you have kids, they are a POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE ENERGY!"
I had no idea what life energy had to do with time management, but hell, it got me out of work for couple days, so I went with it and clapped with the rest of the group. When the ball flew up again, another women reached out for it. "My dogs give me lots of positive energy," she said, eagerly. "And my scrapbooking. I LOVE to scrapbook."
"YEAH!" Sherry pumped her fist like a Jersey Shore cast member. "Yeah!"
When the ball flew up again, I caught it. My mind blanked for a second, and then I said, "Sherry Baker gives ME life energy!" I was kissing her ass, hoping she'd send word back to my boss that I was a model student.
"YOU KNOW IT!" Sherry shouted, waving her arms. I was surprised her head didn't explode.

On the second day we talked about stress and how it affects our schedules. Sherry had us all share how we deal with stress.
"Well, I...." I glanced around the room. A lot of people had mentioned really lame shit for dealing with stress- things like exercise, spending time with their family, and prayer. I didn't believe their bullshit for a second.
"I really enjoy drinking," I said, truthfully. Sherry nodded encouragingly, so I kept going. "And sometimes I'll take, like, two or three Midol, you know for PMS? But I won't really have PMS- I just like the way Midol makes me feel- like I'm flying across space on a unicorn's back, you know?" Sherry kept nodding. "And then after the Midol, I'll have one glass of wine- okay maybe three- and then I really like to blast Gwen Stefani or Madonna or Lady Gaga-" I couldn't stop, my confession spilling out of my body like diarrhea. Sherry had stopped nodding and my coworkers were staring at me blankly, but I couldn't stop. "And then I'll get in this old terry cloth robe I've had for over a decade-it has bloodstains all over it-and I'll post a couple obscene comments on my ex-boyfriend's Facebook page, and then wax my bikini line. Eventually I'll blackout from either the Midol or the wine or the bikini wax pain- and I'll come to like four hours later and feel much, much better, you know?" Satisfied, I stopped and sipped my water.
"Um- thanks....for sharing," Sherry said, awkwardly, her enthusiasm gone.

"How was it?" My boss asked the next day, peering into my cube.
"Great," I said, cheerfully. "I learned a TON."
"So you'll start turning your work in on time?" He asked, hopefully.
"No," I answered. "Sherry wants me to lower my stress, so I'm going to actually work less." I popped a Midol in my mouth and swallowed it down with some water as I watched him walk away, disappointed.

He should take up scrapbooking.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Flu

When I was 28 years old, I was unemployed and lived at my parent's house due to lack of funds and job offers. They were out of town for weeks on end, leaving my cousin and I (who was also staying with us) on our own. I did nothing but sleep in and drink beer for those three months, and in the middle of it all, I got sick.

Really, really sick.

It started with a fever- I remember waking up one morning feeling like an overcooked Hot Pocket. The chills started in next, followed by coughing, a sinus infection, watery eyes, and occasional vomiting. It's probably how Lindsay Lohan feels every morning after a night of partying and substance abuse.

I crawled down the hall and into the kitchen, my pajamas soaked through with sweat, my hair matted, my mouth covered in foam. I struggled to stand, my hands shaking as I held a cup under the faucet for a drink of water.
"You look like shit," my cousin said, walking into the kitchen. He was on his way to his internship and rummaged in the pantry for some cereal before work. "What's your deal?" He asked.
"Flu," I wheezed, my legs buckling underneath me. I clutched the counter for stability.
"Are you sure it's not something else?" My cousin asked, pouring milk into his cereal bowl.
"It's not a STD," I said, quickly.
My cousin paused. "I just meant like food poisoning or something," he said, confused.

When he left, I realized I had no health insurance and would have to treat this with over-the-counter medicine. I opened my parent's medicine cabinet and found ginkgo biloba, a bag of dried seaweed, and a colon cleansing kit. Damn hippies! I was sick, not headed to a meditation retreat. Jesus, who's dick was I going to have to suck for an Advil?

I spent the day taking cold showers to get my temperature down, taking small sips of Drano in lieu of cold medicine, and making erratic phone calls to my sister through my fever-induced hallucinations.
"Hello?" My sister said on the other end of the phone.
"Sissy?" I slurred from the floor of the bathroom. With one hand I was clutching my cell phone and the other was holding the side of the toilet. The porcelain felt cool against my hot skin. "Is that you?"
"Of course it's me, you called me," she barked, impatient. "How's the job search going?"
"Not so good," I whispered meekly from my spot on the bathroom floor. "Listen....if I die, I want you to have all my money. Go buy yourself something nice."
"Wow, thanks, sis, but I'm not sure what I could purchase with $2.38," my sister responded sarcastically.
"So...rude...." I croaked, watching the tiles on the floor spin in unison. And now- were the tiles dancing? In little top hats?
"I've got to go," my sister said, interrupting the dancing floor tiles and hanging up on me.

The low point of that day came when I stumbled to the fridge in my house, desperate to rid myself of the waves of heat my body was sending off. I was in nothing but my underwear and a sports bra, and in a moment of insanity, tore the freezer door open and grabbed all the frozen vegetable bags out of it. Taking a large roll of duct tape, I attached the frozen bags to my arms and legs, permanently taping the frozen food to my body. Once done, I stumbled into the living room and passed out. It was hours later when I awoke, my cousin shaking me awake.
My eyes fluttered. "Jesus? Is that you?" I moaned.
"Um..." my cousin stared at me blankly. Six bags of melted frozen vegetable bags were taped to various parts of my limbs, my sports bra sweated through and my hair tangled with dirt and dust from the floor. "Is that- are those a bag of carrots duct taped to your thighs?" He asked in horror. "What- what HAPPENED?"

"So....sick......" I whispered, the smell of warmed vegetable melody strong against my bare stomach.

Days later I was finally able to get out of bed, my fever down. I was grateful I had finally recovered from the flu, and now, I needed to get back to my life.

And stock the freezer back up with frozen vegetables.