Category Archives: #officelife

If it makes you feel better…

This week hasn’t been the best for me. I understand that there are several differences between the German and the American mind. I get that I should not be offended if you tell me something to my face that I wouldn’t even say to my best friend even though I barely know you as my coworker.

I get how I must sound like a hypocrite for supporting HAES and FA when I’m for all appearances a normal-weight person. I get how I must sound like a hypocrite for advocating self-made people when it seems like I don’t have to struggle for most achievements (I do, though. You people don’t see the amount of all-nighters I pull!).

Why do you have to hurt me to make you feel better, though? What is it in this country that has people sniping you down from every small high you manage to create for yourself?

Three situations over the past few days have made me want to cry… Continue reading


Running off

My mouth has a tendency to run away with me. Case in point? Person from the French-speaking part of the African continent, representative of a big client, visited the firm today. Why the hell they put me in charge of greeting and dealing with him after the whole Sheikh debacle (a story for another post) I’ll never know. Anyway, this guy was strutting around all “mine are the biggest”-like, and I was gritting my teeth and dealing with lingering hands with the utmost politeness (IMO) and my best French (like every language I learned on my own, I learned the gutter-variety).

Then we came to the deal part of the day. I was chomping at the bit to finally present my contract draft and be done with the guy, so I pulled out my nicely done black folder.

“I want a man to do business with.” The client.

“And I want a client that isn’t a chauvinist macho asshole.” Me.

Guess who got escorted out of the room?

Still feel good for speaking my mind, though. I put up with that… person for three hours. Called it an early night thereafter, went for a quick 5k and called my TKD master asking to join a Tai Chi workout (as a point, we never do any kicking when any of us aren’t in a centered mood. As one of his most advanced students, I also earned the right to call him if I wanted to train) to center myself, which sorta worked. I went home, sat on my sofa and started  reading blogs.

Hot chocolate time! Roomie’s still in South Africa. LONE hot chocolate time!

… I wish someone would teach those guys what Western women think like. Or just not ask me to deal with them time after time after time. I know not all males from that particular sociocultural environment are the same, but most in a higher position in a traditionally oriented workplace are. I’m also a “permanent rebel” who will not defer to social customs I see as demeaning. I’m the worst possible choice to deal with a traditionally-minded male from that culture. Let me be, boss?

I’m… *hic*… OK

Alcohol. The main staple food of a herd of lawyers gathered together in a small space (or not-so-small).

Tonight, we had a celebration for a job well done- it was finicky and difficult, so I came fully prepared to savor the fruits of my labor.

If only there had been fruits. The fruit platter (a single, sad affair on a forgotten table by the door) was empty twenty seconds after the ravenous hordes arrived. From then on out, it was alcohol only.

There is nothing nastier than a bunch of overworked, underfed, dead-drunk people in close proximity. I don’t like being touched by most people. I don’t like off-key singing. I have sensitive hearing. I have a sensitive sense of smell and am easily offended if the person I’m talking to smells of beer and vomit.

Sooo… I refused any and all drinks. I don’t drink in public, period. One exception: a single cocktail when out for a night with the girls, at a bar we choose, with reason and thought. I was promptly labeled the party-pooper and avoided by the increasingly infantile congregation of drunkenness.

Here we are asking our teenagers to please not be stupid and drink, and as adults we can’t “have fun” unless we are drunk? Name one celebration among adults (who are not AA) that doesn’t include alcohol? I’m so sick of it all. Get a grip! If I didn’t know better, I’d say nearly all my colleagues are borderline alcoholics.

The hours are brutal in our job. It’s a rare day that I’m home before 10pm. You do need some form of escapism.

I chose my own kind of entertainment- ditching the drunk party and going for a nice midnight run along the canal. It’s started getting cold again, but I’m building up some nice speed right now so I don’t feel it all that much after the first 2k.

There’s been a change in runners, too- we now have a lot more students running where I do. Plus I’ve extended my route so I’m now up to a 10k three times a week, which is a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’m not a very good endurance runner… *sigh*

Anyway, back to the workplace tomorrow. Gonna be fun seeing all the bigshots nursing their hangovers 😛

TKD’s picking up once more, too. Going to be on the tournament circle this winter after all. At first I didn’t want to due to my weight, but I was convinced otherwise. Chubby person in the ring? That’s me!

Goodnight all!

I’d rather…

How often have I heard this phrase this week? Too often, that’s it!

“I’d rather be outside now!” “I’d rather live in the Caribbean!” “I’d rather my boyfriend weren’t there tonight.” “I’d rather…”

Many of those I’d-rather’s were the usual unattainable dreams, but there are a few instances where I’m furious people don’t just do something instead of complaining all the time.

“I’d rather not be freezing all the time,” is what I was thinking today. So I stepped up my exercise program which will help even if it won’t eliminate the problem.

“I’d rather be reading right now.” While sitting on the train to work. Guess what? Today I brought a book. I actually think I’m going to get into the habit of carrying around a book on my person at all times again.

“I’d rather my boss would stop making these sexist, annoying comments,” upon making the mistake of wearing a skirt suit (costume? Sounds wrong!) to work today. I talked to him telling him that I don’t believe that our attire should influence his attitude toward us as long as we kept to the business dress code.

“I’d rather be anywhere but here!” Researching in the library. So I left for an internet cafe and am perfectly happy right now.

By the way: I’ve always been skeptical of step aerobics as a sport due to the rather uninspiring classes I visited until now, which were a gossip club but not exercising. Colleague talked me into going to one yesterday. (“I’d rather be doing some real exercising,” I grumbled) TOTALLY different from anything before. I was out of breath one minute into the third power-sprint of the class. Hopping up and down a foot-high step makes the difference!

Do something about your I’d-rather’s! It’s a lot more fun than persistently complaining 😉

When was the first time you refused?

Watching people has to be one of my favorite pastimes at the workplace. They’re all like one giant herd of sheep (with the occasional off-color one thrown in), following whoever’s the decided-upon leader of the moment. If sheep were horribly looks-obsessed, that is (then again, I recently read somewhere that nobody has a better butt than a sheep).

Recently though the enjoyment has gone out of the sport and all I feel is a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. There’s nothing I want to hear more than a single “NO!” from that congregation of flocking herd-mentalities. So what if you have to go against your peers? They’ll get over it.

The first time I stood in front of a whole group of enthusiastic sheeple was when I was in first grade. We had just completed learning all our letters (those who still needed to anyway) and were supposed to make our own “letter house” from an old cardboard box, markers, glitter paper… you get it.

I thought the activity was both pointless and time-consuming (and, even to my five year-old mind, really, really embarrassing) and stood up from my little desk, left front row.

“I’m not going to.”

This is just so very liberating! Sure, twenty pairs of eyes staring at you as though you’ve just killed their pet hamster in very graphic and indescribably cruel ways isn’t that easy to bear as a small kid, but you feel so much better for having spoken your mind!

Upon being asked for my reasons, I gave the child’s version of “letters are inanimate objects produced solely through us humans and certainly not in need of any kind of abode”. The teacher was furious, Mom was called, I didn’t have to make the cardboard house.

I’ve made it a point to go against the flow if reason dictates it ever since then. I didn’t care that I was beaten up (badly) by the kids whose fun I had interrupted (and their friends). I was proud of myself for having an opinion and expressing it.

The teacher called me a “natural revolutionary” ever after. She’s still writing to me every so often asking how I’m doing, and we’re on our way to a nice adult relationship.

Never being satisfied with the status quo- isn’t that our claim to fame on the evolutionary ladder?

Yet so many are.

Dare to say no. It’s a short word, but with far-reaching effects on your psyche. You might even discover a new you!

<– off to be a little more disagreeable now

One more word and I’ll scream

Someone at the office let the results of the stupid IQ test I took in college slip. I make no secret of my hatred (yes, real hatred. Not dislike, not displeasure, not anger, true hatred) of the word “gifted child” (it was the bane of my existence as a kid), or my contempt for IQ tests (which are really nothing but a measure of how good someone’s rote learning skills are).

Anyone repeat that phrase in my presence again (or the German equivalent which is “hochbegabt”, yes, I can learn dammit!) and I’ll scream. For real. Loudly.

And then I’ll launch into a tirade on how normal everybody who’s been “diagnosed” (like we’re actually ill) with “being gifted” is. Over the office intercom system.

You brought it unto yourselves, people!

Hair and the office

I have rioting red curly hair. Seriously, this stuff on my head starts a revolution every morning before I even wake up and isn’t done going on strike in the evenings. All through high school I maintained it at waist-length, complete with half-hour combing (or trying to comb) sessions every morning and evening. It took me two hours to wash and blow-dry my hair.

I cut it all off to two inches once I went to college and donated to Locks of Love. My family was horrified. I felt three pounds lighter (in reality, I was about three pounds lighter). My friends hated me for cutting my hair radically like that. Apparently, the red hair they had made fun of was a source of envy- ha, ha.

I’ve been growing it out again since uni, went through the required triangle-haired period and am comfortably maintaining a mid-back length now since I discovered the miracle that is cutting out layers of hair. I’m even down to one hour for hair-care!

Today, at the office, I left my hair open for the first time ever. Now, I have big green eyes (Irish heritage), and with the red hair there’s more “Call 911! There’s a fire in the office!” jokes than hair on my head. My co-workers seemed vaguely horrified that I was looking so un-businesslike (never mind that most female lawyers leave their hair open two days of the week). Maybe it’s the curls- my hair curls in every direction and won’t lie flat even if you threaten it with a straightening iron. I’ve heard more comments about my age, presumed incompetence, weird attitude, ability to deal with clients, source of my success, doubts about my exam results and plain insults to my face than I can deal with. Just now, during lunch break, I fled to the ladies’ room and put my hair in a bun. It seems the source of vexation is back.

I don’t know what it is that makes people hate red hair- it’s like there’s an automatic “pick on this person!” attached to it.

I just know that I don’t feel like being a punching bag all day long, or leered at by those “middle-aged” partners of ours. I’ll just wear a disguise during the day and leave the open hair for the evenings when roomie and I are all alone in the apartment (though she’s told me more than once to “control that menace on your head!” whenever I’m shedding as much as a hair).

Can you ever be yourself as a curly red-head? Apparently not.