Inform Your Face

They say that children are very perceptive.  That they pick up well on our moods and our attitudes. I believe that tends to be a spiritual thing as much as a physical thing.  The last time I went back to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with Scornful Mother, CPA Sister, et. al., I had a bit of a blow up with SM that resulted in an abrupt change in our relationship.  At the culmination of this exchange when SM had put her hand up in my face, potentially to hit me and I reared back, glared at her and said, “Don’t! You! Dare!”  I looked down at Precious Niece #1 and saw that she had a confused and possibly frightened look on her face.  It broke my heart to see and at the same time, I was just so angry, that I could do nothing about it.

I believe that we never actually outgrow that perceptiveness.  I think if we trust our guts and follow our instincts we will find that we are, as full grown adults, still very perceptive.  It has been my experience, since I started therapy nearly two and one half years ago, that when Insightful Therapist states (generally not asks) that I’m experiencing a certain emotion, she’s almost never wrong.  If I stop and consider what she said, I’ll usually realize that, yes, in fact, I was feeling that emotion, even if I hadn’t realized it before she said it.  She’s a therapist and they are trained, (she’s quite skilled), to be open and really listen and observe their clients during their sessions.  I’ve been learning that I have the inherent ability to pick up on these things.  I think we all do.  Especially when its someone we’ve gotten to know.

The problem is we don’t usually trust ourselves.  As we grow and we are entreated, first by our parents, and then by the rest of society, to behave in certain “socially acceptable” ways we learn to be deceptive and dishonest about our feelings and emotions.  And as we learn this we also become less sure of truth of other people’s feelings and emotions.  You’re interacting with another individual and their tone of voice, their body language, their facial expression or some combination of the three tells you, this person is angry at me.  So you ask them, “Why are you so angry at me?” and they say, with steam practically coming out of their ears, “I’m not angry at you!”

It’s the very foundation of our perceptions and our faith in our own understanding of them.  Evidence tells me this, but the person says that.  Either they’re lying to me, or I’m wrong. And even at that, it’s generally not “socially acceptable” to assume someone is lying to you – especially not your own parents – so you must be wrong.  Eventually, as you age and branch out more and more into the world, you begin to assume that your perception is wrong and that you can’t know what the other person is thinking and feeling and therefore you should not assume you’re perception has a chance of being accurate.

I can still remember, on occasion when I was but a wee small lad, Scornful Mother would tell me to stop being angry (yeah, because that works) and I’d tell her “I’m not angry.”  She would say, “Well then, inform your face.”  Clearly she was presuming to know what I was feeling.  But you see, she was in front of me.  Looking at me.  Seeing my facial expressions and my body language.  More than likely, she was right.  “Inform your face.”  That could just as easily be “inform your tone.”

I was reminded of that phrase just the other day in the Tuesday Morning Torture Session. Douche Bag was acting particularly confrontational and accusatory, particularly toward me.  In the last month or so, he’s handed out random assignments, willy-nilly and without much thought to how appropriate the tasks are for the person he’s giving them to.  He’s given me a number of tasks that are not within my bailiwick.  I used to speak up when he’d do this but he’d just make light of it, crack a lame joke and then move on without acknowledging his blunder and reassigning the task.  So there were two items on the agenda for which he had asked me to get quotes from various vendors.

He wants to replace the Elevator Lobby Directory signage on several of the floors of our building.  He’s pushing for this to happen before the end of the year, for budgetary reasons, but he hasn’t given enough time to make this happen.  He’s also been talking about replacing these for three years so it’s a little hard to get fired up about them now, but he’s been pushing me to get a quote from our signage vendor for that project.  The price per complete unit is set, regardless of the text, and I’ve informed Douche Bag of the approximate cost, but he wants a formal quote in writing from the vendor.  So I informed our contact that I didn’t have all the information I needed to place an order yet, but I needed a quote for this many of that product, installed.  The contact replied that I needed to fill out the order form and then so-and-so in the home office will price it out for me.  I replied that, as I had previously stated, I wasn’t ready to place an order but that my manager was requesting a formal quote.  He told me they don’t generate quotes based on an e-mail and they needed the order form.  So I advised DB that I couldn’t get a quote and of the reason why.

He then went on to ask about the removal of an out-of-service HVAC unit in a storage room.  This is something that has been in his hands for a very long time.  He asked me to get a quote from a certain vendor to remove the unit, to ask our engineers about who can remove and dispose of the coolant and he stated that he would put in the construction request for our in-house construction people to remove the duct-work.  That construction request comes to me and he hasn’t done it (in over a month) so I didn’t see any sense in rushing the rest of it.  He came down on me in the TMTS for not having taken care of the HVAC unit.  When I reminded him that he had said he’d do the construction request and he hadn’t done it, he back pedaled a little bit and I said, “You understand that these things are not in my hands, right?”

“Yeah, I understand,” he said.

“Because you’re acting like this is all my fault!”

“No, I’m not.  I know it’s not your fault.”

Then inform your tone.

Douche Bag stepped into my office yesterday morning with a stack of papers in his hand, pertaining to a “spring cleaning in the fall” project he was pretty much single-handedly working on, and asked me, “What’s your schedule look like today.”

“Well, I have a meeting with [Furniture Vendor] at 11:00.”

“Good,” he said, “I need you to coordinate all this stuff with the vendors today.  They’ll be here at 1:00.”

“How am I supposed to know where this stuff is?”

“You know the contacts,” He said, “ask them,” and then he walked away.  I don’t know the contacts.  I know people who may or may not be the official contacts and who may or may not have submitted the paperwork for the clean up.  Just asking the contacts, wasn’t going to do the trick.  The vendor didn’t show up until 2:00.  I gave them the paper work and the names and phone numbers that I knew and sent them out into the world.  They never checked in with me again.  I was at work until 6:30 and I never heard from them.  I could only assume they were done.

This morning about fifteen minutes after I arrived, DB came stomping into my office flopping copies of the paperwork in his hand and said, “I need confirmation that all this stuff was picked up.  There were fifteen boxes on the sixteenth floor that didn’t get picked up and the department had them stacked up on their conference table.  Oscar (one of our janitors) and I had to go down and move them ourselves, into the hall.  I want those picked up today.  And I want a quote for that HVAC unit (which he still hasn’t put in his construction request for) by tomorrow.”

I called the vendor to inquire about the work and before I finished explaining why I was calling the contact said, “Oh yeah.  They’re not finished.  There was way too much stuff to pick up in the time frame that was agreed upon by Douche Bag.  They’ll be back out there today to get the rest.”  They did not talk to anyone about that when they left yesterday and so it is largely on them but either way it’s not my fault that this thing I had nothing to do with untill he dumped it on me didn’t go right.  I asked about the HVAC unit and the contact stated that they could take it today, too.  I explained that it wasn’t necessarily part of this program but that DB had instructed me to get a quote from them to uninstall, disassemble and remove the unit.

“Oh.  That’s not what he and I discussed before.  I told him a couple weeks ago that we could haul it out, but we don’t have the ability to uninstall it.”  So first of all, DB had me spinning my wheels on this for nothing because the people he told me to talk to about doing the work can’t.  But even worse, DB has been talking to them directly about it without my knowledge and I would just have been doubling the efforts.

I informed Douche Bag of all this information and reminded him that, again he’s acting like it’s my fault.

“I know it’s not your fault,” he said.

Well then inform your tone, dip shit!  Inform your tone.

Ding Dong

I’ve just come from the men’s room where I was poised to take care of some personal business.  If you’ve read my list of Random Facts then you know that I tend toward a bit of a stage fright issue, so you can imagine my predicament when I’m standing in front of the urinal, shmeckle in hand on the verge of release and I hear the toilet in the stall immediately behind me flush and almost at the same instant the stall door opened.  Despite my discomfort, I’m sure you’ll be very relieved to to know that I was, well…  very relieved.

So there I stand, unit in hand and my men’s room cohabiter at the sink when I hear a door bell.  Bear in mine I’m in the men’s room.  (Heh heh, “bare.”)  In an office building.  On the 23rd floor.  There should be no door bell’s ringing here.  The tile walls behind the urinals are surprisingly shiny, which is simultaneously amusing and unexpected.  It’s also a little disappointing, because despite their shine, you can’t really see anything good.  But I could see the world behind me in the shine.  I looked up to see a handsome young man, four inches shorter than myself, wearing jeans and a t-shirt and a fluorescent orange “The Company That Created The HMO construction services” vest.  He’s standing at the sink and scurrying to get his hands washed and rinsed so he can answer what I then realize is his ringing cell phone.

“I’ve never heard a door-bell in a bathroom before,” I said.

He laughed and told me that it’s the only way that it get’s his attention, otherwise it just rings and he doesn’t notice it.

As he was walking out of the restroom I was reminded of another incident that took place in that very same spot more than a year ago.  There I stood with my pants open, hose nozzle on full blast, if ya know what I mean, when out of the corner of my eye, I see the door open and a familiar figure walking in.  Vickie A. took six steps into the men’s room before she realized that the figure she saw before her, one that she too recognized, did not belong in her restroom.  I couldn’t help but laugh and having grown up in a house with Vengeful Mother and CPA Sister and only one bathroom, I wasn’t bothered by her presence.  There was, after all a wall between her eyes and my accoutrement.  Poor Vicki was so flummoxed that she just stood there for a minute looking at me and babbling about how it’s true what they say about how we stand while we’re doing our business, before she finally turned around and sprinted out the door.

She continued to work on the same floor as I do for another year after that.  I suppose a kind and benevolent person would have let her live this down.

Unfortunately for Vickie, I am neither kind, nor benevolent.

A Moment of Clarity; My Mom Manifesto

The time is Christmas, 2003.  The place is Vengeful Mother’s living room.  The players are CPA Sis, Mr. Fixit, Precious Niece #1, Myself and Vengeful Mother. 

Allow me to set the stage for you.  Vengeful Mother lived in a two bedroom duplex, in a town in Oklahoma named for damaged Indian weaponry, for 17 years.  The duplex was small and cluttered, full of odds and ends of all sorts that she’d collected over time.  What she had not collected, unfortunately, was much at all in the way of functional furniture.  VM‘s living room “suit” was made up of a splintered and wobbly, wood framed day bed; a book shelf made of bricks and planks and an entertainment center she’d inherited when friends of Ex Con Older Brother’s stored some items in her house over a Christmas break from college in 1989, only to be killed in a tragic traffic accident driving back from home in Mexico.  The same 19 inch television that had been the “Family Christmas Gift” in 1987 still sat on that entertainment center.   

Within this scene all the players were expected to sit comfortably to watch that small screen and enjoy each other’s company.  While this is plenty enough furniture for Vengeful Mother on any given night, it’s not a comfortable setting for the entire brood.  More often than not, when I would visit VM I ended up sitting on the left end of the day bed, propped up against a mound of pillows and blankets, while VM would sprawl herself out on the rest of the day bed.  Usually, it wouldn’t take long for her to slide her ice cold feet under my precariously positioned legs and when I’d object, I’d be told to be quiet.

Vengeful Mother had waited only a beat or two, before turning the second bedroom of her duplex into an office, after, I, her third and final child, had made my escape.  Fortunately, this meant she also had a rolling task chair which provided an additional seating area.  CPA Sis tends to experience back problems, and, as we had just discovered earlier on that fateful day, was carrying within her Precious Niece #2, so this office chair made for the most appropriate seating option for CPA Sis

Precious Niece #1 was, at this time, about 13 1/2 months old.  She was off of bottles, but unfortuantely, CPA Sis and Mr. Fixit had failed to pack a “sippy-cup” for her before making the trek to Vengeful Mother’s abode.  It became popular opinion that PN1 was thirsty and VM only had bottles in her house.  So, while Mr. Fixit went into the kitchen to prepare a bottle with water, I sat down, temporarily to be sure, on the right end of the day bed, and VM sat in the middle.  CPA Sis was already seated in the office chair and PN1 was standing next to her trying somewhat to get the attention she needed, to get the assistance she needed to alight to her mother’s lap. 

Amidst the various conversation, movement and other chaos that was happening, Mr. Fixit returned to the living room with the bottle of water, walked up behind CPA Sis, placed the bottle against the front of her shoulder, released it, and allowed it to slide down her front to her lap.  The bottle stopped it’s trek when it arrived at her thigh and, naturally, landed on it’s side.  Vengeful Mother, ever the caring nurturer, said, “Oh, honey.  Pick that bottle up before it leaks on you and gets you wet.”  CPA Sis then picked up the bottle and held it out to Precious Niece #1 who showed no interest in it (although everyone was sure she’d been thirsty). 

When Precious Niece #1 rejected the proffered sustenance, CPA Sis reached over and set the bottle down on the daybed, on the left end, where I normally sat.  Now, you’ll recall that I described this day bed as “wobbly”.  It is also a plain, twin sized mattress, that had a 5’4″ 200+ lb woman sitting in the middle of it.  Naturally, the bottle fell over almost immediately…  And, no one seemed to care.  Finally, I said, “Could someone please set that bottle up?”  CPA Sis set it up, but she left it in the same spot, so it immediately fell over again.  I said, “Could someone please move that bottle before it gets the day bed wet?”  This is where this long story, finally gets “interesting”.

Vengeful Mother turned around and looked at me and said, “Just, quit complaining!” 

I said, (Or started to say), “I’m not complaining, but that bottle keeps falling over, and as you already pointed out it’s going to leak, and it’s going to get the day bed wet over there where I always end up sitting.”  I never got it all out though because by the time I got to “…but that bottle…” Vengeful Mother had wheeled around with…  well…  with vengefullness, in her eyes and put her hand up in front of my face.

Now, I’m not saying she was going to hit me.  I really don’t know, ’cause I wasn’t about to giver her the chance.  I pulled my head back and with hatred in my eyes and vicious anger in my voice I said, “DON’T, YOU, DARE!”  Now, you would think this would get her attention and make her think about her behavior in the situation.  You would think… But you’d be wrong.  Vengeful Mother simply squinted her eyes at me in a disdainful look and said, “Well, then, just stop.”  Part of me wishes she had actually hit me, because I do believe that would have been the straw that broke the camels back for me.  And part of me wishes I had said more anyway, but you see…  As I said, “You would think this would get her attention…”  It didn’t get her attention.  What it did do was get Precious Niece #1‘s attention and she looked at me with utter shock and confusion in such a way that broke my heart, and I never want to see again.

Now, this is just the beginning of a much bigger story, one which I’ll happily tell in future posts (lucky you), but the reason this event was “A Moment of Clarity” is this…  When it was over, and I had returned home to sunny California and had some time to think about it, I wrote a Manifesto, of sorts…At least as it applies to Vengeful Mother.  Here it is:

  1. I will not stay with her ever again.
  2. I won’t come to visit again unless I have someplace to stay (i.e. with Mr. Fixit and CPA Sis, another friend’s house, or a hotel) AND a car to drive completely at my disposal while I’m in town, whether it be a retnal or a loaner. (This is somewhat more complicated now, as Mr. Fixit & CPA Sis moved to New York last December.)
  3. I will not be ordered around.
  4. I will not be reprimanded.
  5. I will argue as needed.
  6. I will NOT argue in front of the children.
  7. I will not have a curfew or feel bad for disturbing those who wait up for me.
  8. I will be me and I will not be judged or condemed for my choices or my behavior.
  10. Pursuant to numbers 1-5, 6 (especially) and 9, I will walk out at whatever stage of any arguement or discussion that I see fit.

I realize now, that number 7 probably would not be an issue based on number 1, however it’s been such an issue over the years that it seems wise to keep it in there.

Life, Lunacy and the Pursuit of Financial Happiness; or The General State of Affairs

There’s a tickle at the back of my brain. A wee, small voice is calling out for freedom. There is a compulsion making its way to the surface. I feel like I have something to write. I’m just not sure yet what it is.

Saturday was Vengeful Mother’s 64th birthday. I played the dutiful son and called to wish her Happy Birthday and to inform her that a gift was not to follow. Things have been really tight for me lately. True to form, she took advantage of a moment of vulnerability on my part in which I told her of the financial difficulty I’ve been experiencing, to tell me that I wouldn’t be in this situation if I would just pay my tithes. Because after all, when I’m having trouble making ends meet to begin with the smartest thing I could do is write a $250.00 check, twice a month, for which I’ll receive no goods or services in return. Why wouldn’t I want to be $250.00 shorter per paycheck than I am now?

She tells me things would have been worse if she hadn’t done it, but I remember watching her write her tithe checks regularly, spending her last $50.00, and then having to scrape the cupboards to try to find something to feed her three hungry children. I guess she was “leading by example” by writing the checks, but what she was trying to instill in her children, that God will bless your finances if you tithe, didn’t come through. As far as I can tell, she’s still waiting for the blessing.

I suppose I was meant to accept not suffering homelessness, not having to go to school in rags and not starving to be a blessing. Now, I know I’m a bitter old dolt who has a fucked up sense of obligation but as far as I’m concerned, if Vengeful Mother and Dead Beat Dad weren’t prepared to guarantee those minimums, they should never have procreated in the first place. They probably shouldn’t have anyway. No, to me, being blessed is having all your needs met and having ample opportunities to make the most of your life. Those are the things I most certainly did not see happening when Vengeful Mother put her last few tuppence in the offering plates. Those are the things I didn’t have, period.

Tithes are supposed to be the “first fruits” of your “harvest” or the first 10% of your income. In other words, pre-tax. So my take home pay may be $1500.00 every two weeks, but I earn closer to $2500.00. Uncle SAM (as in Stole All my Money) takes the first nearly $1000.00 and then I’m supposed to hand over $250.00 more than that, before I do anything else? It’s impossible!

We had a luncheon at work today. I work in a small office of about five people. If you’ve read my blog, you’ve already been “introduced” to that group. We have a counter part group who works in another building. We don’t like them. They don’t like us. We have a mutual don’t like for each other and it’s a permanent condition.

Since my manager, Douche bag, is on vacation, the diminutive manager for the other group has been in charge. He decided to buy lunch for everyone today. So we gathered for sandwiches in a conference room. Midway through the lunch, he decided to announce that he was going to make this a monthly thing and that we’d meet for lunch monthly.

Every couple of months this comes up. Douche bag and his fun sized counterpart talk about how we should work together and have team building orgie— er, exercises and be BFFs, like that’s all it takes. Personalities and hard feelings be damned. I’m not sure why they can’t get it through their impenetrable skulls that we do not enjoy each others company and no amount of forcing the issue will change that. In fact forcing it on us will just make it harder to change things.

I had a couple of very peculiar dreams the other night. The first had to do with a forced entry situation at Vengeful Mother’s house. CPA sister and I were both there and it was bed time. CPA Sis was getting into bed in the living room, and Vengeful Mother was in bed in her room. CPA sis came across some papers in the living room that had some significance to a former boyfriend of hers; we’ll call him Breastplate (Explanation to follow). Vengeful Mother and I were reviewing the papers and realized that they were incriminating for Breastplate and some other guys. Suddenly, we heard loud noises as the front door was being broken down. I grabbed the papers and stuffed them under Vengeful Mother’s headboard.

I don’t really remember what happened after that except that the guys were tearing the house apart trying to find the papers and there was threatening and violence going on.

The second dream had a similar theme. I dreamed that Vengeful Mother and I were in a drug/grocery store and we had separated. The store was taken hostage by a group of ne’er-do-wells. I do not remember what their motivations were, but I remember that they were very rough. They were armed, but they had some sort of poison darts that they used to kill some of the hostages.

Once again, I do not remember the details of the dream but I remember that Vengeful Mother was killed with one of those darts. The dream ended when the police broke into the store and took out the bad dudes. I had managed to kill one of them in the course of my dream so when it was clear that the evil doers were going to die, their leader shot me with one of the darts, a moment before a policeman shot and killed him. Then just as everything was going dark I felt a sharp prick and shortly after I recovered. The police had the antidote for the poison and were able to save me, but not Vengeful Mother.

My therapist had the audacity to go on vacation last week and so it’ll have been two weeks since I’ve seen her, when I get to my appointment tomorrow evening. It seems as though I may have a lot to talk about. I do not wish for Vengeful Mother’s demise, but I do know that many things would be a lot easier on me if she was no longer part of my life. As I mentioned, she just turned 64 and some of you might be saying I don’t have that much longer with her, but you’d be wrong. People in my family, on both sides actually, live very long lives. My Paternal Grandfather who just died was almost 92. My Paternal Grandmother was in her early 80s when she died of cancer. My Maternal Grandmother was 84 when she died. The only enigma, if you will, is my Maternal Grandfather. He was killed when a psychotic divorceé boarded his plane wearing a dynamite vest in 1962. Grandfather was in his late 30s. Who knows how old he would have lived to be?

I take comfort in the fact that I won’t have to face the death of my parents for many years, and yet, there would be some comfort to be taken if I didn’t have to deal with those troubled relationships any further.

After nearly a year of negotiation, my regrettably pink bathroom is finally going to be remodeled starting on Monday, August 25, 2008. I’m dreading it. It’s going to be a major hassle for me. Their will be detritus everywhere while the work is happening. For a few days, my shower will be unavailable to me. Scared kitty will have to be closed up in the kitchen for his own safety and sanity, and the house will have to be thoroughly cleaned this week before my landlord sets foot in the place to meet with the contractor. I’ll be thrilled when the work is done.

My house was built in the 1920s. And the bathroom may well be the original bathroom, save for a new-ish toilet that was put in fewer than 5 years ago. The floor, sink counter and backsplash, and two sided shower surround are all covered in 4″ x 4″ pastel pink tile. The counter has a beveled, raised, pastel pink tile boarder that is hard to keep clean, and the counter is only 22 inches deep while the sink is 26 inches deep, so there is an angled protrusion from the counter where the sink is. The tile is dirty with the kind of dirt that doesn’t come out. Decade upon decade of use has resulted in a hue of grey that covers the pink such that only a power sand scrub or perhaps a dose of hydrochloric acid would make it come off, and then the tile would come up too. There are also what my landlady calls spider vein cracks in the tile. But most importantly, IT’S PINK!

Apparently, in the 1920s people were a good foot and a half shorter than they are now. The shower head, were it not to have an aftermarket handheld shower wand added to it, would hit me mid tattoo


and require me to bend down significantly to use it, and the top of the tile shower surround hits my shoulder level. Here in Oakland, we have a lot of mold issues to deal with, and it’s been my concern all along that this is going to be an issue if left unchecked.  (By the way, no comments about my ogre head!)

When completed, my bathroom is going to have new shower head that is up about two feet from it’s current location, the shower surround will be two single slabs of granite that will go up to 18″ from the ceiling, their will be an entirely new sink console with a new sink with polished nickel fixtures including a goose neck faucet. A new wall mounted mirror will hang over the counter and the counter will be single slab marble. Their will be fresh paint, new light fixtures, new towel hooks and rods and a brand new pergo floor. When finished the bathroom will be modern and lovely and will match the rest of the renovated house. I can’t wait!

And then theirs work. Douche Bag returns from his three and a half week tour of China tomorrow. When that happens, the respite I have had from all the shit that comes with his presence will be over. I do not look forward to that. I so desperately want to change jobs. I want to find something to do that is fulfilling and gratifying. I want to make a living being creative and inspiring to people. I would like to be a writer, but I don’t know how to make a living that way.

What I need is a sugar daddy! I’m now taking applications! Serious inquiries only, please!