Friday, October 24, 2003

It's quirky how the corporate mind works.

You cut the headcount for a certain department just to see if we can all work harder and make up the difference. For the most part, we do. But it costs you a whole lot in overtime and freelance.

We point out that it would cost half as much to hire someone to do the work.

You ignore us. Then you have a great idea. We should hire someone!

I don't want to offend anyone's business ethics by saying too much, but consider this a public service announcement regarding things to watch out for when submitting your resume:

1. Be sure you have the correct date at the top of your letter. Yes, people do notice little things like that. If your letter is dated two years in the past, you look really pathetic. And if you claim to have written it on Oct. 15, 3003 please be prepared to describe how the human race has evolved in a thousand years. I really do want to know.

2. Leave out the pleading. Beginning your letter with "Please consider me…" and ending with, "Please, please call right away to set up an interview!" did not make me want to call you. It made me want to be far, far away from wherever it is that you are.

3. Keep in mind that the number of literary associations and poetry clubs you list on your resume to is inversely proportionate to people's respect for you as a copywriter. I don't know why. Counterintuitive, isn't it.

4. Use appropriate capitals. There is no shame in capitalizing a word at the beginning of a sentence. It does not make you appear stodgy or old-fashioned. If your IM friends tell you otherwise, they are not really your friends.

Stay tuned for more real-world resume tips and learn how to avoid having your resume plastered with post-its and passed around for others' amusement! Not that any of that goes on around here. That would be wrong.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The workforce of my department is 33% pregnant, with women ranging in progression from 6 to 38 weeks. Maternity leaves are blocked out on our calendars like big fluorescent streaks of freedom, and scheduling work is a strategic exercise in beating nature to the punch.

It works out well for me because there's always an ample stash of chocolate in the meeting room. But our (male) boss is more than a little sensitive to the fact that in an entirely female department, we're all ticking time bombs. He has even gently suggested that perhaps we might consider hiring a few men.

As I was sitting in the meeting room unwrapping another piece of chocolate, chatting with the pregnant girls, I happened to mention that I should stop eating so much sugar. It was making me feel icky.

They perked up. "Icky how?" they asked.

I thought about it. "Icky… nauseous…tired…crampy…"

"You're pregnant!" They cried with glee, clapping their hands and exchanging knowing looks.

"I am not pregnant," I said, a statement that started out with conviction and then, mid-sentence, struck me with the realization that it was not impossible and was therefore technically possible. And holy crap. Come to think of it, I was feeling extremely pregnant.

"You are!" they insisted, as if the baby alert had been tripped and red-flashing sirens were now going off above my head.

"No I'm not. Leave me alone. I have to pee," I said, and stood up to leave. "And my boobs are sore."

Across the table, one of them uncapped a permanent marker. "Can you smell this?"

"When was your last period?" someone else asked. And I should add that this question would indeed seem to cross the boundaries of polite conversation if I had not spent yesterday afternoon with the same crowd hashing out the pros and cons of membrane ruptures and episiotomies.

I sat back down. "I'm not sure," I said. I opened my calendar and looked back over the months. "In the last six weeks I've had three periods but at least one of them wasn't a real period because I'm still on the mini-pill."

This was followed by a brief discussion of the mini-pill's laughable effectiveness and the number of people we all know who have gotten pregnant on this so-called form of birth control. Then we stared at my calendar and decided I was either three days late or not due for another two weeks.

"This is ridiculous," I told them. "We're totally making this all up. I'm not pregnant."

Later, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my stomach. "Is there anybody in there?" I asked it.

"That depends," it said. "Are you talking about the fat deposits that keep asking for more chocolate, or the burrito that's trying to tell you that Mexican fast food is never a good idea?"

"That's not what I mean," I told it.

"Then no," said my stomach. "I assure you, we are as unpregnant as we could possibly get."

"That's what I thought!" I said.

"You might want to check back in two weeks, though."

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

As far as my eight-year-old is concerned, we're past the stage in our relationship where I can do no wrong. I am no longer met after work with squeals of glee and arms flung around my neck in an affectionate cling. She can go hours now without even acknowledging my existence. And the last time I was called "the best mom in the world" was when I offered to order pizza for dinner.

That's okay, I guess. But I do find myself taking on tasks that reassure me I am – if not "the best" – at least a good mom.

For example, there was the morning of picture day at her new school when I twisted a chunk of her hair into a funky braid, and she told me later that all the girls had admired her hair and asked her how it was done. Good mom.

There was the "summer reading club" I invented for her after she'd completed the official reading club program at the library within a matter of weeks. We made a chart on poster board with a maze of squares to color in for each 15 minutes of reading. Some of the squares were "prize" squares, with a big reward (a trip to the book store) at the end. Like I need to encourage the little bookworm to read... it felt like rewarding her with candy for finishing her cake. But still. It was a good mom moment.

I've recently taken on my most ambitious good mom project yet. I am making her Halloween costume. Not just cutting eye-holes in a sheet to make a ghost, not stacking two boxes together to make a robot. No, daughter wants to be Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. And so a Glinda costume I will create.

We took a trip to the fabric store and collected a sewing pattern, fabric, thread, pins, zippers, sequins, and bobbins.

As we stood in line with our arms full of ivory taffeta and tulle that would eventually become something resembling a gorgeous, princess-esque dress worthy of the Good Witch herself, a lady in line behind us said to Daughter, "What are you making?"

Daughter, dutifully polite, replied, "My Halloween costume, Glinda."

"Oh!" said the nice lady. "So your mommy is probably going to teach you to sew! I wish I knew how to sew."

That's when the panic attack set in. "Know HOW to sew?" I said to myself. "TEACH? You mean there's a skill involved that I should have mastered with proficiency enough to pass on to my offspring? It's not just sticking a bunch of fabric together?"

I should note that I am not a total sewing novice. I own a sewing machine and have in the past made things from patterns. However, I should also note that the sewing machine was given to me on my eleventh birthday, and that the last article of clothing I ever successfully completed was a fuzzy pair of pajamas for my Cabbage Patch Kid.

But as soon as words were out of the lady's mouth, Daughter looked up at me with a strange smile. Faith. She believed in me. I'd told her we could do this, and she believed we could.

After sitting the little prodigy down at the machine and teaching her to sew a straight line, I watched her turn out a quite respectable-looking pillowcase with our scrap fabric. She showed it to Dad and explained, "Mom taught me to sew!"

So maybe she'll never tell me I'm the best mom in the world when the costume is finished. It doesn't matter. Daughter has a new pillowcase and a new skill. I found out that my sewing machine does more than take up pants and repair rips. And we found something we like to do together.

I just hope Glinda will forgive the slightly bunched gathers and uneven hems…