May 28, 2010

Under the Sea

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

So it's another rough day off here at JS HQ. I slept in, drank coffee, ate Reese's peanut butter cups for breakfast and went for a swim. Now I'm watching a Say Yes to the Dress marathon on TLC in preparation for tomorrow's outing to help my BFF try on wedding gowns. I am learning so much! Did you know you can request a dress that is "Nicole Kidman/Sound of Music/traditional Korean?" You can. Also, you should be able to spend so much money on your dress that your mom stops taking public transportation to work and starts walking every day in order to pay for it. It's your day! Who cares who suffers?

Anyway, at the pool today, I was swimming laps poorly and slowly, as I do, but feeling great to be in the water, and not at work, on such a beautiful day when a lady asked if she could share my lane. "Of course!" I said, because I am nice and also it's a public pool. I didn't really pay attention to her because I was in a pleasant swimming groove, but when I stopped at the end of the lane to take a break I noticed that she was wearing a full-on wetsuit and snorkel! In a lap pool! Crazy!

She might be trying to familiarize herself with swimming in a wetsuit and with a snorkel for an upcoming vacation or in preparation for some ocean swimming, but I like to imagine that that's just her style. Just like Nicole Kidman/Sound of Music/traditional Korean was that crazy bride's style.

Movin On Up

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

So I've drastically failed at writing two posts a day....not even writing one yesterday. Our deadline to get all of our furniture out of our office and stuff off our walls in preparation for repainting was moved up to yesterday, so we were all about the manual labor yesterday.

The painters came by to put samples on our walls and EVERYONE who came through our office had a comment: "Why yellow?" "That looks ugly." "Why do you get your office painted?" To which we replied "shut up" "you look ugly" and "because we're awesome."

The facilities guys came to take our old furniture away, which was oddly sad, even though our furniture is beyond ugly. Then we moved all of our stuff into the office next door, which was actually not a prank, but a move of convenience done with the guys next door's blessing. As faculty, they don't work during the summer and don't care.

But one guy thought he had found out about a prank on the ground floor and excitedly took a iPhone photo of their junk-filled office and sent to them with some dorky text like "New prank, omg!!" This guy wants so badly to be part of their cozy little twosome, but it's pretty apparent to everyone in the building that he is just a loser 3rd wheel. Anyway, they both wrote back being like "nope, they have permission," and I imagine took the wind right out of his little sails.

Anyway, that's what we did yesterday, so I was not attached to my computer the way I normally am, thus preventing blogging. I went straight from work to baby-sitting Officemate's youngest who was so shockingly well-behaved and adorable the whole time I think my ovaries have swelled to twice their normal size.

May 26, 2010

Studies, People. STUDIES.

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Phase one of Office 2.0 is cleaning out Office 1.0. We've been going through files from as early as 1997, and purging ourselves of all the things we don't need, no longer use, or had no idea were even there until now. As we were looking through files, I came across the one above and giggled like the 15-year-old boy I secretly am.

Officemate posed this question "what would a miscellaneous STD even be?" We decided the big 2 are AIDS and herpes; they never go away and one can potentially kill you. Syphillis and certain forms of HPV are pretty serious too. Maybe the ones that can easily be treated with antibiotics could be considered miscellaneous? Chlamydia, gonorrhea (which is the clap, I swear, despite chlamydia's phonetic similarities), those other ones that seem to basically be yeast infections.

I also have a NSFW photo of a safe-sex sticker that someone stuck to one of our filing cabinets long before either of us worked here. It's a picture of an animated penis holding a condom and smiling proudly. "Dress me up to protect me from Misc. STDs!" he seems to be saying.

Sound Mind in a Sound Body

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Officemate just came from the dentist and is in a cheery mood. She loves her dentist. She loves her hygienist. Apparently, no one in her office ever chastises her for not flossing, even though she does not floss. This is a revelation to me. I, too, do not floss, though I often go through spurts of flossing, often when I have a dental appointment coming up, because I know my hygienist will give me shit about it when I get there. This floored Officemate.

"They can't chastise you; it's your mouth. If you took perfect care of your teeth all the time, their jobs wouldn't exist."

That's right, snooty hygienists! You livelihood depends on people fucking up their teeth so leave me the hell alone. I'm always trying to eat better, I exercise regularly, I'm recycling and composting as best I can, something has to fall by the wayside. I've been told that genetics don't really have my back when it comes to oral health: I apparently have weak enamel and my teeth are very close together, a perfect storm of flaws for cavities. That being said, I have an electric toothbrush and I rinse with Listerine (well, Target brand Listerine). I don't drink soda or eat hard, chewy candies. I could be doing worse.

Come to think of it, my eye doctor's gotten my case for stuff too. Not just sleeping with my contacts in, which I've done for 15 years with no real consequences as far as I can find, but once he told me I looked too tan. My annual appointments are in August; when I am probably at my tannest, and I am also of Croatian descent and am naturally darker and tan more easily than my Scandinavian/Western European counterparts. I didn't tell him that he looked too fat when I saw them, though he totally did.

Reader(s), do your doctors get on your case for stuff? If so, what? And remember Officemate's words: it's your body, get them to leave you the hell alone. I'm not advocating for heavy smoking and unprotected sex here, but I don't think anyone, including doctors, can lead the Spartan existence apparently necessary for perfect health. Wake up, eat fruit, lather self with sunscreen, run, have balanced meal, brush and floss, meditate, hydrate, farm own vegetables....oooh! Officemate just said there's cupcakes in the staff fridge! Later, fools!

May 25, 2010

Rain, Rain, I Accept You

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

So it's raining today. As usual, people on Facebook are going insane, as if the terms "May Gray" and "June Gloom" don't exist for a reason. The weather in the Bay Area is often nice when it should be bad, and bad when it should be nice. It's one of universally acknowledged truths of living in this region. Though much debate has surrounded who actually said "The worst winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco," it's a true statement. (And I think it was Dylan Thomas. Mark Twain was a great writer, but not that eloquent.) Anyway, it's just a roundabout way of saying that yucky, rainy weather in this part of the country at this time of year should surprise no one.

That being said, I'm not happy about it. I got my run in this morning before the drops started falling, but just barely. I don't have a personal vendetta against the rain like some people seem to, but I've made my peace with it. That being said, I don't want to spend more time outside in the rain than I have to.

So I was not pleased to be waylaid not once, not twice, but 3 times today by from the ACLU asking if I "had to minute to support gay rights." Look, I support gay rights. I support the ACLU. But I do not want to be stopped as I'm walking from my car to the office in the rain to be asked to sign a petition and/or donate money to anything.

You there, ACLU lady, in your North Face Jacket with your umbrella and rainboots, you seem quite comfortable in the rain, but I'm in a business casual outfit designed for primarily indoor wear, suitable for the rain only in quick jaunts between the parking structure and my office when I realize I forgot my water bottle and cell phone.

Here's the thing, folks. No one likes to be stopped and asked to sign something or give money to something. When I lived in New York, I perfected a trifecta of having my headphones on, sunglasses on, and cellphone out to appear just far too busy to talk to anyone about Tibet or Greenpeace. And I'm pretty liberal. I don't know how super conservative people deal with it.

When I first moved to New York, it was 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina. I was a new grad student and totally broke. Before I learned my smooth dodging techniques, I would respond to those clipboard people with one of the following "Sorry, I'm only donating for Katrina relief" (true, if you count buying a cupcake from a Katrina Relief bakesale "donating"), "I'm late for work/class!" (sometimes true), "I am so broke I cannot afford new underwear at this time" (sadly, very true).

May 24, 2010

Not the Mama

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

I'm primarily taking advantage of summer freedom by taking time off work, but Officemate is enjoying the ability to bring her kids into the office. When she told me she was bringing her youngest (almost 2) daughter in today, I was thrilled. She is so cute.

I started this job when Officemate was pregnant with this daughter and met the baby when she was just a couple weeks old. So tiny, so sweet. Officemate brought the baby in pretty frequently in the first six months and I loved it. She was so good! I had never met such a well-behaved baby. Sweet disposition, hardly ever cried, would let anyone hold her. It's been really fun watching her grow up.

So today when I came in (late), I was surprised to be greeted with the sound of baby screams. It's not that I've never heard her cry before, but it's usually pretty infrequent, and never at this decibel. I wondered what happened.

Turns out, she's just diving headfirst into those "terrible twos." The sweet little baby I adored so much is, as our dean calls her, a "little lunatic" now. When I greeted her this morning, she threw her baby doll at me, then took off both her shoes and hurled them at the wall. Officemate needed to run to the other side of the building and didn't want to bring the baby with her, so she asked if I could watch her for a couple minutes, which is usually my favorite thing ever. But this time, the second Officemate was out of eyesight, the baby went nuts.

"It's okay; she'll be right back." I go to pick her up.
"NO!" She swats my shoulder.
"Oh wow, you need your diaper changed."
"MAMA DO!!!"
"Yeah, I wasn't volunteering, just letting you know that it needs to happen."
"Right, I'm not trying to."

But it's futile to try to argue with an almost-two-year-old. She really is a little lunatic. As soon as Officemate came back, changed the diaper, and give her some Cheerios, the baby was back to being the little sweetheart I'd loved so much. When it was time for Officemate to bring her to her daycare she smiled sweetly and waved "byeeeeeeeee!" in a way that melted my heart and got me to agree to babysit her this Thursday night. Because I am a big lunatic.

All By Myself...

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Well friends, K has abandoned us for the beaches of Belize. It's just me holding down the fort all week long. I apologize in advance.

I'm going to try to post twice a day to make up for K's absence, but I can't promise either post will be any good. For example, all I can think of to write about today is the LOST series finale. I have a serious LOST hangover, which happens to have a lot of similar symptoms to an actual hangover: headache, nausea, memory loss, vague sense of regret.

I did it to myself though. I wasn't into LOST until the 3rd season. I honestly thought it was like Swiss Family Robinson before I started watching: they're lost on an island! Let's watch them make things with coconut shells! It sounded stupid to me. But a group of my friends were getting together each week to watch it and cook dinner, and I was the only one not participating because I didn't watch the show.

So I decided to take one for the team and get caught up. A coworker loaned me Season 1 on DVD and I watched the rest online until I intimately the storylines of Kate, Jack, Sawyer and the rest of the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815. By that point, I was hooked, engrossed. I was reading up on the many literary and historical allusions littered throughout the show, as well as the hidden significance of, well, just about everything.

And last night, it ended. The series finale was a let-down for me, but they all are. And this morning of course people are up in arms about the way it ended and how many questions are left unanswered and to them, I'd like to say: IT WAS PRETEND PEOPLE!!! IT'S A STORY. It was always made up and there are no answers, because the writers were just pulling shit out of their asses as they went along.

The point of LOST was not to get your questions answered; it was to watch and discuss with people and think about things like fate, good and evil, and the afterlife. Few shows have spawned the level of discussion and theorizing that LOST has; few shows have been as polarizing. It's the show you love or are proud to say you love to hate. Personally, I found it to be the most fun I've had watching TV in a long time and I'd do all it again if I could.

May 21, 2010

I Don't Know How to Say Slob in Spanish

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

I'm heading on my trip to Belize tonight.  S asked me if I was going to post a grand send off of any kind for myself.  As it stands, I've got underwear in the washing machine, and am trying to squeeze toothpaste from the big tube to the little carry-on size tube, so S- I think the answer is yes.  That's as grand a send-off as I know, and writing about it publically makes it even more so. 

I'll bring back something for everyone who reads this.  No, seriously.  That's probably possible.  5 key chains coming up!  Adios!

Party On/Off

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

When I was fifteen, I was super involved in planning my own surprise birthday party.  My mom revealed that a secret sweet 16 was in the works after she mistakenly started to think- because of some ridiculous 15-year-old thing or another that I said- that I didn't want one.  But boy did I really want one!  And boy did I love making sure that she invited everyone I liked, and made just the cake I had in mind, all without me knowing when exactly all the Dr. Peppers and Tostitos and birthday balloons were going to drop.  I dressed up in my high school finest every time that I left the house, always thinking giddily that the surprise party I had carefully planned for myself could be literally around the corner.

So now picture that surprise party as an evaluative meeting with my three bosses, and picture fun anticipation as stomach-churning agony, and you've got a pretty good sense of my week.  At my meeting with my three bosses a few weeks ago, they said that we'd have a follow up some time this week.  It was sort of like knowing that I was having a surprise party, but didn't know when, except that this was shitty.  And I planned for it all I could, as I planned my guest list when I was 15, but this week's preparation was an exhaustive list of carefully phrased "I statements" as they related to my miserable experience with my immediate boss and what I would like the big bosses to know about it.  I also, as I did in the weeks leading up to my party, wore some great outfits this week.  Looking nice when people are going to look at me- be it for celebration or reprimand- is really one of my core values.

But here's the thing- My 16th birthday was an uber delight!  I was completely surprised on the day, and had a magical time with my friends and my family.  Because they all showed up!  Which no one did for our follow-up meeting!  And now the week is over, and we have next week off, and I think that they're just going to let it die, which is appropriate because it's killing me!  All this lead up, all this anticipation and anxiety, and around 3 o'clock today, one of the big bosses poked his head in my office to tell my coworkers and me to have a great break, and he was out of there.  I think that a terrible meeting would have been better than the anticipation of a terrible meeting, and then having no meeting at all.  Now what do I do with this my-side-of-the-story presentation I wrote down and rehearsed with my mom?  What happens to its three part structure?  Where do the carefully phrased, thinly-veiled attacks on my immediate boss find a home now?  A shame, to waste them.  A real shame.  Though not as much of a shame as it would have been to waste cake and ice cream, so there's that.

May 20, 2010

Haikus Are For Busy Days

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Still at work at ten
Wishing that I were at home
Where the dog is boss

That's Not Amore

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

In a good-faith move on both of our parts, one of the guys in the office next door and I got lunch together today. We just walked across the street to the nearby pizza place, but because it's summer time now, we got BEER with our slices instead of water. We are crazy. Anyway, as we were walking into the restaurant, a couple of guys sitting by the window apparently checked me out.

Office neighbor was like "wow, you just totally got checked out by those dudes." I tried to pretend to be flustered and uncomfortable, when in reality I was very flattered. I mean, we work at a university. Those guys are probably younger than me. And I am wearing one my cuter shirts today. I was feeling great and I hadn't had one sip of lunchtime beer yet.

Well after we ordered and went to get a table, I happened to glance at the table of fellas by the window to find out that they were considerably older than me, as well as speaking Italian. Gross.

Now I have nothing against Italy or the good people who live there, but my limited experience in that country has taught me that Italian men will leer, whistle, wink at anything, thus completing deflating the little self-esteem bubble I had just blown up.

I remember my old roommate telling me that she and her sister gave the Italian men "whiplash" when they were in Rome and I could not stop myself from saying "um, they are the grossest men I have ever met and will literally look at anything female." Then she got mad at me. But my old roommate is a whole other blog.

Before I get called a racist agorophobe, I know not every single Italian man acts this way. Yes, your dad's from Italy and he's a perfect gentleman. Your Italian boyfriend only has eyes for you. I know. But a lot of Italian men are super into leering and making kissy noises at strange women, so it was not surprising to me that these dudes were all up in my Kool-Aid. It's in their DNA.

As they were leaving, they walked by our table and once again gave me a really creepy once-over, prompting my office neighbor to look at them in shock/disgust. "Wow, I have never seen anything like that. I mean, you're cute, but I would never turn to look at you as I walked past."

Look in fairness, I wouldn't look at me either, and if I'm honest here, I definitely would never look at him, but that comment sucked any last bit of air remaining in my self esteem bubble, which I am dedicating the rest of my day to refilling with beer. Happy Thursday.

May 19, 2010

Do the Don't

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Our department is pretty small; we have just over 100 students total. About 10 of the recent graduates are around this summer working on a special project, and another handful are helping out with a workshop that we run during the times when the students aren't around. I know which ones are here and which aren't. Because of the admissions aspect of my job, I also know very well who our incoming students are. So I can say with complete certainty that the three douchebags talking outside my office are not our students and I hate them.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes I hate my students too. But in that "no one in picks on my little brother kind of way." They drive me crazy, but I will defend them if anyone dares attack. But I am silently praying to any and all dieties that someone come and attack these tools because they will not go away. Here are some of the things they're saying:

"I mean, I know TA'ing helps with costs, but I just really want to focus on my research, you know? I'm not getting a PhD to help the undergrads learn the basics." Okay, tool bag, guess what? You were an undergrad once! Your TAs found you to be an incredible nuisance to their lives, especially since I bet you were super-annoying to have in class. It sounds like you're a recent graduate, so stop acting all superior to people who just happen to be younger than you.

"I just really want to be able to say I got into Harvard you know? I mean, I got to Stanford, but that's like 'whatever, it's just the Harvard of the West.' Big deal." BARF.

I've tried walking by them looking super judgmental, and it shut them up briefly, but then they were right back to it. I tried playing our music really loud, but they just talked over it. Now I'm being incredibly silent to make them feel self-conscious because they know for sure that I am here.

OH HELL NO! I had to abandon this post to do stuff for my actual job and in the time I was away a student told me that the guys opened our student fridge and used the students' hot sauce! Aw no they didn't! Apparently she was hopped up on Mountain Dew (sidebar: I used to LOVE the Dew. Now it makes me twitchy. People in your early 20s, do the Dew while you still can. Except it's actually really gross) and decided to get all up in their faces and they properly dispersed. They were math students from a nearby building, apparently. Nerds.

Other Things Are Wack, Too, Whitney

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

It would be hard, really, to explain in this moment how much I wish that my boss would, on this very night, become one of those people that you hear about on the news as simply disappearing with no sign that she was kidnapped, no sign that she was seriously hurt, and with the possibility that she just walked away from it all.  I would very much like her to walk away from me.

It is also hard to describe the current issues that she and I are having because- after a 30 minute meeting with just the two of us yesterday wherein she spoke in the circles and contradictions of someone who is just excited that their audience, me in this case, did not have the option to leave the meeting of their own free will- when she tried to sum up the sort of shift that she would like to see in me at work, she couldn't find the word for it, and I sure didn't know what she was getting at.  When I pointed out to her that it seemed that she wanted me to be both completely dependent and also fully autonomous she stopped and said that she just wanted us to, "find our groove."  Oh.  That.

But, I would say, the hardest thing of all is trying to find my groove all day while I have to do things like constantly re-up my homeopathic anti-anxiety medicine doses and fix my resume to go out into the world where no one would suggest that we treat our work relationship like Stella and all those guys on that island or wherever it was that Whitney Houston sang about her Shoop-ing.  But yes, Whitney, I am waiting to exhale.  I am waiting until I am stricken with a plague of some sort that I can pass along to my boss in one big, sick breath. 

May 18, 2010

Poetry Slam

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...
A Haiku for Today, and Most Other Days:

If my boss said, "Good!"
As often as she said, "Bad!"
She'd say, "Good!" a lot

Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

It's not very often that I am tempted to quote "Fiddler on the Roof" but today is one of those days. Why, you ask? Because today is my boss' last day in our office for TWO MONTHS. Two. Months. 9 weeks. She will not be back until July. All of you out there who have a boss must understand what incredible news this is. I honestly thought this day would never come.

She's a soccer super fan and decided about a year ago that she was going to go to South Africa this year for the World Cup. Originally she was planning to take about 6 weeks off, which back in May 2009 sounded a) amazing and b) way too far away. But then she had trouble booking a return ticket and now will be gone for 2 entire months, pretty much to the day. It's everything I could ever want.

Officemate and I took her to lunch today, ostensibly to wish her bon voyage, but it's just as much as celebratory lunch for us as it was a "have a great trip" lunch for her. I am going to drink the crap out of a beer when I get home tonight. These next two months are going to be so great.

Now, here's where I should add that my boss is very nice. She is very nice. However, her job is to tell me what to do, so her 2 month absence means virtually no getting told what to do at work, which is really the dream. Officemate and I are going to make all kinds of changes during our time of autonomy, ready to fall back on the "well it happened when you were in Africa" excuse if our boss is unhappy with any of the decisions we've made in her absence. "Remember that two month vacation you took? Well the school didn't stop running while you were away, and someone had to pick up the slack. Stick around next time you want things done your way."

But that's way in the future. Right now, all I'm focusing on is coming in to work tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can call me in for a 2 hour meeting, send me an email with the instructions "please advise" or have me completely redo a document only to decide she liked it better the way it was before.

L'chaim, l'chaim, to life!

May 17, 2010

"Letter Down Easy" is Worse Than That Belize Pun

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

A day's worth of open letters from a glass half empty.  Hey- Where's my refill?

Dear New Doctor I Went to This Morning,
Something that I feel is abundantly clear to both of us is that I, unlike you, am not a doctor, so next time would you kindly use our time together to do things like tell me I'm doing great at something that I have no idea about like my blood pressure, or give me shots and then say I was so brave and I will smile knowing that I would rather get shots than be at work?  Could I please interest you in doing those things rather than rolling your eyes every time I ask you to clarify something you just said and taking apparent delight in lording your vast medical knowledge over me, a one-time Dramatic Arts major?  Also- Your magazines suck.  - K

Dear Person Who Left the Irish Whiskey Cake on the Community Goods Table,
You have to understand the kind of hope that filled me when I saw a treat up for grabs that involved both whiskey and cake, and you must also imagine the back story that I invented wherein the cake was so so good that you had to bring it to work because you'd already had two and you had to stop yourself before you ate a third during a single commercial break.  Actually it just wasn't good.  Next time could you make a note of that somewhere?  Thanks!  - K

Dear Chair Masseur That My Bosses Hired to Come to Our Office Today,
Thanks for being a really cool idea in theory, and thank you for saying that my shoulders are knotted because I always really like it when someone says that as though it means I do some sort of hard work, but no thank you for asking me about things like my work commute and my specific job tasks during the only 15 minutes all day that I spent away from my desk.  It was almost as unsatisfying as being massaged through polyester in a conference room with my coworker pitching a pilot to your associate.  But I do appreciate the spa tote!  - K

Dear Person Who Left the Chocolate Biscotti on the Community Goods Table After I Had Already Been Disappointed in the Irish Whiskey Cake,
See Above.  - K 

Dear Two Men I Am Dining With This Evening,
The two of you love each other, and consequesntly I would love it if you both loved my hair and outfit.  I am leaving work right this minute to try to make that happen.  Tell me I look like a fabulous celebrity?  - K

Be True to Your School

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Work is pretty quiet and boring around here today, so I have been *gasp* doing personal online errands on work time. I'm contesting a parking ticket, I bought my next book club book on Amazon, and then, I finally did the thing I thought I would never do: purchased a ticket to my 10 year high school reunion.

This is shocking for a couple reasons: 1) I've always sworn I'd never go and 2) The event looks TERRIBLE. The website can kindly be described as a haphazard piece of amateur crap. It was not proofread, as evidenced by the welcome note written by our reunion "committe" and the invite to the optional "Met and Greet" the night before. If we were the Gossip Girl kids and our reunion was actually taking place at the Met, it would be kind of funny, but no, this classy event will be held at a local establishment called The Nutty Irishman, lovingly referred to by its regulars as simply "The Nutty".

And it's this Springsteeny blue collar aspect of our reunion that finally won me over. It's going to be such a ridiculous shit show that I feel I can't miss it. And, as another friend who works for this unnamed Bay Area university and graduated from my high school has pointed out, people like us, people who managed to escape the clutches of our hometown and bizarre high school social hierarchy, have to go to remind our classmates that there are other ways to live. Those of us who left town, went to college, read books, voted for Obama and have visited other countries have to be there to balance out the people who still live with their parents, had children before the age of 22, and go out and party with other people who went to our high school every weekend and post 146 pictures of their night out on Facebook. He says our town encourages and reinforces such behavior and this is our chance to remind them of the world outside our zipcode.

Also, I want to see who's gotten fat.

May 14, 2010

Closed Door Policy

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

I spent quite a lot of my adolescent energy, back when I was an adolescent, worrying about what completely strange and impossibly embarrassing thing my dad- whom I can't even kindly stretch to describe as eccentric; he's a really nice but really odd guy- would say to, well, anyone.  One of his favorites that he liked to toss around was to tell people, sometimes because it related to them, oftentimes not, was that he is a "serious amateur photographer."  I don't know if this sounds as odd here as it does when spoken in casual conversation, but trust me- It comes out goofy enough that recently my sixteen-year-old nephew spent an evening with my dad and made that quote his Facebook status.  Because my dad is still saying it.  And it's still pretty weird.

Anyway, I am not a serious amateur photographer myself, so if it's hard to tell what that picture above is, let me explain: It is my immediate boss' office with the door closed and the lights off- which is how it has been all day- because she decided that she- on the intern's second day, with a huge project looming, and one of the three assistants out- would only stop by the office long enough to ask my coworker to go all the way across the building to get her a blank CD that she wanted to burn onto for a wedding this weekend.  When I say that I hope that she falls on her face dancing to that CD at the wedding reception this weekend, know that I also hope that the floor is made of wet cement.

Happy Friday!

Day Off My Rocker

From an unnamed bed in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

That's right, bed. It's my first Friday off from work and I am not out of bed yet. I win! I did go downstairs to get a piece of cold pizza to eat while watching last night's Community on Hulu, but it's been all bed, all the time otherwise.

But I'm still doing some work. Not for my real job, oh no, for a side project, helping my uncle with this book he's writing about technology's role (or lack thereof really) in school law. Did you fall asleep just now? Well guess what: you're not editing an entire book on the subject! What the hell was I thinking?

I was thinking I like my uncle a lot (it's hard to say I love him because he married my aunt when I was in my early 20s and I have met him maybe five times. But he's a very nice man and I definitely prefer him to at least two, and up to four of my other uncles). I was thinking this could be good experience if I ever want to write/edit/somehow make my own book someday. I was thinking working in public education doesn't pay very well, so a little side cash never hurts, especially in these days of pay cuts and furloughs.

I was not thinking I'd be spending my first Friday off attached to my laptop wondering if we've already used the word "precedent" too many times and what's a good synonym for "precedent" and good lord my uncle likes semicolons even more than I do! I thought that was impossible but he used four, four, in his opening paragraph.

Time for another slice of pizza.

May 13, 2010

When I Was... How Old?!

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Today a new intern started at my office.  She is the niece of someone vaguely connected to our show, a fact that I was not surprised to learn after my boss showed me her resume and it listed "Dancing and Cheerleading" on it.  But I am trying not to prejudge, and also trying to conceal how much I don't want another girl to come into my office.  The thing is that as much as I do wish I had someone nearby to compliment my shoes more often, I like pretending to be overwhelmed in the lonely lady fight against the crass boy energy (when really I think that they're funny).  Also, there is second girl intern starting next week, and my fear is that I will spend the first month that they're both here watching my two male office mates try to have sex with them, the second month that they're here being a fifth wheel in my own office, and the third month diffusing an icy chill of screw-uppery and being the only person who is still speaking to everyone.  I would prefer to avoid all of these things.

So today girl intern #1 showed up, cute as can be, slightly overdressed but totally in the way that someone should be overdressed for their first day at a new office, and she was very friendly and sweet.  I showed her around a little bit and tried to get a sense of her life, but somehow in my questioning I missed what my office mate later revealed to me as some pretty big news: The new intern is seventeen.  As in years old.  As in holy hell that's a young intern and none of us in this office talks in any way appropriately for most civilized grown-up company and certainly not for someone who couldn't even go register for the army if I asked her to.  That is a young, young lady.  If she weren't wearing that cute little black cardigan in the picture I posted, I could be in danger of getting hauled off by Mariska Hargitay for putting that on the internet.

So while it will be a slight stretch to make daily chatter when I have no idea what TV shows she grew up watching or if she knew who Michael Jackson was before he died, at least I know that, by law, I will not have to watch my office mates put the moves on her.  And, in one last mega-bonus, I can tell myself that it is only thanks to her teenagerdom that she is way skinnier than me.

Spice Girl

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Tears are streaming down my face. I am breathing heavily. I am not embarrassed to say my chin and a decent part of my shirt are covered in my own snot. Did a family member die? Did my boyfriend break up with me? Did they stop showing free reruns of The Gilmore Girls online?

No, none of these things happened. I am not sad at all. I just ate some of Officemate's homemade curry with soba noodles and holy shizz it is the SPICIEST THING I'VE EVER TASTED. Oh my good lord it is spicy. My body is rejecting it.

Granted, I do not have the highest tolerance for spicy foods. My boyfriend loves to watch me eat any kind of mildly spiced food, say something like "wow, that has kick!" (because apparently eating spicy food turns me into my mother) and then quickly gulp down all of my water (okay, beer) while he orders the 5 chili-pepper version and doesn't bat an eyelash.

But this was a whole new level. The first bite was tasty. The second bite was too. I never got to the third bite because by then my throat closed up and I was coughing and my nose and eyes started spewing liquid in a way they probably haven't done since my infancy. I pounded all the water left in my reusable water bottle (Bay Area lives green, y'all) and raced out of the room to get more, coughing and sneezing all the way.

What's odd about this was that not one person in my office said anything about it. Not "are you okay?" or even "what the hell are you doing?" I can't decide if that means they don't care about my safety or have hearing problems, or if I have so many spastic freakouts that they no longer register with the people around me. I'm sad to admit I bet it's the former.

May 12, 2010

Having a You Know

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

A fairly wonderful new game has taken root at my office.  It's called Cube Ball, and it's as much fun as I've ever had with a beach ball, office cubicles, and a (hotly debated, but ultimately agreed upon) points system.  There's a pitcher (see above) and a seated kicker (see below) and a lot of near misses with not totally sturdy light fixtures.

Because the cubicles we use as our outfield (infield? The vocabulary isn't fully developed as yet, but it's only a matter of time, I'm sure) belong to people who work on another show (as my coworkers and I are mostly in offices), we have to wait until our neighbors all go home for the night to get a serious game going.  Enter my least favorite part of this otherwise great game: My office has been turned into the "driving range" where for practice- but never points- people stop in at all hours of the workday to sit in one of my office mate's chairs and kick the hell out of a beach ball which inevitably lands on my computer screen or person.  But, as I demonstrate each day with my own work duties, I deeply believe in hard work and dedication to get the success and recognition you deserve, so how can I say no to Cube Ball practice?  I can't.  I will never.  Play on, coworkers.  Play on.

Brat Pack

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Officemate and I are in full-on checked out summer mode. We're showing up late, we're leaving early, we're taking two hour lunches. We're leaving for 30 minutes to get ice cream sundaes without telling our workstudy students, little Type A darlings who freak out if faced with even a second of inactivity and lack of instruction. I came back to a note slid under our door and an email from a workstudy student wanting to make sure I gave her a new assignment as soon as I was back from getting ice cream and not inviting her.

As the day comes to a close, we've decided to take turns playing our favorite 80s theme songs.

S: "Greatest American Hero" theme song. (Also a bonus: George Costanza's answering machine based on the Greatest American Hero theme song: Believe it or not/George isn't at home/Please leave a message at the beep/I must be out/Or I'd pick up the phone/Where could I be?/Believe it or not, I'm not home)

Officemate: "Up Where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman (if there isn't a gay porn movie out there called "An Officer in a Gentleman" yet, someone please get on that)

S: "Man in Motion" from St. Elmo's Fire

Officemate: "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun

S: "Facts of Life" theme song*

*Fun thing that happened when this was playing: we both started singing along right at "to be liv-ing up to your dreams." We are so in love.

May 11, 2010

"You Better Belize It" Is a Bad Pun

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Ten days from now, I'm going to Belize.  Belize!  The real place and not a frat infested LA club named that which, as far as I know, doesn't exist but I can totally picture that it would and there would be rum and "Rain Forest Wet T-Shirt" contests on Wednesdays or whatever, and if by chance someone dragged me there I would look critically at the other girls and call them ruins, like Mayan ruins, which is why it would be funny.  But no- I'm going to the real and glorious country of Belize where my boss can't even e-mail me if she really, really needs something because this underpaid worker is shutting off her cell phone and all e-mails with it when she goes because that international plan stuff is way too expensive to pay for when all I anticipate getting is my daily Groupon e-mail.   

The problem, however, about being so excited to go on vacation is that I am so excited to go on vacation!  Like, so excited that I'm not getting anything done all day except deciding which dresses to pack and reading about sandwiches I could be eating... Eating on a beach!  The other problem with being so excited about this impending delight is that I sit in a room all day with people who are not going to Belize and so are already done listening to me talk about Belize, and also they don't even know anything about Belize so what could I possibly want with them anyway?  They're doing things during our time off like going to visit their families or bravely hiking a difficult trail for a week... But guess what: There are families and walking in Belize, and also that's where Belize is!

So, from now until ten days from now, every assignment I half-ass, and every Scrabble letter I play aren't for nothing.  No.  They are getting me one half-assed assignment and one Scrabble letter closer to a relaxing vacation where I don't have those kinds of stresses.  Hallelujah.

Life Coach

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Stupid emails are a common part of my day. I'm used to people emailing me asking for information that's readily available on our website. I'm used to stupid questions like "is your school good?" (The answer is yes, but if it wasn't, what do they think I would tell them?) But today I got the craziest email I've ever received (at work), subject heading: What Should I Do with the Next 10 Years of my Life?

This person eventually would like to graduate from our program, but can't decide if s/he should apply now or in ten years. I ran this by my trusty G-chat friend G who advised me to respond thusly: 1) Don't procreate, 2) Learn to think for yourself. It's a good start, but as I'm sure you expected, I've got more:

Dear Clueless,

Why the hell would you ask me such a question? You don't know me. You know nothing about me. I know nothing about you. Granted, I am the person to talk to if you want to know how to get admitted to our program, but when I answer admissions-related questions, I assume the people asking them know for sure that they want to come to our program, and are planning to do so pretty soon. Maybe that was naive of me, I don't know.

And dude, I can't even answer this question for myself. I can't decide if I want to stay at my current job or look for a new one, I can't decide if I should start saving to buy a place, I can't decide if I want to order a freaking dress from ModCloth! (I was leaning towards yes after two glasses of wine but then a friend told me it looked like an apron, so now I'm back to square one.)

I do not make enough money to be giving out life advice; I'm a bureaucrat. I can tell you how to navigate our admissions system and apply for grants, but I can't tell you how to live your life. I'm not Oprah or Dr. Phil. If you want to pay me an Oprah or Dr. Phil salary, I'll start handing out misguided life advice, but until then, get your shit together and come back when you want to know about letters of recommendation.

In solidarity,

May 10, 2010

Bananas-ing Around

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Dear friends (hi, Mom!), I hope that I did not, in missing a post on Friday, send anyone into a weekend-long panic that something awful had happened to me.  I mean, all the regular awful things happened- I showed up to work and the building hadn't burned down, I got to my desk and my computer password was still valid, my boss spoke- but nothing out of the ordinary.  It was just a regular workday which- thank goodness!- my boss had prepared my office mates and me for the night before by coming into our office at 10 o'clock when we were all still here and saying, "Hey- We have a project to get done, so don't you guys show up to work tomorrow thinking that you don't have to do anything all day."  Well- If the heavens didn't literally part to shine the glorious light of an angel's wings on a once dark and mysterious subject when she said that!  People work?  At their jobs?  I have never met the Buddha or Dr. Phil, but it seems as though I lucked into having a glorious sage and savior of my very own right here at the office.  And one who, as was made obvious by her instructions to us, really has faith in me. 

So we did try this whole "showing up to work and knowing there's work to do" approach on Friday, and all went well.  Because we don't have an intern as of a week and a half ago, we all took turns cracking ourselves up yelling to the empty desk where the intern used to be to ask him for help with certain parts of the project, or just requesting that he brings us various food items.  But yelling into thin air became less funny at every shout, so we decided to go for comedy broke and make the office stuffed monkey, he of previous nap time decoy fame, into our new intern.  He now sits at the intern desk with the computer on (someone gave him a little booster seat to make the whole thing believable, I mean- how could a stuffed monkey really be doing work if he couldn't see the screen?  Think about it), and fairly regularly someone comes by to take the pen that we've placed next to his left paw (he's the creative type) and writes a note on his notepad, usually something banana or jungle related.  And if all this work on our unpaid stuffed monkey intern creation doesn't show our boss that we know what it is to put our noses to the grindstone, then I just don't know what will.

Summertime, and the Living is Easy

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

One of my least favorite job-related questions is "do you get summers off?" The answer is no. I am not a teacher, and even though the school year is over, we still have work to do during the summer. That being said, summertime is calmer. We have very few students in the building and a smattering of faculty. Last year, after a stressful spring semester, I was really looking forward to a nice, relaxing summer.

But, no! My boss came up with stupid projects and plans that required meetings and deadlines and "goal spreadsheets." It blew. But not this year! Oh, no. She is going on an 8-week vacation and Officemate and are going to whoop it up. Here's what we have planned so far:

Thirsty Thursday: this is actually a staff-wide event that's existed for several summers. Each Thursday afternoon, a new staff member is in charge of creating a signature cocktail and sharing it with the group out in the courtyard. We have one boring old killjoy who vehemently opposes this summer tradition, but everyone else loves it.

Beer Thirty: We're going to pick a time of day during another day of the week that we designate as Beer Thirty, when we will go across the street to the pizza or Mexican place and get a beer.

Office 2.0: We're redecorating our office! New furniture, repainting and new wall decorations! As some of my photos may have indicated, our office is currently kind of a hot mess (and worse off now because of the pranksters' most recent endeavor), and we've decided this summer we're going to make it beautiful. We also decided that on the day it gets repainted, we're going swimming.

Ice Cream Showdown: We're all going to try that banana split challenge that our tiny little workstudy student was able to complete. Except we're probably just going to all go out for ice cream and watch her do it again because we kind of think it's gross.

Fridays Off: That's right, no worky for S on Fridays. I'll still be posting, but I imagine my topics will center around the following: 1) the best iced coffee in town, 2) why I hate Kelly Ripa, and 3) apologizing for not posting because I was too drunk.

Get ready.

May 7, 2010

Weighty Matters, Redux

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

So today was another Costco day! It was a close call because first Officemate said she didn't think I needed to go, but then we decided that Officemate shouldn't go because she's not feeling well so she shouldn't waste valuable work hours getting supplies for graduation, but instead just do what she needs to do then go home and rest because we have to be back here at 7:00AM for graduation tomorrow.

Then, my boss said she wanted to come because she has a prescription to pick up from Costco. My boss is a very nice lady, but I do not want to spend any free/fun time with her if I can avoid it. This trip was about me, the dean's assistant, and a Polish sausage and soda for a $1.50. So I volunteered to pick up her prescription for her. She gave me her ID and Costco card (but no money!) and finally I was off.

While the dean's assistant was getting flowers for our special graduation people, I ran to the pharmacy to get my boss's prescription. While waiting in line, I pulled out her driver's license so I could be ready to go when it was my turn. I casually glanced at her picture and then noticed that the weight she has listed on her ID is only about 20lbs more than what I weigh.

I am not a good judge of people's weights, so I don't know if it's a lie or not, but if I am just 20lbs from looking like my boss, I will kill myself. Granted, I'm not planning to gain 20lbs anytime soon (I'm actually trying to drop about 5), but my boss is severely, dangerously overweight. It's been upsetting me ever since. I know it's totally possible that the weight she listed is no longer accurate and I know that muscle weighs more than fat and that I am a little taller than her, but SHIT.

Anyway, I was able to pick up her prescription, which cost almost $20, which was all the money I had, so I had to pay for my hot dog and Diet Pepsi in quarters. Cause I classy.

May 6, 2010

Pre-Tape Escape

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

This is a picture of 3/5 of the most interesting thing that happened at my office today: Five, FIVE people were wearing gray vee neck tee shirts and jeans.  It was epic.  It felt as though every time I lifted my head from various social networking sites someone was turning the corner to reveal their participation in this shocking trend.  As I, like most people, own a gray tee shirt and jeans myself, I briefly considered going home during the afternoon down time to change into it just to be a part of the joke.

Instead I went across the street to drink afternoon beers with my office mates.  Thursdays are usually super important as far as in-office presence because we shoot our show at night, but this week we taped it remotely from New York early in the day. That left us all just waiting around the office- a full staff of us- so that we would be available in the evening hours to go sit in the studio where we usually tape and watch the prerecorded episode while the sound guys captured our laughing noises.  That's right, a dozen people biding their time until they were asked to go down en masse to laugh at- for a lot of them- things they wrote themselves.  So if, knowing that, today sounds to you like a reasonable time- while other staff members did things like went to the gym- to leave for thirty minutes to relax and be social before completing a 12 hour day... Well then you would have gotten the same wrathful e-mail that I got from my immediate boss about checking in with her if ever I plan to be gone for more than 10 minutes. So if anyone knows how I can get a gig as an imprisoned child let me know.  I'm looking for more liberties.


From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Fake Anger (Fanger) worked! I did such a good job chewing out/silent treatmenting our next door neighbors that they cornered the dean's assistant at Cinco de Mayo happy hour (which I backed out of because of laziness and not hatred for the boys, but they definitely took it as a sign of continued displeasure) to ask why I was so mad and what they could do to get me not mad at them.

She said they tried to act indignant like I would have no right to be upset with them, but were also scrambling to figure out what they could do to get me to forgive them and be their friend again. Ha, HA!

Now, if I were truly a prank master, I would keep this ruse up until I was presented with thoughtful, apologetic card or gift, but I felt so bad about making someone else feel bad that I texted them to say I was just kidding and there are really no hard feelings. But now I haven't heard back and am checking my phone obsessively like I'm waiting for a call after sleeping with one of them on the second date. Not that I have any idea what that's like...

May 5, 2010

Green with Revenge

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...
Well they finally made good on their threats. Those sneaky bastards covered EVERYTHING in our office in green cellophane. They even took our pictures and clocks and stuff off the walls and covered THEM in green cellophane. They only left the area that they treat like their personal hallway free of cellophanehood. It was a great prank and my hat is off to them.

However, they kind of picked the worst time to do it. They're both faculty and the last day of classes was last Friday, so they're totally in summer vacation mode, but we're super busy this week trying to make sure our graduating students graduate and our students don't fail their classes, get their summer internships, don't get into debilitating debt, etc. So having to machete our way to our desks and all our necessary papers and tools was not ideal.

Officemate is being a good sport about it, but I'm pretending to be fuming mad. I blew up at one of them this morning, lecturing him about the one rule of the prank wars (the prank shouldn't interfere with the other party's ability to do their job) and how this was so irresponsible and immature of them and while I like to have fun at work, I actually care about our students welfare and I thought they did too and couldn't they have waited a damn week until graduation was finished? I'm giving the other one the silent treatment.

New Heights

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Today we had our regular Wednesday meeting... In a different conference room!!  It was WILD!  There were elevators and hallways on a whole other floor involved.  Maybe most exciting part though was the chairs-- They were bouncy!  I mean, they weren't actual bouncy chairs, but they weren't run of the mill conference room chairs either.  They really had some spring to them.  All this of course meant that the six of us who were there when this was discovered- which also happened to be before the more important people arrived- had a bouncing contest.  The rules were 1) No feet on the ground for push off and 2) No arms on the chair for push off.  Some people went very high.  I did not bounce the highest which I blame on the skirt I'm wearing, but I did come in second in the sub-category of Funniest Face While Bouncing (Unintentional) (speaking of my skirt, however, a friend of mine who works on my floor for another show saw me this morning and exclaimed, "Oh my god!  I just want you to be my... my... my second grade teacher!" if that gives you a picture of how I look today).

Though I am all jumbled up from all that bouncing, I don't think that it will stop me from getting some very important things accomplished the rest of the day, namely sneaking across the street to the majesty that is Marie Callender's to have a Cinco de Mayo cerverza with anyone who will join me.

May 4, 2010

Weighty Matters

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Around noon today, a shirtless man appeared in the courtyard below my window, walking around carrying a giant barbell with enormous weights toward my office building.  But he was in no rush, it seemed, to get this barbell to wherever it could reasonably have been going, and he stopped for some moments in the middle of the courtyard, lifted the weight, and- as you can see if you give this picture a good squint- stood with his foot on top of the barbell as a conquering hero might stand with his foot proudly on a rock of some sort if he had just successfully killed off a bunch of native people in an effort to make some land or another his own.  Now, there is a gym inside this building, though I have to believe that they have nothing like a BYOW(eights) policy, and if this guy did somehow really need to get this particular weight to the gym here, I can only imagine- as someone who personally could not lift or carry this weight and who looks down on public half-nudity- that dollies have been invented (yes- just checked- they have) as have shirts (a check on this also came back yes).  In short, it was ridiculous.

However, it seems that a coworker of mine may be trying to protect this stupid courtyard body builder by distracting me with something that I dare say is even more inane.  The floor in the studio where we tape our show was recently painted, and- after I saw the body builder- a few of us were putting out seats for our audience.  I was in charge of the taking the chairs down from the big chair stack part of the assembly line; I take down the chairs, someone else moves them to the carpet part of the floor (so that they don't make noise during the actual taping).  My coworker pointed out the newly painted floor to me, and told me to, "Be careful."  You know, with the floor.  I couldn't imagine what I might do that would be un-careful with the floor so just carried on... Until he made himself plain and asked me to please stop putting chairs down on it because we didn't want anything to go wrong.  He asked me to not put chairs on the ground because something bad might happen.  Something bad like... Gravity?  Instead he asked me to carry them over to the carpet, the sweet sweet safe carpet.  Next time I'm borrowing the barbell from the courtyard guy.   

May 3, 2010

Baby I Can Drive My Car (To Someone Else's Dry Cleaner)

From an unnamed production office for an undisclosed television show in an address-withheld building in LA where the elevators are shockingly slow...

Today, in between snacks, something truly glorious happened.  I got to leave my office on official office business!  The star of our show is getting picked up from the studio right after we tape tonight and being whisked straight to the airport by car service, which meant that I was asked (truth: anyone with a vehicle was asked and I was the first to respond) to go to his house and pick him up to bring him to set.

When I got to his house he called me a name that isn't quite my name, but syllables aside he was very nice and apologetic when he asked me to wait just a few minutes.  So I got to sit in my car for a few minutes!  Alone!  And I got to listen to music I wanted to listen to, and no one was there to tell me to stop playing Angry Birds on my iPhone which, if you have the Angry Birds app, you know that there is no stopping playing Angry Birds once you start.

Once we got on the road, it was delightful.  And while I often say that things are delightful when what I mean is that I would prefer to be stung to death by wasps, I'm being sincere this time.  I got to be outside!  Well, outside in a car!  And I got to talk to a person who is nice and not my boss.  A funny person who is nice and not my boss who let me do things like wait in my car looking at Facebook with the air conditioning on outside his dry cleaners and the pants store.  And he had no idea how much more pleasant that was than being at my desk and so said things like, "Thank you," and even, "Sorry," when he was on his cell phone for a while.  Incredible.

So I guess, for me, the moral of the story is that the best work is work that isn't actually my work.  Lesson learned.

Pro Tips

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

At different times in my august career in higher education, I've joked about writing a book called "How Not to Piss Off College Admissions People". I don't think I actually have enough material to fill a whole a book, but I can definitely fill up 5 to 6 bullet points, thus the following:

  • Do your research. Clearly, jobs like mine exist because getting into universities is hard and sometimes people need the help of trained experts. However, questions like "is your program good?" or "do you offer a degree?" are a waste of a person's time. Any self-respecting university has a website; spend a good 5 minutes looking around before interrupting someone in the middle of their work day activities (e.g. reheating Indian food/looking for funny podcasts/reading gossip blogs).
  • Know which university you're calling/emailing. I've had people tell me they're writing because NYU/USC/Columbia is their "dream" school and when I write back to tell them that we are, in fact, none of these places, they're like, "oh yeah, well I want information about your program too." Not a great start.
  • Don't insult the person you're talking to. Didn't get your last question answered? Don't get snotty with your admissions person. Write again and pretend like it's your fault you never heard back from me, and mention that you know how busy I must be, getting inane questions from dime-a-dozen jokers like you all day long, because you know who isn't going to be in the mood to help you? The person you just insinuated is bad at her job.
  • If you are leaving a voicemail, leave your name, a 10 word or less reason for calling ("I have some questions about applying to your program") and clearly state your phone number. I hate listening to a message for 2 minutes where someone rambles on and on about their personal situation, then quickly spews out their phone number so that I have to replay the whole stupid message to get it all down, then I call the person back and they repeat the same damn thing verbatim.
  • It never hurts to be nice. Beyond just not being a jerk, a quick email to say thanks can go a long way. I serve a dual admissions/student affairs role in my department and you can be sure I know which students are nice and appreciative and I am a hell of a lot more eager to help them out. I am even more eager to help the students who bring in baked goods.