Niff.Dot

This Blog Contains Gluten and Was Manufactured in a Facility that Processes Peanuts

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I utilize public transit to get to-and-from work. I live in Seattle, work in Bellevue. Hence the bus. If I had to drive in this traffic, I’m fairly certain attempted vehicular manslaughter would be a rather unfortunate by-product. But I didn’t come here to talk about the traffic.

One phenomenon I have been privy to is the “commuting bag lady” syndrome.

Allow me to explain.

Imagine a woman…say, late 20′s to mid 30′s. Hair well-coiffed. Expensive shoes. Immaculate eyeliner. Likely a gel manicure with an oversized diamond adorning the left ring finger. The color of the manicure was most likely selected due to the complimentary nature of the rock.

Bag #1 – On her right shoulder. Large-ish. Bulky. Indeterminate contents, densely packed.
Bag #2 – On the same shoulder, intermittently colliding and becoming entangled with Bag #1. More on the slender side. Squarish. Approximately 20″ or so in width. Kevlar or nylon material.
Bag #3 – On the opposing shoulder (or carried in her hand): A smaller bag. Italian leather. Obviously designer. This bag deserves its own shoulder due to aforementioned colliding and entangling.

Theories, hypotheses, and blatant stereotypes:

Bag #1: Gym bag. Contents: Gym shoes, three pairs of yoga pants, three moisture-wicking tank tops (matching the light peach hue of the gym shoes). Moisturizer. Shampoo. Leave-in conditioner. Straight iron. Deodorant, perfumed hand lotion, perhaps a bottle of 5-Hour Energy, with a bit of “desperation to be a size zero” thrown in for color.

Bag #2: Laptop bag. Contents: Laptop. Either a MacBook Air or a Lenovo 13″ touchscreen. Charger. Bluetooth mouse. Business cards in a flashy Swarovski-crystal encrusted case.

Bag #3: THE purse. The bag she never leaves the house without. The only item she wants to be buried with. Brand: Either Michael Kors, Fendi, Kate Spade, Burberry or Marc Jacobs. Contents: iPhone, charger, powder, lipstick, eyeliner, tampons, the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, keys, mascara, travel-size hairspray, Band Aids, wallet (matching the handbag), ibuprofen, perhaps some condoms. Cuz ya never know.

I admit freely that some of this can be leveraged from my own personal experience. Some of it is from my observations of women getting ready for work on the bus. (I have to confess a certain level of envy for those who can apply liquid liner while barreling down 520).
I personally prefer to have just my awesome Brenthaven backpack. To be fair, I will disclose its contents. Pot, kettle, all that.

- Laptop
- Moisturizer
- Protein shake blender cup
- Band Aids
- Neosporin
- Phone
- Chargers
- Powder
- 5 to 6 tubes of lip gloss (to understand the lip gloss issue please look here).
- Several tubes of Nuun. Usually Kona Cola or Strawberry Lemonade.
- Safety pins
- Barrettes
- Wallet/phone case
- Extra pair of socks (because ya never know)
- Binder clips
- Earbuds
- A plastic grocery bag full of mysterious unknown contents. Maybe it’s cold pizza. Maybe it’s rotten vegetables. Or maybe it’s the shattered pieces of my former life.

So there ya go. Theories, stereotypes, excessive use of hyperlinks, Oxford commas, and personal information all in one blog post.

Share and Enjoy.

See what I did there?

 

I think the alliteration was also a nice touch.

 

My office has the great fortune of being virtually right across the street from a Trader Joe’s.  This is ultimately convenient as I often neglect to pack a lunch and am thus able to score some fairly decent grub for under $5.

 

…like I did today.

 

Browsing the prepared food section, debating between hummus and a turkey wrap, I eventually decided upon the turkey and headed to checkout.  There’s no “15 Items or Fewer” line, so it usually ends up being a bit of a judgment call.

 

I picked the one with the friendly-looking older gentleman as he looked the most conversational.

 

Intuition, in most cases, serves me well.

 

Carl (or so his name tag read; wasn’t sure if he was pulling a Fight Club on me):  “Well hey there!  How’s your day treating you?”

-  “Not too bad, ” I replied.  “Enjoying the walk outside.  How about you?”

- “Oh, I can’t complain.”  He points to my work badge pinned to my shirt.  “Looks like you have a job too, eh?”

- “Oh yes. “

- “Work at Microsoft?”

- “No, but I do a lot of work with Microsoft.”

- “Ah, see; I’ve always admired you folks.  I was dumb and got my degree in English.  See how that turned out…”

- “Oh, excuse me good sir,” I said.  “I got my degree in painting of all things.  I think that’s actually one step above and English degree in terms of practicality.”

The look on his face mirrored what I imagine a college guy’s face looks like when the girl he’s sleeping with tells him she missed her period.

- “No, what?!”

- “Yessir.  With a minor in Art History, even.”

- “How long have you been doing your current job?”

- “Ummm…three years, now?  I was in QA before.”

- “And you’ve always been doing this?”

- “Oh heavens no.  Before all this I was a waitress.  And worked in daycare.”

He then proceeds to step out around the register to grab my hand and shake it.

- “You – you have given me so much hope – and I’m 70!  Thank you!  You – please, come back anytime; every day!  And make sure you come to my line!  Oh, this is so exciting; thank you!”

Not used to being a compelling, inspirational force in the lives of others during a lunch run, I humbly thank him and tell him I will definitely visit him again.

- “Wow…” he says.  “What a great day.  You have a fantastic weekend, young lady!”

I smiled and wished him the same.  Except for the “young lady” part, for obvious reasons.

 

We live in a culture where more often than not, women base their self-esteem on how they look, compliments they receive, men who flirt with them, earning the envy of others; and as a result they find themselves in constant mental competition with each other, based solely on superficiality.  As I’ve gotten older (and subsequently come to accept with the aching joints, crow’s feet, and gray hair) I’ve made it a point to remind to myself that who I am is not how I look.  Who I am is the sum of my experience, my accomplishments, the people and love I have in my life, and what I give back to the world.

It’s good confidence strategy, I feel.

unnamed

 

Oh, and this is Coby.  Coby is a Puggle.  He was tethered to a signpost outside Trader Joe’s.  He had the sun in his eyes, hence the squinting.  His dad says he’s a spoiled brat.  Given that I set aside 10 minutes of my lunch to play with him, I believe it.

 

 

 

 

 

There is a woman on the bus. Mid twenties maybe? Has one of those voices that makes you wonder how she has any friends.
Speaking of her friends, I think she must have called every single one of them during the trip from Bellevue to Seattle.
Because she is sitting right next to me, her screeching voice on a repetitive loop in my ear. I think something has ruptured in my skull.
I’ve had fantasies of grabbing her pink encased iPhone and tossing it out the window. Or cracking the screen and handing it back to her with a non-apologetic, “oh, I think you dropped this…”
Her phone deserves the reprieve. I would estimate that her friends do as well.
She says “or something like that” at the end of every sentence. Every.sentence.
…or something like that.
After making the entire population of Sound Transit 550 aware of her weekend plans, her cousin’s job, all the clients she has. Her sister’s kids…she did take a break from shrieking in order to liberally apply perfume.
Perfume.
On the bus, people.
The 550 now smells like a baby prostitute.

(I’m blogging this as it occurs).

She is now using the reverse camera feature on her phone to preen her eyebrows and is – I swear to god – making a duckface.

I may have to kick her where she pees.

As much as I enjoy messing with callous and entitled people, I can’t help but wonder if karma is gonna take a big ole chunk outta my ass someday.
Woke up way too early so figured I’d capitalize on the extra daylight and commute in a bit early.
Also to reduce the number of public transit anomalies, as the crazies typically don’t get up this early.

If anything, life reminds me to assume nothing. Regularly.

In the Westlake transit tunnel, waiting, as I had just missed the previous bus to Bellevue.
The train comes through, as well as the 101 (I always see that bus going to the convention center and that’s it. Seems like the most pointless route ever.)
Eventually, a stern-looking, rotund older woman stands next to me, staring at me as if I’d just thrown her cat under the aforementioned 101.

A moment passes. She pokes me on the arm.
Removing the earbuds I have in place to avoid people in these exact scenarios, I look down at her quizzically.

- “Yes…?”
- “Hey! Heeey. Did the train come already?!”

I then decide this woman spends her life in capslock mode.

- “Yes. Yes it did.”
There’s a perfunctory stomping of the foot, some profanity, then the inexplicable:

- “Well, why didn’t you TELL me??”

Praising my innate ability to be a smart-ass on the fly, it doesn’t take me long for this one.

- “I tried, but you never answer your phone”, I said, unapologetically.

I am presented with the look of confusion and borderline panic I was hoping for.

- “What?! Wait, how’d you get my phone number?”

I pulled out the business card for the orthopedist I was given at my appointment yesterday that was conveniently tucked into the side pocket of my backpack. I examined it.

- “Oh! This isn’t your card. Ha! That’s hilarious. My orthopedist is going to be confused by that voicemail…” I let out an “oh I’m just so silly!” giggle.

- “This place is full of fucking crazies!!” She hollers, trotting off.

Yes. Yes it is.

Confession: I have been orchestrating a worldwide pandemic during my commutes to work.

Oh, don’t look surprised.  You had to be expecting this.

If you would like to taste the sweet, sweet flavor of genocide for yourself, feel free to check it out here.  Available on iOS and Steam for Mac and PC.  To be thorough, I have it installed on my iPhone, iPad and laptop.  You never know when you’ll be compelled to infect millions with a delirious fever and projectile vomiting at a moment’s notice.

My first attempt involved a concrete, intellectual strategy and was approached in all seriousness.  Think “The Hot Zone” or “Outbreak”.  After a few failed attempts (Greenland and Canada, looking at you) I decided to have some fun with it.  Because liquefying internal organs is, after all, hilarious.

Douche

Campaign 1:  “Douchebaggery”.

As I live in Seattle, I felt this was seemingly appropriate.
Douchebaggery, though successful in its ability to spread easily from one person to the next, ultimately proved to be non-lethal and the Canadians developed a cure.
Hipsters everywhere exhaled a sigh of relief.

 

 

Stupidity

Campaign 2:  “Stupidity”.

Stupidity seemed to have greater success.  Stupidity evolved much more quickly than Douchebaggery, had a much quicker transmission rate, becoming airborne and able to withstand extreme temperatures.
Unfortunatey, I was again faced with disappointment as the Germans developed a cure in 1,654 days.
I suspect subterfuge.

 

 

 

MomSpread

Campaign 3:  “Your Mom”.

Oh, what?

Oh, Yes.  Yes I did.

yourmomSomehow Your Mom managed to circumvent the failures of my previous two campaigns.  Your Mom spread quickly, evolved slowly, and after two years began to kill at an accelerating rate.

Your Mom was a diabolical force of nature and due to the symptomatic evolution of the disease managed to cause insanity, delirium, and ultimately, complete mental and physical collapse.

Eventually it because clear that there was simply no way to stop Your Mom.

 

 

Lessons learned:  Your Mom is far more deadly and ubiquitous than either Douchebaggery or Stupidity.

Postscript:  Thanks to the current Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, I find myself taking in news articles on containment measures being utilized by local governments and thinking to myself, “huh…so that’s why I failed to infect Greenland…”

O_o

 

I commute daily to work via public transit. Whereas this may be an unimaginable scenario for some, I enjoy the opportunities it affords:  I can listen to music/podcasts, read, catch up on email, or, as is most often the case, pass judgement on other passengers while making mental notes to bring up in conversations later.  Because people are fucking hilarious.

Consider the following:

Waiting for the bus at the Bellevue transit center.
There are pay phones. One of which keeps ringing.
I answer it. Because I love a chance to mess with people.
- “Hello, Bellevue Transit Center.”
- “Huh?”
- “You, my friend, are calling a pay phone at the Bellevue Transit Center. Stop it. “
- “Who is this?”

(It is at this moment I notice an older man in a suit making a valiant attempt to hand bibles out to sinners during their commute. He has been eyeing me cautiously ever since he saw me answer the phone.  I have an idea.)

- “This is Jesus.”
- “Whoah, what?”
- “Jesus. You know. As in the son of god. Wanna hear a parable?”
- “But…Jesus is a dude!”
- “Sexist!!” I hung up.

He didn’t call back.

424525_10151346484433903_1057857222_nFriday morning, early April. Catching up on client emails, preparing for release of the latest build, syncing with the developers, pounding the coffee, wondering if there’s an intravenous option.

Office director pops his head in moments later.

“Hey, Niff…can you come up to the conference room for a sec?”

“Uh, yeah, sure. What’s up?”

He says nothing but instead motions for me to follow him. We ascend the stairs and enter the conference room; he closes the door behind us, and takes a breath.

“We’re going to have to call Stephen.”

Fuck.

Stephen is the HR director out of our Baltimore office. I see one of two options here. 1.) They’ve realized my genius and are promoting me to Chief of All Things Awesome which includes own private jet, or 2.) I’m being laid off.

Alas, ‘tis the latter. I had an inkling thanks to the sporadic emails littering my inbox over the past few weeks informing us that “so-and-so is no longer with the company and we wish them well”. That and having been just laid off from my prior place of employment eight months previous, this entire scene was uncomfortably familiar.

*Facepalm*
This happens? Twice in a row? Bloody hell.

So we proceed through the whole rigmarole about how brilliant I am and it has nothing to do with performance (“it’s not you, it’s me…”) and how I can count on them for any letters of recommendation but rest assured if the situation improves they will hire me back in a heartbeat because they love working with me etc. etc. (Confessedly I’m paraphrasing somewhat.)

Thus begins the humiliating task of packing up my office whilst my (now ex) colleagues look on with a palpable combination of confusion and newfound job insecurity. By this time I have broken out in tears despite myself, packing up Legos, boxes of tea, pulling mementos off of the walls and removing all traces of my existence from the drawers and other random nooks and crannies. Realizing that the quantity of items I had managed to pack into my workspace over the past eight months was not transportable in a single bus trip, I humbly request that I be able to return with a vehicle in order to more efficiently expedite the process. Rides and sympathy are offered. Hugs are given. Goodbyes are exchanged. I leave with a palpable mix of shock and uncertainty.

Being in your late thirties, unemployed, in a somewhat gray area in terms of skill set (project management skills in digital advertising and mobile app development with a sprinkle of QA thrown in for color), and competing against newly-minted college graduates with shiny post-doctorates and knowledge of programming languages makes looking for unemployment an altogether soul-sucking enterprise. Almost two months later and still, here I am. Vacillating between sending resumes, interviewing, painting, and perfecting my manicure technique.

The debacle that is the job hunt in today’s economy is becoming increasingly dire. Not only are all of the local universities spewing forth job-hungry graduates, I’m hearing of more and more layoffs from local companies in my field making for more competition, a broader pool of candidates to choose from, more waiting time post-interview, a more selective hiring process – ye gods. And because of my rapid progression career-wise I’m finding I tend to not have enough experience for the jobs I want but too much experience for jobs I know I can do and am willing to settle for to avoid being homeless. I am in employment limbo. So I spend obsessive amounts of time on LinkedIn like a crazed single girl on OkCupid desperately seeking my employment soul mate. And making art to distract myself from the daily idleness that comes from being unemployed. Egads, how do people stand retirement? I’m taking commissions by the way.

I feel like changing the my cover letter to read that I am currently a project manager with three years of experience and a degree in painting. Which means if you give me a fiver I will draw you a daisy on a napkin, delivered in full, provided the deliverable meets the specs outlined in the scope and the daisy has creative approval from the client.

Voulez-voulez-vous where do you see yourself in 5 years?


May 22, 2014

Sometimes I peek into my blog backend (get your mind out of the gutter) and see that I have some “drafts” – half-begun, well-meaning blog entries that never quite made it off the ground.  Either that or I just gave up and turned them into a Facebook status update.
But this?  Dude.  I just…I don’t even.

I call this “Miscellaneous Draft Blog #12″.  Enjoy.

The flipacoin algorithm?
Coworker Quote of Seattle, There are 7+ billion people in my life and wonder how I feel so creepy.
I hate the merits of my shoulder.
There’s actually a photo of my seizures but not be yet a knave Larkspur’s not quite sure about this pattern of mismatching food to sit further away from start to reach maximum efficacy, and laparoscopic abdominal nodes. Ok, I cannot articulate the team.
Yes, I’m not getting into a penguin.
Discovering you’ve got my head.
Jennifer is an incapacitated level. Using this mime emoticon, because Facebook seems to be there a halfeaten bag of my Americano was, in on my lap all of Vogon laundromat, or something.

As such, I am channeling my unemployment energies into creating as much art as possible.  So as to preserve my sanity.  And become a gazillionaire.  Or something.

Thanks to being unemployed and on a limited income, I decided to go the route of not-quite-starving-artists nationwide and try my “devil’s workshop hand” at using my art as a means to generate revenue.  As such, I have signed up here:  Patreon.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 12.54.51 PM

Thanks to art supplies being bloody expensive (the average pre-stretched canvas can run up to $300) I thought I would give this a shot, since people seem to like my work.  (Feel free to check out my artist page here.)

And now, to get back to this sketchbook piece and watch Twin Peaks.  Toodles.

 

Voulez-voulez-vous doodles.

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