Category Archives: Work

The Correct Way to Work a Holiday Gift Exchange

Tonight is our work holiday party, complete with yankee swap gift exchange. In honor of this tradition, I thought I would reuse this blog post from a few years back, which basically sums up my priorities and my wisdom in one anecdote.

Originally posted on Dec 14, 2011.

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Alternate title: My Shameful, Gleeful Secret.

Despite knowing about my work holiday party, and the “yankee swap” type gift exchange, I didn’t remember to buy a gift until the day of the party. (Also despite browsing at Macy’s over the weekend, picking things up and wondering if they were appropriate for a holiday gift exchange.)

On my lunch break I ran to Target to pick up some boring stuff and also look for a gift. On the drive there I decided to buy a book, because I’ve talked about books with several other people here, and I thought that would be a nice diversion from the numerous bottles of wine that I was sure would be there.

I looked through the book section, but there wasn’t really much of interest. There was a wall of trashy teen romance, a wall of trashy adult romance, a wall of trashy thriller/suspense…and then I saw a single copy of Stephen King’s recent collection of novellas: Full Dark, No Stars.

I know of at least two other people in the office who like Stephen King, and he’s pretty mainstream, so I thought it would be a better gift than, you know, Twilight or The Chocolate Cat Caper or something like that. (Although, I also thought about getting Dollhouse, the book “written” by the three Kardashians.)

So I bought the book and wrapped it in a little bag, and told no one except Jonathan what it was. I deposited it under the tree at the holiday party and waited for the gift exchange to begin.

Soon I started feeling like I needed to leave the party soon – later that night Drew, Erin and I were going to a screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – and for a minute or two I wondered if I could get the present back out the door if I left before we started the swap.

But then we all settled down and the fun began, and I’m glad I stayed, because it was super fun. The entire thing (there were around 30 people participating) took about 90 minutes.

I was number 26 in the lineup and I had decided I wouldn’t just select my own gift, even though Full Dark, No Stars was one of the few Stephen King books I didn’t own. When my turn came, I stole a set of balsamic vinegar and olive oil from someone else, and I was very happy with that steal. After all, I could always go back to Target and buy another copy of the book.

In a few more turns, a girl sitting next to me selected my gift, and once she’d unwrapped it, she looked less than enthusiastic. No one seemed to want to steal it either. Perhaps I had completely misjudged this group – and neither of the people who I know like Stephen King were at the party.

In another few turns, the hostess of the party stole my balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and I made a snap decision to steal Full Dark, No Stars. Which I did. That girl opened another present and seemed much happier with it. No one stole the book from me after that.

When I got home, I told Drew the whole story and then displayed the book, and he said, “Well, I guess that worked out perfectly.”

And it did.

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under Awesome, Books, Holidays, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Work

The First Meeting of JASP

This is a shout out to one of my besties. We’ve worked together for the last few years, and we’ve been through the ringer together. We even have a celebrity couple name: JASP. (It’s just our initials. No big deal.) We’ve technically only known each other for about 4 years, but here’s a fun fact about us.

Back when we were both still in college, 6 years before we officially met and became coworkers and cohorts, we attended the same production of Into the Woods at the theatre company we would eventually work for. November 30, 2005: we both sat in the Lucie Stern Theatre and watched it snow onstage after intermission. (As our Artistic Director says, “It all makes perfect sense when you realize it’s snowing in the second half.”)

Much has changed since 2005 – much has even changed since our official meeting in 2011. But I just wanted to say that I’m so happy I know you, Jonathan! #tbt to that time we both saw Into the Woods on the same date without knowing it!

(But we are way cooler now than we were back then.)

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(To be clear, these are both pictures from the cooler “now.”)

 

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tbt: Theatre Obsessions

I remember this one time, in my sophomore year of college, there was this production of Falsettos. I wasn’t working on the show but I had seen it a couple times – I don’t think we ever ran a show longer than two weekends, but I had to go to a tech rehearsal for a class. I had become obsessed with the show…an obsession that’s lasted for the next decade.

It was a Sunday night, closing night of Falsettos. I wanted to go see it one more time. But there was another show closing that weekend – a one-man show by another student. I’ll call him Ivan. The show was called Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! Good gravy.

I had promised the stage manager of the show, a friend of mine and someone I looked up to, that I would come see his show that night. But by late afternoon I was just lying on the floor of our apartment, tormented because I wanted to take my very last opportunity to see Falsettos. I was completely torn. I was a little over-dramatic.

The moral twin of my Gemini sensibility must have been on duty that night, because I went to Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! But I regretted it almost immediately. I mean, it was just ridiculous. At intermission, I left and went down the street to Falsettos, where I snuck into the back. Man, that’s a good show.

The thing about theatre is that if you love something, there really isn’t a way to just save it and rewatch it. Even a bootleg version of something isn’t the same as being there. And I know there’s bad theatre. I have seen bad theatre. I have peeked at my phone to see how much longer this act could possibly be. I have left things at intermission (not often, but I’ve done it). I’ve seen things out of an obligation and not necessarily out of joy.

But then there are the things that you can’t get enough of. When I saw Wicked for the first time (cheesy example, I know), it was the first time in years and years of shows that the curtain call ended, the lights came up, and I was like, “Okay, reset everything, I will watch this all again from the beginning RIGHT NOW.”

I went years without having that feeling about a show. But I am having it again. Right now. (This is not a marketing ploy.)

My work is currently presenting Sweeney Todd. I love Sweeney Todd. It’s one of my favorite musicals. This particular production has something extra. It’s addictive. I can’t stop watching it. It has been running for the last three weeks, and closes this Sunday. I have seen it five times so far, which is already two times more than I have seen any other work show. I saw it yesterday and again today. I am sitting here debating whether I should go back for the closing performance on Sunday night. The only reason I’m not sprawled out on the carpet, conflicted over my decision, is that I have a couple days to work it out. If I don’t go, I will never see this particular production, with this particular cast and set and direction again. But maybe the five times I’ve gone should be enough.

This time, instead of missing out on a student-written one-man show, I would be missing out on precious weekend time with my family. I would be driving all the way down the peninsula a whole extra time. But I would be helping out by filling a seat, and I would be getting one more chance to bask in the pure joy that I experience while watching a show about an insane guy who kills people, and his girlfriend who bakes them into pies. “God That’s Good.”

I think I might have my answer.

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Beware the Freight Elevator

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

-From The Road Not Taken

Remember when I went into a whole Robert Frost thing? And made a big deal about new paths and making decisions and striking out?

My time to “come back” came sooner than I expected. Today is my last day at my “new” job. To that end, I’ve spent the last couple days finishing things, cleaning up things, and putting away things that have been basically scattered over my desk the entire time I’ve been here. There have been many post-luncheon tasks to accomplish, and I’m proud to say that I think I’ve actually (almost) accomplished them all.

The one I’ve been putting off for three days, was taking the leftover wine from the event on Tuesday down to our storage space in the basement. That’s the “did-do” I’m singling out for today.

I didn’t NEED help getting down there, so while I’ve been down the creepy freight elevator to the creepier basement multiple times, this was my first (and last) solo trip. Yes, I told someone I was going, and I made sure to take my phone. (Not that I know if it would work down there.)

When I opened the door to the storage space, I definitely heard something scurry away. I’m not afraid of rats, per se, but I don’t want to cuddle them either.

To be honest, from start to finish, this entire errand took about 10 minutes. I gleefully crossed it off my list of things to do before 5pm today. A good choice for Friday the 13th.

Take wine to basement

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30 before 30: The Did-Do List

Last May (so over a year ago), I started a blog post about the “30 before 30” that I wanted to accomplish. I only wrote down about seven things though, because it was looking a lot like every other list I make. It was basically a combination of my short term to-do list, my long term to-do list, my New Year’s Resolutions (which frequently repeat themselves), and wishful thinking.

With 30 literally around the corner (“literally” if you think of a weekend as a corner), it’s a little too late to accomplish the seven things I put on that list. I suppose I can try. But is that just setting myself up for five days of disappointment as I fail to get things started and finished and written and lost?

My Facebook moms group has a tradition: a did-do list, rather than a to-do list. Most people have a to-do list that they are constantly working on. I have one in my phone that I just keep running. (Side note: it inexplicably syncs to my gmail twice a day, so if I search my email I have pages and pages of that changing to-do list. Kind of annoying.) (I guess I could put “unsync to-do list from gmail” onto my 30 before 30 list.) (But that seems like it misses the point of a 30 before 30 list.)

Hence, the did-do list. What did you do today? Today, I did three loads of laundry! Today, I took my kid to the zoo! Or even: today, I took a shower! Or on the least productive of days: Today, no one got hurt!

It sounds cheesy, but it’s actually a really awesome and positive reinforcement – focusing on what you DID instead of what you DIDN’T do. How often do you get to do that?

So I propose that, every day for the next week, I will share with you something I DID do before I turn 30.

Today’s Did Do:

At work today, I created a spreadsheet detailing the expenses vs income for the fundraising luncheon two days ago, which I’ve spent the last three months working on. After double checking that I wasn’t forgetting any expenses, I discovered that we raised over $11,000 MORE than the estimated gross income.

They didn’t expect this event to be a money-maker. The estimated gross income was absurdly low. But an $11,000 surplus is an $11,000 surplus, and who am I to be picky about why it’s there? That’s tangible evidence that I am a great employee. I’ll take it.

Make spreadsheet of expenses/income

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Exhibiting bad manners in public

I arrived at the BART station yesterday morning and walked casually down the platform. I was just approaching one of the pre-walking marks on the ground when I noticed something strange. Looking up and down the platform, I saw single-file lines, with maybe 3 or 4 feet between each person, lined up in front of where the train doors would land. The people in these lines were reading newspapers, or looking at their phones.

Standing near the edge of the platform, I kept studying the lines. When did this happen?

I texted Drew: “Is it a bart manners thing to line up single file to wait for the train? Everyone is doing it here but I’ve never seen that before. Can I just stand near where the door will be or do I have to line up?”

He wrote back: “Yeah, it’s the opposite of the NY cluster.”

That’s what I’m used to…people pushing and shoving to get through the doors first. That’s what I’m comfortable with. Is that sick?

I said: “But…a single file line? I don’t like it. =( And now I realize I’ve been that beezy cutting lines the whole time?”

Then he called me a NY a-hole and I laughed out loud, and the train came, and while I didn’t push and shove to get on, I definitely didn’t wait for the line to go first, and then I camped out near the doors. So I’m definitely that bad-manners BART person who you glare at during your morning commute. Sorry about that! It’s been mostly inadvertent up until now.

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Filed under "Other people", Drew, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Travel, Work

Throwback Thursday: Public Transpo

In honor of my new routine of taking BART to work, I’m throwing back to an NYC subway post from my LiveJournal. This post hails from Feb 23, 2009.

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I just need to marry someone who has good vision coverage…

This morning on the train a manly man got on and stood next to me. While glancing over his shoulder (bored) I noticed he was reading a paperback copy of In Her Shoes. This delighted me secretly and I admired him for his casual reading of chick lit on a crowded New York subway. Glancing over again, I saw one of the chapter headings: “A Harder Task Than Making Bricks Without Straw.” Hmm, that doesn’t really sound like Jennifer Weiner. I squinted closer at the book title in italics on the top of the left-hand page. Up From Slavery. (It’s the autobiography of Booker T Washington. I looked it up on Amazon.)

I think I might need a new contact prescription.

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