Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Relationship-Style!

Relationships can be tricky things.  I have good ones, like with Andrew, and bad ones, like with Andrew's mother, and ugly, complicated ones, like with Andrew when he plays the harmonica.  This post examines three recent relationship adventures!

The Good

My friend Brad visited me for the fourth of July weekend!  Brad and I go way back to high school, where we were partners in a physics class that taught us the four types of forces: gravity, magnets, mousetrap cars, and pasta bridges.

There was a ton of applicable knowledge in that class.

Brad now works for the National Weather Service, and I hadn't seen him since I was 19, a solid 8 years ago.  Brad's currently stationed in Oregon, and so he came down to visit me.  We had a blast!  He hasn't changed a bit, unless you count losing weight and becoming more awesome.  I forgot what an optimistic, supportive, and caring person he is, and I feel really lucky to have people like him in my life.  I'll stop now, since I know he reads my blog and is probably blushing.

Hi, Brad.

I'll let the photos do the talking:

 At the Tar Pits!

At the Museum of Jurassic Technology!

 The Museum doesn't allow photography, but Brad shamelessly stole this picture of mice on toast.  
I cannot recommend this museum highly enough; it is one of the most surreal experiences in Los Angeles.

 At the California Science Center!

At the Hollywood Walk of Fame! 

Yay Betty White!

Dog approved!

At the Science Center!

Oh shit a shark!

The only bad part of the visit was when Master Chief robbed me.  Speaking of bad...

The Bad

Well, things with Jack finally came to a head.  I've complained and complained about him, but enough is enough.  He's just too busy for me.  The final straw was that he scheduled a fourth of July party during Brad's visit, which I had already told him about.  Making conflicting plans felt like he wasn't respecting my plans.  I mean, Brad's visit was a big deal to me.

It's worth noting that, the last time I was over at his house, his roommate started smoking the ganja in front of me, AGAIN, and blew it in my face, and then tagged along with us to dinner.  Jack was cool with that, for some reason.

 How were we supposed to know she was going to do the same thing she did last time and the time before that?!

So for my own health and mental wellness I decided to put our friendship on hiatus.  My one exception was D&D.  The game requires consistent players.  Well, the last four sessions, Jack slept through two.  And in the last one, he didn't even bother showing up for an hour and twenty minutes, because he was at the beach with his friend.  D&D is an every week, same-bat-time, same-bat-channel affair and there's no excuse for missing it.  I'm actively looking for a replacement player now.

I want to clarify that I'm not angry at Jack.  I just recognize that he is a very fair-weather friend, and his actions aren't supportive.  I'm someone who puts a lot of value on reliability, and his failure to show up to D&D and his inability to accommodate or compromise when we had conflicting plans is part of a larger pattern of bad behaviour that hurts me.  I don't feel like I need to stick out a hurtful relationship; Jack has his own priorities, and respecting me by showing up to plans we made clearly isn't one of them, so instead of getting angry and bitter and passive-aggressive, I'd rather just shake hands and part ways.

(Obviously, there's a third option here, which is to apologize and make up.  But that would require Jack to talk to me, and when the D&D thing went down, he actually e-mailed Andrew.  I sent Jack an e-mail stating that his behaviour was pretty disrespectful to the group and that he owed us all an apology, but got no response.  And I'm the fucking DM!  If he can't communicate with me as a friend or as a DM, there's really nothing more I can do on my end, you know?)

Life without Jack has actually been much more stable and less worrisome.  I do miss his company, but I miss it like a fat person misses Krispy Kremes: I'm all too aware of how awful it is for me and it's better to keep it at arm's length.

I'm sorry you had to see that, Blog.  Hey, and speaking of ugly...

The Ugly

Work has been chugging along nicely, though recently I got into an altercation with one of the researchers.  More specifically, he got into an altercation with me.  The issue was that I had sent him an e-mail.  (Yes, seriously.)  See, one of my various job duties is to keep the researchers informed about their animals.  Dead animal?  Sick animal?  Injured animal?  Overcrowding?  Not enough food?  Required medication?  You're gonna get an e-mail.

So I e-mailed him to let him know that a couple of cages were mislabeled.  All animals have unique IDs and those IDs cannot be changed.  So I e-mailed him and, as per our policy, CCed my supervisors.  Later that day, he called me into the room and for 30 minutes basically had a meltdown in front of me and the lab manager.  Some notable parts that got repeated more than five times each:
  • "I've worked here six years!  These are new policies!  I've never gotten e-mails before!"
What I said: You should have been getting those e-mails and I'm sorry to hear you haven't.  We really value communication to ensure both the animal welfare and the best circumstances for your research.

What I was thinking: Someone wasn't doing their job.  They were probably not sending any e-mails because they heard what a fucking drama queen you are.
  • "No one informed me!"
What I said: In an institution of this size, sometimes information falls between the cracks, but we'll continue to do our best to keep you in the loop.  E-mails like this one are a great means for us to keep you up-to-date on our expectations.

What I was thinking: Uh, you were informed.  By me.  Just now.  In the e-mail you're complaining about.
  • "Was it necessary to inform all those people?  Do you have it out for me?  Is there some personal issue here?  Why are you trying to make me look bad?"
What I said: We always CC the supervisors for every e-mail, and always have.  It's so that there's a time stamp on our communications and we can reference them if necessary.  In general, no one reads those e-mails; it's just a way for us to time stamp them.  I certainly am not trying to make you look bad, and this e-mails don't reflect badly on you at all.

What I was thinking: Yeah, I do have a problem with you.  I have a really big problem with the way you're talking to me right now, dickhead.
  • "These policies are fucking retarded."  (ACTUAL, VERBATIM QUOTE!)
What I said: I'm sorry you don't like it.  Although not all policies are necessarily convenient or efficient for every individual lab, it's important for us to maintain consistency throughout the institution, and these policies are best for the largest number of people.

What I was thinking: USC is hosting the Summer Special Olympics this month, you fucking asshole!  Did you seriously just talk to me like that?  This is a place of business, not the Warped Tour, you psychopathic worm!  If you want to be taken seriously, don't talk like a sullen preteen who's about to get sent to his room without any chocolate pudding.
  • "It's just common sense!  I mean, come on!  You KNOW what the ID number is.  Why can't you just give us a break?"
What I said: We do not give any lab special privileges.  Everyone is expected to adhere to the same policies all the time in every circumstance.  Those policies are there for a reason.

What I was thinking:  In the time it's taking you to have this little tantrum, you could have already printed up a new ID card and fixed the error.  But, hey, I'm not going to tell you how to use your time, Mr. Ph.D.

In the end he wore himself out and cried for his juice.

He carried on for about 30 or 40 minutes.  I wanted to ask the lab manager if he spoke to her like that, and whether she found his reaction both immature and completely unprofessional.  Fortunately, working at Macy's for a year or two in college prepared me to deal with assholes like this and I just kept reassuring him that his lab gets treated EXACTLY THE SAME as all others and no, I have no personal issues with him.  Although I sort of do after being spoken to like that, obviously.  Don't need a Ph.D. to figure that one out.

I later informed my supervisor.  He told me I didn't have to deal with that and should have walked away, but I'm glad I did, for two reasons:

1) I de-escalted the situation, which demonstrated my leadership abilities and also helped out my supervisor in the long run.  If I'd let him go to my supervisor hysterical, I feel like it would have been an even bigger mess.  And I think my handling of it reflected really well on me (as well on me as it did poorly on him).  More importantly...

2)  I stood up to a bully.  The lab in question hires a LOT of young women and I get the impression they do not respect young women very much.  I may be small, attractive, and quite female, but I'm not going to let the likes of them boss me around.  He was clearly trying to intimate me and I didn't back down; he stood too close, and I stared him in the eye and said, "No, this is the way we do things, and this is how it's going to be."  Having a tantrum as a grown-ass man isn't going to get you your way, and disrespecting me doesn't do anything except make everyone feel embarrassed for you.

Being an adult isn't about how you look, but how you carry yourself and treat the lesser of your peers.  
To drive this point home, I wear pigtails and a pug onesie as often as possible.

Other stuff: I am now training for a marathon.  Ditching Jack has opened a TON of free time for me, which is great.  I watched the first season of True Detective, started writing again, started crocheting again, and I'm running a lot.  I've lost over 15 pounds!

So to sum up the month in terms of points:

Days sober: 42

Friendships rekindled: 1

Friendships lost: 1

Motorcycle repairs made: 2 (would be three, but the fork seals are leaking again)

Bullies stood up to: 1

Miles run: 2+ without an inhaler.

Chickens molested: 5+

 ♪ ♫    Jeepers, creepers... where'd I get these peepers..   ♪ ♫ 

Total points according to my convoluted happiness algorithm: + 18

I'm happy again!  Wooooooo!  It was a long couple of months, but this month, I've really felt better.  So suck it, depression!

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