Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stay Inside

I dreamed I was walking along a high wide wall and when I got to the end and turned around to go back, the wall had narrowed to a sliver, and I was frozen with panic, I didn't know how to place my steps to find my way back.

I dreamed I fell into a highway and a truck rolled over me, and I caught and held the chassis as it moved, wedging my feet against an exhaust pipe, and then I was stuck there underneath the metal body, breathing the poisonous fumes, unable to fall and roll to safety on the blur of road rushing past.

What does it all mean?

I called in sick today. This was wise. I am so very raw and weary, running on fumes, tears right at the brim, and maybe someone might have dropped a straw onto my shoulder today and I would have just snapped. Yesterday, a freelance designer pitched a fit because she was asked to redesign a page, and she told me in the most scathing tone, as if I were a transgressing five year old, that she did not like to do things twice and we editors needed to get our act together and communicate from the start the layout needs of a story.

I looked at her with a quizzical smile on my face, not quite believing she was speaking to me in this way. I told her the that the piece had been in its final form for days, and all she needed to do was check out the file and she would have been able to design from live copy. She spat out something about how someone should have told her that and when she was done I said to her, my voice determinedly calm, I hear what you are saying, I get your frustration, but we are all working very hard here and there is a certain civility with which we should address each other, and your tone is entirely uncalled for.

She looked at me, a baleful glare. You think I was uncivil in my tone? she challenged. Maybe she thought she would scare me. Yes, I said, holding her stare. Your tone was completely unnecessary and extremely rude. She glared at me for a beat or two longer and then she said, Well then, I apologize. I said thank you and walked away.

Here's the thing. I wanted to yell and scream at her, how fucking dare you? I wouldn't, of course. My parents were extremely diligent about the tapes they laid down in my consciousness about how one conducts oneself in a conflict. You never resort to swearing, my mother always emphasized. The minute you curse you have lost the argument. You can use much richer language than curse words.

Yesterday, I thanked God for those tapes.

Ten minutes later one of the art directors was at my door. I heard about your exchange, he said. How did you hear, I asked him. Is she over there talking about it? As far as I was concerned, I had said my piece, she had apologized and it was over. The art director explained that another designer had overheard us and had come to him, and now he wanted to brainstorm with me because he had been trying all day to figure out how to tell this freelancer to tone down her attitude. Really, he just wanted to vent with someone he thought would be sympathetic to his frustration. I was happy to let him vent because how do you go into someone's place of employment as a freelancer and act this way? Not cool.

All the same, I appreciated that she was completely frontal in her attack, because that allowed me to be as direct in responding to it. All day another person we work with had been engaged in his usual passive aggressive attempts to dominate and control, and I do not fancy people trying to dominate and control me, especially when I think what they are proposing is just plain wrong. It took so much energy to address his arguments in said civil manner,  and maybe that's why I was so furious with the freelancer, because if I was killing myself to be civil with this idiot, by God she needed to reach for a little civility with me, too. (Yes, I realize I have equated myself with the idiot and undermined my own argument.)


Anyway, staying inside today is completely necessary and called for. I am going to hide out in my house and try to recharge, because if I walk out there today, so raw and skinless and exposed, I might lose sight of my larger purpose, all the reasons I keep on.


  1. Good! You are taking care of yourself. You are aware of how close to the edge you are.
    I am taking a day "off" as well. I will be thinking of you. I will be hoping you are able to reach a place of calm.
    I think you handled that exchange very, very well, by the way. I admire you for that.

  2. You are so wise. It takes everything out of one to do what you did.

    I wish for peace and calm and continued strength for you.

    As a complete aside, the writing in this post is so beautiful, crystal-clear. Bravo on the art of it!

  3. Yes, yes, yes, take a day off! I should have. I'm raw like that today as well.

    I think you handled the situation fabulously - and I agree that I would much rather handle direct aggression than that nasty passive aggressive crap (which is NOT to be confused with acting professionally with everybody, even when they annoy the hell out of me).

  4. Ms. Moon, there is a Florida style thunderstorm outside, sudden and furious, and i am so happy to be in my house, enjoying it.

    Elizabeth, thank you! especially for the wishes for peace and calm.

    NOLA darling (I always want to say that! it's from the movie She's Gotta Have It), you are so on point! Nailed it.

  5. beautifully done Angela. hope you have a wonderful and refreshing day.

  6. Wow, what a riveting exchange and god I'm proud of you and wish some of that would rub off.

    Good on you. Take care of yourself. You shine.

  7. Yolie, i've been thinking about you down there near mary moon, visiting family. i send love.

    Deirdre, thank you but really i haven't been shining much and the real wonder if that i managed to hold it together till i could get the heck out of dodge. the jungle is made of concrete and glass. i need some of your kind of nature, i think.

  8. was my stomach clenching eavesdropping on this horror scene. you have NO idea how much i hate those types of work conflicts and how when i got into them in the few times i couldnt avoid them, how utterly uncool i behaved. unlike lovely, gracious, civilized you. but i understand completely how much it takes from you to 'handle' something like that. i hope you are having a lovely cozy bathrobe day. xoxox
    (PS: loved your allusion to She's Gotta Have It...!)

  9. Angella, if you only knew the tapes that my parents laid down in my consciousness, it would turn your hair grey.
    I should have taken off too today.
    Hope it was beneficial.

  10. I am very glad you stayed home. And I am very happy of the way you handled her. How rude. Isn't funny that most people take nice manners and politeness for weaknesses. I do like that you wrote the f word. Made me smile.

  11. susan, i wonder if i had turned out to be more messy whether i would have posted about it. i think i would have, actually. i think i need a week of cozy bathrobe days! it went too fast. i always love to see you here. i know you get the work i do too. we share that.

    mark, my brother, my hair is already partly grey, not that you can tell! hope the weekend gets her quickly for you.

    Miss A, i dont use cuss words in an argument usually, but sometimes they are the most expressive words you can reach for. they have been known to jump out of my mouth all on their own! i love it when you smile.

  12. She should be lucky she has a job! I've known designers who feel so entitled. If you are working for a publication that usually prints stories and you are asked to design for that specific publication - you can probably bet there's going to be a story involved - yeesh!

  13. So glad I found this post a day late. It's just what I need to hear right now.

  14. Good for you for taking a much needed mental health day! URGHHH, I cannot tell you how much I wanted to pinch that woman's head off as I read your words! I am glad that you kept your composure and that she ended up looking like the fool that she is!

    You, too, are a goddess, my friend;)

    Biggest hugs.

  15. Oooooo you have just reminded me why I am glad I am 'retired'. I think you deserve a gold star and a koala stamp for being so professional and self-controlled. And a glitzy kangaroo for having the sense to take a TDO (therapeutic day off) when you needed it. I hope that it helped.

    Isabel xx