I’m just doing my job

“Are we having a meeting about how big Emily’s file sizes are?” 

“What?” 

“Emily sent a huge file through WeTransfer the other day. It’s too big. People don’t delete things off their computers and it takes up a lot of space. I’m not making fun of you for it. We just need to send lower res files to China.” 

I refrained from rolling my eyes.

“Oooookay…whatever.” Our Director dismiss him and with a hand wave sent him away. 

Design files can be large. We send large files all the time to our team in China via WeTransfer that are high quality in hopes it doesn’t cause any more barriers in communication than there already are. Our Director wasn’t going to sweat it. Still, the fact that this Engineer came down to the first floor and interrupted our meeting to “not poke fun at me” really upset me. Were we not clearly talking shop in a meeting? Was I supposed to respond well to that? Was I supposed to be offended? What was the point of making an example of this? Why bring it up? 

He happened to be CCd on one of the e-mails I sent to China two weeks earlier. It was a file full of warning labels to go on a newly manufactured product. He sent me a private e-mail saying:

“Thanks for your work on this. This file size is huge!” 

“Yeah, it is. Design files usually are when you drop more files into them. Would you like me to send you a smaller low res one for your records?” 

“No, that’s okay.” 

Literally the entire thread of e-mails. The last I had heard of the whole thing, up until this meeting when he so rudely let himself in and announced it as if it was some kind of ongoing problem. Ignoring that he spoke over someone. Ignoring the half closed door. 

There are very few times in life that I can count, where in the moment of conflict I felt very personally attacked and offended. Most of those occurred with my brothers who know how to push my buttons just right. I take what I do seriously, but I don’t take myself very seriously. So things even out in time, or I just push it down passive aggressively and deal with it on my own later. But in public, and in general, it takes a lot to get me offended. Though, lately with how anxious and hypersensitive I have become, it’s happening more frequently that I’m minorly offended or bothered by something in the moment and I express it but after a couple days it goes away and I can get back to my life again. 

This for some reason brought that offense up a notch. I was livid. Embarrassed to be made an example of over something I knew no one else could care about, but for some particular reason this Wednesday at 10 am….I cared. I was being called out over something trivial…no…less than trivial…something down right stupid. After all, why was it my responsibility to make file sizes smaller for people who forget to delete them? There is something called “in window preview” that allows you to look at the file online and never need to put it on your computer. Also, is it not the computer users job to be responsible for their own divice’s data space? Why is that my responsibility?

It’s not. It’s not my responsibility. I just need to let it go and let it die. No one else is bothered by it. I shouldn’t be either. Besides, I’m new. I’m still learning. I ought to give myself grace, since others clearly are not. I’ll get over it. I know I will. It just pokes a little bit more today. 

Great Creative Expectations

https://embed.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius

I keep forgetting this TEDtalk exists. I had seen it first when I was in college learning to cope with the high expectations of creativity: that you have this creative resivoir that never ran dry and always pumped out good ideas. I had been taking 22 credit hours to graduate at the time. It was a stressful, anxiety ridden, and all around confusing semester. My boyfriend had gotten kicked out of school and had to head back to California while I navigated my final semester on my own. I felt abandoned. Unsure. And all around used between my relationship that was long distance, and the demands of being a graphic design student in her final semester.

I had logged on to TED.com and just went to the category “Creativity” and just let it play through the videos randomly. This particular video had struck me so deeply that I remember feeling a sudden and complete sigh of relief. Going to a Christian school had its benefits, and the source of my creativity was one of them. God was the Creator who made me creative, and all my creativity was a source from Him. What a wonderful and reassuring affirmation.

I had forgotten about it, as I often do in my humanness. 

I was at work today when I heard it again. It was a stressful, anxiety ridden, and all around confusing Tuesday. My creative juices exhausted as I attempted to come up with more and more variations of a package design for a product just new to the market. “A culinary innovation” I had thought, but then rejected for its cliche nature and discarded with the rest of my bad ideas. I needed feedback from our marketing director, who, of course, had blown me of for the past few days, and I was sure would do so again. 

I turned on TED.com for some videos on food. A desperate attempt to come up with some kind of revolutionary idea. Of course, I didn’t come up with anything. Instead I sat staring at the screen in hopes something would just come to me. A couple adjustments and mistakes were corrected, and as the talks kept speaking, I found myself less working on the project and desperate to be doing something else. The videos were relevant to my job after all, so who could really yell at me? Eventually I started clicking on videos in the side bar, craving information that was outside of my usual everyday, and looking for a challenge. Looking to learn something new.

I was about 5 videos into my listening when I played the video, and about five minutes into viewing it I had recalled having heard this talk before. As she spoke that sense of relief came over me again, but not in a religious or supernatural way (though that is still largely a part of my life), but in knowing I was one of a collaborative team. 

Collaboration is another buffer creatives can maintain to protect them from the stress, high expectations, and struggle of creativity. Being one of a group of people working towards the same goal certainly takes the pressure off. It makes sucesses more fun. It makes losses less burdensome. It makes the artists more humble knowing their work was part of a contribution, and it gives the artist an awareness that full credit cannot come to them for each success. They were part of a bigger story, a contributing part, but not the only contributing part. 

So as I sat in my chair, fully aware of how far behind this package design was, hearing my e-mails chime as they came in from the factory in China wondering how all that is going…I realized I can only go so far as my contribution allows. If we as a team are working together, I had to wait for the together part of it. I have exhausted my resources. I showed up for my part, and my marketing director had a lot of other parts he had to show up for too. So my job was as done as it could be until I got feedback. The pressure was off. I had done all I could do, and I was so thankful to find this TEDtalk again. 

I Suck at Friendship

I saw that she had tried to call me, about 15 min after we were supposed to speak. I had planned and reschedule on her already for our phone call, but once again, my brain failed me. Not that I had forgotten this time, but I had laid down for a nap with every intention of calling her on time, then proceeded to sleep through the alarm, then proceeded to wake up thinking I had woken up in time, then proceeded to fall back to sleep. I had felt terribly about it upon realizing that I had missed her call. So much so that I texted her back and tried to make up the lost time. 

Before I was married, I hardly forgot or missed a date. Now, it’s like I can’t set a date to save my life. I forget about it or I double book it or I just can’t seem to get myself together enough to make it on time. The worst part of it all, is that if I fuck up my own social life, I fuck up my husband’s. He knows so few people, and I’m the only one who contacts anyone to hang out because of it. His social life is entirely dependent on me. The introvert of the two of us. Ironic. 

I feel like I’m unintentionally pushing people away. I want to see them. I want to spend time with them. I care and love them very much. I just am so sucky at keeping plans since I got married. What’s worse is that I promised I wouldn’t do this to people. I promised that my marriage wouldn’t make me fall off the face of the earth, because it had hurt my feelings so much to have my friends do it to me. Yet, I’m so tired being at the beck and call of my workplace and then having to come home and be at the beck and call of my husband. There really is no such thing as introverting and down time anymore. I can’t have days where all I do is nap without interruption. I can’t have the silence, or the daydreaming I used to, or at least, not the same quality of it. It’s like my brain can never refresh fully because the presence of another human being is there, forever. It’s weird. I don’t like it. 

Part of me hopes this is temporary. Another part of me knows it isn’t. My husband is having a difficult time making friends of his own in the area. So he relies on me to make them for him. So here I am juggling the social life of an extrovert. Tired. Exhausted even. Neglecting my friends who are single for the couples I had so long also been neglected by until I was no longer single. I feel like I’ve only been married for a few months and the only respite I got out of it was a buissness meeting to IL(which was super fun and I really ought to write a blog post about it, but I’m not sure I’ll get to it), which doesn’t sound relaxing at all, but was a nice step outside of my husband’s life for an overnight, and a refreshing step back into my own world. A very clear step of only having to worry about myself again. The way it used to be. 

All that sounds super selfish. I’ll admit it probably is. Which makes me feel like a shitty person. I don’t feel like I should play mother like this. I don’t feel like I should be responsible for my husband’s play dates. I’m hardly good at being responsible for my own. To be honest I really haven’t had my own play date in a long time. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I need to have my own separate friends again, the ones who aren’t another couple. Individuals I can keep in touch with and have all my own. Knowing myself though, I’d probably forget those dinner dates and such as well. Maybe I’m just destined to be a shitty friend forever. 

Deadlines, Assembly lines, and Waistlines 

Since starting my full-time job as a graphic designer, I’ve found myself relying on reading energy. The energy of people, the energy of a room, the energy of collaboration. Trying to gauge how much energy people are investing into projects. Much of the energy of my investment, has gone into cooking with my team. Yes. Cooking. I work for a company that manufactures and sells kitchen appliances. Lots of them. Under several nameplates and in many different stores internationally. 

Today we spent the afternoon going over the care and use guide (also known as a CUG in our line of work). We have an air cooker, which is basically a table top oven of sorts that works best when trying to make frozen foods like fries, nuggets, egg rolls etc… anything you could bake or fry, but without the oil. The collaboration was simple. Get the manufacturing specs together and the engineering notes, throw in (or make up) the names of parts, act out the step-by-step of the process and write it out, throw in the warnings as you come across probable and improbable issues, and hit the ground rolling. Then you eat whatever you make while you type up the findings into a cute little booklet that gets revised 50 times in multiple languages (in our case English and French) before getting mass printed well after the deadline and stuffed into a box for absolutely no one to read. Because who really reads the CUG? 

The food is pretty much the only incentive of the process. Of course, that doesn’t help my waistline. What also doesn’t help my waistline is the fact that I now work a desk job and eat food at work. On top of that…all employees of the company get to check out a product from the product library fresh off the assembly line and available to the public or not. True story. So say…I want to borrow the top selling company dehydrator from the product library. I just go to customer service. Fill out the paperwork and say….I want it for three months. Just put in the date three months from the day I pick it up…and there you go. I have a dehydrator for three months so I can interact with the products we sell without having to purchase the product unless I want to. When I’m ready to purchase the product? I get a discount. A steep discount. 

All this, paired with me trying to take more insulin unlike before, has made me gain ten pounds. I can’t say I’m very happy about that. My weight has been something I became more and more conscious of in college, and now that I’m out of college, it’s become something my attention fixated on, especially since I had lost so much weight due to diabetic complications. I liked being smaller. I liked people noticing how much I lost. Even if I didn’t like how I lost it, I liked the result…..a little too much. Now, I work in a food oriented business, and while I’ve never considered myself fat….I know I am a person who enjoys eating. A little too much. And since eating a little too much and enjoying being skinny a little too much,  I find myself fixated so stupidly on my weight, and wanting desperately to go back to “forgetting” to take insulin and lose it all again. 

When did I get this shallow? There are worse things to be than fat! What is wrong with me!?!? When did I focus my own energy into something so silly and superficial as my weight? How did I get so good at reading the energy of everyone else, that I failed to read my own? 

The Call

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today: 

Ive been wanting to ask my fellow Christians an important political question today. As Christians we know that all of the troubles facing our society today are a result of our sinful brokenness. Poverty, oppression, the broken family structure, drug addiction, violence, these all stem from our sinful appetites. 
My question is: why do we look to the government to solve problem that humans by their own nature cannot fix? If the church truly is the body of Christ in this world, why do we look to others to fix the problems that Christ himself addressed. He didn’t condemn Herod or Caesar for not ending slavery or for not caring for the poor. He didn’t demand a minimum wage or free healthcare. He didn’t criticize the Romans violence and oppression. He didn’t come to say those things, and discussion of those topics are for another time. My point is that Christ came to call us to repentance and to a new life of true freedom. Freedom in spite of the brokenness of our world. We can be poor yet rich, broken yet whole, and return good for evil. Why do we expect a politician to do the work of the Holy Spirit? Republican or Democrat if you expect a bunch of men on a hill to accomplish the societal change that can only start with inner revival then you’re out of touch with reality. The Holy Spirit cant just be on Capitol Hill, or in the White House, or written in the law. It must be in the Church. It starts in our homes, on our streets, in our communities, in our hearts.

I suppose I have more questions than answers about this issue he describes prior to asking his point. 

Should we exclusively as churches deal with this issue or should we as Christians vote in candidates who will help steer the government in a direction to take care of people on a mass scale? Which does the most good? Can that even be quantified? I don’t know what the “most good” can even look like in a social climate prone to corruption and destruction. 

In our broken state, and even with the Holy Spirit, doesn’t the same kind of broken affect the Church as well? Wouldn’t that also mean that there is a possibility for corruptibility and if so would it do more harm in the sight of the world and “cause our brothers and sisters to stumble” if the Church to have a slip up? Would that be effective to the cause? Is such a slip up inevitable? Look at the issues of the Catholic Church and all those molestation accusations they had. How many people ran in shame and disappointment then? In counterpoint, those who stayed in the Church, how many forgave the kind of people who committed such atrocities? How does all that reflect on the record? 

In addition, would we run into the problem of the Church being a commodity instead of a spiritual and communal relationship? How does that affect the cause? 

How much has present government influence tied the Church’s hands? 
It’s such a big hot topic issue with so many scenarios and a lot of factors. None of which I think have a definitive or even correct answer. I still wonder if perhaps our fear of these questions and their potential results is what stops the Church from living up to its full potential. 
1 John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 
We have forgotten this. We have forgotten that throwing money at people and actually loving them are two different things. Can we even come back from going so far? Has the revival halted? As Christians, what is stopping us from using the full power of the Holy Spirit? 

Linear 

Every one says

Push forward

Keep going

Don’t look back

That’s not where you’re headed

As if life is linear

They never tell you

That sometimes

You just end up

Working backwards

Or looping back

Or you bring that past

To the future

And make a

Complete circle 

They never tell you that

They lead you to believe

It’s all linear

Finally…

After several months of waiting and waiting, I had thought the ship had sailed. I was convinced and disappointed. It was a great position. Only five minutes from my house. What are the odds of that? Finding a corporate graphic design job only five minutes from my house in a tiny lakeside town very few people in the world had heard of? I thought it was impossible. Still, I waited. Nothing. I waited longer. Nothing. I e-mailed asking how things were going. I got a generic response of noncommittal and affirmation that they were still interviewing. I waited more.

Eventually my wedding came and went. Still nothing. I had given them the dates I would be “away” on my honeymoon, so part of me still hoped that  they were considering me and not counting me out. Still, there was that other part of me whispering that it wouldn’t happen. Not to me. It was too big of a step. Too much for me. There were so many other talents and people asking for less from them financially. Every doubt encircled my heart, and I became discouraged. Still, I was tired from looking for other jobs. I stopped looking. Kept going to work at retail, praying hard that God would open a door somewhere.

“We need another hand in the gift shop, and obviously we thought of you right away. It’d only be short hour, but it would give you a better financial situation.”

I was flattered that the Director of the museum wanted me to switch from volunteer to paid associate. I wanted to say yes, but he inquired about the interviews I had for the design position. I told him honestly that I hadn’t heard anything back, but I wasn’t sure what to expect really.

“There is a part of me that says I ought to wait on this.”

He nodded knowingly. Kindred spirit to my own.

“We can play it by ear, but by saying this, I have a feeling that I’m going to lose you to them. You’re talented and very special.”

I was so encouraged. A fellow designer, professional, and creative twice my senior thought I had what it took. I held on a little while longer to that little glimmer of hope. There was also a bit of relief knowing that even if I didn’t get the design job, money was going to come from somewhere. I wasn’t being left out here, trapped in a position in retail that wasn’t doing anything for me. I had options that would be supplemental, fulfilling, and use my expertise. I thanked God for listening to me, even if it was for a moment.

“Have you heard back from them babe?” My husband asked the evening he came home from his first day at his new job.

“No. The ship has sailed I think. It’s been nearly a month since I last heard anything.”

“You never know though.”

“I do know.”

I didn’t know.

That same evening my iPad told me I had an e-mail notification. It was them.

I got the job.

Androgynous

“I’ve never seen you wear a dress. I guess I just always thought you were androgynous.” 

The statement had stunned me for a bit. I knew I didn’t wear dresses or very obviously femenin clothing really at work much, but I didn’t think I wore it so rarely that others had described me as androgynous. I hardly knew the word but from a few posts here and there on Instagram from people I followed. I had always associated the term with a kind of unisex vibe. People not wanting to be one way or the other. Neutral. Sometimes odd, over-done, or even alien-esq looks, which I have been known to do. 

I’m not mad at all about the label. Just surprised by it.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the term. Mainly because, after googling it, I’ve lived and been defined as an androgynous person in many ways without ever having realized it. My interest are vast. My lifestyle has been independent, even since getting married. I’m a strong personality often associated with being male, and also a nurturing personality as often associated with being more female. I grew up with brothers, watching sci-fi with warriors and strong female leads. Playing Star Wars, Pokémon, Digimon, and Transformers. I was repulsed by romance novels and romantic comedies. I liked action and suspense. I liked drama and tragedy. I liked thrillers and the films that often made people WTF. I grew up being one of the guys. Defined as a female with male tastes. Having more male than female friends. Even being called one of the bros. Whatever that even means. 

 Honestly, I think the pants and the short hair are really the strongest indicators of something close to androgynous about me. I keep my hair short because it’s easy to maintain curly short hair than it is with long curls. I enjoy doing my makeup, but don’t often wear dresses. I prefer button ups, leather jackets, blazers, and hoodies over dresses, skirts, lace, and sparkle, but only because it’s usually impractical for me to wear dresses in most occasions, especially at work. I wear heels when I can and tennis shoes when it is comfortable. I love glittery makeup and dramatic lipstick. I love lacy bras and panties. Getting my nails done. Things that tend to be described as distinctly female and feminine are still my forte. 

I hardly think any of this is really something I could label as androgynous though. Mainly because I get the impression that androgyny seems as though it ought to be intentional, and consistent. Something you identify yourself as. A lifestyle choice. Maybe even a sexuality if one could go so far as to say. I feel what I do fashion wise is more a combination of eclectic and modern. I mean, the entierty of fashion seems to be male driven when one thinks about it, especially since WWII when more women entered into the army and were wearing a similar variation of the male uniform simply because it was practical, and women back home started taking on more male dominated jobs and needed more practical clothes to wear. Fashion was driven that direction for women then, and the sexual revolution did more to encourage fashion that way along with feminism, when women were beginning to strive to be more than just objects of pleasure, but actual people with shit to get done and needing practical clothes in which to do it. 

My tastes in media and fashion are also what I would define as eclectic. Merely preferences. Perhaps influences by enjoying a childhood with two brothers. Perhaps not. Not an intentional statement, just a personal one. Though I’m sure one could argue that androgyny is also a personal statement. In which case we could leave it all at that and nix labels altogether. However, I can see how my coworker thought I could be androgynous. If a person needs a label to organize their world, referring to me as androgynous is a better label than most things.