six reasons wee bee should never arrive early for a flight

1. the dreaded shoulder-bag, back-neck-shoulder-ache while confounded by a layover gone awry incident:

photo(18)that would be a halliburton zero, lifetime warranty, fits-under-the-seat rolly-bag.

side note: wee bee is not 100% sure if it is “rolly,” “rollie,” or “roly,” but she dislikes “roller” and google was no help on this issue.

2. the “i’m starving” situations:

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3. the noisy-airport and delayed-connecting-flight, $15 vs $150 ear-buds dilemma:

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4. the various bookstore shenanigans:

photo(26)photo(25)

5. the “i see a bar” confounding conversations:

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and last, probably not least, but the very latest…

6. the “i’m just going to look at some sunglasses” catastrophe:

photo(21)photo(22)

how to be an aunt

wee bee knows there are a lot of “how-to’s” out there, but not nearly as many about being a successful superhero aunt as a father, mother, co-parent, grandparent, sibling, or single parent. it seems as though if you don’t have kids, have kids who have kids, or are a kid yourself, you don’t really need to know how to get along with the really tiny humans.

well world, fuck you.

wee bee has been an aunt for about eight years now. admittedly, she was terrified of this for a long time. to be an aunt while still in high school seemed unreal. to be an aunt while in her late teens and early twenties seemed terrifying. but as she got older, and the number of tiny humans calling her “aunty” kept on multiplying, wee bee realized she wanted to make the most of this. she may not have children of her own and besides, who doesn’t want to be “the cool aunt”? you know, the aunt that the parents fear visits from because she is a total disruption of the parenting routines and styles and diets? the aunt that the tiny humans fight over, wanting the most amount of time and shenanigans all to themselves? the aunt that is not only listened to as possessing some divine authority but then is loved and treated as one of the tiny humans themselves (just slightly – emphasis on slightly – bigger)?

thankfully, during this epic stage of wee bee’s life, wee bee has conquered her fears of the tiny humans and has become what she never thought she’d be: the cool aunt. in her first years of being an aunt, she was a stumbling fool, first afraid to hold the infants for fear of dropping them and then later, unsure of how to interact with these miniature persons at all besides forced expressions similar to those she’s seen of others dealing with tiny humans. she resigned herself to the status of “just aunt.” brother bee #2 was the cool uncle, and wee bee was the weird sibling of brother bee #1 that came along for holidays.

all of that is now in the past. wee bee no longer feels distressed or worried but sublimely grateful for her position. she is aunty to four tiny humans. that’s right, she has four nephews, ranging from ages 8 down to 2. three of her nephews are from brother bee #1 and the fourth is brother bee #2’s.

although wee bee and brother bee #2 have had some serious differences in the past, and she has ongoing struggles with his personhood to this day, it seems as though nephew #4 has been a bridge and, on top of it, a true starting point for her climbing status as the cool aunt.

you see, when brother bee #2 presented wee bee with yet another nephew, it wasn’t as if anything about wee bee’s fears or apprehensions had much changed since any of the last tiny humans were born into her family. the one thing that was different though was how brother bee #2 handled wee bee’s aunt status, and it made all the difference.

with her first three nephews, wee bee was not only like a fish out of water, but because of her sister-in-law and brother bee #1’s deferment to her authority, wee bee was made to feel that she in fact could not handle being an aunt whatsoever. the one singular time her sister-in-law allowed wee bee to look after her nephews alone was during a crisis whereby sister-in-law had to rush out, but of course, not before making sure wee bee knew full well sister-in-law felt wee bee was incapable of watching over the tiny humans and was merely a last resort.

brother bee 2 was completely opposite.

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so brother bee 2 left wee bee with her youngest nephew from the outset and pretty quickly, wee bee realized babies weren’t so terrifying after all. she loved her time with baby nephew, and never felt like his parents were hawks waiting to descend on her for poor oversight of their child. if she didn’t know what to do, she googled. if google failed, she called or asked around. this made a huge difference, and by the time she were to see her trio batch of nephews from brother bee #1, wee bee felt pretty confident in telling her sis-in-law to just chill the fuck out.

in addition, because it was offered for only two dollars and wee bee has heard of this book so many times but never read it, she purchased and read the book “how to win friends and influence people” on her new kindle paperwhite. it was one of a few books she bought in preparation for the bee family vacation to disneyworld and associated awesomeness, and she had ample time to read it on her plane rides to orlando. wee bee isn’t much one for the “self-help” genre and doesn’t totally agree with everything in the book, and has some general qualms with things in the book, but nothing too severe. she felt it was a pretty good summary of being a good person and an effective tool for reminding yourself how to be one when maybe you start to slip up. so, since her oldest nephews are not only old enough to be extremely conversational but are also well beyond their years in many respects, wee bee decided to remind herself of the things she read in this book and test them out on her eldest nephews to see what happened. in fact, even just reminding herself of a few very basic things and using them with her nephews helped turn the family trip into a wonderful time of love and fun for wee bee and her nephews. here were some of the simple things she did differently:

usually, wee bee’s eldest nephew rambles and rambles about different topics which are of interest to him, and only occasionally looks up to check that you are listening, at which point everyone sort of nods and gives an “uh-huh” or other generic answer. so this time, wee bee really did want to know what he was rambling about. she hardly knows what to give her nephews as gifts because, well, she doesn’t get much time with them. so she allowed herself to realize she needed to treat them as she would a new friend, and not somebody she’s related to and therefore should already know. after all, what did her nephews know about her? relatively little. but by the end of the vacation, wee bee and her two eldest nephews knew much more about each other, surprising things and even some secrets.

instead of allowing the eldest of the nephews to ramble, unable to keep up, wee bee constantly asked questions and would even bend down or ask for clarification. if he continued to ramble, she would pick something within his zone of rambling, and ask him for the answer (“what is the scientific name given to the dodo bird?”). this would cause him to not only slow down and figure out the answer, but to feel excited that someone else wasn’t just nodding and otherwise not paying attention, which he is smart enough to understand.

now, nephews 1 & 2 are extremely different, which at first seemed to make things easy for wee bee, thinking they just had different needs from her as aunty, but she realized quickly they would become jealous of the type of attention the other got. for example, nephew #2 is extremely outgoing, rambunctious and affectionate. he won’t wait for you to offer your hand – he will offer his. he will ask to be picked up, to be cuddled, to lay his head on you or for help getting through a particularly difficult spot of a lazy river. this quality was extremely comforting to wee bee, who is not always the same. she is more like nephew #1 – head in the skies, talkative but intellectual, and affectionate but independent and would prefer not to initiate any type of hand-holding. he is also stubborn. so it came as a real shock when suddenly this nephew despaired that his younger brother was “hogging” aunt bee. and likewise his brother despaired that aunt bee may hold his hand and go on all the rides with him but she mostly gives her attention to his older brother.

for the simple reason that they were totally different tiny humans, wee bee hadn’t realized she needed to give them the same kinds and amount of attention, just in different ways. for her oldest nephew, she had to initiate affection – picking him up and snatching him for a ride; grabbing hold of his hand too as they were pummeled in the wave pool; grabbing him and twirling him good night before they went to bed and before he could protest. likewise, she had to initiate thoughtful dialogue with her second-eldest nephew, who it turned out had tons to say if only asked. so she carefully reminded herself every day that while her nephews were different, they needed the same things from her. and very quickly they would put her in the middle of them and she would have to tell them to let the other talk now or to have his turn and there was remarkably little fighting involved. they both knew it wasn’t a competition.

one of the things wee bee tried out, which is explained in detail in the book and is something she tries to keep in mind anyway but hadn’t thought too deeply about previously, was “sorry.” the effect that “sorry” had on her eldest nephews was instant and so profound, wee bee realized right then and there she needed to say it more often. it’s true that we take things for granted, whether it be the understanding of our faults by other people or the mere tolerance of them by children for the fact that we are older. but the impact of sincerely apologizing is so simple to do and has such an effect, it’s ridiculous we don’t do it more often.

wee bee, for example, is an extreme grump in early mornings when being woken up. she knows that everyone in her family knows this. but, after a few splendid days with her family on vacation, when her nephews tried in vain to wake her, with her eldest nephew telling his brother to just let her sleep and be quiet, and finally the second-eldest nephew getting it set in his mind to wake up his aunt bee, wee bee was extremely grouchy. later in the morning, as she was becoming more fully awake and normalized, reading on the back patio of the place where they were staying, her two oldest nephews came out to sit with her.

wee bee: hey, i want you to know that i’m sorry i was a real grump to you guys this morning.

nephew #2 (sharing a look of total shock with his older brother): are you for serious right now or are you just being sarcastic?

wee bee: no, i’m serious. i’m really grumpy in the mornings when i’m woken up and i’m sorry that i snapped at you. i’m thankful that you woke me up though so i didn’t miss time with everyone today.

the nephew bees exchanged flabbergasted looks and brimmed. wee bee was serious and they knew it, and wee bee isn’t sure if they had ever received an honest apology from an adult that they could remember. they clambered up with wee bee outside and talked a little more, wee bee explaining that she isn’t good with mornings to begin with and that there’s a time difference — the latter fact one that greatly intrigued her eldest nephew. he expressed a sincere gestalt moment at why wee bee always had such a hard time getting awake in the mornings when she came to visit them, understanding now that their mornings were the middle of her usual nights.

a sincere apology alone was enough to make her second nephew content and brimming, but the explanation of why she was apologizing and the culprit behind what she did were what really mattered to her eldest nephew. so wee bee learned to do both. likewise, going back to the issue of outward affection, wee bee learned that sometimes it was simply enough to ask or suggest to her eldest nephew that he, too, snuggle up with her and his younger brother. he didn’t always want to, but he always wanted to know that it was an option he was free to take or decline. and her second-eldest nephew wanted constant affection and cuddles, and sometimes wee bee needed to decline due to heat or other reasons, but her declining was never met with a tantrum or too low a head, so long as she expressed her sincerest apologies as to why she couldn’t, at that particular moment, reciprocate his desire for this or that.

wee bee has a great deal of respect for tiny humans now because previously, although she knew generally that they were tiny humans, she didn’t understand the extent to which they were really just tiny humans. she spent nearly the entire vacation learning from them, and was able to explain things or express things in ways they not only went along with, but truly appreciated and understood. when her eldest nephew refused to attempt drawing a shark after completing everything else on his kids menu, telling her that he simply couldn’t draw, wee bee explained that she couldn’t draw when she was his age either. this confused both of her nephews, since one of the few things they knew about her was that she draws and paints. so she explained how, when she was young and placed in second grade when actually in first, the second graders teased her and teased her about her stick figures. this piqued the interest of her second nephew, who wanted to know why anyone would tease his aunt bee and what she did about it, and it piqued the interest of her eldest nephew to know that she used to be terrible at drawing and wanted to know how she learned. so she explained that instead of getting upset about being teased — which didn’t make anything better — she realized that the second graders couldn’t tease her if she drew well.

nephew 1: but how did you learn to draw?

wee bee: i got books from the library, starting with cartoons, and taught myself. pa hat even took me around town to draw different buildings, or get old reels of the paintings of famous artists and we’d sit all day going through them and learning things.

nephew 2: so the other kids didn’t tease you anymore?

wee bee: well, they still teased me when they could, but it was mostly about being small and not about my drawing skills anymore.

nephew 2: did you get better than them at drawing?

wee bee: much better. i devoted a lot of my free time to drawing.

nephew 2 (getting excited): did you rub it in their faces like because they were wrong?

wee bee (laughing): no, they were completely right about my drawings at first. i was terrible. but when i got better, i just kept learning because i found i liked it. pretty soon they were asking me to help draw things for them, too.

nephew 1 (after spending a fair amount of time mulling this over in his head): you actually started to like drawing?

wee bee: i loved it; still do.

nephew 1 (asks a few more questions to figure out how wee bee learned to draw – the technicalities and process): i’m going to take drawing lessons soon actually from mr. [teacher]. i think i’d like to be better too.

there were many instances like this throughout the bee vacation, and wee bee is beyond thankful for them. for through her nephews she has learned many things she was uncertain she ever would. she learned how to think in terms of the tiny humans; how to respect them as not just tiny humans but as individuals. and most of all, how to wholeheartedly love and be loved by the newest generation of her family. wee bee’s nephews taught her how to properly be a buzzing, happy, and in-demand aunty bee. and for that, she is eternally grateful.

your original facebook

so the wordpress bees want to know what the most ridiculous thing you are hanging onto is. something maybe nostalgic from your past, some photos of a previous relationship that went terribly south but damn, those photos were professional and you can’t bear to light ‘em up like you should? perhaps an old exam you failed (or aced)? maybe even, like a proper writer, as proper writers will do, that massive collection of rejection letters you’ve been hoarding in your inbox or a folder somewhere (someday, oh yes, someday you will show them all).

alas, no. you are all wrong. wee bee would like to clarify the exact thing nearly all of us have in common, that thing which we should probably scrap entirely and start anew:

your facebook account.

photo(15)wee all know we should take it down, or at the very least, get rid of those photos, but can’t. wee bee knows of some people who have managed this, but they are few and far from the normal. whenever you hear somebody tell you this, that they deleted their original account, most likely you have a feeling of panic and disbelief.

how could anyone possibly do such a thing?

the initial, immediate panic is usually promptly followed by awe.

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truth is, we should all probably do the same. we know it. nobody has to tell us about the many, not only unprofessional but downright embarrassing photos in which we are tagged, looking like total freaks, alcoholics, etc. yet we cannot let go. instead, we carefully build around our facebook. if a coworker wants to be friends on facebook, we spend an extraordinary time block perusing theirs first, trying to see if theirs is as incriminating. then we peruse their friends to see if they are friends with people who have similarly incriminating facebooks. if not, we issue an apology such as:

it’s not that i don’t want to be friends with you; i just keep my profile private.

you aren’t fooling anybody with this. it is collective knowledge. we know the reason why our coworker refuses our request and we know that this or that coworker knows exactly why you are turning down theirs. it’s okay though, because if they can’t see your profile, they can’t prove a thing. maybe you really do have “a thing” about only having close friends on facebook. what’s it to them?

and if we dare to accept or initiate a work-friend facebook friend request, or any friend request with someone who isn’t actually a close friend, we do so cautiously and with both facebook messaging and in-person confrontation.

because as incriminating as your facebook is, nobody better be showing the damn supervisor that on your “sick” day, you were actually posting on your blog as you drank from a 2oz bottle of pre-made white russian liquor you purchased from walmart just to get away from her constant bitching and that god-forsaken data entry project.

the end.

how to be allergic to your house and blind in one eye

wee bee is admittedly guilty of “reading the cosmos” for signs. she is convinced there are many signs if only you are willing to accept the possibility they might exist to guide you. as she got older, she rationalized this with the use of quantum physics. quantum physics would allow for the possibility that things can exist (dead people, other random beings in the universe, whatever) in other, more complex spatial and possibly temporal dimensions, and all we would be able to perceive are the minute, 3-dimensional effects of these larger events which are otherwise imperceptible.

as some of you know, wee bee has written a novel. she finished the first draft almost exactly one year ago. she sort of let it sit there, existing, waiting, expecting something to happen (don’t worry, she still understands this is flawed logic and not generally the way to get things done, and strongly suggests you don’t live your life this way). she would, for lack of a better simile, poke and prod at her novel from time to time, but mostly she just had a novel draft. sometimes, for no real reason, she would poke ferociously and think she was actually getting places with the novel draft, but it rarely lasted. she even began to think that maybe she wouldn’t finish it, that she’d never polish it up and sell it. she hadn’t given up; she just didn’t know. she applied to harvard. got a job at a university. wee bee began to think she was maybe going to end up being just like every other normal person on the planet who doesn’t write or paint or do anything much artistic except maybe in their spare time. she applied for jobs she knew would wreck her ability to have free time, jobs which would make her so worn out at the days’ and weeks’ ends that she’d be incapable of doing much else.

she did not get any of those jobs.

she did not go to harvard.

and one night, seemingly as simple as any other night, wee bee got a text message from mamma bee. brother bee #1 was being called upon by his nation to go serve nine months in afghanistan.

some people might think “well, he is in the military.” but they’re wrong. sort of. brother bee #1 did NROTC to pay for college. immediately after graduating he was drafted to work at a desk in washington DC. the navy paid for his master’s. he served his time by going to a desk every day with a shirt and tie and slacks. and when his time was up, he stayed in the reserves to rack up some extra cash and education benefits. when brother bee #2 enlisted in the navy, the bee family knew he would be deployed. but nobody saw brother bee #1’s deployment coming. it tore through wee bee like a weed whacker through tissue paper. she is haunted by visions of a flag folded into a triangle and a smooth, cedar casket so polished she can see her own reflection. she sees her brother’s dead face sometimes, and doesn’t understand why the casket is open. she watches her family fall apart.

the only thing worse than this is that it isn’t at all the reaction she had when brother bee #2 went to iraq. when he deployed, she was devastated. she realized that everything being what it was in her family, they were still her family. yes, wee bee was devastated when brother be #2 deployed. she cried nearly every night. she felt that if god existed, there could be no greater prayer than the tears of a sister waiting each week for that phone call verifying everything was okay. she was hysterical at points, but still, she never saw a casket. she saw pain. she saw her brother coming home a different person, sometimes in a wheelchair, but never dead. and he did come home a different person. he came home filled with anger and even sometimes a look of betrayal, as if his family betrayed him into the situation, forcing his enlistment, and then his country betrayed him. he was broken. in only his early twenties, he had half a dozen hip surgeries, walked with a cane, and was told that he needed a new hip, but nobody was willing to risk giving him one at such a young age. the first time wee bee went to visit him and saw him walking along the streets of san diego with that cane, nothing that had ever transpired between them mattered. he refused to get a disabled parking permit, and hobbled in excruciating steps trying to keep up with his friends and celebrate wee bee’s birthday. she was 21.

and when wee bee heard the news of brother bee #1’s deployment, plagued with visions of that folded flag and casket, wee bee remembered an interview she saw of jk rowling once, where in the interview she said her biggest regret was that her mother died before she ever finished a novel and came to any amount of success. she didn’t register it. she didn’t think “this is a sign.” wee bee just had a fire lit up and raging. she wrote and rewrote and read her novel over again and again as she pushed forward. she had to finish it before her brother deployed.

finally, it was finished. finished finished. she started researching what the hell she was supposed to do with it. she became confused. all she knew was that she wanted to publish it before his deployment. that was it. she put a tentative timeline on having the novel itself completed early in june so that she could focus on the next steps, but a series of strange events occurred which have made wee bee wonder about the world more than ever.

wee bee was late in finishing editing, cutting straight through june, but didn’t mind. she was on fire. she assumed she would keep it up. then she got sick. or, so she thought. she didn’t know any better. she randomly had five days in a row off of work, and was ecstatic at the work she’d accomplish. only she got sick. she thought it was probably nothing and would go away and allowed herself to rest, knowing she was wasting precious time but thinking she’d catch up later when she was better. when work came rolling back around, wee bee felt a little better, but still she’d come home and after about a half an hour, would feel terribly sick again. finally she decided she had to push through whatever was going on, and went upstairs to her office, thinking maybe that’d kick her butt into higher gear since a laptop and couch near a television while you’re feeling sick doesn’t usually turn out high levels of productivity. she thought that if she forced herself to just sit at her desktop, something other than television marathons would occur. about an hour into sitting at her desktop with the door closed to keep wolf-bee from deciding to ingest some cables, all of wee bee’s symptoms of illness disappeared. then she went downstairs to watch some tv before going to bed, and they mysteriously returned.

wee bee had this strange phenomenon happen over and over. she’d come home from work and have to force herself off the couch and to the computer before she got too sick to function again. it took about three or four days for wee bee to realize what was going on.

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she’d had an inkling that maybe she was allergic to her house after that first day, but she needed to verify this. indeed, every time she is downstairs in her house for even a mere half hour, she feels like she has a serious sinus infection, sneezes out an ab workout, and feels completely shitty. but wee bee needed further proof. she would stay downstairs until she felt at her worst, then take benadryl and force herself to stay awake. the benadryl would kick in and she’d have about two hours of somewhat peace. but what was she allergic to?

wee bee knew that she’s allergic to most everything from two rounds of allergy testing (round one ended early, with wee bee being given meds and told to come back when they had stronger dilutions of the allergens), and she knew also that she’s sort of allergic to her house without her noticing (there is mold damage, and a previous year she had an aspergilloma – literally a tumor of fungus caused by an allergic reaction to the offending mold – sucked out of her sinus cavity), but something had to be off since she’d never had this serious and obvious reaction to her house before.

ironically, even though wee bee has been opposed in general to cleaning her house because she doesn’t mind neglecting it in favor of writing until her book is published, she was forced to clean it. the grandparent bee’s decided they were going to drive up her way and visit. so wee bee thought this was probably a good way to see if it all was due to her lack of cleanliness/serious dust issues (she hadn’t been in her office much the previous few months, and kept the door closed, so there was significantly less dust). wee bee dusted the shit out of her house. she dusted and vacuumed and polished everything. she even cleaned all of her dishes, some of which were, sadly and embarrassingly, growing mold.

side note: this is what happens when you give a single person an entire house with way too many dishes and silverware and pots. if they don’t like cleaning, or don’t feel like cleaning, there is always another set of dishware hanging about somewhere…

after about a week of serious cleaning, the only place left messy in the beehive was in fact the office room. hopefully you can use your powers of deduction to know what happened, since wee bee posts from her office. it is an extremely strange phenomenon, but it at least forces wee bee to get off the damned couch and into her office.

now, to get back to some previous things: dimensions, deployment and signs.

wee bee was so focused on publishing her novel in july that she took being allergic to the entire rest of her house as just one more kick in the pants to accomplish that goal. but when the grandparent bee’s said they’d be coming to visit, wee bee knew it was going to take up another huge chunk of her time (a huge chunk given that july was fast approaching and she was spending all of her free time novel working). her house was in such a state, she did quite literally spend a week, possibly more, cleaning everything before her grandparents showed up, because if it wasn’t cleaned they would’ve called mamma bee and told her the house was chaos, which would unravel into even greater lost time because then mamma bee would get herself in a tiff and decide she needed to see wtf wee bee had done to her blessed house and wee bee would lose upwards of two weeks if that were to happen. even after so much cleaning though, the house still had more than a few things wrong with it, and wee bee was (and remains) worried about mamma bee showing up. the whole thing felt like the universe taking away precious time for wee bee to work on her writing ventures. time made even more precious because an entire week this month will be taken up by a bee family vacation before brother bee #1 deploys.

wee bee is extremely excited for this vacation, but she’s still apprehensive because she thought she’d be 100% ready to publish before the vacation, and thus could relax and feel good about things. in preparation for the vacation though, we reach part two of the post’s title. soon, wee bee’s birthday will arrive, and mamma bee asked if wee bee wanted new glasses for her birthday. at first, wee bee kind of shrugged it off. when she had first come home fleeing from psychopath ex-husband, mamma bee insisted wee bee get new glasses. papa bee was not so happy about it, since it would be out of his pocket. he told mamma bee, presumably, that it would be the last time he ever paid for glasses for wee bee. he was mad enough that she was back home and unable to find work. wee bee reiterated what mamma bee had told wee bee about papa bee’s feelings the last time he paid for her to glasses.

mamma bee sort of shrugged it off, and a few days later asked if wee bee had put any more thought into the matter, which wee bee had indeed. she told mamma bee that she’d rather have contacts, because not only would it make their family vacation nicer not having to switch between glasses and sunglasses, or being blind at the water parks, but because wee bee keeps running into things and has been getting sick of repairing her glasses. and so off went wee bee to get contacts, where she was told that she is, for all intensive purposes blind in her left eye and is seeing the world in two dimensions.

wee bee knew that she was right-eye dominant and had extremely poor depth perception, but apparently the brilliant bee brain decided fuck it, i’ma just shut down this left-eye crap.

wee bee didn’t realize you can go blind in one eye and not notice it. ironically, the morning of her appointment, she thought someone had taken away her keyboard at work, and got her supervisor, who pointed out that the keyboard was right there on top of wee bee’s desk. she also had recently turned down various invitations to see 3D movies because they made her sort of cross-eyed and queasy and generally feel weird. the eye doc told her it’s because wee bee’s brain literally can’t recognize and process three dimensions anymore.

how does one not realize this crap? wee bee ruminated on this for a while and decided it was kind of like movies or video games. technically, they are (ignoring the new 3D versions) two-dimensional. when you play a car-racing game, the game is seen in two dimensions, yet you’re able to still play it and know when to stop and turn and whatever because even though it’s in two dimensions and flat, it has all the same properties of the three dimensional world, and you can play the games based on that – shadows, things getting bigger (processed as coming closer), etc. so while wee bee has monocular vision, it never seemed any more strange to her than watching a movie. she’s pretty sure that before 3D movies came out, most people never really put much thought into how movies are 2D. our brains are able to make three-dimensional sense out of only two. so as wee bee’s brain gradually shut down the use of her left eye, she never noticed. and what was wee bee left with other than this knowledge? the eye doctor’s words on why this had gotten to the point of near left-eye extinction, words she’d heard from physical therapists about her back, from rheumatologists about her hands….

“too much time at the computer.”

 

the office

previous to being hired as a temp at her current place of employment, wee bee had never worked in an actual office environment. she had worked at a grocery store, a center for writing, a campus dinery and for snowpile. snowpile had multiple offices for which she did work, but those offices were located in far away places. a grocery store is nothing like an office at all. working as a grill cook was a job wee bee thought was pretty fucking stellar, and she particularly loved the stoners who would come in glazey and paranoid but starving, and ask for the most entertaining food. the stoners saw the bins of available toppings and looked maniacally happy.

stoners: omg, can we decoupage all this shit together?

wee bee: totally.

most of the things wee bee made for the stoners weren’t on the menu really, or were against the rules, but the food was grossly overpriced and the stoners turned ordinary food into creative masterpieces. she grilled burgers with every single type of cheese layered in between every single type of burger (that’s a quadruple cheese, ham-veggie-chicken burger), or made double-the-egg omelets that took over half the grilling space filled with not only every available obvious choice of food, but also hash browns, fries, and things from other stations the stoners had collected… like cereal and crepes. all rolled up into one gimungus omelet.

the writing center could almost have been considered an office, but when there weren’t enough students to keep the tutors busy, the tutors had a semi-circle of very comfortable couches on which they sat and discussed things like the nature of time and what medical disorders everybody had (there was a surprisingly awesome array). so that wasn’t really an office-office either.

the kind of office wee bee is talking about is an office that makes you realize why there are shows and movies like “the office.” any true office fits under this category of “the office.”

the following is a list of attributes to know if you work in the office, as opposed to an office:

  • it is a place where dreams die
  • people are very concerned about the coffee maker
  • countless hours are spent customizing desks for no other purpose than to be most ergonomic and precisely fitting the body style of the person who most uses this or that desk
  • there is no personal expression, only expression of the core values of the office
  • you barely make enough to live, but your supervisor is willing to take one hour of your time telling you that your job is important and you are gaining skills to excel in the workforce and wants to make sure that you understand this and feel open to asking for help because, well, everyone at the office is there to help you… and she/he feels the need to have this conversation because one disgruntled person made a complaint about you specifically… only there’s no need to get into the specifics of the complaint, only the fact that there was a complaint, and you should take it as constructive criticism and remind yourself to be constantly aware of how helpful the office is and that you should always maintain a level of calm and professionalism to uphold the core values of the office
  • you get emails from people in different departments of the office that single out your department as having made some mistake, and there are smiley faces placed intermittently throughout the email which was emailed to everyone in the office
  • passive aggression is the norm, and is often considered “constructive criticism” by superiors
  • the words “no” and “you’re wrong” have the same emotional effect as the word “cunt”

if your office does not fit these categories, you either are one of the people who have been completely sucked into the office vortex to the completeness of having lost your identity as a person, or you work at an office. not the office.

when wee bee was first hired at the office, her hiring manager talked with her at length about the types of work and life experience she had, and hiring manager thought wee bee would be perfect for an up-and-coming full-time opening that sounded pretty cool and creative, so she agreed enthusiastically to start as a temp to learn the basics of the office before what she thought would be inevitable promotion to full-time. because she knew she was working as a temp with a better job in mind, wee bee worked really hard to learn everything. she worked at the front desk and actually quite liked her job, because she got to interact with a large volume of interesting people and whilst helping them, they would often tell her pretty interesting stories about where they hailed from or what their lives and dreams were.

in addition, within a few weeks of temporary employment, wee bee was trained at the cashier station, in financial aid, and general admissions. she had many more duties and privileges than the other temps, who were students, and though some things bothered her, she generally enjoyed her work and the place where she was stationed. the first full-time job opening was for supervisor of the area in which she worked, and all of the duties listed were things wee bee had been trained for, so she assumed her hiring manager had been grooming her for this position and she didn’t mind because she knew things that could be changed to make the office area where she worked, work more efficiently. she was starting to see the flaws with training and interaction among the different departments in the office. she applied for the job, and the next day her manager called her over.

hiring manager: so this new supervisor position opened up…

wee bee: i saw that; i applied for it

hiring manager: i know. i pulled your application out of the system. you just don’t have the experience.

wee bee: oh. thank you.

if your manager tells you that you have been immediately denied a job position, and your response is to thank them, you are becoming one with the office. you are losing the battle of dreams and hope. soon you will become disgruntled and begin perpetuating the already rampant passive-aggression of the office, develop a non-threatening, political voice you never knew existed within you, and you will go home wanting to bitch about the office every. single. day.

this is how the office wins.

wee bee was passed up for the job, essentially, because the current cashier had been there for four years and thus, the office assumed it natural that she become the supervisor. when the cashier became the supervisor, her cashier position opened up. wee bee had been trained as the cashier. she had spent days filling in for the cashier/supervisor while the cashier/supervisor went on vacation celebrating her promotion.

wee bee did not want to be the cashier.

she applied for the original, more creative job that she and the hiring manager had spoken about when she was first hired. wee bee was not allowed into the pool of applicants, again. wee bee realized the office assumed the natural order of things would be for wee bee to take over as full-time cashier. when the cashier/supervisor talked about her old cashier position being open, she said:

i assume you’ll be getting the position

this is how you don’t allow the office to win:

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to win against the office, do not, under any circumstances, give in. keep everyone on edge. if they pass you up for jobs because they have singled you out for a shitty job they assume you’ll apply for because they know you want a full-time job, throw them off and don’t apply for that job. let them know you did not apply because you did not want the job. spend your free time getting back to doing whatever you actually love doing (like writing your goddamn fingers off), and make sure the office knows that you are pursuing this in your free time.┬ámake the office out like it’s a hobby, something you don’t really need to do, and radiate the feeling that one day, when you feel like it, you will leave the office for better things.

because you probably should anyway.