Friday, February 26, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Friends Got Me Roses for Valentine's Day. What Did You Do?

Today it occurred to me that love requires structure and rules.
Maybe this is really obvious to most of you, but let me just reiterate that throughout my last major relationship I referred to the guy as "whosit number bazillion." I have issues.

Ex-boyfriend #6's parents had this dog, a 90-lb. American Bulldog named Elvis. I hated Elvis. I complained about Elvis incessantly. He used to jump on me whenever I walked in the door, shove his slobbery face in between my legs at the dinner table, jump on top of me whenever I went swimming in their pool, and bark at me incessantly. Once Ex-boyfriend #6's dad took Elvis alongside for a bike ride, and when Elvis saw the next-door neighbor's dog in the yard, he knocked the bike over and launched all 90 lbs. of solid bulldog muscle right at the poor little terrier. Ex-boyfriend #6's dad then yelled at the neighbor for not keeping the terrier on a leash.
I hated Elvis.
But the question I asked myself today was this: Did I really hate Elvis, or did I just hate the fact that he had no rules? How could I blame a dog for doing whatever he wants when there are no rules? And in the same way, how can I blame men for treating me however they want to when I have provided no rules, and no consequences for breaking them? And of course men have more control over their own actions than dogs do, but the idea is the same.

So here are my rules:
1. No sex for the first month. I don't really like this one myself, but there seems to be no way around it—it's a basic respect necessity. If I'm not worth waiting a month, it's over.
2. If you don't call me when you say you're going to, it's over.
3. If you give me a big lecture on commercialism and misogyny when I mention Valentine's Day, but you still use the words "whore" and "fag" casually and buy video games as soon as they come out, it's over. I want flowers. Get your damn wallet out. (Side note: I do reciprocate on Valentine's Day. This is my favorite holiday, and it's a personal thing, and I give presents to all the people I love that day, including my friends and family, so if I explain how important it is to me personally and you still can't be bothered, well, I hope you enjoy lying on your deathbed alone.)
4. I need alone time, and one-on-one time with my friends who aren't you.
5. I would like you to come with me occasionally to do the things I like to do, even if you don't want to do them. Not always, just sometimes.
6. If you're not nice to my cat, it's over. I have made a lifelong commitment to my cat. Have you made one with me? No? Then be nice or get the f*&% out.
7. Clean up after yourself in my place. Put your dishes in the sink or the dishwasher. Don't leave food wrappers around. Hang your towel back up. I'm not your mother, and she probably wouldn't put up with that crap either.
8. We go dutch on everything. If you insist, I will object twice and then I will let you pay. But then it's a gift and I don't owe you a damn thing.
9. I would like to go out on dates. Dates do not involve hanging out at your house or your friend's house watching you play video games/smoke pot/get wasted/watch TV.
10. If you don't like to read books or at least newspapers or magazines, please go away and don't come back until you're literate.
11. I like presents. They don't have to cost money, but they do have to involve you thinking about me. Do my dishes before I get home. Leave a cute note on my car. Offer to help me take my cat to the vet. Make my life easier and more enjoyable because you're in it.
12. I'm not living with you unless we're married. Until I can check the “married” box on my tax forms, I'm still single. In which case, my money is mine, my apartment is mine, my car is mine, my cat is mine, and my life is mine. And I can pay for all of it. If you can't, call your parents.
13. Slowness, in all applicable areas, is appreciated.
14. When you're talking to your friends, you're not “f*cking” or “banging” or "screwing" me. You're having sex with me. Get it right. I suppose “doing” is acceptable, but just barely.
15. If you ever non-jokingly insinuate that my intelligence is subpar, it's over.
16. And you won't even get as far as buying me a drink if it becomes apparent that you haven't thought seriously about gender roles and women's rights. You want to play stereotypes? You're a sexist, horny slob and you better run to the ATM so you can take care of my tab when I walk away.
17. Two words: birth control.
18. If you can't figure out how to make me come, ask. If you can't figure it out and you don't ask, it's over.
19. If we are in a serious relationship, the things which are allowed to take precedence over me are: your own well-being and happiness, God, and your family. I make allowances for emergencies with friends, work, and pets. If you are always having an emergency, it's over.
20. If you are not interested in getting married, then I am always going to be looking for someone else who is. Game over.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adventures in Bird Research: Episode Suck

So this week I had to turn my paperwork in for the bird job in order to start getting paid.
I got a very abrupt e-mail from the (I'm sure very busy and hassled) HR lady in the department with the forms and instructions to turn them in as soon as possible, and preferably that day or the next. I would just like to point out that she sent the e-mail at three o'clock on a Thursday.

But whatever. I figured I'd turn them in the next week, because I was fairly busy training at my other job.

Monday rolls around and the (I'm sure very busy and hassled) HR lady sends me an e-mail saying only, "I just found out you haven't turned in your forms yet."

Have I mentioned I haven't had a day off in going on four weeks?

But I write a fairly polite e-mail back saying, "I'm sorry, I'm transitioning between two other jobs right now and I'll get them to you at the latest by tomorrow afternoon." But I plug my printer into my computer and start printing the forms out. And nothing happens. I spend fifteen minutes trying to get my computer to recognize that my printer exists to no avail.

"That's cool," I thought. "I can print it out at work tomorrow." I was kind of in a hurry because I had to go feed a Norwegian-speaking blue macaw, who promptly pooped on the rug as soon as I let him out of the cage. Unfortunately I don't know the Norwegian word for, "SERIOUSLY?!"

So at work I try to print it out, only to discover that the printer is out of ink. The Science Center is a nonprofit organization, and if you've ever worked for one of those you know that when you're out of ink it probably won't be reordered until the next business quarter. So I e-mailed the (I'm sure very busy and hassled) HR lady to say, "Sorry, I'm having trouble getting access to a working printer, but as soon as I do, I'll get you the forms."

She replied, "You can fax me this form but make sure the other form gets delivered in person."

To which I almost replied, "Yes, I wasn't illiterate the first time you sent me an e-mail," but restrained myself.

So finally S., my terribly nice grad student boss, offered to print the forms out for me, and so I filled them out and took them in to the payroll office, where they charge for parking and where the payment station doesn't accept anything except exact change, or payment for less than an hour of parking. I spent five minutes trying to force-feed a five-dollar bill to the machine for a one-dollar charge, then gave up and went back to my car and dug out some loose change. When I finally made it inside, a stern-looking lady with a mustache asked me, "Are you a rehire or a new employee?"
"A rehire," I responded politely, looking at her eyes and not her mustache.
"Has it been over a year since you worked for us?"
"Yes." I couldn't help it. I looked at it.
"Well, you'll have to fill out the entire new employee packet instead. Was it someone in the department who gave you this form?"
"I have no idea."
Mustache lady glared at me. "Sometimes they have no idea what they're doing."
"Well," I said, looking at her eyes again, "I really don't have time to fill out the whole packet here today, so I'll bring it back tomorrow."

Which I did. Filled it out and brought it back the next day, and paid another dollar for parking. Turns out it wasn't that the machine didn't accept exact change--it didn't accept bills. Even in the slot that was made to accept bills. I had come prepared for this, however, and had replenished my supply of quarters in my car.
This time when I went in, a very friendly young college student was working the desk. "Can I help you?" she said.
"Yes, I just wanted to turn in my new employee packet and do my identity verification."
"Do you have an appointment?" she asked. Nicely.
I looked around at the empty waiting room. A tumbleweed rolled creakily past the entrance. "No," I said finally. "Can I make an appointment?"
"How about two o'clock tomorrow?" she asked.
"That sounds fantastic," I croaked.

The next day I went back at two o'clock for my appointment and walked in to find a completely different lady sitting at the desk.
"Hi!" she said brightly. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, I had an appointment at two for an identity verification."
She looked confused.
"I'm just turning in my new employee packet and I brought my passport to do my I-9," I added, waving the packet at her.
"Oh," she said. "Well, you don't need an appointment for that. We can just do that right now."
"Great!" I said, an octave higher than I meant to.
"You must have come in yesterday when we were having our meeting and the girl from next door covered the desk," she said.

Briefly, I'd also like to mention that, because I am employed by ASU, I'm technically employed by the State of Arizona, and so I had to sign the "Loyalty Oath," on pain of them withholding any monies or compensation for my services:

I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of ______________ according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm). (

I'm researching bird foraging. In that little space to list which office you will defend from all enemies foreign and domestic, I had to put "part-time lab tech." This isn't f*%&ing NASA, here, people. This isn't even park service at a national monument. These birds don't even have avian flu. I really don't think I'm going to have much opportunity to be putting myself between a bullet and the Constitution, if you know what I mean. Untangling extension cords, yes. Putting out trays filled with birdseed, check. Sometimes I might get to stop off at Starbucks for a white chocolate mocha. Not so much on the uncovering evil plots by foreign dictators, though. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adventures in Bird Research: Episode 1

I admit it. It was a guy. It was one of those fall-crazy moments where you don't even have time to get enough sleep, much less go running, much less continue writing blog posts. And then I was ashamed, and then I had nothing to write about, and now it's February 2010 and probably none of you even check this thing anymore.

That said, I quit my terrible cubicle job in a fit of happiness and now I do part-time outreach work for the Arizona Science Center and part-time field tech work in a study on bird foraging habits. And it's awesome. I get up, spend some time in the sunshine listening to birdcalls, have some coffee, go into work where I talk to groups of schoolchildren about how awesome it is to blow up Diet Coke with Mentos and why science is important (read: because it involves you in understanding the world around you and gets you to go outside instead of sitting on your ass in a cubicle all day).

That said, I haven't had a god*#(@ day off in going on four weeks now. So Sunday is going to be awesome and I'm going to sit by the pool and tan my pasty white ass.

But today. Today was my first time out doing the bird stuff on my own; S., whose project it is, lives in Massachusetts and is flying back this weekend to actually do her schoolwork and leaving little old klutzy me alone to do her dirty work for her.
And today I got up at 7:30, after going to bed at 2:30 because I was up talking to the man who stopped me from blogging in the first place (but I'll get to that), and groggily I groped my way out to my balcony where I keep all the bird research supplies and set up the birdseed trays for that morning. And then, just as I was putting the millet seed back in its own tidy storage space in the closet, my hand slipped and it fell all over the closet floor and into every single crevice in my vacuum cleaner.

"Whatever," I said to myself in that morning voice of not-caring-because-where-the-hell-is-my-white-chocolate-mocha-from-Starbucks-anyway-and-why-is-it-still-dark-outside-when-I-get-up? "That was bound to happen at least once today. "

On to the first house. Where I spent the first half hour troubleshooting a dysfunctional camera setup and the next fifteen minutes unraveling extension cords, and the next fifteen minutes after that chatting with the guy who was visiting the guy who owns the house about how nice the weather was and how interesting our experiment was. Then I promptly tripped over said extension cord, landed on the lip of the birdseed tray, and sent my carefully measured scientific amounts of seed sprawling across the rather well-constructed paving-stone sidewalk.
"Well, shit," I said to the guy who was visiting the guy who owns the house.

Then I drove back to my house to get another seed tray setup.

On the way I stopped at my favorite Starbucks for a white chocolate mocha only to discover that, of course, on the day that I rolled out of bed on five hours of sleep and bobby-pinned my freakishly Alfalfa-like bangs back, the cute guy was working. The same cute guy who, on my first trip to this store, had made my drink wrong, made me the right drink, flirted with me, and then watched me drop my correctly-made drink all over the patio.
"Maybe, since I haven't been here in a while," I thought, "and I look so terrible, he won't recognize me."
And he barely nodded to me when I ordered and I was somewhat relieved. When he handed my my drink he said, "What happened to the vanilla cappucino I always used to screw up?"
"Um..." I said, "I rediscovered my deep-seated love for white chocolate mochas?"
Then I ran out of the store.

On to the second house. Everything went smoothly there, and I even figured out a way to unroll the extension cords without getting them tangled. I double-checked all my camera settings, made sure everything looked relatively nice, and then carried the leftover bait seed trays to the car. I had to shift the trays to my left hand to open the door with my right, and I promptly spilled seven pounds worth of sand and birdseed all over the front seat of my rattly little Saturn Ion.

Some days I really wonder how I made it out of the womb without getting lost.