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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: February 3-February 16, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007:

Information discovered from a DestroyAllTacos post, for which I thank him profusely:

There's an EP by Kumar & Melamid and Dave Soldier called The People's Choice Music, containing two songs: "The Most Wanted Song" and "The Most Unwanted Song," the respective features of which were determined solely via focus groups. That is, respondents to a survey described what they most enjoyed and most disliked in their music, and those are the exclusive criteria that were used to compose the songs. The result purports to be a pair of songs that have scientifically earned their titles. It's kind of like a less cynical take on The KLF's hitmaking cheat sheet The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way.

For a taste, in his "composer notes," Dave Soldier writes: "The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and 'elevator' music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance- someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example- fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece."

You can download both tracks here. I didn't bother with "The Most Wanted Song," because I'm fairly certain I've already heard it in one way or another (and it's already won several dozen Grammys), but "The Most Unwanted Song" is definitely worth 22 minutes of your time. I don't know why Soldier stopped three minutes short of the empirically loathsome 25-minute mark described above, because everything else is accurate. It's intentionally crap, but it's pretty funny crap.

I've actually heard plenty of music that I think is even less likely to please than "The Most Unwanted Song" (for instance, Yo La Tengo's 26-minute feedback instrumental "Sunsquashed"), but it's hard to think of another song that is so playful about both being deathly uninteresting and getting on your nerves. Maybe Terry Jones's "I'm So Worried" from one of those Monty Python albums? At any rate, that one doesn't have a group of kids chanting, "Ramadan, Ramadan/Lots of praying with no breakfast/Ramadan/Lots of fun/Do all your shopping at Wal-Mart!" so I think Soldier wins.

CURRENT MUSIC: "The Most Unwanted Song."
CURRENT MOOD:
Amused.
CURRENT BRUISE COUNT:
One big one on my right arm. I was chasing Bubba the Puppy around the house and a throw rug scooted out from under me.
TIME:
2:44 p.m.

Doot? | |

Sunday, February 11, 2007:

This was a good week, unemployment and headaches aside.

I received a package from Barbara Manning, for one thing, and it has thrilled me to no end. She sent me a copy of a new EP she recorded with the Go-Luckys! entitled Enjoy the Lonely Time, and it's exactly what you want out of a Barbara Manning EP: a couple contemplative songs, a couple raw Lately I Keep Scissors-style rockers, and a couple fun covers (of Graham Nash and the Sniveling Shits). Plus, she put together a two-disc compilation for me that spans her entire career since 1986. Lots of stuff I haven't heard alongside lots of songs I would've chosen for a compilation myself, like "Every Pretty Girl," "Haze is Free," and "Isn't Lonely Lovely?" I cannot overemphasize how cool Barbara Manning is, you guys, and I am still utterly giddy to have her as a pen pal.

Of course, this shouldn't overshadow how awsome my long-time friends are, and how supportive they've been to me in the troubled times (as Fountains of Wayne or the Irish would put it). For starters, Amanda and Sean sent Bev and me a belated wedding gift: the entire series of Firefly on DVD. I already like it better than Buffy in nearly every way. For one, no Sarah Michelle Gellar. For two, no Xander-type character who is trying and painfully failing to be Matthew Perry. For three, we're five episodes into the first (and only) season, and I've already thoroughly enjoyed two episodes, which is one more than I enjoyed in the entire first season of Buffy. (It's the only season of Buffy I've yet seen, and everyone tells me the second season is much better, which I hope means more episodes like "The Puppet Show," which had me giggling the whole way through. Something about the way Xander delivers the line, "Do you want to hear some off-color jokes?" made me cackle loud enough to force me to pause the DVD so I could catch my breath.) If the quality keeps increasing, I may be willing to dispense with my Joss Whedon voodoo doll.

Adrienne sent me a very sweet cheer-up-you-bastard card that nearly made me cry (and which contained a sentiment that was one long sentence except for the addition, "I totally thought I could make this entire card one sentence, but, alas, have failed," which is exactly the sort of grammar-based silliness that makes my heart soar), I had a nice chat with Ben yesterday, and Bev and I have spent the week watching her parents' cockatiel, Maxine-Gertrude, and their puppy, Bubba, which has done wonders for my sanity. Bubba, in particular, is a happy guinea pig for dog-training techniques we've learned from The Dog Whisperer, and doesn't seem to mind the "tsst!" sound or the fake Mexican accent I've been using around him.

I've been doing a little recording, but one of our keyboards has been picking up AM radio stations, which is causing me trouble. (This morning, when I plugged it in to see if the Earth's rotation had any effect on the signal, I heard an obscure Melanie song with the chorus "Look what they've done to my brain, Ma.") I managed to cobble together a way around the signals this afternoon, which makes me feel empowered, though I've lost a few days in the process. Things are goin' good.

CURRENT MUSIC: Some of the raw tracks for a new song I'm working on called "Zen Center Hull Breach." Mike D, I may wind up enlisting your help on this one. Or at least advice. Whatever comes cheapest. Stay tuned.
CURRENT MOOD:
Tremoloed.
CURRENT FAVORITE CHARACTER ACTOR: Christopher MacDonald.
TIME:
4:46 p.m.

Doot? | |

Monday, February 5, 2007:

I really want to thank everyone who took the time to send me words of sympathy and encouragement after my last entry. I honestly didn't expect anyone to slog through my saga of bitterness, and was writing it mostly to vent, but y'all have made me feel much better and less alone in a world so cruel and uncaring that Molly Ivins could die and Arif from Oz could be charged with criminally negligent homicide. (Two unrelated stories.) I'm grateful to you all.

Now that my allotted self-pity time is up, it's time to figure out what I'm going to do with my life now. I'm very attracted to the romantic hermit route of Syd Barrett, but I doubt Bev would be willing to subsidize that. So instead, I'm going to send my resume and some writing clips to Bangor Metro and The Maine Edge, along with a couple applications for positions at the University of Maine, for good measure. Gonna cast around for some freelance work, too.

Or else I'll just get rich off the movie rights to my story, The Boy Whose Headaches Got 'im Fired. I picture it as sort of a Hallmark Original Movie version of Philadelphia.

This morning, I drove back to the agency to pick up my fancy ice pack, as mentioned in my last post. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had. It's such a sad feeling, to return to a place where you were so happy so recently, only to be very conscious of the fact that you've been demoted to "outsider" status. Though my ex-coworkers are the same great people they were last week, I felt embarrassed to be seen by them, as if they'd cough sternly and point to the "staff only" sign on the breakroom door as I approached. That's why I walked really fast and wore my Fedora of Inconspicuousness (which, most days, doubles as The Only Hat I Own, but I thought it deserved a rechristening for this mission).

I managed to get out of my car, to the breakroom freezer, and back in 52 seconds. (I couldn't figure out how to use my watch's stopwatch feature, so I relied on counting. Thus, the "52 seconds" figure has a margin of error of plus or minus three seconds.) The only workers I ran into were Tom the IT Guy, who gave me an affable "hey," and Jody, who shot me a pitying, friendly smile as I held up the ice pack as my justification for trespassing. As I ducked out the door, I hoped to never have to set foot there again.

Or at least not until I turn 65 and I need help filling out my 30-page application for 5% off Social Security Brand Government Cheez-Style GeriatriFood Product (a division of Eli GlaxoLillyViacomPfizer). Now with certain nutrients!

Anyway, I'm not feeling bad about moving on, all things considered. Thanks again, everyone.

CURRENT MUSIC: More of my shuffled record collection. Last ten tracks: "About Today" by The National (I don't think I've ever listened to this before, but it's a great, sorrowful, Leonard Cohen-esque breakup song), "Demons" by Yo La Tengo, "1972" by Josh Rouse, "1 of the 2" by The Damned, "Spring Rain" by the Go-Betweens, "Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am" by Fela Kuti, "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" by Tom Waits, "Andrew Hill Break" by Madlib, "Power to the People" by John Lennon, and "I Wonder" by The Gants.
CURRENT MOOD:
Alright.
MOST RECENT MYSTERY SOLVED: Last night, I was unable to sleep because I couldn't summon the name of an amusing fishing videogame that one of T-Bone's friends had burned for him years ago, for use on his mod chip-enhanced PlayStation. Turns out it was Fisherman's Bait. You'd think that name would've stuck in my mind, because there's, like, half of a really dirty pun in there somewhere.
TIME:
12:29 p.m.

Doot? | |

Saturday, February 3, 2007:

I got fired yesterday, I think for having too many headaches.

Okay, that wasn't explicitly said, but- well, maybe I'd better tell you the whole story:

[Addendum 5/11/09: I'm leaving this entry up because this blog is, for many events in my life, the only journal I have, and I'd be uncomfortable reworking and censoring the thoughts and screeds of my younger self. I would feel dishonest with myself if I went back and changed things or started cherry-picking only those entries that seem wise with benefit of hindsight. Please note, however, that by this point I am equally uncomfortable with some of the melodramatic arrogance of the following. It's an unfortunate reaction to an unfortunate situation, and regardless of how much of it may have been justified, I really wish I hadn't taken things so personally.]

Before I begin, let me issue the disclaimer that this journal entry contains only my personal opinions, conjecture, and recollection of events. Every effort has been made to accurately describe the facts and to make clear which elements of the following are subjective commentary on my part. Any perceived deviation from or slight exaggeration of the facts should be taken in good faith as existing merely for comic effect, and every effort has been made to make this clear in context as well. No permission from the described parties has been sought or given for the publication of this entry, which exists solely for purposes of entertainment and is not intended as an objective public statement for any purpose. Nothing contained in this journal entry should be construed as a statement or implication that the termination of my employment was in any way illegal, nor should anything I say here be construed as impugning the integrity or humanity of the involved parties, any of the staff of my former employer, or the organization which employed me itself. This journal entry is my intellectual property and may not be quoted or reproduced without my permission, except in full, with this disclaimer intact. (In the case of online reproduction, a link to http://www.disclaimerband.com must also be included.) Reading further constitutes acceptance of these terms.

Thank you for agreeing to these terms, READER 507-A!

Also let me issue the disclaimer that this journal entry will likely be of interest only to those who consider the rantings of people who were recently fired to be ripping good yarns. Or perhaps my close friends, though even they would not be blamed for giving up halfway through and skipping away to watch Angels Don't Play This HAARP. I'm just getting out some frustration here for my own benefit, so I can get on with my life. Here we go:

Yesterday, when I arrived at work, armed with a new bulk box of Cheez-Its to serve as my lunch for the coming days, Noëlle called me into her office, where Jody was already sitting. She sat me down and said, "Chris, as you know, whenever we hire someone, there is a six-month probationary period, where we can make sure the person we've hired is a good fit for the position. You're still in this probationary period and, frankly, it's just not working out. It's just not a good fit, and we're going to terminate your employment effective today."

Then Jody said... something about my health insurance that I didn't really catch because my catching abilities were being applied to my breath.

I asked why I was being fired, and Noëlle said, "Because of a number of trends we've seen in your performance. It's a matter of not showing initiative, and we just don't feel that it's a good fit. We don't feel that you're happy in your position, and this is a job that really requires... more initiative."

Jody added, "Chris, it's not that we don't like you- everybody likes you- but do you really feel like this is the position for you?"

I stammered, "Well, um, maybe not permanently, but I've really been learning a lot and I apologize if I've given anyone the impression that I'm not happy here. I really love my job and..." I think I trailed off here.

Noëlle said, "Again, it's a matter of not showing initiative. We're seeing a lot of personal e-mailing and a lot of Internet use, and during the probationary period, this is when most people really try to shine and outdo themselves. Again, everybody likes you, but-"

"I know it's nothing personal," I said, "but I do feel I've shown initiative in things like setting up the agency blog..."

"Chris," Noëlle interrupted, "that's one thing, but it doesn't look good when your supervisor sees you sitting and looking bored at your desk, and you say you don't need anything to do, and then we see you playing on the Internet. We don't want you to just sit there, writing music reviews. It just doesn't show initiative on your part, and your attitude and some things you've said really make us think that you're not happy here."

"Well, I'm not trying to argue," I said, stalling for time for some reason that was not forthcoming. "However, I'm just trying to think what I could've said that would give you that impression, because I really love it here..."

"There have been several comments you've made," Noëlle said. "And not just to us. I know you're not arguing- we're trying to make this as painless as possible." It was at this point that it occurred to me that I was being fired on a Friday, per Office Space rules.

Anyway, I accepted what I was being told because Noëlle's mind was clearly made up, and they asked me to pack up my personal belongings and to return any agency property I had at home (which consisted of the key to a PO box). Jody started crying, and she and Noëlle emphasized that I wasn't being banned from the premises or anything because this wasn't personal, and they wished me luck and so forth. I packed up the toy penguins and giraffes that decorated my desk, and crammed the rest of my stuff into my messenger bag (except for my fancy ice pack, which I stupidly left in the breakroom fridge and thus have to slink back for on Monday, dammit). Then I ran home and returned to the agency with the PO box key, said my goodbyes, and that was that. Unemployed.

I'm still reeling and haven't had much more than a day to process things, so what I'm going to say from here on out is coming from a place of frustration, colored by resentment and hurt feelings, so take that into consideration. However, I believe that the reasons I was given for my dismissal, while ranging from harshly-applied-yet-valid to utterly specious (as I'll explain in a bit), were excuses to cover up the fact that I was fired for taking what Noëlle saw as excessive sick time due to my headaches.

According to my calculations, I used 20.5 hours of actual sick time or "paid time off" between December 5 (the first day I was eligible for paid sick time) and my firing. About two and a half days' worth, and all of it was used because of my headaches blooming so large that I could not adequately function at work. Prior to December 5, I took probably an equal amount of time off due to headaches, though I wasn't paid for it and thus don't have records of it. We'll say three days' worth of time prior to December 5. That would mean, in my five months of employment, I took a little more than one sick day per month.

Sometime in late December, Noëlle called me into her office the day after I'd taken some of this headache time. She said that it's important that she be able to count on me to be at work, and therefore she needed to be sure I was planning to see a doctor to take care of these headaches. I agreed, and told her that I was waiting for the first of the year to set up a doctor's appointment because the agency was changing insurance providers at that time, and so any doctor I selected as my primary care physician would have to be covered under my new Aetna plan rather than my old Anthem plan. (And also because I couldn't afford to pay for a doctor's visit without that visit at least counting toward a deductible payment, which wouldn't have happened if I saw a doctor before 2007.) Noëlle accepted this, and also made sure that I didn't feel my headaches were in any way related to my job, and sent me on my way.

So I set up an appointment with a doctor for February 16, which was the earliest I could find an opening as a new patient, and told Noëlle and Jody about this. In the month or so since my meeting with Noëlle, I had plenty of headaches at work, but didn't go home because I wanted to show that I really was making an effort to be present as much as I possibly could. I wasn't functioning anywhere near 100%, but I slapped an ice pack on my head and accomplished what I was able to. I took no more sick time until this past Thursday, when I got a Biggie-sized headache and, after finishing the tasks I'd been assigned for the day, went to Jody at 11 a.m. and said I had to go home because I couldn't take the pain. Jody said that was fine, and asked me to do a couple things for her on Friday because she was planning on being out of the office. Of course, those things didn't get done yesterday, what with the getting fired and all.

Now for another Fun Fact: My big task for the first part of this week, assigned by Jody, was to go through every piece of paper in every employee's personnel file and look for information on everyone's education and skills that could be entered into the human resources database. For about a day and a half, that's all I did. Along the way, I caught glimpses of disciplinary warnings, work improvement plans, and other such documentation of assorted employees' performance shortcomings, along with plenty of commendations for exemplary work. (I didn't read any of these in detail, I should note- nor did I go through the folders in which employee performance evaluations are kept unless I thought a resume or job application may have been misfiled there- but glancing at this documentation was an unavoidable part of my task. I wasn't particularly interested in reading them in the first place, because I figure every workplace has to write up even good employees from time to time; it's the nature of interpersonal relationships and the fallibility of non-robot workers. You're going to get problems, which are brought to the employee's attention and corrected, and most of the time, it's nothing for any party to be ashamed of.)

When I got to my own file, I pawed through it even though I already know my own educational credentials, just to see whether there were any commendations bandied about behind my back or MacArthur Fellowship applications filed on my behalf. The only item in there that I hadn't known about, though, was a note from Noëlle, documenting the talk she had with me about my headaches. She put "headaches" in quotation marks, actually, which I felt a bit insulting but which I quickly attributed to imprecise punctuation. Now I'm not so sure. But anyway, the note basically said what I described above, concluding, "Chris is clearly concerned about improving his health and added that his wife is concerned about the frequency of his headaches as well." I thought it was a little bit odd that this was included in my personnel file, because I'd considered it an informal expression of concern on her part, but figured she just wanted to document that I had said the headaches weren't work-related.

Apparently, the headaches were a bigger deal than I'd thought, though. When I left the office on Thursday, Noëlle was in a meeting, so I wasn't able to say goodbye to her and get a bead on her reaction, but given the fact that Jody assigned me tasks for Friday before I went home ill, it doesn't seem likely that she knew my firing was imminent. I mean, I guess it could have been some sort of misdirection on her part to avoid spoiling the surprise, but that's a little too Illusionist a theory to make much sense. So it seems the decision to sack me was made after I left Thursday.

There is the possibility, of course, that Noëlle was already rather fed up with my job performance for the reasons she listed when firing me, and that my getting a headache on Thursday was just the last straw for her. I doubt it, though, and here's why, if you'll allow me to boast for a few paragraphs: I was an administrative assistant. I never refused or procrastinated on a task. On the contrary, I took pride in doing whatever I was assigned as quickly and accurately as possible. Noëlle told me that, for instance, my predecessor would take a couple weeks to write the minutes for a committee meeting, whereas I almost always had the minutes typed and approved within hours of the meeting's conclusion. In December, for another example, I managed to write special donation requests to the town offices of each of the 142 municipalities the agency serves- each of which required quite a bit of math as I calculated the value of services the agency had provided to the town in the previous year- in under two work days. Even the personnel file-scouring mentioned above elicited a comment from Jody about how efficient I was at everything she asked me to do.

In short, I did a damn good job with the projects and responsibilities I was handed. I can say this both because of my own knowledge of how hard I worked and how seriously I took the quality of my work, and because of the frequent compliments I was given by my managers, Noëlle and Jody among them. When I saw that there was something to do, I did it. Furthermore, when I thought of something that could be done, even if it was outside the scope of my usual duties, I did it. Behold:

With no prompting or outside direction, I wrote a multi-page proposal for improving the agency's blog, which was enthusiastically approved by Noëlle. This is why the blog is on Typepad now, as opposed to Blogger, and why it's so attractive, if I do say so myself.

When the managers were away for a retreat last month, I spent my time researching and writing an essay on electricity rebates for seniors who use oxygen concentrators, which was then posted on the blog. (You don't want to read it- it may be informative, but it's as dry as petrified sandpaper.) 

A week or two ago, I wrote up an entire grammar cheat sheet/style manual for the agency's employees in an effort to correct some frequent, recurring errors in agency publications. Granted, Carol told me not to distribute the manual after she'd read it, because she thought some people would take it the wrong way and feel condescended to... but still, I wrote it.

The point is, as far as "taking initiative" is concerned, I believe I took it as far as it could go- like, I took that initiative to friggin' Sea-Tac- but I was still just an administrative assistant. Some scholars argue that the title means "one who assists administrative staff." And sometimes the administrative staff clearly didn't have anything for me to do, because they certainly weren't shy about asking me to do things. (Which is to the good- I'm far happier doing something than nothing at all. Even if it was something kinda mindless like stuffing envelopes, I could listen to my CDs and space out and the time would go by more quickly than if I didn't have something keeping me busy.) So sometimes I ran out of things to do and, yes, if this was the case, I would kill time by reading the Television Without Pity forums or e-mailing Bev or whatever. Perhaps that was a bad decision on my part, but I was hardly alone in this pastime in the office. That doesn't make it right, naturally, but nothing indicated to me that it was frowned upon, and furthermore, I didn't think anyone would enjoy me making a nuisance of myself by constantly asking them to come up with busywork for me, a la Coraline ("Count all the doors and windows. List everything blue. Mount an expedition to discover the hot water tank. And leave me alone to work").

[Aside: Noëlle's claim that I once told her I didn't need any assignments and then proceeded to just play online never happened. I believe she's conflating a couple recent incidents: At one point, she asked whether I was lacking for things to do, and I told her no because I was just taking a momentary breather to think about how best to approach the task at hand. At another point, I was just killing time online and she asked whether I'd like Jody to come up with something for me to do, and I said yes. Neither event would probably allow me to stay in the running for the Busiest Beaver Award, but I don't think either of them is as damning as the imaginary way Noëlle had them jumbled. As for her comment about my writing music reviews at work, I'm sure she was just using that as an example of an activity she knows I enjoy; I haven't written any record reviews since last August, to my own chagrin.]

With regard to my attitude, and emitting a vibe of dissatisfaction with my job... That's pretty subjective. I admit that I have quite a history of giving people the impression that I'm angry or upset with them when that's not the case at all. Whether it's my general depression coming through, my habit of not smiling to indicate when I'm joking, or something else, I don't know. I just know that quite a few people have mentioned this to me over the years, and maybe my efforts to be more outgoing and non-threatening have failed. There's not much I can say to argue against this accusation, except that I think any of my friends and family with whom I've discussed my work in the past five months could tell you that I've been very happy there. Certainly, there were aspects of the job I didn't particularly enjoy- I verily dreaded sitting through Board meetings, because I frequently found the discussions frustratingly circular and unproductive and the clash of personalities grating- but I think that's going to be true of any job, and overall, I loved my work, my coworkers, and the privilege of being part of an organization that does so much good for the seniors in our community. However depressed I may have been in general on any given day, I find it hard to believe that I did or said anything that would logically persuade anyone that I hated my job when the total opposite was true.

Ultimately, that's neither here nor there, though. Let's say I did lead my coworkers to think I was completely miserable in my position, and that I was a total grumblecakes to one and all. Let's say I spent so much time writing personal e-mails and looking at recreational websites that I surpassed other employees in these pursuits, and I was being less productive than I should've been. Hell, let's say I was flat-out unproductive. That wasn't the case, but let's suppose I was, just for this hypothetical discussion. (We won't go so far as to say I was counterproductive, because that enters the realm of sabotage, and that's rather too serious for the purposes of our devil's advocacy game.) What really convinces me that the ostinsible reasons for my "termination" were drummed up to hide the true reason is that everything was so abrupt.

Let's say you have an employee who appears not to like his job, and who appears to be wasting a lot of time online when he finishes his assignments, but who is also well liked in the organization, and accomplishes everything you ask him to do in a remarkably speedy and accurate manner. Are the former offenses so egregious and irreversible that they justify blindsiding this employee by firing him without a single word of warning or a single discussion about whether there might be an opportunity for positive change in his performance? Especially if your company frequently uses disciplinary warnings as a means of addressing and correcting underperforming behavior without resorting to dismissal? I'm, er, somewhat biased here, but I don't think an outright dismissal is warranted in this case. Call me a bleeding heart, but I don't think it's logical, and that's why I don't think those were really the reasons I was let go.

So that leaves the headaches and resulting work absences as the only performance issue raised to me that wasn't immediately corrected. Sure, it was in the process of being corrected, since there was a time lag between when I tried to make a doctor's appointment and the time any doctor could see me, and I was trying my best to work through the pain, but I blew it. I succumbed to the siren song of my paid time off, recklessly and shamelessly using it for the purpose for which it existed just because the firey nooses choking my brain became especially tight and burny.

Bev and my parents, being impossibly understanding and supportive, told me, "It's their loss." In another, more accurate way, it's my loss, because with the firing comes the cessation of paychecks. As much as I'd like to pretend that's the only way in which I feel burned, though, I honestly feel hurt on a more personal level, and that's the one that breaks my heart. I felt incredibly lucky to have my job, to be involved in the activities of an agency that exists solely to do good, to be able to learn about everything that goes into providing services for the elderly from people who truly care. I was prepared to view Noëlle as a mentor, and although I may not have been overjoyed about every task I was given, there was never a moment in which I did not feel fortunate to be working where I was working, and would never have intentionally or knowingly done anything to screw that up. If I could help it.

The only comparison I was able to draw in my TV-addled brain was to America's Next Top Model, and how Tyra Banks always starts repeatedly questioning a contestant's passion for modeling when she wants that contestant out of the game but can't think of an acceptable reason to boot her. "I'm just not sure she wants this enough. She doesn't seem like she wants to be here." Enough repetition, and the fiction becomes fact regardless of whether there's any clear evidence that the contestant isn't yearning the way Tyra thinks she should be. Tyra simply lets fly with this dream-crushing peremptory challenge, and the aspiring model not only has to go home, but gets to feel like shit about herself because she doesn't know what she could've done different.

I have a strong suspicion that I just got Tyra'd.

Yuck.

CURRENT MUSIC: My record collection on "shuffle." The last ten tracks were as follows: "Non-Existent Patricia" by L7, "X Offender" by Blondie, "You Ain't Got a Hold on Me" by Mark Kozelek, "Oi Frango" by Super Furry Animals, "Schnick-Schnack" by Mouse on Mars, "[]" by Trotsky Icepick, "Trompe le Monde" by the Pixies, "Dead Presidents II" by Jay-Z, "Goin' Out of My Head" by the Zombies, and "Bring It on Down" by Oasis.
CURRENT MOOD:
Missing Mathematical Reviews even more than usual.
CURRENT RECURRING PHRASE IN MY HEAD:
"Trafalgar Square." I guess my brain just finds it phonetically pleasing for the moment.
TIME:
11:14 p.m.

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