Story Value

random musings and episodes from the life of a 40 something comidienne/corporate refugee/mom - since whatever doesn't kill you provides excellent story value.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I love the smell of white boards in the morning

Three years and six months ago, I cast-off from corporate America, looking to make my way as a free-lance consultant. I had had it up to here with "the man." I was burnt-out on office-politics, the thankless tasks of middle-management and with hauling my patootie for a 3 hour round-trip to a glass office tower.
I wanted something different. Anything different. And I felt I had to whole-sale reject all the corporate trappings to pursue my true creative muse.
And now, I'm contemplating making a return trip.

What could possibly make me go back? Many things. As with most decisions, there's a push and a pull.

Consulting is lonely. For three of my years, I had the best of both worlds with a "Sugar Daddy" client. Two days in the office, two at home, one of pure freedom. The paycheck was solid and steady, the work compelling. My colleagues didn't really have the chance to become truly annoying before I'd have another break from them. A few colleagues rose to the annoyance challenge, but that is to be expected.

Now that I consult remotely, I find myself loathing my home office -- a laptop, desk & printer shoved in the corner of a guest-room. It's challenging to structure my day so that work gets done before midnight. Too many distractions. I am my own annoying colleague. Boy I can be a pain in my own ass.

I miss learning, bantering in the conference room and hashing out solutions in a group. I miss cracking wise with my peeps and killing in the hallway with my dead-on impressions of Senior Management.

I miss the routines, I miss the free coffee, and I miss the smell of fruit-scented magic markers. I miss commiserating and offering advice to quell the sting of petty office dramas. I miss buying Girl Scout cookies in the spring. I miss those huge vats of bad caramel corn that comprise 2 of my 3 daily meals for months after the holidays.

I miss crazy off-sites where we endure forced bonding and think big thoughts on flip-chart paper that never gets looked at again.

I miss feeling "mue importante" when people bring me tough problems to solve. I miss "being the client" and getting my bootie kissed by potential vendors with the odd pair of Red Sox home game tickets.

I miss dumb jokes, dispatches from the Onion sent from bored colleagues, and huddling around an office computer to watch wildly inappropriate YouTube videos.

I miss sharpening my pop-culture references and musical knowledge by bantering with the 20-somethings and burnishing my political and cultural opinions by talking them through before meetings begin.

I miss the ribbing of the sweet, funny, English-challenged parking garage attendants and making the lunch lady giggle and blush by complimenting her bling.

Sock puppets don't have the same effect. The 'interweb' doesn't satisfy my need for contact. I'm just not being all I can be sitting by myself in front of the laptop screen in my room. My chair's not ergonomic, my time-management is shot, and my hairdo is suffering from severe lack of effort.

The grass is always greener I suppose. How quickly I forget the grind part of the daily grind. I am sure I would cringe if I re-read my diaries from the last year before I 'left-office'.

I wouldn't trade a moment of the last 3 1/2 years of creative self-discovery. It has been an exciting and wild ride. I don't know for sure that I'd give it all up ... but I have rediscovered some of the small pleasures of office co-habitation. That would get me through the first 3 days back at least.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fair Enough

The Marshfield Fair completed its 141st run and left town nearly two weeks ago ... and yet, the controversy continues.


Each year the Fair comes to down, there's one carny drama or another. Last year two carnies got married under the Ferris wheel. Awwwwww. They had something like 12 children between them. That's one big trailer.

This year, an 18 year old carny was accused of raping a 13 year old girl and her 14 year old friend. Things weren't looking too rosy for this young man, until it was revealed that these girls had gone to the Fair with the specific goal of seducing a carny.

What little girl doesn't dream of that?

Carnies simultaneously fascinate and disgust most of us. The disgust is clear -- B.O., "summer teeth" and facial tattoos -- but why the fascination?

I think the alternative outlaw carny lifestyle is the draw. Think about it, all the fried dough you can eat, the opportunity to find out how the games are rigged, unlimited turns on thrill rides which (as my two boys describe) "make your penis tingle." It doesn't get much better than that.

People yearn for this kind of fun. Its why middle-aged bankers are now sporting so many tattoos its hard to pick the real carnies out of the crowd. Now carnies have to wear uniforms.

Personally, I have never dreamt of seducing a carny, but I have toyed with the idea of becoming one. Just for a week. I'd be a carny temp, just to see what it was like hanging in the Airstream village after-hours. Oh, like you're not a little curious?

Once, I almost completed an application when I saw a sign posted on the Zipper ride. It read, "Help Wanted: Must Love Travle." I love Travle. I think. I decided not to gamble, just in case "travle" is some euphemism for corn liquor-fueled bestiality. You can't be too careful.

I'm curious about the job interview process. I imagine it might go something like this:
Me: "I'm here about the carnival job, I love travle."
A carny boss throws a wrench at me. I pick it up off the ground.
"Be here at 11!" He yells.
I am now in charge of assembling and running the Bumper Cars.

I'd be low on the carny totem pole until I had proven myself at 3 card Monte while doing Jack Daniels shots.

The carnies who really fascinate me are the professional-grade carnies. At our Fair, there is a duo: Lance Gifford and his ambiguously sexual partner Jarrod . Not only are Lance and Jarrod a class A magic act ... they moonlight running the pig races. Each day they perform 8 - 10 shows, racing from one end of the Fairgrounds to the other, stripping out of their glittered attire to don overalls and straw-filled hats to transform themselves into Granny's champion pig callers.

One year my eldest son recognized Jarrod from his earlier gig and yelled, "Hey, its the magic man!" while pointing enthusiastically. Jarrod momentarily looked panicked and quickly shoved a whistle in my boy's mouth and deputized him as Assistant Pig Caller. Identity crisis averted.

I wondered if my magic men were perhaps double-dipping without Fair management permission? It didn't seem too necessary to preserve the illusion of being only a magician or only a pig caller -- a pig-calling magician is a pretty solid act.

I read in Lance Gifford's online bio that he left home at 16 and travels regularly with the Fair. He has a pretty plush stage & all those pigs. I wonder if he has a grade A RV in the lot, or if he bunks in a hotel. He and Jarrod are like the kings of carny world. They look like they are having a blast. Maybe its all the travle ... or maybe their penises just tingle, magically.