Monday: I start the day as a computer expert and end it trapped in a dress
I got back to work on Monday after having been on a mini-vacation for over a week. In the meantime, someone from IT had moved my computer to my new workstation, and had set it up for me. I went to a meeting about writing a report first (which was the reason I went back in the first place), and it was weird because I realized that I didn’t know half of the people there even though they all seemed like they’d been coming to meetings with me for years the way we were all making small talk, kidding my director about the baking he did on the weekend, and giving each other knowing looks. Then suddenly my director asked me if I knew everyone, so I had no choice but to do what I always do in a case like that—I just smiled and said “Yes, sure,” because it’s so awkward to be like, “No, I have no clue” when you’ve been joking around and laughing with total strangers for the last five minutes. But one of my colleagues looked at me and was like, “No, I don’t actually know you,” which I thought was pretty much throwing me under the bus in a very verbally blunt and highly accented way, and then everyone introduced each other. Which would have been fine, except they just said their names, not what they did, not their “rank” or whatever, so I’d know who to defer to—in fact, it was even worse because one woman, after introducing herself, said “I’m the new Michael”, and then I had to also pretend that I knew who the hell Michael was, which I obviously didn’t. So I said, “Oh, that must be why I haven’t met you yet—I’ve been away for over a week,” to which she replied, “I’ve been here for three months.” Long awkward pause. Finally the meeting started, and ended, and I could get down to the report writing. Except I couldn’t, because when I turned on my computer, it said it couldn’t connect something or other and to “contact my system administrator”. I thought for a minute that maybe THAT’S who Michael was, and this was my colleague’s revenge on me for not paying attention when she started working with us, but no, it was just my computer being a dick. Then the computer screen went completely white, so I did what any reasonable person would do—I shut it off, then turned it back on. Because if you ever have computer issues, or cell phone issues, or air conditioning issues, or even toaster issues, the first thing any expert will tell you to do is to shut it off/unplug it, then restart it. Which doesn’t seem very expert-like to me, and I don’t think you need a lot of schooling to give out those instructions, but then when my computer came back on, it said the same thing, and this time the computer screen went completely black, with only the cursor shivering in a corner, so I figured I should contact IT (which technically stands for Information Technology, but basically means a person who is an expert with computers. And also toner cartridges). But I had to find another computer first, because apparently, it’s faster to email IT than to walk down and try to find them in the maze of cubicles on the floor below where I work (I tried to actually find them once, but I got totally lost and I had to ask someone, who said, “They’re over by the kitchen”, and I was like “Kitchen?! We have a KITCHEN?” so I gave up, having neglected to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find my way back). Sure enough, after about ½ an hour, a very nice young tech came up to look at it. The first thing he said was, “Hmmm. It shouldn’t be doing that”, and I was like “Really?! That’s what I thought too!” Then it occurred to me that maybe, without even knowing it, I was also an IT tech person, because not only did I instinctively know that my computer shouldn’t be doing what it was doing, I also was able to turn my computer on and off LIKE A BOSS. But then he sat down and started fiddling with it, so I thought he probably had some post-graduate training that I had opted not to unknowingly take, and I started using the computer at the next station while I waited. When I turned around to see if he’d made any progress, he was standing there with my tower under his arm. We looked at each other and he shrugged sympathetically and said, “It’s broken. I’ll get you another one”, and I realized that I MUST be an IT tech because not only did I understand his fancy jargon, he and I were totally on the same wavelength there.
But while I might have mad computer skills and knowledge, I discovered later that I’m not so good at doing things like judging what might fit me, or how to get in and out of clothing. I went shopping after work with my sister-in-law, because we’re all going on vacation to Spain together, and she was insistent that I get “comfortable walking shoes”, which I said begs the questions “If I’m on vacation, why the hell am I walking?” because to me, vacation means lying on my back and doing nothing more strenuous than signalling the waiter for another drink. But she has travelled the world and knows what she’s talking about, so I totally trust her. I dropped a sh*tload of money on a pair of shoes that didn’t look like much, but she assured me “they’ll go with anything and you’ll be able to walk for HOURS”. Whut?! Then we tried on hats, and I discovered also that I’m not a “hat person”, judging by the way she giggled at me whenever I tried anything on that I thought was cute. “A little too floppy”, she would say, and I wasn’t sure if she meant the hat or my head. Spain is supposed to be hot—in fact, whenever I tell ANYONE I’m going to Spain, the first thing they say is “Ooh, it’s going to be hot.” So we decided to buy sundresses. I tried one on and quite liked it, and as I was paying for it, the schmoozy sales guy, who had previously told me how good the sundress looked on me, which I would have taken as a compliment but I think he works on commission, told us that they were having a “buy one get one half price sale” and that I should get another one. I was running out of energy, so I grabbed another style in my size, figuring that it would surely fit, and paid for both. When I got back to my condo, I decided to try it on and see what it looked like with my new “comfortable” shoes, which were apparently guaranteed to go with anything, even sundresses. I put on the shoes, then I got the dress over my head—it was a little snug, but I managed to pull it down. It didn’t take more than a few seconds to realize that the stretchy elastic at the back was nowhere NEAR stretchy enough, and that I was having trouble breathing. I started to take the dress off, and realized that “off” was going to be WAY more of an issue than “on”. I grabbed the bottom hem and started pulling upwards—the waistband shimmied up towards my armpits so I put my arms over my head to keep pulling from the bottom. That’s when everything went to hell, and the dress turned into a straitjacket. My arms were ensnared in a tight band of fabric, my face was covered with the skirt, and the bottom half of me was blowing in the wind. I tugged. I struggled. I contorted, bending over from the waist and hoping that gravity would help me. It didn’t. Exhausted, I stood in the middle of my bedroom and wondered if someone would eventually find me if I didn’t show up to work the next day, trussed up in rayon like a Thanksgiving turkey. It occurred to me that I could always cut the dress off, that is, if I could get my arms free. Which I couldn’t. Finally, I’d had enough, and gave it one last, Herculean pull. I heard a slight ripping sound, and the dress flew up over my head and across the room, taking my bra with it, leaving me standing there half-naked, wearing only underwear and shoes, panting with exertion. But my feet were comfortable.
Wednesday: I wish I had a Nothing box
On Tuesday night, Ken announced that he and Kate were getting up early YET AGAIN to go and play squash. My response was “Fine, but you’ll be sleeping in another room tonight then.” And it was a REASONABLE response because A) I’m on my holidays and B) I have no desire to be awakened at 7:30 in the morning on my holidays while Ken and the dog run out of the room, then run back into the room, because they both are REALLY excited in the morning. Then Ken tries to sneak around getting dressed, but the more he uses his tiptoes, the more the floor bounces, and then I’m wide awake. “What’s the problem?” Ken asked. “You can always go back to sleep.” No, Ken, YOU can go back to sleep, but I CAN’T. Because I’m a woman and you’re a man. The second I wake up, my mind starts racing with all the stuff I need to do that day, and how I’m going to do it. When you wake up, your mind says, Sleep Now, like those creepy alien guys in the movie “Dark City”, and you’re like OKAY , and you go back to sleep. Later that day, Ken posted a meme on Facebook that said women typically lose 2 to 4 hours a night lying awake thinking about stuff, and I said, “See? Even the internet knows I’m right.”
And that to me seems to be the main difference between most men and women. I heard once a long time ago on a talk show that men have a Nothing Box in their heads. So when you say to a man, “What are you thinking about?” and he says, “Nothing,” he’s telling you the truth. There is literally NOTHING in his mind because he’s in the Nothing Box. And sometimes, I’ll ask Ken a question, and I’ll be waiting for the answer, and he seems to be taking a really long time thinking about it. Only he’s not. He’s still in the Nothing Box, and when I ask if he has an answer yet, he’ll look at me kind of surprised, like he forgot we were in a conversation. This happens quite often when we’re having a “debate”, and I’ll ask “What the hell is wrong with you?”, totally expecting a response, because I’m not being rhetorical, but then he just goes into his Nothing Box when he’s SUPPOSED to be figuring out the answer. I don’t have a Nothing Box. I never think about nothing. In fact, I can’t even meditate—if you ask me to clear my mind, I immediately start thinking about how to do that, how long I should do it for, what does “empty’ mean in this context anyway? And a thousand other things that ultimately prevent my mind from actually emptying. Ken, like most men when told to empty their minds, are just like “Done. Let’s meditate.” Then they go into the Nothing Box and stay there for a while. It’s like the saying “Lost in thought”. When a man is lost in thought, it’s just ONE thought that he’s contemplating, like shortcuts or compass points or sandwiches. When a woman is lost in thought, she is literally lost in a maze of bizarre and random ideas that jump from one thing to another like a hyperactive frog, but the one thing she is ALWAYS doing is problem-solving and making decisions. Even if it’s not readily apparent to the guy in his Nothing Box.
Ken is not good at the decision-making process. Oh, he can MAKE decisions all right, but then he pretends that he needs my help to figure out things, which is super-frustrating. We have had MANY debates over the years about why he does this—here are two examples of this little quirk of his.
Me: Let’s go for a walk.
Ken: Sure. Which way do you want to go?
Me: Towards the park would be good.
Ken: No, we should go towards the store so we can check our lottery ticket.
Me: Which one of these paint chips do you like best?
Ken: I don’t care. They’re both fine.
Me: I like this one the best.
Ken: No, that one’s too yellow-y. The other one is the colour we should paint the room.
I always say, “Why did you ask for my opinion if you already knew what you wanted to do?!” Then I wait for an answer. But I never get one, because he’s in his Nothing Box. Lucky bastard.