Thursday, March 22, 2007 (that's what I want)...

So I met with the HR guy yesterday, to ostensibly learn about benefits, yada yada yada, but of course I was really there so we could dance the dance of MONEY. My colleague (J) and I have both been offered positions by The Company, but J interviewed with the HR guy immediately before I did. J and I both have master’s degrees, and equal years of research experience, and we do the same job, but J makes 20% more than I do. I’m not speculating; J couldn’t wait to tell me how much she makes, and disclosed this fact to me in the first week that she occupied the cubette next to mine. I’m alternately amused and annoyed by how much she cares about this. J likes to pretend she’s a pussycat about money, but in fact she’s more of a barracuda.

When she came back from meeting with the HR guy, though, she looked steamed.

“How’d it go?” I asked.

“We’ll talk later,” she said darkly, playing her cards close to her vest.

“OK,” I said cheerfully, and I went on down to the bowels of The Company to meet with the HR guy. An overweight 30-something in de rigeur khakis and blue Oxford cloth shirt, he was on the phone when I got to his office, but he waved me in, then stayed on the phone for 5 more minutes, after which he spent an additional three minutes looking for my file. Hmmmmm, I thought, I wonder if I’m supposed to be impressed that he’s so busy, or intimidated that he’s misplaced my file. Feeling neither impressed nor intimidated, I smiled brightly and let him look for my file, but I didn’t say anything. I’m not laboring under the illusion that silence means I have to speak. By training (psychology) and birth (Scandinavian Lutheran) I’m comfortable with silence. I waited and let Mr. Office Space speak first.

He looked over my job application.
“You left your previous job after just 3 months...” he said, at the last moment inflecting the end of the statement, to make it a question.

I stopped smiling and looked sober.
“Family leave. Major house fire,” I said.


“But I worked at the U for five years before that...” I added, cheerfully.

He brightened and nodded and continued to peruse my application. He cleared his throat.

“You’re making ($X) per year?” he asked.

“Yes, I am,” I said, nodding, not missing a beat.

He made eye contact. I held eye contact.

“Uh huh,” he said. “That’s at the upper limit of the salary range for this job...”

“Is it?” I said cheerfully.

“Yes,” he said, “It is...”

“Well,” I said, “Now that you mention it, no one’s actually told me the salary range for this job. What is it?”

He consulted a fat black binder and told me.

I smiled confidently and said nothing.

Looooooooooong silence. He flipped through my paperwork.

“Well, but, you have a master’s degree...” he finally said.

“Yes I do,” I said cheerfully.

“And experience...”

I nodded my acquiescence to that.

In rapid-fire succession, he then told me about the 401K and the insurance and the PTO. I responded by oohing and ahhing appropriately. I then told him how much I like the Fort Worth Symphony and Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s conducting, after which we agreed that Sundance Square rocks, and The Kimbell is amazing.

“Do you have any questions for me?” he asked. “I mean about benefits or anything?”

“I read the literature,” I said, “and I think I have a pretty clear understanding of benefits. I guess the only other question I have is what kind of a time frame are we talking about?”

He said two to three weeks.

I thanked him for his time and went back upstairs, where J was still irritated with him.

“Did you meet with him?” she asked.

“Yes I did,” I said.

“You weren’t there very long,” she said suspiciously.

“I guess not,” I said.

“Did you talk salary?” she asked.

I couldn’t resist using her own line back on her:
“We’ll talk later,” I said.

All that posturing wiped me out. While J was downstairs picking up some files, I slipped out and drove home, where I dumped some chemicals into the pool, drank a Pear Ale, and promptly fell sound asleep.

I hate having to think about money. I don’t have a burning desire to be filthy rich, but I’d like to have enough money to not have to think about it and while I admit I don’t know how much that is, I believe that it’s probably less than one would think.

Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard and the author of the book, Stumbling on Happiness, writes
"Once you get basic human needs met, a lot more money doesn't make a lot more happiness." Dr. Gilbert’s research suggests that going from earning less than $20,000 a year to making more than $50,000 makes you twice as likely to be happy, however, he says that things level out after that, so that the increase in happiness for surpassing $90,000 is slight.

I can believe that. The fact is, I don't much care for people who care a lot about money. All too often, they know the price of everything and the value of nothing...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

men and women...

So we’ve hired all these additional contractors in the past couple of weeks: 4 women and 1 guy. All of them have had to interview with numerous people, including me. The guy is an immigrant, from Africa, with a wonderful, lilting accent. I don’t know what his story is, but I know he’s been in America for a while, doing contract work in a number of places, most recently New Jersey. When he accepted this job, the company asked him to start right away, so he flew down without any of his stuff, not even his car, which is being shipped. He lived in a hotel the first week he was here, and various co-workers drove him to and from work, but last Thursday he rented a car and found a cheap apartment (his terminology), 5 minutes away from campus.

He ends up working in a cubette (yeah, that’s what they’re called, and it’s accurate) just a few feet down from me, albeit with his back to me. We’re doing similar work, and I’ve previously done the work we’ve hired him to do, so he’s been assigned to a space close to me so I can answer any questions he has about what he’s doing.

We both worked late on Thursday, but at a quarter to eight, having been at my computer for almost 12 hours, I called it a day.

“Don’t work too much longer,” I said, smiling, as I logged off and prepared to leave.
“And keep track of your hours. Remember to ask Sue if you can bill overtime.”

“Oh, I won’t work too much longer,” he said in his beautiful, lilting accent. “Have a good evening, Judi.” The way he says my name, it sounds exotic: “Zhoodee”.

“Thanks, you have a good evening too,” I said as I left.

Having worked a long day Thursday, it was my intention to leave by 3:30 or so on Friday afternoon, but the best laid plans and all that...

At 5:30 I’m still sitting at my cubette, trying to write a cohesive account of a complicated follow up call that I’ve just completed. He’s still there too, typing away, but other than the two of us, there’s no one else in sight or in earshot. He turns around in his chair.

“Are you working late tonight, Judi?” he asks.

“Not really,” I say,
“I’m just finishing up some things here, to avoid sitting in rush hour traffic. What about you? Have you finished?”

“I have, but I will wait for you,” he says, in his beautiful accent.

“Oh no, that’s OK, go ahead, it’s Friday,” I say.
“And anyway, I’m not going to stay late tonight...”

“No no, ” he says,
“I will wait. I will wait, and we will walk out together.”

I’m a bit of a workaholic; that’s known about me. Sometimes I’m teased about that. It’s nice of him, I think, to say that he won’t leave until I do, to assure that I’ll leave at a reasonable hour on a Friday.

“Thanks,” I say.
“Alright then, let me just finish up and I’ll log off, and we’ll walk out together.”

The cleaning staff has waxed the floors, and put construction tape across the doorway at the end of the hall, so we can’t leave that way. We take a detour that I know, down the back stairs, past some of the research cubes.

When we get outside, it’s a lovely evening: clear and cool.

“Do you have plans for the weekend?” he asks, in his beautiful accent, as we walk toward our cars.

“Oh, I have big plans,” I say, chuckling,
“I think my daughter and I are going to buy a new used clothes dryer, because my old one is dying. What about you? Do you have plans?”

“I want to see Fort Worth,” he says.

“Oh yes, you must explore a bit,” I say.
“There’s lots to you like art? Go to The Modern, or better yet, check out The Kimbell. Have you been to Paris?”


“Well, I’ve been once, and the was designed by Louis Kahn, and it’s so beautiful...there’s crushed gravel outside, and all these trees, and there’s an always reminds me of Paris...”

“Paris France?” he asks incredulously.

“Yes,” I say, and ask again, “Have you been?”

“No,” he says, “Have you?”

“Well yes, as I said, once, when I was young..."

He blurts out,
“I would like you to show me Fort Worth!”

I’m a little taken aback. Shoot, I’m a LOT taken aback. I don’t even live in Fort Worth, and he knows that.

“Well,” I say, faltering, feeling as if I’ve suddenly stepped into murky waters
...“Sure...maybe...sometime, when I’m over here...perhaps we could do that...”

“We will see Fort Worth and then get some dinner,”
he says, talking fast. He takes a step toward me. “I didn’t want to say anything inside,” he says, shrugging toward the buildings behind us,
“But...I would like to do that.”

“Well, maybe sometime,”
I say vaguely, backing away from him a bit...

“I am telling you, I would like to go out with you!” he says forcefully. It is a pronouncement.

I look at him. I have no idea how old he is, but he’s not a kid. He had to interview with me, for Chrissake! Still, I’m not sure I’ve heard him correctly, or perhaps I’ve misunderstood...and my face must show my confusion, because he repeats,

“Yes, I am telling you, I want to go out with you!”


I didn’t see this coming, but I know for sure, I don’t want to go out with him, or for that matter, with any of my co-workers...

And I also know that I don’t want to have this conversation with him right then, alone in a darkening parking lot...

“I have to go,” I say, and I turn away from him, walking fast to my car...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday afternoon project...

It's good to have a son who's 6'5" who weighs 145 pounds, and here's why:

Of course, it's also good to have a daughter who's a regular reader of Craigslist

My old clothes dryer has been slowly dying. It still worked, but only on the timed cycle, and anyway, it was almond colored, and didn't match my washing machine, which is graphite...I know in the big scheme of things, such things don't matter, but call me shallow,I happen to care about such Kath went online, to Craigslist Dallas, and found a dryer that matches my washing machine for just $80...and she drove and picked it up, and Christo installed it for me, even hooking up the gas connection...VOILA!

To celebrate (I'll celebrate anything) everyone's coming over to my house tomorrow night for dinner. I'm making corned beef with carrots and potatoes, beer bread, and an apple souffle pancake for dessert.

Weekends are good.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

2:00 AM Thoughts...

It’s 2:00 AM, and I’m at the keyboard, drinking Lillet with a bit of orange peel and eating grapes and walnuts with blue cheese. My boss called me this afternoon, laughing. "Boy," she said, "Am I glad they didn’t require drug tests, when they hired me!" She wanted to know if it’d be OK to have the offer letter sent to me at work, rather than Fed-Exing it to my house. "Sure," I said, "And I’ll drink lots of water this weekend, and of course I’ll avoid poppy seed bagels..."

I guess that means we won’t be discussing salary. I guess that means the offer will be in the letter.

Well then.

I left at a little after 4:00, and still it took me an hour and a half to drive home. I drove straight to the post office, where I picked up my painting with 5 minutes to spare before closing. I looked around, but there was no one remotely resembling Bukowski working there. Then I drove to Dino’s Shoe Repair to pick up the pair of sandals I’d dropped off last Saturday. The ankle strap needed to be repaired, and when I dropped them off, I was told I could pick them up today. They weren’t ready, though. "The elastic, we do not have," the woman said. "We have order. It will be here tomorrow morning. You come back tomorrow afternoon, after 2:00. They ready then. So sorry."

"It’s OK," I said. "I’ll come by tomorrow."

I went home and tore open the painting. I wasn't disappointed. It’s beautiful, and this was a week where I needed something beautiful. I put it in my bedroom.

My kitchen is a mess, but I took out the garbage. Dinner was mushroom/goat cheese quesadillas with pico de gallo, sour cream, and a Mexican coke, after which I channel surfed and dozed on the couch. Now it’s almost 2:00, and I’m sipping Lillet and listening to Nick Cave and eating grapes and typing...I say typing, because I don’t think this actually qualifies as writing...

And as for that offer letter...we’ll see.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Message left on her cellphone at about 11:30 last Saturday morning for my firstborn, who is busy planning her wedding to her college sweetheart, whom she’s marrying in A’s backyard on the last Sunday in May:

“Hey there sweetheart, your father and I are in Crate and Barrel, looking at champagne flutes and discussing caterers...”


Message (not delivered, except in my head) for my younger daughter, upon learning, yesterday, of her separation and impending divorce:

“No! Absolutely not! BAD IDEA! Go to your room and think about this, and don’t come out until you’ve changed your attitude...”

*sigh* - if only it were that simple...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

And the winner is...

March 1, 2007 - 12:19 AM -
it's officially mine...