April 18, 2001


Well, the hurricane may have finally blown through for this month, but I'm still wandering around amid the wreckage today, picking up garbage ... boarding up the broken windows ... assessing the damage.

My astrologer pal Sally wrote this morning to shed some light on the situation, both hormonally and astrologically: 

"... Frankly, there's PMS that's supposed to be worse than the others," she advises. "Of all the seasonal changes, I think spring is most difficult -- the daylight, the increased temperature. but don't forget mars in sagittarius can mean self-assertiveness taken to an impossible level. Mars romping thru a woman's chart brings out the raging Diana/Juno, I think. Attic culture had figured it all out so long ago...."

She then went on to yell at me for shelling out eight bucks for a bottle of calcium supplements. "I remember recommending this to you some while ago!" she scolded, telling me to start buying the el-cheapo drugstore brand. "It's just clamshells with ascorbic acid usually." 

She's right, of course. I'll run right out this weekend and load up on the cheap stuff.

But in the meantime ... Mars is "romping through my chart" at the moment, is he? "Self-assertiveness taken to an impossible level," you say? Maybe that explains why I still feel so defensive and prickly and antisocial today ... why I still don't seem to be capable of conducting a telephone conversation without slamming the receiver down in disgust immediately afterwards ...

(why the volcanic zit on my right cheek is actually getting BIGGER this week, instead of cooperatively exploding and shrinking and going away)

... and it might even explain why I spent my entire lunch hour today with my door shut and my lights turned off and my boom-box turned up as high as it will go without Building Management issuing an all-points bulletin for my arrest ... seething with toxic levels of rage and loathing towards our little Accounting Manager.

It's so unlike me to feel this way. Or at least ... it's so unlike the *new* me.

For as long as I've been with the Totem Pole Company -- it's been two years, two months, one week and five days, by the way: not that anybody's counting -- I have never actively hated any of my co-workers. Not even Franz, astonishing as that may sound. I may have complained about him on the website or grumbled about him in the ladies room or spit in his coffee, occasionally ... but I've never hated him. This has actually been a point of pride for me: the fact that I could operate in such a complex, dizzyingly dysfunctional workplace on a daily basis and not develop at least a molecule of genuine animosity towards anybody. "Hate" just seems like such an Old Twentieth-Century Secra emotion. "Kindness" and "tolerance" and "not-killing-anybody-completely-dead" are the buzzwords of New Improved Twenty-First-Century Secra.

Until now.

All of a sudden I have an actual, honest-to-goodness FOE at work. A woman who -- for reasons known only to her, reasons buried somewhere in the muddled and malignant depths of her tiny brain -- has decided that I am Up To No Good ... that I am sitting up there on the fourth floor, secretly bilking the company out of untold bazillions/selling trade secrets to the competition/strapping explosives to the underside of all the office machines ... and her mission in life is to catch me in the act of doing Something Bad.

This didn't happen overnight. She has been a minor irritant all along: a fleck of dried Maybelline in the corner of my eye ... a chicken bone in my Caesar salad ... a 9 a.m. run in my No Nonsense Sheer Endurance. She is the one who lobbied to remove Peet's Coffee from the Totem Pole lunch room last year,  replacing it with the virtually undrinkable (but cost-efficient) Smart & Final Restaurante Blend. (While, I'll point out, they continue to drink the good stuff downstairs on the first floor, where *her* office is located.)  Plus she was instrumental in getting Ned the Receptionist fired last week.  This, in and of itself,  is not sufficient cause to hate her. He committed a fireable offense. I would have had to fire him, too. What I found objectionable was her smug little Victory Dance, afterwards: she was worse than all of the Testosterone Units put together.

But the coupe de grace, as they say -- the cheddar on my tuna melt, when I ordered Monterey Jack -- was the constipated memo she circulated yesterday to several people in management, including Franz, the Human Resources Director Person and Jim, my boss. Apparently her microscope had discovered two minor errors on my electronic timesheets -- one in January, one in April -- and she had immediately decided that this was proof irrefutable that I was ripping off the Totem Pole Company.

"Secra charge more hours than she have," she wrote. "Perhaps Jim should be make aware of these issue."

I saw the memo before my boss did ... and I was furious. As soon as Jim returned to the Totem Pole Company that afternoon I went straight into his office and shut his door.

"I'm pissed," I said. And I handed him the memo.

He skimmed through it while I stood there fussing and fuming. "I don't even run a personal letter through the meter without leaving 34 cents!" I wailed. I work really hard to live honestly, these days. It's very important to me. How could this woman be impugning my integrity this way?

"So what you're saying is you're not trying to rip off the company?" he asked, and when I said nope, that wasn't the intent -- that something somewhere along the way had innocently gotten fudked up: a typo or a computer glitch, probably -- he said "OK. I don't need to hear any more." And he picked up the Accounting Manager's memo and got on the elevator and disappeared, presumably to confront her about the "these issue." 

And that was pretty much the last I heard of it.

Today things were more or less back to normal ... except that no one from the Accounting Department spoke a single word to me today, not even when we ran into each other in the bathroom or bumped into each other in the kitchen or ended up riding alone in the elevator together. Dead silence. They wouldn't even look me in the EYE. It's clear that some sort of invisible line has been drawn in the sand.

All of a sudden I don't have one new "foe." I've got an entire department full of them.

But you know what? I'm not going to write anything more about this. Just writing these few paragraphs about her tonight is already causing my blood pressure to boomerang ... and that's counterproductive. It upsets the delicate emotional balance I have been working so hard to achieve all day. I'm not going to turn her into the new Franz. I'm not going to be assigning her a cute pseudonym and adding her to the cast of regular *FootNotes* characters. She doesn't even rate a cartoon, frankly. It feels somehow more empowering -- more satisfyingly insulting -- to keep her anonymous and superfluous. 

(The ultimate bitch-slap: to NOT be bitch-slapped on *FootNotes.*)

But I will tell you this much: until I'm 100% certain that I'm back to normal, hormonally/emotionally/physically/every way that matters -- until all of the *hate molecules* have dissipated and I'm back to my usual sunny, good-natured, happy-doodle self (oh shut up)  -- this woman had better hope we don't run into each other alone in a dark alley somewhere.

Especially if she's carrying a goddamn mug of PEET'S COFFEE in her hand.

one year ago: night and day, baby

throw a rock