Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Finances! Flee!

Today, my company went 401k on me. Now I have to start making investment decisions and things like that. I’d like to think that it’s my general bohemian world views that have made me such a dolt with money, but the reality is that I’m just not good with finances. I’ve been stuck in a $3000-plus hole for four years now, and every time I manage to climb a few feet up to the surface, something cold and wet and ferocious that may or may not resemble that new CD player I wanted drags me back down to the murky depths yet again.

In my youth, I am sitting in the courtyard behind my high school, talking with other stupid high school students, one of whom I may at this time be madly in love with, and we’re musing on how stupid the very concept of money is. Root of all evil, I say. Quite so, says other stupid high school student. Let us imagine a world in which there was no money [1]. Perhaps by sitting here and talking about it, one day we will have created paradise. I agree. Is that the new Cranberries single on the radio? Dolores O’Riordan rules my world.

Flash forward, cold cruel world, etcetera.

So now I have a 401k. We’ll just have to see how that works out when I’m 65.

More fun with Google [2] today. Decided to look up my office co-workers on the web, just to see if I could discover what goes on with them outside of the workplace. I found what may be a photograph of the newest hire taken when she was in middle school. I’m not a hundred percent sure, in part because her name seems like it might be fairly common, and in part because it’s a middle school picture. Looks a lot like her, though. The photo was in a strange place; it was at the side of an article which reviewed the They Might Be Giants live album Severe Tire Damage. The reviewer was mentioning my co-worker as a preface to the review, detailing the middle school crush he had on this girl, and although I stopped reading somewhere down the page, I think he was going to relate the experience of this infatuation with the experience of listening to the Johns [3] singing live.

I may never know if this is her. I briefly considered, earlier today, emailing her the link and casually asking “Hey, is this you?” I considered that this might Freak Her Out, but then I considered mentioning that I was searching for reviews of TMBG albums and came across this one by accident. That no, I’m not some creepy stalker. And then I realized that lying about why I ran across her photograph on the Internet would be exactly the sort of thing that a creepy stalker might do. I also worry that this would be considered flirtation, and I’m not flirting with her. The recent episode of Coupling [4] has just delivered part one of a two-part study in office flirtation and the results were not comfortable, even if they were side-splittingly funny.

I also managed to find the web bio of my managing editor, a thirty year-old recently-married woman who writes her bios almost exactly like I do–that is, with little reverence and only the occasional fact–and has a photo of a cat surrounded by empty beer bottles for her photo. Among the tidbits within her bio that I found interesting were that she is the founding member and keyboard player of the band Sugar Bush–which is an especially lascivious name for a band of almost any genre–and a member of Perfect Teeth, which is the sort of name I now wish I could see attached to a British avant-punk band. Also, she refers to the office as “an awful hellhole” where we put together books on “jerk-offs” like Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Knight. This sentiment doesn’t come as a complete surprise, but it does strike a discordant note in me to see it in print. She considers herself an excellent editor but a mediocre boss. This last bit has had me silly with half-paranoia all day, as I wonder what it is about our relationship that leads her to consider herself mediocre. I know I’m not the hardest worker in the bunch, and that I’m also prone to letting my boredom with some books [5] affect how well I proofread them. I know I get distracted easily. My desk could stand a bit more organizational care. I know that last August she did me a tremendous service by not giving me a performance review, because I was doing a wreck of a job at one of the easiest jobs in all America, in the hopes that I could improve my work by January or February–in other words, she’s giving me a second chance to get a pay raise.

Does she wish she were a more strict taskmaster? Does she wish we had a more open, talkative office dynamic–something we don’t really have now, considering that we sit ten feet away from each other and most of our conversations happen via email? I still don’t know why I’m no longer invited to lunch. I suspect I may have chewed with my mouth open once or been otherwise disgusting. I don’t know. We don’t bring it up.

Anyway, this presents me with another dilemma. I’d like to toss an email–case in point–her way, and tell her that she’s a better than mediocre boss, from my own perspective on things. In fact, when I look back on it, she’s been the best boss I’ve ever had. I’ve had four or five now, not counting the single-day temp jobs I used to take here and there. But again, it reveals that I’ve been snooping around the Internet and looking up her name.

And now I wonder: what if she does the same? And what if she reads this? I, who recently decided to remove the “no-robots” distinction on my LJ, deciding that it was an act of subtle cowardice.

I can only hope that my understanding of this dilemma might prompt her to say something, but I don’t know that I’d do it first.

[1] It occurs to me now that I’d like to experiment with Sid Meier’s series of Civilization computer games, and try to build a society that never discovers currency.

[2] I recently read that this has become a sort of immediate go-to for many people in the private investigation industry. (“Find my daughter, Mr. Hammer. Please.” “All right. I charge $100 a day plus expenses.”)
After the client leaves, he pops up on Google and lets it do most of the legwork for him. I also understand that it’s become a verb du jour among computer-literate single women looking to do quick background checks on potential love matches. (“Fred in Accounting? He’s cute. Have you Googled him?”)

[3] Recently discovered that there’s a documentary out there right now titled Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns. When I first saw the title, I thought it might be yet another documentary on the life of John Holmes and another John whose adult film work I was not familiar with.

[4] Coupling is a show on BBC America (or, in Britain, just the BBC) that me and my friends discovered by accident–or, more accurately, at the suggestion of TiVo [6]. The show is Britain’s answer to Friends, being a sitcom about three single men and women who hang out in a notable drinking establishment and get into comedic situations. Thing is–and I say this as somebody who really liked the first four seasons of Friends–this show’s a hundred times funnier and smarter than its American predecessor ever was. What makes this even more impressive is that Coupling is actually guilty of the accusation that most critics of Friends have leveled at it–it’s a show about sex and very little else. Somehow though, between European television’s not having all our hangups about sex and the sharp, fun characters, it manages to stretch this single topic into brilliant comedy. It’s like having a weekly shot of Alan Ayckbourn. I can’t praise this show highly enough [7].

[5] Most notably, a long-winded and spine-searing biography of golf legend Bobby Jones, which compared him to so many notable historical luminaries that it’s a wonder he didn’t end his life crucified for all of humanity’s sins.

[6] TiVo has this rather uppity habit of recording shows you might like to watch. Most of the time, Donna’s roommates have to go through the playlist and get rid of the extraneous M*A*S*H rerun that’s popped up without being asked. This one time, though, it struck gold. So hooray for TiVo!

[7] Discovered recently that NBC acquired the rights to air an American version of Coupling, to be penned by series creator Steven Moffat. I imagine that NBC will screw this up royal, but beyond that, it’s deuced odd that NBC is essentially buying back their own concept in order to recycle it.

Current music: MP3 list, Tori Amos, “I Don’t Like Mondays”

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2003 by in Work.
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