Archive for the ‘rants’ Tag

Random Bits

Been a week or so since I checked in. Thought I’d give a little update on some random things to keep the posting streak alive.

  1. I went to a charity event Friday night with some friends. The luxury cars and planes on display were cool. The food…not so much. But the hip taco place my friends and I hit up after was well worth it. I got to wear my suit and feel awesome in it, have a great time with cool people, and eat amazing guacamole and street tacos. That’s a Friday night that did not suck! ūüėé
  2. I’ve been having some deeply satisfying philosophical discussions with a variety of good friends lately. As is the way with philosophy, no hard answers have been achieved. It’s in the journey of the discussion where the value lies. What I appreciate most is the quality of the time and emotional labor my friends are investing in me and our relationships.
  3. Some of that deep thought has been spent on my job search. Still plotting my escape. It’s just going more slowly than I’d like. Certainly slower than the resurgence of the stress load. But, as I posted on my FB the other day, I’ve learned my lesson on speaking freely when invited: they don’t really mean that. So, heads down, coping smile in place, soldiering on. Anyone know where a hard working, smart and experienced commercial transactions attorney can find work where she’s appreciated?
  4. I live in a pretty comfortable small city, fairly clean and accommodating. But even here there seems to be a faction of people who can’t mind their own business and who feel a compulsion to police the use of public restroom facilities. I’m growing weary of having to clear the hurdle of old biddies who want to challenge my right to pee in the women’s room, especially when it’s a pressing need. Geez, yes! I know my bow tie is an unusual accessory choice for a woman, but it’s not a reason to make me nearly wet myself preventing me from getting to a toilet!
  5. Because I wanna be positive and end this list on a good note: I am riding the wave of good vibes picked up when spending the long Labor Day weekend with good friends. They hosted me in their home, nourished my body and spirit with tasty food and fellowship, laughing freely and connecting deeply. I’m so blessed to have such good people in my life!

Friends, I hope the balance of good and annoying experiences in your life are tipping decidedly towards the good, positive side and that you find at least one good thing to celebrate today.

No More Apologies

Earlier this week I saw a post on Facebook that kicked me right in the feels and the thinks.¬† I don’t have permission to re-post the full post here, but I will give this description and small excerpt to set the context of my ravings below.¬† The original poster is a college professor and someone whose writing in various media and platforms has revealed to me her acute intelligence, passion, compassion and genuine concern for all humans, and LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized humans in particular. Speaking of some of her women students, she posted about the heartbreak she feels at the volume of these students who have been conditioned to constantly apologize for their thoughts…even their existence.¬† This bit of her post particularly resonated with me:

“…brilliant young women who have been so often told that they cannot trust their own minds, that they are poor thinkers, that they are not bright enough, that they had better keep their mouths shut and their heads down, who end up in my office apologizing profusely and repeatedly for having a thought, for having too many thoughts to organize them intuitively, for having a thought too advanced for their vocabulary but not for their conceptual capacities…”

There was at least one commentator on this post that denied having been conditioned in this way.¬† I’m happy for that person. But the vast majority of responses were from female-identified people for whom, like me, this impulse is so ingrained that it took conscious, intentional effort to post a comment that didn’t include an apology – whether for piling on, or having their own take on the phenomenon, or for simply having the gall to post at all. Several who responded wrote of their conditioned guilt response to their “taking up space”.

My thoughts on this whole topic exploded to such a degree inside my head that it was impossible to do them justice in a comment-sized installment. But they’ve been present all week, sometimes very quietly way back in the back of my head, sometimes very loudly in the very front of my brain, pushing aside the thoughts and words I’m supposed to be thinking and speaking about entirely different topics.

So it was, with these untamed thoughts swirling, ever present in my head and in my mood, I reached the late afternoon on Friday of an extremely trying week full of work frustration.  After an afternoon of battling dragons for budget resources to save my team from burn-out after being constantly asked to do more and more with less and less, I was already on-tilt and in a less-than-optimal frame of mind to deal with any more idiocy for this company this week.  Then I checked my email.

What I found sent me on a a down-hill slide straight into a rage that felt very much like foaming-at-the mouth lunacy.¬† The trigger was a snide, unprofessional, strident whinge and petulant demand from a person who holds a senior leadership position (but who has demonstrated exactly zero actual leadership in the more than five years I’ve been burdened to work with him), condemning an administrative person on my staff for erroneously messaging that this person’s deal had been de-prioritized in favor of other deals at the direction of senior leadership.

Had the email been sent to me alone, I still would have been pissed off at the language of the message and the fact that it was an email at all, instead of a phone call, but I most likely would have simply acknowledged and corrected the error and moved on.  But since this tool felt the need to direct his insulting commentary and demand to a host of individuals whose rank and influence I cannot, for the sake of my team, ignore, I was forced to respond.

Although I am intelligent and have an above-average vocabulary and a decent degree of self-possession, I was not able to control my impulses enough cool down before responding to the same broad audience and additional recipients whom I felt needed to ‘get some on ’em, too’.¬† Although my response was, admittedly, terse and clearly conveyed my extreme irritation, I was successful in keeping it both short and professional.

Then, as so often happens, I belatedly considered the fall-out.¬† By electronically snapping off the pencil-necked idiot’s bloated head, I risked the incident being flagged up the chain to our executive leaders, including my boss.¬† Not wishing to have him be blind-sided by questions or complaints from his fellow execs, I quickly forwarded my missive to him as a heads-up.¬† I then went next door to his office and inquired if he was proficient at criminal defense, in case I ended up murdering that jackass.

My boss is a smart, compassionate man who has demonstrated great respect for me and a knack for talking me down off the ledge when I go off like this.¬† He laughed and said he’d have a hard time keeping from strangling that jerk if he were in my shoes.¬† We then talked it through and, after I received his reassurance that he had my back, I started to leave, making a parting comment that included an apology¬† for my emotional reaction and for making my problem his issue.

Since that kind of comment is not uncommon from me, he was not surprised by it, but he refused to accept it.¬† He looked me directly in the eye, called me by name, and said something so true that it stunned me.¬† He said: “I think your feelings when you do that [apologize for my reaction] are actually regret at having always to be the adult in the room.”

That really is it.¬† While I get angry at the mistreatment of my team and that anger does fuel my responses a lot of the time, the rage that gives birth to the types of outbursts that cause me to warn my boss about potential blow-back comes from always being held to a higher standard while others seemingly¬† breeze-by on the barest minimum of effort.¬† I and my team are content to be held to fiduciary standards applicable to legal professionals in matters of of our legal practice – when giving legal advice and opinions or representing our clients.¬† But when we’re expected to be perfect, provide instantaneous and error-free business services, to do the thinking for everyone else, and do it all with a smile while being met with everything from disinterest to sneering contempt from those making these demands, even the best-tempered among us grow weary and can snap.

My boss went on to say: “You are [the adult in the room] and you do a great job at it, and are always professional. Don’t apologize for being right or for being frustrated.¬† You’re right and your feelings are valid.”

And that’s where my thoughts from earlier in the week collide with my work-induced frustration.¬† His words of kindness and validation had their desired effect, calming me and making me feel better about a crappy situation.¬† But they also triggered a dissonance that still niggles in my head, prompting this post.

Here’s my struggle:¬† I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t in terms of my reactions.

On the one hand, I felt compelled to apologize for having a reaction and for taking up time and space in my boss’ head because of my emotional response.¬† It didn’t matter that my response was proportionate, professionally worded, and appropriate to the stimulus.¬† It was emotion-based (anger, frustration, disappointment) and that automatically translated, in my culturally-conditioned brain, to “woman’s reaction” and “not worth his time”.

But on the other hand, when he validated my reaction and praised me for my handling of the matter, I immediately felt guilty for feeling reassured by it, and frustrated for needing his validation. Again, my impulse, instinct is to reject my reaction as unworthy.¬† This time the reaction comes from a forward-thinking, feminist mind-set that tells me I should be, and feel that I am, enough without the validation of a man or any other person in a position of authority.¬† I do believe that.¬† But there’s still the guilt and discontent.¬† That, too, is a culturally-conditioned response based on “female” emotion which I am conditioned to believe is worth less than “male” emotion and “male” logic.

Can’t win for losing.

As so often happens with my deeper thinking lately, I don’t have answers, only more questions.¬† I can’t end this post with it all tied up in a neat bow (or dapper bow tie). I’ll struggle with this for a long time, I’m sure.

But I know this:  No More Apologies.

From now on when I flame some unthinking, slug-brained Neanderthal of a supposed leader, I’m not going to apologize for it or for warning my boss that I’ve done it.¬† I’m just going to flame on and move on.

That’s my new mantra:

FLAME ON AND MOVE ON

A Lament (because venting prevents violence)

Gut-boiling, teeth-grinding, head-pounding anger is something I try to avoid at all costs.  It is impotent to resolve its cause and damaging on so many levels.  Ordinarily, I much prefer reasoned argument, persuasion, logic, compassion and active listening.  These things present better opportunities for peaceful, equitable resolution.  They are tools with purpose and utility, where blind rage and seething indignation is useless.

However, there are those times, thankfully rare in my life, when my sensibilities are so outraged, my logic and intelligence so affronted and my sense of justice so injured that such anger is the only response available to me.  Active, purposeful efforts to control emotion, maintain objectivity and professional decorum are unavailing against an avalanche of injustice.

This week has been full to bursting with professional injustices that have me overwrought. ¬†I am so disappointed in the lack of leadership and support from my boss, a colleague I’ve so long respected and admired. This, I think, is the greatest blow of all that have fallen this week, that his heretofore unassailable logic, intelligence, professionalism, fairness and personal integrity are utterly absent. I expected to rely on him to provide guidance and a calming influence in this struggle, while supporting me and the decisions I have to make to manage my team. That is the role and duty of a senior executive. I have never before doubted his leadership and it is a bitter, burning disappointment to find cause to doubt in the midst of a storm. ¬†I am angry…and sad…and frustrated that the vacuum of personal integrity of certain business leaders is condemning me and my team to a Sisyphean labor of futility.

Positivity and hopefulness have never felt so out of reach.

In Which I Rant About Rants…

I’m bound to make myself unpopular (too late!) with this post. So be it. Everyone else seems to go on these raging rants on Twitter and Face Book, spewing vitriol and expecting agreement and support. Well, here are my thoughts, as cogently and calmly delivered as possible, and I expect nothing from anyone. They’re my thoughts, posted on my blog, for my own personal gratification. I hope you read and appreciate the thoughts, even if you disagree. But I don’t ask for or expect anything of you. This was on my mind and I’m sharing it.

Oh, and for those of you expecting a post updating on my coming out to my family and my visit with Lulu over the last month…be patient, please. I’m working on it. ūüôā

— — — — —

Despite my undergraduate degree in Political Science and my Juris Doctor degree and my 15+ year practice as an attorney, I am not a political creature. Believe it or not, I really don’t care for the angst, tension and drama surrounding American and world politics at every level like a poisonous cloud. It’s nature is anathema to my peaceful, quiet-seeking mind.

But you can never truly get away from it. Even eschewing traditional media sources that focus on political issues and commentary, it’s ubiquity is unavoidable. Looked at ESPN or FoxSports lately? Full of commentary on things unrelated to team sports in anything but the most tertiary fashion. What about prime time tv? Can’t even watch a sitcom without a dose of ‘agenda programming’ by at least one pole in the spectrum. And social media? Forget it. Scroll through your timeline on any given platform on any given day and if you don’t see posts and tweets and retweets of every political cause going, count yourself lucky.

What’s my beef with it all, you ask? It’s news and current events, don’t you want to be informed and activist for your causes?

Yes, I want to contribute to the interests that concern me or resonate with me. And no, I don’t have a problem with news reporting by anyone, or even expressing editorial or personal opinion.

What I really object to, especially in the rants I see on social media, is the critical judgement imposed on those who question, are skeptical until convinced, and probe for deeper meaning or clarity of argument. Those who don’t simply nod in agreement, jump to catch the bandwagon and fall into lockstep with the ranting professor of opinion are vilified in the cruelest way. And the base tactic of implying insanity, low intelligence, even malice or evil when stating these polarizing opinions , I find repugnant.

The latest issue to catch my eye is the fad of demonizing anyone who has more than a few dollars in their pocket and even hints at any form of conservative viewpoint. It doesn’t matter the core issue or message, if the person speaking/writing/performing is perceived to have money and has conservative opinions, they’re the devil. Even those in marginal groups. If you aren’t living from paycheck to paycheck and don’t believe in forced redistribution of wealth, your opinion on anything, even your own field of expertise, is questionable at best, and your personal value as a human is nil.

The existence of wealth of any level seems to have become a disqualifier for being valued as a person. Even if the wealth (or perception of it) is totally unrelated to the matter at hand, it’s trotted out as a reason to question the person’s motives, integrity, veracity, intelligence and humanity.

Sound familiar to anyone?

The same thing has been done relative to every form of differentiator of human condition over time. Race, creed, color, nationality, gender, sexuality, you name it, it’s been used as a foil to hold down an entire population.

But economic status is no more linked to inherent value of persons than any of those other attributes.

I don’t understand why we allow ourselves to be gulled by media and social pressure into devaluing our fellow humans on the basis of these un-related attributes and characteristics. Focusing on the words and actions of each person individually is the only way I know of to avoid the fallacy of collective, stereotypical prejudice.

Please…do have your opinion, and make it a strong one, on any issue you like. Cultivate views on every condition facing this world today and into the future. Even form preferences and affinities for or against any given thing or idea.

But please…judge your fellow humans individually on their personal merits as demonstrated in their action and speech, not collectively based on any arbitrary characteristic or attribute associated with any group or population.

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