Life, Punctuated

Sidewalk exclamation point

In the sidewalk on the way from my office’s parking garage to the building, there are two holes in the concrete, one more elongated than the other, such that they look like an exclamation point. Having worked for the same company for nearly seven years now, I can honestly say that I have walked past this punctuation mark literally hundreds of times, but its meaning to me is ever changing.

Over the years, walking in and out of the office in various moods and seasons of life, this little exclamation point has meant so many different things to me. When I first started working straight out of college, it was a symbol of exuberance and excitement. My first real job!

During later years, it was an exclamation of frustration. Why is everything so difficult?! Other times, it represented outbursts of anger or bitterness – toward people, life situations or even myself. Sometimes, in more recent years, these two little holes in the sidewalk have been a cry out to God from the depths of a broken heart.

With an intensity like mine, regardless of my current emotion, that emotion is always felt – and expressed – with an exclamation point. I don’t do anything halfway. Every thought and feeling is punctuated with a depth and intensity that can only be represented by an exclamation point.

And so, in my mind, I have adopted this little marking in the sidewalk. It has been my constant companion these many years, always appearing the same to passersby but transforming in meaning for those with eyes to see.

Authentically Aurora

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Professional Panties in a Twist

dilbert-buzzword-bingoWorking for a large company has taught me to expect all corporate communication to go something like this: “Blah, blah, blah… [jargon]…. [buzzword]… blah, blah, blah.”

So when I was recently tasked with heading up departmental communication (apparently I have a way with words or something), I decided to take a big risk and completely revamp our corporate communication style.

Our previous monthly email out to internal staff was the typical multi-paragraphed mumbo-jumbo of fluff talk that no one bothers to read:

Corporate Messaging

So this month, I added a bunch of visuals. Not just visuals, but departmental memes. Because I am young. And hip. And hilarious. And awesome.

We have a system called SQS that was recently rolled out and is now mandatory for all staff. Instead of just saying that (because… #snoozefest), I utilized the infamous LOTR meme:

Game of Thrones meme

And for the roll out of our new SharePoint site (internal document sharing site), I called in Willy Wonka:

Willy Wonka meme

I also used both the Morpheus meme and Keep Calm meme for other portions of the staff communication. Of course, I included all of the typical buzzwords and departmental jargon, but my hope was that people might actually laugh, enjoy reading the monthly email or, at worst, be momentarily broken out of their desktop daze and the mesmerism of monotony.

As expected, I took major heat for going off the beaten path and doing something new, unique, fun and different. Heaven forbid we use visuals – or color – or humor! in our internal staff communications! How unprofessional!

Actual comments I got back:

“I like the icons but perhaps too many humorous ones for the first publication… but may be a generational thing.” I like the all black, completely visuals-free snore of a monthly newsletter we usually send out – oh wait. No I don’t. Must be a generational thing.

“I personally don’t understand pic.” I personally don’t understand your failure to appropriately use articles in your sentences. 

“Are we in fifth grade?” No, but some of us believe in embracing our inner child and actually trying to have some semblance of fun at work. Since, you know, we spend a third of our lives here.

Fortunately, a few people appreciated my efforts:

“It actually made me read the note, which is a huge plus.”

“That’s awesome. I’d read any staff communication with ‘Matrix’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ references!”

“Good note!” — This from our new General Manager. Score!

“Departmental Memes… love it!”

Kyle, of the fire alarm story, comforted me with this when I got my feelings hurt about never fitting the mold at this company: “It was a good try. It’s always tough to make modern changes with an oil company. Don’t let it discourage you. You made at least one coworker laugh!”

Thanks, Kyle. At least someone appreciates my creativity and sense of humor here!

Authentically Aurora

Bachelor Bash – Week 2

We’re only two weeks in, and already Bachelor Chris and his harem contestants have given us countless cringe-worthy quotes, producing simultaneous amusement and disgust in viewers everywhere. Here are the Top 10 Bachelor quotes so far this season!

#10 – Ashley S. [creepily hunched over a pomegranate]: “I feel so powerful right now.”

Ashley S Onion

#9 – Jordan: “Jillian has the hairiest butt I’ve ever seen. It’s hairier than some of my ex-boyfriends’.”

Jordan hairy

#8 – Lacy (former Bachelorette): “We’re 80/40 on the [wedding] date.”

Lacy 80 40

#7 – Megan: “The butterflies in my stomach are just… colorful and smiling!”

Megan butterflies

#6 – Whitney: “Do y’all inseminate pigs on your farm? We kind of do the same thing! I’m a fertility nurse!”

Whitney insemination

#5 – Kaitlyn: “Sometimes when I tell a joke, it makes people laugh.”

Kaitlyn joke

#4 – Amber: “My heart literally pumps every time I see one of those little white envelopes.”

Amber literally

#3 – Bachelor Chris: “I wish I was a polygamist right now.”

Chris polygamist

#2 – Kaitlyn: “You can plow the **** out of my field any day.”

Kaitlyn plow

#1 – MacKenzie [to the virginal Ashley I.]: “Guys like taking your virginity… I’m so jealous. I can’t even use that because I have a kid.”

MacKenzie virgin

#facepalm. Just… #facepalm.

Authentically Aurora

Mixed Signals

It may come as a surprise to some of you that I am not confrontation averse. That statement was made with complete sarcasm.

Now, I don’t consider myself a contentious woman or someone who stirs up trouble just for the sake of excitement, but if someone needs to be rebuked or held accountable, I have no problem speaking up. Granted, some might say I still need work on the whole rebuking “in love” thing. I’m a work in progress.

Kate Not ImpressedFlynn hosted a Christmas party at his house last weekend. Yes, the same Flynn who has insinuated his interest in me but is still dating the girl he’s been “meaning to break up with” for two months. He said he knows I need an alpha male and “could be the kind of man [I] need”, but if he’s having trouble cowboying up and breaking things off with this soon-to-be-ex, I’m not so sure he’s as much an alpha male as he’d like to believe. This is my Not Impressed face.

I showed up to his Christmas party two hours late because I was spending time with Bryan, who left on Saturday for a week long trip to Colombia. It was a beautiful night out, so the doors and windows of Flynn’s house were all open. Since it was formal attire, I’d chosen to wear the same knockout floor length green formal I wore to sing in my brother’s wedding. I’d curled my hair and gone heavy on my eyeshadow for a dramatic look. As I waltzed through the doorway, the three gentlemen standing in the entryway stopped their conversion and watched me float by. Just the reaction I’d been going for.

I made my way to the kitchen for a drink. A girl I hadn’t met before greeted me with, “You look gorgeous!” just as Flynn turned around from where he’d been standing at the sink. At the same moment, Patricia, Flynn’s girlfriend, walked into the kitchen wearing a dress the same shade of green as mine. This new girl I’d just met oohed and aahed over how well Patricia and I matched and then insisted we take a photo together. #facepalm

The night progressed, and Flynn and I proverbially danced around one another. I agreed to sing karaoke with Trey, a sweet but awkward thespian. He chose the Frozen duet “Love is an Open Door.” We hammed it up, and the rest of the party loved it. Flynn jumped up with mistletoe on a stick and held it over us; then he videoed the end of the song when Trey’s character proposed and mine said yes.

“It’s official now,” Flynn said to me as I passed off the mic. He’s been teasing me about Trey ever since the camping trip.

“If you make one more crack about us…” I threatened jokingly. He just grinned.

When I sang karaoke for “Silent Night”, I glanced up to see Flynn watching me intently. Then he took the mic and imitated Elvis with “Blue Christmas.” His eyes locked with mine several times with silent communication I couldn’t decipher.

Patricia wasn’t feeling well and so left early. Meanwhile, the girl who’d loved my dress got out a violin, and Flynn went to a back room to pull out a cello. He plays cello. A super hot engineer in a suit and tie playing a melancholy line on a cello?! That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all.

Hot CellistI walked past him at one point while he was tuning and commented, “I didn’t know you played cello.” He looked up at me through dark lashes from his seated position and said with a sideways smile, “We haven’t gotten that far yet.” A present perfect verb tense. My heart fluttered. Interesting.

Over the booming of the speakers and the volume of the higher pitched violin, I couldn’t hear Flynn’s cello very well and told him as much at the end of the party. “I was disappointed I didn’t really get to hear you play.”

“I guess you’ll have to come back then,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

“…or you could stay,” he mouthed silently to me when the others in our conversation weren’t paying attention. Then, embarrassed, he said out loud, “I didn’t say that.”

I pretended not to see or hear either comment. What was there to say? There was no appropriate reaction, because those comments shouldn’t have been made. He’s made his choice. He’s still with Patricia.

I left at the end of the evening feeling frustrated. I’m attracted to Flynn but feel like I shouldn’t be. Why does chemistry have to be so unpredictable and uncontrollable? And how much should raw attraction play into our relationship decisions?

The whole drive home, I kept hoping he’d break his silence and call. This party was the first time we’ve interacted since our lunch a month ago, and based on how things went, I felt like there was much to be discussed.

I typically don’t like to initiate (because I’m traditional and think that’s the man’s role), but I was so frustrated and confused that – for the sake of my health and sanity – when I got home and still hadn’t heard anything, I decided to call.

When Flynn answered on the third ring, I opened with, “Hey, it’s Aurora. Can we talk about the mixed signals I’m getting?”

“From Trey?” he asked without missing a beat. But surely he knew better.

“No.” I wasn’t letting him off the hook. “From you.”

His response was immediate, with a tone of knowing he had some owning up to do. “I’m a horrible person. I never should have said those things.”

“Stop. You’re not a horrible person,” I countered, “But you’re still with Patricia, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Well, a month ago, you told me you’d been planning to break up with her for weeks. So… things have gotten better with you two?”

“No! No. I just… it was her birthday on Monday. And before that, it was Thanksgiving. I keep rationalizing to myself, putting it off. I’m being a pansy. I just need to man up and do it. But I know it will devastate her, and I don’t want to hurt her. There just never seems to be a good time.”

“Well, there never will be a good time. But you’re a man and can take responsibility for how to handle your relationship with Patricia, so I’m not going to speak to that, but if you’re going to keep dating her, you can’t keep flirting with me the way that you do. You do realize you’ve put me in an uncomfortable situation, right?”

“Yes. And I feel horrible about it. After our lunch, I knew I couldn’t even talk to you until things were settled with Patricia. There’s this tension between us – you and me – this attraction. That’s why you haven’t heard from me. It’s taken so much self control for me to have your phone number and not call you. Or instant message you at work.”

He continued, “And you’re like a ninja at lunch. I’ve started sitting at a different table where I can see all the doors to the office cafeteria, but I never see you come in or leave.” Aww. He’s been looking for me.

I decided to show my cards a bit since he was doing the same. “I guess that’s why I haven’t seen you. I keep looking for you at your usual table.”

We both grinned into the silence over the phone line for a moment before I sobered up and sighed. “Okay. I’m sorry to have initiated this potentially awkward conversation, but I felt like some of these things needed to be said.”

“No, I agree completely. Better to get them out in the open and address them.”

“Good. Well, like I said, it’s your choice what you do about Patricia, but I think you know I’m not a boyfriend stealer, and I have no intention of being ‘the other woman’, so I’m not going to wait on you. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. If the timing ever works out, great. But I need you to know that I’m setting aside any expectations.”

“Right, of course,” he agreed. “That’s the way it should go.”

“And I’ll stop looking for you in the cafeteria,” I added.

“And I’ll stop checking your status on Communicator,” he concurred.

There was a brief pause before he closed out, “So I guess I’ll see you at work on Monday.”

“Maybe,” I replied cryptically.

He chuckled. “Okay, have a good night.”

“…Night.”

Authentically Aurora

Match Madness – Part II

As a continuation of Match Madness – Part 1, here are the Top 10 profile essays of men with whom I have personally been matched online.

I wonder if there’s an option for me to retake the personality assessment that this site is using for its compatibility algorithms…

#10:
ShavingMental note made: Don’t touch the man’s head!
#9:
Cooking movies
I’m sure there was supposed to be punctuation in there somewhere. This reminds me of “Let’s eat grandma: punctuation saves lives.” Fortunately, all that’s on the line here are a couple of DVDs.
#8:
Excited
Wow! You are very excited! And enthusiastic! Yay!!!
#7:
Biohacking
For those of you who don’t know what bio-hacking is (I didn’t, either; I looked it up), it’s basically self-mutilation. Gross. Where do they find these people?!
#6:
Grammar
“There is to many.” If you don’t understand why this one made the list, please don’t read You Lost Me at “Your”.
#5:
Talkative
…I see.
#4a:
Expectations 1High expectations.
#4b:
Expectations 2
More outrageous expectations.
#3:
Passionate
Yeah, you sound really passionate about people.
#2:
AwkwardUm… [walks away]
#1:
Heaven

Baby, if you’re expecting your wife to get you into heaven, you’ve got seriously unrealistic expectations about marriage.

Authentically Aurora

You Lost Me at “Your”

Grammar
I am a Grammar Nazi. For better or worse, I internally cringe when people use the wrong your/you’re. So when I started using one of the highest ranked (and most expensive) online dating sites, I was appalled by the way some of my matches presented themselves. Some of these men are paying upwards of $60/month to unintentionally communicate to me that, although they may have a Master’s degree, they barely passed their sixth grade English class.
Shallow as it may seem, I could not in good conscience allow any of the following men to take me on a date because there would be zero chance of our making it through the appetizer course without my eye starting to twitch from his incorrect use of “literally” or “I could care less”.
Capture
How do you own multiple companies and not know how to properly pluralize the word “company”?!
Capture2
As someone WHO enjoys grammar, allow me to remind you that I am a person, not a thing. Also, I’m glad that you have values. Maybe you should add proper grammar to them.
Capture3
…I have no words. Meens? MEENS?!?! Okay… wow. Different people have different gifts. Basic spelling – literacy, in fact – is not something everyone has the opportunity to develop. That said, can I imagine waking up next to Mr. Meens every morning for the rest of my life? No. The answer is a definite no.
If I ever owned multiple “companys”, our “value’s” would include teaching the “meening” of self presentation and its impact on the likelihood of landing a quality woman.
Authentically Aurora
P.S. In college, my dad apparently used to red line love letters from his roommate’s girlfriend and mail them back to her with grammatical corrections. He and his roommate thought it was hilarious, and – while I feel for the girl – a part of my heart is warmed at the thought. Sick, right? I must come by this grammar OCD genetically.