My (former) life as the crab

Musings about life after Crabby Office Lady

Budding creative writers: Do I disappoint them? June 17, 2012

Filed under: Annik,Family time — Annik @ 11:34 pm
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Met this very cool  11-1/2-year-old girl today whose family (she’s an only kiddo, like my own) moved next door—a few months ago— to my folks’ house (where there’s a pool and where  I  lived since I was 7) house in Denver.

Apparently this lovely, friendly, (&, just my take on it) aware young  lady “auditioned” and got into the esteemed  <City Name> School of the Arts (middle and high school)  here in our Fair City in the Creative Writing program (NOT an easy feat, from what I hear).

.I spoke to both her parents about writing for a living, and after 14+ years at MSFT, I hope I didn’t scare them. (Frankly, I scared myself, considering the waste of time, energy, and skill I’ve had to SUCK UP to the past 18 months). This lovely child’s dream is  to write fantasy novels and do travel writing (yeah—what writer”s dream isn’t?) and when I told her what I have been doing these many years, her slightly and beautifully slanted chocolate brown eyes (she’s half Micronesian) eyes glazed over and I could see she thought I wasn’t a *real* writer.

It gave  me pause.

But I wanted to tell her (& did tell her archeologist parents) that if you can  WRITE, you can get any job—even if it’s temporary. But 11-year-olds cannot see further than 3 or so months into the future.

Lucky them.

Bian and G got along like peas and carrots. Maybe it was the intellectual connection. Maybe they both love playing in water? Maybe it’s the writing thing (B wants to be a food critic) . Maybe it’s an Asian thing (doubt it). I was simply casually there —@ a poolside table struggling through the Sunday NY Times puzzle with them—and none of that came up. It was just friend-to-friend connection.

Love that simplicity of connection. Miss it. Miss being able to just trust it.

I love to see that because you know what? That “let’s-just-see-if-we-can-play-together is such risk that kids take naturally; they instinctively know that to make friends, they have   to simply put themselves out there —even if just for a limited amount of,time and even in a controlled environment–and…just go for it

That’s my goal for,the week: just go for it. (Gee, what a great slogan for sports equipments, eh? Only 25 years behind the times….)

—annik

 

Day four: I took a nap! June 15, 2012

Filed under: Annik — Annik @ 4:05 pm
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Okay, I really didn’t. Never been much of a napper. But I did do an hour an a half of hot yoga, sweated about a liter bottle full of salty water, drank it back, got a car wash (waited for the rain–here it comes) and then went online to start the job search. There was a dog walk in there too. Some squirrel chasing.

Okay, here are some things I learned about today:

Martha Payne's school lunch

Photo by Martha Payne

Martha Payne’s food blog

9-year-old Scot (Scottette?) Martha Payne writes a food blog about school lunches with the clever title NeverSeconds. Clever girl, apparently: she had more than 2 million hits when she was alerted by school officials  on Thursday, June 14, that she was no longer allowed to take and post photos of her school lunches. But just exactly one day later, “an Argyll and Bute council leader told the BBC that the ban had been lifted — effective immediately.”

Every day Martha posted about what she ate, how many bites it took to finish, how many hairs she found ( two, since launching the blog in April) and the nutritional value. Her blog caught the eye of the likes of famed (and terribly handsome) Jamie Oliver. It also raised money for “Mary’s Meals” an organization which raises money to help feed people around the world. Although I found some of her photos to be unappetizing, she DID give the last one (before she was banned and then un-banned) 10 out of 10 stars.So I guess the lunch ladies do not have to fear for their jobs.

Well done Martha! I shall show this to my own little blogger, the one who refuses to eat school lunches here in Colorado at all. I make her lunch everyday and she comes back with horror stories about what her school served that day…

Remi - one of our two Dumbo ratsThe rat likes to watch me type

Because it’s been so hot and because the air conditioner isn’t working upstairs (need a new one, just when I’m unemployed, of course), I’ve been sleeping in Bian’s trundle bed on a futon. (Know what a futon is filled with? HATRED.) Anyway, the rats, being as nocturnal as they were would NOT let this pre-menopausal woman–who has trouble sleeping anyway–sleep. SO I moved them to my office desk (which, after having gotten rid of all the PC junk–the laptop, the docking station, the huge monitor, the desktop, the gigantic keyboard, the mouse) where there is plenty of room with my very modular iMac now. And I never moved them back into Bian’s room. As I sit here and type, Remi, one of our 7-month-old rats is very interested in it. Bessie sleeps. Remi watches. I wonder if it’s the sound. I wonder if it’s the movement. I wonder if she’s learning language like The Rats of Nimh (from the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, which we’re reading right now, as it were). Rats are very smart. But I wonder if she takes dictation?

High Park fireThe High Park Fire continues to rage

I really feel for everyone affected by this horrible catastrophe. Today it jumped the Poudre river and is only 15% contained although it’s burned nearly 55,000 acres. It is going to take a LONG time for all those trees to grow back (and many of them were already affected by the Colorado Pine Beetle, making them more vulnerable to fire anyway. Let’s all send out some good hopes and prayers to the people out there: the homeowners, the residents, the firefighters, and the press covering it.

Good weekend, everyone. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads (and moms who are both mom AND dad–like me, Anna, Fran, and some other folks I know) and of course Hallmark, the company that invented this holiday. I kid you not.

— annik

 

Infidelity in the workplace: Believe me sexybacks, we all know June 13, 2012

P.S. Rob A. + Becca R.: Who doesn’t know (Double that: Who isn’t completely grossed out?) Hey MRS. Robinson: Remember the sweet present I sent your second child? Apparently not. God, I love that Karma charge card: Play now…pay later.

P.P.S. JeRe and Bon Vivant (see previous post): Again: Did you think we didn’t all know? Really? Las Vegas etc.? I was 1400 miles away and even I knew.

Ew. I mean. Ew.

(And J.R.: All that makeup and work done to your face? Like we wouldn’t notice?? Your smile is still tight and mean-spirited. Nothing can smooth that away. What happened to you? You used to be so…nice (well…sorta). And at the MVP Summit 2010? You couldn’t even DEIGN to talk to me because what, you were “getting into character” to talk to….Mister Excel?

If you want to be actors, J.R, D.T., L.B…..GO BE ACTORS. No one wants to see videos of geeks talking about their geekdom.  EW. AGAIN.

No idea who these people are - just an awkward company party

 

The price of freedom

Filed under: Annik — Annik @ 3:55 pm
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Crabby at the Microsoft sign in Redmond, WAIt’s my third day of freedom from the shackles that were (& I suppose still are) the Microsoft Office Team (specifically my immediate team, the “WHOMP,” team, a moniker given to us my our illustrious TOOL of a manager—who describes himself as a “Bon Vivant” on LinkedIn—and one I never bothered to find out what it meant.).

I cannot express the feeling of relief in my chest. The loosening of the gray phlegmatic 1s and 0s that comprise all computer work. Although I had a good, solid 10+ years at Microsoft (a company name I believe I dared not mention—until now) on this blog, this diary of sorts, this way of making myself believe I can still write full sentences that do not include the terms “click” or “menu” or “properties”.

I should have left April 19th, 2011, when a marketing wonk (whom I’d never met) named Craig Kerwien snidely informed me—while wearing his $200+ Microsoft Marketing Puffy Jacket (that group’s Christmas presents the previous year; our team group got….oh right: nothing) pilgrim-toed shoes, and thinning gelled hair—in a meeting that my job for the past 9.5 years, the Microsoft Crabby Office Lady, a force unto herself with more than 1 million followers, was being killed off because 1) Absolutely no one (well, on the marketing team, he said, which of course is all that counts) uses the word “crabby” anymore; 2) The Crabby Office Lady did NOT make the company any money (“good will does not translate into dollars” he smirked); and 3) ….I don’t think there was a third reason. By then I was thinking that it was my birthday and had just received a not-so-good phone call from. Y gynecologist regarding a biopsy.

Yeah, it was a great day.

My manager didn’t warn me about this impending cut (he wasn’t even on the Microsoft grounds that day—I’ve never even met the tool). His fathead (& I do mean that literally and if you know who he is you’ll know it’s true) didn’t warn me; and the two managers above him, the people who sanctioned Crabby in 2002 didn’t warn me.

But I did get this: An editor on our team was in the meeting and she took me to her office, closed the door, lowered her voice, and veritably cupped her hands around her mouth as she whispered to me that she hadn’t personally heard anything of my impending firing but that she knew Amazon was hiring. Classy, girl named after a spiky, thorny holiday plant that never flowers; classy. Hope it made you feel strong at a time when you probably knew that your time as head blog honcho was about to be pulled out from under you. I’d hoped for more from you. But hey, click File > Info > Embed in Memory.

I had a few weeks to wrap up Crabby’s story and pack her off (which I did…to her own desert island where she enjoyed being the Cougar she always was inside). And then I was assigned to writing Outlook help topics for the next version of Office coming out (oops…can’t tell ya when that is though I know you’re dying to upgrade from what…2003?), with a guy who’d been writing Outlook Help topics since 2003. Can you imagine? He was one really crabby guy and left to work at—oh yeah! AMAZON!—a couple weeks before my departure. Then I wrote Word topics until just last week.

Without giving too much away, I went from writing what I and millions other computer users considered useful, fun, humorous, and thoughtful content to writing things like…

…wait for it…

“Print multiple copies of a document.”

Yep, when you have to look that up in Help when you upgrade to the next version of Word about 7 years from now, you’ll see my fingerprints all over that sucker. It took weeks, I tell you, WEEKS of research to get that one down. And the art! My god! The training I had to endure! The feeling of inadequacy!

Truth be told, my fourth grader was sitting next to me as I was looking over the final version of it to make sure it was technically and grammatically correct…not to mention in the right tone and employing just the right amount of empathy toward a frustrated user who had to look up this complicated topic… (And for those of you in the know, I will not use the “v” word since Microsoft has no doubt copyrighted it and I’d probably be in some sort of legal trouble for using it even though we ALL KNOW I started that revolution in February 2002.)

Anyway, my 9-year-old said to me, “Is that a joke? Is that your job now? To write down things that we learned in first grade?”

I felt so proud.

(Yes, Bian, there is a Bill Gates, and he’d be mortified to know that the company he started was paying me a six figure salary to do the job anyone with a sixth grade —of perhaps first grade—education could do while skipping rope.)

But then again, I never did get a puffy jacket so I guess it all balanced out.

Annik Stahl dressed as the Crabby Office LadyGoodbye Crabby—you’ll always be a part of me.

Crabby columns
Blog
Crabby on 9News
Crabby’s book
Podcast
Crabby photos (? Hm. Not sure about some of those…)

And that is the end of THAT era. Onto better, more useful things that make me embarrassed in front of my daughter!!!

—annik

 

Grammar drives me crazy… March 16, 2012

But this in particular:

I hear people talk–on the radio, on TV, on the streets, even at work–who are (I’ve, in the recent past assumed–maybe correctly, maybe not) obviously not particularly educated,  and who don’t spend their time reading, much less writing or considering grammar (just conjecture, of course). This is the one that keeps throwing itself on my mercy

People say (in various contexts)

  • “What he must have WENT through…”

To me that sounds wrong. Just WRONG. I’m not a grammarian so I don’t know the rule for this, but to me, what sounds right is

  • “What he must have GONE through…”

Tyler ClementiI’m using this example because I just heard one of the lawyers on NPR–not sure he was  for the defense (Dharun Ravi who was found guilty of a hate crime, among other things) or the prosecution (for that sweet, gay, violin-playing, bridge-jumping-to his death Tyler Clementi) say “What he must’ve went though” and I thought to myself, “Hm. Self. THis guy is a LAWYER and you aren’t. Maybe it’s YOU who is sounding like an uneducated, McDonald’s-eatin’-3x-a-week-Jersey-Shore-fan. Oof. That’d be bad. I’d better check my resume.

Am I wrong?  Could it be? After all these years of trying to write correctly and working with great editors and copy editors? (Note that at this moment, my job entails NOT having real editors or even copy editors–RAMONA WE MISS YOU– just…well I can’t say or I’d get into trouble and I need this job, as dull and boring and mind/soul numbing as it is. Maybe another time when I’ve moved on (and boy, that time is coming–offers have started to pour, oddly enough; unfortunately they’re in Seattle, Austin, Singapore…). Another topic for another day (and maybe in another location–maybe another continent).

So, what say you, blog readers? I’m going to post my question to Grammar Girl and see what she has to say –if she hasn’t already addressed this. If she has, I’ll post it here. For the 5 of you. Haha.

– Annik (aka Queen Shannikwa, aka Crabby, aka Mommy, aka The Older Human Who Gives Us 4-Month-old-Rats Fatty Sunflower Seeds during the day).

C’mon: Talk to me. Anna? Fran? you’re two fo the smartest people I know. Ask Ryan Warner (whom we met Monday –he’s dreamy, gay, not gay). What’s  his take on “went” and “gone”

Okay, it’s the weekend, Bian has a  friend over and we’re all making pizza and watching Ponyo. So I’m gone for the weekend. Or…I went. Or I done gone and went. Or I done went and am gone. Huh. English is tricky. I do both Iyengar and Bikram Yoga so I’m pretty sure Sanskrit is trickier.

 

Quote of the week January 27, 2012

Filed under: Annik,General musings,Writing — Annik @ 1:50 pm
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Grunnion“Here are grunnions at their best.” — The late James Beard

 

Title of this blog? January 20, 2012

Crabby Office Lady with a thought bubbleNo one has ever asked me why I named this blog what I did: My Life as the Crab. I wonder why not. Not “a” crab but “THE Crab.”

Maybe clicking on the image will give you a clue…