Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Princess Crankybuns

That's Guy's nickname for me when I get annoyed with everything and everyone. I'm in that mood right now for all kinds of reasons. First of all, I have yet another 8am meeting tomorrow with CEO Plankton and the ever-twitching Squidwort. I'm also in a cranky mood for lots of smaller things. I had what I thought was a cool idea, but Guy didn't think it was very cool. The pool was really really really cold Monday morning and I nearly froze getting in. It took me 15 minutes to get kinda-sorta warm enough in there--unheard of. And this morning in the gym in our condo building, here's this gal just getting off the treadmill with an iPod and a magazine. I came around the corner into the room, smiled at her briefly, and cut off the overhead fluorescent lights in the gym. Suddenly, her face darkened a little, or maybe it was my imagination.

Why did I turn off the lights, you might ask? Here's why: when I got up there at a quarter to seven on a late August morning to our gym on the 16th floor of a building with two walls made up of windows, you don't need a fucking overhead light on to read. Furthermore, if you're trying to read while working on any cardio machine other than a bike, you're wasting your time. And even furthermore, if you've got a magazine and an iPod, how much are you actually absorbing? It's one thing to have music on while you study--I'm down with that. I've even seen people have the TV on while they work out. But at some point, I, as a 6-year veteran of the gym who has found herself 20 pounds lighter for her troubles, have to lift up my sneaker-sporting foot and draw the line somewhere.

Exercise, especially cardio, requires balance and hand/eye coordination. If you're going to distract yourself with somethign to read, you either have to slow down the intensity of your workout or you have to barely skim or understand what you're reading. Add an iPod or some similar personal music device, and you're not really getting anything out of anything. You're multitasking, and there's been some research here lately showing that multitasking isn't so good for you. And know who really pisses me off? The people who come up to our gym and turn on the TV, then go to one of the cardio machines around the corner from the TV where they can't see it, put on headphones, and start reading while they're on the machine. When the revolution comes, these people are going in my mass grave with Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, and those God-forsaken gauchos that came out this year.

I get annoyed when I see people lean on the stair machine. i get annoyed when people stop to watch the TV while lifting weights. I get annoyed when I hear that TV on at all, because in my said 6 years of using said gym, I've noticed that people who watch the TV in our gym when they work out don't end up working out for very long. It doesn't really become a habit for them. And that leads me to why all these things bother me. They all bother me because something inside me knows that these half-hearted worker-outers are the same people I hear schlepping this pebble and tsk-tsk proclaiming in the line at Starbucks, "Yeah, I just can't make myself work out. I just don't see any benefits, and it's too early, and I still keep gaining weight even though I'll do it for a few weeks, it's just not working I think I'll just diet instead, blah blah blah." I want to beat these people unconscious with their own shoe.

I want to knock sense into these folks because working out does indeed help you out in the long run. Even during the long stretches where I lost little or no weight, I knew I was increasing my muscle tone, my lung capacity, my blood flow. I was reducing my blood pressure, the time it took me to run a mile, the pain I felt when I lifted ten pounds over my head. Best of all, after keeping up the hard work six mornings a week, I'm at the point now where gaining a pound or two over a holiday isn't a trauma. It's a matter of go-back-to-doing-what-you-usually-do-each-day and it falls right off. So I want to shake these people to their senses:
  • If you lean on the stair machine while you use it, you're not actually burning the calories it says you're burning. If you need to lean, then you're working too hard for too long. Dial it down for 60 seconds and then dial it back up.
  • If you just listen to music while on the treadmill or elliptical, you can use your arms to burn more calories instead of holding the book open.
  • If you have to hang onto the control panel of the treadmill when it's at an angle in order to stay on it, it's too steep. Dial it down.
  • If you pause only 30-60 seconds between sets and exercises while weightlifting, you'll still get a good rest but you'll have enough time to get a lot done.

Moral of the story: like any other job on the planet, if you pay attention to your workout and your form, you will see results, save time, and actually reap benefits from the activity. Oh, I'm sorry, did I distract you from reading about Lindsey Lohan's latest drunken escapade in US Weekly? My bad. Carry on. I'm sure your beer belly will disappear in no time at 3 mph and no incline. Enjoy.

(Look, I told you I was feeling cranky....)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lunch with Dame Judith

Saturday afternoon was spent lunching with Dame Judith, my longtime friend here in Denver. Dame Judith is a few decades older than me, a retired educational psychologist and college professor. I gain greatly from her life experience, and I suppose I keep her young by hanging out and keeping her abreast of the latest silliness of modern life. I also occasionally help her troubleshoot her computer, which I think she has me do sometimes to make me feel young. She has an iMac, and I haven't done anything on an Apple product other than my iPod since I was a kid in the early '80s playing Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe. And I could never make headway on either of those damn games. I couldn't make heads or tails of the algorithms used to make the game work, so my meonade stand always went about $50 in the hole, and I could only make it about two weeks on the trail before one of my kids fell off the back of the wagon and the wagon broke an axle and then I died of dysentery. I've never been able to get into video games since. Except for Centipede, which I can only play if Miss Kitty is hitting the "fire" button while I move the little ship around on the ball controller.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, lunch with Dame Judith.

Even when Dame Judith dresses "down" (Eileen Fisher khakis and a cashmere cardigan), I have to dress "up" my casual (satin belted western-cut shirt with Ann Taylor Loft camisole and Bebe denim skirt and heels). We also go out to lunch (or dinner, or whatever) so that she can get me really drunk, which, at this altitude and my liver, means one glass of wine. Sometimes I think part of the reason Guy ever started dating me was because I'm such a cheap drunk, but anyway...
"Oh, honey," Dame Judith said in her aristocratic voice and accent, reminiscent of Greg's mother on "Dharma & Greg." "Nowadays, I can't have but one either."
"How come?" I inquired while attempting to sip a delicious chardonnay.
The Dame sighed. "The Old Boy isn't doing well at all," she replied. Dame Judith's husband, the Old Boy, formerly known as The Prince, has been in declining health for over a year now.
"His hip replacement bothering him?" I quieried.
"It's not bad," she repiled, "but it's not that. He has dementia."
My eyes widened. "Good Lord! Is it Alzheimer's? Is he losing short term memory?"
"No, actually, it's called Lewy body dementia, which involves some hallucinations, like he tries to sit down in chairs that aren't there." She sipped her wine and nibbled on our duck confit flatbread appetizer. "It's better just to play along that tell him there's not a chair there, just say 'let's sit in this chair, it's more comfy than that one."
Dame Judith and I caught up on our lives this summer, me with my change in responsibilities and Guy and me taking the summer off from working and traveling, and the Dame with simply trying to grasp the new responsibilities of having a husband that was slowly, slowly going away.
"Pixie, I just don't have any goddamn energy," she sighed, her long elegant hand brushing back her graceful, swooping white/silver/blond hair. (Nothing about the Dame is ungraceful. Even when her printer abruptly quits working and she unleashes with a string of f-bombs, she does so with such style, as if Kathareine Hepburn were to swoop through a wormhole in the time-space continuum and become Quentin Tarantino's mother.) "I can't teach my seminars anymore, I can't even keep up the house with my usualy house help. I'm going to have to hire a semi-full time housekeeper to spend three days a week doing everything, not just dusting and sweeping. I'm having to get my son to help me with my rental properties, I can barely keep up."
She swilled a bit of wine. "Christ, I'm only 71."
My eyes popped open again. The Dame doesn't look a day over 57. "Hell, Dame Judith! I'm only 31, and I can't do the shit I used to! Last night, I left a pot on the stove for two hours to make tea, and I burned the damn thing beyond use!" I exclaimed.
Dame Judith's eyes lit up and she let out a loud, delightful laugh. "You?! Burned a pot on the stove?" She drained the last of her wine. "God, I do feel better." She waved at our waitress. "Two more glasses, please!"

Dame Judith did get me to thinking about age, about what-I-used-to-do versus what-I-can-do-now. For example, it's becoming somewhat clear to me that no matter how much I work out and eat well, at the age of 31 I may never see 120 lbs again. At the same time, I also know that I weigh almost 20 lbs less than I did when I graduated high school and I know I'm in way better shape now than I was then. I have abs. No, seriously, I have abs, decent ones. Nothing I'd wear a half-top to show off, but nothing I'd be embarrassed to have peek out accidentally while stretching or while at the pool.

It's not just the obviously physical stuff, either. I've always been a morning person, but especially now, I just can't stay up late anymore. Even on the weekends, I'm hard pressed to make it past 10pm. Spicy foods bother me a little more than they used to. I think less about booze and more about fiber. I still think about nice furnishings and paint colors in a house, but I also think more about retirement and paying off my mortgage early in order to use the Happy Kitten Highrise as a rental property.

In the seven and a half years since I finished grad school, I've gone from I'm-going-to-make-a-difference! to you-kids-get-off-my-lawn! I get cranky when I see new interns come to work in our office in cargo shorts and flip-flops. Dammit, if you wanna wear flip-flops to work, be a lifeguard. We're architects. I'm cranky but civil. What I've gained though is patience. I'm still quick to act, but not hair-trigger, y'know? I've come to understand that, as Martin Luther King Jr once said, the arc of justice is long but wide. I'm not as easily offended as I used to be. I can smell bullshit and crazy much better than I used to, and I suffer neither gladly. I have a very low tolerance for whining and intellectual laziness. Do the work or get out, whatever the work is.

I sense I would do well in Miss Kitty's freshman English classes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

She cleans hard for the money

I spent my entire eight-hour workday today cleaning my desk. Seriously. No exaggeration. Eight hours. Cleaning a space about seven feet by eight feet.

I spent the morning and early afternoon boxing up and thinning out drawings and files from Wheatlands. Now that the project is over, I need to archive the drawings, specs, notes, shop drawings, and anything and everything that might be useful in the next ten years. Usually, I don't save any of the value-engineering (VE) notes and drawings, but since VE was such a huge part of Wheatlands, I made sure to put it all in a box. Thinning out and boxing up everything made a difference in how much space I had, both on and under my desk.

Next, it was time to really clean. I've been slowly thinning out my files, notes, desk knickknacks, etc. on my desk, and today I was finally able to finish that. I got a Rolodex and punched holes in all my business cards, the ones I still had after throwing away bout two-thirds of them. I got rid of product samples and old binders of products I've never used. Finally, about 4 pm, I used a can of compressed air to blow dust and lint off my desk and then wiped each surface with some Clorox wipes. Ugh! Seriously, ugh, y'all! I was amazed at the funk and dust I'd accumulated over the course of nearly two years. Even more frightening is thinking about how many lunches I've eaten (and still do eat and will eat) at my desk on that funk. Anyway, by the end of the workday, I was done, but at least so was my desk.

Okay, it's pathetic how geeked I was to see my desk clean, really clean. Like I can see what color my desktop is (it's a maple wood-look plastic laminate, FWIW). Like I can see where all my code books and spec books are. Like someone can find something if I ended up in a coma, God and Louis Kahn forbid. I feel like I'm ready to take on the world. Uncommunicative manager? Cranky CEO? Surly consultants? Bring it on. My desk is clean enough to handle it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I get by with a little help from my friends

There was a second part to my tale of weirdness and woe yesterday, which I should at least mention now. First, thanks to all who commented with such support and good advice. I also got some good advice from my friend Vinnie today, now a psychologist but formerly an antiques dealer back east in Trenton, NJ (ahem). He advised, just as Guy did, not to laugh at CEO Plankton's jokes and to talk with Alex about this guy's behavior, mostly as an FYI that this guy was setting off my fruitcake-Geiger counter. Also, be good and super-early for the Wednesday meetings in order to take away CEO-P's one source of childish power.

Rewind, if you will, back to yesterday afternoon, when I finally got to the office after this wretched meeting. I was so frustrated that I think Elliot and Derek saw steam coming off of me. Now, Elliot will get worked up with me when I'm pissed, but Derek is Mr. Calm. Nowadays since his little daughter was born a few months ago, he's Mr. Super Grand Funk Calm. "Having a little one puts things in perspective," he said. "You see how ridiculous a lot of stuff is. And you see how useless a lot of stress is...it's just worthless." As I told the story of my meeting, Derek nodded empathetically. "Man, that's really painful," he said. "That is so frustrating and awful! You can't even do anything because he's the CEO!"

Me: I wish I could. He acts like a child, for crying out loud.
Derek: Maybe next meeting, you bring doughnuts.
Me: Hmph. I oughta bring some pot brownies.
Derek: Haaaaahahaha! That'd be great! Pot brownies at 8am and then--[enticing voice] "It's ten o'clock--who's ready for lunch?"
Me: [singsong] Iiiiiii brooooooght Dor-eee-toooooos!
Derek: Haahahaaa! Bring in some big mylar balloons with smiley faces on them and hand them to him. [mimes holding out some balloon strings] "Someone needs cheering up!"
Me: Baaahahahaaaaa! Or give him a squeaky toy to squeeze when he gets mad! "How dare you be two minutes late--" [squeezing hand rapidly in air] honkahonkahonka!
Derek: Haahahaaa! Throw a chew toy in the floor and let him romp!
Me: [gasping for breath] Put him in timeout if he's gonna act like a child!
Derek: [miming holding out a doll] "Does someone need to sit in the corner and hold Time Out Timmy for a little while? Hmm?"
Me: BAAAAHAHAHAAAA!!! [slumping over on desk]

I was bound to start crying, so at least I got to do it while laughing instead of being scared and sad. Ultimately, I can take some of his power away by not playing into his power games--no laughing, keep all dialogue and responses professional and business-only, get to meetings really early so he can't bitch about that--and then call his bluff by making sure Alex is aware of CEO Fucktard's belligerent behavior and management-by-threats-and anger. Although calling it 'management' is a strong word. He acts less like a CEO and more like an alcoholic stepfather in a trailer park.

But in other news, I got approval from the radiology department users on the redesign of the department, and CDs will be done in two more weeks. At least the actual users are a joy to work with.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Clean sweep

The construction documents (CDs) for the MHRC Radiology department were due today at 4pm. The consultants emailed their specs before then, but their stamped and signed drawings had yet to make it across town when I left at 5pm. No worries--Alex wouldn't be able to sign our drawings until tomorrow afternoon, so there was no real rush.

I still have some lingering things to do with some issues that came up on the endo procedure suite over there at MHRC, and Jann says she has some specs on yet another project she needs my help with, and I'm glad to do it. But what I really need to do (and what I started doing for an hour this afternoon) is clean my desk. Half of cleaning my desk is archiving all my Wheatlands files. Now that the project is over, I can finally put major files and drawings and product submittals into those banker's boxes and file them away in our basement storage area, away from my cluttered desk. The other half of cleaning is literally cleaning. It's finally looking at every piece of paper and either filing it properly or tossing it. It's looking at every knickknack and deciding what stays and what goes and what goes home instead of staying at the office. It's digging through rolls and rolls and stacks and stacks of drawings under my three-sided desk and figuring out how much of this crap is supposed to be filed. it's sifting through pens, rubber bands, paper clips, business cards, product info from years of vendor presentations to see what's good and what's out of date.

The whole clean-your-damn-desk-Pixie-seriously-what-are-you-waiting-for thing has been creeping slowly into my psyche as I've been coming up on today's deadline. However, it's really been pushed to the front of my consciousness while reading a book I checked out from the library, Julie Morgenstern's Never Check Email in the Morning, which includes a whole chapter about getting organized. As I read it, I realized that my office messiness had caught up with me now that I'm working on several projects at once. While my desk may never be immaculate, what with all the large-format papers on and around it, I've got to get a better handle on the piles of stuff. It's gotten to the point where I put something down and within five seconds cannot find it again. Not cool. That's very unlike me. Hence, the cleaning begins. Even better is that I mentioned my need to clean and archive to Jann, who was all for giving me the room. "Archiving Wheatlands will get rid of a lot of your mess, " she said. "I can totally give you a few days to dig out from under all that--I completely understand."

I need to purge, file, toss, and even wipe things down with Lysol at this point. It's that bad. But in the words of the Little River Band, hang on, help is on the way. Help in the form of a large blue recycling bin. I wonder what color my desktop is beneath all that paper?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Slide show from this weekend's field trip through south-central Colorado

I have good reason for not posting in several days. Friday night, we went bowling with Elliot and a crowd of other kids from Design Associates. Afterwards, we went grocery shopping for our lovely weekend camping trip. Despite my proclivity for the verbose, I'll stick mostly to pictures.

First, we headed down to west of Pueblo to visit Bishop's Castle. Jim Bishop, an ironworker and all-around interesting fellow, has been single-handedly building this castle for 37 years. He literally has had no help building it. He relies on donations or finding building materials to put it together. And damn if it's not spectacular.

A sign at the edge of his property states that, upon setting foot on the site, you absolve him of any liability. In return, you can climb all over this building, going through the upper and lower chambers, around and around the thin steel walkways around the exterior, and even up into the super-high spires and bell towers. Guy and I design hospitals, which require extra reinforcing so that they'll stay standing if there's an earthquake or major windstorm. We realized that we take that stability for granted when we edged around the structure, freaking out a little as we felt the thin steel mesh decking over the rebar give slightly wherever we stepped. Still, the structure held well over hundreds and hundreds of pounds of people walking over them.

Above, spiral steel stair in middle floor. Just below, the dragon head which will blow smoke once a fireplace below it is completed. Below that photo, the two lower towers, taken from the highest tower (probably about 100' in the air). Neither Guy nor I are particularly afraid of heights, but we nearly wet our pants up in that tower. From there, we drove into a small town to get some sweatshirts (despite living here for over seven years, we still managed to leave home without a warm jacket. As we drove along, we encountered an in-the-process-of-being-restored turn of the century estate...

...past a field of buffalo, including this one who didn't feel like flashing us even a smile...

...to a scary 4WD trail over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into the back side of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is a small range of sand dunes up against the Sangre de Cristos, just in time to see a deer taking a dump...
...to our campsite overlooking the dunes. We had a stunning view from a hill to the dunes, the mountains, and the plains below them all.
The next morning, after sleeping in the back of our SUV and dodging heat-seeking chipmunks (long story), Guy made us a lovely breakfast.

We drove home over another scary 4WD trail and even got home in time to feed Maddy and Hazel. Maddy's labwork was all clear from last week, so it looks like she'll be taking kitty Advil for the rest of her limpy-arthritis-left-paw days. I also have to sprinkle Cosequin on her food to help supplement the 0.1 mL squirts of medicine she gets three times a week.

So, you can see that I had a lovely peaceful weekend. Sad to say as we got closer to Denver on Sunday, I got crankier. Guy settled me down and complimented me on my vegetarian enchiladas, so you know he was trying hard to get me in a decent mood. Reason #864 why I love him.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

oh hai plz doan take me to th vet todey k thx

Mama cam hoam errlee tody an i wuz happee. she givd me a treet an i eated it,,m, thn she pikd me up an put me in th carryer. do not want! i wen bak to th vett to chek on my limpie leg. limpy limpee limp./ they tuk more blud an peee (do not want!) an mayd me madd. thenn th vett sed hay letzx gib hrr ths powdr on hr fud an more mebbicines thre timz a weeek. iaxd MamA how long i hev to tayk th mebbicn an she sed puheveh.

Did I mention DO NOT WANT!

Now um hoam again an fell bettr. eatsd dinnr an layd in th hall wear itz cool.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Help, I need somebody, help, not just anybody...

Jann tried, I suppose. She did try. I was supposed to have help on wrapping up the construction documents (CDs) for Mile High Research Center's (MHRC) radiology suite this Friday. She got me one of the more talented interior designers upstairs whose projects all got quiet at once. Good deal. This gal helped me out for about a week, on and off, and then got pulled off to do something for one of her crabby interior design bosses. I was supposed to have her this week, as I mentioned, but when I talked to her Friday...

Me: So, Gal, when can you help me next week in between what Prudence has you working on?
Gal: (sighs) I have software training Monday through Wednesday, then I have to help Lucretia do finish boards on Friday, so it looks like I can only help on Thursday.

Me: (eyes bug out) I thought you were unbusy!
Gal: So did I. Except now I have more to do than when my project was going full steam!

I attempted to give Sarge some crap for the software training's timing, but that was not set by him so much as someone else further up the food chain than the two of us. "Believe me," he said, "it's Revit we're learning, and I don't find that particularly fun." So, I just spent an hour redlining a finish plan to give the interiors gal when she's back online this Thursday. The good news, however, is that she found some great finishes and colors to go into the project. I just need to whittle down her samples to a few, mark them up on the finish schedule, and she has license to ill when she gets out of her class.

Also of good news is that it's looking more and more like the dreaded Wednesday MHRC meeting will be cancelled this week. Squidwort is on vacation, and I'm meeting with the head of radiology (Merrill) tomorrow, so what would we talk about? Or more precisely, what would we give CEO Plankton to complain about? Nairn. If I can stay at the office and work, I'd rather do that. Better use of my time anyway.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Eight defining moments, see below

Evidently, because I started this post a few days ago, it posted itself a few posts down the page. So, scroll down a bit and you'll see my eight defining moments. For wahtever they're worth. I'm gonna go have some ice cream.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The perfect end to a crappy week

This week has been hellacious. I spent the first two days running around and getting drawings for two deadlines. Wednesday we were given the riot act by CEO Plankton at MHRC. Thursday I arrived at an OAC meeting for a two-room project I'm working on right on time according to my watch, only to have a roomful of people exclaim, "Is traffic bad? Oh, we thought you'd forgotten about the meeting!" I was so stunned by being late enough to be commented on yet again that I stammered something ridiculous and sat down at the table, just wanting everyone to either get on with the meeting or shoot me. After all this crap, I was really dreading today: another meeting at MHRC with the procedure suite physicians and a few nurses as well as a surgical boom representative, Sandy. Guy and I both have worked with Sandy on several surgery projects, including Wheatlands. Sandy is enthusiastic but sweet, like a red-blond and younger version of Mr. Rogers.

The meeting was scheduled for 11am, so I left the office at 10:30 to make a 15-minute drive there. I pulled up in the parking lot that I've been parking in all month and that Jann has been parking in for four years whiel working on MHRC. I get out and start walking to the building to wait for Jann in the shade. A smallish fellow in a white polo shirt with "Marco - MHRC Security" on the pocket approached me and asked if I was a patient. I said no, I'm an architect and I'm heading to a meeting in the basement conference room. He then informed me that only patients were allowed to park in this lot--vendors and business folks had to park in the lot across the street, the busy five-lane thoroughfare with construction going on, I might add. Jann pulled up and I said to her as she got out, "Hey Jann, he's [pointed to Marco - MHRC Security] telling me that we need to park across the street."
Jann looked a bit confused. "When did this start?" she asked Marco the Super Rent-A-Cop.
"In July," he said. "Only patients are allowed to park here; business and vendors must park in the lot across the street."
He managed to repeat the above sentence in some form or another three more times in less than 90 seconds. Jann and I exchanged a look like "so why hasn't anyone mentioned this to us, now that it's fucking August?" We got in our cars, drove across the street, parked again, and played Frogger back across the busy street to make it to the meeting with only a couple of minutes to spare.

We went into the basement conference room, and a few nurses joined us shortly. Jann went back out to meet Sandy at the front door, knowing he'd never find us in the maze of MHRC. I remained behind until another red-blond haired familiar face showed up. Ah! Sandy! How'd he get in past Jann? We made small talk, and it seemed like the nurses present really seemed to know him quite well. He then turned to me and said, "Hey, do you think the boom guy will bring his own LCD projector, or should I go get one?"
Now I'm confused. "Didn't you...bring...?"
"We have this one on the ceiling," he said, gesturing, "but I was thinking he'd want one to sit on the table that he could reach better and hook his laptop up to."

I looked at him like I'd been sniffing ether.
"The boom guy," he repeated.

"I thought you were the boom guy," I said.
"Oh, I am," he replied. "I know what we'll likely want on them, but I mean the guy who sells the booms."

Does everyone see what's going on here?

A few more who's-on-first-what's-on-second lines back and forth later, I realize that this isn't Sandy. This is one of the physicians who looks a great deal like Sandy. I've worked with Sandy on several projects, but here's the thing about architecture: you can work with people you never lay eyes on. I've only seen Sandy three times in my life, and I'd only seen this doctor three times in my life. And he and Sandy could have easily been cousins, so here I am confusing the two.

"OH!" I exclaimed, the hamster finally beginning to trot at his wheel. "You know, he had a projector last time, but maybe you should get one just in case."
"Not a bad idea," he said. He left the room and I wept inwardly. Strike Two for Princess Dumbass.
The room filled with doctors, nurses, administrators--mercifully, CEO Plankton was nowhere to be seen. The head of radiology, Merrill, came in with a beaming smile, ready to help out with this meeting as well as meet with me afterwards. But no Sandy. It's 11:10. No Sandy. It's 11:15. Jann comes in: do I have Sandy's cell phone number? I give it to her and she leaves the room to call him. A few minutes later, Jann comes in, hand over her forehead. "Sandy's not coming," she says.
"What's wrong? Why not?" the doctors and staff inquires.

Jann sighs. "He had an altercation with your security guy in the parking lot and the guy kicked him off the campus.

The room explodes with noise. "God! Was it Marco? What the...? He can't come back on campus or Marco will call the cops! How do we... Do you have his cell number? Call him back!"

I put my head on the table, embarassed for us and for Sandy. How? Sandy is like Fred fucking Rogers! I overhear Jann explain that evidently he had words with the security guy, had to leave the parking lot. And suddenly...

...I couldn't stop laughing.

I started laughing into my hands and couldn't stop. I'd muffle it down some, but it would bubble up again. I was able to keep it quiet, but I just couldn't stop laughing. My eyes were watering and my lips hurt from pressing them together, trying not to burst out. I let out a small but audible chuckle, then looked around the room to see if anyone noticed. Not so much--everyone was huddled around Jann and her cell phone: "Tell him to drive over and park by the Atkins Building! We'll sneak him in here through the steam tunnel under the street! Who's gonna walk with him? If Marco catches him in here, he'll throw him out again! No he won't! Yes he will! Tell him to park in the contractor's parking lot!"

I suddenly lock eyes with Merrill. His eyes were wet, lips mashed together. Neither of us spoke or flinched, but holy shit I nearly started cracking up again.

We finally smuggled Sandy into the building through the steam/utility tunnel a block away. He came in and helped the packed room full of indecisive medical professionals come to a decision about what they wanted in which rooms. He wowed them with his 3D presentation, thanked them for their time, told them they'd have pricing next week, and then we adjourned to join Merrill in his department. After answering a few questions and setting up a time for Merrill and me to talk next week, Sandy packed up his laptop and apologized profusely to Merrill and us. "That's so not me," he said. "I'm very much the professional. It was just a case of some wires getting crossed and I acted up and I sincerely apologize. It will never happen again."

Merrill chuckled and shook Sandy's hand. "Don't worry about it--Marco brings that out in everyone."

This whole thing has amused me all day, so much that I called Sandy a couple of hours later to thank him for a) cracking me up and b) for doing to MHRC what I've wanted to do after the shit they've put me through in the past few days. Turns out this parking thing was a policy set by--guess who?--CEO Plankton, who decided to finally to enforce it a month after he instituted it. I told Sandy that all he did was say what I've been thinking all week. I could barely talk to him for laughing again. I'm grinning like an idiot right now, actually.

Guess I don't need those fancy bras I bought last week after all. I've been laughing my tits off all day.