Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Look, it's not me, it's you.

Last Thursday, I was in a furious mood. Well, it was more a combination of fury and that some-days-it-just-doesn't-pay-to-gnaw-through-the-leather-restraints feeling. George Carlin once said that depression is just anger without enthusiasm, and I was beginning to feel that way myself. When I get to feeling like that, I call my antique-dealer-turned-psychologist pal Vinnie for emergency cocktails at McCormick's in Lodo. Fortunately, he had an hour to spare--his partner was having a wine-and-cheese reception at his furniture and art gallery, out of which he'd love to sneak for a bit.

Did I mention Vinnie is gay? All 6'-4", 265 lbs of him, from his strangely 1950s-era buzzcut to his leather Cole Haans. Gay. Not so much Liberace Gay or Elton John Gay, more Neil Patrick Harris Gay.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, I was getting ready to participate in Bring Your Baseball Bat To Work Day.

So, I was venting to Vinnie that everytime my phone rang at work and I saw "MHRC" in the caller ID, my energy drained and my stomach clenched. I told him how at a recent meeting, I had to force myself to laugh at Squidwort's jokes and stories. I was unable to be genuine about him because I feel so unsure about who/what I'm going to get from day to day. Will I get accusatory Squiddy? Happy-to-see-me Squiddy? Optimistic Squiddy? Crankybuns Squiddy. All I wanted was stay-at-least-200-feet-from-me-like-the-restraining-order-says Squiddy.

When I finally paused to swig down the last of my amaretto sour, Vinnie quietly rattled the ice in his highball. "Pixie, it sounds like you're in a crappy relationship, where you're both still around each other and you look at one another and say 'God, I am so tired of you,'" he said. "It's not really verbal abuse; it--and he--are just really, really annoying."

I sighed. "Yes. That is an excellent way to put it," I replied. "I'm just really fucking tired of tolerating this kind of bullshit behavior, where he can't speak to me and everyone else like we're adults and without making accuastory statements. I'm so beyond it."

"When will this project be over?" Vinnie asked.

"Second week in May," I replied.

"Then look towards the second week of May," he said. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Meantime, you just be a professional and do a professional job. Don't give MHRC your Pixie Best, because even though that's a wonderful level of service that also makes you feel good, their behavior hasn't earned it. Plus, when you give Squidwort your Pixie Best, you keep givin' away your power. Don't do that."

His phone went off, and he glanced at the display. "Shit, I think Taylor discovered I slipped out."

So, Vinnie had a good point. Even my massage therapist, Sara the Massage Valkyrie, noticed my overall anxiety and tension and reminded me of my visual imagery for dealing with MHRC: protected by the white light, only love gets in. "Set your intention before you go into your meetings and dealings with this person," she said.

The thing about architects is that, in my opinion, the best of us give a little of ourselves away to do this job really well. How else can you explain putting up with the schooling and training and testing and bullshit for what we see on our paychecks every two weeks? It's because we really believe that what we do is worthwhile, is meaningful, and we give away a little bit of ourselves on projects. But we, like any good profession, have to learn where to draw that line, that boundary, to protect ourselves from clients that are not listening and aren't getting it, from contractors that constantly push back, from building departments so bound in red tape that they can't see the forest for the trees. We have to be able to protect our minds and hearts from those who aren't thinking through their words and actions towards us. I suppose all that is true for any profession, but I seem to be relearning it right now.


ms. kitty said...

Aw, Pixie, I'm so sorry to hear that Squidwort is bugging you so badly these days. I agree with Vinnie and Sara----do what you need to do to get to the end of the project and keep your perspective clean. You'll make it.

Miss Kitty said...

--All I wanted was stay-at-least-200-feet-from-me-like-the-restraining-order-says Squiddy.
--Anyway, where was I? Oh, I was getting ready to participate in Bring Your Baseball Bat To Work Day.

There is now Diet Cheerwine all over my monitor. And I'm going to use those phrases with my students. Eventually.

wilderness Gina said...

Squidy needs his ass kicked. Do I need to call our uncle in New Jersey?