Thursday, September 30, 2004

I'm Calmer Now

See, no giant letters, no exclamation points. Nice and calm.

But seriously, that woman has been driving me crazy this week. It honestly didn't dawn on her until Tuesday that we had another expo next Wednesday, and that we would need to ship materials. Then she went into panic mode. She dragged me to Sam's so she could buy candy for the pill bottles. She didn't need to take me to do that. While she was gone, I could have been putting lables on the bottles we had, then we wouldn't have had to rush to finish them yesterday.

Then yesterday we all of a sudden had to get these brochures done. I think they are stupid anyhow (despite the brilliance of their design), and I thought that they had decided not to use them for the future expos because no one was picking them up. But no, we had to rush to get them copied yesterday, and when the copier started jamming she was getting worried that we wouldn't get them done and I was just plain frustrated (I actually used the f word under my breath).

But her boss's AA is just as bad. She insisted that she could get them folded, but then she had a ton of stuff dumped on her. Did she say something this morning? No, she waited until 1 p.m. My boss did about 100 of them, then she said she had to go buy "supplies." Like I didn't hear her say on the phone to her daughter that she was going to Michael's and Hobby Lobby to look for artificial flowers for the bouquets. Meanwhile, the folder, which will only take one sheet at a time, jammed really, really badly. I followed the directions for unjamming it, but they didn't work. So I had to take the thing apart. It took me an hour to figure out how to get the paper out of it. While I was fighting with it, one of the other managers told me that payroll has a folder that will do a whole ream automatically. When my boss came back from her shopping expidition, I mentioned that to her and she said that it was better to do it this way. Yeah. She's not the one who's ending up with repetitive motion injuries. My right arm is killing me right now.

But the story gets better. In the middle of doing this, she slaps a request for hospital info down on my desk. Now, typically we download the information, stick it in a spreadsheet, and e-mail it. Since she didn't tell me who it went to, I pulled it, saved the spreadsheet, and e-mailed it to her to forward it. When she came back downstairs, she asked me if I printed it. I looked at her like she was from another planet, and asked her what she meant. She said that the requestor wanted it faxed - didn't I see the phone number on the note she gave me? Now, without her telling me, how am I supposed to know that that means it needs to be faxed? For that matter, how am I supposed to know who to fax it to if she didn't tell me?

And then, just as I think I'm finally done with the damn brochures, she dumps another 200 on me. That was just the capper to a crappy, crappy day.

Now I will grant you, I've been in a pissy mood. I would swear I had PMS, if it weren't the wrong time of the month for that. But I still don't think I'm being unreasonable.

Then again, maybe I am a little bit. It just gets to me that I am a well-educated, experienced woman, and I'm doing work that a second grader with a good attention span could do easily.

I. Hate. That.

What is wrong with me that I can't seem to find a decent job that challenges me, allows me to be creative, and lets me use my skills? It just makes me more and more depressed.

I give up.


I hate office machines. I hate using them, I hate fixing them, I hate them, hate them...



Between today and yesterday, I have been covered in toner, lubricant (and not the fun kind...not that I've ever been near the fun kind), dust, and dirt. I have photocopied over 2000 fliers and fed them one by one through a letter folder. I have taken said copier apart about 25 times when it jammed, and said folder apart more times than I can count when it jammed. I have labeled and filled over 300 bottles with candy. And why, you may ask, have I done all this?

I have no freaking idea.

Remember when I wrote that I was bored? I could have been doing some of this stuff then. I could have been making copies or filling and labeling bottles all along. But no, my supervisor said she didn't have anything that needed doing so I had to invent busy work for myself. Then, all of a sudden, she realizes that hey, we have another expo less than a week away and we have to ship the materials. So now it's a mad rush to get everything done. And of course, when you rush, things are done incorrrectly or they break down. And then you have to panic even more because you are running late.

I'm a procrastinator by nature. I admit it. But if I know I have seven expos for over 3000 employees and I have to prepare materials for all of them, I'm going to pace myself. That way, there's no crisis when a piece of equipment breaks, or when you run out of something, or whatever.

And where is she in all of this? Laughing, smiling, making jokes about everything being at the last minute. And as I'm feeding the damn fliers through the damn machine, she's out shopping for her daughter's wedding under the guise of getting "supplies" for the expo. Did I get to take a lunch? Did I get to leave my desk? No.

Grr!!! I know Gannon was a liberal arts school, and that it was supposed to provide me with a well-rounded education. But I'm sorry. I did not spend $75,000 of my, my parents', the taxpayers' and the generous benefactors who support the scholarship funds' money to take apart and fix office equipment. I am not an engineer!

I wanna go home!!!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Well, I Did It.

After two weeks of sitting in my car in the parking lot, I actually made it inside the Lutheran church. The sky didn't fall, no one laughed at me, no one saw my invisible, "I'm Catholic!" sign, and no one chased me out of the church.

Quite the opposite, in fact. I was greeted warmly by what had to be half the congregation before I even made it into the nave. I sat in almost the very back (and remembered not to genuflect). It was a small congregation, probably around 100 people at the service, and they seemed to really be a community. People were talking with each other before the service began (something that threw me a little at first - I'm used to the quiet before mass...though conversation is good). And people got out of the pews and walked around the church during the sign of peace.

The pastor, like most Lutheran pastors I have known (all four of them) was not a flamboyant or dynamic preacher, but he spoke with a gentle sincerity that gave what he said a certain authority. After the service, he recognized immediately that I was visiting and he went out of his way to greet and welcome me, even though I tried to escape without being noticed.

So why was I crying in my car after the service (the reason I tried to leave without being noticed)? I liked it there. I don't know a soul, but I liked it there. And the implication of that terrify me.

I felt more connected in that church than I have in the Catholic church in a long time, even before January. And I'm trying to figure out why that is. I mean, the service is basically the same structure as a mass, just without the creed and without some of the transitions (actually, it's very much like daily mass). The sermon was longer and was well-preached, but you can find that anywhere. The congregation was small, but most non-Catholic, non-Baptist congregations in the south are. The music was traditional, and vaguely familiar (must be some kind of buried memories of attending services with my mom). But all of this shouldn't be enough to make me feel tune.

So what was it? And what does it mean? And why do I feel guilty?

Ironically enough, my mom was the one who kept me in the Catholic church when I was in high school. She was my confidant in all things spiritual. My dad and I may have been the same religion, but she understood the emotional aspects of faith better. I confided in her all those times the assistant pastor of my church made me cry (which was often - I realize now that his treatment of me verged on emotional abuse), or when the old ladies told me that I didn't have the right to attend mass without my father on the days when he had to work. I told her how fed up I was about feeling that way, and that I planned to leave when I was in college. My mom begged me not to.

See, my dad and I had a close, but fragile relationship. It was obvious that he loved me, and I loved him, but we really had nothing in common beyond a love of baseball and our religion. I mean nothing. If one of those things were taken away, especially the most important one, I don't know what would have happened to our relationship.

And I realized when I was in college that his greatest fear was that I would drift away from the Catholic church. He nearly lost it when I decided to live in a house owned by a Presbyterian church, attend a conference sponsored by a Protestant campus ministry organization, or used words like, "fellowship." Heck, he could barely handle it when I asked him to buy me a Bible so I could better prepare to read at mass. He never forbid me to do any of those things, but, it made him nervous. I know it would have broken his heart if I ever left.

The ironic thing is that I was never more in touch with and more...enamored with my Catholicsm than I was during that period in my life. In time before and time since, though I had my doubts. Still, I stuck with it.

But the question is why I stuck with it. Was it out of conviction, or was it out of obligation? I don't know the answer to that.

The thing is, I don't know if I have any second chances left. I gave the church a second chance when that associate pastor put me through hell in elementary school. I gave them a second chance when the old ladies told me I wasn't worthy to worship in their presence. I did it again when no one would visit my dad and bring him communion when I couldn't make it home to take him to church during college. I did it when the priest in our church wouldn't administer anointing to my dad in the days before he died because "he hadn't been active in the parish in recent months." (Yeah, probably because even with me at home he was too weak to leave bed long enough to go to mass.) And again when they abandoned me when my mom died. And now the St Al's CCC debacle.

Isn't that patience enough? Isn't that enough to endure?

I just don't know.

I think I may call the church tomorrow and see if I can speak with the pastor. Maybe an objective voice is what I need right now.

Nothing's ever easy, is it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bored, Bored, and More Bored

Sitting here at work. Absolutely nothing to do. Making busy work. Writing in fragments. Going insane.

While it isn't my favorite thing to do, I can deal with doing office work when it is actually something productive. But right now, all I am doing is downloading statistical information on hospitals in areas where we don't have authorization to operate in states where we do. What is the purpose behind that? Just something to do.

Today is a bad day. I seem to have good ones and bad ones. It could be the financial stress I'm under right now (HUGE!!), or the boredom, or something else. But right now, I feel like I have absolutely no purpose in being alive - (or staying that way).

But alas, don't worry about me. Cowardliness always wins out over depression.

In other news, I think I might have an ulcer. I have a pain in my stomach right below my breastbone, acid reflux to beat the band, and a general "I feel crappy" feeling. I've been eating antacids like they are candy for the past week and a half, with only minimal effect. And I have a family history, if that matters. I suppose I should do something about it, but I don't have insurance and I make too much to go to the charity hospital (apparently, $18,000 a year should be more than enough to cover living expenses and pay medical bills). I guess I'll live, unless I don't.

OK. This is getting ridiculous. I'm going to go now. Be on the lookout for a little piece of fiction I'll post later today or tomorrow - I think. It's...interesting, in a slightly morbid way.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sweetiepie, Ivan, Richard III, Conway Twitty, and Me, Sheryl

If you get the book the title of this entry is referring to, then five points to you (yeah, too much Harry Potter). If you don't, then you must immediately get yourself to your local library and read everything you can get your hands on by E. L. Konigsburg. She rocks.

Let's take each of the things in my title one by one, shall we?


Sweetiepie is the alias I've decided to use for the pastoral associate at the church where I was formally employed. As I engaged in a bit of metacognition, I realized that part of the reason I haven't been able to move on is that I haven't reached resolution with everyone at St Al's CCC. So last night I wrote her a letter. I was up until after 3 a.m. doing it, but it was worth it. Now I just have to get up the nerve to send it. Oh, I suppose that just writing it should be good enough, but I can't help but feel like I will never be able to reach resolution unless she knows how I feel.

Why did I pick her to write to first? Well, I think that my feelings were most conflicted about her. When I began at the CCC, I had more respect for her than for almost any other lay person in the Church. I thought she was the very modle of what a 21st century lay minister should be. But as time went on, I realized that she was controlling, manipulative, and easily influenced by money and power. When she had me in her office, she'd say things to make me feel like she was supportive of me, but her actions didn't bear that out. In short, she was two-faced. And to be honest, she has been in that entrenched in that parish for so long, and has the respect of so many people in the parish and in the diocese, that I don't think she even realizes it.

So, I wrote her a letter, which I may post sometime, and I think I will mail it. The only thing holding me back is that I'm afraid of burning bridges. I have a tendency to do that, and I'm not sure I can ever cross back if I do. We'll see.


Also known around Baton Rouge as the hurricane that wasn't - at least not here. Everybody was all worked up about how bad it was going to hit us here, and we didn't even get a drop of rain. Weather alarmists. Nice to know they are everywhere.

I feel horrible for the people in Alabama and the Florida panhandle, though. The destruction it wrought there was something to behold. And there's going to be incredible flooding all up and down the east coast.

I have two friends who live in Pensacola. I hope they are OK.


I just stuck that here because in the title of Konigsburg's book, that space is taken by MacBeth. I guess I was in an "I feel inferior so I'm going to overcompensate by becoming a tyrant" mood.

But while I'm in jolly old England - figuratively speaking - I'm watching the UK version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy right now. I'm a little insulted when they put subtitles up when they guys speak; none of them have a strong cockney or other accent - subtitles aren't necessary. I'm also offended when they put "translations" up on the screen. British English and American English aren't all that different, and I'm not stupid. Don't insult my intelligence like that.

Scholastic finally got the point. The last Harry Potter book had far fewer differences between the British and American versions than the previous four. Bravo could take a lesson.


I heard on the car radio that Conway Twitty had been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Had I been consuming a beverage, I would have done a spit take. Conway Twitty? Rock and roll? Huh??

I went to one of the lyrics sites on the net, just to make sure I was thinking of the right person, and I was. "Hello Darlin" was his big hit. Although, looking at the lyrics for "You've Never Been This Far Before," I have to say that he was enough of a pervert to fit with some of the metal guys in the rock genre.

OK. Here's my Conway Twitty story (you knew there had to be one). One night during my senior year of high school, my friend Monn invited me over to her house. Her parents had guests who she didn't know and she was horribly bored. So anyway, we were in her room, being bored and goofy and listening to an old record of Grover (of Sesame Street fame) singing songs and talking about the body in way that was really total innocent but could be interpreted as slightly naughty by two teenaged girls who were really bored and hopped up on caffiene and chocolate.

At some point, we decided to write the script for a porn movie that involved the people in our class at school. Really, all that made it a porn movie is that one guy (the least likely guy in the world) spent the entire movie hopping between two beds and, well, enjoying the company of the young ladies occupying them. He was actually only on the screen for like, thirty seconds at a time between scene changes, and they were completely under the covers the whole time (yeah, we were rather innocent). Oh, and there was a metal band named, "Tacky A** and F***" in the movie as well. The lead singer (a head banger to end all head bangers - minus the scary mullet) wore Spiderman Underoos everywhere and got his name when he went to see a dentist (a girl with the biggest hair in the yearbook - smart, but really, really blonde - with all that entails), and she missed is mouth and hit his back side with the novacaine. He then lost all feeling in his butt, for the rest of eternity. That's how he got the name Tacky A**. The rest of the band got there name, well, just because it seemed to go with Tacky A** somehow.

Anyway - Conway Twitty. Monn's parents had - eclectic - taste in music, and we were laughing over the fact that they had several Conway Twitty albums in their collection. So of course that had to find it's way into the story. It seems that TAF became known for their metal covers of Conway Twitty songs, and that the bed hopper guy liked to ...perform... to their music.

That was probably more than you ever wanted to know about the terrifying workings of my mind. In a minor defense of myself, I was never quite without having a partner in crime - usually Monn. Someday I'll have to write about He-Dave, and you'll see what I mean.


Not much new here in Sheryl Land. Forgot to turn my time card in, so I didn't get paid this week (stupid, stupid, stupid). Fortunately I have enough food to get me through the week, and I have a few dollars in my checking acct. so I can buy gas if I need it.

Put together a bunch of brochures at work this week, for this expo human resources is doing for all their employees. It's supposed to be a fun thing. I, of course, don't get to go since I am only a temp. I've been temping there for six months now. I wish they would just put me on full time already. It's a good company. Even though I don't like what I am currently doing, I could learn to live with it because of their continued expansion and the way they encourage employees in their advancement efforts.

Didn't make it to the Lutheran church last weekend. I was running late, and I got to the church about five minutes before the services began. I pulled into the parking lot, which appeared fairly full (just proof that I wasn't in Catholic land any more), and proceeded to have a minor panic attack. I couldn't bring myself to go inside the church. I felt so guilty. I just had visions of upsetting my dad, and, oddly, my boss. She thinks for some reason that I am the paragon of Catholicism just because I worked for the church, and no matter how much I try to disabuse her of the notion, she expects me to toe the company line, as it were.

And then there was the fact that I imagined that I was wearing some sign visible to everyone that said, "Hey! I'm Catholic! I don't belong here!" and that people in the church would look at me funny. Nothing is further from the truth, most likely, but there you go.

Still, this week I'm going to try again. I'll get up earlier and get there earlier, and maybe I can just blend in with the crowd.

So now that I have bored you enough, I guess I'm going to go. It's Friday night, and I...well...I have absolutely nothing to do.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Spiritual stuff

Well, I'm going to services at a Lutheran church tomorrow. I'm really nervous about it. I haven't been to services at a non-Catholic church since 1997. I'm not worried about fitting in, or the worship service itself, but I'm worried that since I'm going by myself, I will immediately stand out as an interloper. I mean, most non-Catholic, non-Baptist churches here are very, very small, considering Catholics and Baptists make up about 80% of the population of South Louisiana. I know nothing about the culture of this church, and I'm afraid I'll stick out.

I also have a sense of unease because I feel like I am betraying my father. He agreed with my mother exposing me to her tradition, but I don't think he ever anticipated that I would ever consider exploring it myself. When I went to services at a Presbyterian church with a friend in Pittsburgh during my last hiatus from the Catholic church, I didn't have that sense of guilt because it was a completely different tradition, and because my issues then were really more issues with God than with the Catholic church per say. I can't really say that now. I'm over any conflict I might have been having with God, and my difficulty lies solely with the Catholic church. I think I'm getting better in that regard, in that I've dealth with the fact that not every parish is like St. Al's CCC, but in the times that I've gone to mass, I haven't been able to feel a connection to what is going on around me. I don't know if it is the music, or the sermons, or the congregation, or my own mental block, but I just can't sit in the pew and pretend everything is hunky dorey when it isn't.

You know what it's like? It's like watching a cooking contest on the Food Network (yeah, that's what I have on now). It's mindless viewing for late at night, and you have no vested interest in what you are seeing. That's the way I've felt at mass lately. And sensing that feeling in myself makes me tense and angry. I don't like worship making me feel tense and angry.

Of course, it shouldn't make me feel guilty either. Maybe I should consider an Episcopal church. No one I know is Episcopalian. No betrayal there. But no connection, either. And I don't know that I could handle some other tradition for a long-term basis. I like the ritual and sacrament present in those traditions that claim apostolic succession. Plus, these churches have a similar interpretation of scripture as the Catholic church (even if they are missing the deuterocanonical books - althought the only one I would miss out of the bunch is Sirach). You don't necessarily find that in other Protestant churches.

What I really need is a spiritual director. But all the certified ones in Baton Rouge have some connection to St. Al's CCC, or come from the very conservative viewpoint (the ones who don't believe that the calendar has moved beyond 1965). I know intellectually that spiritual directors are bound by the same confidentiality as any counselor (or since we are talking about spiritual matters, confessor), but emotionally I don't think I could handle the thought that anything I said could get back to them there, even if it wasn't intentional on the part of the director. Or worse, that the director would somehow try to convince me that what I am feeling isn't valid because St. Al's CCC has this reputation of being the paragon of progressive Catholic churches in this diocese. Yeah, it's paranoia. But with everything that I experienced at St. Al's, I can't help it.

Oh, well. I'll write about my experiences tomorrow. Right now, if I want to get up tomorrow, I need to go to bed.