September 3rd, 2007


harry vs. sally

some of us were talking in christianity about whether it's healthy to have close friendships with members of the opposite sex after you're married.

I think: no.

Trust me, I have faith in people. I work with 200 guys every day, and very few if any of them want to seduce me. I'm friends with guys. I invite them to parties, introduce them to marc, go with them on float trips. But when it comes to close friendships... the ones where you stay up late over coffee, go out to lunch with just the two of you to catch up on old times, write long e-mails about the events of your days and how you feel... I don't feel like you should have those with the opposite sex if you're straight and married.

Marc and I haven't exactly talked about this but we feel the same way, so we could talk about it at any time and it'd be one of those quick ten minute agreements we have. We were at a friends house once talking to this girl who'd just gotten engaged, and her fiance was away for the weekend visiting a [female] friend of his from school who he'd just been best friends with forever, and she was a little weirded out by it but he assured her that he and this girl just weren't right for one another, and that this girl was his best friend and that didn't conflict at all with the girlfriend/wife position that our friend occupied. Marc and I exchanged our favorite glance: "that's fucked up." First off, it obviously made her uncomfortable, so why keep it up? Second of all, in our experience, those "best friends forever" are destined to one day find out what might have been. You know what I'm saying. Yes, you do. The guy involved here missing something in his relationship, otherwise he wouldn't be taking a long road trip alone to visit another girl, that's all there is to it.

Marc and I have both been in relationships where there was cheating. We know where it comes from. We know that in close mutual friendships, the odds of one person secretly wanting to screw the other are rarely, if ever, zero, and frequently they're very high, even though one or both parties will deny it to the end. And really when it comes to cheating on a spouse I don't even think you need sex, you can mentally be unfaithful and it's almost just as bad. This philosophy doesn't even come from my religion, it just comes from what I think is right and the experiences I've had. People think affairs start on, like, or something and they're wrong. Affairs start from close friendships. Late nights alone. Hours of talking. They start innocently.

Plus I just feel like friends aren't worth it. there are billions of people in this world for me to be close friends with. I'll pick the ones who are female. Or gay. Or related to me. It's just that easy. I don't really have time in my life for many close friends anyway... I can pretty much count all the ones I've ever had on one hand. In fact right now, four come to mind. Granted, I am a total introvert and sorta weird, and probably have fewer friends than most people, but it still feels like marc is almost all the friend I need anyway, and that little bit of extra bonding doesn't need to come from another straight man.

So anyway, I feel fine going to a club and dancing with other guys. Coworkers will call me and say that they're all out at the bar and I'll go meet them, and it's cool. But there's a line... I don't need to be alone with any of them, I don't need them to be my bestest closest friends, I don't need to send them an e-mail that says, "Marc will be out of town all weekend, we should definitely get together!". And people can deny it all they want, and pretend that there are two categories of people, those who can control their emotions and those who can't. But for me, it doesn't cost anything to just lump everybody in the "can't" box.

my five year

ya know what I forgot to write today? it's september 3rd! this means that exactly five years ago today was my first day on the Real Job.

The big thing I clearly remember that day was that I wore heels, and by the end my feet were absolutely positively killing me. I'd called HR, and they told me to dress nicely because I'd get my badge photo taken and all that, so I wore uncomfortable shoes to make the whole outfit work. Big mistake. Yes, there was the three seconds of photo, but the rest of the day I was being led around like a puppy, walking everywhere.

I thought HR was just cruel, not to have told me to wear comfortable shoes. Now I know that HR barely knows what engineering is. Yes, my contact there told me to call her for everything, she arranged my relocation, gave me my interview schedule and told me who to ask for in the engineering building. But she had no freaking clue where or who I'd be after 7:45 on September 3rd. And honestly, people who work in HR do wear cute shoes and "outfits"... because they don't walk through airplane hangars or climb into cockpits.

I also remember being super excited about meeting everybody, because I just thought they were all so wonderful... now I size people up in horribly judgmental ways. Are you an engineer? A pilot? Can you e-mail, or are you going to bug the s out of me by calling all the time? Are you one of those smarmy a-holes who's going to go over my head and ask my boss questions because you don't believe I know what I'm talking about? Do you believe in standards? Are you one of those creepy socially inept engineers? A total idiot? Insane? Lazy? Micromanager? Are you going to blow off my meeting because I'm not important enough, then go behind my back to the people who were in there and reverse our decision? Do you understand schedules? Are you afraid of technology? Do you know what you're doing?

Are you in marketing?

Oh, I love my job. Back then I think I just loved having a job... the rest of the details just scared me. I wasn't sure how to prove myself, or if I was even capable of such a task. I thought being smart and knowing a lot about airplanes were sort of the same thing.

now that I work with new college grads, I'm also pretty sure I annoyed the shit out of my coworkers. they've all got that "world's cutest kitten" thing going on.

sometimes you break them... they get so frustrated they decide engineering isn't for them, or they're just going to be pissed off and work outside the system as much as possible. Try to get the friendly managers to sign their reports, pay for the pricey healthcare plan because there's less paperwork.

They stop calling the help desk about our crappy computers.

I always call help desk. I call them about ridiculous things that I know they'll be clueless on, just to spite them. I love the challenge. I even know the real IT guys at our company now, and they know me because I've done website stuff, and we joke about how things fall apart, and I still love calling help desk. I get better stories... like the day my monitor died and I called them, and said "We plugged the monitor into another computer to see if it was my PC, but the monitor still won't come on." and the guy at the other end said, "Well ma'am, it sounds like the problem might be with the monitor... I'm going to put you on hold for level II just to make sure."

I love the system. Individual people are freaking insane, but the whole system... I'm a diva at it now. I'm good at what I do. People want me on their projects. I'm slowly learning to be diplomatic (I think) but still have my tough edgy image. I have friends at work. I feel like I fit in.

A college kid asked me what it was like to be at five years, did I feel all "old"? Nice question, brat. I told him that I still felt like there was infinity to learn about airplanes, the only big difference is that now I know enough that I can do a lot without managers, so they piss me off... I used to just be so happy to talk to my bosses, happy they were taking an interest in me, now I mostly think they're in my way.

I think the real difference is very, very round. I wanted to be an engineer. I thought that meant learning everything technical. I thought if I had technical knowledge, I'd have everything... people would respect and adore me, I'd get responsibility, I'd be valuable.

Five years taught me that knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from a lot of things that are very non-technical. The ability to present information, the ability to argue, confidence to jump in there, networking, sucking up, having an image, enthusiasm, earning respect, running a meeting, walking fast, listening, learning, knowing who to learn from... there's not one important thing. there's not one important thing about an airplane. it's all part of something bigger.