Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Rift

Now that we've survived the madness of Publish 56, I'm back to ramble some more. Except this time it will definitely qualify as a rant because this past few weeks have just made this issue all the more obvious, at least for me.

We often hear or talk about how people change once they get a promotion, become famous, become rich or end up in a position of power. We also often smirk at artists who say "I'm still the same person that grew up in the projects! I'm still real!" as they fire their maid for folding their hand towel to the left instead of to the right. But while there is no question that success (in whatever form it may come) sometimes gets to the head of whoever achieved it, it is often the friends and close circle of people who are negatively changed the most by it.

You win the lottery, everyone suddenly expects you to constantly shower them with lavish presents or pick up the tab every single time you go out. And it better not be in that old run down diner you guys have been going to every Friday night like clockwork for the past 10 years. You're rich now, so it better be some fancy pants place or you're a Scrooge. To hell with tradition, to hell with the fact that the good old simplicity and casual routine was what you looked forward to every week and what kept you grounded. They want to live the lavish life through you, and as a good friend you should indulge them, no matter what the cost to you.

You got your big break in Hollywood?! Now everyone and their brother knows that if you are any kind of a real friend, you will somehow get them a small part in your next blockbuster movie. What do you mean you can't get them front row tickets to the Oscars? Did you really try hard enough? And how come you're always so darn busy all the time now? Your friends not good enough for you anymore? Who cares that you have been on set for 12 hours straight and that when you get home you have to learn your lines for next day's shoot?

So you landed a cool job at the White House. Stop making such a big deal about the NDA. Friends don't keep secrets from each other. Like you really risk losing your job if you divulge certain things or behave a certain way... You're just on a power trip, aren't you? It's just a lame excuse not to hang out or share info. Just like you're too important now to discuss the healthcare crisis with them, or any other crisis for that matter. And lets not start with the selfish BS about you having brainstormed all day about said crises and when you come home from work, the last thing you want or need is more brainstorming about it. If every single one of your friends want to contact you one after the other, or simultaneously, be it occasionally or every day to express their views about the state of the economy or vent their frustration about the shortcomings of the government you're working for, you should make yourself available and cater to their needs. (dang that was a long sentence!) And why would you take offense when your friends trash talk the government you work for, your colleagues or the project you're on? It's just a job right? You don't have to take any pride in it... And what kind of a friend doesn't help a friend in need? Ok fine, you don't work for Immigration, but it's still government stuff and you work for the government. Surely you can fix your friend's passport issues...

So my point...

I genuinely believe I'm still the same silly girl with the same silly sense of humor. But over the past 6 months, the number of people I've stopped talking to altogether or that I've distanced myself from (or have distanced themselves from me!) has grown exponentially. The past couple of weeks, a few more were added to the "I cannot be bothered with anymore" list.

My time off is no less sacred than yours. My new job didn't make me your punching bag or a commodity to facilitate you getting what you want. I do not come home from a long day's work just so I can get an earful about how you think all that we're doing sucks. There are forums for that. My R&R time isn't it. I'm not customer service, so even if you cry me a river about your in-game assistance needs, I will tell you "I cannot help you with this" so just page a GM. I have nothing to do with accounts or billing so if you managed to get banned, sucks to be you cuz I'm not bailing you out (not that I could anyways). As I didn't get injected with a superdose of uber knowledge when I got the job, I cannot enlighten you about server side issues because I'm a designer, not an engineer. And since I'm not tech support either, I also cannot tell you why running Vista on your specific machine seems to be causing issues with UOA. In fact, had you seen me struggling to install my new video card on my PC, you wouldn't ask me any tech support advice. And that question you messaged me 20 times about over the last 4 days? You would have gotten the answer in 2 seconds had you Googled it.

To me, a buddy or friend is someone whose companionship and conversations I enjoy. Someone I get to relax and do cool stuff with. And in rougher times, someone who will support me and who I will support in return when needed. The same way they say don't bring your work at home, leave your friends' job out of your relationship. The person who changes the most often isn't the one we think.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pulling Hair

Two or three years ago, I had one of my most aggravating summers over the griefiest, stupidest thing ever. I came home from work on a very hot summer day, and the minute I opened the door, I was slapped by the most horrendous stench. So I covered my nose thinking "omg, what the heck?!" as I headed straight for the kitchen. That had a very distinctive smell of rotting meat and I figured I had probably forgotten something on the kitchen counter and the extreme heat did a number on it.

Trouble is, get in the kitchen, nothing suspicious in sight. At that point, I'm almost gagging, so I open all the windows and all the doors to let some fresh air inside. Then I methodically search every nook and cranny in the kitchen. I open every cupboard, the fridge, the oven, move both of the latter to make sure nothing fell behind them. Nothing...

The smell clearly seems the strongest around the fridge but despite my best effort, I find nothing. I look through every other room to no avail then back to the kitchen for a 2nd thorough search but nada. At that point I figure maybe it's something from the pipes, but it's too late to call a plumber. He drops by the next day, takes a whiff and goes "nope, that doesn't come from the pipes". There is something decomposing somewhere. But knowing I've checked everywhere, and since I'm gonna pay him anyways, I ask him to have a look through the drains and everything just in case. He does and as he predicted, nothing.

A couple more days of this, including a cancelled dinner because I am just too embarassed to have friends over under these conditions, I suddenly think of checking the dryer's air vent. I remember my mom used to have issues with birds nesting in hers and thought maybe one died in mine or something similar. But nope. This nightmare went on for a few weeks then the smell just faded away on its own, and one day it was gone. While I was happy, I was also really upset and concerned that I never found it because it could very likely resurface at some point in time.

About a month later, the light bulb near the sink area in the kitchen went out. Having a cathedral ceiling, I had to get a small ladder to reach it. So after I removed the ceiling light fixture, I turned to put it on top of the fridge and noticed a small white tray with something dark on it sitting at the far edge of the fridge. I remember saying something in French that could be translated as "are you freaking kidding me?!" but in a very unlady-like fashion.

There it was, a steak I took out one day, while trying to reach something else in the freezer and that somehow got pushed all the way to the back. And I was so angry with myself because I had checked the top of the fridge but didn't climb on anything to see all of it. It was a very big and tall fridge. I just had a quick glance from where I was standing and blindly patted the top as far as my hand could reach which wasn't all that far, despite my 5'8". I mean, to have been this thorough with everything else and so careless with this one... Granted, I NEVER put anything on top of the fridge except for the occasional quick swap of items so I had no reason to expect this and yet...

So you're wondering why the heck am I telling you this? Because to me, bug fixing is a little like that infuriating incident. You are faced with an unpleasant situation and follow your nose to the source. Sometimes, you're lucky: the problem is sitting right there on the counter and you can just dispose of it however is most fitting. Sometimes, it just fell between the stove and counter. Move the stove out of the way, and bye bye problem.

But sometimes, it will be sitting on the far edge of the fridge, at that one place you will never think to look. You know the problem involves the fridge and you'll look inside the fridge, around it, under it, behind it, you'll even empty it and trash everything inside, but you'll never think to look at the back edge. And because sometimes, just like in my incident, its properly wrapped and therefore doesn't leak or trigger any other visible sign that could point you to the back edge. So you'll resort to the most far-fetched and improbable alternative causes, like the pipes and air vent. And it will take a burnt light bulb, sometimes weeks, months or years later for you to finally see where that darn thing was sitting all along.