Daily babble


Knowing that you are going to leave your job (or rather, being laid off as the case may be), is not a really great incentive for doing your best the last two months. And it doesn’t do much for the feelings towards your fellow workers either, I can tell you. Because, if you know that you are going to have to deal with these people for the unforseeable future, then you develope some techniques to deal with them. You have to, otherwise life would be unbearable.

The boss that never, ever can make a decision? The overpaid person in a job you don’t know what entails, that you never see doing anything worthwhile? The woman that is so scared of other women getting ahead that she constantly puts all the other women in the office down, but manages to charm management nevertheless? The woman you suspect having an affair with the boss? Does this sound familiar to anyone? (I really hope so, because if not, I’m the crazy one.)  You learn to tolerate it all, seeing as you spend more time with them than with anyone else in the world.

But to know that it is going to end? That in a short two months you don’t ever have to see them again? I can tell you what that means, it means that what you really think of them is starting to seep into all conversations you have at work, all the time.

Feel like George Costanza.

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I work at a relatively large office, in a relatively large corporation. In my corner of the building alone there’s probably around a hundred people. A hundred people that are allowed the luxury of three separate toilets. Three. They are *always* busy, which forces me on a regular basis to reflect on office etiquette and human nature.

It’s easy math, really. If we’re on average a hundred people that spend seven hours in the office during the span of nine hours, peeing or pooping say for five minutes a time, in average 3 times a day – the three toilets will be occupied for 95% of the time. Pure math: there will be trouble. Add to this that human toiletry routines are very predictable, bound to be extra urgent after morning coffee, lunch, afternoon snacks – or before the start of meetings on every hour. And so on. Queues, I tell you.

Now let me say this, I work with decent people. There are no floater issues in this post, though the occasional skidmark or explosion scene is encountered. Neither is there obscene behaviour – like in one of my earlier workplaces, where the joyful remains of male auto-eroticism was deposited neatly, like cake decorations, on the rim of the seat of the women’s toilet (I’m glad to report that I was not the woman who sat in it).

Perhaps the queuing is the reason for this decency – you’re bound to meet a line of dancing colleagues when exiting, and generations of cultural shaming obliges you to do the little whinge of shame, the apologetic smile, perhaps an actual cry of it wasn’t me! complete with hands thrown up if the stink is too bad. That akward nod of recognition: hello colleague, I see you’re there, but I really wish you weren’t. Now you know that I am human and process my food in this unappealing manner.

Combined with this cultural denial of what’s actually happening, I must admit to a practically feral behaviour when on my way in to do my business.

When I’m allowed into a newly used toilet I can’t help but to willingly catch a big gulp of not so fresh air, inhaling and enjoying the essence of my dear colleagues, sniffing out their secrets. It is, after all, like turning someone inside out, so it’s a pretty organic experience. I have no idea why I do this, as it’s frequently followed by me faking pukety faces to myself in the mirror and miming at myself with an astonishing look, like I had no idea what they were doing in there – or that I’m about to repeat the number. Too much essential information, so to speak.

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It’s like I’m a dog taking the opportunity to sniff another dog’s ass, and proudly taking the opportunity to spray the toilet with my signature smell to own the toilet until someone else comes along.

This must be the explanation for men refusing to hit the toilet bowl or to put down the seat – and women refusing to SIT DOWN when peeing (urinating in the manner of a lawn sprinkler and, if possible, less precisely than men).

Closing that toilet door we return to our animal beings, far from office protocol and only matched by the desperation over a printer breakdown closing in on a deadline.

I need elizadrool to expand on this, but the notion of Sweden as the home of all horrible og unmentionable moral, and spesifically sexual, badness, is so clearly based on watching Swedish porn in the sixties and seventies, that one must assume that the members of this church have some moral issues of their own.

(There is however a story to this – Swedish evangelist pastor Åke Green was some years ago to court for his rather distasteful attacks on gay people. This led to a certain reputation amongst some American preachers that Sweden is the home of all immoral acts, and with a state ready to defend gay people. The shock! The horror!)

But living in Scandinavia, the idea of the Swedes as the Masters of the Promiscous Sex-world, is completely silly. It is the Danes, stupid!

(Having checked the completely insane website assosiated with these people, http://www.godhatestheworld.com/, I realize that God does not hate Norway or Denmark, only Sweden. He does however hate Russia for being gay, incidently one of the most homophobic places on the planet. I feel that fact-checking is not high on the agenda with these people.)

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After sharing my recent thoughts on breast cancer campaigns with a friend – how great is it that my friends get to not only read my grievances but also hear me moan for hours after they’ve agreed with me? – mr. Friend dutifully chimed in: And how about prostate cancer? Big killer! But no one wants to sport a hairy ribbon!

True.

But if we did, I know the perfect spokesperson for the campaign:

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PS: Please don’t google ‘hairy ass’ for illustrations of this post, like I just did. Please.

nattbordJames McAdam has made this rather nifty bedside table for the nervous amongst us, and those willing to fight off their enemies, it seems.

However cool it looks, I’m afraid it is not for me. I am scared of things that go bump in the night, but very rarely is this the right weapon to get rid of them, if everything I have learned from Joss Whedon is correct. And I am quite sure that it is.

And if I really should have a bog standard burglar in my house, I would curl up and try to will the bastard away. To attack someone when you don’t know what to do, is far more likely to end with getting yourself injured, I fear.

Plus, the amount of books, newspapers, coffee-mugs and assorted crap that would have to be tossed on the floor in the process of assembling this in my bedroom, would surely alert the burglar to my existence long before I was ready to wack him over the head.

But I gotta give it to James – rather good idea!

I used to live in London. Love the city, hated living there. Mostly because I lived in a rather crap neighbourhood with a somewhat peculiar boyfriend. If I had tons of money and could live in Hampstead – well, that would be a completely different story, I think.

However, watching Closer tonight, a movie that is a perfectly tangled web of love stories between four of the most beautiful people on the planet, and about the general difficulty of life, really, I can’t help falling in love with London all over again. Closer is a bit like Sliding Doors, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones, in that respect. However Closer is a bit more complicated a movie than the romantic comedies I suppose the other movies would have to be described as.

I do love them all, and not only because they paint London in such a glorious light. I love romantic comedies in general, so I’m quite easily pleased, really. But the two Gwyneths in Sliding Doors intrigue me, Notting Hill is just happy silliness, and Bridget Jones – well, it’s Bridget Jones, isn’t it? Defining woman of the 90’s, when all is said and done.

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Do you remember how it started out tiny? A small metal pin worn discreetly on ones lapel.

Then it started growing, a subtle reminder of the horrible nature of cancer itself. October was declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ribbon imagry was used on merchandise and we got slogans like Think pink and Real men wear pink.

The ribbon itself quadrupled in size. It was transformed from metal to a piece of neatly arranged silk ribbon. Not only more soft and feminine, it’s also smarter, fundraisingwise, the fabric will get frazzled and bent in your pocket or on your lapel and you have to get out shiny new dollars to buy another one soon. Generating more money to research the disease.

Funding science is good, right? I guess. And still, I seem to object. I’ve been annoyed for the better part of October by the pink ribbons all over town. In magazines, on tv, in shops. Pleading for support. And me, resisting to join in.

It should be said that I’m not one for collective action. I have trouble standing in line waiting for the bus, for the risk of being mistaken for anything but a very individualized individual. A deeply unoriginal fear, and of course I realize that collective action has its benefits.

I just can’t stand the smug self-inflicted collective of obvious causes. You want to donate a few bucks to science? Go right ahead. You want to tell the world about your infinate generousity? All right then. But what do you think it means, pinning the ribbon on your chest or wearing the pink t-shirt? And what is the underlying assumption about everyone else? Are we for breast cancer? Do we simply not care?

Of course I care.

Hey, I hate when people use this card but it always works, so I will tell you that my grandmother and aunt have survived breast cancer. I suffer from breast cancer too, every time I try to do a self-scan I find giant lumps and the last time I went to my doctor with my lumps (actually I just casually mentioned the lumps when seeking advice for my imaginary goiter), he told me that with my condition I should keep my hands off my mammas and stop googling symptoms.  My condition being hypochondria, that is. Or having a vivid imagination, as my doctor kindly put it.

Just to point out that it’s not that I don’t take the disease seriously.

Here, my brain kicks in and I think myself into trouble. Is breast cancer a disease? Isn’t cancer the disease and breast cancer only one form of it? Is it really helpful to have the different body parts fight each other for funding in stead of campaigning the need for science in general?

Breast cancer isn’t the leading cause of death in women. Heart disease is. Cancer is number two. All kinds of cancer. Lung, pancrease, skin. And breast. The only one we escape is the prostate one.

This rant is self-evident. A collection of clever and cerebral facts. But my annoyance of the fluttering pink silk goes much deeper, like the fear it generates.

I mentioned that it’s not that I don’t care. If anything, care too much, I take all symptoms too seriously. I’m the worst kind of patient, a sponge for trends, seeking information withouth the knowledge needed to prosess it or put it into perspective. That makes me a good indication of society’s current nightmare. I had AIDS for a long time, but that’s subsided. Skin cancer, of course, but that is so 2002. Now I’ve started to worry about chemicals in cosmetics subtly melting from my skin into my bloodstream and DNA.

I’m like the tip of the thermometer, the first part of molecules of quicksilver reacting to a little information that will send shockwaves of fever through the great masses. I twitch a lot. I get scared really fast.

Which is why I get really mad when someone triggers my fear. And breastcancer really knows how to do that. Breast cancer is easy to sell, compared to AIDS, skin cancer or other diseases.

It can be championed by mature and dignified survivors with bald heads. Its symptoms are hidden to the world, survival symbolized by smooth silicon prosthesis and a life almost the same.

Its horrors go right to the core of being a woman, a mother, not only fear of dying but our identity. What kind of woman are you without your breasts? (A living woman, that’s what!)

It’s easy to spin: Supporting breasts. It’s easy to explain to men: Protect your woman!

I understand the need to raise money.  understand the need to take advantage of emotions and current disasters. I donated money during the tsunami even though I’m aware that there is suffering every day. I’m ashamed to admit that every day suffering doesn’t quite do it for me, it takes a wave of identification to open my wallet.

But this smooth and candy coloured campaign doesn’t only ask me for support or awareness. It triggers my fears to be able to offer me comfort. It sells me protective trinkets, good luck charms, a tiny life insurance. I want to buy this cute little ribbon. Just in case…

So when I see the pink ribbons everywhere in October, I don’t see funding research. I see the fear. – They got to you too, sister, I think. But I will resist. I donate money to general research that benefits us all, not a fear mongering campaign that tries to adress me as a woman.

Please do the same. If for nothing else than to stop scaring me every October.

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