The other office finale

When I started my first real full-time job, I was a new mother at 21.  While my friends were still sitting in lectures, writing papers and probably partying a bit in between, I had entered the workforce, all the way downtown and everything.  Having lived my whole life within a 10km radius, I found myself immersed in a foreign culture of more variety than my young, sheltered, suburban mind could wrap around.  I remember encountering my first Jewish and first openly-gay co-workers almost as clearly as where I was on 9/11.  (I worked at Church & Wellesley, by the way.)

Feeling unaccomplished professionally and horribly unqualified as a too-young mom, I made a conscious decision not to form friendships with co-workers that stretched beyond the cubicles.  I marveled at my cousin’s extracurricular social life with her office mates and was wowed when my sister stood as matron of honour for a friend she met at work.  But I couldn’t do it.  My immature heart couldn’t handle it, and this arms-length behaviour that feared judgment and rejection continued throughout the next decade, with a few glimmers of hope, but nothing lasting that would warrant even – gasp! – sending a Facebook friend request.

Then I started working at a company that was like none I’d ever experienced.  Or, rather, in the company of people I’d never experienced.  And that’s when the party started.  This place was like a family.  I found myself going on lunch-hour shopping escapades, helping out with social events, and allowing myself to open up to these now-friends.  But it was slow-going and still very cautious.

When our office relocated my partner and I were seated at the border between two departments, and my manager now sat only steps away.  And that was when this small collection of women drew me out of my insecurities and introduced me to the idea of allowing my authentic self to exist in the workplace.  I was 34, for goodness’ sake.  They arrived right on time. photo (22)Two years later, we are all on the cusp of new beginnings that beg us to choose whether we are casualties of evolution or newborn trailblazers.  And by the end of the summer, almost all of these women will no longer be a part of my daily experience, swapping recipes and housekeeping tips, sharing in our personal and family triumphs and sorrows, planning lunch dates and holding mini-parties, bouncing reflections about faith off of each other.  Instead, we are now being prompted to elevate our relationships to real friendship, the kind that is voluntary and isn’t boosted by a shared parking lot.

My excitement for each of us is not properly expressed in my mid-commute blubbering; my heart really is bursting in anticipation for this next chapter in each of our lives.  As for my own, I’ve already learned a couple of lessons.  First: friending people on Facebook is not going to kill you.  But they now have access to the crazy videos and pictures you make with your husband and kids.  Second: personal, supernatural affirmation aside, I know that God loves me and has good plans for me. Because in His daily pleading for me to be a bright light in a dark world, He speckled my corner of it with living examples to greet me every time I swivel my chair.

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Please resist

After years of searching for a happy occupation, I finally found my home in the entertainment industry in 2009.  And now I am one of those people who misses out on my rightful, hard-earned cut when you obtain media through shady sources.  Not sure if it’s shady?  If you come back for more and it’s been raided by the cops.  Or the site is shut down.  Or if you paid a ridiculously low price for it.  Like a toonie or, hey, nothing.

I resisted an offer four weeks ago to get a copy of a bootleg of Adele’s latest album (oh how I love her so…see you in May, you cool girl you), knowing I had to stick it out a whole month still before I’d be able to purchase my own anywhere on this side of the Atlantic.  And so today I lugged the kids with me to the mall (with visions of Bulk Barn bribes dancing in their heads) and picked up the cd, paid for it, and peeled open the plastic in delight like it was a Wonka bar.  It was a learned lesson in delayed gratification.  Remember that, kids?  Remember when we had to wait for opening day to watch a movie?  Had to wait until we went in to the theatre and sat down to watch the movie?  Had to wait until it was released on DVD to watch it at home?

Don’t get me wrong.  I know that the offer for the copy was out of pure generosity and intended for private use; it is much appreciated.  And I am not holier than thou.  I did the Napster (among others) thing, I have watched pirated movies.  Admittedly with an elevated heartbeat, wondering if Interpol was, in fact, going to nab me before the credits.  But now my Blockbuster membership gets hefty mileage – and if I don’t buy it properly, I don’t have it – not out of fear, but out of respect.  I literally see how much work goes into making a music CD or a movie.  I talk to artists whose royalties are their sole source of income.  I have a pretty good idea of how many little people like me rely on the legitimate purchase of the products they make and sell.  They are not just the actors or singers or directors or executive producers.  It’s the payroll person, or the guy who presses the discs, or the copywriter who’s typing out the text you see on the sleeve.

You’re not the bad guy.  The pirates are.  Just take a moment to think about it, try to resist, and please accept my dearest thanks for it.

And that’s all I have to say about that.