Archive for April, 2007
“Isn’t your divorce over by now, little girl?”
That was my Mom asking the question I get on a regular basis. It’s been almost two years since I filed for a divorce and I’m still not finished with the paperwork. Most of the problem is that I’m my own attorney — and I’m a terrible at it!
When I began this process, I didn’t know the plantiff (moi) from the defendant (my soon to be ex-husband, Endicott), or the terms default, stipulated agreement or proof of service. Hell, if it wasn’t for the nice people at the Legal Aid Center in Van Nuys, California, I might still be stuck wondering how to fill out the line that asks for the names of the plantiff and the defendant!
It also doesn’t help that the Legal Aid Center is understaffed, overworked and overrun with legal system-challenged goofballs such as myself. The LAC people happily help us, but can only do so on a first come, first served basis for the first fifteen people in line. Because we require lots and lots of hand holding to get the most basic stuff done, this can take up most of their day. As a consequence, there is some competition to get in line early to be assured a spot. Today, I was there at 7:30am and I was still second in line! The first person sat in a camping chair and chatted easily with her boyfriend. Or maybe he was her soon to be ex-husband. It’s wasn’t clear except that they were friendly and comfortable, so that probably rules out the later!
Today the lovely LAC folks assured me I finally have my divorce papers in order. I made a bajillion copies before filing them with the Court. I hope they’re right as I’ve submitted various papers, as well as this packet twice now, only to be rejected each time. It’s worked out to one visit a month to the county clerk’s office, each met with one rejection letter a month to my apartment. (Doh!)
I’m sooooooooooooooooo ready to be over with this process! I want to be a singleton again! No more hemming and hawing over my married/separated/practically single status. I’d like to just say I’m single, that’s it. It will also be fantastic to have my maiden name returned to me. My married name is a gigantic pain in the tuckus as it is nine letters long, full of consenants and a little tough to pronounce. My maiden name is a common latin name (think a Spanish world version of Smith or Jones), four letters long and super easy to spell and say, at least in heavily Latino populated Southern California.
There’s also the fact that I resent my married name. I only adopted it to please Endicott. For years, he bugged me for it with a whole lot of, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you changed your name to mine?” (No.) “I’d really like it if you’d change your last name to mine. We’re married now, we should have the same name. Don’t you think so? But only if you want to, of course. I know that I want you to, but I also know I can never force you to do something you don’t want to do. If you’d like to that, it could be a really great present to me, if you’re interested…” And on, and on, and on. He didn’t care about my attachement to my name. He wanted what he wanted whether I liked it or not. Every time he brought it up, I expressed how much I wanted to keep my last name as it so much a part of who I was, so why should I change it? If he’s so nonchalant about name changes, he should just change his surname to mine. That suggestion always got me a dirty look! After several years of his pestering, I gave in to his silly request to adopt his silly name. Now that’s we’re over, I’m dying to reclaim my birthname!
Hopefully, this la(te)st batch of papers will take and I’ll finally be a free agent again — with my own easy to spell last name across the back of my jersey!
Third time is a charm?
April 25th, 2007
When last we spoke I was super tense and uncomfortable in a temp assistment. The CEO’s freak out continued into the following day, Wednesday. When I was asked to return on Thursday morning, I agreed to it out of guilt! The main assistant was already overworked and nearly overwhelmed. I couldn’t leave knowing there wasn’t someone else in place to help her. So when I was asked, I knodded, grunted and walked out the door!
Around lunchtime the next day, my rep from the temp agency phoned to see how I was holding up. (We spoke that morning about the possibility of my bailing out of the assignment.) He planned to tell the CEO that I this was my last day, but wondered if I already spoke to her about it on my own. “Well, yes and no,” I said. “I didn’t talk to the CEO, but I did return my parking pass to her main assistant and told her, ‘I’m giving this to you since I won’t be back.’ She was really cheerful when she replied, ‘Okay!’” My rep laughed, “I guess that covered it!”
It turned out that the rest of the day went really well as I got the hang of the nutty filing system, and could make changes very quickly when asked to do so. There was also a new personal assistant in the works, so that perked up the CEO and the mood in the office. But none of that made a difference when I was asked once again how I felt about returning the following week. Uh, did she not remember that I retuned parking pass? How about my discomfort for the last three days? These things should really ring a bell! I wasn’t angry, I definitely didn’t frown, but I could feel myself stiffen up, as if inflated with tension! I slowly shook my head no and walked out of the room! The main assistant let that go until an hour later, when she repeated the question, this time to the CEO. “Do you think we’ll need Florence on Monday?” (They were taking Good Friday off.) As they talked it over, I wondered how the hell I was going to say no to both of them without any hard feelings. After two very long minutes of discussion, they decided they didn’t need me after all. I almost yelped, “Woo-hoo!”
When I headed out the door that evening, with my $2.00 mileage re-embursement and the main assistant’s personal card in my purse, the CEO was very sweet. She thanked me for my efforts at tackling her filing system. I wasn’t the first person to have a hard time with it, she said, but I did well. She was full of well wishes for a great weekend and a happy Easter. I thought, “She’s kind and normal — finally!”
The following Monday, my temp agency rep called with info on another gig. “By the way, Florence, I just wanted to let you know that I spoke with the main assistant over at Tense Development Company. She said you were great and she was happy with your work, so I just want you to know that for your own piece of mind.”
How funny that (yet again), I doubted myself and my abilities when other people around me didn’t. I guess that I am a decent assistant after all.
I don’t suck! Yea!
April 19th, 2007
Today was a hard day at work. Apparently, I had no idea what I was getting into with my latest temp assignment. I’m working for an anal retentive CEO of a development company who is (as of my first day of work) increasingly tense as she moved to fire her personal assistant. That finally came down today, but before I could get out of her way. I sooooooooooooooo did not help relieve the tension in the office!
By now, you must have a sense of how completely UN-anal retentive I am. I’m generally laid back, upbeat, occasionally funny and intent on doing whatever menial, unimportant gig I happen to have as well and as quickly as possible. Unlike most people, I actually care about my work. I like to think that I do it well as I’ve been told repeatedly by employers that I am a good assistant. Hell, after four days at my last gig, the department manager offered me a full time job as soon as the position opened up again. She thought it could happen within two weeks, but could not promise anything as it’s dependant on several factors. So, basically, I do not suck! But you wouldn’t know that by what happened today.
I’ll spare you the painful details (no I won’t) except to say that an anal retentive CEO (ARCEO if you will) + an incompetent personal assistant + expensive severance package = tense, super duper nit-picky boss. Add in a dash of upbeat, laid back temp with imperfect notes to said ARCEO and you get five or six tense versions of, “Did I not explain this to you correctly the first time? We just have to go over this again to get this right. This has to be two lines, not one. You have to have the dash right there. It must read, ‘Taxes - BS’ on one line with the year ‘2007′ on the next line. The print must be the same exact size and the same exact font or it will drive me crazy. Because it is a company file, the label print must be blue. It then is placed in a blue plastic hanging folder. You have a blue paper hanging folder here. You must remember it HAS to be plastic. The thin label on top must have blue on the edges, with blue print, all in CAPS, that reads, ‘Taxes - BS 2007,’ all on one line.” That was an easy example. Many of the others were so out of control, I just couldn’t get it for the longest time.
Truthfully, I’m not the most detail oriented person. I get my trivia wrong all the time. Recently, a very sharp friend of mine mentioned meeting Chuck Yeager on a plane. I responded with, “Oh, the astronaut.” No, he was the first pilot to break the sound barrier. I stopped listening for a minute as I thought, “Oh my God, I’m an idiot. He flew planes, not spaceships. But I thought he was in, ‘The Right Stuff.’ Which f*cking movie was he really in? Doesn’t matter because I now look like a moron.” I couldn’t shake the embarrasment for the rest of the evening. Even now, I cringe at the memory. Once I looked up Chuck Yeager on Wikipedia I didn’t feel so bad, as I was right about his portrayal in, ‘The Right Stuff,’ but still wrong about the aircraft he flew. That same evening, I confused the date of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait with the beginning of the First Gulf War. According to Wikipedia, it was actually the Second Gulf War, not the First though that’s its familiar name. I wasn’t wrong about the start date. Why is any of this important to me? Why am I still scarred by this a month later? Because I hate getting facts wrong. It’s like I have a hand written sign taped to my back that reads, ‘I’m stoopid!’ It tells everyone that I’m an idiot, when, in truth, I wasn’t always dumb! My brain stopped working right many years ago. Recent medical finding offer an explanation; chronic pain may shrink the human brain, (I have rheumathoid arthritis) but that doesn’t help much when I can’t think straight and people think I’ve ALWAYS been a friggin’ moron. I just wait to yell, “I wasn’t always dumb! I was smart…once! A long, long time ago.” My constant state of stress only increases my chances of looking like a dumb ass.
Imagine how well I took today’s repeated scoldings from my AFCEO. Even when her assistant / development executive (it’s a long story that comes down to the AFCEO’s expectation that her assistant play both rolls with the proposed TV pilot as well as the upcoming film and the this and the that - sheesh) told me she probably couldn’t have done much better with those stupid flippin’ files, I didn’t feel much comfort. All I could think was that my brain let me down again. Here was my big chance to do what I’ve wanted to do for years — work in film and television — and it’s all going down the drain because I didn’t write down ‘plastic.’ I had both paper and plastic folders ready but paperclipped the label to the wrong one. I totally wanted to double check her files, but she didn’t leave her office for more than thirty seconds at a time, so I couldn’t…Most of them still aren’t done, so I have many more opportunities to either fix this situation or make it so unbelievably bad, I’ll be sent home some time before noon…I can’t help but wonder, how could I handle any more responsibility if I can’t get the files right? Is this goofiness what other people see in me? Is that why people I know well won’t help me get another gig when they could make it happen with one phone call? Am I just now realizing how much I suck?
My best bud, Jean Luc, shook his head no. “It’s funny what those thoughts (self-doubt/insecurities/me being me?) will make you believe about yourself.” I think I said, Dude, the assistant is well connected and knows everybody in town. I don’t want her thinking I’m a f*ck-up. “She doesn’t think you’re a f*ck up.”
As I sulked my way out of the office tonight, the assistant called out, ‘Don’t let her get to you and ruin your night.’ I waved goodbye and didn’t look back.
Tomorrow I will try my hardest to get everything right, be upbeat and friendly. If that’s not good enough, I’ll just wave goodbye to all of them and not look back.
April 3rd, 2007