Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Cliques

When you were in high school did you wear a label?  And no, I'm not talking about Calvin Klein jeans or Izod shirt labels.  (From this reference you also get my era of high school).  I am talking about the cool kid, jock, head, brain, or geek type label?  Once labeled, it was pretty tough to redefine yourself. No matter how much you might have yearned for a change over each long summer, by September you were back in the same alphabetical homeroom, the same locker, the same tattooed label etched into your forehead.

Somehow I had a hybrid kind of label..kind of a preppy geek/goody two shoes/(not so brainy) brain.

Most of my good friends were brains, but I couldn't lay claim to the top of the class straight A's to wear that label without modification.  I was a solid B student with minor flashes of brilliance when, according to my guidance counsellor and teachers, I actually applied myself.  The surprise on my guidance counsellor's face when I was among the very few Merit Scholarship winners was classic.

I was definitely a bit of a geek - always a little awkward and shy and terrified of major social events and public speaking. An oral report requirement would drive me into a frenzy of anxiety and a school dance was reason to pull deep into my shell and hope for a bad case of bronchitis to cancel out any need to gut-up and attend.

I thought maybe I might try to be a jock after a good friend discovered the Volleyball squad.  I figured this was a sport where my height was an advantage, but which did not require me to run hurly-burly up and back on the basketball court.  However, once I saw the level of effort the coach put the team to in training, I didn't even last to the 2nd day of try-outs. 

I was about as pure as you can get in high school. No drinking.  No drugs. No boys (well, relatively few and definitely nothing more than a little petting).  No breaking of the rules.  But I did lay claim to a few friends serendipitously seated by me in health class and study hall who were of the bad influence category.  You know the type - skin tight Jordache jeans, REO Speedwagon t-shirts, melted black eyeliner encasing their eyes, and the general aroma of smoke of various origins hovering around their vicinity.

Why am I talking about this long ago era?  Well, recently I was at a large group dinner at work and I thought about the dynamics of our own little work family.  The variety of backgrounds, cultures, ages, races, and genders was astonishing.  We all work together as a fairly unified force, yet here we are - the former (or not so former) geeks, the jocks, the loners, the brains, the cool kids.  Pretty much missing in action are the head cases, but there are still a few "like to party" types in the group. 

Barriers still appear.  Natural buddy groups arise.  I know I personally have a select group that rise above and help me truly enjoy my time at work.  And beyond the natural impulses of personality that create friendships, other common cultures align - the few men in our team cluster together.  The African American women in the group have a special bond - not excluding the rest of us, but I sense there is something that a few more generations will need to pass to eliminate completely.  The youth or under 30 set.  The management - burdened by a different set of rules and obligations.  The early-birds and the night owls - bound together simply by their bio rhythms and work hours.  The bagged lunch and the dine out sets.  The workaholics.  The slackers.  The parents and the childless.  The married.  The single.  The divorced.  The remarried.  The advancing.  The declining.

This week I'm attending an international conference where there are people from all over the world coming together to discuss a common business.  The best people in the field are here.  No doubt some of the most brilliant minds of our generation.  And yet,  despite our age and wisdom, we are not much better than those original high school students.  We wear labels, and we place labels on others. We create cliques. We determine popularity. We create cool tables and outliers.  We isolate, and we embrace, with very capricious nature. 

I wonder sometimes if we ever will outgrow our cliques?  Or perhaps we need to create one more label.   A new brand, per se.  Let's not call it a clique, let's call it a NETWORK.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Blogless.  Without content or substance of writing material.  Boring.  Tepid.  Burnt out.  Tired.  Sleepless in Suffern.

This is me.

I'm trying to figure out if I miss it, or if I'm cutting the cord somehow.  Every day a fleeting thought will, well...flit...and then it is gone.  Not so much an idea as a cobweb clearing from my brain.  It is difficult for me to believe that I completed a vacation, dodged a hurricane, engaged in (and have nearly completed) my first corporate video project (without  a single co-writer, brainstorm partner, or sounding board), carried a department and a half on my back for the past two weeks, and I still have little or nothing to say.

So what ELSE have I been doing instead of blogging???

I did have a minor heart attack yesterday when the hotel in Venice was missing our reservations and I thought we'd sleeping in a gondola for two nights.

I did laugh hysterically at my cat finding a new place to cuddle - in my pants as they were pulled down to my ankles while I was on the toilet.

I did shake my head in wonder when our housesitter told us that Kitty Potato Head has moved on from potatoes to bananas, which she apparently stole and hid all over the house.

I did throw up a little in my mouth when we discovered a rotting (read: liquified and buggy) old bag of potatoes stuck in the bread box and forgotten.

I did get sucked in to XM radio and am considering paying their stupid fee to continue having at least one thing on my radio without a crank-calling, obnoxious, dirty minded, obnoxious, tractor pull screaming, obnoxious DJ.

I did finish re-reading the first six and reading the seventh book in the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series (from December until August!!!)  And just when I was convinced I had finally OD'd on these characters and the degrading storyline, she left me with just enough cliffhangers for characters I had followed through these impressive heavy tomes that I dragged around in my bag for 9 months, that I feel the need for Book #8.  Hats off Ms. Gabaldon.  I thought I was done.

I did read a shorter and poignant book - Waiting to Surface.  It was even more compelling of a story when I realized it was semi-autobiographical for the author.  But I still can't imagine living with the not knowing.

I did complete the itinerary and bookings (with only the one SNAFU aka minor heart attack, which has now been rectified) for our trip to Italy.  I swear when I get there, everyone else is going to have to take control cuz I'm tapped out.

I did lay in a prone position for nearly four days after our return from Cape Cod, moving from bed, to couch, to lounge chair at pool, and back again.  Man did I need that.

I did complete about 18 loads of laundry, purchase 11 outfits on sale from Coldwater Creek, swallow the cost of a REAL suitcase not the kind you get 5 for 40 bucks and then pack/unpack/pack/half-unpack,  I did locate at the 6th store a messenger bag suitable for warding off even the most enterprising Gypsies in Rome - I hope.

I did clean my plant shelf/bay window and reduce the dead plantings and cut back the jungle to about half.

And amongst all of that I also managed to sleep a few hours, do a LOT of corporate duty, and get a tan.

So now you know why I've been blogless.