Friday, July 29, 2005

The Week in Review

The week began dreadfully, with a 6-hour meeting about exterior wall sections. As we painstakingly reviewed each wall section, Project Manager drew the revisions on a dry-erase board. Every time he drew a line segment longer than an inch, the marker would emit a terrible “SQEEEEEEEEEEEEE.” He drew during the entire meeting.

The server crashed at around 10. I lost some work, but it wasn’t that bad. Later that afternoon, the file I was working on continued to crash, and I had to go back at least two backup versions to get a usable one. I lost a lot of work that time. This incident caused me to unleash a symphony of verbal filth so vivid and foul that coworkers two cubicles over wept for the loss of innocence of their children’s ears.

I began work on someone else’s plans. I noticed that…the walls. Don't. Line up. On either side. Of the doorways. [Slaps forehead] [Eye twitch] GAH!!

I spent the day redoing 74,000 square feet of ceiling plans, because someone else screwed them up the first time. I forgot to take my iPod to the office, and was forced to listen to Hack n’ Snort’s incessant personal phone calls. I resisted vicious urges to begin taking a tally of how many times he said "Well, let me ask you this" and "I'll be honest with you" on the phone. Let's just say it was a lot.

As a reward for making it thus far, I started my day with a caramel macchiato. Upon reaching the office, I thought it would be a nice, easy day of creating print files- except I found that I had messed something up and had to fix it. Shortly after this discovery, I got called back onto an old job, “Project 1.” The PA for my current project “caught” me working on Project 1, and got upset. I had to hurriedly get off the old job, thus pissing off the PA for Project 1. I got back to work on the current job. Then my file started to crash again. As it is a plan file, it affected everyone else who was trying to print.

Needless to say, this day will either end in tears or beers.

Oh, wait. It will end in neither, because I have to fucking go home and fucking clean the fuckity-fuck-fucking house because my parents are coming this weekend and I have to entertain them instead of getting the birthday massage that ManThing said he was going to buy me.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I am clearly suffering from Architectural Bipolar Disorder, or ABD. Notice, if you will, that the acronym could also stand for “A Bad Decision”.

(I realize I probably exhausted the comedic potential for this concept the first time I did it, but I couldn’t resist one more. This is the last one, I promise.)

Architectural Bipolar Disorder, also known as Chronic Career Remorse, is a brain disorder that causes unusual, and often quite sudden, shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of ABD are severe.

ABD causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "hyper" and willing to work, to apathetic and hopeless, and then back again. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes. Sufferers can experience several swings in the space of a month, a week, or even a single day.

Signs and symptoms of a “high” episode include:
· Increased energy and willingness to work
· Overly good, euphoric mood
· Lessened need for Coffee Bribery
· Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and professional worth
· A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual (i.e., working consistently, and without surfing the Internet in the background)
· Denial that anything is wrong (This job isn’t so bad!)

Signs and symptoms of a “low” episode include:
· Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, and/ or pessimism
· Decreased energy, episodes of “I don’t wanna”
· Difficulty concentrating, making decisions (which mindless task should I do next?)
· Restlessness or irritability (Dammit, why isn’t it 5 yet?)
· Increase in coffee trips, and the desire to take up smoking in order to get more breaks

Sometimes, severe episodes include symptoms of psychosis (or psychotic symptoms). Common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations (I swear I saved that file!) and delusions (AutoCAD is out to get me!). Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder tend to reflect the extreme mood state at the time. For example, delusions of grandiosity, such as believing one is a designer, or is wealthy, may occur during a “high” episode; delusions of guilt or worthlessness, such as believing that one is destined to be forever penniless or has committed some karmic sin resulting in an architectural career, may appear during a “low” episode.

I'm done now. Really.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Nothing says "Happy Monday" like a 6 1/2 hour meeting on your calendar.
I'd rather do ceiling plans all day.
Or walk barefoot on broken glass.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A grain of salt

[CAD Monkey heaves a great sigh]

[Prairie dogging up over the cube wall] Cube Neighbor: Uh oh, I know that sound. Is AutoCAD not cooperating again?

CAD Monkey: No, that's not it. I keep finding things wrong with the plans, and it's driving me nuts. I have to keep reminding myself it's only DD.*

2 minutes later...

CAD Monkey: Okay, forget what I said a little while ago. Even though it's only DD, that's no excuse for the elevators not to line up.

Cube Neighbor: Well, you just have to take it with a grain of salt.

CAD Monkey: I'll take a grain of salt- on my damn margarita!

*If you want to know what "DD" means, send me an e-mail and I'll explain it. Otherwise, it's just architectural lingo nonsense.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wildlife Sighting

The Spotted Yellow Mustag

Twice I have seen this silly looking F0rd Mustang rare, elusive specimen on the street in its native habitat. I have been unable to obtain a photograph of it yet, but I remain hopeful. The Spotted Yellow Mustag is easily recognizable by its bright yellow coloring, which is covered with crappy looking stickers and war-support ribbons accented by spots of differing colors and configurations. It also has a cheap plastic lei hanging from the rear-view mirror sports colorful plumage. The dumbass owner wildlife agents have identified the creature by placing stick-on letters on the back window with a tag reading “MUSTAG” in bold white lettering.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Eight hours is a lot of time to kill when you’re not completely swamped with work. When you’ve surfed all the websites you frequent, and checked your bank account, what’s next?

Jeromy once gave me some advice about how to look busy: grab a piece of paper, preferably pink, and stride, purposefully, around the office. I’ve used that technique on more than one occasion. I’ve also used the “cleaning off the desk” technique, and the “hiding out in the restroom” technique. The “appearing to write something work-related in Word when it’s really a blog entry” is a recent favorite of mine. I’ve got a million of ‘em. My dilemma with searching out more work is that as soon as I do, my current project will gear back up, and I’ll become buried. I can’t have that.

I’m beginning to wonder whether my employers expect as much from me as I seem to expect from myself. Even though I suffer from a guilty conscience, I’ve never had anyone complain that I was a slacker, much as I may feel like I’m being one. Exactly how slowly could I work? How many times could get more coffee (which, in turn, leads to “hiding out in the restroom”), or walk around and chat with everyone, while still accomplishing what is expected? It boggles the mind…I wonder if I could bring a sketchbook up here and not get caught with it? Hmm…

If it weren’t for the stupid house payment, I think I’d start working 30 hours a week. I never liked Mondays much, anyway.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Bespectacled Fish

This little guy represents my first attempt to create something original in over 6 years. My creative talents are rusty, but I had to start somewhere.
It was nice to not have a rationale behind why I did it, other than that the concept of a fish with a moustache and glasses just seemed like the thing to do.
The great thing is, it helped me to sleep when I'd work on him just before bed. I don't know what to do with him now, though, because he's made of the type of clay that doesn't harden. Any other artists out there who work with plasticine? Any suggestions of what to do with him besides return him to the "fold" of the other clay?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Dream o' the Week

I’ve tried on- and discarded- many half-baked ideas about careers I could change to: caterer, advertising designer, copy editor, writer, chef, graphic artist, landscaper, St@rbuck’s barista, video game designer, starting a home remodeling business- just to name a few.

This is my current Dream o’ the Week: art professor.

I am driving myself insane thinking about the possibilities of it. Freedom from a cube. Semi-flexible schedule. Summers off. Corporate dress not required. If I don’t like someone in the class, I only have to survive him or her for a semester (I’m looking at you, Hack-n-Snort). Most importantly, doing something I want to do- creating art and being involved in others’ doing the same.

I have even considered the negative aspects, something I tended to gloss over in my previous schemes. Having to go get a second Master’s degree. Paying for second Master’s degree. Difficulty finding a job. Having to possibly start out at the high school level before I can get a college or university position. Research requirements. The fact that I have absolutely no body of work to show for myself at the current time. The possibility of complete and utter failure, as far as my art talent is concerned.

My first course of action is to actually talk to someone who is doing this for a living- a major oversight in my current career. If I’d talked to a real-life architect in the first place, I could have saved myself some major suffering. My intent is to find out whether or not I’m deluded in my assumptions of what the job entails.

The second thing is to start pulling some art out of my ass.

I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You either love what you do or you don't. Period.

The following is a big ol' whine-purge. Brace yourselves.

The other day I G00gled, "what should I do with my life," because everybody knows that G00gle has the answers to the everyday existential crisis. I found an article, from a man who had written a book titled the same as my question. From my understanding, the article's intended audience was the tie-wearing, 60-hour-a-week-working, hardcore corporate business types- not so much someone in my industry. It read mostly as a touchy-feely, buy-my-book piece, but I did come away with a few kernels of thought as a result.

"There are far too many smart, educated, talented people operating at quarter speed, unsure of their place in the world...people who look like they have their act together but have yet to make an impact...It comes down to a simple gut check: You either love what you do or you don't. Period.

Those who are lit by that passion are the object of envy among their peers and the subject of intense curiosity. They are the source of good ideas. They make the extra effort. They demonstrate the commitment...they will be rewarded. With money, sure, and responsibility, undoubtedly. But with something even better too: the kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing [their] place in the world... "

This made me think, once again, of the friend who is in tax consulting- and absolutely devours what she does for a living. She doesn't think twice about how much she works, because she loves what she does- with a passion. I, on the other hand, have this mantra running through my head: "I don't fit here."

"Of course, addressing the question, What should I do with my life? isn't just a productivity issue: It's a moral imperative...That choice isn't about a career search so much as an identity quest. Asking The Question aspires to end the conflict between who you are and what you do... "

I hate the question, "So, what do you do?" I loathe it, I despise it- all for the simple reason that it is usually followed by the statement, "oh, that must be fun!" On the surface, "I'm an architect" sounds pretty cool, right? Underneath, I feel like a hypocrite. I want to reply, "it's a paycheck," because that's all it is to me. One of my professors used to talk constantly of passion for architecture; the truth is, I simply don't have any.

When I started college, I denied myself the route I really wanted to take- being an art major. I was afraid- of what my parents would say, afraid I wouldn't get a job, afraid I wouldn't be "good enough" to work in the artistic world. It is one of my biggest regrets that I didn't at least try.

"What am I good at? is the wrong starting point. People who attempt to deduce an answer usually end up mistaking intensity for passion. To the heart, they are vastly different. Intensity comes across as a pale busyness, while passion is meaningful and fulfilling. A simple test: Is your choice something that will stimulate you for a year or something that you can be passionate about for 10 years?"

When I started architecture school, I was good at it. Really good. The first semester, I made a 4.0 GPA. I thought that architecture passed the 10-year test. I had no idea that the culture of academic architecture and the culture of employment were in stark opposition to each other. I found out the hard truth near the end of my degree program, but I felt I had no choice but to continue on the path- I couldn't start over, so close to the end!! Today, I see that it was indeed intensity, and not passion, that kept me going. I made great grades, but it was painful. Pain, however, was part of the architecture school culture- if you weren't suffering, you weren't trying hard enough.

"Every industry has a culture. And every culture is driven by a value system...once you're rooted in a particular's often agonizingly difficult to unravel yourself from its values, practices, and rewards...If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and opportunity can lock you in forever."

I'm good at what I do, but I hate it. Healthcare architecture is stifled by so many regulations, requirements, conservative clients, ad nauseum. Sometimes I think that I'm just in the wrong specialty of architecture; that if I could work on banks, fire stations, or even houses; that I would like it better. The problem is, once you've specialized for a few years, nobody wants to give you the chance to try a different specialty. You're too valuable in the specialty you already know.

"Probably the most debilitating obstacle to [answering "what should I do with my life?"] is the fear that making a choice is a one-way ride, that starting down a path means closing a door forever."

This is especially true. There are remnants of a plan in my head, but with the plan comes the doubt. If I abandon architecture, should I keep my license? Will I want it later? If I don't keep it renewed, I'd have to take the exams over again- and that's not going to happen. If I go back to school, what will happen if it doesn't work out? Will any firm "take me in" with a year (or longer) gap in my architectural employment history?

How will my story end? Will I travel to Rome, to see the Pantheon, and then leap to my death through the oculus, giving the finger to the industry on my way down? That makes a nice, overly dramatic ending to a book, perhaps. Truthfully, I'd much rather become the person that others in my position look at and say, "that CAD Monkey, she's my hero. She figured out her career was killing her soul, and rescued it by (insert: whatever the hell I finally decide to do)."


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

13 reasons I know my project is doomed

After receiving the suggestion to create a "top 10" list, I settled on the number thirteen- the cliched number of bad luck...

  1. The project manager is asking me when the deadline is.

  2. The existing plan files (given to us by the client) are neither dimensionally accurate, nor what is actually existing.

  3. Most of the drawing files associated with the job have “issues,” which cause AutoCAD to crash fairly regularly.

  4. We have been unable to obtain an existing underground utility survey.

  5. Supposedly, there are two underground fuel tanks in the areas we need to dig in order to build column footings.

  6. We finally got a utility survey back (drawn in PowerPoint, no less) with a clouded area showing “possible location of third underground fuel tank.”

  7. The client asks us to take part of one drawing package and “just” add it to a different package.

  8. The Project Manager thinks it will take one day to do this task.

  9. It actually takes five.

  10. The due date is still the same.

  11. Some team members don’t realize that you can’t just change a file name on the server without royally screwing several other files.

  12. I accidentally deleted one of the files from the server (with no hope of retrieval) while trying to fix this error.

  13. The designer is still designing.
When the Project Manager is asking me what the deadline is for the project, I just chalk it up as another sign that the project is doomed.

Friday, July 08, 2005

CAD Monkey: Today sucked at work. I want to be a caterer.
ManThing: You'd have to wear a hairnet. You'd look like a lunch lady.
CAD Monkey: I've already got the bra.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I keep seeing the term “work-life balance.” My interpretation of that is: less work equals more life. Now, if I could only figure out a way to finance that thought…

My cube neighbor has a habit of offering me tastes of food that he has made. I appreciate the offer, but as a rule, if it’s not a dessert, I’m not really interested. Most of the time, when I decline, he just says, “okay,” and sits back down. Sometimes he persists, and I end up with a plate holding a chunk of overly-charcoaled meat on my desk. The only reason it bothers me is that I feel obligated to wash the plate. For meat I didn’t want. I don't even like doing dishes at home for stuff I did want to eat.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Suffering from a bad case of post-holiday letdown, I am becoming a slowly bubbling pit of rage. Despite a tall double latte (some of which I spilled on my shirt) and an additional cup of crappy office coffee, I am tired to the point of nearly drooling on the keyboard. I have contemplated going to the restroom and attempting to nap while sitting on the toilet.

Some of the cubicle assignments were rearranged this weekend, and now every time I have to pick something up off the printer I am forced to walk past someone who uses entirely too much perfume. Unfortunately, they didn’t move the guy with the perpetual sinus problem (hack, snort) and whiny voice that I overhear on the phone (for personal calls) all the frelling time. The more I hear his voice, the more I want to strangle him. And force-feed him Ben@dryl.

Somebody has tried, three seven times, to fax something to my phone number. The fax machine has left me a message twice four times. The message was, “beep.” I tried to fax something back to the number to tell them to cease and desist, but that only seemed to make the calls increase in frequency.

My phone started to ring again, and as I was gearing up to be angry again, I noticed it was my cube neighbor calling. When I picked up the phone, he answered, “beep!”


Friday, July 01, 2005

poetry slam

Creativity gone,
I am a dry husk.
Once full of life,
my artist's soul
now blows in the hot dry wind
that stings my face,
inspiring me to write
crap poetry

and wallow

in my pretentiousness.