Archive for ‘Serious Biz-ness’

October 13, 2011



*** This is going to be a rant. Strong language will be used. I will not be offended if you skip this one.***


So … I do property management. It’s a fluid business, and things can change nearly without warning. Take for example, February of this year. In January, we were told that the company I was working for had lost the contract on my building, effective March 1st. They weren’t yet sure if they had a place for any of us, but would keep us updated.

Three weeks  passed with nothing. Then the games started. The “HR liaison” (because their HR is outsourced) told me there were a bunch of different opportunities. She saw (for the first time, no doubt, though I’d been working for the company for 10 months) that I had EA experience. Well, there was an EA post opening up! Would I be interested? Oh hell, why not. OK GREAT! Let’s talk again on Friday!

Friday rolled around (3 weeks out from the end of the contract now), I showed up for our chat, and was thrown into an interview. You know, in my Casual Friday jeans. ::sighs:: Luckily it was with the outgoing EA, not the boss, and we had a good chat. Then the CFO wanted to see me.

That man sat me down, and told me I wasn’t cut out to do anything as “difficult” as an EA position. But, he DID have a receptionist post … at a pay cut. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

I looked for other opportunities. Found one, with a FANTASTIC company, in my field, and I’m super happy with them. We made the transition fairly peacefully, and all was well.

Or so I thought.

In March, I logged into my old HR account to retrieve all my paystubs (since no one gets paper copies any more). And there, in the middle of several stubs, was one for $1000 of “Supplemental/Bonus Pay”. $1000? I’d never received that! So, I called the HR company. They said it had been mailed to the corporate office, and probably had been overlooked. They’ll find out and make sure it gets to me.

A week later, nothing. A week after that, nothing. And so on.

I contact the company directly, and left a message. At least twice a month, from April – August. Totally ignored. Hmm … now this is seeming like less of an oversight and more of a willful withholding, right?

In August I had a friend who is a finance lawyer draft a letter saying if I didn’t have resolution by September 1st, I would be filing a fraud charge. (The willful withholding of salary coupled with the fact that they’d reported to the IRS that I’d RECEIVED THE PAYMENT when in fact I had not, is open and shut fraud.) No answer. So on September 1st we started that filing. In DC, we have to provide the company with proof of filing, and then they have 30 days to remedy the situation.

October 1st came and went. I sent one last email to everyone (everyone being the big boss, the CFO, and the HR company rep who’d been helping me) letting them know the filing was going through. The HR company called and begged me not to, as it would affect them as well … when they had done nothing wrong. A fraud charge on a company that provides payroll services is a business-ender. She told me that since it had been 6 months the check was dead and she’d cut me a new one, without waiting for approval. Sounds like a good plan to me! I’m on board with it.

Yesterday I got an email from the CFO asking if I can give him a call. Now, so far, I’m upset and I’m irritated at their shenanigans, but whatever. I can deal. So, I call him.

This fucker spent 20 minutes talking in circles. Here are a few highlights:

“The check was reversed on July 26th, it should not show on your W-2.” – FALSE

“You were not entitled to it because it was not in your offer letter or any other correspondence that would have led you to expect it.” – AND YET ONE WAS CUT TO ME

“Bonuses are discretionary, and we decided not to give you one.” – AND. YET. ONE. WAS. CUT. TO. ME.

“Our policy is that you must be an employee on the date the check is handed to you, or you forfeit it.” – IDIOTIC POLICY

“We cut all the checks at the same time, but give them to different people at different times.” – ALSO IDIOTIC

“No one from your team got a bonus.” – COMPLETELY FALSE

“The check was a mistake, you should never have seen it.” – BUT I DID SEE IT

Basically, he spent the time telling me that I shouldn’t have ever expected a bonus (even though they announced that they would be giving them), and that anyway their policy was to cut one for everyone and then hand them out as they saw fit. When I pointed out to him that I’ve BEEN an HR Coordinator and I would never NEVER cut a check I had no intention of handing out, the idiot had nothing to say.

But he DID go on and on about how they made me what he felt was a fair offer to stay, but I chose to leave, so too bad.I told him it sounded like he was saying “If you’d stayed, you’d have gotten the check.” He said that wasn’t at all what he’d said.

BULLSHIT. WHY would you bring up your offer if it had nothing to do with the bonus? Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

Then he told me that it was a mistake because “payroll and taxes are all automated in DC”. Um, no. I’ll give you a lesson, asshat – you have to manually call in and pay your payroll taxes EACH WEEK in DC.  And once a month in Virgina. Don’t try to tell me you know better than I do when you’ve never done payroll at all, and I did it for a living.

I explained to him that a bonus check cut on February 11th is for work performed in the prior year. The year I was an employee, and as such I WAS entitled to it. He had nothing to say, except “I’m sorry you have hard feelings about this.”


So basically, they’re stiffing me a grand. Those assholes have no IDEA how hard we worked on this building. Hell, we worked so hard on it, another company hired us to stay! Everything he spouted to me was bullshit, everything he gave as a reason was a lie. The simple truth was that SOMEONE fucked up. Someone allowed a check to be cut, and the stub to be provided to me, and didn’t want to make good on it. So they hid and they lied and they stepped over TOO MANY lines.

If he’d been honest with me I would have been pissed, but not like this. But to LIE to me on top of committing fraud?

That earns a big fat FUCK YOU.

I’m contacting the HR company in the morning. If they can confirm the tax payment was reversed, I’ll send a letter to the company owner throwing the CFO under the bus for his fucking games. But if that payment WASN’T reversed? I’m filing for fraud.

Hope your current  business and financial dealings don’t get TOO messed up when that happens, fuckers.


* !!!!!!!! In the time it took me to write this, the CFO sent me a screen shot of the “reversal”. First off, it’s actually a dead check, not a reversal. Secondly, IT. HAD. MY. SS. NUMBER. ON. IT. You  know, something he should NOT have access to. Who do I contact about THIS?

September 30, 2011

Time Off

This morning my husband started an unexpected conversation. While discussing a friend with a young daughter he asked when a child can begin pre-school (the friend’s daughter is 3). Then, he turned to me and asked:

“What would you think of staying home for the first three years? Would you be ok with doing that?”

What followed was a conversation about the timing of children, schooling preferences, stay-at-home-parent preferences, and career aspirations. A little heavy for a Friday morning while getting ready for work.

But you guys? It was easy.

After all, this is the man who once told me his salary aspirations included making enough that I could quit my job, if I so chose. Sure, that was about money, but the fact that he realized it was a choice I could someday make, and was respectful of it, was enough for me.

What that says about our relationship … that we can discuss major life decisions over teeth brushing and make-up application … is reassuring, and for another day.

This morning, though, he was wanting to know (once we’d talked through it all) how I would deal with going back to work … if I chose to do so once our child(ren) was (were) in school. He was concerned there would be attachment issues … or a feeling of disjointment. Would I want to jump right back in, or take some time? Work part-time, or not at all, or full-time and find a babysitter for the afternoons? Would I be ok? For that matter, what was my sister planning on doing, now that she has a son, but is still in school?*

It was interesting to hear how our opinions on the subject matched … and didn’t. For the record, I’m not positive I would stay home for years, but I might. I also might decide I’d rather not “go back” to work and find something else to do. It’s nice to know that no matter what we decide to do, he’s behind me 100%.

How about you? How are you planning on handling … or not … the kidlets?


*The sister is in school to be a grade-school (specifically 2nd grade) teacher. Our mother ran a daycare out of our home for 10 years where she had mostly teachers’ kids. Those that were old enough to be in school themselves were generally at our house for an hour and a half most days. Just enough time for someone to meet them at the bus, and for their homework to be done. The sister will be FINE.

September 12, 2011

The Day and The Decade

Friday night, the husband and I attended a taping of The Kalb Report at the National Press Club.

The guests were Dan Rather (formerly of CBS News), Charlie Gibson (formerly of Good Morning America), Brit Hume (Fox News), and Frank Sesno (GWU School of Media and Public Affairs, formerly of CNN). The program was “Anchoring 9/11: The Day and The Decade.”

It was stunning. Just an amazing program. To hear these men, each of which anchored a news program through the long hours of 9/11, discuss their roles, their emotions at the time, their fears, their “duty”. To hear them say they were HONORED to be there, amid all the horror.

It was the perfect reflection, for me. To really soak in what the day was for so many of us … but without the horrifying photos and videos. Without having to re-live it. It was a space where I could reflect and grieve for the past, without having to do it all over again.

The bit that brought me to tears, though, came from Charlie Gibson:

Dick Chaney gave a speech shortly after that in which he said, and I thought it was very profound, he said, “This is a war. For the first time we Americans will lose more people on domestic soil that we will lose overseas.” We have always been protected by oceans. And, of course, it has turned out not to be true because we have lost more people in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it did sort of ignore the Civil War but that’s okay.

But I thought that statement was very profound. And basically what it said to me and it is something that I kept in mind in the weeks and months afterward, whenever you drive through the Lincoln Tunnel, whenever you get on an airplane, whenever you put your kid on a school bus, whenever you kiss your kid good night, it’s a little act of courage there. And that was something that I don’t think we thought prior to that day 10 years ago.

I cried, because it’s true. It’s a sense of innocence lost, and the fear of what may be. I so wish we could get that back.

Sitting in a room full of college students barely old enough to remember the attacks (and definietly not old enough to have understood it), it almost felt like closure. I watched Charlie Gibson that day, as we sat riveted, fearful of what we’d see next. Hearing him speak now, 10 years later, about what he was feeling … it’s like we’ve come full circle.

Watch the program, or at least read the transcript. It’s wonderful.


* These seasoned anchors also discussed their views on the state of news media today. It’s not in the broadcast, as it was part of the Q&A, but it IS in the transcript. Food for thought.

September 2, 2011



This is going to be a highly personal, highly sensitive post. It’s not pretty.
Feel free to look away … I won’t take offense. Lighter subjects next week. Promise.


Many of you have noticed, when the subject of rape comes up I get VERY vocal. I believe there to be a special circle of hell reserved for those to find rape to be a subject worth joking about. I’ve worked in crisis centers, and spent countless hours consoling and supporting and weeping with those it’s happened to. I can honestly say to them I know what they’re going through. After all, it happened to me when I was 15.

But this isn’t about rape. It’s about living with it.

The first 2 years after, I ignored it, as if it would go away. Then I got numb. Then I started having trouble. Trouble that was hard to pin down, but real all the same. It took 3 years to convince a doctor that the issues I was experiencing were real. Are real. (SIDE NOTE: NEVER let a doctor tell you that your mental issues are made up. Find a new doctor. And another new doctor. And another. Until you find someone willing to treat you with respect.)

Ultimately, I was diagnosed with PTSD at age 20.

Today, 8 years after my diagnosis, PTSD still isn’t widely recognized. There are still doctors that don’t believe it’s real. There are conflicting studies that say it’s a physical condition (these are interesting to me … that extreme trauma can actually change your physiology) and those that say it’s a mental condition. And those that say it’s nothing at all. (Those INFURIATE me.)

The problem seems to be that it affects everyone differently.

For me, there are recurring nightmares. (I literally have to … as the APW ladies I spent last Thursday night with found out … warn everyone I share a bed with.) An increased tendency to fall headfirst into deep depression. And a HUGELY altered fight-and-flight response. I now have  an extremely quick temper, and at the same time can be sobbing with fear at just the slightest provocation. (A good example – if my husband is driving and stops short my heart goes into overdrive and I have a hard time breathing. It’s an insanely exaggerated response.) Plus a host of other super fun anxiety issues that pop up at inopportune times. I once (7 years ago) had a night terror … that an  unfortunate boyfriend chose to wake me up out of. Apparently I was screaming in my sleep, and when he woke me up I couldn’t recognize him … so I kept screaming. It was the single most terrifying thing I have ever been though. Thank GOD that was a one time occurence.

Having a support system, that knows what’s going on, helps. My husband is a saint for what he puts up with and helps me through. Various drugs have been tried … but they all seem to help some symptoms, and worsen others. The trade-off, for me, isn’t worth it. So we continue along.

I generally don’t talk about it. It’s a burden, and sets me apart, as people begin to see me as “broken”. But I’ve begun to realize … it’s something that NEEDS to be talked about. Because there ISN’T any dialog about it. The little that IS out there is military-centric. And even that is crap. A friend who works for the Army got me an advance copy of a new book about living with combat PTSD. The advice in the book? “It’s all in your head. If you try hard enough, you’ll beat it.”

Um, fuck off.

The rates of people living with this are low, but still. If even one person has this, and can’t find examples of hope (that aren’t “just try harder!”), we’ve failed. And with a condition that has huge suicide rates for those affected? Adding anxiety, adding a feeling of being broken, not offering hope? It feels like you’re taking those people and just leaving them for dead.

Living with a condition that no one fully understands is HARD. Not only do you deal with what it means for you day-in-and-day-out, but you deal with the ostracization from the rest of the world.

So I’m choosing to put myself out there. To tell my story. To show that no matter how fucking hard it is, you CAN go on living. Even when it’s terrible. Even when it feels hopeless.

Because even when you FEEL broken, NO ONE deserves to be CALLED broken.

** Please, go read this TIME article. It was published today, after I wrote. But it’s perfect.**

August 31, 2011

Not For Me

I’m not sure why it is, but I tend to find the boys that are damaged. Damaged or oblivious. Hopeless. Helpless. I’m not sure why I’ve always had them in my life. But  I have, for as long as I can remember.

Not damaged or hopeless in bad ways, mind you … just … sad ones.

These men are examples, but there are so, so many more, stretching so far back.

The friend who proposes to the girl who pushes him into it. Who reaches out to others to know if she was as good as he could expect. Who then marries the girl he’s not sure he loves because he feels obligated. All the while longing for the one who made him feel alive. Knowing that all he had to do was say “stay with me” … and she would have been there. But he chooses the “respectable” thing over his heart.

The friend who blushes when, while in his room, I pick up a quote tag for a “diamond ring”. Who, when asked what that was all about, says “Well, it’s something I’ll get around to next year when she graduates, I guess.” Who then hides the tag and spends the next few weeks complaining about the girlfriend. Who, on more than one occasion, as referred to the girlfriend (a sweet enough, if very young, very rough, and very naive girl) as “the best I can expect to do.” Who regularly tells me that it’s a good thing my best friend and I are both committed, as otherwise he’d be put off by us … that we are both “way out of [his] league.”

The friend, facing down thirty, who has never been in a real relationship … at least not one that lasted. Who finds someone who appeals to everything he is, and then pursues her less-perfect friend, for the fear of rejection. Who has multitudes of female friends, who don’t bother to look at him, preferring the comfort looking through him has brought. Who, on a long walk, looks at me and asks what he’s doing wrong, that he is still alone.

The friend who, after a bad breakup, comes over just to spend time. Who halfway through a movie is overcome with loneliness and needs to hold onto someone. Who, when I fall asleep near the end of the movie, leads me to my bed, tucks me in, kisses me on the forehead, and lets himself out, only to sit in his truck and cry. Who cries for the memory and emotion simple innocent contact can trigger, and for the fact that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever have it again.

The friend, not yet out of college, who begins dating the girl who pays attention to him only when his roommate (otherwise attached) is around. Who sees he is being used, but goes along with it. Who forms an attachment, as she was his first, and lets the game of together-when-convenient continue every few months for three years. Who proposes to the girl a month into their latest together-moment … because he can’t imagine being without, not her, but the feeling of being loved, even falsely. Who misses, or ignores, all the signs that say she is already cheating, and has no intention of stopping.

I’ve always worried about these guys. At times, it’s felt more like a job than my actual JOBS did. Being there, being the strong one, worrying for them when they don’t have the knowledge or sense to worry for themselves.

It’s exhausting. Both emotionally and physically.

And after some serious thought … I’m not going to continue. Of course, I still care for my friends, and will be there when they need me. Support and loyalty are non-negotiable. But the worrying and worrying and worrying until I’m utterly heartsick for them? It’s not healthy, and it’s not helpful for me, or for them.

So how do I stop? It’s been a part of my nature for so long that I don’t even know where to begin. How do I switch from all-consuming worry to simply wishing them well, truly hoping everything works out, and being there to celebrate when it does, and pick up the pieces when it doesn’t?

It makes me feel like a terrible person. To say that I can’t be what I’ve always been for my friends-in-need. But at the same time, I can’t shake the feeling that this is what I need to do. But where does that leave me?

It feels like I’m fighting against my very nature. Because try as I might, there is nothing so heart wrenching to me as the sight of a single tooth-brush in the home of a man who has absolutely no business being alone.

But if I keep up, I’m going to end up breaking my own heart.


* All photos taken along the waterfront in Astoria, just before Irene cleared out. The rain had stopped, the wind was still fierce, and the clouds were magnificent. The water level was nearly 3 feet higher than it had been 24 hours prior. The still turmoil of the photos is a good representation of what’s going on in my head, right about now.