Tag Archives: Gus

Origins #25

26 May

Rene had sent through what effectively translated to “It’s not gonna happen. Leave me alone.”

I had conceded that I was out of options and that all I could do now was grit my teeth and try to get through a shitload of unexpected feelings while trying to cope with all the other shit I had going on.

Stress proof

People often get the impression that I’m unaffected by what’s happening in my life. My former manager Mike Monarch, once told me:

 “Nothing ever rattles you. You just keep going no matter what’s happening. It’s like you’re stress proof.”

I’d received many similar comments over the years. I appreciate that people saw me that way, but I had never thought it to be true. Things affect me just as badly as anyone else, but things still need to get done when you’re doing it rough, so I try to carry on and not react, which I suppose looks the same as not being affected.

ectqp

That’s the only way I knew to do things, so that’s what I was going to do.

Everyone’s a comedian

In the following week I tried to hunker down. I tried to distract myself. I tried to not feel anything by doing anything and everything else I could think of.

It wasn’t working.

Having had Rene demand I ask her out and then reject me with practically no explanation was hard enough, but everyone at work was still hassling me with jokes and teasing about her having stayed at my place. I tell you what, after the 47th “How’s Rene?” of the day, my patience would wear thin.

ok-fine

But I couldn’t snap at them because no one was allowed to know that we had hooked up, or that she had demanded I ask her out, or that she then told me we couldn’t go out, and that left me completely head-fucked. All they knew was it was fun to make jokes.

What’s reality got to do with it?

On top of that, the standard hassles from my manager Gus continued:

“I need this project finished tomorrow and this other project finished by Tuesday, and this is a new project that I want done by the end of the week and I need you to show Larry how to write the XML for those other projects, and there’s a bug causing the system to show the wrong name on the third page of the sign-up and that also affects the back-end in the participant surname somehow, I need that resolved immediately.” – Gus

“Listen, Gus, I’ve asked you to put things like this into an email because there’s no way I’ll remember all that. Also, there’s no way I can get that first project and second project done in less than a month, so there’s no way I can achieve those deadlines, let alone do all the other stuff you just listed.” – Me

“I thought you were supposed to be a good developer. A good developer would be able to keep up. Stop being so negative. Just get it done.” – Gus

“I’ll do as much as I can but I’m telling you right now, no one could get all that work done in such a short period of time.” – Me

“Stop wasting time arguing about it. Just do it.” – Gus

Gus always asked for the impossible. Even at my best I could never keep up with his nonsensical theories on how much work could be done in an hour, let alone a week.

do-it

I was doing my best not to think about Rene, but I’d run into her sister, or cop another joke about her, or see her name on a file, and I’d get distracted thinking about it. So not only was it already impossible to keep up with Gus’ ridiculous demands, I wasn’t even running on all 8 cylinders.

Cat, please exit bag

I’d nearly made it through another week but I didn’t think I could cope much longer.

After work I received a phone call from a former Everlong colleague, Bea. Bea had worked admin at Everlong for 7 years before quitting in frustration that they wouldn’t give her a shot in marketing. Bea had moved on not long after Gus had started, so she knew all about his bullshit, and she knew Rene fairly well too.

Bea and I had gotten really close in the time we worked together and I was stoked to hear from her. She told me how well she was doing in her new marketing job and how her manager there was praising her performance.

And then she told me she’d heard a rumour about me and Rene from some of the girls she used to work with.

I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I trusted Bea and desperately wanted to talk about the situation, but I’d promised not to. I asked her what she’d heard. She said that everyone was sure I was a total player and I’d had a one night stand with Rene and that’s why Tim Everlong was furious at me.

I told Bea that I’d tell her the truth, on the proviso that she not tell anyone else, and that nobody else knew anything, so if the word got out, I’d know she was the one who told. I made her promise.

dktpnky

I sat there at my kitchen counter in my shitty little apartment and told her exactly what had happened. The cool evening breeze rushed over me, hurrying its way between the open balcony door and the open front door as I relayed the tale.

Bea asked all the questions I’d been asking. All I could tell her was that I didn’t know why Rene had acted the way she had, or what was going to happen from there on out.

Two bags, one cat

As I hopped up to get a drink I turned and faced the open front door. There was Larry from work.

cat

He stammered out,

H-h-h-hey, are w-w-we still hang-hang-hanging out to-tonight?

I’d completely forgotten I’d made plans to watch The Jersey Shore with him that night. I had no idea how long he’d been standing there. I told Bea I had to go, hung up, and told Larry to come in.

He was flustered. Larry is the sort of guy who is flustered a lot anyway, but this was more than he standard jitter. He was properly nervous. He’d heard something that clued him into what had happened between me and Rene and he was clearly stressed out by that.

I asked him straight up, “What did you hear?”
“Nothing… I… didn’t… didn’t. Nothing. Nothing at all.”, he said, visibly shaking.

I told him it was ok. It wasn’t his fault he overheard.

Larry’s the sort of bloke that loves a bit of gossip and I knew he’d keep my secret because he thought I was some sort of superhero because I could talk to women without making it awkward. Oh, how wrong he was, hey?

Unlucky Larry

I went through and told Larry the whole ordeal. There was a lot of “what are you going to do?”, “What about Tim? Do you think he’ll fire you?”, “what about…”

nervous

I explained my plan to cop it on the chin and not let it affect me. I told him I was happy he knew because I’d been unable to talk about it until then, and I thought having someone who knew everyone involved and could see it from a less stressed-out perspective would help.

We yapped about it for hours while the queued episodes the Jersey Shore dribbled by with stories of drama that felt disturbingly relatable. Eventually Larry called it a night and I was left to deal with knowing that I’d  broken my promise.

r2qfh

I had very much needed to talk about it, but Larry probably wasn’t the right guy for the job. I’d become good friends with Larry and valued his opinion on things, but he was a very nervous guy and a lot of the points he had raised were the opposite of calming. Whatever I’d gained by letting the truth out, I’d lost to the new concerns Larry raised.

Denial will do the trick

Fucking drama. All that effort to avoid it and it had still found a way to detonate itself all over me. I was caked in it and there was sweet fuck all I could do about it. Except of course, to pretend it wasn’t happening.

no-prob

It was a foolproof plan. And it worked, for all of a day, that being the next day at work, but it was a Friday and maybe the glimmer of the weekend ahead had more to do with me getting through it than the THERE IS DEFINITELY NOTHING WRONG attitude I’d taken on.

im-fine

I’d gotten very quiet. I got through the usual Friday night after work drinks session almost completely silently by focussing mostly on stuffing my face with food and pouring beer in my mouth between bites. It was not an elegant solution, but it was working.

Before I left for the night, Larry reminded me that he was having a party at his place that Saturday.

What’s that, little fairy? You can help?

I spent the rest of that night and most of the following day in bed. I don’t think I slept at all. I remember staring little holes into my ceiling. I remember looking at my phone wondering when I would actually sleep. I remember not wanting to go to Larry’s party.

See, Australia’s greatest motorsport event, Bathurst was on the next day, and I always get up early to watch that, usually about 5:30am.

13e5146gnptdww

But I had to go, because Larry didn’t have much luck with people showing up to his parties. There was a very real possibility that if I didn’t go, he might end up with nobody there at all. Plus, Larry’s place was barely two blocks away from mine so I really had no excuse.

I was happy to see that other people had showed up. The core group of the guys from work were already there when I arrived, which was great because they were all good for a laugh, and a laugh was exactly what I was in need of. Well, any distraction really, and therein lay the problem because there was a partygoer there I hadn’t anticipated… a little green fairy.

IMG_3320

Larry had heard my stories about enjoying the very fancy ritual of having an Absinthe and decided to buy an entire bottle of the most aggressive, high alcohol content Absinthe he could find.

Larry offered me some. I accepted. He couldn’t finish his and offered it to me. I accepted. His sister couldn’t finish hers, so she offered it to me. I accepted.

shots

It turned out very few attendees were willing to ignore the face-kicking nature of this super-charged Absinthe to get to its ever-so-pleasant mind numbing effects. But I was willing.

damn-good-stuff

I was very willing.

And as the bottle emptied, so did my mind.

I didn’t have any problems.

Everything was fine.

The more Absinthe I drank, the less static I could hear.

My mind was getting quiet.

All my thoughts were drifting away.

I was breaking free.

wine

What’s your poison?

I don’t remember anything after the third full glass of Absinthe I consumed. That little green fairy had deceived me. She wasn’t calming me down. She was trying to drown me. She was trying to poison me. She was trying to suck me into the darkness forever. She was trying to kill me.

I drank roughly 3/4 of that bottle of Absinthe and I’m fairly certain I gave myself alcohol poisoning in the process.

giphy1

The rest of this I only know based on what people later told me, or the evidence I discovered for myself…

Larry was so worried about me that he had someone drive me the two or so blocks home. Despite the short distance, I managed to vomit in their car, the first of several times for the evening.

grgl

 

I always loop my key chain around my belt loop to ensure I never lose them, but I had forgotten that somehow, and after I opened the front door to my shitty little apartment I apparently walked straight on with the key still in the lock, and fell face first when the slack of the chain came tight.

wasted

Based on the evidence I found, instead of taking the now bent key out of the lock, I kicked my shoes off and climbed out of my jeans. Then I crawled onwards, leaving the front door wide open. My key left in the lock, with my jeans dangling off it via the chain.

No joke

I know this all sounds silly and funny now, but I’m not kidding around when I mentioned alcohol poisoning. I’ve drunk a LOT in my time. I’ve woken up with the sort of hangover that left me promising to never drink again, and then done that again the next day. I’ve been unable to get out of bed from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, but I have never, ever felt anywhere near as bad as I did the morning after all that Absinthe.

That was the only time I have ever been worried I wouldn’t survive.

frg

To put it into perspective a light hangover lasts a morning, a regular hangover lasts a day, and a severe hangover lasts a weekend. It took me more than a week to recover from this one.

iz1b1i

I felt how this looks

I was physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed.

So much for denial.

Full circle

And with that, we’re now back to Origins #1.

That’s not the end of the story. The drama only escalates from here. Things get more insane with Rene, and I’ll introduce you to Mia, who makes Rene appear rational by comparison. Dear lord, what a life I’ve lived.

Seeya next time.

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Origins #5

2 Jan

I’d just turned 31 and was settling back into life after a big holiday.

Life wasn’t exactly what I’d expected but I thought I was in a fairly good situation given where I’d started. I’ll tell you more about why having a decent job and a shitty little apartment counted as doing pretty well to me when I explain how I grew up, but that can wait for now. Anyway, I’d just hit 31 and started thinking about where my life was at. I’d also just hooked up with an attractive woman who was 9 years older than me and fallen into a friends-with-benefits relationship with her.

Cougar town

It was pretty cruisy. I don’t think we ever even went out for a meal together. Angelica would come around to my place late-night, 2 or 3 times a week. We’d have some fun and that was that. I don’t think either of us were under any illusions that it would go anywhere. From a sexual experience perspective, it was perfect for me. Angelica was experienced enough to know what she was doing and adult enough to not be self-conscious. I was experienced enough to keep up, but I still learned a few new things along the way as well.

I wish there were more women in the world like Angelica.

Gus oozes on

Back on the work front, I was just trying to weather the idiot storm until something or someone brought some change to the situation.

Gus, the project manager who had loaded so much stress on my shoulders in the previous year continued to do a poor job as a manager. We thought Gus was being pressured by Tim Everlong to get our division to be more productive. The impression Gus gave us was that our division was hanging in the balance, potentially ready to be shut down, so we had to work like crazy for a little while (already over a year) to make sure we all kept our jobs.

Unfortunately for those of us who worked below him, we didn’t realise what Gus was really up to.

One of the methods Gus would use to ‘inspire’ us was pinning a printed out image of a flounder (that’s right, the fish) to the desk of whoever he decided had been floundering. Floundering in this case was meant to suggest that you weren’t doing enough work. So you’d come into work, already dejected just to have to be there, and after days of bashing your head against a brick wall in an effort to achieve some ridiculous, pointless, and often impossible work request and discover that fucking printed picture of a flounder on your desk. I don’t think I’m easily affected by things like that but when you’re already stressed and frustrated, copping an insult on your desk for everyone else to see is a pretty gut-wrenching thing. I certainly didn’t like it, but it hit other staff even harder. One lady started speaking very, very loudly about how offensive it was and I’m certain that I saw more than one other staff member cry as a result of seeing that flounder on their desk.

Seriously! Who does this shit? How is that supposed to positively improve an already declining office morale?

Unqualified

I remember going into Gus’ office one time and catching him listening to project management podcasts. I thought he was listening to them to keep himself up-to-date but he proceeds to tell me that he doesn’t have any project management qualifications, and he’s trying to catch up on that.

That explained a few things.

Actually, that explained a lot. An incompetent manager is a very dangerous thing, but Gus wasn’t just incompetent, he was controlling and manipulative. I didn’t realise that at the time because he was so bad at his job. I just thought he was incapable of managing things well. I wish I’d been paying more attention to him and had picked up the fact that he had a little plan of his own that he was slowly implementing.

Time marches on

Work was shit but I was going out for heaps of dinners and innumerable drinking sessions and that was a great way to help me stop thinking about how shit work had become. Angelica was making regular visits at the time as well and what we were getting up to was another good way to just be in the moment.

At the back of my mind, it had dawned on me that I should start thinking a bit more about where I want to be in life, and what I need to do to work towards that. While everything I was doing outside of work was fun, it was temporary. Aside from some happy memories there was nothing left of it afterwards. I think that’s what your 20s is for, and because I’d spent my 20s running my own business, I missed out on a lot of that. I guess I was trying to catch up a bit but it was mostly just a way to distract myself from the difficulties I’d been dealing with at work.

I know it sounds like I’m bitching about the job I had. The job was only shit because of Gus. I really loved working with my colleagues. I loved that I could walk to work from my place and I loved that I got paid a good wage. It really was just how terrible a job Gus was doing that was making the job so unbearable.

A little ray of sunshine

One little ray of light in my workday was chatting with Laura Everlong in the morning everyday. I didn’t know exactly what was happening but I felt like we were becoming closer. There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but I knew she was being more open with me. I was getting the vibe that Laura wasn’t with her boyfriend anymore, even though she mentioned him often.

It’s difficult to convert that vibe into words. I just knew there was something changing there, and I liked it. I liked Laura a lot. I was pretty good at not allowing myself to get too much of a crush on her but I admired her and thought of her as a rare mix of soft, elegant, strong, and beautiful.

Messages start coming

At the same time, I started receiving text messages from Rene Everlong. I didn’t give her my phone number, so that was a bit interesting in itself, but they were tame little messages so I didn’t think too much of it. She’d tell me how she’s training for a fun-run, or that she saw me crossing at some traffic lights, or whatever.

Whenever a message came through from her, I’d smile and think “She’s such a goofball”. I liked her and I liked that she was messaging me but I didn’t want any trouble so I was always only cautiously courteous in my replies. Rene had also taken to emailing me at my work email address. The emails were getting longer and more friendly as the weeks went by after the work party.

Between the emails, text messages and random facebook stuff I was probably talking to Rene 4 or 5 times a week. On top of that, she’d often stop by at my office building for a chat because she worked so close by and her sister ran our office. Looking back, it’s easy to see there was an escalation of communication between Rene and me. The messages were increasingly friendly and personal. They were coming through more and more often. There were little hints about times and places of where she’d be and what she’d be doing.

Even with all the communication, I still had it in my head that if Rene wanted to go out with me, she could ask, otherwise, nothing was going to happen.

What I wanted at that time

Turning 31 had made me think about things and the most important insight that came out of that was that I didn’t want to waste my time. I was having fun with Angelica and I was having fun in my social life but I was also conscious that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life just drifting around.

I’d always known deep down inside that everything would work out. I’d always had a confidence that I can’t really explain. I just knew I would get what I wanted. After turning 30 and realising that things hadn’t yet panned out however, doubt had started to creep in.

Doubt is an extraordinarily dangerous thing. I’ve always been a ‘go with the flow’ sort of guy but that little bit of doubt had pushed me to decided I better start making things happen. I figured that if I didn’t start pushing for the things I wanted, I might never get them. I was still confident I’d get what I wanted out of life, but I was trying to take on board the sentiment that you don’t get what you want unless you make things happen for yourself.

What making things happen meant to me by that point was finding a nice girl who I had a real connection with, and have some fun going out to dinners and shows with her. To me the long term wasn’t so important, I figured being with a girl who I was really into was the most important part and I could figure the rest of it out later.

I had enough money rolling in that I could afford to show someone a good time and still cover my mortgage, and I wanted to share my time with someone in a more intimate way than what had been happening with Angelica. As fun as that was, I was after an emotional connection.

Passing thoughts

I wasn’t hung up on any of this stuff. It was there in the back of my mind but I wasn’t thinking about it very much. I was more focused on getting by and trying to enjoy life. I still assumed things would work out if I just play it smart and do what I should do.

Despite feeling a bit doubtful about some things, I was feeling very confident about others. I was managing to find ingenious solutions to the ridiculous bullshit Gus was asking for. I was getting a lot of interest from women too, and not just women I knew. Women were flirting with me everywhere I went and I was feeling very, very confident as a result.

I guess the fact that I’d lost 20kg in the previous 2 years was helping, and all the positive attention I’d been getting had given me a bit of a swagger in my step. All I needed to do was to get the situation with Gus sorted out, find a cool girl, and life would be glorious.

And along came September

I mentioned how everything was escalating with Rene. It wasn’t just with her. It was with Laura, with work, with my social life, my self-reflection, it was everything. My whole life was ramping up towards something.

And that leads me to September 2010, the month my boss’s daughter stayed the night at my place. I’ll tell you about that next time.

Crazy bitch tip: Think about what other people are going through before you dump your crazy shit on them and expect them to solve it all for you.

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