----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: February 2008

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I Voted!

I hope you all voted today. I expected long lines at my polling place, especially because the parking lot was packed, but the polls were pretty empty. I guess all the people were at the adjacent 24 Hour Fitness.

As one of the few Democrats in Orange County, I wanted to make my voice heard. And I voted for Hillary Clinton. I voted for her partly out of solidarity--I think it's high time we had a woman president. I voted for her partly out of nostalgia--we had some good times when Bill was president. But I voted for her mainly because to me, health care is one of the most important issues of this election, and I believe that she has the experience and the vision necessary to reform our broken system.

I read an excellent opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday that compared Clinton's health care proposal to Obama's. In short, Clinton's plan is likely to get more people covered, and it wouldn't be that much more expensive. Because of my health history, I know how vital health insurance is. If I had not had an individual health insurance policy when I was diagnosed with cancer, I would now be facing crippling debt. I'd just started a new job when I was diagnosed, and I was offered health insurance right away. But the job was in L.A. and I moved to Northern California to live with my parents during my treatment. Eventually, I had to take disability benefits. If I had taken health insurance from that job instead of keeping my own policy, I ultimately would have lost my benefits when I lost my job, and I would be faced with paying higher COBRA premiums. Plus, it would have been near-impossible for me to ever get a policy of my own again.

Any plan that helps more Americans get health insurance at a reasonable cost is one I support. However, we also need to make sure that the coverage we pay for is coverage we can actually use without fear of it being retroactively rescinded by greedy corporations who only want to insure healthy people who never use their health care benefits. We also need to find a way to tamp down health care costs that are spiraling out of control, and we need to make sure that good doctors continue to accept patients with health care plans, rather than discontinuing participation in such plans because of frustration over reimbursement.

I think that Hillary Clinton is the candidate who is best able to tackle the health care issue. She's not perfect by any means, but for me, she's the candidate who makes the most sense. I hope she wins the nomination. I look forward to voting for her as president.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Crazy People With Whom I Have Worked

I have been fortunate in my career to not have worked with a great many crazy people. Of course, that may be due in large part to the fact that I frequently work as a freelancer, so my exposure to office politics and odd personalities is limited.

Okay, there was that editor at the community newspaper who invariably rewrote my copy to make it grammatically incorrect, forcing me to correct it before bluelines (luckily, I was also the copy editor). And then there was the publisher who was so paranoid that his employees (all three of us) were cheating him that he hired someone off-site to remotely monitor our computer usage. If we happened upon a Web site that was verboten for some reason, this mysterious off-site employee would shut down our computers. No warning. No sign. Just a blank black screen. Yes, Big Brother was watching. And do you know what one of the forbidden sites was? MediaBistro. That's right. A publisher of trade magazines forbade his reporters to visit a site about journalism. I learned this the hard way, of course.

But right now, I work with the most difficult person I have ever encountered in the workplace. She claims to work 12-hour days, but she falls asleep at his desk all the time. We usually work in different offices, but when we work in the same office, I'll glance over and see that she is fast asleep, snoring. Then she'll jerk her head up and type a few sentences, and then her head will slooowly fall back down. At first, I was worried that she had sleep apnea or some other health condition. Now I'm just annoyed that everyone, including her supervisors, knows that she sleeps at her desk, and she gets away with it, plus she gets to pull the martyr act about what long hours she works. Maybe she could leave earlier and even take a lunch break if she didn't sleep so much!

Speaking of lunch, she wants me to check in with her whenever I take a lunch break. Not for any particular reason. She's not my supervisor or anything. She just wants to know when I am out of the office. Another co-worker and I frequently go to lunch together, and this woman will deliberately call our desks during lunch. If we don't answer, she'll call our cell phones to find out where we are. No reason. Just because she thinks that if she doesn't take a lunch break, we shouldn't either.

Most gallingly, I recently tried to address some inefficiencies with her. We both proofread the same material, except she is supposed to look at it first. Well, sometimes we get the material well in advance, but she won't look at it until just before the deadline, and then she expects me to turn it around in a record amount of time. And she frequently gives it to me at noon or so, just in time for lunch! When I asked her why she couldn't spread the proofreading out a bit so that I was not constantly seeing things at the last minute, she went to our supervisor and told him that I had plenty of time on my hands, so I should start doing more of the proofreading. So what could I say? I told my supervisor I'd be glad to help out, and he thanked me for being such a "team player," but now I am doing all of my job and some of hers.

I'm just venting, I guess. But I do need advice. How do you deal with difficult personalities in the workplace? Or is the fact that my supervisor does not care about her sleeping on the job and her inability to get her work done in a timely manner mean that I should be looking for a new job?