A journey through my mind. Which is sometimes fabulous. Often not.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Position and Positioning

My colleagues and I often discuss the nature of the people who work in our building. We came to a consensus that about 80% of them are super-shy, busy-in-their-heads, academia types who cross that borderline into blatantly rude and unfriendly behavior. Also, a handful of them are elitist, and therefore those who don't blip on their radar don't get a greeting in the hallway.

Then we added to the discussion our facility man who picks up the trash at our desks. While he is always very friendly to me (they say it's because I'm a girl), it seems one of my male coworkers has odd feelings about him and is either creeped out or simply uncomfortable in his presence. I asked if it was creepy like he was hitting on him; he said no. I pondered if it was a racial issue. He says this man is unfriendly and has an air of arrogance about him. I wondered if it was a defense mechanism for feeling inferior; I mean, picking up someone else's trash every day is a little humbling, no? Especially if you feel like it's always the white man's trash - and according to our other discussion about the people in our building, one must assume that the head-down ingrates never say hello to the man or thank him for his services. Perhaps he's always been a trash man and has had many people of "station" not acknowledge his presence or even worse, treat him badly. I wondered if he acted like this with all men. Then one day as I passed him in the hallway, he was chatting with a male security guard, commiserating about one thing or another. They both greeted me and I them, and so I had more confirmation: It's not simply a male or racial thing, it is more of a social status thing. Security guards are blue-collars just like himself. And then this popped into my head: Position and positioning are socially conditioning.

It's from a song in the movie-musical The Slipper and the Rose with Richard Chamberlain. It's a Cinderella story. I loved this movie when I was a kid and sang all the songs.

Position and Positioning [click for Youtube video]
(Written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)

If my father were a chancellor,
How easy it would be -
The lovely Lady Caroline
Would be a proper wife, you see.
But my father was a servant
And my mother same as he.
So the lady of my choosing
Is a world away from me.
That's how it is and how it was,
And how it always shall be

Position and positioning
Are socially conditioning
How you're born, how you're bred,
Predetermine who you wed,
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are everything in life.

Farmer's daughters marry cowherds,
That's acceptable and right.
But absurd and quite unheard of
Is a milkmaid and a knight!

Position and positioning
Are socially conditioning,
People high, people low,
Keep the state of status quo,
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are everything in life.

When a lad first joins the army,
This is what he learns for starters:
Never court your colonel's daughter
Or he'll have your guts for garters!
That's how it is and how it was,
And how it always shall be.

For position and positioning
Are socially conditioning,
How you dress and hold your head
Predetermine who you wed,
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are everything in life.

All the servants in a castle -
They reflect the world outside.
They have rank and they have station
And adhere to them with pride.
All the staff that work below stairs
May have dreams to work above,
But they're locked in their positions by Tradition's iron glove.

That's how it is?
And how it was,
And how it always shall be.

We know our place and happily we bow and scrape and bend our knee,
But woe betide the woe begone,
Who try to join our echelon,
For privelege is not, you see,
Confined to just the royalty.
Behind these doors, I might suggest, I'm similarly blessed.

Yes, position and positioning
Are socially conditioning,
Though you work your life away,
Where you start is where you stay.
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are stuck with you for life!

Now this is not to say I condone this behavior or way of thought because it's just the way it is. Quite the contrary. But I acknowledge that the discord exists in reality despite the happy ending to this silly movie. I also believe that not only is it difficult to break away from one's station because of societal obstacles, often times one doesn't know HOW to break away since it is all one knows. Social conditioning. By the time you're old enough to think you want something better, all previous life experiences point towards the path of keeping the status quo. It can be so difficult that one resigns to the fact that this is just the way things are and things can't change. And unfortunately and ironically, the ones who are of higher position already (by birth or nature) are the ones who don't believe in settling.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Engagement shoot

Time for another post. We had our engagement session last weekend with Miguel Mayo, who is an absolute sweetheart. He was skeptical about his English skills, but we understood everything he said, so I think there is nothing for him to be ashamed about! The session was fun, although Rick and I had a little bit too much face time (literally) than we were used to. Being bubble-burstingly snuggly and smoochy isn't really our forte. ;) That gave way to showing our love in other ways (like making dinner and hemming pants) a long time ago. Romantic love? That was so 1999. ;)

Here's one picture that he emailed us as he works on the rest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Best is the Enemy of the Good

So today as I'm playing hooky (well, a mental health day really saves my colleagues from being unfortunate witnesses of my emotional combustion and its outward effects) I decided to take it easy and not do much. Too bad my brain is still working on overdrive. I happened to stumble upon this post in this blog, A Practical Wedding, which addressed the age-old question: "What is it about human nature that forces us to strive for the best?"

As I'm well on my way to becoming an expert researcher as well as learning new things on the path towards my information science degree, I find myself having a hard time with what we call Satisficing, that is, stopping your research when you find answers that are adequate. People probably practice satisficing on a daily basis - looking for a definition of a word: check ONE dictionary, click on the FIRST link of your Google hit, etc. The answer there is adequate. There will be variant descriptions from all types of dictionaries and sources, but they'll all mean the same. So you stop looking. Satisfied.

When applied to other things that require more research, more importance, more authoritative warrant (OMG I'm not at work, am I?) this is when satisficing becomes difficult. When do you stop? How "good" is "good enough" when compared to the "best"?

According to the post mentioned above, the best is the enemy of the good (translated Voltaire quote). Things that we find good are often still not good enough as we search for the best. Human nature. But WHY? And once we happen upon the best, how do we know it, since we are always looking for something better than what we've got? The good get shafted and everyone loses.

I'm glad I found this post. And perhaps I'm making your brain crazy with too much thinking. I know mine is kicking me for doing this on a hooky day. But I'm glad I found this post because it alleviates the pressure I have on myself to find the Best flowers, the Best photographer, the Best dress, the Best.... To me, the Best means the cheapest for the greatest quality AND quantity (yeah, in an ideal world, huh?!). For example, a lone element does not determine the Best: roses, orchids, delphinium, or whatever we choose to match our colors, but they better be damn affordable for ALL the flowers we need or else they aren't the Best. Then it becomes a vicious cycle: can another florist do it cheaper? Are there alternative flowers that LOOK like what we want? What if we use less blooms and add more filler? What if we change the flowers altogether because these aren't the Best?

This doesn't only apply to objects and money, however. The tendency to over-think, over-research, over-analyze things are all part of the insatiable desire to be better, to be perfect. It was difficult for me to take a sick day today because we have visitors at work and I was planning on attending a couple of their presentations this afternoon. And I'm not unwell, at least on the outside. But as I lolled around in bed dreading waking up, getting ready, going through the motions, being hormonally imbalanced, analyzing life's too many social issues, I decided to give myself a break. I decided to break my perfect attendance record. I decided to play hooky, if you can call it that, as I'm actually and obviously unwell in the head. I decided to spend some QT with my Sammie, and she sits in my lap as I type. I decided to not be around people today.

Is that OK? Is that Good? Or is that the Best thing to do?

While you ponder that, take a look at photographer Miguel Mayo's website. We are having our free engagement session done with him in a couple of weekends. He isn't the Best of everyone I've found, but he's GOOD. Good enough? I'm beginning to think so. (The e-session is free and his full-coverage photography packages start at $1,500, a steal by comparison.) He might actually end up being the Best.. if Best is what we want...?

Perhaps redefining "good" and "best" is what I should do next... after all, I've always believed that "all adjectives are relative."