Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Minotaur of Telegraph Hill

*This post, and all others, are fiction. Any characters or situations represented resembling those in real life are not intentional nor should be read as literal fact or testament.*

I stomped in after 10am. Such a late entry should be embarrassing or worrisome, as these trespasses can lead to the end of a contract, but I felt little -- except the pavement under my hooves. My lack of feeling may be attributed to an unwavering confidence at my professional skill, as well as the fact that I have never had a problem standing up for myself -- however these attributes can sometimes seem problematic to my employers. 

However, the most relevant of troublesome points in keeping my employed stance in the commercial tech industry: I hate it. In fact, I fucking loathe it.

I entered the ring with nostrils flaming around my septum piercing, which boys always told me made me look like an angry bull and ruined my feminine softness. Grecian literature of antiquity speaks heroically of women who have masculine qualities, such as bravery and even physical attributes. Boys today crave differentiation between the sexes: a clear binary. They don't know it, but fashion changed everything. Perhaps most applicably, Christian Dior's "New Look" of hyper femme, fit-and-flare dresses (celebrating the abundance of fabric available after the end of WWII which could be turned into a most decadently full skirt), was a symbol for putting women back in the homebound slavery. Women, now relatively immobilized for "masculine" work by the fashion trends were again fetishized for feminine qualities while Rosie the Riveter, and all the women who stepped in to take male jobs while they fought in war, was forced back into heels and onto their knees. Again, Rosie cried, "We can do it" with the strength of a heart who has known and lost respect. 

It's hard to be a woman, particularly a young, unmarried woman, in the tech industry. It's a male dominated realm and sometimes feels like I'm a cocktail waitress at an Elk's Lodge meeting. A friend of mine told me that she was rejected for a job and told, face-to-face, that as a woman she would be too distracting. I've worked in companies and faced massive sexual harassment, the only recourse of which was to cut out the cancer: the harassed. As a freelancer, there isn't much one can do about it except become more hard. With each trespass is another layer of shellac.

I as I walked faster and faster to my seat, I could almost feel my eyes turn red and horns curl out of the top of my head. In moods like that, I’d pierce anyone in my way. I nearly punched my leather bag into the concrete ground and whipped back my hair. I breathed a little and despite my fiery disdain, my human half gradually took san dominance.

With apologies in tow:
“Sorry I’m late, guys.”

A guy in a red polo shirt and jeans spoke up. He was one of those guys who always had a response or quip for anything, whether it was worth the breath wasted or not.
“What happened this time?” he inquired with attitude.

Clothes in a professional environment are a tricky thing for me. I thought I had finally nailed it, with a well enough stocked wardrobe of costumes from Ann Taylor and the like. Blouses, slacks, full length stockings, sensible work flats. Frustrating my expectations, the boss criticized me for dressing “too professionally” in the workplace-- making the rest of the employees look bad by comparison. I studied those around me, their costumes, and so today I had dressed down. That was part and parcel of my explanation. As we know, fashion can change perception.

I didn’t know how to dress, if not professionally, and if not un-professionally. Office casual is a difficult grey area for me: someone with 12 corsets, strappy kink wear, steel toed boots, half a walk-in closet made of leather, destroyed jeans, as well as band t-shirts of bleeding virgins. Telling me to play the role at the opera but improvise my own costume was kind of insulting, after all the work I had done to differentiate. Ann Taylor, my ass.

I delivered my explicatory monologue with lightly feigned heart: “Well, you wouldn’t believe it, but a forest of trees marched upon downtown San Francisco, demolishing skyscrapers. As you can tell by my monochrome "tasteful tye-dye" maxi skirt, I was involved in the peaceful political protest against such senseless destruction against capitalism. I chained myself to my agency’s building, along with many of the other talent, but the trees started to pelt allergenic spores at us, so we just had to get out of there…

Most of what I say is followed by silence at work, so I’m used it by now.

Finally, Ralph Lauren in Red gave some notes on my story: “That’s ...pretty elaborate.”

“I had to park far away.” That part was true.

And some people just have an active imagination.


“Why do you sigh like that all the time?” my exasperated desk-mate finally inquired.

Without taking my eyes off my screen, I responded: “I’m just breathing.”

“No, that’s not breathing, that’s sighing. I happen to be an expert on breathing, as I do it every day, all the time. You sigh. And they are these long, suffering sighs. It’s driving me crazy.” His lips were like chicken sausages stuck together and they sputtered as he delivered his complaint.

This guy: fat, bald, cocky. He had that sense of entitlement about his surroundings, his perceived talents, even his looks. Every seeming thing about him made me want to punch him in the throat.  

I allowed my eyeballs to move first, make contact with his. I leaned toward him, forward between the gap separating our facing desks, and explained: “Humans often sigh, yawn, or cough as involuntary physical reactions.”

I gave him a second to let that sink in as I imagined the toe of my boot crushing his balls.

“These symptoms usually occur when oxygen is needed in the body. Perhaps you perceive me as constantly sighing with suffering...”

After a pause, I looked down, then coquettishly up again to mouth the following words without sound: “because I’m suffocating sitting next to your sorry, fat ass”
I added, in case the message was unclear:
“...sucking in all the clean air.”

I pointed to him and blew up my cheeks like a puffer fish.
I made a comical little choking motion with my hands around my neck and eyes rolled back.
At least I thought it was funny.

He responded with nothing but a blank stare. He eventually lost the staring contest by farting accidentally. Nobody in the office said anything, but he looked pissed when I winked at him as he left his desk. I sighed and turned my eyes back to the computer screen. That would probably be the most interesting part of my day and there were only…. 6 more hours until 6 o’clock.


Ordeeer uhp.”

His voice was oily, slick, and yet it was hard for my brain to digest the sound of it in a salad stand -- therefore I got distracted by the thought of beef gristle spewing from his lips instead of words.

I don’t trust the French, inherently, but the food is undeniably better once passed through their filthy, simple-minded, grabby hands. Maybe all this man did was hand me the box (it seemed to be all be was trained for) and yet somehow, the brussel sprouts tasted better -- even though I hated him for his stupid trout-faced expression and incomprehensible accent.

The French accent is a sound pushed forth from a mouth shaped as though it is constantly trying to suck on an invisible petit sec saucisson. To be child about it, the French are tiny sausage suckers. Before I could linger on this thought too long, a voice from the local region pulled me back to San Francisco.

“Kewl. Wellll… now that we have our salAAAAds, dew’yew wannna like munch here, orrr…. like, um I don’t know, go back to the officcccce?

Silicone Valley. Computer chips and fake tits.

Whilst searching for my keys, I handled my salad box, which was packed full enough of radicchio to supposedly justify the price tag, and my requisite designer bag. I felt like a juggler. If only I could contort as well -- I’d flee to Montreal and join Cirque. Still, those fucking accents. I pushed that thought of out my head, lest the leaning tower of salad fall to its colorful and expensive demise. With the focus of a sword swallower, I muttered: “The lot was full today. I have to move my car.”

My coworker, who stood with the profile of a giraffe in her Vince Camuto stilettos and perfectly erect, anti-ergonomic body, responded thoughtfully: “Hmmmm?”
I wondered about the color of her tongue: was it pink or black?

Despite our seeming incompatibilities, I’m pretty good at learning languages.

“Oh, ummm, like, it was ker-RAZY parking and stuff. The guys at the lot were like “no entrar” or  whatevs cuz they were super duper busy, so I had to find street parking.” I flourished with an open mouthed aghast expression -- yes, Barnum and Bailey, I clown as well. References available.

“OMG, you poor thing! What are you gonna do?!” Her eyes were so wide, she looked as if she could be patented by Mattel.

Wondering if I had time to get a cappuccino, I became distracted. “Probably just move my car. It’s in a two hour zone, but I saw the meter maid go by, so I thought I could get away with more time.”

She stared at me blankly and compulsively smoothed her already smooth hair, which is her body language for when I’ve spoken too fast and without enough emotion for her to know how to react. So naturally, she just kept talking, like most people who don’t understand what’s going on.

“Wellllll… I’m going back to like work and shit cuz I don’t want to stay late and miss crossfit. Good luck or whatever with your car. Where is it, anyway?” As she smoothed and smoothed her bottle blond hair, I imagined her working up a sweat in spandex. This didn’t help me stay focused, as I thought of ways to discipline the affected stupidity out of her and what that would smell like.

“Right up there. Montgomery and Green I think. I’ll take a shortcut and be back in no time. Do you mind tossing--TAKING my salad back to the office too?” In my mind I had four fingers deep in her whore cunt, slapping her tits until she would beg for deeps kisses to her clit to make her cum. All I see is red and how I’d fuck her so fantastically she’d believe it was mythical.  

“Uhhhhhh … sure.” She glanced at me sideways as she stacked our items.

“Cool, thanks,” note to self: stop being a horny douchebag.

“Whatevs.” Carrying our salads in one hand, she once again smoothed her bad dye job with the other. She had a flaunting, swinging gait as she walked away in her work-inappropriate footwear; and she left me with her Gen-X handle on the English language ringing in my ears. I watched her walk away -- always my favorite part of interacting with her. 

Yes, I too, have been brainwashed somewhat by Monsieur Dior.

Finally, I took in a deep breath, and walked towards the bay. As I walked, I journeyed the streets, roads, and back alleys of my brain’s map and realized that I was a prisoner somewhere in the center of an explicable maze. I felt fierce most of the time, but I was also afraid. As I got lost, deeper in my own thoughts, I realized I was trapped and perhaps waiting for the human inside to show me the way out of this terrifying and dark place.  


It had at some point become clear that I had made a wrong turn. The stairs where endless, and the path was labyrinthine. Wrong turn, dead end. No outlets to streets or thoroughfares. I kept climbing and climbing as my heart was racing. It had been so long time since I climbed a mountain that even a hill was slaying me. I realized with disdain that I had become weak in ways I hadn’t even realized.

Finally I ran into a mail person. I wheezed as I flagged her down and wheezed several times further before I was able to ask her: “Is this… goddamn Telegraph Hill?”

She laughed and nodded.

I trudged past, feeling the pressure of getting back to work and my impending parking ticket as I exclaimed “FUCK ME.”

I made it to the top, somehow, someway. One clomping foot, then another, pushing the weight of the world in my mind and the heavy hate in my heart up the wretched hill.

A jogger lightly and easily drifted past, casually commenting: “Lotta steps, eh?”

“Mother fuck--” I said as I finally collapsed onto the pavement.


When I came to, I saw the bay and the bridge. It was a beautiful day, and the water was glittering. My face was on the sidewalk, but I couldn’t stand, not yet. I thought of how lovely it would be to die like this, with this view as my final moment, when two tourists stepped over my limp body to get a better smartphone picture.

Two more groups of tourists did the same thing, one after another. Like most of San Francisco’s defeated, I had become invisible.

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