When I was deciding what sort of blog this would be, I briefly considered writing some sort of “How To” blog. A glance at my Facebook newsfeed suggests that How To’s are a big thing.
How To Have A Complete Wardrobe With Only 20 Items
How To Contour Your Face In 5 Steps
How To Shave Your Alpaca From A Distance
How To Paint Your Own Glitter Beard (That’s a Thing, the link is there, and I encourage all bearded readers to please do this. Please.)
So I sat down with the coffee that I purchased because I didn’t know how to make it and considered what sorts of things I could cover in a How To blog. I once tried to write a beginners sewing blog, because I thought it’d be fun for readers to try to learn how to sew while I posted my sewing projects to demonstrate how
easy it took practice to understand the basics. The blog ended up being more of a, “Well, I meant to make a pillow, but I sewed all corners shut before I put the batting in. So here is my flat, uneven fabric with the stitching on the outside! Just a happy little accident!” kind of thing. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun sewing, but it was not a How To Sew blog by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. You can only hold up a strip of fabric that was supposed to be an embellished T-Shirt and insist it was “just a happy little accident” so many times and get away with it.
With that in mind, I crossed off any ideas of starting a craft blog.
I don’t love cooking, but I’m starting to get into it these days. I’m working on losing some weight, and cooking meals that take the place of junk that I’m craving helps keep me on track. So it crossed my mind to write about how to cook some affordable snacks and meals. In theory, this is a great idea for any reader who dislikes cooking as much as I do. But one day, I was craving chips and decided to create some out of a spinach tortilla that was lying around. I avoid the stove as much as possible because I’ve burnt my arm on that more than I have in the oven (This would be my first bit of advice in a cooking blog: Step 1 — Save yourself from burns by avoiding the stove.). So I turned the broil thing on, got a shiny thing ready and put my beloved tortilla on it. It was the last tortilla, so this had to go perfectly. I put it in the oven, set the timer for a minute or two (ten? I really don’t know.) and took it out. It looked gorgeous. I needed to flip it for optimal crispiness. So I did that, put Shiny Thing back in the oven, and seconds later, I saw flames in the oven. I considered taking the following actions:
1) Taking a photo for Instagram and Facebook so people would believe me.
2) Grabbing the hose thing from the sink and spraying the fire.
3) Throwing baking soda on it. You’re supposed to do that for grease fires.
4) Just watching it.
I basically did #4. I safely removed it from the oven and let the fire naturally burn itself out. I was so sad that the only possibility I had of eating something that resembled chips was gone. Only ashes were left. And I had the most delicious (store bought) salsa sitting on the counter, with nothing available to dip in it.
It was a cruel reminder that I could not cook, nor should I advise anyone about how to cook. I can only suggest that you not put your tortilla close to the broil thing.
(Side note: How is it that I regularly burn myself on the stove, but I came out unscathed in the face of an actual fire?)
Cooking was out, so I thought about passing along some social tips that I’ve learned from magazines over the years. For instance, a lot of people have difficulties remembering names. This is especially hard when you’re the New Person at a job, learning lots of names. I’ve read a ton of advice to help a girl (or you) out with this, such as repeating the person’s name right away, like this:
You: Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m the new important person at this company.
Coworker: Oh, hey, I’m Asertendoniosisophilus. I work in HR.
You: Nice to meet you, um… Astherfendonyoseesplisth. How long have you worked in HR, Aterendonkeyseplish? What’s that cologne you’re wearing Atrendonysplis? Is that question a violation of any rules, Atrendonplis?
Repeating it as soon as they say it is supposed to help you begin to associate their name with their face. Repeating it often serves two purposes: People allegedly like hearing their names and see you as a friendly sort when you say their names, and you are now learning their name.
(Please note: I dislike when people say my name often. I’m a strong believer in the saying, “That’s my name, don’t wear it out.” Seriously, it can be worn out. If I’m looking at you or we’re the only two in the space, you don’t need to say it. End rant.)
My favorite tip for learning names is that you should play an association game. If you can find a way to create an alliteration, you’re going to do even better. Like, um, okay, we’re not going to use the name I offered above because I was being ridiculous. So Billy introduces himself and he has a bear tattoo. Boom. You found something remarkable about Billy to help you remember him. Billy with the Bear.
This is always unhelpful for me for a few reasons. For one, I will look at Billy and see he has blue eyes and think, “THAT’S IT! Blue-eyed Billy! Bam!” Then I realize that many of the men in the workplace have blue eyes. So then I forget which one was Billy. Or, I will meet Billy and become obsessed with the (unnecessary) alliteration. So while he is busy kindly telling me about the workplace, I’ll think, “Blue-eyes? Nope. Brown hair? No, lots of those. Balding! Yes!” And Billy isn’t even bald. So then I lose track of him. Finally, I’ll meet Billy and immediately think, “Yup! Billy with the beige shirt! I’m good. Now I can focus on the conversation.” I’ll see him around all day and take pride in myself every time I pass him in the hall and sing, “Hey Billy! What’s good?” And then the next day? He’s wearing red and I don’t remember anything about his face. I’m doomed.
If you’re like me, the tricks just don’t work. I’ll only quickly remember names if:
I spend a significant amount of time working with one person in a day. Then their name is set. Kind of. I might still call Billy “Biff” or something random, but it’ll be close.
Their name is Meghan, Megan, or any other version of the name.
I’ve never heard their name before. A unique name can stick. Unless it’s what I typed above and I keep mishearing it.
They share names with my best friends or family members.
So after lack of success with the magazine’s tips, I took my own approach. When I was in situations where I was The New Girl meeting heaps of new people, I decided to just rename them until I learned their names. This seemed like a reasonable idea. I felt comfortable, because I created a setting for myself where their faces became familiar and they had names, they just weren’t necessarily the same ones that their parents liked in the 50s-90s when they had baby faces. But these people were adults now, you know? I took one look at an adult face and gave it a name that I found suitable until further notice.
It goes like this:
You: Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m a very important person in the office and you’re going to remember my name right now.
Coworker: My name is whatever you choose. I work in HR.
You: Nice, when would you like to pay me, then? How close can I stand to people before it’s inappropriate? Show me on a ruler.
Meanwhile, in your brainspace, you are thinking, “I didn’t hear his name, but he looks like he’s called Bentley. Handsome, but he knows he’s handsome. If he has a sense of humor, it’s exclusively vulgar. His hobbies revolve around sports and he probably golfs every weekend.”
However, when the next person comes around, a proper name might not come up. She might be more of a “Mrs. Scary Aunt.” She dresses in sweaters that she knitted herself that say, “All My Kids Have Paws,” but scowls at you even though you’re very chirpy. Someone brought homemade cookies to the office and she was the first to grab five to take back to her desk.
The final name I commonly use is, “The Person Who Isn’t Billy.” You and Billy have gotten to know each other from working on a project together, but there’s someone who works in the same position as Billy with whom you haven’t worked. When the day comes that you have to ask her a question, you turn to a confidante and say, “Hey… I need to talk to someone I don’t think I’ve formally met. It’s The Person Who Isn’t Billy.” People always get what you mean.
So you get how things are done. I learn names by not learning names.
Hm. Did I actually just do a How To? Or is this a Not To How To?