You Will Be Assimilated

Over the past year I have gone from working at a huge highly institutional company that had no time or inclination to give a rip about each individual employee to a very small company that really cares a lot about each and every person. Everyone keeps an eye on each other which is both beautiful and positive and also has some downsides.

As such, this place is very big on having these company portraits taken of everyone. These are to be used on our website and as our icon on our email and generally used as the official image of record for the employee.

Since I had missed the quite recent window for portraits taken by our official photographer, I offered up this photo for use:

I think it’s a nice photo. It was taken by a professional photographer and it’s one I’m not ashamed to show.

Many people complimented the photo, they really liked it. There was just one problem…..

The background. It’s green. The “official” photos have an institutional blue background, so my photo stuck out. Heck, I was fine with that. I don’t mind sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb, but this caused much, much consternation among the compliance type people.

So phone calls were made, calendars were checked and the official photographer was called in on a Friday morning to correct this issue.

Here is my new, official, doesn’t stick out, looks like everyone else crappy photo:

Observations: Well, first of all, my hair was HUUUGE that day. I usually wash my mane at night and let it air dry naturally which makes it soft and gives me nice easy waves. I was utterly lazy the night before the photo shoot and instead showered and washed the locks in the morning, which means blow dry city. Add a little humidity that day and *booosh* I had one big hair entity all unto itself.

Next, I look like a school principal. Ugh. The angle, unflattering. The backdrop, bleah. My crazy, crazy eyes. All of it.

Finally, the official photographer guy really Photoshopped this up. While I appreciate the kindness he did to the zit on my lip, he also boosted the warmth a little too much and now I look a little flushed and my hair is not really that red in real life.

So. Weird.

But the folks who hang the photos on the wall and post them to the corporate webpage are very happy. My photo blends in with everyone else. Nothing out of place. Everybody looks the same. No sore thumbs.

In other words, I’ve been assimilated.

Not sure how I feel about that.


Edit: This afternoon, several hours after I wrote this, I ran into the guy who had his photos taken at the same time as I did. He brought it up. “Hey, do you like your photo?” he asked. “Not really” I replied. “Yeah,” he said, “I don’t either. I look weird. Do you think we can have them retaken?” — I love this idea. Stay tuned!

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  • Michelle Meaders

    Too bad you can’t just change the background on the good one from green to blue! Photoshop can do that, right?

  • New Mexican

    No matter who takes the picture, you are still one of the best looking women in the Bay area…. I like the smile…

  • Frank

    You seem to be getting younger.

    I say that as a casual observer, that is, a man looking at a picture of a woman, and with deference to this good man who appears now and then on the outskirts of the narrative, or despite him, take your pick.

    I was going to say something when I first saw the picture a couple weeks ago but got sidetracked by an internal debate about words and their usage, not just how they are used but whether. Well, by that and my disorganized life.

    I was put off the track by the words girlish and youthful. I’d noticed that that girlish, or youthful, characteristic is a constant in your various pictures. The first thing that popped into my head to describe it was your girlish appearance, but then thought a better word choice would be youthful. Girlish and youthful both have their associations and connotations. Girl for instance has been both scorned and co-opted at various times by various feminists. It might be OK or not depending on the day I use it.

    Altogether, and assuming everyone thinks exactly like I do, if you took a big paint brush and made a wide even stroke across the canvas, that would be youthful. Girlish involves getting more paint on the brush and making a more splashy stroke. Maybe even red paint.

    That alone doesn’t settle it though. You can’t just use those words interchangeably. They have a different genealogy. You can say “girlish youthfulness,” for example, but you can’t say “youthful girlishness.” I can’t anyway.

    I haven’t read all your posts lately but I did see the one about the beauty site that rated your eye-nose-mouth symbiosis factor. I’m glad they rated you high in beauty, but I don’t really know if those people know what they’re talking about. All I can say is, those who are are, those who aren’t have beauty web sites.

    Their fancy computers can’t account for things like gaze. That’s the other characteristic that stands out, photo to photo. Gaze encompasses the eyes. Your eyes reflect all the things you’ve seen, experiences, things you’ve been through. With all that, you always have that particular gaze of yours, which I also see now and then here in New Mexico. I’ve commented before on your lack of cynicism. That might be part of it. There’s also a cheshire cat aspect. A little ironic distance. You have a little secret. We’ll now what it is as soon as you do. Or at least soon after. Maybe. We can never be quite sure.

    But yes, words, and their usage. I can’t assume everyone thinks like I do. In the past I think there have been instances when I didn’t quite follow you and you didn’t quite follow me. We think and analyze differently. When we, our species, write and talk and communicate we usually ignore that fact, or maybe hope for the best. We have things to do, lives to live. If this first attempt isn’t good enough, sorry. Sometimes we’ll stop and elaborate, but we give each other leeway not to, and because of it society doesn’t devolve into endless violence.

    I’ve elaborated because it pleased me to. I did read one post where you said your mother looks much younger than she is, so it’s probably genetic, and partly, I’d venture to guess, something else. But it’s definitely a thing, as is leaving New Mexico and making your fortune in San Francisco, a city that’s always making itself something else, and forever young.

    PS: Your writing has gotten even better. More economical, more mature, more powerful. Always consistently high quality.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Frank – Quite a lyrical bit of writing there, and a joy to read, not simply because you are saying nice things about me, but rather the jazz riff quality of the way you puts words together.

      First and foremost, thank you for reading my words here on this blog. I don’t have many regular readers left so the few I have are quite cherished. Thanks also for the kind words. You may have read between the lines of this and other posts that I am fighting a war with my body and face as they age and I am, of course, losing. Time and gravity are much stronger forces than me. One day I’ll stop throwing myself against that brick wall. Today is not that day.

      And you are right, you and I think and see and analyze the world differently from each other and cheers to that! How boring it would be if we all saw things the same way.

      Good to see your name again. Don’t wander too far off, okay?

  • Frank

    Oh, you’re quite welcome.

    Gee, I really didn’t realize how long my comment was until I saw it in print. I guess it was the subject matter.

    Much of the pleasure of writing, as you know, or what drives it, is that in order to make the case you’re making you have to figure out if you have one. The process of writing it down forces you to organize your thoughts, to refine them into coherent form.

    Ah, that you do it so frequently. Amazing. They always say to do that if you want to write. It improves you writing, would be one reason. Do you think there’s a spillover effect? Does it improve your thinking in general? In your other work? Does it keep your mind and fingers limbered up for the harp playing?

    I’m curious about this new job, of course. If you see that someone’s been going through the archives in the near future it won’t only be the NSA.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Frank – Yes, this little ol’ blog has had impacts on my writing that I couldn’t have imaged when I began in 2007. This biggest impact is on self editing. My work emails are a lot more concise now. Though I do tend to slip into colloquialisms and made up words in my work email, so I always have to go back and give it a second look.

      In my semi-professional writing life, the blog has helped immensely. That and doing flash fiction competitions which force a writer to be brief but still tell a good story. I’ve had a couple acceptances lately into literary mags with short fiction, and I think all of writing practice has helped.

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