The office suite dream (not so sweet)

My kingdom for…

open the church doorsIn October, I had a dream that was surprisingly vivid after I awoke.

I was in an office with a long and narrow hall. Entering one room, a friend of mine, who used to work in the music business, was sleeping at their desk. They had been working a second job in the evening, related to the music industry, and they were tired.

One office appeared to be unoccupied, but, going around the corner was a guy at a desk. He was annoyed that I barged in, but I just needed an empty space. Another (real-life) friend I couldn’t find. What is the meaning of this?

There appears to be two sources of this dream. One is a friend of mine who was complaining that they now have to share a space with another, both full-time workers, in order to facilitate a couple of part-time employees. The other involved my last job location at 10 North Pearl Street. I came back to work in October 2015, just after my hernia operation.

To say that I was disappointed would be a gross understatement. Everyone save for the secretary and two of the librarians had doors. The secretary at least had this fortress and was front-facing. The other librarian had a wall on one side of the cubicle. But mine was right on the corner. There was no way to sit without someone coming up from behind me. I was startled regularly.

Fixable

On Day One, I requested a glassine attachment to the cubicle. It would have made the walls about six feet tall, rather than about five. And though I re-requested this at least twice more, I never got them. And because I was in this open space, visitors, repair people, and folks who got lost were always asking me for directions, which was truly distracting.

Finally, ten months later, startled one more time, I said that I needed to move. The only place I could go was this large storage area, actually only three meters from where I was sitting. And I was given this option early on, but I wanted to try to be geographically closer to the others in a team-like setting. Still, the move involved a loud discussion, during which I left the office for a time, lest I say something regrettable.

So I got my move. People in the other department on our floor didn’t understand why I’d move to a glorified closet. It’s because I could be front-facing with no one coming up behind me. I stayed there and it was tolerable. Well except that some anonymous person ratted me out for taking off my shoes while I was sitting at my desk, and it got written up. Such petty BS, and I’m pretty sure I know who it was.

A door

Finally, an office with a door became available in November 2018. I was not all that interested in moving yet again, since I knew I’d be departing soon. But I took it anyway, and l left at the end of June 2019.

For the last year and a half of work, I was seeing a therapist. They believed that it’d all be better once I retired. And I should note that I don’t think much about the place. (And there’s lots more I could note, but won’t.)

But I was talking to my good friend in France in early September. She’s a therapist. When she mentioned my former job, I displayed a flash of anger she found surprising. It’s not that I spend any actual time thinking about the place consciously. But the subconscious must still be ticked off.

New routine: they’re home at work

You are what you are, and you ain’t what you ain’t – Dear Abby, John Prine

Stormy
I’m told I can’t use cat pictures on my blog. The only exception is if it’s MY cat. Here’s Stormy, seeking sustenance.
My household has established a new routine on most weekdays. There are variations but often it looks like this: The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. THE ALARM GOES OFF – ugh. At least it’s a half-hour later than it USED to go off when my wife traveled to work.

While my wife takes a shower, I check my email. I’m looking for articles to send to Jeff for his regular newsletter about COVID-19.

My wife watches CBS This Morning; increasingly, I don’t. I can’t do all COVID, all the time. But I do catch a bit when feeding the cats around 7:30 because they think it’s their right to be fed. My wife and I eat breakfast.

She goes to work in the guest bedroom. Her workload as a teacher of English as a New Language is so much greater than it was when she could actually meet with students in person. One day, she had a noon teleconference, then a 40-minute phone conversation with a parent of a student, 20 minutes to wolf down lunch, then a 2 pm teleconference. Another day, she spent about 100 minutes on the phone with two brothers.

I start writing a blog post but take a break to wake my daughter, who almost certainly has stayed up too late. Time for her to go to school too, which turns out to be on the borrowed laptop in her bedroom. Classes at 9 and 10:30, an hour for lunch, classes at 12:30 and 2. Sometimes I help her with her homework in the evening.

Old school

Time to call two people on the telephone. This has been an amazingly great exercise. Sometimes, I call people I haven’t seen in a few months, while others I haven’t been in contact with for years. (Hi, Janet!) They average about 45 minutes; some last 10 minutes, but I spoke with Bill, a grade-school friend, for about two hours. I never leave a message on answering machines because I don’t want to obligate people to have to call me back. But some see my phone ID and check back anyway.

I’ve discovered surprising simpatico with a guy whose wife also asks followup questions when he’s only reading her a news headline. A cousin of my father told me a family secret last week she had assumed I already knew. My pastors are now mailing the sermons to one of my fellow church members without a computer.

Some point, I’ll take a walk or ride my bike, take a shower, eat lunch, empty and reload the dishwasher plus washing some pots and pans, read the paper, finish the blog post, and watch the previous day’s JEOPARDY! After dinner is the daily Google hangout call of my wife’s family, ostensibly 15 minutes, but generally close to an hour. I’ll miss it because I’ll be attending church remotely on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Here now the news

Watch the evening news, which is recorded, so I can zap past all those pharma medicine ads. I either help my wife and daughter, or at least stay out of their way. I’m happy to be retired.

I should note that working on the COVID newsletter has been great. I don’t have to obsess about the issue. Oh, I still think he’s doing a bad job. I was furious that Wisconsin voters had to go out and vote in the midst of a pandemic, risking the health of themselves and others.

And I was strangely mortified that an SBA program to help small business was so poorly introduced. A CBS story showed personal information showing up on the SCREENS of the next applicant in the queue. The SBDC, where I worked for nearly 27 years, is an SBA program.

And I’m terribly sad about the death of John Prine, who was not only one of America’s greatest songwriters but apparently a really nice guy. He beat cancer TWICE only to succumb to complications from COVID-19.

Hello In There – Bette Midler
Dear Abby – John Prine
Angel From Montgomery – Bonnie Raitt& John Prine

The so-called “new normal”

everyone can toil from home?

social distancing instrumentsIt may well be true, but I bristle at the term the “new normal”. It seems so defeatist. Meanwhile, I make my peculiar weekly trek to the grocery store during the “old people’s time” of 6 to 7 a.m.

What I’ve observed is this: People walking their dogs tend to head to the street when I am strolling on the sidewalk. I appreciate the effort. Perhaps they have friendly canines who want to be petted. That would mean I might get too close to the owner.

The irony in physical distancing is that little old ladies still avoid me. But it’s not because they think I’m going to mug them, but because they think I might infect and kill them. Progress, I guess?

I’ve spent so much effort doing a pas a deux with the folks stocking the produce that I manage to forget to get bananas. (“COVID-19 makes me bananas.”) Meh, still no TP. Heck, no paper products of any type. I may actually NEED some by the end of May.

And my checkout mojo’s all out of whack from social distancing, as I wait until the person in front of me is nearly done before putting my items on the conveyor belt. I almost neglected to get my discount card scanned, and I nearly forget to put the credit card in the appropriate slot.

Work all day

The ability to learn from home is great and remarkable. But because the technology is available, my wife was scheduled for THREE hour-long meetings one day this past week. One was canceled, but still. Just because you CAN schedule meetings does not mean you must.

My wife is working harder now online than she did as an in-person ENL teacher. Between the noon and 2 pm meetings, a parent returned her call. She barely ate lunch. Oh, and she also had a church meeting that night, with our pastors canceling their long-planned sabbatical.

Newsweek suggests that the coronavirus will “change how we work forever.” And not necessarily for the better. If everyone can ostensibly toil from home, then we won’t need as many snow days. It may make us more “productive”, but at what cost? Americans in general already suck at the work/life balance thing.

Mic check, please

Part of my “new normal” regimen involves press conferences, on television every single day. I do not watch them. I’ll get the gist of them from print news. This is entirely a health issue.

If I see him lying that he didn’t say what he said two weeks ago, it will just upset me. If I read that he’s prevaricating, it’s much less toxic to me. No less reprehensible, just less aggravating.

Besides, if he’s going to boast about TV ratings, as he berates the media as thousands are dying, why watch? Some of my friends want media outlets to stop covering him. I’m ambivalent. For every four bits of dissembling, he says one thing actually useful and more or less true.

And for those who worry that Dr. Anthony Fauci is being silenced or that Dr. Deborah Birx is being too conciliatory, know that they are hostages. But they have what djt wants — “credit, adulation, the appearance of scientific expertise. And their survival means our survival.” So if AF is less prickly or DB more diplomatic, they’re playing the long game of being heard.

January rambling: surreal logic

conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy

weird_hill.xkcd
Weird Hill from xkcd

4 Ways to Detect Media Bias and Step Out of the Partisan Bubble.

Virtually All Major US Drinking Water Sources Likely Contaminated With PFAS.

Can Bankers Become Allies Against Climate Change?

The forgotten assassination of MLK’s mother Alberta King in 1974.

How do you keep that Christmas Eve feeling?

The Day That Changed Everything. The subhead: “They lost the biggest N.J. high school football game ever played.”

How to treat tennis elbow.

Komodo dragon destroyed BBC camera by trying to have sex with it.

The Critical Importance of Church Choirs.

Can’t find a marriage record? Try looking for a “Gretna Green” marriage location.

Jack Burns, R.I.P.

Every guest star on the TV series Cannon, starring William Conrad. CBS, 1971 to 1976, 122 episodes.

Inequality

World’s 2,153 billionaires hold more wealth than poorest 4.6 billion combined.

Rising inequality affecting 70% of the world.

Americans’ Drinking, Drug Use, Despair Wiping Out Life Expectancy Gains.

Structural Racism in Medicine Worsens the Health of Black Women and Infants.

Healthcare Algorithms Are Biased, and the Results Can Be Deadly.

IRS grabs the money.

The Liberation of Auschwitz: January 27, 1945.

Recommended reading: Joe Kubert’s Yossel.

Work

Illegal Interview Questions You Thought Were Harmless.

Were Your Rights Violated at the Workplace?

FTC Received Nearly 1.7 Million Fraud Reports, and FTC Lawsuits Returned $232 Million to Consumers in 2019.

Astrogate.

Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.
– Paul Tillich

Books, language, and librarians

Proposed Book Banning Bill in Missouri Could Imprison Librarians.

How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon.

Writing a book series.

You can write “embedded” but you can’t write “imbedded.”

English Needs a Word for the Relationship Between Your Parents and Your In-Laws.

The 5th Annual Tucker Awards for Excellence in Swearing.

IMPOTUS

Expansive Executive Privilege Claims Pose Serious Constitutional Crisis.

The Imperial Presidency Is Alive and Well.

He Boasts Of Obstruction At Davos Press Conference.

Doral Resort Spikes Its Room Rates Ahead Of His RNC Visit.

The Surreal Logic of the China Trade Deal.

“Reckless” Decision to Loosen Firearm Exports Regulations.

The Cost of an Incoherent Foreign Policy.

His Supporters And The Denial Of Reality.

Ten Principles that Unify Democrats (and most of the country).

Now I Know

This Is The Poem That Never Ends. It Just Goes On And On, My Friends. and The Town With No Name and What To Do When Iguanas Fall From the Sky and How a Rock Band Helped Runaway Kids Find Their Way Home and It’s Art Because Someone Says It Is and Why Do Bakers Have Bigger Dozens? and Behold the Power of Dried Plums.

MUSIC

That Don – Randy Rainbow.

On the retirement of conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy: conducting Debussy’s La Mer; playing Rach and Bach and more.

Coverville 1293: The Neil Peart Tribute and Rush Cover Story III.

The Golden Spinning Wheel by Antonin Dvorak.

Tall Skinny Papa– Annie & The Hedonists [Caffè Lena Late Night Sessions]

All About Falling In Love – MonaLisa Twins

Fiddler on the Roof: Dear, Sweet Sewing Machine – Motel (Adam Kantor) and Tzeitel (Alexandra Silber) and Tradition – Tevye is Anthony Warlow, production done in Australia.

How Long Has This Been Going On – Audrey Hepburn, from Funny Face.

The Inner Light – The Beatles.

Trudy: black, proud, and offended

Harvey Gantt

Trudy.CN JenkinsHere’s my mom, Trudy, on the left, with a couple of other women from her church some years before she passed. She was always black and proud and often offended when people thought otherwise. More than one person asked if she had ever tried to pass as white; she was appalled.

Being light-skinned, though, provided her some insights. She once tried to get an apartment with my dad when they were first married in Binghamton in the early 1950s. But when the landlord saw Les Green, he decided he could not rent to a “mixed-race couple.” I noted a story set in San Francisco in the late 1960s. My sister Marcia shared more tales from her time living in Charlotte, NC, starting in 1974.

A black mayor

My mother was a teller for a bank for much of her time in North Carolina. Charlotte elected Harvey Gantt in 1983, the first black mayor of the city’s history. In the 1990s, he ran twice for the United States Senate against segregationist Jesse Helms, losing both times. Some white people felt free to say to my mother racially disparaging remarks about Gantt, figuring that Trudy was one of “them.”

This continued when she worked in a free-standing drive-through bank branch. A customer would complain about getting a moving violation or ticketed for failure to register their vehicle in a timely manner. Occasionally, the white person would say to my mother, “Why are the police going after me? They should be going after those [N-word, plural] instead.” Trudy would go home, crying.

Apparently, one’s race is, or at least was, a descriptor on the voter registration rolls in North Carolina. She was listed as black, yet she’d be indicated by the registrar as white. Or she’d be marked as white when she’d cash a check, as she could see when the canceled check was mailed to her each month.

My mother seldom showed her anger openly about this, even at home, but this misidentification clearly wore on her. When one of my nieces was a child, she was asked why her grandma was white. Being a light-skinned black person in America had its downside.

Mom would have been 92 today.

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