I decided to go with office supplies instead of food for end-of-the-year tokens of appreciation for my co-workers. Conveniently, the smallest-sized binder clips are the same width as washi tape. (Not my original observation; I got it from the internet.)
I have also ordered bright orange labels to make some anti-Trump stickers. A mock-up:
I plan to carry them and stick them on whatever images of Donald Trump cross my path. Let me know if you’d like a sheet! Typography suggestions are also welcome. I considered Highway Gothic but haven’t actually seen it much on work-zone kinds of signs.
This morning I had time for coffee at the university library before work. Always nice to hang out with the copper beech. An eraser was also provided. (There was no whiteboard nearby.)
We decided to go to the beach, maybe the river beach. My boss Diane found my orange flip-flops from the dollar store and declared them perfect, she would wear these. The others went out to the car and I was in the kitchen putting my shoes on. The music from the end of Star Wars was playing, the award ceremony part, and I picked up a Star Wars novel on the kitchen table and started reading it.
Diane burst back into the room, going WHY ARE YOU CRYING? I’m not crying, I said, I was reading longer than I thought. Sorry, I know, everybody’s waiting, sorry.
Yesterday my boss and I went out to a rural-ish suburb to conduct a focus group of elementary school teachers and see what they thought of the after-school program. The school draws from a low-income area, and about half the kids speak Spanish at home. Near the end of our session, my boss told the teachers to forget about the grant and its constraints–if the sky’s the limit, what would you ask for to help the kids at your school?
The first answer–and it got a lot of uh-huhs and nods of agreement–was a bus. A dedicated bus, so they wouldn’t have to request one through the district transportation office, which never has them available. They could put the kids on the bus and get them out into the world, go to OMSI, do field trips.
They also told us about how some of the third-graders are getting to partner with an indoor soccer club this year. It’s a huge hit, because the kids are part of the group out there with all the other kids. It brought home to me how hard it is for poor families to get out much or even feel like they’re part of what’s going on.
Yesterday I helped out at a focus group in an elementary school. I’d been looking forward to the cute little chairs and the restrooms labeled Boys and Girls instead of Men and Women, but man, I forgot how much instructional signage there is! There were signs on the wall about how to listen from your seat, how to listen from the rug, and how to enter the library. (Eyes open, feet walking, voice quiet, a couple of other pointers, I forget.) In the cafeteria there were posters about how to fill your plate with the different food groups, how exactly to wash your hands, how to have good lunchroom manners. (If you drop food on the floor, pick it up and throw it away.)
There were instructions on how to respond to bullying and how to address conflicts. There were exhortations to read, but overall hardly any of the writing on the wall was about academics.
It’s a nice homey school, with art all over the place and a spacious library. But all the signage gave me a weird feeling of Cult of Rules, Cult of Written Instruction And Policies. Maybe part of it is knowing that some kids are at school from eight in the morning until quarter to six at night (the after-school program provides dinner before the bus ride home). If I were a student there, I might want to willfully forget how to read.
I replaced my damaged Scarlatti keyboard sonatas CD with one by Dubravka Tomsic. I’ve always liked listening to Scarlatti while I work– I remember a happy snowy morning of geometry homework and Scarlatti when we were doing compass and straight-edge. Yes, trisecting an angle for fame and fortune, I will get right on that! And Scarlatti is in the subset of my writing music that Sanguinity can tolerate when we’re at home writing together. (Russian men’s chorus, no. Enya’s Shepherd Moon definitely no, although it always works because I wrote my whole thesis to it. Cristina Branco yes.) Anyway, I think this version and I will become friends just fine.
Many of our tomatoes were volunteers this year, but they made it and the orange cherry-sized ones are especially nice. Some split skins because of the sudden rains.
Sanguinity took me for pho last night and the restaurant’s TV was showing the Emmys. I hadn’t seen any of the comedies. Remember when the best TV was sit-coms and the Friends cast made more money than any actors ever? When I stayed at a hotel alone this summer and channel-surfed before going to sleep, none of the reruns I clicked through held up to the test of time except Frasier. That surprised me, because I got pretty sick of Frasier when it was being broadcast.
I’m supposed to go to a strike captains’ training tomorrow because my union may go on strike Monday. But even though the union’s good about providing food, I am a very hard sell for meetings that last over an hour. No way 5:30 to 8:30 is going to work for me.
The bridal party arrived, and when they were all correspondingly seated, a waiter appeared with a magnum of champagne and went round the table, filling everybody’s coupe. He was young and terrified and had apparently been told that each squat glass must be filled to its brim. Everyone sat in silence while this feat was slowly and painstakingly achieved. Little beads of quivering perspiration appeared on the waiter’s forehead. Watching him was like watching a medical student suture a wound.
When the waiter had scurried out of the room, Robin stood and attempted to raise his glass, but its brimming abundance made this impossible, so he bent down and sipped preventatively from it, and, so tamed, managed to hold it before him. “A toast,” he said, “to Clement and Coral: May their days be long and their loads be light, with peaceful days and fruitful nights!”
Everyone agreed to this toast by leaning over and sipping in a delicate feline way at their champagne.
Basically, I act like I should get a medal for riding to work: I am willing to do it if there is lots of praise and prize drawings and preferably a free breakfast involved. After this month I’ll be reading my book on the bus again.
“I like to think of myself as a coworker with lots of experience rather than a boss,” Franklin said.
I like to think of myself as a boss more than a slave but mostly I prefer to not think about it at all because when I think about it, I can’t stop.
“Okay,” I said.
I was worried Vanessa Veselka’s Zazen would be too hip or lit-fic for me, but I think I’m going to love it.
At work I’ve gone from 3/4 time to full time for the next couple of months, to help fill in for someone on medical leave. Last week was my first 40-hour work week in ages. Let the whining commence!
Nah…I miss my schoolkid schedule, but it’s temporary. I’m cutting back on nearly everything else– no going to Chinuk wawa three times a week for awhile, and I don’t know how many walks with refgoddess I can fit in when I have to be at the office by 8:30. Running remains on the back burner. I think I’ll do best when I make things very simple: work, writing, and basic maintenance of health and household. Monastic contentment, right? And I can use the money, with a Colorado trip coming up and some furnace-and-roof debt still on the books.
But I do feel a rumble of resentment and panic when my time starts to resemble a sliding-tile puzzle, where I’m moving blocks around but constantly running into the walls of work and sleep. When I consider getting up a half-hour earlier to do something, and it won’t work because it will disrupt things back into the previous evening. Life shouldn’t be like that.
At least I’ve been better than usual this week about taking advantage of short writing opportunities. Ten minutes suddenly seems worthwhile, I’m writing on the bus a little because I might not get another chance all day, and an hour feels like luxury instead of obligation. I hope I’ll have a little to show for it after eight weeks, as I very very slowly conjure up this novel.
Today Sang and I got out to Powell Butte for a little hike– in fact we were all done and back at the house, with a grocery trip thrown in, by eleven o’clock! The wind was cold, so we hastened to the forested far side of the hill. Lots of yellow violets blooming, and the nettles are knee-high and looking pretty darn vigorous already. I was happy to hear a raven, after a winter of staying in town hearing crows.
Yesterday I got around to making soda bread, after buying the buttermilk just before St. Patrick’s Day. Warm with butter: so good.
Next book to read: Lisa Lutz’ Trail of the Spellmans, fifth in a series that makes me laugh out loud. (I’m currently finishing up Kage Baker’s The Children of the Company: satisfying to fill in some knowledge-gaps, but Mendoza is the heart of the series for me and she doesn’t appear in this one.) As for TV, Sang and I are re-watching the first season of Sarah Connor Chronicles, which feels much richer and more suspenseful than the first time around. (So many shows I’m iffy about the first season. Will they all seem better on re-watch?)
Tomorrow and the day after I’m taking this online class at work that starts at 6 a.m. It was either attend online with east-coast people and start at 6 a.m., or find some classroom in Beaverton by 8 a.m., so I figured it was about even. Still, I am feeling slightly pre-emptively desperate. I will leave my house at five and park the car on this side of the bridge, and catch a very early bus. My usual bus line doesn’t start that early.
I am washing out the coffee pot and finding a travel mug and packing my lunch and laying out my clothes. I guess lunch is going to be at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. I am resenting the way I’m worrying about all this already, and resenting the way jobs dominate non-job time.