So, the world has been a bit of a chaos zone for me of late. Work has been silly ... but enough on that.
About four weeks ago I moved to my new digs in Concord, which is all to the good as I have my own room again. Personally, I love having four walls of my own and a place to put up new and old art -- the lovely new portrait of my character Max Drengle, werepigeon and private eye, is a marvel to behold and the lady who made it is going to get a very fine dinner out of me.
Unfortunately my own computer is still out of commission, due to a combination of time, finances, and backlog at the repair joints. If all goes well, I will find out that the whole problem is simply the power supply; at that point, I buy a new one, one of my friends helps me install it, and all will be right with the world; until then, at least I have this loaner laptop (for which I am, as ever, deeply indebted), so at least I can take care of correspondence.
And of course now I must start pumping out hordes of resumes so that I can get a better gig...
Oh, the joys of proper footwear. :-)
For the last two months I have been trying to work on my feet in office shoes.
Today I got myself a proper pair of walking boots ... and at about half price!
My tootsies are rejoicing!
Today, what's left of it, is Armistice Day. Yeah, call it whatever the hell else you want, but originally it had a very specific significance and an unfulfilled dream -- a last war. A war after which there would be no other battles. No, it won't happen in my lifetime, but I believe. Go ahead -- call me a dreamer.
My grandfather, Sgt. John Angus Alexander MacDonald (1876-1965), Canadian Engineers, fought in The Great War. He was gassed and somehow survived to ripe old age. Made 'em tough back then.
So I took my time out at 11:00 a.m. to speak with my family members who have passed along, bringing them up to date on the doings of the family, just keeping touch, retelling a couple old stories that are as well-worn as my shoes. It is important to have such moments.
But today I also learned that I am going to be moving. After far, far too long on the couch in JJ's studio, I will be moving back to Concord and taking up a housemate situation. I think this will be excellent for all involved, despite having to manage the shekels rather closely, or maybe because of that. I will have my own room again, which will feel almost magical after the last few years. My commute will still be a bit hiccupy, due to local transit, but at least it will be far less expensive. And the nearby laundromat will be an absolute godsend.
Anyway, details will follow. Over the next two weeks I will be in transition and sometimes out of contact, but it will all be to the good.
So, I had to call in sick today due to fever and laryngitis. Actually, this is not too bad -- I feel ill and I don't want to spread it too much to customers and staff. I used to play Iron John that way and just tough it out; at 50, I try to be smarter about this.
For years, as both emotional and job counselors have pointed out to me, I have placed myself in very feudal relations with my bosses -- my superior is my Good Lord/Lady, while I am the Loyal Vassal. One job counselor asked me when I would become the Lord myself; I was puzzled by the question. I always assumed there would be someone above me in any chain of command, barring my independent work.
Currently, however, I find myself in an interesting situation -- I have no real Good Lord. Oh, I like a couple of the management team well enough, but due to the combination of the circumstances of my work, the calibre of the top management, and strangeness coming out of corporate, I am really feeling as if I am strictly an independent contractor, doing my job to the best of my ability, but with no strong tie to the franchise. I am friendly to customers, have several regulars (one of whom told my manager that the only reasons she shops there is because of me ... which is weird, but I'll take the compliment), pull my weight (and then some), and try to keep on top of cleaning, shelving, etc. But that is the extent of it -- no higher loyalty and little expectation that the management, much less the chain, has my back.
One of the things that is strange about this job is the amount of pressure I am under. You would think that low-pay retail wouldn't be that stressful, but it is. I actually feel a lot more day-to-day pressure (the kind that is harder to shake) from this job than I did when I was working for the aerospace engineering firm that was making part of the International Space Station or the medical device firm with its FDA mandated studies. Did at least X% of people use the store club card? Did at least X# of people reserve this book in advance? How is recovery going? Why aren't the shelves dusted? Etc, etc... We have been, until this last week, working with absolute skeleton crews, so it has been hard enough just keeping up with the basics of customer service, much less any extras or worrying about percentages, but there is a constant drumbeat on the topic, with threats of losing the job ... all of this for just about minimum wage. And this probably explains why I have no feudal relations here -- such matters are supposed to be reciprocal ... and here they clearly are not.
Ah well, dum spiro, spero. I'm still alive and that is a good start.
Yesterday I was heading into work and found I was early due to Daylight Savings Time. Much better than being late, certainly, but I had no desire to get into the B-place all that early. Luckily the Fruitvale district of Oakland was throwing its annual Dia de los Muertos festival, so it was easy to spend an hour doing something a bit different.
And, as I was there early, the Aztec dancers were out in force...
I went up to watch a troupe of them, dressed in cotton, leather, and feathers, with shining armbands, painted faces, some driving out the rhythm on drums, others with nut-shakers, and a few with conch horns. Lots of incense was being burned and the dance steps ranged from simple group to a few true fancydancers. They went through an invocation of the directions, which is always interesting to my mind as they dealt with all five -- North, South, East, West, and HERE.
As I watched them, I felt myself drawn into the whole spirit of the matter, the notion of the continuation of time and family and I thought of the father and the mother lost so recently to my friends. I was just on the edge of tears. My emotions at this point were so confused: sadness at loss, sadness for my friends, the joy of grasping a bit of history to my heart, the awe of the ceremony, the trepidation of being an outsider, the excitement of the rhythms, the acceptance of the offrendas altars scattered about for those lost this last year.
At this point I started looking around the crowd and I noticed I was being stared at my a small latina baby. She had one of those serious-serious faces you see on pottery produced by the Aztec and Maya and we locked eyes for a bit, me smiling shyly back at her. I felt this connection, almost an unspoken communication of, "Hmmm, you don't look like you belong here, but your heart carries the right message, so I am a bit confused, but I will accept you." I was probably reading too much in, but I felt lighter.
When the ceremony ended, I walked back towards BART and found that a couple had set up shop selling marigolds. I was seized by an intense need for a bundle of the flowers; between my very poor Spanish and their poor English we got the concept across and I purchased them. The old woman looked at me with a puzzled expression as I moved towards the BART. "Why?" she said, pointing at the flowers. "Para mia familia," I replied. And she nodded with a smile.
A little girl dressed as a butterfly with a painted skull face, no more than 6 years old, was coming out of the BART station with her parents, all excited over sounds and smells. She beamed at me; I stopped, and said "May I?" to her parents, while holding up a couple of marigolds. The father had a puzzled look, but the mother just beamed like the daughter and indicated yes. So I handed them to the girl and she practically danced for joy; her mother tucked one behind her left ear and we waved at each other going in different directio
I know, I don't post as often anymore. Ah, the joys of irregular (in every sense of the word) employment...
But I wanted to put something Hallowe'eny up, and this is always close at hand. Maybe not 100% the thing, but I still look upon this as probably my single best poem:
Is this the womb from which the world will be reborn?
This shrouding of thick and silky grey covering clouds?
Harvest is gone, so the time of Saturn arrives
And another sad year sees its end;
Samhain is in my blood.
You, Mother, must now await your husband’s warm return,
Sitting, waiting, all blanketed in.
No sounds of the children now; they’ve gone elsewhere.
But now Hecate, trivisaged and dark,
Rules the hour which used to be yours and yours alone.
Then the stars held their breath.
Then the Walls gave way.
Now there is uncheering cold in the bones with no relief at hand.
The season of patience, hope, and stillness
Has given way to the long, cruel, and evil-iron days
During which all is dead.
(Actually, I have always envisioned this as the Monologue Speech by the main character of the utterly nonexistent lost Shakespearean Irish play ... maybe something about Brian Boru or something...)
Yeah, I posted this one last year, too, but I love it:
Rejoice in Dia de los Muertos! Our family is still here in our hearts.
From Edna St. Vincent Milay:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!
Well, I have really been burning that candle of late...
Work has been very, very stressful. We have been running with absolute skeleton crews, including one morning where I had to act as both cashier and information clerk at the same time, a tricky point to say the least. I have been staying up too late, sleeping too little, eating irregularly, and generally not treating this two-and-a-half score body very pleasantly. I need to slow down, but I have too much on the plate at the moment. The advantage is that matters will slow down soon ... and then I'll hit the Xmastide Rush. ;-)
Still and all that, I am looking forward to The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus:
What a random entry...