I know the new layout still has problems (like the repeating title at the bottom)
but I don't have time to fix it before taking off for the weekend. Yes, those
beads on the left are dichroic glass.
If Rudder ever gets
home, we're headed up north, where the nightly lows are predicted to be about 60
Today is the birthday of one friend, and the one year anniversary of another's
(Mechaieh gets credit for the word.)
Because of that, because summer is finally cooling off into fall, and because my
life, or at least my career, is in a state of flux right now, and also because I
have to go pack up for camping this weekend and then shower and dress for another
interview, I'm going to post Phil Ochs's words today, instead of mine.
Sit by my side, come as close as the air,
Share in a memory of gray;
Wander in my words, dream about the pictures
That I play of changes.
Green leaves of summer turn red in the fall
To brown and to yellow they fade.
And then they have to die, trapped within
the circle time parade of changes.
Scenes of my young years were warm in my mind,
Visions of shadows that shine.
Til one day I returned and found they were the
Victims of the vines of changes.
The world's spinning madly, it drifts in the dark
Swings through a hollow of haze,
A race around the stars, a journey through
The universe ablaze with changes.
Moments of magic will glow in the night
All fears of the forest are gone
But when the morning breaks they're swept away by
golden drops of dawn, of changes.
Passions will part to a strange melody.
As fires will sometimes burn cold.
Like petals in the wind, we're puppets to the silver
strings of souls, of changes.
Your tears will be trembling, now we're somewhere else,
One last cup of wine we will pour
And I'll kiss you one more time, and leave you on
the rolling river shores of changes.
--Phil Ochs, "Changes"
Later note, after post-interview goofing-off session:
Yesterday, I learned to make this main section scrollable. Today, on the other
hand, I have been acting closer to my shoe size than to my age, literally. Here's
what I learned to make today:
I don't know what's with my subconscious. I just remembered I had a dream
the other night about trying unsuccessfully to flush tampons (they kept floating).
As pathetic dreams go, that one's in the leaguer with dreaming about being at
work. Or dreaming the alarm has gone off and you've woken up, only to realize you
were dreaming a few minutes later when the alarm actually does go off. Even worse,
I once had a double-nested version of that dream: I dreamed I woke up, had the
alarm go off, woke up, realized I was dreaming, and then had the alarm go off for
real. For all I know, it was triple-nested and I'm still dreaming.
Hello, id? If I'm going to dream, I'd like some technicolor, please.
How about flying, without an airplane? Or spending a dream-month in Paris, or
Morocco, or Denali? Or even the tired classics: alone on a tropical island with
Mr. Boytoy, or of winning a lottery, or mad passionate sex with hordes of
admirers? Any of those would be a good way to spend some REM
But if I'm going to dream, I want to really dream. None
of this replay of everyday situations, petty frustrations, or niggling annoyances.
Time for my subconscious to get out the Crayolas and start doodling. Time for some
Yesterday's high points included being interviewed and being drooled on, though
not at the same time. The interview went well enough that they've scheduled me for
a second one today. This company sounds like a great place to work for (though,
then again, I thought that about the last one); its major drawback is that the
commute is unpleasantly long. The fact that they work 40 hour weeks partially
makes up for that; if I can work at home some of the time, I may consider
The drool was from having lunch with a former coworker
(not a cow-orker, in this case) and the reason she quit the company. He's
about 6 months old now, a little fussy but very cute. I think he's teething, hence
the drool. I did get some big gummy smiles from him, dancing to the restaurant
background music. (Baby thoughts: "Mom, who is this weirdo in the orange shirt and
what is she doing??? She's making me nervous....better smile, sometimes that makes
I know they're a little young for logic to have kicked
yet, but why do babies refuse bottles or food when they're plainly hungry? It's as
if he forgets that milk comes out of the bottle, or that that squishy stuff on the
spoon tastes good. (More baby thoughts: "Hey, don't push that thing in my mouth.
My gums hurt. I don't want it there. Get that out of my face! Oh wait.....there's
milk coming out of it! Mmmmmmmm...")
I ran into some aerobatic
acquaintances at the restaurant also, one of whom offered to forward on my resume
to someone he knows who may have a position. Whether or not anything comes of it,
it was nice of him to offer. I'm still not great at the networking thing, but who
Off to the showers.
Today should be comparatively exciting. I have an interview this morning (wish me
luck!) and lunch with a former coworker and her baby later in the
I believe I have finally figured out what "stewed tea" is and
why it's bad. Lesson learned: do not reuse jasmine tea leaves. Or if you do, don't
steep them for too long.
Conversations with my younger cat would be
far more interesting if I only knew the meaning o his favorite word, "mrowwwrr".
When he's being verbose, it's "myep-mrowwwwrrrr". He will sometimes answer when
spoken to, so perhaps he understands me better than I understand him. In which
case, I should keep whispering to him, "Hairballs go in the litterbox. Claws stay
in when you're on my lap." This is the same cat who, when he was small, used to
like to sleep in my hair, purr loudly in my ear, and knead my neck with his claws.
Unfortunately, the resulting kitty-line-drives to the foot of the bed, seem to
have left him feeling a tad insecure.
Actually, he started out that
way -- scared of everything, when we first brought him home, he spent three days
hiding under our bed, sneaking out only in he middle of the night. In the last
couple of years, he's finally started to be a bit less of a scaredy-cat. It only
took the better part of a decade, through five houses and two states. He still
thinks I'm his mother, though. He especially likes to sit on my lap when I'm on
the computer because he knows I'm not going anywhere suddenly. In fact, this has
made him fond of the computer itself, and he will walk by it, scratch his ears on
the monitor, and then sit on the mouse. As a result, I have been trying to teach
him to stay off the desk.
Whoever named the computer pointing device
a "mouse" should not have made that name known to the felines of the world.
Rudder is planning to take a half day off from work
to hang out with me. This does not mean that he will actually take half of the day
off; more likely, he will manage to get out at 4 instead of 5:30.
I did something this morning that I hadn't done since we broke
down and got a maid service: I cleaned. With scrubbing and everything. The plan is
to cancel this week's maid service, then if I still have no prospects (but see
today's earlier entry)
in two weeks, to go to a monthly schedule. I only did the downstairs, saving the
upstairs for another day. As any athlete knows, overdoing it on your first day
back risks injuries.
I didn't bother putting anything on to clean,
after taking off the clothes I had worn to the gym so I could throw them in the
laundry. After all, skin is waterproof and easy to clean, and I wasn't planning on
using any particularly nasty chemicals. However, while our back windows face on a
very private yard, it would have been better had I remembered to close the front
blinds before doffing gym clothes. Fortunately, there's a very large queen palm,
due for a trimming, between the window and the street.
There was an
article in our local newspaper on Sunday about teaching in community colleges. A
sidebar claims that "starting professors can make $42000-$73000". Hmmm...I
think I hear a drumming sound. That must be any teachers reading this either
rolling on the floor helpless with laughter, or stampeding to Arizona, depending
on how sure they are that the writer goofed. Those numbers sound unlikely to me,
anyway. Though I am tempted to call around and check....
the reasons I felt compelled to write all these maunderings was that I really
should be starting on my href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/yardprop.html">proposal. Aroint ye,
The good news: I have an interview scheduled. The bad news: the company sounds
great but is way farther away than I want to drive on a daily basis. I wonder how
they feel about telecommuting?
For the last couple of nights, I've
had unpleasant dreams -- not nightmares, just unpleasant dreams. I don't really
remember last night's, except for the sense of nagging frustration and entrapment,
but on the night before last, I dreamed I was volunteering on a folk-music radio
show. Everybody there was very nice to me at first. A listener came by and
requested a song on a particular subject; I said, "I know!" There's one by
Christine Lavin that's perfect for that!" Everyone agreed with me that the song
would be great. Lavin is a Big Name in contemporary folk, so I knew the radio
station would have her music. I went over to the woman actually spinning the CDs,
but she wouldn't let me look for it in her stack, so I had to go over to the back
room archives. I couldn't argue with her because we were on the air and had to be
By the time I found the disc I wanted, the show was over and
it was too late to play it. That's when the people there told me they didn't like
to play that song because it had the word "damn" in it, though bleeped out. In
fact, they didn't like to play Lavin at all, because she says "damn" in TWO songs,
and some listeners might be offended. (Note that this was in the dream; as far as
I can remember, the real Christine Lavin never uses any profanity in her
I can't be sure, but I'd interpret this as my subconscious
linking work and frustration, colored by the stories of the friends I met in LA a
few weeks ago, who did go to the studio of a folk music show after I'd left. (The
woman who runs that show probably doesn't play Lavin either, but only because she
focuses on traditional music.)
My subconscious apparently doesn't
want me to go back to work. However, since it's permanently attached to the parts
of me that like to eat, wear clothes, and sit in an air-conditioned house when
it's 114 degrees out*, that's just too bad.
On the other hand, when
I am working, typically I only dream about it when I get very stressed out and am
working long hours, so maybe this was a sign of being tired of not working.
Or maybe it was just the firing of random neurons.
Plan for today:
begin work on my book proposal. The promotion plan is going to be the scary
*It was 114 degrees, in fact, day before yesterday. Arizona
summers are not one of my favorite things. We're going camping this weekend,
though, so we will probably get some good storms.
Last night the oddest thing happened. Shortly before I was heading up to bed, I
suddenly got very dizzy, for no apparent reason. We'd gone out for an early
lunch/dinner and had brought home some very rich chocolate mousse for dessert. I'd
had some of that an hour or so before the dizziness hit, so Rudder's theory was
that it was from the sugar rush. I don't typically eat a lot of sweets, let alone
So, given lingering remnants of dizziness and my
boat's tippiness, I didn't row this morning. I need to go erg soon, in addition to
the other dozen things on my list for today.
So far, I've been
applying mostly for jobs similar to the one I left. These are positions that would
allow me to develop my skills a bit more, it's true, but still, I feel as if I'm
wasting a golden opportunity to figure out what it is I really want to
The problem is, how do you do that? I mean, if I ask myself,
"Dichroic, what do you really want to do?" no one pipes up with an answer,
and no quiet certainty springs to my mind. The only thing I've figured out is
that I definitely like not working 50 hour weeks and being worried because I don't
work more. I like being able to work at home, at least some of the time. But
that's not a job description.
I keep thinking I should be a writer,
but first you have to write. And then you have to publish. That first step is hard
enough, never mind the second. Still, I figured I might as well try it while I
have the time. But then I ran into another problem; the article I wrote last week,
though I think it's based on a good idea, turned out....well, stuffy. Oh, well, I
think it's just that I'm not used to having to write to professional standards,
though I can recognize when I'm not there. On to rewrite!
This is a ridiculous time to be awake on a Sunday, but Rudder had a plane reserved
at 6. I was supposed to go up with him, but just didn't feel too well. Mornings,
despite rowing and all that, are just not my body's favorite time. I think he was
counting on using me as a safety pilot so he could do instrument approaches under
the hood, but he was nice about it anyway.
A "hood" for flying
purposes, is a visor that lets you see only the instrument panel. Since the pilot
can't see outside to look for other planes, mountains, or the ground, a safety
pilot is required. Hmm, maybe I need to add a flying terminology
Speaking of flying, last night we went to the aerobatics club's
annual pool party. Aerobatics is an expensive sport -- a new Pitts S-2C, an
absolutely adorable biplane that climbs like it's on afterburners, rents for about
$200/hour, or sells for well over $200,000. And that's not even what elite
competitors fly. This is one reason we hadn't gotten so far as to take aerobatics
lessons. This is also one reason the sport tends to attract those who have bushels
of money to burn.
One reason to attend these parties is to see the
houses they're held in. The house last night was clearly the work of
professionals....professional architect of mansions, professional interior
decorator, professional landscaper. It was very attractive, but there were no
personal touches in any of the public rooms except for some family photos. None.
The kids' bedrooms and the parents' offices (plural) appeared a
little more lived in, though none of the bookshelves had any books on them that
looked like they've ever been read. (When the set of leather-bound Great Books is
part of a collection spilling off the shelves, I believe they're there to be read;
when they and the encyclopedias are the only things on the shelf, then they were
put in place by the decorator.)
The ping-pong table, swing set, hot
tub, and water volleyball setup looked like they saw more use than almost anything
in the house, which is unlikely in an area where temperatures have been well over
100 for the last 3 months. I suppose any house looks a bit more sterile when it's
cleaned up for a party, but this appeared to be straight from the model home
decorator. It wasn't a home, just a beautiful and immense house.
Looking at my arms and legs today, it becomes apparent that, though I may have won
the wrestling match with the bougainvillea, it was a Pyrrhic victory. Scratches,
scrapes, abrasions galore. I can just see myself now: "No, Rudder hasn't been
beating me -- it was the landscaping."
We tried to take the remains
to the dump today, but they've instituted a new policy we didn't know about. Now
you need to show not only a driver's license but also a water bill, complete with
refuse charge. Since we didn't have one with us, the guy tried to look it up but
couldn't find us. I'm sure he was misspelling our street name, but there was a
line of trucks behind us and he'd already taken 10 minutes, so we didn't want to
argue further. Guess where we get to go tomorrow morning? At least they open early
on Sundays, so we can go before it gets too hot. Or at least before it gets way
way way too hot.
Instead, we went to the nearby small airport for
breakfast, where we ran into a woman I know slightly from the job-before-last and
her husband. We had a good time talking to them about flying, land at our airpark
(they'd almost bought a house there) and travels, ours and theirs. I promised to
email them the URL for our Australia pictures, since they want to go there
someday. They were also able to give me the email address of a mutual acquaintance
who may possibly know of jobs in my field.
Tonight we may go to the
local aerobatic club's annual party. We still haven't gotten around to taking
aerobatic lessons (and now I have the time, but not the money, to start flying
again) but we've volunteered at some of their competitions and they're generally
nice to us. Besides, that way we don't have to decide what to have for dinner,
always an ordeal for the two of us.
[Instruction: Fill this out using only song lyrics or
Who are you?
"I am the fountain of affection, I'm the instrument of joy"
Great Big Sea,
"When I'm Up"
What do you look like?
"See that picture?
That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees"
Dar Williams, When I Was a Boy"
What's your secret?
"The stars are swinging slow
And the seas are rolling easy, as they did so long
If I had a thing to give you, I would tell you one more time,
world is always turning toward the morning."
Gordon Bok, "Turning Toward the
What do you want to be?
May you grow up to be righteous,May you
grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be
May you stay forever young,
Bob Dylan, "Forever Young"
What can you do?
"I think as I please and this gives me pleasure
conscience decrees this right I must treasure
My thoughts will not cater to
duke or dictator
No one can deny, die Gedanken sind frei!"
trans by Arthur
Krevess, "Gedanken sind frei"
What can't you do?
"I will live with you and love you but I'll never
call you mine"
Bob Blue, "The Ballad of Erica Levine"
"It's hard love, but it's love all the same.
Not the stuff of
fantasy, but more than just a game.
And the only kind of miracle that's worthy
of the name,
For the love that heals our lives is mostly hard love."
Franke, "Hard Love"
What is friendship?
"Tonight the smoke is rising, from all around the
And judging from the warmth of the smells from the kitchen,
be supper ready soon...
And our table's set for twenty,
room for more if
they should come,
And later on we'll pass around a pipe for our
And sit and take a little rum... "
What are you afraid of?
"Now the sun has disappeared.
darkness, anger, pain and fear.
Twisted, sightless wrecks of men
on their knees and cry in pain.
And the sun has disappeared."
Garfunkel, "The Sun is Burning"
Are you strong?
"Whoever treasures freedom,
Like the swallow will
learn to fly."
Trad, "Dona, Dona"
What would you do with a million dollars?
"There are sober men in
plenty, and drunkards barely twenty,
There are men of over 90 that have never
yet kissed a girl,
But give me a ramblin' rover, and frae Orkney down to
We will roam the country over, and together we'll face the
Silly Wizard, "Ramblin' Rover"
What would you tell the one who loves you?
"No fancy gowns, no high
class towns to promise,
I'm plain as rain and that's just not my style.
never was the one to ask for favors,
But I hope you plan to stay with me a
You're as comfortable as quiet conversation
Among close friends who've
shared the time to eat,
Like good meat loves salt, that's how I love
Si Kahn, "Like Butter Loves Bread"
What do you want to do?
"Some day I'm gonna give up all the buttons and
Gonna punch that time clock 'til it can't ring
Burn up my necktie,
and set myself free,
'Cause no one's gonna fold, bend or mutilate me!"
Russell, "White Collar Holler"
Where do you want to be?
"There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us, somewhere....
a time for us,
Somewhere a time for us
Time together with time to
Time to look, time to care"
West Side Story, "Somewhere"
Who do you love?
"I love my love, and I love my love
Because my love
Trad, "The Loyal Lover"
What do you want?
was crazy....But it sure was good."
Fred Eaglesmith, "It was
I just spent two hours wrestling with a giant bougainvillea. I think I won; the
plant is now mostly short sticks. It was beautiful, but we have to get to the
sprinkler head behind it, and I don't think bougainvilleas particularly mind
periodic reduction to their bare essentials. It just gives them a chance to grow
lots more little stems with big thorns.
I didn't even haul the
cuttings, a full pickup-load's worth, off to the dump, because by then it was
starting to get hot and I had to wear gloves, boots, long pants and long sleeves
to protect myself. Bougainvilleas have BIG SHARP thorns all over. Maybe I'll do
the dump trip tomorrow, early. Then I can get Rudder to help load up the truck
(ulterior motive showing here).
I was also going to vacuum the pool,
which for me is an experience in risk-taking. Last time I tried to do it, I got
some air in the hose and we had to replace the pool motor. Ouch. This being
August, though, I figured I could get all the air out of the hose fairly easily by
being in the pool with it. It turned out, though, that Rudder had forgotten he'd
broken the vacuum head, so I have to go buy a new one before I can do
And some big news -- I would have put it at the top of this
entry, but I think itŐs a tad equivocal. I've mentioned to a few people that I had
an idea for a book. One of them told me it's best to keep it secret -- she's a
writer and has had an idea stolen -- so I won't go into details here. But
yesterday I finally got my query written and sent it to my first agent.
Because the idea is Internet-related, I sent it to an agency that has a web site,
and I sent it through e-mail, as their site that that was OK. Today, I got the
following email back:
our Web site, and use the proposal book
to do a proposal. I long to see how
you're going to outline the book.
Obviously, I've changed the names. I interpret this as a go-
ahead to do a full proposal, along with a pitch for his own book. What a gimmick
for an agent: write a book, then require all aspiring writers who apply to you to
read it. If I can find it in the library, I will read it, of course. Anyway, I've
seen other agents recommend his book, too, so it can't just be a vanity
But the point is, he asked for a
While out looking for an anniversary card for my parents, I found a get-well card
that I bought for future use, even though I don't know anyone who's sick. t shows
a crew carrying an eight-man rowing shell, lifting it overhead preparatory to
putting it in the water. The caption inside says, "You had better get well
soon....they've just brought out your suppository!"
opposite of vulgar is, my sense of humor probably isn't it.
I need a sick day. That probably sounds stupid, coming from someone who's out of
work, but I've been busy lately. And I haven't gotten to sleep in once
since being laid off, except when I was in LA and then I was in a strange bed and
couldn't sleep for too long. (In case my hostess reads this, I should say that it
wasn't because the bed wasn't comfortable.)
Waking up early to work
out has, in fact, worked out well, because it gets me up and moving instead of
lounging through my day. However, I can't take a nap later in the day because I'm
congenitally incapable of doing so. I had been thinking of taking a mental health
day right before I got laid off, but never did (and so lost several sick days).
Maybe I won't row tomorrow, and stay in bed half the day instead.
MMMMmmmmm....maybe I can persuade Rudder to do the same...even more
MMMMmmmmmmm....but very unlikely, on a rowing day.
At any rate, I
plan to spend today not any jobsearching whatever, at least not of my normal form.
Instead, mixed in with the usual loafing, I will work on some writing I've
assigned myself, and, if good enough, will submit it somewhere or other. I keep
thinking that writing is one of the few kinds of work that can be done anywhere
and on any schedule I choose. Of course, I also keep thinking that, if I were a
real writer, I wouldn't be able to keep myself from perpetrating prose, instead of
having to use stern self-discipline. On the third hand (in my mind, I'm Shiva) I
have been keeping this journal since early March. I'm approaching 6 months, and
have never yet missed making an entry on any day when I wasn't traveling. It has
not been an undue burden. So really, the question for me is not whether to write,
Written this morning, fortunately not lost when D-land went down:
had rowing practice again today, and may have one Friday. We had one Monday,
though I elected to row my single instead. I don't quite understand this; the city
has scheduled us to be on hiatus until September, but Coach DI seems to be calling
special practices pretty much every time we'd have a normal practice. I think
they've missed only about two so far, though I didn't care anyway since I rowed my
single those days.
I'm trying to decide whether to sign up for the
fall session or not. If I don't, though, I'm out of it for three months.
Advantages to taking the class: Theoretically, I get coached. I get to row
in a variety of boats. I get more opportunities to race. Advantages to not
taking it: saving money while out of a job. Practically, I almost never get
coached anyway; this way I also don't have to get yelled at or bite my tongue
whenever I disagree with YSam or (especially) DI. I get as much time on the water
(in the single) as I want, instead of having to wait for everyone to get there and
I also need to decide whether to go to a job fair
today. I don't want to, because it's downtown in the Civic Center and parking is a
bitch, and the last job fair I went to was completely lame. I think I ought to go,
though, and this fair is scheduled to have a lot more companies interviewing.
Also, it's not like there's anything else I really have to do
The third decision I need to make soon is how much to pay on
my credit card. The balance isn't all that high, and I would normally have paid it
in full, as I do every month. The options are: pay the whole thing, which would
deplete my savings by about 1/10; pay some smaller amount of it and let the rest
ride; pay only the minimum until I get a new job. I just need to figure out which
makes most fiscal sense.
Ha. Diaryland seems to be down at the
moment, but I found that out when I tried to open a second window, and so I saved
this entry in Word instead of losing the whole thing. No matter what else happens
today, at least I've done one thing right!
Later note: yes, the job
fair was lame. Unless I want to become a collections agent (not bloody
My friends L and S are considerably older than me; they live down the block from my parents and I babysat their sons until I went off to college. (The "children" have recently graduated college themselves.) L,
especially, was like a big sister to me, and their house was a refuge that every
adolescent needs. We've stayed in touch, and L was matron of honor in my wedding, while S, a semi-serious musician, made the wedding rehearsal memorable by playing blues for us on his harmonica.
L's youngest brother is a year or two older than I am. We were in the same math class one year in high school. We never dated or anything, but we used to wrestle a lot. Put whatever spin on that you want -- I never quite figured it out. We also played a lot of pinochle with L, S, their parents, and sometimes their other brother and sister-in-law. It was my first experience with a family who actively enjoyed each other's company. We were fairly good friends through high school and college, and even corresponded during his military hitch.
By the time he got out of the Air Force, I'd graduated and moved to Texas, but we still kept in touch. He was getting a bit lonely by then and signed up for a dating service. Though his other brother's wonderful wife is Catholic and gets along extremely well with his family, he told me he didn't want to date anyone who wasn't Jewish. Then he promptly met a Catholic woman, presumably fell in love, and got married. 
Well, over the next couple of years she manifested her true horridness, doing her best to try to pull him away from his family. One year when I sent them a combination Chanukah/Christmas card (I thought it was humorous, and it was certainly far more innocuous than the cards he'd used to send to me), the wife returned it with nasty comments. She became an agoraphobe and pretty much avoided any kind of consistency or rationality. Things got a little better for a while after they had a daughter, once she realized his family was good for free babysitting.
A couple of years ago, though, L and S started telling me they (the Youngest Brother and the Psychowife) were making loads of crank phone calls to them and signing them up for all kinds of magazines, not to mention anti-Semitic and KKK literature. After a decade together, it seems the psycho-ness is rubbing off on him too.
S just sent me a news clipping about a suit they are now in. The Youngest Brother and the Psychowife have been persecuting a local doctor's office in similar ways, and they, L, and S have joined to prosecute. I find this all terribly sad because the family used to be so close, and because I always liked the Youngest Brother, in his pre-wife days. Possibly mental illness is involved; I confess I don't understand people who are irrational, people who go from calm and laid back to rabid, or a Jew who would send religious slurs to his own family. I feel awful for L and S and their sons, and even worse for their parents.
My own brother, known here as My Brother the Writer, did something similar -- telling me he wanted to date only Jewish women and then promptly falling in love with someone who was raised Catholic. However, he has shown much better taste, as far as I can tell. Though I've only spoken to her via phone and email, his girlfriend seems to be wonderful.
Rowing all by yourself, at sunrise, on calm water, with no coach yelling at you,
is wonderful for thinking. It's excellent for coming up with ideas for journal
entries and essays. It's terrific for remembering the things you really should do,
and promising yourself to do them.
On the other hand, it's horrible
for committing all those thoughts, ideas, and promises to memory. I had some
wonderful things to write about, but now I've forgotten what they
I do remember promising myself to finish a letter I have to
write, so I'll try to do that today. I also plan to spend much time sniveling over
War Letters, a collection of letters mostly to and from American soldiers
from the Civil War on. I will listen to the rest of the audiobook version of Pride
and Prejudice (note to self: dingdingdingding! Write essay on the joys of hearing
books read aloud. Then (the hard part) find someone that wants that
And as soon as I can reasonably expect anyone to be in, I
will call my old company to ask why the fuck they haven't paid me the
vacation time they promised. Damn. I should have gotten that in writing.
I do not like the club of Sam. (1)
I do not need large cans of Spam.
I don't need yogurt in a box; (2)
I do not buy prepackaged lox. (3)
I do not think it saves me cash
To buy a giant TP stash. (4)
There was bad music in the air;
I found no bargains anywhere.
I do not like the club of Sam,
I am disgusted. Yes, I am. (5)
(1) Sam's Club was founded by Sam Walton, also the proprietor of Wal-Mart. You must buy a membership, which enables you to enter the warehouse-style store and buy vast quantities of things you probably won't use. They don't usually have many brands of each thing, so if you have a particular favorite brand, you are probably out of luck.
(2) The box contained about 24 small containers of yogurt. Actually, I would have bought some, if they'd had the fruit-on-the-bottom kind I like.
(3) Salty smoked salmon, properly served on bagels.
(4) toilet paper, aka loo paper. Sold only in 30-roll packages.
(5) The whole experience would have been less unpleasant if I hadn't ended up spending a large sum of money for a comparative few items. I think I do better at a normal supermarket. If you're wondering, we have a Sam's Club membership because it's the only place we can buy 5 gallon containers of peanut oil, which we use when we deep-fry turkeys. (Very yummy and not at all greasy.)
All right, trip report time. The drive to LA on Thursday was uneventful, if
boring. There was, of course, no traffic to speak of in the teeming metropolises
of Quartzite, Blythe, or Indio, and only a moderate amount in LA. (Well, for LA.
That means we hardly ever actually stopped, just slowed down a lot.) I got lost
slightly once (there are at least three places in the LA area where I-10 has an
exit called 4th Street), but only very moderately so. The dreaded parallel parking
was no problem, as I found a space-and-a-half I could pull right into, then just
left my truck there all weekend.
The woman I stayed with, Miss S-S,
has a life that is admirably designed for her preferences, and a family (husband
and adult son) that have clearly long since worked out the bugs in their
relationships, and who enjoy each other's company. They are all more or less
nocturnal, earn a living through reading and writing, and do most of their work
either at home or at a nearby book-lined coffeehouse. I don't know if I've ever
met anyone with such a tailor-fitted life.
Also staying there was a
Dutch woman, the Lounge Lizard, whose visit was the main impetus for this
gathering. She turned out to be quieter than I had expected from her postings on
our mutual List, and very thoughtful. We spent time together in the mornings while
the S-Ss were asleep and had several long conversations, emphasis on the CON.
Sometimes she talked and I listened, sometimes I talked and she listened, neither
one was overwhelmed or overwhelming. When we went out exploring the Santa Monica
promenade, she bought several souvenirs and gifts she'd planned to bring home, and
I bought (as did she) a Chinese papercutting to hang over my computer. Mine has
two complicated dragons entwined (for me and Rudder); Chinese characters on one
side say "Successful career" and on the other "Health, wealth, happiness, and
longevity". I think that covers my present needs.
We spent Thursday
night and Friday immersed in books and conversation, with some trips to the beach
or to shops interspersed, with frequent applications of good beer, coffee, and
food. On Friday afternoon, we spent some time with another listsib, a woman deep
in the folk-music world with whom I have some mutual acquaintances. Her
conversation was interesting, because it centered on musicians whose work I've
listened to for years. She was oddly cagey about parts of her private life,
though, refusing to tell us, for example, how many children she has. They're all
grown, and she has "one and two-thirds" grandchildren now.
Saturday, we met two more listsibs for Dim Sum. This particular Dim Sum restaurant
apparently interpreted its cuisine as a challenge: How many ways can you prepare
shrimp? Note that I am not complaining here. I think I ate at least 6 different
versions. The Lounge Lizard ordered chicken feet, but I think everyone else left
them all to her. The other listsibs seemed nice, but I didn't really get to know
then enough to see details, except that the one who posts in very high volume
speaks the same way, while the one who is quieter onlist is so in real life as
The drive home was a duplicate of the drive there, only facing
the other way. My combination of audio books and music worked well, except for
annoying volume problems with my library's copy of Pride and Prejudice; the
sound would cycle from loud to inaudible on two of the cassettes, which was only
tolerable since I was already very familiar with the plot. The spoken version was
amusing though; the reader highlighted all the flirting and sarcastic authorial
comments more than I had done in reading. While perusing P&P, I generally find
myself mumbling "Bitch, bitch, you BITCH!" at speeches from Mrs. Bennett, Lydia
Bennett, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and this was accentuated with the spoken
version, so it was perhaps fortunate that I was alone in the vehicle..
I'm back, the driving went well, I got to prove I still can stay up late at night,
I bought souvenirs even though I was trying not to and some of the people I met
were wonderful and all were at least OK. Details later.
I hope you're all duly impressed that I can stay up late, like a normal person,
when I try.
The trip here was smooth; the only tiny problems were
being minorly lost for about 10 minutes and a weird volume thing on casette 2 of
my Pride and Prejudice audiobook. Not a great problem, since at that point I was
concentrating mostly on dealing with traffic, and anyhow I know the book well
enough to fill in the parts I couldn't hear.
So far, highlights have
been great Thai food, seeing a whole pod of dolphins very close in to shore,
hanging out at the kind of coffeehouse people actually hang out at, and lots and
lots of talking. Low points....none yet.
I slept in a little, then worked out a little (as opposed to a normal workout)
today. The point is to be wide awake for my Big Drive, on the theory that in the
grand scheme of things, being conscious while driving six hours is much better for
my health than any amount of exercise.
In pursuit of the same goal,
I stopped by the library yesterday to pick up an audiobook, because I'm getting a
little tired of most of my CDs. I couldn't decide between them, though, so I ended
up taking out 5 different ones, then rationalized my indecision by saying this
will allow me to listen to whatever I feel like, or whatever keeps me awake most
effectively. I'm a little leery of audiobooks, because the only full length one we
have is Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, and much as I like both the book
and Jim Dale, I always fall asleep as soon as we pop in one of the tapes. We've
only tried it when Rudder was driving, though.
For the sake of
posterity, or at least future reference, the audiobooks I got (though they aren't
all really books) include How the Irish Saved Civilization, Pride and
Prejudice, Stephen King's On Writing, English as She is Spoke,
and a radio version of two Cary Grant movies, Mr. Blandings builds his Dream
House and The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. I've read the second and
third of those several times, but since I don't mind rereading, figure I shouldn't
mind re-listening. I'd been meaning to read the first, having enjoyed a later book
by the same author. The radio movies are apparently by the original cast;
apparently it was common to finish a movie then go redo it for the radio. I would
have thought it would hurt movie ticket sales. Maybe it did and that's why they
I know this is all vast overkill, but I tend to react to
being nervous by planning events like a military campaign. Hey, it works for me.
We're on hiatus from rowing until September 4, though no one really understands
why the city set it up that way. Rudder and T2 are still training, though, since
they own their double, so I went out in my single this morning. I can only go when
someone else is around, because, though I can carry my boat to the water by myself
(it's a loooooooong walk, as these things go) I can't get it off the rack without
It was quite nice to not have to wait for other people to show
up and not have to deal with any of the crap that seems to be inherent in
any group of more than about 5 people engaged in the same activity. Though I do
think that the crap level here is more than is required by the sheer number of
people, and I lay a lot of that at DI's door. I'm thinking of sticking with the
single, and just not signing up for the next session. It's not like I ever get
much coaching anyway (though more than the guys in the double get, which is
approximately none). I can use the expense and my out-of-work status as an excuse,
too. I would probably miss rowing in the bigger boats, though.
attempted a beef stew last night, but wasn't impressed with the results. I got a
little creative and used beer instead of wine or stock for the liquid, and that
seemed to work out fine. The gravy was quite tasty and just about the right
consistency. The veggies were pretty good also, but the meat was lousy. Part of it
was the meat itself. I don't know what the cut was, because it was only labeled
"pot roast". Er, which part of the cow would that be? My guess is the shoulder or
something like that, because it was extremely fatty and quite tough. I cut off as
much fat as I possibly could, because I can't eat it (not an allergy or anything,
it just makes me gag, literally). Still, though, there was a little bit of gristle
in almost every bite. And it was tough; I don't know if the crockpot I cooked it
in wasn't hot enough or what, but after 2 hours of cooking, I'd have expected it
to be more tender. I did finish it in a pot on the stove, to get the potatoes to
cook through faster.
Anyway, it wasn't really bad; it just wasn't
much better than what I could get out of a can. This was Mark Bittman's Classic
Beef Stew recipe from his How to Cook Everything. I've generally had good
results with his recipes, though. The pot roast I made last week was tender and
tasty. I need more ideas for things to cook while I have the time, preferably
things that are a bit better suited to summer. I'm considering a flank steak salad
next, though what I'd really like is a recipe for Mongolian Beef (at least that's
what P.F. Chang's calls it) since I have some thin-cut beef on hand that would
Looks like I will be driving out to LA to meet up with
people from my List on Thursday. I'll come back Saturday night, so I don't miss
all of my weekend with Rudder. Someone is kindly putting me up, so I don't think
it will be too expensive a trip. I'm still a little nervous about the drive
though; it's not challenging driving at all, just long. So if you think of it, any
time around Thursday afternoon, send some not-sleepy vibes my way. I'll be in the
red Tacoma heading west on I-10. Thank you.
My lower back hurts, and I have no idea why. It's not all that painful, but I
don't believe in taking risks when a spine is involved, so I kept my weights a
little bit light today and only did lifts in which the lower back is either
supported or stretched out.
Today I get to go to my former job and
pick up the results of my CQA certification, that have finally gotten
there. I got the call that they had arrived only a few hours after persuading the
certifying group to send me another one. I think, though, that I am sufficiently
annoyed with the quality of their test (this being the Quality Assurance
Institute, they have no excuse for that) and with the timeliness of their grading
that I won't bother calling back to tell them not to send it. Anyway, if they kept
their promise, it was sent out yesterday afternoon, East Coast time, before I got
No news on the job front. I went to a local High Tech Job
Fair yesterday, but it was pathetic - a grand total of 6 companies, almost none of
whom are hiring for positions here in town. Not even worth dragging out the
Serious Clothes for. I do hope to hear soon from some of the other companies to
whom I've applied, though. If I have passed my exam (and if I have, I'll update
here later), the certification may be a help in the job-hunting
Meanwhile, I've been ruining my eyesight making some little
beaded ring doohickeys that are meant to be put on wineglasses. Each one has a
different dangly bead, so you can tell which glass is yours. These aren't among
the essentials of life, but they're pretty, and not all that hard to make. I
haven't decided whether to keep them or give them as Christmas presents. They
strike me as a useful thing to have on hand for when people whom you didn't expect
to give you a present, do.
I've said it before and I will undoubtedly
say it again: how wonderful it is to have time to read, and to make things that
are purely ornamental.
In yet another illustration of Coach DI's organizational ability, he sent out an
email via the rowing mail list, on Friday afternoon (instead of just telling us at
practice when we wee all there). This meant some people, including Yosemite Sam,
didn't show up because they didn't read the email. Some people, on the other hand,
did show up because they didn't know we weren't originally supposed to be rowing
for three weeks, until the next session starts. (Yes, the dates are listed when
you sign up but that was three months ago, and sessions are usually
DI also vented some frustrations because not enough
Masters' women had signed up to row in the Head of the Charles. I bit my tongue
very hard to avoid telling him that most of my reasons for not doing so were that
last year was so unpleasant, thanks largely to him.
driving to LA next weekend, to hang out with several people from my email List,
including one who will be visiting from the Netherlands. I am nervous about doing
that 5-6 hour drive alone; the 5.5 hour drive I did from central Massachusetts to
Philadelphia, shortly before starting this journal, has given me a bit more
confidence, and this will be a trip I've done, as driver or passenger, several
times before. On the other hand, the scenery is boring. Once you pass from
the Sonoran desert into the Mojave, the land is much less lush. There are
mountains, thank goodness, but otherwise, there's not much to look at until you
get almost to Palm Springs, where the miles and miles of windmills that are fun to
watch. After that things get a bit greener, but then you get into a hundred miles
of strip malls, as monotonous as the desert but without its sere
Meanwhile, aside from the usual job hunting (there's a high-
tech job fair today), my challenge for the week is to organize books into the new
bookshelves. The fiction and nonfiction each present their separate challenges.
The first goal for the nonfiction is to organize them in a way that makes sense,
so I'll be able to find my books; the secondary goal is to do this efficiently, so
I can get the maximum number of books on the shelves (or leave the maximum amount
of space for new books). The nonfiction varies quite a bit in height; for
instance, I only have a few on architecture, but they range from about 3" high by
2" deep to about 11" by 14". It would be easier to shelve from smallest to
largest, ignoring distinctions of subject, as Pepys did, but then I'd never be
able to find anything. What I may do is based on a suggestion of Rudder's:
starting with the A's in the Library of Congress system, go all the way through to
Z, setting most shelves at a standard height and leaving one higher shelf in each
bookcase, to lump together all the books too tall to fit in their proper
The fiction presents a different challenge. We have quite a
few Library of America volumes in their handsome slipcases. Those, Rudder's old
Reader's Digest children's series in their rainbow-colored jackets, and my motley
assortment of hardbacks definitely go in the new shelves. But what then? The
paperbacks crammed and double-stacked on the upstairs shelves include about 50%
science fiction and fantasy, 25% mystery, and 25% childrens'/YA, with a few
miscellaneous books, and some thrillers belonging to Rudder. (The percentage of SF
has decreased over recent years, and may be lower than that by now.) Most of them
will have to stay upstairs....so who gets promoted to the dignity of the family
room? These are the ones people coming to our house will see, and the sort of
people who judge you by what you read are the sort whose opinion I care most
about. Or I could lump all our fiction together and just shelve by author, with
say, A-F downstairs and the rest up, but that doesn't seem right
By the way, I have no idea how many books we have, but they
will eventually fill four 7'x 3' bookcases downstairs, plus two that are as tall
and even wider upstairs, and some miscellaneous ones here and there. So we're not
talking university library-scale here, but there are enough that some system is
Rudder did his 6000m piece on the erg today -- I think he's a little disappointed
that he didn't quite beat T2 Hatfield. On the other hand his time was
approximately 7 minutes faster than mine (that's 25%!!) so I'm not doling out much
After that we day-tripped up to Prescott, where we walked all
around an arts and crafts fair (where I didn't buy anything -- yay me) and a bead
store (where I did -- sigh), had some food, and then stopped to talk to a cedar
house builder I've been interested in for a while, who has an office up there.
(The houses are cedar, not the builder.) Incidentally, I hate the way they always
call themselves home builders. "It takes a heap of livin' to make a house a home",
though I have no idea who said that. (Eugene Field?)
Rudder's food didn't do enough for his blood-sugar, so he's being all quiet and
floppy, not to mention a little cranky.
Time to get me some food, so
I don't join in.
My new bookshelves are coming today. Two of them. Big'uns.
does a Happy Dance]
They say more people are reading these days,
thanks to Oprah and Harry Potter and all, and maybe it's true. Granted some of
Oprah's picks look like crap, but then again, some of them are Alice Walker. The
Harry Potter books really do live up to their hype; I only get annoyed when people
call them better than any other children's books ever. The competition for that
honor is very, very stiff.
And it doesn't matter anyhow, I figure;
once people start reading, whether it's feel-good pseudo-literature or football
stories, Dick and Jane or Sweet Valley High, they can go on to find what else is
out there, and decide what they really like.
Besides, maybe Oprah's
books aren't all that bad. I have to confess I've never read any, except the
aforementioned Alice Walker.
What gets me wondering is the plethora
of GIANT HUGE bookstores springing up around here. I was thrilled to be moving to
an area that had a Borders, because they carry music I hadn't been able to find
since moving out of Philadelphia -- this was before the Internet became a major
shopping option. Then I found out there were two, no, three, in town. Then they
built more. Now, just within the area I can drive without feeling like I've left
my part of town, there are about 6 very large stores.
The new mall a
mile away that's opening in October has a Barnes and Noble, presumably for those
who don't want to drive 10 minutes to the next closest one. There's a Borders 5
minutes away as well as the one 20 minutes away, not to mention the new one
they're building up by ASU (15 minutes away plus another 5 to park). And there's
a Half-Price Books -- a used bookstore chain that doesn't feel like a chain -- and
a large local store called Changing Hands. I liked the original one of those, over
at ASU better. It had nooks and crannies and a feeling that you might find
anything there. They've moved closer to me; the new one is nice and bright and
friendly, but more of their books are new (and full-price) rather than used as the
name implies. Still, they're great for unique cards and calendars and other
assorted stuff. Half-Price and Changing Hands, by the way, are nearly as large as
Borders and B&N.
I'm amazed that this area can support so many
bookstores. And happy to have to many chances to get rid of any extra money I
didn't happen to need. (Food? Who needs food?)
The Dichroic Happy
Dance derives from the Comanche Happy Dance, used when I was on a team working on
software for the Comanche helicopter. It is much less impressive when performed by
me, than when rendered by a 6'1" 350lb former coworker. His Happy Dance was a
thing to behold.
Gofigure's entry today
left me a little bit leaky around the eyes. I'm not sure of all the reasons for
that, but I think it boils down to one: gratitude. I do know how lucky I am and I
like to stop and appreciate it now and again.
I haven't quite been
where she is, but near enough to get the taste of it. My parents were never to the
mac'n'cheese-every-other-night level, but they never hit the level of prosperity
at which you quit worrying, either. There was always a lot of coupon-cutting. We
had plenty of food, but the beef was generally something like flank steak or
shoulder steak, the cuts that can be rendered reasonably tasty without a lot of
expense. Dad worked long, long hours; he was always gone before I got up, and when
I was little, he'd come home after I was in bed. They send me to a good college,
but even with all the loans and grants and scholarships, I know paying their share
made paying bills a little tough sometimes. (They seem to be doing well now,
When I was in college, I was on my own as far as spending
money went. Again, it wasn't that my parents didn't want to give me money, just
that they didn't have much to spare. I paid for most of my own clothes and for
meals on weekends when the dining halls were closed. I never went hungry then,
either, but a new blouse or a paperback was an indulgence, and not a frequent one.
(Beer, on the other hand, counts as food.) I know none of this is unusual and
that lots of people had it much tougher; my husband, whose parents didn't want him
to take out a loan, paid a lot more of his own way and worked three jobs during
high school to do it. Others have been on their own entirely, or gone to school
while working full time. (I did that for my MS, but there are a lot fewer classes
required.) So I know I didn't have it unduly hard, but I've been close enough to
that wear-out-your-shoes level to have some feel for it.
And I'm not
there now. This is what I'm celebrating. And even my unexpected layoff, I have
severance pay, vacation pay, and savings enough to carry me for quite a while.
After that, I have a husband who's reasonably well paid as a safety net. I
feel....as if I've fallen, but only into a pit of feathers. And I see rungs on the
side to climb out. Recruiters have been calling, there are at least a few openings
listed in my field, there's a local high-tech job fair next week. It may be harder
to get a job than it was, and they may offer a few dollars less, but it doesn't
look as bad as I feared.
The other thing that makes this all much
easier is that my ego isn't closely tied to my job. I work to live, I don't live
to work. When my Dad was out of work years ago, it hurt him terribly. It was a
terrible shock - he essentially got laid off for being good at his job -- as a
manager, he'd gotten the place to do so well that someone bought it, and then
wanted to put it their own people. More crucially, I think he grew up in a time
when a good man was a person who supported his family. Maybe the fact that his own
father didn't helped reinforce that point even further. Given Dad's background,
the fact that he and my mother have been married 38 years is remarkable. Even
though Mom has earned a salary for years, I think Dad still thinks of himself as
the breadwinner. When he couldn't do that, his pride and his self-worth were
tarnished. I had a coworker once who had been out of work for a year before we
hired her, and had landed in the hospital with serious heart problems from the
shock and strain. She'd always defined herself by the work she did.
do have a certain pride invested in supporting myself, but when I lost my job,
that was all I lost: one job, that in many ways I'm glad to leave behind. The rest
of me is still here, and happy to enjoy, for a little while, the glorious gift of
time I've been given.
Later note, while listening to Robert Earl Keen: His song "Feels So Good to be
Feelin' Good Again" is a fair description of my feelings about all the free time
this layoff has given me. If I were less of a worrywart, I'd take a few months off
like Rubybluebird and href="http://www.avocation.org">Jessie have done. OK, that was for anyone not
interested in rowing. Back to your regularly scheduled entry now.
Erg. That's an exclamation of disgust, as well as a rowing machine. This morning
there was some lightning in several directions. Because of that, we didn't go out
on the water. Because rowing coaches are sadists at heart, we lined up four ergs
(either they planned this, or they'd borrowed two extras to make the juniors do
some pieces) and took turns doing 6000 meter pieces.
To do a "piece"
means to row it like a race, at maximum effort, the hardest pull you can sustain
for that long. And make no mistake, 6000 meters is long. It's about 3.8 miles. We
did this distance because head race season is coming up, and most head races are
5000 meters, more or less. You always want to do a little more in training than
you'll have to for the real thing.
So everyone was taking turns on
the erg, and I let a few people go ahead of me since I wasn't in a rush to get
anywhere this morning, and some other people were in a rush to get to work.
Eventually I realized that may have been a bad strategy, as Yosemite Sam always
needs to leave promptly at 7. Rudder was also waiting -- he ergs a lot, but I
don't think he wanted to today, since he'd gotten home late last night from a
I spoke to YSam and he agreed he wouldn't have time
this morning. He suggested Rudder and I either meet him at his gym, or just
monitor each other. We may still do that, but since I hadn't rowed this morning, I
needed to exercise anyway. So I came straight home and submitted myself to the
Results: compared to the other women my size, I
guess I did ok. Hardcore didn't finish her piece (maybe I need to change her
name?) Egret, who ergs a lot and has the natural endurance of which I'm completely
devoid, beat my time by maybe three quarters of a minute. Pigtails trailed me by
the same amount, but I don't think she had ever done this before. Conclusion: so-
so. I need to do this more often, much as I hate the thought. The city has
scheduled up for three weeks off before our next classes begin, so I really
really need to do this more often, or else take out my single. Or
On tap for today: cleaning out and moving a bookcase so we have
room for the two big new ones coming tomorrow. Envy me, ye bibliophiles.
Ahhhhh, free time. I got to do a wonderful thing today: I went to my local Borders
and actually hung out, with no time pressure to leave. I didn't buy a thing,
though I might been less strong-willed had they had the latest of Diane Duane's
Young Wizards books. It was wonderful, though. I got to check out Barbara Hambly's
latest Benjamin January mystery and a couple tear-jerking bargain books, Pay It
Forward and a collection of memories of the founding of the State of Israel --
sort of an Israeli version of Brokaw's Greatest Generations books, except, I
suspect, with a political subtext.
I also went with the purpose of finding out whether the latest version of Writer's
Market is substantially different from the 1999 edition my local library stocks.
The main one isn't, but there is also a new Internet version that comes complete
with CD-ROM, but it costs an additional $20. If I had $50 to spend on a
single book, I wouldn't be needing to look up Writer's Market in the first place
(I have private but vague plans for it.)
I ended up not spending a cent, not even for a latte on the way out. I might have
indulged myself that far, but since I hadn't bought any books, I wouldn't have had
anything to read while sitting there. I'm never sure whether they frown on
unpurchased books being taken into the cafe area, but it seems logical that they
I consoled myself with a stop at the library afterward. However, the closest
branch is very new and not terribly well stocked yet -- I've never seen a fiction
section so small that all adult genres are shelved together, before. The
mysteries, Westerns, and SFs do have special labels, no doubt to facilitate
shelving them at the larger main branch. They had no Miss Reads at all, whereas
Borders had 3 or 4 different ones (I see Phelps' ears perking up), no Nancy
Mitfords, only Hambly's previous one, and not the Diana Wynn Jones I wanted.
Still, they had some nonfiction I'd wanted to read. And it was wonderful not to
have any time pressure pulling me out of the library, either.
Time: the last great luxury most 21st century Americans still can't afford.
One can only observe the dynamics of staying home alone for just so long, unless
one is truly solipsist; I predict I'll fall back onto that subject again in the
very near future. Nonetheless, I think it's time to turn outward, for a change.
I'm troubled by this Quaker girl being held in Genoa on charges of
conspiracy to commit devastation and looting. For some reason, this one bothers me
more than the case of the Fulbright scholar just released from Russia, who was
charged with espionage. Maybe it's because I can believe he was possessing or
dealing marijuana -- not that I believe that should be a major crime, but dealing
in a foreign country is a major act of stupidity, which should be charged as at
least a misdemeanor in itself. Maybe it's that the spying charges seemed so
ludicrous that I was sure he would be released.
In Susanna Thomas's
case, no evidence has yet been published that indicates her guilt, or even that of
the theater group with whom she was traveling. All the character evidence, the
details of her conversations, and those of her studies, points toward
The thing the most convinces me, though, is that she's a Quaker,
a member of the Society of Friends. I don't know a whole lot about the Friends,
but from what knowledge has rubbed off in half a lifetime in Philadelphia, I have
quite a lot of respect for their beliefs. I know this is no guarantee; Richard
Nixon is the prime example of a Quaker run amok. On the other hand, the Friends
are still ashamed of him, because he was proven to be a liar. I have yet to hear
of a Baptist embarrassed by our current President.
various denominations for a lot of reasons, but there are few reasons to join the
Friends other than espousal of their beliefs. No disrespect intended to other
faiths, but people do sometimes join them for reasons that aren't entirely pure.
But the Friends don't exemplify worldly success, as Episcopalians has sometimes
done; they don't offer absolute certainties, like Catholics, or family-feeling,
like Jews, or a chance to lose oneself in a fervent group, like Baptists. Most
difficult of all, they make you think for yourself; the essence of Quaker belief
is following "the light within".
Sue Thomas, by all accounts,
believed in the religion in which she was raised. she was young enough to still be
an idealist. She based her life around nonviolence. One of her main goals while in
Europe was to study, on behalf of her Meeting back home, European examples of
nonviolent civil disobedience. This is why she and her group were in Genoa at that
I believe in Susanna Thomas's innocence. I hope she gets
released, not into house arrest in a convent or via deportation to the US, but as
a woman judged innocent, set free with no stain on her character. And I hope she
is able to maintain her idealism no matter what happens.
I had a minor realization last night: I really don't want to go back to work. On
the other hand, I don't want to stay here and not work either. That would seem to
knock out all the obvious options.
far, I've thought of two other alternatives:
I think Option A can
be summarized as "nice work if you can get it". I just need to keep remembering
the other half of that sentence, according to the Gershwins: "And you can get it
if you try". I don't actually want to work out of my house all the time; I think
I'd get itchy to talk to real people after awhile. Besides, my smaller cat gets
very annoying when I'm working on the computer. I'm not sure if he's trying to
help, lure me away from it, or just scratch. Either way, I'm sure all the floating
cat hair is bad for my keyboard. It's also hard to work when he's laying on the
mouse or, as now, on one of the forearms attached to a hand I'm trying to type
with. Still, a job with 3 days at home and two at the office, or at home but with
meetings elsewhere, would probably work for me.
Option B is more
conceptually difficult. After all, if a job were that much fun, they wouldn't have
to pay to get it done. And they wouldn't call it "work". Still, this is a relative
thing, and some jobs are definitely more fun than others. And as fond as I am of
variety, almost any new thing is enjoyable for me at work. I'd settle for a job
that's different from my last one (from my last two, in fat. The previous one was
very boring) and that includes lots of variety. Hmm.....sounds much more
Or, as Rudder pointed out, I could stay home, really learn
about investing, and make us rich from my keyboard. I'm fairly sure that's harder
than it sounds.
The state Jobs office turned out not to be humiliating, just depressing. And I had
to register and enter past job history on a horrible DOS application. Maybe they
should put a few of their more technical jobseekers to work on making that
application less miserable. Nah....too sensible.
Today was the first
time since the layoff I've spent much money, but it was all on groceries, so it
doesn't count. Of course, I could have minimized it a little bit, including not
buying the escarole lettuce. No one starves when deprived of escarole. Actually, I
bought it by mistake, because they had the endive and escarole labels, and I have
a few recipes that call for endive. I thoughtescarole was the frillier one,
but they had everything else labeled right, so I decided to trust my supermarket-
produce-labeler. Wrong move. After all, if he was smart, he'd be out of a higher-
paying job, like me. Oops, maybe that's not a good line of
Anyway, I imagine whatever salad I end up making will be
just fine with escarole. (Note, later: it was)
Picked up a very old
half-finished embroidery project -- it's a wedding thing, so maybe I'll leave the
names until last, in hopes someone will get married and I can give it away. I was
originally going to embroider in our names and wedding date, but I've decided the
dusty-pink heart theme exceeds my abnormally low preciousness tolerance.
It's not really that bad -- no cutesy sayings, no quotations from
Corinthians, I'd probably hang it on the wall if someone else gave it to me -- so
I can give it away with a clear conscience.
I may drop by the craft
store one day, though, for a more congenial project. I've decided the major
problem with cross-stitch is that you can't turn pages while doing it. I can't
imagine how Natalie gets so much done.
Natalie? Do you really spend that much time not-reading? How do you do that? (Or
not do it, rather.) And does anyone have a suggestion for a one-handed crafts
project, or should I just check the library's selection of books on tape?
Add in the fact
that I've still got half a batch of library books unread and you can see why I
haven't been bored yet. When boredom does strike, I've got all sorts of projects
listed, from figuring out how to print from the laptop (ideally, with so kind of
switcher so I can print from both computers) to painting several rooms, to finally
figuring out how to crochet. Don't worry, though; I promise that quite a few
items on the above To Do list will be put off until tomorrow and tomorrow and
I rowed my single this morning, in incredibly unpleasant weather. It was not only
hot, but as humid as it ever gets out here in the desert. Rowing east wasn't too
bad, because there was a breeze, but rowing west was horrible, because I rowed
with the wind and so there was no air movement to bring relief. Also, even though
I've been sculling in a quad, today wrecked my hands -- not sure
After that I stayed around and helped with the Juniors "rowing
camp". For some reason, Coach DI never did turn up for either the Juniors morning
session or the camp one -- not sure what's wrong with him, especially since YSam
almost decided to day the day off (first practice after his wedding). At least he
would have called DI to let him know, which is what a responsible coach
does. The juniors were a nice bunch, though, and reasonably fun to
Then I came home to ....nothing. No recruiters beating down my
door or filling up my answering machine. Silly people. (Of course, I just made the
resume public on a could of job sites over the weekend, so maybe it's just taking
them a little while to read the resume and match me up with job openings. Yeah,
that must be it.
And my new PC laptop seems to be taking pauses when
I'm online, just like the old Mac I bought it to replace. Maybe @Home has some
weird problem playing with MS Office? There's not much else on the laptop.
So far, this layoff business has been nothing but good. I'm sure that will change
if it lasts more than about a week (as it almost certainly will) but I may as well
enjoy the good part while it lasts.
The best thing about it has been
the uncanny level of support. I didn't know my support system was that good, maybe
because nothing especially bad has happened to me for quite some time. It
surprised me, because though I have lots of acquaintances, I'm not really great at
making friends (though I am good at staying in contact with the ones I do have).
Maybe this is because it's rare for me to find people in Real Life with whom I
have many common interests; the Internet has been a boon there.
sent off messages to former IIS coworkers right away (I figure it's fair game to
mention the company name now!), and then to everyone else I regularly correspond
with via email, so they would all know my work email address didn't work any more.
I told people at rowing, so they would know I was more available to do substitute
coaching (and, I admit, because there are a lot of good contacts out there). And I
wrote about it here and on the list I moderate. This was a layoff, not a firing,
so I figure there's nothing to be embarrassed about, and you never know who might
have useful advice.
I did get several nice messages from the former
cow-orkers, though they're all numb by this time -- I figure, since December, half
the company has been laid off or "let go". I also got both sympathy and help from
friends both here and in other cities. Rowers offered both empathy and more
concrete help --YSam told me to send him my resume, as he has a lot of contacts,
which I thought was extraordinarily kind of a man on the morning of his wedding
The people I know over the net have come through just as
strongly. There were more messages left in my Guestbook here than I have ever
gotten from a single entry, every one containing some variant of "you rock, and
some employer will be smart enough to see that, very soon". And though I sometimes
complain about my list, and though this is minor compared to the deaths and other
upheavals some listsibs have undergone, those people have offered sympathy and
peptalks, virtual chocolate and vodka, and some very useful
So mostly, if you're in any of the groups mentioned above, I
want to say how grateful I am. All that outpouring of sympathy and love is one of
the main reasons my mood has stayed so good, and I'm sure that will lead directly
to more mental energy and self-confidence that will help in both getting
interviews and getting through them, and in a couple other plots I'm hatching. And
this is all teaching me how to help anyone else who might find himself or herself
in a similar situation, so I fully plan to pay my debt forward.
Last night was oddly coincidental. Rudder and I got all gussied up and set out to
meet Egret, Queue and a few others for dinner at P.F. Chang's before heading off
to Yosemite Sam's wedding. We got there on time, as usual, and settled in at the
bar to wait for everyone else. After about twenty minutes, we realized that it
probably would have been a good idea to ask Egret which P.F. Chang's we
were supposed to meet at. We had assumed it was the one closest to home , but
there are others up in Scottsdale, closer to the hotel where the wedding was. We
had the hostess call over to the other ones, but there were no parties of 6
waiting for people to show up. So we gave up and asked for a table for two,
instead; it was still early enough that we could get one without
Coincidence number one: the woman at the table next to us
was a rower, one who had taken our Intermediate class a few times. She's about to
move out of town now, and is looking for a rowing club up in Illinois. So of
course we told her about YSam's wedding, and though he regularly scares off
beginner and intermediate class members, she gave up god wishes to pass on to him.
Unfortunately, we didn't look at our watches until we were almost done dinner ,
so we were running a little late as we headed up north.
We found the
Plaza Resort with no trouble, getting there about two minutes after the wedding
was scheduled to start, but had no luck trying to find the Wedding Gazebo (yes
it's actually called that). I hobbled along in my very uncomfortable high-heeled
sandals until I couldn't take it any more, then walked around barefoot, which was
not much less painful (the ground as still very hot). Eventually, we gave up and
made our way back to the main lobby, where we explained the problem and were
whisked off to the Gazebo in a golf cart. We got there too late to hear YSam's
vaunted vows, but in time to witness the rest of the wedding. (According to
others, they were five pages long and touching, but no one
Most of the people there were rowers, standing around on the
grass, watching and trying to hear the ceremony. YSam was nattily dressed in a
suit that may have been custom made (at 5'2", he'd have a hard time buying off the
rack) with a stand-up collar, echoing the cheong-sam style on his new wife's
lavender dress. Afterward, there was no reception at all, which seemed a little
strange. YSam "invited" us to hang with them at the hotel bar, and most of us
did. The hotel people let us hang out in a private room as long as we didn't
disturb the long table that was set up for a meeting the next day. Oddly, there
was already water in the water pitchers. We thought of leaving notes on the second
page of the notepads set out to warn the meeting participants, but I don't think
Afterward, we went to join Queue, her sister, ExecuRower,
and DrunkTina at an even fancier hotel down the road for desserts. We wandered
around for a while, marveling at the large-screen TV they had facing the pool
(which was filled with clear plastic floating tubes, for people to perch in while
watching TV without occluding others' sightlines. We eventually found the bar and
then the casual restaurant, only to find they had stopped serving for the night.
Rudder and the others headed up to the bar, while DrunkTina and I turned back to
order desserts to go. Just then, we realized the one of the servers was yet
another rower, one who had been in our boat practicing for the Boston race
last year, until she dropped out right before the race. Coincidence number 2. She
volunteered to serve us anyway, and got permission to do so, so DrunkTina held the
table while I hobbled back upstairs on increasingly sore feet to get Rudder and
the other three. We hung out there for a while munching on desserts, then
finally went home at the amazingly late hour (for us) of 11 PM. When you put a
couple hundred people through a rowing program, I suppose you're bound to run into
a few of them now and then, but this seemed uncannily appropriate, considering we
were out for a coach's wedding.
My feel still hurt.
 I don't usually like German wine much, but
tried a Johannesburg Riesling. Not bad -- it was very sweet and fruity on first
sipping, but that dissipated quickly and didn't linger in the way that signals
true cloying sweetness.
Until one opens right near our house on
Tuesday, outside the new upscale mall which is due to open in
The Szechwan shrimp I had was good, but I was a little
disappointed that there was nothing in it but shrimp. P.F. Chang's seems to put
either meat or vegetables, not both, in their dishes. Rudder's Mongolian beef was
also good with a tangy sweetness, and did include slivers of scallion. Chang's is
starting to feel too much like a chain restaurant, though, as they
Someone referred to my Cosmopolitan as a "Sex in the City
 I skipped the dessert in favor of an iced coffee drink --
it had Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, and whipped cream on top, so I was happy.
Today I renewed my library card and applied for unemployment, in that order. Yes,
I do have my priorities straight!
I've also called a company I
almost took an offer with several months ago; the guy there had to have me call
back, as he was on another line, but did sound interested. And I've applied to a
company quite a few people from my former place work at, and had someone from the
outplacement service thy gave me look over my resume.
And gotten out
a whole stack of library books and called about the bookcases we're getting soon
and verified my final paycheck was deposited, dropped off the I-won't-sue-if-
you'll-pay-me-severance agreement, and polished all 20 nails in preparation for
going to YSam's wedding tonight. And rowed, as mentioned earlier.
also joined an egroup just for former employees of my former employer, which
should say something about how many there are.
I'm going to need to
find a job quickly. This laid-off stuff could get exhausting -- there's so much to
After that, there are a million things to be done, most having to do with the search for a new job. I've got more stuff listed on my calendar for today than I ever do on a workday, though, luckily, it doesn't all have to get done this instant. Still, the sooner I send out resumes, the sooner I can hope to hear back.
Right now, I'm feeling not so much let down as anticipatory, as if a door has opened in front of me. It's exciting to think I could completely change my life, and go be a teacher or a writer, a manager, or a student, or any number of other things. I hope this attitude lasts. I'm going to have to keep reminding myself not to limit my options as I get into the job search. I wasn't entirely satisfied with what I was doing, though I enjoyed parts of it, and I do like variety. So I will interview with anyone ho is interested in me, and who sounds interesting, and see what the wheel will turn up for me.
Everyone at rowing, and on my main list has been very sympathetic, and I've gotten several very nice guestbook entries as well. Some people had good suggestions, too. YSam, a former headhunter and currently in HR, asked for my resume; Pigtails, a hiring manager, promised to keep her eyes open for me, and another woman who is a teacher suggested I could substitute teach until I find a new job. I could do that -- it might be fun, and would be good for my presentation and training skills. So I'm looking forward to my time off and to what I'll do next.
Rudder wanted me to make this poem last night, though I'm not sure he intended me to post it. It's a bit of a cooperative effort, as was the event which inspired it. Stop here if you're squeamish.
Milky, opaque, blank, featureless;
It seems appropriate
That the act which has left this,
Slime-pooled on my leg
Has left my mind in much the same state.
Sometimes, that's all I ask.
Fuck. I've been laid off. The way things were going at my company, this wasn't a
shock, but it is a surprise. I was actually on two billable
Since the company is laying off billable people, since this
is the third major layoff, and since from the rumored numbers, they must be laying
off 10-20%, I conclude they must be hurting.
Though I'm not happy
about this, I'm not too upset. I've been teetering on the edge of the should-I-
leave decision, and this makes the decision easy. Unlike the process by which
they've been letting people over the last several months, this is a true layoff,
so I get some severance pay, as well as my accrued vacation. That gives me a bit
of a grace period until I even have to dip into savings. I've survived so many
layoffs in my career that I knew I couldn't trust my luck much
This is absolutely the wrong time to get laid off, though. If
I'd gotten it in the first wave, back in December, the climate would have been
better in all respects. Now the job market is clogged by layoffs all around, and
it's too damned hot to do anything outdoors (read: free). Still, the time off will
be nice, to sleep and to work on job-hunting and other projects.
the "fuck" at the beginning of this entry is there not entirely out of irritation,
but because I'm no longer updating illicitly at work, and now I don't have to
worry about what filtering software may be watching me.
Weights today, and I was a good girl and didn't cut anything (much) short even
though my shoulder hurts.
Tomorrow night, we're going to Yosemite
Sam's wedding. It's a second wedding for both, and they have about four or five
kids between them. Second weddings tend to be a bit more informal, of course.
Still, I thought the invitation, which was sent out by email, not to individuals,
but via the rowing program's email list, and which, instead of saying "Cordially
invited" or "Please come," said "If you come, put on some clothes", was just a
trifle.....well, tacky. (The bit about putting on clothes meant real clothes, as
opposed to the tank tops/sports bras and spandex shorts we row in. He didn't
really expect anyone to show up naked. At least, I don't think
YSam has told us he's not nervous, and that he's treating this
as a competition. He's written his own vows; his goal is to make the judge
marrying them cry, along with the rest of us. He's told us he wanted a traditional
Hawaiian wedding, but couldn't persuade his bride, who is Hawaiian, to go topless.
(I suggested a coconut shell bra.) She is actually very good looking: 6 inches
taller than he is (which still doesn't make her unusually tall), Asian, and
looking at least 10 years younger than she is. She's also quiet and sensible.
Definitely an odd couple.
So if YSam gets his way, I expect this
wedding to be a bit excessive. The redeeming factor will be that he really does
love her, and I assume the reverse is true. They're old enough and experienced
enough to know their own minds, and they're happy together. No matter what he says
to the rest of us, he never, ever, ever says a word about her that isn't a glowing
realization of how lucky he is. So whatever else happens, it will be a good
wedding, because it will be a great marriage.
Also, from a purely
personal standpoint, I will get to wear my Cool Skirt with the sequins that I've
only worn once, and will get to see some people I really like that I haven't seen
for quite a while. Should be fun.
Kipling, in his poem about Philadelphia wrote, "And the fireflies in the corn
make night amazing!"
It's still true, there. Fireflies are one of the
things I miss from the East Coast and they are still amazing. They must have been
much more amazing in Kipling's day and earlier. Before electric lights, they must
have seemed like flying flames, as their name says.
When I was a
little kid, one of the things we did on summer nights, besides playing Doors,
Manhunt, Red Light Green Light, and Mother May I, not to mention a lot of running
around for no special reason, was to catch fireflies, which we more often called
lightning bugs. June was always the biggest month for them, little sparks moving
in a three-dimensional Drunkard's Walk everywhere you looked after twilight
I remember how astounded I was when I first figured out that
you could catch fireflies -- the flying insects I was most familiar with
were houseflies and butterflies, both of which are too fast for a little kid to
catch. But lightning bugs are slow and clumsy, not outside the reach of a 6-year-
old's dexterity. Of course, you save them in jar, with holes on the top so they
can breathe and some kind of vegetation for them to eat, so they'll survive a few
days. (This would probably have worked better if we'd had any idea what lightning
"Bad girls" used to make glowing rings out of the bugs but
I was either too goody-goody or too kind to animals to ever learn how. I do know
it involved ripping the glowing end off the bugs, and always seemed too mean a
thing to do to the providers of so much pleasure. I don't know what happened to
those bad girls -- the ones who dressed a little trashier, got to stay up later at
night, went to PG movies, and didn't understand about books -- but I imagine a few
years later, they got caught smoking behind the school. Later on it was beer, then
drugs and early pregnancies -- a harsh retribution for the cruel jewelry they
sported years before.
I was bad enough, one summer at camp, to
collect as many lightning bugs as I could, walking back up the Hill after dinner,
and to release them inside the cabin. I thought it would be nice, having them fly
around after we turned off the lights, but unfortunately my counselor didn't agree
with me. She made me catch them all and take them outside.
when I was 16, I spent the summer as a counselor at that same camp, out near
Valley Forge. As a counselor, I got to spend a lot more time outside at night than
I did as a camper. Once we were off-duty for the night, we'd all gather (the camp
was co-ed by then) up on the tennis court or out in the back field, to have a
bonfire or drink beer. The fireflies there put the ones on my street of rowhouses
to shame. They lit so thickly on the trees around the tennis court, that they
appeared to have been decorated for Christmas, or maybe for a much older
celebration. I didn't fall in love, as you're supposed to when you're 16 and
spending your first summer away from home, but with the young friends and cheap
beer burning inside, that was a primal summer for me.
in June are the archetype of summer for me. And Kipling was right: they still are
 It's in his Rewards and Fairies, the sequel to
Puck of Pook's Hill, and describes how much the city of Philadelphia has
changed, and how little the surrounding country has changed. It's still
I was thinking about the whole
href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/picfixpoem.html">piranha thing last night,
and realized: this sort of thing is exactly why I will never commit suicide. Life
is way too weird to miss any of it.
This isn't the first odd rowing
incident, by any means; another was back in Texas when we had a regatta scheduled
and had to cancel it. That day, our lake had no water in it! It was part of a
bayou system, and hence tidal, but no one had ever seen it completely drained
before or since.
And of course it's not just rowing. There are too
many serendipitous moments, strange happenings, and odd coincidences. And, of
course, too many books left to read. There are the good moments too, the
unexpected emails from an old friend, or (because I'm a lucky girl) the sweet
expected moment every night when I lie down next to Rudder, with nothing more I
have to do for that day. My href="http://dichroic.diaryland.com/picfixpoem.html">sine wave philosophy
comes into it too; there are an awful lot of troubles that can just be outlived,
and sometimes the best cure for a bad time is just to wait for a better one.
Really, though, I think it's a sort of humor, an appreciation of
irony and of the absurd, that makes the days, even during the otherwise-dull
times, so endearing. There's never any lack of stupid-politician comments, odd
coincidence, or just news of the weird in this big world and wide.
Back to rowing today, on our newly reopened lake. I got to row a lightweight quad
with Hardcore, Egret, and Pigtails again. I'd like to make this a regular boat and
compete with it, but unfortunately I don't think Hardcore likes sculling as much
as sweep rowing. We could row a four, of course, but then we'd need a cox and it
would be difficult to find one who wasn't heavier than anyone else in the
DI and the juniors are back from Nationals. Sounds like they
all had a great time, but as for how they did....well, let's just say DI's trip
report email didn't mention rowing once.
At least according to Rudder
it didn't. I wouldn't know because my work email is still down. So is the site I'm
supposed to be working on. Considering I work for a software company and hosting
is one of the things we do, this is scary.
I think I have a meeting
with my boss this morning, but since my calendar is also on Outlook, it's sort of
hard to tell.
There was an essay I wanted to write, but I think I
need to spend more time on it and not combine it with details of work and rowing.
ETA: Due to excessive s p @ m, comments have been disabled on this entry.