Sunday, June 19, 2016

Heil Who, now?

On my drive just now, I saw a man, about my age, who caught my eye, looking as he did -- sort of intelligent and competent and probably amusing and interesting, and having the right sort of broad shoulders and large nose and wavy brown hair and all -- I was admiring him as he crossed the street in front of me. 

He had a "sleeve" on his left arm, though none on his right, and it was done all in one color in a darkish sort of blue-grey, fairly blurred, so that I couldn't tell what it was intended to represent -- until he passed me and I realized that the large symbol centered on his elbow was a swastika.
It really threw me.  I tend to expect that those who decorate their persons with the symbols of Nazi oppression will look like ignorant racist pricks, and so I will not be surprised to see the Waffen SS or the "88" or hakenkreuz on their idiot flesh.  But this guy looked right, he looked with-it, he looked like a smart, interesting person --  it flummoxed me.  I'm sort of at a loss.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Just Like Everyone Else

I have spent a large part of my life imagining it to be different.  I have spent many, many hours dreaming of lives with me as hero, in which I am thoroughly happy, illuminedly beautiful, incredibly intelligent, fabulously wealthy, in which I can speak  dozens of languages, play many instruments, sing flawlessly and read minds.  I've also imagined less perfect lives, in which I am merely fabulously wealthy -- many of these imaginings begin with the words -- "When I am fabulously wealthy, I --"

And even though I knew with most of my mind (I am, actually, quite intelligent, after all) that I was never going to be fabulously wealthy, having no such opportunities in sight, and having been scrapingly poor up to that point, there was always a tiny, subterranean and largely ignored part of my mind that stubbornly said, "But I could be -- I will be -- someday -- maybe."

Well.   But now I am fifty.  By any imagining, my life is half over, and and I have used up the resilience and energy and burgeoning potential of my youth.  I am no longer one of the kids -- I am not a girl -- I am not even a young woman.  I am decidedly middle-aged.  And I do not have any wealthy relatives who are going to leave me a sudden influx of wealth -- my family has been one who took pride in poverty.  I will not stumble upon a buried treasure, since I never leave my little corner of the world, and certainly do not spend any time in locations where pirates or traveling armies or other people with chests of gold might hang out.  My job, although I enjoy it, pays just enough to keep body and soul together, allowing me to save very little (I look forward to an old age which will be similar to my young age -- one of carefully counting my pennies) and avoid all amusements which call for cash.  My library is my best friend.  I eat a lot of beans and rice (yummy!) and drive an old car.  I never buy new clothes.  Or new books.  New anything, really -- they call me Second-Hand Rose!

Knowing this ought to make those daydreams less interesting, less engrossing, less exciting.  I know that they are never going to happen.  (At least, I know it with most of my mind.)  It ought to make me sad and melancholy to think of my life, which is draining away like everyone else's throughout history, never having risen to any of the elevated points I imagined so well and with such satisfaction.

And it's true, I don't indulge in the game of "let's pretend" nearly as often anymore --  this could be because I am no longer in a marriage that was of such misery I had to distract myself in order to fall asleep at night -- nor am I a child-teenager-young-adult who always felt that there was more, there had to be more, it was just around the corner! -- or it could be because I am old.  But when I do, they are just as interesting and comforting and soporific.  No melancholia.  No despair.  Life will end, and my life will end, too.  It will sink like a tiny pebble into the pond, no splash, hardly a ripple. 

I will never be rich.  I will never be gorgeous.  I will never have a brilliant intellect that amazes millions.  And it does not make me sad to know this.  I am, truly, quite happy, a large percent of the time.

And I could be -- someday -- maybe!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Portland Weather at Last!

Glory hallelujah!

It is the perfect day.  Thick soft grey clouds obscure the sky,  it's fifty-five degrees, the air is full of tiny delicate drops of rain that seem to hover immobile until you walk into them -- ahhh!   The greenery of the trees, bushes and grass that I am looking at is glowing like an emerald quietly lit from within -- and just yesterday I was looking sadly at the flowers in our yard which were turning brown from so much direct and unshielded sunlight.   Ahhhhh... my skin is drinking it in -- I can feel my body blinking back online -- systems were shutting down!

Otherwise, how are things?  My house is about three-quarters clean, which is enough for me to feel good about -- still some laundry to do, some dishes to wash.  The kitchen floor could use a good scrub.  You know -- things like that.  But there is no faint odor of garbage in the kitchen, no dust thickening on the tops of things, no piles of what-not accumulating in the corners of the living room. 

Picked up the food box last night, and felt again the familiar feeling of guilt at the sight of a box of no-doubt extremely healthful vegetables.  I could eat a stalk or two of the celery, but three packages?  And there is no way I can consume anything like that amount of salad.  And I'm not even going to try to eat broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes -- those are all my especially hated hates.  Besides, I'm going to have enough to do trying to consume some of the apples,(two bags?!) oranges,(5)  pears (3) and raspberries (three boxes) that are overflowing my refrigerator right now.

A pair of young people just passed by in front of the window, using umbrellas!  Two black umbrellas have just put the finishing touch on my delight with this day.  Sigh of glorious relief and happiness!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

For ANY sake, speak!

I believe I have said this before, although possibly not to you -- one of the few things wrong with my job (which I love) is the lack of communication.  Several times I have accidentally stumbled across some information which, turns out, I needed to know in order to perform my job.  Today was another example of the poor communication at which we excel.

I stopped by the office at about eight to do paperwork this morning, since my first shift was not scheduled until ten.  I was reading my office e-mail, since I am generally unable to gain access to it from any out-of-the-office computer, and saw that the other weekend staffer, Christine, had been promoted to an Assistant Team Leader position.  This is excellent, of course, and I mentally congratulated her, but the e-mail did not say who would be replacing her as weekend staff.  She and I are the only two staff from our team working the weekend, and have to see all the people in need of meds or meals on those two days.

So I stopped by my team leader Erik's office and asked him who would be replacing Christine.  He said he did not know yet, that they had sent out the standard e-mail to Craigslist and the other sites, and to the whole staff, but hadn't had any responses yet.

"We'll be trying to cover with subs, until we hire someone," he said.  "We aren't just making you responsible for all of them."  Then he laughed.  I laughed, too.  Uncertainly.

"When does Christine start as ATL?"  I asked.

"Oh, she started yesterday!"  he replied blithely.

So-o-o-o-o --- I might have to be doing some rapid shuffling around on Saturday, the day after tomorrow!  And if I hadn't stopped in and asked, I would not have known until someone called me on Friday afternoon, to sling three or four people into my already-full schedule.  

Now, I know, it might very well not happen, there might be subs galore available.  But it doesn't seem very likely!  And even so, (she begged) why not tell me, for heaven's sake?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Get off my lawn!

April -- a Spring month, I feel sure you will agree.  And yet the last few days have registered temperatures in the eighties.    The weather forecast predicts the following week will be grey and rainy and in the sixties, or I would actually be cross.  My mother always says that I cannot allow myself to be controlled by the weather, to which I always reply (in my head), "Oh, yes I can!" 

Anyway, at the moment I am in the air-conditioned library, where people are misbehaving all around me.  The woman next to me is loudly eating sour gumdrops.  Come on, lady!  That degree of smacking and sucking would be annoying on  a cross-town bus.  The man across from me is talking on his phone -- his phone! -- in a voice that would be too loud on the street corner, much less the library, which, as everyone has known all their life, is where you must be quiet.  Not silent anymore, unfortunately, but still, quiet.   And there are signs at the door reminding people to turn off their phones.  Grrr -- makes me wish that guy who kills rude people was still around.  Not that I want any of these people dead, of course, but they wouldn't be so ignorantly rude, if they had a madman with a politeness fixation to deal with.


I sound like a little old lady, don't I?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Queen for the Weekend

It is definitely odd to see the changes in traffic patterns that result from the time of year. To all those of you who regularly drive on the freeway systems, I'm sure you noticed this years ago and have completely stopped noticing it now. But for me, who has always avoided driving during rush hour, and driving on freeways when overland will do, and has had a terror of being in a large traffic jam, especially on a hot evening with pitiless sunshine pouring in the windshield and the engine slowly getting hotter and hotter and...AARRGGHH!

Pant, pant. Okay. What was I saying?

Oh, yes! I have always avoided driving on the Banfield particularly, since it is the sole East-West freeway in a city which is constantly increasing in size, and seems to be nearly always crawling along, if moving at all. It is also walled in on both sides, with no way to escape a wreck that happened ahead of one, so venturing oneself onto it with a great many other drivers, tired, irritable and more-or-less stupid, and all in a hurry, has always seemed to verge on the suicidal.

So, early on weekend mornings, when I have been very nearly the only driver -- between three and ten other cars, and most of them headed for the airport -- on the Banfield, I have actively enjoyed its use. I feel as though it is all mine, that I am the Queen of it, the Conqueror of the Freeway, and I graciously wave to the crowds of cheering people as I pass by -- at least, inside my head I do. I can go as fast or as slowly as I like and am not impeded by anyone. It is MINE!

So I have not liked these past few bright and sunny mornings, when the lanes are full of cars. All the way full, so that I have to be constantly aware of them and drive like an ordinary person and not Queen of All She Surveys, has been disappointing and frustrating to me. They are mostly SUVs, and a lot of them have bicycles or windsurfing boards or other outdoor gear on them, and I am entirely sympathetic to the desire to get out and play in the sun that occasions these trips. And I also understand that for a lot of people, especially those born elsewhere, the Banfield is the only way to get across town. But still! My kingdom!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventures

So I was with one of my clients this morning -- she is very intelligent, but has Asperger's which makes her interesting to have a conversation with.  She was in a very good mood this morning, however, and was telling me, in her spectrum-y way, the whole history of a manga story called (something like) "Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventures."  (We got onto this from a monologue on Gundams, of which I had heard, {thank you, Ernest Cline!} but about which I knew very nearly nothing.)  I, in the meantime, was trying to gently ease her into getting showered and dressed (yes, still in her pajamas) while I tidied up, since her job coach was coming that morning to discuss her employment.  It somehow seemed important to me.  But Nameless Client merely sat on the floor, wearing a big smile, and kept talking about the various Jo-Jos, starting from the first one, whose name was (something like) Jonathan Jostar and who was the protagonist for the whole first series.   And then the second series was his grandson, whose name was (something like) Joseph Jostar, and then the third series, was his grandson whose name was Joseph Cujo, and so on.  And on.  

Her mind constantly edits and revises her thoughts, as do we all, but she does her edits and revisions out loud.   So it goes like this:

"In the fourth series, Jolene Cujo was accused of a crime which she did not -- was charged with a crime -- was innocent of the crime she was accused of -- was charged and convicted of a crime which she did not in fact commit, and was sentenced to a -- was temporarily -- was briefly incarcerated in a women's prison."

Ordinarily, I really enjoy it when she does this, since it means she is feeling good and enjoying my company, and I just put in the occasional monosyllables to indicate my fascination.  Not that she needs this, let me add, since she just barrels right on regardless.  But I feel better about it, more involved, and like I'm helping in some small way.  But this time, there was the job coach arriving, and the pajamas, and the unwashed hair, and there she still sat on the floor, beaming at me, and talking away.  What is a body to do?