Saturday, April 28, 2012

A while ago

I heard things in passing, in very limited ways.

In June, when they were moving the office, and I was learning that I did not have the IQ (selective memory) for folding up flat-engineered file boxes into their 3D shapes of usefulness), I heard yelling. Profanity. Non-cooperative language, all in one direction.

Do any of you hear yelling at the workplace? Male to female?

Later, after it was July, and after I had, again, gained/lost another year and obtained a "new" job on or around my birthday, he and I were in his car. There were fast-food bags and evidences of children on the floormats, little bits and pieces, paperclips, toys, detritus. I learned that he was not about small talk, that he was not interested in any entertaining listening. He is charming and will ask, "How was your weekend?"-type questions, but more than once we've been talking at the same time, and I am no fool; I know that's not my place. It's not enforced, but, Thank God, I haven't made a mistake yet. I have heard what is said of others who do.

Lucky they, to have someone who is as brilliant as they are = me, to do their most tedious and boring tasks. They learned their lesson with two paralegal interns who were completely non-intuitive and also rote and, in one case, coastingly non-engaged.

When we were driving back from Courthouse Instructional Introductional 101, instead of leaving me any space in which I could ask whether he was aware of the 20-years-ago hourly wage they were paying me — and when, perhaps, I might expect an improvement from $10/hr. — he talked instead of how he knew was perceived as treating his wife.

He said that I shouldn't be alarmed, that sometimes he had to get harsh with clients who were not following probate directions, for example, and also with his wife, who, despite being able to "spot a penny in a million dollars" was distracted and started and stopped things too much, perhaps even had ADD.

During this monologue he brought up the person I replaced, saying that she had hard feelings about his relationship with his wife and therefore did not cooperate in return. Well, I know both of these women, and my predecessor is not wrong. She has been through things that have taught her, and so have I.

It's an amazing fact to see both sides of many things: the obliviousness on the one hand, the acquiescence on the other.

And this week, the wife has used her vacation time to come in and do a job that could have been hired out years ago. One that will be "soon" but is late again already.

He talks to her like she is stupid, and he uses the excuse that "she's used to it" — because the men (presumably) she works for at ____ [large company making food products] act far worse, react crazily, yell and demand.


At the moment I was hearing these explanations, I was in the car and newly "employed." I was much more afraid of bankruptcy and starvation … but within a quarter-year's time, the light is dawning.

He thanks me for whatever mundane thing I do.

He does not thank her.

I have learned that she does nearly everything for their two kids. And, it seems to me, based on things I won't mention, that he only has children out of egoistic legacy BS.

Someday I do hope to learn why they ever decided to be together.

But the other week when it was evident by his conversations that he was not at all supportive or kind. I have a grand talent of not being able to not hear conversations anywhere near me; however, doors should be closed BEFORE one says the most evident things like, "I shouldn't probably tell you this but …" (to the female lawyer he runs to for emotional support on things) or "How are you … did you start? SIGH … / I just want to know do I have to sue someone …" (to his wife over the phone).

I mean, COME ON, I'm a faux novelist, and he was first trained as a journalist. I just don't feel comfortable about being there.

I know I can't change him, and it's not my mission to change her.

Once, when I was teaching in Japan, one of the teachers berated some student within ear-shot of the whole town, it seemed, but only a few feet away from where I was hunched at a desk. Japanese offices are open places. The English-speaking teachers did not feel compelled to tell me what the transgression had been, but the verbal punishment seemed disproportionate to me, nonetheless. Men who scream profanities and condemnations at the top of their lungs make me puke.

Also, such actions expose a huge weakness on their part.

I don't feel personally threatened, but I also feel the solidarity of personhood, and I don't accept being near to such evil.

I don't care if he feels he's helping strangers. Yes, probate law is a necessary evil, and one needs counsel to navigate it. But as it's not a choice, it's not as if there's an innate nobility in carrying it out (for money).

I do know that the one time he did happen to be listening when I said something about myself his face changed. He felt risk. All I said was that I felt oppressed by the personal stories I received and had to carry as a journalist when I was with the weekly paper. He seemed to think I was expressing a weakness of sensitivity that could lead to flightiness that would lead, let's face it, to a bottom-line inconvenience for him (having to hire someone new).

At that job, I don't remember what I do there 10 minutes after it's out of my task-range. I don't forget things that need to be done, but I intentionally erase everything mentally once it's over. That is a dangerous new skill, intentional but unconscious forgetting.


This post's title is original, and it's about six months later still since I first drafted it. Since then, I have had the good fortune to be able to leave said underpaid job under three attorneys and be enfolded once again into a journalism-related position, one with adequate salary, paid vacation time, and benefits.

The "intentional but unconscious forgetting" is not needed as a coping mechanism any longer.

I did have to get over a period of anger (not nearly as long as the anger/sorrow at the betrayal issues at the longer-term last job) though, regarding my treatment there as a second-class brain. Also, after they had raised my hourly wage 25 percent 90 days in, with words of praise, about 90 days later, they sat me down to cut my hours to 25/week "because it's more economical." Not a tragedy in itself, if the ambush meeting hadn't been prefaced with words about how I seemed overwhelmed and frustrated (ie: not lavishing deferential). I pointed out that they were not communicating with each other and thus were expecting every job to be done immediately, something that is impossible, and that they each had distinct working personalities … and that I never left for lunch, and that it seemed strange that more would get done with fewer hours (no, not strange at all; one can sense when one is being edged out). So, yeah, I felt a little abused.

Anyway, the people I work with now certainly have their flaws, but at least I can respect them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

It came out a year before I was born, more or less (at least per the published calendar years — Julian? Gregorgian?) … Anno Domini, anyway. Fact is, I and this musical were produced, so to speak, a year apart, 365 days being as precise as certain systems get. This means it was conceived before I was, before I existed on the planet as a human (the one I am now) — even by Arizona standards

To me, and perhaps me only, it is interesting that I glommed on so to the Webber/Rice rendition of the Christian historic founder of the branch-Hebrew monotheism. Yeshua / Jesus (not Paul, who could be said to be the true founder — talk later on that) was attractive to me due to the presentation of JC as, well, "JC" — a hip, indeed, bonifide hippie, lovely and misunderstood hero.

I know the Bible, and I know some church history, and much of this musical is fiction.

But the dramatic storytelling is compelling, and certain things ring true to the post-Vatican II scholar (I am not a scholar, just someone who attended Catholic school for 13 years — with lots of interactive questioning, etc.).

Since I was born in 1974 or perhaps for some other reason, I did not ever like how Judas, the "betrayer," was cast as the only prominent black man in Jesus Christ Superstar or how he and Simon (zealots) put on these huge-toothed silly looks all the time. That seemed so transparently then-obvious. Still, even as the young person whose teachers in approx. sixth grade showed us the JCS VHS, I identified with the play-framed desert-party.

I got it. It meant something to me. I like hippies?

My mother and I stand at far-long poles of the seeming monorail of political belief, yet it was her four-album collection (eight sides), complete with a half-jacket-sized lyrics booklet that I took up so passionately. She had multiple Elton John records, the Who's Tommy, Neil Diamond — freaking Iron Butterfly, I say — and later, even The Lipps's Mouth to Mouth, featuring Funky Town, which she, I and my younger brother danced to regularly in the living room. Gold carpet. Red "Spanish" effect couch.

People are complex, thank goodness.

There is no way to count the hours I spent as an adolescent sitting on the old fake leather couch in our unfinished basement listening to the JCS LP's on my youngest uncle's rejected stereo, "old," even for-then. It had the works, by the way: an unfailing phonograph, OMG 8-track player, a cassette deck (deck!), and AM/FM radio. The radio even worked in the basement, so you know it was the olden days. The foam-covered speakers had been shredded down to black cloth already by my first and best and worst-lost cat, but it was still a delightful tool. My uncle is now a year or two 'round 50. I don't need to know which direction : )

There was one Lent season during which I think I listened to JCS every evening or at least every Sunday. And I cried every time.

Puberty was involved, then, but the play/movie/show/album still tend(s) to make me cry.

It could have been Cats or  Phantom of the Opera, but it wasn't.

The four (still four) CD set from the British '90s revival of JCS is in my collection. Not uploaded to iTunes library … but the other night, I indulged in the spontaneous super-shopping that Amazon affords and counts on, and I got, for $9.99, unlimited access to JCS, the movie (Internet connection required; ah, the cloud).

Have been dancing every evening ever since.

As a final note: no, of course — it is not lost on me that "Christ" was not added to his name until many, many years later, post-Paul / Greek era —I went to Catholic school, remember? And, as such, I also learned the literary rouse of "suspension of disbelief."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Things like

How much bacteria is thriving on the giving end of the toothpaste tube?

I don't like to think about unboiled kitchen sponges. How often is enough? I don't ever do it.

In general, no one around here gets infected.

In general.

Two birds are suffering from similar but perhaps discreet digestive infections.

There was that one two-days when he, then I, spent in utter delirious agony. The "24 bugs" are powerful things.

I cleaned some spilled, frozen multi-grease from its place around the ice-maker dispensing area. "Someone" closed the door too violently after making catfish nuggets.

Multi-grease is an amazing thought just on its own: bacon fat, beef drippings, fish-fried oil. Oh my.

Someday I want to live in a vegan household. Just us and birds. No dead animal products or live/dead-animal by products. I want to live somewhere (don't we all — let's ask the poorest of the Brasilans, the majority of Hatitians, list on and on) with correct and efficient plumbing, too … the kind that doesn't smell.

Self-diagnosis for that patch on a place on my back-ish thigh-side that is most difficult, but not impossible, to view (sans mirror and without glasses) is that it's ringworm. It was just a tiny bug bite-type thing, and, of course, I scratch everything.

And there is this raunchy cat here, the million-dollar probably-going-to-die-anyway critter, and the infected birds, and even though I wash my hands a lot, I read that, well, this fungus is among us, day in and day out, regardless. I had a ring-worm patch once, before, on my femur area … about 25 years ago. I rather was enchanted with it. It went away with OTC cream. But I'm older now, and paranoid, and have health insurance, so I want to be sure. Hello, Walgreen's Take Care clinic. (Sigh.)

Meh, says the woman who hasn't been to a dentist for ~ years.

Meh, says the woman who sought NEW CONTACTS / REAL SIGHT last Thursday and whose intake form and comments were misread/heard so that, sigh, again she's bought glasses that are not in yet and has to, when that happens, come sit for additional exams. Another week, another seven days of just not seeing.

I've become somewhat resigned to having poor vision. One must adapt, if one can not pay $600 every year to get upgraded aids. My last optical exam, before the one eight days ago, was in advance of friends' wedding (and our driving there, across the eastern US to Salem, Mass.) on 09-09-09.

I hate driving around to appointments. Cat, self, bird, car, etc. It's like having to mail things times 1,000.

There are things here from DECEMBER I haven't yet mailed. OCTOBER, even.

Is this in the DSM IV?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Feline race

I am nearing the finish line.

Here's how:

In the past 4.5 years have had (all aging, all sickly as aging things are):

1 black-and-white (tuxedo — though more white than black) cat;

1 orange striped (Morris-style; yes, fat) cat;

1 grey cat with white socks and white front blaze;

1 current cat who is tortiseshell colored.

Therefore, the maximum number of cats I shall further have in this lifetime is four, as follows:

1 all-white cat;

1 all-black cat (mimicking first-cat-ever; KiKi, a stray we fed baloney to when I was a kid, and whom the next-door neighbor, the kind and never-married Dorothy took in; he visited from time to time; the Dorothy on the other side was married … Gus died … their houses feature too often in my dreams); back on point:

1 Siamese-colored cat (who will never, ever be as good as Tiffy, my First Best Cat Ever, who came to me as a gift and a kitten); and

1 calico cat (again; best one ever seemed to be mom's Katie, petite and sweet … sadly killed right on the curb by a car … the yard was a half-acre. I don't know; it was horrid).

There were other cats, proof that others' cats are never the same as your own. Props and occasional lap-flops / calf-sharks, there is a difference in relationship spectrum.

I do not allow for fur variations; long-haired cats are silly human experiments and too much unwonted trouble. I will make a wild-card exception for hairless cat (maybe three of those).

So, in about 5 years, if current trends continue (and I don't start taking on kitties who are not at least 12 years of age), I shall be cat-free by the time I am 44 or so.

Just in time — wheew! — not to be a crazy Cat Lady but with perhaps a few decades left during which to perfect my crazy Bird Lady thing. That is, if my two infected birds ever get diagnosed and cured.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Irrelevant Lilac

Got a Final Notice from the county asking about what property I owned as of January first. The fact that I thought I already turned this in … and that I have not located the original request form even after clearing off most of my desk, indicates a bit of negligence.

I started a new full-time job on the 12th; I worked there the week prior during my "off" hours at the was-full-time-became-part-time position with the attorneys.

The day before that, the new-old cat came to live with us. The split-job week, I tried to make appointments for the two birds who continue to be sick, but as the clinic is 25 miles into the suburbs, accessed by the one major commuter highway, trying to get there at either 7:30 in the morning or 4:30 p.m. proved to be an impossibility. I thought I could swing it, but then I'd come to the realization, usually because I was tired, that I was making up new physics.

Judge me for the fact that last year's tax forms are sitting here awaiting signatures. Granted, they were completed in extension-time October (when I had to borrow money to cover what was owed due to 2010's unintentional self-employment status). I'm not being penalized; the IRS got things electronically — and they got their money (even the extra $300, including penalties) that my accountant messed up due to a misunderstanding (another way to put this is that she did not check the 2009 forms she had prepared for us).

Figure this pattern out for me; help me correct this character flaw:

I was all set to take the birds in on some evening (before I had actually decided it did not meet the requirements of our standard three dimensions), but the receptionist/tech, who said she'd call to confirm that particular appointment slot was indeed open for Dr. B____, did not. Did I call her? No. I opted to operate on the presumption that it wasn't for me to go bothering her, that a no-call meant "no." When she called 30 minutes after I should have been there, had I known (fully) I was expected, I ignored the call. I'm like that.

Of course, the birds are still sick. I may just call my usual vet, the one who proclaimed Bird 1 cured last July, when the very next day Bird 1 threw up again, and a few months before Bird 2 started showing the same kind of symptoms. She's probably less expensive than the ones with the fancy website and the excellent "cageside manner," but I get tired of her attitude and the fact that she keeps bird-patient records on index cards.

Likewise and illustrative of the same personality disorder (me, not her), I have touched and moved and resorted the completed 2010 tax forms dozens of times since October. I think it was January or so before I actually read them thoroughly enough to discover that the CPA had assigned me a new job description (making both my husband and I artists for our 1099 income), as well as reported a business address for him that is actually our former apartment (four years ago … she has been doing our taxes for about eight …). This apartment address, granted, appears on his paychecks, because he works for one of those bosses who can't be bothered to switch things, but that address would be on a W2, not the numerous art-business-related 1099s.

So, being exasperated by the prospect of having to send in corrected 1040s myself (sigh) or to ask the accountant (who did not blink about the fact that her error incurred me $170 in penalties for that aforementioned oversight) to do so while hoping it's not a job charged to me, I haven't completed the signing/mailing step.

I have not combed through all the 2011 receipts and reporting forms, either. Yes, I know this is all due in a fortnight. Once you get on the delayed train, it's very difficult to go back. I filed my own extension last year anyway.

It's the same with the mortgage payment; it's not "late" until the 16th, and at some point (hmm, perhaps due to poorly paying jobs? : ) jumping on the computer and authorizing a one-time EFT on the 15th became the norm.

The cat did go to the vet on Saturday. Unfortunately, she still has stomatitis, which means that her prognosis was not fully disclosed to me when the rescue group handed her over (with veterinary paperwork … I thought the dental work they did had fixed things / did not have a smart phone on hand to Google about this mouth inflamation condition), and that she's in pain.

To try to fix that, she will have to have a surgery to remove most of her teeth. This includes X-rays and biopsy to see whether the underlying cause is cancer or whatever. The condition is not necessarily age-related.

Behind in mail-work, as well as taxes and filing, I need to send my cousin a congratulations card for her marriage, my grandfather a thank-you card for his Christmas gift, and some copies of the product the company I now work for publishes to my immediate family members.

My excuse is that I was looking for a job and then I found one. I also had a contract job come and find me, thus adding to the time-less-ness. And I sometimes write here. And I sometimes write at another blog that has a semi-public purpose.

The things I was going to send my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas are still here; I am going to wait until after they move, which is in about eight weeks.