Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Job Hunting

Last week I was talking to a co-worker.  She was asking about potential jobs.  I told her of the few I had hopes to score an interview for, including an incoming investigator hired to head what will become a large multi-program group.

I was surprised when she came in yesterday and told me the new investigator wasn't going to be hiring since his group is small and she told me about an available job I already had a bead on.  When I asked her how her own job hunt was going, she got a weird look on her face.  I could tell she was excited and she told me she was going to be working with the new investigator I hoped would hire me.

I am genuinely happy for her.  She is in career building mode and this is the right opportunity for her.  Given a choice between hiring her and hiring me, I would probably choose her.  She is hard working, bright, easy to get along with, and works really long hours.  Oh and she's a PhD.  No contest.

The newer job opportunity would be with people I mostly know in a smaller lab working on a familiar subject.  It is a good match for me if it comes through.  I would be quite happy there.

So what's bugging me?

There's that weird sense of having been played.  Research has become dog-eat-dog corporate in its hiring as jobs evaporate daily and the pool of available talent gets deeper.  Money that used to be available for labs with multiple people have shrunk to almost nothing.  We are all competing for the same pie and his hiring a research associate undoubtedly means no money for a technician.  There's a weird sense of her having gotten the job before me which is silly.  In a straight up competition she gets it.  So maybe it's the behind the back maneuver that feels yucky.  Or the fact that I didn't really get a chance to strut my stuff.

Like I said, I am happy for her.  The other opportunity would be equally, if not better, than where I am now.  Just wanted to acknowledge the little bit of yuck and purge it.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

I am acutely aware that today is Father's Day.  Or as I have been thinking about it in previous years just another day.

This morning though I woke up with a yearning so deep and a desire so strong to see and hear and touch his face, to sit as adults and swap stories the way we did/do with mom so that we could laugh and know each other as adults.  I want him to be proud of me.  I want to know he loved me.

I no more than had that thought when I felt, what I think of, as an energetic emotional hug.  And I knew all those things were true and that not having had them did not matter.  He knew.  He is proud.  He loves me.  So instead of missing him this Father's Day, I want to celebrate a life.

My da was a ghost in my life, passing through on Sunday afternoon for dinner and staying through the evening asleep in his recliner pretending to watch Mule Train.  He worked third shift and slept days.  After work he did independent contractor work as a painter.  Stillness for him was impossible.  If he was awake, he was working.  I know my work ethic comes in a direct line hand to hand from him.  It doesn't matter what I am doing, I need to do my best and be proud in the end of the job I have done.

"I don't care what you do honey.  Be a ditch digger.  But be the best damn ditch digger you can." -HLDusing

I think that's why I love this song by Jimmy Buffet.  It reminds me of my dad in every way.

My dad wanted to be a doctor, but he dropped out of high school and never went back.  He valued education for us, perhaps more for his sons than his daughter.  But still.  It was important.  THE war came and he served in the European theater instead.  The more I learn about WWII, the more I feel I understand him.  His pride in my oldest brother when he fulfilled that doctor dream was button-popping.

What my dad became to the outside world was a factory worker.  What he was to me was an artist.  There was no shade of paint he couldn't make, no living room he couldn't rearrange to perfection, no amount of color or pattern ever threw him.  It is from him that my artistic nature comes.  It's great combo'd up with RM's craftiness and lexophilia .  When I look around, my youngest brother got a whalloping dose of that artistic inclination from dad.  In fact, he is a newer improved version of my dad.  Da 2.0.  Among my most precious memories are a summer I spent working with him painting, in particular striping parking lots.  I had a bitchin' tan from being outside and the fine mist of traffic yellow paint gave my skin a certain sparkle that summer.  Traffic yellow remains one of my favorite colors.  I remember Frisch's Big Boy's in paper wrappers and sitting on the curb in the shade not talking while we wolfed them down.  The ability to be OK in silent mode is a people trait I require.  I think it harks back to these afternoons, sprawled out in the shade staring at sky companionably in silence.    I remember his silence that said so much to me on those afternoons.

Hank, that's my dad consider yourself introduced, was also something of a mechanical carpentrical wizard.  He finished the entire upstairs of the house where I grew up from the studs out.  I did not inherit this in any way.  Nope, Phil aka younger brother, got that too.  I can still remember walking into his newly built and moved into home to find the counters all ripped off because he didn't like the way they were mitred.  Thing is, when he was done, they were much better.  Mini-Hank.  But I recognize that I did get some version of this, a desire to know and understand how things work, how they go together.

Growing up, even though I loved him, I would have traded him for the fun dad down the street, the one who played pickle and tag with us.  I would have traded him for young one across the street who had lots of energy and laughed a lot.  I would have traded him for one that showed up at sports or dances.  I would have traded him for one who talked to his daughters.  Later, I would have traded him for a sober one.  I would have traded him for a case quarter on most days.

As a grown up, I see him in me and they are the better parts and I wouldn't trade him for anything. As is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ruminating Tahrir Square

I listen to Morning Edition on the way in to work every day.  All those soothing public radio voices.

This morning.  Not so much.

This morning there was a discussion around the recurring rapes that are happening in Tahrir Square.  Curious, I pulled up one of the videos.  Bad idea.  Those images have stuck with me all day, touching off little pop rocks of anger.  Why did someone video this?  Why did no one stop it?  Why was it OK to treat any woman that way?  How could this happen with a regularity as people come together to demonstrate?

Rape seems to be the topic this week on the news.  Infuriating sound bytes from men who just sound....well....stupid.  That sound like people who need to dominate to feel OK.  That sound angry that things are changing.  That sound essentially like toddlers to me.  The topic stuck with me all day despite pages of science writing.  Cooking back there behind the stash of Oreos in my cerebellum.

A poem for my rape-sister in Tahrir

I don't see you at first
just the pulsing throng of people
moving in concentric circles
rocking back and forth as they shout
in a language I don't understand.

Dark men part and come together
a living breathing defiling organism
giving me snapshots of you
my rape sister
an arm
a leg
your bare buttocks
in between there is nothing
but shouting and turned backs

I see your rashed and bloody back
your thighs slick with semen
Mostly though I see your eyes
I am haunted by your eyes
dark rolled over white with panic
for I have seen those same eyes
in my own mirror

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Super Secret Writing Hole

I am at my favorite writing hole this morning.  Plans for Second Sunday cancelled due to weather.  I'm a little concerned that there are so few people here again this morning, worried that the perfect ass to table ratio space conducive to writing will close for lack of business.  Absolute and stark contrast to the vibrant place I dined last weekend with a friend.  I am not a business oriented person, far from it.  Research nerd remember?  Even I have felt my writing place sliding into the abyss for months now.

As I'm walking in to the establishment it finally hits me, what is happening here - and yes it gives me even more concern.  This place is dying.  Oh, it used to be alive, with specials daily and food porn postings in social media.  Now it just feels stuck, flat and unimaginative.  The food, the staff, the indifference of it palpable.

And because I was raised on compare and contrast questions in school.....

The place I ate last weekend, which does NOT have the perfect ass to table ratio for writing, felt alive.  It breathed and there was a tangible excitement in the place.  The food, gorgeously constructed.  The staff genuine and friendly.  Everyone excited to be there.  Food choices revolve there daily on the chef owner's whim and the local availability of ingredients.  Their is true passion and artistry here.  And those things are fed a steady diet of what do you need.

My writing hole does none of these things.  They used to, but they have forgotten how to feed their business.  As a result it grows stale as soda crackers left out on a humid day.

The reason this feels like a big revelation is that I don't know that I have ever thought of my job or my passions in exactly this way before - as living breathing organisms.  But I will from now on.  I see what happens when you feed your passion and when you just let it coast.  So today I am spending some time asking what they need.  In particular, the book.  What do you need my love?  What can I do to coax you forward again?

I really want that to be born.  Second to finding a job.  Just behind caring for the mama.  I want this.  Looking in drop box shows me that in the last six months I have written on it only once.  I know that some research is needed, but this has become a kind of avoidance.  Oddly the avoidance and drop off in writing started about the same time that my writing hole started its slide.  The energy so contagious that it contributed to the stagnation.  Oh, I am not blaming them.  My life has been a series of seven holy hells this past year.  I feel lucky just to be alive at the end of that.  I saw what was happening here, but still I kept coming Sunday after Sunday and writing, scribbling, ranting really.  Gone the weekends of 10K words where I felt wrung out and happy.  I have been lucky to do more than an hour of drivel with the odd poem tossed out in five minutes.  This is how I justified shelving my love?  I failed to see any connection among these things.  My writing hole, such as it was, the life line to writing anything at all and I clung to it fiercely.  I would/will NEVER let go of writing.  But my writing needs better energetic and physical support from an environment, from me.  So, now I see that a new writing venue is in order.

My life is in major shakeup mode again.  But I have never felt more clear and sure of an outcome.  Of a successful outcome.  Giddayup!

...and who knows maybe when the writing hole closes, I can buy a booth and set it up in my home.  Hey don't underestimate the ass to table ratio for good writing.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Being George Bailey

I am a huge fan of It's a Wonderful Life, in fact, I consider it the perfect movie.  I love everything about Capra's vision.  It plays on near continuous loop during the holidays.

So why am I mentioning it June 1?  Because today, I truly feel it.  That sense of seeing the blessings that exist amidst what looks like the shit.

I am losing my job again.  My mom is in a facility because of her AD.  I am single with no lover or even a whisper of a date.  Yet I am still scrumptiously happy.  Happier than I have been in months.  Happier than anyone has a right to be.

The magic for me is to stop listening to other people jabber on about how hard life is, how much it sucks, how they never get a break.  I just don't see it that way.  Oh, I see the hard and sticky parts, sometimes I get jammed up in them.  The frustration level there is crushing.  I will always opt out.  Not as in I will ignore it and hope it goes away, but in I will make the most of what there is.

So, I am losing my job again.  Truth is I didn't much like the one I have anyway.  It has been about collecting a paycheck these past six months.  Wouldn't it be fantastic to fall in love with science again?  What would that be worth?  The answer is that would be pricelesss.

My mom is losing her memory.  I am dancing that dance with her, providing the constant insomuch as I am able.  This year I have learned better balance between what she needs and what I need.  The latter occupying a rightful and larger place.  I am happier and I come to her more able to deal and share that happiness with her.  There are moments of transcendent bliss for us now.  Also giggle fits and much hugging and smooching.  She tells me how much she loves me.  I tell her.  I feel loved, for perhaps the first time in my entire life.  Absolutely and unequivocally loved.  That's a huge shift for us.  I get it.  Finally I understand something that was just words on a page or trite script from a movie.

Outsiders may look in and praise me for my sacrifice.  I wish they wouldn't.  Naming it such diminishes what it is.  Makes me seem more than the person I am.  Turns out I am the richest person in town.  Once I saw that, things bloomed from there.  There is no sacrifice.  Not here.  Not any more.  There is only grace and love.  And a belly laugh or two.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...