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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Work Juju and More

What a difference a couple of weeks can make! I believed I could not get meaningful work to save my life, and I needed meaningful work to [at least help] save my life. I rather half-heartedly made some job applications, resulting in a very quick offer of "work" with a Spam sandwich for lunch. Within days came the real and nearly ideal offer, proffered from a well-remembered shining place in my tapestry. It was both rescue and a tip of the hat for the efforts I've made to find health and peace. It has seemed a lifetime. In actuality, it's been less than one year, that quest for balance. Am I perfectly balanced? No. I'll have to work for near-balance every day that remains to me.

On January 20, 2011, Kass wrote a most wonderful post both in tribute to the writer Virginia Woolf, and to ask other bloggers about how they order their surroundings for writing. I was able to comment a bit about Woolf, one of my favorite authors and a beloved historical figure. But I couldn't say anything about my writing area, because I really had no routine, no staging. I felt both inadequate and dull. Today I'd be a little kinder to myself, remembering that I'd only returned to blogging one day before, after a 6-month breather. I'd been extremely ill, moved to a new home and was barely clearing some very dark clouds. I hadn't written in a very long time, and only once in my new location. There's no sin in that, nor in not being able to add to commentary. But it bothered me terribly. It made me feel very sad.

Now, suddenly, "writing" also means my work. I'm thinking to laminate or bronze the first check I receive solely in payment for writing. Has the reader ever divined that in addition to all of my other "-holisms", I might be classified a workaholic? I prefer to think I'm just painstaking and responsible about whatever work I undertake, but I am forced to acknowledge that I probably take it between my teeth like a dog with a bone and chew it to pulp. And there is all kinds of juju attached to my "work". Whether my work is running a little carpet cleaning company or enabling an executive committee to behave irresponsibly, trying to hit all the marks required of a union representative or simply behaving like the office monkey I can be when I won't engage, don't contribrute, refuse to participate, there is a certain sameness about my set-up for work. I've got definite ideas about what my area should look like, what items should be at my fingertips. It's not so very different now that my office is at home.

While I want my dictionary to be of the online variety, I love the heft of my Roget's thesaurus in my hand. Fully 2 inches thick, the pages have aged to a yellow-brown hue that pleases me. I play a game when I look up a word in the thesaurus. Does the word mean what I thought it means? Is there some synonym I may have never dreamed of? I find now that I win more often than the book wins. For more than 20 years, I've stored my colored pencils in small ceramic flower pots, the pencils sticking out like so many posies. I do not use highlighters ever, for any purpose, and I do not keep them at hand. I do keep complete coffee service at hand, even if there is another coffee set-up nearby. I want it at my desk. I always want a betta fish on my desk, and a live plant and several notepads, as I keep multiple lists running at all times. I keep a set of small weights and a hula hoop nearby and several small, framed pictures that are meaningful to me. My stack of CDs is about 16 inches deep, this in addition to all the YouTube links on my desktop. Yes, I know how I want my work space to feel.

It's different now. I'm still not 100% solid with being home, in "the robe", clacking away at the computer, and having it constitute my work. What do I need to do, start up the car, drive around the block into my own driveway and "arrive"? Organize a small faux "lobby"? Maybe make mens and womens separate restrooms? I could dress professionally for myself and then allow myself casual Fridays. I could start an office grapevine of gossip . . . or I could make some small changes to remind myself that my work is now different work, of the sort I've longed for, and it's going to look different.

In my home there is a small studio upstairs, presently unused. It is warm in the winter and hot in the summer. It has a large expanse of windows and French doors leading out onto a deck that overlooks the pool. It is well suited to host land-line telephone, internet and coffee service. It is rather removed from the rest of the living area of the house and, therefore, quiet. The cats thoroughly enjoy this little spot and wouldn't have to be enticed to join me. Should I make this my little atelier? I'm artsier now. Perhaps I should wear a beret. I own 3 genuine modern-day German military berets in different colors. Hmm . . tilted toward the side of my head . . . I have an Edith Piaf CD I could play loudly. I'd take up my antique crystal inkwell and my Waterman fountain pen with the 18k gold nib. I thought I might like a beautiful bottle of absinthe on the corner of the desk - no, I wouldn't drink any. I thought of it as decor. Then I decided what I'd really like are some of the sexy little absinthe spoons. I looked on eBay, the same place I spy out beautiful inkwells for the collection and - oh, yeah! Absinthe spoons.

David and George brought in people from both coasts for me to interview and I've already got more writing assignments. They were impressed with the work I'd done in 6 days. They were amazed I could talk pop art. They were pleased to see that my personality has returned, my vitality, my sense of excitement. I pleased myself in that I asked good questions during the interviews, connected well with my subjects, sparked new ideas. It was a good meeting. I met a most fascinating and pleasant man, and I'm not talking about the heat of sexual tension, but human warmth. "Can I take you out for a meal?" he asked. "No, not while I'm writing about you." "OK, I'll wait." Very nice, indeed.

On the way home, I decided to stop and pick up some things I needed. I'd been housebound for so long, even if by tethers of my own making. It had been a long time since I'd been out anywhere in the middle of a weekday, in the old neighborhood. I stopped at a nationally known megastore I detest. I don't like the trek through the place, I don't like to give them my money. Their prices are the best, however, and sometimes I bite the bullet. I got goo for my hair and moisturizer for my face, food for my cats, litter for said cats. I found a book I'd like to read, diet Dr. Pepper and some bits and pieces for the dolls I'm making. Finally my list was exhausted and it was time to check out. The lines weren't long, but what the hell? Every female customer in the place was carrying an armload of newspaper ads. It seems this particular store will honor any other store's lower advertised prices. I watched, fascinated, as matrons negotiated oranges priced individually vs. oranges priced by the pound, bickered about whether an 8-pack of light yogurt was the same as an 8-pack of regular yogurt, and just exactly what is the weight of those bags of Doritos. My eyes widened when the woman directly in front of me was busted for using as comparison the sale sheets that wouldn't go into effect for 2 more days. A young kid with a mullet highlighted much like my own hair stood behind me. "Have you ever seen anything like this?" "No, never." I looked at his purchases. A package of socks and a package of underwear. "You can go ahead of me. You've only got the two items." "Thank you, but haven't you been standing here a long time?" "Well, apparently not long enough, kid, because I'm still enthralled." Who knew? How long has this gone on?

Lying in my tub this morning, ears underwater, I enjoyed the distortion of sound, floating in the deep, deep water, and decided I want and need to write about something that isn't a particularly pleasant subject. April is Poetry Month and I was blown away last spring by all the wonderful presentations the various bloggers made. Mine will not be so pretty. I will be writing a series of posts under the heading of April Alliteration - Alcohol. I need to. It pleases me that I will write it from this end of the tunnel. Sunday I was journaling. Sometimes the writing takes on a life of its own as one's hands move involuntarily along the Ouija board. Without thinking about it very much, I found I'd written "I don't have to hide things and I don't have to drink." And that's what moves me forward toward doing the next right thing.

Something that charmed me: My BFF would know if it is some special time that honors women right now. I'm not as good about keeping up with such things, and - in fact - I rely upon her to tell me about special recognition or celebrations. However, in my own small world, I am celebrating women this week. Women older and quite young, women I know from different places and for different reasons. Of course I love my men friends, but this week, I appreciate the women. I had to get to a pretty advanced age to genuinely treasure what women can and will do for one another. Thank you, one and all. Sincerely.


  1. A wonderful post here, Leslie. I'm so pleased you have work. Work helps enormously I find, especially work that brings out the best in you.

    And the other essential for a woman, for all of us come to think of it: A room of one's own. My thanks to you Leslie and to you Virginia Woolf.

  2. @ Elisabeth ~ And here is yet another wonderful female friend popping in this week - thank you! I've had to wonder, sometimes, if I identify and define myself too much by my work, but for right now, that's OK. Where I was foundering, I am now firmly grounded and growing.

    Ah, V. Woolf. From the first biography I read, I've always felt I know her, understanding her pain and how she had to work around her difficulties to present what she had to say. Whenever I move on to a different world, she is the first soul I will look up.

  3. I bet you'd look adorable in a beret with Edith Piaf in the background surrounded by absinthe spoons.
    Things are looking up aren't they!
    xoxo Kim

  4. @ Numinosity Beads ~ Well, Kim, there's no doubt that I'd look um . . . CURIOUS with my beret and spoons, Edith carrying forth from the confines of the studio. Can't you imagine the looks on the faces of the neighbors if I went out onto the deck on the second story behaving as if I were in France or Italy or wherever I wanted to be at any given time?

    Things are looking SO up, it's a little frightening! But I rode the dark horse, and now I'll ride the carousel horse with equal aplomb. ;~}

  5. embedded in this marvelous piece is, i'm afraid, something i take exception to. i find the phrase "office monkey" insulting and demeaning to those that do that work. it is honorable work, as is all work, if it is done with dignity.
    i have been the boss, and cleaned the bathrooms, sometimes at the same time. it all needs to be done.

  6. @ rraine ~ Oh, I'm glad you said that so I can explain myself. I have never, ever used the phrase "office monkey" about anyone except myself. I don't demean ANYONE'S work efforts. But I have, from time to time, found myself sitting, just marking time, going through the motions, not doing what I'm capable of doing, not doing anything meaningful, not contributing. And that's when I feel like the son (daughter) of a simian. It was meant only about me at my lowest level of production. But I'm glad you brought it up. Truly.

  7. Love it!
    Two suggestions: laminate the check *stub* and deposit the actual check. And for more of an “office” feel, how about paper toilet seat liners? Then you too can feel the rush from sitting on it before it slowly slides into the bowl, exposing the bare seat. I can send you a box.

  8. @ CramCake ~ Oh, the seat liners are a GOOD touch! I always love the harsh, brittle rustle of paper products as I seat my bare self upon them. Maybe I could hope for one of those office bathroom misadventures, too.

    True story: in 1976 at the Krolak Center on West Charleston, the FAR west stretches of the city at the time, all the small office suites shared common restrooms. There was a nice young woman - a real estate appraiser - who worked for another company in the building and I followed her out of the ladies room one morning. Everything - EVERYTHING - on the back end of her had become tucked up in her pantyhose. Oh, yeah. Skirt, slip, toilet paper and seat liner. I slid up behind her and told her quietly, keeping very close to her backside so (hopefully) no one would notice.

    Man, this pissed her OFF! How DARE I notice? She hissed and snapped and I thought, "Hey, OK. I wouldn't want to walk around with my bare bottom showing right through, dragging a toilet paper tail, but more power to ya, Sis." I went back to work and - to my credit - I told no one.

    Fast forward: 2006. My company moves to temporary digs while we wait for our new building to be completed. I noticed on the monument sign outside that Ms. Appraiser now had her own company. "Great," I thought, "She's about my age - good for her." I rode up and stepped out of the elevator just as she stepped out of her office, carrying a poodle. I swear to god, she remembered me and seized up like a toad. I'm telling ya! I wonder if the poodle is now on rear end patrol?

    I like your idea of laminating the check STUB instead! Ingenious.

  9. If your going to wear a beret, you should be listening to Charlie Parker, not Edith Piaf. On second thought, don't. Defy the stereotype, I say!

    Believe it nor not, I have three Roget's Thesauruses as home (Roget, like Webster, is in the public domain, so any publishing company can use the name, and they do). I don't bring them to the library, so I rely on the on-line thesaureses, though I think the books give you more choices.

  10. @ Kirk ! Oh, yes, Bird would be wonderful, too. But I love to listen to Piaf warble even though I have no idea what she's singing about. That CD used to make Ex nuts. "Oh, come on. You don't really LIKE that, do you? It's making me crazy." I'd turn it up a little louder.

    Thesauruses or thesauri? I truly don't know the answer, I'm not cracking wise here. I'm not sure why I'm so attached to my old copy, but I am - I even like how the pages smell.

  11. Your studio sounds perfect. It has the two things I need - a window to gaze out into the garden while I ponder life...and COFFEE!

  12. I just looked it up. Both plural forms are correct. Of course, I looked it up on Wiki-nary, so who knows?

  13. @ Jenny ~ Girlfriend, you sure you don't want a beret? I've got some to share! Today I went up to the studio to size up whether I was brave enough to dive off the deck into the pool. That was suggested to me. Uh-uh. Not going to happen. Coffee is always at my fingertips. Stop by!

  14. @ Kirk ~ I'll accept that, since I truly didn't know. You're a wonderful, self-starting research assistant. I like that! Thank you. I believe I like the -sauri better because I find it easier to type.