— From EF —

Our mail carrier here in Sebastopol is a good friend of mine.  A couple of times a week, we turn a quick chat into something pretty satisfying.  It’s been a great feature of living here, having an on-tap buddy.  We both grin happily as we cuss all the buggers who are busy driving Gaia to the scrap heap.

When we had our theatre in Lancaster PA, our mail carrier was great, too.  He clearly loved his job and was proud of it.  He was good-looking and intelligent and enjoyed his daily rounds.  It kind of opened my eyes to the fact that you don’t have to have an artistic pursuit or a bloated paycheck to work a good solid job and enjoy doing it.

Well, my local postal buddy is on the verge of cashing it in.  Things have changed.  Fewer people are being told to do more, and in an inefficient chaotic way.  Management is getting further away from the actual job — Sebastopol is now being run out of Oakland.  Back in the day, the shift began at 6am, you went out on a first round with the packages that had arrived yesterday after hours, then came back to get your regular route bins, and by late afternoon you were done.

Now carriers are being intercepted mid-route, and last week he got handed a huge load in mid-afternoon that had him backtracking the area until after 8pm.  The smooth operation of the intake and sort and assign is out the window, and once you get above the line-worker level, nobody seems to know what they’re doing.

The lower rung of the work force is being libeled non-stop in the media.  Nobody wants to work, it seems: these bums want to lie back in the hammock and cash their checks.

You know what?  I don’t know those folks.

I know my mailman, who loves driving his route but has had it with his job.  And I know two brilliant, dedicated people who worked their asses off to become an RN.  One worked as a nurse for a goodly number of years but has left the profession — a big factor was intolerable management.  The other, a recent graduate, just left her first job because of bullying by superiors.  They both wanted to do their work, but couldn’t stand the job.

Does getting promoted rot your brain?  If you want to hire the best people, what makes you treat them like doltish children when you get them?  Is it a danger sign if a worker actually likes the work?  I don’t know if this is the answer, but at least you can laugh while you’re cussing:


— From CB —

Leaving profundity to the side this week, I was musing on the fact that regularity has entered my life to a slight degree.  It’s always been my ambition to claim a daily span for writing and other things I want to do but can find fifteen ways to avoid.  Of course the presence of other people, meetings, screaming deadlines, last-minute emails, etc., all conspire to riddle the day with large-caliber bursts.

Of late, though, a structure has evolved, at least at the outset of the day.  Alarm at 8:20, stagger downstairs by 8:40, hug Elizabeth, check email, heat my homemade muffin in the micro, get stuff ready.  At 9:05 or so we take off for the gym, weights on alternate days, the running machine on others.  I’m plugged in earwise to my iPod, usually Mahler or Beethoven or Steve Reich, whose fervent minimalism pushes me harder than I intend.  Then Elizabeth leaves me off at the town square, where I can get coffee at an outdoor stand for only a buck if I bring my own cup.  I eat my muffin and study Spanish, making the progress of a Sanskrit-speaking snail.

Then to the library for two steady hours of writing.  Usually my iPod has to insulate my brain, due to ambient chatter.  Beethoven string quartets, Tin Hat Trio, Mozart, or some Armenian stuff work best for that.  Firm quota of 750 words daily on our new novel HAMMERS — usually I make it.  I browse the shelves a few minutes and start walking home.

It’s about a mile and a quarter, very beautiful, and these days it’s a working walk with my script of KING LEAR, aiming to memorize two pages a week — same snail as mentioned before.  Then I’m home, warming up leftovers for lunch.

That varies on Sunday, more or less our sabbath, when we often go somewhere, and on Monday, when the library’s closed.  And after 1 pm, the schedule flies out the window, except where we’ve allotted specific times for rehearsal, garden work, editing, hot tub, dinner upstairs by the fireplace, or other dark practices.  I read at odd moments before dinner or bed, or when I’m trying to avoid some gnarly task.  Harder and harder to do business stuff, file email, deal with the outside world.  We have little spates of social life, then spans of isolation.  I still often write late at night, but that tends to induce having another glass of wine, and next day I feel it.

What’s fascinating to me is the teeter-totter dynamic: my hatred of regularity, consistency, sameness; and my desire for it.  I feel as if the morning schedule is kind of a beachhead, like the landing of the Pilgrims, that both promises and threatens to bring order to the wilderness.  Does it want to claim a larger portion of the wilderness?  I fear it may.  Or maybe I can let the superego reign over the morning, while I ride the dolphin bareback the rest of the day.

— From the Fool —

Today was a very scary week.  Wars and shootings and people going nuts, the 49ers losing and the death of the planet.  Nasty stuff.

But I finally said to myself, Hey, don’t just stand there peeing your pants.  It’s up to you and every good citizen to take charge.  You don’t like the way the world is, do something about it!

So I hid my head.

First I hid it under the pillow, but that was all cracker crumbs.

Then I hid it in the oven, but I had to cook dinner.

Then I hid it under my big wooly dog Blubber, but he always licks his butt.

Then I tried to hide it in the closet, but that’s full of old computers.

I went out back and dug a hole a foot deep and hid it there, but I got worms up my nose.

Then I thought, the place to hide it is out in plain sight, like in Sherlock Holmes or something, so I put it on the desk on top of a lot of bills, but then I put a stamp on it and tried to mail it but it wouldn’t fit in the mail slot.

Then I hid it under a pile of newspapers but the news trickled down my neck and nothing stinks worse than month-old news.

I tried to just hide my eyes, but I could still see nightmares, which weren’t quite as bad as TV but still bad enough.

I tried to hide it where the sun don’t shine, but that takes talent.

Turns out you can’t hide your head unless you detach it completely, but then you can’t see to hide it.

In the long run, it’s probably easier just to go ahead and change the world.  Make it nicer.

I’ll try that tomorrow.


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