Monday, July 21, 2008

sea of cubbies

Not to riff on Mike's post about his new job, but I have a new job too. A new job at my old job.

I've worked at this company, off and on, in various capacities and departments, since 1995. I was a Quark guru. An editor. An artist. A copywriter. A faux marketing director. A freelance writer. Fulltime. Parttime. Always the one actually doing the work.

And I was fine with that. I liked being left alone to do the work. I needed no accolades, no pats on the back, just a copy of the latest whatever magazine/brochure/program my work appeared in. I don't ask for much.

Years ago I suggested they ought to have a nice little place where a lactating mother could pump breast milk. The wave of the future! I said. They thought I was nuts. It was just a little creepy hauling the electric milk sucker into the vice-president's office to pump when he was out of town. But I did it, and I was the only one. It beat the bathroom.

They scoffed at my idea of a 4-day workweek when my kids were little. So I quit. Taught for a couple years. Kids. They're funny.

Soon after I quit, they created a room for breast pumping. And they grudgingly started offering parttime and flextime. To appease the militants.

It's convenient. It's familiar. People like me there. I'm like the crazy aunt who never leaves the party.

It's a black hole, eager to suck your life away. The cleaning people think there are ghosts in the building.

It's a job. It comes with a cubby. I will oversee the company's flagship publication. My ed board gets generous honorariums. Meetings worldwide. I get a credit card. And a staff of young things half my age, who I will alternately nurture and desperately attempt to convince that they need to get out NOW while they still can.

Sure, I'm grateful, and honestly, a little surprised, that they've chosen me to do this job. A square peg in a round hole. In my current situation, it's a lot easier to rationalize selling my soul to pay the bills. I have no choice.

During my orientation today, the HR gal handed me my temporary nameplate.

"I still have my other permanent one."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I took it when I left."

"Oh. You weren't supposed to do that. You were supposed to give it to me. I put it in your file, so if you come back, we'd have it." They actually have a policy for ex-employee nameplates.

Rule broken. Mission accomplished.

Friday, July 04, 2008

dragon scrotum

The annual 4th of July celebration in Wenonah passed by much like it always does, with a few notable differences.

The boys and I arrived late; the parade had already double backed by the time we got there. That's never happened to me before.

I missed the battle of the bands, the battle royale between the Pitman Hobo Band and the Bonsal Blues Band. The parade stops when the bands pass each other, and they together play one or two rousing patriotic songs. It's the true highlight of the parade, and it makes that 9:15 am beer that much more refreshing.

Remy didn't run out in the street to fetch the thrown candy. Boo did, but only under duress. He probably felt a little ridiculous, this 6-foot 13-year-old, running down the street for Smarties and Sweetarts and Bit 'O Honeys and Bottle Caps, and, if he was lucky, the occasional and widely prized Tootsie Roll. Why did someone think it was a good idea to package the world's most detested candy in huge BJ-size bags? Does
anyone really like Smarties?

Then I went to O'Connor's (Oak's) for more morning beer. I finally got to talk to Jack Wiler, who's a hoot with tremendous recall of his life growing up in Wenonah. Also Jim Maddox, who blogs about nearby Woodbury Heights...great to read their blogs about local history and shared baby boomer experiences, regardless of locale. Thanks, Jack.

(Because I am so much younger than Jack, I can only place myself on the tail end of the baby boom, and I can't remember shit anyway, and that's why I like his blog.)

The usual crowd of over-the-hill hippie guys were at Oak's and, as I was unaccompanied by kids and dh, I was able to talk to some of them at length. These were some of the guys I spent my teenage years hanging out with, guys like Ron, Jim, Victor, Richie, Larry, Steve...mostly blue collar guys with Peter Pan syndrome who used to punctuate every other word with "fucking" and "man" back in the 70s, so a conversation with any of them might go something like this:

"Hey, Victor."

"Hey, Carey. Hey, have you seen Paul? He was fucking here a minute ago, man, and now he's fucking disappeared."

"Sorry, I haven't seen him."

"Fuck. He has my fucking CAR, man."

Victor and Jack shared a story about one evening when they had driven to the Pine Barrens. Jack's brother Mick was there, and somebody else, I don't remember. They had all dropped acid, and they remembered the exact dosage. Apparently Victor had received some extra-strength blotter, but wasn't aware of its exaggerated potency. So he took 2 tabs, which was something like the equivalent of 4 regular-strength tabs. Jack took one, Mick took 1/2. How the HELL these guys remember this, I don't know.

So they're out driving in the Pine Barrens and swear to GOD there's a car that's following them, right on the bumper, along the scary, dark, winding roads through the woods. Then, suddenly, as if it were an alien spacecraft, if disappears. Like
that! Then they recounted how the tree branches turned into arms reaching out at them, these blue alien arms. A trip to remember, evidently, but how one can remember anything on that much blotter astounds me.

Victor told me he studies Tibetan Buddhism, and then shared with me information about his various tattoos. Apparently there's a dragon around his scrotum. Thanks, Victor!

I see these guys once a year, and they never cease to amuse me.

The mug was really lame this year. They've apparently run out of historical buildings to highlight, so they threw some clip art on it. Even my friend Lisa gave up on the mug this year. She's been an avid collector, and to my knowledge has never missed a 4th. But she didn't come to Wenonah this year, she and her festive 4th of July socks, and I missed her.

I'd been dreading this day for awhile, given the tension between the inlaws and me and probably all their friends...long story, but I wasn't exactly feeling the love upon my arrival in my old hometown. But then after a couple of beers and compliments at Oaks before heading down to the firehouse for more, the day became a nostalgic trip back to the 70s, when drugs were cool, everybody was your best friend, and older guys who could have easily taken advantage of teenage jailbait--even guys with tattoos and fast cars and motorcycles who said "fuck" all the time--were gentlemen.