March 2007


Sorry, I’m a busy man, can’t be fiddling around with all these sily blogs all the time.

But my good friend and esteemed colleague, Brianne ( 8) ), who will be leaving the company next week for greener pastures in some undetermined location, perhaps Chile, suggested the following post,  so she could rebut it:

What’s the deal with this whole “buy locally” phenomenon among the eco-crowd? I understand that it may save gas to not have to transport the food from Costa Rica, and the food may be a bit fresher, but don’t the Costa Rican farmers need our business at least as much, probably more, than the New England farmers do? Do we have to choose between globalization and ignoring the rest of the world?

If so,  I’d choose globalization. To me, the thing to do is allow globalization, and then push to improve the conditions the corporations set in those countries where they produce their products. Getting the corporations not to do business in the third world doesn’t seem to benefit the third world, as far as I can tell.

Another reason I probably don’t believe in buying locally is that I don’t care about local people any more than I care about people across the world. I’d rather give my money to whoever’s hungriest.

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First day on the new job, I went to a hanging. It’s a publishing term; we joked at the pun, but at times it felt like the end of a life. By the time I got back the contents of my desk had been moved: my computer, plants, pictures, the myriad papers scattered about, all relocated to similar positions in my new office.

I’m sure I’ll get to like it, having windows, a door to close, and a glass wall through which to watch the people passing by. I’ll like the job, which I’ve been doing off and on since I arrived there.

On the first day, though, it was slightly depressing. I never particularly wished for an office. I like the informal community of cubicles, being one of the guys, able to talk to people from your desk, and greet people as they pass by, fall into an unexpected conversation. Nobody’s going to unintentionally walk into my office. It feels like the difference between the city and the suburbs. You go to the city to be with people; you go to the suburbs to be alone.

I kept wondering if people were looking at me differently, thinking of me in a new way. More guarded, more adversarial, less like a friend. Thing is, I want the people working under me to be my friends, to want to hang out, confide in me, go out for drinks, joke with, invite me to things. I don’t make friends easily; I don’t understand how people do it outside of work.

I can see Ned’s vision of the darker me emerging, the one who kicks kittens. First you get moved into an office, and you end up staring at your coworkers through your glass walls, wondering what they’re thinking about you, slowly becoming more suspicious. You become overburdened with work, and you stop joining them for Friday night drinks. Eventually you will be forced to call them out on something, force them to do something they don’t want to do, and the adversarial relationship is cemented. You can forget about hanging out; suddenly they would rather talk about you than to you. And you start to think of them as obstacles, as tools to be manipulated in the accomplishment of your task.

Friday after work everyone went out for drinks. I said I would be there, but at 6:30 I was still in the office with my boss, revising documents, scanning pages, sending E-mails. I could feel the sweat stains forming, my hair falling out. Any kittens better watch out.

So they made me a manager at work today. Hooray. I imagine it will soon be a case of careful what you wish for. I get my own office, apart from everyone else. As my mother in law said, I’m one of the bad guys. But no, I pledge to be one of the good guys, fighting the good fight on everyone’s behalf. Only there aren’t as many people to blame if something goes wrong, or doesn’t change for the better. I like going around and checking on people, and coming up with ways to make things go smoothly. Also, I will have a window, which will make my plants happy. My orchid apparently doesn’t care…it’s doing just fine with no care whatsoever.

What else? Isabel’s been sick with this crazy coughy cold. Her boss made her go to D.C. anyway, to this National Geographic conference, so she could barely hear by the time she got off the plane. I’m taking all the Vitamin-C hoax pills I can find to ward it off. Maybe if I have 100 times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, I will be invincible. Maybe even fly.

By the way, has everyone been keeping up with the latest works of the commonwealth bricoleurs?

It’s like this:

You accuse a guy of something, say, stealing from you. He says he didn’t do it. So you punch the guy in the face. He punches back. You say, “Hey, I told you this guy was a jerk. Doesn’t matter if he was stealing–look at him punching me. That’s why I have to beat him up.” The pummeling continues.

My job kind of blew up this week. I came in Monday and the boss put me in charge of everyone, told me to find a way to meet the deadline. It’s exciting to be in such high demand, everyone needing you. I feel so special. I also spend all my waking hours with work on my mind, trying to think out how everything’s going to get finished in time.

I want to be in charge of everyone, but I also want everyone to like me. Is it possible to do both?

What else is going on? I finished my acting class this week. Apparently I was really amazing in my final scene. Next stop Hollywood. I do think I’ll take the next one. The teacher is really good, fun to learn from.

I think it’s a good class for me, beyond the craft of acting. Good for my goal of being active in life. For committing to the part. One of the things the teacher, Fred, drives home is that too many beginning actors hold back, underact, shrug a lot, because it seems more natural or realistic. But really it can be a lack of commitment. It’s riskier to show strong emotions, to reveal how the character really feels, but it can be more rewarding for the audience, and ultimately for the actor.

So it seems that acting’s a perfect way to exercise your personality, your willingness to commit to life, to being unafraid to take chances, show who you really are. To stop being so “shruggy”. That’s what I am too much in life, shruggy. Holding my cards close to my chest, waiting to show how I feel until there is absolutely no risk to it at all.

I hope these things you try out on stage can actually be applied to real life. It’s a good way of thinking about things in any case.

I used to follow all the White House scandals. Now it’s all just a blur. It’s tiring to try to keep track of all the ways Bush is corrupt.

He blithely declares that the laws Congress is passing are not binding, and then goes ahead and violates them. He (or Cheney or Rove) pushes the Attorney General to fire U.S. Attorneys who aren’t prosecuting Democrats quickly enough before an election. Tomorrow it will be something else. I’ve forgotten more of Bush’s scandals, due to sheer volume, than I ever remember happening with another president. If Iran-contra happened tomorrow, say, I imagine it would be forgotten within a week. It’s just the normal way of doing business for them.

At some point, you just have to hope that the public gets it. From Bush’s poll numbers, I suppose they do. And maybe the Democrats in Congress will do what it they can restore accountability and respect for the Constitution. What else can you do? The remaining 32 percent, are they unpersuadable? Because I just don’t feel like I have it in me to have a knockdown fight with whoever still supports the Republicans at this point.

Maybe it’s just a matter of waiting it out. Until then, I’ll just post occasional links in a futile attempt to persuade the others that no, this isn’t the way things are supposed to be done.

All right, now we’re talkin. It’s a party in here!

Nice day today, feels like spring. I think I’ll take a walk to the coffee shop and do some work. Everybody’s kind of freaking out at work, so I guess I’ll have to save the day as usual (he said facetiously). That’s okay, for some reason I love planning out units of literature textbooks. If anyone has any ideas of good brief play excerpts appropriate for middle schoolers, please write in.

Speaking of jobs, I’m glad to hear Andy got a new job. What is it, pray?

I saw that there was a trailer for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie out. I don’t know how big the news was outside the state, but the movie caused quite a stir in Boston a while back with a guerrila ad campaign that people thought was terrorism. People thought these little lite-bright boards they hung around the city were bombs, and everything pretty much shut down. Anyway, if you haven’t seen this press conference of how the perpetrators responded to the charges, you should:

The perfect antidote to paranoid policing…

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