Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Have you noticed the abundance of human billboards lately?  Those guys/girls standing on corners wagging big sign boards begging you to come get a pizza, or more likely, to shop at a 50% off liquidation sale?  I’ve seen plenty of these advertising engineers lately.  They are not just carrying signs, but truly, signs of the times.

I cannot remember a time when I have seen so many of these people.  It’s not just the Chik-fil-A cow, or the CiCi’s pizza hawker, or kids begging to wash your car for a little cash anymore.  This profession is booming, at least in my community.  I see these guys/girls on three out of four corners at major intersections most days of the week.

Not only are these jobs more prevalent, the requirements have become more rigorous.  This job is for the quick thinker, the light-footed, the speedy and the coordinated.  If you don’t have three out of four of these qualities, your career as a human billboard will be short.  You won’t survive your first day on the job.  Dancers, sign-guitarists (think air guitarists, but with signs – in case you had trouble figuring that one out … ok, probably you didn’t), and improvisational actors have taken second jobs as advertising engineers.  Gone are the days when these sign-bearers  just stood there, sweating and tottering and dying of boredom.  These people are entertainers and athletes with stamina and personality.  They dance, cajole, dip and curl, hip and hop for hours at a time.  Well, I can’t swear to their actual hours on the job, but on days that I come and go, these same people are on their appointed corners performing their hearts out.

Ok, maybe they’re not all so enthusiastic, but perhaps we could learn a little from the ones who are.  Maybe not dancing and singing around the office.  If I did that, I know my boss would personally coordinate an on-the-job intervention with a mental health professional.  If I could, however, take just an eensy bit of that same enthusiasm, and channel it a little differently…  You know, just keep it all inside my head so no one is the wiser.  Ooohhh, what fun we can have at work!!!   Seriously, I know it’s all in the attitude, and some days I do have one.  Some days I even have a good one!

Tomorrow is Friday, so my attitude is improving by leaps and bounds!  If anyone has suggestions on how to make work at the office more fun, let’s hear it!!!

Page-a-Day Commentary No. 2

Lily Tomlin is one funny lady, and one of my favorite comediennes.  Page-a-Day attributed the quote below to her, but I discovered it was actually written by her collaborater, Jane Wagner, and was spoken by Lily in her one-woman performance in a 1985 play entitled “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.”   Apparently, the play was also made into a movie.  I have seen neither, but I think the quote below is funny, and rings true. 

“No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.”

Think about it.  If you wake up one morning feeling ragged and contemptuous, if you go through your day distrusting everyone and thinking the world is full of idiots, if you constantly second guess others, complain and criticize, do you stop when you go to bed?  Maybe not.  Maybe it continues in your dreams … and again the next morning.  The world will always supply you with fresh material for your disgust!!

I think Ms. Wagner’s / Ms. Tomlin’s message here is simple … if this is you, then perhaps you should hold a “let’s get real” meeting with yourself.  If that doesn’t work, try a strong laxative …

Ducks Ducks Geese

If you look out of my office window you might see a scene something like this:   

work-jan-09-pics-020-small1

Wow, that is looking out of my office window, and it is the crappy picture I took!  Right before I took this picture, one of these guys was looking straight in the window at me, like he had my number.  I see you in there lady, you’re not foolin’ me.  Quit staring and take a picture, why don’t you?  So, I did, but the minute I grabbed my camera, he went back to pecking at the ground all nonchalant like.  Anyway, only eight of them are pictured here, but about eight more were off to the right side, I just couldn’t get them all in one picture.  These feathered friends often hang around my office.

You say geese, I say ducks, yeah whatever.   I’ve never had the knack for telling them apart, until now.  Someone actually corrected me, put me in my place, gave me that knowing you-must-be-dumb-as-a-stump look for saying the word “ducks” in the presence of the almighty geese.  Anyway, I just looked these suckers up on Google Image, and yep, think they’re geese … I stand corrected … but from now on, they’re just my feathered friends …

My fine feathered friends built nests and laid eggs last Spring in the nearby bushes.  Then before I could say snap, crackle, pop, I could hear the wee widdle-waddle of cute little geese.  Definitely looking cute following their elders daily from the small manmade lake just a short distance away, then widdle-waddling back to the office.  Back to the 9 to 5 grind.  Except it’s 8 to 5 at my office, little duckies, er geesies, er feathered friendsies.  Where in the world do you get off thinking you can come in at 9:00?  Wherever it is that people get that extra hour of sleep and still get off at 5:00, I want to work there!

Along with the fine feathered amigos and their cutesy offspring comes a not-so-cutesy after effect.  Geese shit all over the parking lot and in every green space in between.  I dodge geese poo land mines all the way to my car at times.  Thankfully, it’s easy to spot.  Shall we go into a discussion of size and shape here?  I think not.  Suffice it to say, geese poo doesn’t look so different from small dog poo, and of that I am well acquainted.

Late to the Party

Well into 2009 already, I’m late to the “Happy New Year” well wishing party.  I figured I’d let everyone else get it out of their system first, then I’d chime in.  So, Happy New Year everyone!  Time marches on.

Not sure how this year will play out.  New year, new president, screwed up economy, wars everywhere.  In a short time, we will have a new president, and all I know is I am damn glad I am not him.  My job is stressful enough.   In deciding every day which thing begging for my attention will actually get my attention during the day, the greatest risk I run is pissing someone off, or missing a deadline, neither of which would throw the world into a state of panic.  It would throw me into a panic, perhaps my boss, perhaps have a small effect on my company, but that’s where it would end.  I can’t imagine having the world’s weight on my shoulders.  I’d run screaming into the streets the first day on the job.  That’s a funny visual, if you think about it – Obama running from the White House, flailing arms and legs, screaming all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue – but who could blame him?  For blogging’s sake, I wish I had a video of that image to insert here, but on the other hand, let’s hope none of us ever see that video!

On the upside, it is a new year, new president, new perspective and things are so far down now that pretty soon they’ve got to go up!  My optimism is boundless!!  Well, check with me in a few months …

The World Below by Sue Miller

the-world-below-small 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Miller is a gifted storyteller who weaves believable characters into believable situations.  In this story, her protagonist, Catherine, is a woman who struggles to come to terms with her life by delving into her family’s history.  Catherine is a divorced mom with grown children who, upon inheriting her grandmother’s house, leaves her teaching job in California to return to her childhood home in Vermont.

Catherine spent many days of her childhood at her grandparent’s, and moved into their home when she was a teenager.  Her own mother had committed suicide after suffering for years from mental illness, and her father felt incapable of caring for her and her brother, so they moved in with their grandparents.  Upon Catherine’s inheritance of the property after an aunt’s death, she discovers her grandmother’s diary, and realizes her grandmother, Georgia, was a woman she never knew.

Georgia contracted tuberculosis as a teen and was sent to a sanitarium by the family doctor, as was the custom of the day.  Georgia fell in love with a boy, Seward, who was far more ill than she was with the disease, and the diary tells of their heart-wrenching romance within the confines of the sanitarium.  As teens do, they make plans for the future, Georgia knowing that Seward’s chances for survival are slim.

The family doctor taking care of Georgia decides she is well enough to return home.  His feelings for Georgia run deeper, and he asks her to marry him.   Georgia had kept her feelings for Seward a secret from the doctor (John), and John had his own secret that he had kept from her.  They marry and live a calm and outwardly happy life together, but as the diary spells out, underneath was a current of pain and tension.

Catherine discovers more about her mother’s mental illness through the diary, and brings to rest some of the pain associated with that period of her life.  She befriends an older man that becomes her constant companion, and envisions how she can make a new life in this place.  Ultimately, she struggles with whether or not she should stay in Vermont, or sell the home and move back to her life in California.

I read another Sue Miller book years ago, While I was Gone, and I like her writing style.  She writes about people dealing with their pain and how they cope.  Her characterization of Georgia and, in particular, Georgia’s time at the sanitarium, were compelling reading, and the predominant catalyst of this story.

Page-a-Day Commentary No. 1

Keeping this age theme going, here’s a quote I like:

“Youth is a gift of nature, age is a work  of art.”

Although I’ve heard it before, this quote was on a “Page-a-Day” calendar that my friend, Char, gave me for my last birthday (actually birthday before last), you know, way back when I was in my 40’s.  I don’t remember the name of the calendar – that happens with age – but the theme of the calendar was women and how wonderful we are and how busy we are, but mostly how wonderfully busy we are. 

I saved all the pages I liked, or felt were meaningful, and on occasion, pages that prompted a smart-ass retort on my part, with the intention of writing down something about them. … and well, here we are.  This particular quote doesn’t just apply to busy women, but to everyone.  I like this quote so much, let me say it again:

“Youth is a gift of nature, age is a work of art.” 

I guess the author is unknown, as no credit was given, but I like this quote more and more every time I read it.  I was always told that age is only a number.  Not true … age is art!  Some of us are coloring books with crayon marks scribbled outside the lines, and others of us are fine art, marvelous Renoirs and Matisses, and some of us are somewhere in between.

I like that analogy.   It makes sense, and I’m sticking with it.