Saturday, April 4, 2009

Looks Like This Is The End

So, the end of this week marks the beginning of the end of my current job.

As a result, I'm back in that period of trying to figure out what I want/need/should carry away when it all comes to a close.

Sitting here, the comments made by some folks stuck in my head like mental spinach between my teeth, I only know that I have no idea what that might be.

But I do know this.

There are probably many things that we can each outline in terms of what we would do differently if we had it all to do again. But I don't think that you will look back and think, "I should have not been so nice. I should have not been so willing to listen. I should not have been willing to make sacrifices so that others could have a little more. I should not have given all I had to give to try and make it work (1)."

Make no mistake, each of these things have bitten me in the rear on a few occassions. But I'm afraid that this is just who I am.

Now to figure out how to get all that on a resume.

1. Reading this I realize that these can all be applied to relationship issues as well. I find that horrifying.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

TMI Don't Know

For a while there I became very, very cynical about the confessional memoir. And so it's noted, this started before the genre fell into a million little pieces.

I actually attribute my apprehension to grad school where there was this kind of competition to dig up and lay out the most painful of childhood memories on the page. You could almost see the literary posturing. "You think you were screwed up? Check this out...."

Don't get me wrong, some of the people I studied with were truly brilliant nonfiction writers. In fact, one of my favorites wrote about her childhood in an almost casual way. And, truly, her's was not a casual childhood. She was dealing with the consequences of mental illness before psycho-pharmacology transformed into clinic chic.

But she wrote without pity and without asking for sympathy. It was simply the life she had to write about.

Leslie Morgan Steiner's new memoir Crazy Love might draw me back into the genre because the interviews I've heard her do today have the same tone, the same kind of acceptance that says "listen to me" and not "pity me."

No, I'm saving that pity...for the cover of her book.

Who knew the Kiss Army opened a graphic design firm?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Muy, muy awkward.

I spend a lot of time at Starbucks. I admit it. I do.

In fact, just this morning I started my day in a meeting at a Starbucks (1).

Like the good city dweller that I am I left my meeting at Starbucks it was three whole blocks from my office (2)...I stopped in a non-Starbucks for a tea (3).

I walked to the counter, leaned over so as to be heard above the gaggle of cherry blossom enthusiasts behind me debating bagel choices, and said more loudly than intended, "A grande black tea please."

Grande being a Starbucks vocabulary word not spoken in this particular shop. Or, more precisely, not used in relationship to beverage size as was quickly evidenced by the look on the face of the Hispanic woman behind the counter. A face that said, "Are you kidding me?"

1. It was not a job interview...though barista is on my list of possibilities at this point.
2. There are actually three Starbucks located on those three blocks.
3. See, this other place gives packets of Mighty Leaf tea which means that I can actually pull a good 3 large teas out of a $2 purchase. This is not only good economics but allows me to not have to leave the office again until 3pm...when I get my afternoon Starbucks hit.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Once I Had a Bookstore...Made It Run...

The city of Cambridge (as in the city where Harvard's ivy-covered walls are standing) is evicting Almost Banned in Harvard Square Booksellers.

Quite literally.

You see, Almost Banned is a sidewalk bookshop run by a man the Boston Globe refers to as homeless. But here's the thing, I think that he had a home...and a business. They just happened to be located on the same footprint on Massachusetts Avenue and required the owner to spend his evenings in a sleeping bag under the same tarp that protected his inventory.

Ken O'Brien who, according to the article, "has sold or given away tens of thousands of books since opening nearly three years ago" doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for him.

And, since it's what O'Brien asked for, I feel less guilty for the fact that I don't...feel sorry for him I mean.

I feel sorry for the citizens of Cambridge and everyone walking through the city that won't have the chance to pick up an amazing book for just a few bucks. I feel sorry for the fact that at the same time we have veggievangelists telling us to eat local we've got folks who can't see the value in the quirks and surprises that make our cities special places to live.

I'm going to give the last words of this post to Larry Millman, an Almost Banned customer who sums it up nicely: "I come by here every day, and it redeems my visit to a part of Cambridge that is becoming increasingly colorless, faceless, and franchised. I think it's a terrible sign of the times and one less reason for me to visit Harvard Square."

Monday, March 30, 2009

"It's pronounced Franken-steen."

I like Frankenstein.

As in the book.

Not the political metaphor. Not the symbol of technology gone wrong. Not the sound bite.

The book.

The actual honest-to-goodness book (1) written by an eighteen year-old Mary Shelley about a man who creates a monster.

My understanding of the novel's creation is that it actually began life as a short story. Or, more precisely, Shelly believed she would write a short story inspired by the experiments of Erasmus Darwin and ended up writing something more.

The idea blossomed and Shelly created a modern myth that has inspired generations of artists, writers and performers...including The Three Stooges.

So maybe the lesson is that we don't always know what it is that we're doing...we just let it go where it wants to go.

Even if that means creating a monster.

1. So it's noted, I know that the book was written as a commentary on the industrial revolution, but you get where I'm going...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Telling Stories

Today I was reminded of the Graham Greene short story "The End of the Party."

It's beautiful, elegant and absolutely, positively horrifying.

Seriously. Terrifying.

Think twins. Think nanny. Think gaggle of British school children. Think a post-tea game of hide and seek.

I know, I know. It sounds not scary at all.

But it is.