Friday, June 19, 2015

The Bobs, The Boss, and Books.

So, in the same week that my boss was up and abruptly quitting, management has brought in some consultants to help with "processes." These two events are not directly related - the lack of systems and processes contribute to the stress everyone is under, but my boss didn't quit because they are moving in the direction of fixing the problems. It's all chemistry, and I'm still not sure mine will ever work there.

The consultants seem like nice guys - but of course, we are all jaded veterans of the industry, so we all can recite lines from Office Space at the drop of a hat, and we all independently started referring to them as The Bobs. I don't think any of us can remember their real names; they are just The Bobs.

The Bobs were very nice, and I hope they can help. Of course, they mostly talked to the management team, while the people in the trenches who know what systems we are lacking weren't consulted. (I was, only because Engineer Guy told them they needed to talk to me.)

Meanwhile, it's Friday! Yay! Today was my boss's last day, and Engineer Guy and I are going to be up to our eyeballs on Monday, figuring out how to cope with this. Engineer Guy is sort of my new boss, but he isn't, because they will probably bring in a replacement for our mutual boss, and we'll have to figure out how we all will work together, again. It's not an acrimonious breakup on our end; we'll be able to text and email and call him with questions whenever we need to, but it's still going to be a new layer of stress on top of the existing issues, which are legion.

So, I really need this weekend. I don't even care if it rains; I need an excuse to do nothing.

But of course, I'm not really doing nothing. Sophie is going for her now bi-monthly pedicure and butt squeeze bright and early tomorrow, and after, I have NOTHING TO DO, unless I want to do it. I'm more relaxed already. Weather permitting, I will swim. I will paint my nails. I will knit (after my nails dry) and maybe splurge on Chinese takeout for dinner. And sleep. Damn, do I ever need sleep.

Books. As I've said, I am addicted to audiobooks. They get me through my long drive to work in the morning, and get me through dog walks, housework, you name it. I love American history, and big, chewy audiobooks. I'm years late in reading (listening to) No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. I am loving it SO much. Yeah, you know, it only won a Pulitzer, so it took me a while to get around to it.

Listening to this book triggered an odd nostalgia for me: this era was my parents' formative years. My dad served in the Navy in the South Pacific, as an impossibly skinny, short kid from Jersey City, while my mother graduated from high school and proudly took a job as a clerk typist at the Navy Base in Bayonne, New Jersey. They met after the war, but WWII was very much part of their young adulthood. My mother kept a picture of "her" Lieutenant, whose name escapes me now, for many decades after the war. The lieutenant was her boss in the clerk typist pool at the Navy Base. Such a glam job - decades later, we all died laughing when Saturday Night Live created their immortal parody Navy commercial in the 70s - Bayonne

This young WAVE (a very pretty, smiling young officer in her trim uniform) made a huge impression on my 18 year old mother - I think she represented all the adventure she felt she could never have in her own life. I doubt that young woman, whoever she was, ever knew what she meant to my very controlled and repressed mother, and never would have imagined that my mother kept that snapshot all her life. And my father's Navy memories were a highlight of his life, told and retold to me, and then to my kids, at nearly every holiday gathering.

I do get a bit choked up when I remember how, near the end of my father's life, a young PA at his latest cardiologist's office was taking his history, and saw that he'd served in WWII. This lovely young man stopped taking the history and stood up and said, "May I shake your hand, sir?" My parents were so impressed, they told me about it again and again. It was a bright spot in a hard time. I'm sure this PA did this with every elderly veteran he met, but still, what a lovely and thoughtful thing.

So, while I am adoring No Ordinary Time, simultaneously shocked by the overt, cartoonishly awful racism of not that many generations ago (quotes from the Navy reports on letting Negroes serve are mind-blowing - they don't teach that in history class), and rolling my eyes at how the conservatives have been singing the same song for three generations, and seeing how far we've come, while not that much has fundamentally changed.

So, as nostalgia does, it led me to think of other memories mostly forgotten, that I want to share with my grandchildren. I suddenly remembered a stash of slides I'd thrown on a high shelf, after I cleaned out my parents' house when my mother died. I hadn't thought of them in years, but I suddenly had an urge to sort through them and digitize them. My son had been asking me what I wanted for my birthday, and now I know: I want a film to digital converter gadget, so I can review and save these slides to digital.

This was actually my second stage of thinking about these things. In the process of cleaning out the hellhole office/uninviting guest room, I found all the ancient folders of my mother's recipes, and realized that they are falling apart. (We are talking freebie flyers of recipes from 1959 here.) I need to scan those suckers and preserve them, before I open the folder again and find nothing but crispy flakes of slick paper.

This was a largely shit week in all directions, but I'm finding my center in finding memories my grandchildren might want to know. And the original,faded magazine clipping of the chrusciki cookies my mother made every Christmas (though we're Irish, not Polish).

Maybe it's part of meditation - I'm finding my center.


ellen kirkendall said...

It's nice to see you thinking of your mother again, separate from the difficult experience of her later years. If you live long enough your perspective changes again and again.

Catherine said...

Perspective does change. It's not just her later years that were difficult - someday I may write about the whole saga - but I do see why she was the way she was.

Brenda said...

WAY off topic, but I think I am the worst Yorkie mom ever. Hannah just fell off of the deck! It is about a four foot drop. We were both on the deck, and I wasn't watching her---I was fussing with my flowers. I heard a little noise, and looked down---there she was, sitting in my daylilies and looking around with a very puzzled look on her face. I know she can't see very well, and my guess is that she just walked right off of the edge and fell. I watch her very carefully when she is wandering around in the yard because I worry that she will find a little gap in the fence and slip out or some animal will get her, like a hawk or something. She seems to be okay, but I feel pretty bad about it. I thought that she was safe.

Catherine said...

Oh, Brenda, I remember the night Murphy fell off the bed! My bed is fairly high, and he hit with a sickening thud and a startled scream, and I was half afraid to walk around the bed and see how he was - he was standing beside the bed, looking very confused, but fortunately, uninjured. At least the plants broke Hannah's fall! It's so hard to judge their vision, too, because even Murphy can fake being able to see more than he really can, until he does something like walk straight into a fire hydrant you can't tell he's so blind.

Anonymous said...

Brutus the Italian Greyhound of beloved memory, never slowed down for his cataracts - and he ran around the corner of the house slap-bang into the wheelbarrow! Still didn't slow down until the Pancreatic cancer forced him to !!

Gae, in Callala Bay