Category Archives: quickies

Job Security


The roof in my building leaks.

There are a couple spots — I’m in a biggish building — but the regular offender is our prop room. Water comes in right in the corner by the door and about ten feet further on, where it pools in the light fixture. This freaked me out at first, but the guy told me it was nothing to worry about.

It has leaked for years, and every year, they fix it. (“Fix” it.) It gets good and dry back there, and when it rains a bit, sure enough, it stays dry. For just long enough for us to begin taking it for granted. Then months later, heavy rains come (and, uh, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s currently raining heavily in the South), and that familiar pat-pat-pat starts up.

And the guy comes back around to fix it (“fix” it). We see each other and shake our heads, as if to say, “here we are again, huh?” And he’ll say something like “thought we had it licked last time” and I’ll say “yep, man, it’s been bone dry for the longest time, but all of a sudden…” and off he goes to fix it (“fix” it) again. There’s a kind of resignation about the guy every time I see him, yet he’s always smiling. Like he’s been beat down by the job or by life or whatever, but he’s happy to go a few more rounds.

Of course, the pat-pat-pat that means I have to clean out the prop room again is just the sound of job security to him. Size of our campus, there are always leaky roofs.


Popcorn


Picture a popcorn maker.

A big one, like at the movies.

You feed in kernels, salt, and oil, and in a few minutes it begins overflowing with savory buttery goodness. Golden fluffs of transcendent flavor.

Popcorn, Snack, Food, Buttered, Pop, Corn, Salty

When I worked at the movie theater, we’d make bonus batches — a batch with double the salt and oil. Absolute heaven. Probably shaved a few weeks off our lives with every bucket, but we were seventeen, what did we care?

Anyway, I figure a writer’s brain is like that. The hopper spins round and round churning out the ideas at a ridiculous rate, the fluffy poofed tidbits spilling out in a cascade. Except instead of the lovely glass enclosure, the writer’s brain is a popcorn popper spinning over a great black void that swallows up all the sun-kissed salty bits. (1. I’m really hungry and would eat a whole bucket of popcorn with great vengeance right now. 2. Sun-kissed salty bits sounds dirty, upon further review.)

Most of those ideas go right down the memory hole.

Doing a little bit of daily writing, I figure, is a way to put the hopper in its glass case, at least for a few minutes; this is the benefit, I think, to doing a bit of unscripted, unpurposed writing every day. You get a time capsule, almost, of whatever you were thinking on a given day. More than once I’ve had the thought that “oh yeah, I wrote something about that in my Drivel this morning, let me go back and read it.”

My problem is, my handwriting is atrocious, so my lovely glass case is smeared and scratched and probably not worth looking into.

I dunno, I thought there was a metaphor in there somewhere, but all this post did was make me even hungrier.


I Dream of Hair


I’ve been bald by choice for 10 (help!) years now.

I buzzed it for the first time when I was 30, went briefly back to keeping it short for maaaybe a year, and have been shaving it ever since. (Every Sunday — except sometimes on Mondays — I shave my face and just keep on going right over the top.)

This is a development that would dishearten some men, apparently, but for me, it’s just one less thing to worry about. Plus, I don’t have to worry about messing up my hair when I wear a hat, so even though I don’t wear a lot of hats (my white-guy-in-a-fedora phase was short-lived, you’re welcome), that’s always on the table.

Anyway, baldness is easy, fun, and easy, and, dare I say, stylish? It’s also easy; not sure if I mentioned that.

But apparently some part of my subconscious wants my hair back, because recently I dreamed that I had hair again. And not just hair, but the full-on, down-to-my-shoulders, shampoo-commercial hair I had in high school.

What does this say about me? When I take such smug pride in my baldness, only to have my subconscious serve up an image of myself with Fabio-esque locks? That I’m living a lie? That I only tell myself I love being bald so I’m not crushed by the cosmic unfairness of it?

Well, no, I don’t think so, because in the same dream I hated having hair again and immediately made to shave it off.

Dreams are stupid.


Down Under


A colleague of mine regularly parks over the lines in the parking lot.

I’d post a picture, but I wouldn’t want to be accused of internet shaming them. Suffice it to say, it’s bad enough and regular enough for me to notice it and hold a slow-burning grudge over the matter.

I mean, you park a couple inches over the line now and then … that’s one thing. But you park with the parking spot line going straight down the center line of your car, no — you either did that on purpose or you’re making zero effort at all to pay attention, either of which is absolutely unacceptable. And yeah, okay, I park in one of the hidden side lots at the school, and there’s maybe eight or nine cars back there in an 80-spot lot, so it’s not like anybody is clamoring for the spaces, or even like anybody is parking on top of each other. We all, by unspoken agreement, leave at least a space between our cars, for some reason.

But no, this coworker regularly parks over the line in flagrant disregard for society. I see you, rule-breaker. And I hate you.

But the other morning I saw said co-worker pulling in to park (over the line, as usual). Said co-worker was playing their music exceptionally loud. (Too loud, if you ask me, and I’m glad to say it in that get-off-my-lawn tone I’m getting too good at lately.) Which really should’ve made me even madder.

But they were blasting Men at Work’s Down Under, and on a list of songs it’s okay to blast in your car at my age, this one is near the top of the charts. (Not as high as Africa, of course, but we won’t quibble.)

And, hearing that music, I hated them a little less that day.

A little.

Because who can maintain a grudge when listening to that song?

Incidentally, I’d never seen the music video before, and if you haven’t, well, do yourself a favor.


Age of Crisis


So you know how you can sort of measure how old you are — what generation you belong to — by the first national crisis you remember? (For me, it’s the Challenger explosion — I believe I was six at the time).

Teachers play a similar game, except we do it with our students. For example, it was a rough day for me when I realized that I am no longer teaching anybody who was alive when 9/11 happened. My students these days had not been born yet — weren’t a twinkle in their parents’ eyes, even.

Which had me thinking … well … where’s their first crisis moment coming? These things roll around generationally, so one seems due.

And it hit me. COVID is their crisis moment. It just doesn’t feel like one.

Think of your moment. It’s just that, a moment. The Challenger going up in two pillars of smoke in the atmosphere. The Twin Towers coming down. The carnage at the Boston Marathon. (Smaller scale, but still nationally covered.) Lots of souls, tragically snuffed out in an instant.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - HISTORY

With COVID, you can’t point to that moment. You don’t have that strong sense of memory burned into your brain, that piece of you that somehow always remembers I was sitting in the classroom, three rows back, when the teacher rolled the TV into the room and turned it on… Because COVID has been going for months. There is no moment.

But make no mistake. This is the moment.

Here in the ‘States we’re knocking on the door of 200,000 people dead from this thing. (Unofficial numbers are certainly staggeringly higher.)

Roughly 3,000 people died on 9/11.

COVID has given us as many deaths as sixty-six 9/11s, and it’s far from finished. Put another way, it’s giving us roughly one more 9/11 every 3-5 days.

A 9/11-level loss of life every few days.

How could COVID not be this generation’s crisis moment?

And we still have people in our country pretending it’s no big deal.

Maybe that is the real crisis moment.


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