27 April 2009

Me and work, work and I

I have been a 40 hour a week worker since I was 17 years old. I had a union position at an industrial scale grocery store. For the most part, due to lifestyle necessity or ill perceived feelings of responsibility, I have maintained that work input for most of the last 13 years. I make less per hour now than I did at 18. This is the preamble to what has been a developing perspective on what I think I should be sussing out of life. An idea that stems from the known fact that TIME is the only un-replenishable asset.
My current position found me because I assumed the need to work a real job but was weary of selling my time so that someone (or something else) could make more money while viewing me as a liability. I wanted a position that provided the tainted lucre of subsistence to me while I provided an actual service of value to the community. I work with homeless youth, a position both fulfilling in its role and outcome as it is challenging and exhausting in its application. It does not really require special skill as it does special perspectives. I accepted the almost demeaning pay in exchange for a tacit flexibility of time. Our problem is perverse. As we have become more successful in mission, we have drawn more notice from "management", which means more investment in our mission. We are now the facilitators of many millions of dollars of donated funds - assets. We are now liabilities. Individuals who excel at their jobs are unsurpassed in their knowledge, are written off because their seniority demands higher pay. Newer individuals, who succeed unsupervised and under adversity - the unrewarded cogs and wheels, are nicked and gouged for minutes over and under. All this with a hearty expectation that each and every individual exemplify the Protestant work ethic wherein time off, paid or not, contractual or not, is cause for remonstration. Where the most inane underperformer is exalted and rewarded for a four year degree and punctuality.
I am ranting but there is a point. There is something wrong with this culture of work; something wrong with management school and human resource departments. Something wrong with viewing employees as liabilities and the first to be cut.
I am a lazy person but I love work. Where is the demarcation between good work and soul crushing labor? I love a task and a challenge. At my job, there is a special place for the more challenging clients, cannot decipher their own fear and helplessness and who hurl chairs through plate glass. I love someone saying fix this problem. Solve that riddle. I have been valued in every position I have had, and then something snaps. Why can I only take two weeks off(and even that!?!). You don't need to pay me for more. What does it matter that I am five minutes late or early if no one is inconvenienced?
In the army, we loved a challenge. I would rally around seven day workweeks and twenty hour days...when the task demanded it. But I would bristle at mindless downtime "productivity".
All I ask for is a reason to sell my time and a value for it. A financial value sure, but to have it valued is more.

26 April 2009

Some Manifesto work.

The Freedom Manifesto


Be Free!

Me builiding chicken coop

wife photographing garden in our yard

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
An idle parent is a thrifty parent
An idle parent is a creative parent
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We play in the fields and forests
We push them into the garden and shut the door so we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment
We reject health and safety guidelines
We embrace responsibility
There are many paths
More play, less work

children enjoying their own time

the idler

16 April 2009

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So I sat in the house all that cold cold wet day.

Though the weather had turned warm today and the wind relented, my day was cool and gloomy. My wife & housemates impetuously went to Six Flags Marine World. It was a spur of the moment adventure I could get into. I did not go - I went to bed sick and woke up sicker. They spent the day together in amusement; I spent the day dreaming fitfully and trying to watch some movies. I was aloof and grumpy. It is not so much a lost opportunity as an extension of a feeling of alienation from my roommates, which is further compounded by their perceptions of that feeling and their responses.It seems like their primary response is to avoid conflict with me by addressing my wife as my proxy. Grocery requests (I am house shopper), shared financial obligation, etc. She does not appreciate this. Neither do I.
The most recent incident occurred on the cusp of my illness and this jaunt, but seems to be a holdover from our last house meeting - how I loath house meetings! I have been planning, coercing, cajoling and negotiating my firstborn's birthday party for next Saturday. It is a sleepover so it must be on a Saturday. I am sure this was mentioned at the meeting. It was also mentioned at the meeting that my roommate wants to host a keg party fundraiser, to my vehement approval. No date was mentioned, but apparently it will be on the same evening and he is upset by the conflict. This is the problem for me. It is an end all problem for logistical reasons - you cannot host an 8 years old's sleepover and a keg party at the same time - and it is a problem for communication reasons. He has yet to tell me that he has a problem, but has gone through my wife twice.
Well that was a digression into the specifics of my day. I am ill and that has made me grumpy. I missed out on fun and that has made me disaffected. I have received this passive aggressive message and that has made me angry.
I did not want to talk to my wife. I did not want to talk to my best friend. I did not want to watch "Happy Go Lucky".
What is interesting to me in all this is the overall effect my mood had on my outlook. I have not shown yet where I went with it.
I was a scowling young misanthrope leaning into the street on my way to work. I was avoided by panhandlers and soliciters. I reflected on the entirety of my life and was not pleased. I cursed my past self for my choices. I considered the cross roads I had passed and wondered what routes led to those perpendiculars and how abrupt they might be. I hoped they were damagingly abrupt.
I am not exceptionally violent or destructive but I felt it then. I wanted things to burn behind me.
All this out of a grumpy illness and a roommate miscommunication

Someone has suggested recently that I might be manic-depressive or bipolar - whatever DSM II is calling it now. I don't have a convincing argument against that, other that it would not matter. A diagnosis would lead me nowhere, as I am not willing top be led my that.

What I think I was experiencing was a fallacy of interconnectedness.

14 April 2009

Well, here's what I was getting at last time -

I won't be going to Mexico, that messianic desert on a sea, like Galilee, at least to me. Oh I don't know. It wasn't fleshing out to what I hoped it would be. But now that's out. There must be somepace else to go. My dad suggested Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, and then Sacramento. We'll see.

08 April 2009

Yes, even this will change.

Reading back through my old blogs I find a number of little goals I set that seem to have been abandoned. I really don't want to be an apologist for my character, but I feel that it boils down to more than just not having the fortitude to set goals and meet them. I'll get back to you on what that is...

06 April 2009

I am so happy that I am alive, in one piece and short. I'm in a world of shit . . . yes. But I am alive. And I am not afraid.

I have spent the last two days in my yard. I must be a homebody. I enjoyed it more than a carefree weekend in New York; when I was there I knew that was true. I have dug post holes and hung a gate. I have weeded and planted. I fixed a bicycle. I met new neighbors. I drank mojitos of weed mint and unripe lemons in the shade of fruit trees on a bench I had made. I watched the cat stalk flies. I looked up from happy toil as my kids had an early summer day outside together. The sun set on us outside.

I have not known many better days. I imagined a simple perfection and it did not seem so out of reach. There is not much that needs to be said about participating in the growth and destruction of nature, in cultivating order out of chaos and appreciating the inherent order. Words fail everything worthwhile from my garden days.

My working hands -

04 April 2009

The Great Rus

I am reading an old paperback history of Russia. It is something I've always wondered about. I am amazed how much influence the Khans of Mongolia had. They were bureaucratic and expansive. They brought knowledge of Japan, India and China to the places they conquered, which includes Poland, Turkey, Serbia, Iraq, Iran and even into Italy.
The Russians themselves were slavs at the constant whim of the Eastern Hordes, Constantinople, The Teutonic Knights, and the Vikings - another group glossed over in history.

I am just amazed at the expansion of overlap. I think our views of history and even prehistory underestimate the interconnectedness that our species has demonstrated.

02 April 2009

To family is all you can do

Some people are a sickness on this land
They're killing, they're taking, they're stealing
Whatever they can
Anything, anything, anything that is not bolted down

Your life, your money, your heart, your faith, your bike
Anything that is not bolted down

Learn from the animals, monkeys do
Monkeys do piggish things too
Learn from the vegetables, monkeys do
The way they strive towards the light
A small potato in the blight
Still strives towards the light
I know it's as dark as night
It's as dark as night

It is day though

Some would ask, what are we to do
With a world that crumbles to the touch?
A world that spins and dies where it stands,
Like trying ain't enough?

To family is all you can do
To family is all you can do
Even if it's just us two
To family is all you can do

And strive towards the light
Strive towards the light
It's as dark as night
Strive towards the light
Strive towards the light
I know it's as dark as night

It is day though

- Bill Callahan