I knew the rap on office Christmas parties when I discovered the invitation to one on my desk. They’re the kind of place people go when they’ve got nowhere else to go, an event better suited to the cast of a Mike Judge movie than an aspiring writer. But since I was a rookie typesetter who was new in town and had nowhere else to be on that Saturday I bought a ticket. The print shop I was working for rented out a ballroom at a hotel whose name remains elusive. If the pay was a hint at what money could be made producing business cards and letterhead it was all they could afford. Continue reading
Category Archives: community
As the calendar changes from May to June, the focus changes from moms to dads and vets to grads. When one is neither a dad or a prospective grad, the sight of all those greeting cards can send the mind wandering toward class reunions. Such a weird place for it to go, but minds can be pesky things: when left to their own devices, they wander about like cats. Impulsive and easily distracted. But the prospect of tumbling down the rabbit hole into the past is tempting. How have the years changed the cast of characters I went to school with? They could be essentially the same people I remember…but maybe they’re not. Maybe the guy who wrote for the same “alternative” newspaper I did is a roofing contractor now and hasn’t written a paragraph since. Maybe the girl from media ethics I was convinced would be a professor is a married beautician with two kids. What about me? The years have been kind in some ways; the dashing figure I remember seeing in the mirror still is, but I’m not the (paid) editorialist I expected to be.
everyone I know has got a reason…to say…put the past away.
It’s easy advice, but I don’t want to take it. True, there is no way to rewrite history, and — though it can be fun to visit and offers plenty of opportunities for a toast and little levity — dwelling on it can only drag me down if I wonder where a well-placed zag or two would have led. But the road did offer hard-won lessons. There were better ways to handle an awful crash of a date than a months-long retreat into friendship, the stubborness and indecisiveness it brought on didn’t help; there were better ways of responding to getting fired from a job than stewing through a six month sabbatical, the stubborness and pride it brought on didn’t help. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if it would be better to leave unhappy memories like these behind the way people are freed of their sins at baptism.* But what if the lessons went with them? Suddenly the value of turning away isn’t so clear.
and I want you to know…everyone has to face down the demons.**
The analogy is a bit melodramatic. Mistakes are not sins or demons, though one driven by pride or greed could be suitably redefined. I know, still melodramatic for various reasons, but going somewhere. Trust me. The past does leave scars of a different kind from the one on my ankle. They’re as much a part of me as back-to-back 3rd place state awards for political cartooning, hours spent philosophizing with friends over suds, or a year behind the news editor’s desk jousting with the editorial page editor over a weekly column. They’re reminders that slipping is not an embarrassment or a failure; I’ve lost my footing before and probably will again. The next trip won’t be embraced, but it will give me another mark to explain and another story to tell the Cheshire cat, the Mad Hatter, and the rest of the crew when I see them.
* It’s my understanding that baptism involves washing away sins, but I’m not a practicing Christian…so if I’m wrong I would like to know.
** Song lyrics courtesy of Third Eye Blind.
There are days when home-brewed java just doesn’t do the trick. The coffee isn’t any different, so what gives? Maybe it’s the seasons. As certainly as winter gives way to spring, the Lakers posted their “Gone Fishing” sign, the Dodgers are on the move, and opinions on both are swimming ’round, so there isn’t much chance to divide my attention when breakfast is on the burners. A trip to the local café is in the offing because burned bacon doesn’t taste very good. Yup, nothing like crowding around a four-square table, stirring up a cup, picking up a menu, and letting the chips fall where they may. If we were having coffee, I’d rattle on about the winter that was, the spring that is, and the fall that could be with a raised eyebrow here and a wrinkled nose there; though I won’t bring up the Dodgers’ TV deal. After two lost seasons, the subject of carriage fees and coverage areas doesn’t hold any more interest.
What does? Your favorite sports. Your favorite teams. Now that the mugs are topped off, the plates are cleared, and the café is crowded there’s more room for back-and-forth. The waitress might even jump in. This one is a KC Chiefs fan with a take on everything that crosses the desk at Sportscenter. Eventually the coffee would run out, the tab would have to be settled — including the tip — and the table will need to be cleared for the lunch crowd; but there’s always football season.
Weekends are such different animals. The alarm clock is off and the schedule has been shelved, so the pace is more to my liking. Slower. Less frenetic. The radio is tuned to music — maybe alt-rock, maybe blues, maybe pop. The medley of news, traffic, and talk that fills a typical week has been left behind. It’s so much easier to stare at the sun shining through the blinds, to take a leisurely breakfast, to fill a 24 ounce Snoopy mug with Kirkland-brand coffee and a dash of half-and-half, to slowly drink all of it while poring over the day’s crossword puzzle. If we were having coffee I would want to find a device-free zone where I could share the coffee, the music, the puzzle, the conversation. A good cup of coffee ain’t the same without one. The topics could run the gamut: sports, movies, theatre, favorite books. Anything. Even the stuff weekends usually offer a break from. The cat won’t mind.
Eventually the tasks that occupy a typical weekend would have to be tended to. Bills won’t pay themselves; laundry won’t wash itself; the apartment won’t clean itself. I can chase the rhythm of the week away with a book, a movie, or some time on the court at a local park. Maybe even a pick-up game. But eventually it will be back. The alarm clock will chime in. The schedule will return, so will the traffic. They won’t chase the weekend away for long. The music will play again. When it does the Cuisinart will be ready and the corner chair will be waiting. The company? Anything is possible.