Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Way or No Way

It has lately become clear that I have a major time management problem, as illuminated by the fact that even without a job, I still can’t get anything done. As is so often the case, the answer may have something to do with ants, namely the 30 seconds spent removing them from the toilet seat before I can make preferred use of it. That adds up: 365 days times five visits per day times half a minute. I’m losing more than 15 hours a year! That explains everything. I suppose ants like to walk on the toilet seat because it’s smooth and has an intriguing smell.

Last Monday I attended a “webinar” on how to interpret one of the career assessment tests I took. Tuesday I met with my coach, Dwightly, and in the evening, I walked to Howie’s, where several weeks ago I appointed myself to be the greeter, for three reasons. The first was chatting with a fellow there I'd never seen before who said he has been attending for two years—I realized there might be a lot of great people going unnoticed. The second is that I often wonder if people are visiting for the first time and would like to be able to ask someone a question or two. The last is that I sometimes attend a group that in fact has an official greeter, but this person has never once said hello, nor appeared to be pleased to see me!

So I decided I would be the greeter who, you know, actually says hello to people and looks happy to see them, or at least attempts her idea of what constitutes such a facial expression, and is available to answer questions. It turns out that quite a hefty percentage of those who go to Howie’s (I now know) are introverts, and at first sort of looked away as they said “Hi” back, but quite a number were happy to be greeted, and as the weeks have passed, those who almost ignored me now say a few words in return, and many people look downright pleased; there is a trend toward friendly feelings. I do get to answer questions for first timers, and now and then a co-greeter joins me and we greet together and chat between greeting opportunities. When Howie noticed what I was doing, he put his hand over his heart.

On Wednesday I got a last-minute invitation to go to Marin, which I interpreted to mean a little drive up to Novato or so, basking in the sun, a substantial brunch. That did sound good! However, it turned out V. had something much more ambitious in mind. There was very little sun involved (whereas it was gorgeous in the city), but it was worth it—she took me whale watching at the Point Reyes lighthouse. The entire area was completely overcast, but standing on the platform a bit above the lighthouse, we actually did see whales going by. It was oddly moving to see these enormous creatures making their way through the immeasurably more vast ocean.

V. lives by herself and, like me, spends a lot of time alone, so there was some joking about who was going to choose how much the car window was rolled down and so forth. At some point, she said, “My way or no way,” which I also find to be an excellent philosophy if the idea is to remain single.

On Thursday, in a rare moment of multi-tasking, I was on the phone discussing with my mother how I can’t get anything done and also chopping up apples for my morning cereal, and in no time I had with one stroke sliced open two fingers. After applying bandages, I called back to say I was still alive and my mother offered to take the blame because she had lecturing me about wasting time at the moment of the accident. Of course I graciously assured her it wasn’t her fault (though it actually was).

However, I had to admit she was right that there may not come another era when I have so much time to use as I see fit, and I am kind of frittering it away. I was inspired later that day to install MySQL on the iMac, pursuant to learning something about SQL.

On Friday, I had a really helpful telephone conversation with my friend Steve, the person I know who has most recently gotten a job in IT. He told me what he does to find jobs and what people are looking for these days, which was a lot of stuff I’ve never even heard of. (Scrum master?) Later on I played around with the command line on my Mac, made some discoveries and started to think maybe I’d enjoy being an actual developer. Normally, unless really necessary, I avoid activities that blatantly constitute learning, but it’s not really that bad.

When I visited A. yesterday, the staff told me there had been four hours the afternoon prior when he couldn’t be woken up, and I noticed he was having much more difficulty speaking, though some moments were better than others. He was recalling a treat his mother used to make decades and decades ago when guests came to call, chess pie. He couldn’t remember the special ingredients that go into it and asked if I could find out online. As soon as I got home, I looked it up—a bit of cornmeal and a bit of white vinegar—and called to tell him. I also printed out the recipe in large type and mailed it off to him.

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