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It took the three of us forever to arrange a good time to meet for lunch, and even longer before we had the meeting itself. After we’d all finally got to the right restaurant and through the line and finally had our respective lunches in front of us, we sat making small talk while a benign embarrassment bloomed in the middle of our table like a giant marshmallow.
Susan was the only one brave enough to speak up. “Does anyone remember why we planned this meeting?”
No. None of us did. Nor did any of us, really, have either the time or the energy to be having superfluous meetings. But here we were, so we made some more small talk, finished our sandwiches and salads, glanced politely at our watches, and then headed back to our offices .
It was tempting to let that marshmallow billow and brew into something bigger and badder in my stew-pot of a little “new girl” brain, but I did not. Because, here’s the thing: no one got in an argument. No one bored anyone else with long presentations. No one had a Crisis that needed to be solved. And all of us had or will attend many, many other worthless meetings in our lives.
This one, at least, came with friendly faces, plus also hummus.
Hat-tip to friend Gina. I’m a firm believer in being healthy and looking as good as we can, but eventually? You just gotta love yourself, wrinkles and all.
I have been thinking of this New York Times column all week.
My new job has me embedded among scientists and engineers, all of whom are brilliant and clever, disciplined and accomplished in ways I’ve really not been exposed to in my previous, humanities-centric life.
It was about time I met the rest of the world. I love the way this new set of minds work, the straight-forwardness. The relative lack (!) of subterfuge and intrigue. I enjoy the economy of words, the logic, the industry of these people. These are the people who will save the world with bioremediation, fuel-cell technology, and super computing.
Nevertheless, when it comes time to compose a narrative document, these people are — frankly — hopeless. That’s where the resident English majors come in. Not just to help with the narrative documents, but to help explain why people need narrative documents in the first place.
Introducing The Big Shaggy. Just read it.
My daughter called me outside this evening to see the twinkling, Christmas-tree lights in our trees. I didn’t grow up with fireflies, so they are still magic to me, and they are at their best late in the evening when it’s fully dark, after they’ve moved out of the grass and up into the dark tree crowns. This week they are at their summer peak.
Several of my acquaintances planned to go up into the Smoky Mountains this weekend to see a very special group of fireflies: one of only two populations of the insects in the world that flash in unison (the other group is in Japan). It seems impossible, but after seeing a few videos like this one, I have vowed: NEXT YEAR I am going to go see the magic Elkmont fireflies myself.
Imagine a whole forest doing this:
Good news! I was so organized this morning that I was nine minutes early to my bus stop, which should have been ample time to catch my semi-hourly bus in time to get to work.
Bad news! Unfortunately, as early as I was, my bus was exactly one minute earlier, and I saw it whizz by as I waited to cross the last street to get to my stop.
It may have been the earlier bus running 20 minutes late, but how was I to know? And who has 40 minutes to wait at a bus stop every morning simply to be SURE to catch a semi-hourly bus, to account for that potential range of earliness/lateness? Where was the sign with the number I should call to find out whether the bus was on time, even?
I have lived in a lot of cities and taken a lot of public transportation: busses, subways, trolleys, commuter trains. That’s why I continue to find the Knoxville public transportation system so frustrating.
First, the ridership demographic is very telling. When I’ve taken the bus to or from work, I’ve seen very few business-types on the bus with me. Instead, the bus seems mostly to be an extension of the local homeless shelter along with small clusters of non-English speaking newcomers in clean but threadbare clothes, often toting tiny children behind them.
Why don’t other people take the bus? Perhaps because most of us need more control over our daily schedules and can’t risk being 40 minutes late for a dental appointment, or a meeting, or even a job.
My suggestion to the Knox Area Transit system, which currently struggles for viability because it’s struggling for riders: KAT, in order to be taken seriously, you must take yourself (and your schedule) seriously, first.
One of the harder things about being new is all the things you have to encounter (and feel) for the first time. It’s like going to Junior High all over again, but with more wrinkles.
I know it gets easier. It already IS easier, most days. But today I clearly had some sort of “Failure!” or “EMBARRASS ME” badge pinned to my chest that I couldn’t see, but clearly everyone else could.
I’m not really a “loud” or pushy sort of person. Nevertheless, this seemed to be my day to be told that I needed to butt out. When I wasn’t finding out I’d wasted several weeks of work because people didn’t tell me what they could have told me. When I wasn’t reading aggressive emails to which I can’t respond. Or when I wasn’t reading (forwarded) invitations sent to everyone except for, well, me.
And, sure, it’s just because I’m NEW that they forgot me, right? So what you do is make a gentle little joke to show there’s no hard feelings, and ask if you can go anyway, which of course you can, and everything turns out fine, right? Well, not so much, as it turns out, when actually one was left out sort of on purpose, though sure, you can come if you really WANT to.
Sometimes, even giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, including myself, isn’t quite enough to cover all the bases. So instead, I just get to be the wuss who finally gets in the car at the end of a very long day and cries all the way home.
I know it will get easier. And I’ll figure all of these things out. But tonight, I’m going into my room with the New Yorker AND The Economist AND my trashy novel, and I’m closing the door, and no one is allowed to talk to me until tomorrow morning.
P.S. And yes, of course I’m going. With every one of my bells on, and they are going to be really glad I’m there. Cause baby, I EARNED these wrinkles!
“When God wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, He goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn’t release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes. God simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps of a very humble home, perhaps of a very humble mother. And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother’s heart. And she puts it in the baby’s mind, and then – God waits. The great events of this world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.”
- Edmond McDonald, as quoted by Marian Wright Edelman, Founder & Director of the Children’s Defense Fund
(1) Yes, I was going 20.
(2) Because it’s called “A SCHOOL ZONE.”
(3) Try getting up earlier next time.
(4) Shhh. Or switching to decaf.
(5) Valium is also good.
(6) It totally WAS TOO an accident when I stalled at the next stop light.
(4) Transmission troubles. YES, REALLY.
So far, I have restrained myself.
But wouldn’t it be funny? In the middle of a big room full of people working away studiously in their cubicles, if paper airplane suddenly came sailing over their walls? I’ve learned that people often take me for a very serious person when they first meet me, so it’s funny when I get to surprise them.
I’m a little worried about hitting someone in the eye, though, and the only kind of paper airplane I know how to make is a pointy kind. I’ll need to study on this some more…