Today was my day off; I slept poorly last night, waking up for several hours before drifting back to sleep at some unknown hour. My dream was strange; a cousin I haven't seen recently, who hasn't been in college for years was at a coastal town that mixed elite upper class people with regulars such as myself. Tiny apartments went for astronomical prices; I opened a rickety door, hardly believing the accomodations. At some point the father of my children was there, and I saw a small boat carved from what I believe may have been hard yellow soap. At some point we went to see the sea; churning waves led us to a higher vantage point. I was sitting in the crossbars of a local tavern when I heard someone say my name. A frisbee came my way, I caught it with my left hand, smiled at the tosser, and let it sail.

Normally when I wake up like that I'm annoyed; last night I took the opportunity to sit and think. I ate some peanut butter and jelly off of spoons, today I made actual food, and discovered that if you add leftover beet juice to pasta and broccoli, it turns a fun magenta color, and also enhances the taste, at least to me. The light in my refrigerator burned out; I thought about replacing it, but figured it may be a blessing in disguise. My plans to go to the library and work on my resume fell through. I didn't leave the house at all, and I thought about an article I had recently read about why people with ADHD have so much trouble socializing and doing what is expected of them. Since I am trying to stay out of stores I didn't have any fresh canvases, I've ruined so many paintings, but today I spent quite a bit of time trying to rescue some of the worst offenders.

The good news is most of them were salvaged to a certain extent. There are times when I really like or enjoy one particular facet of a piece only to be plagued by other areas that seem wrong. I don't know how to describe it any other way. It might be a lack of flow, a portion where I can tell that I hurried, a project where I bit off more than I could chew, an idea that I rolled with at the time, whatever it is, I don't always know what I am doing, and sometimes even when I do, the vision I have in my head refuses to come out of my brush. I have one favorite that is worse for the wear, but I keep returning to it like the loyal trusted friend that it has been. An aunt of mine has been pushing for a painting with flowers, and I still struggle mightily with them so the attempts are awkward at best, but I've done things I liked less so this feels like progress.

There are many ways to get to my desk at work; Thursday afternoon I walked down the aisle feeling as if a once noisier and more vibrant place had become inhabited by spirits of its former occupants. I made it almost all the way to the door I needed before someone stopped me. At first he had a smile on his face; as if he was happy to see me, but when I asked him how he was, a worried frown creased his face. I haven't seen him recently, his facial hair is different, and so was his attitude. When I mentioned that the area seemed less energetic and more glum he said that they had gotten yelled at by management, but didn't give me any specifics. I felt bad for him so I gave him a hug, and let him know that if he needed someone who would give him a glowing review, I would be more than happy to serve as a professional reference.

For some reason I was in a really good mood that day. I'm unable to link it to anything in particular, I had a lot of nervous energy, I felt eyes on me as I walked to my post, logged in, and started making fresh coffee. This is apparently a big deal at work. One woman thinks it should be made fresh every three hours. This feels like extreme overkill to me, that day was busy, so I was walking back and forth between my desk and the coffee area many times. I don't always hear the phone and that's annoying. The woman I normally work with gets sent back to the office area when I arrive, I don't understand why, the other night I was talking to someone about the receptionist position and how it has become, and possibly always was, a revolving door. First they like the new candidate; then she/he becomes persona non grata, sometimes I can see legitimate issues, even when there are, they seem blown out of proportion and handled extremely poorly by management.

One might not think that the receptionist position would be worthy of this type of scrutiny, but it is, as an example, a woman who has been there for several months was recently called on the carpet for wearing black jeans. She has been doing this pretty much since she started, but only now has it become problematic, going so far as to require a signed statement on her behalf saying that she will better comply with the company dress code. Until this past week I didn't even know what the official dress code entailed, I've worn blue jeans to work and never been asked to change. The day I had a dental appointment I came in wearing clothes I know were not employer approved, however those were unusual circumstances. But it is odd that some people can wear whatever they like while others are scrutinized to an extent that I find ridiculous.

Since I enjoy this type of thing; I spent some time mulling over what each member of management has in common. Another employee and I were discussing the various ways in which specific people suck, some of them are actually good at the jobs that they do, but these people are few and far between. There aren't a ton of similarities at first glance. I'm going to reflect more on this; or maybe I will just let it go. Mostly they are older 'yes boss' types who are terrible at their jobs in various ways, the place really doesn't value productivity to an extent that seems almost unreal to me. They want sales, but do almost nothing to make it easier to sell cars. They bark a lot, but their bite is largely ineffective from where I'm at. There are people that I like, and love, that I would probably let go, or have a conversation about performance if I was in charge. I would promote people who are ignored, or hammered on, it seems that both the rational and emotional types get grief, but why?

I can't remember if I shared this previously, but I have a new strategy at work. During my down time I find posts on different artists and read those when I can. I've learned a ton; and have been introduced to people I have never heard of before. Their takes on art, life, politics, the world around them during their day and age; so far everyone I have read about has passed along, perhaps I will get to living artists at some point in time. It's fascinating, sometimes sad, as in the case of Mark Rothko who killed himself. Other times it's interesting to me without the sorry news of depression and suicide, my mother has been a Georgia O'Keefe lover for as long as I can remember, and I was fortunate to be able to attend the exhibit when I was in town. There's no point in comparing my infantile works to their masterpieces, but it is nice to hear that these people struggled and started somewhere just as we all do.

Human behavior being what it is, I've learned that people don't know how to treat someone who accepted a lesser position. One person in particular seemed to be avoiding/ignoring me, and I had many theories as to why. Finally the self-imposed silence was broken, and it makes me what changed, if anything. Feeling watched and studied is unnerving. I've had some unlikely champions, and hold those heroes and heroines closer to my heart than they had been. Status has rarely been particularly important to me, achievement matters far more. The other night I received a compliment from our General Manager who said that the coffee area looked great. This is true to the extent that I have scrubbed and tidied things; but there is only so much lipstick you can smear on a corporate pig. 

Earlier in the day I had talked about getting some branded polo shirts; I had been thinking about them anyways, but felt as if this was an olive branch of sorts I could offer. I felt it was a good way to show that I was committed to the organization, acknowledging that what I wear at work reflects on me and us, and tried to demonstrate that I was neither cowed nor feared speaking about such a mundane item. I said it was getting too warm to wear so many layers; I have two vests featuring logos from the other side, but only jackets with our logo. To my delight, when I searched the clothing I found two shirts that were about half the price of the others. We enjoy a company discount, hopefully I can pick both of them up tomorrow after I see how they fit/look. It's funny, but I feel as if I have turned a corner of sorts.

They can't hurt me, not really. They can't take away the things that make me who I am, and they have only succeeded in shooting themselves in the proverbial foot so to speak. I will never understand this fear based management mentality. People can get used to almost anything and this organization is proof. I have a feeling that I would be surprised to learn how many people rely on me to meet needs of theirs. Giving people art is a dicey proposition as the recipient may not like what I've done for him, or her, but it's gone over tremendously well, probably because I have taken the time and invested the energy in trying to get to know who people are on a very deep and core level. Today I did something that I'm super excited about. I forget which artist said to focus on ideas because a great idea is better than technical expertise, and for the first time ever, I experienced this myself.

Sometimes I feel that the whole - blessing in disguise - type talk is phony. And I wouldn't go that far here because a fundamental part of me will probably never forget this, but there are unexpected bonuses, and I'm curious to see how putting someone who had my job on the other side goes. It rankles, and I never had a ton of respect for this person, but I certainly felt warmer and closer than I do now. Overall I'm giving myself high marks for coping with grace and heaping coals of fire on tops of heads like the Bible mentions. I'm angry, righteously so in my opinion, but now I can see how the job was taking things out of me I didn't have to give. This is really happening to me, but there is a distance I still feel, perhaps a stunt double is filling in for me and I'm existing on another plane. I've learned so much about myself recently, I can see how rushing art led to some of the mistakes I've made with it just as rushing anything rarely succeeds.

The other day I was really struggling, a close friend told me to write down some goals, I still need to do this, it's on my list, but I'm less worried about it than I was. I stopped the job search since I was tired of companies spamming my email, I'm trying to live and let live, practicing acceptance, forgiveness, appreciation for the gifts and talents I have even though have gotten me into trouble recently. I know it wasn't truly me failing at the job. I was hung out in favor of another, then that person was moved, there never was a plan in the first place so I can't accuse anyone of not sticking to it. I'm appalled, embarrassed, ashamed, I try not to ruminate, but often fail at that too. Some time ago a person I work with said that they liked who they were despite not understanding themselves that well, and at this point in time, I can relate.

I could keep doing the things I did and have been doing, and maybe I will. Maybe I will continue to keep snipping away at the umbilical cord that connects me to them, the figurative apron strings that keep us tenuously tied together. I am neither wife, nor mother, sister, girlfriend, etc..., I am just another small cog in the wheel that grinds at all of us, creaking at inopportune times. I read a thing on different types of people; the adventurer, the builder, the director, and the negotiator. This is a test designed to help one with their love life and romantic pairings, but as soon as I was finished with the introductory piece I was mentally determining who was who in the hopes that it would be helpful in the work environment. Today I am mostly happy, it can't be faked and I won't bother to try. I spend the day doing things I loved, and that feels like a victory on many scales. May it ever be so whether I am ascending the mountain, stuck in the valley, or surveying a horizon.



P.S. I stumbled on this ADHD site and some of those articles have been very informative. I pulled out my ADD and Romance book and started reading that again thinking that it can't hurt, and may be helpful during this journey.


  1. Tomorrow is never guaranteed I think
  2. to myself as I read about the spread of
  3. the Corona Virus, a friend of mine thinks
  4. she may have had it, initially I was 
  5. skeptical, but I don't really know.
  6. There are too many paintings at my 
  7. place, but what to do with them
  8. remains another matter. Do I give 
  9. them away, try to sell one, or more,
  10. keep them, donate several? In the 
  11. meantime my battered brush remains
  12. a steady companion. We have had many
  13. colorful adventures, some more
  14. eye pleasing than others. For so long
  15. art was something beyond me, just 
  16. like poetry was a thing I read rather
  17. than anything I could generate on my 
  18. own. I wonder what will happen next
  19. time the creativity lightning strikes.
  20. Onward, upward, forward...
Thank you for inviting me.

The late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., said he first learned he was a science fiction writer in the 1950s when he read reviews of his his first novel, and discovered that critics had placed him in a file drawer labelled, "Science Fiction." He said that he spent the next part of his career trying to get out of that particular drawer, because so many critics mistook it for a urinal.

Fast-forward to 1980, and things looked a little different. The first Star Wars had become a bona fide cultural phenomenon, and its first sequel—-and Yoda—-were on the big screen (or, on the big screen they were) for the first time. Gene Wolfe published the first Book of the New Sun, Octavia Butler was continuing to break new ground, and Kurt Vonnegut was now an acclaimed American author. Douglas Adams's novel adaptation of his hit radio series continued with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, while a TV adaptation was in the works that would boast production values and effects not seen at the BBC since the previous week's episode of Doctor Who, starring Tom Baker. And, speaking of making the most of space on a limited budget, Star Trek, which, famously or infamously, had only lasted three seasons during the 1960s, had persevered in reruns, spawned books, comics, breakfast cereal, and a cartoon series, and was just then finding new life as a motion picture franchise.

And your club was founded, initially as a Star Trek club. I think this is perfect because, while SF obviously predates Star Trek and includes some truly lasting works of literature and art, I know I'm not alone in having discovered SF largely because of Star Trek. It opened worlds for me as I'm sure it did for many of you. It told us the stars were our destination, the future would be worth inhabiting, and we should go into it. Boldly.

You'll hear a lot more about that ground-breaking series shortly, but for now, I'd like to raise a toast to forty years of Science Fiction in the Forest City!

A tale, then, of two gatherings.

The local science fiction club celebrated its fortieth anniversary. A group of high school students formed it back in 1980, and it continues, in one form or another, to this day. They meet monthly in a room at the public library. I have attended once, though I know some of the members who crowded the sparse room, from conventions and other events and because we live in the same city. I was invited to give the greeting/toast at the start of the celebratory meeting. We then segued to the serious guest speakers.

The first speaker focused on Star Trek, its legacy, and its values. I think most of the crowd had heard these things before, but he spoke intelligently and from a personal perspective that invited reflection on the deeper aspects of pop culture.

They stopped after his talk to cut the cake. We ate and drank and took chips and cookies from communal plate and bowl. Their snacks, I think, have remained a constant over forty years.

The world outside marked 100 000 documented cases of COVID-19. British Columbia, the Canadian province most affected at that point in time, reported six new cases.

The second speaker, a professor of media/pop culture studies, filled the role of obligatory controversial speaker. He made some astute points about the decline of belief in the essential and frequently positive values that Star Trek embodied (or attempted to) in its earliest incarnation. He spewed venom on Star Trek: Discovery, and I would have to say many people in the room-- especially those who had only watched the first, troubled season-- concurred. Others gave some pushback to his more inflammatory points, though time for discussion was limited. It's probably unfair to say that he rates contemporary SF on whether or not Straight White Men get presented as heroes and teh Social Justice Warriors haven't ruined it, but that's sort of how a parody of him would sound. He was more thoughtful than that, I grant, though he did unironically use "Social Justice Warriors" as a pejorative. It would have been very interesting to hear how the presentation would have gone over at a contemporary SF convention.

The final presenter, an original member, gave a free-form discussion/reminiscence of the club's history going back to 1980, heavily guided by questions. It was more interesting to the club members, obviously, but it was their party, and I'm always interested in the history of things.

People mingled and talked as the designated time in the room came to an end. A woman who featured in some of the final presenter's anecdotes asked me about my forthcoming book, and invited me to join the group for dinner afterwards.

"I'd like to go," I said. "But I have back-to-back events today. And, no, my weekends are never this busy unless I'm at a Con." I'm booked at two this spring, with panels and presentations.

They probably won't happen, but no one was speaking of that, even on March 7.

"So you don't normally dress like this?" she asked. I was wearing a three-piece pinstripe-- classic enough to pass, but evocative of another era.

"No." The second event was a birthday party, a fifteen minute walk from the library. It was a surprise to the Guest of Honour, and we had to be there for five o'clock. The party had a loose Roaring Twenties theme, though period dress was optional. My wife found the suit, decades old but barely worn, at the crowded, crazy charity rummage sale she volunteers at every year. We had it tailored to fit just in time. It went well with her flapperesque dress.

The crowded, crazy charity rummage sale? I imagine that's off for 2020.

"Oh," the woman said, an affected, upper class, faux British oh. "You're going to..." She repeated the name of the elite local club.

"We're not members," I said. The Guest of Honour is a friend of my wife's. Her husband is a local entrepreneur. He's affable and pleasant. We have been to the club once before, also as their guests. When we reciprocated, and had them over for barbecue salmon, he brought home-baked biscuits.

I walked to the Queen Anne style building, an exterior unchanged since the 1870s. The weather had taken a spring turn, and remained mild. My wife arrived some time later, by car.

The group that congregated on the upper level of the club, booked for this event, covered a broad range, from those of modest means to the person I overheard discussing polo. I suppressed a smile; no self-respecting writer would have penned that moment. We ended up sitting beside one of the other couples who dressed for the 1920s, octogenarians of considerable note, locally. I smiled when I realized who they were. Having heard they would be there, I'd practised pronouncing their surname. The local media has been inconsistent on this point.

You know the joke: How do you determine your social class?

If your name is on a tag on your shirt, you're working class.
If your name is on your desk, you're middle class.
If your name is on the building...

Their name is on a couple of buildings. But he grew up on a farm, he told me, as we talked over drinks. He claimed he always maintained the frugality of a farmer. I hadn't asked him how he became so successful in business. I suspect he just gets some of that out of the way, because I imagine he's been asked that question quite a bit. The rest of the conversation diverged onto other matters. He is a reader (though not of science fiction), and their generous support of live theatre and the arts is well-known.

His wife dressed as a flapper, a style only a couple decades old when they were born.

They seemed like nice people. I imagine they're staying inside now.

We toasted the Guest of Honour.

She and my wife made lunch plans for the following week. People were still doing that, planning to meet in restaurants.

I reflected on the beguiling shift of cultural contexts, the club and the Club, as we headed down the stairs and down the street to where she had parked the car, curbside. Those spots are free in the evening and on weekends. The temperature had dropped, but the weather still promised spring.

The World Health Organization issued a statement on COVID-19. "Every country," it said, "should urgently take all necessary measures to slow further spread and to protect health systems from becoming overwhelmed with patients."

So it goes.

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