Sunday, April 29, 2007

Musical nostalgia

Tomorrow is move out day. I don't know when exactly. It depends upon when the Computer Guys come to move my terminal. I came in to the office today to do the last little bit of cleaning and packing -- I can't seem to get anything like that done during the week. The only time I'd be able to do it is my lunch break or if I stay after work, and by five o'clock the needle on the bull[ahem] meter is well into the red zone. It's all I can do to not run screaming from the building.

So, anyway. I get my desk cleaned off, pack all my files, and put everything on the cart I use to schlepp things around the building. On my way out I stop at the little café in the basement and buy myself a bottle of water. As I'm paying for it, the radio starts playing "Isn't She Lovely," by Stevie Wonder.

"Oh!" says one of the young ladies behind the counter. "I love this song! At my junior prom, this is the song they played as I was coming down the steps."

"Aw." This in chorus, from women on both sides of the counter.

"I am such a ham," she confesses. "I started down the steps, and this came on, and I was all..." She turns to one side and does a coy look to the floor and then up through fluttering lashes. "It was a great night. Also, the guy I went with was hot..."

"Well, that doesn't hurt," I reply.

"Mmm. I made him wear pink, and he looked sexy in it."

At this point my water is paid for, and someone behind me wants a bagel, so I take my leave.

It's funny what songs will do to you. I can't keep a straight face while listening to John Denver's "Sunshine on my Shoulders."

My sister and I used to amuse ourselves on long car trips a number of ways. This was before backseat drop-down DVD players, iPods, Walkmen, even. We were captives to whatever our father had on the radio. Sadly, twenty-five years later, this is still true. Driving back from my cousin's wedding in Virginia, I was held hostage by NASCAR radio. *Sob* An entire afternoon of:


I'm not sure what kept me from hanging my head out of the open window and howling like a wild thing.

On these endless car rides, we either read, slept, bickered until the Hand of Justice clamped down on us from the front seat, or played games like "Billboard Alphabet." Sometimes in a spirit of Making Fun Where You Can, we'd start playing around with lyrics of some old radio chestnut we'd heard a hundred times already, et voilà! A new song is born. So now whenever I hear "Sunshine on my Shoulders,"instead of the actual words here's what I hear:

"Sunshine on my shoulders gives me sunburn.
Sunshine in my eyes can make me blind.
Sunshine on the water makes it boil.
Sunshine almost always is unkind."

(or "makes me cry." We've done it both ways, and I forget now which came first.)

Sorry Mr. Denver. Nothing personal. Just two bored kids in the back of a station wagon with three hours to go before they hit the Massachusetts state line.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I think I've touched briefly upon all the flapdoodle at work. Yes? It's been going on in some form or another for almost 17 months now, and an end (at least for one of my colleagues and me) is finally in sight. The dean stepped in last month and decided that as of May 1, my colleague and I will be part of another department.

Initially I was a bit upset, but upon reflection I think that was just vocational Stockholm Syndrome. A few weeks back, we had a very good meeting with our (soon to be) new supervisor and her department head. They seem to be reasonable people, with a management style that seems to be pretty hands-off (hurray!). They're thrilled we'll be joining them, and everyone else we've talked to in the new place is just as happy about it -- though they very sweetly tried not to appear so at first, in case it looked like gloating.

The morning after this meeting with The New Boss, I woke up an hour before the alarm, was showered, dressed, breakfasted, and sitting by the radio embroidering before 6:30. I took the early bus in, had a nice leisurely cup of coffee before heading to work, and just marvelled at how I felt: good. Really, really good. Better than I've felt in over a year. Optimistic, happy, cheerful, hopeful, insert your favorite positive adjective here. It was like I've been living in a fog and didn't notice it until it cleared away. I'm sure the meeting and the mood are related because it's been almost a month now, and I still feel good.

My current supervisor and department head are both doing their best to subtly poison us against the people we will be working with and for. It's not working, though. I wish I'd recognized sooner that I was being used as a weapon, but at least I've figured it out now. All of the trying-to-push-my-buttons is having exactly the opposite effect, in fact. I wish I could switch departments right now, instead of in May.

I was informed this morning that my new cubicle is ready for me. I started moving my tschotchkes into the new space on my afternoon break. M'colleague (any Fry and Laurie fans out there?) came with me, mainly to see what the new space looked like. We were there maybe ten minutes before the welcome wagon came 'round. And 'round. And 'round. At least four people stopped by to say howdy and (probably) to get some juicy gossip about life in Purgatory.

That's going to take a little getting used to. I'm accustomed to a work room that has at most six people in it at one time. This place has probably around one hundred, in various teams. Classic cube farm, complete with prairie dogging co-workers.

The only thing I'm really going to miss in my new job is the reference desk. I won't be doing any, at least for a while. Instead, I will be cataloging serials all day. Though they did say that if I wanted to I could be part of the job enrichment program, and work on a reference desk for two hours a week. For someone who's used to ten hours a week, two seems a bit small.

I'm sure I'll have plenty to keep me busy though.

And now I'm off to dinner, and to go see some actors from Juliard perform a stage adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things you see when you don't have a (working) camera...

I went to my parents' house for Easter weekend. Came back home last night. On the way home, riding through some teeny tiny town whose name I can't remember/not sure I ever knew, we zipped past something that made me dearly wish I had a working camera with me.

Some family had decorated their yard for Easter using little blow-up plastic bunnies everywhere. They were tied to stakes to keep the wind from making off with them. I don't know if you heard, but we had some horrible weather this weekend over much of the northern USA. More snow this Easter than there was this past Christmas. The bunnies were a bit wind-blown and deflated, most of them very close to lying flat on the ground. It looked like someone had not so much tied them in place as staked each one through the heart. A bit gruesome. I sure hope it wasn't the original intent.

And then this morning, when I got off the bus at my usual stop and made my way over to the place where I get coffee before work, I passed a wooded area marked off in yellow "CRIME SCENE -- DO NOT CROSS" tape. My goodness. I go away for a long weekend and the whole place goes to hell. The fellow who sold me my coffee said it's an assignment for some forensics class on campus. He said they used the same area last year, but I don't remember it. But then, I think I was getting a ride to work this time last year, and we didn't come onto campus from the same direction.