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Oakland Art and Soul festival

October 26th, 2003

Do I Do Now?
The weekend has been warm, they say it will hit 91 today here in Oakland (33 degrees Celsius for those less enamored of the fahrenheit scale). There's usually a heat spell lasting a week or two in the spring and in the fall in the Bay Area. The summers tend to be cooler. They say temperature records are being set as I write, who knows? Odd, though, now that daylight savings is over, the sun now setting in the middle of the afternoon, winter coming. Winter in California. A little rain (one hopes, one is never sure anymore with global warming), a party or two during the holidays, the long drag of January leading to February leading to March and another birthday. Feeling, I hope, better. Getting ready for what? Another summer? Will I have my house in order, my head in order, a car on order? Did I say that it's warm today? Did I mention it makes me sleepy, this warm weather; that it makes Emmy sleepy, that it makes me think I live too far south for comfort?

I dropped by the office to look at an Access database I've put together to track a web survey I did for one of the IT managers. The web part is no big deal, a fill in the blanks page, a cgi script to send the data to a file. Manipulating the file in Microsoft Access, however, requires a reasonable knowledge of the program. I've been saying I'd like to learn Access, spend the time it takes to learn it - and these things can be learned without horrendous effort - but I haven't been making the effort. Will this change now that the health seems to be improving? I don't know. I'd better rethink wanting to learn this stuff and get along with something else. I'm barely able to keep on track as it is, what's this need to babble about learning new skills I'm obviously fighting? To keep my job? Habit? Is it worth it?

Maybe that's just the way it goes. This idea of not doing enough to keep the job is stupid.

I don't know what it takes to keep a job at our operation. They don't know what it takes. Every two of three years there's a cycle, a new management team at the top, two or three years to see they don't know what they're doing, another management team, and all the while they're shuffling people in and out like cards in a Vegas poker marathon. Whole sections seem to be missing. People I've known for ten years are bouncing glassy eyed around the halls, working long hours to train their replacements. Not sure what I would have to do to train my replacement. "Here, we have one of everything, all of it modified over the years so the vendors no longer recognize or support their product. There are tricks to learn, short cuts we've taken. Learn it all in two or three months and support it over the wire. Good luck. You're going to need it."

Repeating these things doesn't seem to help. Maybe I'm terminally stale after thirty years. Don't want to go back to Napa, although Napa was nice. San Francisco was nice for the twelve years I lived there. Oakland has been interesting, but the interesting people I met when I arrived at my current company have long since moved on to other lives and interests. Some good people remaining, of course, they're all friends, but they have the different realities of people who are twenty and thirty years younger. What do cranky old bastards do at my age? Where do they hang out? MRW is still in San Francisco doing what he's been doing for the thirty years I've known him. Art and Life, life and art. Has any of it changed? Have they changed? Have I changed, other than slowing down? I think so.

"Repeating these things doesn't seem to help"? Repeating? Do you have any idea how many times you've repeated this theme? Do you not get FUCKING TIRED OF WRITING THIS OVER AND OVER AND OVER?

There does seem a certain monotony in the process. I get involved in the writing, a paragraph at a time, working with the words, perhaps I don't notice.

You notice. Who, after all, is writing my dialogue?

I guess I could take off on a tangent. Tell stories. Write of my walks counting cracks in the sidewalks, passing people, all kinds of people, thinking whatever I'm thinking, which is usually something along the lines of "what the fuck do I do now!" repeated over and over. And that's what I'm doing. And this is a journal. You write down your day in your journal less stuff embarrassing to your friends and then, from time to time, you give it a read and note thematic elements: "what the fuck do I do now!".

Oakland Art and Soul festival photograph, taken with an F5 and a 70mm - 200mm f 2.8 Nikon lens.