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February 6, 2012

Why I love my job reason #3,784: When I go to pull my project budget out of the printer, I find I have to extract it from someone else’s print job — an article on Welsh mythology.

It is a busy week at the Toy Factory. I have to run a board meeting on Wednesday that was only scheduled on Friday afternoon, and there is much to prepare. There are proposals and web page copy to write, research to do. And there is that woman sitting on the balcony across the street, slumped over her cafe table in her frayed navy blue bathrobe, smoking a cigarette. I can see the smoke reflected in the window behind her, but not the smoke itself, like the opposite of a vampire. It is all reflection and no substance. I wonder about this woman and what brought her out on the terrace on a sunny day when she is looking like she’d rather be hiding in bed with all the shades pulled and a quilted mask over her eyes.

And then my email chimes and it’s the recalcitrant toymaker. Not once, not twice, but three times. He is disgruntled. We are disgruntled. It is a standoff of disgruntlement. I weave a story of his disgruntlement, a story that I think is true and that helps us get along. If it is not true, I will be even more disgruntled. Sometimes a little magical thinking at the office is a good thing.

Sometimes, though, it is not. When large outcomes are planned for without a road map, that is the kind of magical thinking I’m dealing with in the afternoon. I write a concerned email to my boss as I think about that old cartoon of a scientist writing a complex formula on the chalkboard. In the middle it says something like “magic happens here.” If only.

And suddenly, it is the church bells across the street chiming nine times because it is six o’clock. (Don’t be silly, churches can’t count) I blink, shake myself out of the place I’ve been, and send just one, no two, no three last emails.

I walk home with my headphones in, but am not really paying attention to them. It is to ward off strangers, to drown them out. you see, I was the recipient of a drive-by ear-whispering in the Union Square subway stop this morning and it’s one way to make sure I avoid it this afternoon. I wander in and out of shops. I stop to read the cheese at my favorite market. I narrowly avoid purchasing a bunch of impractical daffodils just because they are yellow. I buy myself a bottle of wine and then I head for home where the first thing I do is hang my coat on the hanger that hooks over the protruding peephole and the second thing I do is kick off my brass-ringed boots and the third thing I do is turn on the radio and listen to the music flood the apartment.

I am missing my mandolin again. I always plan to bring it with me to New York and then, when it’s almost time to go, I think about how much of a hassle it will be, how I’ll have to check a bag, how I’ll worry about people shoving their luggage in the overhead next to the instrument case, how when it rains on Friday morning, as it always does, and I can’t find a cab, I’ll have to juggle it AND my briefcase AND my suitcase up and down the stairs at three different subway stations to get to work. But every evening I think, “Next time. Next time I’ll bring it. For real.” My fingers drum on the table top, feeling their way to the notes they hear.

And the radio, as if to urge me onward, sings in my ear, “Remember me, remember me when you are down, float me on air and lift me up from the ground.” Somewhere outside a truck groans to life and a small dog barks. And this time, this time I don’t turn away from the sounds.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2012 8:33 am

    I laughed in recognition at the “just one, no two, no three last emails” and read it out loud to Ron, who laughed in recognition.

  2. February 7, 2012 1:43 pm

    That “Remember me, remember me” makes me remember this:

    When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
    No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
    Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
    Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

    Go see the Pina movie. I bet you’ll like it.

  3. February 7, 2012 9:00 pm

    Magpie, I was just reading about Pina and it does sound like something I would like. And now I am thinking that I should have invited you to the concert I’m going to tomorrow at 7:30. An old friend is singing Schoenberg lieder in Midtown. But you probably have to go home. But if you’re interested, email me and I’ll give you the details. It’s free, but you need a reservation. Jeanne, sadly, I think many of us find that familiar. I madden Mr. Spy for being conscientious.

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