Hoping This Will Ease Me Back Into Writing

I apologize for the hiatus, but the Wi-Fi deity has been withholding his/her treasures until this evening, and my time at the library has been fleeting, so I haven’t had the time to sit down and type a blog entry, or do much more than keep ahead of email, etc.  I haven’t been blowing you off, my loyal readers–all half dozen of you.  While I have ‘Net access, I’ll try to post an entry.

Steph has been trying to budget my time so that I’m doing some creative writing.  The holographic diary I usually do at work, during breaks and lunch, so it’s rare that I have the composition book and the ballpoint out while I’m at home.  There is no unsecured Wi-Fi access at work, and the "social sites" are blocked, so that is why I never post from there.

I have several projects that I have been doing in very small increments, and often not at all.  This is a rather weak analogy, but one reason I try to be so conscientious with keeping the journal (either here or on paper) is to keep me in the rhythm and habit of writing, much like the way you keep a tap dripping 24/7 in the winter to prevent your pipes from freezing.

One night while Steph and I were watching TV, I sat down with the notebook and began writing two or three autobiographical poems.  It was in the same vein as a project published by my friend, Cincinnati novelist Robert Lowry.  I knew him long after his fall from grace and success in the post-World War II literary world, when he was persona non grata with the publishing establishment and dedicating himself to chain-smoking and drinking himself to death.  In lieu of an autobiography, Lowry published a chapbook called an american writer at the end of his life with a small press in Toronto, and it consisted of autobiographical poems.

I won’t write them in chronological order, although if I ever get the cajones to "go public" with them, I’d definitely arrange them that way.  I wrote about the small house we lived in from my birth (46 years ago the 29th of this month) until I was six, and my first realizations that there was such a thing as death.

The death realizations focus on the death of my great-grandmother and grandmother (paternal) in Wheeling when I was two and three, respectively.  I thought it was an exciting time, because of the car trip to Wheeling–even at a young age, I loved travelling, and I was 10 before I was ever carsick my one and only time.  The memories that stood out were my being scared to death of my great-grandmother in a hospital bed in the living room.  I was reassured that Grandma was "going night-night," but nobody explained to me why she’d be going night-night in the middle of the living room.  I was told–I do not remember this–that I occupied my time by repeatedly opening and slamming the screen door to the back porch until one of the adults had enough and locked it.

Something else I remember was a trip to visit my aunt, who was then a Catholic nun.  She was in a convent near Wheeling, and all I remember about that is that there was an enclosed courtyard in her convent, and I was intimidated by a giant (to me) statue of the Blessed Mother that was in the center of a fountain.  I’m sure if I went to see it now, it wouldn’t be so huge.  There’s a joke, quite true, that things shrink once you get older.  But at one and/or two years of age, that statue of Mary might as well have been Everest.

On a less morbid subject, Susie’s new friend Dee Dee just left.  Dee Dee came over for dinner, and they retreated to Susie’s room to read comic books and talk.  Steph and I were washing the dishes when Susie shrieked from the other room that we had Internet access once again.  She shouted so excitedly that for a second I thought the house was on fire.  Susie and Dee Dee met last Friday night at the Seder we all attended at First UU.  (The Unitarian sh’ma: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, Adonai, is–at most–One.)  Dee Dee’s grandmother is a longtime member of the church, and I used to serve on Worship Committee with her.  Susie and Dee Dee hit it off quite well during the Pesach meal, and were exchanging phone numbers and pictures by the end of the night.  I am happy that they clicked so well.

Often in this blog I have talked about the feast-or-famine workload at my job.  It’s been famine most of the week.  I spent a lot of time on the Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org, and listened to The Shadow and a very good debate between Christopher Hitchens and Al Sharpton.  I also wrote two letters, and did maybe an hour of "real" work all day long.

I would normally feel guilty about farting around so much while being paid by the taxpayers of the State of Ohio, but our new contract doesn’t make me want to be that conscientious.  Here is a Dispatch article about it, published on April 1 (no foolin’):

State union gives up raises – ‘No-win situation’ for OCSEA, chief negotiator says

Columbus Dispatch, The (OH) – Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Author: Alan Johnson ; THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Members of the state’s largest employee union have voted to approve a three-year contract that includes no pay raises and 10 days of mandatory unpaid furloughs.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents 35,000 employees in nearly all state agencies, said 60 percent of its members voted and a "clear majority" approved. The vote was not revealed.

"This was a no-win situation for us," said Andy Douglas, the union’s executive director and chief negotiator.

"Obviously, this contract was not the outcome we were seeking. However, given the economic climate and the state’s budget, this union did the best it could to ensure damage to our members was limited. Given what is happening in most other states, the result could have been much worse."

Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration sought more than $200 million in concessions from the union to help balance the state budget.

The union said it dodged a proposed 6 percent pay cut with a shorter workweek, and "held the line" on most health-care costs, adding full insulin coverage and eliminating co-pays for health screenings and wellness visits.

The contract also includes higher reimbursement for travel and mileage expenses, elimination of disciplinary fines, and improved benefits for employees injured on the job.

ajohnson@dispatch.com

So, since I am going to have 10 unpaid days per year over the life of this contract, I figure I should give myself a raise by not working as hard.

 
Union officers’ elections were last week, and yours truly was defeated in my bid for recording secretary.  (I already was recording secretary, filling in after a resignation, but I was running for a term in my own right.)  I was defeated by a hearing officer.  It’s a mixed bag.  I’m still a steward, but I’ve had no time on the playing field.  I spoke with our incoming chapter president and told him I think I need to go through stewards’ training again, from the ground up, and shadow stewards during negotiations before I dare strike out on my own.  Throwing someone out in the middle is not the best way to learn to swim.
I hear Susie watching Supernanny in the next room.  Dee Dee’s grandmother came for her, and I’m typing in the kitchen, waiting for the dishwasher to finish so I can do a load of laundry.
 
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