Monday, January 05, 2009

Day -02 (Round III) "In the trenches" (kicking-out-the-chocks edition)

Years ago, when I worked as a framing carpenter, we had an old Ford panel van to carry the tools, sawhorses, and other gear. It belonged to the company, but occasionally I would be tasked with driving off to the 7-11 at break time to pick up the Big Gulps and Little Debbie Snack Cakes and what-not. And I'd always have to remember that the thing had no reverse left, so that it was necessary to park either nose-up an incline (so that you could put it in neutral and roll backwards via gravity out of the space) or nose-in to a space that you could drive forward out of.

Likewise, it was missing a parking brake as well, so if you were stuck in a situation where you had to parallel-park nose-down on a slope, you had to make damned sure that you cut the wheel hard toward the sidewalk, so that the front tires were jammed right up against the curb; otherwise, the thing was sure to start rolling downhill when your back was turned. This also meant that, when you were ready to pull out, you had to wrench the steering wheel away from the curb by main force, because that thing was going to start moving as soon as you did.

On the other hand, in such situations, you never had to worry about whether the starter would work, because you could always count on gravity to turn the crank and give you a rolling start. The only alternative was to do what the road-crews and big-rig drivers do, and carry a couple of triangle wooden chocks to wedge in against the front tires--because there was so much gravity behind those wheels that, whenever you kicked them out, that thing was going to start rolling downhill.

Seems apposite now: Coming up on the new semester now--we start Wednesday, but the report date was today, which means we're back into work-week think up in this crib. Energy is ramping up: our proximate-to-campus neighborhood, empty of cars, lights, and noise for the 3 weeks or so of the break, is starting to see signs of life--and thoughtless fraternity parties--in the last 48 hours before school starts. Mostly, in the next 10 weeks, the typical undergraduate is going to be thinking a hell of a lot more about making the gym and getting ripped in hopes of a lot of cheap opportunistic sex over Spring Break, but they'll also be getting more and more excited, and less and less focused, in the same period.

Ah well; Dharmonia and I have lived in college neighborhoods for so long that we more-or-less know how to cope with the infantile behavior which tends to crop up in them. This year's no different--and we'll know how to deal this year too.

Happier news is the recurrent sense of joy and anticipation that comes from returning to a job, and a job situation, that you actually love. Had a party this past Saturday evening: putatively, for Dr Coyote's half-centenary, but in the event, I think the high turnout was at least as much a product of everyone realizing that this was the last chance for a don't-have-to-go-to-work-in-the-morning party before--gulp--April 28th, more or less. Whatever the reason, it was a good party (single malts, Dominican cigars, and a whole ton of great home-cooked potluck), and a pleasure to be able to offer some hospitality. Not just to School of Music colleagues and students, but to other old music friends, and even neighbors (those few who are grown-ups who I might actually want to hang with) at a loose end.

Next day, same neighbor came by to say "that was such a great party. I can't believe how interesting those people were--I could have just sat and listened to those guys tell stories all night." Which reminded me of the very first reason I actually wanted to be a musician--even before I thought I might have the capacity to accomplish that goal: because I wanted to be able to hang with musicians. Because they seemed like such cool people. Because the prospect of being able to spend my life in those worlds, and those activities, was almost unbearably attractive.

To come back to work here, every semester, is to be reminded of that. And, forty years later, it still strikes me as a good reason.

Below the jump: dusk, and whole-wheat.

1 comment:

Banjosnake said...

Yeah, man! I hear ya! Normally, the beginning of my calendar year isn't that different from any other time in my life, but for half-hearted resolutions and some small efforts to tie up loose ends from whatever year is ending... but this year I'm starting my first "straight" job in TWENTY YEARS (!!!) after being a) the master of my own time and b) constantly surrounded by musicians and artists and writers... just the kind of folks you're talking about. My equivalent to your frat-boy neighbors are most of my new co-workers, to whom the pinnacles of conversation seems to be a) how cool their car is b) "the game" c) work sucks or d) titties. I'm semi-envious of the job you love (I love my REAL job, which is playing music... the upcoming six months of painting the walls in a nursing home... not so much) and sympathetic to you for the stresses of conservative, small-minded company. Anyway, hang in there and let's raise a glass to fortitude and tenacity, and congrats to you on your big 5-0. I hope I make it to mine before some "grown up" frat boy blows us all up! ....and y'all are welcome in the mountains amidst the fuzzy people ANYTIME....\