It was a bad week on the heels of a bad month. If you are reading this in real time I hardly have to tell you about it, but in case you aren’t: Gaza, Ukraine, Ebola, Michael Brown, Robin Williams, Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson—what am I missing? Probably a lot. Anyway, there was all of this, and then suddenly the lamp situation in my dining room became untenable.
I have been known to joke (repeatedly, like a dad who’s come across his favorite pun) that when you cross the border into California you are issued your choice of the following: hiking boots, a surfboard, or climbing shoes. When I moved to California two years ago I picked the third option and never looked back. It’s gotten expensive.
At this point, it is becoming evident that there is something about the way police officers are trained in this country, or about the culture that seems to pervade police departments, that needs to change. We can speculate about why this is so (or argue whether it is so). Greg Howard at Deadspin has smart things to say about the militarization of police forces (when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail). I have a lot of ideas about the general stratification of society along race and class lines, and how that plays out in policymaking, law enforcement, and perceptions of poor, minority neighborhoods. But whatever the causes, it is safe to say that black men dying unnecessarily at the hands of police is a problem, and one society cannot quickly fix. So perhaps we should consider some sort of temporary solution.
If you were to have looked at my calendar yesterday you would have noticed a 90-minute lunchtime meeting titled “Important Meeting.”
Winston is due for more sessions.
She said this with a smile.
Do you want to buy a package?
I was flustered. I didn’t want to buy a package. I didn’t want to be spending thousands of dollars on another round of physical therapy for my five-pound Pomeranian.
Sure, uhh, How many sessions do we usually buy?
Let me take a look here … six.
I asked how much that would be.
One thousand, fifty.
She paused. I nodded.
Great. I’ll run it through.
She said this with a smile, a smile that made me wonder if she thought she’d said “Free.”
We call our little guy, Winston, our Problem Child, our Money Pit. As a puppy he broke his leg roughhousing with my brother. Seven grand later he’d undergone emergency surgery, had metal plates implanted into his leg, and was healing in a hard cast. During this time he also suffered from seizures, and despite the money we spent and the vets we visited, we never figured out why. He grew out of the seizures.
One of the ways I’ve made it as a single parent of three kids is to practice what my friend Mike and I call Disaster Thinking. Disaster Thinking is not merely planning for potential disasters, although that’s part of it. It’s also expecting them, and then carrying out many of your plans as though the disaster is a future you just haven’t caught up with yet.
I’m 24 and I’ve been at my first job for about a year; it’s typically a two-year position. My supervisor has recently quit, and according to several coworkers in our (very small) office, I would be a good fit for it. I know the region of specialization, I just submitted a report to my big boss on long-term strategy that she really liked, and one of the other people in our office who works at the same level as my supervisor mentioned to the big boss that (as far as she’s concerned) I would be a good fit.
We are told from a young age to never, ever speak about money. Don’t ask anybody how much they make, or how much they paid for their car, or how much they pay in rent for that beautiful apartment. It is tacky, it is rude, it’s not something that nice people do. I am not one of those nice people. Talking about the cost of things, for me, is a necessity. If I got something for cheap, and someone asks me about it, I am more than willing to tell them how much I paid, because I live in New York, and not a whole lot about this place is very cheap. I try to employ this kind of transparency in my day-to-day, because I think that breaking down the barriers that we create when it comes to finances is important.
Coworkers are the protagonists of our workplace sitcoms and soap operas—they are the fully realized characters who make the long hours from punch-in to punch-out as tolerable or intolerable as they are. But have we ever stopped to consider that wonderful class of bit players who fill in the interstices, upon whom we can project whatever back story suits us? I’m referring, of course, to the employees of other workplaces that share some physical space with our own, the people we basically don’t know, but see enough to offer a nod and some small talk on This Weather We’ve Been Having—let’s call them Non-Coworkers. I love this class of people, and the non-relationship I have with them. Let me sing their praises.
After a lot of deliberation, we decided to break the cycle of “we’ll do it one day.” We could go on our honeymoon. We just had to be creative about it.