Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Linda



When I first met Linda, I had a job training hundreds of people who didn't want any part of what I had to train. Truth be told, I didn't want any part of what I had to train, either.

There were better ways to make a living, but I didn't have my thumb on that pulse at the moment.

To be fair, some of these folks -- my students, trainees -- had been doing the same job the same way for decades. Theirs was not a pleasant job to begin with, and my overhead projector and red-point laser didn't offer much comfort as to days ahead.

In response to the training classes, some students lodged complaints with ER. Others wrote the publisher or CEO (you know, as if). A few chose a more peaceful form of protest and put their heads back in their chairs during class and snored.

Most, however, just argued and gave me scathing end of the session evaluations. "She thinks she's so great, but she's not," will probably nag me through life.

So back to Linda. Linda was new to the company, and in my class. And she was that kind of person, you know -- the kind of person everyone likes and everyone wants to befriend. Not sure how this works, but I think it has something to do with charisma. She could clear an hour of uncriticized class time for me with one dry witty comment. Pity I didn't save one of her dry witty comments, but trust me, they are somewhere out there, tickling the universe.

When a job opened up in publications, we all lobbied for Linda. Linda! we said. Linda, Linda. We didn't even know if she could write (she could), but we just wanted to hang out with her, really. Anyway, she got the job.

She got the job, she met Sandy -- another trainer, another gentle soul. They fell in love, moved in together.

We all weren't best friends or anything, but the two of them, they helped me through a rough patch. When my dog died and I got divorced, within a six month period. I took off, and they took care of my cockateil -- she had a whole room to herself. At that time the bird was sort of my lifeline, and often (all too often) I'd call to ask, "Are we still flying, freely?"

Eventually, Sandy and Linda left LA, moved to Portland, bought a house, got two dogs, two jobs, traveled lots of places, always together. And that's the happy ending.

I heard from Sandy that Linda is dying -- in two days or two weeks.

The bad news is, those happy endings aren't really endings -- we're only human. The good news is, we're only human. There is no end. I think we're always free and flying.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The family unit



Goslings have an excellent chance of survival.



The parents mate for life, and raise them in tandem. When Dad eats, Mom keeps watch. When Mom eats, it's Dad's turn. For the first year, it's like a goose-mafia -- all about the family.



At The Huntington, we lose about 50-75% of the ducklings, as duck-parenting is a casual affair. Mom has her eye on a handsome mallard, while Dad goes surfing. But most goslings thrive, reach maturity, and return year after year.



Though we humans may think geese lack something in potty deportment, their kids learn at a very early age to mind their manners, walk the line.



And never, ever sass Mom.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Work in progress

Greg and Meredith, brother and sister, were very much alike. Both tall, slim-hipped, flat-chested, and preternaturally attractive to the opposite sex.

Both had blond hair, fair skin, blue eyes, long lashes; they looked the way we all thought we looked or could look or would look one day, if we worked at it, had the right pair of jeans, and received some late-teen intervention from the gods.

To watch Greg or Meredith walk -- the shoulders swayed slightly, front to back. And the legs followed the hips -- something I have always tucked away in the back of my mind. Most people lead with the head or feet, like those photos of evolutionary development as man sheds the fur from his back and sloshes out of the primordial ooze.

With G and M, the center of the body did the heavy lifting, effortlessly. Walk across the room keeping this in mind, and you'll see what I mean.

All this to say, Greg and Meredith sailed above the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune high school flesh is all too heir to.

Meredith was my good friend, and just my age. Greg was older, and out of my league. Rumor had it, he'd been around the block a dozen times. Including once with a prom princess, the girl who wore a pink gown and combat boots to the coronation.

A group of us, boys and girls, high school sophomores mainly, spent many Friday nights hanging out in the basement at Meredith's house. It was a fully furnished basement that doubled as Greg's bedroom, though he was rarely home. I could lay on Greg's bed, a major selling point. Meredith's parents remained discreetly absent, that was another. Not that there was anything of a sexual nature taking place down under. We knew each other too well.

Maybe some of us had kissed a time or two. Experiments, with a foregone conclusion that only proved a half-hearted hypothesis.

What bound us together, really, was boredom, a few bad habits, and the fact that we were all going to be famous one day.

[more to come]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'll come clean

And admit, if there's a story about Prince George on my news feed, I click. I have a thing for healthy, plump, and impossibly rich babies.



But if we can move the spotlight from my dubious interests and attentions, then let's focus on the Royal nanny. She's Mary Poppins -- I mean, the real one, from the book. Look at the stance, the shoulders, the feet.



As a child, I always wanted a Mary Poppins -- someone who would dole out discipline with one hand and take me sky-riding on balloons with the other.

But that just didn't happen in the Brea sub-divisions. Much to my disappointment, and surprise.