24.8.20

Adjusting to reality

MPOW has a sabbatical policy: you can take your first after your seventh year, the next eleven years later; and then another eleven years.  As with most college policies, you get full pay for a half year, and half pay for a full year.  However, with COVID and the expenses involved with increasing technology and buying new furniture and losing income from rentals and room/board, it's not surprising that this is a policy that might change.  As in, disappear.

This is my sixth year.  I wasn't planning to take mine in two years, to be honest.  My plan was: help build the new library, live in that space for a year, then take fall semester sabbatical, return for spring semester, and then… gulp... retire.  Yes.  Retire.  

I don't feel as though I'm in my late 50s. I don't feel as though, had I had a child as early my sisters-in-law and nieces did, I could be a grandparent with grandchildren applying to MPOW.  I don't feel older than many of my students parents.  And yet, I am.

Back in college I did a lot of work with the theatre, and at that point I could easily carry four stage lights at once.  Now?  The other day I struggled with a 39lb box.  And I usually cart that load around during an ALA conference, thanks to the ARCs.  Perhaps now I can't, and need to revise my "collection" policy.  

As readers know, my health has gotten progressively worse—it's stable now, thanks to a great medical team, but still...and I wonder what comes next. So, yeah, it's time to remember I'm old.  And getting older.  And retirement is rapidly approaching.  In fact, in two years I can start withdrawing from my 401(k) without penalty.  In five, I could start to get Social Security.  It's time to adjust my thinking from the 20-30 year old starting out and think about winding things up.  Over the years I've collected many ideas for what my ideal house (or kitchen, or bath, or deck) would look like... and then there's the night blooming garden I've always wanted.  It feels like those are dreams whose time has passed. It could be exciting, that next phase.  Let's hope.

20.8.20

The origin story the president wishes he could tell...

We've all heard about how the Drumpfs came here and settled, leading up to the current president's stories great business acumen and why he alone could fix things.  Much of that story feels very familiar to me, with a few major divergences.

Back in the late 1800s, my great-grandfather arrived in the Boston area (along with two of his brothers and a sister; there were nine siblings in all).  He settled and opened a cobbler's shop, hoping to earn enough to bring his wife over.  To help him save as much as possible, he walked barefoot into town so as not to waste leather repairing his own shoes.  Eventually, he brought her over and they started a family.

Along with a family (four girls, two boys), N (as we call him) opened a dry goods store.  It grew.  He opened another.  And another.  Pretty soon, he had a chain of stores in the area that were the equivalent of Sears.  His children went to work for the company, as did my grandfather, a son-in-law.  It was a family-owned and operated company and N's word was paramount.  

That's where things really diverge from the other story.

At some point, N decided to buy another chain of stores, one that was better known and traded on the American Stock Exchange.  Suddenly his personal fiefdom was subject to the SEC and a Board of Trustees and stockholders.  N changed.  Because our family owned the majority of the stock, it was easy to put my great-uncle, B. in as President of the company while N became Chairman (oddly, like that other story, there was an early death, when N's other son died too early from a heart attack, pushing B into the leadership role).  Various cousins took leadership roles in the company, running stores or departments (my grandfather was the hosiery buyer and comptroller of the whole company until his death).  B moved into the Chairman role and a cousin took over as President.

My cousin tells the story of how one day he read the WSJ and found an article that said that corporate management didn't have confidence in the president.  Running into B's office, my cousin asked what was going on, only to be told that B himself had called the Journal.  At the next Board meeting, my cousin had to fight his uncle (and an aunt) for his job - my cousin won.  Luckily, they were able to separate business from family (much to another board member's surprise, during a break in this meeting, my cousin got coffee and a donut for his uncle, choosing the family connection over the business one).

For reasons too boring to go into, we sold the company in the early 80s and my cousins had to find jobs outside the family umbrella.  But because they'd worked for a publicly traded company, answerable to others, working in another company wasn't a shock.  They were prepared for the checks and balances of having to account for decisions both good and bad.  

Back in New York City, we all knew that the Trump Org was a very small, family owned and run company and the whims of one man were all that counted.  My prayer is that others have also realized this and that while it may work for a small company it does not work for a country.

10.8.20

Notable Quotes

Someone in a mosque once told me about the water behind people's faces.  This water, he said, changed depending on what you did and what you believed and as you got older it began to freeze.  The kind of life you led, whether you heart was full of love or joy or shrewdness or bile, all of this changed the nature of the water and, therefore, the look of your face.  In this way, your face told the story of your life...

Maybe I'd been staring for too long, because she looked up.  "What?"

"You have a very nice pond face."

Syed M. Massood, More Than Just A Pretty Face