Thursday, September 30, 2021

UBI Now (or, Worker Oppression is as Old as the Hills).


Dear Working,

I thought to address this letter to 'dear workers,' but I wanted to be sure you understood I don't just mean people who receive a pay stub.  Here are some of the job titles I have been this week:


video producer










in home caregiver





inventory manager

IT specialist

Those are just the ones I can think of in two minutes.  Let me elaborate; I don't mean that I can do those jobs a little bit, or kinda sorta.  I mean that I am totally qualified as an expert in ALL of those areas.  If a magic fairy dropped me into the rolling desk chair behind any of those jobs, I could do them without batting an eyelash.  Let me further elaborate; I know that you, too, are qualified for a career list at least as long as this, and very probably longer.  Now, I am glad we settled all that, because I don't want any argument about how over qualified you already are for your life and work.

What I want, now, is to introduce you to two new words (at least, they were new to me, and in true shock of the new fashion, horrifying):  Upskilling and Reskilling.

Yes, these are the two ugly elves you heard about- the ones you must recall the names of, if you want to climb up a tower on someone else's hair.  They are five in all:  Upskilling  Reskilling, Deskilling, Mob Killing, and Up Yours.  Just like in the stories, you must be on your guard around these tricksters.  You may enter into a contract with Reskilling only to find that the money you spent does not qualify you for more pay.  All it did was lengthen your list of abilities and line the Skilling Boys' pockets with more silver.  There's a moral to it, as TweedleDee tells Alice.

It's a lot to ponder, especially if you are thinking of making a career move, whatever that is anyway.  As further beseechment, I offer you this essay, by Anne Helen Peterson.


I am pretty sure I am not supposed to -ment the verb beseech.  Direct any usage complaints to the ugliest elf, Up Yours.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Affection for Affliction.


Dear Doubtful,

Self-doubt is the kind that picks up every available bit of doubt and glues it to itself, growing ever larger like a cartoon snowball (yes, I agree; real snow hardly sticks at all- another great childhood myth shot to hell and back).  This wonderful ball of horrors and self-induced disaster is the stuff that nightmares are made of, and it has no limit on how large and all-encompassing it can grow.  It's also, and this such a shock, completely, absolutely invisible to others.  This giant monkey is only our own, and even if others catch a glimpse of this King Kong, they don't believe it could actually be a problem for you, I mean, you?  Come on, no way!?  Sensitive self-doubters, at this point, will take whatever it is that you may have exposed in your own self-doubt, and quickly pile it on to their own.  Like this:

Self-doubter X:  Well, I just hope my report was what they wanted...  (wistfully, uncertainly, speaking of a task they completed yesterday).

Self-doubter Y:  What??  Your reports are the best!  You are so good at them- I wish I could do half as well!  (reassuringly, confidently, even as they mentally consider the single report of their lives, filed 6 years ago, for a job that they were laid off from, at a company which imploded two months later in a scandal that had nothing to do their report at all).

Okay, now, here's the real mind-bending part:  See all that love, care, and detail I have used to describe self-doubt?  What about that, eh?  What if I love my self-doubt too much to rid myself of it?  What if I really am addicted to my self-doubt?  What if my affection for my self-doubt is all that the whole thing is anyway?  It never occurred to me.  Until I heard this song of the day. 




and self-doubtfully,

Friday, September 17, 2021



Dear Curious,

I think you are ready.  I know you are ready.  If you don't like it, you can find some other feet to give those roller skates to!  It's been 1200 days for me, and tomorrow could be day number one for you!  This week I am on the injured list, and so my daily skating has been appallingly brief, but I really look forward to it, because it's kind of a habit that I really love, and while I am malingering, I am imagining the not so distant future, when I will be out and skating the fresh pavement again.  There is a beautiful new parking lot not far from here, with little swales, and not too much tree litter.  I love to set my teeth, roll up and into the shallow ditches and jump a little bit, at the crest of the thing.  

If you are not quite yet ready, check out Skatie and Appelusa; perhaps these two lovely skaters can convince you where I have failed.

If you are already skating your garage, your kitchen, your side porch, and your nearby basketball court, then good for you and I hope I see you out there!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Cello Sweets.


Dear Secret Aspiration,

I have your cello song of the day right here.  I hope you enjoy it.

One day, one day I will get myself a cello, and I will make these kind of singing sounds myself.  Yes, it will be a kind of anti-climax, because I have none of the skills or patience necessary to play 'good,' but I know I can play bad, and I am sure that it will be fulfilling to play the cello, no matter how bad.  Why, you wonder?  Take a look at that embrace.  Look at that relationship, that huge hollow breathing space, which can only be filled by hands on the neck and the bow.  Why would one resist such an intimacy?

And no, I do not want lessons, I want cellos.  One for you and one for me.  A cello in every hall closet.  And I will not play it, but I will make sound, and there is no music without sound.  

Monday, September 6, 2021

fall back in circles


Dear Lovelies,

A song for you, for certain; and an update.  You know I am trying to quit my job at A & G (Assumptions and Generalities), and I have cut back my hours, but we are hung up in battle over the severance package.

Leaving, you see, positions me outside of the social circles that seemed so vibrant to me, but have paled and frayed since the plague.   I keep thinking, though, of the mystics, of how much is possible.  I think of "radical unknowing."  While I am trying to chip away at institutions from the inside, I am also fooling myself into thinking that an institution is big enough for me and future-filled.  It isn't, really, and my days are numbered, just like yours.

Meanwhile, the question, as always, is what to do today?  Today, I will tidy up, sort things into piles, correspond, and roller skate.  It should be a fine day for it!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The word.


Letterpress print by artist Sam Winston.

Dear Letters,

Are you busy forming words today?  Making concrete poetry, I hope?  Here is your song for today, and please also enjoy this example of concrete poetry, titled, Fingers Remember, by poet Marilyn Nelson.

       Long     fing-     ers,       how
       signals   flow      up         them
        from      tip       and       finger-
         print      all       the           way
          up         the      arm        and
          the       neck     to          what
          ever     magic   light       takes
          flame   so       touch      ignites
          as the   palm    smooths    warm
         from one person to another, passes
         sunlight one skin has taken in, which
          the other receives like thirsty soil gulps
          rain and infinite generations of ancestors
           yawn awake asking if it’s time for the line
to         miracle up a new life. They were so young,
and     innocence is a birth gift intended all along
to be    opened with love, promises, and blessing
as you enter the future that only exists if you live
into it. His name was John. His moving muscles
 formed shapes she had not met before. Green
  time laid its fragranced landscape before them.
   So they entered. Married. Irene came soon.
   At eighteen, Gussie was widowed, with a
    toddler older than her youngest siblings.
     The family’s hand opened and closed
       in welcome. But fingers remember.

Source: Poetry (December 2019)