Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Once in a Blue Moon

When I was 7
My parents had tickets to the Municipal Opera, a fancy
name for the local outdoor theater.
Peter Pan Flying across the stage, John Denver singing
"Annie's Song", the Russian ballet.

But the things that stick in my memory the most are
listening to Radio Mystery Theater on the drive home and the
once in a blue moon late night stop at the
pizza parlor where we sat in a middle booth along the far wall
and stayed out long past the bedtime of a 7 year old little girl.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Intermingling sounds at Pearson and State

CTA buses rumble "...Jesuit..." as the
latte pitchers clash "Thank you!" and
the machines hum "really?"
in the Starbucks

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

James Clemens, the orphaned deaf girls, and me

I see the beauty of the past estate
Of the brick and iron and imagine
The double decked porch upon which he must have stood, 
Without vision to the world before him.
I hear the leaves rustling, the birds chirping,
the bugs rubbing,
The crunch of the weeds, the music of the ice cream truck.
The sounds of children that they themselves could not hear.
Exposed to the elements, open to the world
Once filled with compassion, now
Left alone, scarred, unloved, hidden behind the
Stone and brambles. Invisible.
Rooted, and strong, defying to the world what is happening inside
Where the eyes no longer see the possibilities and the
Ears fail to hear any words of hope or comfort
And the heart can
No longer be broken for it has

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Through An Oval Window

East to West, there is a haze, and slight cloudiness. Crop circles below, some red, some green One large circle in the square next to a square with four smaller circles. Then they are gone, vanished behind a sudden cloud that has prompted the fasten seat belt sign to illuminate. Snowy white nothingness now. Then the land below reappears and the crop circles are gone. A pointillist painting in brown down the hillsides: treetops. In the distance which fast approaches, a darkening of the earth delineates the next plateau from the steep face. A river branches out like the antlers of a 12 point buck. It is all bright sepia.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The 'After' Life

Last summer I was asked to speak as part of a panel on the topic of "Staying Ahead of the Curve: How to stay relevant in an ever-changing World". Each of the five panelists was an example of successful accomplishments in their respective areas. I took the point of view of personal relevance outside of the title bestowed upon you at your job and the challenges of staying relevant when that title does not exist, either through retirement, or downsizing or other circumstances. Most of us when we meet others will begin the conversation with a general, "So, what do you do?". Much like "How are you", the person asking the question already has an expectation of what the response will be and is unprepared for an atypical response. "How are you?"demands the response "I am good!" (though technically it should be I am well but that is another post). Any other response, however honest it is, leaves the questioner wishing they had not asked the question. Because in reality, we seldom really want to know how the person is, we are simply using the question to open dialog into a space where both parties will be comfortable spending some time in conversation. "What do you do" is a similar question, though the asker's expectation of a response is of a more general note: the respondent will state their title/responsibilities at the place that provides them their income. This is because the impetus behind the question is less about wanting to really know what occupies the person's time and more about placing them in a context which allows the questioner to evaluation the respondent's relevance. So back to the panel discussion of last summer. I spoke about the need to be more that what you do for a living, about being able to answer the 'what do you do' question with a litany of what makes you who you are: playing the violin, volunteering for charities, etc. Because not only will it jolt the questioner and enable you to stick in their minds as an interesting if unique person but because by not answering with your occupation, you start the process of seeing value in yourself beyond your job. I stand by my thinking on the topic although having gone through the loss of my job recently, I have come to realize that I only addressed one side of the challenge of personal relevance in a changing world. My company recently changed direction and closed the businesses in which I was involved. For me, it presents an exciting opportunity to take a new path in life and I have fully embraced this new status. There are so many things I can do aside from simply getting another job exactly like the one I just left and to figure out which ones are right for me, I have termed the short term phase my "Sabbatical". Not a vacation but a time of research and exploration with the goal of delivering myself to a new space that challenges me, enables me to contribute my talents and skills in a meaningful way and which rewards me in whatever way makes the most sense for me. But telling people that I am on sabbatical has elicited unexpected responses. At a recent cocktail reception for up-and-coming business professionals, several people who heard my response clearly did not get the answer they needed (the one that gave me context for them) so they tried again: "What are you taking a sabbatical from?" and that is where the conversation fell apart. Because they wanted the title and company information so critical to their ability to process me and I had none to provide to them. And rather than seeing the opportunity to ask what I was researching (a very natural question for someone on sabbatical), they simply turned away. It would be easy for me to fault them and to some degree there is a fault there. As I reflected on those interactions, however, I realize that while I am okay with no longer having an easy answer to "What to do you", I need to do a better job of reading my audience and choosing my words in a way that enables them to more easily associate with my response. While personally I do not believe I retired from XYZ Inc., telling someone that I recently retired and am now giving myself a sabbatical is probably a better response because it satisfies the other person's need for context (Oh, she was a successful person in a big company, she is credible). And steering away from the phrases associated with victim status (I was downsized) ensures I am not creating a polarizing situation.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

The challenges of uploading to a government site

Yesterday the White house announced that applications were being take for the next round of the Innovation Fellows program. Usually I see things like this and think "Cool! Wish I had the time to do something like that!" but this time I thought "Cool! AND, I actually have the time to try to do something like that!" So, I clicked on the Apply Now link and began to fill out the application. It made me laugh to realize that the application template and backend for applying for an INNOVATION position with the government was actually not very innovative at all and, importantly, wasn't actually very user friendly. I won't go into the things I found interesting about it...other than I could not figure out at all how to paste my resume into the space provided. Perhaps not the government's fault but still. There is however a way to attach a link If only I could figure out how to link to my resume. Hmmmm.....

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Literary dreaming

I dreamed last night that I had found an old book written by someone important (not sure if they were well known or just important to me) and within the leaves were hand written notes that told a deeper story about the individual. In the dream, I realized that by transcribing them into a blog, the person's life could live on and others would discover so much more about them. In my dream, the further into the book I got, the more notes would appear so that it became an on going story within a story.

Wish it hadn't just been a dream because I think that would be kind of cool to have that happen.

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