(The Dispatch From My Office is a column I write for my company newsletter in hopes of bringing a touch of the recognizably human to our employees from the management side; I reprint them here because I have fun doing and work hard on them and because, let us not deny it, dude’s gotta post something, right)
“Then how did I get here?” “You wanted to very badly,” Auntie Ondine says. “Sometimes that is enough.”
-P. Djèlí Clark, Ring Shout (Edit: Which I reviewed, find it here)
“I will take the Ring,” he said, “though I do not know the way.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
“Now I am bolder, and angrier, and more joyful; none of these things contradict each other.”
-N.K. Jemisin, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?: Stories (Edit: Which I also reviewed, find it here)
It’s gettin’ hot again, earlier and faster than I would’ve believed. The A/C is a constant background white-noise now, a thread in the sonic tapestry of a home filled with dumb, sleepy cats whose bodies know, somehow, that it’s 600 degrees outside and that they shouldn’t be awake in such conditions.
In my previous article, I mentioned briefly that we are undertaking renovations here in my human home, and they were supposed to be minor: pull up the carpet that’s been here since the Carter Administration, lay down some tongue-and-groove laminate we’ve had our eye on down the Home Depot, boom, cover of Good Housekeeping, honorable mention in Surfaces Weekly. You can imagine our surprise when it turned out that the floor below the carpet had been BUILT WRONG, and bows in the middle so badly that a level, when placed on the floorboards just right, actually becomes a seesaw. Long story short and many YouTube carpentry tutorials and much crying later, we’ve got a big dang hole in our floor, or rather, a big lacuna where our floor once was. It’s pretty wild.
In the course of this defloorestation we’ve discovered MANY RELICS OF THE PAST, which have lain sleeping below our very feet, silent and unknown to us lo these many years; here is a partial list:
1. A wire clothes-hanger from a dry cleaner, indicating that this floor had been in place since at least the 1981 release of Mommy Dearest.
2. A Bic pen so ancient, whose visual design elements are so outdated, that they imply the ‘Bic’ was actually an animal that existed at the time but which has since gone extinct. I haven’t been able to find much about what the bic was like but evidence suggests several of its features made its way into the Furby, including its predatorily-oriented front-facing eyes and its ability to record sensitive audio information in government buildings.
3. A mouse’s skeleton! If you see a mouse walkin’ around all floppy, tell ‘em we got those dang bones, and they’ll be returned when our demands are met.
4. A tube of flooring adhesi—it’s trash, isn’t it, oh my Store-Brand God it’s just trash, they just thought ‘hey we’ll throw all of our garbage in here then seal it up like Al Capone’s vault, by the time anyone would need to crack this open we’ll all be living in Moon-casino hotels anyway’, and then time made fools of us all.
And I will, of course, be coming up with some kind of artifact to hide beneath the new boards to delight and confuse whatever poor chump has to do this after us, assuming that our home is not simply stomped on by a Godzilla or swallowed by the sea; a little time capsule from what I think we can all agree is, for various reasons, an extremely strange time in human history. Or maybe it’s a normal time! Maybe things are always like this and this is just the first time we’ve had all of it tweeted at us 24/7. I’m not quite sure what’s going in that time capsule yet, what exactly I could use to represent the—lemme count—at least five, no wait, as of this morning six major, history-book-worthy events that are happening right now, none of which I think I’m allowed to talk about here (except Covid I guess) even though I feel pretty safe assuming we’re all anti-fascism and pro un-melted icecaps, but you can certainly name a few without much effort and probably have some I’m not even aware of for various reasons.
[Edit: Guess what I can absolutely fuckin talk about them here on my own human web-site; at the time I think I was thinking of the war in Ukraine, Looming Climate Disaster, the Supreme Court draft re: Roe, El Salvador maybe having to declare bankruptcy because of the crypto crash, resurgence of mass public shootings BEFORE Buffalo, far-right extremism threatening American democracy and Covid y’know, that old chestnut. Oh! And now the catastrophic baby formula shortage!)
I’ve started and deleted at least four versions of this article; some of them got too dark and talked too much about my time working in the funerary industry selling graves door to door, some of them were, if such a thing is possible, too jacked up on democracy after the results of the French presidential election were announced; my editor said they’d never been punched in the face by an article before, so if nothing else I know I’ve got a future covering the world of boxing news. I keep trying to find something poignant and useful to say about these, our times, and how we need to be kinder to and allow ourselves to feel the grief and pain and anger that we haven’t processed, individually or collectively, because the things traumatizing us haven’t stopped long enough to let us. And maybe it’s not possible, because we’re still in the midst of it; a system cannot be objectively or completely described from within itself, much like my cats don’t understand that our home is, in a very real way, just a big room inside a LARGER house called ‘the outside’. Maybe I can’t find those magic words not because I don’t know them, or because the language doesn’t exist, but because we’re all still taking the breath I’ll need to say them. All I can say is that I hope you’re being as good to yourselves as you can be. I hope you’re treating your grief and your pain and your joy and your sorrow and your anger as the holy things they are, and celebrating all of them in the manner they require. There’s a quote from a book of commentary on a certain sacred text [Edit: it was a midrash; I’ve been warned at work about naming specifics like that, like the time I wished a Jewish coworker a happy Chanukah on the group chat and was told not to mention specific holidays right after we were handed Christmas wordsearches and miniature Christmas stockings to hang at our desks) that reads, roughly, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to set it down.” And while I don’t entirely agree with that—I think, in fact, that learning to set things that hurt us down and let them go is something our culture could stand to teach us all to be a lot better at—I do think that if we have been charged with the bearing of a burden—such as ourselves—we should do so with care, and intention, and acknowledge the pains that we take and the growth we experience in doing so. It’s been a hard, dark, sad three years (I will remind the reader that Covid has been around since at least mid-late 2019), and I’m proud of you all for making it through them. I hope you are too, and I hope that in the course of the long walk we’re on you’ll take the time to pause and care for your feet, and to acknowledge and know that they aren’t the same pair you started with, but they’re the pair you have now, and if you’re good to them, they’ll take you where you need to go.
just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl
you turned it on the world
that’s when you turned the world around