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A cold, quiet rainy morning in Northern California. It's still early here, really early, and I am comfortably ensconced in the corner spot at Starbucks where I can observe the room and blend into the wallpaper.

This is my favorite Starbucks because it's so close to my house, but the staff here are very nice. A few years ago I met up with some people I grew up with and who I hadn't seen in many years. Everyone was in town for our 20 year high school reunion, and the barista overheard us talking and she changed the music in the coffee shop to all 80s just for us. I don't know why that charmed me so much, but it really did. Also, just now, as I'm sitting here typing a man came in and asked for some ice water. He clearly was just trying to get out of the cold and the wet, and the girl behind the counter gave him some water with a smile. He took a seat by the windows and has nodded off, which I can hardly blame him for because it's warm and cozy in here. One of the other ladies working here quietly came over and set a hot cup of coffee at his table and then slipped away, so he'll have something warm to drink when he wakes up. It sounds like such a simple kindness, but I'm really very touched. So if you live in Redding, or are passing through, drop by the Starbucks on Placer Street.

Oh, and another quick note about this place, several years ago my niece decided to be a barista for Halloween (she was about ten or eleven I think), and she came in and asked if she could borrow an apron and a hat for the night and the people working here gave them to her with a smile and told her she could bring them back whenever. Needless to say, I'm a fan of this particular branch.

I'm up very early this morning even though it's a holiday and I've earned the right to sleep in, but it's so hard to change my inner clock. I'm a morning person anyway, but I sure wish I could sleep in to the late hour of, say, 7:00.

This holiday could not have come at a better time because I am ridiculously burned out at work. I've spent the last four weeks installing 52 new computers in my office, a task that is absurdly complicated and one in which there is literally no one who can help me. Due to the limitations of regulations, only an administrator can do most of the work and until another person is hired, I'm the only one. When the new machines arrived, I set about the task of installing the software package we use for our network, only to discover there was something wrong with the disk. I managed to make the disk work, but it took twice as long as it should have. So, I reported the problem to my support people in Sacramento, and they were stumped about how to fix the it. So I continued along, cranking out machines and getting them ready to roll out. After I had done 30 machines, I got a call from our other support team in Sacramento telling me that they STRONGLY recommended that I redo the completed machines. The machines I had spent ten days and two weekends working on. My anger, frustration and dismay were profound and I literally, not figuratively, literally considered quitting my job on the spot. I was (am) exhausted from four months of doing the work of two people, and handling the stress of supporting nearly 200 staff members scattered over four locations and it's taken a toll. Hearing that I needed to redo work that had taken me hours to complete was just about the end of me. But I pulled myself together, started over and just got to work. I installed software like I was a robot at an auto assembly plant and when I was down to the final ten machines my phone rang. It was the support team in Sacramento (the ones who provided the software package), telling me that I in fact did NOT need to redo all those computers. The two groups hadn't spoken to each other, and the people who are supposed to keep things like this from happening didn't actually call and speak to anyone. There was a lot of finger pointing, some vague apologies and a lot of "whoops, sorry about that." Honestly, at this point I'm just numb from it all. I don't think my administration understands how close I've been to having some kind of neurological event and going out on stress leave. What's more, as I'm sitting here reading those words, in the back of my mind is the knowledge that they sometimes read this blog and have discussions about me at their meetings. So, in addition to the stress of trying to do the best I can with few options of support, I also have the very real concern that they will view this post as me being a whiny complainer. So I've got that going for me.

Anyway.

Whitney Houston. A sad waste doesn't begin to describe it. When Michael Jackson died (another sad waste) part of me thought that at least he and we were being spared having to watch him become more strange and eccentric as he got older. With Whiney, I think we were deprived of getting to see her turn things around and stage an amazing comeback. I wasn't a huge fan of hers, but I can't help but admire what an amazing gift she had, and what a terrible loss this is. And I see that Chris Brown won a Grammy last night! Cool! So, you can beat the crap out of your girlfriend, pitch a hissy fit and break a window on Good Morning America when someone dares ask you about it, rail against people for being legitimately scared of you, and when you make a new record you'll get a big hug from your peers and a shiny trophy!

Hey look! Debbie Downer has a blog! What say I move on to less heavy topics, yes?

I had my taxes done on Saturday, and I'll be getting a nice little refund back from our good friends at the IRS. I should use the money to treat myself to something nice, but I'm never really good at that. You know I've been mulling over a Mac book, but I did some research last night and I read that they are overhauling that line of machines and will roll them out in the spring. Perhaps I should wait a couple of months before I take the leap. Or I could plan another vacation to Europe and see some new places. And by plan I mean move, and by new places I mean Italy and by vacation I mean rent an apartment and work in a gelato shop owned by one of the hot members of the Roma soccer team. So many choices!

Wow, someone needs to tell the lady who just came in that she isn't 23, nor is she a member of the biker gang on "Sons of Anarchy." Oh, and bedazzled jeans don't look as sassy and fun as she thinks they do. And J Lo wants her hoop earrings back.

A very nicely dressed man is at the counter wearing a gun on his hip. I'm choosing to believe he's a cop and not a twitchy threat to my safety. Wait, he also has a a badge, so I think I'll be okay. Whew.

This cold, wet, drizzly day is really nice. Our winter has been cleverly disguised as an early spring, and I don't like the signs that perhaps summer might not be far off. This brick oven of a town doesn't need the blistering heat coming any sooner than its going to. I'm really wired for cold and wet days, which makes sense when I live in a city that has precious few of them.

Two hours I've been sitting in this corner, drinking my coffee and eating my scone (which was actually eaten one hour and fifty eight minutes ago), watching the world come and go. It's relaxing, this. Something I noticed about lingering in a cafe in Italy is that no matter how many people are present or how many conversations are being conducted, often at alarming volumes, I can only understand part of what's being said. This means I can't eavesdrop on anything and the cacophony just becomes this lovely flowing soundtrack to the scene. The words don't intrude on my thoughts, and I can make up any dialogue I wish. The beautiful woman in the elegant black coat with the red buttons wasn't talking about her clogged plumbing, she was describing how she caught her handsome lover texting his wife while she was making him dinner. The young man in the yellow scarf isn't a cell phone salesman, he's a student at the university working on his art history degree. The elderly couple isn't bickering about who left the milk on the counter, they're having an animated discussion of Berlusconi's peccadillos. I sometimes daydream about how much I love sitting quietly in Italy, and once in a while I can recapture a pale imitation of that feeling. Today is one of those days.

It is with heavy heart that I said goodbye to my dear Miss Anita Margarita at work on Friday. After nearly 30 years with the county, she decided to retire and begin the next chapter of her life. While I will miss her terribly, she certainly hasn't retired from my life and I look forward to hearing about what life can be like on the outside, My retirement is far, far in the distant future, so I will be living vicariously through her. For whatever reason, for me the pinnacle of indulgence is to be able to see a movie in the middle of the day if I'm in the mood. One day.

If you're still reading this far down, I appreciate your attention. Sometimes when I start to write, it's like the words pour out of me and I can't get them all down quickly enough. It's particularly easy to do when I'm on the iPad, but reviewing and editing what I've written can be a pain, so if there's an occasional word out of place or I've committed the cardinal sin of a your/you're or a to/too/two error, I hope you'll keep the demerits to a minimum.

Directly across from me is a table with three people sitting having coffee. One of the men is facing me and we've made awkward eye contact like fifteen times now. Every time I look up in his general direction, so does he, and our eyes keep meeting. Not in an eyes-across-a-crowded-room kind of way, but in a your-head-is-right-below-a-clock-and-I-swear-I'm-just-checking-the-time kind of way. You know what I mean. Oh thank heaven he just left. I feel like I'm at peace again.

It's time for me to hit the bricks and get out of here. I hope you have a good day and the people who shape it take pity on you and cut you some slack. Please, treat yourself to some ice cream because you know you've earned it.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
rockingthemike
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
Also, just now, as I'm sitting here typing a man came in and asked for some ice water. He clearly was just trying to get out of the cold and the wet, and the girl behind the counter gave him some water with a smile. He took a seat by the windows and has nodded off, which I can hardly blame him for because it's warm and cozy in here. One of the other ladies working here quietly came over and set a hot cup of coffee at his table and then slipped away, so he'll have something warm to drink when he wakes up. It sounds like such a simple kindness, but I'm really very touched. So if you live in Redding, or are passing through, drop by the Starbucks on Placer Street.


this proves that the faceless corporation is still capable of having heart, even if it's only at the store level.

You know I've been mulling over a Mac book, but I did some research last night and I read that they are overhauling that line of machines and will roll them out in the spring. Perhaps I should wait a couple of months before I take the leap.

keep an eye on prices. if there's a new roll-out planned, macbook pros may lower in price, or you may find they stay the same, while the newer product costs more.

supermatt41
Feb. 13th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
Faceless corporations focused on profit margins are still staffed by real people with real feelings, and it was so great to be reminded of that today.

I'm hoping the new Macs might mean a decent deal of last year's stock for me. It goes against my very soul to pay full price for anything, and I'll enjoy my new machine even more if I get even 1% off.
rockingthemike
Feb. 14th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC)
they might, but knowing apple's control over pricing etc, i wouldn't count on it.
anita_margarita
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
I love these posts of yours. It exactly captures the mood of sitting in Starbucks and watching the parade.

I will miss you terribly as well, but I am only an email or phone call away. And now I'll have much more time to invite you to brunch or dinner.
supermatt41
Feb. 13th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'll just try and picture you on a really long break. A break that allows you to wander the city during the daytime if the mood strikes you.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 14th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)
You sound sad, I hope it is only the weather getting to you.... and that it will pass.
supermatt41
Feb. 14th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say I'm sad. I'd say my circuitry is overloaded and I'm tired through to the bone. It's mostly work that's hitting me hard. The cool weather and clouds actually are good for my mood.

But I do appreciate your concern. :)
yummydeb
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
All of that with work... just... ugh.

When I knew the poobahs at The Company were actually trying to find my blog, I locked down work-related entries to friends-only. I'm curious as to why you don't do this, if you know they read (and discuss) your blog. Are you railing against The Man, or do you just not care? I didn't want to risk it, me. But perhaps I am cowardly.

Wow, someone needs to tell the lady who just came in that she isn't 23, nor is she a member of the biker gang on "Sons of Anarchy." Oh, and bedazzled jeans don't look as sassy and fun as she thinks they do. And J Lo wants her hoop earrings back.

This is why we must sit together at a cafe one day. The snark! Laaahve!

Thank you for letting us sit with you at your favorite Starbucks, which does sound like a truly cozy and caring and lovely place.

Also, the only typo I noticed (and I may have missed some, as I am quite knackered myself today), was that you called Whitney "Whiney". While I think that was unintentional, I laughed in spite of myself. Not because the poor woman is dead, or even that she was whiney, which I don't think she was - I think she was hopelessly addicted. But still, 'Whiney'. Hee!

I hope things get better at work. From what you and Miss Margarita have described, I kind of doubt it, but I hope you find a way to cope with a situation that just sounds intolerable.

:::MWAH:::
supermatt41
Feb. 14th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
I don't lock down my posts because then people who follow my blog wouldn't be able to read it without creating their own LJ account. The few I have locked down are because they're really private or too personal, etc. Besides, the things I say in here are hardly scandalous and they are things I've said many times before publicly. My issue is mainly that I shouldn't have to curb what I'm saying on my own time (like right now when I'm on a break outside the building), nor should I have to be afraid of people who already have plenty of power over me. I'm a harmless little work horse and who even cares what I think about anything, you know?
The thing that keeps me going is I know the work I'm doing makes a difference to people who are totally helpless. I believe in our mission, and that mostly gets me through the tough things.
Whiney Houston?! Wow, what a time to make a typo like that! Classy, Matt!
jaiser
Feb. 15th, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
Big hugs!

Thank you for the lovely cafe visit. It felt like I was there! I find such solitary moments refreshing and - sadly - few and far between. Which, of course, is something that's my responsibility to fix.

I'm sorry that your work is so crazy. I'm hoping that after the roll-out (such things are always crazy) that things get back to a more manageable level.

I hope the rest of your week is infinitely better, my friend.

As for "Whiney" Houston... I got a big LOL out of it, even with her recent demise. Humor keeps us going, eh? And for the record, Chris Brown should be in prison.
supermatt41
Feb. 15th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
I felt a little like "Whiney" in this post, I swear!

I hope your week is progressing in acceptable ways too. Maybe good vibes will sort out a lot of the crummy stuff, you know?
jaiser
Feb. 15th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
Not at all, Matt! Venting is good. Though I understand the feeling; I often get it myself. :-)

My week is OK, thanks. Back to work after a couple days off, which were very nice. If good vibes will clear the yuck, grab on to something my friend, a tidal wave of great things is heading your way!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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