ORDINARY DAWN

Every year in March, we get glorious sunrises. It only occurs for a week or two and only in March. This morning, I woke up, lifted the shade and there it was. That glorious, gold and lavender morning sky … which remarkably means it will most likely rain later in the day. Still for the half an hour, it is exceptional and heart-lifting.

ORDINARY DAWN | THE DAILY POST


It’s an ordinary spring day in an ordinary year. Which is why, an eighth of a second after I posted this, I looked up and it was snowing. Garry grabbed the camera and ran for the door. It wasn’t snowing hard. Not really much at all, but for all of you who keep insisting that we are experiencing Spring, no — we aren’t! You can see the snow. If you look hard.

I titled the folder “The Absolutely Last Snow.”

Absolutely last snow – Photo: Garry Armstrong

LOSERS

We’ve been watching this show about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. They are doing this last, terrible, desperate film. They don’t like each other. They may, in fact, truly loathe one another. But they need this movie because they are getting old and they know it is their last chance to do something before the rug is pulled out from under them.

That’s the real point of the story. They didn’t make a good movie. They didn’t change the rules of Hollywood. In fact, the rules have not changed. More women get decent roles even after passing that magic age — these days more like 55 than 40 — but most don’t. Women are still underpaid, underrated. A man playing a role for which he is blatantly too old is applauded. A woman is laughed at. A woman with wrinkles, if she is really top drawer in the acting department will get some roles, but not like a man.

Men can work as long as they can totter around. Not so for women.

BOSTON HERALD 03-17-2017

Women do get work. Not as many as eventually will, but many more than used to. We keep at it and one day, we will win. The women who fought the studios, battled movie moguls who treated them like soiled hankies? They were losers. Losers in every sense of the word. But the battles they fought opened up the world for others yet to come.

If you are wondering how the things we do now can help us in the battle to survive this thing who is our so-called leader? Everything we do matters. It counts. Even thought we fight and lose, we fight again. Maybe we lose. But …

Eventually, we don’t lose. In the end, we will win. Bet on it.

THE BEST JOB EVER

I had been looking for a job that would let me flex my hours so Garry and I could spend time together. It was difficult. He worked terribly long hours, gone before the sun came up and not home until it was dark again. Ironic. Most people think reporters work “a few minutes a day” because that’s all they see on the news. Not true.

To get those few minutes of finished news on the air, they drag themselves through every kind of weather — blizzards, hurricanes, bitter cold, unbearable heat — and endless traffic, from one end of the state to another. They are often on the scene of the worst imaginable horrors before the first responders arrive.

And they have to look good while doing it. Without a break for lunch or even a bathroom. Someone once commented it’s like being in the army, just without the uniform.

His days off were Wednesday and Thursday. That meant we had barely a few minutes after work to meet and greet each other. Everything else waited until vacation. By which time Garry was exhausted and needed two weeks of sleep to recuperate so he could go back to work again.

The good part of his job? He loved it. I think everyone in the news business is an adrenaline junkie. The thrill of getting the scoop, tracking down the story, coming up with a different angle on something every other station is also doing and sometimes, finding new information to crack open a case. Garry loved his work. He didn’t love every single moment of it, but he loved most of it, loved knowing he could make a difference, shine a light into a dark corner and fix something that had been broken.

When I married him, I married his work. No whining about him missing all the family events, never being around to help with the housework or the shopping. I knew from the get-go I’d be keeping his dinner warm for whenever he got home. That was the deal we made. We didn’t spell it out, but we both understood. We were social equals, but his job came first. Period. End of story.

One day, I got a call. A large HMO was looking for a technical writer to put together documents for their various computer programs. Aimed at users, this was entry-level stuff. For me, used to working on really complex software, it was a piece of cake — with icing.

I went to the interview.

Bad news? It was a part-time job, paying (25 years ago money was worth more) a retainer. I would be paid for 20 hours a week at $25 an hour, about $10 less than my usual rate.

Good news? It was a retainer. All the freelancers out there know there’s nothing better than a retainer. I might work all 20 hours, or no hours, depending on what was going on. I would not be required to go into an office. At all. Ever. I would work from home or wherever I and my computer might be, including the back porch of the summer-house on the Vineyard.

It was half the money I’d been earning, but I could take free-lance gigs to make up the gap.

I took the job. This was a job from Heaven. When I accepted it, I figured I’d be working most of the 20 hours. It turned out, there wasn’t any work. Or almost none.

Weeks and months went by. I would call to find out if maybe they’d forgotten me and didn’t they want me to do something? No, everything is fine, they said. No problem. We’ll call you. Once in long while, they did call and for a few days, I worked. It was almost a relief. Even though it was writing I could do in my sleep.

For a couple of years, I got a steady paycheck for which I did essentially nothing. I did a bit of free-lance stuff here and there and was obliged to bring a laptop with me when I went on vacation, just in case. It was the dream job: getting paid and not having to work for it.

One day, I picked up the Boston Globe and discovered the division for which I worked was being disbanded. Apparently someone noticed that no one in the department actually worked. So I called my boss, Anita.

“Anita,” I said. “I was reading the Globe this morning. Does this mean I have to look for a new job?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “We all do. But you’ve got three or four months, so you should be fine.”

I couldn’t believe it. They were taking away the best job in the world. I was going to have to go to work, show up at an office. Stay there all day. What a horrible thought!

I went job hunting and found what would turn out to the best real job I ever had. The best colleagues and absolutely the greatest boss. But it was work. I had to think (a lot), learn (like getting a masters in advanced object linking in a couple of weeks), synthesize, design documents, write them. Back to meeting deadlines. My 2-year paid vacation had not eliminated my skills. I was as good as ever. But.

Never again would I feel comfortable in a 9 to 5 job although I worked them for twenty more years. I got terribly restless. Just having to be in one place for all those hours made me itchy. I got my work done and done well, but I was spoiled. No regular job felt right.

I was ruined for the real world.