DREAM AND REAL – Marilyn Armstrong

Juxtapose

In my dreams – now rapidly fading as dreams do when you wake – is that I was so exhausted I could not continue. I didn’t know why I was so exhausted, only that I could barely raise my head from the pillow. I knew I had to quit the job that I had and I wasn’t entirely clear what job I was working

It turned out I was working for the military, searching out information on obscure (unknown?) bases in distant places … and I was not allowed to tell anyone what I was doing because I was supposedly doing something else. I had gotten my old friend Dorothy to join me and she had been working on some other base in some other part of the world, but had finally had enough and quit.

I wanted to quit too, but I felt I had to stay because it was secret and military and somehow, important, though I wasn’t sure why it was important. Or to whom.

Juxtapose reality: Life has been exhausting. I do what I must and then I do what I should and just when I think I’ve done everything I need to do, it’s the next day and I have to do most of it again and I know it will never end.

Moral of the story? I need to cut back on what I think are the requirements of life. But I’m not sure what they are anymore. I’m no longer sure where the necessities are versus the things I really want to do. For whatever reason, they have become so entangled that I just try to do everything. Because I know that no one else will do them.

Having dug my computer out of hacker land, I’m changing the router – which I can ill-afford to do – but I feel pretty exposed and I need to feel more protected in a world gone mad with crazy people who are out to get me.

Why is anyone trying to get me? Or us? We have so little, why us? We know there is no answer to that question, or at least, no answer that will make us understand. The ugliness of the world is the real truth of it.

A group who had little feel they owe nothing to anyone but themselves. They probably laugh at us when they imagine how many poor people have been made even poorer through their efforts.

The right way to sleep

A cold shiver runs down my back when I realize that there are so many evil people in this world and my trusting them has not gained respect but simply made me a target.

If my dreams are telling me anything, it’s that there is too much on my plate. Too much of it feels desperately important and frightening. Oppressive. Somehow, I have to find a way to lower the pressure. I don’t know how.

I wish I had a list of ways to get it done. Something. This is no way for me to be living, not at this time in my life.

RELUCTANTLY ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The day was beautiful. A perfect summer’s day. Cloudless blue sky.

I needed a prescription from a doctor near Boston. It’s 50 miles away. Typically, about 45 or 50 minutes driving. But not on Friday afternoon in mid-July. If you live around here, you know summer weekends begin on Thursday and climax Friday when everyone is coming home from work, jumping in the family buggy, and taking off for somewhere else.

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New York, New Hampshire, Cape Cod. The population of New York is on its way to New England. The mid-Atlantic and New England regions do a population swap every weekend during July and August.

We forgot. It was the day of the asshole driver. The ones who cut you off, the ones who hog the fast lane while driving slow, but will never let you pass.

Endless stretches of “construction,” Miles of orange cones with nary a worker in sight. Closed lanes, crawling traffic. Accidents on the side of the road and each driver feels a compelling need to slow down for a long look. A few major mishaps with sirens, police cars, and ambulances. Accidents that close lanes in two directions … and of course require all drivers to stop and take an even longer look.

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Police, supposedly in place to keep traffic flowing hang out in the middle of the road having a friendly chat with fellow officers. They get paid extra for that.

It wasn’t one road. It was everywhere. Bumper-to-bumper in every direction.

When we got to the doctor’s office, they’d forgotten to get the prescription ready. I simply said (very firmly) that we’d just spent hours getting there through the worst traffic metro-west Boston can offer … and I wasn’t leaving without my prescription.

I got my prescription.

We took a side road home, so we got home.

72-On-The-Road_055

For all the years I commuted though hell and high water. For all those years I dragged my tired carcass out every morning to plow through traffic to meet a deadline that was not a real deadline, but a lost hope. Because the product or project had long since gone off the rails but no one told me — this was a ghastly reminder.


Did I work better under pressure? Actually, I worked regardless of pressure. I worked best with encouragement, resources, and sufficient time to do my job properly. When those conditions could not be met, I worked less and less well until finally, I could not work. At all.

I doubt anyone works “better” under pressure. Some people deal with it. Others break down.

Modern management has a lot to learn about how to get the best from workers. They don’t seem to be learning.

IN THE COOKER AND ON THE ROAD

I was reminded, yesterday, of all the reasons I love retirement. Why the idea of going back to work makes me feel ill.

The day was beautiful. Perfect summer. Bright blue cloudless sky. Comfortable temperatures in the high 70s. A slight breeze. Minimal humidity.

I needed a prescription from my doctor in Needham. It’s 50 miles away, but normally it’s about 45 or 50 minutes drive time. Not, however, on Friday afternoon in mid-July. If you live around here, you know a summer weekend starts Thursday afternoon, and climaxes late Friday when everyone is coming home from work, jumping in the family buggy, and taking off for somewhere else.

Boston road signs

New York, New Hampshire, Cape Cod. The population of New York is on its way to New England. The mid-Atlantic and New England regions do a population swap every weekend during July and August.

We forgot. It was the day of the asshole driver. The ones who cut you off, the ones who hog the lane driving slow, but refuse to let you pass.

There were endless stretches of “construction” consisting of miles of orange cones without a worker or machine in sight. Closed lanes and crawling traffic. Accidents. Little ones on the side of the road which required each driver to slow down for a good, long look. Major accident with sirens, police cars, and ambulances. Accidents which close lanes in two directions … and of course require all drivers to stop and take an even longer look.

Police, supposedly there to keep traffic moving, who hang out casually in the middle of the road having a friendly chat with fellow officers about upcoming dinner plans — making it impossible for traffic to move. They get paid extra for that.

It wasn’t just one road. It was everywhere. Bumper-to-bumper for miles in every direction.

When we got to the doctor’s office and they’d forgotten to get the prescription ready — atypical of this usually efficient medical group — I was ready to have a temper tantrum. To lay on the floor, kick, and scream. I didn’t. I simply said we’d just spent a couple of hours getting there through the worst possible traffic and I wasn’t leaving without my prescription.

I got my prescription.

We took Route 20 home, which means we got home. Otherwise, we’d most likely still be out there, in our car. On the road. Dehydrated. Demoralized. Depressed. Dying of starvation and probably snapping at each other for want of anyone else to blame for our own gross miscalculation in planning to drive in and out of Boston on a Friday afternoon in the summertime.

72-On-The-Road_055

For all the years I commuted, with a daily deadline requiring getting there, though hell or high water. For all the years I dragged my reluctant carcass out in the morning to plow through traffic to meet a deadline that was not a deadline, but a lost hope. Because the product or project had long since gone off the rails but no one had told me, this experience was a ghastly reminder.

Did I work better under pressure? No. I worked regardless of pressure. Really, I worked best with encouragement, resources, and sufficient time to do the job properly. When those conditions could no longer be met, I worked less and less well until finally, I could not work at all.

I doubt anyone works “better” under pressure. Just some people deal with it and others break down.

Modern management has a lot to learn about how to get the best from their workers. They don’t seem to be learning.