Tuesday, July 31, 2012

bad jobs: the opera

I've had lots of bad jobs. Figured I'd tell some stories about them.

I worked at the Metropolitan Opera for several months, as assistant to one of five managers who reported directly to the Director, Joe Volpe. The person who had the job before me had also worked on the website, but that task was transferred to someone else. I had almost nothing to do. Trying to be conscientious, I read through the files in my office. My boss took me out to lunch soon after I started, and she got drunk. She once had me type and apply a label for the cover of a report she was presenting to Volpe, and screamed at me because the label was a mite off-center. But I was basically in that terrible position of having to look busy when I wasn't.

After I'd been there for a month, my boss went on vacation for two or three months. During that time, I was assigned to work for HR, in the basement. I remember doing a lot of filing. Also, one of the women who worked there had a tape deck and only two tapes: Billy Joel's greatest hits, and Enya.

When my boss came back, I guess she must have had me doing some things...however, she had to have been the worst communicator ever. Her office was right across the hall from mine, and I'd get these calls from the head of HR: "Here's what you're doing that S. doesn't like..."

The kicker was this: she had a big binder that had information on everyone who worked at the Opera, from the administrative assistants to the musicians, directors and singers. She told me in no uncertain terms that it should never been taken out of her office - that if I had to work from it, I had to use it in her office. Which I did. One day, she couldn't find it, and she tore up her office, and then mine. I helped her tear up both offices, but the thing could not be found. When I asked if she had maybe taken it home to work there, she flew into yet another rage. A few weeks later, the nice HR lady called me to say that I was being let go. I said, "She really thinks I took that binder?" The whole job lasted about five months.

The good things about working there: I had a knob in my office that I could turn on to hear whatever was happening on stage, which at that time was rehearsals. The entire Opera was in one building, so going to HR, I passed rehearsal halls full of dancers and singers and musicians. There was also only one cafeteria (I seem to recall it was subsidized) where everyone ate, so I saw all of the musicians and singers there. There were free tickets for staff, although almost all of the time I was there, it was the off-season.

When I was there, there was an opening for someone to work for the woman who ran outside events, other groups that rented the opera hall (ballet companies, etc.). I suggested a friend of mine for the job, and she was hired and worked there for many years. Her boss was really nice. Years later, she told me that my old boss got divorced and was a much nicer person after that.

I actually had a standing-room ticket for opening night, but it fell between my being let go and my actually leaving (I guess I was given two weeks notice or something). I was way too depressed to go. My boss stuck her head in my office that night, dressed to the teeth, and asked if I were going. I said, "No, I'm too depressed." She gave me a surprised look and sauntered off, almost as if she hadn't fired me after five months (three of which she wasn't there).

Most of my bad jobs were bad because of bad bosses. She was up there with the worst of them. Maybe one of the reasons I'm a good boss to my interns is that I've learned a lot of what not to do from those bad bosses.

More bad jobs to come.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I have started getting ready for the Holiday Crafts Fair at my job, which is November 10.  (Judy kind of put it together around me and my jewelry, and I'm co-chair of the committee). It's a fundraiser, so I'll split my intake with the school. I figured I'd start early so I'd have a good number of excellent new pieces.

I have been looking at the jewelry on the female faculty and board members very closely. So I know my audience. "Earthy" is fine, but not too crazy and fairly elegant. As it's a fundraiser, and as materials prices have gone sky-high, and as this particular audience has money, I'll be charging as much as I can get away with, so everything has to look just right. For instance, I'm going to have to restring a necklace I made after me because I can't stop thinking about two sets of beads that should have gone on in the opposite order.

I'm reusing some of my old designs, coming up with others, and taking inspiration from jewelry I see. I'm also kicking out all the stops with my materials, and breaking out some of the higher-end stuff I've been hoarding for years: some big faceted apatite, peach pearls, gold-thread quartz, shaded faceted hessionite (garnet that runs from maize to root-beer brown), some big faceted Oregon sunstone, some handmade Venetian beads, and so on.

When I talk about "my old designs,' they're pretty much in my head. I have names for some of them. Some of the ones that didn't work aren't active in my mind, though I'm sure I have a few examples around. I didn't invent the Y-necklace but I've made quite a few (in fact, that's what the round - not sure if they're 8- or 10 mm - gold-thread quartz is becoming, on gold-filled wire with a vermeil clasp; I have a big piece of irregularly faceted gold-thread quartz for the first drop).

I've "invented" designs and later seen similar techniques in beading magazine. On the other hand, I sometimes see a design in a beading magazine and give it a try, though never with the same beads and often altered. I would say I learn technique from those magazines, rather than cribbing their designs.

I have acres of beads; the materials that get used up are headpins, wire, chain, and clasps (what you'd call, collectively, "findings"). They are getting outrageous in sterling, which is mostly what I use. I've been compromising by using silver-filled headpins. Headpins don't really show, and I use dozens of them in some of my designs. One earring I make uses around 28 or 30 headpins for the pair, and silver headpins now cost around a buck apiece. ("Silver-filled," like "gold-filled," is a much finer product than plated. About 10% of the item- the entire exterior, of course - is gold or silver.)

It's kind of exciting to be immersed in it again, and I actually have about six projects lined up. (I actually wrote them down.) I dearly wish I had some money just to buy a few new beads...even one good string of tourmaline.

If I make enough money at this shindig, maybe I can put of it back into materials.

But it's very energizing and consumes me in a way that nothing else does. I never look at the clock before I start, because I'm too busy getting myself to the table and getting my materials in order. So I'm never sure how long I work at a time. I think it's usually about two hours at a time but sometimes three, and sometimes I'll do two sittings in a day. Most other things pretty much go away.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

global transient amnesia

That's what it was. MRI and EEG were clear. Apparently this happens to a lot of people - a blackout of 2-8 hours - and they don't really know why. But it rarely happens more than once.

I managed to keep my mind off work during my vacation, but now it's maybe too much on my mind. Still a busy season, getting the new candidates (eight of them) registered and up to speed. As usual, in the summer, revising lists, overdue evaluations from teachers and supervisors dribbling in, and the usual summer projects (scanning and shredding old files). Not calm yet.

My new intern is a peach: pleasant and willing to work. I'm pleased, as I interviewed and hired her over the phone.

My fandom for Amitabh has cooled a bit. He can be pretty pompous, and very withholding about his present work. Plus he failed to send any good wishes about my health scare, although other EF did. He plays favorites and can be downright boring. His movies are still great, though.

My interest in Twitter is fading a bit, too. Not much time for it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

gardening and MRI

The upside of this vacation week is that our landlord's been away and we've been tending his garden out back. It mainly consists of water the basil, peppers, tomatoes etc every other day - plus any ripe figs are ours! We're easily eating four figs a day each. Nothing quite like fresh figs. The downsiede of gardening is that my legs have gotten all bit up by mosquitoes.

I had my MRI yesterday, which went pretty smoothly, but I  have the waiting part. It'll be at least a week from Monday - the 22rd, as I figure it - before I can see the neurologist again for my results. NOW I'm anxious.

Otherwise it's been a quiet week...mostly broke, as usual.

I'm jumpy and not patient. Not good, all around.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

what is wrong with my head?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a blackout. One of our old interns was coming to have lunch with Susan and me, and why I tried to think about it a few days later, I came up with nothing. Couldn't remember Sarah arriving at the office, couldn't remember walking to the restaurant, couldn't remember ordering or eating...none of it. Coupled with the fact that I am having increasing problems remembering past and current items - reaching for words and names a lot - and having experienced from time to time small tremors in my hands and head, I decided it was time to see a neurologist. Which I did on Monday. She did some basic tests and an EEG. She said that such blackouts are commonly associated with migraine (which I do not have), and that it looks as if I don't have Parkinson's. Next up is an MRI, after her office phones me with a code number from my insurance company.

I won't lie - I've been crying a  lot. It is certainly not adding to my enjoyment of this vacation week (apart from the fact that, as usual, we are flat broke). My appetite has been poor. I'd like the MRI over and done with. Then, of course, I have to go to the doctor for results, another $50 bite. There's no getting ahead.

I'm looking to make some jewelry again today. I had to interrupt some earrings I was making because I ran out of headpins. So I'm going to switch gears before I finish that and try some earrings I saw in a beading magazine: a gangling hoop with three wraps of wire, tiny beads on the bottom. Also a Y-necklace.

My general doctor has put me on a new diabetes med - actually, the old one (Januvia) with metformin added. It's done wonders, combined with a better diet. In fact, my sugar actually gets low sometimes. And I've lost about 13 pounds in the past month and a half.

I've rewatched a couple of favorite movies lately. In the best of them, there's always something new to see. The one I most wanted to write about was Boogie Nights, but I don't have the patience quite now.

The stats on this blog continue to make me scratch my head. I still seem to have quite a few readers in Russia, unless people in other countries are using Russian email addresses. It's a mystery. I'm also mystified that so many people seem to be reading an old post called "amal, amat, utz," which may be one of the silliest things I've ever posted.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'M ON VACATION! (so I'll write about work)

This is my first week off in fifteen months. My bosses strongly encouraged me to take time off this summer so I wouldn't get burnt out. I'm surely that's partly because they need me to be able to work well when I'm there, but mostly, because they're nice and don't want me to get burnt out. In fact, when the intern who was supposed to cover Weds-Fri had a death in the family, I offered to put my vacation off a week. Lucie decided to close the office for those days and to take the voicemail and email herself. They don't ever close the office except on major holidays; one of the important things about having interns is to always have someone in the office. But they really wanted me to get away.

Today I actually got to spend some time with Judy, which doesn't much happen. Even though her office is right across from mine, she has a steady stream of patients and supervisees every day, and has to squeeze in the business of the institute into those little breaks. I often don't actually see her for days at a time. We do everything via email, so she can read and reply when she has a spare second; her time is very scarce. Lucie comes in on Monday and Friday afternoons. The rest of the week, she sees patients in her Brooklyn office. So she and I are constantly emailing, and usually meet for around fifteen minutes around 1:00 when she's in (she also sees patients in a room there, plus all of her committee meetings are on Fridays). I really look forward to her coming because I love working with her, plus we've gotten friendly and I really enjoy her. She has a great sense of humor.

Judy and Lucie usually meet on Mondays and Fridays from 3:00 to 4:00. But Lucie was visiting friends out of town today, so I got a hunk of that hour with Judy today. I don't know her as well, but she's quite marvelous, and endlessly competent and hard-working. She is also endlessly kind to me. She built the whole idea of a fundraising crafts fair around my being able to sell my jewelry (I will split the take with the institute). She brings bagels and lox every Friday - and when we have interns, she bring for the intern working that day. I think she's quite sorry that she can't pay me more, and always looks for ways to make my life a little easier.

I am appreciated at that job. Lucie began as Executive Director at the same time I started (she had been on faculty for quite a while), and the two of us fixed a lot of fuzzy rules and messy procedures; we spent most of last summer completely overhauling the handbook, which is a big, complicated document. It's not just that I'm appreciated because I'm keeping the office running smoothly, but also because I bring a lot of good ideas to the table, draft or edit almost every written word that goes out (I also do this for most of the committee chairs), and offer to help where it's not expected or required. It's a really, really good team.

My interns: I generally have two college interns in fall, spring and summer, and a high school intern in the spring. I realized recently that this is way more experience than I've ever had in interviewing, hiring, and supervising. I also realized that I'm doing it well, because my interns have performed beautifully and everyone likes them.

One thing I've done, another idea I've had, has widened the pool of internship candidates. In addition to our sometime-spotty yield from internships.com, where we run a notice all year, I decided to reach out to the undergrad psych departments of a half a dozen good colleges. Since we don't pay them, I figured it was a bonus for psych students to work at PPSC; plus a lot of the people we get from internships.com are  just looking for any internship they can get. And if I interview half a dozen people and none jumps out at me, I go back to resumes.

The interns generally come out at the end with good letters of reference, a substantial gift (usually an Amazon gift card for at least $100), a nice lunch out, and a lot of information about the difference between analysis and other forms of counseling and therapy. One of the spring interns came in wanting to take a doctorate in psych, and left wanting to get an MSW and train as an analyst after. She applied to Fordham School of Social work (where my mother got her MSW) and got in; I wrote one of her recommendations.

This summer, one of my spring interns is staying over two days a week; she's pleasant and conscientious and has good office skills; found her through John Jay, which has a good forensic psych program. (The school is John Jay College of Criminal Justice, so it's slanted to a lot of law-and-order studies.) But I had a problem getting a second intern. One of the intern issues is space; my office is so small that more than two people cannot work there at once. So I have to find interns who can work opposite times. (I still can't believe I managed to shoehorn the high school intern in at the last minute!) I started interviewing late for the summer, because I was very busy in April and May getting the school year over and setting up fall registration. It doesn't really calm down until the end of June. Someone from the first batch really impressed me, but he took another internship, and there wasn't a second-best in that group. I found someone really great in the second group, and she really wanted the internship and seemed like a perfect fit. I called her twice and emailed her three times to offer her the position, and I never heard back from her. Group number three: I saw someone I thought would work out well. I had one more person to see, and I think I had to cancel for some reason, and couldn't reschedule for some days. To much time was going by - this was a week ago - and I interviewed her over the phone and hired her on the spot. She just had the right personality. When I told the woman I thought would be OK that I'd hired someone else, but I would be glad to consider her for fall, she wrote back and said she couldn't do fall, but would be glad to work for me over winter break. Score! (The intern I had lunch with - the lunch I can't remember - had been an intern last summer and also offered to come back for this past winter break. Getting a winter break intern, for those few weeks between fall and spring, is really great.)

Personality is a big part of it for me. My starting guidelines are usually an interest in psychology and some office or customer service experience. But a lot of the people I interviewed were just too shy and timid. I have to have someone who isn't scared and isn't at ease around me or the faculty or candidates.

However - my high school intern this past term started out exactly that way. Judy has an arrangement with a special city high school, where all of the seniors have to do internships, and I think we all forgot about it until the last minute. So Kenny was the only person I saw and he was kind of thrust on me. He was a tall, skinny young man from a very traditional Chinese family; I recognized that right away, because my friend L. has a very similar background. He had no office experience. I thought he was a little freaked-out by old-hippie me, but when I went to his school for a reception, I saw that a lot of his teachers were a lot like me. (When I heard about the internships some of his peers had had - at a folk club, with a filmmaker, with a state senator - I felt terrible that my internship was such a bore by comparison. But then I spoke with his college counselor - who could easily have been my sister - she said that he always told her how much he liked working there.)

Apart from the fact that he could reach high places and carry heavy things, it turned out he was extremely good with computers and all kinds of tech. Good at Excel. Good at internet research. Polite. Conscientious - like the second he finished something, he'd ask "Is there anything else you want me to do?" Most of my interns will spend a few minutes web-surfing or whatever when they've finished something, and I totally get that - I do it myself. In fact, if I was in the middle of something or didn't have something ready for Kenny to do, I'd say, "Give me a few minutes, take a little while and surf," only then would he do it. He would ask for permission to answer his cell phone. And slowly, he got comfortable and opened up, we chatted some and joked around, and by the end of the term, no one wanted to let him go. He had to work for money this summer, but is going to college locally in the fall, and I asked him to think about coming back then. It might happen. Everyone ended up loving Kenny to pieces. I would not have chosen someone so shy if I'd had the choice, but I was amazed at how well it turned out to have him there, and how much less shy he was at the end.

I couldn't make it work without my interns.

I have a very good job, and will now spend a week not thinking about it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

the insomniac ramble

It's almost one-thirty am. I went to bed at midnight. Cannot sleep. I had a lot of trouble with insomnia and sleep disturbances right after I got sober (nearly 26 years ago), but I've basically had it licked via (safe) prescribed meds. One of them, an antidepressant with the side effect of sleepiness, is the one that permits me to stay asleep through the night once I've fallen asleep. That's the lifesaver. If my mind is so busy that I will have trouble falling asleep, I add a (safe) prescribed anti-anxiety med. Nothing worked tonight,and I am following one of the anti-insomnia rules of getting out of bed.

I did have a busy mind, but the med did not put a dent in it. I sort of mentally narrate to myself some events of my life that I feel the need to revisit. I'm not sure if these narrations are writing (though some of the topics will subsequently turn up in this blog or something else I write) or imaginary therapy sessions (would that I could go more than once a week!).

Oh, hello, some of my newer friends...did I mention that I'm in therapy and suffer from depression and occasional anxiety? I wonder if the boom in treating mood disorders in the US isn't somehow related to the increasing complexity of life here. It's kind of what it's like when I spend a weekend in Pennsylvania and then come back to New York - it's a lot of effort to live here, pretty hard work. You always have that near-unconscious routine of noting suspicious or oddly acting people, handling cash discreetly when you're in public, and so on. It eats up quite a lot of energy, negotiating a crowded sidewalk. It's actually pretty calm where I live, but when I get off that train and them am launched into Penn Station (which is built under Madison Square Garden making things even more hectic), then a block of midtown street, then the subway. And a lot of people outside NYC have cars and their own houses, which also brings oodles of stress and bad financial surprises.

Our parents kick us out of the nest as soon as possible, so we don't have the support of mother, siblings, grandmothers on a daily basis. I admire the way Indian families live. (The Chinese also keep the generations close.) My remaining parents (father and stepmother) are very remote, not welcoming and generous. My mother was the exact opposite, but she died when I was 22; and my stepfather had no intention of complying with her wishes, so there was no more emotional support, no "home" to go back to, and not even the security of a few extra dollars.

My father has been so adverse to spending an extra dime on my brother and me that he actually makes excuses when he and my stepmother do things like go to Bermuda for a week. I guess the idea is that if we know he has enough money for a vacation, HE SHOULD GIVE US SOME. So he'll say things like, "You know, we booked this three months ago and got a very good deal, and we haven't gotten away in a year, and some friends of ours are going to be there..." C'mon, just say "We're going on vacation." I promise not to ask you to buy me something or take me along.

Actually, I did sort of do it recently. They were going on a Caribbean cruise, and I asked them if they could pick me up some larimar stud earrings set in silver, if they were not insanely expensive. Larimar, which is a little whiter than turquoise and has chatoyance (cat's-eye quality), is only found in the Dominican Republic, and is hard to find and pricey over here. I really did stress that the cost might be too high and they should only get something very reasonable. (I was thinking about something dead simple, like studs in a 3 or 4mm round cab, or similarly small in an oval, in a plain silver bezel, period.) What they came back with were BIG heart-shaped studs, really substantial pieces of larimar, and a story. They found the earrings in the very last store on the very last island on the very last day; they had a hard time finding any anywhere. But this store didn't take credit, so they had to scrape every last cent out of their pockets to buy them. This was a rare act of real generosity, and I think Mary really drove it.

My relationship with Mary has improved immeasurably, believe it or not, because of the internet. She speaks in a kind of acerbic, non-warm ways; so when she makes a joke about something I've mentioned, it always seems as if she's making fun of me in a mean way. She just has that affect. But when she and I started emailing, she was extremely nice, and I started to see her as truly affectionate and sweet. I think I finally became 100 percent sure that she didn't dislike or resent me in some way, after 30-plus years.

And back to jewelry...I have two other pieces of larimar. One is a big old pendant, roughly pear-shaped, that was given to me by an old boyfriend who had family in the DR. The second is a silver wire bracelet with a small oval cab near the clasp (it's a design called the "Cruixian Hook," with a hook clasp worn on top). I bought that in St. Croix in 1995. I also have about 40 larimar beads (faceted rondells, 4mm I think), which I've been hoarding for years. (There are some beads I sit on for years, waiting until I think of a design that does them justice. Some beads just demand it.)

I actually started working on a pretty elaborate pair of earrings today, the first piece for the crafts fair in November, but I ran out of thin enough headpins. I had more headpins, but they were a thicker gauge and wouldn't go through the stones I was using. I almost never let this happen, and it's really frustrating.I'm going to have to go back to them and get myself to that same level of concentration and careful work. I'm capable of working fast, but these pieces will have pretty healthy price tags, and they've got to be just right and not sloppy in any way. The price of silver has become murderous, so I always dread running out of headpins, wire, clasps, earring hooks, and so on. (I've actually broken up some old pieces to reuse the clasp.)

One of these days, I will come up with some way to photograph my jewelry properly. Or have someone else do it.

I think I'm gonna try bed again. Good night, and thanks for keeping me company.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

KANK revisited

I just watched this video again (for the zillionth time), and it got me to thinking about the impression Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna made the first time I watched it.

It was the first Indian movie I ever saw. I particularly enjoyed this song, because it was exactly the kind of thing Americans identify as "Bollywood." I knew nothing about the actors at all: no idea I was watching father and son. Clueless about the beautiful woman in pink who was in no other part of the movie. Hadn't the vaguest notion of how well-known or popular any of the actors were...though I remember thinking that "the older guy" was probably very famous. There was just a certain ease and charisma about him that suggested a great deal of experience. I was very taken with Shah Rukh Khan, although I found his movie character shockingly obnoxious. I thought it was kind of cool the way this song mixed some English in with the Hindi. I thought the older woman was splendid, and loved her chemistry with the older guy. I couldn't believe how long the movie was. I'm not sure if I noticed that no one kissed on the lips. Since the movie didn't have American-style credits identifying the characters and the actors who played them, I'm not even sure how I learned Shah Rukh's name, although I believe his was the first actor's name I learned. I thought he was quite cute, and made a point of watching a few of his movies in the month or so after. Then I didn't watch another Indian movie for about two years.

Two years later, I remembered how novel KANK had seemed to me, and I watched it again. I  believe that was October 2011. I don't really remember how I went about researching and finding out who these actors were and what Indian films were all about. (I get so wrapped up in new passions so quickly and deeply that I often can't remember where they began; they fast seem to be things I've always done and known. I can't remember for the life of me how I started making jewelry, for instance.)

What happened the second time I watched the movie was that I was fascinated by Amitabh Bachchan. I had been right the first time I watched the movie: he was the real deal. I expect I learned his name through my film bible, the Internet Movie Database, and I simply began to follow him; I started watching his movies almost exclusively, and branched out from there. It took me about two weeks of tooling around on YouTube before I learned how to pronounce his name; I also had his name written on a piece of paper by my computer to aid my searches, since it took a while for me to get the spelling down.

My second start with Indian movies was the real one. I knew there was a lot in the movies I didn't get, and did exhaustive internet research to learn some of the social context. I started to some some of the major actors I enjoyed: Shah Rukh, of course, Abhishek Bachchan, Kajol, and so on. I started to learn about playback singers and item girls and some of the top producers and composers and directors; I found out that no one ever kisses on the lips. I discovered Amitabh's blog, and started to make some internet friends in India. (Most particularly Shiva, who kindly pointed people to my blog via Twitter, and translated an interesting Twitter conversation for me between Amitabh and Ram Gopal Varma; also Pankaj, who recommended Aamir Khan's films. Another friend dear to my heart is Moses, an Israeli who learned Hindi from watching 3,000 Indian movies, and proclaims daily, "I love Amitabh Bachchan!")

I have one friend of Facebook who always calls me "Aunty," which I hate, but I love him anyway.

And of course I met Rochelle, an Amitabh mega-fan - a Jewish woman one year my senior who lives two neighborhoods away. Never imagined that Indian movies would bring me a new in-person friend who shares a lot of my tastes and background.

Barry noted that I have had far less depressive moods since I began watching Indian films. I am deeply appreciative of being led to so much fascinating study. I probably know about 40 or 50 words in Hindi. I have discovered some amazing Indian musicians, film musicians or non. (And I am including Adnan Sami in that group, although he's not Indian - if I have it right, he is of Pakistani descent, born in Canada, raised in England, and now living and working in Mumbai.) I taught Shiva some Yiddish via email, and recommended American films to Pankaj.

It's been a pretty fruitful nine months.

I've also become active on Twitter during this time; I joined a year or more ago, but never really cared for it. I found the 160-character limit stifling. Now I adore it, way more than Facebook. Neat little jokes and messages and information fly through the ether, and I can reach out to people I would never have encountered before. And of course it's always thrilling to get a reply or retweet from someone I admire from afar. I've had replies from Amitabh himself (only one, but that's plenty), from Raghu Dixit, and often more than once a day from Adnan Sami (brilliant man with a great sense of humor). Some nice replies and retweets from one of my heroes, Dick Zigun, "the unofficial mayor of Coney Island." (I used my blog name as my handle, @northofconey, so I'm followed by a lot of Brooklyn-based people and organizations.) I've said hello to Dick here and there over the years when I've seen him around Coney, but last Friday night, when I introduced myself at the Mermaid Parade volunteers meeting, he knew exactly who I was. I've had some nice replies from the actor John Ortiz and former jockey/actor Gary Stevens. I've also had some Twitter exchanges with a couple of the "Deadliest Catch" captains. In fact, on that week's "After the Catch" (kind of the postgame show for "Deadliest Catch"), they put my live-tweet on the air! (Not having a smartphone or laptop, I had to run to my computer to live-tweet during the commercials, but it was well worth the fuss. It was a pretty major moment, seeing my tweet on TV.)

Whiplash change of topic: it is now apparently considered old-fashioned, when writing, to put two spaces after a period or colon) instead of one. It feels weird. Makes me feel a little old (though not quite like being called "Aunty").

Yes, I had my first volunteer experience at the Mermaid Parade, and sad to say, it didn't go well. I was assigned to sell merchandise, went to the meeting the night before (Rochelle was there, too), signed in on Saturday morning, got my free tee shirt and a bottle of water, and was told to go to 21st Street. Met up there with two of the people who were also supposed to sell merch (we were told there would be three tents with four people each), but there was no one to tell us where to go or what to do. The three of us sat under a tent, where there was a cooler with bottled water and a porta-potty, and waited for an hour and a half. We kept asking staff people what was going on, and some of them radioed in, but we never got any information. A couple of times, one or the other said, "I think you're supposed to go to 22nd Street," or some other location, but no one at those locations knew anything, either. (I very much enjoyed meeting one of my co-merch-volunteers, a woman in her late eighties, who had sold merch in 2011 and had some very interesting stories to tell about her life.) We didn't get the lunch that was supposed to be provided. It was an extremely hot day. After and hour and a half, one of the staff said something about a problem with the merch set-up, and I walked the ten blocks back to the volunteer station. The woman there said that there wasn't going to be merch, apologized and gave me lunch and another bottle of water. (I have to say, they were very on top of having plenty of water.) She said I could carry a banner, but I knew that was beyond my stamina limit at that time. Barry and I found each other, but it was already a half-hour before the start of the parade and impossible to get a decent place to watched. We tried to watch a little, then went home.

I emailed the volunteer coordinators about my experience. The next day, they sent a group email to all of the volunteers, and apologized sincerely for any glitches. A day later, I got a very lovely personal email from one of the coordinators, apologizing again. So I kind of got to be part of the event; tried my best. At least I got the tee shirt. I think I'll give it another shot next year.