Shutdown 2018-2019, Day #11: A New Year

It is January 1st, 2019. Last night (this morning), a friend and I rang in the New Year in sweats with a funny movie, an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and plates full of yummy snacks. And a flute or two of bubbly pink moscato. 😉

I was in bed by about 1:30 a.m. and read for a bit. I am working through Sophie Hannah’s (relatively) new Poirot mysteries, which I am enjoying immensly:

At 2 a.m., as I was shutting off the lamp on my bedside table, I heard one of my friend’s daughters come home safely and head to bed. Always a reassuring sound.

Then I woke up at 7 a.m. with pain in my right jaw. (This is on-going, so I won’t go into details here.) I got up and cleaned my friend’s kitchen. Dishes are done, counters wiped, coffee pot ready to go for the morning.

A nice calm way to start off the year. And hopefully, coming down to an empty sink and dishes drying in the drainer will help my friend start the year right too.

Now, on to the business at hand.

2018 brought some changes to my life, with a job promotion and a move to a different state. Given the rather political nature of my job and the agency I work for, what happens every day in Washington, D.C., often affects me and/or my job directly. I cannot get away from it. People tell me to not worry about things I can’t control. That is just a load of bear poop, in my opinion. Of course I should worry. I am forced on furlough and will be without steady income for the near future. Through no fault of my own. This is my life!

But as I was reviewing some of the steps I have laid out for myself in my new bullet journal, I found that I do have one bit of peace: I have the start of a plan. My plan is NOT new year’s resolutions, but more like specific steps and a roadmap, with clearly defined end goals. I just need to have the courage to wake up every day and take one step.

Towards everything I am visualizing for 2019, regardless of the quagmire surrounding me.

One step to start rising above.

One step forward every day.


Writing Prompt: A Silly Thing You’d Like

The first thing that came to my mind is a brightly-patterned Hermes scarf. A real silk scarf with teals and black, like this.

An Hermes scarf is a fashion statement to many people around the world. But perhaps not the most silly of objects.

Soft? Yes – it is cashmere and silk after all. Bright? Yes. A statement? Do I need to answer that last one?

Today it is silly because, as I write this, I am cuddled in flannel sheets and a quilt made by my mom’s best friend. When I go to work tomorrow, in rural Wyoming, I will be wearing a uniform and look similar to all of my coworkers. (Some might argue here that a National Park Service uniform is a statement unto itself, but that is a topic for another day.) I will bring a lunch to work that is leftovers from yesterday’s dinner because where am I going to find take out around here? I will talk my coworkers through a plan to replace significantly outdated computers and software that might just be an IT security threat, even though Congress refuses to give us the resources we need to do the jobs they assign. I will do this last bit while still keeping in mind that the current administration hates public lands and wants to do away with us despite record numbers of visitors to NPS sites all over the country.

I walk a tightrope at work (we all do in the parks).

But, as I was telling my coworker Kim the other day, there is a little part of me that dreams about being a writer in New York City. I think that side of me has always been there, even if I have never been to New York, and I am considering trashing 90% of the 56,000 words I wrote towards my first novel earlier this year.

I think the Hermes scarf is a symbol…. A sort of milestone to be earned when I retire from one career and move on to the next. A little bit of luxury reminding me of what I have accomplished.

January Writers’ Challenge, Day 31: Describe what you would do in Washington, D.C. if you knew you wouldn’t be arrested.

Oh, so easy.

I would stage a coup and get Trump out of the White House.

He is a whore for a corporate dollar and really doesn’t care about anything else. This person is not qualified to lead an entire country, as he’s completely out of touch with the reality that most people face on a daily basis.

Yep, I would stage a coup and run that loser out of town.

January Writers’ Challenge, Day 30: What are the three most important qualities of a leader and why?

In order for me to answer this question, I first had to answer the following:

Is this leader currently President of the United States, or is this leader an actual leader?

Because I believe the two situations warrant two different lists.

First, let’s tackle the qualities our current President exudes in mass quantities:

  1. The ability to repeat one meaningless phrase over and over again until his zombie-like followers also chant it: “I am going to make America great again!”
  2. The ability to point fingers and place blame, without actually coming up with a plan to tackle the problems he names. Oh, and don’t forget that those quick fingers tweet a lot. Instead of perhaps flipping through scientific journals, intelligence reports, and letters from the American citizenry who are disgusted by his actions.
  3. An ability to play golf on the weekends, when he should, perhaps, be tackling legislation to deal with real problems, say, like our waning domestic clean water supply.

Now, lists of qualities of a good leader are numerous and change with the culture. But perhaps there are a few things that must remain constant to be a good leader. Unfortunately, each of the following is more that one quality.

  1. A good leader needs the ability to see the heart of an issue and problem solve a way to get to the desired outcome, without getting overburdened by the superfluous details.
  2. A good leader needs to be strong, confident and as prepared as possible, but at the same time, very humble knowing that he is in a place to care for a great number of people. Her needs are not always the most important.
  3. A good leader needs patience, calm, and a determination to see things through the rough spots until the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved.

Leading is balancing. Leading is seeing the future. Leading is being willing to do the hard work no one around you wants to do. Leading is complex and in order to be a good leader, you must

January Writers’ Challenge, Day 13: What is your favorite song right now and why?

I really have no idea what my favorite song is. I actually never listen to music on the radio any more. Not that I hate it, I just never do it. I listen to NPR news going to and coming home from work, while in the car.

I guess I like good instrumental music any time, though I really can’t come up with anything else.

January Writers’ Challenge, Day 9: You have an app that monitors your boss’ mood. What would it be called?

The Timekeepers’ Temper

With this amazing new app, you can tell not only how far behind human resources is in processing personnel actions, but you can also gauge the percentage of completed timesheets, benefits corrections completed this payroll cycle and exactly how many prior year death cases are going to be contested in the next week.

All of these factors, calculated together in one magical formula, predict on a minute-by-minute basis just how happy, sad, tired or irate your otherwise friendly Payroll supervisor will be.

(Incidentally, it can also predict wine sales.)

January Writers’ Challenge, Day 8: Write an angry note to be left on your office fridge after you can’t find your lunch.

My dearest officemates who clean out the fridge without telling anyone,

We know who you are; only two of you in the whole office do this.

My leftovers from last night’s Italian feast were NOT, in fact, old or spoiled. You’re just jealous that you didn’t bring in such delicacies. I know you pretended to throw them out. But since I couldn’t actually find my containers in the trash, I’m going to assume you knew what you were doing and ate my food.

Since I don’t want the frozen microwave meal you brought in, I’m just going to eat my orange (which, thankfully, was on my desk and NOT in the fridge) and pretend I’m on a diet until I get home and can find some more real food.