People


Yesterday, after 12 weeks of being on strike, I went back to work. Actually, I went in on Sunday for half a day. HR had called on Saturday informing me that I was going to act as the head of my department until the new guy comes towards the end of November, and that I was invited to attend a managers/supervisors meeting on Sunday that gave direction on what the priorities are and how to prepare for opening to the public.

The meeting was professionally conducted, but the tone with which management spoke was subdued, quiet, even contrite, if I may say so. A few people returning to work presented themselves neutrally or with some excitement to get back to work, but most others wore grim, black expressions on their faces, smouldering silently. The room was thick with tension and distrust.

I suppose this state of things is only natural given how long the strike went on for and all the negative effects that came out from that. There is a lot of healing needed for employer-employee relations, and even among union members. Last Friday, when I learned that my union ratified the 2nd deal, I burst into tears, feeling absolutely conflicted about going back to work and letting the full impact of feeling helpless hit me in a way that I had managed to avoid the past three months.

Here are some things I learned while being on a lengthy strike:

  • it is undignifying NOT to be able to work. After two weeks into it, my sense of worth and purpose became threatened in a way I had not expected. While I like my job a lot, I thought I had a pretty good handle on not letting my life revolve around my work. But the strike revealed to me that a good part of myself needs to be productive and to know that I am contributing to society in some way.
  • people are incredibly generous and resilient in a time of trial. The members of my union showed me this by the way we shared resources, encouraged each other on the picket line, and participated in creative, community-building activities while on strike duty. I got to know a lot of my co-workers more personally while we picketed together. I felt very blessed by their openness to me to being known.
  • I have options with what to do with my life. Prior to the strike, I had gotten into a comfortable (and in hindsight, unfulfilling) rut in the routine of my life. There have been some things I have been wanting to pursue (like go back to school) but have not had the courage to make the necessary and radical changes in my life to really pursue them.
  • I can handle the stress and discomfort of living on very limited financial means. I’m not saying that I enjoy going into debt or anything sadistic like that, but I did learn to live on very little and came to appreciate the generosity of my family and close friends. God provided the necessities, just at the right time. But having said all that, I really hate being in debt. I still can’t believe that I’ve lost a quarter of my wages this year.
  • I am still marketable.
  • I can still give, even if I have very little.
  • How to increase and decrease in knitting.
  • That many of my co-workers love to play Scrabble and play it very well.

Okay, that’s all for now. I could go on.

… to Facebook at last. For various reasons (which I won’t get into here), I made a point of staying away from it.  But lately, I’m finding that so many of my good friends are using (and therefore, making the effort via) FB to share significant things about their lives (like grads, weddings, travel) that it would be a shame for me to protest the trend on principle, and miss out on what’s going on. And of course, I’m nosy too. I am absolutely fascinated by social networks, by who-knows-who.

So until I figure out what the Facebook medium is best for, I may be a bit spotty on blogging here, else I will be on the computer way more than is healthy for a human being. But I shall return. Nothing beats the sense of being “published” on a blog.

One thing I really like about FB is that it’s waaaaaaay easier to share what I’m reading these days. There is zero coding on FB applications: all you need to do is type in a title or ISBN and the software automatically matches it up to an Amazon record. In WordPress, I need to write HTML in the textbox widgets to insert and link images of book covers. And I have to guesstimate numerical values to make things fit aesthetically, which I don’t really have time for.

Anyways, time to sign off. My eyes are starting to cross.

I’ve been blessed with two incredibly good days.

Yesterday

First of all, it was my day-off. And I was feeling physically well. It was partly spent at Regent College, where Dot and I registered for a writing course to be taught by one of my favourite contemporary writers. Bought my required texts for the course from the very addictive bookstore there and then took the opportunity to check out the newly renovated and expanded library.

Because thefourthpotato happened to lunch at the University Golf Club nearby, we made plans to meet him in the atrium at Regent. He has come all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun to celebrate the J&J wedding this past weekend. Because he’s only staying for two weeks, we’ve been making plans to meet up whenever possible.

We also looked up Joe, who works in the IT department at Regent. He played host to us by treating us all to coffee and tea at The Well, a coffee shop that shares space with the bookstore. As we leisurely sipped our hot beverages, we amused ourselves and each other by talking piffle.

Afterwards Dot, Derek, and I went down to Spanish Banks for a walk. We walked as far as the concession stand, where we picked up some snacks to tide us over to dinner. Then we made our way to the beach, sat on a log to enjoy the view, and talked more nonsense.

Dot and I had an early dinner with Cat and Yvonne at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Derek came along for the ride and just watched us eat, as he had separate dinner plans. It was my first time there, and I was impressed. The toppings lean towards the gourmet and the crusts are not greasy at all, being made out of flatbread. Because I can’t stand the feeling of grease on my hands, I generally pooh-pooh eating pizza, unless I absolutely have to out of convenience. So I’m happy to know there are options out there for high maintenance people like me.

After dinner, we went to the end-of-the-season Chor Leoni concert held in the Bard on the Beach Mainstage Tent at Vanier Park. It was two and a half hours of good fun and music that I could relive over and over again. I’ve attended a few of their summer concerts over the years, and I notice that the performances have become more choreographed, cheeky, and playful. A very naughty rendition of the panto, “If I Were Not Upon the Stage,” had everyone in stitches. Some special guest appearances: Judith Forst and Dal Richards.

Spent from laughing so hard, Dot and I grabbed a late night snack at a HK cafe where we did some catching up.

So a very satisfying day it was, filled with good friends, books, and music.

I’ll try to write about today tomorrow.

Some things to be glad about:

  • I’m getting better by leaps and bounds (no wheezing and coughing this morning!).
  • Some good friends, Jo and Jason got married yesterday. At last! If I may say so, they are one of my favourite couples, well-matched in personality and good-looking together. They looked so happy yesterday and really enjoyed themselves. Very happy for them. The best man delivered the best speech I have heard in a loooooong time. To the point, but warm, honest, faintly roasting, and audible. A man of few words, he’s also one of the quietest friends I know, often almost inaudible when conversing or praying. Someone joked that he should carry a mic with him all the time.
  • The wedding was a reunion of sorts, bringing together people from faraway places and people who I don’t regularly see.
  • Although I was feeling pretty anti-social at the banquet (because I was still wheezing and coughing last night), I got to meet a couple of people I’ve been curious to meet for a while because I’ve been following their blogs.
  • Got to try out my new Urban Decay eye palette that Jen brought back for me during a business trip to Florida last week. Although very busy, she kindly made time to go to a Sephora on her lunch break.

Okay, I can recognize goodness without having to feel good. Definitely on the road to recovery.

After two days of fever, I think the worst of the flu is over. Although I’m still coughing and sneezing, whatever has been locked up in my chest is finally moving up into my head and out. At first, I was worried that my health was regressing when fever suddenly appeared after two weeks of being sick, but now, I realize it was a sign that my body was making a concerted effort to rid itself of invasive agents, once and for all. Pow pow! My body is exhausted though, so I am staying home a third day to make sure I stay on the road to recovery. This has been one nasty, nasty strain of flu to battle.

I am thankful for my parents and friends, who have helped me cope by giving me healthy food, carting me around, and even keeping my living space clean. Something to file in my mind to “pass it on.”

This afternoon, I finshed listening to yet another stimulating interview with–you guessed it–Lauren Winner. The interview with her was recently broadcast on Inner Compass, a television interview show funded by Calvin College that “explores how people make their decisions about ethical, religious, and social justice issues.”

The episode is called “Dating,” but Winner addresses with satisfactory depth related topics such as courtship, marriage, singlehood, and community. I found enlightening her keen observations of how societal changes have affected the phenomenon of dating over the years. As well, I particularly appreciated her attempt to debunk certain unhealthy perceptions and expectations of marriage and singleness.

If you are interested in this kind of stuff, or have relationships with youth and young adults who are very likely thinking about these things and might talk to you about them, may I recommend listening to the interview. The discussion here offers a lot of good food for thought.

Here’s an insightful article about hospitality by Lauren Winner. I particularly like her observation on the Christian value/discipline behind the practice of hospitality–that is, inviting people to where we are vulnerable, not only to take care of someone, but also to cultivate intimacy is in fact a Christ-like endeavor. She reflects:

I don’t find inviting people into my life that much easier than inviting them into my apartment. At its core, cultivating an intimacy in which people can know and be known requires being honest—practicing that other Christian discipline of telling the truth about where we live and how we got there. Often, I’d rather welcome guests into a cozy apartment worthy of Southern Living. I’d rather show them a Lauren who’s put together and serene. Often, telling the truth feels absurd … “

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