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Teach the teacher well

Would I have made a good teacher?

Because at one time I considered that. In 2004, when I got downsized for the first time in my life then spent most of the year scrambling from temp job to temp job, I started to look into possibly getting certified as a substitute teacher. Went to an orientation session at Portland Community College's Rock Creek campus, I recall, for one possible program to help me become one.

And, 15 years later, I don't remember why I stopped. Maybe I got impatient about the jumping through hoops I would need to do to be even considered for that work. They obviously don't and can't let just anybody teach kids. Maybe I felt I wouldn't have the resources to train while still, you know, paying rent and feeding myself. I didn't dig enough to find more resources to do so, either. And I let the drive to teach fritter away.

Luckily, later in '04 a temp job at Oregon Health Sciences University led to another temp job at OHSU, medical transcription work which led to getting hired for that job which I then had for four years, so the urgency to do something that earned money was satisfied. I did that job well, too; I quit in 2008 because other factors (including maybe the worst, most frustrating manager I have ever had) made it too hard for me to do the job.

But I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with the earlier plan and gotten training in how to teach. I'm thinking this tonight because today I helped with training at my job; we have new people who are learning the ropes. I heard back in the days when I was learning to drive that someone who just learned how to do a thing is a good choice for teaching others how to do that thing: their training is fresh, and their habits (good and bad) are fewer. I've been doing this job since late November. And while the job can get, as I've said, surprisingly complicated, it's honestly at its core not hard. I can teach this. But as I showed some people how to do what we do, I worried that they'd not pick up on what I was telling them, or that I was over-explaining, complicating my explanations and giving them too much too fast.

Teaching is important. Bad teaching is maddening. I've had bad teachers. I've had great ones. I worry, just as I turned out (in my opinion) to be only an okay-to-good newspaper reporter, that I'd be a mediocre or bad teacher. I don't know. But I wonder.


Some days are better than others

And today was...kind of "off." Feh.

It started okay, and in a surprising way too, because when I woke up very early I had the feeling I wouldn't be going back to sleep and...I did, getting more sleep. Apparently I could use that rest. I often have trouble getting back to sleep (or, say, having a genuine nap) so this was a relief.

Though waking up late — and not getting out of bed until a quarter past 10:00, which is laaaaaate for me — meant that I'd missed my first planned time to finish a particular job at the house where I live. Luckily, after I showered, I realized I could finish the job then. (I have my reasons for not being very specific about life at the house; I want to stay fair to all the others who live here. That said, I apologize for kind of talking around a lot of what I do and not being specific.)

Anyway. The first moment that my day started to bend in a frustrating direction was when I headed to the bus, and needed to cross three lanes of the under-renovation Foster Rd. I waited to cross, an eastbound driver stopped to let me begin to cross...and three cars heading westbound didn't stop. Maybe the first driver hadn't seen me soon enough to stop and let me finish crossing, but the second and third drivers definitely did. I indulged my passive-aggressive side: I waved at each driver as they drove past. I said, "Hi...Hi...Hi!" Then I went from passive-aggressive to a little more aggressive and flipped off the last car as I finally finished crossing.

People have died crossing this street. I'm glad I'm not one of them, but I'm annoyed by the risk, so yes I indulged being passive-aggressive.

Stewing, I walked. And I reached a bus stop that looked odd, with those orange-white barrels marking off areas where road work's being done but the stop itself was not marked as closed, so I waited, then so did a dad and his kid...and when a bus did stop, the driver opened the door and said "This stop is closed. Someone took the 'Stop Closed' sign." The driver let us board ("Hurry! The construction guys are going to get mad at us"), but clearly under protest. I dislike being made to feel that some guy stealing a sign was somehow my fault.

If I'd been an asshole, I'd've mentioned that to the driver. I was enough of an asshole to think it, but not enough of one to do it.

But at least I was then on a bus, and I reached the place I'd wanted to go, a Hawaiian poke bowl place called Poke Mon on Hawthorne. Lunch was garlic salmon in a bowl filled with salad greens, plus avocado, cucumber, red onions, cilantro and more, with a side of miso soup. There. Food is good. Good food is better.

That visit helped me feel a little better about the day. I then left, got on a bus to the Hawthorne Fred Meyer for a few basic groceries, then got on another bus back to my neighborhood (stopping at Carnelian Coffee on my way to the house). Good timing, too: I was inside when a brief hail storm hit.

Been taking it easy since then. Some nights are better than others. Tonight, so far, has been okay.


Day One of what should be a full two-day weekend for me is done. Weather was calmer than it had been previously this week; late morning, Portland even got some cloud breaks, and seeing the sun even just briefly felt good. So did having the house to myself with options to go...wherever, including Not The House and Not Work.

Those other places included a neighborhood coffee shop, then a bus ride into downtown, so I could go to the Central Library for the first time in a while. (On the bus there, an adorable baby with vivid and I mean vivid red hair was sleeping, while traveling with their mom. I didn't take a picture, as I'd've been rude, but: cute!) Plus some simple wandering through parts of downtown, at my own pace (and with a stop at the Transit Mall McDonald's). Then another bus home.

Unlike last Saturday, when I got called into work, I should have this Saturday to myself. Feels luxuriant.


(Standard disclaimer that plenty of places are colder than Portland. That said:)

It's been a long week.

It's been a cold week.

It's been a long, cold week, plus it's been a longer work week than usual because I got called in for five extra hours of work on Saturday, one of Portland's snow days. My job requires me to be outside a lot. There are only so many layers I can wear on this job.

I finished that work week today, though, and got back to the house, and almost immediately got into a T-shirt and sweatshirt then heated up water for broth. As best as possible, I'm keeping the cold away from my bones.

It'll be warmer weather later. I will welcome that.


Out, damned thought

You may be surprised how easy it is for me to think like an asshole.

I have a devious side. I rarely show it, but it's there, ready to think If I wanted to mess with someone, and screw with someone else, and annoy yet still someone else, I could do [x] and [y] and [z]. Hmm...

But I see where those thoughts are going, and I try to halt them. Don't think that way. Don't. You'd be unfair to act on those thoughts, as momentarily satisfying as acting on them might be. Bottom line, if you did that, you'd feel like shit later.

That helps me behave. Or, to be more specific, that helps me not behave like famous jackass Andy Kaufman, someone I think of often. (I honestly admire the man, for how willing he was to Commit To The Bit. But as I've said, Kaufman didn't mind risking getting punched for some of his stunts. I WOULD MIND, is my thing.)

I've had a particular thought lately. It's my response to someone I admire, a person and artist I've been a fan of for nearly two decades, being or becoming a reactionary, dismissive jackass. Maybe they weren't before and became one, or maybe they really always were like this, which is possible. I thought of a way to express my frustration and displeasure with them. I will not share my idea. It would be a jackass-y thing to do; it'd be jackass-y even just to pretend to want to do it. And I worry that if I share it, even as a "don't do this, even if it's satisfying to think" thought exercise, someone might actually do it. Someone might seriously do it, and an ugly idea would have entered the world.

Thoughts have power. I'm increasingly aware of that. And I'm increasingly careful about the thoughts I share: Would this help the world? Would it not? Am I allowing my crankiness about certain people and events to lead me to think like this? So, there's so much I do not say.

So much.

I can give power to happier, more positive thoughts. That's a goal. That's something I can work towards. Even Andy Kaufman would have understood the power of that.

This is an entry I wrote to keep from sharing something I may otherwise have shared. Have I said something needed without really saying much? Maybe.


Recent dreams

Some of what my subconscious has cooked up lately while I was sleeping:

• Me being a part of a season of Survivor and screwing up an important part of the show, and needing to fix this while the show's in production.

• Me visiting a restored 17th-century city — think Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia if it had hills, a wall surrounding it, and an aerial tram in and out, none of which the real* Colonial Williamsburg has — and getting stuck outside the wall at night, when the tram isn't running.

• Me in a theater, seeing a really bad version of the 2018 film Green Book. I've heard enough people say the real film Green Book is bad, and I probably did not improve on it.

* I put "real" in quotes because almost all of Colonial Williamsburg is rebuilt; most of the town's original buildings from colonial days are long gone. It's not quite a Disney-esque recreation of it, because it doesn't have audio-animatronic Patrick Henrys (but wouldn't it be cool if it did?!). Still, there's a limit to how authentic Colonial Williamsburg can be.


Small Victories

Whoa. Hey. Milestone.

For the first time in what seems like years, I did laundry — two loads! (bedsheets then clothes) — and, in the process of loading them, moving them from the washer to the dryer then moving them into my hamper and putting the sheets back on and the clothes away, I did not drop a single piece of any of it onto the floor.

I take achievements where I can.

You didn't see anything

You didn't see anything because I hadn't been blogging.

Same story as before: busy (not sick at least!), including some extra time at work, and not having particularly interesting things come up to write about. So I won't blather. I also won't make stuff up ("so I was talking to my friend and new part-time Portland resident Guillermo Del Toro and he said...")*

You can ask me stuff, and maybe I'd answer it in later blog entries. Why not, I'm offering.

* That part is true. Del Toro will be here at times as he and Laika Studios out in Hillsboro make a stop-motion animated version of Pinocchio. Also, if I see him, I wouldn't be able to tell you.

A hectic work week

Sometimes my job is nuts. This week has had concentrated nuttiness. I also started this week with a deliberately short weekend, one day instead of two, because I worked an extra day shift last Friday (usually my first day off; I work Sundays-Thursdays), and that may have added to the nuttiness.

How's this for an adrenaline starter? Be stopped at an airport garage exit gate in a car you're bringing down for a customer, and have to reverse because the pickup in front of you starts reversing with no warning. That happened. No one hit anyone, thank everything. (I also honked the car's horn. A little more protection: Hey! Don't forget about me, I'm right here!)

Other than the above, though, this work week ended well. And now I have my weekend.

My near-mistake, let me show you it

Earlier this month, I was sick and trying not to go out. (Though there were a few days where I thought I wasn't sick so I did go out but I was still sick so I got sicker but I digress. Also I'm healthy again now.) Then I realized that someone I know was still going out (yay being healthy!), and I thought: Why not let them borrow my TriMet card for the day? They could get around on my fare, I'd get closer to earning the monthly pass — the way my TriMet MyHop Card works, you can't outright buy a monthly pass, instead you can spend what a monthly pass would cost then use it until you've done a certain number of bus and MAX trips, then the rest of your trips that month are free — everyone wins, right?

Then I remembered, thankfully before I suggested it, that the MyHop card keeps tracks of your travels on TriMet. My record of buses and MAX trains I'd gotten on would have included the buses and MAX trains they would have gotten on. And suddenly I felt creepy and I didn't suggest it.

I sometimes think that I'd be either a really bad stalker or a really good one, and the thing is, I don't WANT to be one. At all.

There. I've cleared a low, low bar for being a good person.

A vague entry

Make it work.

Follow up making it work with making something else work.

Celebrate that second thing that's working, that second thing that you made work, by then making yet some other thing work.

More things can work, is the thing.

...I want more things to work.

(There. I wanted to post an entry today, even simply a short one, and here that is.)
Portland singer Storm Large — longtime singer for several bands including Pink Martini, memoirist (her book and one-woman show Crazy Enough), one-time reality show star, and far more — built her reputation by being LIKE THIS in live shows: getting audiences completely into the palm of her hand with her showmanship. This is her song "I Want You to Die," a song made long and also a song made into an emotional journey. There's an unexpected development in this video, just as you think the song is ending, that shows one of Storm Large's many skills: getting angry and using that anger well.

I'd like to thank Lisa Wood, co-founder and co-runner with her husband Brian Wood of the late, great Big-Ass Sandwiches, for introducing me to this performance through an online music show she used to be able to do.

Awkward, even in my dreams

You get another work-related blog post, because right now that's where my mind's at. (I worked an extra shift Friday, by the way. NOW I have one day off...)

Anyway. This was either a dream or something that was dream-like, because I think I was partly awake when I imagined it.

And I need to explain one thing about my work to put this into context: a lot of passengers walk past the booth where we valet workers are based, on the airport's upper roadway outside the terminal, thinking (or certain) that they're out where ride shares and taxis pick people up. Nope: that part of the upper roadway is where ride shares and taxis drop people off. Drivers, whether Uber/Lyft or taxi drivers, pick up arriving passengers one level below, on Island 2...which is almost directly below the valet booth. So a lot of our time at the booth is spent telling people "pick-ups are downstairs, go back in the terminal then go left to the escalators then out to Island 2." A lot of our time. Sometimes people are very confident they're in the right place, even as we tell them where to go. ("Island 2 is down stairs." "No, this is it." We've had this exchange. But we're right. Island 2 is very well-marked by signs, if — IF — you're actually at Island 2.)

Anyway anyway. What did I dream, or partially dream/partially imagine while awake? I walked over to a man waiting to be picked up. He was on the wrong level of the terminal. The man was also impossibly tall. Ten feet tall, maybe more. Also he was wearing a motorcycle helmet, with a visor. No one in the busy terminal was commenting on this. I wasn't about to. But I walked up to him and started to explain "Sir, people get picked up one level belo—"

"No," said the impossibly tall man, "I'm getting picked up here."

"Pick-ups are—"

He lifted up the visor and shot a withering, Sam-Elliot-thinks-you're-an-idiot glare at me. (Oh, yeah: he looked like Sam Elliot. Part-time Oregon resident and now Oscar-nominated-for-A Star Is Born Sam Elliot.) "Do I look like I want to go back into the terminal like this?" This was the first comment anyone had made about how he was impossibly tall. Um, okay, I don't understand the needs and problems of impossibly tall people. I ended the conversation. I also ended the dream, because then I fully woke up.


Hell, *I'D* play a better dinosaur

I dreamt that I ran into one of the companies that puts on those "dinosaurs come alive!" puppet shows, but I accidentally saw some of what the company did behind the scenes (they were moving the fake dinosaurs through a forest I was in): the company had secretly dressed up animals from endangered and threatened species to play the dinosaurs.

Wow: Jurassic Park with even worse ethics.

Hi. That's where my mind is right now.


It can happen.

One work experience out of the way: being late. I was on time; my bus wound up getting to the MAX station a few minutes later than normal, and my usual train to the airport had already left. It was about a 25-minute wait that early in the morning for the next train.

Sundays have my tightest transit schedule: I usually get to the station two to four minutes before the train does.

At least I have the supervisor cell phone on my phone, so I could call ahead to admit I'd be late. Fifteen minutes late, all told.

Also, note to self: Monday's a holiday, so be out the door headed to the bus stop slightly earlier than normal (I made sure to check that day's schedule)...


I must get it off my chest!:

I have never found Mel Brooks's History of the World: Part I funny.

True story: in Oakton, Virginia, in the late Eighties or 1990 or so, I rented the film from a video store, watched it by myself, and had the reaction you never want when watching a comedy: I thought Now why is this funny? I returned it to the store the next day, hoping no one in the family had noticed I'd rented it, but then someone in my family went Wait: didn't you rent History of the World Part I? and they re-rented it. I didn't join that viewing.

...I feel lighter now. Though maybe that's because I pooped earlier.

My workweek in five short paragraphs

Iiiiiiiiit's been a week. An up-and-down one, but one that ended with me healthy again, a relief after several days of my body doing stuff I'd rather not think about.

Sunday I stayed home and rested, once I knew I wasn't over whatever sickness I'd had the week before. Full day of work Monday; Tuesday I was fading and worried I was relapsing, so I went home early. Full day of work Wednesday, and I mean full: hectic and frazzling.

And today, relievingly, was almost gentle: steady in a way that was completely manageable.

That said, the way the week had been up 'til now, I will now rest. I want to be at 100% all week next week, not the varying other percentages I'd had this past week (48%! 79.6! 64%! Now maybe, maybe, 93%!), and taking it easy is the way to get to that.

This entry was written in the 8 p.m. hour when I was already in sweats and under the sheets of my bed. My relaxing begun a while ago.


Good work

I help at work, and not just at the job.

I've found myself in the eatery area in PDX's Clocktower Plaza, where restaurants (and even pseudo-food carts) are open, moving empty chairs closer to their tables. Neatening up, in other words. I may be opening doors for more people now than before. I give directions to people who are lost, which happens a lot: the valet parking booth is on the upper roadway, near where ride-share drivers drop off customers, but ride-shares don't pick up people there, but one floor below on the Arrivals level instead. I and a lot of the other valet people will say "Go back in the terminal, turn left, and take the escalator; you'll see signs for Island 2.")

Today there were two moments I helped people more, both while I was on an escalator. Once I looked down and saw a man walking, phone in hand, towards what he thought was a down escalator but was the up escalator coming from Arrivals/Baggage level. I said, just loudly enough to reach him, "Watch out." He looked up quickly enough to see where he was headed, and he avoided walking the wrong way onto a moving escalator. And then later, as I walked on a pedestrian bridge from the Short-Term Parking Garage after moving a car into it, I saw a person's wallet on the floor. Two woman were ahead, entering the terminal. I grabbed the wallet, quickly peeked in to confirm it was a wallet, and jogged to catch up, hoping the wallet belonged to one of the two women ahead of me, because they were the most likely to have dropped it. (Had it not been, I'm thinking I would have asked one of the airport greeters what happened to Lost and Found items like that.) Thank goodness, the wallet did belong to one of the women, whom I caught up with on the escalator. I handed it back. The other woman said, "They don't let you on planes without I.D." I'd managed to make someone's day and trip easier.

I can feel good about that. And I do.


Damnit, subconscious

Dreams last night included work-related dreams — I was storing valet cars at home so I could get some rest between moving them — and an action sequence set first near and then on a Naval base. Aircraft carriers and helicopters were chasing bad guys nearby, and I and my dad, a retired Navy commander, were looking for shelter at the base, when I noticed:

• Almost all of the Naval personnel my dad and I were near were women.

• All of them were really hot.

I awkwardly tried my best not to stare, worrying a sailor or Dad would catch me, and I sort of lost focus on the action and drama happening around me.

Even in my dreams, I try to behave.