November 11th, 2008

summer reading

Break from Work Meanderings

Am working from home today. My husband is having a little surgery and my daughter is off school so I figured this was a good time to check out a laptop (the only way I can currently access work e-mail; the access-via-the-internet that nearly everyone else can do is but a distant dream for me), bring some files home, and take care of the family.

I started working early, partly thinking the more I could get done before my daughter got up, the better, and partly thinking if I started early that meant I could quit early, too. I set up the laptop and tried to access work e-mail wirelessly as I was able to do the last time I checked out a laptop. No, wouldn't work. Of course. Because that would make it too easy. So I logged out and moved the laptop to the actual modem connection. That didn't work, either. Of course. Then I had a good 2.5 hours of IT assistance only to learn...it just ain't gonna work. They're setting up another laptop at my office (the one I checked out a couple of weeks ago, which worked wirelessly, and which still has some of my personal configurations on it) for me to pick up at some point in the next 24 hours. The entire reason for getting the laptop was to be able to check work e-mail and it turns out that's not possible today unless I go down to the office. Great. Naturally, I told everyone I would have e-mail access in my absence, so I'm cringing as I imagine all of the stuff that's going to await me in my Inbox when I finally get to see it.

One thing I learned today is that even if I'm working and even if I'm eating the same amount of food I'd eat if I were at the office, there's something about the environment of working at home in my jammies that makes me feel like a schlubby, overeating, underachieving mess. The actually work work is going relatively well - excepting the bits I expected to be able to do, like e-mail underwriters with questions - so it's not as if I'm actually a schlubby, overeating, underachieving mess. It just feels like it. Thus I decided that for my lunch break I would take a shower and don clothes with buttons and zippers and whatnot. The shower seems to have helped my state of mind. I guess that makes me of the Scott Adams school of work-at-homer: the type that needs the ritual of the shower and the clothing change and the leaving of the house (even if it is just walking around the block and come back home again).

While in the shower, I started going over the Christmas Wish List I was asked to produce about a month ago. It always takes me time to compose these things because when put on the spot, I can never think of anything I want. It takes time for me to go through a day and think, "Ooooh, it'd be nice to have that" before I can come up with anything. I've got some stuff on there like dishes to go with the sets I have, tools that I'd like for exercising (heart rate monitor, e.g.), and something I just remembered I wanted yesterday: the movie Holiday Inn. I know I'm probably supposed to disdain this movie due to an unfortunate blackface scene, but the fact is that I remember it from childhood with great fondness. (Bing Crosby! Fred Astaire! Singing and dancing and "White Christmas"!) I remember being uncomfortable with the blackface part when I was a kid, and will probably dislike it even more now that I'm an adult, but I'm having a hard time thinking poorly of the whole movie because of that one thing.

It's a dilemma, I think. Because, on the one hand, it's a kind of cultural artifact that helps remind us that *that's* how it used it be and I think it's important that the knowledge of that fact be generally known. I think it should be generally known just how offensive every day culture used to be when it came to issues of race, in what was acceptable in general discourse. But on the other hand, it's keeping this hateful thing alive and out there. It's similar to that whole argument surrounding the "southern flag", I suppose. It's just that in the case of that - which admittedly this opinion comes from a person who's never even lived in the U.S. south - it seems that the "southern flag" has very little else associated with it except nostalgia for an era built upon slavery. It feels like a different scale of offensiveness to me. But it could just be that I liked Holiday Inn and I'm having a hard time condemning the whole movie, that there is no such thing as a scale of offensiveness and that one bad grain does ruin the whole shaker of salt.

So I want Holiday Inn. I guess that makes me a schlubby, overeating, underachieving *and* offensive mess. I just...I don't really know. I don't really know if there's any 'right' or 'wrong' in it.

And now it's time for me to get back to work where the issues are much clearer, and much easier for me to figure out.