Conference Travails

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Every time I attend a large conference, I am struck once again by how immense this country is, the regional differences, and the incredible similarities of the people.  Last night, I sat at a table with people from California, Nebraska, Illinois, Delaware, and New York. While there were slight differences in our accents, there was no communication barrier even as thousands of miles separate our homes. Basically, our cultures are the same. We all do similar work, and our daily issues are quite similar. There is a huge comfort in the neighborliness of conferences and the willingness to meet new people to discuss new ideas.

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Harassment

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I’ve been out of the office and away from home for the past couple of days.  This has been a productive, busy, and exhausting trip.  I have been at our state capital lobbying for local concerns with a small group of people from our community.  Yesterday we had a series of short meetings with as many senators and representative as we could possibly meet in one day.  This busy day was followed by dinner at the executive mansion.  All in all, it was a productive day. Continue Reading »

Ah…

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Thankfully, I have been able to string together a few days at work that have been rewarding, productive, and enjoyable.  Although I didn’t get home to stay for the night until after 10:30,  I did sneak out for a few hours late this afternoon to spend some time with the family.  The next few days are going to be full, and I am trying to take it in stride.  It is what it is, and all I can do is hold on tight and make the most of it.  We are in the midst of our summer season at work, and that means we are hosting ten concerts throughout the summer.  So far, the weather has been wonderful.  The volunteers have been happy, and the concert-goers have had a good time.  It’s our fifth season with the summer concerts, and although it takes  time and means extra work, we have gotten things down to a science. Continue Reading »

Ugliness

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My hearts is tender.  It is battered and bruised today.  Well, my heart has been battered and bruised for quite a while.  It’s a good heart.  It wants to be happy and filled with joy.  In fact, my poor little heart jumps at the chance to believe in happiness.  My heart leaps when it thinks good things are about to happen.  It wants to believe the best in other people.  It wants to trust.  It wants to believe in the innate kindness and goodness in the other hearts it encounters in this life.

No matter how much the rest of me experiences, my heart remains so very innocent and vulnerable.  My heart is in charge here.  My heart guides me and reacts to my experiences in life.  Sometimes that is wonderful.  As I said, my heart it sweet.  My heart is what enables me to see the wonder of the world.  My heart is what helps me see the beauty of nature.  Where my brain sees a dog, my heart sees a friend.  My brain sees a shedding cat, but my heart reminds me of the times that shedding furball roams around the house crying out “Ma!  Ma!” until he finds me.  My brain sees the filthy homeless man who wanders around near my office each day on his bike packed with his earthly belongings, but my heart wonders at his story.  My heart is what makes me go out of my way to say hello to him each day.  My heart is happy when my hello brings a smile to this mentally ill man’s face.  My heart does a good job of helping me see the wonderous, miraculous, good in the world  Even at this very moment, my brain is smelling brownies fresh from the oven, but my heart is making me love T for knowing that my day was rough and chocolate would help.

That’s one reason I love my job so much.  I can use my brain to make a difference, however small, in the world.  That makes my heart happy.  It’s frustrating though sometimes.  Sometimes making a difference means that the bad guy gets riled up.   The fight against injustice isn’t easy.  Think about it.  If injustice exists, then that means that someone, or many, are having a good old time getting away with unjust behavior.  Who wouldn’t be happy to be the guy on top?  Who wouldn’t be happy to be able to get away with whatever they wanted and have the folks around them turn a blind eye?  Yeah, that  kind of person who is going along just fine with their life of unethical behavior isn’t very happy when Pollyanna comes waltzing in and saying “Hey!  That’s not fair!  Yes, those rules DO apply to YOU.  No, you are NOT able to twist and turn those rules to suit yourself as you see fit.”  No, the bad guys don’t like that at all.  Bad guys don’t like truth and fairness..not if it mean that truth and fairness is also applied to them.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a letter that had been sent to City Hall full of criticism and complaints about me.  Oh, how that hurt my heart!  Why would someone take the time to do something so rude and cruel?  It wasn’t the words that hurt so much as it was the image in my mind of someone actually taking the time, taking time out of their life and their day, to try to hurt me ON PURPOSE.  That particular incident has escalated.  The more I thought about that letter, the greater my concern grew.  The letter contained out and out lies.  If I didn’t have the respect and support of my co-workers, if that letter had been taken seriously, it could have seriously damaged my career.  Losing my career would have an impact on me AND my family.  Why would anyone want to hurt my family?  It scared me to think of the ripple effect that such a letter could have caused in my life.

What if this guy continued to cause problems for me?  Could this crazy person cause so much trouble that I was no longer an asset?  Would I become a liability?  What if he was relentless?  What if it was easier to get rid of me than to deal with this nutcase?  OK….yeah.  I was becoming obsessed, which is really nothing new.  🙂  I spoke to my boss about my concerns.  Once again, I can’t say enough good about this man who is my boss.  We were friends before I ever took this position, and I can’t imagine anyone I would rather work with.  There is such a bond of trust between us.  Someday I will write an entire blog entry about our history together.  He is my friend, and I can’t imagine a time or a thing that could ever change that.  He and I have shared significant, life-changing years of our lives together.  When I met him, he was a man married twenty-plus years with a small child.  Now…he is a gay man in a committed relationship.  His strength in dealing with and facing major honesty and changes in his life continue to inspired and impress me.

He listened to me, and he understood my concerns.  We consulted with the legal department, which really accomplished nothing, but did calm my fears that I would be hung out to dry.  While my fears of personal career damage have been calmed, my fears of personal safety have increased.  I knew that this person had a history of run-ins and confrontations, but now that I know even more, it is unsettling.  There are three current restraining orders outstanding, countless cases of legal action and false accusations.  Last weekend, a fast food worker was attacked by this man.  Charges are pending.  The list goes on and on.  The more I learn, the more confused I am about WHY this person is able to skate so close to the edges of the law and still manage to walk free.

Today I had lunch with two victims of his harassment.  They had not known each other prior to their common problems.  The issues he has with them are unrelated.  They both carry mace.  They wanted my help.   What can be done to protect us from his “legal” abuse?  He has done nothing illegal yet, or nothing that can be proven.  Even as I write this, I am worried.  What if he reads this?  But why would he?  How could he?  I write, because this is MY blog, and I refuse to be afraid.  I will not alter my life due to this.  I don’t like bad guys.  I have plenty of reasons not to like bad guys.  I don’t like people who think they can live blamelessly as they hurt those around them.  I have reasons to dislike that, too.

Yes, I will get involved.  I will help.  Once again, I find myself among strong women.  Together, we are strong.  More than once, it was said, “It feels so good to know it’s not just me.  I feels so good to know that I am not alone in this.”  Bad guys don’t stand chance when strong women stand united.

Today I was reminded of so many other times when my heart has hurt over selfish, thoughtless, ugly meanness.  I remembered the first time I when I really knew that my heart was tender.  It was two days after my dad died.  Never before had I felt so alone in the world.  I had lost the greatest love I had ever known in my life.  I had lost my safety net.  I was raw with pain.  I was driving to work that morning.  My dad was not yet laid to rest.  The funeral was the next day, but I was driving in to my office for an hour or so.  It was bitterly cold.  Although the traffic here is never really bad, it was rush hour.  I was on the expressway at the busiest overpass.  Some cars were entering.  Some were trying to exit.  Cars jockeyed for position.  Ahead of me, a car signaled to change lanes in order to exit.  Instead of letting the car change lanes, the car in front of me purposely sped up and then slowed down simply to make sure that his fellow motorist would not be able to exit as he had intended.  As I watched it happening, I began to sob.  My heart was so hurt.  My recent losses were so fresh and painful.  My heart could take no more, and the pain overflowed.

I remember how that senseless cruelty hurt me on that day.  When I pulled into the parking lot that morning, I had laid my head against the steering wheel as the knowledge of man’s inhumanity to man washed over me.  Why?  Why do human beings have this horrible capacity of cruelty inside of them?  That day, I cried for the man who had not been able to take the exit.  Where had he been going?  What if he was going to visit a loved one in the hospital?  What if, like me, he was hurting from a great loss?  Why is it so much easier sometimes to hurt people than to be kind?  Shouldn’t the desire to allow the guy to change lanes outweigh the desire to fuck up his morning?  I don’t understand such behavior.  Thankfully, I don’t understand.  Hopefully, I never will.